Northern Rhone Tour: Clusel-Roch, Jamet, Perret, Gonon, Sorrel, Cave de Tain, Clape, Allemand

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patrick c albright
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Northern Rhone Tour Day 4: Allemand

#101 Post by patrick c albright » May 10th, 2016, 5:12 pm

This thread keeps on getting better.

Did you find a bit of gas in Thierry's 2003?
It appeared to me that Thierry added CO2 to try and retain freshness due to the extreme year.
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Northern Rhone Tour Day 4: Clape along if you feel like that's what you wanna do

#102 Post by Jason T » May 10th, 2016, 5:45 pm

Stephen Williams wrote:A great thread, bringing back lots of lovely memories

I remember driving down the RN86 (the North South road down the Rhone valley) in the late eighties with my parents. I was only just getting in to wine.

We stopped at a small bistro called Ollier which was on the road side in Cornas. It was completely without pretension and I remember we had decent home cooked food. The house wine was a young vine cornas from Clape, who lived just up the road, served by the jug.

I cheekily asked if they had anything older, having drunk the '78 earlier in the year at University. The owner disappeared downstairs and returned with two bottles to chose from, a labeled 1978 and something much older, without a label covered in mycelium mold. He knew it was a Clape and suspected it was from the 1960s. You can guess which one I chose.

Sadly the cork didn't have a vintage on it, however the wine was ethereal, and I can remember the nose to this day. Later in the holiday we celebrated my 21st birthday at Troisgros and drank 1961 La Chapelle, which only just eclipsed the mystery Clape for greatness.
Stephen, in an already great thread, your post still manages to stand out. It's so vivid I can almost picture it myself. To me, this kind of moment is exactly what this little thing of ours is all about.
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Northern Rhone Tour Day 4: Allemand

#103 Post by Anthony Lombardi » May 10th, 2016, 6:30 pm

Alan-

This is fantastic. You summed it up well with bucket list.

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Northern Rhone Tour Day 4: Allemand

#104 Post by Martin Petersen » May 10th, 2016, 8:46 pm

I can only echo the 'Wow' and 'Thanks for sharing'

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Northern Rhone Tour Day 4: Allemand

#105 Post by RyanC » May 10th, 2016, 8:55 pm

F'ing epic thread. An Allemand visit is bucket list for me.

Bravo.
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Northern Rhone Tour Day 4: Allemand

#106 Post by Andrew Christiansen » May 10th, 2016, 10:37 pm

More wow. I think Paul hit the nail on the head about Thierry, and that's only my impression from the photos.

With each successive photo of Thierry, and by the looks on his face, i kept wondering if he might go TMZ on you and grab the camera...

More thanks, Alan!

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Northern Rhone Tour Day 4: Allemand

#107 Post by Jared Wagner » May 11th, 2016, 11:37 am

Alan,

Wow, is all I can say. As someone who concentrates most of my time and wines on rhone varietals and specifically, syrah, I've absolutely loved your report. If I could just get my two daughters to grow up faster (they are 8 and 10), then a trip like this is a must!!

How did you find the Gilles' wines? I own 9 bottles (3 each of the 10, 11, 12) but have not had a chance to drink one yet. I've read great things...

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#108 Post by Jeff Vaughan » May 11th, 2016, 2:33 pm

Alan, excellent thread. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it and looking at your pictures. Thanks for posting!
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Northern Rhone Tour Day 4: Allemand

#109 Post by Alan Rath » May 12th, 2016, 10:24 am

patrick c albright wrote:This thread keeps on getting better.

Did you find a bit of gas in Thierry's 2003?
It appeared to me that Thierry added CO2 to try and retain freshness due to the extreme year.
Patrick, I didn't note any spritziness in the wine, or excess acidity. It seemed pretty much on track for a 10+ year old wine of its proportions. I can't find any notes from back then, but several of us had the 2003 when it was released (Paul was there, maybe he'll remember). And I've had it once or twice subsequent to that. I always described the wine in that vintage as big and rich, but balanced, mostly what you'd expect from a good Rhone Syrah in a warmer year (very much like a really good California Syrah in a normal year).

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#110 Post by Alan Rath » May 12th, 2016, 10:47 am

Jared Wagner wrote:Alan,

Wow, is all I can say. As someone who concentrates most of my time and wines on rhone varietals and specifically, syrah, I've absolutely loved your report. If I could just get my two daughters to grow up faster (they are 8 and 10), then a trip like this is a must!!

