Monday, August 28, 2023

Elio Sandri Barbera d'Alba Superiore, 2012

Elio Sandri is a traditionalist with vineyards in the hills near Monforte d'Alba, just east of Barolo.

Deep and dark. Red and black berries, underbrush and spice. Broad shouldered for a Barbera. High tannin, high alcohol (14.5%) and the high acid that is typical of Barbera. Perhaps a big too big for what I want in a Barbera, but the well delineated red and black fruit flavors carry through nicely to a long finish.


Sunday, August 27, 2023

Domaine des Baumard La Caleche Vin Blanc Sec, 2019

Jean Baumard makes some of the best Chenin Blanc wines in the world; his Clos du Papillon Savennieres is truly heaven in a glass. La Caleche is the wine he has produced for "informal meals." It is 50% Chenin Blanc, 50% Chardonnay, and it is so good I could drink it every night.

Deep Chenin Blanc gold. And Chenin Blanc is also present in the beautiful aromas and flavors. Fresh peach, pear, canteloupe and a bit of honey. A mineral edge on the finish. Fresh and lively with a leesy richness on the palate. Very dry and only 12% alcohol. We had La Caleche with pesto pasta, but I can't think of any meal that would not be flattered by this wine.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Edna Road 500 Ranch Edna Valley Chardonnay, 2019

This is probably the best in-house Chardonnay I have ever found at Trader Joe's. At $6 a bottle, I bought a 12-bottle case because the label stated that it was Estate Grown and Bottled from the Edna Valley appellation. Even Edna Valley Vineyards gives you Central Valley rather than Edna Valley grapes in its basic Chardonnay. And this wine is the real thing, getting better four years after the vintage date.

Medium deep yellow. Smells fresh and lively. Ripe apples, buttered toast, yeast and a bit of spice on the finish. Medium bodied, medium acidity, mellow finish. I have looked for this wine every time I have been to Trader Joe's over the past two years but never found it again. I don't think there is an Edna Road or 500 Ranch Winery.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Tuatea Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, 2022

Sauvignon Blanc has many faces. Some have prominent green bell pepper smells and flavors, deriving from pyrazines, and many tasters love this quality. For me, the aggressive green element makes a wine, red or white, almost undrinkable. This New Zealand Sauvignon has pepper in its personality, but it is jalapeno rather than green bell pepper, and I find that much more agreeable. It indicates, I presume, a lower level of pyrazines.

Light, bright yellow with green tints. Fresh and lively. Jalapeno, honeydew melon and lemon grass. Medium light body. Clean, persistent finish. Available for $6.99 at my local Trader Joe's, this is an excellent choice if you are looking for an every day, mid-week white.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Vicente Gandia Simue Ribera del Duero Temperanillo Robles, 2011

Now in its 12th year, this Temperanillo from the Ribera del Duero appellation (Spain) is drinking well.

Medium deep ruby. Bright color. Red fruit and spice. Primary aromas and flavors. Intense raspberry fruit flavors with tongue tingling acidity. I bought a case and will be in no hurry to drink up the remaining bottles.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Maison Leroy Bourgogne Rouge, 1990

Great grapes make great wines. Madame Bize Leroy knows how to select great grapes even if they do not all come from the Leroy family's famed holdings at Domaine la Romanee Conti. And this bottle is very, very good even though it has been exposed to less than ideal condition. 

I bought a case of this Maison Leroy Bourgogne Rouge 1990 on futures for about $149/case. For a particularly good vintage, that was a good buy even in the early 1990s. When the case was delivered, the wine had clearly been exposed to high temperatures, and some bottles had leaked. I registered a respectful complaint but did not demand a refund since I had gotten a good price for a wine that I really wanted to drink. Because I was aware of the damage, I drank the case more quickly than I might have done, and the wine was really pretty good, better than other Bourgogne Rouge wines from that vintage and others.

As often happens, the final lonely bottle sat in my cellar for 30 years, and I assumed it was probably dead. But when my Cellar Tracker Pro software informed me that the wine is now worth $253, I had to open the cork. There were no stains on the label and little or no ullage from the bottle. The cork was recessed but tight and difficult to extract--apparently a good seal after the initial trauma Who knows what this wine might have been had it not been exposed to heat during its youth? But what is in my glass does not disappoint at all.

