Saturday, January 14, 2012

Le Caveau - First Tasting of 2012 - 1/14/2012

Le Caveau - First Tasting of 2012 - 1/14/2012
Tasting notes compiled by Dan Crawford of Le Caveau

"1) 2009 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay Santa Barbara County - $24.99
100 % Chardonnay
This Chardonnay is all about citrus, stone fruit, smooth and integrated flavors, creamy and tense, with apricot, apple, and lemon nuances. Barrel fermented and aged in French oak. 65% Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay and 35% Rancho Vinedo Vineyard.

Jim Clendenden’s goal is to establish guidelines and practices that will sustain the American wine growing culture. More specifically, he produces wines with a lower alcohol content and higher acidic quality that expresses the nuances of terroir, which is in contrast to the mass produced, point seekers that litter the Cali landscape.

2) 2009 Friedrich Becker Estate Pinot Noir Pfalz - $22.99
100% Pinot Noir
This Estate Pinot Noir is a lovely, clear, bright garnet color with a fantastic aroma of spicy strawberry, black plums, dried tobacco and a bit of chalkiness (a direct result of Pfalz’s limestone soil – perfect for Pinot Noir). On the palate those spicy strawberries are just as brilliant, as is the peppery dustiness that I love so much in a well-made Pinot Noir, and the spiciness lingers for what seems like forever on the tongue.

Hailing from the Pfalz region on the French-German border, Friedrich Becker is widely considered to be one of the great Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) producers in Germany. Indeed, Friedrich Becker’s single vineyard bottling from its Kammerberg vineyard is thought by some to be one of the best expressions of Pinot Noir in all the world (hence the $100+ price tag). Luckily for us, however, the winery saves plenty of their Kammerberg grapes to include in their much more reasonably priced Estate bottling.

3) 2009 Domaine de Fontenille Côtes du Luberon - $13.99
50% Grenache 50% Syrah
This blend displays a complex array of aromas and flavors, ranging from black cherry to black olive and from clove to licorice. It’s richly structured, yet juicy, with a velvety feel. Drink now-2018

The Leveque brothers, Jean and Pierre, make the most Chateauneuf-like wine of the Luberon. Pierre did his apprenticeship with Paul Avril at Clos du Pape, which might explain in part why Robert Parker described the ’92 Fontenille as "resembles Beaucastel". Another reason could be the cepages (varietals) - nearly 50% each Grenache and Syrah, for the cuvee we have selected. Yet another reason might be the extremely low yields - at the levels of appellation Chateauneuf. Lastly, of course, our selection was bottled unfiltered. The result, a fabulous Chateauneuf for much less money, but also a wine with its own unique character.

4) 2009 Cuvée de Peña VDP des Pyrénées-Orientales - $14.99
40%Grenache, 40% Syrah, 20% Carignan
90 Points: "The as usual Carignan-based red 2009 Cuvee de Peña is simply the finest of its illustrious bargain-priced breed that I have tasted, which also makes it a mind-boggling value! Clean and polished, concentrated but unexaggerated, this delivers sweet fruit with soil and soul. Ripe cherry, black raspberry, and purple plum are shadowed by their distilled counterparts in a high-toned nose and practically gush on the palate. Pungent, resinous herbs, smoky black tea, toasted pecan, brown spices, and crushed stone all serve for aromatic and gustatory interest, leading to a brightly juicy yet deeply rich finish." - David Schildknecht - The Wine Advocate

The heart and soul of Peña is winemaker Joseph "Tony" Gonzalez, who has 20+ years’ experience at Peña, a brilliant flair for winemaking, and an instinctive and profound knowledge of the vineyards and terroir. He has been offered more money by private producers, but loves his job working with the growers and crafting the wines of Peña.

5) 2010 Tablas Creek Vineyard 'Patelin de Tablas' Paso Robles - $19.99
39% Syrah 36% Grenache 22% Mouvedre 3% Counoise
This offering displays ripe blackberries, dark strawberries, subtle black licorice and minerality on the nose. Dusty tannins linger on the palate with a juicy acidity that balances this wine. The wine incorporates fruit from seven top vineyards in Paso Robles, each vineyard selected for its quality. Like many red wines from the Rhône Valley, it is based on the dark fruit, mineral and spice of Syrah, with the brightness and fresh acidity of Grenache, the structure and meatiness of Mourvèdre and a small addition of Counoise for complexity.

Tablas Creek Vineyard is the result of a decades-long friendship between the Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel and Robert Haas, longtime importer and founder of Vineyard Brands. The families created a partnership in 1985 and in 1989 purchased a 120-acre property in the hilly Las Tablas district of west Paso Robles for its similarities to Châteauneuf du Pape: limestone soils, a favorable climate, and rugged terrain. "

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