Thursday, April 29, 2021

Phillips Hill Estates Anderson Valley Toulouse Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2006


Another day, another Pinot--this one from the excellent Toulouse Vineyard in the Anderson Valley of northern California. Because of its age and specific appellation it is clearly the best of the bunch (compared to Decoy California and Evolution Oregon).

Medium garnet color. The bouquet takes some time to open, but when it does, it is impressive--cherries, cranberries, a hint of almond. Aged 11 months in 35% new French oak, resulting in substantial complexity and depth. Tannins are well integrated at this point and flavors have developed nicely. Long, lovely finish with notes of cranberry and black pepper.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Evolution Oregon Pinot Noir, 2019

Yes, the photo is right: this is not a bottle but a bag-in-the-box. It's handy for every night drinking, but it is not the juggy wine you expect from a bag-in-the-box. In fact, it is very good Oregon Pinot Noir that earned 92 points from James Suckling.

Last month we had a bottle of the 2015 Evolution Pinot that I had stored in the cellar for a few years. It was good enough that I went online to seek out replacement bottles and discovered this option on the Sokol Blosser website. It is $28 for a 1.5 liter box with free shipping on an order of two or more boxes. For a wine of this quality, the bag-in-a-box makes perfect sense. If a friend stops by unexpectedly, you can pour out a few glasses without committing yourself to opening a full bottle. Once you start pouring from the box, the bag collapses on the wine, preserving freshness for several weeks. Over the long term, wine does not age as well in such a format, though, so I expect to finish these boxes within the year.

Beautiful ruby, shading to garnet. Pouring from the spigot gives enough aeration to bring out those beautiful Pinot scents--cherries, berries  flowers and spice.  Fruity on the palate but not at all simple. Silky texture, good concentration. Cranberries, orange zest and black pepper on the finish. Now the box goes back in the cellar to await another one-night stand.

Is this wine as good as the Decoy California Pinot Noir I had last night? It is much better, in my opinion.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Decoy California Pinot Noir, 2018

This is the younger sibling of Goldeneye (Anderson Valley) and Migration (Russian River) Pinots produced by Duckhorn winery. The fruit is generic California but well chosen to make an appealing drink-now wine.

Medium garnet. Scents of dark cherries, raspberries and rosemary. Lots of fresh fruit on the palate. Supple tannins and pleasing acidity. Spicy, peppery Pinot fruit on the finish. Focused and intense.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Collovray & Terrier Domaine du Deux Roches Saint Veran Rives de Longsault, 2007

Even though it was clearly no youngster, I couldn't resist taking a chance on this wine, which had a reserve of $10 and no other bidders. I enjoyed many Deux Roches Saint Veran wines in the 1990s, and they aged well, although I never kept them for 13 years. This 2007 is clearly showing its age, but it's also showing its appellation, which is comparable to Pouilly Fuisse and very good indeed.

Very deep gold. Spiced apples and grilled nuts.  A bit subdued at this stage but still showing a unique Saint Veran personality. What's left at this stage is Macon Chardonnay fruit and not the oak shell that you might find on an overly mature New World Chardonnayj. Well worth the $10 price tag.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Chateau les Quatres Filles Cotes du Rhone Villages Cairanne, 2016

I can't give you much information about this estate, even though Cairanne is one of my pet appellations. Although the label suggests four females, I believe the wine is actually made by two brothers from old vine Grenache and Syrah. What I do know is that the wine, at 15 years of age, is drinking beautifully with no signs of advancing age.

Deep ruby red. Red and blue berries framed by spice and a touch of black pepper. Ripe entry followed by some gritty tannins on the mid palate but enough acidity to move the flavors through to an impressive finish that reflects the bouquet: red and blue berries, ripe and lovely. I have high standards for Cairanne, but this wine merits an A grade.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Pecchenino San Luigi Dogliani Dolcetto, 2016

Dogliani is a charming little village just a few hills and valleys away from Barolo in the Piedmont area of Italy. When we visited the Piedmont in October of 2019, we spent an afternoon in Dogliani and had a delicious meal at a little bistro bustling with locals. The beverage of choice in Dogliano is not Barolo, Barbaresco, Nebbiolo d'Alba or even Barbera but rather Dolcetto. Winemakers there have found that the soil and climate is particularly favorable for Dolcetto. And this wine, produced from several vineyards in the vicinity of Dogliano, is a good representative of the appellation.

Beautiful bright ruby color. Enticing aromas of fresh red and black fruits, almonds and violets. More of the same on the palate. Black raspberries, Dolcetto skins and a pleasing bitter almond finish. Coats the mouth with fruit tannins (this bottling is aged for a year in stainless). The acidity keeps it lively and delicious. I want more of this wine.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Domaine du Mas de Rey Coeur de Camargue, 2015

If you feel you are in a rut, cycling back and forth between Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, this wine is for you. A blend of Chasan (60%), Sauvignon Blanc (20%) and Gros Manseng (20%), it offers up unique smells and flavors, a rich texture and refreshing acidity. Chasan is a varietal created in 1958 by crossing Chardonnay with Listan (known as Palomino in Spain). The vineyards for Coeur de Camargue are located in Camargue National Park near Arles in Southern France. Very deep gold but, even though the vintage is 2015, there are no other suggestions of advancing age. Fresh, spicy aromas. Flavors suggest white peaches, blood orange and a hint of caramel. Bracing acidity and more tannins than you would expect from a white wine. A perfect wine for drinking on the deck on a warm summer evening.                                     


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Domaine Sainte Anne Cotes du Rhone Villages Saint Gervais, 2005

This is Domaine Sainte-Anne's Mourvedre-rich cuvee, my favorite of the excellent array of Cotes du Rhone Villages wines produced at the estate. I was disappointed with the 2004 Saint Gervais I opened a couple of weeks ago, but this 2005 is right on target. 

