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).