Archive for April, 2011

Alan Kerr’s Vintage’s April 30th Release – Tasting Notes

Due to a change of date for the Vintages tasting, I was able to scribe a few notes on the next two releases. The focus this month is “All in the Family”, otherwise known as Aussie dynasties and their notable wines. Interesting to note, all but two of the Australian wines were in screw top bottles. Also featured in this release are bargain basement wines from Italy’s lesser known regions of the South.


225425 CAMPBELLS RUTHERGLEN MUSCAT Rutherglen, Victoria 375 ml $19.95
Dark brown colour, dried tangerine peel, huge mocha both on nose and palate. Quite spicy, some discernible, sweetness, but nicely balanced. Find this wine

917252 DE BORTOLI NOBLE ONE BOTRYTIS SEMILLON 2007 New South Wales 375 ml $29.95
Absolutely gorgeous, tastes like a first rate Sauternes. Aromas of guava, candied orange peel, vanilla and marmalade. Impeccably balanced, superb length on the mind blowing finish. Find this wine

CAMPBELLS BOBBIE BURNS SHIRAZ 2008 Rutherglen, Victoria $22.95
Nice fruit aromas of blackcurrant, blackberry and creamy mocha. It carries fruit on the palate, but the sweetness is a little high for me. Find this wine

Earthy, tar, treacle, mocha, floral notes and a whack of pure ripe dark fruit. It has a spicy palate, showing cinnamon and nutmeg, great texture, velvety fruit and lively acidity. Find this wine

Nice red fruit aromas, red licorice, a note of cedar, thyme lead to a palate of elegant, well balanced fruit and the perfect amount of acidity. Hard to find nice Pinot at such a price. Find this wine

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Florida Jim Cowan’s 2011 Tasting Notes Archive-Part One

Jim Cowan Photo by Chris Witkowski - click to enlarge

The 2011 archive is presented by date the notes were compiled and submitted. Prior year’s tasting notes may be found here

April 24, 2011

2001 F.X. Pichler, Riesling M:
13% alcohol; this wine has shed the fat and viscosity of its youth to become both more balanced and less powerful. Clean scents of fruit and spring water; balanced in the mouth with solid flavors, some nuance and excellent balance; good length. In its youth, one could see this developing a richness and depth that would stun; instead, it has become more feminine and contained. Not what I expected but very good with “bubble and squeak.” Three days later: after being re-corked and refrigerated, this came out with the texture of Welch’s White Grape Juice mixed with pineapple syrup. I liked it better upon opening. Find this wine

2008 Bedrock, Cuvée Caritas:
14.1% alcohol; fairly expressive nose with fruit and mineral tones, some resin; a pretty good flavor profile that shows a bit too much new wood influence, there aren’t any oak flavors nor does it smell of wood but the mid-palate texture is amped up (as new wood will do) and the fruit is noticeably deadened; medium finish. Later vintages of this wine seem to be more dialed in as far as the oak goes and have better balance. Find this wine

1999 Lafarge, Volnay Vendages Selectionées:
13% alcohol; substantial VA on the nose with an impression of tannin but, even still, the cherry (both black and red) comes through; brooding, tannic and moderately unbalanced in the mouth but the Volnay texture is there and the tannin is not too drying; medium length. A flawed wine but, curiously, an interesting one. Find this wine

Best, Jim

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Random Reds and Whites for the Friday Night Regulars

I host a weekly Friday night wine tasting at the retail outlet at which I am gainfully employed, and last week, I decided to abandon a more structured theme in favor of just sampling whatever odds and ends I thought our guests might enjoy. I also took the opportunity to pull the corks of a couple of things I hadn’t tried yet myself, so everybody won. Here’s the rundown on what we tried, starting with an old friend that we ran out of at Gang Central a few years back.

I still rue the fact that the last two distributors who carried Steve Edmunds‘ wines here in Michigan couldn’t do them justice, for whatever reason. Both are good independent companies, not the two or three monstrosities that have formed over the last several years through mega-mergers, and to be fair to them, the problem is likely more the fault of area retailers who simply didn’t know what to do with these great wines. Whatever the reason, I doubt that we’ll see the Edmunds St. John label in Michigan again anytime soon, and this was undoubtedly one of the last bottles to be found at retail anywhere around here, so I thought it would be a perfect choice to start things off.

