Compare him to the other guy who came in, slammed through the wines in about five minutes, pegged every one of them pretty spot-on, and went on his way with a few bottles in hand. Quickdraw McGraw, I salute you, and hope you enjoy those wines.
Anyway, I am talking too much here, just as I spent too much time taking notes and being awkward at the tasting. Today the featured winery was Domaine Alary, where Denis Alary is tending to vines and making wine as his family has done for 11 generations (since 1692). Headquartered in Cairanne, Alary makes a bunch of Vin du Pays, Côte du Rhône, and Cote du Rhône Villages Cairanne wines. They are fairly solid examples of the region overall, from what I can tell.
2009 Domaine Alary VdP de la Principauté d'Orange La Grange Daniel Blanc ($15) - 100% Roussanne. A faint nose: nutty, waxy, floral/honeysuckle. Textbook Roussanne nose. Some fruit (apricot, peach) on the palate, but also very minerally. The finish has an almost-bitter quality, like bitter almond, which could be an extension of the apricot flavor since I always find apricots, especially dried ones, to have a kind of bitterness. Finish is also gum-tingling.
2008 Domaine Alary Cairanne La Font d'Estévenas Blanc ($22) - 90% Clairette, 10% Roussanne. Smells like a field: lots of straw/hay in the nose, with citrus fruit. Mineral and nectarine in the mouth, with bitter orange. I generally liked this a little more than the previous wine.
2009 Domaine Alary VdP de la Principauté d'Orange La Grange Daniel Rouge ($15) - 20% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Cinsault, 20% Counoise, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Funk funk funk! Very funky nose. Fur? Game? Sweaty leather? All of those things? I couldn't decide. Once I got over the initial funk-in-the-face I noticed lots of herb/spice, garrigue, and cherry. Has a fair amount of fine-grained tannin from the getgo, and a nice peppery acid finish.
2008 Domaine Alary CdR La Gerbaude ($14) - 85% Grenache, 15% Syrah. A small amount of funk similar to the previous wine, but overall less funky/cleaner. Dark plum, cherry, licorice, clean leather in the nose. Pretty bitter cherry in the mouth along with delicious rocks. I liked this a lot, and didn't get the baby aspirin thing I got from it last week. It was freshly opened, which might explain the difference (last week's bottle had been open a few days).
2008 Domaine Alary Cairanne ($20) - 70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Carignane. Medicinal cherry nose... not quite cough syrup cherry but cherry with some menthol. A bit of clove and cigarette ash as well. Fruit right on the tip of the tongue, along with nice warm spices.... clove, cinnamon, nutmeg. Not much tannin on the clean finish.
2008 Domaine Alary Cairanne La Font d'Estévenas Rouge ($25) - 50% Grenache, 50% Syrah. Aged in neutral wood. Dense dark fruit featuring raspberry and blackberry, with some violet. Spicy finish... not tarry but kind of a plasticky spice (and I mean that in a nice way). Overall a delightful CdR.
Domaine des Soulanes VdP des Côtes Catalanes Roussillon "Kaya" Blanc ($20) - 60% Grenache Blanc, 20% Grenache Gris, 20% Carignane Blanc. Granite soil. Light nose of white peach and tropical fruit. Lots of tropical fruit at first in the mouth, then a gentle warm spice and white pepper finish. Nice acids, but there was a little odd Fruit Loop tang in the finish that kind of threw me off.
What did I take home? A bottle of the La Font d'Estévenas Rouge. I already had a bottle of the La Grange Daniel Rouge at home, which I picked up semi-randomly a while ago. We will see how that funk fares in the home environment! I would have taken a bottle of La Gerbaude, too, but they were sold out. I liked it better today than I did when I had it last week. I also picked up a cheap Sangiovese (Mona Terre di Chieti IGT), and l'ortolan (from last week's tasting), since I want to try it again and I was spent all week fretting about not getting a bottle.
Randomly, this week I can celebrate getting the wine coffin's contents back into Excel. I hate Excel but I hate all the online cellar tracking options more. The notebook with numbered slots and pencil (so I could erase and rewrite) was working okay for general insertion and removal of wine, but didn't allow me to see what I had overall without standing there pulling bottles out. I've synced it through Dropbox to my phone so I can be a real nerd and stand down there with my phone, looking for things. Yep, nerdy. If only I could also edit my spreadsheet with the phone!