Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Gradis'Ciutta Collio Friulano, 2019

Friulano from northeastern Italy--the young and the old (see note below) on the table side by side. Gradis'Ciutta (2019) and Lis Neris  (2011) are similar enough that 1) I will not bother to age a good Friulano but 2) will not be worried about the wine going over the hill at age 10 to 12.

Medium yellow, only slightly lighter than the 2011 beside it. Similar brightness. Pear, apple, white flowers and a pleasantly bitter twist of almond on the finish. Basically acidic but rich and full on the mid-palate. Medium long finish.

I have seen this wine listed at $47.95 online, but I bought this bottle for about $13 from Costco a few months ago. I hope it's still around because I would like to buy some more.

Lis Neris La Vila Friuli Isonzo Friulano, 2011

I don't have much experience with Friuliano, a traditional white wine grape in the extreme northeastern region of Italy. But I have been extremely pleased with the wines I have tried and have Friulano on my buying radar.

Medium deep yellow. Ripe pears, white flowers and a hint of almonds. Bright and lively on the tongue with significant intensity but richer and fuller than Sauvignon Blanc. A serious wine that goes well with vegetable oriented meals.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Domaine Bois de Boursan, 1995

Bois de Boursan also makes a Cuvee de Felix Chateauneuf that has new oak traits and is popular with critics. I prefer this traditional bottling.

A little lighter in color than the Grand Tinel (see below) and more high toned aromatics. Cherries, strawberries and Provencal herbs. Also a distinctive earthy quality that some might call barnyard. I have enjoyed many vintages of Bois de Boursan--1986, 1988, 1989, 1994, 1998 and 2003--and that earthy quality appears year after year. Exciting level of acidity. Bois de Boursan is one of my favorite Chateauneufs.

Domaine du Grand Tinel Chateauneuf du Pape, 1995


At the time this 1995 Chateauneuf was produced, Grand Tinel had a very traditional approach--aging in large oak-neutral foudres. And the result is the traditional profile that I prefer in a Chateauneuf du Pape.

Medium red with some bricking. 80% Grenache, 20% Syrah, but the wine has both red and black fruit, cassis and peppery spice. Straightforward with bold mature fruit flavors. Leather and earth. This is what I expect in a Chateauneuf du Pape, and the wine has aged well.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Anam Cara Cellars Chehalem Mountain Nicholas Estate Pinot Noir, 2011

Even for a Pinot Noir, this wine is extremely light and delicate in color, texture and flavor. One critic compared it to raspberry mousse. In the mouth, though, it offers enormous flavors.

Compared to the Cerise Vineyard wine beside it at the table, it has a light, almost transparent color. After one whiff, though, I was in love. Strawberries, raspberries--yes, very light and delicate but also very persistent scents and flavors. Also flowers, vanilla and orange zest. This is a very special Chehalem Mountain Pinot.


Chronicle Cerise Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2007

As the vineyard name (cerise is the French term for cherry) suggests, this wine has fairly strong hints of cherry in its flavor profile. And it is an excellent example of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.

Medium garnet, substantially darker than the Anam Cara Oregon Pinot beside it at the table. Cherries, black raspberries, flowers and spice. Smooth, lacy Pinot texture but again much darker tones than the Anam Cara. Depth as well as complexity. Pure Anderson Valley fruit. Beautiful wine.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Yorkville Cellars Yorkville Highlands Petit Verdot, 2010

The color of this wine when poured into the glass is impressively dark--black, inky, opaque. Yet it is not highly extracted or oaky, as you might expect. Black is the color of Petit Verdot, most commonly used in small quantities to back up Cabernet and Merlot in fine Bordeaux wines. As you might have noticed, most really good Bordeaux wines have at least some percentage of Petit Verdot in the blend. This Yorkville Cellars wine is at least 75% Petit Verdot, and I found it to be an extremely pleasant experience.

