Thursday, June 30, 2022

Thierry Despres Grande Maison Cuvee des Monstres Monbazillac, 1996 (375 ml)

Monbazillac is a satellite of the more prestigious Sauternes/Barsac appellation, and ordinarily sells at a discount. Thierry Despres, however, aspires not only for Sauternes quality but also the standards of the No. 1 Sauternes, Chateau d'Yquem. I don't have enough experience with Yquem to compare the two, but this dessert wine is very, very good.

Deep old gold, nearly turning to copper. Apricots, coconut, honey--botrytis in spades. Very rich and fat on the palate, like apricot puree. I opened it to drink with an apricot tart, and it was a perfect match. One taster compared it to a German Trockenbeerenauslese, and I agree. Loads of pleasure in this little half bottle.

Penfolds Bin 389 South Australia Cabernet Shiraz, 2002


Penfolds is high on this 2002 vintage of Bin 389; notes on the site say it is for drinking from now until 2045. After tasting it, I can see why. The wine is  very young for its 22 years.

Deep and dark, almost opaque. The wine is aged in barrels used previously for the high-end Grange Hermitage. Good barrels, seaoned but still showing plenty of oak qualities. Black fruits, coffee, dark chocolate and sea salt. As the winery points out, it combines savory and sweet qualities. Still very young but has the texture, complexity and depth of a fine wine in or near its prime. A special wine but I am going to wait a few years before drinking my next bottle.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Wynns Coonawarra Shiraz Michael, 1998

Michael is the premium bottling of Shiraz produced by Wynns, a perennial Coonawarra stalwart.

Deep, dark crimson with minimal bricking at the rim. Very spicy bouquet, vanilla and baking spice. Black raspberries, cassis, vanilla and a touch of coconut. Rich on the mid-palate with good balance of fruit, oak and alcohol. Slight attenuation on the finish but a very good wine that has aged well.

Friday, June 24, 2022

bigLITTLE Leelanau Peninsula White Bland, 2020

bigLITTLE,  a project of brothers Mike and Pete Laing, shares winery space with Mawby near Sutton's Bay on the Leelanau Peninsula. Mixtape, which is now available at Crosstown FreshMarket in Kalamazoo, is a field blend of white grapes--riesling, gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.

Light straw color. Riesling smells of apple, peach and petrol. Also has Riesling acidity and flavors. Residual sugar gives it a touch of sweetness but, for my taste, not at all unwelcome. I am looking forward to trying more bigLITTLE wines;.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Saltram S2 Southeastern Australia Shiraz, 2019

Saltram is an old and respected name in Australian wines, but I had rarely, if ever, seen it offered in the United States until I saw the display in my local (Kalamazoo) Trader Joe's store. And the price was unbelievable--$3.99 a bottle. S2 is not one of Saltrram's top bottlings, but it sells at Dan Murphy's in Melbourne for $35 Australian (about $27 in US dollars). $3.99?? I was told at the checkout that the wine was initially destined for China but rejected for trade reasons. Trader Joe's then bought the whole lot and apparently for a good enough price to offer it at retail for $3.99. Suspecting that, at that price, the wine would not be around tomorrow, I bought a full case and now am glad that I did.

Medium ruby. None of the blue or purple tones that indicate new oak maturation. Smells like Syrah--red and black fruits with a hint of spice and pepper. Same on the palate--unadorned Shiraz fruit, soft and accessible. I suspect that it might improve with a few years in the bottle, but there is no need to wait. It is very enjoyable right now. 

Monday, June 20, 2022

Wind Gap Russian River Syrah, 2008

I have never bought much California Syrah, opting instead for French Syrah or Australian Shiraz (which really should be thought of as a different wine altogether). This very good Wind Gap wine from the Russian River is likely to change that habit.

Deep, dark Syrah color. Still youthful. Black raspberry, cassis, black pepper and toasted oak. Reminds me of the wines made in the laste 1980s by Australia's legendary winemaker Trevor Mast at Mount Langi Ghiran. Still has some tannin to lose but the acidity keeps it fresh and lively right now. Strong, likeable fruit.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Fetzer Mendocino Late Harvest Riesling, 1985

This was a white wine when I bought it some 35 years ago. It is now a dark red wine but still has the lovely sweet and acidic flavors that defined it during its youth.

Dark almost muddy color. Has darkened from white to rose to copper to dark red over the years. Lovely peach and honey smells and flavors. Bursting with life. 8.5% alcohol but loaded with acidity and sweetness--like a fresh picked Red Haven peach in late August. Too acidic to accompany dessert (pavlova with whipped cream and strawberries) but very refreshing as an after dinner treat. My last of 24 half bottles purchased many years ago.