Saturday, September 30, 2023

Paul Jaboulet Aine Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert, 1983

My son, Ted, loves Jaboulet's Domaine Thalabert almost as much as I do. So to celebrate his birthday every year for the last decade or so, I have pulled out a bottle of the 1983, one of the three best Thalaberts of the last 50 years. This year, Ted is 40 and so is his bottle of Thalabert,. And they are both doing very well.

Light brick color on a small pour but deep, dark and noble in the glass. One side of the bottle was heavily crusted with sediment so it required a decant. The smells and flavors are beautiful from the time the cork was popped. More red fruit than black, but that is probably because of the lovely level of acidity. Black olives, grilled tomatoes, meat. The fruit is well preserved for a wine of this age, but the deep savory qualities are what make it special. Dances on the tongue as old Thalaberts are prone to do. I could sit, sip and savor all day.

1983 was a great vintage for Jaboulet. I had two bottles of the 1983 Hermitage la Chapelle back in the mid-1990s and I have always liked the 1983 Cornas. Yet I have always preferred the Thalabert. That is probably because I drank the Hermitage way too early, but it is also because the Thalabert drinks far above the Crozes class. 

This, I believe, is my last bottle of the 1983, but it served quite well for my  son's 40th birthday. He loved it, and so did I.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Allan Scott Family Winemakers Sauvignon Blanc, 2022

The Marlborough region on the South Island of New Zealand is an excellent place for growing high quality Sauvignon Blanc, and Allan Scott has some of the best vineyards, including the very first planted there. The Wine Spectator named Allan Scott's 2021 Sauvignon Blanc  #1 best value of the year, and this 2022, according to some critics, is even better.

Clear, bright lemon yellow. Passion fruit and key lime on the nose, ruby grapefruit on the palate. Fresh and zesty. Ripe fruit with a slightly tart edge that brings you back for another sip. This is an excellent Sauvignon Blanc that is available for $12.99 right now at my local Costco warehouse. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Gabriel Meffre Gigondas Sainte Catherine, 2012

Gabriel Meffre has been making Gigondas since the end of World War II, and this wine captures some of the old-time power and beauty that typifies Gigondas. Roughly 2/3 Grenache, 1/3 Syrah and 5% or less of Mourvedre.

Very deep and dark with bluish tints. At least some of the wine has been aged in new and used American oak. Exceptional bouquet of red and black fruits, herbs and eucalyptus. Bold red and fruit flavors bouncing off against each other. Plenty of tannin but sweet Gigondas fruit shines through with a touch of black pepper on the finish. Perfect match for rack of lamb.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Kay Brothers Amery Vineyards McLaren Vale Shiraz, 1998

Kay Brothers is an excellent source of traditioal McLaren Vale Shiraz. The best wines come from Block 6 or Hillside Vineyards. This bottling comes from younger (15 year--old) vines and, as a result, commands a lower price. It is nevertheless very good.

Medium deep ruby. Blackberrries, currants, cassis and vanilla. Lovely ripe fruit. Not particularly complex for a 25-year-old wine but lots of ripe fruit pleasure. Good balance, still going strong. Reminds me of Australian Shiraz wines I tasted in the 1970s.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

19 Crimes The Punishment Southeast Australia Pinot Noir, 2021

Our local Trader Joe's store recently offered a range of 19 Crimes wines for $4.99, less than half regular price. Australia is better known for Shiraz than Pinot Noir, but, after trying both, it was the Pinot Noir that I went back for. For the price, it is a good every day choice for lighter meals.

Medium ruby. Full range of red fruit flavors--red raspberry and strawberry--plus vanilla and a touch of citrus zest. Light bodied, as it should be, with medium acidity, which is a plus for a low-end Australian wine.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Carpe Diem Anderson Valley Chardonnay, 2019

I love Anderrson Valley Pinot Noir, and it makes sense that the Valley would be a good spot for Chardonnay as well. Roederer, the French maker of high quality Champagne, apparently thought so when it purchased land in the Anderson Valley to produce sparkling (Scharffenberger) and still (Carpe Diem, Domaine Anderson) wines.

Medium light straw color. Expressive aroma of freshly mowed grass.and aromatic herbs. Bright fruit on the palate: peaches and grapefruit. Medium body with a silky texture. Finishes with the sweet/tart beauty of a fresh Red Haven peach. I like it.

This wine ordinarly sells for $23 to $30 a bottle. My local grocery, Midtown Fresh in Kalamazoo,  has it now for $11.99 with a 10% discount for five bottles or more. After tasting, I went back for six more.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Phillips Hill Oppenlander Mendocino Pinot Noir, 2006

I recently received a notice that the Phillips Hill Winery will close at the end of this year after 20 years of business. Toby Hill, the owner, will now resume his career as a visual artist. I am very sad because I have enjoyed many excellent Pinot Noirs from this winery, including this one from Oppenlander Vineyard in the small community (population, 167) of Comptche, California.

Medium light ruby, clear and bright. Even at 17 years of age, smells and flavors are fresh and intense. Cherries, red plums, baking spices and a hint of blood orange on the finish. Lovely Pinot weight and texture. Special wine. 

