Archive for the ‘Wine Tastings’ Category


February 07th, 2012 by Sébastien Gavillet

My Rhône Valley trip wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Fortunately, it was part of the itinerary set by Kelly McAuliffe, the France-based, American Sommelier who gave us the delightful tour of the Rhône wine region.

A Brief Background on Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a village on the side of a hill overlooking the Rhône Valley and the Rhône River in Southeastern France. It is also a world-renowned Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) wine region, which spans the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and three other neighboring villages; namely, Bédarrides, Courthézon and Sorgues.

The name Châteauneuf-du-Pape actually means “The Pope’s New Castle,” which refers to the Papal Château that used to tower over the village. This Papal Castle was built in 1320 by Pope John XXII. At that time, the seat of the Papacy was in Avignon instead of Rome (the period from 1309-1378 is
commonly known as the Avignon Papacy for this reason). Since the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape lies between the villages of Avignon and Orange, it was the ideal site for a Papal summer castle; it was close enough to Avignon to make it easy for the Pope to keep an eye on Papal matters, yet it was far enough from the Papal Palace that the Pope could gain temporary respite from the daily pressure of his office.

Today, only ruins remain of the Papal Château in the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Mercenaries looted the castle when Pope John XXII died. The Protestants of Montbrun destroyed it in 1562, the start of the French Wars of Religion. It suffered further damage during the Germans’ retreat in 1944.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Wine Tasting at FEDCN

Kelly organized a visit to the Fédération des Producteurs de Châteauneuf-du-Pape (FEDCN) – the organization of Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine producers. The FEDCN is also the place
Robert Parker comes to every year to review many of the wines from the region.

As a matter of fact when we arrived at the FEDCN, we were informed that Robert Parker (or “Bob” as the French calls him) is also in town and has just been to the tasting room for a wine tasting. So we all proceeded to the tasting room with Michel Blanc, the director of FEDCN, who invited us to taste the same wines Robert Parker had sampled earlier. That special treat is definitely one of the highlights of my trip.

As we were finishing up with the tasting, we were greeted by the son of Baron Le Roy. For those of you who do not know, Baron Pierre Le Roy de Boiseaumarié was the man behind the proposal to institute the AOC system in France. He wanted to protect the region from wine producers who claimed to produce Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines even though their estates lay outside Châteauneuf boundaries. In 1933, the French Court of Appeal affirmed Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s production regulations that
set the Appellation’s production guidelines and boundaries.

I had a truly great time sampling wines at the FEDCN. Our tour of Châteauneuf-du-Pape was far from over, however. We had another scheduled stop: a visit to Domaine Pierre Usseglio & Fils, where we were warmly welcomed by Thierry Usseglio – but that’s a story for another post.


Swiss Fondue and Raclette at Charlie Palmer’s Third Annual Aureole Wine Weekend

August 13th, 2011 by Sébastien Gavillet

It is one thing to make fondue for a few people but making fondue simultaneously for 50 or more people is no easy feat. Nonetheless, it can be done and it has been done. It was just last weekend, in fact, during the Swiss Fondue Party, the 7th and final event of the 2011 Aureole Wine Weekend held at Aureole Las Vegas in Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino last August 5-7, 2011.

The 2011 Aureole Wine Weekend is the third of its kind since 2009. The organizer is Charlie Palmer and the Charlie Palmer Group (owner of top restaurants Charlie Palmer, Charlie Palmer Steak, Dry Creek Kitchen and Aureole).

The Aureole Wine Weekend takes place once a year (on a weekend, of course). It is, to borrow the organizer’s own words, “a wine aficionado’s dream.” Several individual events take place throughout the
weekend, during which time attendees get to sample hundreds of wines. Charlie Palmer’s most loyal gourmands are treated to course after course of heavenly dishes prepared by Aureole’s Executive Chef Vincent Pouessel and impeccably paired with wine by none other than Aureole’s Wine Director, Master Sommelier William Sherer.

What did I get myself into?

Well, this year, William Sherer and Aureole’s GM Kevin Dimond wanted to spice things up. They wanted to try something fun and less formal for the last day of the Wine Weekend, thus the Swiss Fondue Party I was telling you about earlier. They asked me if I wanted to help them organize the said fondue party.

I had concerns, naturally. Again, making fondue for a few people is easy but making fondue for more than
50 people is a lot more challenging. It requires proper execution and impeccable timing.

William Sherer assured me that this would not be a problem. Chef Vincent Pouessel and his staff would be on top of everything. Executive Pastry Chef Megan Romano would be there to assist as well. With such an experienced team behind me, the execution could be nothing but flawless. The opportunity to prepare fondue, Raclette and present Swiss wines at one of the top fine dining restaurants in Las Vegas, moreover, is not something that comes around everyday. How could I refuse, really? So I accepted. But I was still worried, of course.

D-Day: Swiss Cheese, Swiss Wine and Friends

August 7th, the day of the fondue party, finally arrived. The day began with a Bouillabaisse Breakfast, Sunday’s first event and the 6th of the seven Aureole Wine Weekend events. It was nothing
like any breakfast I’ve had before. Aside from the fact that the food was extremely good, it was a breakfast paired with 7 Rieslings. Yes, that’s 7 glasses of Riesling – for breakfast.

After the Bouillabaisse Breakfast, we headed down to the kitchen to start preparations for the Raclette as well as the Cheese and Chocolate Fondue. When I walked into Aureole’s kitchen and saw the army of cooks working so capably and efficiently under Chef Vincent Pouessel’s supervision, my worries eased.

As an aside, Aureole’s kitchen is a sight to behold. It’s almost bigger than my entire house. It’s so big that Chef Vincent Pouessel actually uses a microphone when things get loud in the kitchen. Even Remy, the mouse from Ratatouille, would have been impressed!

Anyway, after my amazement has sufficiently passed, we started our preparations for the fondue party. The cheeses for the Raclette needed to be cleaned
and the wheels cut into halves. The cheeses (Gruyere and Emmenthal) for the fondue needed to be grated, mixed and placed in fondue pots. Wine, garlic, kirsch eau-de-vie, pepper and other fondue ingredients (Chef Walti Wegmann’s recipe) also had to be prepared.

Christophe Tassan (MOF and the Wine Director of Mandalay Bay properties – e.g. Mandalay Bay, THEhotel, Four Seasons and Socialite), William Sherer and I started uncorking the wines to prepare them for service. Each wine had to be sampled to ensure that no faulty wines would be served. It was also the perfect moment to catch up with two close friends who are often so busy we rarely get the chance to get together for a little chat and a glass of wine.

