Roussillon In Boston

This past Wednesday I took a road trip to Boston to attend a Guild of Sommelier seminar on wines of the Roussillon region of France. Roussillon is a wine producing region in South East France bordering the Mediterranean on one side and Spain on the other. The region is famous for their fortified wines called vin doux natural. In fact the region produces over 90% of France’s fortified wines, several of which we tasted at the event.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The event was held at Moksa restaurant in Cambridge which despite the name, is a sushi restaurant just a stones throw south of Harvard University. It was a sit-down tasting with about a dozen people.

We tried ten wines and we started with a white. The 2009 Domaine Gauby Vielles Vignes is a blend of five grapes and was light yellow with a nose of sweet mushrooms. Medium weight fruit with mineral and candy undertones with nice acidity on the finish. It smelled sweeter than it tasted, interesting.


We then had a flight of three dry reds. The 2010 Domaine Piug-Parahy Georges was a blend of four red grapes and was medium red with a purple robe with a nose of cherry cough drops with bright juicy fruit and some earth on the crisp medium to long finish. Very drinkable. The next wine was the 2010 Chateau Saint Roch Chimeres. A blend of three grapes, it was black purple in color with stemmy cinnamon and black fruit on the nose, it was chunky with some oak and dark fruits on the chewy finish. The 2008 La Coume Del Mas Quadratur was also a blend of three red grapes. It was black purple in color with a nose of barnyard and black cherries and oak with velvety but tight fruit with alcohol peeking through at the end. I though the alcohol made the wine unbalanced.


We tried the fortified wines next. First up was the 2009 M. Chapoutier. Mostly Grenache it was dark red with a nose of stewed dark fruit. Chewy with restrained sweet coffee and chocolate on the finish and great balance. Very tasty. The 2009 Domaine La Tour Vielle was mostly Grenache as well and was black with a slighty closed nose of fresh figs with juicy sweet fruit. The 1998 La Coume Du Roy was amber in color with a nose of caramel, dark chocolate and dried figs. Nutty and mouthfiling with great balance. Very nice. The Mas Amiel Cuvee Speciale 10 Ans D’Age was brown with a nose of chopped nuts and figs with nuts and iron minerality on the finish. The 1999 Domaine Cazes was 100% Grenache Blanc and was similar to a 20 year Tawny. Amber in color with an oxidized, nutty nose and almonds on the finish.


Wines Of Robert Foley


Thursday night I attended a wine tasting at Union Square Wines located at 140 Fourth Avenue. The evening consisted of tastings of the wines of Robert Foley. Mr. Foley who was in attendance this evening, bottles wines under his label and has a hand in a few other labels as well.  The tasting began with a sit-down tasting of six wines followed by a walk around tasting of about a dozen others.

At the sit-down tasting we started with the Red Hook Winery 2010 “Macari Vineyard” Chardonnay. Golden in color with a nose of honey with vicious fruit of pineapple and honey with nice acids on the finish. If I would have tasted it bling I would have picked Cali. I thought it was a big wine.  The next wine was the Engel Family Vineyard 2008 Napa Valley Merlot. It was dark red with a bright dark cherry cocoa nose, very tight with an astringent finish. The 2006 Shelter Wine Company “The Butcher” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was black with a nose of herbs and black cherry, juicy and chewy with nice balance on the long finish. A very fruit forward, big wine.


The 2009 Dos Lagos Vineyard “Atlas Peak” Cabernet Sauvignon was dark with a nose of black cherry,  slate and baked bread with tight velvety fruit with a dusty and long finish. Very tasty. The 2008 Robert Foley “Claret” Napa Valley was dark red to black with dried herbs, black cherry and mint on the nose with firm and silky tannins on the finish. And the last wine at the sit-down portion of the event was Switchback Ridge 2004 Petite Sirah. Black in color with a huge nose of slate and black licorice, chewy and dusty with a nice mouthful of tannin at the end. Very big wine.


