Saturday, July 30, 2022

Famille Perrin Ventoux Rouge, 2019

I have always been a fan of the Ventoux appellation, which until recently has been under-rated. And I have always been a fan of wines from the Perrin Family--from Beaucastel down to La Vieille Ferme. The latter is now sourced from grapes outside the Ventoux appellation, and this Ventoux Rouge has replaced it.

Beautiful bright crimson. Fresh fruit smells and flavors but by no means simple. Grenache berry and peppery spice. Everything I love in Ventoux wine. Full bodied but beautifully balanced. It is a perfect match for pasta and pizza, but I would not be embarrassed to serve it at a dinner party.


Friday, July 29, 2022

Fontanafredda Piemonte Barbera Briccotondo, 2019

I was pleased to find this as a wine by the glass at Martini's, my favorite neighborhood restaurant in Kalamazoo. And it was a perfect accompaniment to my delicious penne pasta with red sauce.

Beautiful dark ruby red, very Barbera. Very aromatic: black fruits, plums, cassis, black pepper and spice. More tannin that you might expect from Barbera but ripe and accessible. Characteristic acidity that blends with, rather than fights, the acidity of the red sauce. Good balance, delicious wine.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Wind Gap Woodruff Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay, 2013

Pax and Pamela Mahle, who ran Wind Gap when this wine was made, believe in creating wines with unique personalities. This Chardonnay's personality is lean and mean.

Deep lemon yellow. Bright and lively. Penetrating scents of lemon and unripe peaches. Very concentrated with grip and intensity. 12.9% alcohol; the growing season was probably cool or the grapes were picked slightly unripe. Bracing acidity, maybe a bit much for me, even though I prefer this over the big, buttery style that is more prevalent among California Chardonnays.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Philo Ridge Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2010


Philo Ridge is a small production winery so you are unlikely  to find their wines at your local shop. Philo Ridge wines, however, pop up from time to time on WineBid, usually with  attractive reserve prices. This is my third bottle of the 2010, and I have enjoyed all of them immensely.

Medium light color, shading lighter at the rim. Compelling bouquet of cranberries, pomegranates, flowers and Pinot spice. Irresistible. Similar flavors but the texture is not as smooth as I remember ir from my first bottle two years ago. An excellent bottle of wine and a great value at $15 a bottle.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Domaine le Sang des Cailloux Vacqueyras, 1998

This Vacqueyras was inexpensive enough ($10 a bottle) when it was released at Village Corner in Ann Arbor that I could afford to buy a case . And the wine has done nothing but improve over the last two decades.

Still a good color with minimal bricking at the edges. Smells and tastes like a very good Cbateauneuf du Pape in its prime. Compact like a fruit cake: dried cherries and berries, nuts and brioche. Very intense and very concentrated. A perfect match for grilled lamb with mint sauce: gamey, meaty flavors under lifted notes of bay leaves, mint and rosemary. An enchanting experience. Unfortunately, this is my last bottle.l.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Cuvee des 3 Messes Masses Ventoux, 2018

This wine, made by the coop at Mont Ventoux, has become one of my favorite Southern Rhone wines because I can count on it for the traditional flavors and style that I love.

Medium ruby red. Grenache (50%), Syrah (30%) and Carignan (20%), destemmed, vinified separately and aged in concrete vats. Fragrant notes of Grenache strawberry and crushed black peppercorn with a hint of clove. Just right on the palate. Enough tannin to keep it serious but not enough to obscure the beautiful fruity/savory flavors. Peppery spice and berries on the finish.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Warre's Vintage Port, 1977 (375 ml)

1977 was a particularly good year for vintage port and, even from a 375 ml bottle, this wine from Warre's is showing well.

Small cork, crusted with sediment but relatively easy to remove. Medium light red/garnet. The bouquet is rich and deep. Caramel, fruit cake, plum, cinnamon and a hint of citrus zest. Even better on the palate. Black licorice and blood orange emerge as the wine airs. Only moderately sweet but rich and complex. A very good vintage port that has aged well.

Henschke Mount Edelstone Eden Valley Shiraz, 1986

I bought three bottles of Henschke's Mount Edelstone Shiraz from Brown Derby Wines in Springfield, MO several years before the quality of Henschke wines was well known. It was a budget wine at the time but now sells for $235 (current vintage) at the cellar door. I consider it maybe the best wine purchase I have ever made.

Beautiful ruby/garnet. Looks younger than 36 years. Gorgeous bouquet of red currants, boysenberry, lavender and purple flowers. The layered flavors are equally intense and expansive. Savory, like a fine Cote Rotie with the nuances that come from old vines and long aging.  Fruit, acid, tennins in perfect balance. This is one of the best Syrah wines I have ever had. 

