Imported Wine: 2013 Domaine des Terres Dorees L’Ancien Beaujolais Vielles Vignes
Domaine de Terres Dorees: Jean-Paul Brun makes his home in Charnay, a village in the Southern Beaujolais just north of Lyons, in a beautiful area known as the “Region of the Golden Stones.” He is the owner and winemaker at this 40-acre family estate and has attracted the attention of French and American press for the fruity and delicate wines he produces. Jean-Paul made his first wines in 1977 and produces almost 400,000 bottles annually with over 50% sold to importers. His view is that Beaujolais drinks best at lower alcohol levels and makes his “old-style” with indigenous yeast and minimal sugars added. Brun is also one of the few producers in the region to plant Pinot Noir back in 1989 and releases wines under the Bourgogne Appellation; since, Beaujolais is legally within Burgundy. Robert Parker has rated Brun a 4-Star producer, with the only other Beaujolais producer’s obtaining that rating being in the Crus.
About: At a time when carbonic maceration was becoming popular in Beaujolais, Jean-Paul Brun preferred to adopt the techniques of his Northern Burgundian neighbors and de-stem his grapes. The grapes were hand-harvested late (producing a higher natural sugar level), placed in small crates, and then de-stemmed before maceration on skins for a short time. Fermentation is done using only indigenous yeast and minimal, if any, chaptalization (adding sugars). Only a small amount of CO2 is used at bottling to keep the wine fresh and “headache-free” and filtration is also minimal so the wine keeps its original fruit and aroma. The emphasis is not on weight, but on fruit; Beaujolais as it once was and as it should be.
Varietal: 100% Gamay from 40-50 year-old vines
Tasting Notes: A crisp blueberry and dark cherry bouquet with just a hint of fresh fig. Supple on the entry, it displays great acidity and body.
Food Pairings: Perfect pairing with French Charcuterie, Pates, Brie, Camembert, and with Roast Chicken, Turkey, or Duck. Vegetarian dishes of Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato, or Chinese also.
Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts: Burgundian in style with flavors of dried cherries and blueberries. Best with fish or chicken and other white meats…Cheers!
Domestic Wine: 2013 Cass Vineyard & Winery-Flying Nymph Blanc, White Rhone Blend
Cass Family Vineyard & Winery: Cass Vineyard & Winery is located in the rolling oak-studded hills between Paso Robles and Creston on California’s beautiful Central Coast. This area that the vineyard calls home offers quiet serenity for the visitor and an ideal growing environment for wine grapes. Sited due east of the “Templeton Gap,” the vineyards receive the evening’s cooling breezes that the west side of Paso Robles is noted for. They also rest far enough from the coast to generate the heat needed to optimally ripen the Rhone varieties grown on their 160 acre estate vineyard. 100% of the wines crafted at Cass Winery are estate grown. Cass Vineyard was planted in 2000, and wine production began in 2005. Founders Steve Cass and Ted Plemons live on the property. In 2010 Michigan natives Doug and Beverly Cass became partners, handling the distribution in the Midwest, East, and Southern states, and have been guests at The Fine Wine Source on several occasions. Doug has been in consumer sales over thirty years and is also co-founder of the Michigan based business Kahootz Toys, whose brands include Play Doh, Lite Brite, and Spiro Graph (that turns 50 this year).
About: White Rhone blends consist of two or more white grapes originally from its namesake region. They mainly include Viognier, Rousanne, Marsanne, and Grenache Blanc. Blends outside of the Rhone are mostly found in California and Australia and can include all four primary varieties together. Aiming to preserve the intense fruit and aromatics of these varieties, this blend was fermented and aged in 100% stainless steel. Hand-picked in the early morning, the cold grapes were pressed within moments after coming off the vine. Following juice settling, a long, cold fermentation commenced using a unique South African yeast strain. Malolactic fermentation was inhibited to preserve acidity, keeping it crisp and fresh.
Varietals: 65% Rousanne & 35%Marsanne
Tasting Notes: Aromas of lemon zest, kumquat, lemongrass, and ruby red grapefruit. Although it displays some restraint at first, it soon opens up to notes of honeydew melon, white rose and fresh herbs. The palate is light on its feet, with lean, zippy acid holding together a core of flavors that span honey mandarin, lemon curd, and green apple. The finish stays tight and clean, with a kiss of agave nectar and wet stone.
Food Pairings: Squash, smoked fish, Asian cuisine, curry dishes, roast duck, and lobster.
Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts: A truly delightful wine! A perfect patio sipper, that is great with Antipasti and other light dishes.
Imported Wine: 2013 Domaine Forca Real, Mas de la Garrigue
Domaine Força Réal: The origin of the Domaine dates back to 1258 under the reign of the king of Aragon and Majorque with the signing of the military treaty of Corbeil, which stipulated the border between France and Catalonia. Força Réal, translated “Royal Castle,” lost its strategic significance a few years later and was ultimately destroyed in 1693. Returned to nature, the property is now attuned to the growing cycles of vines and olive trees. In 1989 Jean-Paul Henriquès bought the property near the village of Millas with an unbeatable view (from the plain of Perpignan, with the sea stretching to the horizon to the peak of Canigou) and replanted a majority of the property with Syrah & Mourvedre. Among the existing vines he retained only the Malvoisie, a variety for which he has great affection, as well as the old Grenache & Carignan vines. He optimizes the 40 hectares in production by elaborating three cuvées corresponding to the general soil types; Clay, Limestone, and Schist. In 1998, his son Cyril took up the torch to continue producing great wines of The Côtes du Roussillon-Villages.
About: Domaine Força Réal Mas de la Garrigue comes from manually harvested grapes grown in clay and limestone soils at an altitude of 100 meters. They are placed in small crates to avoid destruction and oxidation of berries and then sorted both before and after destemming. Traditional vinification methods lead into extended cold maceration where the temperature is kept below 62 degrees. Maturation occurs in steel tanks for eight months with malolactic fermentation.
Varietal: 60% Old Vine Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Old Vine Carignan
Tasting Notes: Aromas of sage, marjoram, and white pepper with red berry fruits. Blackberry and melted chocolate are underlined by silky tannins with a touch of sea salt and a puff of tobacco smoke.
Food Pairings: Think pork, smoked pork with rosemary potatoes, fennel sausage, BBQ meats, or chili con carne or Tuscan style bean dishes.
Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts: Herbaceous & rustic, yet rich and succulent; Bravo to the winemaker! Best served with chicken or roasted pork.
Domestic Wine: 2012 Hedges Family Estate C.M.S., Columbia Valley, Washington
Hedges Family Estate: The history of Hedges Family Estate begins in June of 1976, with the marriage of Tom Hedges & Anne-Marie Liégeois in a 12th century church in Champagne, France. The convergence of separate cultural upbringings provides a strong backdrop for creating a modern day, but traditionally inspired wine estate. In 1986, Tom & Anne-Marie created an export company, American Wine Trade, leading to a negociant-inspired wine called “Hedges Cellars.” They quickly learned that the success of this ancient trade would be based on the site of its vineyards; a developing wine region called Red Mountain. At this location, American Wine Trade transformed itself from negociant & wine trader to the classic model of a wine estate. The second generation of the Hedges Family Estate belongs to Tom & Anne-Marie’s children, Christophe & Sarah. Each has a special set of skills for understanding the terroir. Sarah is the head winemaker of the estate, doing her best to express the terroir with minimal intervention, while Christophe is working on the completion of the estate using modern biodynamic arts. Tom, Anne-Marie, Christophe, Sarah, & the entire Hedges company believe place of origin is the keystone of authenticity. Their goal is to treat the wines with reverence & let the Red Mountain terroir speak for itself.
About: 2012 was another excellent & more normal vintage in Washington State. The “fading” La Nina current brought warmer & even spring and summer temperatures & an extended warm, dry autumn with perfect 80-85 degree afternoon highs and 40-50 degree lows without rain. The result was great set that yielded ripe, disease free fruit with good natural acidity. The resulting wines reflect the excellent qualities of the fruit and are a pleasure to drink; probably one of the top 5 vintages in Washington State’s history.
Varietals: 50%Cabernet Sauvignon, 44%Merlot, 6% Syrah (60%French Oak & 40% American Oak).
Tasting Notes: Dark, deep ruby color leads into a nose of black cherry, blackberry, plum fruit & sweet toasted oak, dried herbs, & vanilla with hints of cocoa powder. Good body on the palate with lively acidity, dark berry fruits, cocoa, sweetness, & a well integrated tannic structure linger on the finish.
Food Pairings: The balance of acid & tannin make this a great wine for roasted red meats, steaks, venison, or lamb. Use C.M.S. to sauté some onions & mushrooms to accompany a juicy ribeye!
Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts: Rich & flavorful, loaded with black & red fruits and a long, lingering finish. Best served with any red meats.