Then it was time for the Swiss Fondue Party. The guests made their way back into Aureole’s dining room and, once they were properly seated, the fondue party officially started. We started the meal with
cold cut meats, and the first flight of wines was served. Chef Vincent Pouessel’s team started making the fondue. The Raclette machines were turned on and the wheel halves were placed in cheese holders. That was my cue to start my presentation about Swiss wines and Switzerland’s recent wine “R”evolution.

1st flight: Dry Swiss White Wines

Wine 1: Domaine E. de Montmollin Fils Neuchâtel 2009 for the Fondue/Raclette

Made from the Chasselas grape, this wine comes from an award-winning winery managed by brothers Pierre and Jean-Michel de Montmollin. The de Montmollin family owns four estates: Auvernier, Areuse, Chauvigny and la Brosse, all of which are on the north bank of Lake Neuchatel.

Tasting notes: This Neuchâtel is refreshing with its fresh lime-tree fragrance, vine blossom aromas, distinct mineral notes, and
citrusy flavor.
Pairing: Like all Chasselas wines from Domaine E. de Montmollin Fils, this Neuchatel is perfect as an aperitif. It’s great with Raclette and fondue (of course) but you should also try it with seafood, cold cuts and cheese.
Varietal: Chasselas
Appellation: Neuchâtel

Wine 2: La Baudelière Yvorne 2008 for the Fondue/Raclette

This Chasselas wine comes from a family-owned winery in Yvorne, which is part of the Chablais wine region in Switzerland’s Canton of Vaud.

Tasting notes: Intense aromas and flavors (but not overwhelmingly so) with distinct mineral notes. This is a very elegant wine. Dry (as expected of a Chasselas) with a delicate finish.
Pairing: This wine is great as a starter drink. Like the Montmollin Neuchâtel, this
Yvorne pairs extremely well with cheese and seafood.
Varietal: Chasselas
Appellation: Yvorne

Wine 3: René Favre & Fils Petite Arvine Chamoson 2007 for the Raclette

This excellent expression of the Petite Arvine grape comes from a family-owned winery based in St. Pierre-de-Clages, Chamoson in the Canton of Valais. The René Favre & Fils winery is currently under the management of brothers Mike and John Favre.

René Favre & Fils specializes in old-vine Petite Arvine wines; in fact, the René Favre & Fils Estate is home to the world’s oldest Petite Arvine vines. Learn more about René Favre & Fils and its wines in one of my winery visit posts, René Favre & Fils – The Princes of Petite Arvine.

Tasting notes: This wine presents fruity, fresh and citrusy (even tart) aromas with floral notes. It is soft and mellow with mineral hints, has great balance and structure and finishes with a slightly salty tang.
Pairing: This can be served as a starter drink or paired with seafood, poultry dishes and veal. Spectacular with aged cheeses.
Varietal: Petite Arvine
Appellation: Chamoson

2nd Flight: Semi Sweet to Sweet Swiss White Wines

Wine 4: Jean-René Germanier Amigne de Vétroz Valais 2008

A superb expression of the Amigne varietal, this award-winning wine comes from a family winery founded in 1886 and based in the village of Vétroz in Switzerland’s Canton of Valais.

Tasting notes: Fresh and fruity on the nose, this wine is lightly tannic (remarkable for a white wine), slightly sweet, polished, and perfectly balanced.
Pairing: This wine is great as an aperitif but is divine with foie gras and sweets (dessert).
Varietal: Amigne
Appellation: Valais

Wine 5: Jean-René Germanier Mitis Amigne de Vétroz Valais 2007 for the Chocolate Fondue and accoutrement prepared by Executive Pastry Chef Megan Romano

A complex and layered expression of the Amigne varietal, this award-winning wine from Jean-René Germanier was aged in oak for 18 months.

Tasting notes: Sweet with hints of honey and candied / ripe fruits. Rich, intense and complex, presenting multiple
layers of flavors that complement and are consistent with its aromas. Great structure and perfectly balanced.
Pairing: An extremely enjoyable dessert wine. Perfect pairing with blue cheeses and fruit-based desserts. Also pairs well with foie gras.
Varietal: Amigne
Appellation: Valais

Wine 6: Provins Valais Maître de Chais Grains de Malice Valais 2008 for the Chocolate Fondue and accoutrement prepared by Executive Pastry Chef Megan Romano

This award-winning late-harvest wine is a blend of Marsanne and Pinot Gris aged in oak for 15 months.

Tasting notes: A subtly layered and complex wine with flavors consistent with its aromas. Balanced and elegant.
Pairing: Pairs extremely well with desserts in
general and blue cheese and foie gras in particular.
Varietal: 90% Marsanne, 10% Pinot Gris
Appellation: Valais

An Open Invitation

The Swiss Fondue Party last August 7th was a great success, thanks to Chef Vincent Pouessel, Pastry Chef Megan Romano and their staff. As William put it, “Fondue has not been this much fun since the 70’s.” As for the wines, well, there was not a drop of wine left over at the end of the event. They were that good!

To anyone out there who considers himself a gourmand: the Aureole Wine Weekend is the food and wine pairing event you should not miss. It is worth so much more than it costs. In fact, it is an absolute bargain! I’m already looking forward to next year’s wine weekend. If I’m in town then, I’ll definitely be attending,
although I’ll be sure to come as one of the guests next time (less stress, even more fun).

Bon Appétit and Cheers!


The Swiss Fondue Party wouldn’t have been the great success it was if it weren’t for the invaluable assistance of Aureole’s Executive Chef Vincent Pouessel, Aureole’s Executive Pastry Chef Megan Romano and every member of Aureole’s highly professional staff. I owe you all a big thank you.

Where you can go for additional information about the Third Aureole Wine Weekend and its participants:

    • The Third Annual Aureole Wine Weekend in Las Vegas Program

    • Aureole
      Las Vegas

    • Aureole Las Vegas Staff

    • Executive Pastry Chef Megan Romano’s website

Where you can go for more information about the Swiss wines listed above, all other Swiss wines, and places in the USA where you can get Swiss wines:

    • Swiss Cellars

    • Swiss Cheese

Mondial du Merlot 2010

February 15th, 2011 by Sébastien Gavillet

Last time, I told you about my trip to Sierre, Valais, Switzerland for the Pinot Noir 2010" href="">2010 Mondial du Pinot Noir. Just recently, I was in Switzerland again. This time, I made the trip to sit in the jury of a smaller but no less prestigious wine competition, the 2010 Mondial du Merlot, which was held from the 12th to 14th of November in Lugano, Ticino, Switzerland.

Mondial du Merlot: A Brief Background

Mondial du Merlot is a wine competition organized by the VINEA Association.

