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New Josh Raynolds scores and tasting notes for International Wine Cellar

New scores and tasting notes by Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar, Issue 173 – March/April 2014:

2012 Crozes-Hermitage Blanc La Petite Ruche (all marsanne): Pale gold. High-pitched aromas of nectarine, pear skin, ginger and jasmine. Lively and precise on entry, then fleshier in the mid-palate, showing good lift to its pit fruit and melon flavors. Finishes spicy and bright, with energetic citrus fruit and honeysuckle qualities. 89

2012 Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers Blanc Light yellow. Lively citrus and orchard fruit aromas are complicated by notes of dusty minerals and tarragon. Dry and precise, offering chewy orange and bitter pear skin flavors and a suggestion of honeysuckle. Shows good energy on the finish, with the floral and herbal notes echoing. 89

2012 Saint-Peray Les Tanneurs Bright yellow. Pungent aromas of fresh citrus fruits, ginger, minerals and white flowers. Silky and taut on entry, then fleshier in the mid-palate, with orange, green apple and anise flavors complicated by a suggestion of floral honey. The minerally quality repeats on the finish, which shows very good clarity and tangy persistence. 90

2012 Saint-Joseph Blanc Deschants Light gold. Bright quince and orange zest aromas are lifted by chalky mineral and white pepper nuances. Taut, focused citrus pith, green apple and mineral flavors pick up a smoky nuance with air. This nervy, precise white wine finishes with very good clarity and stony persistence. 90

2012 Saint-Joseph Blanc Les Granits (all marsanne, from granitic soils in Charnas, Mauves and Tournon): Pale gold. Lively, mineral-laced aromas of candied citrus fruits, nectarine and white flowers, with a bright, spicy overtone. Dry and sharply focused, offering energetic orange and nectarine flavors with subtle smoke and anise notes. Clean and nervy on the tightly focused finish, with the mineral and floral notes echoing. 90

2012 Condrieu Invitare Limpid gold. Lively lemon and lime zest scents are complemented by anise, chalky minerals and jasmine. Tight and nervy on the palate, offering juicy citrus and orchard fruit flavors and a touch of bitter quinine. The mineral note comes back on the finish, which lingers with very good spicy intensity. 91

2012 Saint-Peray Lieu-Dit Hongrie (100% marsanne): Pale yellow. Exotic, highly perfumed scents of poached pear, nectarine and pungent flowers, with a dusty mineral overtone. Juicy and broad on entry, then more taut in the mid-palate, offering vibrant citrus and orchard fruit flavors with a hint of bitterness. Suave floral and honey qualities linger on the pliant, expansive, highly energetic finish. 90-92

2012 Hermitage Blanc Chante Alouette Vivid gold. Spicy lemon pith and pear aromas are complemented by notes of anise and white pepper. Tight and dry in the mouth, offering zesty citrus fruit flavors and subtle smokiness. Finishes smooth and spicy, with very good length and building minerality. 90-92

2012 Saint-Joseph Blanc Les Granits Light gold. Pear, lemon pith and white flowers on the intensely fragrant nose. Fleshy and expansive on entry, then tighter in the mid-palate, offering vibrant, mineral-laced orchard and citrus fruit flavors and a suave floral nuance. Finishes spicy and very long, with lingering floral and mineral qualities. I’ll bet that this tightly coiled wine will be a slow ager. 91-93

2012 Ermitage Blanc De L’Oree Bright yellow. Pure and expressive on the nose, displaying scents of orange zest, poached pear, honeysuckle and chalky minerals. Intense, finely etched orchard fruit and floral flavors are strikingly concentrated, focused and refreshing. Impeccably balanced, precise and mineral-driven white Hermitage with superb finishing bite. 92-94

2012 Ermitage Blanc Le Meal Vivid gold. Powerful mineral-laced peach nectar and pear aromas, with complicating notes of vanilla, honey and musky flowers. Round, fleshy and expansive, offering potent pit fruit and anise flavors and a bracing lick of lemon zest. Nicely blends richness and vivacity and finishes with impressive clarity and outstanding spicy persistence. 93-95

2012 Ermitage Blanc L’Ermite Light yellow-gold. High-pitched aromas of fresh citrus fruits, smoky minerals, white flowers and sweet butter. Concentrated but lithe and sharply focused, with impressive floral lift to its orange, pear skin and mineral flavors. The mineral element carries through the finish, which clings with superb energy and spicy persistence. 93-95

