Archive for January 16th, 2009

Miki San and I attended an In Vino Veritas tasting on Thursday the 15th.  Winemaker Pierre-Jean Villa led us through nine of his bottlings from Les Vins de Vienne, which is located in the town of the same name in the Northern Rhone Valley.  I was quite impressed with this Domaine.  Phil from In Vino Veritas picked this domaine as his favorite producer for the second year in a row from Le Grand Tasting in Paris.  My two fav’s were the 1998 Sotanum and the 2005 Taburnum, and frankly the only bottling that didn’t impress me was the 2007 L’Élouède.

Les Vins de VienneHere’s a quick tid bit on the terroir and the producer…

For centuries, the vineyards of Seyssuel and the wines from Vienne have been closely linked.  During the Roman Empire, Vienne was the capital of Allobrogia, and the vineyards of Seyssuel were already known for the quality of their wines. Pliny the Elder wrote that a plant with black grapes, known as Vitis allobrogica, grown in the area of Vienne, produces 3 crus: Sotanum, Taburnum and Heluicum.

Gaillard, Villa, Cuilleron et VillardIn 1996, three friends, passionate and established winemakers from the right bank of the Rhone, started a great venture — the renaissance of the ancient vineyard of Seyssuel.  Yves Cuilleron, Pierre Gaillard and François Villard were the original three.  However, in 2003, Pierre-Jean Villa joined the group, taking charge of the domaine’s operations.  Today, the domaine consists of 18 hectares.

(Source: http://www.vinsdevienne.com/)

In order of tasting…

2006 Les Barcillants Cornas2006 Les Barcillants
Appellation: Cornas, North Rhone
Varietal: 100% syrah
Price: $60
Tasting Notes: Beautiful violet in the glass.  Aromas of pepper, black cherry, blueberry and Christmas potpourri.  A smooth, acidic, robust wine with flavors of dark chocolate, blueberries and black cherries.  600 cases produced.
Rating: 14+/20

Wine Spectator 90: A fresh, bright, modern Cornas, with ripe, clean raspberry and black cherry fruit that races along, with hints of mineral, olive and violet in the background. Drink now through 2011. –JM

2006 Les Archevêques Saint-Joseph2006 Les Archevêques
Appellation: Saint-Joseph, North Rhone
Varietal: 100% syrah
Price: Approx. $30
Tasting Notes: Beautiful violet in the glass.  An immediate subtle attack of manure (not unpleasant I promise) that later diminished, leaving lasting aromas of strong earth and black fruits, followed by plum and prunes.  An acidic and slightly bitter wine with controlled tannins and black cherries on the palate.
Rating: 14/20

2006 Sotanum2006 Sotanum
Appellation: Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes
Varietal: 100% syrah
Price: $68
Tasting Notes: Beautiful violet in the glass.  At first a subtle, not too expressive nose with hints of plum, that opened up within minutes to pepper, barnyard and black fruit.  A very fruit forward, easy drinking wine with controlled tannins.  There are flavors of plum and a very mild hint of grapefruit peel, followed by a long finish of prunes.  1,250 cases produced.
Rating: 15/20

Wine Spectator 92: Supple in texture, but with nice drive to the raspberry ganache, lavender, mineral and sweet spice flavors. The very long, silky finish has latent richness and fine, embedded acidity. Should flesh out nicely in the cellar.. Best from 2009 through 2014. –JM

2006 Les Essartailles Cote-Rotie2006 Les Essartailles
Appellation: Côte-Rôtie, North Rhone
Varietal: 100% syrah
Price: $77
Tasting Notes: Beautiful violet in the glass.  Similar very subtle manure attack as the Saint-Joseph but more lasting, which is actually interesting and complex and not at all a turn off.  The nose is complimented very well with aromas of plum, pepper and raspberry.  Light tannins and a smooth texture in the mouth with flavors of cedar and brambleberry.  1,100 cases produced.
Rating: 14+/20

Wine Spectator 93: A very juicy, modern style, with sweet spice, raspberry and graphite notes on top of sweet tobacco, iron and macerated olive hints, which keep this grounded in its appellation. Best from 2009 through 2017. –JM

1998 Sotanum
Appellation: Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes
Varietal: 100% syrah
Price: Approx. $30
Tasting Notes: A very expressive, calming and integrated nose.  There are aromas of raspberry, blackberry, you-name-it-berry, and barn, followed by hints of flowers, roses and minerality.  A very fruit forward wine with very subtle and smooth tannins.  Just slightly too sour but still well balanced.  There’s a strong plum flavor as well as currants and sour cherry and a very distant raisiny finish.
Rating: 16+/20 (My favorite wine of the tasting)
Note: Domaine’s first vintage

2007 La Chambée Condrieu2007 La Chambée
Appellation: Condrieu, North Rhone
Varietal: 100% viognier
Price: Approx. $70
Tasting Notes: Light straw in the glass.  Citric aromas of mandarine and apricot.  A tight palate with flavors coming out of pear, apricot, and light lime and peach peel.  600 cases produced.
Rating: 14+/20

Wine Spectator 93 (2006 vintage): Shows a hint of matchstick before quickly giving way to soft, creamy-textured Cavaillon melon, lemon zest and pear notes, all backed by a lingering, quartz-filled finish. Still a touch tight, but very long and pure. Drink now through 2011. –JM

2007 L'Élouède Saint-Joseph2007 L’Élouède
Appellation: Saint-Joseph, North Rhone
Blend: 60% marsanne, 40% roussanne
Price: $36
Tasting Notes: Very light honey yellow in the glass.  Aromas of cream, melon, apple, wet rock and mild spice.  Strong minerality in the mouth, as well as apples.  500 cases produced.
Rating: 13/20 (Least favorite in the tasting)

Wine Spectator 91 (2006 vintage): Very rich up front, with dried melon, tangerine, clementine and blanched almond notes laid over an almost oily frame, but then mouthwatering acidity and a bright minerality come in to help define and extend the finish. Drink now through 2009. –JM

2005 Taburnum Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes2005 Taburnum
Appellation: Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes
Varietal: 100% viognier
Price: $55
Tasting Notes: Golden honey in the glass.  A beautiful bouquet right off the bat, like honey drizzled over white peaches, flowers and polished rocks.  This wine smells sweet but it’s dry in the mouth, full-bodied and balanced.  There’s a vibrant acidity and minerality with flavors of apple, mandarine, pear, and peach, leaving an apple sauce finish.  A very expressive and complex wine.  500 cases produced.
Rating: 15+/20 (Second favorite wine of the tasting)

Wine Spectator 93: Bold, with white peach, green fig, blanched almond and persimmon notes. The long, creamy finish really glides nicely, with buried minerality stretching it all out. Brings you back for more. Drink now through 2011. –JM

2007 Cépées Caties Condrieu2007 Cépées Caties
Appellation: Condrieu, North Rhone
Varietal: 100% viognier
Price: Approx. $50
Tasting Notes: Golden in the glass.  Very interesting nose with noble rotish, car factory aromas, as well as spicy white raisins and a light sherry flor nuance.  A very sweet and low acidity wine with a syrupy texture.  There are flavors of honey, baked apple, stewed prunes and a very long and lingering finish of raisins.  The finish followed me for over 15 minutes!  1,300 cases produced.
Rating: 14/20

Wine Spectator 92 (2004 vintage): Maple syrup in color, with a green edge, this exotic stickie sports intense date, green tea, clove and chocolate covered orange peel flavors and a long, vibrant finish. Almost Sherry-like in the end. Try with blue cheese and salted almonds. Drink now through 2010. –JM


Read Full Post »