Side Note: The VINEA Association is the current administrative seat of VINOFED (World Federation of Major International Competitions for Wines and Spirits), publisher of the Swiss Wine Guide and organizer of the Swiss Wine Fair, the Grand Prix du Vin Suisse, and the world-famous Mondial du Pinot Noir.


As its name suggests, Mondial du Merlot is a wine competition focused on Merlot wines, both varietals and blended Merlots.

Side Note: Why Merlot? Merlot is one of the most popular red wine grape varieties in the world. While it has recognizable varietal characteristics, a Merlot wine’s qualities still depend greatly on terroir as well as a
producer’s viniculture and winemaking techniques. Mondial du Merlot was established mainly to reward Merlot producers who can create the best possible expressions of the Merlot variety and to provide wine buyers with a reliable Merlot-buying guide.

A Mondial du Merlot award is a guarantee of excellence accepted and recognized worldwide. This competition is one of the 10 members of VINOFED and, as such, no more than 30% of the wine entries can win an award.

Mondial du Merlot’s credibility – specifically the credibility of its jury and its evaluation criteria/procedures and the reliability of its results – cannot be questioned. Mondial du Merlot has the patronage of the Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV), the Union Internationale des OEnologues (UIOE), the Union
Suisse des OEnologues
(USOE), and the Association Suisse des Sommeliers Professionnels. This is your guarantee that, in Mondial du Melot, the highest possible standards for wine tastings and evaluation are strictly enforced and followed.

The Competition

In this year’s Mondial du Merlot, 300 plus Merlot wines competed. They hailed from the various Merlot production regions of France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Croatia, Greece, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Ururgay, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Australia, and the United States.

There were 3 main categories:

nThere were also 3 main awards:

  • Great Gold Medal, awarded to wines with 94.01 points or greater
  • Gold Medal, awarded to wines with 89.01 to 94 points
  • Silver Medal, awarded to wines with 84.01 to 89 points

For Great Gold Medal and Gold Medal awardees, special prizes were also up for grabs:

  • The VINOFED Prize: For the wine that satisfied most of the judges (that is, the wine’s individual scores from jury members showed the smallest difference)
  • The Banca WIR Prize: For the best Merlot in the competition
  • The Older Vintage Prize: For the wine with the highest number of points in the Older Vintages category
  • The VINEA Prize: For the best assemblage (blend) Merlot
  • The ISICOM prize: For the producer
    that received the greatest number of medals
  • The Univerre Trophy Prize: For the Swiss Merlot varietal wine that received the highest overall score
  • The City of Lugano Prize: For the foreign wine that received the highest overall score
  • The Best Merlot per Country Prize: For the best Merlot of each country

The winning wines were selected by a panel of 25 professionals from different parts of the world. These jury members are seasoned oenologists, wine journalists, professional tasters, sommeliers, and wine buyers.

Housed, Wined, Dined, and Entertained in Style

I can sing only praises for the organizers of the 2010 Mondial du Merlot. VINEA Association is exceptionally organized, as you would expect from
event and competition organizers of their caliber. They were also very hospitable, making me (and the rest of the jury members, I’m sure) feel right at home.

We were housed in the hotel where the competition took place, the Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola. It was very convenient as we didn’t have to travel to the competition venue whenever it’s time to taste wines. More than that, however, the Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola was truly an excellent choice of accommodation. This 5-star resort hotel is set on the shores of Lake Lugano and has its own subtropical private park, so it provides an amazing scenery and a very relaxing atmosphere. The hotel’s service is also impeccable, and we were immediately given whatever we asked for or needed.

The organizers certainly did not neglect our palates. They spoiled us with succulent lunches and dinners that were overwhelming in quantity. We were also served delicious local meals in grottos and
medieval castles.

Of course, we also did some sightseeing. We made a trip to the old city of Belinzona, and we visited the only winery in Lugano designed by the acclaimed architect, Mario Botta. Oenologist and jury member Cristina Monico also gave us a personal tour of her operations.

To the organizers of the Mondial du Merlot, thank you for inviting me to be one of the jury members. I very much enjoyed your wonderful hospitality and, of course, I loved sampling the best Merlot wines that the world has to offer. Your selection standards are truly first-rate. I was very impressed with the overall quality of the wine entries, and I was especially delighted to discover some real gems.

To Merlot wine producers, if you think you produce great Merlot, participate in next year’s
Mondial du Merlot competition. Winning a Mondial du Merlot award is solid proof that you make truly world-class Merlot!


Le Mondial du Pinot Noir 2010

December 23rd, 2010 by Sébastien Gavillet

What would you call spending 3 days in the incredibly beautiful district of Sierre, sampling the best Pinot Noir wines the world has to offer? I’d call it heaven, but the VINEA Association calls it by a more earthly name: Le Mondial du Pinot Noir.

A Brief Background

Le Mondial du Pinot Noir is an international wine competition organized by the VINEA Association.

Side note: The VINEA Association is publisher of the Swiss Wine Guide and organizer of the world-renowned Swiss Wine Fair (held every September) and the Swiss wine competition, Grand Prix du Vin Suisse.
Since 2006, it has managed the administrative side of the World Federation of Major International Competitions for Wines and Spirits (VinoFed). The VINEA Association organizes two prestigious international wine competitions, Le Mondial du Pinot Noir and Le Mondial du Merlot (which it co-organizes with ISICOM SA). Both of these competitions are members of VinoFed and enjoy the patronage of the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) and the Union Internationale des OEnologues (UIOE).

Le Mondial du Pinot Noir is a competition focused on the Pinot Noir variety and other Pinot varieties (Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc). Every year (starting from the very first Le Mondial du Pinot Noir in 1998), winemakers from various Pinot Noir-growing regions worldwide would gather in Sierre to present their best Pinot Noir appellations
for sampling and judging by a panel of highly skilled international tasters.

The competing wines are tasted and judged using an evaluation sheet that combines the OIV form and the UIOE form for international competitions. The competition is organized strictly according to the rigorous standards set by the OIV. A computerized system is used to ensure that the competing wines are evaluated and rated in an orderly and systematic manner. The fairness and credibility of results are guaranteed; the composition of wine-tasting panels and awarding of prizes are in strict compliance to VinoFed’s rules and standards.

Side note: Wondering why Pinot Noir wines deserve special attention? Pinot Noir, with a total surface area of 85,000 hectares worldwide, is a very unique variety. Pinot Noir wines are exceptionally expressive of terroir[/ glossary] and their producers’ vine-growing and [glossary]winemaking techniques. Le Mondial du Pinot Noir, therefore, serves as a venue for wine producers to showcase their terroir and winemaking skills. Those who can produce the best expressions of Pinot Noir are rewarded with the worldwide recognition they deserve. Pinot Noir lovers, on the other hand, leave knowing which Pinot Noir wines they must absolutely try next.

