Monday, March 27, 2023

Villa Molino Soave Classico DOC, 2021

Garganega is the white grape that produces Soave wine, and I prefer it to Italian Pinot Grigio. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, Soave, made by Bolla, was the Italian white most widely available in the United States. Today, the best examples, such as Pieropan, sell for about $20...and are worth the premium. Trader Joe's, which sells numerous bargain-priced Pinot Grigios, suddenly started offering this Soave Classico for $5.99. It is an excellent value.

Light color. Also light and fruity in aromas and flavors. Baked apple, apricots, almonds, white flowers. Nothing green or herbal about this wine, and that is a plus for me. Pleasingly dry texture on the palate with a twist of lemon that begs for another sip. For $5.99, I will go back for more of this wine.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Petaluma Chardonnay, 1984

Brian Croser, a noted Australian winemaker, was proud of this Chardonnay when he bottled it in November of 1985. The fruit, half from Clare and half from Coonawarra, was of "outstanding quality," as he saw it, as a result of the "moderate temperatures of the ripening season and the ideal harvesting season." He aged the blended wine for one year in new Limousin oak barrels and wrote on the label that "the wine will benefit from a further five years bottle age." Almost 40 years later, I think Croser would still be proud of what he created. And rightfully so.

Very deep old gold as to be expected from a white wine of this vintage. Almost an orange or rose color. But neither I nor Donna find any notes of oxidation or maderization in the smells and flavors. Pear, apple, minerals and oak. Delightful from front to back. Plenty of oak, but it is well integrated into the beautiful fruit. Still some fresh citric acidity to balance the ripe fruit. No need to make comparisons from elsewhere in the world; this is simply good Australian Chardonnay, one oif the best I have had the pleasure to taste.

I bought a case of this Petaluma Chardonnaty when it was released in 1985, and we enjoyed many bottles during its first decade. The two bottles that were left then became neglected in the cellar, since I thought they must be seriously over the hill. As I learned long ago, never give up on a wine, even a white wine, until you at least give it a try.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant, 2021

Randall Graham of Bonny Doon Vineyards is known as a "Rhone Ranger," but, even though I am a huge fan of Southern Rhone wines, this is my first go at a Bonny Doon Rhone look-alike. When excellent traditional Southern Rhone wines were available for $5 to $10 a bottle, I saw no reason to pay twice that much for a Rhone look-alike. The price of Rhone wines has escalated, though, and I saw this Bonny Doon offering on sale for $15 at Sawall Health Foods in Kalamazoo.

Bright red, no signs of new oak barriques. On the label, Graham states: "more berries, less wood." I like it. Grenache red berries, has a cool climate profile. Strawberries, cherries, violets. Peppery spice on the palate; perfect. Black fruits and licorice on the finish from the Syrah/Cinsault combination.

The wine is modeled after a Chateauneuf du Pape, and some critics have compared it to a red Burgundy. To me, it comes across as a good Cotes du Rhone Villages. A good wine for every day drinking, but Graham says it will give 10 plus years of enjoyment. I will go back for more.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Villa Antinori Chianti Classico, 1970

Now well past its 50th birthday, this Antinori Chianti Classico is one of the oldest wines in my cellar, and I did not expect much from it. Is it alive or dead? was my question. And I found that it is definitely alive.

Removing the cork was the hardest part, and I finally had to push the cork into the bottle and pour through a filter into a decanter. I poured myself a glass, then poured the rest into a clean bottle for re-corking with a RePour cork. The color is suprisingly deep and dark, although a bit murky and some brown tones. Some dark cherry smells but mostly tertiary. Not surprisingly, it tastes like a Chianti Classico. If I were tasting it blind, I would peg it at 15 to 20 years of age rather than 53. Not oxidized. Chianti spice with good acidity around the edges and in balance with fruit and tannin. Not great but an enjoyable dinner drink. I would guess that this wine was matured in large, old barrels and made to age. I would not expect the same longevity for wines made today. 

