Selections for August 2017

Great winemaker(s).  Awesome vintage.  Age it a bit.

2015 DOMAINE de la MORDORÉE ‘La Reine de Bois’ – Lirac, Rhone Valley, France

We put before you one of the greatest works of the Southern Rhone.  Domaine de la Mordorée was founded in 1986 by brothers Christophe and Fabrice Delorme.  Their winery is located in Lirac, across the Rhone River and twenty kilometers from the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  Mordorée produces beautiful whites, pinks, and reds from both sides of the river and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate has long recognized their work with very generous scores.  Obtaining Mordorée in California always requires a determined treasure hunt.

I have twice visited Christophe (on the right in the photo) and Fabrice (left) at their Lirac facility, but my third visit featured only Fabrice as host.  Two years ago Christophe suddenly died of a heart attack (he and I were both 52 that year), a startling blow to all who knew the thoughtful and charismatic vigneron.  This very wine was hanging from its vines when this happened.

Mordorée carries on with more solemnly-affable Fabrice at the helm.  Its Chateauneuf-du-Pape offerings often costing over $100 continue to garner rave reviews, as do the pink Tavels and the two quality levels of Lirac.  Their less expensive Lirac named ‘La Dame Rousse’ (these are all local wild bird names, by the way) can be found for under $30.  This ‘La Reine des Bois’ is the durable Lirac flagship. 

2015 is the greatest Rhone Valley vintage since 2010.  It may even transcend 2010, but only time will tell.  Wines like this Lirac are such tightly-packed bundles of fruit and tannins that patience or long decanting is required to expose all their virtues.  Yes, understand that this wine is “great” for what it is, and greater for what it will become.  I propose a toast to the memory of Christophe Delorme and to the endurance of his brother Fabrice, two of the Rhone’s greatest caretakers.      

When wine is delicious ENOUGH . . .

2011 ANDREW THOMAS SHIRAZ – Hunter Valley, Australia

My impression – and probably that of most of you – is that Australian reds can be too much of a good thing.  The Shirazes and GSMs we typically taste don’t know when to stop, with their flamboyant fruit joined by that oh-so-signature Aussie “mentholyptus” fragrance.  The Popular Palate, once dazzled by this jammy exuberance, has become a bit jaded by it all.  We at TWS recognized a shift away from the Down Under section of our store and can only conclude this wine place was giving you MORE than you wanted.

And so we bring you this, a truly fine wine which captures the ripe beauty of Down Under Shiraz - and knows when to stop. 

The menthol scent is there (would this appear “Australian” otherwise??) but evasive.  Roasted herbs, cured meat, and chunky cherry fruit happens, too.  Perhaps its six years of age has settled it down, allowing the “savories” onstage.  The palate is more elegant than bombastic; not shy of fruit but careful with its allocation.  The finish is crisp and refreshing – not cloying – and encourages a good plate of protein as a foil. 

We rarely provide you with Australian reds for the aforementioned reasons, but are proud to bring you THIS.  As a well-meaning Aussie might declare, “This is class shit!”