Sunday, April 30, 2023

Domaine des Baumard La Caleche, 2019

Domaine des Baumard, in the Loire Valley of France, makes some of the best Chenin Blanc wines in the world. This Caleche bottling uses Chenin Blanc grapes from younger vines (50%) along with Chardonnay (50%) to produce a pleasant every day wine.

Medium deep lemon yellow. Melon, lime, pears, honey, white flowers. Medium body with a rich mid-palate. Chardonnay softens the Chenin Blanc, which in turn adds an acidic edge and some interest to the Chardonnay. At $10 to $15 a bottle, this is an excellent value.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Wind Gap Gap's Crown Vineyard Chardonnay, 2013

Gap's Crown Vineyard, located in the Petaluma Gap of the Sonoma Coast appellation, is a rocky, well dreained site with a cool micro-climate that is widely recognized as an excellent site for growing distinctive Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. This Wind Gap Chardonay is a good example.

Deep, matiure gold color. Intense bouauet and flavors. Lemon butter, peaches, a bit of almond and hazelnut. Acid level that is much higher than is present in most New World Chardonnays, and, for me, that is a plus. Tight structure, energetic attack and finish. 


Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Esteban Martin Garnacha Syrah, 2021

This wine sells elsewhere for $10 to $14 a bottle, but I saw it several weeks ago for $4.99 at my local Costco store. I find it a great value.

Deep and dark. 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah, and the wine is a good expression of both grapes. Red berry Grenache, black fruit Syrah. Some blue plums on the palate and black pepper spice on the finish. Ripe, forward fruit but with some firm tannins from the Syrah. Drinks well with or without food. And even though it goes down very well right now, I think it will also imprive with a few years in the bottle. For $4.99, a steal.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Vgnerons du Mont Ventoux Cuvee des 3 Messes Basses Ventoux, 2018

If you follow this blog, you know that this is one of my all-time favorites--an old-style Southern Rhone produced by a coop with produce from excellent vineyards and matured in concrete vats.

Medium deep crimson, some bricking at rim. The wine is made for drinking within the first five years, and this bottle is fully mature and drinking beautifully right now. Ripe scents of strawberries, herbs and spice. Good fruit concentration. 60% Grenache, 20% Carignan and 20% Syrah. Black pepper and spice on the lovely ripe fruit finish.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Domaine Grand Cotes du Jura Chardonnay, 2014

Jura is a cool climate area in France, near the Alps, and Chardonnays from this appellation are generally lighter in body and fresher in aroma and flavors than wines from Macon or Burgundy.

Medium deep color, but aromas are fresh and lively. Lemon, grapefruit, apple. Low alcohol, medium high acid. Even at nine years of age, this is a wine that could benefit from some more time in the cellar. Clean, medium long finish.


Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Chateau Tahbilk Goulburn Valley Marsanne, 1992

Tahbilk in Australia (formerly Chateau Tahbilk) has the world's largest planting of Marsanne, . a grape that is used in many Northern Rhone wines such as White Hermitage, White Saint Joseph and Saint Peray. Marsanne produces a unique cellar-worthy wine with which I have very limited experience. Tahbilk suggests having "a play with cellaring Marsanne opening bottles at different stages of its life. It's one of the best ways to enjoy this wine."

I have had young bottles of Tahbilk Marsanne at barbecues in Australia, and it is always one of my favorite whites, fresh and lively and a welcome change from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling. This 1992, at 8 to l0 years of age was too oxidized for me, sharp and acidic like a Fino Sherry. Tonight, at full maturity, it is still clearly oxidized but showing qualities I like.

Very deep golden brown. Toast, dried apricots and roasted nuts. The body has filled out, and the flavors are richer than I remember them from a decade ago. Medium acidity and an interesting, medium long finish. I have a few bottles of the 1998 Tahbilk Marsanne, that I suspect might be drinking even better right now.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

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

I bought a lot of Domaine Sainte-Anne wines from the 1998 to the 2006 vintages, and they have given me a great deal of pleasure over the years. My favorite of the Sainte-Anne bottlings is this Mourvedre-rich Saint Gervais, and this 2005 has aged beautifully.

Still deep and dark with some bluish tints, probably from the Mourvedre. I don't think much new oak was used at Sainte-Anne at this time. Cherries, berries, Mourvedre spice and violets. Bold flavors, reminds me of a good Gigondas. Lovely ripe, red berry finish that lingers for several minutes. The 2004 Saint Gervais was over the hills a year or two ago; the 2005 has plenty in the tank.

