Sunday, June 30, 2024

Eric Kent Sangiacomo Green Acres Hill Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, 2016

High quality Chardonnay fruit from the Sonoma Coast is well framed and presented in this wine from the Eric Kent Winery.

Medium deep yellow. A toasty note upfront introduces complex smells and flavors. Lime, Red Delicious apples, abundant spice. Plenty of oak but it is well chosen to highlight the high quality Sangiacomo fruit. Rich in texture but only 13.7% alcohol. Even though it is now eight years old, it is holding well, although the flavors drop off considerably on the second night.

I bought this from WineBid for $15, and several bottles are still available in this week's auction.

Friday, June 28, 2024

Le Grand Noir Chardonnay, 2022

This is a Languedoc Chardonnay (85%) with Viognier (15%) added for some zip. The label identifies it as the piano (Chardonnay) and the clarinet (Viognier). It is a good every day white that received 92 points from the Wine Enthusiast and is available right now for $9.99 at my local Costco store.

Medium light straw. Lifted Viognier aromas of flowers, white peaches and vanilla. Apricots and melon on the palate. Not particularly high in acid but has the fresh mouth feel (and the clarinet tones) of Viognier.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Willamette Valley Vineyards White Pinot Noir, 2021

When I bought this wine last July ($23.99 at Costco), it was a very good white wine. A year later, it has taken on the depth and complexity of a fine Willamette Valley Pinot Noir--everything Pinot but without the color. The grapes went though a very light pressing and were then matured in neutral French oak.

Bright white color. Smells like Pinot--flowers, minerals, lots of depth and complexity. Has some white wine flavors: white peaches, pears, lemon zest, white pepper but still comes across to me as a delicate, graceful Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. Even matched with the aggresssive flavors of lamb chops, it stands up well. Wood and fruit tannins are firm but not at all hard. Subtlety and charm in the long finish. I bought four bottles; wish I had bought more.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Domaine du Grand Tinel Chateauneuf du Pape, 2000

I have had many excellent bottles of Grand Tinel from the 1988, 1990 and 1995 vintages. It is often one of the least expensive Chateauneufs but drinks at a higher level. Since 2006, Grand Tinel has been made in a more modern, international style, including some aging in new oak, that does not appeal to me. This 2000, though, is made in the traditional style and is very good.

Very dark for a Grenache-dominant wine. And there is more black than red fruit in the smells and flavors. Rich, concentrated flavors. A bit of sea salt and a bit of earth along with cherries and pepper. Alcohol at 14.5% shows a little but does not distract from the Chateauneuf profile.

Willamette Valley Vineyards Dijon Clone Chardonnay, 2017

There is a zing to Oregon Chardonnays that I really like. And this Dijon Clone Chardonnay from Willamette Valley Vineyards is a prime example. While most California Chardonnays are in decline by age five, this Dijon Clone is doing quite well in its seventh year.

Bright, medium yellow color. Rich, zesty smells and flavors of lemon curd, white peach and a hint of butterscotch. Mouth watering acidity and a long, fruit filled finish.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Careglio Roero DOCG, 2010

There is nothing on the label to indicate that this wine is Nebbiolo, but it is 100% Nebbiolo from vineyards in Roero just across the Tanaro River from Alba and the nearby vineyards that produce Barolo and Barbaresco. When I tasted the 2010 Careglio Roero in 2021, I found it to be quite like a Barolo albeit with gentler, less aggressive tannins. Now, three years later, I  find alll of those delightful Nebbiolo qualities and a few more. It drinks well now and I don't see it going into decline any time soon.

Ruby red shading to garnet with orange tones characteristic of the grape. Enticing scents of rose petals, violets, red berries. Flavors of dark cherries, cloves, and black licorice. If this were a 20-year-old Barolo, I would be very happy with it. It is approachable, charming and delicious.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Bybee Estate and Habitat Sera Russian River Pinot Noir, 2006

When I encountered this wine for a low reserve price at WineBid a few months ago, I was a bit leery (as were other potential bidders) because of its age. But over the past decade, I have had several superb Bybee Estate Pinots from the 2005, 2006 and 2007 vintages. The 2007 Sera was probably the best of the lot. Admitting that it might be past its prime, I figured it would still be superior to most Pinots in this price range ($15). And it certainly was.

