1983 Domaine Tempier Bandol–Over the years, Domaine Tempier & its wines, in my humble opinion, stood heads & heals over anything else from southern France. Plus, they work so well with the regional foods of the area, which makes sense, since Tempier matriarch Lulu Peyraud is & has been the “face” for Provencal foods around the world essentially her whole life. Yes, it is so easy to get caught up in the romantic tale of the iconic Peyraud family & their story. Still, the wines can have magic, beyond stories. Many detractors, however, will talk about the frequent flaws found in Tempier Bandol wines. The wines’ frequent brettanomyces presence, for instance, was quite distracting for me on many occasions. (some would say poor cooperage). So was the uneven quality I often experienced from bottle to bottle. Still, when the wine was “on”, it truly was like no other. Interestingly, the 1983 was really one of their first Bandol red wines that I really “got it”. Because of this “revelation”, I remember sharing a bottle of the ’83 with a quartet of very respected winemakers & a herd of top sommeliers back in the 90’s. I also remember getting a barage of “holier than thou” reactions in response to the wine’s obvious brett character. I was really moved to hear on that same night the great Andre Ostertag’s response to his American counterparts. In short, he stated something along the lines of–“I don’t completely understand your comments. Would I make a wine like this? No! This, however, is a wine from a family & much about their sense of place, their culture & their heritage. And, this wine has soul!” I totally agreed with him. The “hook” for me is the wine’s innate soulful-ness. & the Tempier Bandols can capture soulfulness like few other wineries can. Since then, I have been fortunate to taste the ’83 a number of more times over the years. One of the most memorable was celebrating one of my wife’s big birthdays a few years back. On that night, I was enthralled with the wine’s freshness in its core, despite the 31 years of bottle age. Yes, it had some kind of refreshing raspberry essence which peeked through the wildly scented, feral, smoke, gamey, earth driven qualities the wine is most famous for. In comparison, on this night, although this bottle showed quite well, I am not sure if I had any more that I would hold on to it much longer. (As a side note, there were many questions about the “#25” colored in red on this bottle’s label in the upper quarter of the right corner. Apparently, there are some internet wine sites offering this wine for auction as Domaine Tempier “Lot 25”. Just FYI, in checking, we received word from both Kermit Lynch & the Peyraud family, they have no knowledge of where the #25 came from or why).
1995 Rostaing Cote Rotie “La Landonne”–Boy, did this wine show beautifully on this night & clearly reminded me of the innate greatness, class & grandeur the Cote Rotie hillside has. Talk about having a wine at a perfect time of its life! I would further add this was without a doubt the finest bottling I have had from this venerable estate. I clearly remember visiting this young domaine in 1991 & seeing lots of high tech equipment & lots of new barrels in rows upon rows. I really felt like I was touring a Californian winery. I left somewhat saddened because I had previously visited Rostaing’s uncle, Marius Gentaz (a traditionalist & certainly one of the greatest Syrah producers of all time), the visit before & had found out that Rostaing (a modernist) would be taking over Marius’s treasured, old vine holdings. I wondered to myself, what would happen to the glorious, beguiling Syrah that once was? Part of my answer was evident tasting this 1995, 25 years old. This was top notch Cote Rotie! Much more modern in style than his uncle’s, but still so majestic, compelling & grand, in a very masculine though refined way. The once obvious oak is now superbly well integrated & really helps to frame the solid core of meaty, smoky, leathery, earth driven character. Thank you John for sharing!
2001 Quintarelli Cabernet “Alzero”–Giuseppe Quintarelli was one of the true iconic wine figures on the world class stage. The wine world still mourns his passing. Here was a man whose “vision” was realized through passionate farming, meticulous grape selection, great detail, care & patience in the winery. His Amarones, therefore, were & are some of the most sought after, pricey wines out of Italy. Uniquely, he took a similar approach to produce his Alzero wine, using partially dried Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc & Merlot berries instead to produce this mega-intense, decadently thick, unctuous & powerful red. Alzero’s raw-ness is then somewhat tamed & harnessed by its 2 to 3 years aging in French oak & an additional 4 years in large Slavonian oak barrels. Although most wine drinkers are taken back by the perception of sweetness/port like qualities upon first taste, this is without a doubt a very unique & provocative red wine of epic proportions. And despite being 15 years old, this 2001 was unbelievably youthful & primary & therefore needs considerable more aging time in the bottle. Thank you Leland for sharing.