Thursday, December 30, 2021

Shoo Fly South Australia Shiraz, 2017

Although the name suggests a somewhat less than serious wine, Shoo Fly Shiraz is crafted by noted winemaker Ben Riggs from selected vineyards in McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Wrattonbully, Padthaway and the Adelaide Hills. It was aged 10 months in seasoned oak.

Bright crimson. Forward scents of blackberries, currants, coffee and dark chocolate. Both red and black fruits on the palate plus cool climate spice and pepper. Has noticeable tannins but is probably at a good stage for drinking right now while the fruit is fresh and vibrant.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Ronchi di Pietro Schioppettino Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC, 2016

This is my first taste of Schioppettino, a red wine from the Alps in northeastern Italy. It won't be my last.

Slightly burnished garnet with a violet tinge. Intense wild berries, red and black. The cool climate acidity is apparent even in the aroma. Black pepper and more black pepper on the palate: I love it. Good tannic structure and almost tart flavors, offering subtle nuances. This is not the "big" wine style that was popular in the 1980s, and that is one reason I like it so much. Would go well with almost any dish. Available for about $20 at MegaBev in Kalamazoo.


Monday, December 27, 2021

Tenuta Rocca Vigna San Pietro Barolo, 2005

This 2005 Barolo is much deeper, darker and more mysterious than the young G.D. Vajra Rosso beside it at the table. It required some concentration, and some of the tasters quickly dismissed it in favor of the younger and more vibrant wine. It is, though, a very good, albeit not entirely typical Barolo.

The amber/orange color confirms that it follows the traditional school: no barriques. Very deep scents and flavors of dark cherries, violets, earth and cloves. Lacks some of the pretty floral qualities usually associated with Nebbiolo from Barolo vineyards. Full body with rich fruit flavors. Some at the table compared it to the 1977 Gould Campbell Vintage Port we had two nights ago: figs, walnuts, dark flavors. Even at age 16, tannin levels are still high, and I wouldn't hesitate to keep the wine another five years.

G.D. Vajra Langhe Rosso, 2019

If you want to taste the essence of red Piedmont wine, this Rosso from G.D,. Vajra should be at the top of your shopping list. It is mostly Nebbiolo, Dolcettoo and Barbera but also contains small quantities of Freisa, Albarossa and Pinot Noir. Available for $14.99 at MegaBev in Kalamazoo, it is a lovely wine to accompany almost any meal.

Bright ruby red. Very aromatic with scents of red cherries, black raspberries, red currants, flowers and spice. Tannins are friendly, the fruit is ripe and the acidity is mouth watering.. Has the best traits of Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto, Freisa and Pinot Noir blended together in a wine priced for every day drinking. It's hard to go wrong with G.D. Vajra's Rosso.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Terramata Barbera d'Alba, 2017

This Barbera d'Alba is made by Cantina Vignaiolo, a growers' cooperative in the Piedmont area of Italy and is well priced at $10 to $15 a bottle. I bought a case when the wine was being sold at deep discount by MegaBev in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

Bright ruby/garnet. Enticing smells of fresh raspberries, violets, mushrooms and aromatic herbs. Fruity and medium bodied with characteristic Barbera acidity. A hint of almonds adds interest to the finish. I am sure the wine will age over a few years, but I doubt that my case will last that long. It's too good to sit on the shelf.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Gould Campbell Vintage Port, 1977

Vintage Ports are made only in good vintages, and 1977 was an especially good vintage. Now at 44 years of age, this Gould Campbell is demonstrating why wine lovers are willing to buy, cellar and drink Vintage Port. 

Dark amber with a very dark center. Smells and flavors are dark and incredibly rich. Figs, dates, prunes, chocolate but also some bright cherry and mint to add complexity. Amazingly young for a wine that has been in the bottle from 44 years. An unforgettable experience.

Raymond Usseglio Chateauneuf dui Pape, 1999

Perhaps less prestigious than the previous labels (Les Clefs d'Or and Pegau Cuvee Reservee), this wine from Raymond Usseglio was a highlight of our Christmas dinner.

Deep, dark color. An earthy Chateauneuf but with eipe red berry scents and flavors playiing off of the savory notes. Full bodied with a rich mouth feel. This is what I expected, and it was a hit with other tasters

Domaine Pegau Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du Pape, 1994

As recently as last Valentine's Day, this wine was singing, offering layers of fresh and dried strawberry fruit along with herbs and pepper. Tonight, it's very hard for me to find the fruit behind earthy tones that I never found in previous bottles.

