Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Grao Vasco Dao, 2013

I remember buying a Grao Vasco Dao wine in the early 1980s for less than $2 a bottle and thinking "good wine, cheap price." I am thinking the same right now. This wine is incredibly good for the price (about 3 Euros a bottle).

Very deep crimson. Cherries, spice and black pepper. Good depth and concentration plus flavor interest that just keeps growing. A unique aroma and flavor profile but, otherwise, reminds me of a good Cotes du Rhone Villages or Gigondas.

Taylor Fladgate 20 year old Tawny Port

Heavenly Tawny Port experience! Nuts, toffee, leather and brown sugar. Fills the mouth with complex flavors and just keeps giving. Deep and long. Would be great with aged brie or blue cheese. For my taste, a 20 year Tawny is more than twice as good as a 10 year old Tawny. This one is particularly good and would be a lovely end to a special dining experience.

Quinta de Vargellos (Taylor) Vintage Port, 2002

I drank this side by side with the LBV of Taylor (below). The quality of vintage vs late bottled port was apparent, although both were excellent.

Deep and dark. Lovely bouquet: black fruits, spice and flowers. Brighter and livelier than the LBV. Deep, deep, deep--just keeps getting better. I could sniff this wine all night. Plums and nutmeg again on the palate. A full range of flavors and, oh, so smooth! Superb fruit presence and a long, satisfying finish. This wine is drinking beautifully right now.

Taylor Late Bottled Vintage Port, 2007

LBV is the poor man's vintage port, and Taylor Fladgate has a very good one.

Deep and dark. The bouquet is a bit muted at first and opens slowly. Deep and compact: plums, jam, nutmeg and other spices. Plums again on the palate, deep and compact like fruit cake. A restrained sweetness. Warm on the finish and even a bit alcoholic. Black fruits emerge more and more but still basically spicy. Tasted side by side with the 2002 Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port, it suffers a bit by comparison but is still a very good wine and a very good value.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Vilamartin de Valdeorras Val de Sil Godello, 2014

The 2010 vintage of this wine was recognized by wine critic Jancis Robinson as her choice for top Spanish wine. Who am I to disagree? The color is deep, but the wine is fresh and lively. Has the unctuous mouth feel of a top Chardonnay but nicely balanced by brisk acidity. Ripe pears, citrus and minerals. Very enjoyable with sole meuniere.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva, 2011

Rioja Reservas and Gran Reservas spend more time in the barrel than Crianzas, and they also come from older, better sited vineyards. This Reserva from Marques de Riscal is showing its class. It has the depth and flavor interest that I remember from Riojas I had in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The fruit is strong enough to overshadow the trademark oak qualities. I ordered a glass of this on Wednesday, a full bottle on Thursday. No disappointment. At $15 or less, an excellent value.

Muga Crianza Rioja, 2011

Having tasted quite a few Rioja Crianza wines this past week, this one from Muga emerged as a clear favorite. Like the others, it has the hallmark American oak vanilla nose. In the mouth, though, it strikes me as having more concentrated fruit flavors. Red berries and spice framed by American oak. Aside from the oak, this reminds me of a good Cotes du Rhone Villages. Good now but with room to grow.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Ramon Bilbao Crianza Rioja, 2012

I was a big buyer of Rioja in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Along with Douro wines from Portugal, they were the least expensive wines on the market (cheaper even than Gallo Heart Burgundy) and there were some real gems available. Olarra was a big name in Rioja, but Village Corner in Ann Arbor stocked the whole line of wines from Ramon Bilbao--from the Crianza to the Monte Rojo Riserva to the Vina Turzabella Gran Riserva. A 1975 Vina Turzabella I opened last summer was showing beautifully.

Winemaking in Rioja changed in the early 1980s, with many wineries incorporating new technology and even some practices such as pasteurization. I quit buying. Looking at this Ramon Bilbao Crianza, I see both the new and the old face of Rioja. American oak has always been a big factor in Rioja wines, and this wine has plenty of vanilla and dill weed showing. Dark, purplish color. Cherries and blue plums. Somewhat rough and tannic on the mid-palate, but not enough to scare away the casual drinker. Too oaky for my taste, but I think a couple of years in the bottle would be beneficial.