Medium dark ruby. Several shades darker than the Mary Elke beside it. The bouquet and flavors were breathtaking--rich red and black fruits along with baking spices and some savory tones. The satiny smooth texture, though, is what sets it apart. Coats the tongue with Pinot pleasure.

Mary Elke Boonville Barter Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2013

I have always liked Mary Elke's Pinot Noirs, and this wine looked like a winner coming out of the gate. Even though it is the least expensive Pinot from this estate, I expected more than I got from it tonight. That is probably in part because it was tasted alongside a very good 2006 Pinot from Bybee Estate and Habitat.

Bright medium light red. Nice floral tinged bouquet along with some fresh cherry berry flavors. Fruit is good but not very complex and there is a bit of a sharp edge on the finish. 

On the second night, I find a lot more to like. Fruit is deeper and the sharp edge is gone. Mary Elke told me this Boonville Barter should go 10 to 15 years. So maybe it just needs a little time.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du Pape, 1989

I have always liked the 1989 Pegau Cuvee Reservee even better than the highly rated 1990 which was a major factor in drawing attention to the fine Chateauneufs produced at this estate. At 35 years of age, it is as delicious and powerful as it was when I tasted it at the winery in the early 1990s.

Deep and dark for a 35 year old Chateauneuf. Ripe and broad shouldered from the first sip. 80% Grenache but more black than red fruit, dried as well as fresh. Plums, berries, leather, black pepper, licorice and Provencal herbs. As always, fills the mouth with pleasure. The ultimate example of the masculine style of Chateauneuf, rich and concentrated. Perfect with a Father's Day dinner of Provencal style roast lamb.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Tenuta Arnulfo Costa di Bussia Barbera d'Alba, 2016

I have had several vintages of this Barbera. This one is probably the biggest and most tannic, reflecting undoubtedly the excellent 2016 vintage in the Piedmont.

Deep ruby color. More black than red fruit tones: blackberry, blue plums seasoned with clove and white pepper. Tannic for a Barbera but still has the trademark Barbera acidity. A wine that will stand up to red meats and rich sauces. And I will be in no hurry to drink the remaining bottles in my cellar.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Domaine des Baumard la Caleche IGP Val de Loire, 2019

Alas, this is our last bottle of la Caleche, a delightful every day wine produced by a domaine that makes some of the very best whites of the Loire Valley. It is a blend of 50 % Chenin Blanc and 50% Chardonnay.

Medium deep yellow. Apricots, pears and canteloupe with a citric backbone. Rich mouth feel and a touch of honey. Combines the best of Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. Easy to drink and gets more complex and interesting as it warms in the glass.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Vincent Saincrit Coteaux du Layon, 1999

I opened this bottle during the Christmas season of 2023, then re-corked what was left (about 1/3 of a bottle in the cellar). Noticing it six months later, I assumed that what was left would be totally defunct, but I took a taste just to be sure before pouring it down the sink. Whooooo. The leftover wine was very, very good. Oxidized yes, but in a positive way. I love it.

Deep bronze color. Apricots, honey and ripe melon. Very rich on the palate with a taste that lingers for several minutes. In fact, I can still remember the taste 30 minutes later. A testament to the beauty of well aged (and oxidized) Chenin Blanc.

Cascina delle Rose Dolcetta d'Alba A Elizabeth, 2018

Cascina della Rose produces some very good Barbaresco wines, and this Dolcetto is grown in an 8.5 hectare vineyard planted in 1958 on a hillside that also contains Nebbiolo vines used to produce Barbaresco. Cascina delle Rose admirably chooses to stick with its traditional Dolceto production. A Elizabeth is named after a woman who comes regularly to pick grapes and loves Dolcetto.

Beautiful medium light maroon. Red berries, Bing cherries. Very fresh and lively. Ripe fruit flavors. No oak, matured in stainless steel to preserve the lovely Dolcetto fruit. Reminds me that I don't drink enough Dolceto, an excellent choice for every day fare.

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Brezza Barbera d'Alba Superiore, 2012

Brezza's vineyards are very close to the town of Barolo where most of the space is understandably reserved for more expensive Barolos. This Barbera d'Alba, though, carved out a good niche for itself.

Beautiful bright Barbera ruby. Black cherries, strawberries, leather and dark spices. Medium light body with an elegant mouthfeel. Subtle nuances. Wraps around the tongue, teasing and pleasing the taste buds. Excellent Barbera.