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Wind Gap Gap's Crown Vineyard Chardonnay, 2013

This is not the Wind Gap Woodruff Vineyard Chardonnay that I have reported on so many times over the past 18 months but rather its sibling from the Wind Gap Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast at an elevation of 300 to 800 feet. It is, in my opinion, better than Woodruff Vineyard (Santa Cruz Mountains) wine from the same year.

Mature, deep color but bright and clear. Cool climate acidity and energy. Lemon peel, apples and honey. Compared to the WVV Dijon Clone Chardonnary from Oregon beside it at the table, it is equally energetic but less creamy in texture. More like Chablis than Beaune Burgundy.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Vietti Perbacco Langhe Nebbiolo, 2009

According to the Vietti website, just "before the last blending for the bottling of our Barolo Castiglione, we select the casks to use for our Nebbiolo Perbacco." Appellation rules for Barolo require that kind of strict selection, preserving only the finest barrels for the Barolo wine. Vietti's Barolo Castiglione sells for about $65 a bottle; Perbacco, the second wine, sells for $25, and it is perennially one of the best values in Piedmont Nebbiolo. It is, indeed, a Baby Barolo, if not a sibling.

Medium deep with some orange tints. Early aging (the first six months) for Perbacco is in new oak barriques, but the oak influence is not easily detectable. The bouquet is slow to develop but is typical of Piedmont Barolo. Fruity and meaty with a hint of flowers on the bouquet. Big in the mouth. Dried berries, cinnamon, cloves and black licorice. Deep and concentrated. Tannic presence of a Barolo, but the fruit shines through as the wine airs in the glass. 2009 was not a great vintage in the Piedmont, but this Perbacco is showing well and may even improve over the next few years.


Willamette Valley Vineyards Dijon Clone Chardonnay, 2017

Oregon is best known for Pinot Noir wines, and I love nearly every one I have tried. But I have also become fond of Oregon Chardonnays, most of which are now made with the Dijon clone, brought to the state by Jim Bernau of Willamette Valley Vineyards. This 2017 WVV Dijon Clone Chardonnay was very good when I first tried it in May of 2021, and it is revealing even greater complexity and beauty tonight.

Deep lemon yellow. Intense smells and flavors of honey, lemon cream, apples, butter and toasted coconut. Rich mouth feel combined with incisive acidity. 

Monday, April 3, 2023

Pelassa Antaniolo Roero Riserva, 2011

Roero red wines must contain at least 95% Nebbiolo, but most are 100%. The appellation is right across the river from Barolo and Barbaresco, and the soil and elevation are similar. The wines, though, for the most part are fruitier, friendlier and a good deal less expensive than Nebbiolo wines from the Langhe. As a result, they are good choices for every day dining.

Bright ruby, no sign of barriques. Beautiful floral bouquet typical of fine Nebbiolo. Also cherries and aromatic spices. Nebbiolo dryness on mid-palate followed by fresh red fruit flavors. Tannin and acidity well matched, and the wine is drinking well right now though I suspect that some of the best fruit qualities are still being obscured by tannins.

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz, 2005

I served this 2005 Australian Shiraz alongside the Thalabert Crozes-Hermitage, thinking some at the table might prefer the less mature wine. It comes from the relatively cool climate of Coonnawarra and has less weight and more elegance than some Shiraz wines from Barossa.

Deep, dark ruby. Forward bouquet from the beginning, even compared to the Thalabert. Red fruit as well: red raspberries, cherries and spice. Not as much black pepper. Medium weight and body although the alcohol content is 14.5% compared to Thalabert's 13%. More alcohol, more ripe fruit, less acid. A good representative of Australian Shiraz. 

Paul Jaboulet Aine Crozes-Hermitage Domaine Thalabert, 1991

How can I get past  a birthday without drinking another bottle of Domaine Thalabert? This Crozes-Hermitage ranks high among my all-time favorite wines, and this 1991 ranks high (along with 1983 and 1990) among all Thalabert vintages I have had.

Saturated ruby red color with brickish tones. Lifted scents that become increasingly beautiful as the meal progresses. Red fruits more than black: red raspberries, cherries, earth and black pepper. Light on the palate, but incredible depth; almost as if the wine is boring into my tongue and making a permanent home. Long, complex, ethereal finish. As always, this wine puts me under its spell. Robert Parker has always raved about the 1990, but I think the 1991 may be even better.