From time to time, Lynn and I will drink European wines with meals or at group tastings. This gives us a respite from tasting and rating Washington Wines for the Review of Washington Wines. Here's what we've been drinking lately.
When it comes to French wines, our favorites are from Burgundy and the Rhone Valley, but we do make room for Bordeaux.
2012 Chateau Talbot, St. Julien ($67) - This Fourth Growth is a really classy Bordeaux. Deep colored, it showed rich aromas of dark fruits - cherries, plums and black currants - crushed roses, earth and tobacco. The flavors were deep and penetrating with a long finish. 19/20 points.
2012 Chateau Haut Bailly, Pessac Leognan ($82) -This is another classically styled Bordeaux. It exhibited a deep ruby-garnet color and intense aromas of raspberry, cherry, cassis and plum with scents of dried roses, tobacco, cedar and truffles. The flavors showed classic Graves (gravel) character with a firm, focused, yet velvety character and a long, well defined finish, along with fine grained tannins. 19.5/20 points.
2010 Chateau La Vielle Cure, Fronsac ($38) - This Merlot dominated wine comes from the right bank of Bordeaux, adjacent to Pomerol. It showed a deep ruby color and ripe aromas of raspberries, cherries and plums. The flavors were deliciously supple, yet deep and focused with distinct ferruginous minerality. The back picked up semi dried berries and ripe tannins.
2010 Chateau Les Carmes Haut Brion, Pessac-Leognan ($67) - This comes from a neighbor of the famous Haut Brion. It displayed a deep ruby color and a nose of dark cherries, plums and smoldering incense. The flavors were dense, yet supple, with distinct Graves minerality. The long finish showed fine "grip" (as the Brits say) of grainy tannins on the long, complex finish. 19+/20 points.
2012 Clos des Rocs Pouilly-Loché ($32) - I ran across this yesterday while reorganizing my wine collection and we had it with lunch. It showed a deep, brilliant gold color and distinct Chardonnay aromas of pear, peach and minerals. The sun drenched flavors were rich and distinct, with calcareous undertones. 18.5/20 points.
2012 Domaine Michel Gros Nuits-St.Georges ($74) - Medium brick red colored, this possessed earthy, intriguing aromas of blackberries, cherries and baked apples, and scents of crushed roses and tobacco. The flavors were medium bodied, but with distinct Pinot Noir assertiveness and a long, supple finish. 19/20 points.
2012 Domaine Chandon de Brialles Pernand Vergelesses 1er Cru, Ile de Vergelesses ($69) - This came on like a classic Côte de Beaune Premier Cru, with heady aromas of smoke and earth and full, fleshy yet well delineated flavors and notes of chocolate, coffee and fine grained tannins. 19/20 points.
2013 Louis Jabot Santenay, Clos de Malte ($36) - Jadot has been one of our favorite grower-negotiants. This Burgundy from the southern end of the Côte de Beaune offered a medium brick red color and definite Pinot Noir character. The medium bodied flavors were supple, yet well defined, with coffee and earth notes and a moderate tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2013 Louis Jabot Pommard Les Rugiens, 1er Cru ($80) - This is as deliciously rich and plush as a Burgundy can get. Deep brick red colored, it emited aromas of wild cherries, plums, black currants, mulberry, tobacco, crushed roses and violets. The flavors were thick and meaty, with a long, complex finish. 19.5/20 points.
2015 Domaine Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage Blanc ($34) - Composed of Roussanne, this showed a brilliant gold color and an intriguing nose of pear, peach and anise, with distinct saline minerality and notes of herbal tea, peach stone and pear skin. 18.5/20 points.
2013 Domaine Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage Rouge ($36) - Composed of Syrah, this displayed a ruby-garnet color and a smoky berried nose. The flavors were thick and chewy, with notes of forest carpet, roasted berries and nuts and mineraly earth, followed by a ripe, chewy moderate tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2013 Domaine de la Charbonnière Vaqueryas ($32) - This South Rhone red is 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. It showed a deep ruby color and a rich, smoky nose of wild fruits. The medium full-bodied flavors were dark fruited, with notes of French roast, earth and minerals. The wine kept on going on the back and finish, with firm, yet supple tannins. "Very French," said Lynn. 18.5+/20 points.
2012 Domaine Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf du Pape ($59) - From a top-notch producer, this showed a deep ruby color and intoxication aromas of blackberry, blueberry and cassis, with scents of crushed roses, earth and smoldering incense. The flavors were deep, mouth encompassing and marked by cocoa and French roast, followed by a long complex finish. 19/20 points.
2010 E. Guigal Côte Rotie, Brune et Blonde ($69) - This came on as a classic Côte Rotie with rich aromas and roasted slope earth and minerals, marked by notes of roasted coffee, toffee, creme de cassis and a long satiny tannin finish. 19/20 points.
These wines came from Christopher Cannan's Europvin in Bordeaux, which I knew in the 1980's. He specializes in Spanish wines as well as French ones (including Michel Gros and Allain Graillot above).
2010 Cune Rioja Gran Reserva ($33) - Cune stands for Compania Vinicola del Norte d'Espagne. This showed a brilliant ruby-garnet color and a sensuous nose of barrel aged fruits, straw and incense. The flavors were bold and taut, yet velvety, a fine rendition of classic Rioja with Tempranillo grape purity. 19/20 points.
2012 Serras del Priorat Viña Tinto ($32) - from the foothills of the Pyrenees, this Garnacha, Cariñena combination offered a deep ruby color and aromas of berries, crushed roses, tobacco and smoldering incense. The medium full-bodied flavors were marked by notes of roast coffee and pulverized minerals. 18.5/20 points.
2010 Font de la Figura Priorat ($40) - From the producer of the above wine, this is a Reserva from very old vines and all Garnacha. It showed a deep ruby color and intoxicating aromas of wild fruits - cherries, currants, black plums - with scents of dried orange peel, tobacco and smoke. The flavors were deep and penetrating, yet accessible, underlain with pulverized minerals. The pepper dusted finish was long and complex, with dry yet ripe tannins. 19+/20 points.