The next duo showcased one of my absolute favorite southern Rhone Valley red wines–Vacqueyras by Sang des Cailloux. Vacqueyras is one of the top villages in the region. Interestingly however, on my first professional visit to the village, I was astounded to see so many different soils, just in a span of 10 minutes of driving. The point being, so many different soils can mean so many different levels of quality. Sang des Cailloux (blood of stones, as it translates to be), however, is on a plateau with rounded river stones, similar to what one sees in the finest vineyards of the neighboring (& most famous) village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This is a brooding, wildly rustic, soulful beast. (Most modern winemakers wouldn’t like this wine, because of its techinical/often microbial flaws. I don’t care, however, as that just means more of this wine for me). I once served this wine with a spit charred, 31 day dried aged ribeye, served with a very savory bay leaf chimichurri & it was wine & food magic!!!!. Here we taste a 2013 versus a 2005, just to show what happens with bottle age. Most young sommeliers don’t have too many opportunities to taste wines with some age to them. So, here was an example.
The intent in this next flight was to taste a more classical styled Merlot based, more soil driven Right Bank Bordeaux (Chateau Gombaude Guillot) versus, what I think is a more winemaking driven Merlot based red from the same general area. Blind tasting in these kinds of situations can really give a clearer read on the wine differences because of no preconceived notions. In this case, I found, without a doubt, the Chateau Gombaude Guillot much more interesting of the 2 with loads of real soil character. These kinds of wines, sadly, are becoming harder & harder to find.
The next trio featured two 2000 Barolo–a more classical styled Cavallotto “Riserva” San Giuseppe….& a more seemingly moderned styled Fontanafredda “La Villa”. I think it is important as a sommelier to understand the difference between traditionally made & modern styled wines & these 2 wines clealry showcased that differrence. On a personal note, Iam also hoping that by understanding & therefore appreciating traditionally made wines better, this style will not fall by the wayside. The third wine, a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from La Valentina, shows a contrast between Nebbiolo & another one of Italy’s top tier indigenous grape varieties–Montepulciano, done in a much more modern style. I think tasters thankfully really got the jist.
We ended today’s tasting with 3 different vintages of Mourvedre based Bandol reds from Domaine Tempier. Small verticals like this can open discussions about how the wine changes with bottle age, can also change the foods one would recommend for each.
Yes……a VERY fun, hopefully insightful tasting. Again, thank you to all who came.