Small, persistent bubbles and fine mousse. Following a small dosage, Amethyste spends extra time on its lees, creating a pleasing yeasty biscuity bouquet. Very fresh. Pinot Nor/Pinot Meunier flavors are dominant. Freshly baked brioche with hints of raspberries. Rich and complex. Leaves a long, lasting memory on the tongue and in the mind. Louis Barthelmy Amethyste has already become one of my favorite Champagnes.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Medium deep garnet shading to brick at the rim. Voluptuous aroma of cherries, pomegranate and cassis. Full fruit on the palate, 45% Cabernet, 45% Merlot, 5% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot. Not a great wine but very good and a perfect match for braised beef brisket left over from Christmas Eve. At 20 years of age, it is showing no signs of advanced age.
Saturday, December 26, 2020
Considerably lighter with more orangish tints compared to the older Tenuta Rocca beside it on the table. Violets, dark cherries, earth and spice. Takes awhile for the fruit flavors to open up, but they are well worth the wait. Not as sweet as the Barolo but more guts and greater complexity. I have several more bottles of this wine and will enjoy tracing its progress over the next several years.
Friday, December 25, 2020
Yes, it has lost its yellow and even its deep gold hues and is now the color of weak tea. The smells, though, are what you expect from a much younger Sauternes: figs, apricots, almonds and coconut. Medium body, bright acidity and a long, sweet finish. Well liked at the table and got more positive votes than the Aigle Blanc Vouvray (see below).
Deep gold color. Powerful Chenin Blanc smells of stone fruit, lanolin, eucalyptus honey. Sweet on the palate, maybe a bit one dimensional if you want to be critical. One taster also found high levels of sulfur dioxide, and that is probably one reason the wine appears so bright and youthful at 21 years of age. But I'm not inclined to be critical of a wine that delivers such pleasure at the end of the meal.
This wine required more than two hours aeration to show its best. And it was still drinking well after four hours. Although it is now 22 years old, I suspect it will keep quite well. Deep red, fading to amber near the rim. Somewhat mute when first opened, this wine developed beautiful Northern Rhone Syrah smells: black fruits, cassis, black olive and bacon fat. Rich black fruit flavors. Also some red berries on finish. Nice wine.
Deep color. Throws more sediment than is typical with Chateauneuf du Pape. Very expressive nose from the time the cork is popped. Strawberries, blueberries, spice and garrigue. Very young tasting; lots of primary fruit that is developing very slowly. Modest 13.5% alcohol and good acidity. Ripe black and red fruits resonate on the finish. This is a serious wine that will become more serious as the years roll by.
The cork was very difficult to remove, and my initial taste was not very pleasant. I was really considering pouring this wine down the drain and choosing another, but, fortunately, I decided to see what a little air might accomplish. Another taste after about 15 minutes convinced me the wine was worth keeping, and after an hour the wine was beginning to sing. Another hour later, the wine was poured and became the hit of the table, preferred by all over the very good Sociando Mallet that accompanied it.
Substantial amber in the color, similar to the Sociando Mallet. And the nose is not as expressive. Blue plums but mostly pleasant old wine smells. The wine's maturity also shows in the flavors, which are beautiful and shape shifting. Savory more than fruity. "Something new appears in every part of your mouth," one taster said. Subtle and complex. Smooth, elegant mouthfeel.
Medium deep with amber. Cork very difficult to remove but very little sediment. Dark fruit smells; blackberry and black currant along with tertiary smells. Still has good balance and fruit flavors but is less elegant on the palate than the 1981 Haut Bages Liberal that accompanied it at the table.
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Deep and dark. Very black fruited bouquet: blackberries, black currants and French oak. Shiraz Cab traits of chocolate on the palate along with black fruits, spice and black licorice. Very intense finish.
Langhorne Creek is one of my favorite Aussie appellations, and the grapes for this wine come from the Metala vineyard, one of the oldest in the country. Old vine intensity is apparent. I like it.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Brilliant gold. Smells and tastes young, even at age 5. Apples, pears, flowers. Good weight on the palate. Rich, creamy texture but with great acidity. I have kept this wine for several years but suspect it is just now coming into its window of prime drinking. Excellent value for Oregon Pinot Gris; it goes on my buy list.
Monday, December 21, 2020
Medium dark plummy red. The wine is made traditionally in enamel and concrete vats; no new oak. Powerful aromas of red cherries and peppery spice. Medium body with prominent but ripe fruit tannins. Pepper on the mid-palate. Red fruit opens up nicely on the finish. 14.5% alcohol is just right for this wine. Power and beauty; reminds me of a good Gigondas.
