Every six months, we send out a six-bottle shipment of wines to the members of our VINsider Wine Club. The fall shipment is the showcase for our signature wines, and is typically centered around both our Esprit de Beaucastel and our Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc. But this year is a little different. We decided that we had been releasing our Esprit Blanc before it was really ready, and have made the commitment to cellar our flagship white another year before releasing it. This freed up another spot for one of our small-production wines.
So, joining the 2010 Esprit de Beaucastel in this upcoming shipment we chose two whites (Vermentino and Roussanne) from the rich yet vibrant 2011 vintage and two reds (Tannat and En Gobelet) from the elegant, mineral-laced 2010 vintage. Note that there are only five wines because club members get two bottles of the 2010 Esprit de Beaucastel.
We opened the shipment's wines today to draft the tasting and production notes that will be included in the shipment, which will leave the winery the week of September 17th. I thought that readers of the blog might enjoy a preview. I was joined by our new National Sales Manager Darren Delmore.
- Production Notes: Our tenth bottling of this traditional Mediterranean varietal, known principally in Sardinia, Corsica, and Northern Italy. It is also grown in the Rhône Valley (particularly Côtes de Provence) where it is known as Rolle. The Vermentino grape produces wines that are bright, clean, and crisp, with distinctive citrus character and refreshing acidity. To emphasize this freshness, we ferment and age Vermentino in stainless steel, and bottle it in screwcap.
- Tasting Notes: Incredibly pale color, with exotic aromas of lychee, citrus leaf and crushed rock. In the mouth, the wine packs a surprising punch, bright with lemon/lime acids, herby and clean, minerally and persistent. Just 13.1% alcohol, but one of our most intensely flavored Vermentinos ever. Drink now and for the next 2-3 years.
- Production: 825 cases
- List Price: $27 VINsider Price: $21.60
- Production Notes: Although 2011’s spring frosts largely spared the notoriously late-sprouting Roussanne, yields were still low and these low yields combined with the unusually cool growing season to produce structured Roussanne with good acidity, suitable for aging. We fermented the Roussanne lots that were selected for our varietal bottling roughly 50% in foudre, 35% in small, older neutral oak barrels, and 15% in new demi-muids. The selected lots were blended in April then aged for an additional four months in foudre.
- Tasting Notes: A different beast entirely, with aromas of grilled bread, pear, pine resin and white flowers. The mouth is classic, structured roussanne, rich yet savory with flavors of butterscotch, thyme, white chocolate and just a touch of oak. Still a baby, this is a serious white to age (for up to a decade) and serve with substantial food like roast pork.
- Production: 620 cases
- List Price: $30 VINsider Price: $24
- Production Notes: our ninth bottling of this traditional varietal from South-West France, known principally in the Pyrenees foothills appellation of Madiran, but originally native to the Basque region. Tannat typically has intense fruit, spice, and tannins that produce wines capable of long aging, and it is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, although our 2010 Tannat is unblended because we were so taken by our small production of Cabernet in 2010 that we bottled it separately.
- Tasting Notes: A vibrant red-black in color, with plush, polished black raspberry, smoked meat and laquered wood on the nose. The flavors that follow are surprisingly pretty, pure and seamless for a Tannat this young, before a wash of tannins reassert control. The lingering finish vibrates between sweet fruit and dusty, loamy earth. Drink this now or cellar for a decade or more.
- Production: 760 cases
- List Price: $40 VINsider Price: $32
2010 EN GOBELET
- Production Notes: 37% Grenache, 28% Mourvedre, 13% Syrah, 12% Counoise, 10% Tannat. Our third En Gobelet, a unique blend (we think perhaps the only one in the world) of Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Counoise and Tannat mostly from the 12-acre head-trained, dry-farmed vineyard block we call Scruffy Hill. Grenache and Counoise provide rich purple fruit and bright acidity, while Tannat and Syrah contribute dark color, smoky, spicy flavors and firm tannins, and Mourvedre brings dark red fruit, earth, spice and ageability. Unlike most of our wines, the En Gobelet was largely co-fermented, then aged in foudre.
- Tasting Notes: A pretty nose showing grenache's characteristic grape, milk chocolate, pepper spice, and floral components. An initial perception of sweetness in the mouth is quickly banished by grippy tannins that suggest a rest in the cellar is recommended. In the near term, pair it with a marbled steak, or age it for 5-10 years to reveal the leather and truffle notes that are lurking in the background.
- Production: 700 cases
- List Price: $45 VINsider Price: $36
2010 ESPRIT DE BEAUCASTEL
- Production Notes: 45% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache, 21% Syrah, 4% Counoise. Like all the 2010 reds, the components that went into the Esprit spent nearly a month longer than usual on the vine, as the 2010 ripening cycle was lengthened by the coolest year in our history. This long hangtime shows in the vintage's noteworthy minerality, and in its intensity without any sense of excess weight. Esprit is as usual based on the red fruit, earth and mocha of Mourvèdre, while Grenache brings rich mouthfeel, glycerin and a refreshing acidity. Syrah provides black fruit and mineral and Counoise adds vibrancy and brambly fruit. The wine's components were fermented separately, then selected for the Esprit, blended and aged in foudre.
- Tasting Notes: The nose shows Mourvedre's signature currant, balsamic, black tea and roasted meat aromas, given lift by a brighter raspberry note and an unusual gunpowdery mineral note. The mouth is lusher than the nose suggests, with plum, blueberry, pepper steak and dark chocoloate notes. Well-mannered tannins keep order without blocking or weighing down the wine. Beautifully balanced. A wine that provides pleasure now, but which should also age gracefully for two decades.
- Production: 4400 cases
- List Price: $55 VINsider Price: $44