This year, Le Mondial du Pinot Noir was held from the 20th to the 22nd of August at the Chateau du Mercier in Sierre, Valais Switzerland – and I’m glad to have been part of it.

The Wines

A little over 1,100 Pinot wines of different vintages, colors (red, white and rosé) and styles (dry, sweet, still, and sparkling) from 21
countries competed. The wines were grouped into three major categories: the Mondial du Pinot Noir Category, the Pinot Family Category and the Pinot Noir Producers World Champion Category. Le Mondial du Pinot Noir is mainly a Pinot Noir wine competition, but Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc wines have a special place in the Discovery subcategory (under the Pinot Family major category).

At stake were gold medals, silver medals and the various special prizes: the Univerre Trophy prize, the Bourgogne d’Aujourd’hui prize, the Older vintage prize, the VINOFED prize, the Producers of Pinot Noir World Champion Syngenta prize and the Vitisphere for Digital Communication prize.

The jury was composed of 60 experienced wine tasters from Argentina, France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia,
Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States

The Royal Treatment

I was one of the members of the jury, and this was my first time attending a VINEA function as a judge.  Although I’ve heard numerous accounts of how Le Mondial du Pinot Noir is always so superbly organized, the event still exceeded my expectations.

Top marks go to the competition’s organizers. Their excellent planning, outstanding preparation and faultless execution ensured the smooth flow of activities and made the event what it was: a huge success. Their impeccable hospitality, moreover, made for a truly memorable 3 days.

The organizers gave me and the rest of the jury a taste of the region’s history and culture by taking us on a tour of the nearby museums. We visited Fondation Pierre Gianadda and
enjoyed the Nicolas de Staël Exhibition (this temporary exhibition will end on November 21st ). We also made a special trip to Chateau d’Aigle, a 12th century fortress towering over rows and rows of vines and home to The Vine and Wine Museum.

The organizers also treated our palates to the best food and wine the region has to offer. The most memorable are the Chamoson Raclette dinner set amidst the world’s oldest Petite Arvine vineyards (owned by Rene Favre & Fils) and the luncheon at Hotel Le Terminus’ gourmet restaurant, Didier de Courten (rated 2 stars by the MICHELIN Guide and 19 points by Gault Millau).

Le Mondial du Pinot Noir was truly a treat. I enjoyed every minute I spent walking around the beautiful Sierre countryside with its lovely weather, stunning mountain vistas and endless vineyards. I loved sampling the Pinot Noirs and other Pinot varietals,
and I deeply admire the wine producers’ dedication to bringing out the best in these varieties. Most of all, I appreciate the warm hospitality the people of Sierre and the VINEA Association have shown me and my fellow members of the jury.

Pinot producers, do you think you make one of the world’s best Pinots? There’s only one way to find out. Enter your wine(s) in Le Mondial du Pinot Noir! For more information about Le Mondial du Pinot Noir, please visit


Nuschese Wine Tasting at Southern Wine & Spirits

May 14th, 2009 by Sébastien Gavillet

When Franco Nuschese said he would present his new collection in style, he spoke only the absolute truth.  For the wine tasting, he flew three of his chefs and Bruno de Conciliis (Italian winemaker and owner of Viticoltori de Conciliis) from Italy.  He also flew in additional personnel from his DC office to assist in the tasting and ensure the proper execution of his plans.  Larry Ruvo, General Manager of Southern Wine & Spirits (SWS) hosted the wine tasting event, assisted by Carmelo Messina, SWS’s Italian wine specialist.

All of the wines presented were native to (harvested/made in) the Campania region (Southern Italy), of which both Franco Nuschese and Bruno de Conciliis are natives.

(Larry Ruvo hosting the Franco Nuschese, Bruno de Conciliis lunch/dinner at SWS)

Nuschese Wines

nNuschese wines are not the type of wines that you will find in regular wine lists or in local wine stores.  They are made from less available grape varietals like:

The more readily available varietals or wine grapes used in making Nuschese wines are:

Wine Reviews and Wine Tasting Notes

The Nuschese wines featured at the tasting were paired with a seven-course meal.  There were nine wines in all.  Two of the wines were served as an aperitif while the remaining seven were served with a
specific course.  It was definitely a wonderful and innovative way of presenting wines.

The following are my wine reviews of the wines featured at the Nuschese wine tasting:

Il Sogno (Italian for Dream)

60% Fiano, 30% Malvasia, 10% Moscato

Served as an aperitif

(Franco Nuschese enjoying a glass of Il Sogno with a Mrs. Ruvo)

Wine tasting notes:  This sparkling wine, which is not a Prosecco, is made using the Charmat method, also known as the Metodo Italiano.  Unlike Champagne, it undergoes a secondary fermentation in the tank rather than in the bottle, after which phase it is bottled under pressure.

This wine has floral aromas with a touch of tropical fruits on the nose.  In mouth, the aromas open up to more floral notes, and you can notice “saltiness” due to the proximity of the grape vines to the ocean.  Refreshing and
clean, with a smooth finish pulling more towards the acidity side.

Falanghina 2007 IGT


Served as an aperitif

Wine tasting notes:  This is a white wine with the aromas of lime, grapefruit rind, lemon, green apple, and lots of jasmine.  Very noticeable minerality giving way to the more tropical fruit side of this wine.

Greco di Tufo 2007 DOCG

Greco di Tufo

Paired with citrus marinated langoustine with zucchini, fennel salad and pink peppercorn olive oil


Wine tasting notes:  This is an aromatic white wine.  It has the aromas of melon, lime, bruised pear, and white flowers.  Fresh and lively, well-balanced with good minerality
notes.  This has a wine style that you will not encounter often.

Fiano di Avellino 2007 DOCG

100% Fiano di Avellino

Paired with warm baby octopus salad with vegetable panzanella and Italian parsley pesto


Lucretia 2007 IGT

50% Fiano di Avellino, 50% Greco di Tufo

Paired with imported paccheri pasta with sautéed Maine Lobster, marjoram and fava beans in a light spicy cherry tomato sauce


Wine tasting notes:  This aromatic white wine has more complexity than the Fiano di Avellino.  Its aromas of green apple, melon rind and jasmine as well as its strong terroir attributes beautifully
complemented the lobster.

