June Wine Club Selections

June 2013                                                    Oconee Wine Club Selections

Summer has finally arrived at Lake Oconee!  Lots of new and exciting products are coming in daily to help you beat the heat.  Last month’s H3 wines by Columbia Crest where very well received by wine club members.  We do have extra stock in case you want to purchase additional bottles.  This month I am very excited to expose wine club members to some delicious French wines!  Also, don’t forget our next wine tasting consisting of California wines will be on Monday June 17th at 6:00 at Corrado’s.  You can RSVP by bring check or cash for $25 per person to The Oconee Cellar.  Hope to see you then!

Plan Pegau Lot # 2009     90 Points Wine & Spirits      Top 25 wine values in the world, Robert Parker  $ 19.99

The red wine for this month comes from the Southern Rhone region near Chateauneuf.  They are crafted by Laurence Féraud of Domaine du Pegau.  Plan Pegau has loads of character and personality, and offers a true and loud echo of the flavor and style of Domaine du Pegau Châteauneuf-du-Pape. A perfect illustration of the HPS mantra of quality, character and value, it always seems to have a bit of that magic Châteauneuf funk!

It is an approachable, medium bodied wine with loads of cherry fruit, light peppery notes and a touch of Châteauneuf funk.  Serve with game, hearty stews, and grilled meats. Fruit was sourced from numerous vineyard sites in the Southern Rhône (Costières de Nîmes, as well as vineyard sites owned by Pegau, near Châteauneuf).  The wine is a blend of roughly 65% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Carignan, the balance a kitchen sink blend of Mourvèdre, Merlot, Alicante, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Whole grape bunches were lightly crushed and fermented at controlled temperatures in traditional concrete vats. Aged about 6 months in very old French oak casks. The wine is unfiltered.  This is a great wine to drink now or cellar up to 5-6 years.

Chateau des Tourtes 2010 Cotes de Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon  $ 13.99

The Chateau is owned by Philippe Raguenot, father of Emmanuelle Miller and Marie-Pierre Lallez (who, along with their husbands, Darren and Eric, own Château Haut Beyzac in the Haut Médoc), Chateau des Tourtes is a substantial property situated in the Premières Côtes de Blaye district of Bordeaux.

This crisp refreshing white is loaded with citrus, fresh-cut grass and light floral notes, with an underlying mineral character. On the palate, it has great freshness and a racy acidity, ending with a long, clean finish.  It is perfect for the hot summer weather to sip on along with fresh fruit and cheese.  They own 150 acres in total, 2/3 planted to red (Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon), the balance planted to Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.  This wine consists of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and  20% Semillon.  The vines averaged 15 years in age, with yields of 3.67 tons/acre.  Fermentation lasted about 12 days, with an additional 6 months ‘sur lie’. Unoaked – vinified entirely in stainless steel tanks.  Enjoy as an aperitif, with seafood (especially oysters or fatty fish such as salmon) or hearty salads.

Connoisseur’s Club
Guigal Gigondas 2010      $ 34.99     91 Rating Robert Parker!

The story of the Guigal family is a young but remarkable one.  Etienne Guigal was the youngest in his family, but as the most resilient he was sent off on his own at a very young age when his family could no longer afford to care for him.  He came to Ampuis to pick apricots, labor he found preferable to his previous work underground in mines.  In the early 1930s his brother helped Etienne, still only 14 years of age, secure a job in the vineyards at Vidal Fleury, then the largest and strongest winery in the Rhone.  Etienne started pruning in the vineyards and rose to Maitre de Chai over the course of 15 years, before eventually leaving in 1946 to start his own firm, E. Guigal.  Etienne’s son Marcel became involved very early in the business when in 1961 he was forced to rush back from school because his father was suddenly struck with total blindness.  Marcel has led the firm since, and his unparalleled work ethic and dedication to quality have lifted the Guigal wines to the pinnacle of the wine world, and the Guigal domaine to its status as the leading winery from the Rhone Valley.

The Guigal firm is extraordinary in a number of dimensions.  First is their decision that they will only purchase vineyards that are capable of producing truly great wines.  Therefore despite their important production, they own only 150 acres, all in the Northern  Rhone.  They own overwhelmingly the finest collection of vineyards in Côte-Rôtie, the finest, carefully selected sites in both Condrieu and Saint Joseph, four exquisite parcels in Hermitage, and some of the finest vineyards in Crozes-Hermitage.  These 150 acres are truly the finest sites in the Northern Rhone, and serve as the source for their estate-bottled wines and the foundation for their Northern Rhone appellation wines.

