Eric Solomon Spain and France Portfolio Tasting – 5/26/11

We are pleased to host Robbie Davis of Eric Solomon Selections who will present Spanish and French wines from Eric Solomon’s European Cellars portfolio.

The tasting is Thursday 5/26/11 from 5 pm to 7 pm.

About Eric Solomon

At age 24 Eric Solomon became one of the youngest Masters of Wine and the only American, at that time, to achieve that designation.  He has since gone on to be named Importer of the Year by Food and Wine magazine in 2006, the Hospice du Rhone’s Person of the Year in 2008 and was a nominee for the James Beard Award in 2009 for Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional.

Solomon champions small-producer wines that emphasize a sense of place rather than winemaking technique.  Ever since Eric Solomon founded European Cellars in his New York city living room in 1989 with just two Châteauneuf-du-Pape producers, he has adhered to a single bedrock principle: place over process. Solomon says, “The excitement of wine for me is in taking the purity and warmth the ground has given it and making that articulate.” In addition to those first two obscure (now famous) properties, Domaine de Marcoux and Domaine de la Janasse, Solomon is now working with over one hundred wineries in five countries. Solomon’s biggest score, in the early 1990s, was Clos Erasmus, from Spain’s then-unknown Priorat region. “I fell in love twice,” Solomon likes to say—first with the wine, which he helped launch into the stratosphere, and then with the winemaker, Daphne Glorian (now Mrs. Eric Solomon). He continues to champion native grapes (Spain’s new As Sortes white, made from Godello) and uncover superstars-in-the-making (South Africa’s Columella). “My customers sometimes look at me like I’m from Mars when I bring them obscure bottles,” he says cheerfully. But they know one thing: If Solomon found bottles on Mars, you would be able to taste the red soil in the wines.”

(from http://europeancellars.com)

Producers

France

Domaine Lafage (Côtes Catalanes)Although only in his thirties, Jean-Marc Lafage already has almost 15 years of worldclass winemaking behind him. One of the most sought-after winemakers of Europe at the moment, Jean-Marc lends his expertise with Southern European varietals to several top estates in both France and Spain (he makes Las Rocas Garnacha with Eric Solomon) and also in South America. However, his best work is perhaps at home at his estate in the hills of the Roussillon with his wife, also an accomplished winemaker.

Tirecul la Graviere (Monbazillac) - It was in the winter of 1992 that Claudie and Bruno Bilancini (a designer and oenologist couple by trade) had the extraordinary luck of being able to lease one of the top sites in Monbazillac, the Cru de Tirecul (one of the ancient premier cru sites in the AOC.) Even though the vineyard and small cave were in disrepair, they cared for it as if it were their own, and in 1997, realized their dream of owning the property. Now, Tirecul la Graviere is recognized as the top property of the AOC. The fame of Chateau Tirecul la Graviere has spread far and wide over the last several years. Most notably, Robert Parker has awarded the property two 100 point scores and compared it with Sauterne’s Chateau d’Yquem. With good acidity and a solid backbone, these wines can last for decades under optimal storage conditions, a rarity for wines from this area of Southwest France. These wines are magical, defining examples of the best that Monbazillac can offer and more.

Spain

Burgans Rias  (Baixas, Spain) - Burgans is made at the famous Bodega Martin Codax by Luciano Almoedo, perhaps the biggest advocate of the Albarino varietal in Spain. Luciano was extremely influential in obtaining worldwide recognition for not only the varietal, but also Rias-Baixas, where he was the founder and first leader of the AOC.. Today, the Bodega has grown considerably and is known as one of the most progressive in the zone.

Tomas Cusine (Costers del Segre) – After helping to lead the now famous Castell del Remei estate into the world spotlight, Tomas Cusine has headed off on his own with a new estate in the old historic village of El Vilosell. This very high altitude property (at 700-750 meters) is located in an area that has very dramatic temperature differences between night and day (often as much as 15C) and can easily be pronounced as having its own microclimate. Rainfall is rather low and almost non-existent in the summer.

Bodegas Castaño (Yecla) – Created by Ramon Castano Santa and his 3 sons, Bodegas Castano is not nearly as old as the vines it owns. Starting quite small, the family has nurtured these old plantings and re-planted other parcels and now owns 350 hectares (10% of the D.O.) of some of the prime vineyard land in Yecla. Today, Daniel Castano, one of Ramon’s sons, runs the winery with the help of other members of the family. Sustainable Farming

Taste

France
2009 Lafage Novellum Chardonnay This Chardonnay is aged on the lees of viognier from the estate. 100% Stainless steel ageing until April/May of the year after harvest. The vinification technique leads to a Chardonnay with exotic aromas of honeysuckle and peach. Year after year, the Novellum Chardonnay is lauded for being one of the best Chardonnay values on the United States market. $11 / bottle

2007 Chateau Tirecul la Graviere Les Pins 500ml 80% Semillon, 20% Muscadelle botryitized grapes, chalky soil, some French oak.  These wines can last for decades under optimal storage conditions, a rarity for wines from this area of Southwest France. These wines are magical, defining examples of the best that Monbazillac can offer and more.  $20 / bottle

2007 Lafage Cote Sud 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 20% Cab Sauvignon. As the varietals come from different parcels all around the Eastern and Central Roussillon, they are always vinified separately, and then blended before bottling. The reds can often show off a mineral component as Jean-Marc Lafage does not favor heavy extraction.  $12 / bottle

Spain
2009 Burgans Albariño 100% Albariño. Luciano Almoedo remains the winemaker at this prestigious estate, producing pure Albarino bottlings with lovely aromatics and precision. The use of wood is definitively eschewed at the Bodega in order to preserve the natural lift and minerality of the grapes. As such, the wines are fer- mented and aged in stainless steel with light lees stirring.  90pts Wine Advocate – “The 2009 Albarino is light gold-colored with a lovely bouquet of white flowers, hazelnut, peach pit, and mineral. On the palate it is surprisingly complex for its bargain price with a viscosity bordering on opulence. If you enjoy Albarino, this is one to buy by the case.”— Jay Miller, Wine Advocate.  $14 / bottle

2008 Cusine El Vilosell 62% Tempranillo, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 3% Garnacha, and 3% Carinena. “Inky ruby. Deep, powerfully scented aromas of cherry and cassis complicated by espresso and smoked meat. A hint of cracked pepper adds vibrancy to the deep, chewy dark fruit flavors, with dusty tannins adding grip. Becomes sweeter and more energetic with air, finishing on an attractive note of blackberry, with good smoky persistence.” – Josh Raynolds, Tanzer  $17 / bottle,

2009 Castaño Monastrell 100% Monastrell. 6-8 months in tank and barrel 88 points Tanzer’s IWC, 88pts Wine Advocate “Spicy red currant and cherry aromas are complicated by notes of dried flowers and licorice. Firm and precise in the mouth, offering lively red berry flavors and a hint of bitter cherry pit. Gains sweetness with air and finishes with very good clarity and spicy persistence. These vines are reportedly planted at almost 800 meters altitude. This is a ridiculous value.”— Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, Nov/Dec 10 $10 / bottle.

Happy Hour

All of our Thursday tastings occur during Happy Hour. We have $4 glass pours and $4 food items. There is never a corkage fee on bottles purchased in our store. ($20 value or greater)