How did you find the Gilles' wines? I own 9 bottles (3 each of the 10, 11, 12) but have not had a chance to drink one yet. I've read great things...
Thanks Jared. Again, I'm just the messenger who was lucky enough to tag along with this group. And I'd happily trade a trip like this to buy back 15 years and be where you are. Enjoy it!

Guillaume Gilles joined us for dinner Thursday night, he's the young-ish looking guy sitting to John's right in one of the pictures. I count at least 9 bottles on the table at that point, and I obviously failed as a chronicler, because I didn't take notes on many of them. If something had really stood out to me, I probably would have noted it, so my recollection is that the wines were very good. Certainly for the price, relative to the much higher prices of some of the more well-known producers, they are good value. I have found 11s (in particular) to be drinking pretty well, even this early. I would open one of those and see what you think for yourself. Make sure to give it some air time in the glass.

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Northern Rhone Tour Day 4: Allemand

#111 Post by Charles Zedlewski » May 12th, 2016, 6:29 pm

Thanks Alan,

To me Thierry Allemand is the Bruno Giacosa of northern rhone. There's really a significant qualitative difference that sets the wines apart. Did Thierry talk at all about his philosophy with respect to the sans soufre? How does he decide what vintages he will make a sans soufre? Why just 20 cases vs. doing it for the entire run of Reynard that vintage? Does he pick specific blocks or barrels that will be more suited to do a zero sulfur treatment? What does he think are the benefits of this kind of winemaking vs. the regular Reynard?

Thanks in advance for sharing anything you might have picked up.

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#112 Post by mdavis » May 12th, 2016, 10:44 pm

I had a great visit with Thierry in 2005 at the domaine. He also opened up Sans Soufre and it was eye opening. Great post.

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#113 Post by Alan Rath » May 13th, 2016, 2:58 pm

Charles Zedlewski wrote:Did Thierry talk at all about his philosophy with respect to the sans soufre? How does he decide what vintages he will make a sans soufre? Why just 20 cases vs. doing it for the entire run of Reynard that vintage? Does he pick specific blocks or barrels that will be more suited to do a zero sulfur treatment? What does he think are the benefits of this kind of winemaking vs. the regular Reynard?
Some of that discussion is actually in the second video clip. Essentially, it depends on yield. He will only do the no-sulfur wine in vintages where there are at least 7,000 bottles each of Chaillot and Reynard, and then will make up to 2,000 bottles of Sans Soufre. I didn't hear any comments about "quality", more about quantity. I know there was Sans Soufre made in 2004 and 2011, two vintages that aren't heralded as the "best" (though Thierry seems to actually prefer vintages that aren't generally accepted as great, and from my own experience he seems to make some pretty fantastic wines in more difficult vintages like 08 and 11). I don't remember any comments about how the Sans Soufre wine is selected (or if it's selected). In the first video clip he talks about vinifying the two wines in the two tanks you can't quite see. Actually, I'm not sure if that was fermentation or blending, but either way it seems that the entire Reynard wine is fermented and later blended as a single lot. So I think the Sans Soufre is simply a batch that's bottle first without an SO2 addition.

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#114 Post by Paul Gordon » May 13th, 2016, 8:56 pm

Alan Rath wrote:
Charles Zedlewski wrote:Did Thierry talk at all about his philosophy with respect to the sans soufre? How does he decide what vintages he will make a sans soufre? Why just 20 cases vs. doing it for the entire run of Reynard that vintage? Does he pick specific blocks or barrels that will be more suited to do a zero sulfur treatment? What does he think are the benefits of this kind of winemaking vs. the regular Reynard?
Some of that discussion is actually in the second video clip. Essentially, it depends on yield. He will only do the no-sulfur wine in vintages where there are at least 7,000 bottles each of Chaillot and Reynard, and then will make up to 2,000 bottles of Sans Soufre. I didn't hear any comments about "quality", more about quantity. I know there was Sans Soufre made in 2004 and 2011, two vintages that aren't heralded as the "best" (though Thierry seems to actually prefer vintages that aren't generally accepted as great, and from my own experience he seems to make some pretty fantastic wines in more difficult vintages like 08 and 11). I don't remember any comments about how the Sans Soufre wine is selected (or if it's selected). In the first video clip he talks about vinifying the two wines in the two tanks you can't quite see. Actually, I'm not sure if that was fermentation or blending, but either way it seems that the entire Reynard wine is fermented and later blended as a single lot. So I think the Sans Soufre is simply a batch that's bottle first without an SO2 addition.
Alan

