This Week’s Wine Tasting
Jean-Francois Merieau Hexagonales 2013
Touraine, Loire Valley. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. “This Sauvignon Blanc rivals many of the great Sancerre wines being produced today at half the price. It is produced from young vine Sauvignon Blanc planted on limestone and granitic soils. Some of the bottling comes from estate fruit and some from land owned by others. It is aged for at least 5 months in stainless steel. Crisp and delicious with melon and tropical notes on the nose. High cut and bright on the palate with hints of flint and mineral.”
“One of the new stars of the Loire, Jean-François Merieau is as ambitious as they come. Before coming back to settle at his family’s property in the Touraine just east of Tours, he wandered the world tasting wine and spent time working at several wineries outside of France including an extended stay in South Africa. It was this exposure that drives his creativity today. Instead of blending his wines, Jean-François produces most of the varietals with which he works in single varietal bottlings, often from a single parcel. This terroir-specific approach allows us to taste singular wines of great expression. He is converting the entire production to organic viticulture. Without exception, all of the wines produced at this property offer tremendous value. The sparkling Touraine is aged a for 3 years before release and it is still less than a third of the price of most Champagnes. The Sauvignon de Touraine rivals many of the great Sancerre wines being produced today at half the price.”
Chateau Larmevaille Blanc Entre-Deux-Mers 2012
Gironde, Bordeaux. “This refreshing wine has a delightful aromatic nose with hints of citrus, mineral, and a touch of white flowers. It differs from our other white Bordeaux in that it consists of 40% Sauvingnon Blanc and 30% each of Semillon and Muscadelle, giving a richer mid-palate, with lots of texture and a good dose of minerality. On the finish it is very clean and refreshing, delightful enough to want another glass or two. This is an exceptional wine for everyday drinking or for by the glass in restaurants.
Chateau Larmevaille is the perfect choice as an aperitif, with cheese, or served with shellfish, fish, poultry or lighter fare. Many of our customers who appreciate the New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs find this quite tasty yet at a better price! A great way to introduce your friends to the wonders of Sauvignon Blanc blends.”
Maison Nicolas Old Vines Carignan 2012
Languedoc-Roussillon, Southern France. “Pretty color, light violet with ruby and garnet tinges. Pleasant aroma of gentle spices with red fruit suggestions of cherry and strawberry. Light in body, fresh and easy on the palate. Gentle acid. Good complexity for its meager price. Nice grip.”
“Carignan (Cariñena in Spain) is a black-skinned wine grape variety, most likely native to Aragon, northern Spain (specifically the town of Carinena). The variety goes by a number of distinct names, depending on its precise locality. Very few of these numerous synonyms ever appear on wine labels, either due to appellation labeling laws or because Carignan’s key use is as a blending component. The most famous wines in which Carignan plays a role are those from Rioja, where it is known as Mazuelo.
Carignan prefers warm, dry climates when the grape can express high tannins, acid and color. This makes it an excellent addition to red wine blends that have plenty of aroma and flavor, but lack body and depth of color. Carignan is only rarely made as a varietal wine, but the best examples can show characteristics of dark and black fruits, pepper, licorice, and spicy and savory accents.”
Domaine de Chateaumar Cuvee Bastien Grenache 2012
Cotes du Rhone. 100% Grenache. “Ripe and solid, this offers delicious raspberry ganache and blackberry confiture notes, laced with a smoky Lapsang souchong tea note. Drink now.”
“Grenache is the most widely planted variety in the southern Rhone; if not featured as the sole varietal – which it does on occasion in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape AC et al – then it is invariably the major varietal in the blend. Like the aformentioned CdP, this Cotes-du-Rhone is 100% Grenache, and its manifestation in these wines can range from lightly-hued with no tannins to speak of to deeper-colored and densely-flavored, the latter having the additional ability to benefit from some bottle age. As you can probably infer from all this, the quality of any given CdR does vary depending on the producer and the vineyards they draw their fruit from (low-yield Grenache from schist and granite soils are best, or better yet from the large, stony ‘galets’ that cover the most coveted areas in the region), but it helps when it comes from a producer that also puts out a worthy CdP. Needless to say I wouldn’t go to such length if Chateaumar’s particular example didn’t qualify.”
Chateau Fleur de Rigaud Bordeaux Superieur 2011
Gironde, Bordeaux. “Typically a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine is made from 25 year old vines grown on a clay and limestone soil. Deep red with aromas of currant and cassis, moderate structure and smooth tannins make this an easy drinking Bordeaux for all occasions. Try with steaks, roast lamb, roast pork or your favorite cheese.
The Bordeaux AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) surface area is the largest AOC in France, covering over 215000 acres. The average yield is about 5 million hectolitres, 1.1 million tons of grapes or 650 million bottles, divided among some 20,000 growers. There are many reasons why Bordeaux wine is so plentiful and popular. The distinctive soils are one contributing factor (such as the gravel soil of Graves) as they provide excellent drainage for the vines and hold the heat. As well the area is blessed with very warm autumn months and the tempering quality of the Gironde River and its tributaries. This delightful Château is in the town of Sainte Radegonde just south across the Dordogne River from St. Émilion.”
Chateau Fort-Lignac Haut Medoc 2011
Haut Medoc, Bordeaux. “The district Cussac-Fort-Medoc has 598 hectares under vines and lies between Moulis and St. Julien and has two hectares that have the right to the ‘Moulis’ appellation, and this production appears under the commune of Moulis. Nearly 42 acres have the right to the St. Julien appellation and their production shows under the commune of Saint-Julien-Beychevelle. The vineyards are typically planted 50%-70% Cabernet Sauvingon, 30-50% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc/Petit Verdot.
Château Fort-Lignac covers 4.4 hectares in the district of Cussac-Fort-Médoc and was previously owned by Annie Fort and Henri Pradère, now owned by to M. J.E. Borie. The Château is not far from the well-known estates Châteaux Moulin Rouge, Lanessan, and Bel Air.
Deep garnet all the way to the edge of the glass, the wine has fairly strong aromas of spicy oak, cassis, black plum, and granite. On the palate, ripe, round red and black fruit overpowers the oak and spice, which linger as the fruit dissipates. On the finish, the supple yet substantial tannins intermingle with the fruit and spice, to give a lingering, complex finish that ends clean and dry.”