June 2010 “Grand Cru Selections” Wine Notes

Increasing connectivity.  The richness of online media.  And your positive feedback.  All tell me it’s time for an electronic archive of my wine club notes.

Members who used to receive dead tree versions of my notes can now access them whenever you need answers to questions such as:

Q: “What’s the deal with that wine you featured in our club months ago?  We hid it under our bed and forgot about it.  Now we need to know what it cost, what to serve it with, and how to get more of it!”

A: Easy.  From my homepage (www.DaveTheWineMerchant.com), click the “Blog” link and select the category “wine”.  Then use the search box (look!  I’ts hanging out up there in the top left corner right now!) to find the wine you’re after.   Just type the vintage and the producer and you should find what you’re after (ex. “2006 Arcadian”).

Q: “I keep a notebook with all your notes and recipes from each shipment, but I can’t find the ones that go with (this wine). Before I pull the cork, what should I pair with it?  Is there an easy recipe for it?”

A: Another easy one!  From my homepage, click the “Recipe” link and use the search box to find my recommended pairing.

Q: I just found these great _(insert seasonal ingredient here!) at the farmer’s market!  What can I make with them and what wine should I pair with it?

A: Same as above – go to my recipe blog and use the search box to type in your ingredient, or the season, or just about anything you can think of.  Go ahead – give it a try!

Do you like this new format?  Hate it??  Please weigh in with your comments, below!

Cheers!
Dave
www.DaveTheWineMerchant.com

866-746-7293

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Summary of “Grand Cru” Selections

for June, 2010

($150/quarter Join Here)

  1. Tournesol, 2004 Napa Valley Estate Bordeaux Blend.  $45 (member price starts at $40.50) Buy it/Rate it Here
  2. Chateau de la Font du Loup, 2004 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Puy Rolland $49 (member price starts at $44.10)  Buy it/Rate it Here
  3. 2006 Rene Lequin-Colin, Chassagne-Montrachet, 1er Cru Cailleret $46 (member price starts at $41.40)  Buy it/Rate it Here

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1 0f 3) Tournesol, 2004 Napa Valley Estate Bordeaux Blend

$45 (member price starts at $40.50) Buy it/Rate it Here

In French, Tournasol is the name for this winery’s iconic logo – the Sunflower.  The literal translation is “To the Sun“, after the flower’s ability to face the sun throughout the day as it moves across the sky.

2004 marked the debut of this winery.  Subsequent vintages of Tournesol’s Bordeaux Blend are selling at $60, despite the most depressed market Napa has seen in a long time.  So when they approached me with a special price on their debut vintage – at 300 cases, on that was too small for their sales channel – I jumped at the chance to introduce it to you at this lower price.  This is a well-made wine that will appeal to new-world wine lovers.

Tasting Notes – Ruby red, with leading aromas one can follow reliably down the path towards Bordeaux Blends from Napa.  Black fruits, a hint of flinty steel, black olives, dried herbs and warm, smoky leather and sweet oak spice.  A most interesting flutter of milk chocolate on the finish.

Fruit from the estate vineyard was fermented separately, by varietal.  Barrels from a wide number of forests and coopers were used, where some of the varietals lived for as long as 20 months – one sip tells you the winemaker (Ken Bernards, of Ancien fame) spared no expense on the oak regimen. Each barrel was kept as a separate lot, then blending trials began in late 2006. Over the course of that first year, the staff at Tournesol developed this wine, defining the style that has become their signature wine.
  • Grape Source: 100% Tournesol Estate Vineyards
  • Appellation: Napa Valley, in the eastern foothills south of Atlas Peak
  • Winemaking: Certified Organic Winery
  • Production: <300 cases

Tournesol, 2004 Napa Valley Estate Bordeaux Blend

$45 (member price starts at $40.50) Buy it/Rate it Here

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2 of 3) Chateau de la Font du Loup, 2004 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Puy Rolland

$49 (member price starts at $44.10) Buy it/Rate it Here

A unique wine from Chateauneuf-du-Pape –100% Grenache!
The Wine
Grenache has always taken the leading role in the 13-grape blend that defines these “Kings of the Rhone”. But this is the first C-d-P I’ve tasted where the wine was 100% Grenache. And I like it! But then, what’s not to like when the grapes come from “Le Puy Rolland” – a vineyard planted 90 years ago!?

Look for the noted “flavors of the pebbles” (photo, left) which marks wines from this region. The Chateau’s vineyards also have some alluvial soil mixed with their stones, though both are glacial vestiges.  

Made from vines that are 80-100 years old, the grapes for this wine are grown on a single parcel of land. Richly structured black fruits, lively game and earth notes, and deep, dark and smoky fruit on the long finish – reminds me of berry pies baked in a dutch oven over a camp fire.

