Domaine Berthoumieu Madiran Cuvee Charles de Batz 2014

W Charles Batz 2012Other Red Blends from Madiran, South West, France

90% tannat

10% cabernet sauvignon

14.5% alcohol

Purchased: 12 July 2017  –  $19.99

Opened: 25 March 2018

els:  9.2/10

Wine Enthusiast:  93

France is the 2nd largest producer of wine in the world, just behind Italy and ahead of Spain, representing about 21% of the global wine market. The country is responsible for creating some of the most recognizable old world wines on the planet, from the bubbly Champagnes in the cool north to world-class Bordeaux along the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers to the GSMs in the warm Mediterranean south. There are 17 major wine-producing regions in the country along with another 28 smaller areas, all growing 96 varieties of predominate grapes with Merlot and Grenache the most common. Reds account for almost 70% of the 2 million plus acres planted in vines, with whites accounting for the remainder. As with the other major European wine producers, France’s vineyard acreage has been shrinking over the last couple of decades due to less demand from their home population and increased market pressures from new world producers.

The South West or Sud Quest region, France’s 5th largest wine area, begins in the central north on the eastern edge of the Bordeaux region and continues 150 miles to the southwest towards the Pyrenees, ending near the Spanish border. The region includes 25 AOCs with 120,000 areas planted in grapes producing around 270 million bottles of wine every year; roughly 3% of total for all of France.  The Romans initially cultivated the area for grapes and had it awash in wine before the Bordeaux region even thought about growing their own. But because Bordeaux controlled the wine trading routes they strangled the South West market, through taxes and laws, in the 13th century and the area never regained its prominence in the France, or the world. The area predominately grows red Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Tannat grapes along with white Semillon Sauvignon, and Ugni Blanc grapes.  The climate is a combination of oceanic and continental with cool wet winters and springs, offset by warm, sunny summers.

Madiran AOC is named after the town of Madiran in the Gascony Provence near the Adour River, 90 miles south of Bordeaux, 80 miles west of Toulouse and 60 miles from the Spanish border. The AOC is available only to red wine containing 40-60% Tannat, although 100% is acceptable (makes no sense to me), and blended with Cabernet Franc and or Cabernet Sauvignon. There are 3200 acres of vineyards in the Madiran AOC producing about 10 million bottles of red wine annually. The Pyrenees to the south have deposited, a generally, well-drained alluvium of clays and silts, rich in limestone interspersed with lots of red iron pebbles and stones. The area enjoys warm summer days rarely topping 80°F with rainfall averaging 1-2″ per month with a few inches of snow in the winter.

The Tannat grape, as its name suggest is very high in tannins, is native to the South West region of France. It is not a commonly grown grape, ranking at 100 out of all grapes grown globally but in Madiran it is king. There are about 15,000 acres planted worldwide or much less than 1% of the total grape acreage.  The wine from the grape is often blended with “softer” wines such as Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon to reduce its astringency. To further soften up the wine they are kept in oak barrels for up to 20 months.  The wines exhibit a deep tannic structure with notes of raspberry.  They are very dark in color and have great aging potential. Tannat grapes are high in procyanidins, a condensed tannin class of flavonoid with high antioxidant values that affects the wines astringency, color and mouth-feel.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross, believed to have occurred naturally sometime in the 1600s in southwestern France, between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. It is now the most widely planted grape in the world covering more than 700,000 acres or about 6.5% of all vines planted. France is number 1 in the world in acres planted for this grape. It is a thick-skinned grape that’s relatively easy to grow and maintain, exhibiting high tannins and acidity, producing a distinct bell pepper flavor, especially in cool climates, along with aromas of mint and eucalyptus. The grapes produce a full-bodied and dark-ruby colored wine.

The Domaine Berthoumieu  was founded in the 1850s by Virgile Dutour in the tiny village of Viella which is 5 miles northwest of Madiran. In the 1980s Didier Barré took over management of the winery from his father Louise. Today the property is in the hands of the family’s 6th generation of wine makers: Claire and Marion Bortolussi. The Berthoumieu field, part of the Domaine  Berthoumieu, is part of d’Artagnan’s homeland, aka Charles de Batz, Louis XIV’s Musketeer.

