Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Gradis'Ciutta Collio Friulano, 2019

Friulano from northeastern Italy--the young and the old (see note below) on the table side by side. Gradis'Ciutta (2019) and Lis Neris  (2011) are similar enough that 1) I will not bother to age a good Friulano but 2) will not be worried about the wine going over the hill at age 10 to 12.

Medium yellow, only slightly lighter than the 2011 beside it. Similar brightness. Pear, apple, white flowers and a pleasantly bitter twist of almond on the finish. Basically acidic but rich and full on the mid-palate. Medium long finish.

I have seen this wine listed at $47.95 online, but I bought this bottle for about $13 from Costco a few months ago. I hope it's still around because I would like to buy some more.

Lis Neris La Vila Friuli Isonzo Friulano, 2011

I don't have much experience with Friuliano, a traditional white wine grape in the extreme northeastern region of Italy. But I have been extremely pleased with the wines I have tried and have Friulano on my buying radar.

Medium deep yellow. Ripe pears, white flowers and a hint of almonds. Bright and lively on the tongue with significant intensity but richer and fuller than Sauvignon Blanc. A serious wine that goes well with vegetable oriented meals.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Domaine Bois de Boursan, 1995

Bois de Boursan also makes a Cuvee de Felix Chateauneuf that has new oak traits and is popular with critics. I prefer this traditional bottling.

A little lighter in color than the Grand Tinel (see below) and more high toned aromatics. Cherries, strawberries and Provencal herbs. Also a distinctive earthy quality that some might call barnyard. I have enjoyed many vintages of Bois de Boursan--1986, 1988, 1989, 1994, 1998 and 2003--and that earthy quality appears year after year. Exciting level of acidity. Bois de Boursan is one of my favorite Chateauneufs.

Domaine du Grand Tinel Chateauneuf du Pape, 1995


At the time this 1995 Chateauneuf was produced, Grand Tinel had a very traditional approach--aging in large oak-neutral foudres. And the result is the traditional profile that I prefer in a Chateauneuf du Pape.

Medium red with some bricking. 80% Grenache, 20% Syrah, but the wine has both red and black fruit, cassis and peppery spice. Straightforward with bold mature fruit flavors. Leather and earth. This is what I expect in a Chateauneuf du Pape, and the wine has aged well.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Anam Cara Cellars Chehalem Mountain Nicholas Estate Pinot Noir, 2011

Even for a Pinot Noir, this wine is extremely light and delicate in color, texture and flavor. One critic compared it to raspberry mousse. In the mouth, though, it offers enormous flavors.

Compared to the Cerise Vineyard wine beside it at the table, it has a light, almost transparent color. After one whiff, though, I was in love. Strawberries, raspberries--yes, very light and delicate but also very persistent scents and flavors. Also flowers, vanilla and orange zest. This is a very special Chehalem Mountain Pinot.


Chronicle Cerise Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2007

As the vineyard name (cerise is the French term for cherry) suggests, this wine has fairly strong hints of cherry in its flavor profile. And it is an excellent example of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.

Medium garnet, substantially darker than the Anam Cara Oregon Pinot beside it at the table. Cherries, black raspberries, flowers and spice. Smooth, lacy Pinot texture but again much darker tones than the Anam Cara. Depth as well as complexity. Pure Anderson Valley fruit. Beautiful wine.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Yorkville Cellars Yorkville Highlands Petit Verdot, 2010

The color of this wine when poured into the glass is impressively dark--black, inky, opaque. Yet it is not highly extracted or oaky, as you might expect. Black is the color of Petit Verdot, most commonly used in small quantities to back up Cabernet and Merlot in fine Bordeaux wines. As you might have noticed, most really good Bordeaux wines have at least some percentage of Petit Verdot in the blend. This Yorkville Cellars wine is at least 75% Petit Verdot, and I found it to be an extremely pleasant experience.

