Thursday, September 14, 2017

Veglio Micheloni Nebbiolo d'Alba, 2011

You pour a small amount into your glass; the color is rusty red. You take a sip and immediately notice that the wine is very dry. This wine is fading fast, you think; the fruit is drying out. You think that unless you know that this wine is a Nebbiolo from the Piedmont. If you have experience with Nebbiolo, though, you know that there are good things to come if you sit back and enjoy yourself.

The aroma is lovely and exactly what you should expect from Langhe Nebbiolo--flowers, cherry, dark tones of anise or licorice. Flavors offer more of the same. Nothing dried out about this wine, but it has enough acid and tannin to give a firm structure for the fruit, which unfolds slowly as the wine is exposed to air. This is probably not a Nebbiolo for long-term aging, but it is drinking well right now. It's a wine for slow drinking.

La Ferme du Mont Cotes du Rhone Premiere Cote, 2011

This Cotes du Rhone has 30% Syrah to go with 60% Grenache, and the Syrah seems to be showing...at least at this stage of the wine's development.

Very deep and dark. At least some of the wine has probably been aged in barriques. And the aromas and flavors are more backward than I would expect from a 2011 CDR. Floral, herbal scents make me think Syrah. Also more black than red fruits. Black olives, cured meats. Rather firm on the mid-palate and finish but still full of flavor.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Chateau Grand Traverse Old Mission Peninsula Gamay Noir, 2013

Having had several vintages of the Gamay Noir and Gamay Noir Reserve from Chateau Grand Traverse, I would rank it as the best Michigan red wine I have tasted. It's not a big, tannic wine, like the ones produced at Brys Estate. And that's probably why I like it. It's light in body, aromatic, and packed with fruit (rather than oak) flavors.

Medium crimson, bright. Very bright aromas and flavors. Good acid, almost tart up front with compact and complex fruit flavors on the mid-palate. Red and black raspberries, then lively pepper and spice on the finish. Very satisfying either on its own or with food. Reminds me of a Pinot Noir from Russian River or the Sonoma Coast.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Sokol Blosser Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, 2013

Alison Sokol Blosser, representing the second generation of this family-owned estate, came to Kalamazoo to present her estate's wines Wednesday evening at a wine dinner organized by D&W Market at Fuze Kitchen & Bar. It was my introduction to an impressive range of Sokol Blosser wines, now run jointly by Alison and her brother, Alex.

What impressed me most is the ability of Sokol Blosser to offer the consumer-friendly Evolution line of wines at a reasonable price while continuing to produce high quality wines of place through environmentally friendly practices. The vineyards are 100% organic with plantings of lavender, yarrow, rudbeckia and Russian sage to provide habitats for beneficial insects. The underground cellar is the first in the country to earn LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Solar and wind energy are used and everything at the winery--from office paper to shrink wrap--is recycled.

I liked the Willamette Pinot Gris and the Evolution Sparkling Brut and Big Red Blend. But the wine that attracted me to the tasting was the Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, and I was not disappointed. Before this wine was poured, the wine representative went around the room offering tastes of the Evolution Pinot Noir. It was very good but no match at all for the exceptional Dundee Hills.

What Alison's brother Alex, the winemaker, strives for in Pinot Noir is finesse. This wine has finesse, of course, but also incredible concentration and depth. Black cherry, blueberries and intense French oak highlights. Notes of black raspberry and spice. A hint of orange peel. This wine is lovely tonight, but I want to see what it tastes like 5 to 10 years from now. For those who attended the dinner, D&W is offering this wine for $26.99--an incredible value.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Domaine du Grand Tinel Chateauneuf du Pape, 1990

This 1990 Grand Tinel was made before the estate started putting their best grapes into the luxury cuvees. It is 70% Grenache and, even in 1990, many of the Grenache vines were nearing 100 years of age. Parker always advised drinking this wine when young, but I have always liked the way the 1990s has matured.

Good color but clearly no barriques at this point of time. Considering its age (27 years), this wine is not showing a great deal of aromatic complexity but there is plenty to like in the mouth. Ripe strawberries and cassis. Luxurious mouth feel and a smooth finish. I would say that it's at least as good as the last bottle I had about a decade ago.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Chateau de Plaisance Savennieres,1999

At the Chateau de Plaisance website, the winemaker recommends drinking Savennieres wines either 1) before three years of age "for fruit" or 2) after 10 years. And that is pretty much what I have discovered about Savennieres; wines between the ages of 3 and 10 can be so difficult to drink that it's easy to think of them as being overly mature. Conversely, I have never gone wrong by keeping a Loire Chenin Blanc for a decade or two--over even longer. I have bottles from the early 1980s that are still drinking terrifically.

The color is a fairly deep gold--what you would expect from an 18-year-old white wine. The smells, though, are lively and intense. Grapefruit, minerals, flowers. Chenin Blanc depth. More of the same in the mouth. The tense grapefruit is countered by the ripeness of white peaches. Amazing grip; clings to every surface of the mouth, leaving a desire for more.

Domaine du Cayron Gigondas, 1988

Domaine du Cayron is without question my favorite Gigondas, and the 1988 vintage has given me pleasure for many years. Tonight's bottle may be the best I have had, and I expect future bottles to be even better.

Deep and dark. The cepage is 70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Cinsault and just a touch of Mourvedre for color. That touch is doing its job quite well. The bouquet is bold: black fruits, garrigue and menthol. Smells like a young wine albeit with a great deal more complexity. In its youth, this wine was a bit funky, but there is no funk tonight. Fills the mouth with powerful flavors. More black than red fruits. As far as I am concerned, this wine defines Gigondas. And I love it.