Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Philo Ridge Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2010

I have had many excellent Pinot Noir wines from the Anderson Valley, but this has to rank high on the list. At  10 years of age, it shows no sign of decline any time soon.

Medium light color typical of many clones of Pinot Noir. This may also be an indication that the wine has not seen heavy oak treatment. Glorious Pinot scents that keep me coming back for sniffs again and again. The bouquet is almost worth the price of admission. But there is also plenty to like on the palate. Cherries, dark spices, black pepper. Perfect. Great balance and long after taste. 

Monday, September 28, 2020

Quinta do Portal Mural Reserva, 2013

 This wine was opened six days ago, then re-corked and re-visited briefly from time to time while we enjoyed a birthday wine and several other more expensive wines from a Tasters' Guild tasting. An $8 purchase from Costco, the Mural Reserva from the Douro region of Portugal took a back seat. But when it was opened again, it certainly did not embarrass itself in comparison to its more prestigious partners. It is inexpensive but certainly not cheap.

Dark color typical of Douro reds. And it also has bold Douro aromas and flavors, particularly on the first night. Yes, this wine has abundant tannins, but they are mostly fruit tannins that frame rather than obscure the fruit. Aromas and flavors both develop beautifully throughout the week. Mostly black fruits with intense spice notes and finally some black pepper tonight. I am disappointed when my glass is finally dry. 

The Wine Enthusiast gave Mural Reserva 92 points and ranked it #12 on its yearly Best Buy list. The magazine recommended drinking after 2018, but I am not going to be in any hurry to drink my other bottles.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

John Duval Entity Barossa Shiraz, 2016

The Barossa Valley is known in the United States as a source of warm climate wines, but anyone who has traveled and tasted in the Barossa knows that this is a misleading generalization. Barossa also has some of the oldest Syrah vines in the country, and John Duval has selected wisely from well sited vineyards in the Stockwell, Light Pass, Krondorf and Marananga sub-regions. Like the GSM below, it is an impressive creation.

Deep and dark. Classic Shiraz notes of blackberry compote, cassis, chocolate and French oak. As with the GSM (below), the fruit is deep and concentrated rather than flabby. Beautifully balanced with silky tannins and a good level of acidity. It's a wine I am enjoying now in its youth, but I am sure it will be even better with a decade or more in the bottle.

The bottle aging with this wine, as well as with the Duval GSM, is complicated by the use of a screw top, which slows considerably the action of oxygen on the wine inside the bottle. For those who like young wines and those who hate wines damaged by cork taint, this is a plus. For those who like more developed wines, as I do, decanting or aeration will add complexity.

John Duval Plexus Barossa GSM, 2015

This blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre is an Australian Chateauneuf du Pape made in the modern rather than traditional style. As a lover of Chateauneuf, I would never be fooled by this wine, should I taste it blind, but I am impressed by the Australian wine John Duval has created.

Much darker than a traditional Chateauneuf, even some purplish tints. Very deep and beautiful fruit, mostly red (strawberries, red raspberries) but also some black currant and berries from the Shiraz. At this stage, each fruit delivers its unique profile but I'm sure they will blend nicely with time in the bottle. French oak spice and some herbal and floral notes as well. Firm tannins but very drinkable right now. 

John Duval is the former winemaker at Penfolds who created many vintage of the fabled and expensive Grange. By comparison, this wine now $34 a bottle at D&W in Kalamazoo, is a bargain.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Domaine Sainte Anne Cotes du Rhone Villages Gervais, 2004

I was disappointed with this wine last night; tonight it is very good. The difference: tonight, I decanted it. The wine, at this stage, clearly benefits from aeration.

Saint Gervais is my favorite Sainte Anne bottling and the one most likely to benefit from aging. Compared to other Sainte Anne's, the Saint Gervais has a high percentage of Mourvedre in the blend. Mourvedre often presents with a brett-like smell, which is what took the shine off my experience with the wine last. With a bit of aging or aeration, this can blow away revealing scents of violets, berries and Mourvedre spice. These all carry through into the fruit-filled finish. Good wine at a good stage.

The Vinum 002 Langhe Rosso, 2010

As far as I'm concerned, there is no better wine grape than Nebbiolo grown in the Piedmont area of Italy. It has hauntingly beautiful scents, prettier even than those of Pinot Noir, with a rich mouth feel and bountiful tannins and acids for long term aging. As Barolo, Barbaresco and even lesser known wines such as Carema, Boca, Gattinara, Spanna and Ghemme, the quality of Nebbiolo is well recognized and these wines are priced accordingly. This Langhe Rosso is 50% Nebbiolo and has most of the traits that I love in Nebbiolo wines. The other half is Barbera from the same region, and the resulting blend is, for my taste, near perfection--at a more affordable price (I paid $10 a bottle on closeout from Peloton Imports, but I think the usual retail price is more like $20 to $25).

