Sunday, December 31, 2017

Portado Winemakers Selection Red, 2011

A previous bottle of this wine (tasted in December, 2016) showed peppery, spicy fruit--a cross between a Cotes du Rhone Villages and a fine Pinot Noir. Today, tannins are obscuring some of these traits, but I consider that a good sign. With a few years' time in the cellar, these traits will emerge again with more intensity.

I bought this for $5.99 at Costco. It is available elsewhere for about $10. If you see it, I recommend buying several bottles and having some patience. At this price, you have little to lose.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Concannon Petite Sirah, 1979

I am not a fan of Petite Sirah, but I must admit that it ages about as well as any. This 1979 Concannon, from a magnum, is showing no real signs of age.

Deep, dark color. Very ripe floral aromas. Also ripe and floral on the palate. Has that dustiness that is typical of Petite Sirah. But everything holds together nicely,  not only on the first night but after being stored in a decanter for three days.

Boroli Langue Rosso Anna, 2011

Paired with the Vajra Langhe Rosso (below), this wine offered a good contrast of styles. Instead of blending Nebbiolo with Barbera, Dolcetta and Freisa, the winemaker chooses Merlot and Barbera.

Good color. And the Nebbiolo shows through clearly in the aromas. Merlot softens the tannins and also seems to make the wine less acidic. Another food-friendly wine that makes good use of declassified Barolo. This wine runs about $15; the Vajra, about 12. Regardless of price, I would choose the Vajra for its freshness and intensity.

G.D. Vajra Langhe Rosso, 2014

This is an absolutely gorgeous wine. It's ready to drink now, with loads of aromatic intensity, but is likely to develop even further over the next few years.

Beautiful ruby red. The wine is mostly Nebbiolo, and the hallmarks aromas are there--dark cherries, roses, licorice. There is also Barbera, Dolcetto and Freisa also adding their distinctive traits. The Freisa, in particular, adds a haunting floral character. Oh, I love this wine. And on the palate, it's even better. Perfect balance of acid and tannin. Fresh and lively; perfect match for tomato-based pasta.

Trimbach Gewurztraminer Cuvee des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre, 2000

Aged Gewurztraminer is often a hard sell. Not so for this special cuvee from Trimbach.

Deep gold color but otherwise shows few signs of age. Honey, pineapple and ripe pears. Rich and ripe. Slightly sweet but well balanced. Lychee nuts, peaches and minerals. Keeps you coming back for more.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Ca Bianca Barolo, 2003; i Tres Merli Gigi Rosso Barbaresco, 1999

This is about as perfect a pair of Piedmont classics as you could hope to find. The Barolo is from 2003 but not showing any negative signs from the warm vintage. The Barbaresco is from the excellent 1999 vintage, bottled by Gigi Rosso for a former Italian restaurant in New York city.

As to be expected, the Barolo is dark and powerful but with the lovely Nebbiolo bouquet of rose petals, black licorice and dark cherries. Perfect weight on the palate and an elegant finish for a warm vintage wine. Textbook Barolo.

Many at the table were charmed even more by the Barbaresco. Lovely floral bouquet that jumps from the glass. And the flavors are at least as tempting. Lighter tones, less tannin than the Barolo, but that's what Barbaresco is all about. When the restaurant was operating, this was an expensive wine by the glass; when the restaurant went caput, the bottles went up for auction, and I snagged several at an unbelievable price.

Friday, December 8, 2017

J.L. Chave St. Joseph Offerus, 1999

Wow! This wine has developed beautifully, and I see no signs of impending decline, even at 18 years of age.

Medium deep Syrah color. Has thrown plenty of sediment but it is actually quite pleasant to smell and taste--the tannin that was. Fruit more than oak. Black fruits--blackberries, black raspberries, cassis, lavender--everything you expect from a great Syrah. Also some pleasant earthy, savory tones, black olives, cured meats--all the qualities I love in a mature Syrah. Very ripe but has plenty of acid to balance it out. Sweet and savory. Gorgeous wine.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Domaine Diochon Moulin a Vent, 2000

Two years ago (January, 2016) I said some bad things about this wine. It must have been an off bottle, subjected to bad storage or transportation before it got to my cellar. With this bottle tonight, I take it all back. Domaine Diochon is an excellent wine that ages well, and, at $20 to $25 a bottle, one of the world's great wine bargains.

At 18 years of age, the color has lightened a bit but is still a bright ruby. (Not so with the 2016 bottle.) The bouquet is slow to open but has a lovely subtlety. Cherries, pomegranates, flowers. Same on the palate. It's not made to bowl you over but rather to give you a pleasurable dining experience. And that it does. We had it with a simple meal of tomato soup and salad, but the wine brought the experience to a whole different level. Subtle, smooth, no hard edges and a long, long finish. Glad I still have another bottle.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Ciacci Piccolomini d'Arogona IGT Toscano Rosso, 2010

I bought only one bottle of this Toscano Rosso and nursed it for several years before opening. It is showing very well for a wine made for every day consumption. At $12 a bottle, I would buy it by the case and enjoy it over several years. Don't worry about drinking it too soon and don't worry that it will go over the hill on you. Don't worry about drinking it with pizza (as we did tonight) and don't worry about serving it with beef or pork tenderloin. It's mostly Sangiovese Grosso from young vines used to produce Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino blended with some Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet.

Medium ruby color. The wine was fermented in stainless steel and aged in concrete so it's not for oak lovers. Sangiovese cherry with some herbal notes, ripe and approachable but with good acid structure. Dry up front but with significant ripeness and complexity as the wine glides across the tongue. I like it; wish I had more.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Saint Cosme Little James' Basket Press Rouge, (2015)

The name, the cartoon drawings, the style of the label suggests that this is a fun wine. And it is. But I also got serious pleasure from this beautiful expression of Grenache, one of my favorite wine grapes.

The grapes probably come from the Southern Rhone, but the wine can claim only a vin de table designation because of the unusual way it is made. Commonly used for sherry and tawny port, he solera method works very well here for a dry table wine. About 50% of the wine comes from the current vintage (2015) which is added to a barrel containing wine from every vintage since 1999. As w inemaker Louis Barruol points out, "Our solera is getting more and more complexity year after year. When we add the current vintage, the solera gains a new element without changing the style."

The color is much deeper than I expect from even a young Southern Rhone Grenache, but the aromas and flavors are spot on. Rich, ripe mouthfeel with lots of fresh fruit: strawberries, cherries, a touch of cassis. Soft but not simple. Has mature fruitcake qualities lurking underneath that are suggestive of a fine Chateauneuf du Pape or Gigondas. Fermented and aged in vat.

I bought a bottle for $11.99 at D&W in Kalamazoo and will go back for more. It is great with an every day meal, but I would not hesitate to serve it at a special dinner. Serious fun.