George Heritier

Tasting Notes:
George Heritier
Allan Bree
Larry Meehan
Jim Cowan

The Ogier Tasting



Portland, Oregon:
Double J's Old Hill Ranch Roundup

Cristom Vineyards

Ann Arbor, Michigan
MoCool 2001

Ogier Tasting

Cleveland, Ohio
Larry & Mary Meehan

North Carolina:
Greg Ellis, High Point

Jim Cowan, Banner Elk

Detroit, Michigan:
Back at Gang Central


List of Wines



Tasting Notes by George Heritier and Allan Bree

As soon as Bree and I heard that the MoCool Sunday tasting would be a vertical of Domaine Ogier Côte-Rôties, we said, "Sign us up!"

There’s been a growing buzz regarding these wines among the online wine crowd for a while now. Stuart Yaniger turned califusa on to the ’91 Ogier last year, and Allan called it his "Rhone epiphany." Bree and I also tried the ’92 last August, and were much impressed. Now, here was a chance to taste across a broad range of vintages, and we weren’t about to miss the opportunity.

More and more, the story is making the rounds of how Michel Ogier began producing wine under the Ogier name only around fifteen years ago, after the family had grown grapes for generations. Son Stephane (left) joined his father in the operation in 1997, and was on hand for the tasting as "winemaker-in-residence." This was the largest Ogier tasting ever staged, and most of the wine for the occasion came from the cellar of Stuart Yaniger, a close friend of the family who was largely responsible for facilitating the event.

The affair was held at the Polo Fields Country Club, just west of Ann Arbor. The wines were served in Riedel Vinum stemware, courtesy of Riedel of America. After a brief talk about his wines, Stephane gave us leave to begin, and that we did. Both Bree’s notes and mine are presented here for comparison.

1999 Domaine Ogier Côte-Rôtie: According to Robert Parker, the Ogiers increased the percentage of new oak this inky garnet saw from around 25% in previous vintages to 30%, and spent 18 months in barrel. It exudes an iodine/plum/black olive/hint of garrigue bouquet. Gorgeous flavors echo with a velvet mouthfeel, silky tannins, good acidity and a slightly astringent finish. Absolutely terrific for so young a Cote-Rotie. – geo

Ah, the impetuousness of youth! Effusive and lush young fruit in the nose with marvelous Rotie perfume – fascinating and captivating aromatics – relatively smooth entry – rich and mouthfilling with a broad palate profile. A "blow your hair back" young wine with great promise. - Bree

1998 Domaine Ogier Côte-Rôtie: Inky garnet, pink at the rim; more demur on the nose than the ’99. Earthy plum/black currant flavors and aromas, silky tannins and a slightly stemmy finish. A little iodine comes out with air. Very nice. – geo

Pretty fruit aromas laced with lardons of smoky meat – soft plummy flavors with smooth tannins from the mid-tongue to tip – seems light in the midpalate now, but will doubtless flesh out with time. - Bree

1998 Domaine Ogier Côte-Rôtie Cuvee Belle Helene: This wine sees 100% new oak, and spends 30 months in barrel. Inky garnet; much more earthy on the nose than the preceding two selections with fairly tight plum/earth/black currant flavors and aromas and notes of garrigue lurking. Very smooth, yet very tight at the same time. - geo

Feminine in the nose with floral highlights – starting to close down in the mouth with tannins dominating the front of the palate. Needs time. – Bree

1997 Domaine Ogier Côte-Rôtie: Dark garnet; garrigue and plumy fruit vie for dominance on the nose. Impressions follow through on the nose, with hints of black olives, another velvety mouthfeel and a good long finish. I really like the garrigue in this! – geo

Shy and withdrawn aromatics – balanced stone fruit flavors with more prominent tannins – fairly well closed down wine. - Bree

1996 Domaine Ogier Côte-Rôtie: Smoky dark garnet; very pretty plum/berry nose shaded nicely with garrigue and a hint of rhubarb. Flavors echo on a medium full bodied frame, and though not quite up to the promise of the bouquet, still very nice. - geo

