Caravinsérail 2007 Côtes du Ventoux “in fine.” (Rhône) – 80% clairette, 20% bourboulenc. Usually, “honeysuckle” in a note means the sweet nectar squeezed from the little bulbs at the rear of the flower. Here, I’d use it to mean everything but that part. There’s freshness to spare, and though the finish is on the short side it’s certainly a pretty little thing. Like drinking a bright, light spring sun. (3/12)
Soard “Domaine de Fenouillet” 2006 Côtes du Ventoux (Rhône) – There’s some difficulty getting this one started, as might be the case for a partially closed wine. It doesn’t take an enormous amount of coaxing or time to bring forth the aromas, thankfully, though they’re not as expressive as they were in the wine’s youth. Dark and earthy, with the sweet black olive-infused meat aromas of Southern Rhônishness lingering on the borders, it finishes a lot more supple than it begins. Ideally, one would want to let this one rest a while longer. (1/10)
Brusset 2005 Côtes du Ventoux (Rhône) – A fine New World syrah, with big, dark, moody black and purple fruit so dense and thick one needs a scythe to cut through its density. It feels like it should be oaky, but I don’t think it is. Though at this point, it could hardly hurt. (7/07)
La Vieille Ferme 2005 Côtes du Ventoux Rosé (Rhône) – Slightly candied strawberry juice and canned red cherry, both overwhelmed by sweetening alcohol. (9/06)
50% cinsault, 40% grenache, 10% syrah. Alcohol: 13%. Closure: screwcap. Importer: Vineyard Brands. Web: http://www.lavieilleferme.com/.
Sterling 2002 Chardonnay (71% Napa County / 16% Sonoma County / 13% Mendocino County) – Sweet peach, honeydew melon and orange with a pretty, albeit confected, palate presence and lots of buttery, toasty wood. Paint-by-numbers chardonnay, and tedious before the first sip has left one’s mouth. (9/06)
Alcohol: 13.5%. Web: http://www.sterlingvineyards.com/.
Faiveley 1998 Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits “Dames Huguettes” (Burgundy) – Dead. (9/06)
French bottling. 100% pinot noir.Alcohol: 12.5%. Closure: cork. Web: http://www.bourgognes-faiveley.com/.
Faiveley 2002 Mercurey “Domaine de la Croix Jacquelet” (Burgundy) – Corked. (9/06)
100% pinot noir. Alcohol: 13%. Closure: cork. Importer: Wilson Daniels. Web: http://www.bourgognes-faiveley.com/.
Goats Do Roam Wine Company 2003 “Goat-Roti” (Western Cape) – Big, obvious dried blackberry and synthetic leather with tarred wood and rosemary squeezings. It’s exceedingly heavy, but somehow manages to lack structure. There’s nothing overtly wrong with this wine, but it’s not very interesting either. (9/06)
96% shiraz, 4% viognier. Alcohol: 14.5%. Closure: cork. Importer: Vineyard Brands. Web: http://www.fairview.co.za/goats/wines.php.
Trimbach 1996 Riesling “Cuvée Frédéric Émile” (Alsace) – From 375. Very, very tight and sulfurous at first. With a few hours of air and aggressive swirling, the classic CFE profile of liquefied metal appears, in a razor-sharp pillar of crystalline structure. In no conceivable universe is this yet ready to drink. (9/06)
Closure: cork. Importer: Seagram. Web: http://www.maison-trimbach.fr/.
Parcé “Domaine du Mas Blanc” 1998 Collioure Clos du Moulin (Roussillon) – Rough, leathery fruit that’s been involved in some sort of long-lasting street brawl, leaving it bruised and bloodied by somehow matured by the effort. The aromatics are enticing, showing dark wet soil and fall leaves, with brief intrusions of gentler floral notes and the occasional trace of dark soy. Really nice wine, though certainly not polished to a sheen for modern tastes. (9/06)
90% mourvèdre, 10% counoise. Closure: cork. Web: http://www.domaine-du-mas-blanc.com/.
Jeune “Château Valcombe” 2005 Côtes du Ventoux “Signature” (Provence) – Tight and gravelly at first, showing thinner than one would like. With air, intense raspberry juice coalesces and expands to bury all else. A nice rosé, but it needs a certain amount of coaxing. (6/06)
Made by Paul Jeune, who also makes the Domaine de Montpertuis wines in Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe. Though I don’t know the precise cépage, it’s likely to be mostly grenache, with a little carignan, syrah and cinsault. These Provençal rosés often fail for a surplus of alcohol, but that’s not a problem here. Alcohol: 13.5%. Closure: composite cork. Importer: Rosenthal.