Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Mount Langi Ghiran Langi Shiraz, 1995

From one of the best Shiraz vineyards in Australia and legendary winemaker Trevor Mast, this 1995 Langi Shiraz is showing beautifully at the moment.

The lifted minty notes in the bouquet suggest that this vintage was exposed to a greater than usual amount of new American oak. But this does not detract from the wine's overall charms and may even be an asset. The oak scents are nicely integrated into more traditional smells of black currants, black olives and peppercorn. Reminds me a lot of Jaboulet's Domaine Thalabert, one of my favorite Syrah wines. Rich but not at all heavy on the mid palate. And the finish sings. At least at this stage, I think I prefer this 1995 to the very good 1997 Langi Shiraz.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Boomtown by Dusted Valley Columbia Valley Washington Merlot, 2015

I almost never buy Merlot or order a glass of Merlot from a restaurant menu. I have what I believe is a well founded prejudice against this wine because most of those on the market are either soft and sweet, overly oaky or reek of green vegetables such as celery and bell peppers. I realize, of course, that some of the great wines of Pomerol and Saint Emilion are mostly Merlot. And I have thoroughly enjoyed some high end New World Merlots such as Duckhorn and Leonetti. This Boomtown Merlot from Washington State is a budget wine that won my approval.

Deep and dark. There is 6% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. Cherries and dark chocolate but not at all sweet. Also some black currants but not even a trace of green veggies. Tannic enough to match up well with pan seared duck. But there is enough acid to keep the wine lively and highlight the fresh fruit. The winemaker notes that 20% of the wine was aged in new French oak, but even at this early stage, I can detect no oak influence.

For $13.99 (a reduced price for those who attended the Tasters Guild wine dinner), this Merlot is a bargain. I ordered four bottles.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Ca Rome Romano Marengo DaPruve, 1996

This may be the best Barbaresco I have ever had. And it's not even a Barbaresco. If you take a careful look at the label, you will see that the producer, Ca Rome Romano Marengo, is located in Barbaresco Italia, a small village where Barbaresco is grown and made. But nowhere is the wine identified as Barbaresco, an appellation that requires that the wine be made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes. DaPruve  (Vino da Tavola or table wine) is a blend of 80% Nebbiolo and 20% Barbera. While this small portion of Barbera may lower the price of the bottle, it certainly did not lower the quality...nor its value to me.

Actually, the color is deeper and darker than I would expect from Barbaresco. And that can undoubtedly be attributed to the Barbera in the blend. The bouquet is explosive...but I'm talking about beauty and charm rather than power. It definitely has the Nebbiolo aroma profile--rose petals, dark cherries and a touch of black licorice. And it is even more beautiful on the palate. A feminine wine with ripe tannins that are barely noticeable and enough acidity to make it dance on the tongue. 1996 is recognized as a great year for Barbaresco, and this wine is a great one.

By far, the best wine I have had this year and probably better than anything I had in 2017.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Domaine Sainte-Anne Saint Gervais, 2000

As most of you know, I am a fan of Domaine Sainte-Anne wines, and Saint Gervais is my favorite bottling. It's 60 to 70% Mourvedre blended with about equal quantities of Grenache and Syrah--all from well sited vineyards planted in the mid-1960s. The high percentage of Mourvedre is what makes it special for me.

Deep and dark ruby. More black than red fruits with hints of violets becoming more prominent since the last bottle I opened. Rich and very smooth on the mid-palate. Unlike the other Sainte-Anne Cotes du Rhones, the Mourvedre in this wine may have been exposed to new oak but it is nicely integrated. Elegant and charming on the mid-palate. Goes well with beef.

Phillips Hill Toulouse Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2006

After driving from the Pacific Ocean through a 10-mile stretch of towering redwoods, Toulouse Vineyards and Winery suddenly loomed up our left. It looked inviting, and we stopped for a very pleasant tasting. It was one of my first introductions to Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, and I was suitably impressed. Phillips Hill Winery (which we had passed just a few miles before) apparently used grapes from one of the Toulouse vineyards to make this wine. Noting that, I was quick to buy. And, tonight, I have no regrets.

The color is a deep ruby with only slight bricking. Crushed raspberries--black and red--with flowers and spice. The Anderson Valley traits are apparent: very pure fruit, subtlety and grace. Lovely texture. Long finish. As much as I like Russian River Pinot, I believe that Anderson Valley is a cut above.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Domaine de Cristia Cotes du Rhone, 2015

This wine is made with 100% Grenache grapes but the color tells me that it has been aged in new oak barriques. And, as far as I'm concerned, that is not a good combination. Grenache does not take well to new oak; the wood tannins cover up and basically destroy most of the subtle qualities of the grape.

Dark, bluish color. Sweet rather than ripe smells. At least at this stage, I don't get the pepper, spice and floral traits I expect from Grenache. Rich and ripe but essentially flat on the palate. International style; not to my taste.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Sottimano Mate Brachetto, 2016

Like the Chidaine Vouvray Sec (below), this is a wine I might never have tried without the opportunity to sample from a wide array of fine wines at Tastings Wine Bar in Columbus, Ohio.

Light in color and body. This is not for those who like "big boys" or "heavy hitters." That's okay; that means there is more for the rest of us. Lovely scents of flowers, spice, wild berries. Not much tannin but lots of acid that makes it dance on the tongue. This is my first go at Brachetto, and I will go back for more. I suspect, though, that Sottimano's Mate is the best of the lot.