The blend is 70% Grenache from vines aged 40 to 70 years; 15% Syrah, 10% Counoise and 5% Cinsault. The vines are well situated on a clay/limestone hillside.
Friday, December 18, 2020
I first opened a bottle of the 1998 Notre Dame des Cellettes, but, alas, it was corked. This 2000 has always shown better than the 1998, and it is still showing well tonight, although it is clearly fully mature.
Plenty of sediment that has not formed a crust, and that makes the wine's appearance less bright than previous bottles. Still a deep crimson/ruby, though. Mellow red fruit smells and flavors; mostly Grenache strawberry. Also some Mourvedre violet scents. Mellow and mouth filling. I still have another bottle or two and will be drinking them soon.
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Medium straw color. Intense aroma of apricot, lime, fresh flowers and a hint of almonds. Rich flavors framed by zingy acidity. Pleasant touch of bitterness on the mid-palate and a citric finish. A versatile wine that goes well with mushroom/spinach/lemon pasta.
Sunday, December 13, 2020
Good deep color. No oak, the wine is aged in concrete vats. Oh yes! The wonderful smells: fresh red and black fruit, earth and spice. Rustic tannins--I love them. Peppery Grenache (50%), Syrah (30%) and Carignan (20%). The latter adds its own spice and pepper. Long, peppery finish. Ventoux is still one of my favorites, even if I enjoy it less frequently.
Thursday, December 10, 2020
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Fairly deep yellow. Very intense smells and flavors--lemon curd, pears, nutmeg. Exciting level of acidity on the mid-palate and finish. This is my type of Chardonnay; in my opinion, it is several cuts above other inexpensive New World Chardonnays sold at Trader Joe's
Monday, December 7, 2020
At 11 years of age, the color has rusty/brick tones but is still deep and bright. The wine has been aged in stainless steel, then in the bottle. Enticing scents of roses, violets and dark cherry; a Piedmont profile. In the mouth, the wine is rich and full bodied. Cherries, blueberries, black licorice. Tannins have faded to reveal strong fruit. Ripe but good acidity. Does not tire the taste buds as ripe New World reds tend to do.
When first opened, the wine tasted as if it might be past its prime. But I have had this bottle open for three nights now, and the flavors are still developing nuances. Of course, it is not as flamboyant or serious as Nebbiolo or even a good Barbera, but, at $15 to $20 a bottle, it is well worth a try. It goes well with spicy Middle Eastern dishes.
Thursday, December 3, 2020
Medium light Pinot color. Bright and saturated. Gorgeous nose of red cherries and pie spice. Like a cherry pie right out of Grandma's oven. In the mouth, more cherries, ripe and lovely but also pleasantly tart. Now cranberries and a hint of spice. As an Anderson Valley Pinot, though, it's the purity of the fruit that is most noticeable and impressive. Coats the tongue with ripe flavors from front to back. Cerise is obviously a very special vineyard in a very special appellation.
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
The color has lightened and turned to a brickish orange. It is a mature wine but not overly mature for my taste. High-toned nose: mostly cherries with herbs and a touch of cassis. Clearly an old-style Bordeaux aged in seasoned oak. Mostly Merlot, I would guess. Refined mouthfeel, very smooth with good balance to highlight fruit flavors rather than oak or alcohol. Cherries and herbs. Medium long, finish. It is, however, a mature wine, and, on the second night, it has little to offer.
Monday, November 30, 2020
Barely any sediment and a deep color with very little bricking. Much brighter than the color of previous bottles. Black fruit smells; reminds me of a Crozes Hermitage. Now a bit of Grenache berry plus some old oak. Very agreeable on the palate. Ripe fruit but enough acid to keep it from being heavy. With aeration, it develops some interesting twists and turns. Not a great Chateauneuf but a very good Cotes du Rhone Villages. And it's a lot younger than its years. I'm now looking forward to future bottles.
Saturday, November 28, 2020
Deepening yellow color. Savory smells that I expect from Pinot Gris: ripe apples, seasoned oak and nuts. Round and full in the mouth. Nectarine, melon and papaya. Yes, a bit sweet on the finish but also savory and delicious.