This estate is now in its fourth generation of descendants of Great Grandpa Jean-Roch Melia, who founded it in the first half of the 1900’s.  The current caretakers – Anne Charlotte Melia and her husband Laurent are working to elevate the label to the top tier of C-d-P wines.  The name of the estate – La Font du Loup, or “the fountain of the wolves” – comes from a natural spring on the property which has sated the thirst of Mount Ventoux wolves ever since memory began.

Map of Southern RhoneThe Region

The term “Chateauneuf-du-Pape” roughly translates as “The Pope’s new Castle“, a term referring to a 70-year period of history when the Papal residency was moved to Avignon. The Popes who sat on French soil were big wine lovers, but at first their wine came from Burgundy, as the Rhone wines of Avignon were far inferior.

They did, however, do much to promote better varietal selection and vineyard/wine-making practices.  During the installment ceremony of the second Avignon pope (John the 22nd) records indicate that wines of the Northern Rhone were served at the Pope’s palace.  To gain such a prestigious and noteworthy imbiber was sufficient for the proud locals to coin the phrase “Vin du Pape” (wine of the Pope), the basis from which the current name evolved.

For wine lovers and history buffs, a visit to the Rhone valley lives with you the rest of your life.  From the antiquities of Roman Ruins – the Pont du Gard perhaps the most famous – to Van Gough’s final years, Nostradamus’ birth place, and even the sights and smells of the lavender fields, this is a place that warms its way into your soul and refuses to leave.

Chateau de la Font du Loup, 2004 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Puy Rolland

$49 (member price starts at $44.10) Buy it/Rate it Here

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3 of 3) Rene Lequin-Colin, 2006 Chassagne-Montrachet, 1er Cru Cailleret

$46 (member price starts at $41.40) Buy it/Rate it Here

The Lequin family’s roots intertwine with Burgundy’s vines all the way back to 1679.  When René Lequin married Josette Colin – from another well-established wine making family, they created Lequin-Colin to craft wine from their 22.5 acres of vineyards scattered across some of Burgundy’s best-known areas – Santenay, Chassagne-Montrachet, Pommard, and Nuits Saint Georges.

The Lequin-Colin winemaking tradition has now passed on to the second generation, as son François has joined the winemaking team (in center of photo, left).

Unlike Chablis’ old tradition of eschewing oak on its Chardonnay, the white wines from the rest of Burgundy are not quite as naked.  But these wines are still rather scantily clad relative to their new world counterparts, with just 25% – 30% of the barrels being new each year – a winemaking decision that allows the fruit to dominate this wine’s experience.  The grapes are crushed and pumped directly into barrels, where they ferment slowly at cool temperatures.

The barrels are stirred weekly (a process called batonage) throughout the winter.  The first racking occurs in the Spring, with some of the spent yeast cells remaining with the wine until the second racking at the end of July, in preparation for bottling at the end of August.  The bottles wine then rests for six months prior to release.

Rene Lequin-Colin, 2006 Chassagne-Montrachet, 1er Cru Cailleret

$46 (member price starts at $41.40) Buy it/Rate it Here

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Become a Subscriber! Three wines per quarterly shipment. Up tpo $150 per shipment. Join Here

Cheers!
Dave
www.DaveTheWineMerchant.com

June, 2010 “Collectible Selections” Wine Notes

Increasing connectivity.  The richness of online media.  And your positive feedback.  All indicate it’s time to begin an electronic archive of my wine club notes.   Club members can now access my wine notes and recipes to answer your most frequently emailed questions, such as:

Q: “What’s the deal with that wine you featured in our club months ago?  We hid it under our bed and forgot about it.  Now we need to know what it cost, what to serve it with, and how to get more of it!”

A: Easy.  From my homepage (www.DaveTheWineMerchant.com), click the “Blog” link and select the category “wine”.  Then use the search box (look!  I’ts hanging out up there in the top left corner right now!) to find the wine you’re after.   Just type the vintage and the producer and you should find what you’re after (ex. “2006 Arcadian”).

Q: “I keep a notebook with all your notes and recipes from each shipment, but I can’t find the ones that go with (this wine). Before I pull the cork, what should I pair with it?  Is there an easy recipe for it?”

A: Another easy one!  From my homepage, click the “Recipe” link and use the search box to find my recommended pairing.

Q: I just found these great _(insert seasonal ingredient here!) at the farmer’s market!  What can I make with them and what wine should I pair with it?

A: Same as above – go to my recipe blog and use the search box to type in your ingredient, or the season, or just about anything you can think of.  Go ahead – give it a try!

