Tasting Group 75 Selections for May

2013 Trefethen Dry Riesling (Napa, CA)
100% Riesling. Now this is some crazy stuff. We were so skeptical of this wine. Riesling from Napa? Are you kidding? No – we were absolutely shocked at the lithe frame & low/correct (12%) alcohol and could not believe this came from Napa. Forget what you expect, it’s perfectly lovely – white jasmine flowers, orange blossom & lime, it’s fresh, sunshin-ey, just delightful. If you’re a professed non-rosé drinker, this is definitely a candidate for summer wine. Trefethen is known for their Cabs & Chardonnay: during the past three decades, Trefethen wines have amassed a cornucopia of major awards and accolades, beginning in 1979, when the 1976 Chardonnay – their fourth vintage! – was chosen “Best Chardonnay” in the world at the Gault-Millau World Wine Olympics in Paris. 12.5% abv – how do they do it in Napa??

2011 Catherine Le Goeuil Côtes-du-Rhône Villages Cairanne (Rhone, France)
51% Grenache, 35% Syrah/Mourvèdre, 14% Carignan/Counoise. France’s Rhone Valley is home to one of the country’s largest wine appellations – Côtes-du-Rhône. This designation includes both good value, though generic CDR wines as well as the more exalted CDR-Villages wines (about 17 named villages). These latter wines are regarded as a step up in quality & each is identified as producing higher-quality wines distinctive of the specific regional style. Cairanne is one such parish and is considered to be one of the finest CDR-Villages wines produced, It is a matter of time before its status is elevated further to that of Gigondas & Rasteau – other named Rhone villages that have been awarded appellation status in recent years. In 1993, with little experience and great determination, Catherine Le Goeuil bought a 6ha domaine that today produces 1600-2100 cases of red & white wines. This wine has a ripe and decadent nose of wild thyme, stones, and loads of Grenache fruit; it is chewy & concentrated with fine tannins. Delish!

2011 Castello di Neive Pinot Nero « il Cortini » (Piedmont, Italy)
100% Pinot Noir from the Langhe Hills of Piemonte. A slightly unusual player for the region known for the 3 Bs – Barolo, Barbaresco & Barbera. Tradition, research, and creativity make up the philosophy of the Castello di Neive winery. Recently released photographs from the winery’s library show that, as early as 1904, Pinot Nero was being bottled at the castle. Growing up, Italo Supino’s favorite wine was his father’s “Cuvée Privée.” This wine, which was served at family gatherings and made from grapes bought from the then current owner of the castle—a Count Guido Riccardo Candiani, was sourced from a vineyard (i Cortini) right next to the Castello di Neive. Once his family purchased the castello, Italo decided to pay tribute to his father’s memory by continuing to make the Pinot Nero with il Cortini’s grapes. Ruby red with aromas of cherries, currants & raspberry jam, light & fresh on the palate. Delicate tannins and a light body make this a finessed but structured wine. Aged for a year in small neutral French oak barrels. 14.5% abv.

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Tasting Group 150 Selections for April

2009 Château Simone
Aix-en-Provence, France

With a few exceptions, we are accustomed to enjoying early-drinking, uncomplicated reds, whites and rosés from the South of France. One of these notable exceptions is Château Simone. This historic estate, situated in the hills just south of Aix-en-Provence, has been in the hands of the Rougier family for two centuries and holds a virtual monopoly on the appellation of Palette. The red from Simone is an elegant yet well-constituted wine of great depth. It is primarily composed of Grenache and Mourvèdre but its special character reflects the presence of a mélange other grape varieties, albeit in small proportion, including Cinsault, Syrah, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Castet, Manosquin, Théoulier, Tibouren, Picpoul Noir and Muscat de Hambourg. It may be drunk now, but it definitely deserves more time to develop the silky elegance & nuance it has earned its reputation for. Annually, there are just 2400 bottles available for the US market.

 

2010 Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc, Clos St. Jean 1er Cru
Cote de Beaune, France

100% Chardonnay. Michel Niellon is a very quiet, unassuming man in his mid-seventies. Despite being nominated by Robert Parker as one of the five best white wine makers on the planet he remains totally self-effacing, and almost bemused by his own success. His wines are prized by White Burgundy lovers for their concentration, purity and ability to develop complexity & elegance. It is unfortunate that waiting for this magical transformation has become such a dicey proposition. Of course we are referring to the problems with premature oxidation that have plagued White Burgundies, some of the finest, most age worthy white wines in the world. Niellon has taken a few steps to combat the mysterious problem, including using a slightly wider cork to protect against oxygen ingress. To be safe, drink this bottle over the next year or so. Domaine Niellon has only 6 hectares of vines and therefore, the supply of his wines to the world is severely rationed.