Thursday, September 29, 2022

Montoya Monterey Pinot Noir, 2020

I usually avoid Pinot Noir from Monterey; they are a bit green for my taste. This was offered for a good price ($35) at Kitchen House in Richland (jour favorite Kalamazoo area restaurant) so we ordered a bottle, and it was a good accompaniment to our meals. 

Medium dark ruby. Many use cherry or raspberry to describe this wine's aroma and flavors, but I find it more tart--cranberries, green herbs and terpenes. Cool climate but not enough sun to bring out the full range of Pinot flavors. Donna likes the style more than I do, and reviews online show that the wine is popular. Retail price is about $15 so it represents good value.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Domaine des Baumard La Caleche, 2017

One of the best white wines I have ever tasted is Domaine des Baumard's Clos du Papillon Savennieres from 1982, which I had with dinner just a few weeks ago. So I quickly put this Baumard wine in my cart when I saw it offered at a closeout price of $11 at MegaBev (formerly Russo's) in Grand Rapids. La Caleche is Baumard's entry level, early drinking wine, 50% Chenin Blanc and 50% Chardonnay vinified in stainless steel to preserve its freshness and purity.

Deep gold, bright and lively. Very aromatic: peaches, apricots, flowers, minerals. Full bodied and rich. A good combination; Chardonnay sweetens the bitterness of young Chenin Blanc. Buttery flavors counter the grapefruit acidity. Peachy, honeyed fruit emerges as the wine warms. Don't serve this wine too cold; it is best at just a touch above room temperature. For $11 (or twice that much), it is a great bargain.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Schug Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 2010

This 2010 Schug Pinot Noir was matured mainly in large, neutral oak barrels. The fruit, though, from vineyards in western Carneros and the Petaluma Gap, is exceptional and meets my expectations for a fine North Coast Pinot Noir.

Very light in color and body. Takes some time to blossom, but then offers up enticing Pinot scents and flavors. Cherries, cranberries, cinnamon, orange zest and black pepper. Peppery flavors, tinged with orange zest, that cling to the roof of the mouth. Tingling acidity. Perfect. At a good stage for drinking right now.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon, 1998


Coonawarra Cabernet has an almost universal appeal, and this is a classic Coonawarra Cab, with bright upfront fruit and charm.

Deep and dark ruby. Impressive for a 24-year-old wine. Incredibly strong fruit smells and flavors. Black currants, blue plums, cassis and oak. Rich and ripe but also finely textured and elegant. Still going strong in its second decade. 

Coriole McLaren Vale Shiraz, 1998

McLaren Vale is one of my favorite spots for Australian Shira, and this is a good one, although probably a bit past its prime.

Deep and dark. Good color. Syrah herbal notes beginning to show up along with black fruits and spice. Tannic on the mid-palate and missing a bit of freshness. Australian Shiraz simply lacks the acidity of Northern Rhone Syrah, and that is what many Australian wine drinkers prefer. As far as I'm concerned, the lower acidity makes for a less complex and intriguing drink.

Paul Jaboulet Aine Crozes-Hermitrage Domaine de Thalabert, 1983

When I first opened this bottle, the aromas and flavors seemed a bit muted, and I assumed that time was beginning to catch up to this 39-year-old Crozes-Hermitage. Given a couple of hours of aeration and comparison to a much younger Syrah (1998 Coriole McLarenv Vale Shiraz from Australia) on the table, Domaine Thalabert once again demonstrated its seemingly ageless charm.

Much lighter than its Australian counterpart, of course. Brickish red but bright and clear. Two hours after the bottle was opened, the Northern Rhone scents begin to develop and grow. Red as well as black fruits, leather, balsamic. Notably acidic compared to the Australian Shiraz, and that is a plus for me. Black olives, cured meats, black pepper. Flavors get bigger and more complex with every sip. Lives up to my Thalabert expectations.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

2013 Wind Gap Woodruff Vineyard (Santa Cruz) Chardonnay, 2013

I have been writing a lot about Wind Gap Chardonnays recently, mainly because I picked up a good number of them, 2012 and 2013 vintages, at deep discount on WineBid. They are all very good wines.