On the second night, after being re-corked, this 53-year-old wine tastes even younger than it did last night. The color is lighter with more amber tones, but the spicy, savory traits of good Sangiovese fruit are even stronger. Sour cherries, cinnamon, new leather, Depth, concentration and intensity. Not great but very, very goodl


Saturday, March 18, 2023

Famille Perrin Ventoux, 2020

Plum Market apparently has an exclusive on this very good Ventoux, at least in my marketing area. The 2021 vintage has now arrived and is still offered at $6.79 a bottle--a fantastic price for a wine of this quality. I intend to pick up some more on my next trip to Ann Arbor.

Bright crimson red. Classy aromas of red fruit, spice and yeast. Has the fresh exuberance of a young wine plus the complexity that usually comes from aging. Fresh strawberries and cinnamon. Good backbone but great acidity keeps the fruit fresh and tasty. Don't worry about buying too much; my experience tells me that this wine will keep well and probably get better over the next year or two. But right now, it is the perfect wine to meet my every day needs. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Chionetti San Luigi Dogliani Dolcetto, 2016

Donna and I spent an afternoon in Dogliani on our trip to Italy in October of 2019. From menus and wine lists, it was apparent than Dolcetto (rather than Nebbiolo or Barbera) was King and Queen of wine in Dogliani. I wish I had paid more attention and tried more Dolcettos because a Dolcetto from Dogliani can be very good indeed.

Beautiful bright crimson color. Very deep and dark. Black fruits galore: black raspberries, black cherries, black plums with a bitter but pleasant twist of almond on the finish. Very acidic but in perfect balance with the fruit at the moment. Silky mouthfeel and long, clean finish.

The name ("little sweety in translation) might lead you to believe that Dolcetto wine is sweet and simple. It is, in fact, a serious dry red wine that is all too often absent from wine shelves in my marketing area.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Wind Gap Woodruff Vineyard Chardonnay, 2013

This is the ninth bottle of this 2013 Wind Gap Chardonnay I have had over the past 18 months, and it is certainly not showing any signs of imminent decline. If anything, it is getting better, although I am enjoying it too much to consider cellaring any of my remaining bottles.

Deep, mature gold. Not a real powerful bouquet except what comes through on the intense flavor profile. Laser point flavors of green apple, blood orange, spices and stony minerals. Cool climate acidity. Coats the tongue with pleasure.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Pianrosa, 2008

Although it is made from the same grape (Nebbiolo) grown in the same area (the Piedmont in Italy), Barbaresco tends to be a bit more elegant and shows its colors more quickly than Barolo. That was my thinking when I tasted my first bottle of this Ca' del Baio Barbaresco back in September of 2016. It was very good even then but still tannic, and I wrote that I would give it two to four more years to show its best. Tonight, seven years later, it has blossomed into a beautiful Barbaresco...although still on the young side of full maturity.

Medium deep, orangish tints typical of fine Nebbiolo made traditionally without barriques. Finely scented bouquet of fresh fruit and flowers. Red berries, cherries, violets and roses with black licorice tones developing in the background. High toned, silky and elegant. Grainy tannins on the mid-palate add substance in preparation for the long fruit-dominant finish. This is a special wine, and I am looking forward to following it over the next decade...or as long as my lifespan will allow me.


Silvio Grasso Langhe Nebbiolo, 2021

 Another stop at Eataly on a trip to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. The Silvio Grasso Langhe Nebbiolo that we enjoyed so much on our stopover in Chicago last month is still on the wine list, and we eagerly ordered two more glasses This time the bottle was a bit warmer but still offered a similar level of pleasure.

Medium light amber. This Nebbiolo has been made in the traditional manner without barriques, and that has preserved the beautiful aromas of Nebbiolo--roses, cherries, raspberries and black minerals. One sniff and I am in love with the wine as well as my wife of 50 years. Goes down smoothly for a young wine. Good acidity and ripe fruit tannins.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Matteo Corregio La Val dei Preti Roero, 2011

Roero is north of Alba, the other side of the river from the prestigious wine appellations of Barolo and Barbaresco. Red wine from Roero, simply labeled Roero, is nearly always made from 100% Nebbiolo, the same grape used for Barolo and Barbaresco. Roero has hills similar to those of its more pretigious neighbor but the soil is more sandy, resulting in wines that are lesss tannic but, in many cases, no less fragrant or tasty. Most important to me, they are considerably less expensive.

