Monday, November 27, 2017

Domaine du Prieure Savigny Les Beaune Blanc, 2011

The label mentions pineapple and mango, tropical fruit traits that are ordinarily found in warm climate, New World Chardonnays rather than white wines from Burgundy. At first I detect mostly citrus and honey dew melon, but as the wine warms in the glass, the pineapple and mango smells and flavors are dominant. Everything is clean and clearly focused, though, with a long finish.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Trimbach Alsace Riesling, 2012

Trimbach has some of the best Riesling vineyards in Alsace. The Clos St. Hune and the Cuvee Frederick Emile bottlings are classics...and priced accordingly. But the regular Trimbach Riesling, which sells for $15 to $25 a bottle, is also excellent. My advice is to buy as much as you can afford. There are very few Chardonnays in this price range that offer as much complexity and character.

Deep yellow color. Has the classic petroleum smells plus yellow stone fruits. Oh so rich and intense, and it gets better from minute to minute. Singing on the second night. The Trimbach Riesling made my Top 10 of 2016 and will probably be on my list against in 2017.

Keenan Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 1979

The grapes for this wine come from Silver Mountain, and the high quality was apparent even in the early 1980s. It got high marks from Parker, and the original price was $17.49--outside of my price range at that time. But the sale tag from Russo's in Grand Rapids reads $8.99, and for that price, I bought several bottles. They have aged remarkably well; I wish I had more.

Very deep, bluish, almost opaque. And a great deal of crusty sediment. Beautifully aromatic from the first pour. Spicy, oaky but good blackberry and currant fruit. Even at 38 years of age, this wine has substantial tannin and acid to carry its beautiful Silver Mountain fruit.

Chateau Poujeaux Moulis-en-Medoc, 1985

I bought this wine at a Chicago Wine Company auction for a ridiculously low price but was nevertheless a bit disappointed by it in the late 1990s. It is now showing its true colors--which are very bright indeed.

Somewhat brickish color, particularly compared to the Keenan Cabernet opened at the same time. At first it seems light by comparison but develops remarkably after about 45 minutes of aeration. Leaning toward the herbaceous spectrum. Black currant with some green overtones. I usually don't like those traits, but this wine carries them quite well.  Beautiful intensity on the mid-palate and finish. Cherries and herbs. Displays the elegance that the Keenan Cabernet beside it just can't match.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Domaine Pegau Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du Pape, 1989

Donna and I spent Thanksgiving by ourselves (the troops are arriving tomorrow!) but we had plenty of good food and wine to keep us company: crusted rack of lamb with Tuscan bread pudding, roasted potatoes, chocolate pecan pie topped by  creme fraiche...and a glorious bottle of 1989 Domaine Pegau Cuvee Reservee. I remember tasting this 1989 vintage with Laurence Feraud at the estate back in 1991 or 1992. She told me it would age well, and it certainly has.

The color is still deep and bright. And the bouquet is fabulous: cherries, strawberries on a backdrop of black licorice. What is affectionately known among fans as the "Pegau funk" is present but not as strong as in some previous bottles I have had. Actually, very clean and smooth on the palate. Rich in the middle, ripe and long on the finish. This may be the best bottle of the 1989 I have had.

I am thankful for my family, of course. And I am thankful for being able to enjoy good food and great wine.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Costa di Bussia (Tenuta Arnulfo) Barbera d'Alba, 2010

Costa di Bussia has become my favorite Barbera d'Alba, and I have been buying a few bottles each year in an effort to determine optimum aging for my taste. This 2010 has always shown well and is now beginning to show some development. I would expect even greater improvement over the next two or three years.

Bright ruby. Has classic Piedmont scents: black and red cherries with undertones of black licorice. Very inviting. Great range of flavors. Great acidity and enough tannin to maintain balance. Has the freshness to be an every day wine but enough intrigue to accompany serious dining.

