Saturday, May 28, 2022

Good Harbor Leelanau Peninsula Zweigelt, 2020

Some wineries have been working hard trying to produce big, full bodied red wines from cool climate Michigan grapes. So far, I haven't been impressed by any of these wines but favor the leaner, spicier red wines such as the Gamay Noir of Chateau Grand Traverse and this Zweigelt from Good Harbor. It is a new offering from Good Harbor and, at the moment, available only to members of Good Harbor's wine club. I tasted it last week at the winery and was suitably impressed.

Medium deep garnet. Bursting with fresh fruit: red and black currants, cranberries, cherries.. I also smell and taste some blood orange fruit and peel but the dominant trait is crushed black pepper. Very peppery. Good acid structure and a complex finish featuring peppery spice and earth.

The $36 price tag ($28 for Wine Club members) is relatively low for red wines from Leelanau and Old Mission but may not compete with prices for Zweigelt and Blaufrankisch wines from their native Austria.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Ryan Taylor Redhead Red, 2018


Listed simply as Redhead Red on the wine list at The Green Well in Grand Rapids, this did not seem to be a very serious wine. But I ordered it anyway and found it to be not at all serious but very approachable and a good accompaniment to the meal. Redhead Red is a Washington state wine, a blend of 26% Cabernet, 26% Merlot, 26% Syrah, 14% Sangiiovese and 8% Grenache.

Deep, dark color. I expect sweet flavors and rough oak tannins but get a pleasant surprise. Ripe black and red fruit, lush and friendly. Rich on the mid-palate with round tannins that seem to come from the fruit rather than oak. A bit of chocolate on the finish reminds me of a good Australian Cab Shiraz.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Lis Neris La Vila Friuli Isonzo DOC Friulano, 2011

Friulano, a white wine from the extreme northeastern part of Italy (near Croatia), is usually best consumed at 3 to 5 years of age. Even though it was substantially older than that use-by date, I bought this highly rated wine (90 points from Wine Advocate) at auction as an inexpensive introduction to Friulano. A $40 wine when first on the market, this well aged bottle had no other bidders at $10. And I am quite happy with my purchase.

Medium deep yellow. Still bright and lively, no sign of advancing age. Beautiful bouquet of red peaches, flowers and vanilla with a touch of grapefruit on the palate. Rich in the mouth with significant intensity and complex finish. This may have been better a few years ago, but it certainly has plenty to offer right now. This particular wine and the appellation is now on my radar.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

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

I have been buying and enjoying Cuvee des 3 Messes Basses regularly for more than 30 years, and it is still one of my favorite every day wines. I loved the price when I could buy a full case for less than $40, but even at today's price (about $12 a bottle), it is still a tremendous value. It is traditional, authentic and delicious.

Bright ruby, no bluish, purple or other signs of new oak. This is a traditional Southern Rhone, and that's why I love it. A burst of fresh strawberries, then spice and cracked black pepper. The blend this year is 60% Grenache, 20% Carignan and 20% Syrah. Each grape has its own peppery spice profile when grown in the Southern Rhone, and the combination is very pleasing to my palate. Remarkably long finish for a $12 wine.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

JL Chave St. Joseph Offerus., 1999

If you want to try a red Hermitage made by JL Chave, you will have to shell out about $300 for a bottle. This St. Joseph Offerus is produced from Syrah grapes purchased from several of Chave's neighbors in St. Joseph and, at $25 to $30 a bottle, is one of the best bargains in Northern Rhone reds.

Deep ruby red with brown tones on rim. Mature fruit with well developed savory notes. Boysenberries, black olives, bacon fat. Salty, savory minerals. This 1999 had great acidity when it was young but that has been tamed a bit and provides a good partner with the lingering tannins on the lovely finish. Very good mature Syrah.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Malvira Roero Nebbiolo, 2018


Trattoria Stella in Traverse City has been on the Wine Enthusiast's list of the top 100 wine restaurants in the country so I was not surprised to see a wine of this quality available as a wine by the glass. Roero, as I have mentioned before, is just across the river from Barolo and has some well sited Nebbiolo vineyards.

Medium light garnet typical of Nebbiolo. Haunting scents of rose petals, dark cherries and spice. Seems mature and mellow on initial sips, but the tannins are there if you look for them but with good balancing acidity. Black licorice and red berry fruit on the finish. Beautiful Nebbiolo tonight to accompany fettucine arrabbiato, but it is clearly a wine that will get even better with age.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Casa Santos Lima Red Blend Portugal, 2019

This is a tasty red table wine that is widely available in wine stores for $8 to $10. I have bought a few bottles and found it to be a great bargain at that price. When I spotted a three liter box (the equivalent of 4 bottles) at Costco for $14.99, I wasted no time placing it my cart.

Deep ruby with purple tones. Still very young. Ripe red cherries and berries, plums, spices and black pepper. Has seen a few months in new oak but the fruit flavors are dominant. Medium to full body. The peppery finish reminds of a Pinot Noir or a very good Cotes du Rhone. In the bag-in-the-box format, I am looking forward to many happy returns.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Terramata Barbera d'Alba, 2017

From a grower's cooperative in the Piedmont, this Barbera d'Alba is an excellent value for every day drinking. I bought a case at deep discount from MegaBev in Grand Rapids, after reading about the wine in Dave's (Dave Russo) Wine Buyer's Guide.

