we drank this with a medium heavy lamb stew ... the cab held its own and really was a great compliment to the stew. the wine opened up with interesting fruit and complexity. my wife thought for sure it was napa cab ... it didn't have that characteristic walla walla touch (i agree) ... overall a very good bottle of wine and well worth the cost and cellar time it had
This is a very nice bottle of wine with a nose of dark fruit and earth. There are flavors of earth, tobacco, blueberry along with dark fruit. Good tannins, a nice dry mouth feel and a long finish. We picked up this bottle a few years ago at the winery, sorry now we only bought one.
Popped and poured, probably should have decanted given the copious amounts of sediment that the bottle threw. Deep red core with signs of bricking beginning to emerge on the edges. Primarily fruit aroma driven (pomegranate and cassis) unless a bunch of air is incorporated. Then the wine takes elements of a super rare steak that has been flash charred on the outside. Sweet pipe tobacco and poblano peppers. More cassis on the palate. The tannin has resolved nicely, leaving an elegant structure on the mouth feel. Still has bright acidity. Finish sticks with you for a minute or so. Would purchase again.
Maroon with a clear rim. Great aromatics showing red fruit and tobacco. Full bodied, but in no way heavy or flabby. The first sip through the mid palate stays consistent with the nose. Tart cherry, some leather and tobacco and even a touch of mint. Good acidity as well. There is a big problem for me on the finish of this wine. It starts with this beautiful nose and wonderful flavors and then the tannins take over. Dry, astringent and bitter. This is like getting a piece of grilled food and constantly finding a burned black part in your mouth. I'm not talking about some dryness taking over at the end in a subtle way, just a very clumsy transition from pleasant to bitter.
This is the first vintage from Rollat, and I am definitely interested to try out some later ones to see if this improved as the fruit component was quite nice.
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The harvest has come early and here we go again...
Below is a synopsis of comments from vintners all over France and their excitement is palpable over the 2009 vintage (similar results are expected in Spain and other countries as well). While it is far too early to make firm statements about quality, you will see below that we could be in for a number of potentially memorable wines on par with great years. We'll see.
That's what the Burgundians are comparing 2009 to at this juncture (in Beaujolais and in parts of the Cote d' Or) - Bordeaux is just as giddy - the Northern Rhone, greater Loire and Alsace are not far behind.
So much for 2005....and 2008 if you are the Bordelaise.
I remember writing about this scenario last year (with 2008 Bordeaux futures) that the Bordelaise had one shot to dump as much 2008 wine on the world market as they could and that was on 1st tranche. The "risk" of another Vintage of the Century in 2009 was too much to take with 2004, 2006, 2007 and the prospect of 2008 backing up in their cellars. They made the smart decision, lowered prices substantially, and sold a huge amount of wine that few thought they would - boy are they glad they did. With 2009 futures coming next spring, they will have a tough time giving 2008 away, no matter the ratings...unless the price disparity between vintages is so great (which I expect it will be), the consumer continues to perceive 2008 as a value. 2009, no matter how insanely expensive, will sell anyway. As more and more vintners tell me 2009 could be better than 2000 and 2005 (it seems to be a crazy combination of 1989 and 1982 with the modern depth and tannins of 2005), you can expect demand, prices and speculators (especially from Asia) to cause a huge rush to purchase on 1st and 2nd tranche - that does not bode well for those of us that actually want to drink the wines. As a side note, the more I try the 2008's, the more I like them - they remind me of 2001, one of my favorite vintages but they will always lag behind in auction value down the road. One of the bright spots for 2008 is their relatively inexpensive opening prices that should give them a healthy percentage increase in value but probably not in raw dollars. As a vintage, 2008 reminds me of 1985 meets 2001 - very good to excellent quality that was priced right for DRINKING. 2008 is a vintage you should buy to drink - the wines are true, beautiful Bordeaux wines with lower alcohols - they are not massive Napa-esque creatures. Which brings me back to 2009. I hope I'm wrong, but 2009 my set the opening bell record for pricing and the wines are not even in barrel yet - yikes. The fact that I'm even discussing this in September is a little foolhardy.
In Burgundy and the Jura, the vintage has a chance to produce long-lived wines on par with the legendary style of 1947 and 1959 but it is also far too early to make a proclamation such as that - I'm only reporting on what was said to me by some of the most cautious (and famous) vintners in the region. Too a man (and woman) all have said the vintage is deeper and more serious than 2005 nearly across the board (especially for reds) but the whites will be a bigger style - the antithesis of 2007, almost Chateauneuf Blanc meets Beaune - there is also a potential element of 2003 for the whites but the reds appear to have handled it far better - the Pinots seem to posses that magic something that makes collectors plan far in advance. In Beaujolais, the old-timers can't believe the quality - they are completely at a loss of comparison and thus 1947 is the only vintage they can compare 2009 with. It will be more in the style of 2005 with potential alcohol and tannins rarely, if ever seen around Morgon and Julienas. To be sure, this will be the vintage where the world wakes up to Gamay, even though it may not be for classicists.