A second important dimension is Guigal’s approach to viticulture.  The Guigal family is tireless in its work on the steeply sloped, terraced vineyards it owns, with views entirely to the long-term.  They are methodically re-building vineyards today that won’t be planted for another five to ten years because of their belief in the soils, expositions and mesoclimates of these sites.  Their philosophy in the vineyard is to prune low and strictly limit the number of shoots per vine, training for low vigor and low-yields and looking for natural balance and concentration in this manner.  No pesticides, herbicides or chemicals are used in the vineyards, and the fact some of Guigal vines date back to the 1890s is a testimony to the nurturing, obsessive approach the Guigals have in their vineyards.

Thirdly, Guigal is a unique negociant company.  The family knows the Northern Rhone like no one else, and supplements their holdings by buying grapes from long-time grower partners.  In total, they vinify around 33% of Côte-Rôtie and 45% of Condrieu, and have access to top fruit in all the regions they work.  In the Southern Rhone, they buy only wine, and with a distinctive approach.  Namely, they do not have a single contract.  Marcel and Philippe taste relentlessly and start from scratch every year.  In a given year, they will purchase the top 1% of the wines they taste, and because of their longtime contacts, they have access to the best wines in the region; they select, in other words, 1% from the very finest wines in the Southern Rhone.

Fourthly, Guigal’s vinfication is singular in the world of wine, and allows their great raw materials to flourish in the bottle.  Their vinification approach actually harkens back to tradition in the Rhone Valley, with long ageing, which integrates tannins and flavors and creates wines of great complexity and refinement.  Because of their superior fruit, the Guigals do not make “simple”  wines – these wines demand time to come together.  All wines undergo natural yeast fermentations, and intervention is at a bare minimum, with no fining or filtration.  The top Guigal wines undergo famously long maturation period in barrel, up to three and a half years, but even parcels of old-vine Syrah for their Côtes du Rhône are aged in foudres for six months, completely atypical for the Côtes du Rhône category.  The Guigals are so exacting about the ageing process that, finding inconsistent barrels from even the best tonnelleries, they make every barrel that is used in their winery, with one barrel produced by hand every day by their single cooper at the Chateau d’Ampuis.  These barrels are destined for their Northern Rhone wines, while they use foudres built to exacting specifications for their Southern Rhone wines.  The reality is that it is enormously expensive to hold onto 3 or 4 vintages of Chateauneuf-du-Pape or Côte-Rôtie, or even to hold onto Côtes du Rhône that is two or three vintages behind what other producers are releasing, but it is done for the quality of the wine, and so that consumers can enjoy the wines for drinking upon release.

“The excellent 2010 Gigondas (a blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre and 5% Syrah) is a ripe, earthy effort displaying peppery notes intermixed with garrigue, blueberries and black raspberries, super fruit (a characteristic of this vintage), low acidity and attractive lushness as well as density. It should drink nicely for a decade.”  

Joseph Drouhin Saint – Veran 2011   $ 19.99

With its 73 hectares (182.5 acres), the Joseph Drouhin Domaine is one of the largest estates in the region.  It owns vineyards in all of Burgundy: Chablis (38 hectares – 95 acres), Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune, (32 hectares – 80 acres), Côte Chalonnaise (3 hectares – 7.5 acres).  It is comprised of a majority of Premier and Grand Crus, planted with the two Burgundian grape varietals, pinot noir and chardonnay.  The Domaine was put together through the years, thanks to judicious purchases and agreements between families.  Some vineyards are among the most famous in Burgundy, such as Clos des Mouches, Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche, Musigny, Clos de Vougeot, Corton-Charlemagne, etc.

For some village or regional appellations, Joseph Drouhin complements its supplies by purchasing grapes from other vineyard owners who have been long time partners and share the same quest of excellence.  Starting with the vintage 2008, the name “Vaudon” will be associated with Joseph Drouhin for all its Chablis wines as a sign of the firm’s allegiance to this historical terroir.

They are located at the southern end of Burgundy, just north of Beaujolais. The appellation Saint-Véran is actually larger than the territory of the commune.  The actual village of Saint-Vérand is spelled differently (note the final “d”). Established by decree in 1971, it is the latest appellation in the Mâconnais region.  The soil consists of Jurassic limestone, a continuation of the chalky strata found in the Côte d’Or, ideal for growing Chardonnay grapes.

“It is stylistically close to Pouilly-Fuissé, with its golden hue, its greenish reflection and its refreshing taste. The aromas are reminiscent of the ripe Chardonnay grape, with subtle notes of musk. A pleasant roundness coats the palate”.