A Bevy of Cool French Wines from a European Cellar

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Just arrived: a European cellar purchase containing a number of interesting and ready-to-drink wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhône, and Languedoc. Of special interest are older bottles from Mas de Daumas Gassac and assorted northern Rhônes from Delas and Vallouit, not to mention a number of older Burgundies.

We have also included some wine from Lebanon's Chateau Musar whose legendary winemaker, Serge Hochar, passed away earlier this month. The wines are nearly as dynamic as their late producer who managed to make beautiful wines of terroir even while negotiating a civil war. He was a remarkable figure in the wine world and he will be missed.

 

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Domaine de Chevalier 1993 Graves

Light in character appropriate to the context of the vintage, the Domaine de Chevalier 1993 is a beautiful balance of red fruits and leafiness that is spot-on Graves in character. The tannins have softened and there's an autumnal blend of spice, fruit, and herbs on the medium finish. If one's tastes run to old school Bordeaux, this is definitely worth a look. -John McIlwain

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Chauvenet 2012 Nuits St. Georges

From the lieu-dits Aux Allots, Aux Saint Jacques, and Aux Lavières on the northern end of the village. A classic expression of Nuits St. Georges juxtaposing earthiness and structure with pure fruit and lifted aromatics. Medium dark robe. Earthy and loamy on the nose initially, giving way to pure ripe raspberry and cherry fruit. Quite perfumed. Juicy  and ripe red fruit is balanced by solid (by no means rustic) structure. There is good density to the palate and a mineral energy driving the finish which is long and expressive. There is a lot of class here for a village level wine. This should drink beautifully with another 5-7 years in the bottle. -John McIlwain

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Dubreuil-Fontaine 1993 Savigny les Beaune 1er cru Les Vergeslesses

Old-fashioned in the best possible sense, Dubreuil-Fontaine makes Burgundies which require a good deal of aging to display their charms.

The 1993 Savigny-Les Beaune 1er cru Les Vergelesses is showing that charm right now. Upon opening, there is a bit of classic aged Burgundy funk which blows off to reveal red fruits, dried roses, game, and a hint of sous-bois. The palate shows cherry and wild strawberry fruit with hints of truffle and underbrush, underpinned by a sort of ferrous minerality. The tannins are mostly resolved. And while the acids have softened, they are still prominent enough to lend a sense of freshness to the ripe, attractive fruit. This is pretty without being confected or slick. This should be immensely satisfying for fans of earthy, old school Burgundy. John McIlwain

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La Vieille Julienne 2004 Chateauneuf du Pape

10 hectares of vines. The Chateauneuf is Grenache 60%, Syrah 15%, Mourvedre 10%, and Counoise 5%, from vines 70-100 years old. Aged in large old barrels and barriques for 12-18 months; bottled unfiltered. Plus a bonus real-live tasting note!

From 70-100+ year-old vines in the northern part of the appellation. Farmed with biodynamic methods, destemmed, fermented with native yeast, aged in foudres, with moderate SO2 addition before bottling. Dark ruby robe with only a hint of bricking. At 11 years old, the nose is showing dark plummy fruit, roasted meat, wet stone, licorice, garrigue, and spices. The palate has fairly dense black fruit, giving way to savory herbal and mineral notes. Rich, but fresh and still a bit tannic, this displays a good sense of earthy minerality on the juicy finish. Starting to drink well now, though I'd venture this has a few years yet to really shine. John McIlwain

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