Good color. Deep and dark with bright tones. Less barnyard on the nose than the Clefs d'Or Chateauneuf that preceded it, but there are brett-like tones in the flavors. Savory with a good texture but the cascade of fruit flavors that I always get from a Pegau Cuvee Reservee seem to be hiding or non-existent. The consensus at the table is that this is the lesser of the three Chateuneufs being poured tonight. I suspect this is merely a bad bottle.

Domaine Jean Deydier et Fils Les Clefs d'Or Chateauneuf du Pape, 2000


This has always been one of my favorite Chateauneufs through several vintages, from 1981 to 1989. The domaine has well situated vineyards, some in le Crau and not until recently have they been making a prestige cuvee that bleeds some of the best grapes from the reguloar bottling. This 2000 wine tonight, though, did not have the fruit to measure up to my expectations.

Good deep ruby color. Barnyard notes from the first sniff, and they continue to haunt the wine. Brett? They are not really objectionable but they seem to hide whatever fruit is still around. Savory more than fruity. A good wine; has Chateauneuf dui Pape traits but not a great deal of depth or complexity.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Chateau Bel Air Sainte Croix du Mont, 1986

I bought a case of this wine years ago when prices were ridiculously low for Sainte Croix du Mont, a close neighbor of Sauternes. I have had numerous bottles over the past decade or so, but this bottle tonight is showing much better than any of those. If this had Sauternes rather than Sainte Croix du Mont on the label, I would consider it a fine example.

Deep gold, bright and beautiful. No fading. Beautiful scents and flavors of coconut frosting, apricots and pineapple. Not overly sweet but attractive to all at the table, even those relatively new to wine. Acidity that brings you back for more.

Willakenzie Estate Cuvee Pinot Noir, 2015

I loved the Calstar Cellars and the Stoller Vineyards (see below), but, lo and behold, these Pinots just keep getting better. This is my favorite of the night.

Medium deep crimson. Very bright. Great bouquet, even at age 6. Rose petals, cherries and more black pepper and orange zest. Texture is a bit heavier than the Stoller Vineyards, but I have no complaint. Good acid/tannin structure. Flavors that grow in the mouth.

WillaKenzie concentrates on the specific attributes of specific vineyards, but this wine, like the Stoller Vineyards, is produced from a combination of terroirs. I like the result.


Stoller Vineyards Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, 2015

Just a slight difference in alcohol content, compared to the Calstar Cellars Pinot that preceded it at the table, made a big difference. While both wines were very good, most at the table agreed that this Willamette Valley wine had better balance and more interesting flavors.

Medium deep but a bit lighter than the Calstar Cellars. Cherries, anise seed, black pepper and orange zest. The zesty, peppery quality was immediately recognized by those at the table. The light, silky texture, though, was what set the wine apart for me. Flavors that open up and get more complex as the meal progresses. An excellent wine.. 

Calstar Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2007

This very good Anderson Valley wine was one of three good Pinots chosen to accompany our Christmas Eve dinner of marinated, crispy pork shoulder.

Medium dark ruby. Cherries, red berries, flowers and vanilla. Captures the vibrant fruit purity of Anderson Valley Pinot. At least one at the table noticed the alcohol, which is a bit high at 14.2%. Otherwise, the balance is good, and the wine is tasty with a medium long finish that keeps me coming back for more. Unfortunately, it was presented against two very good Oregon Pinots.

Bouchard Aine et Fils Bourgogne Chardonnay, 2019

We have had good luck with several vintages of the Bouchard et Fils Pouilly Fuisse. This is a less expensive appellation with fruit from several terroirs in Macon, Chalon and Cotes de Beaune. It is available right now for $14.99 at the Costco store in Kalamazoo. I recommend it.

Bright gold but noticeably lighter than the Wind Gap on the table beside it. Many of the same traits: apple, citrus, white flowers. Wonderful expressive flavors unfold, wrapped with brisk acidity. Depth and complexity as wine warms and airs. Beautiful. Gives everything that I was waiting for but never received from the Wind Gap. This wine is drinking beautifully today but I will not hesitate to keep a few bottles for five or six years.

Wind Gap Woodruff Vineyard (Santa Cruz) Chardonnay, 2012


This well made Chardonnay is fully mature but still offering an enjoyable drinking experience. Many bottles of it are still available at WineBid for a bargain price.

