Sunday, January 30, 2022

Rabasse Charavin CDR Villages Cairanne, 2012

My last stash of Corrine Couturiere's Rabasse Charavin Cairanne was the 2004 vintage, and I rermember it being very good in 2014. This 2012 may be even better at 10 years of age.

Bright crimson. Enticing scents of red berries and aromatic spices. Elegant mouth feel with more red berries, spice and a touch of black pepper on the finish. Not as peppery as the 2004 but flavors are more defined and nuanced.

Corrine Couturiere has some of the oldest and best situated vines in Cairanne. 70% Grenache from vines 40 to 70 years of age (plus Syrah, Cinsault and Counoise) on south facing hillsides of clay/limestone soil. Wine making is traditional, using concrete vats and older barrels. I am a big fan of this estate but, unfortunately, am unable to find the wines in my market.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Valdinera Barbera d'Alba Superiore, 2013

This wine has all the Barbera qualities that I like: bright fruit, deep spicy flavors and fresh acidity.

Bright ruby red. Has the Piedmont trinity: cherries, roses, black licorice...but in a Barbera rather than Barolo package. Ripe Montmorency cherries coated with black pepper. Vibrant acidity that keeps me coming back for sip after sip. I like it.


Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Domaine Sainte-Anne Cotes du Rhone, 2012

I was a big fan of the Domaine Sainte-Anne Cotes du Rhones from the early to mid 2000s. But I like this 2012 on the table tonight even better. The vines have gained a few years of age, and I believe there is more Grenacheand less Cinsault in the blend.

Bright, medium deep crimson. Gushing with fruit--strawberries, blueberries, ripe and inviting. Probably less acidity than the wines from the early 2000s but the balance is good. 14.5% alcohol doesn't show but the fresh fruit does. Long finish. Wish I had more of this.

Monday, January 24, 2022

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

Wind Gap, a project of Pamela and Pax Mahle, specifically seeks out vineyards planted along or at least influenced by one or more gaps in the coastal hills that funnel wind inland and influence the ripening of grapes. Their goal is a French rather than California style. I like the results.

Deep gold; very bright. Lively scents and flavors of Chardonnay fruit. Green apples, lemon curd, minerals. Impressive fruit concentration and flavors that dance on the tongue. More acidic than your typical California Chardonnay. More like Puligny Montrachet than Chablis. Special wine.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Chateau La Tour Saint Bonnet Medoc, 1990

This wine has no connection to the more famous Chateau La Tour. As a result, vintages of this wine since 1996 are now labeled "Tour Saint Bonnet:" to avoid infringement on the first growth's copyright. Tour Saint Bonnet is 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 5% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot fermented in cement tanks and matured in large oak foudres rather than barriques. I paid about $139 for a case when I bought it on futures, and the price has not escalated much since that time. It is always a good value for an ageworthy every day wine.

Medium light brickish red with some free floating sediment. Lifted smells and flavors of cherries, currants, plums and a hint of cigar box. Fully mature, with more tertiary than primary fruit flavors, but I have noticed no downward slide over the past 5 or 10 years. 

On the second night, the free floating sediment has disappeared and the flavors are more defined and concentrated. Usually, when I open a wine that has been in the cellar for this many years, it is a special occasion and I place the bottle in a standing position so that sediment will settle at the bottom. As a mid-week choice, I simplly took this wine from the rack and popped the cork without decanting--a mistake.


Thursday, January 20, 2022

Bergadano Langhe Nebbiolo, 2008

Bergadano's Barolo comes from vineyards near Monforte d'Alba. And so does the estate's Langhe Nebbiolo. Both are very good values.

Medium deedp garnet with orangish tints typical of traditionally made Barolo. Well developed bouquet. Has the Nebbiolo profile: dark cherries, roses, black licorice. Barolo-like mouth feel as well. Plenty of tannin but fruit is showing through nicely at this age. Not as dramatic as the Migration Pinot we had last night, but at least as much depth and complexity. I paid $10 for this bottle at Binny's in Chicago; more recent vintages have been in the $12 to $14 range and still very good values.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Migration Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2009

My intrroduction to Anderson Valley Pinot Noir was the high flying Goldeneye of Duckhorn Vineyards, poured for us by friends who live in northern California and visit the Anderson Valley regularly. Goldeneye is priced a bit above my comfort level, but Duckhorn also produces this Migration Pinot from Anderson Valley fruit. It sells for about $40 a bottle and has many of the same flamboyant qualities.

Medium light Pinot color. The flamboyant scents waft from the bottle from the minute the cork is popped. Cherry, pomegranate, gingery spice and balsamic. More flamboyance on the palate:  complex and concentrated flavors of fruit and spice. Zesty acids. Ripe wild strawberries on the finish along with a hint of black pepper and citrus zest. Although the wine has undoubtedly lost some of its oak-derived qualities, the Anderson Valley fruit remains persistent and lovely at 12 years of age.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Pieropan Soave Classico, 2018

This Soave Classico is 85% Garganega and 15% Trebbiano di Soave. It was a good match tonight for pasta with pesto.