Deep golden yellow. Intense smells and flavors of lemon, pear and minerals. French oak is also apparent, although not as the star player. Cool climate, high level of acidity, intensity that grabs your attention and clings to the finish.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Franco Serra Dolcetto d'Alba, 2020

Dolcetto means "little sweetie," and, for years, I avoided buying it because I assumed it would be sweet or semi-dry. That was a false assumption; Dolcetto is nearly always made into a dry wine. Yet compared to a "big wine" such as a Barossa Shiraz, it is definitely a "little sweetie" to enjoy frequently with a first course or a family meal.

Bright ruby red, clear and bright. Fresh red fruit--raspberries, stawberries, cherries on the nose To preserve the freshness and fruit, the winemaker has avoided use of any new oak. And I approve. Moderate acidity allows a clear flow of fruit flavors from front to back countered by skin tannins and a pleasingly bitter hint of almonds.


Saturday, September 17, 2022

B Vineyards and Habitat Russian River Pinot Noir, 2007

I have had several good Pinots from B Vineyards and Habitat. This 2007 Sera  is from a special Green Valley vineyard named for the owners' daughter, and it fully meets the standards of what the winery calls a "proprietor's select wine."

Light Pinot color. Translucent. Spicy, floral nose. Cinnamon, cloves, violets. Pretty and inviting. Flavors of cranherry, raspberry, orange zest and pepper. Light and elegant on the palate with a silky texture. Still well balanced. Red raspberries on the long finish. I like this wine.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Domaine Schlumberger Tokay d'Alsace (Pinot Gris), 1975

That is not a typo; this white wine is now 47 years old...and still very much alive. Tokay d'Alsace is a term for Pinot Gris wine used many years ago in Alsace. The term is more archaic than what is in the bottle.

Bright golden yellow. The bottle has significant ullage, but I find no detectable oxidized smells or flavors. Still fresh and lively. Ripe pear, melon, spice and a hint of honey. The acidity that I noted when it was young has kept it fresh but has toned down enough to leave a mellow, easy feeling on the palate. Rich and ripe, not sweet. Many subtle nuances on the long and satisfying finish.

I remember buying this wine from Village Corner in Ann Arbor in 1984 or 1985. It was already mature at that time, but Cheryl McMillan of the VC staff told me I would not be disappointed. I was not then and still am not. Wish I had more.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Delas Saint Esprit Cotes du Rhone, 2017

I have been buying and enjoying the Saint Esprit Cotes du Rhone fairly regularly since the 2007 vintage. It has always been a somewhat atypical CDR because of its relatively high proportion of Syrah to Grenache. The Syrah profile seems to be particularly dominant in this 2017 vintage.

Dark plummy color. Blackberries, currants, lavender and cassis.Fruitier and more accessible than a Northern Rhone Syrah. Not very tannic but still a bit rough on the mid-palate. Comes from hillside vineyards on granite soil in the Ardeche region. Ar least for tonight, I would prefer a bit more Grenache berry and pepper. And a bit more exuberance.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Bergadano Langhe Nebbiolo, 2008

I paid $120 for a case of this wine from Binny's in Chicago about a decade ago, and the wine continues to reward me. Good when it was young, it has continued to improve in the bottle and now offers special qualities that I would expect from a Barolo.

Medium light garnet with orangish tints at the rim. Clear, bright and moderately intense. Exuberant scents of fresh cherries, roses and sweet spices that grow and change shape as the wine airs. The same on the palate along with tones of black licorice and minerals on a long and satisfying finish. Tannic grip reminiscent of Barolo along with substantial acidity that will keep the wine going and growing for many years. The grapes come from the Pugnane Vineyard in Monforte d'Alba from vines planted on clay soil in 1950 and 1997.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Wind Gap Sonoma Coast Gap's Crown Chardonnay, 2013

Wind Gap can be counted on for wines with good acidity and a great deal of personality. Gap's Crown Vineyard is really in the Petaluma gap on the Sonoma Coast.

Deep lemon yellow, showing its age. This wine is mature, perhaps a bit overly mature, but I love what it offers. White peaches, pears, a hint of almonds. More oak than is usual with Wind Gap wines but it's well integrated. Lemon cream acidity. Finish is long and complex, offering many nuances.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Saltram S2 Southeastern Australia Shiraz, 2019

This wine, a Trader Joe's bargain, has always struck me as more like a Cotes du Rhone than an Aussie Shiraz. It has lively fruit, medium body and minimal oak tannins, making it easy to drink right now. Tonight, I tasted it alongside a good Southern Rhone, the Famille Perrin Ventoux, and decided the two are really not all that much alike.

