Friday, May 17, 2019

Domaine du Haut des Terres Blanches, 1994

Image result for domaine du haut des terres blanches 1994I have had two very disappointing bottles of the 1998 from Domaine du Haut des Terres Blanches, but this 1994 may be even better than the last bottle I opened a few years ago.

The color is a light brickish red. Grenache, which oxidizes early, is about 80% of the blend, and this is actually the strength of this Chateauneuf du Pape. A good portion of the Grenache comes from old vineyards in La Crau, one of the best areas of the appellation. The nose takes a few minutes to adjust to the 21st century but then becomes classic--menthol, dried cherries, herbs and sea salt. The flavors are beautiful from the first sip: intense, multi-layered with sweetish fruit and a long finish. Probably because of my negative experience with the 1998, this wine did not make the short list for my 80th birthday. But I'm sure it will be in line for #81.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Chateau de la Roulerie Anjou Chenin Blanc, 2016

View product's larger picture. This picture will open within a viewer, which can cause accessibility problems.In recent years, most Chenin Blanc wines I have consumed were from Savennieres and well aged. I had almost forgotten how good Chenin Blanc can be when it's young.

Full yellow, clear and bright. Scents of white flowers, lemon, honey. Plenty of richness in the mouth but also zesty and clean. Makes all the taste buds stand up and pay attention. Silky texture. An exciting experience; wish I had bought more.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Rocca di Montegrossi Chianti Classico, 2016

MONTEGROSSI_chianticlassico_webThis is not a Super Tuscan; it has the specified grapes (90% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo, 5% Colorino) and meets the other requirements for the Chianti Classico appellation. It is, however, from Tuscany and has super-wine qualities--power, concentration and flavor.

Deep and dark with purplish tints. The wine is obviously well oaked, but there is plenty of ripe fruit to back it up. The aroma has some pretty floral notes along with ripe cherry and dark berries. Deep, concentrated flavors. Good balance of tannin and acid.

This is a top-notch Chianti that is well worth its usual retail price of $18 to $20. It's on the wine list (by the glass or bottle) at Gusto Restaurant in Texas Corners, near Kalamazoo, MI, and we took advantage of the Thursday night 40% discount for bottled wine.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Domaine de l'Oratoire Saint Martin Cairanne Prestige, 2005

oratoire-st-martin-les-doyes-carianneI have drunk more than my share of this incredibly good Cairanne. In fact, I bought it by the case back in the days (1980s, early 1990s) when it sold for $8 to $10 a bottle (as opposed to $30 today). I usually followed the advice of the domaine and drank it at 5 to 8 years of age; so I have never had a l'Oratoire Saint Martin Prestige this old; nor have I ever had one this good.

The Prestige bottling, now known as les Douyes, is produced from a field blend (60% Grenache, 40% Mourvedre) planted in 1905 on limestone/clay slopes. It is one of the top wines from the estate and my favorite, although I am more likely today to buy the Reserve des Seigneurs--less distinctive but also more affordable.

Deep and dark. Sediment forming on one side and some free floating clumps. The bouquet is intense and glorious from the time the cork is popped. Black fruits, violets, leather, spice and herbs. More typical of Mourvedre than Grenache. Very fruity on the palate but with lots of grip and concentration. The texture is somewhat rough, probably because a few bits of sediment made it into my glass. But the finish is long and satisfying. I love this wine.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Roger Lassarat Pouilly Fuisse Racines, 2005

Wow! This wine lifts Chardonnay--and Pouilly Fuisse--to another level. According to the Lassarat website, the fruit comes from "three parcels of century-old vines, in the soils of SolutrĂ© and Vergissson." The estate is proud of "its complexity, the richness of its sap, its intense minerality." And well they should be. It is a special wine.

Even at 14 years of age, this bottle shows a brilliant deep yellow. No signs of advancing age. Lovely bouquet of fresh flowers and fruit, leaning toward citrus with spicy overtones. Has the sappy richness of Pouilly Fuisse, but not to the extreme. Mineral acidity. Layers of flavor and a long after taste. I am pleased.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du Pape, 1989

This 1989 Pegau is a wine that just missed the cut for my 80th birthday dinner. So I brought it out for Easter dinner.

Since there is no government warning label on the back, I know that it is the bottle I bought at the winery on an April visit to France in the early 1990s and carried with me by auto and plane the rest of the trip, trying hard to avoid exposure to heat. Some leakage and mild ullage had occurred and the cork was difficult to remove, but the wine itself was fantastic.

The color has lightened with maturity but is still deep and saturated. I opened the bottle a couple of hours early, but the aromas were bright and fresh from the first moment. Cherries, red berries, menthol and aromatic herbs--very fresh for a 30-year-old wine. There are some earthy qualities, and those are precisely what I, and other Pegau fans, love in the wine. You don't have to be a Pegau fan to love this wine, though. It has beautiful sweetness on the mid-palate with great balancing acidity and a finish that just won't quit. Although Pegau is typically thought of as a "big" wine, age has given this bottle an elegant touch.

Ignorant of the customs of the Southern Rhone, I arrived at Pegau at an inopportune time on my trip in 1992. Laurence Feraud, the winemaker, was having lunch with her mother in a beautiful outdoor setting, and, although I apologized profusely for my intrusion, she brushed my apologies away and graciously treated me to a private tasting and educational session. Her wines were not well known at the time but were represented in my part of Michigan by J.C. Mathes of J et R Wines. "Give my best to Professor Mathes," she said. Some 27 years later, I say, thank you, Laurent, for a great tasting and a great bottle of wine.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Cuvee des 3 Messes Basses Rouge Cotes du Ventoux, 2014

This is not a great wine that has been stored away in the cellar for many years and pulled out for a special occasion. In fact, it is made by a cooperative of small growers, Les Vignerons du Mont Ventoux, who banded together in 1924 to pool their resources and make a living from their vineyards. I have bought this wine, usually in case quantity, for decades and know I can count on it for enjoyable every day drinking. My experience has taught me that you need a good supply of wines like this to keep you happy while you are stashing away great Barolo and Chateauneuf du Pape. While the price tag might read $10, its value to me is high.

Deep crimson, clearly a Rhone blend (50% Grenache, 30% Carignan, 20% Syrah) made in the traditional style that I love. Strong fruit presence with pepper, spice and herbs. At five years of age, the wine is fresh, lively and well balanced. Has all that I love and expect from a Southern Rhone.