Archive for June, 2013

Bottled by Jolie-Pitt and Perrin

After enjoying a wonderful retreat at the 6th Annual Above the Bridge Songwriters Weekend, it was something of a relief to return home on Sunday, if only because it had been the third straight weekend I’d been on the road with music-related activities. Kim and I celebrated simply by sharing a few glasses of a delightful new rosé from Provence. What makes this wine particularly interesting is that it is a collaborative effort from what at first seems the unlikely team of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and the Perrin family, of Chateau Beaucastel fame.

Château Miraval is located in the ancient village of Correns, described in the Vineyard Brands brand sheet as “the first organic village in France.” The estate is comprised of 500 hectares in the heart of Provence, at an altitude of about 350 meters, with ancient woods, olive trees, vineyards, wildlife and an abundant water supply on the property. Jazz pianist and composer Jacques Loussier bought Château Miraval in 1970; he built a recording studio, Le Studio de Miraval, where artists such as Pink Floyd, Sting, Sade, The Cranberries and The Gipsy Kings recorded. Now, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have established a summer residence at the Château, and have made it a place dedicated to the arts, including music, cinema, theater, local food and fine wine. I am told that Pitt has taken a very hands-on approach in the production of this wine; whatever his input may actually be, this stuff is quite delicious.

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New from Cono Sur

For our tastes, Cono Sur’s whites have a well-established track record for being balanced and enjoyable, but, with the exception of the Pinot Noir program, the reds are rather less satisfying. I’ll let my tasting notes tell the rest of the story.

2012 Cono Sur Bicicleta Chardonnay Valle Central, 13.3% alc., $12: Clean, medium color; a note of lime adds zest to the apple and pear personality. Full bodied, rich and ripe, with good acidity and length. Does everything you could ask from a $12 Chilean Chardonnay. Find this wine

2012 Cono Sur Bicicleta Sauvignon Blanc Valle Central, 12.9% alc., $12: Clean medium color, and correct varietal character, with grapefruit and green apple flavors and aromas underscored with subtle minerality. Medium bodied, with good acids and length, this continues to be an appealing alternative to similarly priced Sauvignons from New Zealand and elsewhere. Find this wine

2012 Cono Sur Bicicleta Viogner Colchagua, 13.7% alc., $12: Clean, medium color, with a nice nose of apple and pear accented with floral overtones; flavors echo and expand, with a note of lime, nice minerality and zesty acidity. Rich, round, fairly ripe and delivering plenty of depth of flavor on a medium-full-to-full bodied frame. A pleasure to drink, now and over the next few years. Find this wine
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Celebrating with a ’95 Ridge York Creek Zin

I had the distinct pleasure of playing the opening set of music for my old friend Charlie Walmsley’s new folk-rock band, “Crazy Chester,” last Thursday in Mount Pleasant, MI. It was a fun gig, and you can read a bit more about it here. Afterwards, we retired to Charlie’s home, where we celebrated playing music together again. Champagne would have been a good option, but Chaz had a better idea, and pulled the cork from an 18-year old bottle of Mr. Ridge, which we enjoyed immensely with his wife Melinda. Here’s what I wrote about this beauty; the picture was taken with my cell phone camera.

1995 Ridge Spring Mountain Zinfandel York Creek, 90% Zinfandel, 6% Petite Sirah, 4% Alicante, 14.5% alc.: There’s some bricking to the slightly murky dark garnet color here; the lovely, mature nose still shows obvious and unmistakable “Draper perfume” in all its glory, along with a slight mustiness that gradually blows off. There’s more of the same in the mouth, with a rich core of Zinfandel fruit shaded with attractive secondary nuances. Classic Mr. Ridge, and very silky; there’s still plenty of life left here, but I wouldn’t wait much longer if I had any of this in my cellar. I’d rather drink it while it still gives plenty of pleasure, rather than letting it turn into a museum piece. Charlie said he purchased this for around $30 from Valley Produce in Midland, MI, about 6 or 7 years ago. I sort of doubt that they have any left, if the place is still even in existence… Find this wine

Reporting from Day-twah,

geo t.