Deep gold; looks mature. Ripe apples, citrus, oak. Reasonable depth and concentration. Made more in the French than California mode, but the acid carrying it is getting a bit tired. I am sure there is bottle variation in this lot, but I intend to drink my remaining bottles sooner rather than later.

Elke Vineyards Mary Elke Boonville Barter Pinot Noir, 2013


Alas, Mary Elke's Elke Vineyards winery no longer exists. In my opinion, the vines here produced some of the best Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs. The 2013, I believe, was the next to last vintage, and it was hailed by Mary as one of their best years.

Medium garnet. Beautiful scents and flavors of cranberries, pomegranate and flowers. Peppery spice and orange zest on the palate. Reminds me of a good Willamette Valley (Oregon) Pinot. This is the my first of half a dozen Boonville Barters bought on futures frrom the winery. I am looking forward to the rest.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Chehalem Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 2018

Oh yes! This is what I expect from Pinot Noir! Of course, it costs twice as much as a bottle of Meiomi, but I bought the wine at a discount price ($16) a few months ago at Tiffany's Wine & Spirits in Kalamazoo. And it's real Pinot from a special site in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

Bright ruby. Lighter tone than the Meiomi. The wine is young and requires a few minutes of aeration before it starts releasing its complex aromas and flavors. Deep, deep, deep cherry. Clings to the nostrils and tongue. Pepper, orange zest, earth, dark red and blue fruits. Silky Pinot texture. Dances on the tongue. I just keep coming back for another sniff and another sip. Excellent wine!

Meiomi California Pinot Noir, 2016

Meiomi is arguably the most popular West Coast Pinot Noir on the market. A  few years ago, I met a man stocking wines at the local store; officially retired, he had taken a part-time job with a wine distributor for one reason only: so he could get a discount on Meiomi Pinot Noir. "I just love this wine," he said. I have met others who felt the same, and I don't mean to fault their taste. As for me, I simply don't care much for Meiomi (nor, for that matter, any of the wines made by Caymus).

Full garnet color. Dark red fruits, tobacco, chocolate and espresso. A green flavor that reminds me of cheap Merlot. Does not have texture I expect from Pinot Noir. And I find the wine overly oaky and a bit one-dimensional. That's me; you don't have to agree. And sales figures reveal that thousands of wine buyers disagree.

Chateau Grand Traverse Old Mission Peninsula Whole Cluster Riesling, 2014


When I taste at Chateau Grand Traverse near Traverse City, MI, this Whole Cluster Riesling is always one of my favorites. Each year, I buy and put away a few bottles to get an idea of how well the wine ages in the bottle. I was a bit disappointed when I opened the 2012 earlier this year; it tasted a bit tired. The 2013 was much better but not up to my expectations when I started cellaring this wine. Tonight, it's the 2014, and I find perfection!

Medium deep yellow. A good lively color. The smells are heavenly. Flowers, pears, ripe peaches. Flavors are crisp, well defined and persistent. The acidity in this bottle is perfect. Reminds me of a very good German Kabinett or Spatlese. Goes perfectly with grilled salmon and mushroom risotto.

The grapes come from three different plots at the estate. They are hand picked and gently pressed without destemming or mechanical crushing. From that point, processing is minimal. The grapes speak for themselves and with great articulation.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Laurent duBlanc Cotes du Rhone Tradition et Terroir, 2020

One of two Cotes du Rhone wines now offered in my local Trader Joe's store, this wine presents a somewhat different taste of the Cotes du Rhone appellation.

Deep and dark with purplish tones. This wine been has aged a bit in new oak barriques. Red berry fruit and peppery spice but also some darker oak-derived notes. The oak is not covering up the fruit, howeveer. Even in its youth, this CDR is drinking very well. Those who are used to oak-influenced wines might prefer it to the Collection Rhone that I described last week. For my taste, I will take the more traditional Collection Rhone.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Luca Bosio Truffle Hunter Leda Barbera d'Asti, 2018

With a name and a label like this one, I expect a "fun" wine. We had it with pizza, but it was home-made pizza and very good. The wine is also home made (I think, "rustic" might be the proper term) and very good. It is fun to drink but offers serious smells and flavors that enhance the meal.

Beautiful deep ruby color. Cherries, roses,  anise and a hint of almonds. Do I detect truffles? That's probably my imagination. And the wine, after all, is named after the owner's truffle hunting dog, Leda, rather than the truffles that Leda sniffs out. Truffle Hunter Barbera is fun to smell and taste, and it has the hallmark acidity that makes Barbera an exciting wine to drink.

