Summer is over and fall is here. For me, this is the nicest time of the year where I live. It is a time when the weather is mild and clear. It is a nice time to be inside or outside. And, across the country Fall is usually a more temperate season. So Fall is the time that calls for a wide variety of wine and food. Lighter foods, heartier foods, grilled food, pastas, etc. And Champagne, white wine and red wine all compete depending on the food being served. And, it is the time for lots of new wines that remind you of Summer and other new wines for the Fall and the upcoming holiday season. Starting with some terrific new Champagnes we move on to White Wines. Here there are some inexpensive wines from California, France and Spain. Then, on to the Red Wines where we have notes on wines from California and Washington. Then some French wines mostly from Beaujolais, the Cotes du Rhone, and the Loire Valley and mostly from the 2009 vintage.
So with that as a guide, here are some notes on some new wines, some inexpensive wines, and some unusual wines that can take you back or forward in time as you wish. Tis the season! Be adventuresome!
I recently published an article on two of my favorite Champagne producers Drappier and Fallet-Dart. (To read the article click here.) Franck Bonville is a producer I have gotten to know in the last few years by virtue of visiting there and also buying and drinking a lot of his Champagne here. These wines have rapidly become some of my very favorite Champagnes. The wines are pure and superbly balanced with lots of flavor. And they age and improve over a long period of time. One of the very best Champagnes I have had in the last few years was a 1961 Franck Bonville Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru which was Perfection (To read my article and tasting note on this wine click here)
Franck Bonville is located in Avize and has about 50 acres of vines in the Grand Cru districts of Cramant, Avize, and Oger. After the Second World War Franck Bonville and his wife Jeannine marketed their first wines. Their son Gilles and his wife Ingrid followed in the family business and began making and marketing more of their wines. Today, their son Olivier is in charge with his parents and grandparents working along side.
I recently tasted some of their newly released wines. They are great and if you love Champagne these are wines to buy. Franck Bonville Champagne is Selected by K&L Wine Merchants and Imported by Premier Wine Company, Richmond, CA
NV Franck Bonville Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru.
This is a terrific Champagne with great balance, flavor and style and it is a real value. Pale yellow in color the wine has a lovely perfume with hints of peach and citrus and faint floral nuances accented by a kiss of vanilla. Creamy and very flavorful, this is a Champagne that is very harmonious showing subtle hints of peach, citrus, and spice. Elegant and long on the finish this is gorgeous to drink now or keep for many years. This current cuvee is a blend of 100% Grand Cru estate grown Chardonnay grapes from Avize and is a blend of three vintages -10% 2005, 20% 2006, and 70% 2007 – Outstanding. $34.99 Best Buy
NV Franck Bonville Brut Prestige Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru.
This is a gorgeous Champagne with richness, depth and complexity. It is a blend of the 1998, 2000, and 2002 vintages. The grapes were sourced from old mid-slope vineyards in the Grand Cru villages of Cramant and Oger. The vines here average 50 years of age with no vines under 40 years. The wine is pale yellow in color and has a great perfume of citrus, spice, and peach with a faint underlying floral note. It is creamy and rich with great balance. The fruit is accented by hints of citrus and spice with a faint buttery nuance. It is lovely to drink now, but is amazingly youthful given the age of the wines in the blend. I would expect this to be even better in 5 to 10 years if you can resist drinking it that long – Outstanding Plus/Extraordinary Potential. $44.99
NV Franck Bonville Brut Rosé Grand Cru.
8This is an unusual wine for Franck Bonville and the first time the Rosé has been imported. Olivier was able to trade for some red wine to make this Rosé. It is composed of 92% Grand Cru grapes from estate grown Chardonnay and 8% Pinot Noir from Ambonnay. It is a gorgeous, finesseful Champagne. The color is pale pink and the perfume has subtle floral and spice notes with a tinge of raspberry. On the palate the wine is gorgeous and creamy with faint citrus, raspberry, and spice flavors. This is a delicious Rosé with great early appeal – Outstanding Plus. $43.99
NV Franck Bonville Brut Blanc de Blancs Les Belles Voyes Grand Cru.
