Ecoutez s’il vous plait! The 2003s from Moulin de la Gardette have arrived! These Gigondas beauties from Jean-Baptiste Meunier have been on our list of favorites here at K&L for the last several vintages now, and boy are we stoked about the recent arrival of these Rhones from the very sunny and warm 2003 vintage. Meunier’s small domaine encompasses approximately 17.5 acres from clay and limestone soils located on both the terraced vineyards as well as the lower plateaus of Gigondas. The average vine age here is around 60 years, and from very low yields, Meunier crafts a range of powerful yet fine grenache-based reds. Are you curious about all of the hoopla over these wines? Then read on! The 2003 Moulin de la Gardette Gigondas “Tradition” ($18.99) is a lovely southern Rhone with super bright cherry notes, along with hints of sassafras, lavender and cocoa power. This southern Rhone posess very nice balance, with juicy fruit and medium-fine tannins that make the finish on this wine elegant rather than coarse and chewy. Crack open a bottle of the Tradition and enjoy with grilled chicken and fig sausages or a homemade wild mushroom pizza! Think of the 2003 Moulin de la Gardette Gigondas “Cuvee Ventabren” ($27.99) as the “Tradition’s” big brother, which hails from the estates oldest vines, some of them being nearly 100 years in age! Notes of Provencal garrigue and black olive come to mind, along with lush black cherry and boysenberry fruits. The “Ventabren” is a step up as far as depth, focus and age-worthiness are concerned. Best from 2008, or decant for a couple hours and enjoy with heartier fare like a grilled rib-eye steak slathered in black olive butter! Enjoy! —Mulan Chan
While you are hopefully reading this, my cohort in Southern Hemispheric interests, Shaun Green, will be on his way to South Africa for the first time. So, I’m going to share a couple of those wines with you now as I have a feeling he will be waxing poetic about the wines of South Africa upon his return. 2003 Fairview “Caldera” Swartland South Africa ($22.99) This wine is made by Charles Back, the man who produces Goats do Roam, the biggest selling South African wine in the States. With this effort, he has blended 47% grenache from 61-year-old bushvines with 29% mourvèdre and 24% shiraz. The grapes are hand sorted and fermented in open-top barrels and then basket pressed. The bouquet has notes of dusty raspberry, earth, red licorice, smoke and pepper. On the palate the wine has silky tannins with hints of cedar and chocolate. 2004 Glen Carlou Chardonnay Paarl South Africa ($12.99) The Glen Carlou Chardonnay has got to be one of the great bargains in the wine business. The wine is barrel aged for 10 months in assorted French oak with 5% of the final blend in American. The nose is bright and fresh with notes of citrus, spiced pear, apple, light toasty oak and nuts. All of these elements are enhanced by a Burgundian minerality and supported by fine acidity giving a juicy mouth feel with a long finish. I like to think of this wine as a mini Meursault, so take note Francophiles and give it a shot. Cheers! —Jimmy C
The yearly unveiling of Bordeaux’s new vintage at the Union des Grand Crus tasting on the West Coast is usually a pretty serious event. Serious concentration on the faces of the American tasters, many tasting the wines for the very first time, and taking serious notes. The Bordelais pouring the wines are also a bit intense as they listen politely to comments about their wines and wonder if people really understand them. This year was completely different with 2003 Bordeaux; it was a lovefest! Smiles abounded from everyone’s faces. The wines showed fabulous ripe fruit, rich textures, and they tasted great, which solidified the fact that this vintage will be legendary in America, without question the best-tasting high-quality young Bordeaux vintage since 1982. With this kind of appeal the assumption of course is that the wines will be very expensive, and this is true for the most famous estates in wine. But the reality is that there are also plenty of great wines and many are fine values. The 2003s are trickling in, and here are some of the early examples of these superb wines. 2003 Ch. Fontenil, Fronsac ($21.99) The estate is owned by the world’s most famous enologist Michel Rolland, so it is no surprise that it has huge amounts of sweet, ripe merlot fruit with nice backbone. Flat out delicious. 2003 Ch. Bernadotte, Haut-Médoc ($20.99, $42.99 1.5L) We call it baby Pichon-Lalande as it is owned and made by the great second growth. It captures the hallmark characteristics of Pichon: freshness, elegance, and in 2003 the ripeness brings the berry flavors to the forefront and raises the wine up to another level of quality. 2003 Ch. Reignac, Bordeaux Superior ($24.99) This estate went from bulk wine producer to being the superstar of all Bordeaux Superiores! Smoky berry fruit dominate, with hints of dark chocolate, not overdone or over extracted as it has been in some vintages, a real winner. 2003 Ch. La Couspaude, St-Emilion ($45.99) From the Aubert family in St-Emilion. If you love flashy, exotic, ripe merlot fruit and heavily scented new french oak, you will love this wine. Its bold character really reflects the need to be cellared for a few years, if you can stay away. Claire Villars brings generations of winemaking knowledge to her craft and could be the hottest winemaker in all of Bordeaux. She makes the wine at the smallest of all the classified growths, the 5,000 case production 3rd growth, Ch. Ferriere. The fruit in her 2003 Ch. Ferriere, Margaux ($28.99) is so attractive it’s almost tropical with hints of raspberry jam, soft and round in the mouth with silky tannins. Wow! Her Pauillac estate, 5th growth 2003 Haut-Bages-Liberal, Pauillac ($26.99), located next to Ch. Latour and Pichon Comtesse de Lalande is more masculine and firm, of course, but has good ripe, bright middle fruit and will drink earlier than most Pauillacs. The time is now to get on board with Claire’s wines before she gets too popular. Please feel free to contact me anytime with questions or advice on the wines of Bordeaux at ex 2723 or Ralph@klwines.com. Cheers and Go Giants! —Ralph Sands
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