The Finale

Continuing the theme of music concerning the wines of Domaine Sainte Cecile du Parc we have the finale of the evening. Since Sainte Cecile is the Patron Saint of Music, it is only proper. The wine tasting at D.vine Fine Wines in Livonia was packed, in fact it was Standing Room Only, and the management brought in an additional table from one of the nearby restaurants. It seems that a Social Media group had selected the venue for one of their meetings for its members to enjoy the wine tasting. The only grumblings were not about the wines, but that they were expecting cheese with the tasting and there was none to be seen.

The penultimate wine for the evening was Domaine Sainte Cecile du Parc Sonatina 2012 which had the AOC Coteaux du Languedoc Pezenas. A Sonatina is a short sonata, which definitely carried on the theme of the winery. This wine was a blend of seventy-five percent Syrah and the balance was Cinsault, and the vines on the estate for these grapes were about thirty-six years old. This wine was aged for twelve months in French Oak and it was very mellow with nice heavy legs. I think that the Cinsault evened out the Syrah and I think that this would be a great dinner wine, and talking with some others, this is where they were going to invest heavily into their purchase.

The final wine of the evening did not carry the musical motif, but rather it was heralding the wedded bliss of the owners. This was the first vintage of Domaine Sainte Cecile du Parc Mouton Bertoli 2011, which is going to be their flagship wine. This wine is sixty-five percent Cabernet Franc and the balance is Syrah and it was delightful. This wine carries the IGP Pays de Caux of the Languedoc-Roussillon. This wine was aged for twenty-four months in French Oak and there were two-thousand bottles produced. For the coda of the evening I ended up ordering the Cabernet Franc wines and my Bride will enjoy the selections as much as I did.

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Two “Notes”

Continuing on with my notes about Domaine Sainte Cecile du Parc wines that I enjoyed at a wine tasting and the musical notations that the wine evokes from their patron Saint namesake. Sainte Cecile is for music and most of the wine labels have names that evoke the harmonious melody of the estate. The tasting was held at D.vine Fine Wines and it was a full house to sample all of these wines that carry the IGP Pays de Caux designation, which prior to tasting these wines, I may have cavalierly passed them on a merchant’s shelf. Christine Mouton Bertoli the charming wife of Stephane Mouton was the spokesperson for their winery and one immediately could feel the passion and the pride that she had in presenting her wares.

The second wine of the evening that we tasted was Domaine Sainte Cecile du Parc Notes Franches 2012 and Christine added that this name was playfully chosen as kind of a pun if you will for being frank, France and for the Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc was the star of this wine as it was seventy percent of the blend with the other being Merlot and frankly I just adored this wine. Actually, after tasting this wine, I had to step outside from the hubbub of the crowd to phone my Bride to let her know that she was missing something that she would have just adored, as it is her favorite varietal; and being the potentially good husband I knew that I would have to get some of this wine and worry where I would store it later. This wine had an aging period of twelve months between small concrete vats and French Oak. This wine also showed I thought extremely well as it was with young eight-year-old vines that they had planted after taking over the estate.

The third wine of the evening had a delightful musical connotation. Domaine Sainte Cecile du Parc Note d’Orphée 2013 was named for the legendary musician of Greek mythology Orpheus who it was claimed could charm all living creatures with his music, in fact he could even charm stones. This was a blend of eighty-five percent Syrah and the rest was Cabernet Franc and the vines were from eight to twenty-seven years old, so I would surmise that the Cabernet Franc vines were of the same as of the Notes Franches. This wine also had been aged for twelve months between small concrete vats and French Oak. This wine was enjoyable, but after having the Notes Franches and my own personal preference to Cabernet Franc as well, it had to take a back seat.

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Christine Bertoli

I went to another wine tasting, and this one featured Christine Mouton Bertoli, who along with her husband who was not in attendance, acquired Domaine Sainte Cecile du Parc in 2005 just outside of Pezenas in the Languedoc. I really enjoy a wine tasting from a single estate to see what is being offered and this tasting was once again at Fine Wines. Christine was charming in her approach to wine making and one could see the passion that she has, even as she stressed that winemaking is not an easy endeavor.

The estate encompasses ten hectares of vineyards encircling the winery, so every vine is within walking distance and that they use small baskets during harvest, so as not to damage the fruit, and the harvest goes for a couple of weeks, as they pick the fruit individually as each cluster ripens. The vineyard was replanted in high-density rows, which is not the norm for the Languedoc, but is quite common in other areas of France. The 2013 vintage of Domaine Sainte Cecile du Parc will carry the Agriculture Biologique label, which means they have met the standards to be fully organic. While the art of winemaking is hard work, there is a bit of whimsy as they have taken the name of Sainte Cecile to heart, as Sainte Cecile is the Patron Saint of Music, so all the wines have musical associations.