Truffle Hunter Barbera is widely available in the Kalamazoo area (MegaBev, D&W, Hardings) for $10 to $12 a bottle. In my opinion it is well worth the price.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Arnoux et Fils Vacqueyras Cuvee de Lauris, 2007

This wine seems to be at a perfect stage of maturity, and I don't see it moving off that plateau for quite some time.

Still dense and dark in color. Only a small part of this cuvee is aged in new, 228 liter oak casks; the rest, in large seasoned oak barrels. Blueberries, boysenberries, licorice and black pepper. Lush and fruity for a 13-year-old Vacqueyras. Many of the Grenache (60% to 70%) and Syrah vines (25% to 40%) for this cuvee are nearly 100 years old, and the wine has some old vine funk but none of the intensity and complexity that I would expect. It drinks very well, though, and I would buy again if available for thes same price ($15).

Friday, December 10, 2021

Vignobles de la Vallee du Rhone Collection Rhone Cotes du Rhone, 2020

As Cotes du Rhone prices have gone up, I have tended to focus my purchases more on Cotes du Rhone Villages wines (a step up in quality as well as price) and give them a few years of aging in the bottle. That is a shame, I decided tonight as I tasted a young (2020) Cotes du Rhone. There is a lot of pleasure lurking in young CDRs that I have been missing. This selection, only $6.99 at Trader Joe's, is a throwback to the wines I enjoyed for a similar price back in the 1990s and 1980s.

Deep crimson. Beautiful scents focusing on red cherries and peppery spice. 55% Grenache, 30% Carignan and 15% Syrah. Tannins, clearly derived from skins and pips rather than oak, are entwined beautifully with the fruit. If this is an indication of what the 2020 Rhone vintage offers, I will be a buyer. And I will return to Trader Joe's for more of this lovely Collection Rhone. Good now and will stay that way for at least a couple of years.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Hope's End South Australia Red Blend, 2018

This is an unusual blend: Shiraz, Grenache, Malbec and Petit Verdot. The result is a pleasant enough wine-by-the-glass restaurant pour.

Deep and dark crimson/ruby. Has a little of everything: black fruit, red berries, cherries and plenty of sweetish chocolate. Has enough sweetness to counter the oak tannins. Not much acidity. I enjoyed a glass to accompany my meal at Fieldstone in Kalamazoo but am not tempted to buy or drink any more.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

d'Arenberg The Hermit Crab McLaren Vale Viognier Marsanne, 2018

The blend in this wine is 62% Viognier and 38% Marsanne. While the Marsanne gives the wine some body, the Viognier clearly dominates.

Medium gold, clear and bright. Enticing scents of white flowers, ripe pears and canteloupe. Round, ripe and full bodied with moderate acidity and a pleasing finish. Very pear-like. When you are looking for an alternative to Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc at about $15 a bottle, this is a good choice.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Paolo Scavino Langhe Nebbiolo, 2012

Reviewing this wine for the Wine Enthusiast shortly after its release, Kerin O'Keefe notes that "while this wine can age for a couple more years, enjoy it now for maximum freshness." I enjoyed it then (2015) and, several years later, I still find it fresh and lovely.

Beautiful crimson ruby. Scavino uses some barriques for this wine. Fresh red berries, cherries, rose petals and sweet spices that are probably oak-influenced but blend very nicely with the traditional smells and flavors of Nebbiolo. Ripe fruit from front to back with mouth watering acidity and a finish that follows me even after I have finished the meal and put away the bottle.

As I remember, this wine sold for $15 to $17 a bottle when I bought it in 2015 at D&W Market in Kalamazoo. For a Nebbiolo of this quality, that is a very good price.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Paul Jaboulet Aine Domaine de Thalabert Crozes-Hermitage, 1988

Probably the first wine I ever bought in quantity was the Paul Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage. The vintage was 1978, and the highly acclaimed Domaine de Thalabert was probably already sold out. So the staff at Village Corner directed me to Jaboulet's regular cuvee, and I bought a case. It was so good that I went back to the well at least twice and still have one bottle in the cellar. Every year after that, the staff directed me to the Domaine Thalabert, and I bought at least a case every vintage through the 1980s decade. It was one of the smartest things I have ever done.