Beautiful bright ruby, medium deep, shading to amber at the rim. All the Nebbiolo beauty I expect: rose petals, cherries, licorice. Has that Nebbiolo grip on the mid-palate and then the cascade of flavors, elegant and nuanced.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Alysian Russian River Pinot Noir, 2011


This wine is sourced from three excellent vineyards in the Russian River Valley--Rochiolo, Floodgate and Hallberg. The quality shows.

Medium light garnet. Beautiful Pinot scents and flavors. Sour cherry, ripe strawberry and spice. A hint of black pepper. Mouthwatering acidity, fresh and lively. A touch of mint on the long finish.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Shoofly South Australia Shiraz, 2017

Previous bottles I have opened of this Shoofly Shiraz have been a bit tough and one-dimensional. By now, the aging process has created a very agreeable Australian Shiraz. Ben Riggs, a respected winemaker from McLaren Vale, has carefully chosen grapes from a variety of sites and appellations to create a serious wine at a reasonable price level.

Deep and dark. Blackberries and cassis. Ripe fruit but with a savory, spicy note on the mid-palate. Medium body, medium acidity with some of the qualities you might expect from a Crozes-Hermitage or Saint Joseph. Drinking beautifully right now.


Sunday, February 26, 2023

Ronci delle Betulle Colli Orientali Friulo Friulano, 2016

Donna likes Pinot Grigio--herb-tinged Pinot Grigio from northern Italy. I prefer fuller bodied Pinot Gris from Alsace or Oregon. Since Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same grape, you would think we could agree, but no. Pinot Gris is usually perceived by Donna as too sweet; Pinot Grigio is perceived by me as too green or herbaceous. In trying to bridge the gap, I have been buying some Friulano from northeastern Italy. Tonight, since we are having pasta with pesto and a green salad, this wine is the right choice.

Clear, bright yellow with some green tints. Green apple, unripe pears and green herbs. More body and mid-palate fruit than your average Pinot Grigio. Good acidity and a medium long finish. Still too green for me, but I can live with it.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Kermit Lynch Languedoc Cabrieres Rouge, 2020

This Kermit Lynch Selection wine has more Syrah (55%) and less Grenache (35%) than is typical for a Languedoc red. But the vines are located at high elevation with cooler nights to go along with warm, sunny days. Tonight, the black fruited Syrah traits are even more evident than they were when I last tasted the wine on October 25, 2022.

Dark ruby red. Black raspberries, cassis, black pepper. Not as warm and cuddly as I expected but still a very good wine to accompany Middle Eastern fare from Cairo's Kitchen in Kalamazoo.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Terramata Barbera d'Alba, 2017

Frittata with onions, peppers, mushrooms, cheese and jalapeno peppers. That's dinner tonight, so what wine should I bring up from the cellar? It's a tough choice, but when the going is tough, my choice is usually either a Cotes du Rhone or a Barbera from the Piedmont--wines which go well with just about anything.The frittata is lovely and so is the wine.

Deep ruby. Beautiful red cherry/berry smells and flavors plus white pepper and spice. Some tannins on the mid palate but more than enough acidity to give it freshness and excitement.A wine to enjoy tonight or any other night over the next two or three years.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Pithon Paille Anjour Blanc Mozaik, 2017

Once again, this Anjou Chenin Blanc, a long-time "buy-now" bargain from WineBid, meets and far exceeds expectations for an $11.99 wine.

Brilliant gold. The descriptor often used for Loire Chenin Blanc is quince. I can't remember ever tasting quince, but I am tempted to use the term because the smells and flavors are so typical of Loire Chenin Blanc wines I have tasted. For me, it's pear, apricot and sliced apples from the lunch box, slightly oxidized.Dry up front, then rich flavors and full body on the mid-palate and finish. Great acidity that leads to well defined, glorious flavors. This bottle was opened last night and recorked; tonight it is better than ever. 

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Famille Perrin Ventoux Rouge, 2020

This Ventoux Rouge is an old favorite of mine from Plum Market in Ann Arbor. The 2019 was very good; the 2020, even better.

