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Florida Jim Cowan’s 2009 Tasting Notes Archive

All notes, except as otherwise noted, were from bottles that were opened and drunk with a meal over an extended period.  The 2009 archive is divided into the following categories:  Bubbles, Red, White and Rosé



N/V Marquis de Monestral, Cava Brut Riserva Especiale:
Enduring bead, dry, clean, lemon-grass flavored, perfectly correct Cava without flaw or artifice. $9. Failure to at least try this wine is plain silly. I keep a case on hand. (Aside: a friend who has substantial experience with bubbly thought it an N/V grower Champagne when tasted blind.) Find this wine

NV Segura Viudas, Cava Brut Reserva:
Very much like the preceding wine but ever so slightly sweeter. Good for about $7. Find this wine

N/V Roederer Estate, Brut Anderson Valley:
A pretty wine with a good bead and a dry delivery; some flavor and quite fresh. About $15. Find this wine

N/V Gruet, Sparkling Wine Rosé:
A bubbly with character; good bead, refreshing overall profile with lots of flavor and nuance. I’d be happy with this anytime. 100% pinot noir, 12% abv and about $15. Find this wine

N/V Gosset, Champagne Excellence Brut:
Lightly yeasty, somewhat nutty, quite dry and altogether nice – I am not a Champagne guy but this was pleasant without rough spots and held its bead very well. $30. Find this wine



2005 Cantine Antonio Caggiano, Tarì:
Aglianico from Campania that smells very good – sort of nebbiolo meets ripe cabernet; in the mouth its like berry infused Baker’s chocolate – not much chocolate flavor, no sweetness, somewhat grainy/tactile and with a distinct bitterness – really not much fun by itself. But with poached chicken in tomato sauce with feta, this wine is extraordinary; the drying bitterness is barely noticeable and the flavors resound against the red sauce. One of the most dramatic synergies of food and wine I have encountered. About $25. Find this wine

2005 Patrick Javillier, Pernand-Vergelesses:
My second bottle of this in the past two weeks; a clear, place driven expression of pinot that is elegant on the palate and aromatic in the glass. Shows none of the vintage’s “big-ness,” good balance and moderate complexity. 13% and $25. Find this wine

2007 Dom. J. Chamonard, Morgon Clos de Lys:
Pure, clear fruit and obviously Morgon; initially tight in the mouth but opens with air and delivers a textbook rendition of its place in a balanced, stylish format. A couple of years should be good to this; it has the acidity and structure for the cellar. With grilled salmon (rare) and steamed veggies, perfect. 12.5% abv and about $25. (My first wine from this producer; thanks for the tip, Eric.) Find this wine

1989 Lynch Bages:
For me, the best showing of this wine in the past 15 years – it was wonderful on release and then went green bell pepper all to hell – now, it is back with considerable complexity, attractive cedar accents, lots of fruit and a worsted texture that just carries me away. Shows differently from moment to moment in the glass but never gets unbalanced or less enjoyable. Not a heart-stopping 20 year old Bordeaux but very, very good. Find this wine

2006 T. et P. Matrot, Volnay Santenots:
Not a delicate or elegant wine; rather it’s rich, sturdy, has excellent acidity and yet is still nuanced. This is what I expect from Santenots but it’s still showing young, especially on the nose which was quite closed and a little waxy. Served with a dish of beans, kale and sausage, it did well. Has a shelf life and, at 13% and $25, I’d say it is worth buying a couple – one for now and one (or more) for later. Find this wine

2000 Constant, Cabernet Sauvignon:
This maker got big props from Jim Laube prior to the release of its first wine and then little reception from the Napa cab-aholics once it was available. Well, it ain’t bad. I’m not rushing out to buy it but aside from a little toast it’s a pretty cab/cab franc/merlot nose with enough nuance to make me want to taste it. On the palate it’s balanced and not overly alcoholic, a touch closed, moderate in both intensity and concentration and finishes pretty grippy. 14.1% alcohol and showing a bit young but not the horror that I’d been told nor the second coming as per Laube. If you’re pouring, I’ll have another glass, please. Find this wine

2001 Bouchard, Volnay Caillerets Cuvée Ancien blah, blah . . .:
There is good fruit here; nothing that says Caillerets but solid stuff – and an avalanche of oak. It starts with just some on the nose and a bit on the palate but the longer this was open the worse it got. By the third day, completely undrinkable and DNPIM. The wood obscures the fruit, overwhelms the palate and dries out the finish. Bad winemaking. Find this wine

2007 Edmunds St. John, Bone Jolly Gamay Witters Vnyd.:
Turn laughter into liquid; add a dash of raspberry juice and a splash of tonic water; bottle it and serve slightly chilled. Yummy! Find this wine

1999 Paitin, Barbaresco Sori’ Paitin VV:
Smells of nebbiolo, chocolate and insecticide (in a good way); rich and tannic in the mouth, quite primary but plusher than I’d have expected so it wasn’t harsh but simply undeveloped; tannic finish. Great pizza wine (I realize that “pizza wine” is usually saved for quaffers but I rather like my very best bottles with pizza). Of course, I was warned off this wine as late as last week by folks in the know, but that didn’t stop me. Yes, it could use a decade or two but I enjoyed it, Diane asked for more and it went great with dinner. Find this wine

2006 Quinta de Ventoselo, Cister da Ribeira Tinto:
A Douro blend of touriga franca, tinta roriz, touriga nacional and tinta barroca, 13% abv; slightly aldehydic nose with light red fruit scents; somewhat thin in the mouth but pleasant and balanced – a lightweight wine. $9; no re-buy. Find this wine

2004 El Sequé, Alicante:
All or mostly monastrell (mourvedre), 14% alcohol; I found earlier vintages to be too oaky, extractive and expensive – this is not; very singular but pure on the nose – the aroma of blueberries being sautéed; also linear on the palate with a smooth texture and nice balance; nothing out of place here, albeit a bit simple. Even so, its simple in a good way with a an attractive and distinctive flavor and I like it and will buy it again, even at its $20 price. Find this wine

(Unknown vintage) Galiciano, Mencia Noite:
No vintage on the label but I think one of the labels usually on this bottling is missing, 13%, $13; smells and tastes grapey – a flavor I enjoy although it is straight-forward and without nuance; balanced, bright and quaffable. Tastes more like négrette then mencia but regardless, it’s a fun drink. Find this wine

1999 Maison Leroy, Volnay Santenots:
Balsamic and stewed fruit nose; acidic and attenuated in the mouth with no sense of place or variety – after several hours of airing it is marginally better with varietal character but no sense of place. Tolerable with food, otherwise, not. Poor wine although at least it has dropped most of its new oak smells and flavors.

