Red Wings and
The Detroit Red Wings head into the 2002 Stanley Cup Playoffs with home ice advantage assured throughout, having won the President’s Trophy with the best record in the NHL. All they have to do is stay healthy and keep winning. Here at Gang Central, we’ve been training hard for what we hope will be a successful drive towards another Championship for the boys wearing the winged wheel on their jerseys. Côtes du Rhônes have played a prominent part in our late season regimen, and here’s what we’ve tasted while watching our home town heroes do battle down the home stretch of the regular season.
4 Texier Côtes du Rhônes
There’s been a lot of buzz lately on the virtual grapevine regarding the wines of Eric Texier, but until just recently, we’d seen nary a bottle. Leave it to my buddies Tom, Putnam and Nick over at Cloverleaf in Southfield, MI to come up with the goodies for the Gang. True, these aren’t the more prestigious bottlings from the better-known appellations, but they’ll more than do for a start. AND, they all go REAL well with a grilled haunch of beast and/or Red Wings hockey. Here’s the Rhône-down on what we tasted.
Eric Texier Côtes du Rhônes Villages Séguret Vielles Vignes, $19.99,
14.5% alc.: Plum, black cherry cough drop and more than a hint of vanilla
vie with earthier elements for dominance on the nose of this dark garnet.
Flavors echo with good acidity and significant tannins that clamp down some
on the finish turning it a bit tarry and stemmy. Some chocolate nuances come
out with air, and I gave it two hours in a decanter before pouring a glass.
It has a plush density to it that I like, and probably needs at least 3-5
years to show its best. There’s still some of this left, but it won’t
last long, especially with me going back for more.
2000 Eric Texier Côtes
du Rhônes Villages St. Gervais Vielles Vignes des Cadinières, $13.99,
14.5% alc.: This slightly cloudy dark garnet is the only one of the four
that WASN’T purchased at Cloverleaf; we found it at The Anderson’s
in Toledo. Earthy plum and red berry with hot and spicy hints need to be
coaxed out of the glass, but there’s nothing shy about the flavors that
follow through and expand on the palate. There’s some hard, tannic fruit
here, even after two hours in a decanter, but like so many good Rhônes, it
continues to open and open with air. It has good acidity, and finishes
tight, but as it opens, chocolate, garrigue and rhubarb come out more and
more. The texture evolves from being rather hard to being thick and rich, if
still a little rough in its youth. After four hours, it really opens up and
shows a lot of fruit and excellent promise for the future; give it five
years. As good as or better than the Séguret, but the only one of these
that didn’t make it to our immediate market.
2000 Eric Texier Côtes du Rhônes Vaison-la-Romaine, $14.99, 14% alc.: Dark garnet, with a muted nose of earthy plum and blackberry that expands on the palate with good tannins and acidity; little chocolate-y hints come out with plenty of air. It has a smooth, somewhat plush mouthfeel, becoming almost soft as it opens, but seems to be missing just a little something on the mid-palate. Still, it’s a nice wine, and maybe a few years will fill it out some.
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections, New York, NY.
1999 Eric Texier Côtes du Rhônes Villages Brézème Mise Tardive, $14.99, 12.5% alc.: Dark garnet, with vanilla cream, black cherry, plum and hints of garrigue and bacon on the nose, but the flavors don’t deliver on the promise of the bouquet. Dry, earthy plum flavors feature at least a few years worth of tannins and decent acidity, but there’s a certain vacancy from the mid-palate on back through the finish. Not surprisingly, it also continues to open and get better as long as there’s some left, but never does quite fill that vacancy.
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections, New York, NY.
4 From Louis Bernard
1998 Louis Bernard Gigondas, $19.99, 13.5% alc.: True, this and the following selection are a step (or three) up from your every day Côtes du Rhônes, but then the same could be said for at least a couple of the Texiers. These are included here for purposes of continuity with regard to the producer. I found this dark garnet recently at the local Cost Plus outlet, and knowing that Louis Bernard has been receiving some notable praise lately, I thought it might be interesting to see how they do with fruit from one of my favorite Southern Rhône appellations. There’s very little on the nose here at first; one needs to exercise considerable swirlatude to coax some blackberry, plum and mineral out of the glass. There’s plenty of full bodied flavor though, expanding considerably on the aromas with an added component of smoky cola, good acidity and a good five years worth of tannins to resolve. The bouquet does emerge gradually with air, with the smoky cola coming out more and more. It doesn’t have the longest finish, but then it doesn’t just die, either. 2 ½ hours of air does wonders for this dense, intense red, but then, doesn’t it almost always happen with these big Rhônes? A solid, satisfying, if unspectacular Gigondas.