That is what I recall - the Sans Soufre is the Reynard blend simply bottled prior to final SO2 addition.
One interesting point Thierry made - he likes some VA in his wine. He commented that there was not enough for his liking in one 2015 barrel.
Paul

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Northern Rhone Tour Day 4: Allemand

#115 Post by Chris Tyler » May 15th, 2016, 9:48 am

Alan, this is an amazing thread. I learned a lot, and the pictures are the best part. Thanks so much for taking the time to post everything here!
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Northern Rhone Tour Day 5: Grand tasting lunch

#116 Post by Alan Rath » May 17th, 2016, 9:35 pm

Friday was dedicated to giving the California producers a chance to share their wines and methodology with all of the Rhone producers, who gathered together in Tain, first for a seminar-style tasting of the wines, then a group lunch. Cave de Tain owns a small conference and restaurant facility just outside of town, and generously provided the facility for the day. It was quite something to see almost all of the producers (and a few additions) together in one room. Many of them knew each other, but there were a number of new introductions.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I think there is a lot of misconception in France about the wines of California, its vineyards and winemaking methods. I felt that this encounter went a long way toward fulfilling Paul and John's vision (and a big purpose of the trip) of bringing better understanding that both groups face many of the same challenges, and use many of the same methods in farming and winemaking.

For this post, I have mostly just the photos to share. Each of the California producers poured wines they had brought over, then talked about their region, vineyards, winemaking methods, and particular challenges. In a way, it was a bit of a macrocosm of the tour we had just done, with Drew and Halcon at one extreme in cool Mendocino, Big Basin in the Santa Cruz mountains, then Ojai and Jaffurs down south in and near Santa Barbara. All with their unique soils and climates. Something actually clicked with me as I was listening to the various presentations (that we all know, but maybe don't think about so much): California vineyards, at least west of the central valley, are all influenced strongly by the ups and downs of maritime effects; while Rhone and Burgundy are continental, isolated from those maritime influences. Everyone looks at California and says "it's easy to grow fruit there", but I think the whims of maritime climate from month to month and year to year can be just as challenging in it own way as the continental climate.

The Rhone producers were very attentive, asked good questions, and there was some nice discussion (translated by John) back and forth.

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Fief de Gambert conference facility

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California wine lineup

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Jason Drew

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Drew wines
2014 Drew Syrah Valenti Ranch - very fresh, dried cherry, nice mouthwatering tartness, fine structure
2011 Drew Syrah Valenti Ranch - medium dried cherry, good acidity, bit of tartness, quite nice in a difficult vintage
(all the notes in this post are just my own impressions)

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Adam, Xavier Frouin and Xavier Gomart of Cave de Tain, Bradley, Olivier Clape

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Jean Gonon, Jean-Paul Jamet, Matt Brady

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Loic Jamet, Dominique Perret, Marc Sorrel, Paul and Jackie Gordon

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Paul Gordon talking about Halcon vineyards and wines

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Halcon wines
2011 Halcon Syrah Alturas - nice medium depth, dried cherry, black cherry, good acidity, very nice
2013 Halcon Syrah Alturas - very pretty medium cherry, dried cherry, nice acidity, very slight tartness, fine tannins, bit of grip and mineral on the finish

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Bradley Brown of Big Basin

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Big Basin wines
2011 Big Basin Syrah Old Corral
2013 Big Basin Syrah Old Corral
2005 Big Basin Syrah Rattlesnake Rock - This was a fun one to taste. I have notes from tasting this at Family Winemakers back in 2007: deep, dark fruit, great flavor complexities, a bit heavy on the oak (at 100%, no surprise), but the wine manages to carry it; and 2008: violet/blueberry nose; gorgeous, rich, soft, good balance, shows some nice cool climate character, touch of oak though that has faded somewhat from last year. And now the wine has evolved nicely, showing good depth, excellent acidity, more elegant than I expected from having tasted it young. Quite nice.

