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stirring the lees with james molesworth

My Monthly Tasting Group: October 2006

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Oct 18, 2006 4:40pm ET

On Monday, my merry band of BYOB friends descended on Triomphe for our monthly wine night. The food was excellent, with arguably one of the best racks of lamb I've ever tasted and a dynamite chicken liver crostini appetizer.

The wine theme was Priorat versus other Grenache/Carignane-based wines. Wines were served blind, and the lineup was (in order of pouring):

1. 2004 Melis Priorat
2. 1998 Cims de Porrera Priorat Clàssic
3. 1998 Sangenís I Vaqué Priorat Clos Monlleó
4. 1999 Domaine Gourt de Mautens Côtes du Rhône-Villages Rasteau
5. 1999 Château du Mourre du Tendre Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Tradition
6. 1998 Daphne Glorian Priorat Clos Erasmus
7. 2003 Clarendon Hills Grenache Clarendon Blewitt Springs
8. 1998 Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf-du-Pape (magnum)

As for the outcome—Cims de Porrera was our hands-down winner, followed by the Clos Erasmus. At first sip, the Cims de Porrera seemed like a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, with lots of beef bouillon, chestnut and currant flavors, but it blossomed in the glass into a smooth, polished, concentrated wine typical of Priorat—but with an extra dimension of elegance thanks to its bottle age.

The Clos Erasmus, which going in would have been the consensus pick to steal the show, was a beauty, with wild game, plum, coffee and cocoa notes. Very distinctive. Still very youthful too.

The Janasse showed silky raspberry ganache notes, and was easy to spot as a CdP. The Gourt de Mautens did an admirable job of masquerading as a CdP, with muscular structure and lots of roasted fruit and tar notes.

The lone disappointment was the Clarendon—with prickly dill notes and a medicinal cough syrup finish that was a major turn-off to most of the guys in the group. (I’ve never had a Clarendon that didn’t have this profile, by the way.)

It was a real interesting tasting, with the wines showing clear regional profiles, but plenty of variation from wine to wine. Just another easy debunking of the ‘internationalization of wine’ theory.

Anyway, I'm off to San Francisco for the California Wine Experience, which starts tomorrow night. If you're there and you see me, introduce yourself.

In the meantime, let me know what happened at your last tasting group’s meeting.

Apj Powers
Dallas, TX —  October 19, 2006 2:45am ET
Cims!! Nice to read that. I picked up 12 btls of that exact 98 vintage for the list over 2 yrs ago. We still have a single btl left. I've never tasted it myself. I read about an MS at the Breakers(??) in FL. She had over 1000 selections and that was one of her Top 3 favorites of all her wines. She's an MS!! I took her word for it. I may have to take that 1 off the list tomorrow and save it for the staff(and myself).
Bryan Bucari
Baton Rouge, LA —  October 21, 2006 2:36pm ET
James, speaking of Grenache...I had a bottle of the 2003 Kilikanoon Grenache Prodigal which was simply a beautiful wine from Clare Valey. I have noticed the Kilikanoon hasn't been reviewed by you guys and is something I think you should try. Their whole line up is always great. I am going to get that Cims today. Thanks!
James Molesworth
October 23, 2006 9:31am ET
Bryan: Thanks for the tip.

Yes, I noticed we haven't tasted Kilikanoon in a while. Australia is Harvey's beat though, so he'll have to answer that one as to 'why'?...
Rob Lentini
Alexandria, Virginia —  October 24, 2006 9:32am ET
Nice to see an 89 point wine stealing the show!

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