Thursday, November 26, 2020
Like Beaucastel, Clos des Papes has a high percentage of Mourvedre (20 to 40%) in the blend. And when I first opened the bottle, Mourvedre was the dominant smell. Aggressive, high-toned, somewhat funky, almost like Bret but much more pleasant. With an hour of airing, the assertiveness fades into a rich, warm aroma of red and black berries, olives, sea salt and trademark Mourvedre spice. On the palate, it just keeps getting better and better throughout the meal. Rich, warm texture with acidity to keep it going. Everything I want and expect in a Chateauneuf du Pape.
Deep gold. Powerful and attractive smells of quince, grapefruit, flowers, hay and damp stone. Even more assertive and powerful on the palate, So dry that it tugs at your taste buds while also coating them with powerful flavors. The Barolo of white wine. From my experience with earlier vintages of Domaine des Baumard Savennieres, these flavors will continue to grow more complex for at least another decade.
Monday, November 23, 2020
Medium deep gold. Ripe apples in butter, spring flowers, spice and maybe a hint of walnut. Broad and deep. Very much like a six-year-old Pouilly Fuisse. Sleek acidity but also ripe multi-faceted fruit and a pleasing body.
It's a lesson I should have known. Don't overchill a good wine; you are likely to lose a good part of the fruit and flavor.
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Bright ruby with purple tints. Scents of red cherries, violets and spice. Ripe and enticing. Medium bodied with a smooth, refined mouth feel. The oak is well integrated, letting the fruit shine. Long finish. Calls for yet another taste.
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Deep ruby color. No oak; aged in stainless steel and concrete vats. About 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah plus Mourvedre and Cinsault from vines about 40 years old. Black raspberries, violets, aromatic herbs. Very expressive, as usual. Luxuriant fruit on the palate. More Syrah than Grenache at this point. Lavender and black fruits. Subtle spice notes developing on the long finish.
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Some of the best Dolcetto vineyards are near Dogliani on the outskirts of the Barolo appellation. This one, though, comes from nearby Barbaresco--old vineyards in Tre Stelle and Rio Sordo. And it displays well its aristocratic breeding.
Clear bright ruby with bluish tints. Billowing scents of cherries, roses, cinnamon and almonds. Sweet fruit countered by a pleasantly bitter almond finish. Teases the tongue with brisk acidity and ripe fruit tannins. Oh, I like this wine. It's good enough and versatile enough to accompany any dish you can put on the table.
Sunday, November 15, 2020
Light color but noticeably bright. Enchanting Pinot bouquet: red cherries, rose petals, and spice box. The scents are so lovely, that I almost expected something sweeter on the palate, but I was not disappointed at all. More of the spice box plus cranberries, cherries orange zest and white pepper. Pleasing acidity. Reminds me a lot of the Tualatin Estate Pinot I had at an American Wine Society tasting last week. The Monks Gate is 10 years older than that wine, but it has aged very well.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Dark, bluish color. Prominent blackberries, plums and cassis on the nose; a touch of coffee and dark chocolate on the palate. Very ripe fruit flavors overwhelm the tannins that are lurking behind. Fills the mouth but does not taste hot or alcoholic. Although the winery says it uses some French oak barrels, they are not obvious in the smells and flavors. Drinks well now, but I am looking for more complexity as the wine ages.
Saturday, November 7, 2020
Dark with bluish tints. Currants, cassis and French oak. Big in the mouth. Good fruit/acid balance with ripe tannins. Cherries and chocolate on the finish. Easy drinking but not simple. I need more time with this wine before I can make a commitment of $35.
Pinot light but bright color. Heavenly smells of red cherry, violets, earth and Pinot Noir pepper. Dances lightly on the tongue. Hard to find the tannins, but they are there, and I am sure the wine will age very well for a decade or more. Pomegranates, cranberries and, as the winemaker suggests, pumpkin spice. I have never thought about pumpkin spice as a wine descriptor, but, yes, now that you mention it, I taste it. A delicate, ethereal finish that refuses to quit. Again, not a budget wine but worth the splurge.
Medium deep yellow. The nose is simply irresistible: pear, honey, flowers. And the flavors are there to match: lemon cream with subtle vanilla on the finish. Very long, haunting finish. This is not a budget wine ($45 on the winery website) but I feel sure I would have to pay a higher price for a comparable Mersault.
Friday, November 6, 2020
I find some unattractive aromas that blow away after a few minutes in the glass. Probably reduction odors which will resolve with age. More red than black fruit, flowers and spice. Good acidity but a bit sharp on the finish, at least at this stage. This is not my style of wine.
