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 Garagiste.com 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 Gigondas...at 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 Garagiste.com.

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 Garagiste.com 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!