Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Joseph Drouhin Vero Pinot Noir, 2007

This red Burgundy is blended by Veronique Drouhin-Boss to capture, as she puts it, the elegance of Volnay, the aromatic subtlety of the Haute Cotes du Beaune, the red berry flavors of Chorey-les-Beaune or Rully, and the charm and structure of Chambolle-Musigny. Unfortunately, I do not have enough experience with red Burgundy to detect and confirm all of that, but I do consider the wine a big success. We had it with filet steak for Valentine's Day.

Very light ruby, brilliant and clear. Lovely nose of red berries, flowers and a touch of spice and white pepper. Good acidity--red raspberries and cranberries. More like an Anderson Valley than an Oregon Pinot Noir. Reminds me a lot of the 2007 Couloir Roma's Vineyard that we had for Thanksgiving dinner. Lovely texture. So delicate, yet so strong.

Nerelo del Bastardo, NV

I've been buying the Bastardo wine for more than a decade. The spelling of Nerelo has changed (one "l" rather than two); the vintage date has been omitted; and I suspect the cuvee has changed. But the smells and flavors are exceptional.

Very deep color. Probably some new oak aging but, if so, the fruit shines through clearly. Dark cherries, flowers, black licorice. Similar to the 1999 and 2002, both of which seemed to be predominately Nebbiolo. From what I can discover, there are probably some grapes from farther South in the blend--Sangiovese and maybe some Primitivo. Whatever. It still has the powerful thrust along with pretty floral and spice tones. Very enjoyable.

The price of Nerelo has gone up to $8.99 at Trader Joe's, and it can be found for the same price at World Market.I'm still hanging on to some of my older bottles from 1999 and 2002 because they seem to be improving. This NV is probably for near-term consumption.

Les Trois Couronnes Cotes du Rhone, 2010

Only about a decade ago, I could find at least half a dozen Cotes du Rhone wines, all selling for under $10 and all very much to my liking. Now many of these wines are selling for $14 to $15, and some are aged in new oak barriques that detract from their traditional charm. In some stores today, this is the only under-$10 CDR, and it's all too easy to dismiss it as a "cheap" wine. In  fact, it's very good.

Berries, black pepper, spice, tobacco--old fashioned Cotes du Rhone but with considerable elegance. Nice acid structure, well balanced and finely focused. Bright and lively with a long finish.This 2010 is perfect for drinking right now, although the Les Trois Couronnes on the shelves right now is the 2012.

Domaine Sainte Anne Cotes du Rhone, 2001

This wine evolved quite a bit over 24 hours--all for the better. On first popping the cork, I smelled the classic Sainte-Anne traits: blueberries, flowers, slightly tonic uplift. Flavors were very fruit oriented, slightly tannic on the mid-palate with a ripe finish. An hour later, transformations were already taking place: strawberries rather than blueberries with some spicy tones. Deeper scents and flavors. On the second night, the transformation was complete: fresh and dried strawberries, deep and compact. The youthful exuberance has been replaced by a mature austerity. More like the 2004 than the 2005. I'm beginning to think of Cairanne or even Chateauneuf du Pape.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Chateau d'Epire Savennieres, 1982

What a wonderful surprise. The last bottle of this wine that I opened in September, 2008 seemed hopelessly over the hill, and I assumed the last three or four bottles in the cellar were doomed for dumping down the sink. I finally got the nerve to open another and voila! Beautiful; everything a mature Savenniere should be.

The color is remarkable for a 32-year-old white table wine: brilliant, clear, medium deep gold. (The 2008 bottle was much, much deeper and murkier.) There is a bit of funk around the edges of the bouquet but nothing to get distressed about. Rich, powerful Chenin Blanc fruit scents. Red Haven peaches with lots of red fruit acidity, minerals, flowers. The more you smell, the more you discover. And on the palate, it's even more exciting. Silky smooth. Expands on the mid-palate and just keeps growing. Length and breadth galore. Long finish with flavors that dance all the way down. This is what mature Savennieres is all about. I love it.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Domaine Sainte Anne Cotes du Rhone Villages Saint Gervais, 2000

This old favorite from Domaine Sainte Anne is much more than an every day wine. It cost me only $12.99 a bottle; the current vintage sells for about $20 and worth every penny.

Beautiful medium deep crimson color. Brilliant and clear. This is what mature Mourvedre is about--rhubarb, red berries and Provencal herbs. Smells lovely, tastes even better. If there are tannins, they come from the fruit and are ripe and friendly. Steps lightly but has lots of power underneath. A hint of black pepper on the finish.

St. Hallett Barossa Faith Shiraz, 2010

You can't accuse this wine of not making a good first impression. The color is an impressive bluish purple, and aromas of black currants and berries come at you immediately from the glass. I find more of the same on the palate, but, unfortunately, the flavors are a bit too ripe--more like black plums and raisins rather than berries.  Lacks acid. Eventually, the wood tannins and alcohol take over and dominate. Unfortunately, this wine seems to represent all of the negative stereotypes of Barossa Shiraz--sweet, oaky and alcoholic. To be fair, it represents the third level of  St. Hallett's Shiraz. St. Hallett winemaker Stuart Blackwell uses his best grapes, from carefully selected vineyards, for his Old Block and Blackwell Shiraz. This Faith Shiraz is a more generic Barossa Shiraz, apparently intended for every day use. It's a pleasant wine, but at $14.99, I consider it a bit pricey.