Bright crimson. Fresh, flowery strawberry rhubarb with a touch of mint. Medium bodied. Has an elegant mouth feel with well defined fruit flavors. Fresh and lively from front to back. Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah but has authentic Grenache-oriented personality of traditional Ventoux Rouge.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Silvio Grasso Langhe Nebbiolo, 2021

To accompany lunch at Eataly in Chicago, I ordered a glass of the Nebbiolo on the wine list, but the waiter brought a bottle of another Langhe Nebbiolo and opened it at our table. "See if you like this," he said. "If not, I'll get another." One sniff was all Donna and I needed to know that this Silvio Grasso wine was a perfect match for our pasta dishes. "Six ounces, nine ounces or the whole bottle?" he asked as he poured two generous servings without waiting for an answer. "You might as well enjoy yourselves," And enjoy ourselves we did--at least 10 ounces each.

Medium garnet with Nebbiolo orange tints. The wine was aged six months in stainless steel, threee months in large oak casks and six months in the bottle. Beautiful scents of cherries, dark plums and flowers. Tannins grip the mid-palate, leaving the dry sensation I associate with a fine Barolo. The fruit is from LaMorra and offers up generous flavors. As the wine airs over the course of the meal, the flavors get more and more enticing. Great acidity. Tart cherries, red raspberries and savory spice. The pleasure continues long after the glasses are empty/

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Domaine Roux Pere et Fils Bourgogne Rouge, 2013

This 10-year-old Bourgogne Rouge was a good match for a dish featuring Tandoori lamb chops at the excellent Vinaigrette Restaurant in Austin, TX.

Medium ruby, mature color. Rhubarb, red berries, orange zest and black pepper. Tannins have faded. Good fruit but it's acidity that carries this wine. Gets better with every sip and highlights the flavors of the perfectly cooked lamb chops--crisp and charred on one side, medium rare and moist on the other.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Ercole Barbera del Monferrato, 2020

The Monferrato area of the Piedmont is apparently where Barbera wine originated. And this wine, made by a coop, represents what Monferrato Barbera is all about.

Deep ruby red. Vibrant smells and flavors of fresh cherries, red berries and spice. Has the acidity Barbera is known for with modest tannins and medium body. Delightful finish, spicy and fresh. It comes in a full liter bottle, making it a perfect match for the pizza you're probably eating while watching the Super Bowl. I bought it for $14.99 at Whole Foods.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Fall Creek Vineyards Texas Chenin Blanc, 2020

Texas Chenin Blanc?? Well, it may not be Vouvray or Savennieres, but it has the qualities I expect from the grape.

Medium deep gold. Quince, melon and a touch of honey. Full bodied. Has some residual sugar but enough acidity to keep it honest. Even with a spicy beef Tex Mex enchilada, it goes down quite well. I would order it again.

Grifalco Aglianico del Vulture, 2019

This wine, at $17 a bottle, offers an excellent quality/price ratio.

Blackberries, cranberries, citrus zest and violets. Savory, almost salty, with considerable complexity and depth for a wine this young and this inexpensive. Mushrooms and pleasant earthy tones. Medium long finish.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Cartlidge & Browne North Coast Pinot Noir, 2020

I knew very little about the Cartlidge & Browne Pinot Noir but when the wine list gave me a choice of North Coast or Monterey, I felt confidence choosing the North Coast, even though it was listed at $9 vs. $11 for the Monterey Pinot. And I am glad I did.

Very dark for a Pinot. Black raspberry, plum and forest floor. Now some pepper and orange zest. Pleasantly dry with a long after taste. I could drink this frequently.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Wind Gap Woodruff Vineyards Santa Cruz Chardonnay, 2013

With the low, sell-out prices available on WineBid, I have purchased and consumed quite a few bottles of this Santa Cruz Chardonnay since October of 2021. And it's certainly not showing any signs of near-term decline.

Deep gold color. Pretty citrus-tinged bouquet. Also green apples, flowers, lime and French oak. Bold Chardonnay personality on the mid-palate with good acid-tannin balance and well defined flavors.

I think all of the WineBid supply has now been purchased. The last price I saw was 6 bottles for $10. Despite its deep gold color and 10 years of age, I suspect the wine will still be drinking beautifully two or three years from now. 