Deep and dark but a bit lighter than the Torbreck. Boysenberries, dark cherries, minerals and violets. Lighter in body than the Torbreck but plenty of strength and structure. Red currants, cinnamon, coffee and black pepper. Good acidity, exciting finish. At $18 to $20, I consider this a great value.
This is the first of three Shiraz wines we tasted as part of a American Wine Society presentation entitled "There is No Australian Shiraz." The theme, of course, was that there is no simplistic stereotype of Australian Shiraz but rather many different styles based on appellation, vine age, climate and winemaking decisions. Although Barossa is often dismissed by American critics as producing overly heavy, alcoholic, extracted wines, it is also home to many of Australia's finest wines such as Penfold's The Grange and Henschke's Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone Shiraz.Torbreck also has earned critical praise as a premium producer, in part because of the estate's old, dry-farmed vineyards. The Woodcutters bottling is priced at a moderate level ($20 to $25) and includes fruit from relatively younger vines raised mostly in well seasoned French oak. We were both impressed with this wine.
Deep, dark, bright. Big aromatic presence of blackberries, black currants and cassis. Deserves a lot of serious sniffing, revealing more and more pleasures as the wine aerates. I get mostly black fruits on the palate as well. A big tannic wall on the mid palate but it too softens over time to reveal beautiful Shiraz fruit plus mocha, vanilla and lavender. The finish is well worth lingering over, even at this young stage but will get even better with five to ten years of additional age.
Monday, November 2, 2020
Dark crimson. Intense peppery, spicy aromas from the time the cork is popped, Rich fruit and spice on the tongue. Boysenberries, violets. Firm but ripe tannins. Syrah traits are upfront, but there is also plenty of Grenache pepper and spice. My kind of wine.
I bought this at D&W in Kalamazoo where it sells for $12 to $16.
Saturday, October 31, 2020
The color has lightened a bit but is still what you might expect from a 10-year-old, rather than a 20-year-old Pinot Noir. In 2016, I smelled cherry, cranberries and gingery spice; today, the scents and flavors are riper and more mellow--red plums and flowers--but by no means flabby. In the mouth, the wine is exciting, stimulating the sides of the tongue as well as the mid-palate but leading to a very ripe, long and satisfying finish. This is my last bottle; if I had more, I would be in no hurry to drink them.
Friday, October 30, 2020
Bright yellow. On the first night, aromas and flavors of passion fruit and citrus with fresh acidity. Deeper notes of gooseberry, fresh mown grass and green bell pepper develop over succeeding nights. Very attractive.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Bright ruby. Yes, very aromatic: red berries, baking spices and almonds. Ripe fruit flavors.
Goes down very easily. High acid, low tannin--typical of Barbera. It's probably not a wine for long-term aging, but I think it will improve over the next 12 to 18 months.
Truffle Hunter Barbera is pretty widely available, at least in the Kalamazoo area, and an excellent value at $9 to $11 a bottle
Saturday, October 24, 2020
Domaine Alary's Cairanne L'Estevenas is a blend of roughly 65% Grenache and 35% Syrah (from cuttings taken from the Hermitage appellation in the Northern Rhone). This 2007 has aged very nicely and is at a near-perfect stage right now.
Bright crimson, minimal bricking. Pretty aromas of flowers and fresh berry fruit when first opened. Within half an hour, deeper and more serious--a bouquet rather than an aroma with fine wine smells blended together. Darker fruits on the palate, including some hints of black currant and cassis. Beautifully ripe fruit on the mid-palate and finish but with enough acidity to make it dance on the tongue. A special wine.
Friday, October 23, 2020
Anne CDR wines can age 10 or more years, even the simple Cotes du Rhone, but the high level of Mourvedre makes the Saint Gervais particularly ageworthy. At 20 years of age, this Saint-Gervais is drinking better than it has at any time over the past decade.
Medium deep red, just beginning to show some bricking around the edges. Mourvedre cherry and spice showing clearly on the nose. But, really, this is a fully developed bouquet with scents blended seamlessly. Beautiful. Rich fruit on the mid-palate. Creamy texture that just keeps getting smoother. Pleasing cherry tartness on the finish. This wine may have quit growing, but it still has plenty of life ahead.
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Compared to the very good Sanford Chardonnay (below), this Pouilly Fuisse from Bouchard Aine & Fils is several steps above. Alas, I have finished my stash of bottles purchased at closeout and will have to decide whether I want to shell out the $30 necessary to buy current vintages. It is, in my opinion, worth the premium.