Medium ruby, no purple or blue tones. Berries, plums, spice and pepper. Even without the oak influence, though, the tannins in the Shiraz are much heavier and more noticeable than those in the Ventoux. The acidity is markedly lower and the wine is a bit more sluggish on the palate. I like both but still prefer the Southern Rhone. 

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Famille Perrin Ventoux Rouge, 2019

For years, I bought a case of La Vieille Ferme every year. The low-end, inexpensive wine of the Perrin family was made from grapes grown in Ventoux and was always delicious whether served with pizza or a serious dinner. In many ways, this Famille Perrin Ventoux is the successor to La Vieille Ferme, which is no longer produced from Ventoux grapes. For my taste, Famille Perrin Ventoux Rouge is significantly better and more traditional than either La Vieille Ferme or the Cotes du Rhone Reserve produced by the domaine. And for the past year, I have been able to buy it for $6.99 at Plum Market in Ann Arbor.

Beautiful bright red. Lush and silky. Red berry smells and flavors along with clove and black pepper on the finish. Perfect balance of fruit, acidity and tannin. Carignan and Cinsault are now in the blend along with Grenache and Syrah, but the flavor profile is still classic Southern Rhone, bold, spicy and fruity. Has everything I love in Ventoux red wine.


Friday, September 2, 2022

Gilbert Picq Chablis, 2000


I thought I might have left this too long in the cellar. It's not a Grand Cru or even a Premier Cru. But no; Picq Chablis, at any level, ages well.

Deep lemon yellow. Aromatic breadth and depth--flint, minerals, lime. Acidity has been tamed a bit by time in the bottle but stony Chablis qualities are strong. Lemon curd on palate. Mellow and deep with a long finish. I need to buy more Chablis.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Pithon-Paille Anjou Mozaik Blanc, 2017

This is not a Savennieres but a similarly styled dry Chenin Blanc from Anjou in the Loire Valley. It is still available for $11.99 as a "buy now" wine at

Deep gold color. Best when only slightly chilled and well aerated. Scents of honeydew melon and white peach emerge slowly but surely. Same on the palate. Ripe fruit flavors, almost pretty for a Chenin Blanc. Does not have the depth or complexity of a Savennieres but it is very good and drinking well right now.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Wind Gap Santa Cruz Mountains Woodruff Vineyard Chardonnay, 2013

I have enjoyed several bottles of this 2013 Woodruff Vineyard Chardonnay over the past several months. This bottle seemed a notch above the others, perhaps because it matched up so perfectly with pan fried whitefish from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Deep golden color but not overly mature. Crisp apple and freshly sliced lemon. More than ample acidity that blends well with flavors and texture of the fish. Hints of butter in the flavor but not the body or texture. Crisp apple fruit on the satisfying finish.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Tenuta Arnulfo Costa di Bussia Barbera d'Alba, 2015

This Barbera comes from vines planted in 2006-2007 on the Bussia hill near Monforte d'Alba--Barolo country. And the estate produces several very good Barolos from nearby vineyards. At $12 to $15, it is one of my favorite mid- to low-priced Barberas. And we stayed four days at the estate in October of 2019.

Beautiful red ruby color. Scents of cherries,strawberries, flowers and spice. Characterisrtic Barbera acidity, almost tart, but countered by firm tannins. Has been matured in French oak barriques. The estate considers this a 5- to 7-year wine, but I can envision greater complexity with at least another year or two of bottle age.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Collection Rhone Cotes du Rhone, 2020

A few years ago, Trader Joe's offered some very good Cotes du Rhone and Cotes du Rhone Villages wines that I bought regularly. The Rhone selection right now is slim and some do not measure up to my expectations. This Collection Rhone--55% Grenache, 35% Carignan and 25% Syrah--is the exception. It is, in my opinion, a good example of a traditionally made Cotes du Rhone. And it sells for $6.99.

Medium crimson/ruby. Vibrant young fruit with yeasty tones. Red berries, earth and pepper. Rich on the palate, well balanced. Lovely now and will improve over the next three years or so.

