Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Paul Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage Domaine Thalabert, 1983

Crozes-Hermitage wines come from vineyards "in the vicinity" of the Hermitage hill. Most of these vineyards are on flat land, and the wines are often pretty ordinary--not worth keeping for 35 years. Jaboulet's Domaine Thalabert is a notable exception. In the 1980s, when the wine sold for about $8 a bottle, I bought at least a case every year and put several bottles from the best vintages in the cellar. Today, I am very happy that I did so. This 1983, a birth year for my son, may be the best I have had, and it is showing beautifully right now.

Bright ruby red, with only minimal amber tones. Needs about two hours of aeration to show its best but then the hallmark scents of Thalabert come through with clarity. Black raspberries, cassis, black olives. I love the black olive scents, and in this vintage, they are present but not overwhelming. From the tip of the tongue to the mid-palate, the flavors are notably concentrated. Black fruits, spice, pepper. Depth and complexity that continue through a long finish.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Vincent Saincrit Coteaux du Layon, 1999

When first opened, this wine seemed a bit simple and straightforward. Re-corked and resting in the cellar, it has continued to improve for more than a week.

Deep copper color. I have Coteaux du Layon wines from the 1970s that are much lighter in color. But that is probably because the winemakers added a healthy dose of sulfur dioxide to maintain the youthful color while the ageworthy Chenin Blanc worked its magic. In my re-corked bottle, that magic is taking place. Dazzling complexity. Ripe melon, honey and hard candy. I suspect the grapes had a good level of botrytis. Sweet but certainly not simple.

Domaine la Garrigue Vacqueyras, 2010

A little more than a decade ago, Donna and I spent three relaxing nights at the beautiful Hotel Restaurant Les Florets in Gigondas. The room was comfortable and artfully decorated; the food was fantastic; and we had plenty of good wine, Domaine la Garrigue, produced by the owners. Even without the ambience of Les Florets, Domaine la Garrigue wines are always a joy to drink.

Unusually rich and full bodied for a Southern Rhone. Of course, there is garrigue but also very deep cherry, black currants and spice. Impressive depth. Now the pepper kicks in on the finish. Competes very well with the l'Oratoire Saint Martin beside it on the table. Drinking very well right now, but I am going to wait another year or two before opening my last bottle.

Domaine de l'Oratoire Saint Martin Cairanne Reserve des Seigneurs, 2006

Of all the Cotes du Rhone Villages, Cairanne is my favorite. And of all Cairanne wines, Domaine de l'Oratoire Saint Martin is at the top of my list. Of the range of wines produced at this estate, on the other hand, the Reserve des Seigneurs takes second place behind the Prestige bottling (which in recent years has become known as Cuvee les Douyes). The Douyes vineyard (a field blend of Grenache and Mourvedre) was planted in 1905 while the Reserve comes from a parcel (Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah) that is a mere 50 years of age. It is a special occasion for me when I buy or open either of these wines.

This bottle of the Reserve is a bit less intense than previous bottles. It may be showing signs of age, but I would be quite happy to have a few more bottles of this for future occasions. Medium deep ruby. Red fruit and garrigue from the Grenache backed by some deeper, darker tones of Mourvedre. The Mourvedre is just beginning to raise its head. So who knows how much better this wine will become as the Mourvedre assumes dominance? According to many critics, the soil and climate here is perfectly suited to that grape.