Friday, March 31, 2017

Domaine Chante Perdrix Chateauneuf du Pape, 1989

This wine was dancing many years ago. That's why Robert Parker gave it 94 points and rated it as one of the best wines from a very fine vintage. I didn't taste it at that time, but I have tasted it many times over the past 10 to 15 years. It has been dancing every time, and it is still dancing tonight.

The light color and delicate body would lead you to believe that this wine is on its path down. But I thought the same thing 15 years ago. When first opened, I found little noteworthy in either the smells or flavors. After 30 to 45 minutes, the dance starts. The bouquet is pure Chateauneuf with dried fruits and flowers backed by an amazing collection of exotic spices. Incredibly deep and complex. The same goes for the flavors. Ripe, ripe Grenache berry. Very red fruit, but the glory of this wine is in the nuances. They just keep coming at you in waves.

Chante Perdrix is a very traditional Chateauneuf and still reasonable in price. 1989 is one of the estate's best vintages.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

M. Marengo Barolo, 2012

It's my birthday (#78), good reason to splurge on a special wine. This 2012 M. Marengo Barolo is $70 on the winelist at Rustica in Kalamazoo, but those who arrive in the first hour or last hour get a 50% discount on wine or beer. So we had an excellent wine, drinking well even in its youth. And at the $35 price it is hardly a splurge.

The color is a medium to light garnet, what you would expect from a traditionally made Barolo. In fact, Mario Marengo uses some barriques for aging but only for 15 to 20% of the wine and the small barrels are seasoned by a few years of previous use. The aromas are amazing: red fruits, flowers and spice. More strawberries and red raspberries than dark cherries and not as much of the black licorice/tar element as you find in some Barolos. Very complex. The more you sniff, the more you get. Incredibly rewarding on the nose. Much of the same on the palate. That "very dry" feeling that comes across on the finish tells me that this wine has plenty of tannin and acid for long-term cellaring. But there is much to like right now.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tenuta Rocca Barbera d'Alba Roca Neira, 2006

This is a suave, internationally style Barbera. It is smooth and lush but with strong fruit and oak tannins.

Very dark, purplish. The wine has been aged in new oak barriques. Rich black fruit smells and flavors. Dark cherry, chocolate, coffee. The oak is apparent, but the tannins are well integrated. Beautiful ripe Barbera flavors dominate on the back end of the palate.

The producer writes that this wine will age for at least 10 to 12 years in a cool cellar, and I agree. At 11 years of age, it is drinking well now and should get better for at least a few more years.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Brusset Les Haut de Montmirail Gigondas, 1990

Daniel Brusset was one of the first Gigondas winemakers to produce a wine using new oak barrels, indicating so with the words "eleve en futs de chene neufs." The wine got high praise from Robert Parker, but I was dubious when I tasted it against 20 or 30 other Gigondas wines at the tasting room in Gigondas in the spring of 1992. It won't age as well as traditional Gigondas, I predicted.

I still strongly favor traditional, non-oaked versions of Gigondas, but tasting this wine, now 27 years past its vintage date, I must admit that I was wrong about the aging. This wine is very good. And it tastes like a good Gigondas should.

The color is still fairly deep, and there is a heavy crust on one side of the bottle, which suggests to me that there is at least some Syrah in the blend. I like the bouquet--Burgundian aromatics with Gigondas dried cherries, tobacco and animal scents. If you were tasting it blind, the flavors would be a dead give-away that this is a Gigondas. Gigondas is only a few kilometers away from Chateauneuf du Pape on the south and Vacqueyras and Beaumes de Venise on the north, and the grapes used are the same for all of these Southern Rhone appellations, but there is something distinctive about the taste of Gigondas that I can't quite put my finger (or tongue?) on. There is power, for sure, even though the alcohol level is only 13%. And there are fruit and mineral traits that I love. Finally, I don't detect any of the new oak traits that I tasted in 1992. This is clearly produced from high quality grapes in a good vintage, and it has aged well.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Domaine Sainte-Anne Cotes du Rhone Villages, 2004

This wine is just begging to be drunk...right now. That does not mean it will not continue to develop (Sainte-Anne's 2001 Villages is also drinking well right now), but if you like good wine, there is no reason to wait.