(Aside: This is one of those wines that I think was adversely affected by its new oak treatment. Certainly, I could be wrong. But I have a theory that new oak can be very insidious in its effects – not just sawn lumber smells and flavors but rather the masking or altering of subtle elements in the nose and flavor profile as well as the texture. When released, this was massively oaked, to the point that I thought it obscured aromas and flavors. Now, this wine supports my notion; it is stripped and becoming a shell of what the wine had at release.) Find this wine

2008 Bodega Hinojosa, 2 Copas:
20% malbec and 80% tempranillo from Argentina; one of very few wines from this country that make me think the place has promise; this is round but has cut, is quite structured yet full of fruit and is nuanced in ways I had no idea could come from this blend; not sweet, or overtly tannic or unbalanced in any way and such a pleasure to taste that I probably had too much. Someone else’s bring but my guess would be less than $20. Find this wine

2000 Belle Pente, Pinot Noir Estate Reserve:
Earthy but fruit driven – mostly dark fruit – good balance and sustain. This wine has never risen to the heights that some of the Murto Vnyd. pinots have but this is solid, of its place and went very well with a quinoa and roasted vegetable casserole. Find this wine

2005 de Villaine, Bourgogne La Digoine:
Lightweight, translucent, pure, vinous heaven; does not attempt to be grand cru and we are all the better for it. I could drink this wine once a week for the rest of my life and always feel that I could find a meal to go with it and that I would walk away from the table happy. Joyous wine. Find this wine

2007 Masi, Valpolicella Bonacosta:
12% and about $15; pizza wine as it should be; grapey, straight-forward, good cut and nice balance. Nothing to age or write home about but ideal with simple fare when one would like to do something else with the rest of the day besides nap. Find this wine

2001 Gulfi, Nero d’Avola Neroàccarj:
Considerable sediment; big wine but not overdone; milk chocolate and dark fruit on the nose, slightly tart dark fruit in the mouth and plenty of length. Still shows most on its primary side but has more depth and complexity than at release and maybe the beginnings of secondary development. Will hold a long time; not your typical nero. Find this wine

1999 Bizot, Vosne-Romanée VV:
Sauvage nose with a raw meat, olive, curry spice core surrounded by red fruit – expansive and intriguing; slightly attenuated in the mouth but delivering the same kind of experience as the nose, moderate concentration and intensity; excellent length. We surmise that this bottle still needs time in the cellar but we also finish it over the course of dinner. 12.5% abv. Find this wine

1994 Laurel Glen, Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Mountain:
Best showing ever for this wine (for me) with a fully developed mid-palate, exceptional length, balance and secondary layers. It would be very hard for me to think of another domestic cabernet that I have had in the last ten years that approached this level of finesse and complexity. Find this wine

2005 Havens, Bourriquot:
2/3 cabernet franc and 1/3 merlot; A meaty, smoky, Bandol-esque nose that gives no indication of the varietal make-up here but sure does get your attention; powerful, thick but not sweet in the mouth with immense flavors that follow the nose and considerable tannin, albeit, not drying. A giant of a wine and one of the most intense red wines in awhile. I don’t know if I like this or not, but I will remember it. Find this wine

2001 Gulfi, Nero d’Avola Màccarj:
Root beer candy, chocolate covered cherries, dusty earth smells; mouth-filling with flavors that follow the nose along with some plum accents, considerable structure and concentration and lots of grip; very, very long finish. Youthful but bright and without question, the best nero I have tasted. Pretty amazing wine and of the charts good with turkey, pesto and cheese panini on fococcia. Find this wine

1989 Chateau Montrose:
Perhaps, the most astonishing perfume I have ever gotten from a Bordeaux; I was expecting power and earth and instead got aromas of flowers, fresh cut fruit, a garden just after a rain storm and some odors I just could not identify but wanted to go on smelling; also very arresting in the mouth with a more Bordeaux profile but a freshness that belies its age, perfect balance and a finish that is full of nuance and sustain. It may not be at peak but it needn’t ever get better for me. Thanks David. Find this wine

2007 Edmunds St. John, Gamay Porphyry:
From the derivation of the word, I assume that feldspar and quartz are most of the make-up of the Barsotti Ranch vineyard from which this is sourced. But El Dorado county vineyards are new to me. Whatever the case, the mineral character of this wine is evident. Right now it’s tight and giving up only glimpses of its fruit and where it might go. My guess, is that it will go past its variety to become a remarkably transparent expression of its terroir. But it will take several years to know. About $20; hold. Find this wine

2000 Felsina, Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia (375 ml):
Smells dark and brooding, tastes as one would expect of Rancia but is plenty tannic; dryingly so. I really don’t think I’m a Chianti lover – its OK but nothing I would seek out again. Some secondary development in this bottle. Find this wine

2002 Allemand, Cornas:
No single vineyard designates in this vintage; 12.5% alcohol . . . this is why I love syrah. Fresh smoked ham, plums, some salt and pepper on the nose; rustic, dusty fruit in the mouth with a touch of smoke, some earthy stuff and a bit of spice; medium length, tannic finish. Not altogether yet and still better than most wines that are. And threaded through it from first sip to last echo is a quality I can not describe – I smell it and I smile; I taste it and I am taken; along about the end of the finish it reprises. ‘Reminds me of what people say about umami – “the essence of deliciousness.” This has it in spades. ‘Years from peak; even so, thrilling wine.

(This is one of those wines that positively reinforces my awareness that certain producers are to be bought without regard to vintage. Evidently, the retailer who got this in believed the “bad year” reports – it was priced at $35 when everything Allemand does is north of $60. I bought some, tried it and went back with a vengeance. Consumer one; retailer zero.) Find this wine

2007 Dashe, Zinfandel l’Enfant Terrible:
McFadden Ranch, Potter Valley, Mendocino County, 13.8% alcohol, 100% zinfandel; this takes me back to when zinfandel was not synonymous with big, alcoholic and overdone – clean, almost crisp nose of spice and red fruit; bright in the mouth and, at first, showing somewhat closed with plum, black raspberry and spice flavors – becomes more open with air but also more concentrated and structured; medium long, tannic finish. This appears to need cellar time but also finds an audience tonight with Diane and me in the company of some manchego. $26 and more than worth it.

Day two: more translucent in appearance and less concentrated but much more of whole cloth; all in the high registers with very little bass/mellow/grip going on. I’d say this comes very close to ringing the bell but just misses. But what a chance the winemaker took and for that, he has my respect. Find this wine

2002 Hess Collection, Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder:
Lumberyard nose with almost no fruit getting through; soft and smooth in the mouth with a plush texture, decent fruit but too much oak; very drying/ woody finish. A waste, IMO; the fruit that came off this mountain deserved better than to be buried under a clear-cut a forest. Find this wine

2007 Overnoy/Houillon, Arbois Pupillin:
Poulsard may be my favorite red grape, at least chez Overnoy/Houillon – when I compare the 2006 version of this wine to the 2007 there is a noticeable difference. 2006 was a fully ripe, fleshy, well-concentrated wine; this is more delicate, thinner even, and nuanced. These “off” years are so enchanting and interesting. The ripest vintages seem to appeal physically, the others, mentally. Fortunately, I enjoy both. Pomegranate, strawberry, mineral nose with an earthy tilt to all the aromas; much the same in the mouth, gossamer texture, lithe and bright, dry, intense; medium length. Special wine. Find this wine

2007 Conquista de Argentina, Malbec:
Floral, spicy, purple fruit smells, some violet and high-toned pepper; bright in the mouth with flavors that follow the nose, excellent balance, not any sign of wood and much more complex than anticipated; medium length, well-balanced finish. Detailed wine that delivers good varietal character, a sense of place and very pretty fruit for $7. Back up the truck. Find this wine

2007 Bodegas Luigi Bosca, Malbec Finca La Linda:
Deeper and richer than the foregoing wine with a more saturated overall delivery but pretty much the same flavors and smells. Full bodied, a worsted texture and a longer finish – more concentrated and more intense. A wine I will certainly buy more of at $14. Find this wine

2000 Felsina, Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia (375 ml):
Recognizably Chianti but without the stuffing to be memorable and without the depth to be worth holding. Find this wine