The wine is black in personality as well as color. Deep, deep blackberry and blackcurrant fruit surrounded by a bouquet of flowers. I think of Mourvedre when I drink this wine. Very intense. I generally prefer less tannic wines, but this Petit Verdot is very tannic in the best possible way. Coats the tongue and the roof of the mouth. Long, enjoyable finish.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Franco Serra Barbaresco, 2008


I served this Barbaresco alongside the Perbacco Langhe Nebbiolo (see below), and there were mixed views about which wine was the best. I preferred this Barbaresco but the majority went for the Perbacco.

Medium light ruby, very similar to the Perbacco in color. More overtly aromatic than the Perbacco. Flowers and eucalyptus. More high toned and acidic on the palate as well. Comes alive in the mouth with Nebbiolo nuances. Very easy to drink. Long finish. No need to wait on this one, but also no need to drink it right away.

Franco Serra's Barbaresco at $25 to $28 a bottle is a very good value. Vietti's Perbacco has a similar price tag and is also a good value.

Vietti Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco, 2009

2009 was not a particularly good vintage in the Piedmont, but Vietti's Perbacco from that year is drinking beautifully. It is always a good rendition of Nebbiolo.

Medium light ruby. Takes awhile to open and gets progressively better through the meal. Still has a lot of life left. Compact fruit (black raspberry?) and classic floral and black licorice tones. Has the firm structure of a Barolo and the finish gets better and better as the wine is exposed to air. Very good Langhe Nebbiolo.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Pertinace Barbera d'Alba, 2019

Pertinace's Barbera d'Alba is made with grapes from some of the estate's oldest vineyards near Treiso in the Barbaresco area.

Deep and dark with purplish tints. Has been matured nine months in French oak. Blackberries, currants, vanilla. Good Barbera acidity backed by oak and fruit tannins. Smooth texture and fruit-oriented personality. Hint of red plums on the medium long finish. Very enjoyable right now but will keep and get better for several more years.

MegaBev in Grand Rapids (formerly G.B. Russo and Sons) still has this available for $8.99 a bottle or $48 for a six-pack--an incredible value. The wine sells elsewhere for $15 to $20 a bottle.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Sokol Blosser Estate Dundee Hills Chardonnay, 2016

This Oregon Chardonnay was aged in 100% French oak (13% new) and spent 10 months on its lees (spent yeast cells). Yet it does not have what I would describe as either an oaky or leesy character. It is an excellent example of Oregon Dijon clone Chardonnay.

Bright lemon yellow. Notably clean and fresh. Lemon smells and flavors dominate but also green apples, nutmeg and vanilla. Elegance personified. A smooth texture and a range of subtle flavors on the finish. Drinking well at six years and should keep well for another year or so.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Philo Ridge Anderson. Valley Pinot Noir, 2010

Ordinarily, I would not consider pairing Pinot Noir with spicy Indian dishes, but this bottle tonight was a perfect match for food from the excellent Saffron Restaurant in Kalamazoo.

Medium light ruby. Good bright tones. Cherry, pomegranate and cloves. Opens up on the palate with brights acidity and ripe tannins. Sweet fruit flavors on the finish. Recent bottles of 2010 Philo Ridge had led me to believe this wine may be on the decline. Not so tonight; it is a lovely example of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Vignerons du Mont Ventoux Cuveee des 3 Messes Basses Ventoux Rouge, 2018


The label refers to it as a "reference red Ventoux," and I agree. I have been enjoying vintage after vintage of Cuvee des 3 Messes Basses for several decades, and it has everything I expect from a good Ventoux.

Medium deep crimson. Red and black raspberries and earthy spice. Ripe Grenache fruit on the palate countered by firm black pepper. 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 20% Carignan. This wine drinks beautifully from the time it is released until about five years after the vintage date. This 2018 seems to be drinking at its prime right now. Long, intriguing finish. My last bottle of the 2018; I'm ready to move on to 2019.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Franco Serra Langhe Nebbiolo, 2015

The 2015 Piedmont vintage is generally considered: "ready to drink; will keep." That means that the wines, even Nebbiolo, are very atttractive in their youth but will get even better with some age. I find that to be particularly true of this 2015 Langhe Nebbiolo. 