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Andre Perret and Pierre Clape

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Paul sharing temperature graphs of Halcon and Cote Rotie with Loic Jamet

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Jason and Adam pouring wines

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Bradley, Olivier Clape, Pierre Gonon

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Matt Brady of Jaffurs

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Jaffurs wines
2012 Jaffurs Syrah Larnar - medium rich dark cherry, violet. good acidity, light tannins
2000 Jaffurs Syrah Bien Nacido - a riper, more lush style, good balance

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Jean Gonon and Jean-Paul Jamet

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Adam Tolmach of Ojai Vineyards

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Ojai wines
2013 Ojai Syrah John Sebastiano
2010 Ojai Syrah Bien Nacido - Very nice deep, dark cherry, good balance
2009 Ojai Syrah Solomon Hills Vyd - Bit more lushness than the BN, quite rich, with good balance

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John Livingston helping with translation and discussion

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Xavier Frouin showing Cave de Tain wines


Finished with the presentations and tastings by all the California producers, we headed downstairs to lunch in the very nice Maison Gambert restaurant.

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Lunch first course

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I didn't take notes on this, but man was this good. Kept coming back to it.

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Lunch second course - goat ribs

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Magnum of uncertain Clape Cornas. They thought it was 1990, maybe 1988. Either way, stellar wine, med intense red cherry, still very young but nicely resolved, shows no real signs of age

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2001 Sorrel Hermitage Greal. Didn't take notes, but I remember this being good.

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Jamet photo-bombing Gonon.
2014 Gonon Saint-Joseph, lovely crushed berry rock nose, medium full body, dark slightly savory raspberry/cherry/violet, lean and sinewy, hint of mouthwatering tartness. Outstanding, particularly for the vintage.

There were numerous other wines, but my only other notes were
2012 Clape Cornas - dark garnet, rich, round black cherry, blackberry, lush with great structure, forward and opulent, typical 2012
2000 Jamet Cote Rotie - beautiful savory leather nose, nice elegant medium cherry, excellent structure, gorgeous wine

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Jean-Paul Jamet

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Jason and Jean-Paul

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Some bottles that I brought over to contribute to lunch
1994 Dehlinger Estate Syrah - dark color almost no bricking, rich medium dark fruit, good intensity dark cherry, excellent depth, rich but nicely controlled, good acidity, still quite youthful
1998 Lagier Meredith Syrah had a cork problem, crumbling a bit and dropping some into the bottle. I tried filtering it through some mesh, sampled the wine and thought it was quite nice, but it later turned out to be corked. Sad, this would have fit in nicely with the Rhones.
2013 Peay Les Titans Syrah - floral violet nose, deep boysenberry/violet fruit, great acidity, fine tannins.

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John thanking everyone for the week

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Bradley speaking for the California group

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After a morning of wine, and more at lunch...

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Afternoon break on the hotel patio. There are wines un-drunk, that must be rectified.

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Last edited by Alan Rath on May 18th, 2016, 9:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Northern Rhone Tour Day 5: Grand tasting lunch

#117 Post by Rama Roberts » May 17th, 2016, 10:01 pm

I love how Jean-Paul Jamet finally softened in one of the last photos.

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#118 Post by Matt Mauldin » May 17th, 2016, 10:06 pm

What a fantastic ending to what looks like a sensational week!
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Northern Rhone Tour Day 5: Grand tasting lunch

#119 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » May 18th, 2016, 5:18 am

Rama Roberts wrote:I love how Jean-Paul Jamet finally softened in one of the last photos.
AWESOME. Immediately thought the same thing. Those final pictures were great.

Can I have a vote to immortalize Alan as a Berserker Great from hence forth? This has been one of the finest, most enjoyable threads that I have ever seen on this Board. Thank you, Alan, for all the time and effort to post this level of detail and pictures.

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#120 Post by Craig G » May 18th, 2016, 6:34 am

Robert Alfert, Jr. wrote:Can I have a vote to immortalize Alan as a Berserker Great from hence forth?
No, sorry. There's that Caymus thing. More than one lifetime of penance.
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Northern Rhone Tour Day 5: Grand tasting lunch

#121 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » May 18th, 2016, 6:59 am

Craig G wrote:
Robert Alfert, Jr. wrote:Can I have a vote to immortalize Alan as a Berserker Great from hence forth?
No, sorry. There's that Caymus thing. More than one lifetime of penance.
Alan liked Caymus?

I thought I knew him. Must put on ignore.....

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Northern Rhone Tour Day 5: Grand tasting lunch

#122 Post by JPWilley » May 18th, 2016, 7:35 am

Robert Alfert, Jr. wrote:
Rama Roberts wrote:I love how Jean-Paul Jamet finally softened in one of the last photos.
AWESOME. Immediately thought the same thing. Those final pictures were great.