The wine is black in personality as well as color. Deep, deep blackberry and blackcurrant fruit surrounded by a bouquet of flowers. I think of Mourvedre when I drink this wine. Very intense. I generally prefer less tannic wines, but this Petit Verdot is very tannic in the best possible way. Coats the tongue and the roof of the mouth. Long, enjoyable finish.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Franco Serra Barbaresco, 2008


I served this Barbaresco alongside the Perbacco Langhe Nebbiolo (see below), and there were mixed views about which wine was the best. I preferred this Barbaresco but the majority went for the Perbacco.

Medium light ruby, very similar to the Perbacco in color. More overtly aromatic than the Perbacco. Flowers and eucalyptus. More high toned and acidic on the palate as well. Comes alive in the mouth with Nebbiolo nuances. Very easy to drink. Long finish. No need to wait on this one, but also no need to drink it right away.

Franco Serra's Barbaresco at $25 to $28 a bottle is a very good value. Vietti's Perbacco has a similar price tag and is also a good value.

Vietti Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco, 2009

2009 was not a particularly good vintage in the Piedmont, but Vietti's Perbacco from that year is drinking beautifully. It is always a good rendition of Nebbiolo.

Medium light ruby. Takes awhile to open and gets progressively better through the meal. Still has a lot of life left. Compact fruit (black raspberry?) and classic floral and black licorice tones. Has the firm structure of a Barolo and the finish gets better and better as the wine is exposed to air. Very good Langhe Nebbiolo.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Pertinace Barbera d'Alba, 2019

Pertinace's Barbera d'Alba is made with grapes from some of the estate's oldest vineyards near Treiso in the Barbaresco area.

Deep and dark with purplish tints. Has been matured nine months in French oak. Blackberries, currants, vanilla. Good Barbera acidity backed by oak and fruit tannins. Smooth texture and fruit-oriented personality. Hint of red plums on the medium long finish. Very enjoyable right now but will keep and get better for several more years.

MegaBev in Grand Rapids (formerly G.B. Russo and Sons) still has this available for $8.99 a bottle or $48 for a six-pack--an incredible value. The wine sells elsewhere for $15 to $20 a bottle.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Sokol Blosser Estate Dundee Hills Chardonnay, 2016

This Oregon Chardonnay was aged in 100% French oak (13% new) and spent 10 months on its lees (spent yeast cells). Yet it does not have what I would describe as either an oaky or leesy character. It is an excellent example of Oregon Dijon clone Chardonnay.

Bright lemon yellow. Notably clean and fresh. Lemon smells and flavors dominate but also green apples, nutmeg and vanilla. Elegance personified. A smooth texture and a range of subtle flavors on the finish. Drinking well at six years and should keep well for another year or so.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Philo Ridge Anderson. Valley Pinot Noir, 2010

Ordinarily, I would not consider pairing Pinot Noir with spicy Indian dishes, but this bottle tonight was a perfect match for food from the excellent Saffron Restaurant in Kalamazoo.

Medium light ruby. Good bright tones. Cherry, pomegranate and cloves. Opens up on the palate with brights acidity and ripe tannins. Sweet fruit flavors on the finish. Recent bottles of 2010 Philo Ridge had led me to believe this wine may be on the decline. Not so tonight; it is a lovely example of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Vignerons du Mont Ventoux Cuveee des 3 Messes Basses Ventoux Rouge, 2018


The label refers to it as a "reference red Ventoux," and I agree. I have been enjoying vintage after vintage of Cuvee des 3 Messes Basses for several decades, and it has everything I expect from a good Ventoux.

Medium deep crimson. Red and black raspberries and earthy spice. Ripe Grenache fruit on the palate countered by firm black pepper. 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 20% Carignan. This wine drinks beautifully from the time it is released until about five years after the vintage date. This 2018 seems to be drinking at its prime right now. Long, intriguing finish. My last bottle of the 2018; I'm ready to move on to 2019.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Franco Serra Langhe Nebbiolo, 2015

The 2015 Piedmont vintage is generally considered: "ready to drink; will keep." That means that the wines, even Nebbiolo, are very atttractive in their youth but will get even better with some age. I find that to be particularly true of this 2015 Langhe Nebbiolo. 