Maison Noir O.P.P. Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 2019

The O.P.P. that dominates the label of this wine designates "Other People's Pinot Noir." What that is supposed to mean I do not know, but it is an accessible, relatively inexpensive Pinot from the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

Deep and dark for a Pinot Noir. Could be mistaken for a Syrah or Cabernet. Has the lilting aromas of Pinot Noir. Cherry, pomegranate, earth and ginger. A big wine, lacks the delicacy that is usually associated with Pinot Noir. But the flavors are rich and unmistakbly Willamette Valley Pinot with a peppery, spicy, orange zest finish.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Kenwood Six Ridges Alexander Valley Cabernet, 2017

I bought a lot of Kenwood Cabernets in the early 1980s. They were reliably good and well priced. There are no more Kenwood wines in my cellar, but this wine was offered by the glass at the excellent Out of the Fire Cafe in Donegal, PA.

Deep, dark Cabernet color. Intriguing nose of dark cherries, cassis, mint and vanilla. Nicely developed for a five-year-old wine. Tannins are ripe and countered by a good level of acidity. Grainy texture that teases the  taste buds at the back of the tongue. Long, beautiful finish. At $35, this is still well priced for a California Cab. I am going to put Kenwood Cab back on my shopping list.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Taylor-Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny Port

Taylor-Fladgate's 20 Year Old Tawny Port is one of my favorite after dinner drinks. At a more reasonable price ($30 vs $50 plus), 10 Year Old Tawny is a good alternative. Both are at their best slightly chilled. Unlike Vintage Port which ideally should be aged 20 years or longer, tawny port is ready to drink when purchased and will not benefit from time in the cellar.

Deep tawny color with amber at the rim. Rich bouquet of dried berries, nuts, dates, figs, toffee and more. Mellow and rich on the palate with amazingly complex flavors that seem to last forever. A pefect conclusion to a fine meal.

Duxoup Dry Creek Syrah, 2015

I like French Syrah from the Northern Rhone and some Australian Shiraz, but I don't have much experience with California Syrah. That's why I ordered this wine when I spotted it on the wine list at the Out of the Fire Cafe in Donegal, PA. The Duxoup Syrah does not have much in common with Crozes-Hermitage, Saint Joseph or even most Australian Shiraz wines. But it was an enjoyable accompaniment to an excellent entree of roast New Zealand lamb.

Dark, opaque. Duxoup usually incorporates about 10% Cabernet Sauvignon in its Syrah wines, and it shows. Big, extracted smells and flavors. Boysenberries, dark plums. Full bodied with moderate acidity and big fruit flavors that linger on the finish. Not a lot of complexity at this stage of its development.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Pelassa Piemonte Oltre, 2014

After smelling and tasting this wine, I immediately pegged it as Langhe Nebbiolo, a baby Barolo. And it is part Nebbiolo, although only 10% along with 90% Barbera, according to the Pelassa website. Oltre is the Italian word for beyond, and this wine is beyond Nebbiolo, beyond Barbera. And very good.

Dark ruby, the color of Barbera more than Nebbiolo. Dark cherries, blue plums, flowers, black pepper and a hint of menthol. Very aromatic. Full bodied in the mouth but elegant. Acid, tannin and alcohol in perfect balance. No hard edges. Ripe, round and smooth. I could drink this wine every night.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Domaine du Haut des Terres Blanches Chateauneuf du Pape, 2000

Domaine du Haut des Terres Blanches Chateauneuf was widely available in my marketing area in Michigan in the early part of this century. I sampled the wines at tastings and bought them enthusiastically. Tasted over the last several years, the 1998 did not meet my expectations, perhaps because of poor storage or transportation before I received it. This 2000 bottle meets my expectations plus plus.

Medium crimson with amber at rim. Bouquet is slow to open but clearly very deep and concentrated. Cherries, red berries, pomegranates and a touch of black pepper. Very concentrated old vine character. Teases the taste buds, then slowly releases flavors that build to a crescendo long after the wine is swallowed. This wine is already 22 years of age but has a long life ahead of it. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Domaine des 3 Messes Basses Ventoux Rouge, 2018

This is Southern Rhone wine the way I like it. It is produced by a cooperative of growers, Vignerfons du Mont Ventoux, from 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 20% Carignan matured in concrete vats.

Medium deep crimson. Intense red berry fruit backed by a peppery spice. Full bodied with appropriate warmth but no heat. Very easy to drink but not at all simple. I usually buy this for about $10 a bottle at the D&W online wine sale.


Sunday, August 7, 2022

Wind Gap Woodruff Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay, 2012

Wind Gap produced some excellent high-end wines...before it folded. Fortunately for me, I was able to secure some of the old stock at give-away prices on WineBid. This 2012 Chardonnay is one of the best of the lot.