Can I have a vote to immortalize Alan as a Berserker Great from hence forth? This has been one of the finest, most enjoyable threads that I have ever seen on this Board. Thank you, Alan, for all the time and effort to post this level of detail and pictures.
+ a whole hell of a lot. Thanks for the travel log. [cheers.gif]
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Northern Rhone Tour Day 5: Grand tasting lunch

#123 Post by Gerhard P. » May 18th, 2016, 7:54 am

Very lovely ... especially to see some French wine-makers I know well enjoying the tasting ...
Thanks!
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Northern Rhone Tour Day 5: Grand tasting lunch

#124 Post by Alan Rath » May 18th, 2016, 1:46 pm

Robert Alfert, Jr. wrote:
Craig G wrote:
Robert Alfert, Jr. wrote:Can I have a vote to immortalize Alan as a Berserker Great from hence forth?
No, sorry. There's that Caymus thing. More than one lifetime of penance.
Alan liked Caymus? I thought I knew him. Must put on ignore.....
You mean this one? [bow.gif]

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Northern Rhone Tour Day 5: Grand tasting lunch

#125 Post by Alan Rath » May 18th, 2016, 1:49 pm

Rama Roberts wrote:I love how Jean-Paul Jamet finally softened in one of the last photos.
As I mentioned earlier, John warned me he's a tough photog subject. Maybe doesn't come across as well in photos, but he's a really nice guy, quite jovial and friendly. I was across from him at lunch (one reason I have more photos of him), with Andre Perret to my left. Andre and Jean-Paul are close friends, and those two bantered back and forth like Berserkers all lunch. Jean-Paul kept toasting Andre as the "King of Viognier".

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#126 Post by Alan Rath » May 18th, 2016, 1:58 pm

Robert Alfert, Jr. wrote:This has been one of the finest, most enjoyable threads that I have ever seen on this Board. Thank you, Alan, for all the time and effort to post this level of detail and pictures.
Hey, I appreciate that, and am glad folks have enjoyed all the pictures. But once again let me make sure that everyone knows this trip wasn't my doing, I was just a spectator. I appreciate the kudos as the guy who is posting about it, but the real credit and thanks goes to Paul Gordon for his persistence and effort in working with John to make it happen, and organizing the participants on this end. And to all the other participants for making it such a great group trip.

I will take credit for being one of the drivers each day, so not driving a car load of California winemakers off a Cote Rotie hairpin turn [wow.gif]

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Northern Rhone Tour Day 5: Grand tasting lunch

#127 Post by Peter Kleban » May 18th, 2016, 2:12 pm

Alan Rath wrote:
Rama Roberts wrote:I love how Jean-Paul Jamet finally softened in one of the last photos.
As I mentioned earlier, John warned me he's a tough photog subject. Maybe doesn't come across as well in photos, but he's a really nice guy, quite jovial and friendly. I was across from him at lunch (one reason I have more photos of him), with Andre Perret to my left. Andre and Jean-Paul are close friends, and those two bantered back and forth like Berserkers all lunch. Jean-Paul kept toasting Andre as the "King of Viognier".
Yes, what a nice touch! The combination of seriousness and joy is really moving, and it shows in lots of places in this thread as well as that photo. Thanks again, Alan, you've done us great service!
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Northern Rhone Tour Day 5: This is the end

#128 Post by Alan Rath » May 19th, 2016, 7:21 pm

Friday afternoon was for chilling out (literally, as it was under 50 and rainy by late afternoon), wine and Valrhona chocolate shopping, and for crazy Adam a hike across the Rhone, up past the little Tournon tower in the rain.

Our last dinner was again in Tournon at wine bar/restaurant Carafes en Folie, 56 avenue Maréchal Foch. Cool, somewhat eclectic casual place, some interesting wines, all pretty affordable, and good bistro food.

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Adam is up there somewhere above the tower

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Matt, Bradley, Adam

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Paul, Jackie, Matt. Jason was next to me, unfortunately I don't have any pictures of him at this dinner.

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2012 Dard & Ribo Saint Joseph (sorry, no notes)

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2005 Clusel-Roch Cote Rotie (sorry, no notes)

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2007 Graillot Crozes Hermitage "La Guiraude" has fabulous deep red boysenberry and pomegranate fruit, laser acidity, great intensity. An absolute winner of a Crozes in a less acclaimed vintage.