This is Franck Bonville’s top of the line cuvee. The wine never carries a vintage date although this wine is 100% Grand Cru Chardonnay from the great 2004 vintage. The grapes come from the less than 2 acre Belles Voyes vineyard in Oger. The vines are about 80 years old having been planted in the late twenties and early thirties. The grapes are fermented and aged for a short time in old oak barrels before bottling. Les Belles Voyes is always an outstanding Champagne and this bottling is one of the best. Light yellow in color, the wine has a stunningly complex perfume with hints of apple, citrus, and pear with subtle nuances of spice and vanilla and a faint underlying crème brulee accent. On the palate there is great finesse and flavor. Subtle hints of exotic fruit are intermingled with hints of pear, peach, spice, and a very faint kiss of honey and cream accented by a citrus tinge on the long lingering finish. This Champage is great now, but is sure to be even better with time. This is an absolutely stunning Champagne – Outstanding Plus/Exceptional Plus Potential. $67.99
This small Champagne house located in Festigny has a history dating back over a hundred years. In 1903, founder Leopold Loriot (Loriot means Oriole in French) installed a press so he could control quality by selling juice instead of grapes. This continued until 1931 when Germain Loriot bottled the first 300 bottles of Loriot Champagne. Henri Loriot, Michel’s father, continued and over time bottled the entire harvest of the 12 acres of grapes. In 1977, Martine and Michel took over. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier are grown, but the emphasis is on Pinot Meunier. Some 10 years ago on a visit to Les Crayeres, the great hotel and restaurant in Reims (Visit at www.lescrayeres.com), they were featuring Champagnes from small producers that had won medals at a recent Champagne competition. We were with friends and decided to order most of the ones we had never heard of. It was one of our friend’s birthday so we got a little carried away and ordered about 10 different bottles. One was from Loriot and we were so impressed we asked the concierge to arrange a visit for us. It was a delightful visit, but since Loriot Champagne was not being imported to the U.S. at that time we did not think that we would see too much of it in the future. However, a number of years ago, Gary Westby, the Champagne buyer at K&L Wines, discovered it. The Michel Loriot Champagnes are Selected by K&L Wine Merchants and Imported by Premier Wine Company, Richmond, CA The Michel Loriot Champagnes are lovely and very well crafted. Below are my notes on two recent releases:
NV Michel Loriot Cuvee Reserve Brut Blanc de Noirs.
This is made 100% from Pinot Meunier grown in the village of Festigny. One half of the wine in the blend comes from old reserves which gives it an extra element of richness. Light yellow in color the wine has a lovely perfume of spice and apples with a touch of citrus and baked bread. It is very flavorful, yet has elegance. Rounded with exotic nuances and a faint touch of spice this is a really lovely Champagne and a great value – Outstanding. $29.99 Best Buy
2006 Michel Loriot Brut Pinot Meunier Vieilles Vignes.
The grapes from which this Champagne is made come from the l’Arpent vineyard which is slightly less than one acre in the village of Festigny. The vines here are nearly 70 years old. Only 250-350 cases of this wine are made a year. This is Michel Loriot’s top wine, but it is only made in the best vintages. This 2006 is stunning. It is light yellow in color with a faint golden hue and has a lovely perfume of spice, apple, and baked bread. On the palate it is rich and creamy but balanced by a citrus mineral tinge. The flavors hint of citrus, apple, and spice with a brioche like undertone and the finish is long and lingering – Outstanding Plus. $49.99
Tablas Creek is located in Paso Robles and the California of the great Beaucastel estate in Chateauneuf du Pape. Even though it is relative new, the experience of the owners have enabled the winery to produce really delicious wines from the very beginning. (To read my initial article on Tablas Creek click here.) Tablas Creek released their new 2010 Patelin de Tablas Blanc earlier this year and recently released the 2010 Patelin de Tablas. These wines are made from estate grown grapes and grapes from other top vineyards in Paso Robles. The French word “patelin” translates into “country neighborhood”. The Patelin de Tablas wines represent very good value and the 2010s are terrific. (Notes on the 2010 Patelin de Tablas follow under the section on red wines.)
2010 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc.
