Friday, March 31, 2023

Vicente Gandia Simue Temperanillo Robles, 2011

When I saw this Spanish Temperanillo offered at WineBid for  $15/case ($1.25/bottle!), I couldn't resist. If nothing else, this would do fine for cooking, I thought. And that was how we used the first bottle. The recipe for lamb shanks called for a whole bottle of wine, and this Ribera del Duero Temperanillo worked beautifully, creating a rich, out-of-this-world sauce. We kept back a glass for drinking, though, and decided that this is much more than a cooking wine.

Very deep and dark. Highly extracted as RDD wines tend to be. Full bodied but only 13.5% alcohol.Deep, powerful scents of black fruits, dark cherry and oak spice.  Some tasters have complained that this wine is a bit light for a Ribera del Duero. For me, that is a plus rather than a minus. Strong, bold flavors but well defined fruit on the finish. $1.25 a bottle???? An incredible value.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Domaine de Beaurenard Chateauneuf du Pape, 1990

Does a wine develop magic in the bottle? Only a few do, but your chances of finding that magic is high with a Chateauneuf du Pape produced by Domaine de Beaurenard. I have had this 1990 numerous times over the past 25 years, each one a bit better than the one before it. Tonight, at 33 years of age, it is showing the magic that all serious wine collectors seek.

Still a beautiful bright red with brickish tones. Somewhat light in color and ethereal in scent and flavor. More Burgundian than Rhone. More youth than age. Wild cherries, red raspberries--remarkable fruit power and definition for a wine of this age. Light body but tensile power. Great acidity around the edges. Complex, persistent flavors. A beautiful wine to celebrate my 84th birthday. Wish I had more.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Edna Road Ranch 500 Edna Valley Chardonnay, 2019

This is an estate bottled Chardonnay from the Edna Valley appellation, worth significantly more than the $8.99 I paid at Trader Joe's a few years ago. I have never located a winery of that name so I presume it is a label made specifically for Trader Joe's by an established winery. Fortunately, I bought a case when I first saw it in my local TJ store. I have never seen it again or I would have bought more.

Bright lemon yellow. Buttered apples, minerals and a dash of lemon. Medium full on the palate with bright, zesty flavors that persist after the wine is swallowed. A good representative of the cool Edna Valley.

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.