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Braised lamb shoulder

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Adam and John

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These two bottles were pulled from his cellar by Thierry Allemand the day before for our dinner tonight.
2010 Allemand Cornas Chaillot - quite dark, not quite opaque, medium depth blackberry fruit just a touch of a higher toned blueberry streak, nice but round acidity, full but at this young age tannic mouth feel. Very nice, though the blueberry streak is a little unusual for Allemand.
2010 Allemand Cornas Reynard - deep dark ruby, powerfully reserved depth of black fruit, streaks of boysenberry, tar, strong tannins, lasting finish. Fabulous.

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Decorative Barrel

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A couple at the bar was drinking this, recognized John, and sent over about 1/4 of the bottle to share around our table.
1997 Henri Bonneau Chateauneuf du Pape "Cuvée Marie Beurrier" - medium light body, lighter ruby in color with a bit of bricking, lovely leafy/forest nose, nicely medium rich medium cherry palate, some leaf tea, a beautiful hard cherry candy note, dried earth, perfect acidity, touch of fine brown tea tannins. I don't drink much CdP, but I would drink this all day.

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Celebrating life

Thanks for following along [cheers.gif]

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Northern Rhone Tour Day 5: This is the end

#129 Post by John Preston » May 19th, 2016, 7:31 pm

Outstanding. Thanks again for the "trip" through your notes and photos...and allowing me a taste. Well done.

Cheers,
JP

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Northern Rhone Tour Day 5: This is the end

#130 Post by todd waldmann » May 19th, 2016, 8:06 pm

I haven't been visiting the board much and just found this thread. Yowza Alan! Sounds like a great trip and you have done a fantastic job of making it possible for the rest of us to share vicariously! Thanks.
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#131 Post by jflegler » May 19th, 2016, 8:24 pm

This is the end...beautiful friend. Good title and nice finale. Enjoyed following along.
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#132 Post by J Sullivan » May 19th, 2016, 10:32 pm

Alan, thank you for such an incredible thread. It's been one of the best I've read on this forum in a long while. Cheers!
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#133 Post by Andrew Christiansen » May 19th, 2016, 10:38 pm

Best.Post.Evah.

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#134 Post by D@ve D y r 0 f f » May 24th, 2016, 6:24 pm

Alan, this has taken me several reads over the past couple of weeks to get through and it was worth every minute. Add me to the list of "best thread ever" voters.

BTW, I made my first visit to Napa last week and while up at Lagier-Meredith, Carole fondly recalled a complete vertical they did with you...

Cheers,

Dave

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#135 Post by David Glasser » May 25th, 2016, 3:29 pm

Alan, what a fabulous, fun and informative travel/vinologue! I'll add my voice to those calling this the best thread ever. You have a real talent.

So with all the Allemand fans here... I'm a fan of N. Rhones but was late to the Allemand party, buying a few of the 2009 and 2010 Reynard a few years ago after reading Alfert et al's high praises. Any thoughts on their drinking windows?

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#136 Post by Mike Evans » May 25th, 2016, 7:40 pm

D@ve D y r 0 f f wrote:Alan, this has taken me several reads over the past couple of weeks to get through and it was worth every minute. Add me to the list of "best thread ever" voters.

BTW, I made my first visit to Napa last week and while up at Lagier-Meredith, Carole fondly recalled a complete vertical they did with you...

Cheers,

Dave
Dave, good to see your name online again, it's been a very long time.

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#137 Post by Tom K. » May 25th, 2016, 8:28 pm

Awesome tour and thanks for sharing!
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#138 Post by Alan Rath » May 25th, 2016, 9:02 pm

David Glasser wrote:So with all the Allemand fans here... I'm a fan of N. Rhones but was late to the Allemand party, buying a few of the 2009 and 2010 Reynard a few years ago after reading Alfert et al's high praises. Any thoughts on their drinking windows?
David, I learned a bit about the winemaking during the visit, notably that he doesn't rack the wines, and uses only old barrels. Which is consistent with my experience that the wines are very pure in their Syrah expression, almost with a rawness and intensity that you don't find in most other Syrahs. I don't think I've had a bottle older than 16-18 years, but I have yet to have one that I thought had even approached fully mature. OTOH, I have no problem popping younger wines like 2008 and 2011, which have so much energy, intensity, and youthful vibrance. I'd say that you could drink almost any vintage at any point. The one vintage I haven't ever tried is 2005, which I suspect is the most deep and brooding of this century. Otherwise, I wouldn't be afraid to open any other vintage almost any time.

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#139 Post by D@ve D y r 0 f f » May 25th, 2016, 9:20 pm

Mike, thanks for the kind note. I hope to pop in from time to time but I don't think time will permit posting as often as the old days, at least not anytime soon.

