Friday, March 16, 2018

Mas de la Garrigue Grenache-Carignan Millas, 2015

I sometimes struggle identifying the garrigue trait (scents of Provencal herbs) in Southern Rhone wines. These scents are clearly there in a majority of wines, but in varying degrees. In this wine from Southern France the trait is unmistakable, presumably explaining the name on the label.

Deep and dark. Rosemary, thyme and other Provencal herbs, but, as in other wines of Southern France, the ripe red fruit qualities take over and keep the wine from smelling or tasting green.  Medium bodied with a sleek finish. You can buy a glass for $9.50 to accompany your meal at Oakwood Bistro in Kalamazoo.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Brandborg Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2000

On their way toward establishing their own winery in the Umpqua Valley of Oregon, Terry and Sue Brandborg made some good Pinot Noirs from well selected vineyards in California. This is an excellent example.

Deep ruby, relatively dark for an 18-year-old Pinot. Black fruits, dark spices and Balsamic. Reminds me a bit of Goldeneye Pinots I had several years ago. Dark cherry but some red berries peek through in the flavors. Fully focused and pure Anderson Valley fruit. Ripe but with good balancing acidity. A gorgeous wine.

I bought this wine at auction for $6, apparently because other bidders were wary of bidding for an 18-year-old Pinot Noir from California. I wish there had been more to buy. Anderson Valley Pinots clearly age very well.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Berrgadano Langhe Nebbiolo, 2008

I was a bit worried when I opened this wine and found a very muted bouquet. But no worry; that is just the personality of this particular Langhe Nebbolio. It's slow to open, but when it does, it has a lot to offer.

After about an hour, the bouquet begins to develop. Dark cherries with a dash of cinnamon. More depth than intensity. A wine that sits beside you and becomes a quiet friend. More of the same on the palate. Very deep and satisfying. A finish that lingers for minutes.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Emilio Lustau Dry Oloroso Sherry Don Nuno

I must admit my ignorance regarding sherry, but I do know that it is probably the most under-appreciated and under-priced wine on the market today. From the cellars of Emilio Lustau, this dry oloroso is not a cheap wine ($30 from Salut Beverage in Kalamazoo), but it is worth every penny and a good deal more. From very old and rare soleras, it has the rich, complex qualities that can come only from long aging in the barrel.

Light tawny color. Nuts, dried oranges and lemons. Very rich, compact. Just a touch of sweetness. Good at cellar temperature but becomes rounder and softer as it warms in the glass. Something new emerges with each sniff and each sip. Goes beautifully with both mushroom and lentil soup.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Mud House Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir, 2015

I've been eager to try a Central Otago Pinot Noir, but this is the first I've found at a reasonable price ($15 at Plum Market in Ann Arbor). Now I'm willing to pay the price and try some of the other Pinots from this very cool (almost cold) appellation near Queenstown on the South Island of New Zealand.

Beautiful, bright color. My initial sniff suggests a ripe fruitiness. Black fruits with hints of cocoa powder and cinnamon. It doesn't take long, though, to discover that this wine has some special qualities. Good structure and intensity from front to back. Lots of black pepper and spice; reminds me of a very good Southern Rhone. I don't see ready comparisons with either French Burgundy or Pinots from California or Oregon. But it's a wine and an appellation that I would like in my cellar.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz, 2005

I got a strong whiff of coconut when I popped the cork, and the aromas and flavors all indicate a healthy dose of French oak--a bit too healthy for my taste. After a few minutes, though, high quality  Shiraz fruit starts to shine through. Black fruits, lavender, a touch of mint. This is definitely an Australian Shiraz and a good one, though I would prefer a bit less oak.

Chateau Fortia Chateauneuf du Pape, 1998

At a big tasting of 1998 and 1999 Chateauneufs hosted by Village Corner of Ann Arbor many years ago, the 1998 Fortia was my favorite...and that of many others hovering around the table. As to be expected, the wine has gone through many changes over the past 15 years or so and is not as flamboyant as it was at that time. But it is still a very good traditional Chateauneuf du Pape, probably better for drinking sooner rather than later.

Dark cherries and spice. Chateauneuf Grenache showing well. Intense fruit that hangs on even on the second and third day after being re-corked. Very powerful, like a Gigondas. 14% alcohol and carries it well. Not as subtle or complex as the 1994 Clos Mont Olivet I had on Christmas day but a delicious companion to herb-crusted rack of lamb.