Deep ruby, bright and saturated almost to the rim. A strong undertone of violets along with Mourvedre red and black fruits. Medium bodied with a velvety texture. Elegant fruit and Mourvedre spice from front to back. Sainte-Anne's wines always have substantial acidity and that contributes to their ability to age well. Long finish. What a difference a year makes.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Chateau La Tour du Pin Figeac Moueix, 1990

I usually don't buy many Saint Emilion wines because I'm not a fan of the green tones that often come with wines of this appellation.  1990, though, was an excellent year for Saint Emilion, and I bought a few of the most attractive wines and gave them suitable cellar respect. This wine is now over 30 years of age, but that is not really old for a good Bordeaux from a good vintage. La Tour din Pin Figeac Moueix is 70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc.

Medium deep ruby shading to brick. Cork was difficult to remove but it wasn't overly wet and there was not much ullage from the bottle. Pleasant Merlot cherry with some lead pencil but no green notes on the nose. Medium bodied with a velvety mouth feel. Still some tannic presence but very easy to drink. Nothing sensational but an enjoyable dinner wine.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Careglio Roero DOCG, 2010

The hilly vineyards of Roero are situated just across the Tanaro River from Alba and, as a result, very close to Barolo. This wine is 100% Nebbiolo and is also very close to Barolo in personality, although without Barolo's characteristic power...and also its lofty price tag.

Looks like Nebbiolo: medium light garnet. Smells like Nebbiolo: violets, cherries, spice and dark minerals. Captivating smells and flavors with a charming rather than aggressive personality. Medium bodied without the hard tannins you might find in a Barolo of the same age. But there is excellent acidity and, I suspect, good aging potential over the next decade or maybe even longer. The beauty of Barolo without the power. I like it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

L. Mawby Leelanau Reserve Vignoles, 1984

 This is a wine in the "dead or alive" category. It has been resting in my wine cellar, taking up precious space, for way too many years. I have learned never to pour such a wine down the drain without tasting it to see if there is any pleasure left. One taste led to another and eventually a couple of glasses. The color has turned from white to rose, indicating oxidation, but I don't smell or taste any of the objectionable traits that I associate with a maderized wine. And I do find the dry Vignoles traits that I have missed since L. Mawby decided to become a dedicated sparkling wine producer. Rich, full body but with lively acidity. Pineapple and tropical fruit but very dry, almost tart. It's too old for Donna, but I like it and may even come back to it tomorrow night.

When this Reserve Vignoles was first released, I remember an enthusiastic Village Corner tasting note saying, in effect, "why buy White Burgundy?" When I poured it for the late Trevor Mast, the legendary Australian winemaker, his immediate reaction was "Seguin Moreau," and he later called it "that very good Michigan wine you showed me." When I asked Larry Mawby, he admitted that, yes, the wine had been aged in Seguin Moreau French oak. Even though Trevor Mast is usually associated with high-quality Shiraz, there was a time when he was involved in seeking out suitable oak for aging Chardonnay wines for Best's winery. As it turns out, the Seguin Moreau worked pretty well for this wine, preserving fruit traits without leaving oaky qualities.

Unfortunately, good dry Vignoles from Leelanau is no longer available, at least to my knowledge. The late Bernie Rink, another legendary and beloved winemaker, was my last source. Alas.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Bois de Boursan Chateauneuf du Pape, 2003

For Easter, we had a repeat of my birthday meal: lamb chops crusted with a garlic/anchovy paste topped with lemon/garlic/mint and capers, That worked well with Chateauneuf du Pape so I had no problem going back to that combination,

Brick red color. Light but bright. Bouquet of red and black fruits, tobacco, garrigue. Even better on palate: fresh red berries, peppery spice, Plenty fresh, gets better with each sip. 2003 was an overly warm vintage in the Southern Rhone but this shows no sign of over-ripeness. 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Elio Sandri Barbera d'Alba Superiore, 2012

This is a big and very good Barbera d'Alba, albeit one with a possible flaw.

Deep and dark. Beautiful smells from the moment the cork is popped. Almost like a Nebbiolo: flowers, dark cherries. A touch of black licorice on the palate. Big, tannic structure, good body and fruit concentration. Good flavors of dark cherry and spice on the finish but also an off note that was more noticeable on the first night before the wine had proper aeration. On the second night, I aerated for about an hour and then decanted and that helped a lot. Even so, I tasted a slight metallic edge that might be brett or another flaw. I can live with it but will drink remaining bottles sooner rather than later.