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stirring the lees with james molesworth archive

Photo by: David Yellen
James Molesworth
Archives

November 2011

Again to Bordeaux, to Taste the 2009 Vintage
Fresh off my trip to the Southern Rhône, I'm back in France to taste the much-heralded 2009 vintage
Posted: Nov 30, 2011 9:00am ET

I'm heading across the pond again to finish my tastings of the 2009 Bordeaux that are now in bottle. My colleagues, executive editor Thomas Matthews and senior tasting coordinator Alison Napjus, are joining me, as they did last year when I tasted the 2008s.


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Day 10: The Good Old Boys and a Queen
Swinging by the Southern Rhône's Domaine de Beaurenard and tasting with Isabel Ferrando at Domaine St.-Préfert
Posted: Nov 28, 2011 11:00am ET

When I arrived in the Rhône almost two weeks ago, it was just before the Toussaint, a major religious holiday in France that fell on a Tuesday this year, giving France a long weekend through the Monday before. That meant more than a few vignerons weren't available for visits. So after working in the outer-lying appellations for the past few days, I circled back today, finishing up in Châteauneuf-du-Pape at two major estates, Domaine de Beaurenard and Domaine St.-Préfert.


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Day 9: On the Dark Side of the Moon
Visiting the Southern Rhône's Chêne Bleu and Philippe Gimel
Posted: Nov 21, 2011 6:00pm ET

Viticulturally speaking, the Rolets' property at La Verrière is the equivalent of the dark side of the moon. Located on the back side of the Dentelles de Montmirail, its vineyards face north. That, combined with 500 meters and more of elevation, makes it one of the coolest, windiest spots for vines in the Southern Rhône. Here, crop yields are naturally low, and exuberant ripeness plays second fiddle to racy acidity.

Despite its proximity to Gigondas (the property's vines border that appellation, as well as the appellations of Séguret and Beaumes de Venise), the Chêne Bleu wines only earn a modest Vin de Pays de Vaucluse designation, but don't let that fool you.

This was my first visit to this remote property, perched on a knife's-edge hill behind the town of Le Crestet. My trusty GPS did its job-as did the final words of caution from Nicole Rolet, the estate's owner, when she gave me directions.


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Day 8: Mauvais Goût? It Depends on Your Perspective
Up into the hills of the Southern Rhône, to taste at Domaine Gramenon and Domaine Jaume
Posted: Nov 17, 2011 10:00am ET

Today was a day not to lose faith in the GPS. Sometimes it took me on some squirrelly back roads, cutting through a vineyard on a narrow dirt path, even when there's a main road running parallel just a few hundred yards away.

But to find Domaine Gramenon, located up in the hills in the small hamlet of Montbrison, I knew I would need to keep the faith and stay on target. My GPS has taken me on the scenic route before, but it's always gotten me there.

Of course, I blew past the domaine once before turning around and seeing it as I backtracked. I should've known after all this time, that I was looking for a modest house with blink-and-you'll-miss-it signage. Set amidst vines that have already dropped their leaves when most others are still hanging on to theirs, and with browning weeds just as high running amok in the vine rows, Domaine Gramenon doesn't look like much at first glance. But the wines made here are distinctive, sometimes nebulous or awkward, but never anything less than provoking for their display of unadulterated minerality, smoky, garrigue-infused fruit and long, earth- and ash-laced finishes.


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Day 7: Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2001 Retrospective Tasting
A quiet Sunday with 40-some 10-year-old Châteaunefs, with outstanding and classic-rated finds
Posted: Nov 15, 2011 10:42am ET

Sundays are for laying in bed and reading the paper, or for getting up and tasting over three-dozen Châteauneuf-du-Papes. Whichever you prefer... For this Sunday in the Rhône, I solicited a more than 40 domaines to submit their 2001 vintage of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The 2001 vintage is arguably the most overlooked of the decade. Following 2000, a big, rich forward styled vintage, the 2001s initially came off as taut, racy and offering more of a bay leaf, tobacco and mineral profile. But now, 10 years after, the '01s are impressive. Here are my tasting notes.