After the sit-down tasting food was brought out. It was a fine spread, BBQ ribs, Mac & Cheese and mashed potatoes, all delicious, hearty food that went well with the big wines we were drinking.

For the walk around part of the event we got to sample wines from various wineries that Foley has a hand in. Red Hook Winery poured their 2009 Seneca Lake Riesling, their 2009 Petit Verdot (Long Island) and their 2008 Cabernet Franc “Split Rock (Long Island).

A couple of excellent reds from Switchback Ridge, the 2008 Peterson Family Vineyards Merlot was dark with spicy fruit with a touch of oak and great balance while the 2008 Peterson Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon  was dark red to black with a nose of dark chocolate with tight silky fruit with great balance on the long finish. Very nice.



Robert Foley poured his 2010 Carneros Pinot Noir which was very extracted, dark and chewy for a Pinot with lots of cola flavors. Not my style of Pinot. I did enjoy the 2010 “Griffin” red blend. Black with a nose of bright stewed fruit, tight and velvety with a long finish.

I did try one white this evening, Shelter Vineyards 2009 Roussanne which was crisp with notes of herbs and green apples with the 15% alcohol peeking through at the end.

Overall it was a nice tasting of some big wines.

Wednesday Wine On Long Island

Wednesday afternoon I decided to take a road trip to the wineries out East. It’s been a while since I spent a weekday afternoon at the wineries and the vibe was much different than a weekend outing. For one thing many of the tasting rooms were closed Wednesday and at the ones I stopped by, I was the only customer in the place. But that’s OK since I don’t have to elbow my way to the tasting table and the pourers weren’t frazzled and cranky and I can have a chat with them about the wines.



First stop was at Shinn Estates Vineyards at 200 Oregon Road in Mattituck. There is a house dog, in the tasting room, a border collie who is very friendly and likes to chase things. On the weekends she has plenty of people to play with but since I was the only person in the tasting room this day, she was very attentive and frisky. While I was tasting the wines, she kept bringing whatever she could find around the room like branches in order for me to throw.



I had their 2011 unoaked Chardonnay which had nice tight fruit with crisp acidity on the finish. I also had their 2009 Estate Merlot with was dark in color and had a nose of cooked black cherries, smoky chocolate fruit with tongue tingling tannin and acids on the finish.

Next stop was Mattebella Vineyards at 46005 Main Road. It’s one of the newest tasting room to open out East and the room is a small cottage, a very small cottage and the flight consisted of six of their wines. I had the 2009 & 2010 Chardoannay. Both with minimal oak aging and I prefered the ’10 which had a nose of vanilla with a clean, crisp easy drinking finish. The 2011 Rose which is mostly Merlot with a bit of Cabernet Franc was Salmon colored with a nose of cherry pixie-stix with a clean, neutral finish. They poured the 2007 & 2008 Old World Blend which is a Bordeaux Blend.


Driving West bound the next winery was Raphel Vineyards at 39390 Main Road. Another of the newer wineries, this winery has the most distinctive tasting room out East. The place was built to look like a Tuscan Villa and it’s no accident that a lot of wedding receptions are held hereif fact every time I tried to stop by on a weekend the place was closed for a private affair, it’s a huge place.  I had their “Library Tasting”. The 2006 Petite Verdot was black with a nose of dusty, dark chocolate. The 2006 Malbec was dark with very tight fruit and a balanced finish and the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon was black with a nose of dusty black cherry with very tight fruit with dropped at the finish.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Last stop was Pugliese Vineyards at 34515 Main Road. Pugliese is one of the founding wineries out East established in 1980. It’s a family run operation and there’s always a family member pouring in the tasting room. This day the matriarh and her daughter were doing the honors. It’s a quirky little winery that produces some decent sparkling wines usually poured out of hand-echted bottles and the only Sangiovese that I know on the island. The 2003 Blanc de Noir was crisp with good fruit and drinking nicely and the 2008 Estate Sangiovese was dark red with some juicy fruit.