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Wine From Here: Natural Wine in California

The trailer is here – film coming in the summer of 2012


Alan Kerr’s Vintage’s April 16th Release – Tasting Notes

New Zealand takes centre stage in this, the second release of April. The release has no wines one would call outstanding, but there is one or two that are worth seeking out. Unfortunately, due to the next tasting coinciding with exam week at school, I will miss the next tasting. Thus no notes for the next two releases I am afraid.

Wines from the New Zealand release.

179754 AMISFIELD PINOT NOIR 2008 Central Otago, South Island $44.95
Appealing aromas of muddy wet barnyard combine with a layer of floral notes plus blackberry, plum and clove. It is a tasty, but young wine with intense flavours of cherry and plum, a touch of iron and red fruit jam on the finish. Find this wine

919837 CARRICK PINOT NOIR 2007 Central Otago, South Island $34.95
Dark and sweet, almost Shiraz like as it pumps out blackberry and spearmint aromas. It is spicy on the palate, laden with black fruit, quite tasty, but from being a recognizable Pinot. It has a full finish carrying plenty of mineral and a touch of mocha. Find this wine

214858 LONE KAURI RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2009 Marlborough, South Island $16.95
Red berry, a wisp of pig poo, some clove and clay on the nose lead to a tasty mid palate showing plum, red currant, and dark cherry, a touch of spice and rhubarb flavours on the finish. Find this wine

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Four from Rubicon Estate (or is it Inglenook?)

So I’m reading through this week’s Diner’s Journal by Eric Asimov in the New York Times and I see that Francis Ford Coppola has acquired “Inglenook,” the original name of Gustave Neibaum’s estate that he purchased in 1975. I also note that Coppola’s Rubicon Estate (previously known as Neibaum- Coppola) shall henceforth be known as Inglenook, which I find especially interesting, since I attended a “Rubicon Estates” tasting here in the Detroit area just last week, which goes to show how quickly things can sometimes change in the wine biz. It was also intimated last week at said tasting that a new winemaker would be taking over soon, following Scott McLeod’s departure last year, but that it was a big secret as to who that person would be. Now, it has been announced that Philippe Bascaules, who has spent the last 21 years at Château Margaux, will be taking over as estate manager and winemaker at Inglenook this summer. Big news indeed!

I attended one of these tastings back in 2004, then, as now, courtesy of our friends at Vintage Wine Company; at that time, the 2000 vintage of Rubicon was tasted blind alongside the same from Châteaus Haut-Brion and Mouton Rothschild. It was an interesting affair, though the Rubicon was quite obvious in its New World opulence. Driving to Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Troy last week, I wondered what the tasting format would be this time and if there would be another “taste-off” of sorts. As it turned out, it was a straightforward survey of four of Ingle…, er, Rubicon Estate’s most visible labels.

I didn’t pay much attention to the speaker’s by-rote talk about “Francis this,” “Francis that,” the estate and its vineyards or the wines, because I’ve either heard or read it all before; the information is readily available on the Rubicon Estate website, which I imagine will now have to be converted to the Inglenook website. (I hope they drop the flash format.) I focused on the wines, which were all pretty good, if a bit…; but wait a minute, I’m getting ahead of myself here.
As you might expect, we started off with a white.

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Michigan Wine Country Magazine 2011 is here!

Michigan Wine Country Magazine 2011 is here!

From – This colorful, free magazine is published annually in April and contains information and informative articles about the wineries and wine regions of Michigan.
Request a printed copy or view it online.

Master Sommelier Duo Teams to Celebrate Michigan Wine Month

Michigan Wine Showcase to Feature Local Wines
Master Sommelier Duo Teams to Celebrate Michigan Wine Month

Bloomfield Hills, MI — The Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council is sponsoring the “Michigan Wine Showcase” on Monday, April 11, at the Radisson Bloomfield Hills, home of Northern Lakes Seafood Company. Two of Michigan’s Master Sommeliers — Madeline Triffon and Claudia Tyagi — are closely involved with this project and are excited to celebrate Michigan Wine Month with this event.