Light perfume notes – ripe black cherry flavors with hints of meat – long follow. - Bree

1995 Domaine Ogier Côte-Rôtie: Inky garnet with just a hint of brick; plum/garrigue/varnish flavors and aromas, with a wee hint of coffee coming out with air. Yumm! – geo

Hints of cinnamon and violet in the nose – tight and tannic – closed and tight, eventually giving up hints of licorice on the palate. - Bree

1995 Domaine Ogier Côte-Rôtie Cuvee Belle Helene: Inky garnet with a hint of brick; more varnish on the nose. Plum/varnish/hint of coffee flavors; tight and tannic, needing time like the ’98 Belle Helene. - geo

Notes of spice and elusive wisps of ocean air – sweet and fresh on the palate – well balanced with silky tannins. - Bree

1994 Domaine Ogier Côte-Rôtie: Rusty garnet with somewhat reticent nose earthy plum and hints of varnish/garrigue; flavors echo, but while still smooth and enjoyable, this is perhaps the weakest wine of the bunch. – geo

Very shy nose – light on the palate – more noticeable acid structure – more delicate and elegant than the previous wines – lacks a bit of depth and concentration. - Bree

1993 Domaine Ogier Côte-Rôtie: Rusty garnet; hints of barnyard/coffee/garrigue compliment the plum/prune flavors and aromas. Lovely secondary complexities; these wines are all so smooth! – geo

Notes of spice and cedar in the nose – lovely and balanced in the mouth – an elegant and well balanced wine that is drinking beautifully right now – probably not an ager, but a splendid choice for dinner tonight. - Bree

1992 Domaine Ogier Côte-Rôtie: Brick red; upfront garrigue dominates, but doesn’t overwhelm the prune/coffee/licorice flavors and aromas. Smooth, rich, complex and delicious. – geo

Pretty sweet stone fruit aromas – follows nicely in the mouth – drinking well now with good acid – fruit balance – better now with food. - Bree

1991 Domaine Ogier Côte-Rôtie: Just a hint of rust to the dark garnet color; subtle perfume over the big dark plum that still seems primary. Flavors echo, and nice coffee/garrigue comes out with air. Just lovely, although Bree claims this wasn’t quite as good as he remembered it being last year. – geo

Surprisingly closed aromatics – very smooth and balanced in the mouth, but a mere shadow this morning of the "rock the house" wine I had at Speidini with the Yanigerites. Never as good as the first time?? - Bree

1990 Domaine Ogier Côte-Rôtie: Rusty garnet with plum/prune/coffee/garrigue/varnish/hint of licorice flavors and aromas; smooth, smooth, smooth. Just lovely; where’s the roast leg o’ lamb when you need it?! – geo

Soft spicy aromatics – lovely and balance palate - immensely approachable and ready to drink right now. This was my "have me for dinner tonight" wine. - Bree

1989 Domaine Ogier Côte-Rôtie: Brick red; strong earthy garrigue dominates the stewed prune nose, with added coffee in the flavors. Another one that’s drinking SO well right now. – geo

Reticent aromatics – pretty flavors, but fading fruit. On the downside. - Bree

1988 Domaine Ogier Côte-Rôtie: Rusty inky garnet; lots of garrigue/iodine on the nose with a rasher of bacon and a hint of…chocolate?! Flavors echo beautifully; so smooth, so lovely. – geo

Lovely dried rose petal and cigar box aromatics – smooth and mature palate profile with the elegant patina of age. Quite charming. - Bree

I’ll be honest, big tastings like this aren’t my favorite things. To paraphrase Bob Dylan, they’re fast on the palate, and I’d much rather take my time to really cozy up and get to know a wine or two over a period of hours. But one had to be tremendously impressed with the remarkable lineup presented to us this day; they were some of the finest northern Rhônes I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting.

Now, the only question I have is, how can I get my hands on some of this stuff!!!



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© George Heritier  October 2001