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A winey weekend: Puech Haut, La Rioja Alta and more

December 4, 2012 2 comments

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I had a weekend full of wines. Started on FRI evening with this 2004 Chateau Puech-Haut Tete de Belier rouge that shows extremely well and reminds of a Chateauneuf du pape.

2004 Chateau Puech-Haut Tete de Belier rouge

Deep dark, red garnet color. A well developed and youthful nose, intense, it has the aromatic profile of a quality Chateauneuf du pape. It shows a freshness that I found in a 2004 Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du pape. The nose has Grenache profile written all over it and is filled with liquorice, garrigue, raspberry and red cherry jam, nutmeg and game. Full in the mouth, ripe, structured and balanced, it has serious consistency and flesh, with a long spicy red fruit jam aftertaste. A wine that stays very well on its feet, showing good freshness, flesh and spark. No hurry to drink it on the short term. 14.5% (91/100)

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On SAT evening had dinner with a good friend at La Cantine de Nicolai and had a small bottle of Meursault by Drouhin and an old school 1997 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904. The 2006 Joseph Drouhin Meursault from a 0.375 bottle shows a developed nose, with plenty of butter, roasted almonds and richness.

It is the second time I visit La Cantine de Nicolai after almost 2 years. I remember the first time I was there I was eager to try one of their desserts that looked so good on photos. Unfortunately it was not available on that day. It took me 2 years, but I finally got it.

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1997 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904

Uncorked, decanted and left it to breath for 30 mins, which was probably not enough but we were really thirsty. Saturated ruby red color with minor brick on the rim. A well developed nose, intense aromas of dill and orange are dominant on the aromatic profile, and, as the wine opens up, cinnamon, bright red fruits and tobacco come out. A wine with great freshness, fresh acidity, structured, balanced, elegant, and a long finish, spicy and fresh. Everything seems to be in the right place with this wine, and at 15 years old, the wine feels ageless, a plateau where it will probably stay for a very long time. I like the freshness and the complexity of a well aged Old School Rioja. (91/100)

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We also had a Champagne Duval Leroy Brut Rose (89/100): clean, fresh, mineral, fine bubbles and so easy to drink at Le Manoir’s wine bar near Ateneu and finished the night with a Dessert Stirbey.

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SUN was calm and quite, how else could you spend the first day of cold weather and rain of this winter. Cooked at home some fresh pasta with tomato sauce and shrimps that were highly appreciated by my companion. Also tried a 2011 Ceptura Rose by Davino, a deep rose colored wine that sits very well in its price category and delivers. Even if it shows 14.4% alcohol, the wine is balanced, with intense small red berries aromas and some residual sugar that provides body and consistency to its medium finish. This is a rose suitable for this cold weather.

704712_447158695345141_2098061620_olong awaited dessert at La Cantine de Nicolai

Mondavi and Chapoutier

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

If it’s MON, chances are you might receive a call and get a new invitation to attend a new session with the very special Wine Club. I used to hate MON, but recently I discovered that I started to look forward to it. A call from this club is synonymous with a successful night out.

So here we are: I got invited once again. I did not know what’s going to be served but the surprises were at least very interesting and provided enough material for constructive discussions. We met at Casa di David and I have to say food was exquisite. Matching the wines with the food was smartly picked so the overall experience was flawless.

We had a seafood assortment containing Carpaccio of Dentex, sea-bass, shrimps, octopus and tuna served with a white from Languedoc, pasta with tomatoes and basil with an Australian Shiraz and a juicy magret de canard with a perfectly roasted crunchy skin on the outside with citrus fruit and sweet sauce pairing a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

2010 Chateau Capion Le Colombier Terrasses du Larzac Languedoc

Blend of 65% Viognier and 35% Roussanne. Yellow straw color. A well developed and sweet nose, reminding more of a sweet wine, showing lavish aromas of honey and linden mixed with dried stone fruits. Full, ample and unctuous on the palate, low acidity but still gaining credits by showing richness. Medium plus finish, a bit spicy. (88/100)

The salty flavors of the sea food dish paired extremely well with the sweet aromas of this white wine.

2008 M. Chapoutier Domaine Tournon Lady’s Lane Heathcote-Victoria Shiraz Australia

Decanted and left to breath for almost 2 hours and it still did not open up completely. This is far away from the unpleasant Australian fruit bombs. Deep red color. The nose is well developed and tempered, but showing good complexity and depth. It is ripe but there is more than just fruit behind it. Full bodied, rich and powerful, well balanced, the wine remains velvety on the palate, with sweet ripe tannins that feel completely integrated and flavors of dried figs, liquorice, black pepper, blackberry and bilberry jams. The finish is long with spicy, pure blackberry essence. The wine is big but it is elegant and well contained. 14.5% (90-91/100)

It paired pretty well with the pasta dish.

