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Northern Rhône

Alain Voge Les Vieilles Vignes Cornas 2014

Alain Voge Les Vieilles Vignes Cornas 2014

Crafted from 60 year-old biodynamically farmed Syrah, Alain Vogue's Les Vieilles Vignes Cornas 2014 is expressive, yet restrained. Blueberries and blackberries wind 'round earth, black olive, and pink peppercorn. As its opens, secondary aromas emerge: clove, cinnamon bark, cardamom, lanolin, spice, violets, incense. It’s poised, with all of the power Syrah commands, but there is freshness too. It ends on a decidedly mineral note, an arc of volcanic granite, long since decomposed. 13.5% ABV | Sample Alain Voge 91 Points...

M. Chapoutier Saint-Joseph Les Granits Blanc 2015

M. Chapoutier Saint-Joseph Les Granits Blanc 2015

M. Chapoutier's Saint-Joseph Les Granits Blanc 2015 opens with a smoky undertow that burns off like morning fog to reveal denser aromas of mandarin orange, lemon curd, poached pear, and a base note of grilled pineapple. In the mouth, this 100% Marsanne is round, silky, and wonderfully expressive—orchard fruit and orange pastille are enlivened by sonorous chords of pleasantly bitter pink grapefruit pith, baking spice, and crushed quartz. Incredible length. 13.5% ABV | Sample Maison M. Chapoutier 95 Points...

E. Guigal Château d'Ampuis Côte-Rôtie 2012

E. Guigal Château d’Ampuis Côte-Rôtie 2012

Seductive aromas of sous bois, mushroom, brambly forest fruit, cloves, cardamom, and violets, or perhaps an elusive note of heliotrope flow from the glass. Of note, Guigal's 2012 Château d'Ampuis is slightly lighter in body than the typical Cote-Rotie, but the intensity and palate tension is there—a framework of fine tannins and taught acidity that seamlessly knits together this soulful blend of 93% Syrah and 7% Viognier. The finish is one of subtle smoke and spice. 13.5% ABV | Sample E. Guigal 93 Points...

Paul Jaboulet Aîné Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert 2010

Paul Jaboulet Aîné Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert 2010

Infused with smoky blueberries and blackberry jam, and crowned by lighter notes of ash, dried violets, and baking spice—the Paul Jaboulet Aîné Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert 2010 has much to offer. It's softly textured on entry, with fine, slightly woody mahogany-tinged tannins encircling a richly fruited core. From start to finish, it's a seamless wine, with enough acid and energetic thrust to ensure longevity in the cellar. 13.5% ABV Maison Paul Jaboulet 9.2 Points...

Cave de Tain l'Hermitage Crozes-Hermitage Grand Classique 2016

Cave de Tain l’Hermitage Crozes-Hermitage Grand Classique 2016

A lovely winter white, the Cave de Tain Crozes-Hermitage Grand Classique 2016 is composed of 100% Marsanne, sourced from granitic slopes of Hermitage. It's got that classic Marsanne profile; Asian pear, white peach, blanched almond and just a touch of lanolin. I love the tension in this wine, one that perpetually borders on silky richness and mineral-driven acidity, with a prolonged finish of limestone and citrus. An excellent value. Sample Cave de Tain 9.1 Points...

Emmanuel Darnaud Mise en Bouche Crozes-Hermitage 2013

Emmanuel Darnaud Mise en Bouche Crozes-Hermitage 2013

Classic Crozes-Hermitage, the 2013 Emmanuel Darnaud Mise en Bouche is composed of 100% Syrah grown in gallet-studded Glacial alluvia. Brooding and baritone, the nose is laden in black fruit. Gamier notes and black olives evolve into blackberries steeped in fresh thyme, violets, and anise pastille. The attack is all black fruit, couched in firm, grippy tannins that terminate in a moderate, if slightly chalky finish accented by cedar and green peppercorn. 13.0% ABV Domaine Emmanuel Darnaud 9.0 Points...

Yves Cuilleron Saint-Joseph L'Amarybelle 2012

Yves Cuilleron Saint-Joseph L’Amarybelle 2012

I would love to revisit this after its had another decade to develop, the 2012 Yves Cuilleron L'Amarybelle is classic Saint-Joseph with complex layers that unfurl at a leisurely pace, revealing notes of blackberries, balsamic, damp tilth, incense, bay leaf, pink peppercorn, and violets. On entry, the initial impression is one of silkiness—a bit deceiving, because there is ample power and persistence on the finish, and a burst of acidity followed by masculine tones of iron ore, garrigue and spice. 12.5% ABV Domaine Yves Cuilleron 9.1 Points...

Rene Rostaing Côte-Rôtie Côte Blonde 1998

Rene Rostaing Côte-Rôtie Côte Blonde 1998

The epitome of old-school Côte-Rôtie, the 1998 Rostaing offers up an ever-evolving kaleidoscope of aromas: smokey bacon fat and animal notes at first, followed by sweet violets and steeped blackberries. It's quite lean on the palate, with ultra-fine, well integrated tannins—a mark of maturity—underpinned by high acidity and gamey-green notes of dill and green peppercorn, olives, and cold, compost-laden springtime soils. Domaine Rostaing 9.3 Points ...

Four La La's: La Landonne, La Mouline & La Turque at La Balena

Four La La’s: La Landonne, La Mouline & La Turque at La Balena

I have, in recent past, promoted and sold Guigal’s single-vineyard Côte-Rôties, La Landonne, La Mouline and La Turque (affectionately known as the La La’s) to fans and collectors all over the United States. An invitation to taste these wines is not something to pass up, an event made even more special considering the vintage—all three from 1999, and all three having received a perfect 100 points from Robert Parker. I have mixed feelings about Parker’s perfect 100s, but I’ll confine this post to discussing the La La’s. Certainly, I wanted to experience Guigal’s most sought after wines first hand. Invited by my generous friend and fellow wine lover John Bradford, the wines were lovingly uncorked at La Balena in downtown Carmel. We were joined by winemaker Morgan Clendenen of Cold Heaven Cellars and a young winemaker from Santa Ynez, Blake Sillex. You will find my tasting notes for Blake’s wine here: Vivino Together, we shared antipasti over a bottle of 1999 Domaine Leroy Pommard Les Vignots, which in and of itself, deserves mention. My first introduction to Leroy, managed by Dame Lalou Bize-Leroy was in watching A Year In Burgundy, if you have not seen the documentary, watch it. One gets a sense of Lalou’s person, her strength...

Tardieu-Laurent Hermitage Blanc 2008

Tardieu-Laurent Hermitage Blanc 2008

I've tasted Tardieu-Laurent Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and fell in love—the 2008 Hermitage blanc sports a nose of buttercream frosting, soft orchard fruits, orange marmalade and toasted hazelnuts. Round, silky and decadent, it's showing nicely now. There is a delicious interplay of oak and acid, fruit and toasted but notes. We served this with pan seared scallops and the roasted halibut encrusted with nuts and herbs. Sumptuous and lovely. Maison Tardieu-Laurent 9.3 Points...