Everything’s Coming Up Rosés!

Dry rosés aren’t just warm weather quaffers here at Gang Central; we drink them throughout the year. We have had the opportunity to taste some very nice selections over the past several weeks, however, so now seems as good a time as any to file a report on these six delicious pinkos. They represent different styles and price points, so there are good choices here for a variety of tastes and budgets. We start things off with three selections from two of our very favorite California producers.

2012 Tablas Creek Vineyard Paso Robles Dianthus, 60% Mourvedre, 25% Grenache, 15% Counoise, 14.5% Alc., $27 SRP: Dianthus is a new name of Tablas Creek’s estate rosé (in former vintages it was simply called Rosé), and refers to a genus of flowering plants known for their deep pink blossoms and known colloquially as “pinks”. Bright strawberry pink color, with lively, not quite candied strawberry and raspberry flavors and aromas that are ripe, intense and delicious; subtle minerality and a hint of herbaceousness add to the appeal as it opens and warms in the glass. Medium-full bodied, with good acids and decent length on the finish. I like this, but not enough to warrant the $27 price tag. 1200 cases produced. Find this wine

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More Playoffs Red Wings and Red Rhônes 2013

After an improbable playoff run that went further into the second round than many thought possible, my Detroit Red Wings finally came up short and now have lots of time for golf and other extracurricular activities. The boys gave the Chicago Black Hawks everything they had, and acquitted themselves admirably, but, in the end they’re still on the outside looking in. We drank some delicious red Rhône mojo during the conference semi-finals, and I will file reports on them, but first, I need to finish my reports on Round One, which I have been woefully remiss in doing, due to a number of musical projects and distractions.

We enjoyed four southern Rhônes from producers with whom we are very familiar, having had several selections from each in past years. All more than live up to the high standards set by their predecessors, and are highly recommended by this taster. Here are my impressions of each.

2008 Domaine de Font-Sane Gigondas Tradition, 72% Grenache, 23% Syrah, 3% Mourvedre, 2% Cinsault, 15% alc., $22.99: Clean, dark garnet color; nice leathery black fruit nose fleshes out on the palate with earth, saddle leather and slightly pruney black fruit flavors. Full bodied and still well-structured for at least 3-5 years of further development, and perhaps as many as 10 strong years of enjoyable drinking. Domaine de Font-Sane is always a solid producer. Find this wine

Imported by AHD Vintners, Ltd., Warren, MI

2009 Domaine de l’Espigouette Vacqueyras, 14.5 % alc., $21.99: Deep, dark garnet color, and tight and primary in character, even after having been opened for a few hours. Full bodied and very well-structured, with lots of depth and substance; earth, iron and somewhat hard black plum, currant and berry gains a subtle note of leather with extended air. Give it plenty of air if you’re going to open one now, but this one’s best days are well ahead; a 10-year wine and then some. Find this wine
Imported by J et R Selections, Bloomfield Hills, MI

2010 Domaine de l’Oratoire St. Martin Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne Réserve des Seigneurs, 14.5% alc., $21.99: Deep, dark color, almost inky; appealing black plum and berry nose carries over onto the palate, where, as with the first two selections noted here, it also shows an appealing note of leather. Big and brawny, this wants 5-10 more years to develop, but it’s approachable now with a couple of hours in a decanter. I’ve never had anything from this producer that wasn’t very good, and this is no exception. Find this wine

Imported by J et R Selections, Bloomfield Hills, MI

2010 Chateau de la Font du Loup Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 14.5% alc., $48.99: Anne Charlotte Bachas usually likes her wines to be enjoyable in their youth, and while this one needs time to be at its best, it provides great red Rhône mojo in an overtime win for the Red Wings. Clean, dark color, with big black plum, blackberry, earth, iron, briar and bramble character; full bodied, with excellent structure, yet relatively svelte for Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Give this one at least a few more years in the cellar for it to give you everything it has. Find this wine

Imported by AHD Vintners, Ltd., Warren, MI

Reporting from Day-twah,

geo t.

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