This is a delicious white wine with great early appeal. It is made from 50% Grenache Blanc, 33% Viognier, 30% Roussane, and 7% Marsanne. It is pale yellow in color and has a gorgeous perfume of apple and pear with floral citrus nuances. Light, but flavorful with hints of citrus, pear, and apple and a faint floral and spice nuance, the wine is balanced and finishes with a nice crispness – Highly Recommended Plus. $20
This estate is located South of Chablis in the area of Vezelay. The wines are made from the Melon de Bourgone grape which originated in Burgundy, but is now better known as Muscadet in the Loire Valley. This wine seems to be a cross between Muscadet and Chablis, but is fruiter. Whatever, it is very unique and tasty.
2010 2010 La Sceur Cadette Melon Vin de France.
Light yellow in color this wine has a lovely floral, citrus, mineral tinged perfume. It is sappy, but zesty and brisk with lovely citrus tinged fruit and a hint of flintiness. This would be a great wine with all types of fresh seafood as well as sushi and lighter dishes made with white meat – Highly Recommended Plus. $23 Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA
I recently wrote an article “Hallelujah. Sanity Is Returning. Kermit Has Joined The Blending Game.” Actually, noted importer Kermit Lynch has been involved in doing his own blends for some time, particularly in the Rhone Valley. My article was focused on some vineyard designated Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, and Cote Roties that he imported in small quantities and went into some of the background of how he goes about doing blending and making selections.(Click here to read the article.) But most of the wines that carry the Blended By Kermit Lynch or Selected by Kermit Lynch designations are wines that are made from mostly old vines in the region and are much less expensive than the more exalted vineyard designated wines that I reviewed earlier. The wines are made in a traditional way and bottled without fining or filtration. Following are notes on a couple of white wines Blended By Kermit Lynch. They are imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA (Notes on the red wines follow in that section later in the article.)
2010 Domaine Durban Vin de Pays Du Vaucluse Blanc Blended by Kermit Lynch.
This wine is made by Domaine Durban in association with Kermit Lynch. It was made from vines that are 18 years of age and consists of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Viognier. It has a light yellow color and a lovely spice tinged perfume with floral notes and a hint of pear. The wine has lovely fruit and is rounded with hints of pear and apple with a floral accent and a touch of spice. It is rounded and balanced with a nice crisp finish – Highly Recommended Plus. $11.25 Best Buy
2010 Cotes du Rhone Blanc Sunflower Cuvee.
This wine is made by a grower and negotiant in the Cotes du Rhone, Louis Barroul. He represents the 14th generation of his family making wines and involved in viniculture in the area. The association with Kermit is to find old vineyards and make wine in a traditional way. This wine is made from 50 year old vines. It is an unusual blend of 20% Marsanne, 20% Viognier, 20% Rousanne, and 40% Marsanne, Picpoul de Pinet, and Viognier that are fermented together. The color is light yellow and the wine has a lovely floral perfume with hints of pineapple, spice, and citrus. It is a lovely wine with balance and depth. The flavors have a floral component with some citrus and a faint exotic nuance. This is a gorgeous wine – Outstanding. $19.80 Best Buy
Pascal Janvier at age 30 decided to become a vigneron. He studied winemaking and then with his wife, Dominque, set out to acquire land. The sites he chose are rather obscure today, but of great historic importance. They are Jasnieres and Coteaux du Loire situated in the most northerly and coldest part of the Loire Valley. These areas are planted to Chenin Blanc and were the favorite wines of King Henri IV. Today only some 750 acres remain. The Janviers rent over 60 different parcels of vineyard spread over 22 acres. They farm the vineyards and make the wines themselves. The annual production is 2,100 cases. These wines are rare and not well known, but if you like nice crisp wines that are refreshing, these are for you. It is also said that the wines reach their peak after about 10 years. So they are certainly worth trying a keeping a few for an extended time. It will be most interesting to see how these wines evolve. For sure they are very unique and much different than most wines made from the Chenin Blanc grape. The wines of Pascal Janvier are imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA
