Friday, December 8, 2017

J.L. Chave St. Joseph Offerus, 1999

Wow! This wine has developed beautifully, and I see no signs of impending decline, even at 18 years of age.

Medium deep Syrah color. Has thrown plenty of sediment but it is actually quite pleasant to smell and taste--the tannin that was. Fruit more than oak. Black fruits--blackberries, black raspberries, cassis, lavender--everything you expect from a great Syrah. Also some pleasant earthy, savory tones, black olives, cured meats--all the qualities I love in a mature Syrah. Very ripe but has plenty of acid to balance it out. Sweet and savory. Gorgeous wine.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Domaine Diochon Moulin a Vent, 2000

Two years ago (January, 2016) I said some bad things about this wine. It must have been an off bottle, subjected to bad storage or transportation before it got to my cellar. With this bottle tonight, I take it all back. Domaine Diochon is an excellent wine that ages well, and, at $20 to $25 a bottle, one of the world's great wine bargains.

At 18 years of age, the color has lightened a bit but is still a bright ruby. (Not so with the 2016 bottle.) The bouquet is slow to open but has a lovely subtlety. Cherries, pomegranates, flowers. Same on the palate. It's not made to bowl you over but rather to give you a pleasurable dining experience. And that it does. We had it with a simple meal of tomato soup and salad, but the wine brought the experience to a whole different level. Subtle, smooth, no hard edges and a long, long finish. Glad I still have another bottle.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Ciacci Piccolomini d'Arogona IGT Toscano Rosso, 2010

I bought only one bottle of this Toscano Rosso and nursed it for several years before opening. It is showing very well for a wine made for every day consumption. At $12 a bottle, I would buy it by the case and enjoy it over several years. Don't worry about drinking it too soon and don't worry that it will go over the hill on you. Don't worry about drinking it with pizza (as we did tonight) and don't worry about serving it with beef or pork tenderloin. It's mostly Sangiovese Grosso from young vines used to produce Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino blended with some Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet.

Medium ruby color. The wine was fermented in stainless steel and aged in concrete so it's not for oak lovers. Sangiovese cherry with some herbal notes, ripe and approachable but with good acid structure. Dry up front but with significant ripeness and complexity as the wine glides across the tongue. I like it; wish I had more.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Saint Cosme Little James' Basket Press Rouge, (2015)

The name, the cartoon drawings, the style of the label suggests that this is a fun wine. And it is. But I also got serious pleasure from this beautiful expression of Grenache, one of my favorite wine grapes.

The grapes probably come from the Southern Rhone, but the wine can claim only a vin de table designation because of the unusual way it is made. Commonly used for sherry and tawny port, he solera method works very well here for a dry table wine. About 50% of the wine comes from the current vintage (2015) which is added to a barrel containing wine from every vintage since 1999. As w inemaker Louis Barruol points out, "Our solera is getting more and more complexity year after year. When we add the current vintage, the solera gains a new element without changing the style."

The color is much deeper than I expect from even a young Southern Rhone Grenache, but the aromas and flavors are spot on. Rich, ripe mouthfeel with lots of fresh fruit: strawberries, cherries, a touch of cassis. Soft but not simple. Has mature fruitcake qualities lurking underneath that are suggestive of a fine Chateauneuf du Pape or Gigondas. Fermented and aged in vat.

I bought a bottle for $11.99 at D&W in Kalamazoo and will go back for more. It is great with an every day meal, but I would not hesitate to serve it at a special dinner. Serious fun.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Domaine du Prieure Savigny Les Beaune Blanc, 2011

The label mentions pineapple and mango, tropical fruit traits that are ordinarily found in warm climate, New World Chardonnays rather than white wines from Burgundy. At first I detect mostly citrus and honey dew melon, but as the wine warms in the glass, the pineapple and mango smells and flavors are dominant. Everything is clean and clearly focused, though, with a long finish.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Trimbach Alsace Riesling, 2012

Trimbach has some of the best Riesling vineyards in Alsace. The Clos St. Hune and the Cuvee Frederick Emile bottlings are classics...and priced accordingly. But the regular Trimbach Riesling, which sells for $15 to $25 a bottle, is also excellent. My advice is to buy as much as you can afford. There are very few Chardonnays in this price range that offer as much complexity and character.

Deep yellow color. Has the classic petroleum smells plus yellow stone fruits. Oh so rich and intense, and it gets better from minute to minute. Singing on the second night. The Trimbach Riesling made my Top 10 of 2016 and will probably be on my list against in 2017.

Keenan Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 1979

The grapes for this wine come from Silver Mountain, and the high quality was apparent even in the early 1980s. It got high marks from Parker, and the original price was $17.49--outside of my price range at that time. But the sale tag from Russo's in Grand Rapids reads $8.99, and for that price, I bought several bottles. They have aged remarkably well; I wish I had more.

Very deep, bluish, almost opaque. And a great deal of crusty sediment. Beautifully aromatic from the first pour. Spicy, oaky but good blackberry and currant fruit. Even at 38 years of age, this wine has substantial tannin and acid to carry its beautiful Silver Mountain fruit.