Still some red in the center shading to brick. Not as much sediment as the 1986 Beaucastel we had a few days ago. Beautiful smells that become bigger and more complex as the meal goes on. Red fruit, flowers and Provencal herbs. Sweet on entry, rich on the mid palate with red berries and licorice on the beautiful, long finish. Beautifully preserved for a 40-year-old wine. Every bit as good, maybe a tad better than the 1986 Beaucastel. VT and Beaucastel were the two Chateauneufs that dominated the market in the early to mid-1980s, and it's become increasingly clear to me that they still rank near the top.
Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Sunday, March 28, 2021
La Ferme Julien Rouge, 2019
Beaucastel, of course, was initiated by the Perrin Brothers who branched out into Famille Perrin, makers of many excellent Southern Rhone wines. La Ferme Julien, a label made for Trader Joe's, is bascally the same wine as La Vieille Ferme. At $5.99, it is, in my opinion, the number one wine value to be found anywhere. After a sip of the 1986 Beaucastel (market value: $100), I decided that the wine with a donkey on the label falls directly in line with Perrin standards.
Dark red. Red and black berries with spice and black pepper. Grenache, Syrah, Counoise and Cinsault from well chosen vineyards. Smooth, clean, well balanced. Good acid. No oak or cosmetic additions. Made according to the finest Southern Rhone traditions. The quote from DaVinci is appropriate. "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
Saturday, March 27, 2021
Chateau de Fieuzal Graves Blanc, 1983
Rich, moderately deep yellow color. Color deepens only slightly as it is exposed to oxygen during the meal. Lanolin, figs, wax beans. The blend is 50% Semillon and 50% Sauvignon Blanc, but I don't detect any smells or flavors I associate with Sauvignon Blanc. Nor do I detect the French oak in which it was aged. Full body, rich mouth feel and texture, even some tannin-again more Semillon than Sauvignon. Not great but a good dinner wine.
Friday, March 26, 2021
Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape, 1986
Medium brick color. The cork was stained black with sediment all the way to the top but was still sound and came out with no problem using the Durand cork screw. Even before decanting, the wine was showing very well. Lifted aromas of red fruit, violets, leather. Medium bodied with excellent acid/tannin balance and a long, glorious finish. Red berries galore; incredible fruit presence for a 35-year-old wine. Lives up to the Beaucastel standards. I would suggest decanting rather than extended aeration.
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Pelassa Mario's Rosso, 2013
Bright ruby red. Barbera cherry and red currant plus Cabernet black currant and Merlot tea. Classy fragrance that carries over to the palate. Medium bodied and dry. Black tea and lead pencil. Soft, persistent flavors that would enhance nearly any meal. Good acidity
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
E. Guigal, Cotes du Rhone, 2013
Deep and dark with good color saturation almost to the rim. Smells are on target and fine: red and black fruit with cassis and black pepper. Rich and full on the mid-palate. Tannins open up to reveal fruit and peppery spice. A finish that persists on the tongue and in the mind. Guigal CDR has a good reputation for aging, and this wine could go on for several years. But it is too good to pass by right now,. Better, I think, than the 2014 Guigal CDR I had a few months ago.
Monday, March 15, 2021
Domaine du Mas de Rey Coeur de Camargue, 2015
Very deep gold color but there is nothing else about the wine that suggests oxidation. Actually, the wine is quite fresh and lively. Blood orange, tangerine and minerals. Ripe, without the tang of Sauvignon Blanc, but plenty of citric acidity. The wine is a blend of 60% Chasan (which was created by crossing Chardonnay with Listan (Palomino in Spain), 20% Sauvignon and 20% Gros Manseng. Gros Manseng probably contributes to the deep gold color. An excellent Spring and Summer wine that should go well with salads or fresh vegetables.