Do you like this new format?  Hate it??  I look forward to your comments, below!

Cheers!
Dave
www.DaveTheWineMerchant.com

866-746-7293

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

My Three Collectible Selections

June, 2010 (Summary Listing)

  1. Cain Cuvee (NV6), Napa Bordeaux Blend.  $34 (member price starts at $30.60) (Buy it/Rate it Here)
  2. Lang & Reed, 2008 Cabernet Franc, Lake County. $22 (member price starts at $19.80)  (Buy it/Rate it Here)
  3. Staete Landt, 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (Marlborough). $21.50 (member price starts at $19.35) Buy it/Rate it Here

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My First Collectible Selection

for June, 2010 (Join Here)

Cain Cuvee “NV6” Napa Valley

Buy It Here $34 (member price starts at $30.60)

A blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Cabernet Franc, this wine drinks well now, but will improve for another decade!

Some 15 years ago, I splurged on a bottle of wine from Cain Vineyard. I saved it for years, waiting for a special night to justify popping the cork on this well-aged treasure.  Being single at the time, I had visions of this wine being an irresistible instrument of seduction.  But it was eventually opened one night on my own, after a particularly difficult day at work. By then it was ten years old, and the pleasure it brought erased the day’s stress so effectively that I even called some wine-loving friend so we could marvel over the wine’s amazingness. It was even better the next night – an indication that the mountain fruit in this wine would have allowed it to improve for many more years in bottle.

Cain Vineyard produces three wines of note – Cain Five (using the five Bordeaux varietals – about $100), the Cain Concept (about $50 – $60) and the non-vintage Cain Cuvee (NV6 stands for Non-Vintage, sixth year) which is is a blend of Merlot (to provide a broad, smooth base) and mountain-side Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, which bring structure and aromatic complexity. 55% of the blend comes from the 2006 vintage, 45% from 2005. This wine will reward cellaring for another five years.

Food Pairings – This blend is more complex and softer than Napa Cabernets, this wine’s moderate alcohol and structure allows it to pair with a wide variety of foods.  But it also is delicious on its own, rewarding the curious palate with an evolving experience as the wine opens up over the course of hours.  A year-round wine, I think you’ll find it more attractive during the summer months if you serve it a bit cooler than during the winter months.

Buy It Here $34 (member price starts at $30.60)

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My Second Collectible Selection

June, 2010 “REDS ONLY” Members (Join Here)

Lang & Reed, 2008 Cabernet Franc, Lake County

Buy it Here at $22 (member prices start at $19.80)

Lang and Reed specializes in Cabernet Franc from California fruit.  Taking inspiration for the world’s best Cabernet Franc regions, their wines have one stylistic foot in Bordeaux and one in the Loire. Try one soon, you won’t be sorry!

Cabernet Franc is common in the Right Bank of Bordeaux, where it is blended with Merlot. It is also common in the Loire Valley, where it is the primary red varietal in my favorite wines from Chinon, Bourgueil and many smaller areas. But the wines of these two regions are entirely different, with those from the Right Bank being riper and more robust wines, those from the Loire being leaner and earthier.

John Skupny (Lang & Reed’s owner/Winemaker, who named the winery after their two sons) combines California’s ripe juiciness with Cabernet Franc’s natural tea-leaf characteristics. The result is a cherry-inflected red wine that seemingly pairs with almost everything.

At Left, Lang demonstrates how to get a brix sample, from shots of his recent visit to the Loire region with his charming new wife, Megan.  Back on this side of the pond, the 2008 Lang & Reed comes from four vineyards – one in the heart of Napa Valley and the other three from the northern reaches of Lake County:

1. Stanton Vineyard: Though only a small percent of the assemblage, this fruit provides the bright, crisp, cherry aroma and flavors in this wine.

2. The High Chaparral Vineyard: Located high up in the red hills of Lake County, just north of Kelseyville, it was planted to Cabernet Franc back in the 70’s. It is planted on its own roots, a true Franc de Pied, which bring deep structure and tannin to the wine.

3 & 4. Cross Springs Vineyard & La Sierra Vineyard: Both vineyards are found above the 2,000 ft elevation in the High Valley appellation of Lake County, rounding out the assemblage of this 100% Cabernet Franc wine.

By The Numbers
Varietal Composition: 100% Cabernet Franc (95% Lake County, 5% Napa Valley)
Alcohol Content: 13.9% by Volume
Total Acidity: 0.53gm/100ml, pH = 3.90
Cooperage: 9 months in 60-gallon French Oak
Production: 3,086 cases

Food Pairings – Another great summer wine, with slightly herbaceous notes that suggest pairing with vegetables, and a richness that suggest said veggies be grilled.  Less structured than its old world counterparts, with a broader appeal and a wider list of food pairing possibilities.  Still, I recommend the usual suspects – goat cheese (especially toasted on crostini), anything with mushrooms, and for those not opposed – pate!   Serve this wine around 60 – 65 degrees – so pop it in the fridge for a half hour before popping the cork!