La Pietra 2007 (The Rock)

50% Barbera, 40% Aglianico, 10% Primitivo

Paired with sautéed Monkfish ossobuco with Italian lake beans, pancetta and mussels guazzeto

Wine tasting notes:  This wine is called “The Rock” after Bruno de Conciliis.  It represents the more realistic side of life, as opposed to the Il Sogno (see above), which was named after Franco “the dreamer” or the visionario.

This red wine with medium plus acidity is very well suited to tomato-based dishes or even fish.  It has the aromas of red cherry, raspberry preserve, green pepper, plums, a hint of white pepper, and a touch of strawberry (typical Sangiovese characteristic); yes, indeed, this wine has a splash of Sangiovese in it.  Fruit forward with fruit tannins, no oak.  Long finish.

Taurasi 2004 DOCG


Paired with braised veal cheek with Jerusalem artichoke pure and baby vegetables

Cassius 2005 DOC


Paired with imported Italian Pecorini cheese with truffle honey and homemade radicchio jam

Wine tasting notes:  This wine is definitely unique.  After drinking it, you’ll think a small piece of vanilla bean was left on your tongue!  You can tell that this wine has had substantial oak contact.  New World wine style aficionados will surely love this wine.

MarcAntonio 2006 DOC

Primitivo di Manduria

Paired with chocolate chili cremoso with delicious rosemary berries compote


Wine tasting notes:  Very complex and sophisticated for a Primitivo di Maduria, this dark-colored, almost-black wine has the aromas
of raspberry, blackberry, plum, spices, leather, dark chocolate, vanilla, and a hint of smoke.

What a feast!  I have to say that the wine pairing was executed flawlessly; the wine and the dishes were exceptionally well-matched.  I look forward to visiting the de Conciliis winery this summer and enjoying the wines on site.  I am sure that the trip will make for some pretty interesting posts in this wine blog.

That’s all for this wine tasting.  Cheers!

Kracher Wine Tasting at Spago

March 18th, 2009 by Sébastien Gavillet

The Kracher wine tasting was held at Spago, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant located at The Forum Shops in Caesar’s Palace.  J & P Wholesale (a division of Southern Wine & Spirits), in association with third-generation winemaker, Gerhard Kracher, hosted the tasting.

Kracher Winemakers:  Scrumptious Dessert Wine

For the information of those who have never had wine from Kracher, the Kracher Family specializes in making sweet dessert wines.  Kracher dessert wines are truly delicious and “literally” mouthwatering.  I would even go so far as to say that Kracher dessert wines are some of the finest dessert wines available. Three generations of Krachers have been crafting fine wine.  To say that the Kracher Family is one of the top Austrian winemakers is an understatement.  In truth, Kracher sweet wines (among others) helped put the Seewinkel region (Burgenland, Austria) on
the map and mark it as a quality wine-growing region.

Back to the Wine Tasting

Gerhard Kracher himself poured the wines for the tasting.  He took the time to explain in detail each of the wines we sampled.  Needless to say, I truly enjoyed his briefing. I have always found accounts from winemakers fascinating and enriching.  It is a real privilege to be let in on a winemaker’s vision and techniques of wine production.  A winemaker’s stories, moreover, are quite enlightening; they help me assess the “heart and soul” that a winemaker has put into making his wines.

Wine Reviews and Wine Tasting Notes:  My Top 6 Kracher Wines

I cannot provide you with wine reviews of all 24 wines I sampled at the tasting, but here are my wine tasting notes on the 6 most interesting Kracher wines:

TBA No. 03 Traminer “Nouvelle Vague” 2004

nStraw bale in color with deep hues, this wine has the aromas of orange rind, muscat, hawthorn, honey, rose, and a hint of clove.  It has some delicate smokiness to it.  It is intensely rich and complex with a lingering aromatic finish.  This wine has yet to reach its full potential and should age beautifully.

TBA No. 08 Welschriesling “Zwischen Den Seen” 2002

Dark golden/amber in color, this wine has the aromas of linden, grapefruit bud (floral notes), possibly quince (fruit), saffron, and other spice notes with no presence of oak contact.  This wine is elegant yet complex.  Ready to drink.

TBA No. 12 Noble Wine “Zwischen Den Seen” 2002

Technically, this is not wine.  It cannot be classified as wine because its alcohol content is too low (4%) on account of its extremely high sugar content (RS).  This “wine” is made from a blend of 50 % Scheurebe and 50 % [
glossary]Welschriesling[/glossary].  Its characteristics resemble that of a Tokaji Eszencia from Hungary. This beverage is amber in color.  It has the aromas of Nestea concentrate or – if you want specifics – citrus (lemon), bruised pear, dried apricot, honey, tea leaf, and a hint of tobacco.  Basically a Tokaji Eszencia but with less dried fruits on the nose.

TBA No. 09 Chardonnay “Nouvelle Vague” 2004

Straw bale in color, this wine has the aromas of pineapple (faint), peach, linden, honey, vanilla, grilled almonds, and a hint of caramelization and smoke.  It is intense yet well-balanced.  Very approachable and still youthful considering it has less acidity than its 2005 version.  Ready to drink and should age well. Word to the wise:  some of the aromas mentioned above will evolve or be transformed over time.

TBA No. 10 Chardonnay[/ glossary] “Nouvelle Vague” 2005 Yellow/golden in color, this wine presents the aromas of lemon, linden (very similar to honey), honey glazed baked pear, clove (hint), vanilla, grilled almonds, and just the right touch of smoke.  Full-bodied and rich, it has a surprisingly creamy texture (from aging in oak and on account of it being a Chardonnay) yet great [glossary]acidity with a lengthy smooth finish.  Simply beautiful.

TBA No. 07 Welschriesling “Zwischen Den Seen” 2004:

Golden straw bale in color, this wine has the aromas of grapefruit bud, linden, honey (alpine), apricot, peach, tea leaf, and a hint of tobacco and/or other wood spices.  It exhibits intense fruitiness, but remains well-balanced.  This wine has such complexion and an ever lingering finish.  Ready to drink and will age beautifully. That’s all for this wine tasting.  Cheers!<!–:de– >

Die Weinverkostung fand im Spago statt (einem Restaurant von  Wolfgang Puck), das an den Forum shops im Caesar’s Palace liegt. Gastgeber der Verkostung war J&P Wholesale (SWS), zusammen mit Gerhard Kracher selbst (Winzer in dritter Generation).

Für diejenigen von Ihnen, die noch nie einen Wein von Kracher probiert haben: die Kracher-Familie
spezialisiert sich vor allem auf süße Dessert-Weine, die einfach köstlich sind und buchstäblich das Wasser im Mund zusammenlaufen lassen.

