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Florida Jim Cowan’s 2010 Tasting Notes Archive-Part One

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The 2010 archive is presented by date the notes were compiled and submitted.  This is Part 1 of the archive.  Part 2 may be found here.

August 7, 2010

2007 Francois Cotat, Sancerre Rose:
Very slight residual sugar, pleasant aromas and flavors of strawberry and melon, good acidity and balance and a medium finish. A nice wine but not even in the same world as the 2009 Tempier, Rose. 13% alcohol. find this wine

2002 Francois Chidaine, Montlouis Les Choisilles:
Sour to begin with but it comes around with airing; a nice balanced chenin with good fruit, light complexity and decent length. Nothing to write home about but better than quaffable. find this wine

2005 Rochioli, Pinot Noir Little Hill:
Although obviously a fine wine, this did not open completely over the course of an evening; so if you have it, hold it. 14.2% abv with a slightly sour but very expansive nose; excellent fruit flavors with gentle oak, some finesse and good length. It will be more than it is now. find this wine

2006 Overnoy, Arbois-Pupillin (rouge):
What it always is – a conversation stopper. Served to a bunch of CA wine geeks that initially didn’t like it – “where’s the fruit?” By the end of the evening, three out of four were converts. Looks and smells old, more savory than fruit driven with both elegance and rusticity and a fine grained finish that lasts. I love this wine and to see such CA centric folks wind-up digging poulsard – ‘gives me hope. find this wine

2008 Donelan, Syrah Dragon’s Lair Vnyd.:
This wine is made by Tyler Thomas, who was in the restaurant when we opened it and came over to say hello; showing very young but full of fruit with some nuance developing in the lavender/dried herb range, also some olive and meat tones; a touch sweet in the mouth but still delivers the complexity mentioned above, medium body but well concentrated and quite long. A wine of whole cloth and one worth revisiting over the years. find this wine

2002 Shafer, Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select:
Nice but nothing more; a cab. that could be from anywhere – without anything to distinguish it from any other pleasant Napa cab. except its texture, which was so polished as to border on oily. Nothing wrong with the wine just no ‘there’ there. find this wine

2001 Araujo, Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Vnyd.:
On the other hand, this is really distinctive with its signature minerality and a perfectly balanced delivery; lots of young cab. smells and flavors but all done with restraint and elegance; well integrated and very long. This was a pleasure to drink and kept me coming back to the glass. I admit, I actually wish I had this wine in my cellar. find this wine

Best, Jim

August 6, 2010

2006 Bouchard, Batard-Montrachet:
Gently oaky, somewhat buttery, lots of lemons and medium bodied. Served with lobster tails and drawn butter – ‘mighty nice. find this wine

2006 Bouchard, Le Corton:
Tight at first but, with air, became quite expressive. The structure is firm but the aromas and flavors are lovely; feminine and complex. Good length, too. More than I expected from such a young Corton. find this wine

1996 Allemand, Cornas Reynard:
‘Has arrived at a place in its life where I think it delivers a fabulous Cornas experience; iron, ash, blood and warmed fruit on the nose; similar flavors with a worsted texture that is both rustic and smooth at the same time, extraordinary complexity, intense and very long. Changes in the glass from one sip to the next and is so character driven that it would be hard to guess it was from anywhere else. Perfect balance and years to go before it starts to decline. With peppered, grilled rib-eyes, sublime. find this wine

2005 Chat. Clos de Sarpe, St. Emilion:
Polished but not soft, big structure yet not overdone, complex and nuanced but integrated, showing young though still of whole cloth – a wine that may be worth its hype. And absolutely killer with dry-aged NY strips. find this wine

1994 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello:
Beautifully balanced and soft in the mouth but with acidity keeping it focused; some secondary development, firm tannins and fine textures. Has another decade to peak but showing very well now. find this wine

1996 Ridge, Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello:
A little too much brett for me but this is more ready to drink than the ’94 even though it has little secondary development. find this wine

2003 Ridge, Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello (375 ml):
Way too young to be drinking and pretty disjointed. I don’t drink a lot of cab. so I really can’t guess at its future but its not a good idea to open it now. find this wine

2008 Ridge, Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mtns.:
Bright, crisp, expressive chardonnay with only hints of wood. A nice bottle. find this wine

2007 Ridge, Chardonnay Monte Bello:
Big, oaky, deeply flavored and concentrated. Too much wood for me but its a well-made example of its style. find this wine

2008 Ridge, Carignane Buchignani Ranch:
Flamboyant on the nose and palate, lots of old vine scents and tastes and an almost hidden structure. A joyous wine that is perfectly balanced and ready to drink now. find this wine

2006 Numanthia Termanthia, Toro:
Giant flavors, soft, simple, weighty, milk-shake texture, gobs of this and that, hyper-concentrated – not my kind of wine. Tempranillo, I guess. Others at the table loved it. find this wine

Best, Jim

August 3, 2010

2002 Clos Rougeard, Samur Breze:
100% chenin blanc; golden in the glass; oak and smoked pineapple nose; oak and a sort of a sour pineapple and wool flavor with remarkable concentration but disjointed and angular; very long but again, the oak is distracting. Showing closed and young. find this wine

(Aside: Many experienced tasters love the wines from this house but I can only guess that I have had them too young. Whether red or white, they are always over-oaked for me and while I admire the concentration and precision, I can not drink them. I surmise that this says more about my tasting range (narrow) and my distain of oak smells and flavors (intolerant) then it does about the wines. Something that someone reading my notes should probably take into account.)

2009 Tempier, Bandol Rose:
Pale salmon color; expansive aromas of apricot, peach and mineral; beautifully round in the mouth but the acids keep it vigorous and bright, excellent depth, satin textures and fine length. As a good a rose as there is and actually worth the $30 price tag. find this wine

2005 Foreau, Vouvray Sec:
Closed on the nose and palate – too young; has some chenin character and is “pretty” in its delivery but ungenerous at the moment. On release, this was sensational so I have hopes for its future. find this wine

2005 Vissoux, Fleurie Poncie:
Much like the 2005 Brun, Fleurie I had recently in that its mostly structure now with the mineral and tannin elements dominant – but as it airs, some of the rich, deep fruit that this showed on release comes to the fore and I fall in love all over again. One of my all time favorite wines. find this wine

July 31, 2010

2000 Raveneau, Chablis Montee de Tonnerre:
Oh my!
Extract of lemon skin, reduced mineral water, fresh air, very bright chardonnay fruit, no wood in evidence; deep, powerful flavors that echo the nose, incredible balance – as though every nuance of the wine wears toe shoes – intense, concentrated, the texture of satin; fabulous length and finish. A complete wine with enough age on it to be au pointe and enough depth to give the impression of being ever-lasting. Spectacular! find this wine

2008 Spaetrot Gebeshuber, Thermen:
50% st. laurent and 50% pinot noir from Austria, 13% alcohol; fresh fruit, light earth and stone scents; bright, juicy, dry, silky but focused; flavors follow the nose, intense, hidden tannin, elegant yet deep; good length. I never had this before but would love to have it again – a very pretty wine with character. A Bill Mayer selection under screw-cap. Thanks Brad. find this wine

