Sunday, August 26, 2018

Domaine Sainte-Anne Cotes du Rhone Villages Notre Dame des Cellettes, 1998

It was 10 years ago when I last reported on this wine, and I said that I would not hesitate to keep it another "5 or even 10 years." I must admit that I did not intend to keep these bottles for an additional decade. I simply overlooked them in the cellar. But I am now glad that I did.

My biggest worry when I first popped the cork was a dryness on the finish, but I soon learned that the fruit is still strong, albeit with the same tannic traits that I noted a decade ago. With substantial airing, the beautiful fruit qualities come through: macerated strawberries with purple flowers and spices.The
Syrah has thrown some sediment, but it is drinking quite well and providing structure for beautifully ripe Grenache. There is also Mourvedre in the blend, and it is just now starting to show its best.

Fortunately, I still have a few bottles and will enjoy them over the next 5 or even 10 years. 30 years for a CDR Villages??? I know that sounds ludicrous and maybe it is. But I see no sign that the wine is falling apart.

La Ferme Julien Rouge, 2017

This $5.99 La Ferme Julien from Trader Joe's is simply a TJ label for the Perrin family's La Vieille Ferme, always an excellent value (at about $8 a bottle). I have been buying and enjoying La Vieille Ferme since their first vintage in 1978. Of course, the quality has gone down as the source of grapes has gone from the Cotes du Rhone to Ventoux to the Languedoc and now to even more generic, unnamed sources. But the Perrins are always reliable in choosing the best grapes they can get for the money and making a wine that measures up to traditional Southern Rhone standards.

On the first night, the wine actually was a bit backward. After being re-corked on subsequent nights, the Grenache/Syrah charms come to the fore. Red and black berries, flowers, and the peppery mouthfeel I love. Just the right amount of warmth. It's hard to imagine that a $5.99 might require a few months' aging, but I intend to buy a few more bottles and not be in any hurry to drink them.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Faisao Dao DOC, 2014

"Faisao" is the Portuguese word for pheasant, and there is a beautiful purple pheasant depicted on the front label of this wine. What's inside is even more beautiful.

Medium dark ruby, brilliant and clear. No sign of barriques or new oak. Exotic scents of wild berries and violets. Very enticing. As the wine airs and ages over the next two nights, it develops a Pinot-like peppery quality along with plums and berries. Donna and I both see a strong similarity to the Dao wine we loved so much on our trip to Porto, an inexpensive glass we had while waiting for our pizza order. There is none of the exotic allure of Porto surrounding us tonight, but the Dao qualities are no less appealing.

I bought this wine for $7 or $8 at Binny's in Chicago a year or two ago. It was shelved in a remote corner along with other inexpensive imported wines. Unfortunately, Dao wines are not imported or marketed very aggressively in any of the areas where I shop. Occasionally, they show up at Costco. I will keep looking for them.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Tenuta Rocca Barbera d'Alba Roca Neira, 2006

This is a very good Barbera d'Alba, just hitting its prime drinking period 12 years after the harvest. Deep ruby color. Enticing Piedmont aromas of dark cherries and black licorice. Same on the palate but with impressive freshness and life. The wine has probably had some new oak treatment to add wood tannins, and these are nicely balanced by the natural acidity and fruit of the Barbera grape. If I had a case of this wine (which I unfortunately do not), I would be looking forward to following it over the next five or six years.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Marchesi di Montecristo Nerello di Bastardo, 2000

I paid $5.99 for this wine many years ago at Trader Joe's, but it does not surprise me at all that it is still drinking fabulously at 18 years of age. At this time, anyway, Bastardo was primarily Nebbiolo from the Italian Piedmont. The back label talks about DOCG laws that limit the production of Barolo and Barbaresco and force winemakers to put excess grapes into table wine. Bastardo is not Barolo or Barbaresco, but it is clearly made from mostly Nebbiolo and exhibits many of the hallmarks of that grape.

Deep color with less of the brownish-orange color than you might expect from a Barolo of the same vintage. But, then, the back label also mentions a "secret" ingredient, which is probably Cabernet or Sangiovese. The bouquet is glorious: plenty of roses along with dark cherries and the dark qualities that are sometimes described as tar. And there is more of the same on the palate. Rich mid-palate and a very dry but also lengthy finish.

I still have another bottle of this 2000 Bastardo plus two bottles of the 1999. I'm not worried about their longevity.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Merry Edwards Russian River Pinot Noir, 2000

The Merry Edwards label shows a woman's hands, emerging out of a rose arbor, holding a large bunch of Pinot Noir grapes. And that's pretty much what you can expect in this bottle: well selected fruit with luxurious floral, fruit and earth smells and flavors, hand crafted with the Merry Edwards touch.

Deep, dark color for a Pinot Noir. Bing cherries and roses. Deep, deep fruit but not overstated. A hint of smoky oak. Even for Pinot Noir, the texture and mouth feel are exceptional. Smooth, rich, luxurious but also light on the palate. Teases and pleases. At 18 years of age, this wine is getting more beautiful with each passing day.

The Merry Edwards Russian River Pinot is produced from three vineyards: Klopp Ranch, Olivet Lane and Meredith Vineyard. As she puts it: "Blended together, the fruit from these properties offers an irresistible fusion of earthiness, dark succulent fruit and sweet oak."