Thursday, January 31, 2019

Lustau Solera Reserva Captaz Andres Deluxe Cream Sherry

When I pulled this out of the cellar on Christmas day, I was embarrassed by the red tag on the bottle: $4.99! But I knew that this wine is worth much, much more. In fact, the $20 price tags I have seen elsewhere represent extreme bargains. It comes from very old and rare soleras owned by Emilio Lustau. A month later, I am still enjoying it.,

Brownish/amber color, and there were some notes of oxidation when I first opened the bottle. Those signs may have been a factor in the ridiculously low close out price. Oxidation, of course, is all part of the Sherry experience. And it doesn't take more than a few minutes before it all gets folded into the complex mix of walnuts, raisins, dates, figs, maple and toffee. Sweet but not sticky or cloying. Layers and layers of pleasure. A perfect match for plum pudding.

Pontificis Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre Pays d'O, 2015

Badet Clement & Cie 'Pontificis' Grenache - Syrah - Mourvedre, IGP Pays d'Oc, France labelIf you yearn for the Cotes du Rhone wines of yesteryear, as I do, you should give this wine a try. The grapes (Grenache, 48%, Syrah, 38%, Mourvedre, 14%) come from the Languedoc rather than the Southern Rhone, but the wine has all the lively fruit of a good Cotes du Rhone from the 1980s or 1990s. And it sells for only $7.99 at Trader Joes.

Deep crimson/purple. Peppery Grenache spice plus back fruits more reminiscent of Syrah and Mourvedre. Great mouthfeel. Tannins on mid-palate but they are supple and ripe. Good acid structure and a spicy finish. This is my go-to every day wine, and I am looking forward to trying the 2016 vintage which has now reached the shelves.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Kirkland Signature Sonoma County Chardonnay, 2016

Kirkland Signature, of course, is the Costco label, and some of the Costco wines are very good for the price. This 2016 Chardonnay was on sale for $6.99 a bottle just before Christmas.

Medium deep yellow. Scents of blood orange, apple and vanilla. Good acid on the mid-palate, ushering in a cascade of fruit and oak flavors. Sonoma is a good appellation for Chardonnay. If I see more of this wine for under $10, I will be a buyer. At $6.99, it was a steal.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Domaine Raymond Usseglio Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Girard, 1999

Image result for raymond usseglio chateauneuf du pape 1999
This Chateauneuf is 90% Grenache from vineyards planted from the 1920s to the mid-1960s. And it is at a good stage for drinking right now.

Medium to light crimson. Very fruit forward, ripe and lovely. Grenache strawberry with spice and just a hint of cassis. Ripe, ripe fruit, clean and well defined. Gains depth and concentration over the course of the meal. If I were tasting blind, I would guess that it might be from 2010 or 2012 rather than 1999. Long finish.

Chateau Cap de Mourlin Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 1983

Image result for castle cap de mourlin 1983It was 1983 when Jacques Capdemourlin made major renovations to the vineyards and winemaking facilities of this estate in the Saint Emilion appellation of Bordeaux. At least some of those changes may have contributed to the quality of this bottle, which is showing well for a 35-year-old wine.

Some amber in the color but generally well saturated colors. The wine is mostly Merlot and Cab Franc but I find none of the green tones that I often find in those varietals. My last bottle of 1983 Cap de Mourlin was probably 15 years ago, and I note a significant improvement rather than decline. Ripe blackcurrants with black tea on the finish.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Evolucio Blaufrankisch, 2015

Blaufrankisch: where have you been all of my life? Until tonight, this Austrian red wine has never attracted my attention. As a versatile every day dinner wine, it now has a prominent place on my buy list.