Medium ruby, clear and bright.  Looks as young as ever. The bouquet is slow to open, but intense flavors are apparent immediately and get even better as the wine airs. Small red berries and spice. The texture is what Pinot Noir is all about. Light on the tongue but with a tensile strength. Ripe fruit that is suprisingly youthful but with the complex nuances that come with long aging.  My experience with fine red Burgundy is limited, but this bottle is probably the best I have had. I don't buy $250 wines, but I just drank one. No complaints.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Wind Gap Gap's Crown Vineyard Chardonnay, 2013

Wind Gap Vineyard, located on the western slope of Sonoma Mountain, is one of California's coolest sites, with plenty of sunshine, daily fog and temperatures conducive to slow ripening of grapes...and great flavors. Wind Gap's 2013 Chardonnay from Wind Gap Vineyard is drinking beautifully at age 10.

Medium deep yellow. This wine requires warmer temperature than most Chardonnays. As it warms and aerates, the flavors come forth. Citrus, pears, almonds. Great acidity--almost too much at first before the wine warms in the glass. Then the flavors come through, mellow, rich and complex.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Domaine Brusset Les Chabriles Vieilles Vignes Cairanne, 2014

This is classic Carianne, one of my favorite appellations in the Southern Rhone. Brusset is one of several fine estates in Cairanne, and Les Chabriles is truly old vine: 60% Grenache from vineyards planted 1915-918 and 40% Syrah from vines planted in the mid-1960s.

Deep crimson, much darker than I expect from Cairanne, but then the cuvee has 40% Syrah. Intense Southern Rhone bouquet from the moment the cork is popped. The Syrah makes its presence felt with dark fruits and black pepper but there is plenty of Grenache cherry and red berry. Medium weight. The tannic backbone is always present, but it is friendly, fruit-filled and balanced nicely by an acidic edge. Good fruit definition on the finish. The label says can be cellared for 10 years, and, at age 9, it is doing quite well. If I had more, I would be in no hurry to drink them.

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Tuatea Marlborough (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc, 2022

Marlborough in New Zealand is a good source of inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc. The sunny but cool climate produces crisp, high acid fruit that is typical of Sauvignon Blanc. Tuatea, which sells for $6.99 at Trader Joe's is one of my favorites.

Medium light straw. Bright and clear. Fresh, clean inviting smells and flavors. Lemons, lime zest, mint, honeydew melon and a bit of jalapeno on the finish. I am not big on the green bell pepper trait that occurs in some cool climate Sauvignons, but jalapeno adds some complexity and interest. At the price, I am a frequent buyer.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Pelassa Antaniolo Roero Riserva DOCG, 2011

This wine is 100% Nebbiolo from Roero, the hilly area just across the river from the more well known (and expensive) Barolo and Barbaresco appellations. Because they are less expensive and usually more fruit forward, I am prone to drink Roero Nebbiolos with every day fare but they are often serious dinner wines that can be aged for many years.

Beautiful bright ruby. Fragrant but not showy. Bing cherries, roses, aromatic spices. Black licorice tones emerge on the palate. Ripe and full bodied but tannins are supple and well balanced with acidity. Cherry tinged finish. As the winery claims, it should be "listed among the wines calling for maximum attention." Even though we drank it on a week night with grass fed beef hamburger, I gave it maximum attention, and found it more than worthy.


Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Calstar Cellars Londer Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2009

Rick Davis, owner of Calstar Cellars, has been winemaker at several estates, including Londer Vineyards in the deep end of the Anderson Valley. The well chosen fruit for this wine comes from Londer Estate.

Medium light garnet. I gave this bottle about two hours' aeration, and it benefited greatly. My first sip after pulling the cork was ripe and pleasant. By the end of two hours, I was getting deep, concentrated, complex fruit flavors. Red cherries, raspberries, spice. Depth and concentration that comes from slow ripening in a well situated vineyard. Acidity that makes it dance on the tongue. I have had the 2007 vintage of this wine several times; this 2009 is much better.