Monday, March 28, 2016

Dessilani Gattinara Riserva, 1988

One of the most memorable wines I have ever had was the 1974 Dessilani Gattinara, consumed after 30+ years in the bottle. It was remarkably subtle and complex. This wine I bought at auction, expecting much of the same. Unfortunately, this Gattinara was too affected by brett for my taste and was no match for Ca Rome Marengo Barbaresco (below).

Light orangeish color, lighter than the Ca Rome Marengo. Very powerful, intense nose but dominated by barnyard. Flavors are also powerful and intense with a long finish--also of brett. I like the wine but the brett becomes tiring after half a glass.

Ca Rome Marengo Barbaresco, 1995

This is a beautifully mature Barbaresco. It's similar to the last bottle I had and does not show signs of decline. The medium light orangeish color is what I expect from a Piedmont Nebbiolo. Scents of cherries, red berries and roses are there from the beginning--subtle charm. Now some anise/licorice tones. Same on the palate; flavors that dance; not powerful but persistent and with well focused Nebbiolo fruit.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Domaine Sainte-Anne Cotes du Rhone, 2001

The color has lightened a bit, and there is some sediment on one side of the bottle. Otherwise, not much has changed in this Cotes du Rhone over the past 15 years. Cherries, strawberries, spice and aromatic herbs. Still a strong fruit presence, although perhaps a bit less bold than in its youth.

Right now, this 2001 is very similar to the 2004 and 2006 CDR from Sainte-Anne. It is less complex than the 2001 CDR Villages, as I remember it. But I am more than happy with any of these wines.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Domaine de la Bastide Cotes du Rhone Villages Visan, 2009

Some of this wine has been aged in barriques. Deep, dark color. Blackberry Syrah with a touch of coffee. Lacks the pepperiness and rusticity that I expect from a Southern Rhone, but there is much to like. Ripe fruit in a brandy sauce. Alcoholic warmth on the palate, but there is good acidity and an elegant mouth feel.

Aware of the use of new oak barriques, I put some of this wine back, hoping it might improve with age. I haven't found the improvement that I expected and will drink up the bottles I have.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Francoise & Denis Clair Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes-de-Beaune, 2005

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I am a confirmed Europhile. When it comes to Pinot Noir, though, I have recently been more impressed by wines from Northern California--Anderson Valley, Russian River, Sonoma Coast. One reason for my preference is that I have never been willing to spend big money on Red Burgundy. I know: good Northern California Pinot is also expensive, but I have been fortunate to dig out some good values from closeout sales and lesser known wines neglected by auction buyers. Bargains from Burgundy are almost impossible to find.

This Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes-de-Beaune, which sold for about $15 to $20, offers a good example of my experience: it's very good but doesn't quite measure up to Russian River and Anderson Valley wines of about the same age that I have had recently--wines I have obtained for $10 to $15.

The color is beautiful--deep, brilliant crimson with tones of garnet forming at the rim. Fresh, lively aromas of red berries and pomegranate with a hint of cinnamon. Flavors are similar. Good wine, but, for my taste, it lacks the depth and complexity that I found recently in wines from Mary Elke Donnelly Creek (Anderson Valley), Greenwood Ridge (Anderson Valley) and Eric Ross (Russian River). I suspect that some of the difference is related to the clones of Pinot grown in these vineyards as well as the climate and soil. Before I buy, I always check out the experience and philosophy of the winemaker and notes from other drinkers in the community at

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Chateau Poujeaux Moulis-en-Medoc, 1982

When the 1982 Bordeaux wines started hitting the shelves, there were bargains galore. Robert Parker (then relatively unknown) was raving about the quality of the wines, but the more respected British critics were a bit reluctant at first to proclaim this as a great vintage. French wines were generally inexpensive at the time, and the exchange rate was favorable. I planned on buying a case of Chateau Meyney (always a Parker favorite), but Cheryl McMillan, a student staff member at Village Corner in Ann Arbor talked me into splitting the case between Meyney and Poujeaux. Both were priced at $8.99, or $89.90 a case. Thank you, Cheryl. The last bottle I had of Meyney last Fall seemed to be on the decline; this Poujeaux is just hitting its stride.

Medium light ruby, minimal bricking; looks much younger than its years. Classy bouquet of cherries, red currants, cassis, hint of cedar. Cool tones. On the tongue, the wine is even better. More cherries and cassis. Has a smooth texture and long, cool finish.