2010 Pascal Janvier Jasnieres Cuvee du Silex.
The vines here are 35-40 years old. The soil contains clay as well as flint and limestone which imparts a decided mineral note in the wine. Pale yellow in color the wine has an intriguing mineral tinged perfume with hints of citrus and a very faint spiciness. It is elegant and crisp with an underlying citrus tinged flintiness and a faint floral and spice accent. Crisp and bright on the finish, this is a unique and unusual wine that is great with sushi, sashimi, and all types of fish – Highly Recommended Plus. $19.80
2010 Pascal Janvier Jasnieres.
The vines here are also 35-40 years old, but they are situated on soil consisting of clay and limestone and the minerality in the wine is more subdued. It is pale yellow in color and has a lovely perfume with floral notes and hints of citrus and spice. Elegant and crisp there are subtle flavors of citrus, pineapple and spice with a faint mineral tinge on the finish – Highly Recommended Plus. $17.95
2010 Pascal Janvier Coteaux du Loire Blanc.
The vines here are 15 years old and are situated in clay soil. This undoubtedly contributes to the wine being more expressive of the fruit with less minerality than the wines from Jasnieres. Pale yellow in color the wine has a lovely perfume with hints of melon and citrus with a faint floral note. Elegant with intermingled fruit flavors of pear, pineapple, melon, and citrus there is also a faint hint of spice and a nice underlying crispness – Highly Recommended Plus. $15.25 Best Buy
Jean Pierre Baron, master of Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon de Touraine, has a family domaine of over 32 acres in the village of Thesee. In 1946 he was first to plant Sauvignon Blanc grapes in the area now recognized as Appellation Touraine Controlee. He began estate bottling with the 1998 vintage. Jean Pierre’s son, Samuel, has taken over the winemaking duties in recent years.
2010 Domaine Baron Touraine Sauvignon Les Vieilles Vignes.
With a pale yellow color this is a gorgeous wine and an excellent value. It has a stunning perfume of grapefruit and a myriad of fresh herbs with an underlying floral accent. The wine is very pure and crisp yet with lovely fruit and flavor. Grapefruit and fresh herbs are intermingled with a floral citrus nuance. Finesseful and balanced with a lovely crisp finish this is a great expression of the grape – Outstanding. $15.00 Best Buy V.O.S Selections Inc., New York, NY
2010 Placio De Bornos Verdejo Rueda.
This wine is 100% Verdejo grown in the Rueda area of the largest region in Spain, the Castilla y Leon. It is pale yellow in color and has a lovely floral perfume with faint hints of spice and fresh herbs. The wine has lovely fruit with floral nuances and a faint touch of spice. It is rounded and supple, yet with a nice crispness on the finish – Highly Recommended. $13.98 Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils Ltd., Winchester, VA
In 1978, at age of 12, Henry Patland emigrated to the US with his family from the Ukraine. Olga emigrated somewhat later from Israel. 25 years ago, after marrying, they began visiting Napa, dreaming of becoming winemakers. In 2007 they bought the estate of Terra del Cuore, which is Italian for land of the heart. Their desire was to create exceptional, distinctive Red wines. At that time, the vineyards were planted with Sangiovese, Merlot and Syrah. Their first release in 2010 was the 2007 Proprietary Red Wine, a blend of these three grapes. But since then things have changed.
Renowned winemaker, Jay Buoncristiani convinced the Patlands to convert the vines on the estate to Malbec and to purchase the Cabernet and Syrah from the Stagecoach Vineyard. Jay is owner/winemaker for Buoncristiani Family Winery, former enologist for Hess, and consulting winemaker for various labels. Stagecoach Vineyard, started by the Krupp family in 1995, has over 500 acres planted, the largest contiguous mountain planting in Napa Valley, stretching from Atlas Peak to overlooking Oakville, including the southern edge of Pritchard Hill. This is my first experience tasting the Patland Estate Wines. The 2008s reviewed below represent the first releases of the new direction from Patland Estate Vineyards wines.