Sunday, September 10, 2023

E Pirra & Figli (Chiara Boschis) Langhe Nebbiolo, 2012

Compared to the large-scaled Barolos produced at this estate, this Langhe Nebbiolo is described on the label as a "youthful expression" of the grape and a "kinder, more delicate wine." It comes from young vines in Monforte d'Alba and was aged for one year in small oak barrels (barriques).

Medum garnet color. The bouquet is a bit muted at first but vigorous swirling produces scents of violets and Morello cherries. Yes, it is a bit "kind" and "delicate" on the palate, perhaps more than I would prefer. No oohs and aahs with this wine. But no mehs, either. Medium tannin, medium acidity, good balance that carries the mellow fruit flavors.

Friday, September 8, 2023

Chateau Grand Traverse Old Mission Peninsula Gamay Noir Reserve, 2017

This is the big brother of the Gamay Noir Limited (see below). It has been aged 40 months in barrel compared to 4 months for the GN Limited. And it sells for $30 compared to $16 for the Limited. Tasting the two side by side, though, I clearly prefer the little brother.

Much darker in color than the Limited and fuller in the mouth. The flavors have blended together, as you would expect with long-term aging. Round and rich in texture. What I miss, though, compared to the Limited, are the clearly delineated flavors of tart cherry and black pepper. I like it but will put my money on the cheaper Gamay Noir and drink it more frequently.

Chateau Grand Traverse Old Mission Peninsula Gamay Noir Limited, 2020

With cool, overcast summers, Michigan is not the place to make big, tannic, dark colored red wines. This lighter bodied Gamay Noir has been and still is my favorite Michigan red.

Light in color, not unlike a Pinot Noir. From the first sniff, I am hooked. Tart cherries, black pepper and citrus zest. Beautiful. Very much like a Pinot Noir but better than any Michigan Pinot I have tasted. Light in body, big in flavor. Can be enjoyed now or later. At $14 to $16 a bottle, a good buy for frequent service.

Chateau Grand Traverse Old Mission Peninsula Block 12 Riesling, 2021


British wine wrtier Jancis Robinson turned me on to this wine. After tasting numerous Rieslings from many different countries, she found this one from Michigan to be her No. 1 choice. The vineyard that was then Block 49 is now known as Block 12, and I buy a bottle or two every vintage. Compared to the Dry Riesling ($15) and the Whole Cluster ($16), Block 12 sells for $20 and is worth every penny.

As the name suggests, this Riesling comes from a specific vineyard that has established itself as worthy of a special bottling. The Riesling vines here come from Alsace (Clone #49) rather than Germany, and the difference is apparent in the flavors and textures.  Gorgeous smells and flavors--deep and complex. Granny Smith apple, minerals, white flowers, slight petrol. 11% alcohol, somewhat sweeter than the Dry Riesling and the Whole Cluster Riesling but with good acidity to balance. Lingering flavors that tease the palate. Of the three very good Rieslings I tasted today, this was my clear favorite.

Chateau Grand Traverse Old Mision Peninsula Whole Cluster Riesling, 2021

The Whole Cluster Riesling from Chateau Grand Traverse is richer and fuller on the palate than the Dry Riesling. It is also a tad sweeter, but it is sweetness derived from the excellent fruit and well balancy by cristp acidity. The Whole Cluster method involves pressing the grapes and the stems without crushing.

Green apple, pear with just a hint of Riesling petrol. Medium to full body and a great mouthfeel. 10.6 alcohol. This wine is usually an annual purchase for me, and I have found that it drinks nicely at 8 to 10 years of age.

Chateau Grand Traverse Old Mission Peninsula Dry Riesling, 2021

When I go to Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas, Chateau Grand Traverse is always at the top of my wine tasting list. Rieslings there are typical of the Old Mision appellation and very good.

This Dry Riesling is perfectly tailored to my taste. Dry and unmistakably Riesling in personality. Expressive flavors of grapefruit, green apples and petrol with a clean, crisp finish. 10.5% alcohol. At $15, a great value.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Chateau Reynella Basket Pressed McLaren Vale Cabernet Merlot, 1994

I paid $7.99 for this wine at D&W in Kalamazoo when it was released nearly 30 years  ago.. I believe Brian Cain was handling wine for D&W at that time, and he always brought in a great selection of affordable Australian and Southern Rhone wines. We drank many bottles of this and the Basket P ressed Shiras back then, and I believe I even served some at my daughter's wedding in 2005. Even then, though, this wine never showed the nobility that it is showing tonight.

Still a deep, dark robe of color when a full glass is poured. A classic Cabernet Merlot but definitely New World in its style. Red currants, black currants and a lifted note of mint. Rich, rich flavors. Dusty tannins with more acidity than is typical of an Australian red. More red than black currants. Elegance personified.

Domaine de Pallus Messanges Rouge Chinon, 2016

Messanges is produced from young vines at Domaine de Pallus, and it is made for frequent every day service. I find it a classic example of Loire Valley Cabernet Franc.

Medium ruby with garnet shading in from the rim. Floral aromatics. Also expressive Cab Franc fruit. Cranberry, bitter cherry with savory notes of Cab Franc dirt.