The winery has 64 acres which is planted in 85% red and 15% white grapes with the vines being 50-100 years-old.  The reds include: Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Pinenc.  The whites include: Petit Manseng, Gros Manseng, and Petit Courbu. The soils are a silty-clay, heavy in limestone with gravels and stones. The area enjoys an oceanic climate with diurnal growing season temperatures ranging from 45-80°F and rainfall ranging from 2-2.75″ per month.

After picking and sorting the grapes they are transferred to 150-210 gallon tanks for 30 days of fermentation and maceration.  The wine is then aged for 12 months in new and used oak.

A dark, dark purple, almost black wine with a ruby rim. Strong aromas of delicious raspberries  Full-bodied and powerful.  The tannins are, cut with a knife thick, and the wine is very dry.  A wonderful long, long finish.

This wine needs a strong, flavorful food pairing. Strong cheeses.  Strong tangy barbecue. Meats with strong herbs such as rosemary. Try my slow cooker rosemary stew.  I always make this slightly different so I’ll try to generalize it a bit. Start with 1-2 pounds of beef stew meat cut up in small chunks, add in a cup of beef broth, one chopped medium onion, a small can of tomato sauce (optional), a handful of baby carrots, 10 ounces of canned corn, 1 tablespoon of garlic, a cup of chopped celery, 1-2 teaspoons of dried rosemary, and 2 cups washed and sliced baby potatoes (I usually make these fairly big chunks by just quartering the baby potatoes), 1-2 teaspoons of cornstarch (thickener), salt and pepper, a dash of oregano and basil.  Add everything, except the cornstarch, salt and pepper, into the slow cooker for 8 hours, half on high, half on low.  Add the cornstarch to a half cup of warm water and mix.  Stir into the slow cooker about 15 minutes before serving.  Add water ifs needed. Salt and pepper to taste.

An outstanding wine at a fair price. Drink this year but likely good until 2025-2030. Decant and aerate for one hour, or more, before drinking.

This wine’s vintage appears to be no longer available outside of the borders of France. The 2012 vintage is still available and has ratings of 90 or more.

 

Alcance Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

W Alcance 2014Cabernet Sauvignon from Maule Valley, Central Valley, Chile

100% cabernet sauvignon

14.5% alcohol

Purchased: 6 March 2017 – $19.99

Opened: 28 Feb 2018

els: 9.0/10

Wine and Spirits: 94

James Suckling: 90

Cellar Tracker: 90

Wine Enthusiast: 87

Maule Valley, the largest wine-producing region in Chile and the southern-most region in Chile’s Central Valley, is tucked in-between the Andes and the Coastal Ranges. The region is named after the east to west flowing Maule River with its headwaters in the western slopes of the Andes Mountains and emptying 50-60 miles downstream into the Pacific Ocean near the small, impoverished city of Constitucion. Due to the Valley’s more southern location in the Central Valley it has cooler temperatures than its northern counterparts but because the Coastal Range’s have lower elevations here the rain shadow is also reduced resulting in more rainfall than up north, particularly in the winter.

The region’s wine history dates back to the mid-1800s when successful Chilean businessmen brought back pre-Phylloxera European vine cuttings to grow in the Valley’s igneous and alluvial soils, primarily along the Maule River. Initially the region grew predominately Pais grapes, generally used for bulk wine sales and table wines but in the recent past most of those vineyards have been replaced with better known selections such as Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape that now accounts for half the 75,000 vine acres planted in the Maule Valley.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross, believed to have occurred naturally sometime in the 1600s in southwestern France, between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. It is now the most widely planted grape in the world. Chile is second only to France in the number of acres planted world-wide in this grape. It is a thick-skinned grape that’s relatively easy to grow and maintain, exhibiting high tannins and acidity, producing a distinct bell pepper flavor, especially in cool climates, along with aromas of mint and eucalyptus. The grapes produce a full-bodied and dark-ruby colored wine.

The Alcance winery, founded in 1993, is a Jackson Family enterprise that was instrumental in improving the entire winemaking industry in the Maule Valley.  The family introduced modern techniques to the Valley, through the Alcance winery, and the rest, as they say, is history. The winery started with the lower elevation San Francisco Estate vineyards in the southwestern portion of the Valley. The vines enjoy the cool Pacific winds blowing over their canopy with their roots tapped into soils clogged with large quartz crystals. The growing season temperatures for the San Francisco vineyards ranges from 60-80ºF with rainfall 0.25-1.00″ per month. In 1999 the Jackson Family added the El Maiten Estate winery and vineyards in the southeastern Maule Valley to their Chilean holdings.  The El Maiten vineyards are located in the Andes foothills along the Lircay River, a tributary of the Maule River. The vines grow in a loamy soil containing numerous pebbles and cobbles. The growing season temperatures for the El Maiten area ranges from 60-85ºF with rainfall 0.25-0.75″ per month. Both vineyards total about 200 acres planted in 10 to 20-year-old vines.  The winery produces 5 wines under its Alcance label: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot, VIGNO (an old vine Carignan), and Bravura, their celebrated Bordeaux blend.

