Friday, May 31, 2024

2017 Phelps Creek Columbia Gorge Chardonnay, 2017

This Columbia Gorge Chardonnay contains fruit from vineyards in both Oregon and Washington. Tonight, though, it comes across as a California Chardonnay.

Medium deep gold. Has lost some of the fresh lemon creme aromas and flavors I found two years ago. Still some apple, pear and citrus fruit, but the oak has taken prime position. Medium body, medium acidity, medium long finish.

2nd night: I must have been in a bad mood last night. Tonight I get the intense aromas and lemon creme flavors I found two years ago. Oregon-like acidity and a persistent finish.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Carpe Diem Anderson Valley Chardonnay, 2019

Carpe diem! Seize the day indeed! As fresh as the first day of Spring but with the richness and body that most of us expect from top drawer Chardonnay.

Beautiful medium yellow color. Honeydew melon, Red Haven peaches and lemon cream. Full flavors on the mid-palate and finish pushed along by brisk Anderson Valley acidity. Works well with tilapia but would also drink well on its own.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Famille Perrin Ventoux Rouge, 2022

 The Famille Perrin Ventoux Rouge has become a standard at our table over the past few veintages. The 2022 seems a bit lighter in color and in body than previous vintages, but it still carries the fresh upfront Southern Rhone fruit that characterizes the appellation.

Medium light crimson. The cepage is Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah, but, as usual with this label, fresh Grenache berry shines through most prominently. Delicate may be a better descriptive term than "light" because it has substantial complexity and flavor interest for a wine at this price level ($5.79 at Plum Market in Ann Arbor). Peppery spice, as usual, on the pleasant and persistent finish.

On the second and third night, this wine fills out substantially. Has full blown Ventoux personality.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Domaine de la Croix Senaillet Pouilly Vinzelles, 2017

If you like Pouilly Fuisse, as Donna and I do, you probably like Pouilly Vinzelles too. It is located very near to Pouilly Fuisse, and the wines are similar. If anything, Pouilly Vinzelles is a bit more refined and delicate. This is a very good Pouilly Vinzelles, and it has that delicacy as well as impressive depth and complexity.

Medium deep golden yellow. Lilting smells and flavors. Peaches, apricots, citrus evolving to almonds and hazelnuts as it travels down the tongue. Slightly tart rather than sweet on entry, rich texture and fruit flavors in the middle and a long complex finish. Just keeps getting better and better as it warms and airs. Drinking beautifully right now.


Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet, 2020

When I buy a wine, the most important consideration for me is where the grapes are grown. Good wines are made in the vineyard. Penfolds doesn't disagree, but the winemaker treats this knowledge as a trade secret. This wine does not come from grapes grown in the Koonunga Hill vineyard,which produced the initial magnificent Koonunga Hill Claret in 1976. Rather it is made in the style of the early Koonunga Hill wines and named after them. That is a labeling practice that would be considered scandalous in France or Italy, but it is common in Australia and consumers in that country accept it as long as the wine in the bottle measures up to their expectations. And Penfolds wines conistently measure up.

Deep and dark. Black fruit, ripe and concentrated plus spicy oak. Dark chocolate on the mid palate. A tad tannic for my taste at the moment, but the wine is still young. This wine has a track record for aging well over 10 to 15 years or longer, and I am sure this 2020 will continue the trend.


Monday, May 20, 2024

Badet Clement Pontificus Languedoc GSM, 2022


This Grenache (40%), Syrah (40%), Mourvedre (20%) blend from the Languedoc is still my No. 1 bargain pick from Trader Joe's. It reminds me of the excellent Southern Rhone wines that were available for bargain prices in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Bright crimson. Grenache red berry, Syrah black berry, Mourvedre flowers and spice. Ripe and fruit forward but with a bracing structure. Minerals, spsice and black pepper on the delicious finish.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Epicuro Puglia Aglianico, 2022


My second bottle of this Aglianico confirms my initial impression: it is an excellent value at $5.99 at Trader Joe's.

Medium deep maroon color. Blackberries, dark cherries and black pepper. There is plenty of rotundone in this wine. Reminds of a Syrah from the Rhone Valley. Sweet fruit nicely balanced by firm acidity. A good choice for frequent drinking. It has surfaced again at my local TJ store, and I will be back for more.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Chateau Graville Lacoste Graves Blanc, 2016

White Graves once had a prominent place on my regular buying list, but they are very difficult to find in my local buying area. Graville Lacoste is a very good one. It is 75% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon Blance and 5% Muscadelle from grapes grown in the Haut Barsac area of Bordeaux.

Young Graville Lacoste is usually as light and clear as water. At 8 years of age, this bottle has turned to a medium deep gold. I find it prime drinking right now without a hint of oxidation.. Bright lemon, lime, apple, pear with a hint of white fig. Creamy, yet with a crisp mineral edge. Subtle smells and flavors develop as it warms in the glass. Oh, how I wish I had a few more of these!

Sells for about $20 if you can find it. 

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz, 2005

This is a throwback to many of the Barossa Shiraz wines I enjoyed often in the 1970s and 1980s. It is styled like the Shiraz wines produced from the warm but well respected Kalimna vineyard in Barossa although, like most Penfolds wines, the fruit is selected from a number of vineyards and areas, only some of which are in Barossa. It is a big, warm climate Shiraz that was matured for 13 months in old American oak hogsheads.

Deep, dark ruby red. Looks young, smells young and tastes young. Black fruits and spice. Cinnamon, rosemary, vanilla. Full bodied with a robust mouth feel. Still very tannic. Penfolds suggests drinking between 2008 and 2025, but I can see this wine drinking well for at least another decade.


