Walking Down Memory Lane - French Historical Notes

This is a collection of notes pre-dating the 2GrandCru blog that I never got around to uploading. As far as I can tell, I've changed so much over the past couple of years that some of these notes might no longer reflect my personal taste or even my writing style but it sure was fun reading them over. I've marked a question mark wines I doubt I could stand to drink these days.

Domaine Brana, Irouleguy, Rouge, 1999

First sign of maturity is the browning color. The nose is fleshed out right from the start: earthy, leathery, tobacco, a hint of chocolate at first, cassis, red and black cherries, pepper, a pinch of brett. The palate is hollow at first but fills out nicely and follows the nose with flavors of sour cherries and tangy tobacco-ish bite. It is mellow with fresh acidity, medium-bodied, fairly long, with soft, sweet tannins that manage to sustain a firm backbone. A cross between France and Spain (no wonder if you look at a map), it is elegant enough for high class with above average complexity. At it’s peak and should last at least 2 more years. My cup of tea. (Nov. 9, 2005)

Wow, I can't believe HaKerem used to import this stuff. It was a bold choice for the time. It wasn't quite cheap enough to be an alternative for Bordeaux and they were still trying to unload it three years after they imported this vintage to Israel in 2002. I bought about three bottles, never at the same price. It was listed for 170 NIS, though.

Domaine du Mas Clanc, Banyuls, Rimage, 2003 ?

On the nose, ripe black forest fruits and chocolate with a hint of spices, nothing to suggest the generous sweetness on the palate, that is almost like chocolate liquer, albeit balanced by acidity and the liveliness of the fruit. What tannins are present are hardly noticeable. (Jul. 5, 2005)

Another Table and Vine purchase. This cost 17 USD for a half bottle. A good price if you like Banyuls.

Chateau du Cedre, Cahors, Heritage, 2001

A black-colored, warm weather Old World wine. Aromas and flavors of red fruits that turn black, some earth and brett, spices and herbs, roasted meats. Full-bodied, tannic. Goes through an oaky phase and pulls out of it. Needs food. Should be held for 2 years. (Mar. 12, 2006)

Another New Hampshire purchase? I don't recall. Don't remember the price, either.

Hugues de Beauvignac, Picpoul de Pinet, 2005

Easy drinking can be a virtue when a wine is crunchy and supple enough that you don’t notice yourself pouring one glass after another, while in the back of your mind you are able to note a few nice touches. Like the great acidity and the way the minerals and mild spcies complement the melons to leave a limpid yet precise impression. A cross between a Chablis and a Sauvignon Blanc? (Jul 16, 2006)

A Shimon Lasry import. He used to sell it for about 40 NIS. Damn good value. I haven't had this for a couple of years but I'm sure I'd still love it.

Louis Bernard, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rouge, 1999

Hebral notes floating over lovely red fruit. Complex nose that fades in time but the palate sustains. Balanced and with very good length but it lacks elegance and maybe power to be outstanding. At its peak and certainly has enough acidity and tannins on the finish to suggest it has 3-5 years of life left at least. (Oct. 15, 2006)

A good also-ran CdP by an also-ran importer. If I had another bottle, I could tell you who imported it but it never really registered on my brain cells. Cost about 170 NIS as I recall.

Chapoutier, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, La Bernardine, 1998 ?

An elegant and fairly complex nose of cherries, spices and maybe a hint of grilled meat, and perhaps some damp earth. The palate took some time to open. Medium bodied with a fairly long finish. Needed a few hours to open and then seemed only a few years before its peak - or past it? Hard to tell and maybe it was just another off bottle. (Oct. 17, 2004)

At the time, I wasn't a good enough taster to tell the difference between a dumb bottle needing air and an over-the-hill bottle. Anyway, I have always suspected the Scottish Company didn't store these wines right. At least one other bottle seemed just as tired. I think they sold it for about 180 NIS but I coould be wrong.

Domaine de Monpertuis, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Blanc, 2001

Starts off all tropical fruits, grapefruit and lime and fresh as spring air, with a hint of earthiness and minerals on the finish. Develops complexity in glass and the balance between fruits and minerals shifts. Long and just spicy enough. (Mar. 24, 2005)

Weird. Is it dumb or what? It’s got a nose of roasted peanuts and pea-soup and the plate is mildly spicy. And that’s it. It’s kind of like the Hermitage Blanc Tomer brought to my Rhone tasting. (May 12, 2006)

Bought at Table and Vine for about 30 USD. I love the first bottle so much I went and bought another one the next time I was in the neighborhood. Lotta good that done me.