Medium light with some orange tints at the rim. Cherries, cloves, licorice and violets. The smells are definitely pretty, but some drinkers will find a twist of bitterness on the palate--a good sign for the future. Riper cherry tones dominate the medium long finish (that will likely get a little longer and more persistent as the years go by).

Franco Serra definitely offers good value wines. The Franco Serra Barbera at $10 to $12 a bottle is always one of my favorites, and the Nebbiolo sells for only a dollar or two more. Even the Barbaresco and Barolo from Franco Serra are priced $10 to $15 below comparable wines from other producers. It is a label to look for and buy.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

The Vinum 002 Langhe Rosso, 2010

 A 50/50 blend of Nebbiolo and Barbera from the Piedmont in Italy, this wine offered up the best traits of both varietals when I first tasted it in the summer of 2019. This is my last bottle, and it is showing its age a bit. It has lost some of the dramatic floral traits of Nebbiolo without gaining the complexity that you can expect from a Barolo or Barbaresco of comparable age.

Good dark ruby color, typical of Barbera. Warm smells and flavors of dark cherry and licorice. Good body, ample acidity, a bit rough on the finish. Still a very good wine and a great bargain. (I paid $10 back in 2019.)

Second night: Scratch my comments above about the wine showing its age. After a night with the bottle recorked, it is better than ever with lovely Nebbiolo traits: dark cherry, roses, mint, licorice and dark chocolate. Excellent with mushroom pasta.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Tin Shed Barossa Valley Single Wire Shiraz, 2000

Now this is what Australian Shiraz is all about. It comes from Barossa grapes, but not all of Barossa is uniformly warm, and the Eden Valley, source of a good portion of the grapes, is cool and a particularly good site for world class Shiraz (such as Henschke's Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone). Winemakers Peter Clarke and Andrew Wardlow are folksy in their description. It is "cooked up in the Tinshed with minimal additions and loads of attention." As they say, it is a wine to be "enjoyed with good food and good friends for years to come." Even after two decades,it is a wonderful drink.

Very dark, opaque. Very aromatic as soon as the cork is popped. Blackcurrant, blackberries, cassis and aromatic spices. Also some savory elements more often found in the Northern Rhone Syrah, grilled tomatoes in bacon fat. More natural acidity than you would expect from a Barossa Shiraz. Old cine intensity and funk. Very Australian in temperament but with Old World intensity.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

La Font du Vent Cotes du Rhone Les Promesses, 2012

This Cotes du Rhone is made by Etienne Gonnet of the Chateauneuf du Pape estate Font du Michelle. It is well made and delicious, although probably a bit past its prime.

Medium deep red with violet tones. Cherries, tobacco, spices and earth. The cuvee includes Caignan as well as Grenache and Syrah, and the Carignan spices seem to dominate at this time. Balance leans more toward tannin than acid at this stage of the wine's development, and it is a bit rough on the finish. But still drinking well.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Domaine Oratoire Saint Martin Haut Coustias, 2007

I have been a big fan of Domaine Oratoire Saint Martin's Cairanne for many years, but this Haut Coustias bottling has always been a bit pricey for my wine budget. A fortunate auction bid got me this bottle at a good discount to the regular price, and I decided tonight that it is well worth a premium price.

Very dark for a Cairanne. The cuvee is about 60% Mourvedre plus 20% Grenache and 20% Syrah from very old vines and great soil. Beautiful scents of blueberries, violets and aromatic herbs. Equally luscious on the palate, ripe and lovely in the middle with a reasonably long finish featuring dark cherry and spice. At a good stage for drinking right now but should hold for several more years.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

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

I have had this wine many times over the past year, thinking that, at nine years of age, it might be close to going over the hill. But I have found no sign of decline, and the wine seems to have the acidity to hold on for at least another year or two. It is still available on WineBid (buy now) for $11.99 a bottle or (at auction) for $60 (plus buyer's premium) for a six-bottle lot.

Deep yellow but not overly so. Lemon, pear and the dramatic traits of French oak. Lots of acidic energy, maybe too much for some drinkers. But that's what I like and find so infrequently in California Chardonnay. I may go back for more.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso, 2008

We have been enjoying this red wine from Mount Etna for several years now, and it is just getting better with each passing year.

