Tasting Group 75 Selections for November

2007 Domaine Olga Raffault Chinon “Les Picasses”       

Loire Valley, France     

100% Cabernet Franc.  The commune of Chinon in France’s beautiful Val de Loire is home to a spectacular medieval castle, the Château de Chinon, and likely the finest Cabernet Franc in the world.  Chinon is the largest of the 4 red wine appellations in the area.  Early-ripening Cab Franc thrives here and turns out fresh, light to medium bodied, food-friendly red wines with silky tannins & aromas of raspberry, lead pencil, tobacco, dill & other herbs.  Alcohol levels are always reasonable in the Loire, where it seldom gets extremely hot.  Since Olga’s death a few years ago, the Domaine is run by her granddaughter Sylvie and Sylvie’s husband Eric de la Vigerie.  The Chinon of Les Picasses tends to be of a dark cherry profile, rustic & earthy, reflecting the traditional methods used to make the wine.  The ‘Picasses’ spends two to three years in oak, to reduce the wine and soften the tannins, and is usually released about 4 years after the vintage.

2010 Weingut Friedrich Becker Estate Pinot Noir              

Pfalz, Germany           

100% Pinot Noir.  This is a rare treat.  Those crafty Germans tend to keep their reds for themselves, as relatively little of it is made in that country’s marginal cool climate.  The Pfalz is one of the more southerly & mild of Germany’s 13 distinct wine zones and is the country’s largest producer of red wines.  It is a 9-mile wide stretch of land situated near the French border and in fact, many of Friedrich Becker’s vineyards lie in an area that has been variously Alsace or Germany over the years and through the wars.  The vineyards were grandfathered in under a 1955 accord between Germany & France.  Becker is widely considered to be the finest producer of Pinot Noir in the country & this is only the estate’s entry-level wine. This light-bodied Pinot shows a lovely balance between gentle tart, red fruits, acidity and some minerally character. It’s made in traditional 2,400 liter (i.e. big) wood casks.  It is a perfect expression of German Pinot Noir.

2012 Ransom Vineyards Pinot Gris                               

Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon  

100% Pinot Gris.  Here is the basic philosophy of Ransom Vineyards: “It is the function of wine to enhance fellowship, discussion, and the exchange of ideas. So visit the market, invite over friends and family, and raise a toast to health and happiness through good meals, conversation and socializing!”  We agree & we suggest that you save this for Thanksgiving.  The star of the Oregon wine scene is indisputably Pinot Noir but sisters Pinot Gris & Pinot Blanc have charms of their own & are shaping up to be great companion whites.  It’s about time – after nearly 50 years of being grown in Oregon, Pinot Gris is finally getting its due & is now the second-most planted variety (red or white) in the state.   Ransom Vineyards makes a tiny amount of organically farmed Pinot Gris – just 232 cases.  The 2012 vintage was outstanding.  Look for aromas of apple, brioche & wildflower.  The palate is creamy and mineral-tinged and juicy acidity dominates.


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