2009 Tempier, Bandol Rose:
Very pale salmon color; apricot, peach and mineral nose; some of that apricot softness in the mouth but the acidity kicks in and sharpens everything up, lovely textures and decent length. Another strong rose from this house but $30, retail. find this wine

2009 Bedrock, Rose of Mourvedre Ode to Lulu:
More red than the above wine, more color; watermelon and strawberry nose with slight fermentation odors – shows very young; more acidic that the Tempier with less volume but good solid flavors that echo the nose, some tonic water tones and again, showing much younger. I have the impression that this needs 6 months or so to become fully integrated and more expressive. The Tempier is ready (and beautiful) now, this needs a moment or two. $15. find this wine

2000 Louis Michel, Chablis Vaudesir:
Reticent nose; disjointed and angular palate, too acidic – after its open awhile, it becomes a pretty little wine with some Chablis character, better balance and more integration – but this is miles from the Raveneau noted above. find this wine

2007 Varner, Chardonnay Bee Block:
Carmel oak and more of the same. There’s wine in there but one can’t get to it often because of the forest. find this wine

2008 Bevan Cellars, Syrah De Crescenzo Vnyd.:
The one and only syrah from the Bevan Cellars estate vineyard (it was grafted over to cab. franc after 2008) this is a big wine with olive, licorice and dusty syrah smells and flavors, big tannins and considerable extract. More savory than sweet and so appealing to me – this is as good a CA syrah as I have had in awhile. Only a touch of wood here. find this wine

Best, Jim

July 27, 2010

2005 Roland Tissier, Sancerre:
Bright, clean sauvignon with a touch of grassiness/gooseberry. 12% alcohol and refreshing. find this wine

2007 Roessler, Pinot Noir Hein Vnyd.:
Impressive for its individual signature and its purity. A fun wine that would be a crowd pleaser for many yet I still find it interesting because it is so identifiable. Nice. find this wine

2001 Edmunds St. John, Syrah Peay Vnyd.:
At first I thought it sort of soft with some heat on the finish, but as it opened, I got more of the sauvage element in the wine and it firmed up. Not my favorite syrah from Steve but an interesting one even though its 14.9%; dynamite with a baby eggplant, tomato and goat cheese galette. find this wine

1996 Laurel Glen, Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Mtn.:
A little shower curtain when opened but that blew off to reveal a medium weight, somewhat elegant, complex cab. with some secondary development. Not a particularly deep wine but again, one with individual interest – a trait that I think may be as important as making sure a wine is sound. 12 hours later: the most expansive, pure and appealing nose of any CA cab. ever; tastes good, too. I surmise that this needs continued cellar time. find this wine

2007 Edmund Vatan, Sancerre Clos la Neore:
No grassy/cat pee smells; plenty of minerality expressed as stones, rain water and smoked salt, ripe fruit as a component of both the nose and palate but not overwhelming either, quite complex, spherical with no hard edges and a seamless delivery, tremendous structure and exceptional length. The best showing by a sauvignon blanc based wine of my life and a truly a world class experience. With goat cheese and crusty bread, the stuff of dreams. 13% abv. find this wine

2002 Luneau-Papin, Muscadet Clos des Alees:
As good as the 2005 version of this was a couple nights ago, this is more open with less integration and more nervous. Lots going on and real depth but showing young and in need of cellaring. find this wine

2005 Terres Dorees, Fleurie:
The most structured Beaujolais I have tasted; powerful black-raspberry scents and flavors, very deep but chiseled out of mineral/stone; the tannin and acid are prevalent throughout and I can’t imagine anyone guessing this as Fleurie if tasted blind; that said, everything is here for an extraordinary wine but this bottle needs a decade, at least. What a wine! find this wine

Best, Jim

July 23, 2010

2008 Dom. Chiroulet, Cotes de Gascogne Cuvee Classique:
Merlot, cabernet sauvignon, tannat and cab. franc; the tannat is clearly discernible on the nose and palate but its normal tannic load is softened by the blend, medium weight, juicy, some complexity, concentrated, satiny and lightly drying on the finish. By itself, I thought it interesting, with burgers, stellar. A wine made to be enjoyed with red meat or its equivalent. And enjoyable it was. Thanks Brad. find this wine

2006 Drystack Cellars, Sauvignon Blanc Marie’s Block:
Fruit filled, low acid (feeling) and medium bodied SB; no relation to New Zealand types, this is all about the fruit; its luscious and broad in the mouth. Something different but very good. find this wine

2005 Luneau-Papin, Muscadet Clos des Allees:
Crisp aromas with white fruit, bleach and sea-shore; much the same in the mouth but with a texture that belies its AOC – round but bright, soft but focused – really, my epitome of Muscadet. Lovely wine with or without food and showing well now. find this wine

1997 Mt. Veeder, Cabernet Sauvignon:
Dark fruit, green bell pepper, some spice; thick and rich in the mouth, concentrated, flavors follow the nose, grippy tannins. No real development here but a fair version of mountain cab. Others found it more earthy than I. find this wine

2004 Filippo Gallino, Roero Superiore:
Good, rustic nebbiolo; varietal character, nothing overdone, grippy tannins and a good food wine – if you want Barbaresco, pay more – this is just a solid, very drinkable nebbiolo for $18. find this wine

2007 D. Ventura, Ribeira Sacra Vina do Burato:
Cesspool nose and not much better on the palate – there may be something redeeming here but I’m not sticking around for it. Awful stuff – DNPIM. Tried twice, same deal. find this wine

2005 Puffeney, Arbois Poulsard M:
A nice drink and very much like a good Overnoy poulsard but more abbreviated, rustic and less complex; no finesse here, just a solid delivery of the variety’s individual character. Good, not great for $28. find this wine

2009 Schnaitmann, Evoe (Rose):
80/20 pinot and trollonger; some RS here and not to my liking; also a very slight spritz which I could do without the RS but with it makes the wine seems soda-pop-ish. 11% alcohol and about $16 – not my style. find this wine

2005 Dom. de l’Ecu, Muscadet Expression de Granite:
Call it power of suggestion but this wine gives the impression of being made in granite; somewhat closed but still ample depth and precision, complex, juicy and very long. A pretty stunning bottle and I suspect, only in its infancy. 12% alcohol. find this wine

1999 Lafarge, Volnay Vendages Selectionees:
Dark, tannic and brooding; bone dry, deep but the structure is dominant. I don’t know if the fruit will live as long as the tannins – still, a wine with character and appeal. No doubt its Beaune, some finesse but more like a pinot from Cornas. find this wine

Best, Jim

July 20, 2010

2005 De Villaine, Mercury Les Montots:
Completely closed and disjointed. Lots of promise, little pleasure now. find this wine

1999 Bizot, Echezeaux (375 ml):
Clearly Echezeaux, with sauvage notes, lavender, cooked red fruits, earth and underbrush tones; similar flavors and a medium bodied, linen-like texture, intense and long. Quite open and so much better than my last bottle. ‘Nothing like good Burgundy. find this wine