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Domaine Pegau Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du Pape, 1994

Pegau's Cuvee Reservee is a wine that ages well over two to three decades, but this 1994 vintage was tagged by Robert Parker as a vintage to drink sooner rather than later. Now at 29 years, however, it is still a great Chateauneuf du Pape.

Bright crimson with some brickish tones emerging. Alluring scents of  raspberries, cinnamon, herbs and leather. Old time Chateauneuf texture, rich and powerful with furry tannins on the mid-palate. Intense flavors of fresh and dried fruit with black pepper, minerals and spice on the long finish. This is my last bottle of a case, and I am sad to see it go.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Gabriele Scaglione Tutto Dipende du Dove Vuoi Andare Langhe Rosso, 2011

When Alice (in Wonderland) asked the Cheshire Cat "which way I ought to go from here," the Cat answered: "It all depends on where you want to go." And that, in Italian, is the name of this wine, It All Depends on Where You Want To Go. When Gabriele Scaglione returned to the  land in the Piedmont area of Italy, where he had grown up, this wine represented the decision he made. It is a serious wine, 50% Nebbiolo, aged in oak for 24 months; and it is also an approachable wine, 50% Barbera, that is ripe and spicy, ready to enjoy at every phase of its development. Now nearing maturity, it is beautiful.

Deep ruby red, shading to brickish tones at the rim. Intense Nebbbiolo perfume of ripe fruit, flowers, cloves and dark minerals. Plenty of Nebbiolo tannin along with Barbera acidity. Red and black fruits, black licorice and spice. This is wherre Gabriele Scaglione decided to go, and it was a very good choice. Great wine; wish I had more.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Domaine les Grands Bois Cuvee Maximilien Cotes du Rhone Villages Cairanne, 2012

I love Cairanne, but somehow I have missed until nowthe Cuvee Maximilien from Domaine les Grand Bois. It is now firmly on my radar.

Bright crimson. Dark cherries, black currants, violets, anise seed, black minerals, black pepper and licorice. Certainly has a strong black streak that I usually associate with Vacqueyras. 50% Grenache, 35% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah and 5% old vine Carignan (planted in the 1960s). Ripe black fruit on the mid-palate countered by spice and black minerals. Good balance of acid and tannin and a long, savory finish. Special wine; wish I had more.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Dow;s Fine Ruby Port, NV

I don't drink much ruby port, preferring either Vintage Port or 10 or 20 year old Tawny. At $15 or less a bottle, thoughj, Dow's Fine Ruby offers an excellent value.

Dark ruby red. Cherries, black raspberries, chocolate, a pleasing bit of balsamic. Bold and full bodied. Could match up either with a hearty beef dish or chocolate dessert. Tannic and alcoholic bite that is balanced out by the sweet finish

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Badet Clement Pontificis Pays d'Oc Grenache Syrah Mourvedre, 2019

Pontificis has been my favorite Trader Joe's wine over the past several years. A blend of 40% Grenache, 35% Syrah and 25% Mourvedre from the Languedoc, it reminds me of my favorite Ventoux and Cotes du Rhone wines of the 1980s and 1990s. The grapes are clearly well chosen and vinified according to the best traditional practices. But, alas, Pontificis has been missing from the shelves of my local store for several months now. I miss it; please bring it back!

Bright crimson. Enticing scents of strawberries, cherries, Provencal herbs with a hint of violets. Medium bodied. Very friendly on the palate but by no means soft or simple. The Southern Rhone flavors continue to haunt me long after the glass is empty and the meal is finished.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

2 Lads Fouch Vineyard Old Mission Peninsula (Michigan), 2017

We taste wine on Old Mission Peninsula near Traverse city at least once every year, and 2 Lads is always on my list of places to visit. The view there, from a hill overlooking the bay, is astounding, and the wines produced there offer a good bit of character. This Fouch Vineyard Riesling is a perfect example.

