Archive for November, 2015

Alan Kerr’s Vintages November 28th Release Notes

I do not have a lot of notes on the featured release, Holiday Finery, but they do prove that this is the time of the year the LCBO puts its serious stuff onto the shelves. The release on November 28th is an assembly of fine juice from all parts of the wine making world. There are several stellar Napa Valley Cabs to be found, but regrettably one wine that I was hoping would be part of the lineup was absent, Ridge’s 2013 Geyserville. Now this wine carries a price tag of $63.00. Ouch, I will not be buying mine from the LCBO! (Click images to enlarge.)

722470 ORNELLAIA 2012 Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy
This is an absolute treat to taste. For some reason, the board, in full seasonal spirit, sent all three formats that will be available. One can buy a single bottle for $195.95, a Magnum for $465.95 or a half bottle stocking stuffer for $103.95. I do not understand the vast pricing difference for the larger format, but hey, it is what it is. Tasting all three together, the magnum does seem to be tighter and more structured than the other two. The half bottle and 750 ml size show no difference at all. There is smoke, dark fruit, mint, violet, smoked meat, Asian spice, in particular Star Anise, and pure blackcurrant on the nose. There are flavours of dark fruit, spice, bitter chocolate and mineral. It is an attack on the senses, chewy and ripe, but the dusty silky tannins are planning on sticking around for a while. This is a wine clearly made to age and age well it will. Find this wine

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A Bargain Bin Crozes Hermitage

We first learned to love the wines of Crozes-Hermitage back in the summer of ’95, when friends opened a bottle of 1978 Paul Jaboulet Aine Domaine du Thalabert for us. That bottling and those of Alain Graillot soon became some of our favorite wines for more than a decade. We gradually drifted away from them, one major reason being that the more reasonably priced Jaboulet pretty much disappeared from retail shelves around here. (Click image to enlarge.)

Happily, we “rediscovered” Crozes-Hermitage a few years ago, after encountering Graillot’s wines once again, and then, discovering the lovely wines of Domaine des Hauts Chassis.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to find the following selection during an expedition to an area Costco a few weeks ago. I reviewed several wines from Maison Nicolas Perrin (a collaboration between Nicolas Jaboulet and the Perrin family of Chateau Beaucastel fame) three years ago, but it wasn’t until I got it home that I realized this was the same vintage that I had tasted back then, so that made it all the more interesting.

2012 Maison Nicolas Perrin Crozes-Hermitage, 13% alc., $19.99: Looks like a glass of bloody ink; all leathery and briar-bramble on the nose. Shows obvious young Syrah black fruit character on the palate, somewhat sour and astringent, and it quickly offers more and more “garrigue” with air. A sizable and well-structured wine with the depth of fruit to get a lot better with age, and, at this price, a no-brainer to pick up at least a few more and lay them down for 5-8 years. Interestingly, it shows none of the barrel character that was so obvious three years ago. Find this wine

Imported by Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL

It’s a bit of a shame that these have ended up in Costco bins here in southeastern Michigan. I could speculate that the wine has been a hard sell around here at the original $28-35 retail price range. I’m not saying it isn’t worth that, but it’s a lot more attractive at $20, and I’m nothing if not a bargain hunter. It won’t supplant the Domaine des Hauts Chassis Les Galets as my current favorite from Crozes-Hermitage, but I’ll certainly be going back for a few more to put down for a while and see how they develop with some age.

Reporting from Day-twah,
Bastardo

Alan Kerr’s Vintages November 14th Release Notes

There were many great wines released on the 14th, all just in time for gifting and drinking over the holidays. Big wines, big bottles and of course big prices, but the “Star Studded” line up and the “Big Bottles For Entertaining” both have some stellar wines. (Click on images to enlarge.)