Looking down on a full glass, the color is deep and dark, almost impenetrable still. With a small pour, the bricking that comes with aging is more apparent. The bouquet is unmistakable Thalabert: savory scents of black fruits, cassis, black olives, earth and minerals. Absolutely entrancing. At the front of mouth, the ripe black fruit is still there. The savory, acidic elements take over on the mid-palate and finish. TheThalabert dance is still there, as it was on the 1980 Thalabert we enjoyed last week. A bit more tannin and a bit more acid in the younger sibling. 

The 1978 regular Crozes in the cellar is well past its prime, and I had a few weak bottles of the 1989 Thalabert. Otherwise, this seems to be a wine that never grows old. I love it.


Chateau Pegau Cuvee Maclura Cotes du Rhone, 2017

Being a long-term fan of Domaine Pegau's Chateauneuf du Pape, I am naturally intrigued by winemaker Laurence Feraud's ventures with less expensive Cotes du Rhone and Cotes du Rhone Villages wines. This Maclura (named after the hedge apple or Osage orange tree) comes from vineyards in Sorgue, located about four miles southeast of the Chateauneuf appellation boundary. It is not a Chateauneuf, but it has the stamp of Laurence Feraud's winemaking style.

Deep ruby. No new oak, of course, with a Laurence Feraud wine. Very aromatic: red and black berries, cassis, spice and a hint of black olives. Lush, rich fruit on the palate. Ripe tannins and refreshing acidity. The wine goes down pleasantly, sip after sip. Now, I am ready to try the CDR Villages Setier.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

WillaKenzie Estate Chardonnay Yamhill-Carlton District, 2016

This may or may not be a Dijon clone Chardonnay, but it certainly has the Oregon Chardonnay traits that I love. It is acidic and crisp with intense smells and flavors.

Medium deep yellow. Scents of lemon butter, green apples and tangerine. Lemon crerme and minerals on the palate. The butter is in the smells and flavors but not so much in the texture, which is taut and minerally. More like Chablis than Cote de Beaune Chardonnay. Better when it's only lightly chilled. And I suspect that this 2016 still has room to improve in the bottle over the next several years.

According to the label, it "was fermented and aged in wood puncheons, amphorae and stainless steel tanks to emphasize fruit expression, minerality and crisp acidity. Battonage of the lees and partial malolactic fermentation contribute to a complex and round mouthfeel."


Saturday, November 27, 2021

Jean-Louis Chave Selection Crozes-Hermitage Silene, 2011

Although no backup was really needed, this 2011 Chave Selection Crozes was a good companion to the 1980 Domaine Thalabert described below. It is near or at maturity right now but should keep for several years.

Deep, dark ruby. Similar aromatic profile to the Thalabert: black fruits, olives, cassis, white pepper and herbs. Gushing with fresh fruit when the cork is popped, then offering up more complex nuances within an hour or two. Has probably seen some new oak and the tannins are more prominent than those in the Thalabert. The acidity is comparable, though, and the aromatic profile carries through nicely on the long finish. I wish I had more of this wine so I could follow its development over the next five years.


Paul Jaboulet Aine Crozes-Hermitage Domaine Thalabert, 1980

Even though it's a Domaine Thalbert, I didn't have much hope for this wine. The cork had obviously leaked, leaving a stained capsule and considerable ullage. It is 41 years old, for crying out loud, and Robert Parker advised drinking it by 1985 or 1986. For a backup, I opened a bottle of 2011 J. Chave Crozes-Hermitage Silene. It didn't take me long to discover that the Thalabert is alive and kicking, as are most vintages of this wine from the 1980s.

The color has faded compared to the 2011 Silene, of course, but it is still rather dark and deep. Oh yes! The smell of a mature Thalabert always enchants me. Olives, herbs, black fruits, cassis and ash. Incredible nuances of mature Syrah. And these carry over to the flavors. Intense, deep and complex. Medium bodied, fine texture. This is a wine I could sniff and sip for hours without getting tired. For my second glass, I go to the 2011 Silene, along with the rest of the table. While it's a very fine wine, I still perfer the Thalabert, one of my favorite wines in every vintage since I started buying it in 1979.


Thursday, November 25, 2021

Sokol Blosser Orchard Block Pinot Noir, 2009

This is the top-of-the-line Pinot Noir from Sokol Blosser, with the current vintage selling for $75. I bought this bottle four years ago for $30 at auction. The seller may have feared the bottle was going downhill, but, as far as I'm concerned, it's now drinking at its peak.

