Tasting Notes by
George Heritier




he three games played at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit between the Red Wings and the Calgary Flames in Round One of the 2007 Staley Cup Playoffs looked exactly like what they were, a #1 seed playing a #8, with the Wings outscoring the visitors by a combined total of 12 goals to 3. Things were rather different at Calgary’s Pengrowth Saddledome however, where the Flames scored one more goal than Detroit in three games, 7 to 6. Fortunately for the Red Wings, although each game on the road was settled by a single goal, it was they who had the winner in double overtime of Game 6 to move on to the 2nd Round with an exciting 2-1 victory in the game, taking the series 4-2. The Flames tried to “send a message” with displays of cheap thuggery at the end of Game 5 in Detroit while being spanked 5-1, but all it gained them was $125,000 in fines from the NHL, a suspended backup goalie and a team of opponents with redoubled determination.

Of course, we did our best to offer up what we considered to be potent First Round Red Rhône mojo, and it obviously didn’t hurt anything, as the Wings move on the take on the San Jose Sharks in Round 2. Here’s what we sacrificed.

We’ve been fans of Château de Montmirail for some years now, and the 2004 Vacqueyras Cuvée des Deux Frères that we enjoyed last month made us want to try more, so we followed that up with another three.

2000 Château de Montmirail Vacqueyras Cuvée des Saints Papes2000 Château de Montmirail Vacqueyras Cuvée des Saints Papes, 75% Grenache, 20%Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, 13.5% alc., $21.99: I had hopes that this dark garnet colored blend might be softening a bit at around 6 ½ years of age, but it’s still big, rich and powerful, being very well structured, with a good dose of tannins yet to shed. It exudes smoked stone over red plum and berry on the nose, and gives up plenty more of the same on the palate, along with notes of iron, cola and grilled meat to boot. This excellent Vacqueyras is nowhere near its peak, with at least three to five years of further development (it may be a 15+ year wine), but I have to admit, with around three hours in a decanter, it’s already quite tasty. Find this wine

2004 Château de Montmirail Vacqueyras Cuvée de l’Ermite, 50% Grenache, 50% Syrah, 14.5% alc., $24.99: On the nose, this dark garnet offers a wide spectrum of rich berry and plum underscored with earth and iron; the flavors echo and expand with even more earth and iron, along with a strap of leather and a little something reminiscent of raw petroleum. It smoothes out nicely with a couple hours of air and it’s drinkable now, but it’s a 10 year wine no sweat, so patience is advised; plenty of potential here. Find this wine

2004 Château de Montmirail Gigondas Cuvée de Beauchamp2004 Château de Montmirail Gigondas Cuvée de Beauchamp, 75% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 19% Mourvedre, 15.5% alc., $29.99: Deep dark garnet in color, fading at the rim; there’s plenty of sun baked, smoked stone character in both the big flavors and expressive aromatics, and these elements vie for dominance with the ripe, spicy dark plum, blackberry, black cherry and cola at the core of the flavor profile, all shaded with earth and bitter chocolate underneath. Deep, dense and concentrated, with excellent structure and length, and yes, just a little heat, as the alcohol level might suggest. I find this to be even more engaging and approachable than the other Montmirails noted in this and the last report, but it’s far from its prime, so I’ll try it again in five years to see where it’s at; my guess is that it’ll still be on the way up. Find this wine

Château de Montmirail imported by J et R Selections, Mt. Pleasant, MI

2000 Eric Texier Côte-Rôtie Vieilles Vignes2000 Eric Texier Côte-Rôtie Vieilles Vignes, 12.5% alc: Slightly rusty dark garnet in color, and while not overly effusive on the nose, it does deliver nice whiffs of plum, bacon and black olive; these impressions follow through on the palate on a medium full bodied frame with more impact, earthy undertones and some smoky, subtle herb and underbrush. Well mannered, polite and quite enjoyable; not a muscular Syrah by any means, but a lovely Côte-Rôtie all the same.  Many thanks to Cousin Larry Meehan for opening this with us. Find this wine

Imported by Vintners Select, Mason OH

999 Domaine le Sang des Cailloux Vacqueyras1999 Domaine le Sang des Cailloux Vacqueyras, 13.8% alc., $19.99: It looks like I was right on the money back in ’02 when I observed that the wine begged for 5-8 years in the cellar, because it’s come around quite nicely since then. The dark garnet color is slightly cloudy, but there’s no rust as of yet; the nose shows a waft of sea air over smoky leathery beetroot. In the mouth, it gives up earthy, leathery beetroot and prune with smoky overtones, still well structured and yet to reach its peak, but drinking quite well with only 30 minutes in a decanter; there’s a solid core of rich, spicy fruit under all the earth, leather and smoke. This is a 10 year wine and more; I get the sense that it will go at least three years before reaching its peak and drink well for some years afterward. I love Sang des Cailloux! Find this wine

Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA

1999 Eric Texier Côtes du Rhônes Villages Brézème Mise Tardive, 12.5% alc., $13.99: Cousin Larry Meehan has stated more than once over the last year or so that this wine is not only coming around, it’s drinking very well. My better half agrees with him, qualifying that by saying that there’s a lot of bottle variation. Seems that they sampled two bottles with a local retailer a week or so ago, one of which was “good,” and the other one being “bad.” She bought four based on the “good” one, and she and Larry tell me that the one they opened and drained upon returning to Gang Central was also “good.” I didn’t get any of that one, but I did get some of two others over the last several days and both were “bad” ones. This time it’s my turn to qualify my remark, because they really don’t seem much different than the last few we tried in ’04; they’re still green, weedy and astringent. True, there’s a nice core of black plum and berry buried underneath, and the tannins have toned down with time, but the dank characteristics undermine it all. These two weren’t undrinkable, but they weren’t very enjoyable either, so maybe that DOES make them undrinkable, because who wants to drink sour wine, and that’s exactly how they taste, sour. I wish the hell I could get my hands on one or two of those so-called “good” ones; maybe the fourth one will be the charmer. Find this wine

Imported by LDM Wines, Inc., New York, NY

Normally, we ramp up the quality of our mojo during the playoffs, but the new vintage of the following wine came in and since we’ve enjoyed them in the past, our impressions are included here.

2005 Kermit Lynch Cuvée Côtes du Rhône,  14% alc., $13.99: Dark garnet in color, fading to purple-pink at the rim; ripe and yet very dry at the same time (riper than the 2004 model), with flavors and aromas of dark plum and berry shaded with subtle herb and earth underneath. Smoothly textured, with fine tannins and balanced acidity, rounding out a solid CdR, even if it DID go up a buck in price over the last vintage. 2 ½ hours works wonders with this, so give it some time in a decanter before drinking. Find this wine

Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA

Reporting from Day-twah,


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© George Heritier April, 2007