1999 Clos des Papes, CdP:
Au pointe, and as good a CdP as I have ever had; beautiful aromatics immediately separate this from the other wines on the table – fruit, earth, air, rain – as though one could smell the whole world at once; medium bodied, satin in the mouth, intense, focused and delicious. No fan of the southern Rhone am I but this was sensational. find this wine

2001 Leoville-Barton:
A pleasant although not particularly potent version of St. Julien; fruit, stone and mint on the nose; not much subtlety but solid flavors in a medium weight delivery and fair length. This had been decanted an hour in advance so I think I got what it had to give – no reason to run right out and buy a bottle but nice enough to drink if someone offers. find this wine

1987 Lopez de Heredia, Rioja Vina Tondonia:
Slightly volatile at first but that blows off; a remarkably complex and alluring wine – plenty of bottle bouquet, considerable secondary development and slender, lovely palate of fruit flavors. But this wine is truly about nuance and finesse and its a joy to drink. find this wine

2007 Brewer-Clifton, Pinot Noir Mt. Carmel:
Too sweet for me but everyone else raved. I can see where this would be a hit with lots of fruit and just a little of those earthy aromas and flavors – but I am a dirt guy so I moved on. find this wine

2006 Fillaboa, Albarino Monte Alta:
Fuller bodied then most albarino but with precise flavors; slightly creamy, excellent minerality and lots of pineapple and ginger flavors; and its got length. A pretty intense wine and one I kept coming back to. From a single vineyard at elevation. (anybody know if this sees oak?) find this wine

Best, Jim

July 17, 2010

1999 Nigl, Riesling, Piri Privat:
At first, pretty tart and not at all impressive; with a ferro salad with kale, feta and grilled chicken this becomes all that one could ask – one of those ‘whole wine’ experiences where it seems that aroma and flavor are one long band without break – no petrol, lots of white fruit including pineapple, citrus and something more exotic, excellent minerality, intense but lyrical and the perfect pairing for the dish with neither being dominant. 13% alcohol and lots of time left. find this wine

2000 Droin, Chablis Vaudesir:
Upon opening, that beautiful floral, lemon, flint nose that is so typical of this vineyard; medium weight with nice integration and much like the nose in the mouth but there is a very slight cooked butterscotch note here and the cork was wet all the way to the top – so I’m glad I opened this now as I don’t think this bottle will get better. Bottles without similar cork problems will, I suspect, out last me. Better when cold. Lovely with angel air and fresh basil. find this wine

2000 V. Dauvissat, Chablis Les Clos:
Upon opening, an explosion of lemon, flint, rain water and citrus scents with a beautifully rich and pure palate, complex and complete and then – the wine sort of amped down and became a very good but slightly muted version of itself. Those first five minutes may be the best Chablis experience of my life – the next couple hours, merely a good one. Odd but I am glad I was there for opening night. find this wine

2007 Roessler, Pinot Noir Hein Vnyd.:
14.1% alcohol; black raspberry and other black fruit, hints of red fruit, some sarsaparilla notes, a touch of minerality – but best of all, a kind of “crispness” to the nose that is such a distinctive indicator of the Anderson Valley; much the same in the mouth, of whole cloth; crunchy feeling, the flavors feel like they were cut with a laser, intense, concentrated and quite long. One of the best CA pinots I have had in years and, more importantly, one of the most distinctive and character driven. find this wine

Best, Jim

July 13, 2010

1996 Williams Selyem, Pinot Noir Hirsch Vnyd.:
Funky on the nose to start and it never lost all the funk (a good thing); strawberry, cherry, underbrush tones in the mouth; lots of secondary development here and lots of complexity as a consequence; finesse and restraint. A lovely bottle; thanks Bruce. find this wine

2007 Argot, Chardonnay:
Not yet released and bottled two weeks ago; obviously somewhat closed but showing plenty of minerality and good chardonnay fruit. A touch too much wood at the moment but the stuffing here indicates that this will be eaten up quickly. Needs a year or two but is still very nice now. find this wine

2008 Cowan Cellars, Skin-Fermented Sauvignon Blanc:
Rosy in color; nothing oxidative here but rather bone dry and smelling and tasting nothing like SB. Complex, sauvage and ever-changing in the glass. 13.3% alcohol. Well received, I am happy to say.

Sean Thackrey, Pleiades X
I think this was the X but I’m not certain. Touch of brett on fresh aromatics; lightweight and complex with a feminine delivery and deft finish. Went beautifully with butcher steak and frites. find this wine

(2000?) Palmina, Tocai:
I did not catch the vintage but I think it was recent – little on the nose, more impact in the mouth and needed time to open and to warm a bit before it gave much. find this wine

2007 Argot, Syrah Drystack Vnyd.:
Rich, full flavored without being too big, some pepper and earth notes, texture of linen and good grip. Young, lip-smacking syrah. Delicious. find this wine

Best, Jim

July 12, 2010

2009 Dom. Chiroulet, Cotes de Gascogne (blanc):
Mostly gros manseng with some sauvignon and ugni blanc; 12.5% alcohol; smells like sauvignon, but tastes of vinous pear and grapefruit, very bright and fresh; nice aperitif. Thanks Brad. find this wine

1999 Verset, Cornas:
When first opened, all about poop; thereafter, the most thoroughly Cornas wine I have tasted; it isn’t the best syrah I’ve had, but its so damn Cornas its hard not to stare off into space and think grand thoughts; the folks who are with me look like they haven’t words for the experience – and then, a little at a time, I hear things like floral, rustic, violets, crazy good, weird, amazing, etc. Nothing written describes it – but you want this wine.  I love it. find this wine

1999 Juge, Cornas Cuvee SC:
The Burgundy of Cornas; not even in the same world as the preceding wine but lovely in its own right and still has that sauvage element that seems typical of the AOC. This is lighter, more angular but not as funky, and clearly more about textures than the Verset. Call me crazy but I’ll take the Verset every time – still, this is preferable to most syrahs from anywhere else. I suspect this is ever so slightly oxidized. Day three, after re-corking and storage in the fridge: I was wrong; this is not oxidized, it was just closed. Now, its at full song and every bit the equal of the Verset – more of everything and considerably greater flesh and power. The sauvage elements are even more emphasized and the wine is so complex as to be indescribable. Benchmark Cornas. find this wine

2007 McPhail, Pinot Noir:
Not a bad wine but too sweet for me; I just can’t get past the candied stuff. find this wine

2007 Argyros, Atlantis:
From Santorini, this white is 12.5% alcohol and entirely assyrtiko; citrus skin and pears on the nose with some minerality; somewhat fleshy in the mouth with flavors that follow the nose, a peppery note, considerable acidity (7 g/l) and a very clean finish. $19. A lot of Italian whites deliver the same pleasure for less but this was excellent with pasta with zucchini. find this wine