Very deep gold. Looks like it is overly mature but the smells and flavors are bright and youthful. Apple, lemon cream and hints of butter. Modest oak but big, ripe fruit flavors. Not at all oxidized as the color might suggest. Although it's a year older and a lot deeper in color than the 2013 vintage of the same wine, it is, in my opinion, far better.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Domaine Sainte-Anne Cotes du Rhone Villages Saint Gervais, 2005


The Mouvedre-rich Saint Gervais of Domaine Sainte-Anne is one of my favorite wines, and this 2005 vintage is particularly good. Reminds me of the excellent 2000.

Dark ruby red, shading to brown at the rim. Beautifully bright. Dark cherries, violets, Mourvedre spice, herbs and even a hint of black pepper that I don't usually find in Sainte-Anne wines.Plush mouth feel. Majestic. Deep flavors that run from front to back, ending in a long, delightful finish.

60 to 70% Mourvedre, 15 to 20% Syrah and 15 to 20% Genache from vines planted in the early- to mid-1960s.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Terramata Barbera d'Alba, 2017

Terramata Barbera d'Alba is made by a growers' cooperative and, as a result, is an excellent value in Piedmont Barbera.

Beautiful deep ruby red. Dark cherries black raspberries, mushrooms and herbs. Abundant youthful fruit, medium bodied. Acidity seems to be showing more prominently than it did a few months ago but that gives the wine vigor and intensity.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Kirkland Signature Friuli Pinot Grigio, 2020


Kirkland Signature, of course, indicates that this wine is sold by Costco, and it is available at my local Kalamazoo Costco for only $4.99. At that price, I think it compares quite favorably with MezzaCorona or the inexpensive Pinot Grigios available at Trader Joe's. Friuli is a cool climate appellation near the Alps in northeastern Italy.

Very light, almost clear. Green apples, pear, lime zest. Medium body for a wine with only 12.5% alcohol. Fewer herbal tones than MezzaCorona and more flavor interest than Giacomo d'Aquino, a similarly priced wine sold at Trader Joe's. Clean, fresh finish.

While the wine is not made for aging, I suspect it would develop some interestring nuances if I kept it for a couple of years. At the price, of course, I probably won't.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Famille Perrin Ventoux Rouge, 2019

I have always been a fan of the Ventoux appellation, which until recently has been under-rated. And I have always been a fan of wines from the Perrin Family--from Beaucastel down to La Vieille Ferme. The latter is now sourced from grapes outside the Ventoux appellation, and this Ventoux Rouge has replaced it.

Beautiful bright crimson. Fresh fruit smells and flavors but by no means simple. Grenache berry and peppery spice. Everything I love in Ventoux wine. Full bodied but beautifully balanced. It is a perfect match for pasta and pizza, but I would not be embarrassed to serve it at a dinner party.


Friday, July 29, 2022

Fontanafredda Piemonte Barbera Briccotondo, 2019

I was pleased to find this as a wine by the glass at Martini's, my favorite neighborhood restaurant in Kalamazoo. And it was a perfect accompaniment to my delicious penne pasta with red sauce.

Beautiful dark ruby red, very Barbera. Very aromatic: black fruits, plums, cassis, black pepper and spice. More tannin that you might expect from Barbera but ripe and accessible. Characteristic acidity that blends with, rather than fights, the acidity of the red sauce. Good balance, delicious wine.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Wind Gap Woodruff Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay, 2013

Pax and Pamela Mahle, who ran Wind Gap when this wine was made, believe in creating wines with unique personalities. This Chardonnay's personality is lean and mean.

Deep lemon yellow. Bright and lively. Penetrating scents of lemon and unripe peaches. Very concentrated with grip and intensity. 12.9% alcohol; the growing season was probably cool or the grapes were picked slightly unripe. Bracing acidity, maybe a bit much for me, even though I prefer this over the big, buttery style that is more prevalent among California Chardonnays.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Philo Ridge Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2010


Philo Ridge is a small production winery so you are unlikely  to find their wines at your local shop. Philo Ridge wines, however, pop up from time to time on WineBid, usually with  attractive reserve prices. This is my third bottle of the 2010, and I have enjoyed all of them immensely.

