Monday, February 28, 2022

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

Now entering its 18th year, this wine doesn't owe me anything. I have had many very good bottles over the years even if the last several have started showing signs of aging. This bottle, it seems to me, is a bit better than the last one I had.

The color has lightened and lost its sheen. There is an unpleasant singed smell, like charred wood that wasn't present (or I didn't notice) a few years ago. But there are also some pleasant fruit smells and flavors. And I like the Mourvedre-spiced red berry finish.

Saint Gervais is my favorite (and the most expensive) bottling of Domaine Sainte Anne, and it generally ages well (the 2000 and the 2005 are drinking beautifully). And, if you are not into aging wine, current vinrtages of Saint Gervais are well worth the $20 to $25 price tag. 


Saturday, February 26, 2022

Phillips Hill Anderson Valley Toulouse Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2006

Even within the excellent Anderson Valley appellation, Toulouse Vineyard has a special reputation. This 2006 Phillips Hill is a prime example.

The color is as light as you would expect from a Pinot Noir. Clear and bright. Dark cherries, red berriers, flowers and spice. The 14.5% alcohol is more noticeable on the nose than I remember from my last bottle (April, 2018). And the alcohol shows a bit more on the palate as well. Nevertheless, the special Toulouse Vineyard fruit shows through. Flavors get ever more enticing as the wine airs and as each swallow glides from the front to the back of the tongue. Incredible finish.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Sonoma Junction Sonoma County Chardonnay, 2019

I usually don't get much from label descriptions, but this one seems to me spot-on: "Meyer lemon, ripe pear and vanilla." And those are pretty good traits to have in a Chardonnay, providing ripe fruit, acidity and spicy oak.

Bright yellow. No obvious oak aromas or flavors. Medium full body. Good flavors but finish is a bit rough. The Meyer lemon notes seem dominant to me, and I like that. 

Sonoma has good sites for Chardonnay vineyards, and this wine is a step above your typical California Chardonnay even though it was available for $7.99 at my local Trader Joe's store. I am hoping it will still be availabler when I go back.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Domaine Notre Dame des Pallieres Sablet, 2019

This is neither an old fashioned Cotes du Rhone (which I love) nor a new-fangled one. But it is very good. It's 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah but reminds me of a very good Pinot Noir.

Bright crimson; no sign of new oak barriques. Red berry fruit but more red raspberries rather than strawberries I usually get from Grenache. Syrah black pepper shows up after a few sips...but very elegant. Has the fragrance and silky texture of a Pinot and a long, ripe finish.

I bought this as a "mystery wine" from ($9+ per bottle). It is not what I expected but actually much better. I would jump at the chance to buy some more.


Sunday, February 20, 2022

Terramata Barbera d'Alba, 2017

Like the Ventoux below, this wine is made by a cooperative and is a very good choice for every day drinking. It is probably the same wine as Pertinace Barbera d'Alba, made by the same cooperative.

Bright cherry red. And these bright-red cherries define the wine from first sniff to after taste. A hint of vanilla in the aromas tells me the wine has had some new oak treatment, but it is subtle and does not distract from the beautiful Barbera traits. Medium body, medium tannins. Ripe red cherry fruit on the finish driven by acidity that brings me back for sip after sip.

I bought this wine at deep closeout discount from MegaBev of Grand Rapids (formerly G.B. Russo) , but it is a great value at regular price, about $12 a bottle.


Saturday, February 19, 2022

Vignerons de Mont Ventoux Cuvee des Trois Messes Masses, 2018

Oh, what a welcome blast from the past! This is how Ventoux and Cotes du Rhone wines tasted when it was possible to buy a 12-bottle case of such wines for $35 to $50 a case. It is a taste I love but have a hard time finding these days.

Bright crimson. No blue or purple tints. Ripe red cherries, red raspberries and peppercorn. Lovely combination of ripe fruit and peppery, spicy structure. Long, tasty finish. Made by the Ventoux cooperative; aged several months in concrete vats. 50% Grenache, 30% Carignane and 20% Syrah. Fairly widely available in Michigan for about $12 a bottle.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Edna Road Ranch 500 Edna Valley Chardonnay, 2019

Edna Valley is one of several wind gaps along the California coast, allowing cool ocean breezes to flow in and influence the ripening of grapes. As the label points out, the low rolling hills and volcanic soil are also ideal for creating distinctive Chardonnay wines.

Bright, medium deep yellow. White peaches, fresh squeezed lemon, honey dew melon and flowers. Flavors of butter without the buttery fullness and texture of many California Chardonnays. Long finish, leaves me begging for one more sip.

I paid $8.99 for this bottle at Trader Joe's--a great quality/price ratio. Unfortunately, I have never seen it again at my local (Kalamazoo, MI) Trader Joe';s store

Monchiero Carbone Roero Arneis Cecu DOCG, 2020

The hills of Roero are just across the river from Barolo, and Arneis is often known as the "white Nebbiolo" because of the remarkable similarities in size and shape of the berries. Paired with shrimp pesto pasta tonight, it is a special wine.

