Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Deux Roches Macon-Villages Cuvee Tradition, 2014

If you have a bottle of this wine, I suggest you open and drink it right away. It is at a sweet point that should not be denied.

Medium deep for a three-year-old Chardonnay. Intense and beautiful aromas--ripe pears, apples, honey, citrus. In the mouth, it's even more intriguing. When made right, Chardonnay has a lot of complexity. And this wine was made right. Goes beautifully with fish soup.

Cave de Tain Premiere Note Syrah, 2015

2015 was an excellent vintage in the Northern Rhone, and I was impressed by this wine at an earlier tasting. Tonight, though, it is not showing its best. I get a somewhat stinky smell of burned rubber--probably what is known as a "reduction note." In other words, it is crying for a breath of air.

I pour the wine from glass to glass, and, sure enough, the beautiful aromas of young Syrah begin to emerge. Blue plums, black berries, a hint of cassis. This is how it smelled six months ago when I tasted it. Authoritative note on the palate; reminds me of a young Crozes. And it will get better if you have the patience to keep it for three to five years.

Kuentz-Bas Gewurztraminer Cuvee Tradition, 1983

I remember being entranced by this wine at a large wine tasting in Kalamazoo in the mid-1980s. I liked it, and it had been given a high rating by Robert Parker. At that time, before rating inflation, Parker's score was probably 86-88. Tonight, 30-some years later, the wine is a darker color but has pretty much the same tasting profile and personality.

Unmistakably Gewurz: powerful perfume. Rose petals, mint and all the other traits usually described as "spicy" but are really unlike any spice I have smelled. Big and powerful on the palate. None of the bitterness that I expected from a wine this old. Good acid; not nearly as sweet as most Alsace wines are today. It goes very well with spicy Asian food from Chin Chin in Mattawan, Michigan.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Vintjs Russian River Valley Sonoma County Arneis, 2016

Another Trader Joe's bargain. It is a more serious wine than the La Granja 360 described below. And, although it costs about twice as much ($8.99 vs $4.99), it is still inexpensive.

Arneis is a white wine grape from the Piemonte in Italy, and this wine from the Russian River Valley is clearly more New World in its approach. But it is an interesting variation from the usual Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc/Pinot Grigio axis.

Light straw. Intriguing aromas of grapefruit, herbs, flowers. As zesty as the La Granja but has considerable more depth of flavor. Pleasant blood orange finish. I will go back for more.

La Granja 360 Verdejo Viura, 2016

Along with Pontificis, this was one of my selections on my first visit to the new Trader Joe's store in Kalamazoo. For $4.99 a bottle, it is another very good value.

Light straw color. Very aromatic--flowers, fresh herbs. Ripe pears and citrus fruits. Fruity but with a clean, zesty finish.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Trentadue Old Patch Red Lot #43, 2015

The label bills this as a "delicious 'bistro' style blend," and it matched up well with my Thai Barbecue Flank Steak dish at Food Dance Cafe in Kalamazoo. It offers up bright, spicy fruit and an appropriate degree of ripeness. For the price ($12.99 retail and $34 on the wine list at Food Dance), it also has significant concentration and some intriguing Dry Creek Zinfandel traits.

Ridge Vineyards' Geyserville Red ranks at the very top of my Zinfandel list, and the grapes for this wine have been purchased from Leo Trentadue's vineyards for many years. Great grapes, great wine. Trentadue's Old Patch Red Lot #43 is less ambitious but has a blend similar to that of Ridge Geyserville: 73% Zinfandel, 20% Petite Sirah, 5% Carignane and 2% Sangiovese.

Deep and dark. Lush aromas and flavors of berries and dark cherries. Ripe but good acidity. All of the special qualities of Dry Creek Zin and Petite Sirah--peppery, spicy, tannic. Long finish. Is this the "poor man's Geyserville Red"?

I would love to see Trentadue wines come back into my marketing area. Maybe this is a start?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Badet Clement Pontificis GSM, 2015

Picking over the wines at the new Trader Joe's store in Kalamazoo, Pontificis GSM ($6.99) was one of my first selections. And I will go back soon to buy more.

When I saw "Badet Clement" on the label I knew pretty much that I wouldn't be disappointed. For the past several decades, I have enjoyed numerous low-priced Badet Clement wines from Tricastin and other Southern Rhone appellations. This GSM (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre) is a Southern Rhone blend from Languedoc Roussilon in Southern France. There is more Syrah (32%) here than in the typical Southern Rhone, and that results in a deeper color, fuller body and bolder fruit.

Deep, dark ruby. Unique spicy aromas, full and intense. Hints of menthol and aromatic herbs. More black and than red fruits; more plum than berries. The spicy personality carries over to the palate. Bold and intense. Very young now and from a good vintage. I look forward to enjoying this wine many times over the next three or four years.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Domaine du Marcoux Chateauneuf du Pape, 1990

At one time, I considered this to be the best Chateauneuf--perhaps the best wine--in my cellar, even though what I have are all half bottles (375 ml). Age has taken a toll on the wine in these small bottles, however, and it now represents merely a good example of mature Chateauneuf du Pape.

I get some tanky smells but also some pleasant savory aromas. Lots of crusty and powdery sediment. Better on the palate than the nose. Mature Grenache dried berry and spice. Wish I could taste this wine from a 750 ml bottle or--better yet--a magnum.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Domaine des Tourelles Gigondas, 2004

With a few tastes of the Pesquie Ventoux left from the previous night, I wanted a direct comparison with a Gigondas produced about 20 kilometers away from a similar blend of grapes. La Terrasses is 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah; this Tourlles Gigondas is 80% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre and 2% Cinsault. The wines are similar, but the Gigondas is unquestionably several notches higher in quality.

The color is similar--deep ruby. The bouquet is typically Gigondas--wild flowers, spearmint and herbs. In the mouth the wild red berries take over. Sweet fruit but also lovely balancing acidity. Depth and concentration. An excellent wine.

Chateau Pesquie La Terrasses Ventoux, 2012

If you visit Gigondas, you will see the Dentelles de Montmirail, a jagged range of mountains in the background. Even farther back is Mont Ventoux. Ventoux wines have traditionally been lower priced, but the cepage is similar to that of Gigondas and other highly regarded Cotes du Rhone Villages--about 70% Grenache, 20 to 30% Syrah and sometimes some other grapes such as Cinsault or Carignane. And the higher elevation produces wines with more acid and lower levels of alcohol than other areas. Ventoux has always been one of my favorite Southern Rhone appellations, and this is an excellent Ventoux.

Deep ruby. Very traditional in aromas and flavors. Hints of spring flowers peep in and out. Red and black fruits with spice and black pepper. More subtle than other vintages of this wine and more interesting texture. An excellent example of Ventoux and of Terrasses. 70% Grenache, 30% Syrah.