Beautiful deep ruby without the orange tints that might appear in a 10-year-old Nebbiolo. This is the Barbera speaking. The bouquet is Nebbiolo at its finest--roses, violets, dark cherries and licorice. On the palate, the tannic grip of Nebbiolo is apparent but it is countered to a pleasant degree by the friendly red and black fruit flavors of Barbera. A touch of mint and/or clove adds uplift on the long finish. This is a marriage made in heaven.

The Vinum 002 Langhe Rosso is difficult to find in my part of the country. But G.D. Vajra's Langue Rosso (which includes Dolcetto, Freisa and other grapes as well as Barbera and Nebbiolo) offers similar pleasures for about $15 a bottle and is usually available at Village Corner in Ann Arbor and Mega-Bev in Grand Rapids, MI. Another option, also available at those locations, is Paolo Scavino's Vino Rosso.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

d'Arenberg d'Arry's Original McLaren Vale Shiraz Grenache, 1994

For years, this wine was known as dArenberg Burgundy but it is really an Australian Chateauneuf du Pape, produced from Shiraz and Grenache grapes and aged in large seasoned oak barrels that give a rich, smooth texture. d'Arry, for many years a winemaker at the estate, always recommended long-term aging, and I think it was good advice.

The color is a dusty brick red. Earthy old wine bouquet of dried fruit and leather. Sweeter and less savory than a Chateauneuf du Pape but rich and smooth on the palate. Laid back personality. This vintage has 51% Shiraz and 49% Grenache. Shiraz black fruit is dominant but Grenache adds a sweet red berry touch. Not as much personality as Grenache from Chateauneuf du Pape but appealing in its own way.

Modern winemaking may have influenced later bottlings of d'Arry's Original, but, at $14 to $16 a bottle,  it is still one of the best values in the d'Arenberg line.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Domaine Diochon Moulin a Vent, 2000

Item label 

Beaujolais Cru wines from the Moulin a Vent appellation have a reputation for aging 20 or more years. And this is an excellent example.

Medium light color. The bouquet needs some aeration but is beautiful when it does emerge: pomegranate, anise, flowers. Has the silky texture of fine Pinot Noir. Subtle and complex. 

Tenuta Arnulfo Costa di Bussia Barbera d'Alba, 2014


 The winemaker at Tenuta Arnulfo, where we spent four days last October, recommends drinking this Barbera d'Alba at five to seven years of age. Tasting this bottle at six years of age, I would agree with that assessment although the wine seems to have the tannins and acidity to keep quite a bit longer.

Deep, bright ruby. Beautiful Barbera color. Aromatic from the first sniff. Rose petals, dark cherry, licorice and coffee. Could be mistaken for Nebbiolo, although with less tannin and more acid in the structure. An excellent wine year after year for $12 to $16 a bottle.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Sanborn Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay, 2018

Sanborn Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay - product in packaging

Tasted blind, I'm not sure I would identify this as a Chardonnay. It's from the cool climate of the Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County, and it's probably closer to  French Chablis than California Chardonnay in personality. I like it, and it's a fantastic bargain at $7.99 from Trader Joe's.

Medium deep yellow. Meyer lemon, tart pears, flowers and even some tropical fruits. Intense flavors; has the briskness of a good Sauvignon Blanc and even some passion fruit flavors that linger. 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Louis Latour Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru, 1992 (375 ml)

White burgundies from this appellation can age well, but, from a 375 ml bottle, this 1992 Puligny Montrachet is past its prime.

Medium deep gold; much deeper on the second pour as a result of exposure to oxygen. Dried fruit and flowers; compact like fruit cake. Flavors are better. Fruit framed by oak with enough acidity to carry it forward. Hazelnuts on the finish. Not a great wine but still has good depth and concentration.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Bouchard Aine & Fils Pouilly Fuisse, 2012

Pouilly Fuisse is priced a bit higher than most Macon wines, but I think it's worth the premium, particularly the Pouilly Fuisses from this venerable estate.

Deep gold. At the deep end of its aging cycle and showing all the positive attributes of a mature wine. White flowers, cinnamon-spiced apples and pears, Pouilly Fuisse minerals. Oh, so rich on the palate but still enough acid to dance with a light step. Concentrated fruit with a touch of creaminess from aging on its lees. A hint of honey adds the perfect touch. I love this wine, just as I loved all three bottles of the 2010 I had over the past year.