Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Evans & Tate Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005

Cabernets from Australia's Margaret River have always reminded me of good Bourgeois cru reds from Bordeaux, and this 2005 Evans & Tate Cab is a good example.

Medium deep red, surprisingly similar to the beet root slices in a plate beside it on the table.  Mulberries, red and black currants, cassis, chocolate. A good level of acidity. Not a blockbuster. Lovely finish featuring ripe, well defined fruit. 

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Terres d'Avignon Kermit Lynch Selection Cotes du Rhone, 2021

I had a glass of this excellent Cotes du Rhone to accompany a pomegranate glased salmon entree at Sava's in Ann Arbor. 

Bright crimson. Dark cherry, strawberries on a background of peppery spice. Very much a traditional Cotes du Rhone, heavy on the Grenache. Lovely ripe smells and flavors that develop and grow with the flavors of the dish. A wine I would gladly buy in quantity if it were available in my marketing area.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Paul Jaboulet Aine Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert, 1991

Like all great wines, Domaine de Thalabert has a distinctive personality that comes shining through regardless of the vintage. I start anticipating the pleasure of that personality as soon as I start opening a bottle, and the ecstasy continues through the last sip.

Still deep and dark after more than three decades in the bottle. Black raspberries, cherries, black olives and those distinctive Thalabert minerals. Enough acidity to keep the fruit fresh and lively. Makes the tongue dance and sing. I have been drinking Thalabert since the 1979 vintage, and this 1991 is one of my favorites. Better than the 1995 we had in December, but not quite as good as the 1983 we had in October, 2023.


Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Bodega Esteban Martin Garnacha-Syrah, 2021

This Grenache/Syrah blend from the gravelly soils of the Carinena region of Spain reminds me of a very good, traditionally made Cotes du Rhone. Purchased from Costco last year for $4.99, it also represents an excellent value.

Bright ruby red. Smells and flavors of red berries, cherries, violets and black pepper. A good structure of ripe tannins and fresh acidity. Peppery finish. Works beautifully with acorn squash filled with cranberries and pecans.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Luca Bosio Leda Truffle Hunter Barbera d'Asti, 2021

Back in the 1980s when I was enjoying Kenwood and other old style Cabernets, this Barbera would have been dismissed as a "picnic wine." Even by today's standards, it is still a "fun" rather than "serious" wine, but I see nothing wrong with that. It is fun; it is delicious. And, to be honest, I enjoy it more than I enjoy the Kenwood Cabernet beside it at the table.

Medium light ruby, bright and clear. Strawberries, raspberries, a touch of pepper. Ripe but well defined flavors framed by fresh acidity. Drinks well with food, even beef tenderloin in a mushroom/Cabernet sauce. Yes, it;s fun, but that doesn't mean it's simple.

Kenwood Sonoma County Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009

When I first started buying wines in the early 1980s, California wines were gaining a great deal of respect, but there was less reverence for certain sites and appellations. Cabernets that I considered inexpensive enough to buy included Kenwood, Burgess Cellars, Shafer, Turnbull Cellars, Beringer and Conn Creek.. All of these, with the exception of Kenwood, have well sited vineyards in Napa, and their prices today reflect their appellations. Kenwood is in Sonoma County, however, and even some of their high-end bottlings still sell for $12 to $15 a bottle, not much more than their retail price in the early 1980s. This bottle confirms  to me that the old time quality and style that I found at Kenwood 40 years ago is still there at an even more affordable price.

Deep and dark; looks younger than its years. Old time smells and flavors of blackberries, currants, cassis and vanilla. American oak? A broad shouldered 1980s Cab. Slightly rough on the mid palate but a compelling finish with suggestions of balsamic and pomegranate.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Fontanafredda Piemonte Barbera Briccotondo, 2008

I have a glass of the current vintage of Briccotodo every time we visit Martini's, our local Italian eatery. It is always fresh and fruity, an excellent accompaniment to pizza or red sauce pasta. When I saw a 2008 vintage of this Barbera on WineBid with a reserve of $15, I waa curious to see how an inexpensive Barbera might age over 12 to 14 years. Very well, I discovered.