2007 Peique, Bierzo Tinto Mencia:
Jose Pastor’s imports are of interest to me – 45 year old vine mencia without wood but 14% stated alcohol; served too warm this shows its alcohol and is short – cooled slightly, it becomes a different wine with rich black fruit and black licorice aromas; concentrated and substantial in the mouth with flavors that echo the nose and are deep, grippy and intense; worsted on the finish. Evidence certain that the wrong serving temperature alters a wine for the worse. This shows young but interesting – maybe a little too big but not so that one gets any cloy or tiring sensation. Definitely for hearty and strongly flavored food. find this wine

2009 Bedrock, Rose Ode to Lulu:
Medium color, maximum flavor, bone dry. From mourvedre vines planted in 1888, picked at 23 brix (finished alcohol of 13.5%), pressed directly into the fermentor (this is not saignee) and carries an earthy minerality that few roses have. Tempier at half the price. Superb. find this wine

And some quick impressions from a fine dinner with Lou and Betty Lou:

2005 Hirtzberger, Riesling Singerriedel:
In a good place; lots of fruit and concentration with plenty of acidity keeping it from getting loose or soft; complex, potent and long. find this wine

2001 Hirtzberger, Riesling Singerriedel:
More acidic than the 2005 and not showing as well – although I am guessing its just the stage – Hold. find this wine

1988 Leoville Las Cases:
A complete wine that is, IMO, still young. Another decade and this will be a little softer and I doubt it will lose anything. St. Julien couldn’t taste much better. find this wine

2007 Do Ferreiro, Albarino Cepas Vellas:
Closed at first and took most of the evening to open; the depth here is unique for this variety and the overall wine is as good as albarino gets. But this needs cellar time. find this wine

Best, Jim

July 3, 2010

2007 Arkenstone, Sauvignon Blanc:
From the notion that “expensive wine is nature’s way of telling you have too much money,” we have this $45 sauvignon blanc from Howell Mountain. 14.2% alcohol.
Tropical, soft, big, heavy and tiring.find this wine

2007 Morlet, Syrah Bennett Valley:
Same book; $60; huge, soft, polished beyond my limit, thick and tiring. find this wine

1999 Sori Paitin, Barbaresco Paitin VV:
Fine grained from start to finish but not in the polished sense of the preceding wines – more in the precise and yet integrated manner; complexity, balance, beautiful aromatics, nebbiolo as it should be and can be. With homemade pasta and rabbit ragout, the bomb. find this wine

2009 Lorenza, Rose:
12.8% alcohol, mostly mourvedre and carignane with a bit of cinsault, grenache and syrah; made by friends and this is not saignee; pale, fresh, tart, bone dry and flavorful, pretty wine with enough substance to let you know its wine and not so much as to make it heavy or cloying. Remarkably charming. Alas, when one grows grapes expressly for rose in CA the bottle gets expensive; $28. IMO, worth it. find this wine

2002 Luneau-Papin, Muscadet Excelsior – Schistes:
Ah yes, sometimes you come home after a week on the road and you hug your sweetie, sit in your easy chair and sleep in your own bed – and you feel so much better. This is the vinous equivalent – softer than most Muscadet (although magnitudes crisper than the Arkenstone) clear, clean, nuanced and balanced – lovely wine and a terrific accompaniment to grilled chicken with salad. Ahhhhhhhhh . . . find this wine

2000 Thomas, Pinot Noir:
Gentle, yet persistent; delicate fruit, nice structure, surprising length and that touch of earthiness that is so indicative of the grape. 13% alcohol and delicious with light cheeses. find this wine

Best, Jim

July 2, 2010

2005 Luneau-Papin, Muscadet Clos des Allees:
Reminds me of cold spring water but with more texture and depth – about as refreshing and charming as wine can be. This is developing very nicely in the cellar and has a long life ahead of it. We had it with a fig and arugula salad which it complemented nicely. Diane also thought it perfect with fresh, seared halibut. find this wine

2007 Edmunds St. John, Gamay Porphyry:
Still quite firm and monotone on the nose but this has opened nicely on the palate; fresh cherries, smoky stones and a touch of baked earth; intense and concentrated, perfect balance and good length. The underlying mineral tones is evident and the wine seems centered around it. I would guess this needs many years to get to peak but matched nicely with grilled pork chop, Romano beans and roasted potatoes. find this wine

2007 Vintage Vielh de Lapeyre, Jurancon Sec:
Gros and Petite Manseng make-up this white from the mountains of southwestern France. Golden color; smells of very ripe, Golden Delicious apples and light honey; tastes like it smells with hints of sarsaparilla and a fairly viscous delivery with good length. The acidity here keeps this from cloying and the flavors are etched and clear. I’m guessing lobster bisque would be a perfect foil but this was yummy with grilled chicken and Caesar salad. Thanks Brad. find this wine

2008 Bevan Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon Showket Vnyd./David’s Cuvee:
For those who enjoy the California cult style cab., this is the holy grail. Although not my style of wine, I found it irresistible. It is massive yet light on its feet, sweet but not cloying, fruit driven but with good structure, soft and round but with ample acidity and the tannins are sweet and about the consistency of dust. 14.3% alcohol.

I rant about wines with such characteristics – but this is the exception to the rule – amazing and absolutely delicious. How all those pieces come together to make something so yummy is beyond me – and nobody making cab. in CA (not Harlan, Screagle, Colgin, Scarecrow, etc.) is doing a better job. Wow! find this wine

2003 Von Othegraven, Kanzemer Altenberg Erste Lage Riesling Auslese Auction:
Many years ago, I was in love with a young woman and we took a hike in the Smokey Mountains. It was a cool, clear day but the sun warmed the skin. At the top of a mountain, we came upon a huge field of wild flowers. Being alone, we made love in that field. The smells of flowers and warm flesh, the freshness of the air, the cool of the day and the warmth of the sun; the way it all felt – this wine brought it back to me. Oh my! find this wine

Best, Jim

May 31, 2010

2009 Baudry, Chinon Rosé:
13%, bone dry, clean, crisp and well flavored; a wine I have written about before and one that continues to impress. Charming. find this wine

2004 Alfasi, Merlot Reserve:
$6, 13%, from Chile, imported by Royal Wine Corp, NY, NY; baked earth and red fruit nose – sort of reminds me of aged Rioja, some bottle bouquet; gentle and complex on the palate, slightly earthy but not dirty, balanced, shows an aged character and finishes with an earthy tang. You could serve this wine to me blind and merlot is one of the last guesses I’d have. Enough ripe fruit to please the fruit seekers, enough earthy complexity to please the terroirists, and, an absence of that “dirty” note that many wines from Chile seem to have. All for $6 – an over-achiever that is certainly worth a buy. find this wine

N/V Le Lupin, Multiplicity:
14.5% abv, this is a Rabbit Ridge, Paso field blend but smells and tastes like it starts with zinfandel; reminds of “Dago red” but with less of a rustic character; sort of disjointed but friendly, quite aromatic and meant for burgers. $9 retail – curiously, $6/bottle and $60/case on the website. find this wine

2005 Josmeyer, Pinot Blanc Mise de Printemps:
$12, 12% abv; not quite ripe apricots on the nose along with the smell of the white grape juice my Dad used to get from the table grapes he grew; in the mouth, much the same with an underlying mineral water note. Pleasant wine that went well with a pasta prima vera. find this wine

2005 Château d’Epire, Savennières Cuvée Spéciale:
14% abv, $19; so much better than at release as to be a completely different wine; very expansive nose that is beyond complex and into the realm of ethereal – chamomile, flowers, honey, quince, citrus zest, minerals, bitter almond and pineapple – all very fresh and brisk; flavors follow the nose with additions of anise and apricot, slightly honeyed, viscous but not cloying, bright and fresh and nervous, intense, compact, balanced and quite long. What was once a closed, stinky and disjointed duckling is now a swan and, judging from the improvement, may become a Phoenix. Character driven and still quite obviously, young. Beautiful with fresh herbed goat cheese and crackers. find this wine

Best, Jim

May 28, 2010

A wine that deserves an individual tasting note.

