Monthly Archives: February 2010

The approachable 08 Chateauneuf du Papes

Some call the 2008 Chateauneuf du Pape vintage challenging, others call it a return to normalcy or more typical. The later are mostly critics who lament the recent hotter, drier vintages that have produced bigger, higher alcohol wines. “The 2008 vintage appears to represent a distinct turn-around from the recent heatwaves, especially that of the hyped-up (and juiced up) 2007s. Rain through the late winter resulted in a late floraison; rain through the spring saw mildew add to the growers’ problems. July and August ran closer to form, and then a heavy rain storm in September might well have destroyed the harvest if not for the strong Mistral on its heels. Growers had to exercise “severe sorting” to minimize under-ripe fruit, with the result that production was down by 35% and special cuvees were generally put aside for the year. The better producers were able to manage these conditions to make good wine.” (Tony Fletcher)

Having not had some of the other vintages that 2008 is compared to (2004 & 1999) I can only say that 2008 is much more approachable now than either 2006 or 2007 that I have recently tasted. I am a big fan of the 2007 and it is commanding a large section of my cellar (don’t tell Megan), but I don’t plan on starting to drink those bottles for a few more years, at least. At a recent trade tasting I had the opportunity to taste some some very nice 2008s and they were very drinkable.

What I tasted…
2008 Domaine de la Mordoree Chateauneuf du Pape, La Reine des Bois (80% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre, 5% Syrah, 5% Vaccarese, 5% Counoise)(50% oak aging)($135) – beautiful interlacing of dark and red fruit flavors leading to more red fruit of currant and raspberry on the palate. Loads of secondary flavors on the palate including leather, mushroom, espresso bean with some more of those dark fruit flavors coming back towards the finish (blackberry). Structure was full bodied and intense, well integrated for such a young age.

2008 Domaine Grand Veneur Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge ($50) – baking spice and black cherry dominate on the nose in addition to nice notes of anise. Palate is full bodied and surprisingly mature with similar flavors as the nose alluded to, with hints of mocha and suede. Long finish!

I can’t say which is the “correct” vintage, but I can definitely say if you are looking to enjoy some CdP in the near future and can’t find anything on the shelf prior to ’06, look for an ’08.


Categories: $40+, wine review, wine tasting | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Virginia Wine Expo this weekend (Feb 26th – 28th)

This weekend is the 3rd annual Virginia Wine Expo here in Richmond, Virginia. The official tasting starts Saturday, but Friday night starts with special seminars and events that continue all weekend. I’ll be attending Sunday from 12-6, if you are around, shoot me a tweet @vcuspoon. Over sixty wineries will be in attendance so it will give you a good idea of what the state has to offer. There are handful of ones I haven’t been too that are attending and I can’t wait to meet.


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Sippin’ on Finger Lakes Bubbly

Last night I had the opportunity to participate in a Taste Live event, focusing on four sparkling wines from the Finger Lakes. Not knowing what to expect as I haven’t had any bubblies from the region, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and price points of what we tasted.

I tasted with friend and co-work Robin (@RobinMountjoy) and fellow blogger George (@thegoodwineguru) and his wife April (@BerylliumBlonde).

What we tasted an my notes –

2002 Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs (90% Chardonnay & 10% Pinot Blanc) – interesting nose – yeasty, a bit earthy, pear cider; palate of pear, fuji apple, touch of sourdough; nice mouthfeel – zippy acidity right across the mid palate – prickly bubbles; lacked strength in the finish though.

Goose Watch Pinot Noir Brut Rose (79% Pinot Noir, 21% Chardonnay) – nice light salmon color; the nose gave a good fake out of sweet red fruit that jumped out of the glass and led to a dry palate of watermelon, strawberry, banana peel and citrus “pith”; finish better than the first but still could have used a little umph

2002 Glenora Brut (54% Pinot Noir, 46% Chardonnay) nose of burnt apple pie with hints of that aroma on the palate combined with a weird metallic/aluminum offnote surrounded by hazelnut, lemon zest and apple core; chalky and slightly bitter on the finish

Lucas Vineyards (100% Cayuga White) – very nice complex nose of brie cheese & apples, with a drizzle of honey and weird note of baby powder; mealy apple, ripe fruit and yeasty components on the palate; less acidity in this one compared to the Chateau Frank

My order which was pretty unanimous between the group was Goose Watch Brut Rose 1st, with a tie for 2nd between the Chateau Frank and Lucas, and 4th to the Glenora Brut. Most surprised by the Lucas made from 100% Cayuga White, in my initial reading of the spec sheets I thought this one would be last – was definitely wrong on that one.

Cheers to Morgen McLaughlin of Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism and Lenn Thompson of The New York Cork Report for setting this up and including me.