Medium light with orange tones around the riml Enticing nose of fresh fruit, flowers and eucaplyptus. The flavors are even better. Ripe cherries, lavender, leather. Some tannic grip but light and elegant on the palate. Good acid. Long finish. Reminds me a lot of a fine red Burgundy.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Chateau Grand Traverse Old Mission Peninsula Gamay Noir Reserve, 2011

I have never been a fan of Michigan red wines, even the highly oaked wines that have emerged over the past two decades carrying high price tags. This Gamay Noir from Chateau Grand Traverse grabbed my attention when I first tasted it and still ranks as my No. 1 Michigan red. I have been putting away a few bottles every vintage to see how the wine ages. This bottle tells me that it ages beautifully, at least over 11 years.

More garnet than ruby in color but bright and clear. A bouquet of freesh fruit and flowers. Tart cherry and pomegranate with gingery spice on the lively mid-palate and a beautiful peppery finish. Has a lot of similarity to an Oregon Pinot Noir. Light in body, big in flavor. 13.8% alcohol is just right. I will keep buying and cellaring this little beauty.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Roger Lassarat Pouilly Fuisse Terroir, 2013

I had several heavenly bottles of Roger Lassarat's 2005 Pouilly Fuisse Racine when the wine was 14 to 16 years of age. That's why I was in no hurry to drink this nine-year-old Lassarat Pouilly Fuisse, even though the fruit was not from a prized single vineyard as the Racine was. My patience with this Terroir bottling was a mistake.

Deep yellow but lacks the brilliance of the 2005 Racine. The smells and flavors have some interesting floral and fruit nuances but they are a bit tired. This wine would have been lovely a few years ago, but tonight it doesn't measure up to the brilliance of the 2005 Racine.

Chateau Haut Bages Liberal Pauillac, 1986

English wine writer Clive Coates and other critics gave this 1986 Haut Bages Liberal high marks when it was released in the 1980s. Wine drinkers on Cellar Tracker have also given it high praise in the past year, but I was somewhat disappointed in this bottle.

Medium to light garnet. More dark cherry than blackcurrant but some cassis, leather, lead pencil, tobacco. A bit funky around the edges but I don't think it is corked. When given proper attention, the wine offers up some complex flavors on the mid-palate and finish

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Vignai da Duline Ronco Pitotti Colli Orientali Friuli Pinot Grigio, 2017

Pinot Grigio has many faces; this may be the most attractive I have encountered. Imported by Kermit Lynch, it comes from one of the best appellations for Pinot Grigio and from vines planted in 1940 and 1958. 

Deep, full yellow. Beautiful scents of white and yellow flowers, subtle but persistent. Flavors of Red Haven peaches and minerals with a hint of almonds on the finish. Great acidity and a subtle, persistent finish. On the Kermit Lynch website, Dustin Soiseth, seeking a one-word description, is torn between "complete" and "delicious." It is clearly both, and Soiseth settles on a two-word description: "completely delicious." I agree.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Pithon Paille Anjou Mozaik, 2017

This has been available for several months at WineBid as a buy-now wine for $11.99 or at auction for a reserve of $10. If you have some, I suggest that you give it plenty of time to air. And it is best only slightly chilled, if at all. It is authentic Loire Chenin Blanc, after all.

Deep gold color. As I say, takes awhile to start showing its best. Ripe melon, lemon, poached apples, honey and straw. True to Chenin Blanc form, it is highly acidic but with broad as well as intense flavors that become increasingly complex and interesting. I could spend hours getting to know this wine. I have bought a few bottles already but may go back for more.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Ici/La-Bas Les Reveles Elke Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2006

Ici/La Bas is made by Jim Clendenen, maker of excellent Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at Au Bon Climat. The grapes come from Mary Elke's excellent vineyards in the Anderson Valley, and the juice was matured in 75% new French oak. I have had it before, and, fortunately, I will have it again because it is a special wine.

