Thursday, April 28, 2022

Allan Scott Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, 2020

I had heard good things about the Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc long before I was able to locate a body. 

Bright yellow. Grapefruit, lemon, passion fruit and melon. Vibrant fruit, crisp and clean on the palate. The flavors seem to get better as the wine warms to room temperature--a good sign, in my opinion. Long finish. There are many New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs on the market, but this one seems to me a notch above the others. I will look for more.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Domaine Brunely Cairanne, 2018

Many of my favorite Cairanne wines require a few years of aging; this one, I believe, is probably best enjoyed during its youth.

Deep ruby red. A whiff of earth and then strawberries, raspberries, thyme and peppery spice. Has what I like in a Cotes du Rhone Village wine. 50% Grenache with 30% Syrah plus Carignan and Cinsault. Firm Syrah tannins on the mid-palate, but the spicy fruit shines through.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Tenuta Arnulfo Costa di Bussia Barbera d'Alba, 2015

From the Bussia hill that produces fine Barolo wines, this moderately priced ($12 to $16) Barbera d'Alba is one of my long-time favorites.

Bright ruby red. Forceful scents and flavors of black cherries, plums, cloves and savory earth tones. Tannins (probably oak derived) on mid-palate help frame the fruit. The estate recommends drinking this wine at 5 to 7 years of age, and I agree.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Calstar Cellars Anderson Valley Londer Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2007

When last tasted on Christmas Eve, this Anderson Valley Pinot did not quite measure up against two very good Oregon Pinots, one from Chehallam and one from Stoller Vineyards. Tonight, I am ready to sing the praises of Calstar Cellars Londer Vineyard with qualities that seem to me similar to those of a fine Oregon Pinot. It is, of course, at an age at which bottle variation can occur.

Medium ruby, dark for a Pinot. Dark cherries, berries, peppery spice. Lemon peel and black pepper notes that remind me of a Willamette Valley Pinot. Excellent depth and concentration. Persistent flavors of fruit, spice and earthy minerals.

Lange Willamette Valley Classique Chardonnay, 2019

I learned about the Lange Winery from Brian Doyle's excellent book, "The Grail: A year ambling and shambling through an Oregon vineyard in search of the best pinot noir wine in the whole wild world." I was impressed with the lone bottle of Lange Pinot that I bought since reading the book, and I am equally impressed with this Classique Chardonnay. The least expensive of several Chardonnays made at the estate, the Classique is produced from free run juice fermented and aged, according to the estate, in "mostly stainless steel and neutral puncheons" and without malolactic fermentation. From the Dijon clone of Chardonnay, it has the briskness and complexity that I love in Oregon Chardonnay.

Medium gold. Intense smells and flavors of melon, slightly ripe apricots, grilled peaches, lemon zest and brioche. Can a Chardonnay be rich and steely at the same time? Sounds contradictory, but this wine seems to span the gap. Good body, brisk acidity, persistent finish. I love this wine.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Chateau du Mourre du Tendre Chateauneuf du Pape, 1994

1994 was only a so so vintage in the Southern Rhone, but 1994 Mourre du Tendre is aging very well and shows much younger than the 1994 Haut des Terres Blanches I had a couple of weeks ago. It is 90% Grenache (with at least some fruit coming from old vines in la Crau) and 10% Mourvedre made very traditionally and aged in concrete vats.

Deep, dark crimson; no older than 10 or 12 years by appearance. Also smells and tastes young and fresh. Dark cherries, strawberries and garrigue. Fresh and baked fruit flavors. Ripe and full bodied but has ample acidity. Black licorice finish. A very good Chateauneuf du Pape for now or later.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Edna Road 500 Ranch Edna Valley Chardonnay, 2019

The label states that this wine is estate grown and estate bottled and that it is entitled to the Edna Valley appellation, an area known for producing good Chardonnay grapes. I have never been able to find out what this estate is, but I have been able to tell that the wine is worthy of its appellation. I bought several bottles for $8.99 at my local Trader Joe's but have never found it again on the shelves.

Medium deep yellow. White peaches, green apples and a twist of lemon. Full on the mid-palate with some brioche flavors. I like it better as it warms closer to room temperature. Trader Joe's: I want some more; please bring it back!

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Rabasse Charavin Cairanne, 2012

This is my last bottle of this lovely Cairanne, and I am sad to see it go. But, fortunately, I avoided my usual temptation of hanging on to the last bottle long enough to deprive me of its greatest charm. Corinne Couturier's Cairanne takes three or four years to develop its best aromas and flavors, but this bottle is fully mature.

Medium deep crimson. Grenache strawberries and red raspberries. Everything I like in Cairanne, one of my favorite CDR Villages appellation. Now I get that peppery spice that I love but was missing in some of the bottles I drank four or five years ago. Nice finish.