2008 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Napa Valley

This one was decanted and left to breath for about 2h and a half. Opaque, deep red-purple color. This is an absolutely amazing wine. It has 15.5% alcohol, but it is perfectly balanced and you wouldn’t guess the high level.

A well developed, intense, elegant and complex nose, it has depth and it shows layers as it opens up. The aromatic profile shows sweet cassis, liquorice, smoke, leather, prunes, bilberry, cedar and sandalwood. Remarkably well structured, balanced, rich and elegant, this full bodied wine displays intense flavors complexity, which makes it rather difficult to describe, but it is the reason why it is a success. It is rich in tannin and from the first sip you can feel it is a manly wine, supple, showing distinguished flavors of prunes, blackberry, cedar and dark chocolate. The finish is long and rich. A wine that is perfectly enjoyable as it is now, but also with tremendous aging potential; it can evolve further and develop even more complexities. 15.5% (93/100)

It matched very well the duck breast’s juiciness, while the sweet sauce brought freshness to this wine.

Have I mentioned I love some MONDAY’s ?

1990 Chateau Beau Sejour Becot & 2000 Mas de Daumas Gassac

October 22, 2012 4 comments

It is still a warm autumn in Bucharest, yesterday we had around 20-22 Celsius degrees and it was probably the last weekend this season when we could stay outside in the yard and enjoy a home cooked lunch. As I haven’t had a burger in a while and the topic came into a discussion with a friend this week I decided to prepare my own and invite him over for a complete cooking session.

I lowered the amount of meat I am eating for some time already – and already lost about 5 kilos so, to keep up the same spirit, we prepared a low fat beef and turkey burger greased just with some mild amount of goose fat. We went through the whole process of mincing the meat ourselves and then spiced it up with salt, pepper, sweet dry red bell pepper powder, minced fresh garlic and finely cut red onion, greased with 3 small table spoons of goose fat for almost 2 kilos of meat. The final blend resembled more sausage aromas than a regular burger due to the garlic and red onion.

Prepared a barbecue outside and we grilled the burgers on a low fire for about 15 minutes enough to still preserve some juices on the inside. Used some slices of home baked bread, that you usually find on the country side if you still have relatives there, toasted a little bit on the grill. Put some home pickled cucumbers, onions, ketchup and green salad and: Boy, were they good !! Could not stop only after the third burger was gone in my belly and I was completely full.

During the whole cooking we had a very nice dry Italian sparkling: 2007 Millesimato Contrato, just to warm up the spirits.

The wine pairing was a classic that proved to be a happy choice. Happy in the sense that the wine was so good that it did not actually need any pairing and it simply shinned, just like gold in the mud, by itself. Uncorked the wine and left it to slowly aerate in the bottle for about 1h 30 min.

1990 Chateau Beau Sejour Becot St-Emilion Grand Cru

1990 was a stellar vintage in Bordeaux, it was a combination of both a larger crop and excellent quality. Most of the wines are maturing and a pleasure to drink now, while the Premier Grand Cru’s will still benefit from further aging in the bottle. Chateau Beau Sejour Becot saw a huge increase in quality over the last decade, the 2006 bottling being highly acclaimed by the Decanter tasting panel.

The 1990 has a beautiful deep ruby red color with no signs of being tired. From the first moment you uncork the wine the fruit manifests its presence grandly – for a wine at the age of 22, and the bouquet seduces you. The nose is well developed, really intense, maturing and exhibits refreshing aromas of fully ripe red and yellow apples (the same aromas you get after you peel off the apples), sea weed – saline aroma, smoke, a layer of black currant and cassis, black cherry, coffee, tobacco and tea leaves. Medium to full bodied, the texture is seamless, the tannins perfectly blended, the acidity is top notch and together with the left over tannins create a structure that will keep this wine on tip top conditions for longer time. The flavors of coffee in different levels of roasting and preparation mixed with delicate sweet fruit produce a very pleasant sensation on the palate. The finish is long, fresh, showing the same delicate red fruit and coffee flavors. This is a very nice wine, maturing, but still young, preserving the fruit very well and a great testament that older Bordeaux can be sometimes dead gorgeous and you do not have to pay big money for it. 12.5% (92/100 for the wine and 93/100 for the over all experience)

We had another wine after the 1990 Bordeaux and I initially intended to mention it in a separate post, but I believe it is worth mentioning here just to make parallels with the older red.

2000 Mas de Daumas Gassac Rouge Vin de Pays de l’Herault

This is another great classic of the Languedoc and a pioneer for quality driven wines. I already tasted a 1998 Mas de Daumas Gassac that I enjoyed a lot in the recent past. This is a typical 80% Cabernet Sauvignon blend, the rest being other 8 different grape varieties. The wine was not decanted, and perhaps that was not the best move, and did not breath more than 30 min. When the wine is good the sipping happens at a quicker pace.