2004 Gorrondona, Bizkaiko Txakolina:
12.5% abv, the grape is hondarrabi beltza from a single vineyard, fermented in stainless steel, from vines that date back to the 1800’s; aromas of warm earth, smoke, mellow fruit tones (mostly red), fresh cut mint and mineral water; in the mouth its bright, the flavors follow the nose in an integrated but focused manner, intense but lightweight and it finishes quite long.

When this was released, it was overwhelmed with green bell pepper scents and flavors so as to be undrinkable. Over the years, I have noticed this element gradually dissipate but up until now, not to the point of being deliciousness.

This wine from the Basque region of Spain is now about as harmonious and beautiful as one could ask. And it is completely individual – nothing else smells or tastes like this.

We had it with cold tuna (seared rare), as a first, and with posole with Rancho Gordo® hominy, as a second. It worked perfectly with both courses and was such a terrific foil for each that I can’t think of another wine that could play this well with this food.

Imported by De Maison Selections and about $18 on release.

This is why we cellar wine. find this wine

Best, Jim

2004 Philippe Faury, Côte-Rôtie:
13% alcohol, $40; absolutely textbook C-R nose with red fruit, olive and ash – really, with this nose, it could be from nowhere else; similar in the mouth with good balance and nuance – so utterly of its place as to be unmistakable. A good wine that demonstrates its terroir as well as any wine could.
(Aside: I tasted it next to a bottle of our 2008 syrah – an attempt to compare the two and also to try to figure out if we should release ours soon. Of course, there is no comparison – our wine is different in aroma, flavor, texture and lacks the stamp of the “roasted slope.” But oddly, I enjoyed ours more. I don’t doubt my own bias in saying that but I’m also a little shocked that I should have such a clear example of C-R in front of me and still like another syrah more. Diane felt the same. I’ll have to think on that a bit.) Find this wine

2005 Philippe Faury, St. Joseph:
Completely closed and too attenuated on the palate to be enjoyable. I have had several bottles of this since release and this is the first to show closed. Find this wine

Dinner with friends:

First course:
Smoked salmon spread on crackers and pistachios:

2009 Baudry, Chinon Rosé:
This is a bright, balanced and beautifully flavorful wine that matched the food well – I think it is as versatile as any wine without bubbles can be. Everyone loved it. 13% abv. Find this wine

Second course:
Roasted radishes on olive bread (recent NY Times recipe):

2006 Inman, Pinot Gris:
The hit of the evening with a spicy delivery, plenty of cut and a lingering, almost savory, finish. The radishes are dressed with an anchovy sauce and this paired nicely, neither overwhelming nor being lost to, the sauce. 13.2% abv. Find this wine

Third course:
Mushroom risotto:

2005 de Villaine, Côte Chalonnaise La Digoine:
Showed a bit stretched and angry but responded to the food well even if it is somewhat closed right now. 12.5% abv. Find this wine

After dinner:
2007 Cowan Cellars, Syrah Dry Stack Vnyd.:
Although I prefer to have our wines with food, this was flavorful, smooth and round and maybe the best showing it’s had absent eats. 13.9% abv.

Best, Jim

May 11, 2010

2004 Tua Rita, Rosso dei Notri:
13.5%, $10, sangiovese, merlot and syrah blend; in smell, taste and texture this is prune juice – with no hint of any other scent or taste. Disgusting and we poured it out.

2008 Luigi Bosca, Finca La Linda Malbec:
14%, $14, 3 months in French oak; blackberry and black licorice nose and flavors, some nuance, nice intensity and texture, integrated, balanced and almost classy. Solid wine with a masculine bent and good accompaniment to pasta with broccoli, chicken, feta and olives.

Day two: (capped, not gassed, and left on the counter) less integrated and balanced but not a lot – it shows some effects from air but its still good wine and certainly at a quality level above its price point. I am tempted to go back and buy a case of this for easy suppers.   Find this wine

1999 Torre Oria, Utiel-Requena Reserva:
12.5%, $8; lots of cedary oak on the nose and palate – too much for me – but I could see others liking this element more than I as it is not overwhelming; some bottle bouquet, secondary red fruit smells with a dried earth component; on the palate, slightly tired fruit but complex, dried leaves, earth and some spice, a little thin in texture but still integrated and mellow; medium finish. A wine that shows its age but not without development. The label indicates that this is tempranillo and spent 24 months in American oak.

For those who wish to try an aged tempranillo cheaply, this is available for $8 in the market today. Imported by Southern Wine and Spirits.  Find this wine

Best, Jim

May 9, 2010

1999 Belle Pente, Pinot Noir Murto Vnyd.:
13.7% alcohol; needs about an hour to open and when it does, warm black fruit, spice and a sort of smoky herb note dominate the nose; satin in the mouth – gorgeous texture – with sweet black fruit, hints of red fruit, some spice and just a slight hint of herb, well-integrated and balanced, no bottle bouquet yet, bright acidity – this really has it all for a young wine (and that’s how it shows). I always liked this vineyard designate the best of the BP wines and this bottle supports that opinion by giving more than expected for a ten year old Oregon pinot. Beyond words with mushroom pizza. Find this wine

2007 Do Ferreiro, Albariño Cepas Vellas:
13.5% alcohol; how often does one get to taste the best of a variety? Make no mistake, this is it; aromas of peaches, unripe pineapple, curry spice and a light brine quality, all in harmony; on the palate the rich peachiness is there but no sweetness or cloy, lively with spice, brine and acids keeping things bright, very concentrated but not weighty, intense, perfect balance, sappy; extremely long finish that reprises the flavors and cut. ‘Comes from 200 year old vines, own-rooted in sand, close to the Atlantic from the vineyard Eira de Galiñanes in Rias Baixas, Spain. Superb and the benchmark for the variety.  Decant at least an hour before service. Excellent along side pasta with kale, olives and tomatoes. Find this wine

