Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Phillips Hill Toulouse Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2006

The label sums up what Anderson Valley Pinot Noir is all about: "difficult as it is to grow Pinot when you have to fight the climate or the soil, here it grows as if it were a nursery for angels." The pure fruit qualities of the grape just seem to develop effortlessly in this cool, foggy valley near the Pacific Coast. It's my favorite source for Pinot Noir wines, ranking even higher than Oregon or the Burgundy region of france.

We tasted at Toulouse Winery near Philo several years ago and were impressed by the fruit quality. This may be even better than the Toulouse Estate Pinot, which is very good indeed.

Beautiful ruby with slight bricking. Scents of red raspberries, cherries, mint and green tea. Lacy Pinot texture and bright fruit flavors. Long and ripe. Gets better with every sip.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Parducci Mendocino County Pinot Noir, 2013

When I saw this Pinot on the wine list (Cafe4 in Knoxville, TN), I knew it was good because I have several bottles in my own cellar. I paid $4.79 for my bottles, but I had no hesitation paying $7 a glass for the glass tonight. It is worth that...and maybe more.

Deep ruby, Cherries, red berries and spice. Has the depth of fruit of Mendocino Pinot Noir, Medium full on palate. Firm fruit on finish. The $4.79 price was a special; wish I could find more at that price. This is a very good North Coast Pinot.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Moillard Cotes du Rhone Les Violettes, 2013

If it hadn't been for the name, I might have missed the violets in this Cotes du Rhone. It's definitely internationaly-styled with very little of the peppery, spicy rusticity that I love in a Southern Rhone. If I were drinking it blind, I might think it were a New World blend of some sort. Nevertheless, it is very attractive--smooth, medium bodied and moderately ripe. As it airs over the course of the meal, I detect more of the ripe Grenache berry. Nice wine but cheap at half the price. For $16 to $18, I can find much better options.

I had this as a wine by the glass at the excellent Lazy Goat Restaurant in Greenville, SC.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

La Guita Manzanilla Sherry (bottled 2016)

I have to admit my ignorance about sherry, but I know that Fino and Manzanilla are usually best when freshly bottled. As a result, many of these wines are past their prime by the they reach our shores. I had some good examples in Spain last summer, and this La Guita is another.

Very light color. I get an immediate whiff of oxidation, but that is part of the plan with Sherry. It quickly fades into the background behind fresh scents of sea brine, green olives and yeast. The flavors are also fresh and blend beautifully with tapas from Curate, an excellent Spanish restaurant in Asheville, NC. Patatas brava, skewered lamb, Catalan spinach and Catalan sausage. I really felt like I was back in Barcelona or Seville. Good sherry, great food.

Domaine du Vieux Lazaret Chateauneuf du Pape, 2013

Most of the Chateauneufs in my cellar were purchased a decade or more ago when even the best bottles from the best vintages were available for less than $20 a bottle. Chateauneuf du Pape wines age very well over two or three decades, but they are also very good when tasted young, as this 2013 Vieux Lazaret demonstrates.

The color is not particularly dark but has bright, clear crimson tones. At least this bottling of Vieux Lazaret is aged in large, old oak foudres. From the first sniff, the origin of this wine is indisputable; it has all the hallmarks of a fine traditional Chateauneuf. Bright red fruits, pressed flowers, spices and pepper. Mellow in the mouth with compact fruit and old vine intensity. Long finish. 14% alcohol is apparent but in a positive way and in line with CdP tradition. The wine is well proportioned and well balanced. A delight now with a promise of more to come.

Even though Vieux Lazaret sells for about $40 a bottle, I was able to get a three-ounce pour for only $10 at a unique place--Battery Square Book Exchange and Champagne Bar in Asheville, NC. Yes, I could spend an afternoon just browsing the reading matter in this fantastic new and used book store. And I can also order and drink 25 to 50 wines and champagnes by the glass, including some high-end wines available in one-ounce, three-ounce, five ounce or 10-ounce pours. This is my type of place; next time I'm ordering the 2010 Ceretto Barbaresco. We saw little groups everywhere: four women who call themselves WWW, Women Who Wine; two men getting together for coffee and a roll; a group upstairs discussing 19th century history; young college couples exploring the stacks. It's a place to be alone or together exploring books and wine.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Louis Latour Montagny 1er Cru Le Grande Roche, 2011

This Louis Latour Chardonnay was quite ordinary when I first popped the cork, but it became increasingly impressive as it aired and warmed throughout the meal. I paid $16 for this a year ago at Village Corner in Ann Arbor and consider it an excellent value.

Deep gold color. Looks perfect for current drinking. As the bouquet begins to open, I smell flowers, lemon creme and vanilla. Enough depth to keep me coming back for sniff after sniff. Pretty much the same on the palate. Apples, lemons and muscat. Nice acidity with a pleasing touch of sweetness on the finish. Right on the money for current drinking.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Domaine la Remejeanne Cotes du Rhone Les Arbousiers, 2011

Domaine la Remejeanne produces several very good Cotes du Rhones made in a traditional way. This is the one with a high percentage of Syrah (70% vs 30% Grenache).

As to be expected with the Syrah-rich cepage, the color is a deep, dark ruby. And the aromas and flavors lean more toward black fruits and tones--blackberry, cassis, lavender and a hint of mint. Takes some time to open, but it's drinking nicely. My only complaint: the alcohol level is a bit high (15%) and there is not enough balancing acidity to keep it lively. It's a big wine, though, and New World wine drinkers will probably prefer it to Remejeanne's Grenache-rich CDR.