2000 Beckmen, Syrah Purisima Mtn.:
Starts out closed and gently oaky – with air, smoked bacon, flowers and fresh herbs emerge; much the same in the mouth but little concentration – with air, significant grip; medium finish. As Spock would say, “interesting, but not fascinating.” Find this wine

2001 Forrier, Morey St. Denis Clos Salon:
Not any green anywhere; translucent and aromatic; pinot noir in the elegant mode with laser-like definition and good sustain. Very strong wine with lots of upside. Find this wine

2006 Chignard, Fleurie Les Moriers:
Quite floral on the nose; fresh cherries and flowers in the mouth; good length. Very Fleurie – not as much depth and structure as the 2005 but much more recognizable to its place. Find this wine

2006 Quercus Harmonia, Pinot Noir:
An Oregon pinot that is lithe, elegant, earthy, slightly austere and did not overwhelm something as lovely as baked swordfish with a fresh tomato and citrus sauce. Wild rose scents and raspberry/herbal flavors. A producer I had not heard of but one I will remember (unfortunately, I am told the winemaker is leaving the business). Find this wine

1994 Coudoulet de Beaucastel:
Secondary development in full swing as the nose carries enough funk (most of which, blows off) to remind one that this has been sleeping. Very pretty wine with considerable mourvèdre character, still grippy and with a long finish. Not fully resolved but in a nice place. Find this wine

2008 Gascón, Malbec:
Score one for the guys who say, “It’s what’s in the glass that counts.” This is good wine; very well balanced, not overtly oaky, not too slick, blueberry/blackberry smells and flavors, and a clean finish. If I were at a restaurant and saw it on the list, I’d order it with dinner without hesitation. It accompanied grilled chicken with Caesar salad just fine.

But there is no varietal signature here and absolutely no individual character. It’s a commercial success. But aging this wine would be pointless. 13.9% alcohol, about $12 (at Whole Foods) and ready now. Find this wine

2003 Bonny Doon, Old Telegram:
Mourvèdre (100%) but too young to enjoy. Rustic, slightly disjointed, quite tannic – lay it down for 10 plus years. No noticeable flaws. Find this wine

2005 Château de la Terrière, Beaujolais-Villages VV:
Closed on both the nose and palate; a smoked meat note, no florals with some burgeoning black fruit and a bit of spice. 13% alcohol and about $8. Needs time to resolve as the structure is in charge at the moment, but the stuffing is substantial and in balance. Hold. Find this wine

2007 Conquista, Malbec:
This is my new house “pinot” – put it in a Burgundy stem and let its nose open-up; medium body, very aromatic, satin texture and a wispy overall delivery. Not much varietal character but a pretty little wine. 13 % alcohol and about $7. Drink now. Find this wine

2007 Castle Rock, Pinot Noir Mendocino County:
13.8% alcohol and about $12. A young, well-made, balanced pinot noir that is not only varietally correct but also of its place; it has that crackling black fruit scent and flavor I associate with the Anderson Valley and Mendocino; very light touches of milk chocolate and spice; this is clean, ripe, graceful, distinctive and will likely last several years in the cellar. In weight and texture this reminds a little of a village Chambolle from a good producer. Find this wine

2006 Moon Mountain, Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County:
13.9% alcohol and about $19. A young, very pure Bordeaux blend that smells and tastes like it has never seen oak. However, it has 18 months in barrel, 20% French, 80% American and 30% new – which proves to me that a good winemaker knows how to use barrels without over-using them. It’s intense, concentrated, varietally correct, has some complexity, good depth and substantial grip. I think its structure requires five years or so in the cellar to resolve but I am semi-shocked to find this exceptional a cabernet from CA. Find this wine

2006 Duboeuf, Fleurie Fleur:
Almost black in the glass and much less polished than expected this is strongly flavored, not overly floral, without signs of banana or candy. Deeply fruited (mostly black fruit), rustic in construction and fairly tannic; not yet of a piece. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it. About $10.

Day two: Much more integrated with only a little tannin showing; still plenty of depth and intensity. It appears a little cellar time is a good idea.

(Aside: It has been a very long time since I have had a Duboeuf wine that I wanted to have again – this one I will buy more of. It is not as precise or complex as the Porphyry (note follows) or many of the finest producers in Beaujolais, but it is very good wine at a fraction of the price. And it is a welcome change from this house.) Find this wine

2008 Lurton, Malbec:
Fresh fruit nose that shows the characteristics of the variety; middle-weight, silky texture, moderately intense with light spice tones and medium length. Not structured or meant to age, screw-cap, $7; and all one could want or ask at that price. Find this wine

2005 Terra Rosa, Malbec:
This is a Laurel Glen project in Argentina, 14.5% alcohol, screw-cap and about $13; its over-ripe, over oaked, has little, if any, varietal character and it finishes hot; this could be from anywhere and, if I had my way, I’d send it back there – wherever ‘there’ might be. With so many reasonably priced and quality or at least enjoyable malbecs in the marketplace today, this is a joke. Find this wine

1998 Belle Pente, Pinot Noir Estate Reserve:
I last had this wine five years ago and was a bit frustrated – it really didn’t impress. I was too early to it; now it’s showing some secondary development, much more integrated and has its own distinct personality. It still probably needs a decade to be at peak, but its pretty damn delicious now, well stuffed and nicely balanced. I think this a remarkable effort for young vine fruit that spent 18 months in new wood (which comes across very gentle as this stage). Drink or hold. Find this wine

2005 Baudry, Chinon La Croix Boissée:
The angriest wine I have had in years. Completely shut down, tannic, brutal in the mouth and way too green. Revisit in a decade, at minimum. Opening this now is a complete waste. Hold, hold, hold. Find this wine

2000 Hamacher, Pinot Noir:
Sourced from six different vineyards, 13% alcohol:

Day one: no secondary development here but this is silky, balanced, evinces both red and black fruit and finishes as a completely composed wine. Has time left; how much it will develop is the only question. But for now, a really charming and delicious drink.

Day two: a touch of truffle is now a part of the nose which has richened and broadened; likewise in the mouth with a bit of complexity, a little less integrated, a very slight hint of oxidation and mouthwatering acidity; excellent length that is also mouthwatering. A nice wine close to its peak. Drink or hold. Find this wine

1999 Michel Lafarge, Volnay Vendages Sélectionnées:
Day one: still a bit tannic but this wine is so much better than three years ago (the last time I tried it); classic fresh cherry, beet, earth, stone nose; much the same in the mouth with some complexity, good intensity and a profile that is both hard-edged and approachable at the same time. As with all really good wines, there is a paradox (or two) in this; minerality but clear fruit; firm but open; strongly flavored but with finesse. These are the bottles we hope to find when we go back into the cellar after a decade and pull out Burgundy. With grilled chicken, rice with black pepper sauce and sautéed brussel sprouts, beyond words.

Day two: this has wound back in upon itself – its all about structure and tannin now, although, it comes alive accompanying pasta with tomato/almond sauce. 13% alcohol and about $35 on release. Hold. Find this wine

2002 Michaud, Brouilly Prestige de Vielles Vignes:
Day one: bright, pure gamay with an earthy/granite streak and considerable depth; aromatic, graceful and nicely integrated. Often times this bottling can be a bit tannic but this is pretty smooth.