Drei Generationen der Kracher-Familie haben Wein hergestellt, der die Region Seewinkel (Burgenland, Austria) auf die Karte der Qualitätsweine herstellenden Regionen gebracht hat und ihr zu einem heute weltweiten Ruf verholfen hat. Zu behaupten, die Kracher-Familie ist einer der größten und besten österreichischen Weinhersteller, wäre eine Untertreibung.Ich würde sogar so weit gehen zu behaupten, dass diese Weine zu den besten Dessertweinen auf dem Markt überhaupt gehören.

Gerhard selbst schenkte die Weine aus und nahm sich die Zeit, detailliert jeden Wein zu erklären, den wir probierten. Ich empfinde es jedes Mal als faszinierend und als Privileg, einen Winzer über seine Visionen und Produktionstechniken sprechen zu hören. Es gibt mir die Gelegenheit, richtiger einzuschätzen, wieviel Herz und Seele sie
in die Weinherstellung stecken. Das ist jedes Mal eine erleuchtende und bereichernde Erfahrung. Ich werde nicht alle 24 Weine, die ich probiert habe, kommentieren könne, habe mir jedoch 6 besonders interessante Sorten ausgesucht:

  • TBA No. 03 TRAMINER “NOUVELLE VAGUE” 2004: Er hat die Farbe von Strohballen mit tiefen Farb- und Aromaspuren von Orangenrinde. Weiterhin trägt er Aromen von Muskat, Weißdorn, Honig, Rose, eine Spur Nelke und er zeigt eine dezente Rauchigkeit. Er ist intensiv vollmundig und komplex, mit einem nachhallenden aromatischen Abgang. Dieser Wein hat sein volles Potenzial noch nicht erreicht und müsste wunderbar altern.

    Dieser Wein hat die Farbe von dunklem Gold und Bernstein mit Aromen von Linde, Grapefruitknospe (eine blumige Note), wahrscheinlich ein wenig Quitte (Frucht), Safran und anderen Gewürznoten ohne eine Spur Eichenkontakt – dieser Wein ist sehr elegant und trotzdem komplex. Er ist trinkfertig ausgereift.

  • TBA No. 12 NOBLE WINE “ZWISCHEN DEN SEEN” 2002 (Der technisch gesehen kein wirklicher Wein ist): Der Grund, weshalb ich diesen “Wein” ausgesucht habe, ist, dass er nicht als Wein klassifiziert werden kann, weil sein Alkoholgehalt zu gering ist  (4%), was durch seinen extrem hohen Zuckergehalt (RS) verursacht ist. Dieser “Wein” ist aus einer Mischung aus 50 % Scheurebe und 50 % Welschriesling hergestellt und ähnelt in seinen Eigenschaften dem ungarischen Tokaji Eszencia. Er hat die Farbe von Bernstein und trägt
    Aromen des Nestea-Konzentrats, um es einfach zu formulieren, beziehungsweise von Zitrone, Birne, getrockneten Aprikosen, Honig, Teeblättern und einem Hauch Tabak. Im Grunde ein Tokajer Eszencia, nur mit weniger Trockenfrüchten in der Nase.

  • TBA No. 09 CHARDONNAY “NOUVELLE VAGUE” 2004: Strohballenfarbener Wein mit Aromen von Ananas (schwach), Birne, Linde, Honig, Vanille, gebratenen Mandeln und einem Hauch Karamelisierung und Rauch. Intensiv, aber sehr ausgewogen. Aufgeschlossen und sehr jung, wenn man bedenkt, dass er weniger Säure hat als der Jahrgang 2005. Trinkfertig ausgereift, müsste jedoch gut altern. Bedenken Sie immer, dass mit der Zeit einige dieser Aromen sich verändern.

  • TBA No. 10 CHARDONNAY “NOUVELLE VAGUE” 2005: Gelb-goldene Farbe, mit Aromen von Zitrone, Linde (dem Honigaroma hier sehr ähnlich),
    honigglasierter gebackener Birne, Nelke (nur ein Hauch), Vanille, gebackenen Mandeln mit einer Spur Rauch. Der Wein ist Vollmundig und hat eine überraschend cremige Textur (von der Reifung in Eichenfässern und durch seinen Chardonnay-Ursprung), hat jedoch trotzdem eine hervorragende Säure mit einem langen sanften Abgang. Einfach wunderbar.

  • TBA No. 07 WELSCHRIESLING “ZWISCHEN DEN SEEN” 2004: Die Farbe von goldenen Strohballen, mit Aromen von Grapefruitknospen, Linde, (alpinem) Honig, Aprikosen, Birnen, Teeblättern und einer Spur  Tabak und/oder holzigen Gewürzen. Sehr intensiv fruchtiger Geschmack, dabei sehr ausbalanciert. Dieser komplexe Wein hat einen beinahe nicht endenden Abgang. Trinkfertig ausgereift, wird dabei wunderbar altern.


Holdredge Wine Tasting

January 21st, 2009 by Sébastien Gavillet

J & P Wholesale, the boutique wine division of Southern Wines & Spirits, hosted the Holdredge Wines’ 2007 release wine tasting.  The tasting took place at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.  John Holdredge, owner/wine maker of Holdredge Wines, presented the wines himself.

Nine wines were presented during the Holdredge wine tasting.  These wines were made using the following varietals or grapes:  Pinot Noir, Syrah, Zinfandel, late-harvest Pinot Gris, and late-harvest Gewürztraminer.

Pinot Noir is John’s specialty, and his wine making technique focuses on showing off the features of the terroir in which the grapes are grown.  He uses an all-natural wine making process, one that is directed by his nose, palate and heart.  John produces truly fine Pinot Noir, and two of his new wine releases are included in my top 5 California [
glossary]Pinot Noir[/glossary] wines for 2007.

Wine Reviews and Wine Tasting Notes:  My Top 2 Holdredge Wines

Now, let’s talk about the Holdredge Wines, particularly the wines presented at the tasting.  The following are the two wines that I liked best among the newly released Holdredge wines:

2007 Bucher Vineyard Pinot Noir (Russian River)

This wine has the aromas of raspberry, rose petals, strawberry, hazelnuts, and some spices.  It has medium plus body.  It is heavier/bigger than the Wren Hop (see below), but it still has great structure, body and complexity.  This is one great wine.

2007 Wren Hop Vineyard Pinot Noir (Russian River)

This is the wine I liked best among the nine wines presented at the Holdredge wine tasting.  The 2007 Wren Hop Pinot Noir is such a delicate
yet complex wine – almost Burgundian.  It has the aromas of cherry “griotte,” raspberry, strawberry, and maybe even pomegranate.  It is medium-bodied and elegant, and it has delicate structure with almost silky tannins and a lingering velvety finish.  This wine is truly very enjoyable even at such a young age; it should age well.

