Empties Report

I’m a little behind on my dead soldiers recap. So, let’s get started.

Dauvergne Ranvier Crozes-Hermitage 2013 vin gourmand.

DR Crozes-Hermitage 2013 paired with grilled tuna and a cashew broccoli/cauliflower medly.

I first became familiar with Dauvergne Ranvier around 2009. They were exporting pretty little Côtes du Rhone and Gigondas selections that surprised me for the price point.

The viticultural region (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée – AOC) of Crozes-Hermitage is known mostly for light, early drinking syrah wines. The 2013 vintage was turbulant around harvest time and François Dauvergne & Jean-François Ranvier decided to stick with this style. However, thanks to their concentrated parcel selection, 2013 surpassed my expectations of the overall region.

The color is a dark purple with ruby reflects and a pretty high alcohol aréole (sometimes called “legs”). The nose offers black fruits and a hint of saddle. The flavors are on target, black plum and black peppercorn, with a finish that seems a bit hot (alcoholic), but that’s my fault for opening it too young and not allowing it to breathe long enough. I’d keep it in the cave another 4-5 years.

3 1/2 stars out of 5.

Bodegas Etchart Privado Torrontes 2015

Valle de Cafayate-Salta, Argentina

13521980_830687697063720_7534880941977455295_nI love torrontes. They are incredible food wines that pair with the hardest to pair cuisine. One of the years that I judged for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Uncorked! competition, nobody wanted to be on the torrontes panel because the varietal was just entering the market and some mediocre references were being pushed. I volunteered and there were some flabby, uninspiring selections, but when this unique, Argentine white is done well, it is amazing! I tasted several that day that made me fall hard in love.

The 2015 Etchart Privado comes from a cool climate and has clean freshness. The green color dances with life. The nose is characteristically aromatic in the sweet grapefruit, rose range. The mouthfeel is light and offers a bright, crisp finish. The flavors are lemon-lime, white peach and geranium. Check it out: we had this for lunch with oven baked salmon and sesame broccoli. 13439204_830687663730390_129799340225387011_nThen we finished the bottle with our first cantelope of the season and the flavors changed to lychee and baking spice. So versatile.

3 1/2 stars out of 5






Gassies Margaux 2009 – – Superstar of the Week

I’m not going to spend too much time telling you about this estate. Gassies is the second wine of Château Rauzan Gassies 2éme Cru Margaux (here, let me translate that: classified in 1855 as a second tier quality level from the Margaux AOC or, in other words – a heavy hitter). The classified growths of Bordeaux are allowed two wines – their namesake and then a second wine. The second wine is made from the younger vines on the estate and are often considered an early quality indicator for the big brother’s potential in any given vintage. When purchasing for my own cellar I have a tendancy to prefer second wines.

I found this bottle at a supermarket last year on sale for under 20€ – a steal, especially for the highly rated 2009 vintage.

Transporting my super wine find back home.
Transporting my super wine find back home.

I had the impression that it hadn’t been selling well. This was the first vintage after the Quié family changed the name of the second wine from Le Chevalier de Rauzan-Gassies and it didn’t have too much recognition yet. Too bad, so sad! My intention was to keep it for another 5-6 years, but I got impatient and opened it to go with lamb chops and rosemary, garlic potatoes.  We finished it with Lindt dark chocolate – the textures were amazing together.

The blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot, and cabernet franc was outstanding. The color is purple-black and the nose gives dark cherry, forest floor, and pencil shavings. 13435533_828641840601639_1942302604889642766_nThe flavors are of ripe cherry, raspberry, red & black currants, rock dust, and cedar. The tannins are F-I-N-E and elegant, but deeply concentrated. I am kicking myself for not snatching more bottles because it has a cellar potential of at least 12 more years and it will be gorgeous in 8.

4 stars out of 5.



Sangaetano Primitivo do Manduria 2013

Wrapping up the week with PIZZA NIGHT!

Don't laugh at my Halloween goblet! I don't have to worry about it breaking.
Don’t laugh at my Halloween goblet! I don’t have to worry about it breaking.

<If you ask any of my friends and neighbors what wine to pair with pizza, the answer is going to be “Bordeaux.” But then again, that’s their answer to any pairing question…. I happen to think Italian wine pairs well with pizza, but hey, when in Rome… er… you know what I mean.>

The end of a long week deserves to be celebrated even if you don’t feel like going ‘ all-out.’ There’s a newish wine shop in town that I wanted to visit, so we placed a pizza order and went to pick out a wine while it baked.

Listen, folks, as much as I love the idea of you hanging on every word I have to say about wine I am not the consultant in your local wine shop. Nothing can replace the advice the curator of a wine shop’s selection has to offer. They know their stock and have, hopefully, tasted it recently. Always ask for advice – which is what I did.

I told him I wanted:

1) Something ready to drink that evening,

2) Italian (so difficult to find in Bordeaux for the reason I mention above), and

3) Under 12€.

He gave me two different options and I picked the Primitivo.

Primitivo is the old world cousin of red Zinfandel [clarification: all Zinfandel is red, but I know you’re thinking about that pink wine, so don’t.] The Italian versions are a little less jammy and much lower in alcohol than what we find in the California selections, but even this one nudged up to 14.5%.

13450985_828641877268302_6314535127641960281_nIt displayed a deep purple color with aromas of black currants. The flavors were complex notes of dark chocolate, briar, black plums, maduro tobacco, and white pepper. The body was medium with a balanced tannic structure. Dessert were some cupcakes from the new “American” pastry shop next door to the wine cave. I can’t wait to go back and tell this cavist guy he was spot on.  Those cupcakes, notsomuch.

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