Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Domaine du Marcoux Chateauneuf du Pape, 1990

At one time, I considered this to be the best Chateauneuf--perhaps the best wine--in my cellar, even though what I have are all half bottles (375 ml). Age has taken a toll on the wine in these small bottles, however, and it now represents merely a good example of mature Chateauneuf du Pape.

I get some tanky smells but also some pleasant savory aromas. Lots of crusty and powdery sediment. Better on the palate than the nose. Mature Grenache dried berry and spice. Wish I could taste this wine from a 750 ml bottle or--better yet--a magnum.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Domaine des Tourelles Gigondas, 2004

With a few tastes of the Pesquie Ventoux left from the previous night, I wanted a direct comparison with a Gigondas produced about 20 kilometers away from a similar blend of grapes. La Terrasses is 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah; this Tourlles Gigondas is 80% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre and 2% Cinsault. The wines are similar, but the Gigondas is unquestionably several notches higher in quality.

The color is similar--deep ruby. The bouquet is typically Gigondas--wild flowers, spearmint and herbs. In the mouth the wild red berries take over. Sweet fruit but also lovely balancing acidity. Depth and concentration. An excellent wine.

Chateau Pesquie La Terrasses Ventoux, 2012

If you visit Gigondas, you will see the Dentelles de Montmirail, a jagged range of mountains in the background. Even farther back is Mont Ventoux. Ventoux wines have traditionally been lower priced, but the cepage is similar to that of Gigondas and other highly regarded Cotes du Rhone Villages--about 70% Grenache, 20 to 30% Syrah and sometimes some other grapes such as Cinsault or Carignane. And the higher elevation produces wines with more acid and lower levels of alcohol than other areas. Ventoux has always been one of my favorite Southern Rhone appellations, and this is an excellent Ventoux.

Deep ruby. Very traditional in aromas and flavors. Hints of spring flowers peep in and out. Red and black fruits with spice and black pepper. More subtle than other vintages of this wine and more interesting texture. An excellent example of Ventoux and of Terrasses. 70% Grenache, 30% Syrah.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz, 2004

For me, the only negative thing I can say about this wine is that it was unfortunate enough to be tasted alongside the excellent 1983 Domaine Thalabert Crozes-Hermitage. I realize, of course, that most Australian wine drinkers would probably disagree with me.

Deep and dark ruby. Very fruit forward and charming, as you would expect from a Coonawarra red. Black raspberries, currants, cassis. Not a great deal of complexity but a good example of Australian Shiraz and a very enjoyable wine.

Paul Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert, 1983

When Rhone wine writer and expert John Livingstone-Learmouth (DrinkRhone.com) tasted the 1983 Thalabert in September of 2005, he reckoned that the wine was nearing the end of its best drinking days. "Drink soon--maybe one last hearty game stew." When he had the wine again 11 years later, he wrote: "Show what I know!...A lovely wine, much appreciated. The length is good and fresh. Outstanding for its age." And he extended the prime drinking window to 2022-2023!

Nothing new here. Domaine Thalabert has a staying power that has confounded most wine critics--most notably Robert Parker who advised drinking the 1983 25 to 30 years ago. I have been buying, cellaring, drinking and enjoying Thalabert since the 1979 vintage and even off vintages such as 1984 have continued to go and grow far beyond the expectation of most critics and drinkers. This 1983 is my favorite (probably even surpassing the 1990) and I was happy to share it with my son, Ted, who was born in 1983 and has aged every bit as well.

The color has lightened but still has good life. Intense bouquet of cherries, flowers, currants, cured meats and a hint of black olives. Incredible depth and concentration; keeps me coming back for sniff after sniff. On the palate, there is no disappointment. Deep, concentrated, intense but with an elegant silky texture. Northern Rhone Syrah at its best.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Veglio Micheloni Nebbiolo d'Alba, 2011

You pour a small amount into your glass; the color is rusty red. You take a sip and immediately notice that the wine is very dry. This wine is fading fast, you think; the fruit is drying out. You think that unless you know that this wine is a Nebbiolo from the Piedmont. If you have experience with Nebbiolo, though, you know that there are good things to come if you sit back and enjoy yourself.

The aroma is lovely and exactly what you should expect from Langhe Nebbiolo--flowers, cherry, dark tones of anise or licorice. Flavors offer more of the same. Nothing dried out about this wine, but it has enough acid and tannin to give a firm structure for the fruit, which unfolds slowly as the wine is exposed to air. This is probably not a Nebbiolo for long-term aging, but it is drinking well right now. It's a wine for slow drinking.

La Ferme du Mont Cotes du Rhone Premiere Cote, 2011

This Cotes du Rhone has 30% Syrah to go with 60% Grenache, and the Syrah seems to be showing...at least at this stage of the wine's development.

Very deep and dark. At least some of the wine has probably been aged in barriques. And the aromas and flavors are more backward than I would expect from a 2011 CDR. Floral, herbal scents make me think Syrah. Also more black than red fruits. Black olives, cured meats. Rather firm on the mid-palate and finish but still full of flavor.