Day two: even better, by magnitudes; there is finesse and a purity not evident yesterday; there’s real complexity and still a smooth texture; and, above all, there is this deft balance – as though all parts were meant to fit together just so. This is all a red wine I ever need and it pleases me no end to have more than a few bottles left in the cellar. Real old vine (greater than 85 years) quality. 13% alcohol and a bargain at $20. Find this wine

2001 Sella, Lessona:

You know how when Robin Hood split the arrow that was already in the bull’s eye? Well, this is that much on target. Precise, detailed, graceful and complex – I have had bottles of this that have shown much less but this one is everything one could ask for. Slightly less clear on day two but still excellent. I bought a bunch of this on sale and I think I will put Astor on my Christmas card list – what a gift. Drink. Find this wine

1999 Gilles Robin, Crozes-Hermitage Cuvée Albéric Bouvet:
My last 750 (one magnum remains) of a wine that I have probably had more of than any other; there is a little brett here but nothing that puts me off; other than that, the most complete, complex and engaging syrah I’ve ever had. The nose is packed with nuance; in the mouth it is fresh yet has developed secondary character; and the length is a lovely and enduring echo. Fully resolved, balanced, so many different combinations of flavors that it is hard to keep track and still, that elegant, varietal essence of deliciousness that I can only hope that one day I achieve in my own syrahs. I credit Joe Dressner with suggesting one go long on this; I am pleased that I did, and I hope that I find something that comes close in the future. 13% alcohol, about $9 delivered (on sale) and as good a bottle of red wine as I have ever enjoyed. Drink. Find this wine

2002 Clos de la Roilette, Fleurie Cuvée Tardive:
Day one: fairly tannic and closed but showing its depth and concentration; not especially Fleurie-like – more Pommard or something similar. Came alive and truer to its place with lentil stew.

Day two: although somewhat more resolved, a bit duller also. This wine needs time in the bottle; decanting won’t do it. 13% alcohol and about $21 on release. Find this wine

1994 Penfolds, Grange:
This has been the only bottle of Australian wine in my cellar for over ten years. It is what you’d expect; there’s evidence of American oak on the nose but it seems to have morphed into a cola-like smell; it has chocolate in the flavor profile but not the sweet kind, and it has an extraordinarily silky texture. Rich, plush stuff that is more cocktail style than food style. Even so, not a bad wine and anything that was done to it seems to have softened over 15 years. Others liked it better but I will say that this is not outsized or unbalanced and does have some finesse (probably due to its age). Not my sort but for those who like this style, I suspect you’d be very pleased. Find this wine

2006 Edmunds St. John, That Old black Magic:
A co-ferment of syrah and grenache, screw-cap, 14.3% alcohol and about $20. Clean, expansive and attractive nose of dark fruit, salted meat, lavender and mineral; beautifully precise and alluring in the mouth with finesse and complexity, flavors that follow the nose adding an iron tone and a personality that is hard to describe but that keeps me coming back; excellent length. This is balanced, shows better than most CdP I’ve tasted recently, gives no indication of its alcohol content, has a distinct individual quality and has all the ear-marks of wine that will age well. So easy to drink and perfect accompaniment to pasta with broccoli, roasted peppers, feta and olives. Find this wine

1996 Dom. de Montgilet, Anjou Villages:
After 13 years, this has finally become drinkable – actually, more than that – its a smooth, balanced expression of Loire cabernet franc that has good depth of flavor and some richness. For years this wine was nothing but green pepper juice – now, that element is but a hint and the fruit has come around very nicely. But that’s too long to wait for a wine to become drinkable and, while I enjoyed this bottle (my last) tonight, I’ll not be buying more from these folks. 13%alcohol and about $20 on release. Find this wine

2005 Clos de la Roilette, Fleurie Cuvée Tardive:
Unwinds quickly in the glass and delivers aromatic complexity and authenticity; a deep, structured mouthful of flavor and excellent length. With food it is even more attractive as the fruit comes to the fore and the structure integrates. A fine bottle of gamay and lots of years ahead. 13% alcohol and about $20 at release. Find this wine

2000 Belle Pente, Pinot Noir Wahle Vnyd. Res.:
Earthy black fruit nose, quite savory; more fruit driven in the mouth with a distinct dirt/earth element, some complexity and lovely silky texture, medium length. Diane made turkey meatballs in broth with chard and white beans and this was ideal accompaniment. Showing well now. 13.8% alcohol and about $36 on release. Better still, by a pretty good margin, on day two. Find this wine

1991 Sullivan, Cabernet Sauvignon:
Decanted off substantial sediment. Smells of tannin and torrefied earth with solid dark fruit tones and some smoke; really first-class in the mouth – lots of flavor, little overt secondary development but a cohesiveness that is uncommon, loads of complexity, great intensity, no green, satin texture and some grip; very long finish.. Nothing Bordeaux-like about this; it is 100% California cabernet and a powerful, glorious example. Here is what great CA cabernet can age into given 18 years and the right stuff to begin with. 13.1% alcohol and about $45, on release. Find this wine

1993 Laurel Glen, Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Mountain:
ecanted off substantial sediment but unlike the above wine, this does not smell of tannin or smoke but of ripe fruit, mineral and just a touch of brett; more flamboyant in the mouth but still composed and satin textured, some grip, good complexity and intensity; long finish. This wine tends more to a Bordeaux connection but still has the power of CA fruit. Yummy with dinner. 12.5% alcohol and about $40, on release. Find this wine

2004 Giacosa, Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore:
Not the soaring power of Barolo nor the finesse of Barbaresco but without question nebbiolo – gutsy nebbiolo – nothing remotely feminine here: sinewy, direct, firm, strong, cool but integrated and composed; not for lighter fare and definitely better with food. Hold at least a decade. 13.5% alcohol, about $30, on release. Find this wine

2000 Chat. Cantelys:
This is from Pessac-Leognan and cost about $23; it’s got some funk on the nose but that clears to reveal very young, powerful Graves fruit with lots of earthy/mineral nuance; much the same in the mouth with a very youthful, grippy attack and plenty of complexity; decent length. This is too young but it is a terrific wine with decades to go to peak. Unfortunately, my last bottle but this wine, from the folks who make Smith-Haut Lafite is top quality. Find this wine

2007 Biggio Hamina, Pinot Noir Ana Vnyd.:
This has got to be a whole cluster fermented wine (at least to some degree). Translucent, it shows the spice and high tones of whole cluster and its savory elements are readily recognizable. More dark fruit than red, good acidity, some complexity and a crisp, clean finish. Showing young and undeveloped but also well within limits for whole cluster wines. So many whole cluster wines are just plain green or bordering on it to the extent that one has to intellectually sort out the aromas and flavors and convince oneself that all is well. This is more poised and appealing; neither green nor leanings that way but still that herbaceous spice and lifted prettiness that whole cluster can give.

