Archive for November, 2017

Chateau Virgile Update

2011 Chateau Virgile Costiere de Nimes Rouge, 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, 14% alc., $12.99: I picked 6 of these puppies up back in the spring of ’14. We would have been wiser to try 1 and cellar the other 5, but we were tannin pigs and sucked 3 of them down right away before I did the right thing. I indulged in my first Red Wings and Red Rhônes night of the 2017-18 NHL season last week by digging one of them out a few nights ago, and I’m happy to report that it’s coming around nicely after 2 ½ years.

It’s mostly as I remember it; big, brawny and earthy, with a barnyard nose and a deep core of black plums, berries and currants, all shaded with a note of iron. There even seems to be a little bit of leather just starting to develop, always a good thing in my book. The obvious difference is that the significant tannins and almost searing acidity has toned down enough to make this a nice glass of wine as soon as it’s poured from the bottle, without the benefit of any aeration. As you’d expect, it opens even more with air, and while I didn’t try it with food this time out, it is most definitely a grilled red meat kind o’ wine.

This isn’t close to being at its best; it has many years of development and improvement ahead of it. I’ll wait at least another couple of years before I open one of the two left to see where it’s at. Pretty damned good stuff for $12.99, this is indeed a QPR All-Star. If you can still find it out there, buy all they have, and save a few for Kim and me. If you can’t find this particular vintage, try anything you CAN find from them, they have a fine track record for producing very good reds, whites and rosés. Find this wine

Imported by United Estates Wine Imports, Ltd., Columbus, OH

Reporting from Day-twah,

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Alan Kerr’s November 11th Vintages Release Notes

It seems so long since I was able to get to London to taste. Happy to say, for the November 11th Vintages release, I was able to taste a few of the wines due to hit the shelf on Saturday.

France
566844 FAMILLE PERRIN LES CORNUDS VINSOBRES, Rhone Valley 2015 $17.95
A mix of dark fruit, stewed plum, dark bitter chocolate and peppery spice. Quite chewy, some dusty tannin, nicely balanced and a decent finish. Good value. A year or two should prove this as a worthy investment. Find this wine

682617 CHÂTEAU LA GARDE 2010, Pessac Leognan, Bordeaux $51.95
Layers of violet, Dutch licorice, some earthy/mineral notes combine with those of black cherry and raspberry. Still youthful, but drinking nicely, with plenty of sweet fruit and juicy acidity. Find this wine

514257 MAISON ROCHE DE BELLENE COLLECTION BELLENUM PETITE CHAPELLE GEVREY CHAMBERTIN 1ER CRU 2001 106.95
This is a rich and sexy Pinot that still flaunts a garnet robe. It offers up aromas of red fruit, plum, Moroccan spice and dried herbs. The texture is smooth and silky, with a mix of plum, damson and sweet spice. Some tannins still, but time in a decanter will allow this wine to show even better. Not cheap, but compared to US prices, this is a steal! Find this wine

711317 CHÂTEAU DE BEAUCASTEL CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2015 $89.95
The blend is 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 10% Counoise, 10% Syrah, 5% Cinsault and 5% “other” varieties. Already it is developing complexity on the nose. Hints of cassis, mineral, coal dust, smoked meat and lavender all blend together creating an enticing aroma. The tannins are ripe, and the lovely flavours offer dark cherry, damson and plum, with dusty cocoa powder on the finish. Should age superbly well and again, well priced compared to the US market. Find this wine

132415 CHÂTEAU BOUSCASSÉ VIEILLES VIGNES MADIRAN 2006 38.95
Black and brooding, this is a tannic monster. Notes of ink, cured meats, dried mushrooms and floral aromas. The palate is very tight and overwhelmed by very aggressive tannins. A potentially interesting wine indeed, that will need plenty of time to show its best, if it ever does. Find this wine

USA
479055 FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA DIAMOND COLLECTION CLARET 2015 Sonoma County $29.95
A crowd pleaser, with simple tones of currant, plum, sweet spice and smoked meat. A little fleshy on the palate, and quite sweet especially on the finish. Find this wine

524223 PURPLE COWBOY TRAIL BOSS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 Paso Robles $24.95
Plum, cherry cola, oak, cedar, tar, sweet spice and blueberry with very fresh almost jam like aromas. Sweet and globby on the palate, simply not for me. Find this wine

Cheers,
CZ

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Sonoma Coast Flowers

Kim and I still have fond, if now somewhat distant, memories of our two visits to Camp Meeting Ridge way back in 1999 and 2000. This was back when Walt and Joan Flowers still owned the winery, and the stunning vistas, elegant brunches, wild rides through vineyards above the clouds and, of course, the wines, all provided lasting mental images that have remained with us over the years.

The wines were controversial, and had both admirers and detractors. I remember one particular Toledo convocation featuring a Friday Night flight that had tasters split about 50/50 either way. Our reaction was almost always favorable to the wines, but we gradually drifted away from them for purely financial reasons, not only because of escalating prices, but also because of the Flowers “hostage wine” policy that forced mailing list members to buy several bottles of wines like the one reviewed here in order to get a few of the single vineyard selections. We simply felt that the rising prices were not justified by what was in the bottles, and the allocation policy was downright greedy.

