Sunday, September 8, 2019

D'Arenberg The Stump Jump Grenache Syrah Mourvedre, 2014

 labelThe label says that this wine is 38% Grenache, 32% Syrah and 30% Mourvedre, but my impression is that it is 100% Shiraz in personality. It is slightly sweet (1.6% residual sugar), very oaky and somewhat alcoholic. It's a style that is very popular among Americans as well as Australians. And the label claims that if you hold the bottle at arm's length and can still read the optometry chart, you are sober enough to have another glass.

Maison L'Envoye Straight Shooter Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 2017

Maison L'Envoye originated in French Burgundy but has traversed the globe in search of "elusive sites where Pinot Noir shines." Straight Shooter is the group's low end offering from the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and their web site calls it a wine "made to drink, not analyze." Of course, it's a wine to drink and enjoy, but it's not at all simple.

Deep ruby, darker than many Pinots. The clones are  Pommard/114/115/777/Wadensvil/667, and the wine was matured in French oak barrels, 10% of which were new, for 12 months. The oak influence, though, is unobtrusive. From the first sip, the wine cannot be mistaken for anything but high quality Pinot Noir. Bright Oregon fruit (dark cherries, blueberries, plums), flowers and ginger/pepper spice. Strong flavors from front to back. Goes well on its own as well as with grilled Faroe Island salmon from the menu at 600 Kitchen in Kalamazoo.

I have not seen Straight Shooter Pinot in shops but will certainly look for it. At $15 to $20 a bottle, it is a fantastic bargain.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Chateau d'Angludet Margaux, 1978

1981 Château D'AngludetAt 41 years of age, this 1978 Cru Bourgeois still has some life left in it, although it is probably well past its prime.

I get a medicinal smell when the cork is popped, but this blows away with some airing. Pretty scents of flowers and fruit, dry and fresh. Flavors are classic: black currant, cassis and a hint of sour cherry. Has plenty of acid as a backdrop to the ripe black currant finish. Good balance that brings me back for sip and after sip.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Tenuta Arnulfo Costa di Bussia Barolo, 2005

When I first opened this wine and took a sip, I wasn't so sure it would measure up to a very good Langue Rosso (2010 The Vinum) we had enjoyed two nights previously. The smells were a bit muted, and acidity was blocking ripe fruit flavors. After three or four hours of passive aeration in the bottle, though, this 2005 Costa di Bussia was living up to the expectations of a fine Barolo just entering its prime stage of drinkability.

Medium deep crimson/amber with good brightness and saturation. Now the bouquet is coming through--dark cherries, flowers, leather and a hint of Piedmont black licorice. Acids and tannins are still dominant but not enough to blunt the bright Nebbiolo flavors. Deep fruit. Dances on the tongue. Long after taste.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Merry Edwards Russian River Pinot Noir, 2000

Merry Edwards -  Pinot Noir Russian River 2016 <span>(750ml)</span> <span>(750ml)</span>If I were to taste this wine blind, I might think of it as five to seven years of age but certainly not 19 years. It is a beautiful wine, still apparently in its prime.

Deep, dark ruby. Very saturated with virtually no tones of brick or amber. At first, exciting floral/fruit scents and flavors. Pomegranates and cherries. Deep, concentrated and intense. Later, some gingery spice that is typical of Pinot Noirs from the best areas of the Russian River Valley. A rather big wine for Pinot Noir but silky textures and enchanting, complex flavors that stay with me long after I have finished drinking. Merry Edwards has a well earned reputation for producing high quality Pinot Noir, and this wine is a testament to their ability to age.

Kangarilla Road McLaren Vale Shiraz, 2016

Finding good, inexpensive Australian wines (under $10 a bottle) is virtually impossible--at least in my markets. If you travel to Australia, you will find that budget wines in the shops are generally those priced at $20 to $30 a bottle. Vineyard workers in Australia are paid a decent wage--probably four to five times more than a comparable worker in California or Oregon. Winemakers I have talked to laugh at the idea of a $10 wine. "I can't give you an empty bottle with a label for that price," they say.

This Kangarilla Road Shiraz, selling for $13.99 at Costco, is one of the best values I have seen in quite awhile. Away from Costco, I suspect it might cost $20 to $25, and, even at that price, it is a good value for an Australian Shiraz.

Very deep and dark. Blue plums, blackberries and spicy oak. This is a big wine but not overly ripe or alcoholic. Well defined fruit flavors and ripe tannins that go down easily. I will buy more but I will wait a year or two for prime enjoyment.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

The Vinum Langhe Rosso, 2010

Barolo and Barbaresco are the king and queen of Nebbiolo. And Langhe Nebbiolo (often made from grapes that didn't quite make the cut for Barolo or Barbaresco) is a relatively low priced alternative. For pure pleasure, though, at an even lower price, I have been impressed by wines labeled as Langhe Rosso that combine Nebbiolo with Barbera and, in some cases, Dolcetto. This example is a 50/50 blend of Nebbiolo and Barbera.

According to the winemaker's website, the fruit comes from LaMorra, and the wine displays the elegance and aromatic range that is characteristic of wines from this area just north of Barolo. Rose petals, deep cherry/berry fruit, pepper and dark licorice--all the smells I love in Barolo and Barbaresco. The color is deep and dark, thanks to the Barbera in the blend, and the fruit is forward enough to enjoy right now, although there is still plenty of tannin for backbone and aging potential. The more I sniff and sip, the better it gets. By the end of the bottle, I am grinning from ear to ear.