Medium dark ruby, bright and clear. The fruity aromas of a young Barbera have become a bit earthier, but I like what I'm smelling.. Black raspberries, cherries, black pepper on the tongue. Bright acidity attacks the outer borders of the tongue with deep fruit, pepper and spice flavors down the middle. A major step upward from the young Briccotondo I have come to know.


Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Wind Gap Woodruff Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains, Chardonnay, 2012

I have had this wine many times over the past two years, but I don't think I have ever appreciated its quality as much as I did tonight, comparing it to a wine 10 years its junior, the 2022 Rock Station Napa Chardonnay. Rock Station, purchased at Trader Joe's for $12.99, is a decent wine with light oak/mineral traits typical of Carneros Chardonnays. The Wind Gap is a totally different wine and actually tastes and smells younger than the 2022 Rock Station.

Medium lemon yellow compared to a medium dark gold with the Rock Station. The bouquet is not Carneros, of course, but it has some of the Carneros elegance plus beautiful complexity and depth. Apples, lemon custard, minerals. Great acid structure to support the ripe fruit flavors.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

B Vineyards and Habitat Russian River Pinot Noir, 2005

We had an exceptional bottle of this wine in September of 2016. That was etched in my memory when this wine appeared at auction at the same low reserve ($15) as the previous one. I suspected the wine might have gone through a significant decline over seven plus years, but, for $15, I still took the chance. And I am glad I did.

Medium light garnet, slightly murky just as I described the bottle consumed in 2016. Perhaps this is because the wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered; I find no negative effects on the smells and flavors. The bouquet may not be as floral or intense as the previous bottle, but the enthralling flavors of ripe wild strawberries gliding across the tongue from front to back are just as intense and persistent. Silky Pinot texture and ample acidity to delight the senses. A very special wine.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Famille Perrin Ventoux Rouge, 2021

For years, Ventoux and other Southern Rhone wines were my top choice for every day meals featuring pizza or red sauce pasta. As most Southern Rhone wines have gone up in price, they have frequently been replaced for such occasions by inexpensive Barbera wines such as Rosa dell Olmo ($5.99 at Trader Joe's). Tonight with Barbera and Ventoux side-by-side on the table, my top choice is Famille Perrin's inexpensive Ventoux Rouge ($6.79 at Plum Market in Ann Arbor).

Bright crimson. Even more aromatic than the Barbera. Flowers, fresh berries, currants, spice and black pepper. Glides across the tongue. Both wines are filled with mouth watering acidity and fresh fruit flavors, but the Ventoux has more complexity and excitement. I love the peppery finish.


Sunday, January 7, 2024

Rosa dell Olmo Barbera d'Asti, 2021

I buy and drink a lot of Piedmont Barberas, usually spending at least $12 to $15 to get a decent bottle. But this little gem from Rosa dell Olmo, selling for $5.99 at Trader Joe's, measures up quite well with any I have tried.

Translucent ruby red. Beautiful scents and flavors of cherries, red berries and vanilla countered by some darker tones. Barbera acidity plus rich fruit flavors and a silky Pinot Noir-like texture. I don't know why I haven't been buying more of this wine.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Matthew Fritz Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, 2022

From the first sniff and sip I knew this was not a delicate Pinot Noir. But all the better because I was drinking it with a beef curry dish at Chin Chin Asian restaurant in Mattawan, MI. Nevertheless, the wine has true Pinot Noir personality.

Medium ruby color. Concentrated cherry-oriented fruit with black pepper, spice, black tea and citrus zest. Very Pinot. Medium body, medium tannins, medium plus acidity. Stood up well to the curry and gave persistent pleasure throughout the meal.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Languedoc Cabrieres Rouge, 2020

This Kermit Lynch Selection is from the Languedoc but offers up some of the best qualities of both Northern and Southern Rhone. It is 55% Syrah, 35% Grenache, 7% Carignan and 3% Cinsault.

Bright, medium deep crimson. Thanks to the high elevation vineyards, where days are warmbut nights are cool, the Syrah has Northern Rhone traits featuring black fruits and Provencal olives. But this is countered by Grenache red fruit and Southern Rhone garrigue. Bright acid-driven fruit with the finesse of a serious wine. Noticeably better than the last bottle we had in July, 2023.