1999 Louis Bernard Châteauneuf du Pape, $19.99, 13.5% alc.: This dark garnet wine has been getting good reviews for the past few vintages, and when I saw it for $20 at Costco, it was one of those no-brainers that just automatically goes into the shopping cart. Dark garnet in color, it shows considerably more on the nose than the Gigondas (they were tasted on the same occasion), exuding plum, blackberry, a little red currant, a splash of rock ‘n’ rye and cola and hints of garrigue. These impressions follow through loud and clear on the palate, with a fairly smooth mouthfeel, despite youthful tannins and good acidity. Some sea air comes out on the nose as it opens, and this almost seems more like a Gigondas than the Gigondas, with the cola nuance. The good finish should lengthen with time as the tannins ease up; five years wouldn’t hurt, but this is drinking pretty well already. This is some really nice wine, especially at $8 or $10 less than anyone else in the area sells it for.
2000 Louis Bernard Côtes du Rhône, $9.99, 13% alc.: We liked the ’98 edition of this, so I don’t know how we missed the ’99, but the current version isn’t a bad glass of wine. It’s a dark garnet, but not quite as dark as one might expect. Flavors and aromas show nice enough plum, blackberry, hints of leather, underbrush and a little smoke, all enhanced with a subtle perfume. It has the tannins to go for three to five years, but loses just a little something from the mid-palate on back through the finish. Still, it drinks well enough now, and should improve with a little time in the cellar.
2000 Louis Bernard Côtes du Rhône Villages, $10.99, 13% alc.: Tasted side by side with the previously noted selection, this is a deeper, darker garnet than that wine. The nose is deeper and darker too, with dusty, earthy black currant, plum and a subtle hint of licorice, but it doesn’t exactly jump out of the glass. The flavors echo and pick up the intensity nicely, with at least a few years worth of tannins and good acidity, being more substantial than the CdR on the mid-palate and finish, which lingers awhile. Again, this opens nicely with air, and there’s some nice fruit underneath all those tannins.
These four wines all show at least decent QPR, but clearly, the Châteauneuf du Pape is the class of the bunch, and the one I’d strongly recommend, especially if you can get it for the same low price that we can.
Louis Bernard Wines Imported by Jean-Claude Boisset Wines USA, Inc., San Francisco, CA
Wait! There’re 3 More...
2000 Novellum Côtes du Rhône Grandè Reserve Vieilles Vignes, $7.99, 14% alc.: This dark garnet is a QPR bonanza, with really nice flavors and aromas of plum, black currant, chocolate and some tar. The smooth mouthfeel and fairly plush, almost creamy texture belies the nice price; it has good acidity and isn’t so tannic that you can’t enjoy one tonight, which is exactly what I’m doing as I type these notes with the Wings and Kings on the tube. A few years’ worth of tannins keep it from finishing as long as it might, but that should change with a little bottle age. Kim had a glass of this and said, "Get a case!" Needless to say, her wish was my command.
An Eric Solomon/European Cellars Selection: Imported by European Cellars Direct, Charlotte, NC
1999 Domaine du Vieux Chêne Côtes du Rhône Cuvée de la Haie aux Grives, $11.99, 14% alc.: The price has gone up from past vintages by a couple of bucks on this dark garnet, a perennial house favorite here at Gang Central, but fortunately, what’s in the bottle makes it worth it, especially with the case discount. The nose shows black cherry, plum, and cherry cough drop aromas with undertones of earth and tar that follow through on the palate with the earth and tar coming out more and more through the finish. There’s good acidity, with 3-5 years worth of tannins, making this a prime candidate to cellar by the case.
Imported by J et R Selections LTD., Mount Pleasant, MI.
1997 Mas des Collines Côtes du Rhône, 13% alc.: Jack Owens from Richmond, VA sent us a bottle of this slightly rusty dark garnet to try, knowing that we’re fans of this producer’s Gigondas, and it didn’t disappoint in the least. Flavors and aromas of earthy plum, prune, leather, and smoke show good intensity, and like the Gigondas, there’s more than a hint of cola here. With at least a few years worth of tannins still to resolve and good acidity, it’s a rather rustic wine, and that’s just how I like it. It opens nicely with air, as the cola comes out more and more, and a stemmy finish gives the most indication of further need for age. Still, it’s a solid Côtes du Rhône that’s already a pleasure to drink with some time in a decanter before hand.
A Few From Up North and a Few From Down South