Medium light color, shading lighter at the rim. Compelling bouquet of cranberries, pomegranates, flowers and Pinot spice. Irresistible. Similar flavors but the texture is not as smooth as I remember ir from my first bottle two years ago. An excellent bottle of wine and a great value at $15 a bottle.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Domaine le Sang des Cailloux Vacqueyras, 1998

This Vacqueyras was inexpensive enough ($10 a bottle) when it was released at Village Corner in Ann Arbor that I could afford to buy a case . And the wine has done nothing but improve over the last two decades.

Still a good color with minimal bricking at the edges. Smells and tastes like a very good Cbateauneuf du Pape in its prime. Compact like a fruit cake: dried cherries and berries, nuts and brioche. Very intense and very concentrated. A perfect match for grilled lamb with mint sauce: gamey, meaty flavors under lifted notes of bay leaves, mint and rosemary. An enchanting experience. Unfortunately, this is my last bottle.l.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Cuvee des 3 Messes Masses Ventoux, 2018

This wine, made by the coop at Mont Ventoux, has become one of my favorite Southern Rhone wines because I can count on it for the traditional flavors and style that I love.

Medium ruby red. Grenache (50%), Syrah (30%) and Carignan (20%), destemmed, vinified separately and aged in concrete vats. Fragrant notes of Grenache strawberry and crushed black peppercorn with a hint of clove. Just right on the palate. Enough tannin to keep it serious but not enough to obscure the beautiful fruity/savory flavors. Peppery spice and berries on the finish.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Warre's Vintage Port, 1977 (375 ml)

1977 was a particularly good year for vintage port and, even from a 375 ml bottle, this wine from Warre's is showing well.

Small cork, crusted with sediment but relatively easy to remove. Medium light red/garnet. The bouquet is rich and deep. Caramel, fruit cake, plum, cinnamon and a hint of citrus zest. Even better on the palate. Black licorice and blood orange emerge as the wine airs. Only moderately sweet but rich and complex. A very good vintage port that has aged well.

Henschke Mount Edelstone Eden Valley Shiraz, 1986

I bought three bottles of Henschke's Mount Edelstone Shiraz from Brown Derby Wines in Springfield, MO several years before the quality of Henschke wines was well known. It was a budget wine at the time but now sells for $235 (current vintage) at the cellar door. I consider it maybe the best wine purchase I have ever made.

Beautiful ruby/garnet. Looks younger than 36 years. Gorgeous bouquet of red currants, boysenberry, lavender and purple flowers. The layered flavors are equally intense and expansive. Savory, like a fine Cote Rotie with the nuances that come from old vines and long aging.  Fruit, acid, tennins in perfect balance. This is one of the best Syrah wines I have ever had. 

Sonoma Cutrer Les Pierres Chardonnay, 2016

Sonoma Cutrer's Les Pierres Vineyard is so named for the large rocks that line the vineyard, absorbing sunlight and slowly releasing heat to the vines. At the same time, there is a cool wind and fog, resulting in slow ripening and a long growing season. The result, in my opinion, is one of the best Charedonnays coming out of California.

Deep lemon yellow, showing some maturity. Intense aromas of lime, lemon zest and wet stone. Intense flavors of lemon curd with a hint of butter. A level of acidity I associate with French Chablis and Oregon Chardonnay accompanied by oak-associated spice. Powerful finish. 

Les Pierres ages well. We had a bottle from 1983 that was drinking well in 2021.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Chateau Suiduiraut Sauternes, 1983

In the past week, we have tasted three 1983 Sauternes (Rieussec, Guiraud and Suiduiraut), all from half bottles and all showing very well. Of the three, this is my favorite.

Deep old gold but has not turned nearliy as dark as the Rieussec. Very rich and unctuous. Honey and apricots. Yet still has great acidity and freshness. A special wine.

Le Blanc Sec du Suiduiraut, 2017

I think I opened this bottle a few years too early. It is drinking quite nicely right now, but I suspect it will develop greater complexity and flavors with a few more years in the bottle. It is a wine to buy if you see it for less than $20.

Light yellow with green glints. White peach, pears, flowers, hints of salt and minerals. Fresh and easy to drink--maybe too easy to force you to concentrate on the subtle nuances.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Frescobaldi Castello Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva, 2018

This Chianti Rufino was a good match for a very good fettucine bolognes dish at La Fenice in Toronto.