I just bought four bottles of the 2015 Costa di Bussia for $12/bottle. Looking forward to giving it a try soon.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Tasters' Guild/American Wine Society Wine Dinner at Kitchen House, Richland, MI

I have been to many good wine dinners, but this event has to rank near the top for me. Kitchen House regularly serves some of the best farm-to-table food in the area, and the dishes tonight were particularly well conceived and well executed.

Bruce Bruckman of Kobrand presented a full range of wines from Masi Agricola--unique, exciting wines and well matched to the food. I have not had much experience with wines from Valpolicello. I learned a lot while enjoying great food and great wine. My notes follow below.

Masi Agricola Masianco Pinot Grigio, 2016

Masi calls this a "Supervenetian" white, a counterpart to its Campofiorin (see below). It's an impressive Pinot Grigio blend that is fresh enough to enjoy casually on the deck or as a serious accompaniment to dishes such as seared sea scallops.

Pinot Grigio grapes are picked in late August and aged in stainless steel to preserve its fresh, fruity aromas and flavors. This is then blended with Verduzzo grapes picked at the end of September and then ripened for three weeks on bamboo racks to reduce water weight and increase concentration. Aging of the Verduzzo is in barriques.

Fresh aromas of tropical fruits and citrus. Weight and substance on the palate. Honey note. Concentrated and complex. More citrus on the finish.

Masi Modello Rosso delle Venezie IGT, 2016

For its price ($12 to $16) Modello Rosso offers a lot of easy drinking pleasure. I would compare it to an Austrian Zweigelt or a Cab Franc from the Loire Valley of France.

Aromas and flavors of blackberries, raspberries and black licorice. Peppery tannins and brisk acidity. A good match for pork/duck arancini with roasted heirloom tomato sauce.

Masi Agricola Campofiorin Rosso del Veronese IGT, 2013

Made with the same grapes as the Amarone (below), this wine qualifies as Ripasso or Recioto. The double fermentation method results in a wine that provides the richness and some of the complexity of a good Amarone. Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara are fermented, then fermented again with grapes that have been dried for six weeks.

Deep and dark ruby. Rich, ripe--almost jammy--aromas of blue plums and dark berries. Tannins are smooth, but I suspect this wine would age beautifully. Not as great as Amarone but has many of the same qualities for a fraction of the cost. Served with wild mushroom pappardelle with mascarpone mousse--a perfect match.

Masi Agricola Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG, Veneto, 2011

Costasera is considered by many the best vineyard for producing high-quality Amarone. The slopes face west with Lake Garda providing direct as well as reflected sunlight and gentle breezes.

The blend is 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara, and 100% of grapes are dried on bamboo racks to increase concentration. Fermentation occurs in large Slavonian oak barrels or stainless steel at a low temperature; aging is in smaller Slavonian and French oak.

Deep and dark ruby. Intense and powerful aromas of baked cherry, dried plums with hints of balsamic. Tannins are bit lighter than in the Riserva (below) and, as a result, the wine is a bit friendlier at this stage. Great intensity and concentration. Perfect companion to braised short ribs with creamy parmesan polento.

Masi Agricola Riserva di Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC, 2011

If you have ever bought a bottle of Amarone (and I must admit that I have not), you undoubtedly know about Masi Agricola, well known for its excellent Amarones and Reciotos. The name Masi comes from the little valley purchased by the Boscaino family in the late 18th century. An historic estate once owned by the descendants of the 14th century poet Dante Alighieri, the vineyards here are perfectly situated and well tended.

Amarone is a wine made from grapes that have been dried, reducing the water weight by 80% and increasing the concentration of the wine. The grapes for this riserva have been dried for up to 120 days, then aged for 38-40 months in 600-liter Slavonian oak barrels and smaller French oak casks, 1/3 of which are new. The blend is 70% Corvina, 15% Rondinella, 10% Oseleta and 5% Molinari. The Corvina grapes have naturally developed botrytis that increases the complexity.

Very deep and dark ruby. Even at this early age, the bouquet is astounding: dark cherries, dried plums, cinnamon. Full bodied and lush on the palate with a powerful finish. Very complex. Is there a better end to a great meal?