Vieux Telegraph, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, La Crau, Blanc, 2001

First impression: sightly oxidized, with herbs and cooked vegetables on the nose, but without the peanuts that were prominent on last white CdP of the same age I had (Monpertuis). Even more shut-down on the palate. After a short decanting, I can pick up melons and those hints of oxidation morph into a buttery-nutty sensation. The palate still takes over an hour to open after decanting. A very interesting if somewhat frustrating experience. (Aug. 10, 2006)

Sold by WineRoute for 220 NIS or so.

Guigal, Condrieu, La Doriane, 2001

Somewhat of an expectations-defying experience. Full of minerals and spices at first, crispy almost like a Chablis. Even when the tropical fruits come to fore, mostly pineapple, it still never quite lives up to the hedonistic style I expected. Bone dry, a wine to think about and delicious throughout. (Apr. 20, 2005)

Perrin et Fils, Cotes du Rhone Village Rasteau, l'Andeol, 2001

A rustic wine (pun intended). An initial blast of smoky red fruit and pepper followed by a good measure of brett and a hint of cedar. A fairly long tannic finish. A bit more complex than previous tastings though power and not complexity is its trump card (while elegance was never in the running). At its peak and should hold for a year or so. (Aug. 29, 2005)

Sold by WineRoute for about 70 NIS. Man, those were the days.

Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage, 2002 ?

Pleasant nose with candied red fruits, pepper and hints of forest floor. The palate is less satisfying. Medium bodied, prickling tannins, lacking balance and managing to be both tart and somewhat too sweet. And short. The nose improves some in glass and the palate also, though the latter not by a great deal. So, it’s an interesting wine that reflects a harvest damned by all. (Oct. 22, 2006)

The nose was much better this time, truly fleshed out with great depth and complexity. But the palate is very short, almost giving a whiplash when it ends. (Dec. 9, 2006)

A terrible vintage WineRoute struggle to get rid off at 90 NIS (after a 20% discount). After that experiece they stopped importing Graillot for a couple of years.

Domaine du Joncier, Lirac, 2001

At first, an oddly muted nose of black cherries and some chocolate and liquor. The palate is tight too, with a short dry finish, soft tannins and a medium-full body. After an hour, the nose reveals red fruits and spices and the palate becomes spicier and earthier. The overall effect is rustic, even coarse and somewhat unfocused... Then, after 2.5 hours, the fruits just burst out on the nose and palate as the wine finds its focus and makes a spectacular leap into a rustic sort of ellegance and near excellence. Not a great wine, not a complex wine, but simply a charming wine that needs some time. (May 17, 2005)

Now where did I buy this?

Alain Graillot, Saint Joseph, 2000

The nose is fairly deep and complex: ripe wild berries, pepper, smoke and herbs. At first it was all very ripe fruit punch aromas and needed an hour to blow that off. The palate shows a lot of acidity almost jammy fruitiness with more than a hint of lemon on the finish and ruins the good impression made by the nose. This might be too much for some but I like it. (Apr. 30, 2006)

Sold byWineRoute for 150 NIS.

Tardieu-Laurent, Costieres de Nimes, 2001

A classy, elegant and modern wine. At four years of age, the color is still opaquely youthful. The nose starts out with a prominent note of orange peel, then shows flowery overtones and ripe yet vibrant fruits (that shift from red to black) as it develops some roast meat, wet forest floor and a biscuity/herbal layer.The palate, while less complex, displays the same shiny vibrancy, propped up by balanced acidity, good grip, solid length, elgant if plummy-ripe fruit and silky tannins. I have no doubt it should keep a while, but it seems to have reached a finely-tuned peak. (Dec. 15, 2005)

An interesting import decision by WineRoute (unless T-D forced it upon them in some packaging deal). It cost about 140-150 NIS and I'd buy it again. I'd buy anything from T-D the mighty powers that be in the Shaked family decided to import again.


Unknown said…
Chaim hey!

I have noticed that WineRoute brings the Cotes du Rhone Reserve by Perrin & Fils this month!

I am not sure it is the same wine from 2001 that you had about but for 2 in 100 nis, sounds like it is worth tasting.
2GrandCru said…
It's not the same wine. WineRoute imported the Rasteau, the Cairainne and the Reserve.

I've listed them here in descending order of quality. I'd buy the Rasteau again but neither of the other two.