Beautiful bright ruby red. Dark cherries, black raspberries, mushrooms and a touch of vanilla. I think the wine has had some oak aging, which has tamed the characteristic Barbera acidity and added a bit of black fruit flavor. It still gives me what I expect from Barbera d'Alba, though. Has improved, I believe, from the last bottle I enjoyed late last year.

Wind Gap Woodruff Vineyard Chardonnay, 2013

I have thoroughly enjoyed several bottles of the 2012 Wind Gap Woodruff Vineyard Chardonnay over the past several months. And this 2013 vintage of the wine is at least as good.

The bright gold color of the 2013 is not as deep or mature appearing as the 2012. And the aroma and flavors are a bit leaner and crisper. Green apple, lemon, papaya and minerals. Vibrant acidity, maybe a bit too much for those who like fat, buttery California Chardonnay. The flavors, though, are beautifully defined with a long finish.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Brewer-Clifton Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir, 2014

Pinot Noir wines from around Santa Barbara are usually lower priced (and not as valued) compared to those from sites farther north in Russian River or the Anderson Valley. Two notable exceptions are the wines from the Santa Lucia Highlands and the Santa Rita Hills--the source of this Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir. These hills are close to the ocean with cool ocean breezes that influence ripening of the grapes.

Light in color and in body. Cherries, red raspberries, cranberries and spice. Delicate texture but rich flavors. Good acidity to keep the fruit going. But even at eight years of age, I think the wine is probably entering its period of decline. I suggest drinking up.


Monday, May 9, 2022

Ronchi di Pietro Friuli Colle Orientali Pinot Grigio, 2018

Donna, my wife, likes Pinot Grigio; I prefer Pinot Gris. Even though it's the same grape, the styles differ, and we rarely find a common ground in terms of style. This wine, from the hills of extreme northeastern Italy, may be what we are looking for. It has the body and flavor of a Pinot Gris with the brisk acidity of a Pinot Grigio from the vicinity of Venice (delle Venezie).

Deep, bright gold.  White peaches, apples. The winemaker mentions the smell of "fresh bread crust" and "acacia flowers." And I agree. Rich flavors, medium to full body. Lacks the herbal tones of Pinot Grigio delle Venezie but has vibrant acidity and good structure without the sweetness that often comes with Alsace Pinot Gris.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Philo Ridge Vineyards Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2010

Philo Ridge is a small production, solar powered winery run by Fred Buonanno and Heather McKelvy, who moved from high tech jobs to build their dream winery in 1999. This Pinot Noir is produced from two vineyards on the Mendocino Ridge, Anderson Valley, California.

Medium ruby with garnet forming. Looks a bit more mature than I remember from the last bottle I had two years ago, but the bouquet and flavors are still young and fresh. Red cherries, cranberries, forest floor with a hint of black pepper. Flavors are delicate but bold and well defined. The depth and complexity I have come to expect from an Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.


Thursday, May 5, 2022

Amalie Robert Willamette Valley Her Silhouette Chardonnay, 2010

For many Chardonnay drinkers, this wine may be too lean. Dijon clone fruit is fermented in stainless steel at cool temperatures and aged without oak or malolactic fermentation. The result is a powerful, intense wine that delivers all of the beautiful aromas and flavors of the Chardonnay grape...but without the "big and buttery" quality that typifies New World Chardonnays. Donna and I love it.

Bright lemon yellow. Even at 12 years of age, it shows little sign of advancing age. Green apples, lemon cream and minerals. Rich fruit texture and amazing body for a wine with only 12% alcohol content. Flavors are deep, intense and beautifully focused. This is our second bottle of the 2010 (see note from June 9, 2021), and I remember the 2011 as being even better.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Villadoria Langhe Nebbiolo Bricco Magno, 2013

This is Langhe Nebbiolo from the Barolo side of the river. I opened it while we still had a small taste left of the Pelassa Antaniolo Roero for a side-by-side comparison. No winner. Donna liked the Villadoria; I preferred the Roero.

Bright ruby red with garnet highlights. The early aging was done in barriques followed by aging in barrels of various size. The modern or international style is apparent also in the smells and flavors. Sour cherry, rose petals, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla. Fuller bodied than the Roero and more tannins. Flamboyant flavors that retain the Barolo profile. Not as smooth or elegant as the Roero, though, and I prefer the haunting flavors of the Roero.

For $15 a bottle, this Villadoria Bricco Magno is a terrific bargain and will be on my shopping list.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Pelassa Antaniolo Roero Riserva, 2011

Roero is a sleeper wine. It is Nebbiolo (although it rarely says that on the label) and it is grown on vineyards just across the Tanaro River from Barolo (though only insiders know that). Grapes for this wine are grown on well sited vineyards 330 meters above sea level. In other words, it is Barolo from the other side of the river, and this Antaniolo Riserva has many Barolo qualities at a fraction of the price.

Deep ruby red. Some, but by no means all, of the juice has been aged in small French oak barrels. Traditional smells and flavors, though, are eminently present. Dark cherries, strawberries, cinnamon and black licorice. As with Barolo, there is a noticeable dryness on the palate--as the winemaker put it, "dry and decisive, justly tannic and full bodied." Grips the taste buds as Nebbiolo flavors grow more intense and complex with every sip.