June 2014 Wine Cub Selections
The white for this month is the Chateau Vrai Caillou 2012 ( $ 12.99). The chateau’s name literally translated means ‘The True Chateau of Rock’. Firstly ‘caillou’ means ‘pebble, stones or rock’ and you can find examples of chateaux named after pebbles dotted across Bordeaux – an example of a Grand Cru Classe so named is the Second Growth Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou (meaning ‘beautiful pebbles’). Why name a chateau after rocks you might ask? Because the stony ground it sits on is vitally important for growing the vines – most great vineyards lie on slopes or hillsides of gravelly or limestone based soils as vines need good drainage. Chateau Vrai Caillou lies on around 200 acres of clay-limestone and is located in the small village of Soussac in the Entre Deux Mers, on the high plateau of the range that divides waters between the Dordogne and the Garonne rivers. Chateau Vrai Caillou sits on the slopes of Butte de Launay, the highest point in the region.
Secondly the reason Chateau Vrai Caillou is known as ‘The True Chateau of Rock’ stems from the fact that centuries ago it was originally known as Chateau Caillou. Since 1863, Chateau Vrai Caillou has been owned by the Pommier family and its wines were noted in the famed Bordeaux wine directory Cocks & Féret in 1879. As was common in this period in time the chateau grew other crops as well as vines but when the Pommiers decided to concentrate on wine making as their sole industry in 1920 they discovered that another chateau had registered the name of Chateau Caillou, in Sauternes. Rather than change the name of their chateau Odette Pommier’s response was: “Ah! Yes, is there another Caillou? Then, mine will be the true (Vrai) one!” And that is the story of how the chateau got it’s name.
The Entre Deux Mers is one of those regions that is undervalued nowadays but in the past it was a hive of activity and wine making. It is criss crossed with Roman roads (one runs through Soussac) and the landscape is peppered with historical forts and Medieval châteaux, mills, churches and monasteries. Wine production here dates back to Gallo Roman times but it was the Benedictine Monks in the Middle Ages who helped to create the reputation of this region and its wines.
The bouquet shows peach, pear and melon scents along with smoky, citrusy, floral and herbal nuances. The flavors are zesty and bright with a minerally-clean freshness that defines good white Bordeaux. The palate-pleasing peach and melon fruit elements are enhanced by nuances of pear, herbs and smoky spice. The finish is dry and clean with an intriguing twist of citrus and spice.
The red is the Chateau Rousset-Caillau 2011 Grand Vin de Bordeaux ($ 15.99). Rated 91 by Wine Enthusiast, the wine is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet. This wine will age up to 10 years from the vintage date. The grapes are harvested at optimum ripeness. Traditional vinification methods with maceration at low temperature to extract the best of the fruit. Slow extraction of tannins and aromas, wine for aging. Breeding both traditional tanks and barrels for 12 months minimum. Dense ruby, chunky, it has a surprising personality for a wine in this price. The attack is full of volume, a complex and delicate wine loaded with notes of caramel, cassis and violet, yet shows some maturity in vanilla notes followed by silky tannins, melted and a long finish. Wine of character developed in the Bordeaux’s traditions.
The white for this month is called 2012 Blindfold (“White Prisoner”) $ 32.99. Rated 93 by Robert Parker! Made by The Prisoner Wine Company, this blended white is an absolutely amazing wine. Created to provide the perfect white wine companion to The Prisoner, Blindfold is bold and intriguing. In establishing our own spin on a white blend, winemaker Jen Beloz and her team sought out interesting Rhône and aromatic varietals that would nicely compliment a classic Chardonnay base. Through partnering with growers who are dedicated to cultivating alternative varietals in their outstanding vineyards throughout California, the result is a wine that is complex and delicious. Aromatic and inviting, the wine opens up with subtle notes of mandarin and meyer lemon zest, complimented on the palette with delightful flavors of Anjou pear, roasted marshmallow, spiced apple tart and a hint of minerality . The finish is rich and creamy with bright, balanced acidity. The blend 35% Chardonnay 60% Rhone Whites (Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc) 5% Aromatics (Semillon and Riesling) is aged in 25% New oak (combination of French and Hungarian), 60% neutral oak and 15% stainless steel for 10 months.
The red for this month is the Bishop’s Peak Pinot Noir San Luis Obispo County 2012 ($ 19.99). Rated 90 by Stephen Tanzer, ” Fresh red fruits, flowers and spicecake on the highly perfumed nose. Juicy and precise, offering vibrant raspberry and bitter cherry flavors and a hint of blood orange. Finishes long and sweet, with gentle tannins and lingering floral and spice notes. This pinot delivers very good value and makes a gently priced introduction to the Talley style.” Made by Talley Vineyards, the Talley family has farmed in the Southern San Luis Obispo County. The tradition began in 1948 when Oliver Talley founded Talley Farms and started growing specialty vegetables in the Arroyo Grande Valley. During the 1970s extensive planting of winegrapes began in the neighboring Edna Valley and Santa Barbara County areas. After observation and extensive analysis, Oliver’s son, Don Talley, was convinced of the potential to grow high quality chardonnay and pinot noir on the steep hillsides above Talley Farms. Don planted a small test plot in 1982 on the west hillside of the Rincon Vineyard that included chardonnay, pinot noir, riesling, sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon. Over time the varietal and clonal selections were refined and planting expanded to a total of 165 acres in the Arroyo Grande and Edna Valleys.