Archive for September, 2015

Bargain Hunter Bastardo

I’m always on the lookout for good buys in any wine department that my adventures take me through, and I’ve been fortunate to come upon five over the last few months. The first is one I reported on in August, the 2012 Domaine Laroche Saint Martin Chablis. It was a good buy at the Costco price of $19.99, but I guess it wasn’t moving fast enough for them, so they hung a closeout price price of $9.97 on it, and I brought home a dozen or more. I mean, where do you find quality Chablis for $10?! You may still find some of this at various Costcos in the metro Day-twah area, but I cleaned out the stash at our friendly neighborhood outlet on Stephenson Highway in Madison Heights.

There were two other terrific buys at the Madison Heights store, a white and a red, and while I took advantage of both, so did other intrepid buyers, so they were snatched up quickly. As to whether they’re still available at other locations, I can’t say, but I rather doubt it, especially, the Siduri Pinot Noir. Here are my notes on both, starting with the pale Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

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Two Late Model Cornerstone Reds

In March of this year, the folks at Cornerstone Cellars in Napa Valley announced their intention to begin releasing a series of single vineyard wines from the elite properties that they work with under their White Label. That was good news as far as we were concerned, since we’ve loved everything they’ve produced for that program for the last several vintages.

Then, in July, we received the first bottling of the series, or maybe it was the first two, I’m not sure. The Oakville Station Merlot is definitely one of the wines mentioned in the March announcement, but the Michael’s Cuvée Cabernet Sauvignon, named for Cornerstone founder Dr. Michael Dragutsky, was not on that list, and while it isn’t a single vineyard wine, it does include fruit from two of the sites in the new series, Oakville Station and Kairos Vineyard. (Ink Grade Vineyard on Howell Mountain has been a staple source for Cornerstone fruit for about as long as we’ve been tasting and reviewing them.)

Whatever the case, we didn’t get around to trying them until Labor Day, when I relented from my vegetarian druthers and bought a nice cut of C. Roy beef steak to grill and pair them with. As a great man once sang, “Time passes slowly when you’re lost in a dream,” but the wait was well worth it.

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Parting Gifts From Clos Roche Blanche

We’ve crossed paths with some very nice wines from the non-interventionist Loire Valley producer Clos Roche Blanche a time or two, but never paid them as much attention as we should have. This point was driven home a few weeks ago, when my buddy Jarred informed me that two of the wines I had in my cart (noted below) were from Didier Barrouillet and Catherine Roussel’s last vintage, 2014. The vineyards are sold, they have retired, and why in the hell didn’t I get to know their wares better when I had the chance? My bad.

The very short Clos Roche Blanche story is that that Catherine Roussel had owned and operated this estate since in 1975, having taken over from her father, and was later joined by Barrouillet, who tended the vineyards and made the wine. Both were and still are enthusiastic proponents of non-interventionist winemaking. Now, they just want to do whatever they want, instead of being tied down by the duties of the estate. You can read more about what they did here, and at this link to a worthwhile blog entry about a visit to the estate late in the game.

The first three wines are labeled as Vin de France rather than Touraine because, apparently, they wanted to make a statement with their final efforts about not bothering to endure the usual hassles from the appellation.

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Three From Brundlmayer

Just about every Thursday, Great Lakes Coffee Detroit, a cool little coffee shop, café and wine bar in midtown Detroit, has a wine tasting of selections you’re not likely to find at many other locations. When it comes to the coffee, wines, beers and ales or food stuff for small plates, James Cadariu aka Roastmaster General is uncompromising in his selections, focusing on small, artisanal producers he admires.

This past Thursday, Great Lakes offered three wines from the exceptional Austrian producer Bründlmayer. We’ve enjoyed Willi Bründlmayer’s wines quite a bit on past occasions, perhaps none more than on Monte Bello Ridge, of all places, back in about ’98 or ’99. It’s rare to get a taste of these in the Metro Detroit area, so we availed ourselves of the opportunity, saddled up with our good friend Gary Shea and trucked on down to the corner of Woodward and Alexandrine, where we hooked up with another good friend in the person of Noelle Lothamer.

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