2008 Patland Estate Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Terra del Cuore Napa Valley.
This wine is a blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Malbec. It has a dark color and a deep perfume with hints of vanilla and spice and lots of plum and cassis fruit with an underlying cedary nuance. It is lush, rounded and supple with lots of cassis, cedar, spice, and plum flavors. This is a big styled Cabernet that shows a lot of intensity while at the same time not being too over powering. It has great appeal now and it will be interesting to watch the evolution over time – Outstanding. $90
2008 Patland Estate Vineyards Proprietary Red Terra del Cuore Napa Valley.
The 2008 Proprietary Red is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Malbec, and 18% Syrah. Dark in color the wine has a deep perfume of vanilla, spice, and plums. It is very rich and rounded with plummy fruit and hints of spice and vanilla. Just a bit of tannin comes through on the finish and the wine should benefit from some age – Highly Recommended/Highly Recommended Plus Potential. $48.
2008 Patland Estate Vineyards Syrah Stagecoach Vineyard Napa Valley.
This wine is 100% Syrah. It is dark in color with a deep spice tinged perfume showing a faint smokiness and a hint of green olive. The wine has heaps of fruit showing a bit of spice and a faint smokiness. It is full and rich and is very flavorful. This is a really nice Syrah – Outstanding. $60
I tasted these wines over several days and they held up beautifully. They would all benefit from decanting at this point in their evolution. To get further information and get on the mailing list or join their wine club you can reach them at www.patlandvineyards.com .
Here’s the mission statement from Simple Math Cellars taken from their website www.simplemathcellars.com
The numbers just work.
I’ve swum across oceans of wine and have come to some conclusions. The first rule is this: A great bottle of wine doesn’t stand on its technical data. When a wine is well made and is priced fairly, then the logic is in plain view. Do the math.
Here’s the formula:
(Simple math, really.)
In the European tradition, I make wines to act as condiments, to encourage a holistic approach to dining. This produces bottles that can be consumed over the course of several days. In July 2011, I blind tasted a group on a freshly-opened 2008 chardonnay, then one that had been open for SEVEN DAYS under Private Reserve (argon in a can) and a cork – at office temperature. The “old” bottle won with rave comments! I interact with my fans, friends and mentors regularly because I believe in the power of consensus.
Simple Math is about being prudent and grateful, employing the Golden Rule. It’s about forming a community in which everything’s done sustainably.
And here are my notes on some of their recent releases:
2007 Simple Math Cellars Convex Sonoma County.
This wine is made with 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache sourced from three different Sonoma County Vineyards. Only 40 cases were produced and released early this year. It is a really nice Syrah blend with balance and flavor. Dark in color with just a tinge of amber at the edge the wine has a perfume of plums and spice with a faint smokiness. It has lots of fruit on the palate and shows lots of fruit with depth and very nice structure. It drinks beautifully now and should age very well – Outstanding. $30
2008 Simple Math Cellars Locus Monte Rosso Vineyard, Sonoma Valley.
The grapes for this wine came from Sonoma Valley’s Monte Rosso vineyard atop Moon Mountain in the Mayacamas range. The vineyards were planted here in the1880s. The wine is a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Cabernet Franc, and 11% Syrah. Only 40 cases were produced. The wine is dark in color and has a great perfume of plums, berries and spice. The wine is structured and has depth and balance. There are layers of fruit that shows great purity and complex flavor nuances of spice and chocolate with an intriguing exotic tinge. This is a terrific wine that should evolve beautifully over time – Outstanding. $50
2010 Simple Math Cellars Pinot Noir Windsor Oaks Vineyard Russian River Valley.
Made from 100% Hillside Pinot Noir, there are only 73 cases of this Pint Noir. It was bottled in late June. The wine has a deep color and a great perfume of plum, spice and fig. It has lots of flavor and it quite rich with plum like fruit and an underlying spiciness with some tannin on the finish – Highly Recommended. $38
I tasted these wines over 2 weeks with the wines corked and left in the refrigerator. They held up amazingly well and softened and better with the additional time. Therefore, as is usually the case for young wine, I would recommend decanting especially for the Pinot Noir. Because of the small quantities produced, Simple Math Cellars does not have a wine club. But they do have an Anti-Wine Club. Basically, I think what they are saying is that the more you buy, the more you will get. You can visit it by going to the website posted earlier in the article.
2010 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas.