Medium deep ruby, dark for a Pinot. Cherries, rhubarb, cinnamon and aromatic spices. The right amount of earth. Great energy on the palate. Flavors start on the mid-palate and expand from there. Anderson Valley fruit purity. At least as good as the last bottle and may be getting better. Great with salmon.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Domaine Oratoire Saint Martin Cairanne Reserve des Seigneurs, 2015

My experience with Oratoire Saint Martin Cairanne tells me to drink the Reserve des Seigneurs several years earlier than the Prestige (now known as Les Douyes). Seven years after the vintage seems to be perfect for this 2015.

Deep and dark with medium ruby at the rim. This bottling has 30% Mourvedre to go with 60% Grenache and 10% Syrah. Most of the Mourvedre  and Grenache come from vines planted in the 1950s, and the wine was matured in concrete vats. The Mourvedre and Syrah undoubtedly give it the dark color. Cherry berry scents but some black raspberries too along with violets, thyme and aromatic spices. Beautifully balanced with ripe tannins that frame the fruit balanced by fresh acidity. All the beauty of a young Southern Rhone but with the depth, complexity and seriousness that define Domaine Oratoire Saint Martin.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Edna Road Ranch 500 Edna Valley Chardonnay, 2019

Through Google, I can't find any mention of an Edna Road or Ranch 500 winery. I bought the wine for $8.99 from Trader Joe's and suspect that it was a special purchase from a well known winery. It is a "mystery bottle," so to speak, and my guess is that it might come from Tolosa, which is located at 4910 Edna Road and has excellent vineyards in Edna Valley, well known for fine Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Beautiful bright lemon yellow. Buttered apples and pears with a squeeze of lemon. An elegant Chardonnay with medium body and strong, persistent flavors. Good acidity from the cool climate of Edna Valley. Nuances that I didn't find in this wine six months ago. A good wine getting better. Glad I bought a few bottles because it disappeared quickly from my local Trader Joe's.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Chateau La Tour St. Bonnet Cru Bourgeouis Medoc, 1990


The label on this wine clearly reads: "LATOUR ST. BONNET," but current vintages are now sold as Tour St. Bonnet, presumably because of proprietary issues. This is clearly a Bourgeois Cru from the Medoc rather than the well known first growth Chateau Latour. After 32 years, though, it has nothing to be ashamed of.

Remarkably dark and deep,, more like a young wine than a 32-year-old. No new oak; the wine was matured in large, neutral oak barrels. Assertive bouquet, fruity and floral. The wine is 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 5% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot. Malbec cherry is quite prominent, though, in the smells and flavors. And the floral qualities are like those of Petit Verdot. Also some  Merlot currant and Cabernet cassis.  I have had this wine many times over the past two decades, and this bottle may well be the best of rhe lot. Not at all old.. I bought it becuse of its reputation as a good value Bourgeois Cru Bordeaux. And tonight it is living up to that reputation.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Damilano Langhe Nebbiolo Marghe, 2010

The one word that keeps coming into my mind to describe this wine is "deep." It is very deep and serious and lovely. Damilano has excellent vineyards in Barolo, and this Nebbiolo is built like a Barolo, deep and powerful.

Light ruby, clear and bright. Considerable sediment. For the first hour or so, it takes a lot of swirling to get to the aromas centering on dark cherry and black licorice. Deep rather than pretty, lures you in slowly with its power. As I expected, gets better and better with each sip. Ripe Nebbiolo fruit on a sturdy carriage of acidity. Deep, lasting finish. I am so glad I have one more bottle of this wine.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Vignerons du Mont Ventoux Cuvee des 3 Messes Basses Ventoux, 2018

This is one of my go-to wines that I open when we are having pizza, leftovers or even a special meal. It is always lovely and always brings a smile to my face.

Deep and bright ruby. Grenache (50%) Carignan (30%) and Syrah (20%), vinified separately and aged in concrete vats. Captivating aromas of fruit and spices beginning to develop into a mature bouquet. Red berries, spice, pepper. Garrigue to give it lift. Rich in fruit and flavor and a long finish. For me, this is what Ventoux (one of my favorite Southern Rhone appellations) is all about.

