Saturday, November 25, 2023

Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du Pape, 1989

I tasted this wine from the barrel with the winemaker, Laurence Feraud, on a trip to the Rhone in the early 1990s. It has always been one of my all-time favorite wines...and still is.

Dark brickish color. Lots of sediment at bottom of bottle. Powerful, savory bouquet of Provencal herbs, dark fruit, leather and Chateauneuf earth. A broad shouldered wine, full bodied and ripe on the mid-palate. Fresh and dried fruit, darker than I would expect from a wine that is 80 to 85% Grenache. Tastes sweet but has the acid to keep it fresh and lively. Improves with about an hour of airing and then holds steadily through the meal. It was a perfect match for herb-crusted rack of lamb.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Dominio IV Mulberry Street Vitae Springs Pinot Noir, 2011

Even though Wines Till Sold Out ( was offering this wine at a very good price ($15.79) for an Oregon Pinot Noir, I bought it for a non-wine-related reason. My grandson, Malcolm, was born in 2011 on Mulberry Street in Lebanon, OH, and my daughter is collecting wines from his birth year to give him on his 21st birthday. 2011 was not a great vintage for Oregon Pinot, so I opened this bottle tonight to see if it might be capable of aging another nine years.

A small pour reveals a brickish color. In the glass, it's a medium garnet with good brilliance. Enticing scents and flavors of strawberries, rose petals, orange zest and pepper. Very appealing. The wine has a delicate profile that is not at all like Malcolm but might be appealing to him as a young adult. Will it last that long? I am not sure. The tannin/acid balance is good now and might stay that way for another three or four years. Nine might be pushing it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Pelissero Nebbiolo Langhe, 2012

This Langhe Nebbiolo is produced from young vines (15 years and younger) on Pelissero's estate in Barbaresco. It has the elegance and charm of a Barbaresco wine rather than the power and beauty of a Barolo.

Medium light color. Aromas seem muted when the cork is popped. With an hour and a half of aeration, they begin to emerge--subtle and pretty scents of flowers and fresh fruit. Flavors are also subtle rather than bold. Wild strawberries, cranberries, white pepper, ripe tannins. Understated and lovely. I find it hard to quit sniffing and sipping this wine but suspect that it will be even better with another year or two in the cellar.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Tenuta Tamburnin la 3 Seuri Freisa d'Asti, 2015'

This 2015 Freisa has many of the aromatic qualities and some of the flavors I love in a good Barolo...but at a fraction of the cost.

Bright ruby. Enticing aromas of rose petals, bing cherries, cinnamon and cloves. Ripe cherry flavors with a touch of black licorice. Mouth tingling acidity and enough tannin to add flavor intensity that lingers and pleases. Ligher and more approachable than Barolo or Barbaresco but thoroughly enjoyable..


Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Carpe Diem Anderson Valley Chardonnay, 2019

This lovely Chardonnay was made by Roederer, the French Champagne maker that set up shop  in the Anderson Valley of California. The folks at Roederer clearly like the sunlight, the soil, the cool maritime climate and the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes that flourish in the Anderson Valley. This wine confirms their choice.

Brilliant yellow. Green apples, lemon curd, lemon zest and a hint of almonds. Buttered brioche on the tongue. Rich fruit, elegant wine. Savory notes emerge as the wine warms in the glass. In many ways, this is like drinking a still version of a Blanc de Blanc. I love it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Domaine de l"Espigouette Gigondas, 2012

Bernard Latour's Domaine de l'Espigouette is located in the Plan de Dieu, and I have enjoyed many of his Cotes du Rhone and CDR Villages Plan de Dieu wines. Bernard has also branched out into Vacqueyras and Gigondas, and this is my first go at one of these upper level CDR Villages.

Deep, dark color. And dark is the number one adjective that comes to mind as I taste this wine. The bouquet has the lifted notes of menthol and garrigue that are typical of Gigondas. But there is a strong black strap molasses quality on the palate that I associate more with Vacqueyras than Gigondas. No worry, the two appellations are very close to each other. Very big, very powerful but under it all I find charming blueberry, strawberry fruit that is very similar to that in the 3 Messes Basses Ventoux beside it at the table. That is a big compliment to the Ventoux (which sells for about a third the cost of the l'Espigouette) but no insult to the Gigondas.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Les Vignerons de Mont Ventoux Cuvee des 3 Messes Basses Ventoux, 2019


I have great nostalgia for the Southern Rhones of yesteryear--extravagant, traditionally made and inexpensive. And this wine from the cooperative at Mont Ventoux is the best I know for satisfying my thirst. 60% Grenache/20% Syrah/20% Carignan.

