Monthly Archives: January 2013

Domaine Chante Cigale: 2004 Chateauneuf-Du-Pape


labelAlfio Moriconi Selection Domaine Chante Cigale:  2004 Chateauneuf-Du-Pape

Following through on one of my two official new year resolutions for 2013, I am doing my best not to hoard good wines for future imbibing but enjoying them in the present.

After enjoying and writing about California’s Chappallet Cabernet Sauvignon in my last post we cross the ocean to France and their Chateauneuf-Du-Pape appellation.  I must admit that this wine has probably been sitting in our cellar for over a year and although aging befits this type of wine it most definitely falls into my STOP HOARDING category. A lovely gift from dear wine loving friends and neighbors, it was an easy decision when considering my ENJOY NOW choices.

Interesting notes about this wine that I discovered:

-The Domaine Chante Cigale has been in family ownership since the 19th century.

-“Chante” means singing, and “cigale” is cicada.

-The domaine owns 40 hectares of planting area for red grapes and  5 hectares for green [or white] grapes.

-Chateauneuf-Du-Pape means New Castle of the Pope, dating back to the 14th century and referring to Pope Clement V.

-This appellation allows an unusual long list of grape varietals, thirteen with as many as 18 listed in the AOC documentation.

-Up until the 1920’s wines from Chateauneuf-Du-Pape were blended with others from the general area of Avignon.  Between 1929 and 1936 Chateauneuf-Du-Pape became one of France’s first official appellations for wine.

An Alfio Moriconi Selection?

Some of you may have noted this designation on the label and or description. At first I couldn’t find much information or reference to Mr. Moriconi at Chante Cigale but as it turns out Alfio Moriconi  is the Vice President of European Wine Sales & Imports at Total Wine.  His selections are at times noted on the label itself not only because of the large quantities of wine they buy from producers but also to  draw attention to the implied quality of his choices.  To some degree I see it as a way of private labeling their products and making them available as such only through Total Wine. Pretty good marketing idea when you have that kind of buying power if you ask me.

My notes:

This blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, 10% Cinsault was a rich dark burgundy color with some brown when decanted.  I was concerned at first because the upper part of the cork practically crumbled at opening due to its dryness, but luckily the lower half stayed together and was a beautiful moist sight to see as it was pulled from the bottle.  On the nose I noted this Chateauneuf-Du-Pape was; delicate dark fruit forward and listed examples of fig and guava which may have to do with my tropical background. Spicy and fruity combined. On the palate I detected a tawny dark fruit taste, a bold wine with leather, pepper and herbs coming through and little wood.

At 40 minutes I noted this wine had become much smoother with fruit becoming somewhat more delicate and distinguishable. At the 60 minute mark the fruit had come forward even more so with spiciness appreciated on the lingering finish.  My last observation on this wine came at the 90 minute mark when I noted: OPEN! And yes in capitals with an exclamation mark 🙂  I can see this medium bodied wine easily being decanted for an hour before being served to better appreciate its various flavors and smooth tannins.

We thoroughly enjoyed this wine and now I find myself thinking of a reason to invite our neighbors over again. Not that we need one really since we love sharing new wine discoveries every chance we get. CHEERS to wine loving friends everywhere and ¡SALUD!

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CHAPPELLET 2009 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon – SignatureSeries


CHAPPELLET  2009 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon –

Signature Series


Last year, well actually the end of 2011, we ended the year with a bang. Not having the opportunity to do the same for 2012 due to my holiday retail schedule,  I decided to instead begin the new year in such fashion.

What a wonderful way to start 2013.  Beginning the new year this way also fits right in with one of my New Years resolutions; I will not hoard nice wines!  They are, for the most part, to be enjoyed in the present and not at some future special occasion that never seems to arrive.

Two days into 2013 I seem to be succeeding because this wonderful wine was a recent Christmas present from my oldest friend. Well, he is old but I actually mean I’ve known him a long time 🙂 A wine lover himself we started talking about taking wine classes a very long time ago.