The first wine of the evening was Domaine Ste. Cecile du Parc Notes Frivoles Rosé 2015, and here is the first example of the music theme as the name of the wine means Frivolous Notes, and Christine stressed that the wine was not frivolous, but the wine should be enjoyed capriciously. The wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Cabernet Franc and began first in concrete and then was aged in Stainless Steel for eight months. It was rather intriguing to hear some of the audience kind of gasp when they heard about using concrete, but their fears were allayed as Christine explained about the concrete vats. The wine carries the IGP Pays de Caux which is a subset of the IGP Pays d’Oc which covers most of the Languedoc-Roussillon region. The wine had a pretty pink shade in the glass, though the wine shop should have opened the bottles a little sooner to let the wine breathe. After I allowed the wine a few minutes of swirling in the glass it was a nice easy glass to drink and would be perfect to enjoy in the weather we are now approaching.

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Two Malbecs

Some times without any forethought one encounters a couple of wines that are of the same grape. Malbec started off in the Cahoors region of France, ended up as one of the grapes for blending in Bordeaux and then took off around the world. It has acquired much more of a cachet today as compared to when I first started enjoying wines. I am going to discuss a couple of wines that were complimentary pours before a couple of wine tastings that I attended at D.vine Fine Wines not far from my home.

The first wine was a bit of a surprise for me and a delightful one at that. Les Jamelles Malbec Cepage Rare 2015 was from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, and the term Cepage Rare just means rare grape variety and I guess it is an homage to how it is part of the Bordeaux blend of grapes. This wine carries the Pays d’Oc IGP designation which was formally Vin de Pays d’Oc, which is basically the entire Languedoc-Roussillon region and the designation was changed to make it more in line with the wine rules of European Union and their terminology. This designation is the middle of the road between Vin de Table and the AOC that France is known for. This wine is made from two vineyards of Les Jamelles that have thirty-year old Malbec vines and the aged in oak, with ten percent new. I really enjoyed this wine and it is a very affordable bottle of wine and I guess that makes it even better.

The second wine that I will discuss is Casarena Estate Malbec 2014 from Casarena Bodega y Vinedos in Argentina. Malbec is the king of grapes in Argentina and this wine is from the sub-region of Lujan de Cuyo which is part of the largest wine region Mendoza. I really could not find out much additional information about this wine and while it was good, it was not as big and bold that I look for in a Malbec, but that is just me. When I think of a Malbec, I think of a steak, so for this wine, perhaps a steak barbequed in the backyard in a more informal setting.

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Two Full Bodied Reds

It was the end of the wine tasting for the evening and of course that meant some full bodied red wines to finish the flight. My white wine glass had become the receptacle for the water that I would pour into my red wine glass to remove the last wine that I had. At D.vine Fine Wines where I was at, they had selected two types of wines that I normally do not end up selecting. The reason is that I usually find something else to pique my curiosity, so certain wines go lacking.

The second to the last wine that I had was Bouza Tannat Reserva 2015. This wine had the appellation of Canelones a region near Montevideo, Uruguay. Tannat is the major grape of Uruguay and the fruit for this wine was hand harvested from the family’s two vineyards, Las Violetas and Melilla. The wines were aged from twelve to fifteen months in a mix of French and American Oak and it was unfiltered. There were twenty-six-hundred cases of this wine produced. The wine was deep in color with a good medium nose and very heavy legs on the glass. As a side note and don’t ask me why, but every time I see Tannat, I think back to my days of scouting where they had all the scouts gather to sing praises to three kings of yore whose names were Owah, Tanah, Siam and we had to keep saying those three names until the last scout figured it out.

The last wine of the evening was a Zinfandel and I have to say that I do tend to refrain from ordering this by the bottle, because of all the heavy jam-fruit bombs that I have encountered which tend to always remind of the home-made “Dago Red” wines that we used to get at home during the Christmas season from friends of the family when I was still not even in high school. The Peachy Canyon Westside Zinfandel 2014 is from Paso Robles. Paso Robles is the northern half of San Luis Obispo County and Peachy Canyon which was founded in 1988 was one of the original wineries in Paso Robles. This wine while being seventy-seven percent Zinfandel was blended with Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Tannat and Syrah. There were just over seven thousand cases produced of this wine and it was more impressive than what I was expecting, so I was quite pleased, as it did not hit either of my two preconceived notions. So, it was two for two of nice wine tastings that I had, so I may go back for some more wine tastings.