Fast forward to a few months ago, when, whilst perusing the wine department offerings at our friendly neighborhood Trader Joe’s, I happened upon the bottle noted below and decided to take a chance and try an example of what had been produced there recently. It took us a few months to get to it, but we finally pulled the cork a few nights ago, and here’s what we found.

2014 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 13.7% alc., $45.99: Clean garnet color, with a clean, bright black cherry/Pinot nose. Neither wallflower nor a Syrah-wannabe, this does have some weight and density, with flavors that deliver nicely on the promise of the nose, with an earthy base underneath, hints of cranberry and rhubarb and overtones of smoky oak. Medium-full-to-full bodied, with good structure for at least a few more years of cellar aging and nice length on the finish, this is drinking well now, and is very much in the style that I remember from back when.

Having said that, I don’t favor this style like I did at the turn of the century. Yes, the wine is pleasant and well made, with no detectable flaws, but, to me, it seems “homogenized,” with no real sense of place or distinguishing characteristics to set it apart from the steady parade of Pinot Noirs in this general price range. And, speaking of price, I don’t mind having paid this much for “research,” but I won’t go there again. It just isn’t worth $46, in my not-so-humble opinion. Find this wine

It was fun to revisit old memories, but, all things considered, our Flowers fandom will remain a thing of the past.

Reporting from Day-twah,

Bastardo

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Two Left Coast Cellars Whites

Carrying on with my pet “white is the new red” theme, we got our hands on two late model wines from the Willamette Valley producer Left Coast Cellars, courtesy of their PR firm, and both are of the pale persuasion. We’ve had two previous encounters with this winery that we feel is very much deserving of greater recognition, and we’ve enjoyed everything we’ve tried from them.


Both wines are the latest versions of LCC efforts we’ve tried previously. I only got a very brief taste of the 2014 Left Coast Cellars White Pinot Noir a little over two years ago, and while I liked it, I didn’t detect a lot of varietal character. No such anonymity with this one, however; the wine screams Pinot Noir.

2016 Left Coast Cellars Willamette Valley White Pinot Noir, 100% Pinot Noir, 14.1% alc., $24.00: Clean, medium color, showing a tinge of Pinot pigment; the generous nose gives off cherry and citrus aromas, which echo and expand on the palate with a good dose of mineral. Medium bodied and then some, and denser than it looks, with zippy acids and good length. This is essentially a pale Pinot Noir rosé, and a really good one at that. Find this wine

2016 Left Coast Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Gris The Orchards, 100% Pinot Gris, 14.1% alc., $18.00: Clean, medium color; green apple/citrus nose, with plenty more of the same in the mouth, and some mineral underneath it all. Kim adds an impression of a certain underlying earthiness, and I wouldn’t disagree. Rich and intense, medium-to-medium full bodied, with active acidity and good length on the finish. The citrus fleshes out into a lime like character in the flavor profile, which is a plus in my book. A most worthy successor to the very fine 2015 model. Find this wine

Reporting from Day-twah,

Bastardo

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A Couple of Whites

More and more lately, my tastes have been turning towards white wines. I was never in “the only wine is red” camp, even though there was a time not so long ago when reds were probably about 70% of what we drank here at Gang Central. These days, however, it seems like I often prefer something lighter and more crisp, with lower alcohol content. Take the two wines in this report, for instance. I found both during a recent visit to, where else, Western Market in Ferndale, where I buy most of our wine these days.

We’ve been fans of good Muscadet for what seems like forever, but this is the first time we’ve run into this producer. Château l’Oiselinière is a 10 hectare single vineyard overlooking the confluence of the Sèvre and Maine rivers. The grapes are sourced from 40+ year old vines, given temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel and then aged 6-8 months on the lees.

2015 Château l’Oiseliniere de la Ramée Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie, 12% alc., $15.99: Fairly pale in color, with a citrus and green apple nose that jump right out of the glass; rich and expressive on the palate, the flavors echo the aromas, along with a strong mineral undertone. Medium bodied, with excellent acids and very good length. Hits all the right buttons for me when it comes to Muscadet, now where are the freakin’ oysters?! The bonus is that this will very likely get better with at least a few years in the cellar. Find this wine

Longtime readers know that we’re always up for trying something new from our friends at Bonny Doon Vineyard, and this is the first Picpoul from California that we’ve had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with. The fruit was sourced from the same vineyard that provides grapes for Doon’s flagship white, Le Cigare Blanc. (Some Picpoul is also used in that blend.)

2016 Bonny Doon Arroyo Seco Picpoul Beeswax Vineyard, 12.7% alc., $15.99: Pale-to-medium straw in color, with lots of lemon-lime citrus on the nose, and more of the same in the mouth, shaded with some mineral. Medium bodied, with very active acids and decent length. I’d like a little more intensity of flavor, which only just delivers on the promise of the nose. Nice with a Salade Niçoise, and all by itself, but I’d like it better at around $12. It didn’t wow me, but it more than didn’t suck, either. Find this wine

Reporting from Day-twah,

Bastardo

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