The 2000 vintage was excellent almost everywhere in France. The color is dark red, almost garnet and, again, young and missing any signs of age. The bouquet is well developed, intense, young and still developing. The initial nose exhibits an unusual, but nice aroma, of freshly baked and just taken from the oven Christmas cake, a sensation of warm dough crust mixed with hints of vanilla and ripe cherries. As it aerates, it shows more Cab Sauv typicality, with black currant, hot minerals, dry red bell peppers, spices, but overall it remains a classic wine. Fuller body in the mouth, the tannins show more nerve and grip, well structured, balanced, with plenty of fruit, black tea, spices, always following a classic style. The finish is slightly shorter than the 1990 Beau Sejour Becot, but still medium plus long, with assertive tannins. There is a tremendous aging potential for this wine, it will probably need at least 3-4 more years for the tannins to loosen up that grip. However, the wine is very good already. It will easily match the present age of the 1990 Beau Sejour Becot. (90-91/100)

Both wines have a lot of sediment, so be careful when you pour the last drops. This was both a great academic exercise and a fully rewarding drinking experience. It was a good Sunday.

2000 Domaine de Ravanes Les Gravieres du Taurou Grande Reserve

October 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Coming from the Languedoc region, the 1999 Gravieres du Taurou, a Merlot based wine, stole the show in a blind tasting in 2004 by scoring higher than a Petrus 1999. Les Gravieres du Taurou 2000 is a blend of Merlot and Petit Verdot with a small part of Cabernet Sauvignon.

2000 Domaine de Ravanes Les Gravieres du Taurou Grande Reserve

Had the wine from a Magnum. Uncorked the wine, decanted and left it to breath for almost 2 h. From the get go the wine shows an intense, rich and layered bouquet. It exhibit, initially, a slightly metallic flavor on the palate on the first pour, but after almost 2 h in the decanter, the wine loses any unpleasant odors and shows beautiful ripe blue and red fruits, vanilla (even at this age), game, spices and tobacco. Really dense, structured and well balanced (14.5% alc), it has a healthy backbone of ripe tannins, great richness on the palate and an ample mouth feel. The finish is long, spicy and lingering. There is no rush to uncork this wine – at least not from a Magnum, as the wine has a long life ahead and more room for evolution. This is a big wine that impresses not based on elegance, but more by being powerful and balanced at the same time. (92/100)

2007 Domaine de Ravanes Les Gravieres du Taurou

Blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Petit Verdot aged for 18-24 months in new French oak barrels. A rather unusual blend of grapes for this part of France (Languedoc) where Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault reign. Labelled as Vin de Pays des Coteaux de Murviel.

2007 Domaine de Ravanes Les Gravieres du Taurou

Opaque, dark red-purple color. Developing nose and very youthful, with intense aromas of stewed dark fruits, blackberry liqueur, cocoa powder, toasty oak and plenty of spices. Full bodied, dense and extracted, with plenty of assertive tannins showing a firm grip in the mouth, it feels very closed on the palate. Medium plus spicy finish and not too expressive for the moment. It needs more time to open up but it has potential. 14.5% alc (89/100)

2007 Chateau Puech Haut Tete de belier rouge

March 24, 2012 Leave a comment

I always enjoy wines from this producer. I liked a lot the 2004 and I was eager to try the 2007 because ’07 was a special, excellent vintage in the Southern France.

2007 Chateau Puech-Haut Tete de Belier rouge

Dark ruby red color. This is really young, plenty of red berries, licorice, spices and well mastered oak. Full bodied, well balanced, mouth-filling, quite smooth, with lots of flavors of ripe red fruits and coffee. What I enjoy the most about this wine is how well balanced is the 15% alcohol and also the great acidity that offers a weightless texture and makes it very pleasant to drink without feeling fat, heavy or too ripe. Medium plus finish with flavors of coffee, spices and red fruit jams. Too young for now. (88/100)

Categories: Coteaux du Languedoc

2011 Chateau Puech-Haut Tete de Belier Rose

March 19, 2012 3 comments

Had this wine accompanying a grilled turkey breast with roasted potatoes but also with dessert. It was versatile enough to go well with both dishes and I actually enjoyed it a lot. Ladies really loved it. Made from 100% Mourvedre.

2011 Chateau Puech-Haut Tete de Belier Rose

Light pink salmon color. Really fresh nose with mild sweetness, candied strawberry, ripe cherry, red apple, pink grapefruit and floral. Medium plus body, vibrant, lively on the palate, mouth-watering and very refreshing. Medium plus long finish, with lingering pink grapefruit and floral flavors. This is by far the best Rose I had so far and I am really no Rose fan I can tell you that. As good as a Rose can get. 13.5% alc (89-90/100)

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