Some fellow oenophile and wine bloggers got together at my favorite wine shop, Weygandt Wines, for an impromptu tasting. There was no theme, we all just brought a bottle we thought the others would find interesting. There were a surprising amount of unique, rare and nerdy wines. Some stood out from the pack, but I can honestly say I enjoyed every wine. It was great night of wine and conversation. I can't wait for the next one.
Whites and Nouveau
The whites were all unique and wonderful, while the Nouveau won over some haters.
- 2002 Philippe Prié Champagne Brut Tradition - France, Champagne
This Champagne was a great way to start off the evening. The lemon and wheat bread aromas were just explosive. The palate has a ton of acid and intense yeast. It's a powerful wine, with laser-like lime, pear and biscuit flavors. A long finish.
- 2006 Domaine Philippe & Vincent Jaboulet Hermitage Blanc - France, Northern Rhône, Hermitage
I brought this wine hoping to win over some people who are hesitant with rhone whites. This one had more than a few fans. Hazelnut, lanolin, smoke and lemon oil aromas. The lemon oil aroma is dead on, and reminds me of growing up when my mother would clean all her antiques with a lemon-based dusting oil. The palate is full of nutty, pear and yellow apple fruit, backed up with medium acid and a mineral streak that reminds me of oyster shells. The palate has a long finish of honeycomb and hazelnut, but the acid maintains throughout.
- 2008 Domaine Ganevat Chardonnay Grusse en Billat - France, Côtes du Jura
I've had this wine before, but liked it even more this time, maybe because I spent a lot of time with it. Aromas of yellow apple, marshmallows, smoke and honeycomb. The palate is plump and smoky, but the acid and mineral edge are so intense that the wine feels perfectly balanced. Gorgeous hazelnut and peanut shell flavors, with a hint of seaweed and minerals. While I love chardonnay in all its interpretations, this one has a little bit of everything in it. It's a very approachable Jura wine. Fantastic stuff.
- 2010 Pascal Janvier Jasnières - France, Loire Valley, Jasnières
I was really wowed by this wine, and impressed by how much it offered. The nose is just gorgeous, with slate, salt, pear and minerals. The palate is richer than I was expecting, based on the aromas. The pear, chammomile and honeycomb mix with sea salt and stones to make for a balanced and lively wine. There's a hint of ginger on the finish that I love.
- 2011 Domaine du Vissoux / Pierre-Marie Chermette Beaujolais Nouveau Primeur - France, Burgundy, Beaujolais Nouveau
This is a Beaujolais Nouveau for all the haters out there. For that wine snob who refuses to touch the stuff, this is a wine to pour for them. It's the best Nouveau I've ever had. The nose is rich and explosive with sweet cherries, but I'm impressed by the amount of dark fruit aromas as well. The palate is like a burst of plum, black cherry and there's even some earthy-spicy flavors as well. Great acid makes it fresh and, frankly, delicious.
A Plethora of Reds
We had some Jura, Loire, Sicily and California reds all thrown together for a fascinating flight.
- 2006 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Ferrington Vineyard - USA, California, Anderson Valley
This pinot was just lovely, with a gorgeous bright purple color. The nose showed rose petals, smoke, red cherries. Over time, the wine opened up to show a bit of rhubarb, which was great. The palate was full of boisterous cherries, tangy acid and smooth tannins. The palate showed lots of finesse and restraint, while maintaining a lush and rich mouthfeel. Long, lingering finish with a touch of acid.
- 2009 Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon La Croix Boissée - France, Loire Valley, Chinon
This is an incredibly young wine that has a long life ahead of it. Even now, though, it's delivering. The aromas are dark, with black cherry and currants, along with a hint of pepperoni. With time and air, the aromas opened up, and I think the long-term aromatic potential of this wine is very high. The palate has gritty tannins, tangy acid and rich dark fruit. The mouthfeel is huge, but it somehow maintains balance. I enjoyed the plum, loam and green pepper flavors. Long, tannin-filled finish. This could use a decant, or ten years in the cellar.
- 2008 Jacques Puffeney Poulsard Arbois "M" - France, Jura, Arbois
It's not every day a wine made from poulsard is thrown into a tasting, but this wine had some fans, and I was one of them. The color of this wine in this glass is a mix of auburn and bright cherry red. Aromas of sour cherry, red apple, flowers and an aroma that reminds me of spaghetti and meatballs, or meat stewed with tomatoes. I was surprised by the tannic structure of this wine. It has real grip to it. The flavors of meat, dark cherries, olive and earth are compact, but delicious. This could develop a lot of complexity with age. It was fun to drink now, but I'd love to try this again in five or ten years.