Admission to the Showcase is $45 per person in advance, or $50 at the door. The gala will take place in the Grand Ballroom at the Radisson, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. Guests will enjoy a comprehensive selection of artisan wines from Michigan with lavish appetizers of local ingredients prepared by Chef Tim Budzinski, with the Matt Prentice Restaurant Group. Winemakers will be on hand to discuss their wines and provide additional information about their winery operations.

From 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., the Showcase will be open to restaurant, retailer and distributor staff. RSVP with your professional affiliation to Madeline Triffon at

The Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council is pleased to highlight the event’s tie-in with April as Michigan Wine Month, which honors the state’s wide selection of quality wines and the wine industry’s significant contribution to the economy. Michigan’s 81 wineries welcome more than 1 million visitors to their tasting rooms each year, and Michigan’s wine and grape industries contribute nearly $800 million to the state’s economy annually.

The Radisson Bloomfield Hills is located at 39475 Woodward Ave., next to Northern Lakes Seafood Company, which is part of the Matt Prentice Restaurant Group. For more information about the Showcase event, visit To purchase discounted tickets in advance, contact the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council at 517-241-4468.

The Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council is a 10-member panel that supports the growth of the grape and wine industry in Michigan. It is housed in the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, which is the official state agency charged with serving, promoting and protecting the food, agriculture and agricultural economic interests of the people of the state of Michigan.

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Editor’s Note: Following is a partial list of wineries participating in this event. Members of the media are invited to attend any part of the Showcase at no charge.

The Michigan Wine Showcase will feature more than 20 Michigan wineries, including:

Bel Lago Vineyards
Black Star Farms
Bowers Harbor Vineyards
Brys Estate
Burgdorf’s Winery
Chateau Aeronautique
Chateau Chantal
Chateau Fontaine
Chateau Grand Traverse
Cherry Creek Cellars
Circa Estate
Fenn Valley Vineyards
Forty-Five North
Founders Wine Cellar
Hickory Creek
L Mawby
Left Foot Charley
Sandhill Crane Vineyards
Shady Lane Cellars
Sleeping Bear Winery
St. Julian Wine Company

Alan Kerr’s Vintage’s April 2nd Release – Tasting Notes

I was happy to get back to London, especially after missing the previous tasting that profiled some of Napa’s super stock, to taste the wines of Burgundy, which is the feature release. The secondary release is wines of South Africa and to be blunt, I found them more interesting than the Burgundies. So please read on. (Click images to enlarge)

Wine from the Burgundy release.

Perfume and dark fruit, good concentration, a note of lavender, anise and steely mineral, all create alluring aromas to this top value Pinot. There is some tannin, but the silky unobtrusive type, blackcurrant takes pride of place on the palate and overall, the balance is spot on. Find this wine

Typical notes of wet stone and mineral combine with simple fruit aromas of apple, grapefruit zest and a touch of roasted nut. Nice clean fruit on the palate, mineral components increase, finish is decent, but disappears too soon. Find this wine

Spicy with a touch of dried mint, black cherry, that is quite floral and perfumed. Good structure on the palate, a soft and creamy texture with plenty of red fruit, cranberry and dusty cedar. A pretty and elegant wine, showing a touch of tannin, but nonetheless, enjoyable now. Find this wine

The aromas of dark cherry, forest floor and blackberry are compelling to say the least. It has a pleasing texture, acidity is spot on, the dark cherry turns tart, but the tasty flavours of iron and mineral are duly noted. A nice wine, albeit short on the finish. Find this wine

This almost looks like a Rose in the glass, very pale, with faint aromas of clove, cake spice, perfume, rhubarb and cola. Disappointing on the palate, so light, so lacklustre, I think the tasting panel, judging from their accolades, had a totally different wine than we did! Find this wine

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