Beautiful ruby color. The bouquet is very floral but also plenty of ripe red fruit. The strawberry Grenache on the palate is irresistible. Luscious fruit flavors that get better with every sip. Multidimensional but all of the dimensions come back to rich, ripe red berries. Probably not as complex as the 2001 Villages at this point but more seductive. It matches up well with hanger steak but would also do well with just about anything.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Kuentz-Bas Gewurztraminer Tradition, Alsace, 1983

I like an occasional bottle of Gewurztraminer but rarely can find anyone to enjoy a bottle with me. That's the main reason this wine has lingered in the cellar for these 30-some years. While it hasn't made the transformation from an ugly duckling to a beautiful swan, it is every bit as good as it was in the mid-1980s when I bought it for less than $5 a bottle.

Deep gold but not a whole lot deeper than it was in its youth. Still bright and lively. The classic Gewurztraminer smells are powerful. Gewurz means spicy, but, as Jancis Robinson has pointed out, it would be hard to find a spice on your shelf that resembles the aroma of Gewurztraminer. Roses and barber shop are better terms. On the palate, too, it's full bodied and powerful. Nothing shy about this wine, and there is no reason to apologize for lack of subtlety. There is plenty to like in this wine.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Domaine Creve Coeur Cotes du Rhone, 2011

Based on everything I read, this Cotes du Rhone is 100% Grenache. Smelling and tasting it, I would swear that it has a fairly high percentage of Syrah.

Deep and dark. Smells tannic and a bit backward. Mostly black fruits--blueberries, blackberries, plums. On the palate, though, reasonably deep fruit flavors come forth. Again, plums and berries. Very little of the red berry, spice and pepper that I expect from 100% Grenache, but, nevertheless, an enjoyable wine. I would buy more.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Deux Roches Macon Villages Tradition, 2014

This Macon, along with all of the wines of Collovray et Terrier, were big favorites of mine during the early 1990s. I was delighted to see this Macon on the shelves once again. It comes from one of the oldest vineyard areas in Burgundy, very near to Saint Veran and Pouilly Fuisse.

Brilliant and deep yellow with hints of green. This wine has seen no new oak, although it has spent some time on its lees, but the aromas and flavors have at least as much complexity as oaked wines from Burgundy or the New World. Inviting smells of white peach and apricot. Same on the palate but with bright acidity. A very inviting wine. Goes beautifully with whitefish or with fish stew. Wish I could find some of the Saint Veran.

Murgo Etna Rosso, 2014

This is the wine that attracted me to the Italian Table flight at Vino Volo (see below). For the past several years, I have been enjoying occasional bottles of the 2008 Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso--a very good wine that is maturing nicely. This 2014 Murgo doesn't have the same appeal to me, perhaps because it needs more time in the bottle.

The colors are deep and saturated. Black fruit flavors--plums and backberries. Big and rich with a nice bittersweet finish. For me, though, this wine lacks the elegance and class that the Tenuta delle Terre has offered from the beginning.

Piancornello Campo Della Macchia Tuscany, 2013

This is a blend of Sangiovese, Colorino and Syrah. The color is a rather rusty red, lighter than I expect from a Tuscan blend of these grapes. And the smells and flavors also leave an impression of a more mature wine. Tobacco, ripe cherry and dried fruit.

Castelfeder Lagrein Rieder Sudtirol-Alto Adige, 2014

Lagrein is another "new" Italian wine for me. Actually, it is a very old wine grape that is no longer very widely marketed, at least in my area. I liked Castelfeder's Lagrein and, at the right price (under $15), will come back for more.

Alto Adige is in northeastern Italy, in the Alps. From this area, I am inclined to look for white wines such as Pinot Grigio, but this red wine is much sturdier than I expected. In my flight of three (including wines from Tuscany and Etna), it is by far the darkest in color. The smells are beautiful--small red berries, violets and spice. And it's full bodied enough to stand up to a spicy chili

Wine Tasting on the Fly: Vino Volo

A four-hour layover at the Denver airport: how about a leisurely lunch and wine tasting? That was my experience earlier this week. Roaming the aisle looking for good food, I happened upon a Vino Volo outlet offering not only attractive food but a good choice of wine flights (three-ounce glasses of three different wines). I ordered a bowl of beef/bison/pork chili accompanied by the Italian Table flight of red wines: Castelfeder Lagrein, Piancornello Sangiovese blend and Murgo Etna Rosso.

