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New Vintages of Old Friends from J et R Selections

It had been almost a year and a half since I last attended one of Plum Market’s Thursday night wine events, and more than four years since my last J et R Selections tasting. J et R specializes in importing some of our very favorite wines in the world, those being from the southern Rhône Valley, and I was a big fan of their portfolio long before I interviewed head honcho J. C. Mathes back in 2003. Mathes retired several years ago, and his place was taken by Dan Farley, who has continued to shepherd these excellent wines to the U.S. They have been distributed here in Michigan for years by Wines of Distinction, located in Troy, and during my time in wine retail, they were one of my favorite vendors. The business changed its name to Woodberry Wines a few years ago; not long after that, there was a change of ownership as well, but the high quality of their products and staff has remained consistent. (Click images to enlarge.)

So it was that when I caught wind of the “Complete Southern Rhône” tasting scheduled for April 2nd at Plum’s West Bloomfield location, with Farley himself on hand to talk about the ten wines being poured, I blocked out the time on my schedule to make sure I didn’t miss it. It was great to reconnect with Dan; I also enjoyed renewing acquaintances with Michael Korn, who has not only been with Wines of Distinction and Woodberry for many years, but is also a musical colleague of mine. Best of all, it was a pleasure to taste through the selections presented on this evening, as all but one of the wines being poured were from producers that feel like old friends to me. Here are my snapshot impressions of what I tasted.

2013 Château La Tour de Béraud Blanc Costières-de-Nîmes, 59% Grenache Blanc, 25% Roussanne, 25% Marsanne, $9.99: Clean, medium color, with attractive white peach flavors and aromas; a good dose of minerality on the palate that I like and fine balance. Fermented in stainless steel. Find this wine

2013 Domaine Bois de Boursan Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, 35% Grenache Blanc, 35% Clairette, 15% Roussanne, 15% Bourboulenc, $42.99: Clean, medium color; big and rich, with earthy mineral and white stone fruit. Structured for several years of development in the cellar. 80% tank, 20% barrel. Find this wine

2013 Domaine Oratoire St Martin Cairanne Blanc Haut-Coustias, 50% Marsanne, 40% Roussanne, 10% Viognier, $29.99: Clean, medium color; rich and round, with a smooth mouth feel that reflects the barrel fermentation. Lovely balance. Vines are at least 45 years old, grown in limestone and clay. Find this wine

2014 Pink Pegau by Château Pegau, 100% Cinsault, $17.99: Pale pink color, and pale in flavor as well, meaning that this is not at all fruit forward, and that’s a good thing. Very traditional in style, very mineral-driven and very nice indeed. From the Pegau website: “A delicious new rosé from Laurence Féraud of Domaine du Pegau, Pink Pegau was crafted at Château Pegau, a newly purchased estate of more than 100 acres located less than 4 miles from Châteauneuf-du-Pape.” Find this wine

2012 Les Vignerons du Mont-Ventoux Altitude 500, 75% Grenache, 25% Syrah, $11.99: Clean, dark color, with red fruit flavors and aromas shaded with something reminiscent of wet dog fur; an earthy red, structured for at least five years in the cellar, but nice right now with some prosciutto. Made with grapes harvested from five villages; matured in vats for 12 months. Find this wine

2012 Domaine du Grand Tinel Côtes-du-Rhône, 75% Grenache, 25% Carignan, $20.99: Clean, dark color, with a lovely fragrance of pretty plum and berry, more red than black. Follows through on the palate, where earthy mineral joins the mix. Big, but not quite burly, and structured for several years in the cellar. Find this wine

2012 Domaine de l’ Espigouette Rasteau Pas de Meunier, 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, $18.99: Deep, dark color, with a hint of the barnyard on the nose; lovely red and black plum and berry flavors, earthy, but not too earthy. Smooth texture belies ample structure for some years in cellar. Really nice. Find this wine

2011 Château de Montmirail Vacqueyras Cuvée des Deux-Freres, 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, $22.99: Deep and dark in color, with not-exactly effusive aromatics, but what I can coax out of the glass IS pretty. Beautiful red and black plum and berry flavors, both floral and earthy. Structured for several years of age and development, but already a pleasure to sip, which is why I bought two bottles. Aged in tanks for at least one year. Find this wine

2012 Domaine de la Tourade Gigondas, 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, $$24.99: Pretty dark color, turning pink at the rim; black fruit and barnyard vie for dominance on the nose, but this is all about big, rich, earthy black fruit in the mouth. Big, burly and structured for many years of development, but while this is going to be great stuff, it’s all about promise right now, so be patient. Find this wine

2012 Domaine du Pégau Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réservée, (about) 80% Grenache, 6% Syrah, 4% Mourvedre and 10% other authorized varieties, including Counoise, Cinsault, Vaccarèse and others, $89.99: Classic Pégau, with deep, dark color, and all that earth, iron, black plum and black berry flavors and aromas that is so unmistakably the house style. Big, bold and structured to age and develop for many years, though certainly approachable now. The only thing I don’t love about this is the price, the reasons for which I touched on briefly in a Bastardo’s Bloody Pulpit recently. Find this wine

Reporting from Day-twah,


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