Day two: even better as the depth is now evident and the wine is quite elegant. Diane says, “his is the way pinot noir should taste.” I agree – one of the most impressive domestic pinots I have tasted in a long time. And superb with turkey/cheese panini. 12.5% alcohol, screw-cap, $38, and, again I say, this is a producer to watch – someone here has a clue, they are daring and they seem to have a good handle on what their fruit can and can not do. Stay tuned . . . Find this wine

2002 Clos Roche Blanche, Gamay:
I’ve had a few bad bottles of this but this one is quintessential gamay – charming, complete, moderate weight and good sustain. A really lovely bottle – after all these years. Find this wine

2005 Georges Vigouroux, Cahors Pigmentum:
Malbec that is blurry, earthy/dirty, unfocused and just not very good. If there’s nothing else . . . 12.5% and about $10. Find this wine

2008 Maipe, Malbec:
So much better that the last two malbecs that one might think it was a different grape; this shows the darker side of the variety but with balance and some finesse; drinking well now and very good with a bean, chard, turkey and quinoa stew. 14% alcohol and about $12. Find this wine

2000 Thomas, Pinot Noir:
Bright and almost spritzy at first but it evolves to reveal a nicely balanced, very Oregon pinot. Some depth and complexity; a bit of cola. I’m a little suspect of this bottle as there was some leakage at the cork. Find this wine

2006 Priarius, Pinot Noir:
From Oregon at about 13.5% alcohol this is pale and translucent; light scents of raspberry and spice with a touch of dark fruit; elegant but dense in the mouth with finesse and lovely varietal character, well balanced; long finish that emphasizes the dark fruit notes. A pretty, little wine for about $14. Find this wine

2008 Castle Rock, Pinot Noir Willamette Valley:
Smells pretty generic; tastes OK but it has a swath of chalky tannins that overwhelms the mouth – I think this is wood tannin but wherever its from, its unpleasant. A couple of sips was all I could handle. 13.5% alcohol and about $12. Pass. Find this wine

2005 Philippe Faury, St. Joseph:
Really pretty wine; alluring aromatics of purple fruit and leather; much the same in the mouth with excellent balance and a degree of finesse that makes this such a joy; long, fruit filled finish. A wine to compare other syrahs to. 12.8% alcohol and about $25. Superb! Find this wine

2007 Overnoy, Arbois Pupillin:
Translucent salmon color; pomegranate, baking spice and mineral nose; beginning to fill out in the mouth with flavors that follow the nose and add wild raspberry accents, dry, intense and beautifully balanced; quite long. Exhilarating wine. Find this wine

2007 Cadencias, Ribera del Guadiana:
Half and half tempranillo and syrah; 13.5% alcohol and about $10; has a bit of chocolate covered cherry in the nose but also some earthiness and spice; much the same in the mouth, no wood, moderately concentrated, not quite of a piece and medium length. So much better with food that I would not drink it by itself again. Find this wine

2006 Emperador de Barros, Ribera del Guadiana:
Mostly tempranillo, 13.5% alcohol and about $8. Smells like someone made cotton candy out of wine and tastes similar . . . at first. As it opens, more depth and character arrive but this never stops being fairly sweet. Not my style but I can see this appealing to folks who don’t like their reds “too dry.” Find this wine

Lot 48 Marietta Cellars, Old Vine Red:
Adequate quaffing wine but after it gets some air, too much wood for me and a little thin. Still, pleasant. About $14. Find this wine

2005 Domaine des Chassaud, Côtes de Rhone:
Smells mostly of grenache and earth; tastes dark and somewhat tannic and has good length, albeit slightly drying – but this could be CdP if one wasn’t looking at the label. A nice wine with structure and more complexity than expected. 14% alcohol and about $11; ‘worth a try. Find this wine

2006 Vinosia, Irpinia Aglianico:
13% alcohol and about $15; smells a little like talcum powder; tastes pretty good but has a semi-sweet edge that doesn’t seem to go away and medium length. Neither obvious tannins nor noticeable structure. Definitely not reminiscent of Taurasi and, IMO, not anything I’d buy again. Find this wine

2007 Domaine des Versauds, Morgon:
A clean, soft gamay nose is followed by an initial taste impression of round, soft gamay fruit and then . . . nothing. Oh, it’s still wine-like but it’s lost all interest as it morphs into a sort of ultra-pasteurized, processed wine product. A very weird experience; it’s not bad, it just stops being even the least bit appealing. I think this is a Duboeuf product. Its 13% alcohol and about $14. Find this wine

2007 Maipe, Malbec:
This smells dark and rich; tastes pretty much as it smells and finishes longer than I expect. There isn’t too much wood or alcohol, there’s ample flavor, most of it in the dark fruit spectrum, and the overall impression is that its hearty accompaniment. 14% alcohol. Find this wine

2007 Obvio, Malbec:
Some varietal character, nicely fragrant; solid flavors without any cloying sweetness, a touch of rusticity in the mouth and the overall impression of a wine one step up from a quaffer. 13.5% alcohol and tasty with an assortment of cheese and toasted bread. About $10. Find this wine

2007 Bodega la Rural, Malbec La Vuelta:
Candied, no varietal character, little apparent structure; a sort of generic processed wine-food. ‘Couldn’t get through a single glass. 13% alcohol and about $8. Find this wine

2008 Masi, Modello:
This is all or mostly refosco and is a lip smacking, thoroughly quaffable red for about $9. Perfect for lasagna, pizza or other red sauced food. Drink now. Find this wine

2007 Saintsbury, Pinot Noir Garnet:
This is up to $22 and, for my taste, is generic and barely worth the effort. Not something I’d buy again. Find this wine

2007 Gonon, St. Joseph:
Under $25 (same conversion thingy) and really good; complex, round, tactile in the mouth and quite a finish. Excellent. Find this wine

2002 Anne Gros, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits:
Elegant, feminine, intense wine with a real sense of place, good complexity and sustain. A joy to drink. About $25. Find this wine

2006 Anne Gros, Bourgogne:
Adequate pinot noir from Burgundy without artifice or nuance; nothing more. About $28. Find this wine

2007 Le Colombier, Vacqueyras VV:
This is good; complete, layered, integrated without flab or being over-done in any way; tempting aromas and a strongly flavored, meaty, salty, sappy, profile with a fine finish. As balanced a 2007 southern Rhône as I have had and about $18. Find this wine

2008 Montressor, Bardolino:
Lightweight without being thin, concentrated but not lush, lovely balance, juicy fruit and a somewhat dry finish. A good wine for drinking with or without food and candidly, one that appeals to me so much more than many of the heavier, richer reds I have had recently. Charming; 12.5% and about $12. Find this wine

Very brief impressions of wines at lunch and at a tasting:

2003 Marcassin, Pinot Noir:
Spicy and balanced but without complexity and very slightly hot on the finish. Pleasant; no more. Find this wine

Marcassin, Chardonnay (vintage and vineyard unknown):
All vanilla all the time. Not for me. Find this wine

1982 Château Ducru-Beacaillou:
A somewhat musty nose (not TCA) but fairly fresh fruit, some grip and a decent finish. Not special but pretty good. Find this wine

1999 Produtorri del Barbaresco:
Beautiful, feathery wine with sustain and presence. Almost Burgundy-like in weight and texture. Drinking very well. Find this wine

2006 Bevan Cellars, Syrah:
Too much new wood at this stage of its life for my taste but the concentration and flavor profile are just plain yummy. Find this wine

2005 Bevan Cellars, Syrah:
Much more complex and with much less oak than the 2006; graceful despite remarkable intensity. Quite good. Find this wine

1996 Dom Pérignon:
Oh my! Without question, the most delectable and impressive Champagne of my life. Thanks Kevin. Find this wine

We also had a Paul Hobbes, Cabernet (vintage unknown) that supposedly got 100 points from Mr. Parker. I found it nicely balanced and showing some complexity but having little varietal character and being a little hollow at mid-palate. Then we compared it to the 2006 Bevan Cellars, Cabernet and I found the Bevan to have more character, be more identifiable as cabernet and much more concentrated.

At the end of the night, somebody poured a recent vintage Colgin, Cabernet which smelled like a pickle barrel – I never got any farther than the nose and didn’t want to.