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Two Distinct Reds

I usually refrain from just going to any old wine tasting, because I am afraid of only sampling mediocre wines, not that I am so worldly, but I think that most wine tastings are designed for people new to wines and then they can get an overview of some different wines. It appears now that perhaps D.vine fine wines is a step beyond the novices. The first two wines that I tried were in the mid-range of prices that one would expect (sorry Two Buck Chuck). I also heard that they had a couple special evenings of wine tastings that were already sold out, so they must be doing a good job.

The third wine that we tasted that evening was a new varietal and a new DOC for me from Italy, and Century Club potential members take note. The Tenuta Olim Bauda “Isolavilla” Grignolino D’Asti 2015 was unique. Grignolino is one of the oldest varietals native to the Piedmont, and even the name comes from Piedmontese dialect for Grignole which means many seeds or pips. This varietal is so well known there, that it was given its own DOC and is one of the sub regions of Asti. This particular winery uses their sixty-five-year-old vines to make this wine which is aged on the lees for its unique tannins. As you are well aware, I tend to avoid descriptors, but this wine was unknown to me, so I will mention that I tasted some cherry and some pepper, and I think a light chilling of this wine would enhance it even more. I hope that you can discern the color of this wine, as it was a pretty red and on their website, they say “Grignolino is the reddest white wine and the whitest red.”

The fourth wine that was poured, looking at the label, would be a wine that I might have passed on, because it was in the thirty-dollar range with a California AVA and just said Red, not a combination that would ring my bell. The Paring Red 2012 was this wine. The winery is in Beullton, California and is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Those wines almost complete was is affectionately known as the Bordeaux Blend or in the States, if you belong to the society, you may call it a Meritage. Some of the most famous wines in Napa Valley do not use the term Meritage, because they feel that they were doing their own thing way before the society and their marketers drummed up a name. A lot of the wineries just use the term “red” or “red blend” or a similar wording. I guess from the price of the wine, one could presume something better than mediocre and this wine was not mediocre. This wine was aged for twenty-two months in French Oak, of which fifty-five percent was new; so, it is not a hastily made wine. The wine had a nice balance and was unfiltered and unfined and I think that it could even use some cellaring time. So, it just goes to show you that one can’t pass judgement just on the label.

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A Wine Tasting

I have had quite a busy time with projects and sometimes I just have to put on the brakes and do something different. We normally go out and have dinner and have wine or sometimes we have wine at home. Most of the time I tend to avoid wine tastings unless there is a featured winery that tickles my fancy. Recently I found myself home alone as my Bride had something going on and I really didn’t want to stay home. I had recently gone to a wine tasting for J. Vineyards & Winery at d.vine fine wines and I knew that they have a special wine class on Tuesdays with guest speaker Lee Hershey. I first encountered Mr. Hershey years ago giving a wine seminar at the Culinary Extravaganza that we always try to attend. So, as they say I bellied up to the bar, paid my admission fee and tried six new wines that I may have not tried otherwise.

Of the six wines offered that evening, I will start off discussing the first two wines that started off the tasting. The first wine was a bubbly, but not a Champagne. The wine featured was made by Montserrat Mascaro from Catalonia, Spain and was made in the Methode Tradicional, the Spanish spelling of Methode Traditional, the approved wording in the EEC for the old expression Methode Champenoise. As you may have surmised we had a Cava wine, but this was a pink Cava. The Mascaro Rubor Aurorae Cava Brut NV was a refreshing sparkler made entirely from the Grenache grape, a mainstay in Spain. Most Cava wines are not made from Grenache and this wine was aged for twelve months, and it not only offered a delightful soft pink color, but very tiny little bubbles, which one looks for in a good sparkling wine.

The second bottle of the evening was a marvelous job of marketing as the bottle would stick out on any shelf as it had gold lettering baked on the bottle in a graffiti appearance and a line from a Robert Frost poem. Jim Regusci and James Harder created Tank Garage Winery and their presence is in an old Art Deco styled gas station in Calistoga in Napa Valley. Tank Garage Nothing Gold Can Stay Chardonnay 2014 was a charming Chardonnay. The fruit is from Carneros with only two percent from the Russian River Valley, so it carries a Napa Valley AVA. The wine was aged for thirteen months in French Oak, of which forty percent was new and yet it did not have that overpowering Oak/Butter taste and they made twelve-hundred cases of the wine, which is not a massive amount of production. This is the second wine that I have had from this winery and I feel that they are very serious about their craft, even if their showroom and labels have whimsy.

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