Sunday, January 31, 2016

Boskydel Vineyards Leelanau Peninsula Vignoles, 2009

I had some Boskydel Vignoles bottles from 1982 that were drinking quite well in their second decade, and winemaker/owner Bernie Rink's response was, "Of course." I firmly believe (and Bernie believes even more firmly) that white wines from Michigan's Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas have the acid and fruit stuffing to age long as they are not overly manipulated.

This 2009 Vignoles has matured nicely with broad aromas and flavors of green apple, citrus and minerals. But it has turned to a medium deep color, and I'm inclined to drink my last bottle sooner rather than later.

Debbie Simpson, owner of Good Harbor Wines a few miles away from Boskydel, told me that her Chardonnays seem to do very well after about five to seven years. That strikes me as a good drinking window, and I have one more bottle of the 2007 Good Harbor Chardonnay to test that hypothesis later this year. (Oops, now we're talking nine years, and I'm sure that the wine will past the test.) Sorry, but I just can't wait on the 2012 Pinot Grigio I bought at Good Harbor last summer; it's too good, right now.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Domaine Sainte-Anne Cotes du Rhone, 2004

Many Bordeaux wines seem to become sweeter as they age, and that's a good trait. Domaine Sainte-Anne Cotes du Rhone wines go in the opposite direction, becoming more savory as the initial bold fruitiness fades away. That, too, is a good trait, in my opinion.

Deep ruby. Raspberries, blueberries, aromatic herbs and flowers. A nose that enchants. Fruit acids and tannins are still strong on the palate. Somewhat Pinot-like. Brighter than the 2001 at this stage but not quite as complex.

Jacobs Creek Barossa Reserve Shiraz, 2007

I know there are Jacobs Creek wines--Shiraz, Cabernet, Chardonnay--on the shelves right now selling for $5.99 or less. They are worth that price (although not much more). This bottle is a Reserve Shiraz that received a good review from Wine & Spirits Magazine a few years back. I bought one bottle at Binny's in Chicago for $12 and put it away. Glad I did.

Deep and dark. This wine has seen plenty of oak, but it's pretty well integrated at this point and showing well. Blueberries, blackberries, anise and dill weed. More acidic than I expected from a Barossa Shiraz, and that is a plus. Good fruit focus and concentration on the finish with a sweetness that provides a nice counter to a spicy chili.

Jean Descombes Morgon, 2005

Based on my experience, Jean Descombes Morgon always ages very well. And at 10 years of age, this 2005 is just hitting its stride.

Some garnet tones along with the deep ruby. And some sediment at the bottom of the bottle. But no other signs of advancing age. Bright strawberry/cherry fruit with spice tones. Very much like a good cool climate Pinot Noir, like those from Northern California. Vivid fruit acids. Just the right amount of ripeness. Good grip on the finish. Secondary and tertiary aromas and flavors are just beginning to add some complexity. I'd like to see what develops over the next five years, but the flavors are just too good to pass up right now.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Lindes de Remelluri de San Vicente Rioja, 2011

Tiffany's Wine and Spirits in Kalamazoo, MI chose this as their "wine of the year" and it has also received notable praise from national critics.

As I was getting interested in wine in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Rioja was one of my early lovers. I had many fine bottles of Rioja Vega, Paternini, Olarra, Domecq Domaine and Ramon Bilbao. I opened a couple of these dusty bottles last summer and was not disappointed. Times have changed, though, and this Rioja is made in a bolder style, more like New World Cabernet or Super Tuscan wines.

Deep and dark. What jumps out at me first are strong scents of vanilla; to me, this means American oak, although the estate says it was aged 10 months in French oak. (Maybe it was a broad grained French oak). This vanilla, American oak character was a hallmark of the old Riojas, but Lindes de Remelluri is much more tannic than anything I tasted from the early 1980s. This is certainly not a wimpy Temperanillo but one ready to come out punching. Black fruit, coconut, dark chocolate and coffee on the palate. Right now, this wine is not for me, but I would like to see how the oak integrates with the fruit as the years go by.

Chateau La Tour Saint Bonnet Medoc Bourgeois Cru, 1990

As much as I loved the Vacqueyras as a match for the Provencal lamb (see below), this 25-year-old Bourgois Cru from Bordeaux may have trumped it.

Deep ruby. Elegant bouquet of cherries, flowers, mint and aromatic herbs. Just enough of the herbs to give it an aromatic lift. On the palate, it is elegant and smooth with cherries, currants and tea showing on a lively finish. A captivating wine showing very little sign of advancing age.

Domaine le Sang des Cailloux Vacqueyras, 1998

At 17+ years of age, this Vacqueyras is still going strong and was a perfect match for lamb roasted Provencal style on a bed of potatoes, onions and tomatoes..