2012 Condrieu Coteau De Chery Pale yellow. Spicy, mineral-driven aromas of lemon curd, orange, poached pear and jasmine. Silky and concentrated, displaying vibrant citrus and orchard fruit flavors and a building touch of ginger. Juicy and focused on the long, floral finish, with the pear note echoing. I really like the combination of power and finesse here. The 2011 rendition of this wine is showing its floral side right now and while it has the depth to reward further patience it’s plenty delicious after a little time in a decanter. 91-92

2012 Crozes-Hermitage La Petite Ruche Bright purple. Pungent aromas of cherry and dark berries, with a peppery topnote. Taut and sharply focused, offering nervy blackcurrant and bitter cherry flavors that pick up a smoky nuance with air. Closes with firm grip, slightly drying tannins and good spicy cut. 88-90

2012 Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers Vivid purple. Intense black pepper-accented dark berries and fresh flowers on the highly perfumed nose and in the mouth. Assertively spicy, with a subtle licorice quality coming up with aeration. Closes with firm tannic grip, leaving a bitter cherry note behind. 89-91

2012 Saint-Joseph Deschants Brilliant ruby. The nose displays energetic dark berry and white pepper scents, with a hint of olive in the background. Juicy, penetrating and tangy on the palate, offering vibrant blackberry and bitter cherry flavors and a repeating pepperiness. Finishes zesty and long, with supple tannins building slowly and fading smoothly into the fruit. 89-91

2012 Saint-Joseph Les Granilites Inky ruby. Sexy aromas of black and blue fruits and espresso are lifted by black pepper and fresh flowers. Dense, sappy and smoky, showing good definition to its cassis, bitter cherry and violet pastille flavors. Displays impressive energy and persistent sweetness on the lingering finish. 90-92

2012 Cote-Rotie Les Becasses Dark ruby. Smoky, floral aromas of raspberry and blackberry convey a bright, incisive personality. Cola and smoky bacon nuances come up with air and carry onto the palate, joining powerful dark berry compote and violet pastille flavors. The smokiness carries through a long, gently sweet finish, which is framed by smooth, subtle tannins. This would go great with bacon-wrapped bacon in a bacon sauce. 90-92

2012 Cornas Les Arenes Inky purple. Blueberry, pipe tobacco, leather and a hint of smoked meat on the flamboyantly perfumed nose. Rich and chewy in texture, with deep flavors of cherry compote, blueberry and chewing tobacco. Finishes broad, smooth and very long, with lingering notes of cured game and violet pastille. Those who write off Chapoutier’s wines as modern or New World in style should check this one out. 90-92

2012 Hermitage La Monier De La Sizeranne Brilliant ruby. Vibrant aromas of black and blue fruits are complemented by a subtle floral element and a hint of cracked pepper. Supple and sweet, offering lively boysenberry and blueberry flavors that put on weight with air. Picks up a spicecake nuance on the penetrating finish, which is firmed by youthfully chewy tannins. 90-92

2012 Crozes-Ermitage Les Varonnieres Opaque ruby. Intense cherry and dark berry scents are enlivened by bright mineral and spice nuances. Deeply pitched blackberry and bitter cherry flavors show power as well as finesse, with a sexy floral pastille note adding complexity. The minerality adds bite to the finish, which lingers with impressive energy and persistence. 91-93

2012 Saint-Joseph Les Granits Vivid purple. Fresh dark berries, pungent flowers and Asian spices on the highly perfumed nose. Silky and appealingly sweet, offering spicy black raspberry and cherry compote flavors and a hint of bitter chocolate. Fine-grained tannins lend shape to the long spice- and smoke-tinged finish, with the cherry note echoing.
91-93

2012 Saint-Joseph Le Clos Bright purple. Fresh cherry and boysenberry aromas are complemented by cola, violet, candied licorice and smoky Indian spices. Broad and fleshy on the palate, offering sweet dark berry compote flavors energized by zesty minerality and cracked pepper. Surprisingly elegant for its size. Finishes with gently gripping tannins and strong spicy persistence. 92-94

2012 Cote-Rotie La Mordoree Inky ruby. Sexy, intensely perfumed aromas of blackberry, cherry-cola and violet, with allspice, cola and olive nuances building with air. Sweet and penetrating in the mouth, showing a seamless texture and vibrant dark berry compote and violet pastille flavors. Finishes with excellent energy and focus, leaving cola and smoky mineral notes behind. 92-94