At $10 to $12 a bottle, this is, in my opinion, an excdellent value. I am disappointed that so few stores in Southwest Michigan carry and promote it.


Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Wind Gap Woodruff Vineyard (Santa Cruz Mountain) Chardonnay, 2012

This 10-year-old Chardonnay is drinking beautifully right now. Deep gold color. Powerful and persistent bouquet. Buttered apples, caramelized, plus lemon creme, honey and roasted nuts. Rich on the mid-palate. French oak qualities are nicely moderated by natural fruit acidity. Complex fruit flavors on a well balanced finish. The color of this wine will get even deeper, but the strong fruit presence is likely to continue indefinitely. Does not smell or taste old.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Shoofly South Australia Shiraz, 2017

Recent bottles of this wine have been a bit closed, but this one tonight is singing, as it did in July, 2020 when I had it at a Tasters Guild dinner. It is a good value at $10 to $15 a bottle.

Deep and dark. Blackberries and sweet oak spice. Just a touch of pepper on the finish. More acidity than I would expect from an Ausside Shiraz,, but the grapes come from relatively cool vineyards in McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Padthaway and Wrattenbully.. Plush on the mid-palate and a ripe finish.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Famille Perrin Ventoux Rouge, 2019

This wine from Famille Perrin reminds me of the estate's La Vieille Ferme wines produced from Ventoux Vineyards back in the 1980s and 1990s. With the price of Ventoux grapes increasing, La Vieille Ferme now comes from less expensive grapes from unidentified regions of Southern France. This Ventoux, however, carries on the tradition at a similarly low price--$5.99 for many months and now $6.97 (for the 2020 vintage) at Plum Market in Ann Arbor.

Deep and bright ruby red. This wine has more Carignan and Cinsault than Grenache and Syrah, but the youthful flavors are still similar. Strawberries, cherries, violets and spice. Medium to full bodied with good acidity from the relatively cool climate of the Ventoux slopes. Delightful ripe fruit finish.


Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Terramata Barbera d'Alba, 2017

Terramata Barbera d'Alba is produced by a growers' cooperative, Cantina Vignaioli, in the Piedmont area of Italy near the city of Alba. It is reasonably priced (under $15 and sometimes under $10) and a good choice to accompany pizza, pasta or other every day fare.

Medium deep ruby. No blue or purple tints. Strawberries, tart cherries, earth and spices. Not much tannin to get in the way of the bright fruit flavors and with ample acidity to keep it lively. Not as complex as other reasonably priced Barberas, such as Franco Serra and Costa di Bussia, but good fruit flavors and a long finish. 


Sunday, October 30, 2022

Frazier Russian River Dutton Ranch Chardonnay, 2011

Dutton Ranch has a reputation for producing some of the best California Chardonnays, but most on the market are too expensive for my budget.. When I saw this Dutton Ranch Chardonnay available at auction for a reserve of $10, I quickly made a bid, even though the wine is 11 years old and from a lesser known producer.  It was a good decision.

Deep gold color, bright and lively. Does not look, smell or taste old. Spiced apple-- rich, buttered and caramelized. Has some French oak lime to doll it up, but the fruit is unmistakeably from a superior vineyard. Deep, deep flavors supported by ample acidity. Long, complex finish.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Roucas Toumba La Grande Terre Vacqueyras, 2011

This is classic Vacqueyras--ripe, dramatic and full of gamey personality. It was a great match for grilled lamb chops.

Deep, dark ruby. No traces of new oak or small barrels. Powerful bouquet of dark cherry, blackberries, violets, black licorice and pepper. Equally bold on the palate. Cherries and new leather. Good body and ripe flavors that coat the tongue. 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 20% Mourvedre, but the Syrah and Mourvedre seem to dominate at this stage of the wine's development. The Wine Advocate recommended drinking by 2019; John Livingstone-Learmouth (DrinkRhone,com), by 2022-2023. I think it still offers several more years of dramatic pleasure.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Kermit Lynch Languedoc Cabrieres, 2020

This wine from Southern France took awhile to open up but was well worth the wait. It's 55% Syrah and that is apparent in the dark ruby color and the aromas of blackberries, currants and black olives. The Grenache (35%) kicks in with strawberries, garrigue and a peppery finish. Carignan (7%) and Cinsault (3%) add some earthy, spicy intrigue. Gets better with every sip, and I think the wine has more to give over the next several years.