Categories: New York Wines, wine tasting | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Tuesday Quick Sip – 2008 Channing Daughters Tocai Friulano Mudd West Vineyard

2008 Channing Daughters Tocai Friulano Mudd West Vineyard

Wine Information –

Region: North Fork, Long Island
Vineyard: Mudd West
Grapes: Tocai Friulano
Price: $24

My Tasting Notes –

Nose: citrus, asparagus, cut grass, hay, cornstalk
Taste: honeydew melon, lemon zest, tangerine, mineral/slate
Mouthfeel: racy acidity, zippy, med body
Finish: long fruity – zippy acidity remains on the palate

More fruit than a lot of the Tocai Friulanos that I have had from Italy, but contains the same racy acidity and mineral overtones.  Awesome effort, and a nice wine for a grape that is rarely planted in the US, much less in New York state.

Categories: $20-$30, New York Wines, wine review | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Virginia Wine Council Update

Virginia Wine Council Update – from Matt Conrad (Director, VA Wine Council)

Promotion of Virginia Wine Receives Broad Support at Governor’s Press Conference

Delegates and Senators from both sides of the aisle joined Governor McDonnell at a press conference earlier this week at which he unveiled his “Jobs & Opportunities Agenda.”  According to a press release from his office, this “legislative package consists of 20 pieces of legislation, as well as previously announced budget amendments, all focused on spurring job creation, promoting economic development and creating more opportunities for Virginians.”

Of chief importance to our industry are Senator Watkins’ Senate Bill 237 and Delegate Landes’ House Bill 588, both of which will spur rural economic development and tourism through greater promotion of Virginia as a wine destination.  SB237 has already reported out of the Senate’s Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee.  It and HB588 are now before the Senate Finance and House Appropriations committees, respectively. Please take a moment to email your legislators to explain the importance of this legislation to our industry and to Virginia’s overall economic revitalization.

The Virginia Wine Council also made great strides on two other items of our legislative agenda this week: securing the ability to conduct tastings in ABC Stores and restoring the ability of farm wineries to use third-party marketing portals to sell wine via the Internet.

SB26 (Puller) originally granted only spirits manufacturers the ability to offer tastings of their product in the stores; however the VWC worked with the patron and allied industries to extend Virginia farm wineries the same privilege.  That bill reported out of Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services this morning.

In late 2009 Virginia ABC issued a series of circulars that prohibited the use of third-party marketing portal services, such as VinoShipper.  Over weeks of negotiation the VWC has reached a settlement with ABC and the wholesalers to restore some of that ability to the wineries that depended on that model as part of their business plan.  HB630 (Scott, E.T.) and SB483 (Hurt) create an in-state marketing portal license and an approval process for out-of-state marketing portals, provided they are operated by agricultural cooperative associations.

Below I have provided a brief update on other legislation of importance to the Virginia Wine Council this year.  Please feel free to reply to this email with any questions you may have.

Bill Status for the week of January 25 -29

HB 582Landes

SB 347 – Hanger

Agri-tourism Incentives Act; created. Working with patrons and leading industry groups (Agribusiness Council and Farm Bureau) to find mutually agreeable resolution.  It is likely that a study group will result from both this legislation and the Farm Business legislation (below) also sponsored by both Delegate Landes and Senator Hanger.

HB 583Landes

SB348   – Hanger

Farm businesses; local restrictions. The VWC is working with industry groups and the patrons to amend the language of this bill and the Agri-tourism Incentives Act (above).  We have submitted amendments to proposed language that avoids creating a definition of a “farm business,” particularly in any way that excludes farm wineries.  This suggestion has been accepted by the working group that includes the Agribusiness Council and Farm Bureau.

HB 1324 – Loupassi

Consumption of lawfully acquired wine at certain licensed establishments with corking fee. Delegate Loupassi submitted this legislation on January 22nd that would permit consumers to enjoy a bottle of wine brought from their private collection at the restaurant of their choice, provided the restaurateur agrees.  A reasonable fee may be charged.

HB 630Scott, E.T.

SB 483 – Hurt

Alcoholic beverage control; third party shipment of wine and beer. The VWC reached a resolution with all parties (manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers) that will preserve the original intent of the legislation.  This bill will permit wineries to operate fulfillment centers AND contract with 3rd parties to operate web portals.  This legislation will restore a similar service to VinoShipper for Virginia consumers, but will require a portal license from ABC and require that the licensees be organized as an agricultural cooperative association.  The substitute with this new language was reported from the ABC subcommittee of House General Laws on Thursday and was reported from Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services this morning.

HB 952Jones

SB 26 – Puller

Alcoholic beverages; tasting event to be conducted at government stores under certain circumstances. The VWC asked the patrons of the original bills to include Virginia farm wineries among the parties who may conduct tastings of their product in ABC stores.

If passed, farm wineries whose products are sold through Virginia ABC stores will be permitted to conduct tastings of product already for sale. The Senate version reported from Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services this morning with only one vote in opposition.  The House version will be taken up next week by the ABC subcommittee of House General Laws.

SB 237Watkins

HB 588 – Landes

Alcoholic beverages; portion of wine liter tax collected to be deposited in Wine Promotion Fund. The Senate version will not likely be heard in Senate Finance until at least February 10.  The House version has been referred to a subcommittee of House Appropriations and may be heard as early as this coming Tuesday.

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