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Day 6: At the End of the Rhône, Starting Something New
Checking out the 2010s Château de Nages in Costières de Nîmes and tasting some of Philippe Cambie's Halos de Jupiter line
Posted: Nov 11, 2011 11:42am ET

After five days of tasting 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Papes at some of the Southern Rhônes top domaines, I ventured to Costières de Nîmes for something new. I visited Michel Gassier at Château de Nages and tasted through a selection of Philippe Cambie's Halos de Jupiter line. Here are my notes.
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Day 5: Gray Teeth, Good Wines
Tasting the 2010s at the Rhône's Bosquets, St.-Cosme and Sang de Cailloux
Posted: Nov 9, 2011 1:00pm ET

Upon my arrival in France's Rhône Valley last week, I immediately had to cope with my newest rental car, then visited Domaine Tour St.-Michel to taste the 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Papes. On my second day I visited Domaine de Boursan, Domaine Charvin and Jean-Paul Daumen at Domaine de la Vielle Julienne. Then it was off to Clos des Papes, Domaine Giraud, Clos St.-Jean and Château de la Font du Loup. Yesterday I visited Château Mont-Redon for the first time, then Beaucastel and Famille Perrin, Domaine de la Janasse and Christophe Sabon and, finally, Vieux Télégraphe and Daniel Brunier. Today, Domaine des Bosquets, St.-Cosme and Domaine Le Sang des Cailloux.


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Day 4: A First-Time Visit and a Return to the Classics
Tasting the 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Papes at Mont-Redon, Beaucastel, Vieux Télégraphe and more
Posted: Nov 7, 2011 1:00pm ET

Upon my arrival in France's Rhône Valley lastweek, I immediately had to cope with my newest rental car, then visited Domaine Tour St.-Michel to taste the 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Papes. On my second day I visited Domaine de Boursan, Domaine Charvin and Jean-Paul Daumen at Domaine de la Vielle Julienne. Then it was off to Clos des Papes, Domaine Giraud, Clos St.-Jean and Château de la Font du Loup. Today I visited Château Mont-Redon for the first time, then Beaucastel and Famille Perrin, Domaine de la Janasses and Christophe Sabon and, finally, Vieux Télégraphe and Daniel Brunier.


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Day 3: From the Established to the New
Tasting the 2010 Châteauneufs and more at Clos des Papes, Domaine Giraud, Clos St.-Jean and Château de la Font du Loup
Posted: Nov 4, 2011 1:42pm ET

Upon my arrival in France's Rhône Valley this week, I immediately had to cope with my newest rental car, then visited Domaine Tour St.-Michel to taste the 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Papes. On my second day I visited Domaine de Boursan, Domaine Charvin and Jean-Paul Daumen at Domaine de la Vielle Julienne. Today I tasted at Clos des Papes, Domaine Giraud, Clos St.-Jean and Château de la Font du Loup. Here are my tasting notes.


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Day 2: Sticking to Their Guns
Jean-Paul Versino, Laurent Charvin and Jean-Paul Daumen don't change much, but make some of Châteauneuf's most distinct wines
Posted: Nov 1, 2011 1:42pm ET

Time to roll up the sleeves and get busy. I was able to partially shake the jet lag, thanks to the adrenaline of a busy day's schedule in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, starting with a quirky rental car and a visit to Tour St.-Michel. Today's program included stops at three vignerons with staunchly traditional winemaking methods in their own right, who each rely on different areas of the appellation and different key varieties to craft their unique styles.

Today I tasted the the 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Papes at Domaine Bois de Boursan, Domaine Charvin and Domaine de la Vielle Julienne.


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Day 1: Coping with this Year's Rental Car in Châteauneuf
After renting an "eco"-lemon, checking out the vintage racecars and 2010 vintage Châteauneufs at Domaine Tour St.-Michel
Posted: Nov 1, 2011 11:42am ET

After several years of regular trips to the Rhône, French rental cars never cease to surprise me. This trip's car has continued the tradition. Once I figured it out, I took in a quick lunch and headed to Domain Tour St.-Michel to taste the 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Papes.


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