Beautiful bright straw. Aromas are fresh, lively and lovely. White currants, mint, sage and flowers. Fresh, ripe fruit on entry developing depth and interest as it glides down the tongue. Picks up notes of roasted nuts and grain. Good body as well as acidity. Long after taste.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Thomas Goss McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon, 2016

I tried this wine at a tasting hosted by Old Bridge Cellars and thought it was worth the $14 price tag. Like the Shoo Fly Shiraz I reported on previously, it is produced by Ben Riggs from McLaren Vale fruit.

Deep and dark. Mulberries, blue plums and oak-derived spice. Full bodied but carries its 14.5% alcohol fairly well. At this stage of development, the ripe fruit is peeking through the substantial oak tannins. I would say it is still worth the $14 price tag.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Chateau Sociando-Mallet Haut Medoc, 1985

Valentine's Day: filet mignon with roasted vegetables and potatoes. Seemed like a good time to bring up a mature red Bordeaux from the cellar. And it was a good choice.

;Deep, bright red. A small tasting pour shows some bricking; a full glass looks deep and dark. Exciting scents and flavors. Ripe red cherries, plums and truffles. Lively acidity and a strong fruit presence. Considerably more depth and complexity than to be expected from a Haut Medoc. The estate claims to have "one of the finest gravelly terroirs in the Medoc." It is Gunz gravel "over a deep layer of clay-limestone soil. This terroir perfectly regulates water supply and enables Cabernet Sauvignon to ripen extremely well and Merlot to acquire depth and complexity" 

Back in 1987, I paid $12 a bottle for this wine at Brown Derby in Springfield, Mo.; the going price today is $124.  The 2019 vintage today sells for about $35; if I were a younger man, I would be buying some.


Friday, February 11, 2022

Maison Barboulot Cabernet Syrah, 2020

This is one of the wines featured in this month's Trader Joe's flyer, so I thought I would give it a try. It is from the French Languedoc but is a blend that is more familiar in Australia than in France.

Deep and dark with bluish tints. Looks Australian. And it has the rich scents of an Australian Cab Shiraz: black currants, chocolate and coffee. Very full on the mid palate, fruit and oak. Blackberries and currants. Has more acid than I expect from an Australian Cab Shiraz. Trader Joe's rarely sells Australian wines these days so if you are searching for a taste of down under for $5.99, you may want to try Maison Barboulot.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Chronicle Cerise Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2006

Cerise Vineyard is located on a steep slope 800 to 1200 feet above the small town of Boonville in the Anderson Valley. As to be expected, the wine offers up smell and flavors of cerises, the French word for cherries.

Medium light, bright ruby red. Yes, cherries, flowers, ginger, vanilla and sweet spices. Very aromatic. Sweet on the tip of the tongue, then some alcoholic heat on the mid-palate. Finishes with a nice balance of fruit and acidity. Nice wine, still going strong.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Nine Stones Barossa Valley Shiraz, 2013

Nine Stones is an Australian Shiraz that I used to buy regularly. I preferred the McLaren Vale and the Hilltops appellations, but my local stores started offering only the Barossa, which is generally riper but less interesting than the other appellations.

Deep, bright ruby red with some rust at the rim. Beautifully aromatic: blackberries, currants, cassis, chocolate and coffee oak. Good ripe fruit on the mid-palate, again focusing on dark berries and cherries. Drinking well now but more tannin than acid on the finish--which is usually my complaint with Australian Syrah. Lacks the ripe berry after glow of last night's Vacqueyras.

My guess is that the McLaren Vale would be fuller on the mid-palate, and the Hilltops, more complex on the finish.


Saturday, February 5, 2022

Domaine de Fontavin Vacqueyras, 2009

This is a Vacqueyras and a half. It has everything I expect from a Vacqueyras...and a good bit more.

Deep crimson, only a small amount of bricking at the rim. Dark red berries, pepper and dark Vacqueyras minerals. Carries its alcohol (14%) well. Pleasantly warm and full bodied. Enough acidity to keep it nimble on its feet. Dark red berries and pepper on a beautiful and long finish. Seems to be at a perfect state of maturity. Wish I had more.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Clos du Coulaine Savennieres, 1998

A decade or more ago, when this wine was nearing the age when most white wines are ready for the grave, I had several bottles of this 1998 /Savennieres that were not at all pleasant. Because I knew Savennieres and its ability to age for decades, I decided the wine was not over the hill but rather under it. I waited, and now, in its mid 20s, this ugly duckling has turned into a beautiful swan.

Deep, deep gold--in a full glass, you might mistake this white wine for a rose. Lovely mature smells and flavors: apricots, quince, eucalyptus honey. Dodging and weaving, the flavors keep coming at you and demanding your attention. Claude Papin, the winemaker, cherishes botrytis in his dry as well as his sweet wines. And this wine clearly has botrytis. It's like drinking a dry version of Climens or Rieussec. I like it.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Domaine de Bodine Arbois Jura Chardonnay, 2012

I don't have much experience with Jura wine, but it has been on my radar for some time. This bottle confirms that I should keep on looking and buying Jura Chardonnay. It's cool climate and a unique face of Chardonnay.

Deep gold. The acidity is apparent from the first sniff. Flinty minerals, mint and nutmeg. Exciting, enticing flavors; each sip reveals something new. Has the acidity of Chablis but a greater range of aromas and flavors. Okay when it is first pulled out of the fridge, but it gets much, much better as it airs to room temperature. I paid $20 for this wine, but it is worth that much and more.