Sunday, December 4, 2016

Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reservee, 1993

Domaine Pegau's Cuvee Reservee is one of my favorite wines, and I have tasted virtually every vintage from 1988 to the present. 1993 does not rank high on that list; it was not a particularly strong vintage for the Southern Rhone. This wine tonight, though, is very enjoyable.

Not a big wine. And there is none of the delightful funk that can be found in many Cuvee Reservees. Red berries and spice. Smells remarkably fresh for a 23-year-old wine. It's actually quite restrained on the palate, almost elegant. There is some dryness on the finish that might make wine critics turn up their noses. But I can't find anything that really takes away from my pleasure of drinking this wine alongside Provencal lamb with potatoes, onions and tomatoes.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Bucklin Old Hill Ranch Sonoma Valley Zinfandel, 2006

You may have heard of Ravenswood's Old Hill Vineyard Zinfandel; it sells for about $40 a bottle. Bucklin's Old Hill Ranch Zin is not as well known but only slightly less expensive when it first hits the market. I bought this one three or four years ago for about $12 from Village Corner in Ann Arbor, probably thanks to a distributor close out. It was a great opportunity to try a wine from one of the country's oldest vineyards, first planted in the 1880s. Although the label says "Zinfandel" because Zin is the primary grape, this is actually a field blend that includes Grenache, Alicante Bouschet, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Syrah, Carignane, Temperanillo, Tannat, Grand Noir and few other varietals. You name it, this wine has it. And it's a unique experience.

Very deep and dark. Looks like a big wine and it is: 15.3% alcohol but it's not at all sweet, jammy or hot as many high-alcohol wines are. Zinfandel-like boysenberry is prominent but, oh, so much more--carignane spice and earth, Grenache berry, Syrah pepper, Mourvedre violets, etc., etc. All blended together nicely. On the palate, dark cherry takes over, rich and warm. Medium long finish. This is the best bottle I have had from a half case. One more to go; I may keep it another year or two just to see what happens.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Louis Latour Auxey Duresses Blanc, 1996

This is a 20-year-old mid- to low-level white Burgundy drinking beautifully right now. I have had this wine several times over the past 16 to 18 years, and it has never been better than it is tonight.

Deep gold. Don't worry about the color; this wine is alive and growing. Almonds, white peaches, flowers and grain. Aromas that keep coming at you, and flavors that are layered and complex. Each sip creates a new memory that lingers and lingers. This is a unique experience.

I paid about $15 for this Auxey Duresses at Village Corner in Ann Arbor during the late 1990s. Even if I could live another 20 years (which is highly unlikely), I could not expect the current vintage of this wine to still be delivering pleasure after so many years in the bottle. Things have clearly changed in the way Burgundian Chardonnays are made, but I am fortunate to have a few relics from the good old days.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ici/La-Bas "Les Reveles" Medoncino Pinot Noir Elke Vineyard Anderson Valley, 2006

This is an Anderson Valley Pinot Noir made by Jim Clendenen, a respected winemaker from Au Bon Climat. The grapes come from Mary Elke's Donnelly Creek vineyard--again one of the best.

Medium deep ruby. Wild strawberries, flowers and spice. Fruit purity and focus. Lively intensity on the mid-palate followed by a rich, satisfying finish. For my taste, this wine needs some time to develop depth and complexity. A 1997 Ici/La-Bas I had a couple of years ago showed loads of character, even though Mary Elke's vineyards were still young at that time.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Collovray & Terrier Macon Villages Tradition, 2014

For those preferring a white wine with our Thanksgiving turkey, this traditional Macon was more than adequate.

The color is a beautiful medium gold. (By comparison, the 2013 from this estate tasted last week was much deeper gold with more suggestions of maturity.) Crisp apples and pears. No oak but probably some time spent on the lees (spent yeast cells). Chardonnay just the way I like it, showing all the facets of the fruit. Reminds me of the estate's Pouilly Fuisse and Saint Veran, which I had many times during the 1990s. Good Macon, good vintage. Buy more.

Clos du Clocher Pomerol, 1995

Some 1995 Bordeaux might be showing signs of age, but this Pomerol is doing just fine.

Deep and dark. Scents of dark chocolate and cherries, laced with just a hint of herbs. A blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, showing the best face of both varietals. Flamboyant with finely tuned fruit. I'm generally not a fan of Merlot, but then I rarely run across Merlot this fine. Paired with a 1979 Edmeades Cabernet at the Thanksgiving table.

Edmeades Anderson Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 1979

The price tag on this bottle reads $7.99. Even considering inflation, that was a particularly low price for a 1979 California Cabernet. The 1979 Burgess Cellars was $12.50; Mondavi, $13.15 and Cakebread, $15.95. Edmeades, though, had vineyards in Anderson Valley--a cool climate area that was very low on the prestige scale at that time. In recent years, Anderson Valley has gained a reputation for very high quality Pinot Noirs and Alsace varietals. As a result, there aren't many vineyards (outside of Yorkville Cellars) producing Cabernet or other Bordeaux varietals. This wine, though, is proof that the area is capable of producing very good, ageworthy Cabernet.

Deep but with the bricking to be expected. Well focused Cabernet smells and flavors--blackcurrant, black fruits and leather. A blast from the past, well preserved. Tasted alongside a 1995 Pomerol (Clos du Clocher), this wine showed all the colors of Cabernet Sauvignon. A hit at the Thanksgiving table.