This wine is produced from a rough 50-50 mix of grapes from both vineyards. The Cabernet Sauvignon vines were 10 to 11-years old for this 2014 vintage. After the grapes are hand harvested, they are hand sorted, cold macerated for 6 days, and fermented in small stainless steel tanks for 20-22 days. Malolactic fermentation is done in French oak barrels for 18 months with 3 intervening racks.

A clear ruby-red wine with a tawny rim. Aromas of cherries and raisins with an oak supplied vanilla in the background. Full-bodied and balanced with a very pleasant, long finish.

Enjoy with a traditional South American stew: Charquican. You will need a pound of cubed beef (cheap to expensive; your choice), a tablespoon of flour, quarter stick of butter, 2 cups of beef stock, a big chopped onion, a teaspoon or two of minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of oil, 1-3 teaspoons of chili peppers finely minced (less or more depending on how spicy you want the stew), 1 cup corn, 1 cup carrots sliced, 2 cups diced potatoes, salt and pepper. Coat the cubes of beef with the flour. Season with salt and pepper. Add to skillet over medium-high heat along with the melted butter. Cook beef until brown. Add the beef stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a slow cooker.  With the remains of the beef and the beef stock in the skillet add the oil, onion, garlic, chili pepper and cook until the onions are soft. Add the remaining vegetables except the corn to skillet and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the skillet contents to the slow cooker and cook for 6-8 hours. Add in the corn about an hour before serving. Serve over rice.  Delicious. I made this from a modified recipe I found on The Spruce but I left out the squash, beans, and beef jerky; otherwise it was exactly the same:)

An outstanding wine at a fair price. Drink now, but should last until 2023-2025. Decant and aerate for one hour, or more, before drinking.

$15.19-31.49  wine-searcher.com

Falesco Tellus Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

W Tellus 2013Cabernet Sauvignon from Montecchio, Terni Province, Tiber Valley, Umbria, Central Italy, Italy

100% cabernet sauvignon

13.4% alcohol

Purchased: 6 March 2017 – $14.99

Opened: 18 Feb 2018

els: 8.9/10

James Suckling: 92

Wine Advocate: 90

Wine Spectator: 88

Cellar Tracker: 87

Umbria in central Italy is one of the 20 political regions and also one of the 20 wine regions in Italy.  This land-locked area is one of the smallest wine regions, 15th by vine acres planted, and 17th by wine volume produced, in Italy and is totally eclipsed by its larger and more famous adjacent northern neighbor: Tuscany.  This wine region maintains 4 levels of quality: DOCG, DOC, IGT, and table wine. The region grows Sangiovese and Sagrantino in profusion but recently, better known, non-indigenous grapes have successfully taken root in the area such as: Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine region is famous for its Orvieto wine, a sweet or a dry white wine blend of lesser known grapes such as: Procanico, Verdello, Grechetto, Canaiolo Bianco, and Malvasia Toscana.  This wine is named after the town of its origin, which is also the home of Nobelist: Enrico Fermi.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross, believed to have occurred naturally sometime in the 1600s in France, between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. It is now the most widely planted grape in the world. In terms of acreage planted in this grape, Italy has the 8th largest plantings in the world, behind Argentina and ahead of South Africa. A thick-skinned grape that’s relatively easy to grow and maintain, exhibiting high tannins and acidity, along with cool climate-grown aromas of peppers and currants.

Brothers Riccardo and Renzo Cotarella, founded the Falesco winery in 1979 near the southwestern edge of the Umbria region. Falesco provides wines to Leonardo LoCascio Selections, a Winebow Group company that imports and distributes the family’s wines in the US.  The winery produces 4 IGT wines: Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a white blend. Additionally it produces a DOC white blend based on the Trebbiano grape.

