Thursday, May 28, 2020

La Ferme Julien Rouge, 2018

La Ferme Julien Rouge MacroThis is one of the least expensive wines on the market ($5.99 at Trader Joe's), and it is also one of the most pleasurable wines you can find...for almost any occasion. The label's quote from Davinci is a perfect fit: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

Made by the Perrin family (who also produce thee famous Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape), La Ferme Julien is undoubtedly a TJ label for La Vieille Ferme, a long time favorite of mine. Over the past 40 years, I have consumed more bottles of La Vieille than probably any other wine. And I can't remember ever being the least bit disappointed.

Lively youthful color. I have rarely kept LVF for more than a year or two because it is always ready to drink. At the same time, I feel quite sure the wine would keep and improve for a number of years. Fresh and ripe like a glistening bowl of cherries. A range of spicy, peppery flavors from Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault. As the label states, there are no tricks or sleight of hand; just beautifully grown and beautifully selected grapes allowed to speak with their own country accents. The wine makes the food taste better; the food improves the pleasure of the wine. Isn't that what wine is all about?

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Franco Serra Langhe Nebbiolo, 2015

Nebbiolo LangheFranco Serra is my favorite low-priced ($10 to $12 at D&W in Kalamazoo) Barbera d'Alba. And this wine, at a few dollars more, is already my favorite low-priced Langhe Nebbiolo.

Medium light but youthful color for Nebbiolo. The aroma is classic Nebbiolo: flowers, spices, dark licorice. Very fragrant and gets even better when decanted. Firm and youthful. More like Barolo than Barbaresco. Tannins seem to get more pronounced as the meal progresses. Barolo-like dryness on mid palate. There is good acidity to balance, though, and the finish delivers some nice red berry fruit. Good now but should go at least another five years. A baby Barolo at a bargain price.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

D'Arenberg The Laughing Magpie Shiraz Viognier, 2009

D'Arenberg Laughing Magpie Shiraz Viognier 750mlThe magpie is a black and white bird, and this wine is so named because it combines black (85% Shiraz) and white (15% Viognier). This blend is common in the Northern Rhone at Cote Rotie, but this Australian wine is a bird of a different color.

Even in the Rhone, of course, the darkness of Syrah is dominant, and that is particularly true for this Laughing Magpie. With a lot of work, I can swirl out some pretty floral scents, reminiscent of Viognier, underneath the black currant, blackberry Shiraz fruit. Also plenty of  oak. On the tongue, the black fruits are particularly dominant, firm and bold. None of the citrus, black olive or grilled tomato notes that you might expect from a Cote Rotie. Powerful and still tannic. Even at 11 years of age, it could benefit from another year or two in the bottle.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Ici/la-bas Les Reveles Anderson Valley Elke Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2006 labels%2flabels%2f611591%2foriginal.jpg%3f1527507800?ixlib=rb 1.1Mary Elke Vineyards, alas, is no longer. I was fortunate enough to buy some of her final vintages, 2013 and 2014, as the winery was closing out. The vineyards on Donnelly Creek, though, will live on and produce excellent Pinot Noir under other labels (usually for substantially higher prices).

Actually, the Elke vineyard grapes had been frequently used by other top winemakers such as Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat and Ici/la-bas for many years. This 2006 Ici/la-bas is one of my favorites.

Medium deep, some browning at edges but no other signs of age. Intense aromas of fresh red berries, flowers and more fresh red berries. Truly hard to quit sniffing, even though I know the flavors to come are even more captivating. Ripe tannins wrapped in lively acidity. Dances all the way down the tongue to a long finish. Has the fruit purity that is a hallmark of good Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Michele Chiarlo Barbera d'Asti Le Orme, 2013

I usually prefer Barbera d'Alba, but this is a good example of the refined, elegant style that is more associated with Barbera d'Asta.

Medium deep garnet. Brilliant hue. Even without decanting, lovely scents of cherries, flowers, baking spices. Walks with a light step. More acid than tannin but flavors shine through. A versatile wine--good with Middle Eastern beef gallaya and also with pesto pasta and green salad. Perfect right now. Great value and widely available for $12 to $15 a bottle.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Bouchard Aine et Fils Pouilly Fuisse, 2010

Pouilly Fuisse is always a bit pricey compared to other Macon Villages wines. When I see a good one at a discount price, I am quick to buy and am usually rewarded with some special aromas and flavors.

Full gold color. Pears, apples, flowers and a hint of honey. My type of Chardonnay. Ripe fruit with a citric edge. Good acidity; one sip leads to another. Satisfying finish. Full price for the current vintage is about $30; given what I get from this mature bottle, that is a reasonable price.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Bucklin Old Hill Ranch Zinfandel, 2006

2006 Bucklin "Old Hill Ranch" Sonoma Valley Zinfandel (organic) When I first tasted this wine in 2013, I thought it was almost too big and powerful. I wanted to come back to it in 5 or 10 years. I have come back to it several times since, and this is the first time that it seemed to me ready to drink and enjoy.

Deep and dark. Lovely scents of red and black berries, flowers, earth, spice and, yes, plenty of oak. Has opened up considerably since the last bottle (2016) with ripe fruit flavors on the palate. But the tannins are still prominent. And by the end of the meal, the 15.3% alcohol begins to show. Lots of ripe fruit, but my tongue cries for less alcohol, less tannin and more acid.

Old Hill Ranch is one of the oldest vineyards in California, and this "Zinfandel" is actually a field blend of many grapes: Grenache, Alicante Bouschet, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Carignane, Syrah, Temperanillo, Tannat, Grand Noir and even a few others, all growing on gnarled, tree-like vines.