Light Pinot color. Intense, concentrated smells and flavors. Blackberries, dark cherries, cassis and lemon peel. Silky texture but there is nothing shy or delicate about this wine. Big in the mouth with intense, grippy tannins and acidity. Flavors that expand and fill the mouth.

On their website, Sokol Blosser is offering a three vintage vertical (2013, 2014 and 2015) for $270. That's too much for me to pay, even for a wine of such quality. But if you have that kind of money to spend on wine and like Oregon Pinot, I don't think you will be disappointed.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Domaine Roger Lassarat Pouilly-Fuisse Racines, 2005

I was very impressed with this wine when I wrote about it in April of 2019--so impressed that I couldn't bring myself to open the last bottle until now. That attitude is a weakness of mine, and it may have caused me to miss a bit of pleasure. The wine is not quite as good tonight...but still better than 99% of Chardonnays at their peak.

Full gold color that gets darker as the night progresses. Entrancing scents of dried apricots, flowers, nuts, grains and minerals. Smells like mature white Burgundy--which it is, of course. The wine comes from three plots of 100-year-old vines in Solutre and Vergisson, and it is still showing loads of depth and complexity. Lemon creme, fruit and more minerals on the palate. Rich and concentrated. Leaves a trail of long-lasting pleasure on the finish. I enjoyed three bottles of this; wish I had three more, even at this stage of its maturity.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Delas Cotes du Rhone St.-Esprit, 2017

For the past several years, this has been one of my favorite Cotes du Rhone wines. At its usual price ($14.99) it is a good value by today's standards. 

Deep ruby. 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache. And it's showing mostly Syrah traits right now. Black raspberrries, cassis, violets. Very aromatic. The winemaker's note mentions "delicate tannins," but I would call them friendly rather than delicate. Tannins are ripe and balanced by acidity. Has a rich, full bodied mouth feel. Pleasantly warm (14%) but no sharp edges. This is a very good wine but I suspect that the 2018 and 2019 vintages will be even better.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Giorgio Pelissero Langhe Nebbiolo, 2012

Pelissero has vineyards in Treiso, in the Barbaresco area of the Piedmont. And this Langhe Nebbiolio is more like Barbaresco than Barolo. And it is very good.

Good ruby red color. Has clearly seen some aging in barriques. The bouquet, though, has the Nebbiolo profile: dark cherries, roses, vanilla. Perhaps a bit understated but still beautiful. Tar and licorice show up on the palate along with red raspberries more than cherries. Tannic and acidic, as you might suspect, but not as broad shouldered as Barolo. Nuances that tease and please and just keep coming on the finish. I still have a couple of bottles but will be in no hurry to drink them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Couloir Roma's Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2007

This is a fantastic Pinot Noir!

Medium light ruby, getting lighter at the rim. Bright and clear. Berries, berries, berries with a touch of flowers, cinnamon and other spices. The bouquret is worth the price of admission, but the wine gets even better on the tongue. Lovely Pinot texture. Fresh, ripe berries everywhere, blending seamlessly with the acid and tannins. Long, long finish. At a perfect stage of maturity, but I get the feeling that it is going to stay that way for quite some time.

Roma's vineyard is at the deep end of the Anderson Valley on a mountain ridge at 1,850 feet.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Les Comtes de Ribeauville Cuvee Prestige Pinot Blanc, 20187

A recent arrival at my local Costco, this Alsace Pinot Blanc is an excellent value for $9.99.

Light, bright yellow. Scents of fresh pears, spice and flowers.Medium bodied. Very agreeable flavors with some subtle nuances on the finish. Not as tart as some of my favorite Michigan Pinot Blancs but certainly dry. I will go back for more.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Domaine Sainte-Anne Cotes du Rhone Villages Notre Dame des Cellettes, 2004

As recently as September of this year, I have had good bottles of this 2004 Notre Dame des Cellettes. This bottle, strangely, is simply undrinkable.

The cork comes out cleanly with almost no stain except on the very bottom. I don't think storage is the problem. The color is murky with paper-like sediment that comes out into my first glass. Burnt wood smells and smoky flavors. Not much to like. The wine has none of the wet cardboard smells that I associate with cork taint, and it is not seriously oxidized--just flat and somewhat bitter. If the wine is sliding rapidly downhill, at least it's my last bottle. And it's no reflection on other vintages such as 1998 and 2000, which have shown beautifully in the past year. All of the Sainte-Anne wines age very well.

