Saturday, April 30, 2016

Joseph Mellot Destinea Val de Loire Sauvignon Blanc, 2014

You would pay a good bit more than $10 for a Sancerre from Joseph Mellot. But unless you have drunk enough Sancerre to be able to note the fine points, you might prefer this less expensive Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc. It's what some writers have referred to as a "petite Sancerre." The grapes come from younger vineyards grown in a broader appellation. But the produce and the winemaking are clearly very good.

Medium deep yellow. I smell flowers as well as typical Sauvignon fruits--grapefruit and ripe gooseberry. Fresh and bright. The flavors are a bit riper and less aggressive than you might expect from Sancerre but that's likely to create even broader appeal. For $9.99, it gives me plenty of pleasure, and I will go back for more.

If you have never had a Sancerre or Pouilly Fume, I suggest that you buy and drink a few bottles of this before moving up to the more reputable appellations.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Monte Degli Angeli Piemonte Pinot Noir, 2013

For $10, this is a very drinkable Pinot Noir. Medium deep garnet. Fresh fruit smells. Cherries, red and dark.Ginger, anise seed. In the mouth, ripe strawberry/rhubarb qualities. Goes down easily, but there is also some decent depth of flavor. No substitute for a good red Burgundy or Anderson Valley Pinot but a good wine for every day drinking.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

d'Arenberg d'Arry's Original (McLaren Vale), 1994

This is a true old-fashioned Australian "Burgundy" similar to many I enjoyed during the late 1970s in Australia. At that time, this bottling was known as d'Arenberg Burgundy; and there were other Burgundies from Lindeman's, Penfolds and other producers--all selling for $3 to $4 and, as a result, heavy favorites at wine bars near Melbourne University. I suspect that all of these wines were a similar blend of old bush vine Grenache and Shiraz--Australian Chateauneufs rather than Burgundies. I loved them in the 1970s, and I am enjoying re-visiting that style tonight.

Medium deep, lots of amber. 51% Shiraz, 49% Grenache in this vintage, but the Grenache seems dominant right now. Ripe cherry. Mellow and mature. More one-dimensional than a typical Chateauneuf du Pape, but the old vine fruit is deep and leaves a lasting impression.

The winery advised 2015-2016 as prime drinking years for this wine. That advice is clearly based on old-time standards and the personality that the winemaker was seeking to create. I approve of both.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Paul Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert, 1994

The first thing I noticed when opening this wine was the smell of olives--green and black. It's a trait I love in Northern Rhone Syrah wines. I remember it in the 1984 Domaine Thalabert; and I remember it vividly from the 1979 Raymond Roure Crozes--one of my all-time favorite Northern Rhones.

Along with olives, I smell black and red fruits, cured meats, leather and spice. This wine has matured beautifully, as I have come to expect from Domaine Thalabert. Fills the mouth with flavor, smooth and medium bodied with a slightly funky acidic edge that makes the wine work for me.

Back in the days when the Jaboulet family owned this estate, I remember attending a large tasting of Thalabert in Ann Arbor, led by the late Gerard Jaboulet. When one taster, quoting Robert Parker, questioned the ageworthiness of the 1982, I remember Jaboulet's reply and the look on his face: "Between 10 and 20 years of age, make no mistake: this wine will be magnifique." And it was.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Bergadano Langhe Nebbiolo, 2008

This is the wine that turned me back toward the wines of the Piedmont. I bought it for about $10 at Binny's in Chicago, hoping to re-live some fading memories of Barolos and Barbarescos I had during the 1980s. Probably produced from younger vines and excess produce that would otherwise go into a Barolo, this Langhe Nebbiolo from Bergadano is impressive.

Still deep and dark but with hints of the orangeish tones that are the trademark of Nebbiolo. One whiff takes my mind immediately to Barolo--very floral with dark tones of licorice. Tar and roses, as they say. Beautiful. Dark cherries, sweet but not too sweet. Leaves the palate bone dry after a satisfying fruit experience. Now the dark tones again. More powerful in mouth feel than Barbarescos I have had recently but just as subtle in its own way.

Bodegas Valdesil Godello Valdeorras Val de Sil, 2008

When I first tasted this wine in June of 2012, I warned myself to have patience. This wine will only get better over the next five years, I wrote. It's four years later, and I stand by my statement. I had no idea, though, how dramatic the changes would be.

As a young wine, this was bright and minerally with lemon tones, like a young Chablis. Tonight, it is impressively broad, rich and full bodied. Deep gold color. Almonds, spice and honey. Has matured very much like a white Burgundy or a Savennieres from the Loire. Expansive flavors.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Bouchaine Carneros Pinot Noir, 2005

This is definitely a Californian as opposed to a Burgundian Pinot Noir. And that's alright with me.

Deep garnet. Aromas of fresh strawberries, rhubarb and ginger. Smells like the strawberry rhubarb jam made at my local bakery. Ripe fruit at the front and all the way back. Nothing shy about this wine. Maybe not as complex as some of the Pinots from Russian River and Anderson Valley I have had recently, but very enjoyable.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf du Pape, 1998

The 1998 vintage brought Vieux Donjon into the spotlight. It was named Wine of the Year both by the Wine Advocate and the Wine Spectator. I brought out this bottle for my 77th birthday and did not take notes. My impressions, though, were positive.

I have had bottles of Vieux Donjon from 1993 and 1994 that were bigger and more traditional in style. By comparison, this 1998 was graceful and elegant. The fruit flavors--cherry, anise, pepper--were not dramatic but graceful, smooth and well defined. It has aged nicely.

Veglio Michelino et Figlio Barbera d'Alba, 2012

The winery advertises this wine as having reduced histamines, presumably to eliminate the "red wine headache" that some experience. I don't get such headaches, but I enjoy this wine.

Deep, dark youthful color. Violet, blackcurrant jam and chocolate--very pretty. Plush and ripe on the palate.Good acidity on the finish. This wine might age well, but it's hard to resist at this stage. I'm thinking 2012 might be an enjoyable vintage for Piedmont wines.

Valreas Cotes du Rhone Villages Cuvee Prestige (Les Vignerons de l'Enclave at Tulette), 2011

This is a long-time favorite of mine that I have been buying at least since the 2004 vintage. At $5.99 at Trader Joe's, it has to be one of the best wine values to be had. And, of course, I've never been disappointed.

This 2011 is at a mellow stage right now. Blueberries, cassis, black pepper and Provencal herbs. All the smells you expect from a good Southern Rhone, and it's very facile on the palate. Really, there is nothing simple about this wine except the price.