Sunday, May 21, 2023

WillaKenzie Estate Emery Pinot Noir, 2006

In my previous note, I compared the Quinto do Crasto from Portugal with a fine Oregon Pinot Noir. Having tasted it side by side with this WillaKenzie Emery Vineyard Pinot from Oregon, I take it all back. While the Portuguese wine is very good, it has nothing to match the depth, complexity and elegance of this fine Oregon Pinot Noir.

Medium light. Wild cherries, strawberries, pomegranate, forest floor. Flavors that reverberate. More ripeness and warmth on the mid-palate than I have found in other WillaKenzie Pinots, but that's alright with me. Remarkable depth and a finish that lasts at least 45 seconds. No comparisons necessary. This is fine wine.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Quinta do Cabriz Dao Coheita Selecionada, 2014

When I bought this wine in 2017 ($6.99 from Costco), I knew it would age well, and it has. In fact, it seems to have put on some weight over the last six years.

Deep ruby with violet tints and garnet at the rim. Intense smells and flavors: cherries, red plums, balsamic. Medium to full body but only 13% alcohol. Tannins are still a bit aggressive (maybe even more than they were in 2017 and 2020) and I will be in no hurry to drink my remaining bottles. Peppery, spicy finish that reminds me of a good Oregon Pinot Noir.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Domaine Marcel Couturier Saint Veran La Cour des Bois, 2018

Saint Veran is nearly always less expensive than Pouilly Fuisse and nearly always almost as good. Both are Chardonnays from the Macon appellation of Burgundy, and I buy them whenever I can find and afford them. This Saint Veran one from Marcel Couturier is special.

Medium straw, bright and clear. Captivating scents and flavors: white flowers, peaches and honey with a twist of lemon. Light and delicate on the tongue but oh so delicious. For me, this is what Chardonnay is all about.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Saltram S2 Southeast Australia Shiraz, 2019

When I saw this Australian Shiraz offered for $3.99 at my local Trader Joe's store, I knew it wouldn't stay on the shelves long, and it didn't! I bought 12 bottles and glad I did.

I knew that Saltram's is an old and respected Australian winery, but this S2 bottling is not listed on their website. That's because it's a cuvee that is ordinarily sent to China. When a trade dispute occurred, however, China would not let a 30,000 case shipment into the country, and Trader Joe's (according to their story) bought all 30,000 at a discount low enough to offer it at this rock bottom price. It is not a typical Saltram Shiraz, of course, but certainly worth the price.

Bright ruby. Light color suggests that the wine has spent little or no time in oak barrels. Black raspberry smells and flavors. Medium to light body (13.5% alcohol) and minimal oak tannins. Has enough acidity to give it interest, but probably not enough concentrated fruit to justify aging. Unadorned Shiraz fruit, smooth and ready to enjoy.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Terlato & Chapoutier Lieu Dit Malakoff Pyrenees Shiraz, 2006

This Australian Shiraz is made by Rhone winemaker Michel Chapoutier and combines the best of Old and New World Syrah. The Malakoff vineyard, in the Pyrenees Mountains of central Victoria is well situated and low yielding (about one ton/acre). The result is a special wine.

 Deep ruby, bright and holding well. Ripe Australian fruit plus the savory traits of Northern Rhone Syrah. Black raspberries, cassis, black olives and crushed pepper. Acidity that brings out the most attractive qualities of the ripe fruit. Tannins are well integrated. Drinking beautifully right now.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Domaine l'Espigouette Vieilles Vignes Cotes du Rhone, 2018

LEspigouette's Old Vines Cotes du Rhone is an old favorite. I bought a case of it nearly every year through the 1980s and 1990s when the price was $3, $4 or $5 a bottle. Since the price has gone up to $16 to $18 a bottle, my enthusiasm has waned...but was reignited with this bottle.

Beautiful, bright crimson red. Blueberries, strawberries, violets--the aromatics that brought me back to this wine year after year. Medium bodied, peppery structure, long finish. Every bit as good as the $4 wine I remember. That is not a backhanded compliment. When a Cotes du Rhone goes up in price, as this wine has, I usually assume that it has been matured in new oak to a degree that I don't appreciate. That is not the case here. If there has been any new oak maturation, it has not altered the aromas and flavors that I know and love. I will go back for more.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Damilano Nebbiolo Langhe Marghe, 2010


Lamb on the grill--the first outdoor grilling of the season--and it calls for a special wine. This Damilano Langhe Nebbiolo Marghe is perfect for the occasion.

Medium deep ruby with characteristic garnet along the rim. Cherries, raspberries, violets with some dark licorice tones in the flavors. Barolo-like tannins on the mid-palate. Ripe red berry fruit on the finish. Fruit, tannin, acid in good balance. Needs an hour or two of aeration to show its best.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Trader Joe's Reserve Wahluke Slope Syrah, 2021


I often agree with the assessments of Jon Thorsen,  known as the "Reverse Wine Snob," but I can't accept his view that this Trader Joe's Reserve is "simple and jammy." For $9.99, I find it an intriguing good value wine. As Trader Joe's points out in its promotions, Wahluke Slope in Washington state is a highly regarded appellation for Syrah and Merlot.

Deep and dark. Red berries, blue berries and herbs. Aromas are fruity rather than oaky and rather complex. Medium body; only 13.5% alcohol and good acidity. As the meal progresses, tannins seem to become more rather than less prominent. I think this wine needs some time in the cellar to show its true worth. Rather than "simple and jammy," I would say "young and intriguing."

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Vicente Gandia Simue Roble Ribera del Duero Temperanillo, 2011

Even at $5.99 (substantially below its initial price) among the Buy Now offerings at WineBid, this Ribera del Duero Temperanillo lingered for several months, and I was not tempted. When the sellers finally decided to unload for the ridiculous price of $15 for a 12-bottle case, I pushed the button. Surely, it could be used for cooking or even as vinegar. Tasting it tonight, I recognize that it was a bargain at $5.99 or even $11.99.

Deep red with purplish tints. Intense aromas and flavors: red and black raspberries, cinnamon, cloves and oaky spice. More fruit tannins than I expect from Temperanillo and more mouth watering acidity. Lights up the taste buds and lingers for 30 seconds or more. Delicious wine.