Specialty Club – March 2012

2009 Domaine Charvin, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Once again, as in 2005 and 2007, the wine writers are beating the drums to extol the virtues of a vintage in the southern Rhone, particularly Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Unlike the sometimes overripe 2007s, the 2009s are showing substantial aging potential. A case in point is this flagship wine from a small, family estate that was always one of Bear’s favorite producers. Over the years, we have had many silky reds and lovely Rosés from them. Gerard Charvin and his son Laurent own only 8 hectares in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and they make this wine from the very best lots, mostly from 50- to 70-year-old vines. Primarily Grenache, with some Syrah, Mourvedre, and Vaccarese, the wine is very lush but still quite elegant, with dark fruit, licorice, and coffee flavors and a long, smoky finish. It definitely needs two or three years in the cellar and can continue to develop for up to 15 years. An excellent match for braised beef dishes, it is $70, and we do have a tiny bit more available. Is it as good as their legendary 2001, as some writers claim? You’ll get a chance to find out!

2007 Domdechant Werner, Hochheimer Hoelle, Riesling Kabinett
While we’re on the subject of vintages, the warmth of the 2007 vintage produced excellent Kabinetts, and we were happy to see that one of the best was still available. This wine shone at a tasting last year conducted by our good friend Ewald Moseler, a Portland importer, and is available only in very small quantities in this country. The original owner of the property was Dr. Franz Werner, Dean (“Domdechant”) of the famous Cathedral of Mainz, who acquired it, as the label notes, in 1780. Now this beautiful estate is operated by the ninth generation of Dr. Werner’s descendants. In the last twenty years or so, some famous producers in the Rheingau, the viticultural region along the Main River near Frankfurt, have been content to rest on their reputation and consequently their wines have noticeably declined in both quality and value. The Werner family, in contrast, have thoroughly modernized their facilities and taken advantage of their top-quality vineyard sites to produce excellent Rieslings, both dry and sweet. The 2007 Kabinett has the classical minerality and spiciness of German Riesling, but is a bit rounder and softer in style than the Kabinetts of the Mosel River. It’s $29.75 and we have only a few extra bottles available.