Archive for January, 2012
From the Quick-but-by-no-means-Dirty Dept.:
2009 Cuvee des 3 Messes Basses Ventoux, 60% Grenache, 20% Cinsault, 20% Syrah, 14.5% alc., 1.5 L, $16.99: This hearty southern Rhône red from our good friends at J et R Selections/Wines of Distinction in Bloomfield Hills, MI is an out-and-out QPR All Star, delivering more pleasure than it seems one has the right to expect these days for so few dollars. Clean garnet in color, with modest aromatics that only hint at the rich dark plum and berry flavors shaded with some leather and underscored with a solid anchor or earth; subtle hints of violet and licorice add to the appeal. Full bodied, with structure to take it two years or so down the road, but I doubt that 10 cases would make it into 2013 at our house. This deserves serious consideration, nay, this will BE our house red for the coming several months. Find this wine
Reporting from Day-twah,
The more wines we taste from our friends at Cornerstone Cellars in the Napa and Willamette Valleys, the more we admire the great work they continue to do. Consider, if you will, the six samples from the 2009 vintage that we tried recently. Each exhibits the consistent high quality that we’ve come to expect from this producer, and does so with what is for us, an engaging and appealing style. We began our survey by pouring glasses of the 2nd vintage of Cornerstone’s Pinot Noir, which proved to be a worthy successor to the 2008 model that we reviewed in September of 2010. (click images to enlarge)
2009 Cornerstone Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 13.9% alc., $50.00: Clean ruby garnet color; black cherry aromatics shaded with earth and mushroom follow through nicely on the palate, with oak influence well in the background. Medium-to-medium full bodied, with good intensity of flavor, smooth texture and deceptive structure that should take it several years down the road. A wine of class, substance and appeal, this is some very nice Pinot Noir indeed. Sourced from five Willamette Valley AVAs; Eola Hills (37%), Yamhill-Carlton (21%), Chehalem Mountain (21%), Ribbon Ridge (13%) and Dundee Hills (8%). 14 months in French oak barrels, 60% of which were new. Find this wine
As previously reported, the Stepping Stone line strives to offer high quality at lower prices than wines with the Cornerstone label, and the following two selections succeed completely in that regard.
Somm is the story of four Sommeliers attempting to pass the Prestigious Master Sommelier Exam, a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world. The exam covers literally anything having to do with the entire world of wine and that is just the beginning. Access to the Court Of Master Sommeliers has always been strictly regulated and cameras have never been allowed anywhere near the exam…. Until now. How much do you know about wine?
We received a review sample of the 2009 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc a few months ago, and although we tried it after a week or so of letting it rest up from its cross-country journey, I’ve been rather slow in posting said review. It turns out that this isn’t a totally bad thing, because a few weeks ago, we were also sent a bottle of the ’09 Rouge to try, thereby allowing me to combine our impressions on both selections. If you’ve followed our rants and raves for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed that we’re big fans of Tablas Creek, and these two only serve to reinforce our admiration for this fine producer. Click images to enlarge.
The grapes for both the white and red Esprit de Beaucastel bottlings are grown on Tablas Creek’s 120-acre certified organic estate vineyard.
2009 Tablas Creek Vineyard Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc Paso Robles, 62% Roussanne, 26% Grenache Blanc, 12% Picpoul Blanc, 13.5% alc., $40.00 SRP: Clean medium straw to pale gold in color; expressive aromas of white tree fruit, especially peaches, with some apricot in support. Generous flavors echo with some underlying minerality. Full-bodied, rich, ripe and slightly oily, with excellent acids and length. As stated, this is quite approachable, but really, it would be a shame not to give it several years in the cellar to develop into all it can be, which is to say, a very fine white Rhone blend. Find this wine
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Alan Kerr (aka Canadian Zinfan) and this taster got it into our heads that it might be interesting, not to mention fun, to try a small group of Cabernet Franc bottlings from Michigan and Niagara for comparisons sake. It wasn’t hard for us to round up four, and we gathered one evening not long ago to see what they had to offer. We dismissed with formalities, other than my taking notes, and simply enjoyed them for what each had to offer; we didn’t score them or even pick a favorite. We got things started with a Michigan white. Click images to enlarge.
2002 Wyncroft Lake Michigan Shore Chardonnay Avonlea Vineyard, $35, 14.8% alc.: The years have not been kind to this wine since we first tasted it in 2006, if this bottle is any indication. Rich golden color; full bodied, with good acids and length, but the pineapple, pear and butterscotch flavors and aromas are overwhelmed by way too much oak (1/3 new, 1/3 one year and 1/3 two year old Allier). This was actually better in ’06, but the oak is so out of balance that we didn’t finish the bottle. Hopefully, this was an off bottle, as we’ve had other Wyncroft Chards of similar age that performed MUCH better than this one. Find this wine