2007 Louis Michel, Chablis Montmain:
Clean and tart; a wine of depth, individuality, excellent balance and length. It screams Chablis and cuts almost any food it is served with. At 13% and about $20 (screwcap) it’s a no brainer. Find this wine

2007 Louis Michel, Chablis Forêts:
Richer and fuller than the Montmain but every bit as much cut and steeliness. The closer it gets to room temp. the more open and accessible it becomes. 13% and about $20 (real cork). Find this wine

2007 Arca Nova, Vinho Verde:
A lovely drop, this. Smells of river rocks, unripe pears and a lightly herbaceous tone (nothing green – more like fresh picked marjoram); a delicate spritz, quite dry, gentle flavors that follow the nose and a clean, medium length finish. 10.5% alcohol, $8 and exactly what I want from this DOC. Drink now. Find this wine

2005 Pieropan, Soave Calvarino:
Diane made a dish of white beans, broth, chard, onions, garlic, bacon and red pepper flakes and served it with fococcia – I thought this had the backbone and stuffing to pair. Very good, indeed, and certainly my benchmark for fine garganega. Find this wine

1999 Hirtzberger, Riesling Smaragd Singerriedel:
For those who know Austrian wine it will be no surprise that I think this is great wine – a fine producer, superb terroir and a terrific vintage. What may surprise though, is the elegance and freshness here – there is nothing outsized, angular or muted; it is as though it were bottled yesterday at the peak of its aging curve. Depth, balance, precision and above all focus – like a beam of light that has been minutely adjusted to fit the taster alone. When a wine is this centered and pure, all the other stimuli around wanes; it’s a beautiful thing. Find this wine

2006 Pépière, Muscadet Clos des Briords VV:
Quite dry; crystal clear in the mouth with lots of mineral tones and focused fruit. A lovely wine at its “shelf-life” beginning. Identical on day two after being refrigerated overnight. Find this wine

2000 R. & V. Dauvissat, Chablis Les Clos:
The only other wine I have tasted where, once the glass was empty, the aroma was more intense, was the 1945 Latour – this is sensational with lemon-skin candy on the nose, depth, character and balance in the mouth and a finish that is . . . well, like only one other wine. The perfect Chablis experience and as good a showing of a chardonnay based wine as I have had. 13% abv. Find this wine

2006 Fattoria l’Ottavo, Bianco Toscana Lucolena:
11% alcohol, slightly bitter, crisp white wine; good with food, not especially so without. $6. Find this wine

2007 Dönnhoff, Riesling Qba Estate:
With tofu, vegetables and green curry, this was exquisite. Demi-sec, flinty, some cherries, a delicate delivery and a very long finish. 10% alcohol and delicious. Find this wine

2007 Biggio Hamina, Pinot Blanc:
Almost saline at first but turning more to carambola and ripe pear flavors with air, balanced acidity, good concentration and some interesting nuance (including a touch of bitterness); medium length. A couple months ago this was pretty innocuous and a touch sweet but today it shows complexity and relates much better to food. Nice wine. Find this wine

2006 Dettori, Bianco Badde Nigolosu:
Vermentino from vines over 80 years old; I am guessing this is a skin contact fermentation as this has the color of cider and the aromatics of a Gravner or Radikon type wine. Somewhat flat in the mouth but with considerable flavor in the lemon, almond, mineral range, concentrated and slightly oxidized. Odd but not unpleasant but I would chose very carefully what food I opened it with. Find this wine

2006 Fillaboa, Albariño, Selectión Finca Monte Alto:
Spicy, licorice/resin, peach, lemon drop, medium intensity nose with mineral accents; broad in the mouth with considerable minerality, flavors echo the nose with salt and nutmeg tones, a fairly richly textured delivery, good acidity; remarkably long. Few Albariño approach this level of concentration and complexity. Do Ferreiro’s, Cepas Vellas does, but I can’t think of another. And this was only $17 whereas the Cepas is $38. Find this wine

2001 Guffens-Heynen, Mâcon Pierreclos – Le Chavigne:
Closed on day one – left overnight on the counter without being stoppered; fabulous on day two with rich, complex scents and flavors, no sign of oxidation and length to burn. A fabulous bottle opened way too soon. Find this wine

2001 Domaine Roally, Mâcon-Viré-Clessé Tradition:
Some RS but not enough to throw off the balance of this wine; pure, clean, ripe chardonnay with lots of terroir coming through. Lovely now. Find this wine

2006 Badde Nigolosu, Dettori Bianco:
Brass colored; the nose is all grapefruit and pith, flowers, ginger ale and mineral; much the same in the mouth with a bright but concentrated delivery and considerable nuance; good length. Superb with grilled chicken, caramelized onions and Caesar salad. Find this wine

2004 Quintarelli, Bianco Secco:
Much more developed than on release with a nose and palate much like good Soave; a little citrus and some floral elements as accent. ‘Makes me wonder if another 3 or 4 years will make an even bigger difference. Find this wine

2006 Peter Michael, Sauvignon Blanc L’Après-Midi:
Tropical fruit nose with some citrus hints (no grassiness); full and round in the mouth with flavors that echo the nose, satin texture; good length. Alcoholic and ever so slightly kissed with oak – even so, I like it. Find this wine

2007 Marqués de Castilla, La Mancha (Bianco):
100% airén, 12% alcohol and about $8; moderately intense nose of lychee, resin and pear; much more powerful in the mouth, full bodied and strongly flavored with the dominant flavor being lychee, some pear, spice and mineral, bright acidity, quite concentrated, texturally smooth until the finish where it sort of mimics the elements of a ginger ale aftertaste; good sustain. Never had a wine from this grape before; this is both pretty and potent. Find this wine

2007 Domaine des Cadastres, Picpoul de Pinet:
13% from the Languedoc and about $8. Floral, unripe pineapple, apricot and white grapes on both the nose and palate; medium body, balanced acidity, some white pepper on a mouthwatering finish. Diane and I agree; a very nice little lunch wine. Find this wine

2008 Luigi Bosca, Torrentés Finca La Linda:
Jasmine is the overwhelming smell and flavor – almost to the point of being off-putting; some citrus blossom and green apple with good acids and a medium length finish. I have had better versions of torrentés and at $15, this doesn’t measure up. Find this wine

2007 Masi, Maisanco:
75% pinot grigio vinted in stainless, 25% verduzzo vinted in oak after drying several weeks on racks; 13% alcohol and about $14. Clear and pale yellow with green glints; smells mostly of citrus and apricot; tastes similar but with more complexity as apple and honey tones appear and some mineral; medium length with a slightly bitter finish. Diane likes it (which of course, is all I ever need to know) so we will buy more; as it so happens, I like it, too. Excellent with grilled chicken, roasted peppers, braised fennel and grilled olive bread with EVOO. And a pretty sipper by itself. Find this wine

2005 Château d’Epiré, Savennieres:
A cabbage and white bean dish this evening matched well with this wine; not especially aromatic but what was there was citrus, dried flowers and mineral; light bodied but moderately intense in the mouth with flavors that follow the nose, not any wool or lanolin tones but some quince and apricot; medium length finish. Maybe the nicest thing about this wine is how well balanced and open it was. A really good time to try a bottle if you have access. And quite good with the dish. About $15. Find this wine

2006 Domaine de la Fruitière, Muscadet Cuvée Petit M:
12% alcohol and about $10; fresh citrus and saline nose; not especially deep but solid fruit with rainwater, citrus and sea shell accents, decent volume and intensity and a very pretty and long finish. This may be slightly closed at the moment but its also lip-smackingly delicious and very nice with a pasta and olive dish. Find this wine