The Southern Rhone was not quite as lucky, while 2009 was almost ready to usurp Bob's "vintage of my lifetime" even before he penned the final bottle reviews for 2007 (that would have been an interesting conundrum), 2007 will almost certainly be a better vintage overall but 2009 is no slouch. 2009 in the South was a combination of 1989, 2003 and 2007, with VERY ripe, high potential alcohols and a relatively small crop from drought and thinning (there was potential for a huge crop if left alone). Where 2009 differs from 2003 is the cool conditions at the end of the season, which saved the vintage. It allowed acidities to rise and tannins to ripen as a compliment to the black as night extractives - a combination that will undoubtedly produce some incredible wines with a more serious nature than the playful but still brooding and sultry, rainbow-fruited 2007's. Also, where 2007 was quite uniform in style (red fruit/high alcohol/very ripe Grenache), 2009 will not be homogenous. One of the problems in 2009 (as noted in the quote below) was the lack of water in the forests. The wild boars had little food and no water - grapes were one of the only easy, low-laying targets they could find filled with water and the sangliers feasted on them throughout the season. A quote from one of the finest producers in the South: "2009 is a small crop. About 40% less than 2008 - due to uneven flowering and lots of grapes eaten by the boars. Because of the drought, the sangliers (wild boars) did not have much to eat and they really went to work in the vineyards. Season started cool, then got very hot in July. Vines shut down. By late August sugars were getting high but still lots of malic acid. It was necessary to wait for ripeness, but not everyone did. Because of heat, people not equipped with cooling may have problems - fermentations were very quick to start. For people who waited, the weather has been very good - cool nights and mornings and warm days. A "difficult" harvest yes, but there is some very good/excellent quality that is exciting".
The Northern Rhone is a different story - hello 1988 meets 2003 with a dose of 1985. The potential here is enormous if the vintners leave the wines alone and allow them to churn slowly. The vintners learned a lot in 2003 and you have the chance to see Syrah that is unlike anything produced in this region before - the massive size of 2003 but the perfumed, colder tannins of 1988 and 1985. Basically, it's a cross your fingers game where the upside could be among the most sought after in a long time. The problem for the vintners? They still have 2006, 2007 and 2008 to move, all good to outstanding (2006) vintages that will get lost in the shuffle over 2009 - could be interesting times around Tain and Ampuis over the next year or so...especially if the recession continues. For more vintage quotes, see Learmonth (who you should subscribe to): http://www.drinkrhone.com/goings-on.html
Alsace, the greater Loire and other regions (except parts of Menetou-Salon and environs that had widespread hail damage) report fantastic quality as well with diverse but larger styles that still have excellent natural acidity to buffer the extractives. Everything seems to be on an elevated plane and, while that style may not suit everyone, certain Loire reds could be among the finest in a very long time. As a foil to the lithe 2007's and good 2008's, 2009 should produce some of the biggest, most tannic reds in years and it has a chance to be among the more desirable vintages of the last twenty (think 1989 meets 2005).
Lots to look forward to but it's early going and everything can change by next spring when most of the wines will be safely in their resting vessels. Until then, the above excitement is fun but it is just speculation. As we lose seep over missing the best 2005 Burgundies or 2000 Margaux on 1st tranche, 2009 reminds us that the old sang "There is nothing certain in life except death and taxes" could be amended to read "There is nothing certain in life except the next Vintage of the Century".
- Jon Rimmerman
Those of you that know Stephen Tanzer (personally) know that he is a great guy, affable and down to earth - he gets excited about many things but he rarely gets excited enough that it's impossible to curb his enthusiasm (sorry LD).
He's excited about Rollat.
Chateau Rollat, with only a few vintages behind them, personify what Washington State has been inching toward for decades: A modern St Estephe and/or Pauillac in the New World. Quilceda Creek flirted with this style (pre-1994) but abandoned it in favor of a more accessible, sweeter framework that made it easier to enjoy their wines in youth (and increase their point scores). In some ways, Rollat is the Osoyoos-Larose of the US but, where Osoyoos focuses on St. Julien, this entity is squarely in the northern sector of Pauillac and the slice of land that abuts the border of Pauillac and Cos d' Estournel.
Why is this not surprising? Christian LeSommer, the consulting winemaker and psychological partner of Rollat was the driving force behind Latour for many years (yes, that Latour) - prior to that he was the assistant winemaker at Yquem. In other words Rollat comes with a beefy pedigree but it is not the typical LVMH or corporate venture - it is a small entity, in the hands of two men - LeSommer and owner Bowen Lindgren (who has a wine-related family tree dating back more than a century), and that is what makes this exciting for me.
From the top 2005 vintage, this wine has cool but ripe tannins, mineral infused blue fruit and an uncanny resemblance to something like a satiny Pichon-Lalande jr wrapped in a silky red core of Washington State fruit. It has style and a certain joie de vivre coated sheen that makes it easy to drink today but it will also age. I'm not going to say its Latour (it isn't, far from it actually) but they are on to something with a purpose and it certainly gives the domestic market a new reason to celebrate - they've kept the price within reason as well:
Paul Gregutt (who knows Washington Cabernet as well as anyone): "The first releases of Chateau Rollat (ROLL-ah) are just out and dazzling. The mid-level wine, a 2005 'Rollat' Cabernet Sauvignon ($38), presents supple, ripe and sweet fruit on a bed of fine tannins. The word that kept cropping up as I tasted the wine was "polished." It has a sophisticated finesse that moves the beautiful fruit flavors into a more elegant dimension than all but a handful of Washington wines."
This is the last of the 2005 that is available to us under $30.
(Chateau Rollat Rollat Walla Walla Valley) Pops out of the glass with black pepper and vanilla. A pleasing weight on the taste. 80% Cabernet; 15% Merlot; 5% Cab Franc. Pepper Bridge & Seven Hills vineyards. 14.1% alcohol.Pops out of the glass with black pepper and vanilla. A pleasing weight on the taste. 80% Cabernet; 15% Merlot; 5% Cab Franc. Pepper Bridge & Seven Hills vineyards. 14.1% alcohol.
NOTE: Some content is property of Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar and Garagiste and Washington Wine Report.