Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Chateau Grand Traverse Old Mission Gamay Noir, 2017, 2005

2017 Gamay Noir_THUMBNAILIn my view, Michigan's climate is a bit too cool and cloudy to produce high quality red wine. There are, however, many wineries working hard to produce a Cabernet or Merlot to match those in California. Having tried many of these wines (most of which carry substantial oak and a high price tag), my favorite is a less expensive choice: the Old Mission Gamay Noir of Chateau Grand Traverse.

For $13, I bought a bottle of the 2017 version of this Gamay Noir Limited, and we enjoyed it in our hotel room with carry out pizza. It was even better than I remembered, with bright aromas and flavors of red cherry, berries and spice. Medium bodied with a perfect balance of fruit and acidity and a luscious finish. I found it hard to quit sniffing and spitting.

When I visited the winery the next day, I just had to have another taste, and, because I enjoyed the 2017 Gamay so much, the man at the counter offered me a taste of an older vintage--either the 2005 or 2008. I chose the 2005 and was suitably impressed. Compared to the 2017, it was mellow and laid back but no less delicious. Lots of subtle undertones, what you might expect from a very good Pinot Noir of the same age. And a remarkable after taste. I am still holding to my opinion: this is the best Michigan red wine I have tasted.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Cordero di Montezemolo Monfalletto Barolo, 2014

Thanks to the Coravin wine preservation system, Trattoria Stella in Traverse City is able to offer this excellent Barolo as a wine by the glass. At $16.50 for a seven-ounce pour ($66 for a full bottle), it was a great value.

Deep garnet; probably has seen some new as well as neutral oak barrels. There is nothing lost, though, in the aromas and flavors. Straight from the bottle, the aromas are powerful: dark cherry, flowers, spice and licorice. I know that Barolo requires significant aging, but there is something very exciting about the smells and flavors of a relatively young bottle. Same on the palate. Incredible power and intensity. Yes, there are plenty of tannins, but they are ripe and coat the mouth with pleasure. Lots of potential on the finish. Surpringly, we noted that tannins became more noticeable after the wine aired in the glass for 10 to 15 minutes. With a few more years in the bottle, I am sure that process will be reversed.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Domaine de la Janasse Vieilles Vignes Chateauneuf du Pape, 1989

 labelThis mature Chateauneuf was a perfect accompaniment to an excellent Father's Day feast featuring grilled New Zealand lamb chops and sauteed cilantro and garlic potatoes. Compared to the 1989 Domaine Pegau Cuvee Reservee I had a few weeks ago, it is definitely a more mature wine but with equally deep and concentrated aromas and flavors.

Relatively dark for a 30-year-old Grenache-based wine, but there are oxidative notes that are most apparent right after the wine is opened. After a couple of hours in the decanter and glass, the fruit begins to open--dried cherries, sea salt and red berries. Deep and concentrated flavors with a long finish. Everything you expect from old Grenache vines that are well situated in the Chateauneuf du Pape appellation.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Belles Vignes Sauvignon Blanc, 2018

This wine is a simple Vin de Pays from the Loire, but it has a lot to recommend it. And it can be purchased for only $4.49 a bottle right now at Trader Joe's in Kalamazoo.

Very light color. Still very young, but this is not a wine to put away. Peppery, spicy aromas--cilantro, jalapenos. Also some gooseberry and green fruits. Not as sweet as most New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs. In fact, it may be too dry and puckery for some drinkers. I like this style of Sauvignon and will go back for more.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Nerello del Bastardo Vino di Tavola Rosso, 2000

 labelThis looks like a Barolo, smells like a Barolo and has the glorious flavors of mature Nebbiolo. It's not a Barolo, of course, but rather a simple table wine purchased for $5.99 many years ago at Trader Joe's. The back label refers to the wine as a "Super Piedmontese" made from grapes that didn't make the cut for Barolo or Barbaresco. The strict appellation rules require that "only a certain quantity after aging (minimum 4 years) to be classified Barolo or Barbaresco DOCG. (The excess) can only be sold as table wine." In this case, the winemaker added "just a touch of something secret." Hence, the term "Bastardo." Sensing the quality, I bought a case of Bastardo, and this is the last bottle.

Rusty, bricky color of traditionally aged Nebbiolo. Scents of cherries and flowers--bright and lively. On the palate, the wine sings. The crust of sediment reveals that the tannins have subsided, letting the deep, concentrated flavors shine through. More than just a table wine; wish I had more.

To my knowledge, Trader Joe's no longer carries this wine (although I have seen it at World Market). More recent vintages probably contain very little, if any, Nebbiolo but are decent wines for the price.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Bybee Vineyards and Habitat Russian River Pinot Noir, 2005

The last time I had this wine (May 26, 2016) I was tremendously impressed by the bouquet. The good scents are still there, but the flavors are even better.

Medium light garnet. This wine is beginning to show its age but still has plenty of life left. Pretty scents of flowers and sweet fruit. Dark spices typical of Russian River Pinot along with ripe fruit. Ripe cherry, neither sour nor sweet. Once again, the finish is remarkable.