That’s all for this wine tasting.  I know my wine reviews and wine tasting notes are rather brief, but I hope they’ll still help you make wine buying decisions.  Cheers!

Sadie Family Wine Tasting

July 01st, 2008 by Sébastien Gavillet

In April, I met with Eben Sadie, winemaker for the Sadie Family, at a wine presentation he was giving at the AquaKnox in Las Vegas.  At this wine tasting, Eben presented his new South African wine and Spanish wine releases.

For those of you who are not familiar with Eben Sadie, he grows and makes most of his wine naturally.  His wine growing practices incorporate self-sustained viticulture (no watering).  He uses mules to plow his vineyards, and he handpicks all the grapes.  Additionally, he does not use sulfates to make wine.  Eben believes that the most important component in wine making is the grape itself; everything else is secondary.

That’s enough for the introduction; now let’s discuss the wines.

Wine Reviews and Wine Tasting Notes:  Sadie Family Wines

The following are my wine reviews of and wine tasting notes on three Sadie
Family wines, specifically two South African red wines and one Spanish red wine.

Sequillo 2005

South African red wine from the Swartland region

Made from a blend of Syrah (68%), Mourvèdre (26%) and Grenache (6%)

Wine tasting notes:  This wine has a bright, deep ruby color.  It resembles a Rhone wine from the Vacqueyras region, and it has the aromas of cherry, blackcurrant, blackberry, prune, thyme, leather, and cedar.  Some minerality with acidity on the plus side.

This wine is elegant and has a surprisingly smooth finish considering the fact that I was expecting it to be much more tannic.

Columella 2005

South African red wine from the Swartland region

Made from a [
glossary]blend[/glossary] of Syrah (80%) and Mourvèdre (20%)

All grapes are berry selected!

Wine tasting notes:  A dark ruby/purple color is characteristic of this red wine.  It has the aromas of blackcurrant, morello cherry, prune, cedar or wood box cigar, tobacco, leather, and an herbal note (maybe eucalyptus).  Some minerality, medium acidity and tannins on the plus side.

This wine should age beautifully.  Note that this is the only South African wine to ever get 95 points on WS (Wine Spectator).

Terroir Al Limit 2005

Spanish red wine from the Priorat region

Made from a blend of Carignan and Grenache varietals

Wine tasting notes:  This wine has the aromas of young red fruits (e.g. raspberry and redcurrant), Mon Cheri (
liquor-infused cherry covered with chocolate), dark chocolate, prune, and smoke with a hint of woody spice.  This is a well-structured wine; it has good balance.

That’s all for this wine tastingDo watch out for my next blog post, which will be about Domaine Dujac and Jeremy Seysses visit to Deluca Liquor & Wine.


Great Match Wine & Tapas ’08 Wine Tasting

May 25th, 2008 by Sébastien Gavillet

Wine & Tapas ’08, the 15th annual Great Match Spanish wine tasting event, showcased more than 250 Spanish wines, representing a large chunk of Spain’s 67 denominations (DO).  The event was extremely well-organized, and I am already looking forward to next year’s Great Match.  Great Match wine tastings are held yearly to give wine professionals and the press the chance to preview the latest wines from Spain.

As you can imagine, there was no way I could sample all of the 250 Spanish wines that were featured at the tasting.  I narrowed my selection to about 100 wines which I had heard/read about or which had been recommended to me by other wine professionals.  Even with my significantly narrowed selection, however, it took me five hours before I could finish tasting all 100 wines and leave for another wine tasting event (the Moet & Chandon tasting at the all-
new Trump International Hotel & Tower in Las Vegas).  Of course, I did not spend all five hours tasting wine; I also spent some time speaking with the winemakers and representatives of Spanish wine companies.

Wine Reviews and Wine Tasting Notes:  My Top 26 Spanish Wines

I cannot possibly write extensive wine reviews of all the wines I tasted at the Spanish wine tasting; that would take days to accomplish.  You are welcome to contact me, however, if you want to know about a particular Spanish wine that was presented at the tasting as I did make extensive wine tasting notes about the wines I sampled.

In this post, I have categorized the wines into wine types and/or wine styles.  The wines below are my personal favorites, and they are listed in NO PARTICULAR ORDER.  The following are wines that I plan to buy for my personal consumption and wines that I would recommend to my clients.  There is also a section
called “Spanish Wines with Funky Aromas,” under which are listed wines with different or unique aromas.

Note:  The wine prices indicated below refer to the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) provided by the Great Match organizers.

Cava (Sparkling):

  • Mont Ferrant Blanes Nature 2003, DO Cava, Wine Price: $19.99

White Wines:

(Drink Albariño wines young; they lose their appeal through time; 2-3 years at most)

  • Terra Firme 2007, DO Rías Baixas, 100% Albariño, Wine Price:  $55.00
  • Albariño Santiago Roma 2006, DO Rías Baixas, 100% Albariño, Wine Price:  $55.00

Wine tasting notes:  Unique style; handpicked grapes are cryo-frozen to delay fermentation process.  Malolactic fermentation cut at 70%
via temp. control; aged 3 months on its lees; fermentation process is finished once bottled; no oak.

  • Paco y Lola 2007, DO Rías Baixas, 100% Albariño, Wine Price:  $55.00

Wine tasting notes:  Crisp and well-rounded, this is the most refreshing Albariño I’ve ever had.  Only 30% of the best harvested grapes are used to make this wine.  It has plenty of floral aromas and good acidity.  No oak.  Can’t wait to have this wine again; I’ll have it with some Asian cuisine.  Perhaps I’ll sip it plain while I’m relaxing on my patio.