I bought this ($54 for half a case) from Dave Russo at MegaBev in Grand Rapids--an excellent value from Southern France.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Domaine Jean Deydier et Fils Les Clefs d'Or Chateauneuf du Pape, 2000

I was disappointed with this wine a few months ago, perhaps because it was tasted in the company of other very good Chateauneufs, including the 1994 Pegau Cuvee Reservee. Tonight, as a match for grilled lamb chops, it was singing.

Medium dark crimson. Some sediment near the bottom. Intense, lilting aromas of herbs, strawberries, mint, new leather and sea salt. Very much a Chateauneuf du Pape and the grapes come from venerable vineyards in la Crau and Piedlong. Plums, berries and cherries on the palate. Has a gamey quaality that probably turned me off last December, but it is very similar to the gamey notes in Australian or New Zealand lamb. A perfect wine for the meal. And still growing.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Saltram S2 Southeast Australia Shiraz, 2019

Most Australian Shiraz is rather heavily influenced by oak--sometimes too much for my taste. This Saltram S2 Shiraz shows very little, if any, oak...but I am not a fan.

Medium ruby. None of the dark, purplish or blue tones that go with new oak maturation. Ripe berry and plum flavors but lacking in acidity, structure and flavor interest. The grapes have apparently been matured in stainless steel with just a touch of oak. It doesn't work for me.

Syrah grapes have relatively thick skins with plenty of tannin. I have enjoyed many unoaked wines from the Rhone Valley of France with tannic structure, acidity and peppery spice. Oak is not needed or desired for wines from such vineyards. The Southeast Australia vineyards that produced the Saltram Shiraz do not measure up. 


Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Wind Gap Gap's Crown Vineyard Chardonnay, 2013

Of the three Wind Gap Chardonnays I obtained from WineBid, this is my favorite.

Medium deep gold. Lemon meringue, green apples and minerals. The flavors of butter but not the texture and fatness that comes from malolactic fermentation. Also some vanilla-like spice, but I don't believe it is oak-induced. Too brisk for some drinkers but just right for me. 

Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso, 2008

I have enjoyed this wine over the last 12 years, and I believe it may be starting its downward slide. It is still an excellent wine, however, graceful and elegant with twinkling flavors.

Even in its youth, this Etna Rosso had some orangeish tints on the rim, and these have expanded toward the middle. The same happens with a good Barolo or Barbaresco, of course. The dark cherries and pomegranates that I noted two years are less prominent now--more dried than fresh fruit. On the other hand, the exotic spice and floral tones may be even more prominent and intriguing. Not much tannin, but the acids keep the wild berry flavors dancing along the palate. Long, haunting finish. My advice at this point: drink up but don't give up. The wine still has a lot to give.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Quinta do Cabriz Dao Colheita Selecionada, 2014

I fell in love with Dao wines in a small pizza place on the banks of the Douro in Porto, Portugal. Donna and I were waiting for a carryout pizza, and the waiter offered us a glass of wine while we were waiting. It was a Grao Vasco from Dao, and the waiter described it as a "very good wine, very low price." $3 a glass, as I remember, and it was very good. Since then, I have had an eye out for wines from this Portuguese region, and I found this Quinta do Cabriz for $6.99 a bottle five years ago at Costco. It too is a very good wine at a very low price.

Bright red with garnet hints. Nicely aromatic: black raspberries, blue plums and herbs. Medium to light body. Some tannin on mid-palate but doesn't get in the way of the bright fruit flavors. Dark spices, licorice and pepper on the long finish. Reminds me of a good Pinot Noir but also some qualities of Nebbiolo. Very good to drink now, but I suspect it will get even better with a year or two in the cellar.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Thibault Liger-Belair Bourgogne Les Deux Terres, 2014

This Bourgogne Rouge is a blend of two Burgundian grapes--Pinot Noir and Gamay (the major grape of Beaujolais). The result is a delicious wine and a good value at $20 a bottle.