Full lemon yellow color. Enticing scents of spring flowers and thyme. Medium bodied, full mouth feel. Fresh pears, almonds and lemon peel. Lively acidity; ripe but with a pleasant hint of bitterness on the finish. Pieropan sells for $18 to $20 a bottle, but I found this one for $13.99 at Costco. Even for the higher price, this is a very good value.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Pithon-Paille Anjou Mozaik Blanc, 2017

On the table beside the Wind Gap Gap's Crown Vineyard Chardonnay, this Loire Valley Chenin Blanc faced tough competition. It came out looking very good.

Deep golden color. Opulent nose of quince, pears, white peaches, honey and fresh flowers. More of the same on the palate with rich, concentrated flavors and a big, though elegant, presence. Precisely focused. Intensity that clings to the inside of the mouth and makes it come alive. Both wines are superb and a perfect match for lobster raviolo in a lemon, garlic, olive oil sauce. 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Wind Gap Gap's Crown Vineyard (Sonoma Coast) Chardonnay, 2013

The Gap's Crown Vineyard, located in the Petaluma Gap AVA of the Sonoma Coast, is one of the best in North America for producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. The southwest facing slopes at 320 to 820 feet elevation are above the fog level, allowing maximum sun exposure in a cool maritime climate conducive to slow ripening. As witnessed in this Chardonnay, the results are spectacular.

Deep gold, bright and lovely. Scents of lemon meringue along with hazelnut and white peaches. Incredibly concentrated on the palate, almost chewable. Long, wonderful finish. This is a cool climate Chardonnay at its best with more in common with French Chablis than with buttery New World Chardonnays. It does, however, remind me of some of the fine Dijon clone Chardonnays from Oregon I have tasted recently.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Domaine Sainte-Anne Cotes du Rhone Villages Saint Gervais, 2004

Saint Gervais is Domaine Sainte-Anne's Mourvedre-rich cuvee, and it ordinarily ages very well. This 2004, though, has become somewhat funky compared to what it was six to eight years ago.

Somewhat murky and lots of sediment. I get a singed nose on the nose but it tends to go away when I filter out the sediment. The filter works wonders. Flavors of red fruit, violets and Mourvedre spice. Even on the second night, the fruit is intact and attractive. But, overall, it is earthier and funkier than it was a few years ago.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Vignobles de la Vallee du Rhone Collection Rhone Cotes du Rhone, 2020

Through the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, I thrived on inexpensive Cotes du Rhone wines. Today, many wines from this appellation have become "modernized," with greater use of small new oak barrels, and the typical price has increased from $5 to $15 or even $20 a bottle This wine, available for $5.99 at Trader Joe's is, for me, a  welcome throw back to the good old days.

Beautiful medium ruby red. Red berry fruit with spice, black pepper and earth Good acid/fruit balance with an inviting after taste. Gets better through the course of the meal. Perfect with pizza.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Elio Sandri Barbera d'Alba Superiore, 2012

This Barbera d'Alba is a serious wine that could be matchedd with a serious meal. It was, nevertheless, very enjoyable with a sausage, mushroom and onion pizza from Martini's in Kalamazoo.

Deep, dark ruby color. Dark cherry, roses, and black licorice--more like a Nebbiolo than a Barbera. Meaty flavors and texture. More extraction than I expect from a Barbera. Still has some tannin to lose but more than enough acidity for balance. Very good wine.


Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Villa Borghetti Grigio Luna Pinot Grigio delle Venezie, 2020

Trader Joe's is a great place to buy inexpensive Pinot Grigios, with several selections under $5 a bottle. For an extra .99, this Grigio Luna is my favorite.

Light straw. Clear and bright. Ripe apple and pear with flora hints. Fresh and lively on the tongue. Dry, well balanced and easy to drink. A Spring and Summer wine, but we enjoyed it even on a cold Winter evening.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Romain Duvernay Cotes du Rhone Villages Beaumes de Venise, 2016

This wine reminds me a bit of a young Gigondas. That's not surprising because Beaumes de Venise is located only a few kilometers from Beaumes de Venise on the road that leads eventually to Orange and, finally, to Chateauneuf du Pape.

Deep ruby red. The dark color suggests trhat some of the wine (probably the Syrah) has been aged in new oak. Dark cherries, red currants and a hint of mocha. Full bodied with powdery tannins, similar to a Gigondas. I think the wine will benefit from another year or two in the cellar. 65% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Edna Road Ranch 500 Edna Valley Chardonnay, 2019

This is an estate grown, estable bottled wine from a designated vineyard in the Edna Valley, a well known source for good Chardonnay. Yet it is on the shelves at Trader Joe's for $8.99 a bottle--a great value.

Medium deep yellow. Smells of lemon butter and white peaches. Lemon creme and vanilla on the palate. No sharp edges from oak or alcohol (14.1%). A classy wine at a bargain price.