The vineyards are located about a half mile east of the Tiber river and 4 miles west of the Apennines Mountains. There are 925 acres planted with various grapes which produce 2.6 million bottles of wine every year. The Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are grown on 25 acres of calcareous clay at 990′ feet above sea level. The growing season diurnal temperature range is 55-85ºF.  Rainfall is plentiful during the growing season ranging from  1.5-5.5″ per month.  Occasionally, there may be a few days of snow in January or February but it doesn’t accumulate and it shouldn’t have any lasting detrimental affects on the vines.

The grapes are picked in early September then fermented and macerated for 15 days in stainless steel tanks. The wine is then racked into oak barrels for malolactic fermentation. A final 5-month racking, before bottling, occurs in new, 60-gallon French oak barrels. The winery targets a production of 80,000 bottles for this wine. These are young vines and 2013 was the first crop and vintage for the Tellus, a Latin word for Earth, Cabernet Sauvignon label. Not a bad first effort.

A ruby-red wine with a garnet rim. Aromas of blackberries and plums, with a hint of vanilla and spice. A medium-bodied wine with mellow tannins. A very nice, medium finish.

A good wine at a fair price. Try with a traditional Umbra dish of truffles pasta. An easy dish of fettucine, shallots, heavy cream, truffle shavings, truffle butter and butter.  Add some spicy meatballs on the side to complete the meal. Drink now, but should last until 2020-2023.

$10.89-21.99  wine-searcher.com

Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

W Los Vascos 2015Cabernet Sauvignon from Colchagua Valley, Rapel Valley, Central Valley Region, Chile

100% cabernet sauvignon

14.0% alcohol

Purchased: 6 March 2017 – $9.99

Opened: 16 Feb 2018

els: 9.0/10

James Suckling: 92

Falstaff Magazin: 91

Decanter: 90

Wine Spectator: 88

Cellar Tracker: 86

Colchagua Valley is in the southern and western portions of Rapel Valley, which itself is located in the middle of the 250 mile long Central Valley, all situated between the Andes to the east and the Coastal Ranges to the west. The northern edge of the Colchagua Valley is defined by the life-giving Rapel River and its main tributaries: the Tinguiririca and Cachapoal Rivers. The valley, sheltered from the cold Pacific winds by the Coastal Ranges, has a mild Mediterranean climate, warm but not too hot, or too cold, with rainfall that averages about 24″ per year, the majority coming in the winter. The main wine of the valley is Cabernet Sauvignon but in recent years Malbec has been added to the vineyards to capitalize on their Argentinian success on the eastern side of the Andes. The better wineries of Colchagua Valley have their vineyards located on the eastern slopes of the Coastal Ranges.

270 years ago the Echenique family, Basque immigrants to Chile, established their vineyards and winery in the Peralillo area of the Colchagua Valley, currently a small commune of less than 10,000 people.  The winery eventually acquired the name of Los Vascos meaning “The Basques” in Spanish. One hundred years later, in the 1850s, the family started to plant French derived vines and grapes which led to a large expansion of the vineyards and the wine industry in the area. In 1988 Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) acquired a 50% interest and management control of the Los Vascos property. The new management brought in new winery techniques and equipment; replanting many of the vineyards which presently and predominately, grow Cabernet Sauvignon (85%), but also Carmenere (5%), Syrah (4%), Malbec (1%), and Chardonnay (5%) grapes.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross, believed to have occurred naturally sometime in the 1600s in France, between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. It is now the most widely planted grape in the world. Chile is second only to France in the number of acres planted of this grape. A thick-skinned grape that’s relatively easy to grow and maintain,  exhibiting high tannins and acidity, along with cool climate-grown aromas of peppers and currants.

The vineyards, encompassing a little less than 1600 acres, range in age from 15-70 years. The vineyards are at about 425′ above sea level with soils of volcanic loams and granitic sands. Although the vineyards are less than 25 miles from the Pacific Ocean they are protected from its cold winds by the Coastal Ranges and enjoy a distinct 4 seasons of Mediterranean climate. Growing season temperatures have a diurnal range of approximately 50-85ºF and rainfall amounts average a very dry 0.5″ per month or less. During the southern hemisphere winters rainfall can exceed, but a still dry, 2″ per month. Because of the arid climate the vineyards are drip irrigated.  The 2015 season saw unusually heavy spring rains which contributed to a late bud break.  The harvest was normal though.