Purplish blue in color, but the wine has clearly not seen any new oak or small barrels. Incredibly beautiful smells of ripening blackberries, dark cherries, blue flowers and pepper. Very fresh and lively, like a later summer garden after a rain. Tangy flavors of fresh berries and black pepper. Slightly funky but in a positive way. Long and satisfying finish.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Jean Descombes Morgon, 2005

Along with the 1995, this 2005 Morgon is one of my favorites from Jean Descombes. Now in its 13th year, it is hanging on to the vibrant black raspberry fruit that attracted me when the wine was first released. The 1995, which lasted me until about a year ago, took on complex mature notes that are still in the future for this lovely 2005.

Deep ruby color. The berry fruit smells are apparent as soon as the cork is popped. Also some flowers and gamay spice. Very lively on the palate. Very fruity but not at all simple. I still have one bottle and I'm sure it will age as well as the 1995. But I doubt that I will have the patience to wait.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Domaine du Grand Tinel Chateauneuf du Pape, 1995

I've enjoyed the 1990 Grand Tinel many times over the past two decades, and this 1995 appears to be made in its likeness. 1995 was the first year that Grand Tinel started reserving some of the produce from the estate's oldest Grenache vines (100-135 plus years of age) for a luxury cuvee, but I would guess that at least some of these premium grapes went into the traditional cuvee.

Good dark color. Very Grenache--macerated red berries and cherries. Also a good dollop of cassis, probably from the Syrah. Very concentrated, like summer fruit pudding. Ripe, lovely, just the right amount of alcohol (14%) to provide warmth and body. A wine to cuddle up with on a cold winter night.

I believe I have at least one bottle of the 1990 left and am looking forward to trying it soon.

Smith Woodhouse Vintage Port, 1991

Smith Woodhouse Vintage Port 2003 375ML Half BottleSome online reviews have suggested that this 1991 Port is maturing faster than would be expected. After sampling this bottle slowly over the last several weeks, I don't agree.

The bouquet is rich and fruity, although not particularly complex. Flavors are sweeter than I expected--blackberries, blue plums--and, again, lacking a bit in complexity.

That initial reaction, however, came on Christmas day, when other things were competing for attention. Several weeks later, for whatever reason, I find significantly greater depth and interest both on the nose and the palate, cocoa, dried fruits and dark chocolate as well as the blackberries and plums. I like it...although not as much as the 1995 Smith Woodhouse Madalena I had earlier this year.

Parducci Small Lot Blend Mendocino County Pinot Noir, 2013

Parducci Small Lot Blend Pinot NoirI remember my amazement when I walked into Harding's Grocery in Kalamazoo and saw this wine selling for $4.99 a bottle. It was a special offer, and I stocked up. Whether from the Anderson Valley or other nearby vineyards, Mendocino County has a well deserved reputation for producing fine Pinot Noir.

From the beginning, this wine has been very good, but the bottle tonight is spectacular. Fruity, floral, spicy scents waft up from the time the cork is pulled. Cherry, red spices--exciting to smell and even more exciting to taste. Great fruit, great acid, lovely to drink right now.

Later in the evening, I opened a bottle of 2011 Bourgogne Pinot Noir from Nicolas Potel. The Pinot traits were very similar. Contrary to stereotype, however, the Burgundy was slightly sweeter, fruitier and less intense.

Collovray et Terrier Macon-Villages Tradition, 2014

From the 1990 vintage, I bought at least a case of this producer's Macon-Villages. (At that time, it was labeled Domaine Deux Roche Macon Davaye.) A decade later, the 1990 wine had developed greater complexity but was still youthful in appearance and flavor. This bottle from 2014 is drinking beautifully today but significantly more mature in every respect.

Deep yellow color of a mature Chardonnay. Still has the lovely citrus, peach, apricot scents that attracted me to the wine several years ago. But the fruit has mellowed and taken on tones of honey, nuts and grains. Very much what I expect from a mature Saint Veran or Pouilly Fuisse. I love it but plan to drink my remaining bottles sooner rather than later.

Collovray et Terrier also make a very good Saint Veran, and I remember paying an extra buck or two to buy this wine in quantity too during the early 1990s.