Sonoma Cutrer Les Pierres Chardonnay, 2016

Sonoma Cutrer's Les Pierres Vineyard is so named for the large rocks that line the vineyard, absorbing sunlight and slowly releasing heat to the vines. At the same time, there is a cool wind and fog, resulting in slow ripening and a long growing season. The result, in my opinion, is one of the best Charedonnays coming out of California.

Deep lemon yellow, showing some maturity. Intense aromas of lime, lemon zest and wet stone. Intense flavors of lemon curd with a hint of butter. A level of acidity I associate with French Chablis and Oregon Chardonnay accompanied by oak-associated spice. Powerful finish. 

Les Pierres ages well. We had a bottle from 1983 that was drinking well in 2021.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Chateau Suiduiraut Sauternes, 1983

In the past week, we have tasted three 1983 Sauternes (Rieussec, Guiraud and Suiduiraut), all from half bottles and all showing very well. Of the three, this is my favorite.

Deep old gold but has not turned nearliy as dark as the Rieussec. Very rich and unctuous. Honey and apricots. Yet still has great acidity and freshness. A special wine.

Le Blanc Sec du Suiduiraut, 2017

I think I opened this bottle a few years too early. It is drinking quite nicely right now, but I suspect it will develop greater complexity and flavors with a few more years in the bottle. It is a wine to buy if you see it for less than $20.

Light yellow with green glints. White peach, pears, flowers, hints of salt and minerals. Fresh and easy to drink--maybe too easy to force you to concentrate on the subtle nuances.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Frescobaldi Castello Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva, 2018

This Chianti Rufino was a good match for a very good fettucine bolognes dish at La Fenice in Toronto.

Deep and dark. Sangiovese cherries, red raspberries and oak spice. Not at all soft: good acidity, medium body and accessible tannins. A good restaurant wine.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Willakenzie Estate Cuvee Pinot Noir, 2015

 Willakenzie specializes in single vineyard Pinots, each offering up unique qualities.This Estate Cuvee, though, is a blend from several of these vineyards. And it is very good.

Medium garnet. Very open from the time the cork is popped. Red fruits, spice and beautifully ripe flavors. Seems straightforward but aromas and flavors continue to evolve in the glass. Layers of complexity. Black pepper and orange zest on the long, satisfying finish.

Mary Elke Blue Diamond Donnelly Creek Pinot Noir,. 2013

The people at Mary Elke Vineyards told me that 2013 was a good vintage for the Blue Diamond Pinot but that it would be best with 5 to 10 years of cellaring. After tasting this bottle, I would extend that cellaring time by aother 5 years.

Medium light red. Still a bit shy to release smells and flavors. Cranberry, cherry, forest floor and savory spices. Medium bodied with good balance. At this stage, does not measure up to the Willakenzie Pinot from Oregon beside it at the table. I will wait a few years to open the next bottle.

Mary Elke Vineyrds, unfortunately, is now definct, but their wines will live on.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Limited Release Michael Shiraz, 1997

Served alongside the Wind Gap Russian River Syrah (see below), this wine showed very well, illustrating some of the depth and complexity that comes with long-term aging.

Similar in color to the Wind Gap, though 11 years older. Initially, the bouquet is less expressive than the Wind Gap. Over the next hour, though, the subtle nuances begin to appear. On the other hand, black fruited Syrah flavors are up front from the moment the cork is popped. Warm, luscious and long. I think I like this Michael Shiraz, from a relatively weak vintage, even more than the 1998 Michael I had last week

Wind Gap Russian River Syrah, 2008

I rarely buy California Syrah, opting insrtead for Northern Rhone Syrah or Australian Shiraz. This very good Russian River Syrah gives me reason to change that policy.

Dark, deep Syrah color. Still a young wine in appearance, aroma and flavor. Beautiful, expansive bouquet. Black fruits, herbs and spice. Firm on the mid-palate--maybe a bit too firm for my taste--but tannins are fine enough to allow a good range of flavors on the finish.

Not really Rhone or Australian in style but a third approach that works very well.

Friday, July 8, 2022

Schiavenza Barbera d'Alba, 2018

I bought this wine from for less than $10 a bottle, and reviews on Cellar Tracker showed conflicting views. My first go at the wine also put some doubts in my mind, but, by the time the bottle was empty, I concluded that this is a good wine and an excellent value.

Medium garnet, showing more age than I would expect from a young Barbera. I also detect some volatile acidity and an off note in the smells and flavors but these gradually subside as the wine airs and warms. Some nice cherry'rhubarb notes emerge along with some earth and leather. Seems mature for its age and a tad rustic, but I like it and will make a note to drink it over the next several years rather than the next decade.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Willamette Valley Vineyards Tualatin Estate Pinot Noir, 2010


Planted in the foothills of the Oregon Coast range by Bill Fuller in 1973, Tualatin Estate has some of the oldest and best Pinot Noir vines in Oregon. The 2010 vintage was good, and this wine is showing beautifully night.

