Sunday, April 28, 2024

Wind Gap Woodruff Vineyard Chardonnay, 2013

This is the last of a stash of Wind Gap Chardonnays from the 2012 and 2013 vintages that I acquired several months ago at a good price from WineBid. A high acid Chardonnay, it is still holding well.

Deep gold color. Looks more mature than it smells or tastes. Intense citrus smells. Buttery on the palaate. More citrus on the palate along with apple, minerals and nuts. Rich, creamy mouthfeel. Lemon curd and butter. Tastes more like an Oregon rather than a California Chardonnay

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Maison L'Envoye Straight Shooter Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 2022

At $20 a bottle, Straight Shooter is moderately priced for Willamette Valldey Pinot Noir and, as a result, is often found as a wine by the glass in restaurants. It does, however, have the hallmark features of good Oregon Pinot Noir. The grapes come from sub-appellations in the Eola-Amity Hills and McMinnville.

Medium light Pinot color.Scents of roses and red fruit; flavors of Bing cherry and red raspberry with touches of vanilla, cinnamon and orange peel. Bright fruit with good acidity and delicate tannins. Matched up well with a delicious pappardelle bolognese dish at Compass+Cleaver in Gull Lake, MI.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Epicuro Puglia Aglianico, 2022

Aglianico is sometimes called the Barolo of the South, but this bottle comes from grapes in Puglia, a less distinguished appellation than Aglianico del Vulture, located on volcanic soils in Basilica. That is one reason that Trader Joe's can sell this wine for $5.99, but I think it delivers quite well for a wine at that price point.

 Very dark and deep. Black currants and dark cherries. Aggressive on the mid-palate but fruit-oriented and very approachable even at its young age. Good acidity for a warm climate wine. Black licorice and black pepper on the medium finish. More than just a pizza wine. After tasting a bottle, I went back and took the six bottles left on the shelf. If it appears again, I will buy more.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

WillaKenzie Estate Chardonnay, 2016

Most California Chardonnays are made for drinking in the first five years after the vintage date. After that, the fresh fruit starts to fade. Oregon Chardonnays, due to the cooler climate, a different soil and the Dijon clone of the grape, are more amenable to aging for 8 to 10 years or longer, gaining complexity and depth. Now in its eighth year, this WillaKenzie Chardonnay is drinking beautifully. It was aged in a combination of wood puncheons, amphora and stainless steel tanks.

Medium deep yellow. Bright, fruit-oriented smells and a rich mouthfeel. Lemon curd and minerals. Lees contact rather than oak is giving this wine its complexity and flavor interest. Beautiful wine.

The 2018 WillaKenzie Chardonnay, in its sixth year, is now discounted at Plum Market in Ann Arbor and other places for about $15, half of its usual retail price.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo Colline Novaresi Amagium, 2009

This is a Nebbiolo wine from the Novara Hills of the Northern Piedmont. Amagium is Latin for Ghemme, where the vines are located. Compared to Barolo and Barbaresco, it displays a lighter, more delicate and intriguing face of Nebbiolo.

Bright crimson, translucent. Even though it is nearing its 15th birthday, this wine still requires at least two hours of aeration to show its best. Cranberries, red raspberries, violets. Swirl and enjoy. Bright flavors on the palate: red berries, sour cherries and cinnamon. Very expressive in a graceful, elegant way. It's easy to identify the acid thrust that enlivens the wine, but the tannins are also there on the mid-palate and finish, delicate, lacey and full of ripe fruit flavors. One critic (Vinous) found the finish "Chambolle-like." I don't have that much experience with fine red Burgundy, but I find it heavenly.

I paid $15 at auction for this 2009. The current vintage can be found for about $20 a bottle--an incredible bargain.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Domaine Philippe et Vincent Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage, 2007

The Paul Jaboulet estate is, of course, no longer in the hands of the Jaboulet family. The vines remain, but since Gerard Jaboulet died in 1997, the wines here have had their ups and downs. Philippe and Vincent are fifth and sixth generation Jaboulets who have purchased some nearby vineyards and carry on the family name. This 2007 had the misfortune of being tasted alongside the real thing in Crozes-Hermitage, the 1996 Domaine Thalabert.

Much darker than the Thalabert but conisistent with Crozes Syrah. More forward in aromas and flavors. Blackberries, cassis and pepper. Lots of black pepper. In fact, in the end, the black pepper ends up defining the wine and drowning out the fruit.  One dimensional compared to Thalabert, but then what do you expect?

Paul Jaboulet Aine Crozes-Hermitage Domaine Thalabert, 1996

I have tasted so many great Thalaberts from the 1980s and early 1990s that I was ready to be disappointed by this 1996, which was not the greatest vintage and produced at a time when many changes were taking place at the estate. But Domaine Thalabert never disappoints me.