Very deep and dark. Powerful and intense bouquet of red and black fruits, thyme, rosemary and dark Vacqueyras minerals. Beautiful nose. Much of the same in the mouth with strong tones of black licorice and anise. Classic Vacqueyras showing no signs of giving up its power or intensity.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

[Noble Vines] 446 San Bernabe, Monterey Chardonnay, 2013

As a terroirist, I am a sucker for this wine. Noble Vines, the producer, deserves a place only in brackets; the grapes made the wine. As the label explains, 446 stands for Vine Type 4 planted in Block 46. Vine Type 4 is "renowned for its northern California heritage" and the San Bernabe appellation is in cool-climate Monterey. The wine sells for $8 to $10 at Costco and other locations.

I bought [Noble Vines] 446 Chardonnay and like it, although I feel hard pressed to really pinpoint how this wine differs from many other California Chardonnays. It is medium deep in color, as it should be for a wine of this age. It has smells and flavors of citrus, apple (and, as the label suggests, pineapple and tropical fruits. These seem less apparent to me than the the citrus and apple). Fresh and focused. Good body with legs that cling to the glass, but not as fat and buttery as your typical New World Chardonnay (from 20 years ago). Restrained oak, refreshing acidity and a well focused finish. For $8, what more could you expect?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Domaine Remejeanne Cotes du Rhone Les Arbousiers, 2011

The color of this Domaine Remejeanne Cotes du Rhone is a deep, dark, purplish crimson. I guessed on first glance that it was a blend high in Syrah (60% Syrah or higher). But I was wrong; the blend is 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah--still richer in Syrah than most Cotes du Rhone wines. I smell black raspberries and peppercorns--again Syrah aromas. On the second night, the red fruited Grenache traits begin to emerge. The wine has firm structure and is much higher in alcohol (15%) than I would guess. Pepper, pepper and more pepper. Good acid and a long finish that is focused on red as well as black fruits. Well made wine, true to Southern Rhone traditions.

I've always liked Remejeanne's wines, but they have not been available in my area for several years. This wine was purchased for about $12 from And I would buy more.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Domaine Sainte-Anne Cotes du Rhone, 2001

This is an old favorite that just keeps offering more pleasure as the years go by. Deep crimson with garnet tones developing at the rim. Beautiful spicy, floral, cherry smells. Very fragrant, as always, but increasingly complex. Smooth on the tongue. Ripe dark cherry fruit with complex spice and savory notes that dominate the finish. For less than $10, I have gotten more than a decade of pleasure. And a few more bottles to go.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Bouchaine Carneros Pinot Noir, 2004

Wine grapes have been grown at the Bouchaine site since the 1850s, but the current estate is owned and run by Gerret and Tatiana Copeland, both lovers of Burgundian wines. Although I would say that this 2004 Pinot has a definite New World character, it is authentic Pinot Noir, well grown and well made, that is clearly benefiting from time in the bottle.

Deep and dark, particularly for a wine that has been in the bottle for more than a decade. No sign of advanced age in appearance, aroma or flavor. The bouquet, in fact, is exceptional--cherry, cranberry fruit with floral and spicebox tones. Something new with every sniff. Flavors are not quite as complex, but there is plenty of ripe, exuberant fruit with good acid on the finish. Not quite up to the quality of the Eric Ross Russian River Pinot we had two weeks ago, but there is plenty to like here.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Yorkville Cellars Yorkville Highlands Semillon Randle Hill Vineyard, 2009

Yorkville Cellars is located on Highway 128, near the entry to the Anderson Valley. Apparently, this area falls in the Yorkville Highlands rather than the Anderson Valley appellation, and the winery focuses on Bordeaux varietals--Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. For those who get on the mailing list, Yorkville offers a half-off special early each December to celebrate Repeal Prohibition Day. For $150 to $200, including shipping, you can put together a good mixed case of wines that I have found fairly ageworthy. I am partial to the Cab Franc and Petit Verdot, as well as the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. The wines come from organically grown grapes and are very good.

With a few years in the bottle, this Semillon is shining. Medium deep gold, bright and clear. Figgy, grassy smells and flavors. Good body and rich, spicy after taste. Reminds me of a very good Australian Semillon. This was purchased for $10 on close out at Sawall's Health Food store; wish I had more.

Domaine Diochon Moulin a Vent, 2000

This Beaujolais Cru has the reputation of going 20 years and longer. This wine, from the very good 2000 vintage, is not going to make it. Compared to the last bottle I had in 2009,  it has faded considerably, and it was definitely a poor choice to go with spicy Asian fusion dishes from Chin Chin in Mattawan, MI. With less aggressive food the second night, however, it was very good.

Brickish tints with substantial sediment. Smells and flavors of fruit (dark cherry) and flowers. Not as good as it was six years ago but still has charm, depth and concentration.