2004 Valtier, Utiel-Requena Reserva:
Mostly bobal with likely some tempranillo and/or grenache; 13% abv; $6; the Utiel-Requena DO is in Valencia in southeastern Spain; initial nose is dusty with some prune (but not raisin) aromas, a distinct earthiness and very gentle oak – it develops over time and loses the dusty character and becomes much more potent; likewise, the palate is light and somewhat delicate to start but morphs into a full-flavored and fairly rich delivery of flavors that follow the nose, medium bodied, talc-like tannins, pinot-esque texture, and medium length. I rather like the wine as it is moderately complex with an individual character.
The prune aromas and flavors don’t seem to be from over-ripeness but rather a component of the varieties used in the making.
I know that this region is noted for its doble pasta wines; fermentation on the lees of other recently fermented grapes, and that may account for the prune notes – or not.
In any event, a long time since I have tasted a $6 wine that made me think. I also note that older vintages are available in the market at very reasonable prices and will try some of those. This wine was sensational with Posole Rojo made with Rancho Gordo® hominy. Find this wine

Best, Jim

May 4, 2010

2009 Baudry, Chinon Rosé:
“A spring day, low humidity, clear skies, 70 degrees, sun warmed skin, a light breeze that has a slight chill to it; ‘hard to feel better than this” – crystalline flavors, vary pale, bone-dry, 13% alcohol, $18.25 delivered to your door – exquisite.
One more thing – it does not suffer by being at refrigerator temp. Find this wine

2005 Michaud, Brouilly Prestige de Vielles Vignes:
This bottling can be brooding and austere – in this vintage it is focused and deep – well concentrated black fruit with some generosity, earthy accents and spice tones; firm but not hard structure, perfect balance. A controlled wine with polish and potential. Find this wine

2007 Ridge, Lytton Springs:
14.4% alcohol; $20; 71% zin., 22% petite sirah, 7% carignan; oaky and disjointed nose; no real varietal markers in the mouth with a somewhat sour delivery, smooth texture and noticeable oak; sour and attenuated finish. Unimpressive on day one.
Day two: smoother and more integrated without the sourness but still too oaky and alcoholic for me – but then, zin. and petite sirah are not really my thing to begin with – not bad but not for me. Find this wine

2006 Pazo de Arribi, Bierzo:
14% alcohol, $8 and 100% mencía; closed and funky at first with a sort of dirty wood smell – opens over time to cabernet type fruit aromas and accents of earthiness; the same in the mouth – really requires time open – becomes a simple but quaffable wine without artifice. At this price point, I’d stick with the Domino de Tares and Descendientes de J. Palacios bottlings – they would seem more reliable.
Day two: there is still something odd about the nose – it’s not just earthy but maybe a bit medicinal; the rest of the wine is more serious but the grip is taking over and it’s too weak at mid-palate to stay balanced. Not unpleasant but my first day’s impressions are borne out. Find this wine

2005 Vincent Girardin, Gevrey-Chambertin VV:
13% alcohol; black fruit, soil and stones on the nose; compact on the palate with flavors that follow the nose, intense, balanced and long. Solid wine with some finesse and no oak noticeable. Very good with Ranch Gordo® Christmas limas with kale and egg. A surprise for me, as I am not usually a fan of this producer. Find this wine

2002 Joël Taluau, St.-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil VV:
12.5% alcohol; completely shut down and really angry and nasty – Kay is right, do not touch. Find this wine

Best, Jim

April 29, 2010

2005 Dom. Vissoux, Fleurie Poncie:
A different sort of wine from what it was on release – gone is the hyper-juicy, vivacious fruit bomb of youth – this is firmer, somewhat closed, with more discrete fruit and considerable structure. I loved this on release, I like it now. Following it into the future should be a fascinating exercise. Find this wine

1999 Hamacher, Pinot Noir:
Once opened to the air for an hour or so, a pretty stunning version of Oregon pinot – black cherry predominates but there is nuance and depth. ‘Still a young wine and no bottle bouquet as yet. A lesson for me – well made pinot noir’s shelf-life is much longer then one expects – this, at ten years, is barely an adolescent. Find this wine

2008 Navarro, Muscat Blanc Dry:
I have written on this before – a lovely wine.
I took a bottle to a tasting at a local wine store. The store opened several inventory bottles to taste in hopes of selling them and this sort of stole the show. I’ll try to be more considerate of that retail motive in the future. But it really is a wine that stands out and it appeals to a fair cross-section of wine drinkers. 13.6% alcohol, $19 (less by the case) and they ship a case anywhere in the U.S. for one cent. Fine this wine

2002 Gravity Hills, Syrah Killer Climb:
13.9% alcohol from Paso (west side); from what I understand, GH does not get the fruit from this vineyard anymore – ‘wish I knew who did; very dark on the nose, black plum, freshly turned earth, faint red fruit accents and an allspice/nutmeg note; very concentrated in the mouth with bright flavors that follow the nose and add a cooked fruit/slightly bitter/Baker’s chocolate note, balanced, a worsted almost rustic texture, well integrated but the structure is always playing in the background; long, dry (but not drying) finish. Although this is CA fruit it has the structure and even some of the nuance of Hermitage. I look forward to trying this over the next decade or so.
I suspect some folks will like this and some won’t – I love it. Fine this wine

Best, Jim

April 23, 2010

A spinach salad, roasted new potatoes and turkey burgers; it may sound pedestrian but, when Diane is the cook, it isn’t.

So we opened two bottles of Morgon to compare and accompany: The 2005 Terres Dorées (Brun) Find Terres Dorees (Brun) and the 2007 Dom. J. Chamonard.

In their own way, both are lovely wines and suited the meal. The Brun was bigger and more saturated but also less distinctive to its AOC. The Chamonard was precise and so obviously a Morgon that it would be difficult to guess it coming from anywhere else – more complex, earthier, intellectually stimulating. Both of these wines are under 13% alcohol and could use some additional time in the cellar, although neither was closed; they both just came across young. Two delicious Beaujolais, yet both Diane and I preferred the Chamonard for its evident character.    Find Dom. J. Chamonard

2006 Overnoy, Arbois Pupillon:
Pomegranate, allspice, cherry and something tangy; much the same in the mouth with tannins so fine they remind me of talc, good acidity, more concentration than most vintages of this and lovely balance; long, grippy finish that never dries. Fuller flavored than most vintages of this but also a fragrant and fun wine. Along side Caesar salad with grilled chicken, very nice. One of my all-time favorite wines. Find this wine

1999 d’Angerville, Volnay Clos des Ducs:
13.5% alcohol; 100% Volnay nose with firm cherry and stone tones but softer and more expansive then expected; harmonious and complete in the mouth – terrific sap and intensity but all contained in a frame of mineral and clear cherry flavors, concentrated but not heavy, bone-dry but not drying; incredible length. A wine of balance and approachability yet one that hints of its latent power and longevity. One of the most expressive and still pure pinot noirs of recent memory.
I suspect this will outlast me and develop for years to come but it was spectacular with grilled duck breast and assorted cheeses. Find this wine

Best, Jim

April 19, 2010

2001 Jamet, Côte-Rôtie:
At first, the same rambunctious child of a wine it was two years ago – and then, the magic happens – intense but composed, concentrated yet elegant, integrated but complex and typicité for the AOC. A beautiful wine, just coming into its prime – still vibrant and even nervous in the mouth but with style and character. I chose this because Diane was making Rancho Gordo bean with bacon soup – a superb match. Simple but perfect food with great wine; the sweet life. Find this wine

