Saturday, November 28, 2015

Napa Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet, 1979

The Napa Cellars that produced this wine was located in Oakville (prime territory in Napa) and owned by Charles R. Woods. The winery has changed hands several times since and is now probably known best for its Chardonnay. This 1979 Napa Cellars Cabernet has always been one of my favorite Cabernets from that period, and it has aged well.

Medium deep and dark. Clean, luscious smells and flavors. Some rich chocolate and coffee along with brighter herbal tones. Incredible range of flavors, carried forward by good acidity and fading tannins. Everything you should expect from an Oakville Napa Cabernet. I paid $13.75 for it back in 1981 or 1982--25 to 50 percent cheaper than more prestigious Napa Cabs such as Heitz, Phelps, Stag's Leap and Chateau Montelena.

Paul Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert, 1980

The 1980 vintage was universally bad or mediocre in most wine producing areas of the world. My bottles of Jaboulet's Hermitage la Chapelle were over the hill more than a decade ago (I may have bought poorly transported or stored bottles since recent reports of la Chapelle from Cellar Tracker have been much more positive). My 1980 Domaine Thalabert Crozes-Hermitage has been good from day one (and better than la Chapelle). Tonight's bottle, at age 35, once again is excellent.

Good dark color, not much bricking, but lots of crusty sediment on the sides of the bottle. The bouquet is classic Thalabert: black fruits, lavender, anise and black olives. I love the black olive element that I have noted in some of my favorite Northern Rhone wines. Rich and full on the palate; nothing dramatic but seems to touch and tantalize every taste bud in my mouth. Not as good as the 1982 or 1983 Thalabert but still very, very good.

Fratelli Molino Barbaresco Ausario, 2000

I opened this at least three hours before dinner, and it certainly needed the aeration time. I sampled it frequently after opening, and it remained tight, acidic and almost tart for at least two hours. Beautiful aromas, though, from the first opening.

With roast pork loin braised in milk (a recipe from Marcella's Italian cookbook), the smells and flavors unfolded like the petals of a rose. More red fruits than black. Roses galore but not many of the dark tones that I associate with Nebbiolo. Fine and delicate on the palate. Lots to like, but I suspect there will be even more in a few years.

CR&F Serradayres Portoguese Red, 1974

Tucked away in the far corner of my cellar since the early 1980s, this wine was presumed to be long dead. I drank many, many bottles of this and the 1969 Serradayres in the early 1980s. It was only about $2 a bottle (even at that time, cheaper than jug wine) and was beautifully textured and flavored. There were a few stray bottles left when I moved on to other wine values. Opened tonight out of curiosity, it is shockingly good and got many compliments from the table (even though it was matched against a 1990 Barbaresco, a 1982 Meyney from St. Estephe and a 1992 Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz from Central Victoria. (This wine and the Langi got the most votes, although I preferred the Barbaresco.)

Still has a good dark color, less browning and bricking than the younger Bordeaux. High-toned nose with complexity that brings you back for sniff after sniff. Thrust of dark cherry, as I remember from the early 1980s. Lots of deep, concentrated fruit but with an elegant texture that resembles a fine Bordeaux or Napa Cabernet. Really the same wine that I remember but with all of those positive traits that come with extended aging. $2 well spent!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Chateau Meyney St. Estephe, 1982

When I last tasted the 1982 Meyney in the mid-1990s, it was a dark-toned flamboyant wine with lots of sweet fruit flavors. I prefer it tonight as it shows a more elegant, though definitely mature, profile.

Amber and brick tones mark it as a 33-year-old wine, but the fruit smells and flavors are enticing. The blend is about 70% Cabernet, but the cooler tones of Merlot and Cabernet Franc seem more prominent tonight. Cigar box. Very smooth and very much a fine mature Bordeaux. Black currant fruit at the center. Great balance and a finish that seems to linger forever. Hard to stop sipping this wine--even at Thanksgiving dinner with pecan pie awaiting.

Mount Langi Ghiran Langi Shiraz, 1992

The late Trevor Mast, owner and winemaker at Mount Langi Ghiran,  liked this 1992 Langi Ghiran for its excellent balance between tannins and acids. I was at the winery around this time, tasted it from the barrel and smelled the beautiful scents from the American oak barrels where it was aging. Some of those still linger in my memory today.

Very deep and dark. The peppercorn smells that were prominent when the wine was young have now blended in nicely with the Syrah spice and fruit. I smell lavender, anise seed and other herbs that are more prominent in Syrah from the Northern Rhone. But there are New World scents as well--eucalyptus, dill and vanilla. Rich and concentrated but also very smooth. Luscious dark cherry on the long, long finish.

Trevor, who developed Alzheimer's disease at age 57, left us way too early. But he left behind a legacy of great Australian Shiraz wines.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Mittnacht Klack Tokay Pinot Gris Clos St. Ulrich, 1998

Mittnacht Klack is a small estate with excellent vineyards surrounding the village of Riquewihr in Alsace. I enjoyed many Mittnacht wines during the 1990s but unfortunately have not seen the label on the shelves for some time. This is a real old-fashioned Alsace Pinot Gris, beautifully mature.

Very deep, old gold but bright and clear. Mostly honey on the nose. On the palate is where it really shines. Rich and sweet but not at all cloying. Honey and apricots. Acidity makes it dance on the tongue. Great depth and concentration.