2012 Ermitage Les Greffieux Dark purple. Smoky blackberry and blueberry on the highly perfumed nose, with sexy oak spice and floral notes adding complexity. Densely packed dark berry preserve flavors pick up a candied licorice quality with air, along with hints of smoky bacon and black tea. Coats the palate without coming off as heavy, finishing with firm mineral cut and slow-building tannins. 93-95

2012 Ermitage Le Meal Bright purple. The nose displays deeply pitched, mineral-laced scents of black raspberry, cherry-cola and violet, plus a hint of star anise. Then rich but surprisingly lively in the mouth, offering sweet red and dark berry liqueur flavors accented by exotic floral pastilles and gingerbread. Lush and creamy on the strikingly long finish, which features suave spicecake and raspberry notes. 93-95

2012 Ermitage Le Pavillon Inky purple. Lively, incisive aromas of blackberry, cassis, smoky minerals, licorice and pungent flowers. Juicy and penetrating on the palate, with bright acidity adding lift to the intense black and blue fruit flavors. Becomes spicier and more floral with air, finishing with outstanding energy and thrust and youthful firming tannins. 94-96

2012 Ermitage L’Ermite Inky purple. An explosively perfumed bouquet evokes dark berry compote, cherry-cola, candied licorice and potpourri. Lush, expansive blackberry and blueberry flavors show serious vivacity, with lively Asian spice and violet qualities emerging with air. Closes smoky and extremely long, with velvety tannins and lingering vanilla and floral nuances. 94-96

2011 Saint-Joseph Blanc Les Granits Vivid yellow-gold. Ripe peach, tangerine and honeydew aromas are complicated by notes of anise and smoky minerals. Stains the palate with spice-accented orchard and pit fruit flavors that are given spine and cut by tangy acidity. Dense yet lithe white Saint-Joseph with excellent finishing clarity and smoky, spicy persistence. 92

2011 Ermitage Blanc De L’Oree Bright gold. Nectarine, poached pear and honey on the deeply scented nose, with complicating floral and mineral qualities adding lift. Broad, densely packed and fleshy but sharply focused too, offering potent, smoke-tinged orchard and pit fruit flavors and a bitter note of citrus pith. Dry and nervy on the long, incisive finish, which features sexy honeysuckle and spice notes. 93

2011 Ermitage Blanc Le Meal Vivid gold. Heady orchard and pit fruit aromas are complicated by anise, buttered toast and iodine, with a sexy floral nuance emerging with aeration. Fleshy and deeply pitched, offering wonderfully concentrated pear, nectarine and melon flavors and a zesty jolt of orange pith on the back half. Closes with superb energy and a very persistent honeydew note. I’d love to try this superb wine alongside some heavy-hitters from the Cote d’Or. 94

2011 Ermitage Blanc L’Ermite Bright gold. Heady, mineral-powered citrus and orchard fruit aromas are complicated by jasmine, honey and iodine. Weighty and broad but showing unlikely vivacity to its ripe pear and orange flavors, which are sharpened by intense minerality. Delivers impressive clarity on the finish, which clings with outstanding tenacity and a suave floral quality. 93

2011 Crozes-Hermitage La Petite Ruche Inky ruby. Spicy raspberry and cherry scents are complicated by notes of olive, woodsmoke and cracked pepper, with a subtle floral quality emerging with aeration. Juicy and precise on the palate, offering energetic red and dark berry flavors and a touch of licorice. The smoky note comes back on the finish, which is firmed by dusty, slow-building tannins. 89

2011 Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers Vivid ruby. Fresh cherry and raspberry aromas are complemented by musky herbs and floral oils. Juicy and tightly focused on the palate, offering smoky red fruit flavors and a building peppery. Shows the tightness I find in many wines of this vintage without coming off as hard-edged. Closes with firm grip, dusty tannins and a touch of bitter chocolate. 88

2011 Saint-Joseph Deschants Opaque ruby. Blackberry, singed plum, cola and cracked pepper on the fragrant nose. Showing much more freshness than it did from barrel last year, offering energetic dark berry and bitter cherry flavors that are given spine and lift by juicy acidity. The sharply focused finish is firmed by fine-grained tannins that fold smoothly into the wine’s lively dark fruit.  89

2011 Saint-Joseph Les Granilites Deep ruby. Intensely perfumed scents of red berry preserves, smoky minerals and dried violet, plus a touch of black pepper. A lively, focused midweight that offers sappy black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors and a touch of licorice pastille. Finishes with lingering sweetness, excellent clarity and dusty, fine-grained tannins. There’s something vaguely pinot-like about this wine that’s very appealing. 90

