Once again JD fills in for the Goddess of Wine, this time at the Return to Terroir Portfolio tasting at République, the former Campanile.
About this event:
This was stated as “the only comprehensive portfolio tasting of the year to sample producers and regions spanning our entire portfolio.“
About the company:
Return to Terroir, owned by Raphael Knapp
- To import sustainably produced wines that are the precise expression of their terroir.
- To help preserve the history of native grapes and traditional winemaking regions and methods.
- To educate the trade and consumers by sharing our wines and the stories of our winemakers.
“Raphael visits France and Italy every 3 months in search of wines that are the precise expression of their terroir. Some are organic and/or biodynamic but all are 100% estate produced by (smaller) family-owned wineries. They tend to share similar characteristics: minimal use of oak, a restrained style, and focus on minerality and acidity. We feel lucky to work with all of our producers and to be able to share their hard work, history and traditions with you.”
The French and Italian wines were set up for self-tasting. I started with the French table which was arranged alphabetically by region with a mix of red and whites.
First to Beaujolais with a pair of Morgon Gamay’s, both lean with the 2010 a little more floral and fruity than the 2011.
Château Tire Pé Merlot - Lightly earthy, berry nose and mouth. Light tannins.
Château Haut Selve Graves Blanc - a nice mineral blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Sauvignon Gris.
Arnaud Combier Saint Veran “Mandeliers” - 100% Chardonnay, a very restrained approach.
Charles Dufour from Landreville, Côtes des Bars, Bulie de Comptoir #2, extra Brut NV of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. Pleasantly yeasty in nose and mouth.
Alexandre Bain Pouilly Fumé - Seemed a bit sour after tasting the Champagne. Would like to try it again by itself.
Clément Baraut Savenniéres “Le Pitrouillet” Chenin Blanc - I smelled toast and mushrooms.
Sébastian Brunet Vouvray Sec “Arpent”, also a 100% Chenin Blanc - Clean, minerally, citrus.
Château Tour Grise from Le Puy-Notre-Dame, Saumur - A tasty sparkling Chenin Blanc with an indefinable fruit taste that was delightful. Need to try some more of this at my leisure.
From the same area of Saumur there was Manoir de la Tête Rouge’s Saumur Bagatelle Cabernet Franc - Very subtle pencil shavings and mushroom nose and lean cherry taste.
Sébastien Riffault 2011 Sancerre Blanc “Les Quarterons” - with light fruit, tartness and a touch of guava perhaps.
This was followed by a 2009 “Akméniné" - an interesting blend of floral, musty earthiness.
Domaine Laurent Habrad Crozes-Hermitage Rouge Syrah - Earth and dry cherry.
Followed with a Blanc blend of 80% Marsanne/ 20% Rousanne.
Then a Saint Joseph Syrah with pine, dry leather and tart cherry.
A group of wines from La Bastide Saint Dominque, Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Côtes du Rhône Rouge, 80/20 Grenache/Syrah, dark color, leather nose, rich berry taste.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% each Mourvédre and Cinsault. A little lighter with tart berries.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge “Les Hesperides”, 2011 less nose , rich fruit. 2010 dry finish, slight cough syrup cherry.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge “Secrets de Pignan” 100% Grenache with some of those pine notes of earlier and a bright sharp cherry taste with a dry finish.
Mas del Perlé, Cahors. Malbec. 2012 ”Les Escures”, barnyard nose and nice dark berry taste.
“La Roque” similar nose but lighter fruit. This wine from 35 year old vines instead of the 25 year vines of the other and half of it spent time in neutral barrels. The other half and the Les Escure spent their 10 months in concrete.
Emilia-Romagna. Roberto Maestri, Quarticello from Montecchio Emilia.
Two Lambrusco Emilia IGT Frizzante blends. “Barbacane” 40% Lambrusco Maestri, 40% Lambrusco Salamino, 20% Malbo Gentile. Sharp and fizzy. 2012 “Neromaestri” 50% Lambrusco Maestri, 30% Lambrusco Gasparossa, 10% each Malbo Gentile and Ancellota. Slightly funky with some barnyard notes. 2011 version with fizzy fruit.
Malvasia Emilia IGT Frizzante “Despina” of 100% Malvasia Aromatica di Candia. Nose strange, not exactly barnyard but maybe something musty? Tasted clean but unusual fruit. Need more tasting of this to explore.
Piemonte. Punset from Nieve, Barbara d’Alba. Earth and leather nose, medium cherry/berry taste.
Toscana. Il Cerchio from Grossetto.
Ansonica, Cost dell’Argentario DOC blend of 90% Ansonica and 10% Vermentino. 2012: Lighter nose, sharp taste. 2011: melon, stone fruit, citrus late.
“Valmarina” Maremma DOC, 85% Sangiovese and 15% Alicante. Both the 2011 and 2010 rather tannic. They need food to go with them.
This concluded the self-pour section.
Willamette Valley, Oregon. Vincent Fritzsche, Vincent Wine Company of Portland. A California native who found winemaking inspiration in Oregon. Vincent poured four Pinot Noirs. A Willamette blend with cinnamon notes. Soft Ribbon Ridge and Eola-Amity Hills “Zenith Vineyard” and “Bjornson Vineyard” Pinots.
Lake County. Wei Chi, Big Valley. Luchsinger Vineyard Semillon with light fruit taste. Easy sipping.
Paso Robles. Ambyth Estate in the Templeton Gap.
“Priscus” white Rhone-style blend of Grenache Blanc, Rousanne, Marsanne and Viogner.
Amphora Rosé of Grenache, Mourvedre and Counoise.
Grenache, 100%, smooth, spicy and my favorite today of Phillip Hart’s wines.
Maiestas blend of Syrah/Grenache/Mourvedre and Counoise with a light earth nose and cola notes.
Playground, Mourvedre-based Rhone field blend including some white grapes. Some cola and many other flavors flitting through.
ReVera, a different balance of MGS & Counoise from the Maiestas.
Bailey Zinfandel, the only non-estate sourced grapes. A touch of spice. Phillip is able to create very soft wines without losing the flavors or edge. Bio-dynamic farmed, very hands (and feet) on.
The overall feel of this portfolio is of mostly softened wines, not just the European ones. There is very little harshness, even in wines made of certain grapes that can often be very intense. These were soft and generally flavorful at the same time, a very focused and hands-on group of wineries. I hope these wines all find good homes here.
And thanks again to JD for his coverage!