Deep and dark. Sangiovese cherries, red raspberries and oak spice. Not at all soft: good acidity, medium body and accessible tannins. A good restaurant wine.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Willakenzie Estate Cuvee Pinot Noir, 2015on

 Willakenzie specializes in single vineyard Pinots, each offering up unique qualities.This Estate Cuvee, though, is a blend from several of these vineyards. And it is very good.

Medium garnet. Very open from the time the cork is popped. Red fruits, spice and beautifully ripe flavors. Seems straightforward but aromas and flavors continue to evolve in the glass. Layers of complexity. Black pepper and orange zest on the long, satisfying finish.

Mary Elke Blue Diamond Donnelly Creek Pinot Noir,. 2013

The people at Mary Elke Vineyards told me that 2013 was a good vintage for the Blue Diamond Pinot but that it would be best with 5 to 10 years of cellaring. After tasting this bottle, I would extend that cellaring time by aother 5 years.

Medium light red. Still a bit shy to release smells and flavors. Cranberry, cherry, forest floor and savory spices. Medium bodied with good balance. At this stage, does not measure up to the Willakenzie Pinot from Oregon beside it at the table. I will wait a few years to open the next bottle.

Mary Elke Vineyrds, unfortunately, is now definct, but their wines will live on.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Limited Release Michael Shiraz, 1997

Served alongside the Wind Gap Russian River Syrah (see below), this wine showed very well, illustrating some of the depth and complexity that comes with long-term aging.

Similar in color to the Wind Gap, though 11 years older. Initially, the bouquet is less expressive than the Wind Gap. Over the next hour, though, the subtle nuances begin to appear. On the other hand, black fruited Syrah flavors are up front from the moment the cork is popped. Warm, luscious and long. I think I like this Michael Shiraz, from a relatively weak vintage, even more than the 1998 Michael I had last week

Wind Gap Russian River Syrah, 2008

I rarely buy California Syrah, opting insrtead for Northern Rhone Syrah or Australian Shiraz. This very good Russian River Syrah gives me reason to change that policy.

Dark, deep Syrah color. Still a young wine in appearance, aroma and flavor. Beautiful, expansive bouquet. Black fruits, herbs and spice. Firm on the mid-palate--maybe a bit too firm for my taste--but tannins are fine enough to allow a good range of flavors on the finish.

Not really Rhone or Australian in style but a third approach that works very well.

Friday, July 8, 2022

Schiavenza Barbera d'Alba, 2018

I bought this wine from for less than $10 a bottle, and reviews on Cellar Tracker showed conflicting views. My first go at the wine also put some doubts in my mind, but, by the time the bottle was empty, I concluded that this is a good wine and an excellent value.

Medium garnet, showing more age than I would expect from a young Barbera. I also detect some volatile acidity and an off note in the smells and flavors but these gradually subside as the wine airs and warms. Some nice cherry'rhubarb notes emerge along with some earth and leather. Seems mature for its age and a tad rustic, but I like it and will make a note to drink it over the next several years rather than the next decade.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Willamette Valley Vineyards Tualatin Estate Pinot Noir, 2010


Planted in the foothills of the Oregon Coast range by Bill Fuller in 1973, Tualatin Estate has some of the oldest and best Pinot Noir vines in Oregon. The 2010 vintage was good, and this wine is showing beautifully night.

Medium light color. Incredibly complex aromas and flavors--pomegranates, red berries and orange peel. Intense acidity and subtle tannins to carry the fruit to a powerful finish. Drinking beautifully now, but I suspect it will get even better over the next several years.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon, 1996

Savvy wine drinkers who have had the good fortune to visit this estate, owned by the same family since 1787, know the ageworthy quality of Moulin Touchais. This 1996 is very good right now but will undoubtedly be even better two or three decades from now. Coteaux du Layon is a dessert wine made from Chenin Blanc, but the high sugar is beautifully countered by the intense acidity and firm tannins of Chenin Blanc.

Even deeper gold in color. Honey, beeswax, quince and pineapple. Followed by ripe pears, apricot and more honey. A remarkable experience.

Domaine des Baumard Clos du Papillon, 1985

Baumard's Clos du Papillon is a special treat, and this 1985 confirms that Savenniere wines from the :Loire are virtually ageless. 

Deeper gold than the 2008, of course, but doesn't appear oxidized or old. The honeyed bouquet is almost overwhelming, and it entices me back for sniff after sniff. Deep, complex flavors that are hard to describe because they are constantly evolving and offering fresh nuances. Fruit, acid, tannin in perfect balance. A great wine.