Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Berrgadano Langhe Nebbiolo, 2008

I was a bit worried when I opened this wine and found a very muted bouquet. But no worry; that is just the personality of this particular Langhe Nebbolio. It's slow to open, but when it does, it has a lot to offer.

After about an hour, the bouquet begins to develop. Dark cherries with a dash of cinnamon. More depth than intensity. A wine that sits beside you and becomes a quiet friend. More of the same on the palate. Very deep and satisfying. A finish that lingers for minutes.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Emilio Lustau Dry Oloroso Sherry Don Nuno

I must admit my ignorance regarding sherry, but I do know that it is probably the most under-appreciated and under-priced wine on the market today. From the cellars of Emilio Lustau, this dry oloroso is not a cheap wine ($30 from Salut Beverage in Kalamazoo), but it is worth every penny and a good deal more. From very old and rare soleras, it has the rich, complex qualities that can come only from long aging in the barrel.

Light tawny color. Nuts, dried oranges and lemons. Very rich, compact. Just a touch of sweetness. Good at cellar temperature but becomes rounder and softer as it warms in the glass. Something new emerges with each sniff and each sip. Goes beautifully with both mushroom and lentil soup.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Mud House Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir, 2015

I've been eager to try a Central Otago Pinot Noir, but this is the first I've found at a reasonable price ($15 at Plum Market in Ann Arbor). Now I'm willing to pay the price and try some of the other Pinots from this very cool (almost cold) appellation near Queenstown on the South Island of New Zealand.

Beautiful, bright color. My initial sniff suggests a ripe fruitiness. Black fruits with hints of cocoa powder and cinnamon. It doesn't take long, though, to discover that this wine has some special qualities. Good structure and intensity from front to back. Lots of black pepper and spice; reminds me of a very good Southern Rhone. I don't see ready comparisons with either French Burgundy or Pinots from California or Oregon. But it's a wine and an appellation that I would like in my cellar.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz, 2005

I got a strong whiff of coconut when I popped the cork, and the aromas and flavors all indicate a healthy dose of French oak--a bit too healthy for my taste. After a few minutes, though, high quality  Shiraz fruit starts to shine through. Black fruits, lavender, a touch of mint. This is definitely an Australian Shiraz and a good one, though I would prefer a bit less oak.

Chateau Fortia Chateauneuf du Pape, 1998

At a big tasting of 1998 and 1999 Chateauneufs hosted by Village Corner of Ann Arbor many years ago, the 1998 Fortia was my favorite...and that of many others hovering around the table. As to be expected, the wine has gone through many changes over the past 15 years or so and is not as flamboyant as it was at that time. But it is still a very good traditional Chateauneuf du Pape, probably better for drinking sooner rather than later.

Dark cherries and spice. Chateauneuf Grenache showing well. Intense fruit that hangs on even on the second and third day after being re-corked. Very powerful, like a Gigondas. 14% alcohol and carries it well. Not as subtle or complex as the 1994 Clos Mont Olivet I had on Christmas day but a delicious companion to herb-crusted rack of lamb.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Domaine Baumard Savennieres, 1990

Although this wine is not the highly regarded Clos du Papillon bottling, it is from one of the finest producers of Savennieres and from the excellent 1990 vintage. Although it is inching near its 30th year, it is still drinking beautifully.

Deep gold. Rich, rich bouquet of almonds, apricots, honey and spice. Not in the least bit shy or subtle but I get something new with each sniff. I can't think of another wine with such a compelling aromatic profile. And the same complexity is on the palate. Rich without being heavy, ripe without being sweet. Great wine.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Taylor Fladgate 10-year-old Tawny Port

I opened this on Christmas day to go with the plum pudding, and it was very good. But I still have a glass or two left for nights like tonight when I need a lift.

Beautiful rich bouquet. Toffee, roasted nuts, dried fruits and fruit zest. Oh, so rich. Oh, so complex. Just the right amount of sweetness. Goes well with cheese and walnuts. Not as special as the 20-year tawny from Taylor's we had last year at this time. But it does the job.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Domaine Sainte Anne Cotes du Rhone Villages Saint Gervais, 2000

In the view of Rhone wine writer John Livingstone-Learmouth, the wines of Domaine Sainte Anne "are very good wines indeed, but are something of an acquired taste due to being rather rigid and strict when young. The reds age extremely well, and need time to loosen their early tannins." Count me as one of the acquired tasters. This 2000 is drinking beautifully.

Deep, dark robe. A hint of oxidation when the wine is first opened but that blows off quickly. Spicy Mourvedre at its best. Backed by Grenache and Syrah. Silky texture. Ripe berries, violets and spice. Lovely.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Monrosso Toscana (Tuscan Red Blend), 2013

This wine is made by Fattoria Monsanto, one the best producers of Chianti (no relation to the chemical manufacturer). It's a Toscana, sometimes known as "super Tuscan," because it is a blend of grapes not allowed by the traditional Chianti appellation. In this case, the blend is 60% Syrah, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot and 3% Sangiovese (the traditional grape of Chianti).

That particular blend makes this wine what Australians would call a Shiraz Cabernet, but I have been trying for two nights with little success to find a similarity with wines such as Penfolds Bin 389 or Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet.

Deep ruby but not nearly as dark or bluish as an Australian red. Peppery Syrah with dark berries and currants. On the mid-palate, I can detect a slight bit of the slick chocolate texture of a Shiraz Cabernet. The Syrah and Cab traits blend nicely, but if I were to taste it blind, I think I would peg it as a Chianti. Nice finish, nice prospects for the future.

Monrosso Toscana is a very good wine, now selling for about $12 at D&W Market in Kalamazoo. For a few dollars more, I think I would go for the Monsanto Chianti Classico at Costco.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

La Maison de Barsac Terre Noble Barsac, 1995

This wine stood out as a bargain when I bought it in the late 1990s. I can't remember the price, but I am sure it was less than $15. Drinking it tonight it is an even greater bargain.

Deep gold. Powerful smells of almond paste, dried apricots, figs and honey. Very full on the palate. Brown sugar as well as almonds and apricots. Rich and thick. Can almost feel the texture of brown sugar on the finish.