Poujeaux is often compared to Chateau Lafite, and I can see why. According to the story, President Pompidou of France served the 1953 Poujeaux to Baron Rotschild who refused to believe it was not his 1953 Lafite, until he was shown the label.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Musso Barbaresco Pora, 1993 (revisited)

My wife and I ordinarily share half a bottle of wine a night. For the second night, I reduce the excess air by using the Vacu-Vin so that the wine is still relatively fresh for the second night. Because this is a Nebbiolo (even a very mature Nebbiolo), I decided to skip the Vacu-Vin and let the wine continue to aerate for 24 hours. It was a good idea.

The pretty floral scents are less noticeable tonight; but they are still there along with dark cherry, chocolate and smokey old wood. The flavors, though, have come alive. Very powerful and concentrated Nebbiolo, still somewhat tannic and very much alive. Last night, I speculated that this wine may have been better a few years ago. Tonight, I think it might even benefit from a few more years. Musso is a very good source of old fashioned Barbaresco.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Musso Barbaresco Pora, 1993

Valter Musso owns some of the best sites of the Cru Pora Vineyard and follows traditional methods of winemaking.

Orangeish tints typical of mature Nebbiolo. Smokey old wood smells but also flowers, dark cherries and savory spices that become more and more prominent through the meal. I opened this bottle about 1 1/2 hours ahead of time, but it is still benefiting from exposure to air. Growing in subtlety and complexity. Powerful flavors that cling to the tongue.

1993 was not a particularly distinguished vintage in the Piedmont area of Italy, and this wine was probably better a few years ago. Even so, it is very delightful.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Domaine Marcoux Chateauneuf du Pape, 1990

When I first had this wine more than a decade ago, I thought it was probably the best Chateauneuf I had tasted. Since that time, it has declined a bit...but not much. My bottles are all 375 milliliters, though, and cannot be expected to age as well as those from larger bottles.

Brick tones and lots of sediment on one side. The nose is funky tonight. The last bottle of this I had a year ago had an exceptional bouquet, so I think what is showing tonight is more about bottle variation than age. The flavors are still going strong--deep cherry, berry, spice. Very typical old-style Chateauneuf. The old vines Grenache creates lots of excitement on the finish.

In his latest email offering, Jon Rimmerman of questioned the ageworthiness of Chateauneuf du Pape, stating that the prime age for drinking is 12 to 15 years. Having had numerous Chateauneufs at all stages of maturity, I disagree strongly. It depends, I guess, on what you're looking for in a wine. What makes this appellation special, in my opinion, are the qualities that develop over several decades in old vine Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Rimmerman can have his early agers; I'll take my late bloomers.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Domaine Galevan Le Puy Saint Martin Vin de Pays Vaucluse, 2012 Revisited

I don't know if it is my perception or if the wine has simply changed that much after being re-corked for a day. But the wine I smell and taste tonight is very different than it was last night.

Last night, it was flowers, herbs, currants, plums and traits I associate with a Cabernet-dominant Bordeaux. Tonight, the dominant smells and flavors are very Vaucluse-like: pepper, spice and red berries. Last night, I liked it; tonight, I love it. But then I am a fan of Grenache and Syrah as grown in Vaucluse. And the fruit here is very fine, with lots of intensity and finesse. I suspect this new face represents what the wine will become with a year or so of aging.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Domaine Galevan Le Puy Saint Martin Vin de Pays Vaucluse, 2012

A day or two ago, Jon Rimmerman of offered the 2013 Le Puy Saint Martin for $9 plus a bottle. His post reminded me that I had a bottle or two of the 2012 vintage of this wine in my cellar and that I should open one to see how it is doing.

Deep ruby. The color, the smells, the flavors are all different from those I have come to expect from a Vaucluse Vin de Pays. That's because there is some old vine Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, along with the usual Grenache and Syrah. Very different. Perfumed smells of flowers, herbs and red currants. On the palate, I taste some blue plums and black tea. Very much like a young Bordeaux from one of the satellite appellations--but with Cabernet rather than Merlot as the dominant trait. Fine tannins and fresh acidity. I like this wine. But probably not enough to place an order for the 2013.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Marques de Caceres Rioja Crianza, 2011

Oak aging has always been a prominent feature of Rioja red wines. Recently, though, winemakers have made greater use of French, as opposed to American oak and leaning more toward an international style. This Marques de Caceres Crianza is an excellent example. And although it's not the style of wine I ordinarily drink, it is a very enjoyable drink at a relatively modest price ($12.99 right now at Earth Fare in Kalamazoo).

The color is deep and dark. Dark cherries, raspberries and coffee. A big, tannic wine but very accessible even in its youth. The fruit carries all the way through to the finish.