Medium light with some orange tints at the rim. Cherries, cloves, licorice and violets. The smells are definitely pretty, but some drinkers will find a twist of bitterness on the palate--a good sign for the future. Riper cherry tones dominate the medium long finish (that will likely get a little longer and more persistent as the years go by).

Franco Serra definitely offers good value wines. The Franco Serra Barbera at $10 to $12 a bottle is always one of my favorites, and the Nebbiolo sells for only a dollar or two more. Even the Barbaresco and Barolo from Franco Serra are priced $10 to $15 below comparable wines from other producers. It is a label to look for and buy.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

The Vinum 002 Langhe Rosso, 2010

 A 50/50 blend of Nebbiolo and Barbera from the Piedmont in Italy, this wine offered up the best traits of both varietals when I first tasted it in the summer of 2019. This is my last bottle, and it is showing its age a bit. It has lost some of the dramatic floral traits of Nebbiolo without gaining the complexity that you can expect from a Barolo or Barbaresco of comparable age.

Good dark ruby color, typical of Barbera. Warm smells and flavors of dark cherry and licorice. Good body, ample acidity, a bit rough on the finish. Still a very good wine and a great bargain. (I paid $10 back in 2019.)

Second night: Scratch my comments above about the wine showing its age. After a night with the bottle recorked, it is better than ever with lovely Nebbiolo traits: dark cherry, roses, mint, licorice and dark chocolate. Excellent with mushroom pasta.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Tin Shed Barossa Valley Single Wire Shiraz, 2000

Now this is what Australian Shiraz is all about. It comes from Barossa grapes, but not all of Barossa is uniformly warm, and the Eden Valley, source of a good portion of the grapes, is cool and a particularly good site for world class Shiraz (such as Henschke's Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone). Winemakers Peter Clarke and Andrew Wardlow are folksy in their description. It is "cooked up in the Tinshed with minimal additions and loads of attention." As they say, it is a wine to be "enjoyed with good food and good friends for years to come." Even after two decades,it is a wonderful drink.

Very dark, opaque. Very aromatic as soon as the cork is popped. Blackcurrant, blackberries, cassis and aromatic spices. Also some savory elements more often found in the Northern Rhone Syrah, grilled tomatoes in bacon fat. More natural acidity than you would expect from a Barossa Shiraz. Old cine intensity and funk. Very Australian in temperament but with Old World intensity.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

La Font du Vent Cotes du Rhone Les Promesses, 2012

This Cotes du Rhone is made by Etienne Gonnet of the Chateauneuf du Pape estate Font du Michelle. It is well made and delicious, although probably a bit past its prime.

Medium deep red with violet tones. Cherries, tobacco, spices and earth. The cuvee includes Caignan as well as Grenache and Syrah, and the Carignan spices seem to dominate at this time. Balance leans more toward tannin than acid at this stage of the wine's development, and it is a bit rough on the finish. But still drinking well.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Domaine Oratoire Saint Martin Haut Coustias, 2007

I have been a big fan of Domaine Oratoire Saint Martin's Cairanne for many years, but this Haut Coustias bottling has always been a bit pricey for my wine budget. A fortunate auction bid got me this bottle at a good discount to the regular price, and I decided tonight that it is well worth a premium price.

Very dark for a Cairanne. The cuvee is about 60% Mourvedre plus 20% Grenache and 20% Syrah from very old vines and great soil. Beautiful scents of blueberries, violets and aromatic herbs. Equally luscious on the palate, ripe and lovely in the middle with a reasonably long finish featuring dark cherry and spice. At a good stage for drinking right now but should hold for several more years.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

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

I have had this wine many times over the past year, thinking that, at nine years of age, it might be close to going over the hill. But I have found no sign of decline, and the wine seems to have the acidity to hold on for at least another year or two. It is still available on WineBid (buy now) for $11.99 a bottle or (at auction) for $60 (plus buyer's premium) for a six-bottle lot.

Deep yellow but not overly so. Lemon, pear and the dramatic traits of French oak. Lots of acidic energy, maybe too much for some drinkers. But that's what I like and find so infrequently in California Chardonnay. I may go back for more.