November 14th release.
WINES OF THE MONTH

186171 DECOY CABERNET SAUVIGNON, 2013, Sonoma County, California $35.95
A lovely nose showing ripe dark fruit, but with accents of dusty soil, mineral, dark chocolate and leather. Superb balance, gorgeous layers of dark fruit, some tannins, but drinking nicely already. Find this wine

206409 CONVENTO SAN FRANCISCO CRIANZA 2009 Ribera del Duero, Spain $19.95
A heady wine boasting aromas of black cherry, plum, black licorice and sweet oak. It has purity on the palate; black fruit and plum are discernible, acids are fine-tuned, there is some tannin, but time in a decanter will soften. Find this wine

WINES FROM THE “STAR STUDDED” LINE UP

265090 LA CHABLISIENNE MONTMAINS CHABLIS 1 ER CRU 2012, Burgundy, France $32.95
Tight nose at first, some apple and unripe pear aromas appear and meld well with the shingle, stony and mineral elements. Acidity is sharp, but not over the top and the fruit is in the background. Needs a little time I think. Find this wine

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A Tablas Creek Trio

Well, we received some new wines from Tablas Creek Vineyards and, no surprise to us, they’re really  tasty. Longtime readers know we’re big fans; we haven’t encountered anything but really fine wines from this producer since I first met and tasted with General Manager Jason Haas back in 2006, and these three more than keep that streak alive. (Frankly, I’d be surprised to taste something I didn’t like from these folks, because they always have their A Game going.)

This latest batch consisted of two whites and a red, and while we didn’t have them with food, they’re all very food friendly. (Click image to enlarge. Click wine names for tech info and suggested food pairings.)

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Four Domestic Rieslings

In my last Riesling report, I focused on four North American entries from such diverse territories as Washington, California, Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula and Michigan. Unfortunately, there has been precious little in Day-twah to be had from another Riesling hotbed, New York’s Finger Lakes, at least until I happened upon the first three noted below at, where else, Ferndale’s Western Market. Jarred Gild is a Riesling freak, and he offers a number of selections from all over the world, and after a brief chat with him about these, I brought one of each home to try.

Located in Lodi, New York, on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake, Boundary Breaks produces only Riesling, focusing on four specific clones; Geisenheim clones 110, 98 and 239 (identified by Germany’s Geisenheim Grape Breeding Institute), and clone 90 from from the Neustadt Research Institute in Germany. Labor-intensive vineyard practices include using the Scott Henry trellis system, early shoot-thinning, cluster-thinning, hedging and leaf removal and hand-picking all fruit, usually in three phases. Vines are planted on sloping ground, in calcareous soils which are ideal for aromatic white wines like Riesling. Boundary Breaks limits their activities to growing the grapes; the actual winemaking is done in collaboration with some of the best wineries in the area, producing small batches of single vineyard Rieslings. Based on what I tasted from these three selections, this arrangement seems to be working quite well.

2013 Boundary Breaks Finger Lakes Dry Riesling Single Vineyard No. 239, Residual Sugar: 0.9%, Alc. 11.6%, $19.99: Clean, medium color, with a dusty mineral nose that follows through on the palate, offering rich Riesling character. It’s not bone dry, but it’s close, being medium bodied, with zippy acids and good length on the finish. Not as “green” as many dry Rieslings, and faintly vegetal, though not necessarily in a bad way. The mineral sets the tone here, and a wee hint of something like petrol bodes well for more of the same as it develops with some age. A solid, if unspectacular entry into the the varieties of the Riesling experience. Find this wine

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Tasting The Wines Of Massolino

It’s always a special treat to dine at Bacco Ristorante in Southfield, Michigan, and it’s all the more memorable when flights of brilliant Italian wine are included on the menu. I’ve had the good fortune to attend three such events, the most recent being a presentation of most of the selections currently available from the Piemonte producer Massolino.

Franco Massolino was in the neighborhood for two days prior to the event, working the market and promoting and selling his family’s wines with our good friend, Anne Keller, Midwest Sales Manager for Vineyards Brands. I was quite jazzed to be included in a select group of invitees to taste these wines in the best possible setting, with great food. (Click images to enlarge.)

The family estate was founded in Serralunga d’Alba in 1896, by Giovanni Massolino, and successive generations have carried on by continuing to expand vineyard holding and refining oenological and agronomical techniques that make these wines truly superb. Besides producing great Barolo, including three single cru vineyard selections tasted on this occasion, Massolino also makes terrific Chardonnay, Dolcetto, Barbara and Moscato.

Upon arriving, we were greeted by Franco and Anne with glasses of some delicious Chardonnay.

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