Medium light color. Incredibly complex aromas and flavors--pomegranates, red berries and orange peel. Intense acidity and subtle tannins to carry the fruit to a powerful finish. Drinking beautifully now, but I suspect it will get even better over the next several years.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon, 1996

Savvy wine drinkers who have had the good fortune to visit this estate, owned by the same family since 1787, know the ageworthy quality of Moulin Touchais. This 1996 is very good right now but will undoubtedly be even better two or three decades from now. Coteaux du Layon is a dessert wine made from Chenin Blanc, but the high sugar is beautifully countered by the intense acidity and firm tannins of Chenin Blanc.

Even deeper gold in color. Honey, beeswax, quince and pineapple. Followed by ripe pears, apricot and more honey. A remarkable experience.

Domaine des Baumard Clos du Papillon, 1985

Baumard's Clos du Papillon is a special treat, and this 1985 confirms that Savenniere wines from the :Loire are virtually ageless. 

Deeper gold than the 2008, of course, but doesn't appear oxidized or old. The honeyed bouquet is almost overwhelming, and it entices me back for sniff after sniff. Deep, complex flavors that are hard to describe because they are constantly evolving and offering fresh nuances. Fruit, acid, tannin in perfect balance. A great wine.

Domaine des Baumard Savennieres, 2008

 We had a Chenin Blanc night--two Savennieres and a Coteaux du Layon, all from the LoireValley of France where Chenin Blanc produces some of the great wines of the world.

This regular bottling of Baumard Savennieres was the opener, and I made the mistake of serving it way too cold. The second glass, after the wine had plenty of time to warm and aerate was excellent. Medium deep gold. Honey, white flowers, grass and a touch of caramel on the finish. Savennieres is not aged in oak; it doesn't need it/. Luxuriously rich on the palate and the tannic firmness that usually accompanies a red wine. Still young but with flavors galore.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Couloir Roma's Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2007

This 2007 Couloir Pinot is fully mature and still showing the form that attracted me several years ago. It is one of my favorite Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs.

Very light Pinot color. Enticing smells and flavors of pomegranate, strawberries and flowers. Delicate on the mid-palate followed by a rush of ripe flavors on the finish.


Stoller Family Estate Dundee Hills Charonnay, 2020

This youthful wine shows off nicely the cool climate acdity and mineral driven fruit that characterizes Oregon Chardonnay.

Bright lemon yellow. Ripe pears, lemon zest, minerals. Matured in stainless steel and concrete. Beautiful spicy, tangy flavors.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Graham's Vintage Port, 1977

1977 was a great year for vintage port, and Graham's produced a wine that is incredibly good in its 45th year.

Dark color and plenty of sediment in the bottle. The cork was very difficult to remove, but from that point, the wine offered nothing but big-time pleasure. Very rich. Figs, black raspberries and black licorice. Good weight and viscosity. Huge flavors. This is what vintage port is all about.

Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal Pauillac, 1982


Robert Parker called Haut Bages a "sleeper of the vintage," and most critics agree that the estate made very good wines in the early 1980s. Paired tonight with the very good 1993 Leoville Barton, it was the unanimous favorite of everyone at the table.

Darker in color than the Leoville but also shading more toward mature tones. Bouquet is not as forward or floral as the Leoville but deeper and more subtle. Black currants and anise seed. Some dryness along the mid-palate but ripe fruit is ever present with acidity and tannin to carry it. Finish gets better with every sip. A special wine.

Leoville Barton Saint Julien, 1993

1993 was not a great vintage for Bordeaux, but Leoville Barton is a great estate. And this wine is showing beautifully right now.

Dark red shading gradually to brick at the rim. Beautiful bouquet--classic Cavbernet scents of currants and cassis but also some red fruits and a floral note. Also forward on the the palate, ripe fruit and oak leading to a long finish. Tastes young. A very good wine but still took a back seat to the 1982 Haut Bages Liberal that followed it at the table. 

Friday, July 1, 2022

Chateau Guiraud Sauternes, 1983

If you have a scrumptious apricot tart on the table and a bottle of aged Sauternes in the cellar, what do you do? The answer is obvious, and the pleasure that followed was divine.

Deep old gold, turning toward copper. The wine has been in the bottle for nearly 40 years, but it is certainly not decrepit. The baked apricot smells and flavors are unmistakeable. Also some honey, beeswax and figs. Flavors are even better than the bouquet. Rich but well defined with excellent acidity. Gets better with each sip. The Grande Maison Monbazillac we had last night with the tart was superb, but I think this wine is even better. Classic Sauternes.