Rose Wine:

  • Gran Feudo Rosado 2007, Bodegas Julian Chivite, DO Navarra, Grenache, Wine Price:  $19.00

Red Wines:

  • Montecastro y La Planeta 2002, DO Ribera del Duero, 100% Tinto Fino (local Tempranillo), Wine
    Price:  $55.00
  • Pasanau Finca La Planeta 2002, DOCa Priorat, 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Grenache, Wine Price:  $60.00
  • Finca Antigua Crianza 2004, DO La Mancha, Tempranillo Blend, Wine Price:  $15.00
  • Mascun 2005, Bodegas Osca, DO Somontano, 100% Syrah, Wine Price:  $25.00
  • Matamangos 2003, Agricolas Santa Rosa, DO Almansa, Blend of Grenache/Monastrell, Wine Price:  $29.00
  • Fra Guerau 2003, DO Montsant, Grenache/Syrah, Wine Price:  $15.00
  • Rento 2003, Grupo Matarromera, DO Ribera del Duero, Tinto Fino (local Tempranillo), Wine Price:  $75.00
  • Val de los Frailes 2003, DO Cigales, Fino (local Tempranillo), Wine Price:  $70.00
  • Campo Viejo Reserva
    , Juan Alcorta, DO Rioja, 75% Tempranillo, 15% Graciano, 10% Mazuelo (Carignan), Wine Price:  $12.99
  • Ysios 2001, DO Rioja, Tempranillo, Wine Price:  $29.99
  • Navarro Lopez Old Vines Crianza 2002, DO Valdepeñas, Tempranillo, Wine Price:  $12.99
  • Rentas de Fincas 2003, DO Rioja, Tempranillo, Wine Price:  $14.00
  • Earth 2.0 2003, DO Navarra, 50% Temp, 50% Merlot, Wine Price:  $21.00

Dessert Wines:

  • Seleccion Especial 2005, Jorge Ordonez, DO Malaga (Muscatel), Wine Price:  $20.00
  • Don PX Gran Reserva 1979, Bodegas Toro Albala, DO Montilla-Moriles, Pedro Ximenez, Wine Price:  $60.00
  • Sandeman Character Medium Dry Amontillado, DO Jerez-Xeres-
    Sherry, Palomino Fino and a hint of Pedro Ximenez, Wine Price:  $19.00
  • Lustau Peninsula Palo Cortado, Emilio Lustau, DO Jerez-Xeres-Sherry, Palomino Fino, Wine Price:  $21.00
  • Sandeman Royal Esmeralda Amontillado VOS Sherry, DO Jerez-Xeres-Sherry, Palomino, Wine Price:  $22.00
  • Domecq Venerable Vintage 30 years, DO Jerez-Xeres-Sherry, Pedro Ximenez, Wine Price:  $45.00

Spanish Wines with Funky Aromas:

  • Protos Verdejo 2007 (white wine), DO Rueda, Wine Price:  $12.00

Wine tasting notes:  This wine has not only the expected floral aromas but also some funky, armpit-like aromas, making this wine my funky pick of the Great Match wine tasting.

  • Don Olegario Albarino
    (white wine), DO Rías Baixas, Wine Price:  $22.00

Wine tasting notes:  This wine has chimney-like taste / aromas all over it that are quite similar to what you will find in a Haut-Brion Blanc even though the wine characteristics are completely different; worth the experience.

Are you thinking of building up your wine collection?  Perhaps, you have no wine collection to speak of and are thinking of starting one.  Why not stock up your wine cellar with Spanish red wines?  Most Spanish red wines, especially sherry, age very well.  I recommend that you slowly start stocking up on a few cases of Spanish wines before they become more popular, hence, more expensive.


E. Guigal Wine Tasting at the Mesa Grill

May 12th, 2008 by Sébastien Gavillet

J & P Wholesale proudly presented the E. Guigal wine tasting at the Mesa Grill.  Philippe Guigal, the estate’s oenologist, and Eve Ryckewaert, E. Guigal’s marketing manager, personally presented E. Guigal’s current vintage and new wine releases at the tasting.  For those who don’t know, E. Guigal is both a wine grower and a négociant.  The E. Guigal estate has vineyards in Côte Rôtie, Condrieu, Crozes Hermitage, Hermitage and Saint Joseph.  All other AOCs (Appellation d’origine contrôlée) are not estate-grown.

The turnout for the E. Guigal wine tasting was incredible.  Almost everyone in the industry (locally speaking) was present or represented.  Dana Hanusova, Mesa Grill’s sommelier was my tasting partner for this event.

Wine Reviews and Wine Tasting
Notes:  My Top 6 E. Guigal Wines

The following are my wine tasting notes on and brief wine reviews of my top six picks at the E. Guigal wine tasting:

Condrieu “La Doraine” 2006

This 100% Viognier is aged for 9 months in new oak barrels.  This white wine has a complex bouquet with the aromas of acacia, linden, apricot, white peach, roasted almonds, and a touch of vanilla.  Rich, full-bodied, nicely rounded, and well-balanced, this was one of my favorite white wines at the tasting.  Ready to drink.

Ermitage Ex-Voto 2001

I was told that this wine is only made in the greatest vintages.  This 95% Marsanne, 5% Roussanne is aged for 18 months in new oak barrels.  It seemed to me, though, that this wine has the characteristics of wine aged a lot longer in new oak.

This white wine has a complex bouquet
and the aromas of acacia, peach (almost white peach), quince, honey, oak, toast, clove, vanilla, and roasted almonds.  It is very rich and fatty with a long spicy finish.  This wine should be ready to drink after 3-5 years.

St. Joseph “Vignes de L’Hospice” 2004

This 100% Syrah is aged for 30 months in new oak barrels.  This deep-red wine is ruby colored with purple hues.  It has the aromas of blackcurrant, blackberry, a hint of prune or overripe cherry, wood spices, coffee, leather, oak, vanilla pod, and toast.  Well-rounded, it has big yet elegant tannins and a long and smooth finish.  Ready to drink.

Cote Rôtie “La Turque” 2004

This 93% Syrah, 7% Viognier is aged for 42 months in new oak barrels.  This deep-red wine is ruby colored with dark hues.  It has the aromas of blackberry, blackcurrant, morello cherry covered with dark chocolate,
violet, coffee, spicy wood, maybe even truffle, oak, vanilla, and toasted seeds.  It is full-bodied, elegant and well-rounded with an unctuous texture and a lingering finish.  This wine should be beautiful after 3-5 years.

Côte Rôtie “Château d’Ampuis” 2004

This 95% Syrah, 5% Viognier is aged for 38 months in new oak.  This ruby-red wine has a complex bouquet, with the aromas of raspberry, blackberry, blackcurrant, prune, dried herbs, violet, and hints of vanilla, coffee, toast, and smoke.  Medium-bodied, elegant and well-structured with no overpowering tannins, it has a nice and lengthy finish.  Ready to drink and will age well in the 10+ years to come.

Côte Rôtie “Château d’Ampuis” 2000

This 95% Syrah, 5% Viognier is aged for 38 months in new oak.  This garnet-red wine has a complex yet delicate bouquet, with the aromas of blackberry, blackcurrant, maybe even raspberry, prune,
musk or leather, dried herbs, violet, hints of vanilla, and toast.  Medium-bodied, well-structured with good tannins, it has a smooth finish.  Ready to drink.

That’s all for this wine tasting.  Cheers!