The harvest, mainly by manual hand picking, took place between April 1st and May 13th. The grapes were de-stemmed and crushed immediately after picking and fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats between 77-81°F.  A maceration period ranging from 10-15 days was followed by a malolactic fermentation, also in stainless steel vats: unoaked, ostensibly, for the American palate.

A ruby-red color with a garnet rim. Aromas of red fruits and plums with a touch of herbs.  On the tongue it is bold but balanced. A wonderful wine with a medium, fresh finish.

An outstanding wine at an outstanding price.  A fine wine to pair with a fine, rich meal such as Osso Buco or a rib eye. Drink now, but should last until 2025.  Decant and aerate for one hour before drinking.

$8.99 wine.com

 

Haras de Pirque Hussonet Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

W Hussonet 2011Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo Valley, Central Valley and Andes, Chile

100% cabernet sauvignon

14.0% alcohol

Purchased: 20 Aug 2016 – $12.99

Opened: 11 Feb 2018

els: 8.7/10

James Suckling: 95

Wine Spectator: 88

Cellar Tracker: 88

Eduardo Matte in 1991 purchased an estate he later named Haras de Pirque, a term derived from the combination of a name for a 1892 thoroughbred stud: Haras; which also is the French term for stud farm, and the Chilean commune name for the area: Pirque.  The estate is less than 20 miles southeast from the center of Santiago, Chile in the Maipo Valley and a little over 20 miles east of the Andes Mountain’s year-round snow fields. The estate, eventually growing to encompass approximately 1500 acres, lies on the western edge of a peripheral, Miocene-Pliocene aged, Andes’ thrust fault and has almost 250 acres devoted to growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. The remainder of the estate is dedicated to raising horses for racing and show. The Hussonet name comes from a famous eponymous American-Chilean stud, whose offspring have achieved some success as race horses in Chile and Australia.

The vineyards and winery, beginning in 2003, were originally a 50-50 joint venture with the Italian company, Marchesi Antinori, and their first wine was a Bordeaux red blend under the Albis label.  The Hussonet label followed a few years later.

The Antinori family, an ancient clan believing they can trace their blood lines back to the 11th century BC city of Troy, and their winemaking, a more persuasively detailed chronicle, dating back to at least the time of the Florentine Renaissance, bought out Matte’s share in the Harris de Pirque estate in mid-2017 and they plan extensive changes to the winery and vineyards to better reflect their name, which is synonymous with prestigious wines in general and Super Tuscans in particular.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross, believed to have occurred naturally sometime in the 1600s in France, between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.  It is now the most widely planted grape in the world.  A thick-skinned grape that’s relatively easy to grow and maintain and it exhibits high tannins and acidity, along with cool climate grown aromas of peppers and currants.

The Haras de Pirque vineyards are located between 1800-2100′ above sea level on the west side of an outlier Andes series of foothills. The soils are clays and loams mixed with large alluvial and colluvial stones. Growing season temperatures have a diurnal range of approximately 50-85ºF and rainfall amounts average a very dry 0.5″ per month or less. During the southern hemisphere winters rainfall can exceed, but still dry, 2″ per month.

There is no useful information available, that I can find, on the actual details of making of this wine.

The wine has ruby-red to purple color with a garnet rim. A bouquet of black currants, pepper, and a hint of vanilla. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, rich in tannins, but slightly drier and more acidic than usual for a Cabernet Sauvignon. The finish is short to medium.

A good wine at a fair price. Pair with a snack of hard cheese and salami.  Not a great wine to add to the menu for an expensive or fancy beef meal. Drink now, but should last until 2021.  Decant and aerate for one hour before drinking.

$9.99-16.12 wine-searcher.com

Viu Manent ViBo Vinedo Centenario 2014

W Vibo 2014Bordeaux Red Blend from Colchagua Valley, Rapel Valley, Central Valley, Chile

65% cabernet sauvignon

35% malbec

13.5% alcohol

Opened 31 Jan 2018

els: 9.2/10

Wine Advocate: 91

Colchagua Valley is in the southern and western portions of Rapel Valley, which itself is located in the middle of the 250 mile long Central Valley, all situated between the Andes to the east and the Coastal Ranges to the west. The northern edge of the Colchagua Valley is defined by the life giving, Rapel River and its main tributaries: the Tinguiririca and Cachapoal Rivers. The valley, sheltered from the cold Pacific winds by the Coastal Ranges, has a mild Mediterranean climate, warm but not too hot, or too cold, with rainfall that averages about 24″ per year. The main wine of the valley is Cabernet Sauvignon but in recent years Malbec has been added to the vineyards to capitalize on their Argentinian success on the other side of the Andes. The better wineries of Colchagua Valley have their vineyards located on the eastern slopes of the Coastal Ranges.