2007 Do Ferreirio, Albariño Cepas Vellas:
Day one: closed and tight with a shy nose but a palate that seems loaded but pent-up. Good Albariño character but not the depth or intensity that one expects from this bottling.
Day two: more depth and concentration showing but not enough to get a good read. Others with experience think this even better than the 2006 (which is extraordinary in my book) but the jury is still out for me. Hold. Find this wine

2007 Edmunds St. John, Heart of Gold:
54% grenache blanc, 46% vermentino and 13.3% alcohol.
Day one: although not fully open, much more so than three months ago; this is bright, moderately complex and a terrific wine with food.
Day two: more of the same but still not all it has. Drink or hold. Find this wine

2005 Daniel Dampt, Chablis Côte de Léchet:
Day one: quiet but typical Chablis nose; layered, exotic fruit flavors that are rich, deep and honeyed, steely, crisp and long. Seems somewhat closed but what is showing is absolutely delicious and characteristic of this vineyard.
Day two: more open aromatically but much more mineral driven – an almost salty element in the mouth, good fruit, intensity and concentration; considerable length. A superb wine from a producer that uses only stainless, hand harvests, keeps yields low and is aggressive with triage. This has the stuffing to age, its 13% alcohol, $30 (including shipping) and has a quality to price ratio that is becoming difficult to find in Chablis. Drink or hold. Find this wine

1999 Nigl, Riesling Hochäcker:
Way too fresh to be a decade old; smells of tangerine skin, rainwater and citrus; its dry, textural, intensely flavored to echo the nose and has a tang to it that I find often in Austrian riesling; exceedingly long and that tang is reiterated on the finish which has a slight pithy/resin quality to it. A very good wine that is still youthful, concentrated and balanced but shows an integration borne of its years. 13% alcohol and about $18, back in the day. Find this wine

2004 Domaine Pepière, Muscadet Clos des Briords VV:
Day one: citrus, oyster shell and a hint of pickle juice on the nose; crisp and bright with flavors that follow the nose; some depth, intense; very long. More closed than expected but still good stuff.
Day two: so much better; clean, balanced and precise with crystalline flavors, a somewhat feminine delivery but great length. Falls a heartbeat short of the ’05 Pepière, Granite de Clisson, but just. $13 on release and 12% alcohol. Hold. Find this wine

2005 Domaine de l’Ecu, Muscadet Expression de Garanite:
Very bright, juicy and fresh fruit smells and flavors backed with a peppery spice and mineral backbone; all delivered as though on the snap of a whip. This is a tremendous bottle of wine, has lots of years to go but shows beautifully now. 12% alcohol and about $17, on release. Find this wine

2005 Tribut, Chablis Côte de Lechet:
Has richened and become more strongly flavored since the end of last year. Steely aromatics but more depth and complexity in the mouth; immense length. I’m guessing this is just starting to reveal its core of concentrated fruit. Very energetic and excellent with grilled chicken. About $26, delivered. Find this wine

1999 Nigl, Grüner Veltliner, Piri Privat:
The texture of a big viognier but the precision of a fine riesling; a wine of contradictions, fleshy and cerebral; showing well but no secondary development; intensity and concentration yet no flab or diffusion; endless finish. 13.5% alcohol, about $23, on release. Find this wine

2002 Luneau-Papin, Muscadet Clos des Allées VV:
Harmonious, crisp, complex, deep and just the slightest bit thinning; a wonderful wine that is either coming the end of its peak or beginning to close down – frankly, I think the former. One of the very best white wines in my cellar for the last seven years, I’d recommend drinking this sooner rather than later. Still lovely and charming but starting to turn a corner. 12% alcohol and about $7 on sale, several years ago. Find this wine

2007 Jermann, Vinnae:
Mostly ribolla gialla with small amounts of tocai and riesling; 12.5% alcohol, screw cap and about $25.
Day one: lemon, mineral and herb aromatics; fairly full in the mouth with flavors that echo the nose, a distinct tang and a tactile sensation that comes up just short of tannin; a quite long and lightly bitter finish. Reminds me a little of greco but without the resinous qualities. Probably a bit closed at the moment but indicative of character, concentration and purity. Exceptional with food.
Day two: pretty much the same – perhaps a little more open but I think this could use a year or two (or more). Find this wine

2005 Grosset, Riesling Polish Hill:
13% alcohol, under screw cap and about $20, on sale.
This is one of the most powerful dry rieslings I’ve tasted. It has the concentration of a Zind-Humbrecht without the weight. Angular coming out of the bottle and showing very young but it turns fuller and more fruit driven with a creamy texture as it airs – it has plenty of structure, stuffing and acidity. Probably will age longer than I’ll live and be approachable all along the way. Find this wine

2005 Luneau-Papin, Muscadet Clos des Allées:
Beautiful wine; bright, charming, flavorful and so clean; as balanced and precise a Muscadet as one can find and drinking well now. Find this wine

2008 Bedrock, Cuvée Caritas:
55% old vine semillon and 45% sauvignon blanc in 100% new French oak; powerfully scented with white fruit, spice and vanilla tones; an almost lyrical presentation in the mouth with semillon flavors emphasized and a touch of butterscotch oak; long finish. Needs 3-5 years to integrate the wood (although its not intrusive now) and was delicious with chicken Caesar salad.
Day two: much the same; this either has too much oak or it needs time to integrate. Find this wine

2007 Quinto de Ventozelo, Douro Cisterda da Ribeira:
A Portuguese white made from 30% códega, 30% gouveio, 20% viosinho and 20% rabigato; 13% alcohol; aromas of cream soda, citrus skin and white pepper; similar in the mouth with some unripe apricot and a light saline component added, spicy, smoothly textured but crackling acidity; a touch bitter on a very long finish. This wine is all about its acidity – it carries it and drives it but does not overwhelm it. Very good with a white bean and chard dish, pretty good on its own and well worth buying again at $7. Find this wine

2007 Ameztoi, Getariako Txakolina:
Fizzy, 10.5% alcohol from the Basque region of Spain; akin to Cava but having a more mineral backbone, less bubbles and very dry fruit flavors. A starter wine but pretty good with assorted cheeses. Thirst quenching. Find this wine

2005 Pépière, Muscadet Granite de Clisson:
The longer this spends in bottle the more defined and precise it gets. Still, plenty of flesh and depth with an individual character that is at once unique yet of its place, perfect balance, concentrated and quite integrated even with its remarkable complexity. Crisp, cool and captivating; one of the finest white wines in the world. $20 on release and about 12.5% alcohol. Find this wine

2005 Pieropan, Soave La Rocca:
For a wine that sees wood, I could barely pick-up any influence – which, for me, is a good thing. Golden in color; powerfully scented and intense in the mouth, this wine will probably outlive me. But it was also delicious with a dish of pasta with smoked salmon, artichokes and fava beans in a light cream sauce. In this vintage, this bottling is very, very good. Find this wine

2002 Luneau-Papin, Muscadet Excelsior Terroir de Schistes:
Complex and clean nose with lots of bright aromas and focused scents; similar in the mouth but with more breadth and concentration; good length. More mineral/earth in the mouth but less precise than the Granite de Clisson but very similar in texture and depth. Perfect with Bún chả (chicken). About $20, although I got this on sale for less. Find this wine