Medium deep yellow. Apple, floral, peach and the petrol that is characteristic of good Riesling. Lots of darker petrol flavors upfront with sweet fruit on the back end. At the high end of dry, the low end of sweet but perfect for drinking with Tilapia and roasted vegetables. Has improved substantially since I tasted and purchased it four years ago.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

The Federalist Mendocino County Zinfandel Aged in Bourbon Barrels, 2017

This Mendocino County Zin has had the ultimate oak treatment: 6 months in American oak followed by another six months in seasoned Bourbon barrels. If you are wary of oaky wines, as I am, you might avoid it, but this bottle was brought to our house as a gift, and I am glad I had a chance to try it. It matched up well with Provencal lamb.

Very deep and dark. Cherries, black raspberries, caramel and vanilla plus some smoky notes. The ripe berry Zinfandel flavors are front and center, though. And the cool climate of Mendocino adds some welcome acidity.The 15% ABV is  barely noticeable. 

Domaine Jean Deydier et Fils Les Clefs d'Or Chateauneuf du Pape, 2000

I have been buying and enjoying Les Clefs d'Or Chateauneuf du Pape since the 1983 vintage. While this 2000 vintage does not measure up to the excellent wines produced in 1988 and 1989, it is still showing very well.

Mature, medium light color. Lifted aromatics. Cherry, menthol, rosemary and thyme. In smell and flavor, the wine is a perfect match for Patricia Wells' Provencal lamb au gratin. Ripe fruit, dried and fresh, and herb-tinged acidity. Classic Chateauneuf at a good stage of maturity. 

Friday, January 20, 2023

Elio Sandri Barbera d'Alba Superiore, 2012

This wine is very big for a Barbera. It has clearly spent some time in new oak barriques.

Very deep and dark, purplish. Dark cherries, black currants, cloves and oak spices. Medium to full bodied (14.5%) and substantial tannin on the mid-palate and finish. High Barbera acidity keeps it lively.  A good match for lamb, duck or heavily flavored dishes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Saltram S2 Southeastern Australia Shiraz, 2019

This is a story wine. The story is that Saltram's S2 Shiraz was originally scheduled to be shipped to China. When China refused the shipment because of trade issues, the winery was left with 32,000 cases to unload and was willing to accept below-market prices. Dan Murphy's in Australia bought some of the excess and is now offering it at the bargain price of $36. Wines are clearly more expensive in Australia than they are in the United States and $36 Australian comes to only about $24 U.S. I still don't consider that a bargain, but my local Trader Joe's store offered it for $3+ a bottle, which is a bargain in anyone's book. I was told it wouldn't last long at that price (and it didn't) so I bought a 12-bottle case, even without tasting it. I haven't been disappointed.

Medium red, lightening at the rim. Tasty fruit: fresh cherries and plums with a bit of spice. The label speaks of "subtle use" of oak, and I can detect very little oak influence. That's no problem for me; it's similar to a Cotes du Rhone in offering approachable low-tannin Shiraz fruit. Unlike a Cotes du Rhone, though, it's also soft on the acidity scale and is a bit lacking in depth and complexity. But if it comes back again at the Trader Joe's price, I will stand in line for more.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Famille Perrin Ventoux Rouge, 2020

This is traditional Ventoux Rouge at its best. Carigan, Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah. 

Bright crimson. Cherry fruit with spice and black pepper. Medium full body. Good acidity. Bright fresh fruit flavors. Everything I like in a Ventoux. No need to wait but no reason to hurry.


Friday, January 13, 2023

Franco Serra Barbera d'Alba, 2014

Franco Serra is one of the least expensive Barberas on the market and, for my taste, it is nearly always one of the best. The 2014 is mature and drinking beautifully right now.

Medium deep ruby red, lightening a bit at this stage of its development. Beautiful bouquet of dark and red cherries, flowers, mint and tobacco. Medium full on mid-palate. Low in tannin and high in acidity, as is typical of Barbera. Flavors of fresh raspberry and black licorice. A beautiful wine to drink frequently with pasta, pizza or just about anything.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Landmark Sangiocomo Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay, 20165

Sangiocomo Vineyard, located in a cool and windy area just north of San Pablo, is a prized place for producing cool climate Chardonnay. Now at the deep end of its drinking window, this Sangiocomo Chardonnay from Landmark is still drinking very nicely.

Medium deep gold. Lovely, elegant personality typical of Carneros Chardonnay. Apricot, white flowers, honey and creme brulee. Plenty of oak here (French oak, 35% new) as well as creamy malolactic and lees traits. The finish may be tightening a bit with age, as the oak becomes more prominent, but this is still a very enjoyable wine. 