This 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of: 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Malbec, 9% Merlot and 4% PetitVerdot. Wine Advocate rated it at 93 Points and had the following to say about it; The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Signature is another striking wine. The 2009 doesn’t have the bombastic fruit of the 2010, instead, it stands out for the silkiness of its tannin and pure length. The 2009 Signature is classy and refined from the very first taste. All the elements are beautifully in place in this mid-weight Cabernet. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2029.

Their anticipated maturity of 2017-2029 does not of course fit in with my New Years resolution but I am here to tell that this wine is delicious today. Having enjoyed it as much as we did I may have to invest in a bottle for later consumption under the guise of research to avoid my so-called New Years resolution 🙂 That said, at $50.00 a pop some [including myself] may think twice about popping this baby open on a weeknight. With 7,500 cases produced it is truly
worthy of being enjoyed on any night and yes it is worth its value should you be in the market for a wine in this price range.

“Oh my….” yes I actually wrote down Oh my… on my tasting sheet. Below are my notes:

Beautiful rich dark garnet in color as I poured into my wine glass. In the decanter it was more of dark purple-black shade. On the nose; dark fruit including black currant/casis, prune, plum and cherry. Also oak and some cedar which may actually have been tobacco or cigar box. Beyond my very favorable oh my… reaction I found this Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon to be smooth and flavorful. With fruit and wood very well-balanced. Tannins not heavy on the tongue but yet all-encompassing.

At 20 minutes I detected not much change in the nose but the wine becoming more fruit forward on the palate. As it continued to open, very nicely I might add, an earthy quality started to develop. One I defined as peppery at 45 minutes.

Wine Spectator rated this wine at 90 points and as mentioned before Wine Advocate came in at 93 points. I would have to agree with their reviews not only of this wine but of the exceptional 2009 Napa vintage. I am now intrigued to try their 2010 to compare. Christmas 2013 is just around the corner…. I’ll have to put it on my list!  ¡SALUD!

Wine Spectator Editor’s Note:
Dense and a touch rustic,
with chewy tannins, crushed rock, dried berry, sage and savory
flavors. Maintains its firm, tight focus and appears built for the
long haul. Best from 2013 through 2027. Winemaker
tasting notes:
This wine offers all of the color, concentration and complexity of a classic Cabernet Sauvignon from Pritchard Hill. The nose displays, rich, vivid layers of dark berry, cherry, and sweet oak, underscored by background notes of bay leaf, sage, chocolate and anise. The mouthfeel is powerful, yet rounded, with a silky presence that allows the wine to gracefully support its size, and its voluptuous ripe cherry, berry and plum flavors. Spicy oak notes of cinnamon, vanilla and roasted coffee add nuance and depth, while youthful tannins give a fine grip to the palate providing the structure for long-term aging.

Information from Chappellet: The wine
The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon has been our flagship wine for
more than three decades. It is a benchmark for the long-lived
hillside wines of the Napa Valley; full of structure and ageing
potential, yet seductively forward in its concentrated varietal
character. The dry, rocky soils of Pritchard Hill produce small,
intensely flavorful grapes. Crop thinning allows for full, even
ripening and further elevates flavor complexity.
Winery information It’s been 45 years since Donn and Molly Chappellet fell in love with the rolling hills overlooking Napa’s Lake Hennessey. In 1967 they set up shop on Pritchard Hill inspired to craft age-worthy, and noteworthy, wines. Taking to heart the advice of André Tchelistcheff, they became among the first to exclusively plant on high-elevation slopes. Seems that André’s training and instinct has served the wine world well as the rugged terroir of this location lends an intensity and depth to the finished wines. The generous legacy started by Donn and Molly now includes the second generation of Chappellets – all six children have a hand in continuing what their parents started. Their preservation efforts – from
composting, to solar energy to water conservation and organic
farming – are “embracing the romance of Pritchard Hill” and
ensuring it, and the exemplary wines they produce, will be around
for many generations to come.