The Vinum 002 Langhe Rosso, 2010

This wine is 50% Nebbiolo and 50% Barbera, a good combination. Except for the color, though, tonight it's the Nebbiolo that is shining.

Bright, medium dark ruby red, none of the orangish tones that are more typical of Nebbiolo. Oh, beautifully expressive nose--bright red cherries, rose petals, mint and cloves. Black licorice and minerals come through on the palate. The Nebbiolo is from LaMorra on hillsides with SW exposure. Again, very expressive. Very ripe but with a dry impression on the tongue that I associate with Barolo. This wine usually sells for about $20; I got several bottles on closeout for about half that price. Even for $20, it is a great value.


Sunday, November 7, 2021

Chateau Redortier Gigondas, 2012

When I think beef, I think Gigondas. With grass-fed beef burgers on the menu tonight, this seems like a good choice.

Bright red, deep and dark. As soon as I pop the cork, I can smell the Gigondas goodness: cherries, blueberries, violets and talc. Power and beauty. Voluptuous body that teases with its underlying charm. Still has some tannins bracing the mid-palate, but that's part of the Gigondas package. In a couple of years, the fruit will gain some complexity but with some fading of the hallmark power.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Olivier Leflaive Saint-Aubin 1er Cru en Remilly, 1999

When I last opened a bottle of this 1999 Saint-Aubin (May 15, 2013), I wrote that it was more advanced in age and not as good as the 1995 vintage of this wine. Eight years later, this 1999 is still hanging in there while still lacking the depth and complexity of the excellent 1995.

Deep gold, about the same as it was in 2013 but getting deeper as the wine is exposed to air over the course of the meal. Less of the white peach fruit and more grains and nuts in the flavor profile tonight. Still has the silky texture of both 1995 and 1999. While the finish is not showy, it is ripe with good strength and concentration. 


Friday, November 5, 2021

Chateau Patache d'Aux Medoc, 1983

The label is stained and peeling from the bottle. The cork is saturated and the ullage is down to the base of bottle neck. We have had this wine many times but not in the past 10 or 15 years. I brought the bottle from the cellar along with a backup, assuming that this was going to be a question of declaring the wine dead or alive. Wow! One smell and one taste assured me that this wine is very much alive.

 Medium deep color with some brickish tones. Wild cherry, currants and a touch of black tea on the finish. Deep Cabernet flavors with plush Merlot texture. Very lively. Tannins have blended beautifully into the ripe fruit. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 7% Cabernet Franc. The flavors last long after the wine is swallowed.  This was a $6 to $8 bottle when I bought it, and Patache d'Aux is still one of the best values in medium-priced Bordeaux.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Vignerons du Mont Ventoux Cuvee des Trois Messes Basses Rouge, 2018

During the 1990s. good Cotes du Rhone wines were inexpensive, selling for $3 to $5 a bottle. Wines from the Ventoux were even cheaper, and, in many cases, even better. My favorite purchases each year included Ventoux from Font-Sane, Marotte, La Vieille Ferme and this little beauty produced by the Ventoux cooperative, Vignerons du Mont Ventoux. In 2021, it is a survivor, offering the same traditional smells and flavors at a reasonable price.

/Bright ruby red. Has been aged in concrete vats rather than small French oak barrels that have become more prevalent across the Southern Rhone. Traditional smells and flavors. Blueberries, spice and black pepper. 30% Carignan to go along with 50% Grenache and 20% Syrah. Ripe fruit but enough acid to keep it lively and fresh. Goes down the throat with no hard edges and a pleasing after taste but will get even better if I can bring myself to wait a year or two.

This is what I like. I went back to buy a few more bottles at the D&W online wine sale ($10.99 a bottle).


Sunday, October 31, 2021

Tenuta Arnulfo Costa di Bussia Barbera d'Alba, 2014

This wine is 100% Barbera from grapes grown on the estate's Bussia hill vineyards, near where Donna and I stayed for four nights on a trip to the Piedmont in October of 2019.