Rabasse Charavin Cairanne is 70% Grenache from vineyards 40 to 70 years of age plus Syrah (15%), Cinsault and Counoise. Behind Domaine de l'Oratoire Saint Martin, it is my second favorite Cairanne but almost impossible to find in my market area. 


Monday, April 11, 2022

Chateau de Carles Fronsac, 2011


Wines from the Bordeaux regions of Fronsac and Canon Fronsac were favorites of mine in the late 1980s. They always offered good value and still do. 

Deep brilliant ruby red. Vibrant smells and flavors of dark cherry, plums, dried flowers and spice. More oak than I remember from the Fronsacs of the mid- to late-1980s. Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec is the blend, and it works well. Lush feel on the tongue and good grip on the finish.

This 2011 was on sale for about $15 several years ago at World Market. At the same price, I would be a buyer again.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Paul Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert, 1985

Paul Jaboulet's Domaine de Thalabert wines from the 1980s were some of the earliest treasures in my cellar, and they continue to delight. The 1983 and 1990 are very strong wines, produced in great vintages.  I did not expect as much from 1985,  but I am getting it.

Brickish tones but surprisingly deep and dark for a wine nearing its 40th birthday. Beautiful Thalabert smells from the time the cork is popped. Black fruits, cured meats, black olives and iron. Smooth and fully developed on the palate with amazingly preserved fruit and a haunting finish. Probably not as ripe as the 1983 or the 1990 Thalaberts but with greater freshness and acidity. It ranks very high on my all-time list of best Syrah wines.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Wind Gap Woodruff Vineryard Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay, 2012

This is my third bottle since early December of the 2012 Woodruff Vineyard Chardonnay from Wind Gap, and I get more enamoured with every sip. It is an extraordinary Chardonnay.

Deep gold color; it is 10 years old, after all. Don't chill this wine too much; it's at its best as it warms to near room temperature. Apple, ripe pear, lemon cream and brioche with just a hint of honey. Works beautifully with a smoked salmon/mushroom/onion quiche. Rich and full on the palate. Buttery, like the crust of the quiche, but not fat or soft. Acidity that dances on the tongue and a finish that seems to linger forever.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Domaine du Haut des Terres Blanches Chateauneuf du Pape, 1998

The 1998 vintage in Chateauneuf du Pape was far superior to that of 1994. However, this estate's 1998, compared to its excellent 1994 I had last week, is a dud.

Medium ruby with browning, particularly at edges. Strawberry fruit and earth but none of the old vine intensity or power that I found in the 1994. Fruity rather than savory, but the fruit is fading and not very interesting. Has some Southern Rhone charm but more what I would expect from a Cotes du Rhone than a Chateauneuf du Paper.


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The Vinum 002 Langhe Rosso, 2010

This wine is a good illustration of what can be accomplished with a blend of 50% Nebbiolo and 50% Barbera. It has the serious qualities of a mature Barolo coupled with the fruity accessibility of Barbera. I like it.

Medium garnet with orange/brown tones. Beautiful Barolo-like smells and flavors. Fresh and dried cherries, rose petals, truffles and earth. Like a Barbera, it is relatively low in tannin but with acidity to carry the fresh fruit. Soft and lovely. Long finish.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Clos du Mont Olivet Chateauneuf du Pape, 1988


Another day, another Chateauneuf du Pape. As good as the 1994 Domaine du Haut des Terres Blanches was, this 1988 Clos du Mont Olivet is even better. Both wines are heavy in Grenache (about 80%) and some of the Grenache in each wine comes from old vines in la Crau, arguably the best vineyard in the appellation. 1988 is, of course, a far better vintage than 1994, and this 1988, although six years older, presents as a much younger wine.

This bottle has been in my cellar for at least 30 years, yet the cork was in excellent shape with wine stain on less than 1/4 inch. Much deeper color than the 1994. Smells and flavors are also what you might expect from a wine 10 or 15 years younger. Strawberries, black raspberries and spice. Not as intense or savory as the Haut des Terres Blanches but the fruit flavors are deeper and even more concentrated. Long, long finish that gets better with every sip. An exceptional Chateauneuf.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Domaine du Haut des Terres Blanches, 1994

As my 83rd birthday celebration continues, I am dipping into some of my favorite mature Chateauneufs. Domaine du Haut des Terres Blanches is not a very well known estate, but it produced beautiful wines in both 1993 and 1994, neither considered very good vintages in the Southern Rhone.

Medium light brickish red. Firm, well preserved cork and not a great deal of sediment. Powerful scents and flavors of mature Chateauneuf du Pape. Wild strawberries, menthol, Provencal herbs and sea salt. Compact, intense flavors that expand in the mouth. Old vine concentration and depth. Reminds me of a mature Vieux Telegraphe, and that may be because this estate, like VT,  has old Grenache vines in la Crau.

I have had several excellent bottles of this estate's 1993 and 1994 over the past two decades, and that was one reason I bought a case of the 1998, which up to now has been a distinct disappointment.