Thursday, February 14, 2013

Battle Royale: Washington vs France

The first stage race of the season in France took place last week through Provence.  The Tour de Med is a 6 stage race that tours through South East France.

This week's matchup features a Southern France inspired wine from Robert Ramsay taking on "the King" of Bandol, a Mourvedre dominant mauler.

2010 Robert Ramsay Par la Mer v. 2010 Domaine Tempier Bandol

Tale of the Tape

2010 Robert Ramsay Par la Mer

72% Mourvedre, 19% Grenache, 9% Cinsault from the Upland and McKinley Springs Vineyards of the Columbia Valley AVA

Purchased at the winery for $30

2010 Domaine Tempier Bandol Cuvee Clasique

70-75% Mourvedre 14-16% Grenache, 8-9% Cinsault, 2-3% Carignan

Percentages very depending on the vintage.

Purchased at Esquin for $43.

Round 1. First opening

Robert Ramsay demanded a top level opponent so that sent me searching for the champion of Southern France.  Good thing I went to Esquin where a wine merchant with the appropriate level of arrogance and French pronunciation skill pointed me at this mostly Mourvedre blend from Bandol.  He proudly proclaimed that this winery was "The King" of Bandol.  With that, I knew I had found the perfect opposition for the Robert Ramsay Par la Mer.  Signing this top rung Luchador was a bit out of my comfort zone, but I felt obligated to provide a worthy challenger per Robert Ramsay's request.

After all those demands Robert Ramsay does not disappoint with a nose of rich bing cherry and smoky earthy cocoa.  The palate is slightly brighter with bing cherry, hints of vanilla and a slightly spicy white pepper finish.

Domaine Tempier, the self proclaimed King of Bandol, is firing off with a nose of dark fruit, funky brambles and smoked meats.  The palate is featuring knock out power with dark fruit and tight tart cedar spices leading to a very dry finish.

Robert Ramsay asked for it and the King of Bandol let him have it with two fistfuls of dynamite in the first round of this match.

Round 2. One hour after opening

Robert Ramsay is looking for the key to victory changing things up with a nose that is getting more expressive with rich raspberries, floral smoky brambles and cedar spices.  The palate has also built some power with rich dark fruit, smoke, savory soy and coffee bean tartness in the finish with some hints of cream soda.

Domaine Tempier is like your worst nightmare lurking in the shadows with more dark fruit, sea breeze and smoked bacon fat.  The palate is equally scary with dark fruit and a stoney tart cedar finish that is still extremely dry.

Robert Ramsay responded to the round 1 wake up call and took care of business in round 2 with some serious kung fu.

Round 3. One day after opening

Robert Ramsay is showing stamina and strength with a nose of smoky loganberry, cranberry, pomegranate, dusty leather, brambles and all spice.  The palate is bringing the pain like an atomic elbow drop off the top rope with currants, tart cedar and semi-sweet chocolate & cinnamon spices with tart cedar cigar box spices on the finish.

The King seems to be ready to relinquish the crown.  The Domaine Tempier nose is featuring smoky sandalwood, leather and meaty dark berries.  The palate is getting old and cranky with dark tart dried cherries and a finish drier than the sahara dessert.

Robert Ramsay takes round 3 with an array of surprisingly quick and powerful moves.

Wrap up and overall observations

Both of these wines evolved over time showing some additional complexity and unique character.  The Robert Ramsay added complexity over the duration of the match.  The Domaine Tempier was dark and brooding and showed some serious tannins.  This luchador could stand a few more years of seasoning in the cellar.  The Robert Ramsay is drinking well now and will probably continue to devleop over time if you can have the patience to let it chill out in the cellar.

I would rate the Robert Ramsay as Excellent with the Domaine Tempier lagging a bit behind - good now with untapped future potential.

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