2011 Cote-Rotie Les Becasses Opaque ruby. Pungent cherry and spicecake scents are lifted by cracked pepper, smoky minerals and fresh flowers. Shows excellent focus and depth on the palate, offering spicy red fruit and violet pastille flavors and a touch of licorice. Becomes sweeter with air and finishes with supple tannins, resonating spiciness and noteworthy length. Here’s another 2011 that’s delicious right now.90

2011 Cornas Les Arenes Glass-staining ruby. Oak-spiced dark berries and dark chocolate on the perfumed nose. Lush, broad, appealingly sweet blackberry and cassis flavors are complemented by cracked pepper and violet, with a smoky nuance in the background. Finishes sweet, supple and long, with velvety tannins coming on late and adding shape. Very approachable for a Cornas but this wine’s balance suggests that it will age gracefully as well. 91

2011 Hermitage La Monier De La Sizeranne Saturated ruby. Ripe cherry, blackcurrant, olive and woodsmoke on the deeply scented nose. Broad and fleshy on entry, then more tightly coiled in the middle, offering an array of juicy red and dark fruit flavors and a touch of licorice pastille, The smoky quality comes back strong on the clinging, incisive finish, which features silky tannins, peppery spices and a hint of cola.91

2011 Crozes-Ermitage Les Varonnieres Inky ruby. Red and dark berry preserves on the perfumed, spice-accented nose. Bitter cherry and black raspberry flavors show very good clarity and lift, with a peppery nuance adding back-end bite. The emphatically spicy finish features chewy tannins and a sexy floral pastille nuance. 91

2011 Saint-Joseph Les Granits Inky ruby. Deeply pitched aromas of dark berry liqueur, olive, cola and candied violet. Smoky and broad in the mouth, offering densely packed blackcurrant and blueberry flavors plus a touch of fruitcake. On the rich side for the vintage, finishing with excellent clarity and length and supple, harmonious tannins. This is one of the standout wines from Saint-Joseph in 2011. 92

2011 Saint-Joseph Le Clos Opaque ruby. Dark berries, violet oil, anise and smoky minerals on the deeply scented now. On the palate, intense blueberry and blackberry flavors become spicier with air and show very good clarity. Opens up nicely on the spicy, expansive finish, which is firmed by youthfully chewy but harmonious tannins. 92

2011 Cote-Rotie La Mordoree Bright ruby. Ripe cherry, dark berries, potpourri and woodsmoke on the highly perfumed nose. Deep, precise blackberry and candied violet flavors are given lift and focus by juicy acidity and a touch of peppery spices. Closes broad, sappy and long, with resonating floral and spice notes and excellent persistence. I find this energetic wine surprisingly approachable now. 93

2011 Ermitage Les Greffieux Inky purple. A heady, exotically perfumed bouquet displays scents of blackberry liqueur, cherry-cola, Indian spices and potpourri. Shows excellent clarity and depth in the mouth, offering potent black and blue fruit flavors and suggestions of spicecake and candied flowers. Finishes sweet, smoky and extremely long, with silky tannins adding grip. This wine transcends its vintage. 94

2011 Ermitage Le Meal Vivid purple. Sexy, high-pitched red fruit aromas are complicated by notes of Szechuan peppercorn, potpourri and smoky minerals. Powerful but elegant as well, offering palate-staining black raspberry, cola and violet pastille flavors and a strong mineral underpinning. Finishes with superb clarity, spiciness and length, leaving a smoky mineral note behind. Here the liveliness of the vintage is enhanced by surprising depth and power, which suggests that the wine will be a good cellar candidate. 93

2011 Ermitage Le Pavillon Inky ruby. Exotic, intensely perfumed scents of raspberry liqueur, floral pastilles and Asian spices, with subtle black pepper and mineral qualities emerging with aeration. Juicy, focused and pure, offering vibrant red fruit and spicecake flavors and showing impressive tension and back-end power. Clings on the finish with excellent persistence, silky tannins and an echo of exotic spices. This suave wine is surprisingly showy right now but Pierre-Henri Morel said that that was “a deception, because this one will probably age the longest of all the Ermitage cuvees parcellaires.” 93

2011 Ermitage L’Ermite Opaque ruby. An explosively perfumed bouquet features blackberry, cassis, cola, potpourri and smoky Indian spices. Broad, concentrated and alluringly sweet, with pliant dark fruit and violet pastille flavors showing wonderful depth as well as purity and vivacity. Bright mineral and spice notes accent the long, penetrating finish, which is firmed by silky, harmonious tannins. 94

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