Bright ruby/violet. Red cherries, garrigue on the nose; bright red fruit and black pepper on rhe palate. Fruit seems deeper and more defined than the 2018 vintage I had last year. Also slightly more tannic on the finish. Just right. I want more.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Ribbon Ridge Vineyard Willamette Valley Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir, 2017

When Robert Parker's brother-in-law launched his winemaking venture in Oregon's Willamette Valley, he chose land in the Ribbon Ridge area. Beaux Freres, as the winery is known, has been highly acclaimed, and its Pinot Noirs command a premium price. Ribbon Ridge Vineyards is a smaller and less well known operation in the area which sells some of its grapes to other nearby wineries although, as the label points out, the winery keeps the best produce for its own wines.

Medium deep garnet, dark for Pinot but part of the Ribbon Ridge profile--induced by soil and micro climate rather than over-extraction and oak. The aromas at age six are captivating: red raspberries, dark cherries, spring flowers. Deep flavors that eventually trend toward strawberry plus orange zest and peppery spice. Treads lightly on the tongue with excellent fruit/acid balance. Some grippy tannins on the finish, suggesting that this lovely wine is going to get even better over the next five years or so.

Whereas most Beaux Freres wines sell for $100 plus, this Ribbon Ridge retails for $38 to $40. I bought mine for $17.99 two years ago from Wines Till Sold Out.


Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Domaine des Baumard Les Caleches, 2017

I have been drinking the wines of Domaine des Baumard for more than four decades, and some of the wines from the 1970s and 1980s are still in my cellar, seemingly getting better every year. Those wines were ridiculously cheap at the time because few Americans knew what they were; today Savennieres and Cotesu du Layon wines from Baumard carry the price tags they deserve. This less expensive wine, Les Caleches, is not made for the ages but is an excellent choice for every day service. A blend of Anjou Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay, it sells for $12 to $15 and drinks well above its class.

Deep gold, darker than the Chardonnay beside it on the table. Chardonnay peaches and pears; Chenin Blanc flowers, minerals and honey. Rich and viscous on the palate. Plump legs cling to the inside of the glass even though the alcohol content is only 12.5%.. Darker and deeper than Chardonnay but no less charming. I hope wine distributors keep bringing Les Caleches into my marketing area. I will be a regular buyer.


Monday, November 6, 2023

Edna Road 500 Ranch Edna Valley Chardonnay, 2019

I suspected that this wine would be a good value when I first saw it on the shelf at Trader Joe's. According to the label, it is estate grown and bottled with an Edna Valley appellation. Grapes from the Edna Valley appellation don't come cheap, and this wine was selling for $8.99. I bought a case, knowing (correctly) that it would sell out quickly. Over the last two years, the wine has improved steadily. Drinking it tonight, I wish I had bought a second case.

Bright lemon yellow. Enticing bouquet, subtle floral/fruit scents. On the tongue, I get apples, pears, butter, brioche, subtle oak. Silky texture. Elegant mouth feel. Long finish.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Chateau la Louviere Pessac Leognan Blanc, 1983

White wines from Graves (Bordeaux) haven't been on my radar for many years. I bought them in the mid-1980s because they tasted good young and had potential for long-term aging. When I saw this 1983 Louviere Blanc in the cellar, I thought it was probably long past its prime. But not so.

Deep gold color. The bouquet is mature but with no noticeable signs of oxidation. Apples, pears, honey and lime. I was thirsty when I pulled the cork, and the first sip seemed to be thirst quenching--a good sign. The wine clearly has the acidity needed to keep it.alive. And age has given it complexity and interest. I am siure this wine would have been better a decade ago, but it is holding up well at age 40.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Penfolds Koonunga Hill South Australia Shiraz Cabernet, 2019

When Penfolds introduced its Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet with the 1976 vintage, Donna and I were living in Australia. And it was the wine we frequently chose at our local wine merchant or wine bar. We weren't very oriented toward wine at that time, and Koonunga Hill was cheap (about $2 a bottle) and good. Penfolds has gone through many changes over the past five decades, but the goal of the winery is to maintain consistency in the style of each label even though the fruit may come from a different location. The Koonunga Hill vineyard is in Barossa and, due to the ageworthiness demonstrated in that 1976 Koonunga vintage, has probably been upgraded by Penfolds and used in more expensive cuvees. The fruit from this 2019 Koonunga Hill comes from South Australia and was seen as appropriate for what Penfolds considers its "gateway wine." It may not come from Koonunga Hill, but it is cheap (about $12 a bottle) and good..

Bright ruby, deep and dark. I don'r detect any purple at this time. Demonstrative nose of black fruits--blackberries and currants. Plump body (14.5%) with a rich mid-palate. I always get a heavy dose of dark chocolate in Shiraz Cabernet wines, and this wine has it in spades, along with a touch of mint. Substantial tannic grip; that is the style, but ripe fruit and chocolate peek through and carry over into the finish, which is beginning to show some secondary traits. I plan to drink this wine early, but it should age well over the next few years.

I paid $12 for this 2019, but my local Costco has the 2020 vintage for $7.89--an excellent value. I bought a bottle today and will be going back for more. Who doesn't like wines that are cheap and good?