Dan and Jake answered all of my questions about the wine and food in great detail. It was a great experience.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Domaine de Marcoux Chateauneuf du Pape, 1990

I bought a dozen half bottles of this 1990 Domaine de Marcoux when it was first released. The bottles I had in the early to mid-2000s were among the best Chateauneufs I have ever tasted--just bursting with energy and intensity as well as very deep fruit. With hindsight, I should have finished off all of the bottles within the next few months, but it's easy to assume that a great wine will only get better. This bottle tonight no longer qualifies as great but it is very good.

The color has lightened, and there is a substantial crust of sediment on one side of the bottle, which has been undisturbed for at least a decade. Smells and flavors are what I expect from an older Chateauneuf du Pape--dried and fresh cherries, savory spice and sea salt. Strong presence on the palate. There is nothing wrong with this wine except for my memory of the greatness it offered a decade ago.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Domaine Sainte-Anne Cotes du Rhone Villages, 2001

This wine gets prettier and more floral every time I drink it. It has reached a beautiful stage of maturity,  but I'm not sure it has reached its peak.

The color is deep and bright; some sediment is forming along the sides and bottom of the bottle, but not too much. Red raspberries and spices along with flowers. Even better on the palate. The wine is still fruit-oriented but with another dimension. Very enjoyable with an every day meal but elegant enough to accompany a special meal.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Domaine Terlato and Chapoutier Victorian Shiraz-Viognier, 2006

Michel Chapoutier is from an old wine-making family in the Rhone Valley of France. Anthony Terlato is a Napa Valley winemaker. Together, they are producing wines from some very good vineyards in Central Victoria, Australia. This wine is 95% Shiraz with just a touch of Viognier (a white wine grape) for aromatic complexity. It is a combination used by many Northern Rhone winemakers to produce Cote Rotie.

I don't smell or taste the Viognier in this wine, and that is how it should be. It adds yet another layer of pleasure to both the nose and palate. Black raspberries and peppercorn. Ripe and inviting but multidimensional. Rich, velvety mouth feel but not at all thick or heavy. Lots of ripe black fruits--plum and berry--on the palate. The only thing that concerns me about this wine is the color. The rusty, brickish tone is to be expected from a wine of this age, but the color lacks the brightness and saturation that I usually note in a wine of this quality. It's drinking beautifully right now so my inclination (primarily because of the color) is to drink the remaining bottles relatively soon.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Pierre Amadieu Vacqueyras le Grangeliere, 2007

I have had several excellent Gigondas wines from Pierre Amadieu. This Vacqueyras is at least as good. If you have been to the Rhone, you know that Vacqueyras and Gigondas are only a few kilometers apart. Yet the wines are very different--perhaps in part because of differences in the blend of grapes used by most Gigondas producers. Mostly, though, the difference is in soil, vineyards and micro-climate.

Deep, dark ruby. Ripe blueberries, dark Vacqueyras minerals and pepper. Full bodied. Ripe but not overly ripe as some 2007 Rhones are. Minerals and pepper take over on the palate. This wine has probably spent some time in new oak barriques, but, for my taste,  it still retains the traditional personality of Vacqueyras. Very good now but will probably get better over the next couple of years.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Chateau Mazeris Canon-Fronsac, 1982

The last report of Chateau Mazeris I made was in December, 2009. For whatever reason, I believe I enjoyed the wine tonight more than I did then--even though the earlier review was mostly favorable.

The color is light and brickish; that's to be expected for a 35-year-old red wine. It's mostly Merlot that continues to age well. Cherries and black tea with some aromatic herbs. The tea is maybe more prominent than it was eight years ago but otherwise not much change. A strong core of ripe fruit on the finish that is worth dwelling on. What is remarkable about this wine is its balance, even after all these years. 12% alcohol, old oak, traditional winemaking...$6.99 a bottle. The winemaker knew he didn't have to do anything showy to sell his Claret.