Bright ruby red, lightening in tone around the rim. Beautifully aromatic with scents of cherries, strawberries, licorice and mint. I have had this wine frequently over the last several years, and it seems to be at a good stage of maturity right now. French oak tannins have melted to let the red berry fruit to show through. One of my favorite mid-priced Barberas.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Edna Road 500 Ranch Edna Valley Chardonnay, 2019


On the top shelf at Trader Joe's I saw the Edna Valley Vineyards Central Coast Chardonnay, a wine I have bought and enjoyed many times. The price was $10.99. Just below it was this Edna Road Chardonnay from the Edna Valley appellation for $8.99. Edna Valley is a more prized appellation than the general Central Coast area, and, I pesume, the grapes are priced accordingly. I can find no record of any winery named Edna Road nor Ranch 500. So this apparently is a label created specifically for Trader Joe's. And, as I discovered when tasting it, an escellent value.

Medium deep yellow. White peaches, lemon and a good whiff of butter. Not the creamy, buttery texture that is common with Chardonnays that have gone through malolactic fermentation but the smell and flavor of fresh Kerry Gold butter. Edna Valley, moreso than the more general Central Coast appellation, has a cool climate with morning fog and cool breezes from the Pacific Ocean. Like the Edna Valley Vineyards wine above it on the shelf, this wine is oaky but not at all sweet or flabby. The oak tannins open up nicely on the finish to reveal well defined Chardonnay flavors with a pleasing touch of caramel. Good wine, good value; I have already gone back for a case.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Pelassa Antaniolo Roero Riserva, 2011

This wine is 100% Nebbiolo from Roero, on the other side of the Tanaro River from Barolo and Barbaresco. On the first night, I thought it was a bit understated and not really representative of Nebbiolo. Tonight, it is blossoming and showing signs of even more beauty and power to come.

Medium light ruby. Scents of red berries, roses, spices and licorice. The latter is not as pronounced as in some Barolos but well defined and beautiful. Plenty of tannin on the mid-palate. Creates a sense of dryness but lets the fruit shine through. Cascade of flavors on the long finish. Beautiful wine for drinking now and over the next decade.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Casa Santos Lima Confidencial Reserva Tinto Lisboa, 2017

If you are looking for inexpensive, high quality wines, Portugal is one of your best sources. This excellent red from the Lisboa appellation around Lisbon is a good buy at its regular price, about $15 a bottle, and Costco in Kalamazoo has it on the shelves for $6.99!

Very dark, bluish. Even though the label speaks of "traditional fermentation techniques," the long maceration and oak aging also mentioned are really modern and international. From the time the cork is popped, the wine gushes with red berry scents, very ripe red raspberries. Flavors are sumptuously ripe, with a toasty element, but carried by acidity that keeps you coming back for more. On the second night, the tannins are more evident. This is a wine to buy and enjoy now. But if you buy more  than you can drink right away, be aware that it may go into a mute period for a few years before emerging with greater depth and complexity.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone, 2015

Guigal's Cotes du Rhone, as usual, has a substantial percentage of Syrah (50% along with 40% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre) and, as a result, leans toward black rather than red fruits.

Deep ruby, bright and clear. Blackberries, cassis, smoke. Medium to full bodied. Still has substantial tannin on the mid-palate. Wish I had waited a few years on this one. Good fruit on the finish, though. Guigal's CDR has a good reputation for aging and is a good value at about $12 to $15 a bottle.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Domaine de la Tourade Vacqueyras, 2011

Domaine de la Tourade is an excellent source of traditional Gigondas, -and the estate also owns vineyards in Vacqueyras. Cuvee de l'Euse is produced from old-vine Grenache, while this regular cuvee, often available at an attractive price, is 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre from vines averaging 50 years of age on clay-limestone soil.

Deep crimson. Dark, earthy tones typical of Vacqueyras. Blackberries, anise, leather and a pleasant (for me) touch of barnyard. Bold fruit with matching acidity. More aggressive than the 2008 vintage of this wine that I enjoyed several years ago. 2008 was a lesser vintage but I consumed the wine at five to eight years of age.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Pithon-Paille Anjour Mozaik Blanc, 2017

I am a long-time fan of dry Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley and was anxious to try this offering from the Anjou area. Compared to Savennieres and Saumur Blanc, it is a different face of Chenin Blanc. But very good.

Deeper gold than I expect from a 2017 wine. This wine probably won't last for decades as my favorite Sanennieres from Domaine Baumard do, but I'm sure it will keep well and develop for a few more years. Very full bodied with legs that cling to the inside of the glass. Yet the alcohol level is only 12%. Blood orange, quince, minerals--rich and vibrant flavors and smells. Deep and concentrated. Good fruit/acid balance and a long, complex finish. A perfect match for shrimp pasta but would go well with pork or chicken.