This inaugural release of the Patelin de Tablas is a great start on a red wine that includes estate grown Rhone varietals and other Rhone varietals sourced from neighboring vineyards. It is composed of 39% Syrah, 36% Grenache, 22% Mouvedre, and 3% Counoise. The color is dark and the wine has a deep perfume of blackberry fruit with spice, vanilla, and smoky undertones. It has delicious fruit and is flavorful with structure and balance with well integrated soft tannins. This is a delicious wine to drink now but undoubtedly will age gracefully for some time – Outstanding. $20 Best Buy
Beaujolais is a lovely wine to drink any time of the year. In terms of Cru Beaujolais, you can drink them young or you can drink them old. The 2009 vintage was one of the greatest ever vintages for Beaujolais. (To read my first article on 2009 Beaujolaisclick here.) (And to read my second article on 2009 Beaujolais click here.)
My notes on a few terrific new 2009 Beaujolais follow:
2009 Domaine de la Chapelle des Bois Fleurie “Grand Pre.”
Dark in color with a gorgeous floral berry perfume this is a very elegantly crafted Beaujolais with lot of finesse. It is rounded and supple with a nice underlying crispness and has lots of berry fruit with a faint floral nuance – Outstanding. $18.00 Neal Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York, NY Best Buy
2009 Domaine de la Chapelle des Bois Fleurie Cuvee Vielle Vignes de la Cadote.
Dark in color this Beaujolais has lots of fruit and is well structured with a good backbone. It’s delicious, but I would it to really sing in a few years. It has a nice floral perfume with berry and spice accents. The wine is bright and crisp with delicious fruit and a long crisp finish – Outstanding. $20 Neal Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York, NY
2009 Pascal Granger Earl Julienas Cuvee Speciale.
With a dark color this wine has a gorgeous floral perfume with cherry and raspberry fruit accents. Luscious, yet with a good backbone, it is loaded with a myriad of fruits and is really tasty – Outstanding Plus. $20.75 Neal Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York, NY Best Buy
2009 Pascal Granger Julienas L’Unique.
Wow! This is a stunning Beaujolais! It has a dark color and an intense perfume of blackberries and plums with a floral undertone. The wine is intensely fruity and supple and rounded with depth and balance. There are layers of flavor and the finish goes on and on – Exceptional. $26 Neal Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York, NY Best Buy
As mentioned earlier in my notes on the Cotes du Rhone white wines, Kermit Lynch has been involved with making special cuvees of CoteS du Rhone wines for a very long time. He is associated with growers, negociants, and winemakers. The goal is to make wines, mostly sourced from old vineyards, in a traditional way to offer high quality and value to the consumer. The wines carry the Blended or Selected by Kermit Lynch designations and are imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, California. These red wines (as well as the white wines reviewed earlier) are gorgeous wines that represent great value and all are Best Buys! This is about as good as it gets for value in red wine!!
2009 Cotes du Rhone Rouge Kermit Lynch Cuvee.
This wine is by Jean-Francois Pasturel at Terres d’Avignon. Since 1929 this winery has been bringing local growers together to make its wines. This Kermit Lynch cuvee is made from a blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, and 5% Carignane. The vines average 40 years of age. The wine is dark in color and has a lovely perfume of plums and blackberries with a tinge of spice. It is flavorful and well structured with lots of fruit showing a faint hint of spice. This is a really lovely Cotes du Rhone – Highly Recommended Plus. $11.65 Best Buy
2010 Domaine Durban Vin de Pays du Vaucluse Rouge.
This wine is made by Domaine Durban in association with Kermit Lynch. It is sourced from grapes grown on eighteen year old vines that are grown near the village of Beaumes-de-Venise and is a blend of 55% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Merlot, and 10% Marselan. The wine has a dark color and a lovely perfume of black fruits with faint hints of cedar and mint. It is supple and rounded with good backbone underneath and has lots of cedar tinged fruit. With a very nice finish this is a very tasty wine – Highly Recommended Plus. $10.80 Best Buy