Alan, I'm curious about the lack of racking. A) Do any of the other folks you visited follow that practice? B) What does he or do you think that does for the wines? In my limited understanding, racking will introduce oxygen and remove solids with which the wine would otherwise have more contact. By avoiding this, what effects would one expect in the wine?

I do recall one of the producers I visited in Napa saying he racks less often than most (but not never). I think it was Roy Piper. Similar theories at work?

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#140 Post by Alan Rath » May 25th, 2016, 9:35 pm

Dave, let me first add great to see you around here, blast from the old WCWN days.

I'm no expert, and I hope Paul or other producers will chime in, but my understanding is that Syrah is notoriously prone to reduction, so usually racked at least once or twice during its life. Allemand uses very little sulfur, so maybe that is in part what "saves" him in terms of not racking. What does avoiding racking do to the wine? Good question, and again I'm not a winemaking expert. But I can relate an experience at the opposite end of the spectrum: Jasmin racks his wines multiple times. I don't know why but that's what I learned visiting there in 2007. And the Jasmin wines always seem to show (to my palate) a kind of faded, leathery character, which I've come to conclude is due to the exposure to air during multiple rackings. I distinctly remember tasting Jasmin's 2007 tank sample before it went to barrel (in November of 2007), and noting how vibrant and electric it was. Part of that may have been that it hadn't gone through malo yet, but I made a point of trying the bottled wine when it came out, and it was muted, blunted, bit faded and woody, having lost the freshness and explosive punch of that tank sample. Allemand's wines always seem to retain that energy and electricity, which I now attribute to both the lack of racking, and the avoidance of new oak.

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#141 Post by Tom Moore » May 26th, 2016, 6:54 am

Great travelogue Alan - really enjoyed the entire writeup. What did the local winemakers have to say about the Cali wines that you guys brought over? I know how the 2 different regions wines compare when drunk here - were they any different over there?

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#142 Post by Stewart Johnson » May 26th, 2016, 9:30 am

I seldom wade into threads that are already 3 pages long, on the assumption that they've already descended into acrimonious sniping, but this was well worthwhile.
The thing that jumps out to me is the aggressive cultivation on these crazy hillsides. I'm sure there is a solid rationale and "the proof is in the pudding" and all that, but that would be considered malpractice here and probably subject to fines in a county with a hillside ordinance. Beyond the erosion control issue, lots of growers here wouldn't consider the moonscape look conducive to healthy soil biology either. So, I would expect this engendered some Q&A amongst the vignerons. Anything you can report on this subject?
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#143 Post by Alan Rath » May 26th, 2016, 10:04 am

Tom Moore wrote:What did the local winemakers have to say about the Cali wines that you guys brought over? I know how the 2 different regions wines compare when drunk here - were they any different over there?
Tom, from the questions asked during the seminar tasting, and the diligence of the participants in sampling the wines and taking notes, it seemed to me they were impressed - maybe even a little surprised - with the California wines. It was really quite a nice spectrum of wines, in some ways showing more breadth and variation than we had sampled across the Rhone wines. But that's probably expected, given the variety of regions represented. At the end of the tasting seminar, John asked for informal feedback from each french producer, and I think all of the California wines had its proponents.

As I mentioned already earlier in my posts, it was pretty clear that a lot of the French producers had "interesting" notions about California vineyards and winemaking. I think a lot of eyes were opened about both throughout the week, and particularly on Friday when they had the chance to hear details about vineyards and methods from each California producer, and drink their wines.

At lunch I was sitting at the end of one of the tables, so wasn't involved in much conversation (Jamet not speaking much english). Maybe Paul, who sat at the other table, where there seemed to be more active sharing of the wines, will have some thoughts. For what it's worth, Jean Gonon seemed happy to have traded for a bottle of Halcon Syrah at the end of lunch [basic-smile.gif]

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#144 Post by Paul Gordon » May 26th, 2016, 1:01 pm

Stewart Johnson wrote:I seldom wade into threads that are already 3 pages long, on the assumption that they've already descended into acrimonious sniping, but this was well worthwhile.
The thing that jumps out to me is the aggressive cultivation on these crazy hillsides. I'm sure there is a solid rationale and "the proof is in the pudding" and all that, but that would be considered malpractice here and probably subject to fines in a county with a hillside ordinance. Beyond the erosion control issue, lots of growers here wouldn't consider the moonscape look conducive to healthy soil biology either. So, I would expect this engendered some Q&A amongst the vignerons. Anything you can report on this subject?
Stewart