Medium deep yellow/gold; lighter than the Sanford Chardonnay (below), even though it is six years younger. Bouquet every bit as distinctive as the Sanford but much more subtle. Perfectly ripe apples and pears, white flowers. Concentrated fruit, presented with elegance and grace. Glides across the palate. Assertive but not aggressive. This is a bottle you want on your table with a special meal.
According to the winery, "only the yeasts naturally present on the grapes were used, which is our way to respect and enhance the terroir."
When I buy wines from California, I ordinarily buy according to appellation rather than producer. If the label states merely "California" as the appellation, it means that the grapes can come from anywhere in the state, and that usually means the cheapest grapes available. The Santa Rita Hills is an area that has developed a reputation for producing high quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and grapes from the appellation command a correspondingly higher price. Even compared to the surrounding Santa Barbara appellation, the soil and the cool climate in the Santa Rita hills produce distinctive wines. That's why I bought this $7 Chardonnay from Trader Joe's. And it did not disappoint.
Medium deep yellow/gold. Very powerful aromas: flowers, pears, Granny Smith apples. Cool climate acidity. Meyer Lemon, sea salt and flowers; very intense, aggressive flavors from front to back. Not your typical California Chardonnay; could even be mistaken for a Sauvignon Blanc. But very distinctive and very good for a cool climate Chardonnay.
Saturday, October 17, 2020
I opened this bottle for a Thursday virtual tasting with winemaker Anne Trimbach and Madeline Triffon, MS, of Plum Market in Ann Arbor. Ms. Trimbach was a delight to listen to; her wine, as always, a delight to drink. Trimbach is my favorite source of Riesling and my favorite Alsace estate.
Deepening yellow. Fresh scents and crisp flavors when taken out of the refrigerator and first opened. As the wine aerates and warms from 45 degrees to 65, both the smells and flavors broaden and become more complex. From pear and citrus to ripe apple and minerals. From Granny Smith to Jonathan apples. Coats every corner of the mouth with ever changing tones and flavors. Completely dry and enchanting with and without food. Ms. Trimbach recommends drinking this Riesling at 5 to 10 years of age but admits that it will keep much longer. A few years ago, I opened a bottle of the 1978 Trimbach classic Riesling (purchased in the early 1980s for less than $40 a case) and it was still drinking beautifully at nearly 20 years of age.
A Trimbach Riesling made for aging is the Frederic Emile, which is made from two Grand Cru vineyards and sells for about $100 in some vintages. I did not open my bottle of Frederic Emile but got virtual satisfaction from hearing the glowing words from Madeline Triffon. I will reserve my pleasure for a special occasion several years from now when the bouquet and flavors have more time to develop.
Oltre is the Italian word for "more than" or "ultra," and this wine is made to be more than Barbera by the addition of 10% Nebbiolo. The result is more than enjoyable.
The color is a beautiful ruby, much darker than Nebbiolo. The rest of the wine has more Nebbiolo traits than you might expect from a 10% blend. I don't find the beautiful aromas of Nebbiolo but the dark cherry fruit is upfront and strong along with dark spicy scents and a hint of almonds. The fruit is crunchy and attractive--dark berries as well as cherries. Both Nebbiolo and Barbera are high in acidity but Nebbiolo typically has more tannin, and Oltre has good tannic grip. Some makers boost the tannic content of Barbera with new oak; the addition of Nebbiolo might be a better option. Right now this wine is drinking beautifully.
Imported by Peloton, Pelassa Oltre offers good value (about $15 a bottle) but is somewhat difficult to find.
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Medium light gold. Powerful smells of Marsanne married to delicacy of Viognier. Rich mouthfeel for those who like Chardonnay (and Marsanne) but also citrus zest for those partial to Pinot Grigio (and Viognier). I think this wine will age nicely. Marsanne is a wine for aging, although Viognier is better when consumed as early as possible. As the Hermit Crab develops, the Marsanne qualities are likely to dominate.
The deep color is bound to elicit some doubt. But I have detected a similar color for many years, through the transparent bottle and in previously opened bottles. A decade ago I also found oxidized smells and flavors and did not find the wine very pleasant to drink. Not so, tonight. Beautifully ripe apricots and peaches, honey toast, mushrooms, hazelnuts and dried fruits. Wow! Smells and tastes like an aged dessert wine but it is bone dry. Very rich texture but very little acidity. Medium finish. This wine is unique but not for everyone.
Tahbilk's vintage chart lists it as drinkable but in decline with a suggested value of $45.