2005 de Vilaine, Côte Chalonnaise Les Clous (blanc):
Either this is in the very initial stages of premox or it is closed – came across as honeyed and mulled spicy but no sherried quality, richer then expected and yet still finely textured and a long finish. As the evening wore on, it got brighter and juicier so I am hoping this bottle was just a bit closed. 12.5% alcohol. Find this wine

2007 L. Michel, Chablis Montmains:
13% alcohol; fresh lemon juice nose that is bight and pretty narrow – becomes somewhat more open over several hours; nervous, vibrant and precise in the mouth with lots of cut and lovely Chablis fruit =- it too opens over time; crisp finish. Too closed at the moment but lots of promise. Screwcap. Find this wine

2007 Cowan Cellars, Syrah Dry Stack Vnyd.:
Expansive aromas of lilac, purple fruits and spice/pepper; medium bodied but concentrated with bright purple/blue fruit and pepper flavors, some mineral and light red fruit accents, satin texture, good integration and structure; long, fruit-filled finish. 13.9% alcohol. The overall impression is of a well balanced wine that saw no new wood.

(Aside: It may be unusual for the guy who made the wine to do a tasting note on it but, since this vintage will never be commercially released, perhaps you’ll let me slide. This bottle required decanting for about an hour to open up enough to serve. It’s still not at peak but I thought it drank well (even in the absence of food) and my guests agreed. Indeed, I am happy with this wine.)

Best, Jim

April 16, 2010

2007 François Cotat, Sancerre Rosé:
13% alcohol, $40; sauté pomegranate juice, pulp and seeds, splash in some mineral water, ginger ale and verjus and cool slowly – not as sweet as on release but still not bone-dry. A unique and persuasive wine that went well with a dish of shrimp, asparagus and goji berries. No hurry to drink as this shows some development already and good structure.
(Aside: what is a wine worth? In this case, this is not just a $40 rosé but also a character driven and matchless experience. Of course, if you haven’t $40 to spend on wine, it is an extravagance. But if you do, it is a chance to taste one of the world’s singular wines. And for as long as I have the $40, I’ll opt to do just that. For me, worth it.) Find this wine

2007 Suore Cistercensi, Coenobium:
13% alcohol, a blend of trebbiano, malvasia, verdicchio and grechetta; reminds me of a skin fermented white but without any oxidation, more tactile and with greater depth then most whites, bone dry, touch of bitter almond, with a salty tang. Interesting on its own but rises to accompany a dish of soba noodles with cabbages and chicken to become something altogether more delicious. About $28, full retail. Find this wine

1998 Belle Pente, Pinot Noir Estate Reserve:
13.8% alcohol; has softened, smoothed and taken on some bottle bouquet over 12 years but has also turned slightly raisined (which concerns me as this was obviously not over-ripe when picked and it has been continuously stored in my 55 degree cellar since release). The aged character of the wine and the integrated smoothness are attractive – the raisins, not so much. Find this wine

1998 Vieux Télégraph:
Salty, silky and slightly funky – just what a good CdP should be. Not an extraordinary wine but sufficiently above average to make me think the southern Rhône has something to offer me (a guy who isn’t fond of grenache). With vegetable hash and olive bread, lip-smackingly yummy. Find this wine

Best, Jim

April 12, 2010

1996 Laurel Glen, Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Mtn.:
From the days when cabernet was not all about sugar; 12.5% alcohol; focused, warm fruit smells with a ripe herbs, earthy accents and a touch of leather; medium bodied, very complex and bright in the mouth (plenty of acidity), composed but intense, layered yet well-integrated and a finish to make you want more. Still youthful and without much bottle bouquet but a wine that makes me believe in the value of this variety long term. With steak salad, excellent. Find this wine

2008 Navarro, Muscat Blanc Dry:
13.6% alcohol, 3.32 pH, 7.6 grams TA, $19; the nose is ginger, peach and a hint of juniper; its not bone dry but there is no RS so the fruit sweetness is backed with great acids and the juniper notes have more volume here then on the nose; long, slightly tight finish. This wine has the concentration and structure to age but is wonderful now with Asian food. And I would be hard pressed to think of another dry muscat from anywhere that is as charming. Find this wine

1996 Dom. Jadot, Chambertin Clos de Bèze:
Grand cru from the first sip – firm but not hard, earthy, slightly torrefied aromas with power, depth and complexity; rich and tannic on the palate yet nothing plush or cloying – this is about intensity – flavors follow the nose, grippy, structured and very long. A timeless wine (with years to peak) that is expressive, gutsy and soulful. Served to accompany pasta with broccoli, anchovies, capers and olives – as good a pairing as there could be – each enhancing the other and neither over-shadowing. Quite special.
Many thanks, Sam. Find this wine

N/V Marques de Monistrol, Cava Brut Selección Especial:
11.5% alcohol and about $9; perfect aperitif and delicious well beyond its price point. I keep a bottle of this in the fridge at all times and have not been disappointed. Find this wine

2007 E. Vatan, Sancerre Clos lo Néore:
I have written this up several times – the most expressive and still typical Sancerre there is. 13% alcohol. Find this wine

Best, Jim

April 6th, 2010

2005 Clos de la Roilette, Fleurie:
13% alcohol; if it weren’t for Chignard and Vissoux, I’d say this was the best 2005 Fleuire. Its close and Diane loves it – and that is worth its weight in gold. In her words; “if I go to the cellar and pick out a Clos de la Roilette wine, I know I’m going to like it.” She’s right, of course – this is vibrantly alive, clearly of its place and goes perfectly with a pasta dish that includes chicken, spinach and feta. Buy it by the case – or wish that you had. Find this wine

2004 Dom. Leroy, Bourgogne:
Much better than the last bottle (which was pretty stemmy); no evidence of green here, still slightly disjointed but the flavors are starting to intensify, the texture is smoothing and gaining depth, and the overall showing raises my hopes for continued aging. 12.5% alcohol and it went very well with a vegetable and (turkey) bacon hash. Beginning to live up to its producer’s rep. Find this wine

2000 Gulfi, Nero d’Avola Bufaleffi:
14% alcohol; classic nero nose with plum, chocolate and iron down deep; in the mouth its rich, balanced, the texture of worsted wool and has a long, detailed finish. Not a complex wine but one with enough going on to hold interest and plenty of deliciousness. This variety can be plodding; this bottle is not. Find this wine

2001 Giacosa, Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore:
Nebbiolo, done well, may be the grail – that elusive combination of finesse, balance and power that can translate into something altogether remarkable – and so there are ethereal Barbaresco and regal Barolo. And then there is this lesser DOC . . . in the hands of the master and with sufficient time to unclench the fist. No doubt, this is the most expressive and complex Nebbiolo in memory – it has opened both aromatically and on the palate so that now it is the nuance, balance and texture that command attention and not the structure. Dusty, beguiling wine and with Diane’s interpretation of carbonara, nothing could be better. If you own this bottling in any year (except 2003) hold it for at least a decade; what a wonderful experience will be yours. Find this wine