Medium light crimson, a solid cork and very little sediment. For an hour or so, the bouquet is a bit muted, but the flavors are classic Thalabert. The scents that emerge over time are well worth the wait. Red and black fruits, grilled tomatoes, a hint of black pepper. Acidity that keeps the lovely flavors moving down the tongue from front to back. Comes at you from many directions, twists and turns, highs and lows. Teases and pleases. Of course, it does not measure up to the 1983, 1990, 1988 or 1991, but it is still top of the line red Syrah from Crozes-Hermitage. I love it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

WillaKenzie Estate Kiana Pinot Noir, 2006

When we visited the Willamette Valley of Oregon last October, we enjoyed a delicious and informative tasting at WillaKenzie, located in the Yamhill-Carlton area. The winery's philosophy is well summed up by a sentence on the label of this wine: "The climatic conditions, soil, slope orientation and clonal selection all contribute to the wine's finesse and elegance." Kiana is grown on southeast facing slopes (370 to 440 feet) with a shallow layer of topsoil above a hard sandstone material. The result is an opulent wine with intense fruit-oriented smells and flavors.

Maturity is reflected in the light to medium ruby color. Intense and expansive smells of ripe cherries, red berries and flowers. Sweet pie cherries on the palate along with touches of orange zest and spice. Velvety mouth feel Tannins are ripe and balanced by good acidity. Lovely, ripe finish. Irresistible.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Vignerons du Mont Ventoux Cuvee des 3 Messes Basses Ventoux Rouge, 2019

This is an old favorite I have enjoyed for many years. The 2019 version is as good as ever, maybe better.

Deep and bright. Lovely smells of fresh berries, red and blue, along with herbs and spice. Fuller bodied, it seems, than past vintages but just as friendly and open. Ventoux black pepper and spice on the mid-palate and finish. Never disappointing.

3 Messes Basses is made by the cooperative at Mont Ventoux and sells for about $12 a bottle. It is worth every penny and more. In the 2019 vintage, it is 60% Grenache, 20% Carignan and 20% Syrah.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Schiavenza Barbera Serralunga d'Alba, 2018

As a "mystery wine," this Schiavenza Barbera was offered for less than $10 a bottle by Jon Rimmerman at It was an excellent value, since it usually retails for nearly twice that much.

Medium ruby. Not as dark, nor as bright as most Barberas. And there is significant amber at the rim. Dark cherries, earth, leather. More mature than its age would suggest, but, for me, that is a plus. Drinking well right now. Enough tannin to balance the exuberant Barbera acidity. A wine that begs you to have another sip. Excellent with tomato-based ravioli.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Romain Duvernay Beaumes de Venise, 2016


Beaumes de Venise is located only a few kilometers from Gigondas, and the grape blend used in this bottling is very similar to that used in the Gigondas (below)--60% Grenache. 30% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre vs. 65% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre for the Gigondas). Tasted side by side, the Gigondas is clearly superior for my taste, although Donna prefers the Beaumes de Venise. In terms of retail value, of course, the Gigondas is worth at least 50% more.

Medium deep red. A bit thin on aromas and flavors at first but grows with aeration. Cherries, red berries, dark tones. Less floral, less chalky and a bit lighter in body than the Gigondas (although both are 14.5% alcohol). Flavors and complexity grow with aeration. A very enjoyable wine but I would still be willing to pay the extra price for the Gigondas.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Domaine du Grand Montmirail Les Deux Juliettes Vieilles Vignes, 2012

I get a distinct aroma of violets with this Gigondas. It is a smell I usually associate with Mourvedre, but this wine has only 5% Mourvedre (along with 80% Grenache and 15% Syrah). Whatever, I love the smell, love the bright Gigondas flavors.

Deep, medium dark ruby. Violets, dark cherries, baking spices, dark licorice tones. Firm tannins on the mid palate lead to cascading flavors of ripe blueberry fruit on the long and pleasure-packed finish.

Chateau Pegau Cuvee Maclura Cotes du Rhone, 2021


I have enjoyed Domaine Pegau's Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du Pape for many years but have had less experience with the Cotes du Rhone wines made by Laurence Feraud. This Cuvee Maclura takes some time to get through to my senses but does offer the strength and substance of its more expensive siblings. 

Deep and dark. Looks like a Syrah based wine even though it is 60% Grenache and 20% Syrah. Also more black than red fruits in the smells and flavors. Dark cherries, currants, black licorice. Lots of strength on the mid palate. Requires some attention but eventually the ripe fruit flavors tease themselves onto the finish.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Trader Joe's Reserve Rasteau Lot 254. 2022

The letters RASTEAU are engraved right into the bottle, and this is a true Rasteau, worthy of the appellation and a very good Cotes du Rhone Villages. At $9.99 it is a good value, and, after tasting it, I went back to buy half a case. Medium crimson, bright but translucent. Fresh cherries, berries, black papper and licorice. Has the dark mineral tones that I associate with Rasteau and Vacqueyras. The peppery structure I expect from a good CDR Villages wine. And a pleasing ripe fruit finish. This is probably made by a cooperative, and coops in the Southern Rhone are generallky very good and likely to use traditional winemaking practices.