Decanted for 90 minutes prior to drinking. Still had some fruit on the nose with a bit of funk and acetone that blew off by the time we drank the first glass. Chewy with a lot of tannins, but I didn't get the complexity I was expecting. Not a bad bottle of wine, but not great. I have two more bottles that I will drink up soon - this is probably peaking right about now.
Tasted second night after it was opened. Cloudy ruby. Floral, kirsch-like aroma. Succulent, mouthcoating feel. Just a hint of overripeness, but this quickly yields to chocolatey tones, bark, brown spice and tobacco. Long, chewy finish. Pretty remarkable for 10 year old Gigondas-exceptional complexity.
Hearty and full-bodied, especially for a 10 year old wine. Tannins were bold and it tasted a little hot, more so than I would have liked. Still, it worked very well with grilled lamb. Flavors of menthol, raisin, tobacco, herbs, and plums. Very nice in its context.
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I drank this wine for the third time last night and it reminded me of my first encounter last summer - a wine like this embodies our commitment to the best the wine-world has to offer without inducing a second mortgage.
Maybe it was the small Italian water glass I drank this out of that made it so memorable (over three nights) or the fact that the aromatics were still so lovely without a wine stem in sight. The bottle rattled around in the back of my broken-down Lancia for almost a week before I decided to let the magic out of the (admittedly) warm bottle. Shaken and stirred (much to the dismay of 007) I never intended to offer this so it was not a priority. On the other hand, I always wish to to be polite to those that offer me a look into their vinous world, so, on a rainy Monday afternoon I grew tired of seeing it in the back seat - the cork was pulled and boy was I surprised. This wine is one on the more memorable under $20 Grenache-based 2003's and (with four years in the bottle) it's drinking superbly right now.
If you adore the kirsch-laced wine of Chëteauneuf-du-Pape circa 1990 (Brunel's 1990 Cuvee Centenaire comes to mind as one of the purest kirsch aromatics I've ever encountered) but wish to pay this price instead of $30-50, this is an excellent place to start.
When they chose the site for their winery in the high elevation of the newly anointed La Caunette, it may have actually been too cold. It took a vintage like 2003 to elevate the Loriza to normal levels (scary) - in excellent vintages such as 2001 and 2005, the Loriza is quite good but in a heat-wave year, it's an amazing wine. Low in alcohol (only 13.0-13.5%) and brimming with gorgeous perfume and extract, this wine will captivate from the get-go. I can't compare this to any other wine in Minervois - it is elegant, medium bodied and never tries to bowl you over the head with anything except it's charming style. A beautiful wine with a haunting kirsch-filled bouquet that lasted (open, with just the cork pushed back in) for three nights in the back seat - now that's promise.
This winery was just cited by the Revue du Vins de France as one of the top few in all of Minervois and it's easy to see why (it's also interesting to note that other vintages are readily available but not the 2003 - I'm not the only one that has caught on).
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for terrific value and unique aromatic complexity:
2003 Khalkhal-Pamies "Loriza" (Minervois)
...at the request of some of our Rhone enthusiasts, we also have a perfect parcel of 2004 Les Pallieres Gigondas at a great price - what should be one of the lowest in the world:
(Domaine Les Pallières Gigondas) A lovely, rich colour. Surprisingly a slightly hot, baked note to the fruit, and a touch of confection, although it still has that unmistakeable black cherry Grenache character. A rather svelte texture on the palate, with a lot of tannin but a very good style. It has the softness of youth but good grip beneath, and fresh acidity. This has good potential, but I hope the sweet confection - a not particularly appealing character which results in a note of caution in my score - fades with time.