In 1935 the Viu family, Catalonian immigrants, founded a Bodega in Santiago, Chile to bottle and market wines locally.   The family, in 1966 purchased a winery and its vineyards in the Colchagua Valley which included very old, pre-Phylloxera, French derived vines.  This purchase marked the beginning of the family’s proprietary production of wine. In 2009, Vibo made its appearance on the Chilean and International markets.

Viu Manent, the Viu family company, operates 3 vineyards, totaling 627 acres, in Colchagua Valley: San Carlos, La Capilla, and El Olivar.  The San Carlos vineyard is 370 acres of 40 year-old plus vines, some more than 100 years old, growing at 800′ above sea level in very thick and porous, silty-sand to clayey-sand soils. The vineyard was established in the 1800s with pre-Phylloxera, French root-stock and vines. The La Capilla vineyard is about 93 acres dedicated to red-wine-only vines growing at 750 feet in a pebbly limestone and limey soil.  The vines are on average 16 years old. The El Olivar is a new land acquisition which the company plans to develop into about 175 acres of vines at an elevation between 500-930′, located on the steep slopes, up to 45°, of the Coastal Range foothills in pebbly-clayey soils.

Vibo Vinedo Centenario is produced from the oldest vines from the San Carlos vineyard. The 2014 growing season was delayed by long spring frosts which eventually led to hot summer days in the low 80s°F but the nights were cooler than normal, resulting in sustained high acidity levels for the grapes until harvest.

The grapes were hand harvested, de-stemmed and crushed in stainless steel tanks. After a 5-day cold water soak the grapes were fermented in natural yeasts.  Malolactic fermentation occurred in oak vats. The wine was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, about 20% which are new oak.

The wine has ruby-red color with a garnet rim. A bouquet of fruity herbs and spice. The tongue stays happy with a great balance of tannins and acidity.  A wonderful finish.

An outstanding wine at a good price.  Serve with cheese, beef, lamb or duck. Drink now, but should last until 2020-2022. Decant and aerate for one hour before drinking.

$16.99 wine.com

Bodegas Castano Solanera 2013

W Solanera 2013Other Red Blends from Yecla Region, Southern Spain

An Eric Solomon Selection

70% monastrell (mourvedre)

15% cabernet sauvignon

15% garnacha tintorera

14.5% alcohol

Opened 20 Jan 2018

els: 9.0/10

Wine Advocate: 92

Guia Penin: 89

Cellar Tracker: 88

Ramon Castano Santa and his 3 sons have nourished their Yecla vineyards since the 1950s and today they extend over almost 1500 acres, growing a wide assortment of grapes from the ancestral Monastrell, also known as Mourvedre, to Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Garnacha Tinta, Macabeo, Merlot, Moscatel, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and Tempranillo. Some of the vines are in excess of 100 years old.  The vines for this wine are 40-100 years old, thus “vinas viejas” or old vines.

The family’s vineyards are located in the northern reaches of the Yecla region, near the foot of Monte Arabi, and are approximately 50 miles northwest of the Mediterranean coast, ranging from 1300-3000 feet above sea level.  The vineyards for this wine are from their Campo Arriba (high land) area and are just shy of 3000′ above sea level, growing in a low organic, clayey limestone with good drainage. The climate is a cross between Mediterranean and a continental weather conditions. Daytime temperatures during the growing season reach into the mid-80s and the night-time lows dip into the mid-50s°F. The summer rains are infrequent and sparse, delivering anywhere from 0.25-2.0 inches per month, perfect for the thick-skinned Monastrell grapes.

The Castano family grapes are used in this Eric Solomon selection and the wine making is supervised by Solomon and Jean-Marc Lafage.  The grapes are hand harvested and fermented separately in stainless steel tanks. The wine is then aged in French and American oak barrels for 10 months.

Dark ruby-red to purple in color with a light purple rim. Elegantly redolent of dark fruits and berries. A rich, thick taste of berries and chewy tannins. Balanced and delicious.

An outstanding everyday red blend at a good price.  Serve with cheese, lamb, pork; the spicier the food the better. Drink now, but should last for many years.  Decant and aerate for one hour before drinking.

$14.99  wine.com

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