Saturday, May 11, 2024

Impact Compounds in Wine

My wine notes, like others, frequently include aroma and flavor descriptors (black cherry, rose petals) that may seem fanciful and unnecessary. As one of my friends put it, "It just smells and tastes like wine." A recent post from Wine Folly explains how these descriptors give you a road map to the grapes and processes used to produce the wine. They are, in effect, a chemical profile of the wine which doesn't necessarily define quality as much as your personal tasting preferences.

Of more than 100 aroma compounds in wine, according to the article, there are six that play an impactful role. PYRAZINES (methoxypyrazine) are found mostly in Bordeaux varietals--Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Carmenere and Sauvignon Blanc. It's a smell that is almost unmistakeable in Sauvignon Blanc: bell pepper, freshly cut grass, asparagus, celery and green peas. When it appears in red wines, it is not always considered agreeable. Robert Parker consistently marked down Cabernet wines with obvious green tones, and he influenced many tasters, including me. Fortunately for me, this green tone usually disappears, replaced by a cherry note, after many years of aging. I have many well aged Bordeaux and Napa Cabernet wines that I love, but I find most young Cabs (and particularly Merlots) with green tones virtually undrinkable.

Pyrazine I cn do without. ROTUNDONE is my holy grail. It creates the black pepper, spice (marjoram, rosemary, thyme), earth and old leather that is common in wines made from Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Aglianico.and Zinfandel grapes. That is why my tastes run toward the Rhone, and particularly the Southern Rhone plus certain areas of Italy. Unfortunately, studies have found that 20 to 25% of the population cannot smell rotundone. The majority of those who can report it as a positive smell. 

The other impact compounds listed by Wine Folly are:

 SOTOLON (maple syrup, grilled nuts, figs, honey) that is created by oxidation in wines such as Sherry, Vin Jaune, old Sauternes, old Chardonnay and very old red wines;

TDN or petrol that is most prominent in Riesling but also in some Chardonnays and other white wines;

DIACETYL, which is responsible for the buttery, creamy flavors and textures in wines, red and white, that have undergone malolactic fermentation; and

MONOTERPENES (roses, flowers, sweet spices, mandarin orange), which are dominant in Muscat Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Viognier but also some red wines such as Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir.

The interaction of these compounds and others creates the complexity and interest of any wine. If the wine simply tastes like wine, you may be missing or ignoring these compounds. Or the wine may just be a simple wine.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Epicuro Sicilia DOP Nero d'Avola 2022

The Epicuro Italian wines, selling for $5.99, are outstanding values at Trader Joe's. I was very pleased with the Aglianico a few weeks ago and went back to buy more. This wine, though good, does not do it for me.

Deep and dark. Rich in blackberry-oriented fruit. Full bodied with soft tannins that allow a smooth feeling on the palate. Only 12.5% alcohol so I assume it is somewhat high in residual sugar and lacks the acidity needed to balance it. A good every day wine if it matches your taste. For the same price, I prefer the Aglianico.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Roger Lassarat Pouilly Fuisse Tres Vieilles Vignes Cuvee Unique, 2005


Count me among tbose who love the special charm of well aged Pouilly Fuisse. At five years of age, this Roger Lassarat wine would have been a very good fruit-forward Chardonnay; at 24 years, it has the mellow warmth and complexity that comes only with age.

Some would be turned off by the color--the deep old gold of maturity. And there are some oxidative notes in the smells and flavors, but that is part of the package. White peaches and Red Delicious apples. Also the broad flavors and salinity of grilled nuts. Acidity that carries the flavors from front to back. Some of the most attractive flavors seem to cling to the roof of my mouth, lingering nicely

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Quinto do Cabriz Dao, 2014

I bought this wine for $6.99 seven years ago at Costco. Most wines at that price level are for early drinking, but when I tried this Dao wine, I knew it would age well so I bought a case. Now in its 10th year, the wine is showing the changes that come with aging, but I don't think it is through with its metamorphosis.

Bright color but garnet more than ruby. Smells are not as intense as early bottles but deeper and more concentrated. Like pasta red sauce that has been simmering for hours. Dark cherries and spice. Somehow, the tannins seem more noticeable now than they were a few years ago but they aare more integrated with the fruit, which is beginning to show darker tones. Complexity is developing, but I think there is more to come

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Skouras Saint George Agiorgitiko Nemea, 2021

I have had virtually no experience with Greek wines. As a result, I was baffled when looking over the list of wines by the glass at the new Dimi's Greek House restaurant in Kalamazoo. All of the wines on the list, red and whie, were Greek so I asked for advice from the waiter who recommended this Saint George Agiorgitiko. It was a good choice and matched well with the delicious lamb shank entree.

Medium light red. Reminds me of a good Southern Rhone. Red fruit smells and flavors--strawberry, red cherry with a spicy edge. Medium to light body, high acid, medium to light tannin. I get some complexity in the red fruit, black pepper finish. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Pontificis Pays d'Oc Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre, 2020

Pontificis has been one of my favorite Trader Joe bargains ($6.99) since the 2015 vintage. Although grapes come from the Pays d'Oc, it has always reminded me of a very good, traditionally made Cotes du Rhone or Cotes du Rhone Villages. This bottle from the 2020 vintage, though, seems a bit less intense and flavorful than previous vintages. That might be because of 1) the vintage, 2) the source of grapes or 3) my mood at the time I tasted it.

Bright red color. Red and black fruits with a spicy undertone. Less garrigue (Provencal herbs) and less black pepper than I remember from previous vintages. Also a bit lower in acidity and a bit higher in fruit sweetness. Still a very good wine and an excellent value.