2009 Cotes Du Rhone Rouge Cypress Cuvee.
This wine is made by Louis Barruol, a 14th generation grower and negociant in the Cotes du Rhone. The 2009 is 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache and comes from Louis’s vineyards as well as other vineyards in the area. The vines average 30 years of age. The blend is made in association with Kermit. Kermit either has a cuvee blended unfiltered or selects an assemblage that he chooses. This 2009 is gorgeous and a great value. It is dark in color with a deep perfume of plums and blackberries with hints of cedar and spice. It is rich and rounded with layers of fruit and is nicely balanced with lots of flavor and a long finish – Outstanding. $13.45 Best Buy
Catherine and Pierre Breton are descendants of families that they say have been in the area since “the mists of time.” They started their domaine in 1982 and farm just under 30 acres of land mostly in the areas of Bourgueil and Chinon. By some coincidence, the Cabernet Franc grape grown in the Loire Valley is known as Breton. The Bretons make wines for easy consumption that represent the typicity of the appellations and also wines that are made from individual parcels. These latter wines are capable of decades of aging. These are “Under The Radar Wines” of great purity and flavor. They are especially good in a warm year like 2009. The wines of Domaine Catherine and Pierre Breton are imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA
2009 Catherine and Pierre Breton Bourgueil Les Galchets.
This is a really delicious Bourgueil and a great value. The wine is dark in color with a deep perfume showing lovely cherry fruit with floral nuances and a faint hint of spice. It is very lush and rounded with loads of fruit that shows a hint of exotic spice with a faint floral undertone. Balanced and flavorful with a long finish, this is a wine that shows great early charm but should also age effortlessly for many years – Outstanding Plus. $25.20 Best Buy
2009 Catherine and Pierre Breton Bourgueil La Dilettante.
Dark in color this wine has a lovely plummy floral tinged perfume. It is loaded with plum and blackberry fruit and is lush, supple, and rounded. The fruit is very pure and is accented by a faint floral nuance. Again, this wine is delicious now but will age beautifully – Outstanding. $25.20 Best Buy
2009 Catherine and Pierre Breton Bourgueil Clairet Avis De Vin Fort.
With a deep color this wine has a gorgeous perfume of raspberry with floral, black pepper nuances. It is very fruity and has a peppery, floral undertone. Crisp and tasty this is a lovely wine with precocious charm – Highly Recommended Plus. $19.80
2009 Catherine and Pierre Breton Bougueil Avis De Vin Fort.
This wine has a dark color and nice floral tinged plummy perfume. It is flavorful with lots of fruit and is very flavorful. The wine has structure and a good backbone with a crisp finish. This is a lovely wine with a lot of charm – Highly Recommended Plus. $19.80
2009 Catherine and Pierre Bourgueil Cuvee Trinch.
Dark in color this wine has a lovely plummy perfume with a nice floral undertone. It has lots of plummy fruit and is structured with good backbone and some tannin on the finish. This is a very tasty Bourgueil with a bright zestiness which makes it very appealing as a young wine – Highly Recommended. $19.80
2009 Catherine and Pierre Breton Chinon Beaumont.
Dark in color this Chinon has a deep perfume of plums and blackberries with a very faint underlying smokiness. It has loads of floral tinged fruit and is rounded, supple, and lush. Flavorful and balanced with a long finish this wine is delicious now but will keep for an extended period – Outstanding. $23.40 Best Buy
Abeja is Spanish for bee. The winery is located on a century old farmstead in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, four miles east of Walla Walla. All the original farm buildings were carefully restored. After 35 years in the business community of Portland, Ken and Ginger Harrison decided to embark on a new adventure and bought the property in 2000. Ken had a passion for Cabernet which does well in the climate around Walla Walla. Ginger operated the small inn. John Abbott and Molly Galt joined them in 2002. John had worked at Pine Ridge and Acacia. In 1994 he moved to Walla Walla and began Canoe Ridge Vineyard. The winemaking is traditional methods combined with innovative techniques to produce food friendly wines. Production is small and the mailing list is currently closed so this wine and other Abeja wines may be hard to find. You can get more information by going to their website at www.abeja.net.
2008 Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley.
This Cabernet is blended with 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, and 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc from Sagemoor and Red Mountain Vineyards in the Columbia Valley. It is dark in color and has a deep perfume of cassis and plums with a cedary faintly exotic nuance. The wine is lush and balanced with lots of blackberry and cassis fruit tinged with spice and cedar and a hint of vanilla. This Cabernet is delicious now but should evolve beautifully over time – Outstanding. $40