Sunday, March 31, 2024

Cape Mentelle Margaret River Cabernet Merlot, 2005

I have always considered Cape Mentelle an excellent source of Australian Cabernet wines, but years ago I found this bottle  on the shelf for $10 or less at Binny's in Chicago. Because of the low price, perhaps, I did not take it seriously. Tasting it tonight, after all those years, I realize I should have bought a case.

Bright ruby, deep and dark. Classic Cabernet smells and flavors. Ripe and fresh. Red and black currants, mint and spice. Well defined flavors and a persistent finish. Tannins are ripe and accompanied by good red fruit acidity. Was a perfect match for Easter roast lamb dinner.

Domaine Chante Perdrix Chateauneuf du Pape, 1978

For my 85th birthday, I wanted a wine with some age on it, and this 1978 Chante Perdrix was perfect. If I can age as gracefully as this wine has, my future will be all right. The 1978 vintage is a legendary one for Rhone wines, and Chante Perdrix has given me some of my most exciting tasting experiences.

Cork is surprisingly intact for a wine of this age and there is no noticeable ullage. The color is brickish and very light, similar to the 1989 Chante Perdrix I enjoyed many times in my 60s and 70s. Light, delicate body and mouth feel, very much like a Pinot Noir. The smells and flavors are ethereal. Sweet and savory. Strawberries, dried and fresh, and spices galore: mint, cinnamon, nutmeg, warm tea. Sits so lightly on the palate but leaves so much pleasure. Gets better with every sip. Very much like the 1989 Perdrix and seemingly ageless.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Point Ormond Victoria (Heathcote) Shiraz, 2020

When I tasted this Shiraz at a blind tasting, I thought it might be a French Syrah. It had more red fruit smells and flavors and greater acidity than most Australian Shiraz wines. The fruit comes from Heathcote, which has ancient Cambrian soil and a cool climate that is quite favorable for Shiraz.

Medium ruby red, not as dark or as deep as mosr Shiraz wines. Has not spent much time, if any, in small new oak barrels. Cranberries, strawberries, black olives. More savory than sweet. Acidity teases out the complexity of the excellent Heathcote fruit.

I bought this wine for $14.99 from Plum Market in Ann Arbor and will soon go back for more.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Terramata Barbera d'Alba, 2017

Whenever I open a bottle of Barbera d'Alba, whether it's to accompany pizza or a more serious meal, I am rarely disappointed. This Terramata Barbera, produced by a growers' cooperative in the Piedmont, actually out-classed the pizza tonight.

Bright ruby red. Vibrant cherry and red berry backed by spice and black papper. The tannins are soft but the Barbera acidity is present in full force to keep the flavors rich, lively and persistent. This wine ordinarily sells for about $15, but,I bought it for less than half that price through Dave Russo's MegaBev Wine Buyer's Alert. At either price, it's a bargain.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Caberbet, 2019

Donna and I were living in Melbourne, Australia when the first Koonuinga Hill Shiraz Cabernet was produced in 1976. Since the wine was priced at $2 to $3 a bottle, we drank it frequently with great pleasure. That 1976 Koonunga Hill turned out to be a special wine aging beautifully for two decades and more. The vineyards that produced that great 1976 are undoubtedly used now for more expensive wines with the Penfolds label. Penfolds doesn't claim that this wine comes from the Koonunga vineyard in Barossa but merely that it is styled and named after it. And my enjoyment tonight with pizza is similar to the enjoyment I enjoyed 40 some years ago.

Bright ruby red. Blackberries, blueberries and plums with dark chocolate on the mid palate. Full bodied and full flavored. Enough acid to tease the back palate. I liked it enough to come back for bottles of the 2020 when I saw them offered on the shelf, and I will reach for it again with every day meals..

Friday, March 15, 2024

Ici/LaBas Les Reveles Elke Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2006

The cool climate of Mendocino's Anderson Valley is ideal for growing Pinot Noir, and many of my favorite wines from this appellation have been produced by Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat/Ici LaBas from Donnelly Creek vineyards previously owned by Mary Elke.

Medium to light color with amber forming at the rim. Mature and lovely. Scents of red berries, flowers (fresh and dried) and forest floor. Red raspberries, cranberries--fresh and ripe. Excellent acidity with hints of citrus zest on the long, lovely finish.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Tenuta Tambournin Les 3 Seuri Freisa, 2015

Genetically, Freisa is believed to be a parent of Nebbiolo and a cousin of Viognier. That means it is capable of producing fragrant wines with high quality fruit that is high in both tannin and acidity.

Medium deep garnet. Aromas of violets and fresh strawberries leading to flavors of black licorice, spice and leather. Full and rich on the palate. A bit of austerity at this stage from the tannins but pleasing finish featuring fruit and minerals.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Martin Ray Dutton Ranch Concrete Chardonnay, 2020

This Russian River Chardonnay was aged on its lees for six months in concrete eggs rather than oak barrels to preserve the aromas and flavors of excellent fruit from the highly respected Dutton Ranch vineyards.

Bright medium deep yellow. Vibrant fruit. Freshly peeled apples in lemon juice and butter. Spicy Russian River tones. Clean, well delineated smells and flavors with a long finish. At $20 a bottle, this is an exceptional value in California Chardonnay.

Friday, March 8, 2024

Ferdinando Principiano Dosset Dolcetto, 2021

Sometimes negative comments can trigger my interest, indicating for me that the comment comes from a person with different tastes and expectations from my own. On Cellar Tracker, this Dolcetto was criticized because it was "missing in body, missing in wow factor." The body of a wine is determined by its alcoholic content, and this wine is low (11.5%) in alcohol. It does, however, have the tannin and acidity to carry intense Dolcetto flavors and a fine texture.

Beautiful bright ruby color. Cherries, red raspberries. Excellent balance of ripe fruit, tannin and acidity. Sits lightly on the tongue but leaves a lasting impression. The pasta was rich; the wine was elegant but not at all overshadowed.