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Wind Gap Gap's Crown Vineyard Chardonnay, 2013

When I first opened this bottle of Wind Gap Chardonnay, I noted the energetic smells and flavors but found the wine to be overall fairly ordinary. By the end of the meal, when the wine had had time to aerate and warm in the glass, it had become extraordinary with depth and complexity.

Very deep, mature gold color. Yes, plenty of energy and acidity; this is not for those who want their Chardonnays to be fat and cuddly. But there are some rich, deep smells and flavors. Apple, citrus, hazelnuts, nuances of fruit and minerals. As a 2013 Chardonnay, this wine and some of its Wind Gap siblings were sold off at bargain bin prices by WineBid. I bought a few, and they seem to be holding their own.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Cambria Katherine's Vineyard Santa Maria Chardonnay, 2020

A year ago this Katherine's Vineyard Chardonnay was good; tonight it is a special wine featuring bright fruit and savory minerals.

Medium light yellow. Citrus peel, spiced apples, flowers and mint. Medium bodied with abundant energy and zest. Creamy but not buttery. Reminds me of a good Oregon Chardonnay. Has been available for about $14 from Costco.

Handley Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2015

We had this Handley Cellars Pinot Noir alongside the Evening Land Pinot (see below) with grilled salmon and pesto risotto. Both wines were excellent, but I preferred the Handley Cellars.

Compared to the Evening Land, deep ruby as opposed to medium light garnet. Dark cherries, violets and mushrooms. Beautiful nose that gets better with each swirl. Fuller bodied and lesss delicate than the Evening Land but still very Pinot in personality. Bright fruit and peppery spice on the finish. Again, the finish is lovely but just keeps getting better and more complex with each sip. I bought this bottle at auction for $10 in 2019 and got a fantastic bargain. Would love to have more.

Evening Land Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 2012

I bought this in October of 2015 from for $16.95, and it is drinking well right now.

Medium light garnet. Cranberries, red raspberries and spice. Delicate with a silky texture. Citrus zest, pepper and spice on the finish. In many ways, this reminds me of a good Willamette Valley (Oregon) Pinot Noir. Well worth the price and drinkingn well at 10 years of age.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Romain Duvernay Beaumes de Venise, 2016


Beaume de Venise, a small village in the Southern Rhone, is only 8.6 kilmeters by car from Gigondas. And this bottle of Beaume de Venise rouge could easily be mistaken for a good about half the price.

Deep crimson. Red currants, berries, violets and aromatic herbs. 65% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre.Has the uplifting aromas and flavors of a Gigondas and a bit of the power. Firm tannins in the middle but they enhance rather than disguise the brightly edged fruit flavors. Expansive peppery finish that gets more complex with each sip. A bargain at about $12 from

Monday, January 2, 2023

Domaine Sainte-Anne Cotes du Rhone Villages Saint Gervais, 2005

This is Sainte-Anne's Mourvedre-rich (60-70% Mourvedre, 15-20% Grenache and 15-20% Syrah) Saint Gervais, now known as Les Rouvieres to distinguish it from the old vine Saint Gervais Syrah, Les Mourillons. And it is drinking beautifully tonight at 17-plus years of age.

Beautiful crimson color, bright and deep. Dark cherries, plums, violets and Provencal herbs. Deep, vibrant fruit all the way down the palate with a long finish. The 2004 Saint Gervais faded several years ago, but this 2005 is going strong with many years ahead of it.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

De Saint Gall Le Selection, NV

Online wine seller often offers "Mystery" wines. Jon Rimmerman gives you some hints and promises a price substantially below what you might pay for the wine elsewhere. It is a way for producers to sell overstocked wines at a discount without alienating importers and distributors. This was a Mystery Champagne a couple of years ago, and it has turned out to be a great buy.

Good mousse, tiny bubbles that persist even on the second night. Bright medium gold. Blanc de Noir personality even though it is 54% Chardonnay, 23% Pinot Noir and 23% Pinot Meunier. White flowers and just the right amount of biscuit and brioche. Enchanting nose and long finish. Happy New Year!