Wine #2 – the Lang & Reed, 2008 Cabernet Franc, Lake County

Buy it Here at $22 (member prices start at $19.80)

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My Final Collectible Selection

for June, 2010 (Join Here)

Staete Landt, 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (Marlborough)

Buy it Here $21.50 (member prices start at $19.35)

A premium Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc, and well worth the price.  Rich and herbaceous, with racy acidity and pronounced grapefruit and citrus aromas.

When the Dutch Sea Captain Abel Tasman discovered New Zealand in 1642, he named it “Staete Landt”, which roughly means “Land discovered in honor of the Dutch Republic”. Today the name lends itself very nicely to this winery, founded and run by Netherland natives (and spouses) Ruud Maasdam and Dorien Vermaas.

I met Dorien recently at a large tasting, where her wines were among my favorites. I’ve brought two of their wines into my portfolio – their Sauvignon Blanc and their Pinot Noir – both of which are classic examples of the New Zealand style and terroir.

This wine is so rich and herbaceous, I enjoy it on its own. But it varies from the typical Kiwi mold for Sauvignon Blanc – they pick separately each of this wine’s six different plots of fruit.  The fruit from the earlier picking lends the herb notes and crisp acidity (pH is a low 3.14 – grapefruit is 3.0 – 3.3!) while the later pickings bring fruit with rich tropical fruit notes.  A summer porch wine, this could easily be your appetizer course!

Food Pairings – the citrus notes suggest savory foods with cooked with citrus ingredients.  But it overpowers fruit served on its own as the wine is not sweet, and a dry wine with fruit will seem austere and quite unpleasant.  Good with acidic cheeses such as goat’s cheese, try this wine with a great with grilled cheese sandwiches (use soft bread, buttered on the outside, good melty cows milk cheese, and a bit of bacon or other crisp meat!)  Better yet, take inspiration from the menu at San Francisco’s latest gourmet ghetto restaurant, the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen.  Oysters also beckon, but they need lemon or lime juice and nothing more.  Grilled fish with citrus and capers, or chicken picatta are excellent choices, especially served with spinach wilted in a pan with lemon zest, garlic and a smidge of anchovy paste.

Wine #3 – Staete Landt, 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (Marlborough)

Buy it Here $21.50 (member prices start at $19.35)

2010-06 “Crowd Pleasing Selections” – Wine Notes

Increasing connectivity, the richness of online media and your positive feedback tell me it’s time to begin an electronic archive of my wine club notes.   Club members can now access my wine notes and recipes to answer your most frequently emailed questions, such as:

Q: What’s the deal with that wine you featured in our club months ago?  We hid it under our bed and forgot about it.  Now we need to know what it cost, what to serve it with, and how to get more of it!

A: Easy.  From my homepage (www.DaveTheWineMerchant.com), click the “Blog” link and select the category “wine”.  Then use the search box (look!  I’ts hanging out up there in the top left corner right now!) to find the wine you’re after.   Just type the vintage and the producer and you should find what you’re after (ex. “2006 Arcadian”).

Q: I keep a notebook with all your notes and recipes from each shipment, but I can’t find the ones that go with (this wine) . Before I pull the cork, what should I pair with it?  Is there an easy recipe for it?

A: Another easy one!  From my homepage, click the “Recipe” link and use the search box to find my recommended pairing.

Q: I just found these great _(insert seasonal ingredient here!) at the farmer’s market!  What can I make with them and what wine should I pair with it?

A: Same as above – go to my recipe blog and use the search box to type in your ingredient, or the season, or just about anything you can think of.  Go ahead – give it a try!

Do you like this new format?  Hate it??  I look forward to your comments, below!

Cheers!
Dave
www.DaveTheWineMerchant.com

866-746-7293

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Crowd Pleasing Selections for June, 2010

  1. Colombelle, 2007 Rouge VdP Cotes de Gascogne $10.50 (starting at just $9.05 for club members)  Click to Buy
  2. (RED Only members) Demetria Estate, 2007 Pantheon, Red Rhone Blend $19 (starting at $17.10 for club members). Click to Buy
  3. Diamond Oaks, 2007 Carneros Chardonnay$15.50 (starting at $13.95 for club members) –  (Click to buy)

Continue reading “2010-06 “Crowd Pleasing Selections” – Wine Notes”