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stirring the lees with james molesworth archive

Photo by: David Yellen
James Molesworth

July 2012

Restaurants of the Rhône
This trip I visited many old favorites, and found some new ones
Posted: Jul 20, 2012 1:00pm ET

I did get a chance to try a few restaurants during my recent trip through the Rhône Valley, and following are my brief notes. Some have been covered before, but deserve mentioning again.

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Day 10, Part 2: Tasting Ferraton at Chapoutier
On my last day in France's Northern Rhône Valley, I tasted through the line-up at Ferraton Père & Fils
Posted: Jul 18, 2012 1:00pm ET

After tasting through the complete lineup of wines from Michel Chapoutier and his associated labels today, I moved on to the wines of Ferraton Père & Fils.

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Day 10: Dozens of Chapoutiers
I tasted through a massive number of wines at Michel Chapoutier, from Lucidus to Chapoutier's top cuvées
Posted: Jul 16, 2012 3:00pm ET

I wrapped up my Rhône trip with what is usually my biggest day when I am in the region: a tasting at chez Michel Chapoutier, covering two vintages of not only the M. Chapoutier wines, but also the wines of Ferraton Père & Fils (I'll get to those later this week), owned by but operated separately from M. Chapoutier, as well as the wines of Pierre-Henri Morel, M. Chapoutier's director.

Coffee: check. A little more coffee: check. Time to taste …

M. Chapoutier director Pierre-Henri Morel presented the wines. Because the tasting included so many wines, I focused primarily on the tasting notes rather than additional commentary, so for additional background be sure to reference blog notes from previous visits, the most recent being May 2011.

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Day 9: Back to Chave, and the Latest from Delas
More reviews from Jean-Louis Chave, plus new Hermitage, Côte-Rôtie and more from Delas
Posted: Jul 13, 2012 1:00pm ET
As if being privileged to taste through 20 vintages of Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage the other day wasn't enough, I headed back over to the domaine in Mauves this morning to focus on the 2010 and 2011 vintages. I then headed over to Delas to check out the new wines with Jacques Grange and Claire Darnaud-McKerrow. Here are my reviews.
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Day 8: Frédéric Engerer's Northern Rhône Mystery
Reviewing the whites (and some reds) at Château-Grillet, Georges Vernay and Pierre-Jean Villa
Posted: Jul 11, 2012 3:00pm ET

Today was a white wine day, with stops at Château-Grillet and then Georges Vernay, two domaines where the Viognier grape reigns. I also tasted the latest efforts from Pierre-Jean Villa. Here are my notes.

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Day 7: 20 Years of Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage
On my "day off," the Chave family joined me for a vertical tasting of Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage going back to 1990
Posted: Jul 9, 2012 11:00am ET

Since my trips tend to be long—upwards of two weeks—I invariably have a weekend to fill on my schedule. But I don't take time off while I'm here, so I need to fill them with work, and not play. Sundays can be tough though, as many domaines are family-run and Sundays are sort of sacred in France. So, in recent years I've often taken the opportunity to use Sunday as a time to taste through verticals of wines or horizontals of vintages, with samples provided by the domaines. I keep working, and they get me out of their hair for a day.

On this quiet Sunday, I was particularly grateful for the the opportunity to taste through 20 vintages of Hermitage from Jean-Louis Chave, a complete set from 2009 back to 1990. But a quiet Sunday turned into a family affair. For the tasting, I was joined not only by Jean-Louis Chave, but his father, Gérard, and Jean-Louis' wife, Erin, as well as Chave's cellar hands and vineyard manager. Jean-Louis admitted he had never opened 20 vintages of his wine for a single tasting before, so he wanted to share the experience with his team.

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Day 6: Northern Rhône Syrah's Yin Yang
Comparing Cornas and Côte-Rôtie at A. Clape and Stéphane Ogier
Posted: Jul 2, 2012 3:00pm ET

Cornas and Côte-Rôtie: same grape, same region, but two totally different wines. Cornas is all about controlled rusticity, with olive, bramble and chalk notes that need to be massaged into a core of fruit. Few producers manage to do it well, but at its best, it's arguably the Northern Rhône's most distinctive wine.

In Côte-Rôtie, it's about controlling amplitude of fruit to find balance. Letting the sanguine and mineral notes edge out from a ripe blackberry and plum core, as well as a sometimes-exuberant new oak élevage employed by a few vignerons, is key.

Put the two together, and Cornas and Côte-Rôtie are the yin and yang of Northern Rhône Syrah. Today I visited A. Clape and Stéphane Ogier.

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