- 2010 Clos Roche Blanche Touraine L'Arpent Rouge - France, Loire Valley, Touraine
This tasting turned out to have wines made from all sorts of grapes, including this pineau d'aunis. This wine is really unique, but not for everyone. In the glass, it looks like fruit compote, with a lot of cloudiness. It needed a decant to blow off some of the very funky aromas. Initially, it smelled a bit like carrion, but that blew off. After about a half-hour, it started smelling like hippies. Seriously, it smelled like dark incense, hemp and dirty ponchos. It's one of the most interesting aromatic profiles I've come across in a while. The palate shows dense tannins and tangy acid. Rhubarb, wild strawberry and onion grass flavors, with some smoke as well. There's a taste of rotting leaves on the finish, which I really enjoyed. This is a very interesting wine that could probably use a bit of time in the bottle, although this one came with a faux cork, so I'm not sure about the aging potential.
- 2008 Arianna Occhipinti Nero d'Avola Siccagno Sicilia IGT - Italy, Sicilia IGT
It's been a few months since I've had a nero d'avola, and this wine makes me think I should drink them more often. It's a smoky, cloudy red color in the glass. The nose shows explosive black cherries and smoke. The palate is bold, but also very bright and easy to drink. The tannic grip is matched with zippy acid, all backed up by blackberry, lamb and olive tapenade flavors. A very unique wine that's clearly doing it's own thing.
- 2007 Volker Eisele Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley
I have a feeling I would've enjoyed this more alone, rather than tasted with so many wines. It was strange to have a Napa cab thrown into the tasting at this point. The nose was closed at first, but ipened to show smoke, currants and blackberries. The palate is rich and creamy and the cassis and pipe tobacco flavors mingle with the oak on the finish.
It's always good to split up a bunch of reds with a nice sherry.
- N.V. Emilio Lustau Jerez-Xérès-Sherry Lustau Solera Reserva Light Manzanilla Papirusa - Spain, Andalucía, Jerez-Xérès-Sherry
I needed a break after the first bunch of reds, and this manzanilla sherry did a great job of cleansing the palate. The nose showed almonds, lemon rind and a bit of vermouth. The palate was briny with sea salt and peanut flavors. Very briny, in fact, like green olive brine and some sea shells. I enjoy these flavors, so I had a good time with this wine.
To finish off, we threw some random reds together. The Bandol stole the flight, and was a great way to end the tasting.
- 2005 Domaine du Bois de Saint-Jean Côtes du Rhône Cuvée de Voulongue - France, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône
When I turned 21, the 2003 Rhones were just hitting the market. I was just getting into wine and focused heavily on this area. I remember buying many wines from this producer and really enjoying them. I haven't had one in years, so it was fun to try this 2005. The nose really stunk upon opening. It wasn't faulty, just stinky: seaweed, olive paste and lamb wool. The palate had good acid and tannins, with some dark plum and earth flavors. A savory meat flavor lingers on the finish. Good, but just couldn't compete with some of the other wines being poured.
- 2010 Domaine du Vissoux / Pierre-Marie Chermette Fleurie Les Garants - France, Beaujolais, Fleurie
One of only a few 2010 beaujolais wines that I've had, and I really enjoy this vintage. Cherries, plum cake and loam on the nose. Gorgeous on the palate, with dense plums, silky tannins and fresh acid. This wine has it all, compacted into a tight ball, and could use some time to open up.
- 2010 Domaine de L'Octavin Arbois Commendatore Les Corvées - France, Jura, Arbois
I really enjoyed this trousseau. Very light red color in the glass, almost like cherry juice. The nose smells like Fruity Pebbles mixed with sour cherries. The palate is light and fresh with cherry candy, rose petals and hints of earth. If a Jura wine can ever be called a quaffer, this is it. Thanks again to Tom for representing the Jura. They should hire him as a wine ambassador.
- 1997 La Bastide Blanche Bandol Cuvée Estagnol - France, Provence, Bandol
This Bandol has years ahead of it, but it's lovely right now. Very cloudy and gritty in the glass. Rich aromas of black plums, olives and meat. The palate shows sour cherries, olives, meat and leaves. A taste of mushrooms lingers on the finish. I really enjoyed this, and think it will continue to develop complexity for a few more years. The tannins and fruit are still big and bold.