2006 Louis Michel, Petit Chablis:
Reticent nose; slightly herbaceous (dried herbs – not green) and a touch thin but otherwise, fairly representative village-type Chablis; surprising length. The length makes me think this could use a year or two in bottle but its tasty now. Done entirely in stainless; screwcap. About $20. Find this wine

2003 Château Réal D’Or, Côtes de Provence:
Made of marsanne, grenache blanc and picpoul, 12.5% alcohol and about $6; slightly tired nose with a hint of oxidation; much the same in the mouth, lacking freshness, solid flavors and medium length. Past it – ‘might have been nice on release but it isn’t worth the calories. Find this wine

2008 Anakena, Sauvignon Blanc:
13% alcohol, from Chili and about $7; smells of perm solution and tastes acidulated – other then that, it’s tolerable but barely. Find this wine

2008 Carpineto, Dodajolo Blanc:
12.5% alcohol; 40% chardonnay, 30% grechetto, 30% sauvignon blanc; fresh and citrusy on the nose with a hint of chardonnay richness; bright, concentrated and not quite of a piece in the mouth with a tart note, good balance and a mouth-watering finish. Integrates with air and becomes smoother. Matches pasta with pesto as well as any wine could. About $10. Find this wine

2007 Quinta de Ventozelo, Cister de Ribeira:
A white from the Douro made of almost equal parts códega, gouveio, viosinho and rabigato, 13% alcohol; almost clear in color; citrus and limestone aromas; very crisp and a touch bitter in the mouth with bright, precise flavors, good concentration and intensity, excellent balance and a finish that leaves me feeling like I just took a shower. Diane made an asparagus, quinoa, fresh tomato dish and this went with it quite well. A quintessential refresher wine for summer that is better than you bargain for. Buy it by the case. About $8. Find this wine

2006 Colonial Estate, Semillon Reserve Expatrié:
Well fruited nose with hints of stone and no musk tones; over-ripe but not sugary, pineapple flavors, no musk, solid acidity and nice balance; excellent length. I usually find too much musk in semillon vinted by itself and rarely buy it, but I tasted this in a store and was pleasantly surprised. ‘Bought a bottle to have with a dish of pasta, zucchini and basil in a parmesan cream sauce and found it delicious and a good match. 13.5% alcohol and about $15. Find this wine

2007 Guy Saget, Muscadet:
About $11 and pretty non-descript – when there are so many good Muscadet around, this is a waste. Find this wine

2007 Drouhin, Saint Veran:
Around $18 (I’m trying to convert euro to dollars in my head – bad craziness) and shockingly delicious. Clean, pure scents and flavors, moderate complexity and an after-taste that makes me want more. Just plain yummy. Find this wine

2007 Drouhin, Chablis:
Tight when first opened but it got going after about a half an hour; crisp, stony, of its place and mouth-watering. Very nice wine for less than $25. Find this wine

N/V Casal Garcia, Vinho Verde Branco:
Bright, dry, lightly spritzy and transparent; freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and stones; 10% abv and $6 – I shall buy a great deal of this. Find this wine

2007 Matrot, Meursault (375 ml):
Screw-capped, $10 and so much better than the price suggests. Lots of stuffing, good complexity, flint and nuts amidst taut chardonnay fruit. Excellent and what a deal! Find this wine

2007 Edmund Vatan, Sancerre Clos la Néore:
Decanted about an hour; I feel a little helpless in describing truly great wine – its as though this rises above its sauvignon blanc variety, and it rises above its Sancerre appellation, to become Vatan – the unique and dazzling expression of the mix of variety, site and a lifetime of work and excellence. It’s tight and gives every evidence of being a several decade wine and yet, the scent, structure and flavor are precise, fresh, complex and balanced to such a degree that I stop eating just to concentrate on the taste. And I find myself waiting longer than I would have expected to pick up my fork again – this doesn’t just finish, it resonates for a time after swallowing. Nothing flamboyant here; no big, plush texture or blockbuster impression – it is controlled yet expansive; soulful, in a way that transcends the written word. And, as luck would have it, I found it at $35/bottle when it is often near twice that. Oh my! Find this wine



2008 Domaine Guy Mousset, Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé:
Bright red fruit aromas with some mineral; crisp and clean in the mouth with good fruit, complexity and intensity, bone dry and fairly long. 13% alcohol and about $10 – and more than worth a try. Find this wine

2007 François Cotat, Sancerre Rosé Chavignol:
Very concentrated watermelon and mineral nose; broad on the palate with flavors that follow the nose, some RS, solid structure and immense length. I am no fan of rosé that is even remotely sweet but this could make me a believer. For me, this is wine to serve very cold or to hold medium term. Superb with vegetable/chicken red curry. $40 – tough to justify at that price. Find this wine

2008 Bedrock, Rosé Ode to Lulu:
Mourvèdre based wine with a lovely fragrance, a dry, mineral driven palate, and a dry finish. In the Bandol style and quite nice with summer grilled veggies. Find this wine

2007 Henry Fessy, Côtes de Provence Rosé Cuvée Farigoul:
Melon and mineral nose; lightweight, bone dry with flavors that follow the nose, bright acidity but a bit short. 12.5% alcohol, refreshing and charming for $8. Find this wine

2007 Dom. Ott, Chat. De Selle Rosé:
Bone dry, ripe but perfectly balanced with strong flavors, good depth and a precision that is rare in pink wines. Charming with lobster salad. Find this wine

2006 Fortitude, Rosé:
From Napa, made of valdiguié (sometimes called Napa Gamay) and about 12.8% alcohol; not pale; very dry with earthy strawberry flavors and a distinctly bitter note (especially on the finish) that is not altogether pleasant. Its $9 so I don’t feel bad for trying it but I don’t think I’ll be back for more. Find this wine

2007 Alta Vista, Rosé:
From Argentina, a rosé of malbec, 13.5%, $7 and the label indicates it was not made from saignée. Not pale; very shy nose of strawberry and stone; some strawberry and pomegranate flavors, a touch of resin and salt, some viscosity and a diffuse finish. Reticent to a fault but nothing flawed or objectionable. Find this wine

2007 Mas Carlot, Rosé:
55% grenache, 40% syrah and 5% mourvèdre, all from saignée, $9 and 13.5% alcohol; not pale; raspberry Kool-Aid® and spice nose; almost rich on the palate with solid raspberry/strawberry flavors, some depth, maybe a touch of RS, and a pretty strong finish. Certainly more generous then the foregoing wine but not necessarily better. Find this wine

2007 Dom. Fontanyles, Rosé Côtes de Provence:
Quite pale and fairly dry; light strawberry and stone aromas and flavors, crisp and clean, some layering. Comes in a Dom. Ott look-a-like bottle, caries 13% alcohol and is about $12. Pleasant. Find this wine

2007 Le Pont, Rosé Bandol:
Twice the quality of the preceding bottle; every bit as pale (sort of a watery light copper) but the nose is stony and spicy with just a bit of fruit; lots of ripe fruit in the mouth but none of it sweet, spicy, a beautiful silky texture, great acidity that is fully integrated and a very long, tangy finish. Showing a sense of place, good finesse and flesh, and, so complex that the $18 price tag makes sense. 13% alcohol and a terrific, dry rosé. Don’t drink it too cold; this one is worth having at cellar temp. or even warmer. Find this wine

Related posts:

  1. Alan’s September 26th, 2009 Vintages Release Tasting Notes
  2. Alan’s October 10th, 2009 Vintages Release Tasting Notes
  3. Alan Kerr’s Vintage’s December 5th, 2009 Release – Tasting Notes

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