2007 - 2009 Magie Rouge Cabernet Sauvignon | Luc and Jodie Morlet

Magie Rouge is a new project from Luc and Jodie Morlet, sourced from the Beckstoffer Missouri Hopper Vineyard. I tasted them at the estate with Luc in March along with the Morlet Spring releases and wrote reviews for all the wines that appear in volume 2.3 of pdwr.

All of the Magie Rouge are predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, 95 to 97 percent, blended with a dollop of Petite Verdot. They represent well crafted Cabernet Sauvignon and considering the rest of the playing field offer competitive value. 

2007 CABERNET SAUVIGNON, 15.2%, $125, 93 has a beautiful nose of complex currant, spice box and berry. The palate delivers an mélange of saturated black fruits, camphor and berry. Drink 2013 – 2019.

2008 CABERNET SAUVIGNON, 15%, $125, 91 has a nose that is lean, focused camphor, berry, carbon and olive. The palate is tightly wound yet still exhibits an attractive, elegant structure of red fruit and spice. Plenty of acidity. Drink 2014 – 2022.

2009 CABERNET SAUVIGNON, 15.2%, $125, 93 delivers aromas of copious, concentrated black fruits with an underlying lilac floral. The palate shows higher elements of camphor, coffee and blackberry. With air, the wine opens to reveal deeper and riper fruit complexity. Drink 2014 – 2022.

Wines are available at www.magierougewine.com 


2011 Ayres Pinot Noir, Estate, Pioneer

93 points

Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley, 300 cs. $44

Ayres, made by Brad McLeroy is one of my new discoveries from Oregon. The entire lineup of Pinot Noir received the coveted $V designation. Read about the entire Ayres lineup and 150+ more wines I tasted in Volume 2.2 of pdwr by subscribing at www.pdwr.co/registration

2011 PINOT NOIR PIONEER has a complex nose of forest floor, vanilla, spicy botanicals and orange liqueur with flashes of graphite. The palate is weighty, not giving much fruit expression initially. The mid-palate does express a bit more red berry, watermelon and bright acidity. This wine needs patience and will likely reward those who put away a few bottles now. Drink 2015 – 2022. www.ayresvineyard.com



wine of the week - 2009 Skylark Red Wine, Las Aves, Mendocino

92 points

2009 Skylark Red Wine, Las Aves, Mendocino County

14.9% alcohol, $26. | 200 cases | 42CS|25CG|25R|08GR

It seems like more and more, sommeliers are launching wine projects in California and most of those I have tried are at least solidly and thoughtfully made where they have a free hand to make small lots to emulate wines from classic regions of the world. A project I have followed for a number of years is Skylark, owned by a pair of sommeliers, John Lancaster, and Robert Perkins, who have worked together at Boulevard in San Francisco for over a decade. The pair launched the brand in 2002 vintage and have steadily grown a diversified portfolio of small-lot wines, primarily focused on their devotion to varieties grown in the Rhone, and Priorat with production on individual wines under 300 cases of each. Across the board, the wines are very solid. They even added a steel-fermented Chardonnay, called Alondra that is very pleasant in a variety of settings.

The Skylark offering that really jumped out at me was the Priorat-inspired blend, 2009 Las Aves, that even a week after evaluating still delivers some nice power. It shows a beautiful dense  nose of blackberry, sweet hay, dried currant and plum; firm and smooth. The palate combines sweet elements of berry with essences of dried plums that bring a lot of that old world-character the partners strive for after their ‘magical’ visit to one of the oldest Carignane vineyards in Priorat. An easy choice for a dependable and approachable red wine offering extreme value. Drink 2012 -2016. www.skylarkwine.com 


Wine of the Week - 2011 Eric|Kent Rose (Sonoma Coastavel?)

92 points

2011 Eric|Kent, a rose blend, Sonoma Coast

14.1% alcohol, $20|240 cases| 65PN|20GR|15SR

With the recent arrival of Spring, it is easy to imagine some delicious Rose wines just around the corner. One of the things I find about domestic examples is a lot of them are pretty good, but it is rare for one that gets compared with the likes of Tavel (See, I’m already thinking about the lunch at Hospice du Rhone next month! Earlier this week, I opened the box of samples from Eric Kent Winery, a producer who makes very solid wines, fairly priced and offer some of the most interesting artwork on the labels of any producer this side of Sine qua Non. 

The box contained a rose, as well as a pair of Chardonnay. My typical regimen is to taste all wines initially at room temperature where the whites will more easily show their flaws, if present. When I first opened the rose, I noticed it had a brilliant ruby color. Some dispute the notion that color means anything to a review however I appreciated the visual element very much. Comprised of 65% Pinot Noir, 20% Grenache, and 15% Syrah it shows solid aromas of red raspberry, strawberry and mineral. On the palate, cherry and strawberry present in a lush, round and ripe fashion. The structure of this wine is very attractive and serious, delivering pristine dryness while maintaining a vibrant aromatic and flavor experience. Dare I call it a Sonoma Coastavel? Chilling it masks to much of the special qualities this wine has. Twenty minutes in the refrigerator should be plenty. Stock up for Spring and summer. 



Wine of the Week | NV Austin Hope Troublemaker, Blend 3

85 points

NV Austin Hope, Troublemaker, Blend 3

Paso Robles, 14.5% alcohol, $18. 9900 cs. 55SR|20GR|20MV|05PS

This entry kicks off the official Wine of the Week for 2012 and it turns out a simple wine is all you need to make it through an equally simple midweek spaghetti/meatloaf/ roasted chicken kind of dinner. Austin Hope is a producer I am somewhat familiar with as they are always at Hospice du Rhone (HdR), in Paso Robles, yet I can’t recall ever sitting down with a sample of their wine. A single bottle arrived last week and it was ‘off the beam’ of what was going into issue two, so I saved it for later and popped it last night with some sesame chicken, and this little charmer fit the bill.

Troublemaker got its name after Austin, who was banished to do work in the vineyards as punishment when he was a kid. The only thing is, he enjoyed being around the vines. It is not known what type of escapades he cooked up that kept him out in the dirt but it was a great foundation for becoming a winemaker and he now oversees the Hope Family portfolio of five separate brands. Troublemaker is a non vintage blend of 40% 2009, and 60% 2010 that emphasizes optimal characteristics of both; complexity and vibrance. 

The nose shows initial tight raspberry notes opening with air offering some bright rhubarb, supple raspberry and textured graphite. The palate brings a pretty nice focus of some slightly sweet cherry, brambly raspberry and spice moving through the mid-palate. Considering the vast sea of sameness in this price point (and much higher production), Troublemaker stands out as a well conceived brand offering the consumer excellent value. I think this would be a good candidate for a Stelvin capsule closure. Drink 2012 - 2014. www.hopefamilywines.com 


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