Sunday, September 24, 2017

Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz, 2004

For me, the only negative thing I can say about this wine is that it was unfortunate enough to be tasted alongside the excellent 1983 Domaine Thalabert Crozes-Hermitage. I realize, of course, that most Australian wine drinkers would probably disagree with me.

Deep and dark ruby. Very fruit forward and charming, as you would expect from a Coonawarra red. Black raspberries, currants, cassis. Not a great deal of complexity but a good example of Australian Shiraz and a very enjoyable wine.

Paul Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert, 1983

When Rhone wine writer and expert John Livingstone-Learmouth ( tasted the 1983 Thalabert in September of 2005, he reckoned that the wine was nearing the end of its best drinking days. "Drink soon--maybe one last hearty game stew." When he had the wine again 11 years later, he wrote: "Show what I know!...A lovely wine, much appreciated. The length is good and fresh. Outstanding for its age." And he extended the prime drinking window to 2022-2023!

Nothing new here. Domaine Thalabert has a staying power that has confounded most wine critics--most notably Robert Parker who advised drinking the 1983 25 to 30 years ago. I have been buying, cellaring, drinking and enjoying Thalabert since the 1979 vintage and even off vintages such as 1984 have continued to go and grow far beyond the expectation of most critics and drinkers. This 1983 is my favorite (probably even surpassing the 1990) and I was happy to share it with my son, Ted, who was born in 1983 and has aged every bit as well.

The color has lightened but still has good life. Intense bouquet of cherries, flowers, currants, cured meats and a hint of black olives. Incredible depth and concentration; keeps me coming back for sniff after sniff. On the palate, there is no disappointment. Deep, concentrated, intense but with an elegant silky texture. Northern Rhone Syrah at its best.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Veglio Micheloni Nebbiolo d'Alba, 2011

You pour a small amount into your glass; the color is rusty red. You take a sip and immediately notice that the wine is very dry. This wine is fading fast, you think; the fruit is drying out. You think that unless you know that this wine is a Nebbiolo from the Piedmont. If you have experience with Nebbiolo, though, you know that there are good things to come if you sit back and enjoy yourself.

The aroma is lovely and exactly what you should expect from Langhe Nebbiolo--flowers, cherry, dark tones of anise or licorice. Flavors offer more of the same. Nothing dried out about this wine, but it has enough acid and tannin to give a firm structure for the fruit, which unfolds slowly as the wine is exposed to air. This is probably not a Nebbiolo for long-term aging, but it is drinking well right now. It's a wine for slow drinking.

La Ferme du Mont Cotes du Rhone Premiere Cote, 2011

This Cotes du Rhone has 30% Syrah to go with 60% Grenache, and the Syrah seems to be least at this stage of the wine's development.

Very deep and dark. At least some of the wine has probably been aged in barriques. And the aromas and flavors are more backward than I would expect from a 2011 CDR. Floral, herbal scents make me think Syrah. Also more black than red fruits. Black olives, cured meats. Rather firm on the mid-palate and finish but still full of flavor.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Chateau Grand Traverse Old Mission Peninsula Gamay Noir, 2013

Having had several vintages of the Gamay Noir and Gamay Noir Reserve from Chateau Grand Traverse, I would rank it as the best Michigan red wine I have tasted. It's not a big, tannic wine, like the ones produced at Brys Estate. And that's probably why I like it. It's light in body, aromatic, and packed with fruit (rather than oak) flavors.

Medium crimson, bright. Very bright aromas and flavors. Good acid, almost tart up front with compact and complex fruit flavors on the mid-palate. Red and black raspberries, then lively pepper and spice on the finish. Very satisfying either on its own or with food. Reminds me of a Pinot Noir from Russian River or the Sonoma Coast.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Sokol Blosser Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, 2013

Alison Sokol Blosser, representing the second generation of this family-owned estate, came to Kalamazoo to present her estate's wines Wednesday evening at a wine dinner organized by D&W Market at Fuze Kitchen & Bar. It was my introduction to an impressive range of Sokol Blosser wines, now run jointly by Alison and her brother, Alex.

What impressed me most is the ability of Sokol Blosser to offer the consumer-friendly Evolution line of wines at a reasonable price while continuing to produce high quality wines of place through environmentally friendly practices. The vineyards are 100% organic with plantings of lavender, yarrow, rudbeckia and Russian sage to provide habitats for beneficial insects. The underground cellar is the first in the country to earn LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Solar and wind energy are used and everything at the winery--from office paper to shrink wrap--is recycled.

I liked the Willamette Pinot Gris and the Evolution Sparkling Brut and Big Red Blend. But the wine that attracted me to the tasting was the Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, and I was not disappointed. Before this wine was poured, the wine representative went around the room offering tastes of the Evolution Pinot Noir. It was very good but no match at all for the exceptional Dundee Hills.

What Alison's brother Alex, the winemaker, strives for in Pinot Noir is finesse. This wine has finesse, of course, but also incredible concentration and depth. Black cherry, blueberries and intense French oak highlights. Notes of black raspberry and spice. A hint of orange peel. This wine is lovely tonight, but I want to see what it tastes like 5 to 10 years from now. For those who attended the dinner, D&W is offering this wine for $26.99--an incredible value.