Firstly I will comment that all the French producers we visited farmed organically (excluding some limited roundup use by Jamet). There was was universal condemnation of the blanket herbicide use (look at the pictures of the Levet vineyard on the first day for the "dead zone" effect).
All the French growers felt that plowing the soil was essential to reduce competition from grass/weeds. Obviously we are lucky in CA that our cover dies off in late spring. I am a little surprised that there is no experimentation (Texier excluded) with at least semi-permanent cover.
Btw. Good meeting you at the Garagiste tasting.
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#145 Post by Paul Gordon » May 29th, 2017, 4:37 pm

Just linking the follow-on blinding tasting thread (thanks again Alan):

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=140830&p=2279214&hi ... e#p2279214
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TN: 2003 Dumien Surette 'Patou' [Cornas]

#146 Post by Arv R » December 31st, 2017, 8:56 pm

Alan Rath wrote: Image
First vineyard stop, near the southern border of the Cornas appellation. This location is off the bottom of the vineyard map. We'll walk up into the Patou vineyard, looking south over Combe, the southern-most vineyard of Cornas.

Image

Image
On this New Years Eve, with a pot of fondue and a loaf of crusty bread, we had the 2003 Dumien Surette 'Patou' [Cornas]. It's a wine geek's wine. Medium bodied, with some fading at the edges, and a nose of salty caramel, barnyard/animals, and saddle. On the palate the tannin is mostly resolved, or at least with a fatty fondue its not noticeable, but once supper is gone, its apparent that this is on the sinewy, masculine side. Intriguing nose, but the palate is only 20-30 seconds, which given how dense the the year was for the AOC is only average. It's an interesting wine, probably best on its own. I'm surprised the wife asked for some, and enjoyed it. This seems to be a producer that is not mentioned here on WB, but it looks like Alan visited the vineyard last year. Rimmerman seems to have brought in the 2015 vintage, and I signed up for one of those, prior to popping this 2003. My hope is that 2015 will be better (and different) than the 2003's from the Northern end of the valley. I'd give this a B, maybe a B+ if you like distinctive flavors, even if they are not popular. The SO eventually decided it was too sauvage, and gave me the last splash from her goblet.
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TN: 2003 Dumien Surette 'Patou' [Cornas]

#147 Post by Russ Williams » January 1st, 2018, 1:49 pm

Arv R wrote:
Alan Rath wrote: Image
First vineyard stop, near the southern border of the Cornas appellation. This location is off the bottom of the vineyard map. We'll walk up into the Patou vineyard, looking south over Combe, the southern-most vineyard of Cornas.

Image

Image
On this New Years Eve, with a pot of fondue and a loaf of crusty bread, we had the 2003 Dumien Surette 'Patou' [Cornas]. It's a wine geek's wine. Medium bodied, with some fading at the edges, and a nose of salty caramel, barnyard/animals, and saddle. On the palate the tannin is mostly resolved, or at least with a fatty fondue its not noticeable, but once supper is gone, its apparent that this is on the sinewy, masculine side. Intriguing nose, but the palate is only 20-30 seconds, which given how dense the the year was for the AOC is only average. It's an interesting wine, probably best on its own. I'm surprised the wife asked for some, and enjoyed it. This seems to be a producer that is not mentioned here on WB, but it looks like Alan visited the vineyard last year. Rimmerman seems to have brought in the 2015 vintage, and I signed up for one of those, prior to popping this 2003. My hope is that 2015 will be better (and different) than the 2003's from the Northern end of the valley. I'd give this a B, maybe a B+ if you like distinctive flavors, even if they are not popular. The SO eventually decided it was too sauvage, and gave me the last splash from her goblet.
I have some of the ‘12 which I purchased from Fass Selections. I’ll probably wait a few more years to try one.
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#148 Post by Arv R » January 1st, 2018, 4:25 pm

This last glass of the 'Patou' vineyard has a crazy amount of sediment. Not as much as the old Gallo's, but up there.

I had not realized Lyle was all over the No. Rhone. My perception - from a long time ago - was that he was more of a German specialist. I'll poke over to the web site.
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#149 Post by Mark C Johnson » January 1st, 2018, 8:07 pm

I never get tired of reading through this thread.
Memes & Tropes

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#150 Post by Russ Williams » January 1st, 2018, 8:15 pm

Certainly one of the best WB threads.
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