Best, Jim

March 21st, 2010

2005 V. Dauvissat, Chablis La Forest:
13% alcohol, served with salad, grilled chicken and a leek and goat cheese tart; expansive nose of unsweetened lemon drop and mineral; angular and extremely intense in the mouth (almost too much) with more complexity then the nose, excellent concentration and depth and huge sustain. Too young to drink well now but showing evidence of a bright future. Good, not great, with the meal. Find this wine

1996 Allemand, Cornas Reynard:
12.5% alcohol, served with Rancho Gordo, Borlotti bean soup and salad; syrah at its medium bodied best – deep and expressive but not anything that one could label as big or awesome or some such – balanced, contained, rustic but absolutely arresting; one of those wines that has come a long way since release and has developed into a special bottle. Serving this to a syrah lover is like winning the lottery (for both the server and the servee). ‘Killer with the soup. Find this wine

2007 Pépière, Muscadet Granite de Clisson:
Tasted over 24 hours; bright and cutting upon opening; deep, structured and full a day later; the easiest no brainer in my cellar – nothin’ but net. Find this wine

1999 Chevillon, Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Cailles:
Opens to a touch of forest floor and then devolves into a simple, albeit smooth, integrated and balanced pinot. A decade gets me medium grade, pleasant wine without individual character. If I have to wait another decade for this to come around, it’s too long.
The best pinots I’ve had in awhile are the 2005’s from de Villaine and the 2006 OGV from Inman Family. Oh yeah, and the 2008 barrel samples from Rhys. Find this wine

So far, everything else tried in the past couple years is a pretender.

Best, Jim

March 17th, 2010

2007 E. Vatan, Sancerre Clos la Néore:
13% alcohol; with goat cheese and crackers, the best possible of pairings; I have written about this wine several times – suffice to say, it is wonderful.
Third day: recorked and put in the fridge and then allowed to come to cool room temp. on the third day: more of everything – considerably more complex, more flavors, more aromas, more depth and more length – this wine continues to impress; it tastes of Sancerre and not just sauvignon blanc. A truly great wine with years of development ahead. Find this wine

1999 Dom. Drouhin, Pinot Noir Louise:
13% alcohol and, from what I hear, a pretty rare bottle; this has all the pieces – grand cru concentration and intensity, seamless integration, great depth and acidity, terrific aromas and flavors, and an almost endless finish – it may be the single clearest expression of New World pinot I have tasted . . . but, it has no sense of place (other than New World). I have immense admiration for the building blocks of the wine and marvel at the way they fit together so perfectly, and yet, I find nothing here that excites emotionally. A technological wonder, sans soul. Find this wine

2005 Foreau, Vouvray Sec:
13.2% alcohol; counter-point to the above wine – not only an extraordinary wine from the technical standpoint but also so evidently of its place and producer as to be all but unmistakable; bone dry but juicy, acidic yet smooth, full flavored but with lots of cut, lively and nervous in the mouth but deep and long. As good as the AOC will ever do at the sec level. Find this wine

2005 Dom. Chignard, Fleurie Les Moriers:
12.5% alcohol; maybe my favorite wine of the past several years has been the ’05 Vissoux, Poncie – a Fleurie that takes my breath – and this is very close and may, given time in the cellar, exceed the ’05 Poncie. It is more angular (at the moment) but it is also deeper and more complex. The texture alone is enough to throw me into OMG mode. I suspect that this will become one of the very best red wines I have ever had. Sensational now with grilled chicken – my remaining bottles will stay in the cellar.
(Aside: I have had varied experience with aging wine; often, time has meant little or no difference; occasionally, it has meant a wine that could not hold up; rarely, it has delivered a wine that is so substantially different and engaging that I thought the wait was worth it. I can see something in this wine that gives me considerable confidence in saying – hold; the wait will be worth it.) Find this wine

Best, Jim

March 11th, 2010

2005 Pieropan, Soave Calvarino:
Initially, very intense and concentrated – reminded me of a young grüner from Knoll or a similar producer – almost too forceful to be enjoyable; but over about an hour it opened and smoothed to become a bright, animated wine full of lemon/honey flavors with nuance and sustain. Certainly showing young but packed with energy and potential. As good a Soave as I have had. 12.5% alcohol. Find this wine

2005 Pepière, Muscadet Clos des Briords:
12% alcohol; this is very fine; smooth but not soft, considerable density while still lively and complex, long and refreshing. Drinks well right now but will obviously age. A terrific wine. Find this wine

2000 Thomas, Pinot Noir:
13% alcohol; just too sulpherous for me. I decanted it and covered it so we’ll try it tomorrow – but honestly, ten years from vintage and sulpher is the over-riding impression? Not working for me.
Day two: balsamic and sour raisins – this was totally shot. Find this wine

1999 Barthod, Chambolle-Musigny Les Fuées:
This is solid and agreeable, albeit foursquare and more black fruit then red. Good, not great, uncomplicated and way over-priced. I have just about had enough of this producer – I hear great things and people say how much they wish she had some grand cru terroir. Baloney. This may be the only wine I’ve had from Barthod that has been open enough to enjoy and this is simple and unremarkable. And the prices being charged these days! – somebody else can pay them – no more of my money is spent at this house. Find this wine

2005 Vissoux, Fleurie Poncié:
Something wonderful, fruit sweet, considerable backbone, smooth, layered and just so juicy and deep – one of those wines that gives definition to the word ‘pleasure.’ I loved this wine on release and even more so now that it has shed some baby-fat and shown its depth. One of the most enjoyable wines in my cellar. Find this wine

Best, Jim

February 22nd, 2010

2007 Do Ferreiro, Albariño Cepas Vellas:
13.5% alcohol from 200+ year old, own-rooted vines; white fruit and spice nose, full and appealing; medium bodied but considerable concentration, intense flavors follow the nose, fresh, bright, spicy, balanced and long. Excellent by itself but, with rustic shrimp bisque, off the charts. Find this wine

2006 Silver, Chardonnay:
14.2%, unoaked (all stainless and cement) and made by Mer Soleil; clean, varietally correct and balanced, not a lot of character but some and a medium length finish. Better then expected – so often the unoaked chards. seem hollow – this does not. I understand this is about $23, which seems about right for its quality. Find this wine

2007 T. et P. Matrot, Meursault (375 ml):
13% under screwcap; impressive for its character and individuality as well as its sense of place; probably needs a few years to peak but drinks well now and, no matter what one thinks of the closure, having a Meursault in 375 under screwcap makes this a great country. Find this wine

1999 Juge, Cornas Cuvée SC:
13.5%; Burgundy weight but wonderful syrah intensity with Cornas scents and flavors; black fruit, bright, grippy, smoky, nervous wine that seems barely contained in its structure; from turned earth to grilled fruit to floral tones, the nose alone is worth the price of admission. Along side homemade bean with bacon soup and corn bread, as good a match as there will ever be. Find this wine

2006 E. Prissette, Côteaux de Languedoc:
14% and 50/50 syrah/carignan; smells of cured meat and red fruit (reminds me a little of CdP) but it also has a nice mineral streak in both the nose and palate, very nice balance and a certain elegance. