Thursday, September 29, 2022

Montoya Monterey Pinot Noir, 2020

I usually avoid Pinot Noir from Monterey; they are a bit green for my taste. This was offered for a good price ($35) at Kitchen House in Richland (jour favorite Kalamazoo area restaurant) so we ordered a bottle, and it was a good accompaniment to our meals. 

Medium dark ruby. Many use cherry or raspberry to describe this wine's aroma and flavors, but I find it more tart--cranberries, green herbs and terpenes. Cool climate but not enough sun to bring out the full range of Pinot flavors. Donna likes the style more than I do, and reviews online show that the wine is popular. Retail price is about $15 so it represents good value.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Domaine des Baumard La Caleche, 2017

One of the best white wines I have ever tasted is Domaine des Baumard's Clos du Papillon Savennieres from 1982, which I had with dinner just a few weeks ago. So I quickly put this Baumard wine in my cart when I saw it offered at a closeout price of $11 at MegaBev (formerly Russo's) in Grand Rapids. La Caleche is Baumard's entry level, early drinking wine, 50% Chenin Blanc and 50% Chardonnay vinified in stainless steel to preserve its freshness and purity.

Deep gold, bright and lively. Very aromatic: peaches, apricots, flowers, minerals. Full bodied and rich. A good combination; Chardonnay sweetens the bitterness of young Chenin Blanc. Buttery flavors counter the grapefruit acidity. Peachy, honeyed fruit emerges as the wine warms. Don't serve this wine too cold; it is best at just a touch above room temperature. For $11 (or twice that much), it is a great bargain.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Schug Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 2010

This 2010 Schug Pinot Noir was matured mainly in large, neutral oak barrels. The fruit, though, from vineyards in western Carneros and the Petaluma Gap, is exceptional and meets my expectations for a fine North Coast Pinot Noir.

Very light in color and body. Takes some time to blossom, but then offers up enticing Pinot scents and flavors. Cherries, cranberries, cinnamon, orange zest and black pepper. Peppery flavors, tinged with orange zest, that cling to the roof of the mouth. Tingling acidity. Perfect. At a good stage for drinking right now.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon, 1998


Coonawarra Cabernet has an almost universal appeal, and this is a classic Coonawarra Cab, with bright upfront fruit and charm.

Deep and dark ruby. Impressive for a 24-year-old wine. Incredibly strong fruit smells and flavors. Black currants, blue plums, cassis and oak. Rich and ripe but also finely textured and elegant. Still going strong in its second decade. 

Coriole McLaren Vale Shiraz, 1998

McLaren Vale is one of my favorite spots for Australian Shira, and this is a good one, although probably a bit past its prime.

Deep and dark. Good color. Syrah herbal notes beginning to show up along with black fruits and spice. Tannic on the mid-palate and missing a bit of freshness. Australian Shiraz simply lacks the acidity of Northern Rhone Syrah, and that is what many Australian wine drinkers prefer. As far as I'm concerned, the lower acidity makes for a less complex and intriguing drink.

Paul Jaboulet Aine Crozes-Hermitrage Domaine de Thalabert, 1983

When I first opened this bottle, the aromas and flavors seemed a bit muted, and I assumed that time was beginning to catch up to this 39-year-old Crozes-Hermitage. Given a couple of hours of aeration and comparison to a much younger Syrah (1998 Coriole McLarenv Vale Shiraz from Australia) on the table, Domaine Thalabert once again demonstrated its seemingly ageless charm.

Much lighter than its Australian counterpart, of course. Brickish red but bright and clear. Two hours after the bottle was opened, the Northern Rhone scents begin to develop and grow. Red as well as black fruits, leather, balsamic. Notably acidic compared to the Australian Shiraz, and that is a plus for me. Black olives, cured meats, black pepper. Flavors get bigger and more complex with every sip. Lives up to my Thalabert expectations.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

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

I have been writing a lot about Wind Gap Chardonnays recently, mainly because I picked up a good number of them, 2012 and 2013 vintages, at deep discount on WineBid. They are all very good wines.

Deep golden yellow. Intense smells and flavors of lemon, pear and minerals. French oak is also apparent, although not as the star player. Cool climate, high level of acidity, intensity that grabs your attention and clings to the finish.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Franco Serra Dolcetto d'Alba, 2020

Dolcetto means "little sweetie," and, for years, I avoided buying it because I assumed it would be sweet or semi-dry. That was a false assumption; Dolcetto is nearly always made into a dry wine. Yet compared to a "big wine" such as a Barossa Shiraz, it is definitely a "little sweetie" to enjoy frequently with a first course or a family meal.

Bright ruby red, clear and bright. Fresh red fruit--raspberries, stawberries, cherries on the nose To preserve the freshness and fruit, the winemaker has avoided use of any new oak. And I approve. Moderate acidity allows a clear flow of fruit flavors from front to back countered by skin tannins and a pleasingly bitter hint of almonds.


Saturday, September 17, 2022

B Vineyards and Habitat Russian River Pinot Noir, 2007

I have had several good Pinots from B Vineyards and Habitat. This 2007 Sera  is from a special Green Valley vineyard named for the owners' daughter, and it fully meets the standards of what the winery calls a "proprietor's select wine."

Light Pinot color. Translucent. Spicy, floral nose. Cinnamon, cloves, violets. Pretty and inviting. Flavors of cranherry, raspberry, orange zest and pepper. Light and elegant on the palate with a silky texture. Still well balanced. Red raspberries on the long finish. I like this wine.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Domaine Schlumberger Tokay d'Alsace (Pinot Gris), 1975

That is not a typo; this white wine is now 47 years old...and still very much alive. Tokay d'Alsace is a term for Pinot Gris wine used many years ago in Alsace. The term is more archaic than what is in the bottle.

Bright golden yellow. The bottle has significant ullage, but I find no detectable oxidized smells or flavors. Still fresh and lively. Ripe pear, melon, spice and a hint of honey. The acidity that I noted when it was young has kept it fresh but has toned down enough to leave a mellow, easy feeling on the palate. Rich and ripe, not sweet. Many subtle nuances on the long and satisfying finish.

I remember buying this wine from Village Corner in Ann Arbor in 1984 or 1985. It was already mature at that time, but Cheryl McMillan of the VC staff told me I would not be disappointed. I was not then and still am not. Wish I had more.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Delas Saint Esprit Cotes du Rhone, 2017

I have been buying and enjoying the Saint Esprit Cotes du Rhone fairly regularly since the 2007 vintage. It has always been a somewhat atypical CDR because of its relatively high proportion of Syrah to Grenache. The Syrah profile seems to be particularly dominant in this 2017 vintage.

Dark plummy color. Blackberries, currants, lavender and cassis.Fruitier and more accessible than a Northern Rhone Syrah. Not very tannic but still a bit rough on the mid-palate. Comes from hillside vineyards on granite soil in the Ardeche region. Ar least for tonight, I would prefer a bit more Grenache berry and pepper. And a bit more exuberance.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Bergadano Langhe Nebbiolo, 2008

I paid $120 for a case of this wine from Binny's in Chicago about a decade ago, and the wine continues to reward me. Good when it was young, it has continued to improve in the bottle and now offers special qualities that I would expect from a Barolo.

Medium light garnet with orangish tints at the rim. Clear, bright and moderately intense. Exuberant scents of fresh cherries, roses and sweet spices that grow and change shape as the wine airs. The same on the palate along with tones of black licorice and minerals on a long and satisfying finish. Tannic grip reminiscent of Barolo along with substantial acidity that will keep the wine going and growing for many years. The grapes come from the Pugnane Vineyard in Monforte d'Alba from vines planted on clay soil in 1950 and 1997.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Wind Gap Sonoma Coast Gap's Crown Chardonnay, 2013

Wind Gap can be counted on for wines with good acidity and a great deal of personality. Gap's Crown Vineyard is really in the Petaluma gap on the Sonoma Coast.

Deep lemon yellow, showing its age. This wine is mature, perhaps a bit overly mature, but I love what it offers. White peaches, pears, a hint of almonds. More oak than is usual with Wind Gap wines but it's well integrated. Lemon cream acidity. Finish is long and complex, offering many nuances.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Saltram S2 Southeastern Australia Shiraz, 2019

This wine, a Trader Joe's bargain, has always struck me as more like a Cotes du Rhone than an Aussie Shiraz. It has lively fruit, medium body and minimal oak tannins, making it easy to drink right now. Tonight, I tasted it alongside a good Southern Rhone, the Famille Perrin Ventoux, and decided the two are really not all that much alike.

Medium ruby, no purple or blue tones. Berries, plums, spice and pepper. Even without the oak influence, though, the tannins in the Shiraz are much heavier and more noticeable than those in the Ventoux. The acidity is markedly lower and the wine is a bit more sluggish on the palate. I like both but still prefer the Southern Rhone. 

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Famille Perrin Ventoux Rouge, 2019

For years, I bought a case of La Vieille Ferme every year. The low-end, inexpensive wine of the Perrin family was made from grapes grown in Ventoux and was always delicious whether served with pizza or a serious dinner. In many ways, this Famille Perrin Ventoux is the successor to La Vieille Ferme, which is no longer produced from Ventoux grapes. For my taste, Famille Perrin Ventoux Rouge is significantly better and more traditional than either La Vieille Ferme or the Cotes du Rhone Reserve produced by the domaine. And for the past year, I have been able to buy it for $6.99 at Plum Market in Ann Arbor.

Beautiful bright red. Lush and silky. Red berry smells and flavors along with clove and black pepper on the finish. Perfect balance of fruit, acidity and tannin. Carignan and Cinsault are now in the blend along with Grenache and Syrah, but the flavor profile is still classic Southern Rhone, bold, spicy and fruity. Has everything I love in Ventoux red wine.


Friday, September 2, 2022

Gilbert Picq Chablis, 2000


I thought I might have left this too long in the cellar. It's not a Grand Cru or even a Premier Cru. But no; Picq Chablis, at any level, ages well.

Deep lemon yellow. Aromatic breadth and depth--flint, minerals, lime. Acidity has been tamed a bit by time in the bottle but stony Chablis qualities are strong. Lemon curd on palate. Mellow and deep with a long finish. I need to buy more Chablis.