Medium dark ruby--more like Gamay than Pinot in appearance. Dark cherries, earth and zesty, peppery spice on the finish. Concentrated, somewhat complex finish. Could be a good match for pizza, pasta, beef or salmon.

Friday, October 7, 2022

Cusomona Sicilian Nero d'Avila Terre Sicilane, 2019

This is a $12 to $15 drink now wine that gives considerably more than simple pleasures. Deep and dark with violet tones. Bold aromas and flavors featuring dark cherries, blue plums and spice. Tannin is there but it doesn't keep the fruit flavors from bursting onto the tongue. Ample acidity to keep the flavors lively and interesting. Flavors linger long after the final sip.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Kenwood Six Ridges Russian River Pinot Noir, 2018

This 2018 Kenwood Pinot Noir is also available as a wine by the glass at the Out of the Fire Cafe in Donegal, PA. I couldn't resist trying it side by side with the Kenwood Cabernet.

The light in the cafe is not the best, but Donna and I both saw this Pinot as considerably darker than the 2017 Cabernet beside it. Not at all typical of Pinot Noir. And whereas we didn't find blackcurrant smells and flavors in the Cab, we did find them in the Pinot. Not as tannic as the Cab and more of the peppery spice that is typical of Pinot Noir. And while it may fail the elegance test that is expected from Pinot Noir, it is a very enjoyable drink, with a long expressive finish.


Kenwood Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2017

Kenwood Cabernet was high on my buying list back in the early 1980s, but in more recent years the price of the wine has sort of outpaced my perception of quality and enjoyment. When I saw this 2017 Kenwood Alexander Valley Cab offered for $13 a glass at the excellent Out of the Fire Cafe in Donegal, PA, I wanted to give it a try. I was not disappointed.

Deep, dark Cabernet color. Matured in French, American and Hungarian oak. The flavors seems to be ahead of the aromas at this stage.Boysenberries, blackberries, vanilla and a touch of cinnamon. Not overly influenced by oak. Fruit and spice flavors take over on the finish. Long and nuanced with enough acidity to make the flavors dance on the tongue. I like this wine. 

Monday, October 3, 2022

Amalie Robert Her Silhouette Willamette Valley Chardonnay, 2011

Amalie Robert's Her Silhouette is a Dijon Clone Chardonnay and about as unadorned as you can get--no oak and no malolactic fermentation. At 11 years of age, it is still a youthful, exuberant example of Oregon Chardonnay.

Remarkably light color for an 11-year-old white wine. And the aromas and flavors are equally youthful. Proves the thesis that it is acid rather than oak tannin that determines the ageability of wine. Fresh and lively, lemon cream, apple and minerals. Abundant acidity, perhaps more than many tasters would prefer. But it is fruit acidity, unadorned by the sweetness of oak. And I love it.


Saturday, October 1, 2022

Chateau de Richebois Cotes du Rhone Villages, 2021

A 2021 red wine? I love older wines and frequently dig into my cellar for bottles from the 1980s. But I also love younger wines, particularly traditionally made wines from the Southern Rhone. Through the 1980s and 1990s, I usually bought case quantities of my favorite Cotes du Rhone wines on release and drank them within the first year or two as a preview of what the vintage offered and a guide to whether I should buy more expensive offerings from Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas and other CDR Villages. This wine, with its fruity, yeasty charm, reminds me of those young Cotes Rhones.

Medium deep crimson. I'm reasonably certain it has not been aged in new oak barrels, as many young Southern Rhones are these days. Cherries, plums, strawberries and a hint of black pepper. I suspect the pepper element will get more prominent as the wine ages. Very smooth on the palate.

Chateau Richebois CDR Villages is a new offering at my local Trader Joe's, selling for $7.99--an excellent price for a CDR and an even better value for a CDR Villages. I will buy more.


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.