Thursday, September 30, 2021

Pelassa Mario's Rosso, 2013

Pelassa produces a range of wines from the Piedmont area of Italy. One of their lowest priced offerings, Mario's Rosso is a pleasant blend of Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Medium deep ruby red. Raspberries, red plums, violets. Friendly on the palate, soft and medium bodied but the smells and flavors are persistent. Deeper and more serious than you might suspect for the price (about $10) and initial impression. Has charm and class.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

2010 Chalone Vineyard Estate Chardonnay, 2010

When this wine was released, a Wine Enthusiast reviewer described it as "overoaked." Most overoaked wines die an early death but not so with anything from Chalone Vineyards. At 11 years of age this wine is singing. 

Deep, mature gold. Rich nose of warm bread dough, ripe apples and vanilla with floral notes. Has the body and texture of a Puligny Montrachet. The flavors may have an oak tint but they are Chardonnay through and through. Ripe but with good acidic grip. Even at this stage of maturity, I would buy more.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Chateau St. Jean Robert Young Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay, 1983

This wine is 100% barrel fermented and spent some time on its lees. It is unabashedly oaky but did not go through malolactic fermentation. The quality of fruit from the Robert Young Vineyard is exceptional, and the result is one of the best Chardonnays I have tasted.

Medium deep gold. Bright and clear. Exceptionally intense bouquet of lemon cream, canteloupe and flowers. Equally intense flavors. Very lively and complex; I could drink this all night with or without food. The oak influence is there, but the smells and flavors are pure Chardonnay fruit. Donna and I are fans of Chateau St. Jean Robert Young, and this 2013 Reserve may be the best we have had.

Paul Jaboulet Aine Crozes-Hermitage Domaine Thalabert, 1983

My son, who was born in 1983, has had this 1983 Thalabert at least eight or nine times as his birthday wine, and he still enjoys it almost as much as I do. Even after 38 years, it still seems to get better each year.

The color has lightened considerably with some brickish garnet tones. Beautiful mature scents of dried cranberry, truffles, leather and olives.Equally intense flavors that dance on the tongue and blend beautifully with food (pork tenderloin braised in milk). Finish that lasts forever. This 1983 and the 1990 Thalabert Crozes are as good as any Hermitage I have had.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz, 2005

Bin 128, sourced from vineyards in Coonawarra, is listed by Penfolds as its cool climate Shiraz. With up front fruit typical of Coonawarra, it features elegance rather than power.

Deep, dark, bluish. Beautiful smells of black currants, blackberries, flowers and menthol. Oak derived spices liven the palate. Medium to full bodied. Plenty of tannin but not enough to keep the berry fruit from showing. Drinking well now but should keep for several more years. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Domaine Rabasse Charavin Cairanne, 2012

I have sampled this wine several times over the past four or five years, and this is the best it has shown. I think it is very close to full maturity.

Bright ruby red. Enticing scents of strawberry, pomegranate, herbs and sweet as well as peppery spice. I find a dark tone similar to what I usually associate with Rasteau and Vacqueyras more than Cairanne. A dry, tannic streak down the middle and a bit of heat from 14.5% alcohol. Even so, I love the full fruited, ripe berry finish.

This Cairanne is produced from 70% Grenache (40 to 70 years of age), 15% Syrah (20 to 30 years), 10% Counoise (30 years) and 5% Cinsault (15-20 years). It is made traditionally and aged in concrete vats.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Chateau Grand Traverse Old Mission Peninsula Whole Cluster Riesling, 2013

What a difference a year makes! The 2012 Whole Cluster Riesling I had Friday night was showing a bit tired so I was anxious to open the 2013 to see if I was being too tardy in opening these wines. What I found was a 2013 wine much younger than the vintage date might suggest.

Lemon yellow, bright and lively. More peaches than pears tonight plus some citric notes. Medium dry and full bodied in the Whole Cluster style. Well defined flavors although I still would prefer a bit more acidity. It tastes a lot like the young Whole Cluster wines I taste every year at the winery, but I find none of the complexity I would expect from a nine-year-old German Riesling.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Chateau Grand Traverse Old Mission Peninsula Whole Cluster Riesling, 2012

This has always been one of my favorite Michigan wines, and this 2012 is the oldest of my stash in the cellar. It was a good match for a seafood paella.

Medium deep gold, perhaps a bit deeper than I would expect from a nine-year-old Riesling. Rich, rounded peach and ripe pear scents with hints of petrol. Dry and medium to full body, in the Whole Cluster style. Does not have the zing and acidity of a German Riesling and is showing a bit tired and one-dimensional at this stage. I gave it 94 points when I tasted it in its youth but would give it only 88 tonight.


Thursday, September 16, 2021

Pertinace Barbera d'Alba, 2018


This wine has all the vibrant fruitiness I expect from a .young Barbera. It was fermented for 10 to 15 days in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, then aged for nine months in French oak barrels.

Deep, dark, bright ruby. Has the Piedmont profile: dark cherries, spice and black licorice. More acid than tannin, but that's what Barbera is about. Has the intensity to provide a good backdrop for tomato and roasted vegetable pasta. I paid about $10 at Costco but haven't seen it there recently.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Vincent & Sophie Morey Maranges 1er Cru Les Fussieres, 2007

Red cherries was my initial impression when I popped the cork on this red Burgundy wine; and a positive impression it was from the first sniff to the reverberating after taste.

In its youth, this wine was quite dark for a Pinot Noir. With 13 years of age, it is now medium light with amber tones moving out from the rim. There is nothing mature, though, in the vibrant smells and flavors. Red cherries, red raspberries and baking spices. The spices add some sweetness but the basic theme is tartness. And I like it. Flavors that cling to the tongue and inside of the mouth and dance toward a complex finish.


Wednesday, September 8, 2021

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

This cuvee of Domaine Sainte-Anne's Cotes du Rhone Villages is produced from older vines at the estate and includes a higher percentage (10 to 20%) of Mourvedre. It costs a few dollars more than the regular CDR Villages and is definitely worth the premium. I have had glorious bottles of the 1998 and 2000 Notre Dame; the 2004 vintage is not as good but still a special wine.

Deep, bright crimson. With age, the wine has lost the high-toned, lifted aromas that are characteristic of young Domaine Sainte Anne wines and has developed some beautiful secondary aromas and flavors. Strawberries and red raspberries. Skin tannins contribute a lot to this wine; they are deep and full of flavor...even when you get down to the sediment at the bottom of the bottle.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Clos du Mont Olivet Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Unique, 1998

Clos du Mont Olivet can always be depended on to produce a good, ageworthy Chateauneuf du Pape. Cuvee Unique refers to a wine made from barrels selected by North Berkeley Imports, and the result is an even more special wine. It's a wine that begs for grilled leg of lamb with roasted vegetables, and that's exactly what we had.

The color has turned to brickish red, but there are no other signs of advancing maturity. Very aromatic. You can almost hear the wine singing "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme." Also plenty of mint and other aromatic herbs to highlight the scents of ripe strawberries and raspberries. Still singing on the palate. Deep and complex with fruit and herbs dancing together. Rhone critic John Livingstone-Learmouth writes that he would like a just a bit more "richness" on the finish, but I like the acidic edge that, with aeration, actually does become richer and richer as the meal progrsses.  Thank you Clos du Mont Olivet and North Berkeley Imports.