Needless to say, I went back for another 9 bottles
Thursday, March 11, 2021
Ca Rome Romano Marengo Barbaresco Maria di Brun, 1995
The cork is not wet but certainly decrepit, crumbling despite my best efforts. The color is medium light with characteristic orange tones. The bouquet, though, is beautiful: cherries, roses and just a slight bit of leather and earth. My notes on the regular bottling of Barbaresco from this estate mentioned the interplay between dry and sweet, and this bottle meets that description. Also good balance between tannin and acid. Has the tart ripeness of a Nebbiolo grape just plucked from the vine. Very concentrated but also elegant and graceful. I think Maria di Brun, the mother of the estate's owner, would highly approve, as do we--Fred and Donna--enjoying our 48th anniversary.
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Nerello del Bastardo Vino da Tavola Rosso, 1999
The color has lost its bright sheen, and the bouquet has more of the earthy/tarry rather than dark cherry/rose petal face of Nebbiolo. The high acid/high tannin structure, though, keeps the flavors flowing. Power and beauty suggestive of a mature Barolo.
Monday, March 8, 2021
Domaine du Marcoux Chateauneuf du Pape, 1990
Saturday, March 6, 2021
Famille Perrin Vinsobres Les Cornuds, 2016
We drank this Vinsobres as part of an online tasting with Madeline Triffon of Plum Market (Ann Arbor) and Marc Perrin of Famille Perrin. As Perrin pointed out, Vinsobres is the northernmost appellation of the Southern Rhone and Les Cornuds vineyard is at an elevation of 300 meters. The result is Syrah that approaches the elegance of Northern Rhone Syrah and is 50% of the blend (along with 50% Grenache).
Deep, dark color. Black fruits, violets, cassis. Tannic on mid-palate, but still delivers some fresh fruit. This is more like a good Crozes-Hermitage than a Cotes du Rhone Villages. I can almost taste how special this wine will be in 2025 to 2027, but it's no slouch tonight. Good value at about $15 a bottle. I think I paid $12.95 at Costco a year or so ago.
Domaine Sainte-Anne Cotes du Rhone Villages Saint Gervais, 2004
The color is still reasonably saturated but has lost a bit of its shine. Red fruit smells with a bit of charred wood. Donna detects a metallic smell. Aeration has improved past bottles, and I get more ripe fruit flavors, with some Mourvedre spice, on the second night. Not a first impression wine, but the more I drink, the more I like. Rhone critic and author John Livingstone-Learmouth (DrinkRhone.com) gave the 2004 Saint Gervais only ** and an earlier drinking window than the same cuvee from 2005 and 2006. This bottle is unquestionably past its prime but still offers pleasure.
Thursday, March 4, 2021
Bergadano Langhe Nebbiolo, 2008
The wine has a deep, intense garnet color but minimal orange tints that are typical of Nebbiolo with a few years in the bottle. This wine has been aged in barriques as well as traditional large oak barrels. The bouquet needs some aeration to develop fully; then it is typical and glorious: flowers, dark cherries and licorice. Fills the mouth with rich texture and flavors. Very dry; plenty of tannins but they are warm, round and pleasant. Leans more toward Barolo than Barbaresco in its assertive personality. I have had this wine many times over the past decade, and it has aged very nicely.
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Chronicle Cerise Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2006
Medium light. Cranberries as well as cherries. Also some vanilla and spice. Ripe cherry flavors with cranberry acidity. Good intensity but probably not as complex or complete as the Saintsbury. Chronicle's wine is made from a multi-clone part of the vineyard; Saintsbury's is from high on the slope and primarily Dijon and Pommard clones.
Monday, March 1, 2021
Paul Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage Domaine Thalabert, 1991
Good deep color for a 30-year-old reds; substantial sediment crusting on one side of the bottle. Bouquet opens beautifully with aeration and decanting. Black fruits, cassis, prominent black olives and hint of pepper. Savory olives on entry, then gets bigger and sweeter on mid-palate before releasing expansive mature Syrah flavors on the finish. Good acid/fruit balance. Makes the tongue tingle and beg for more. Unquestionably the best Crozes-Hermitage, Domaine Thalabert, in nearly any vintage of the 1980s or 1990s, is at least as good as any Hermitage I have ever had.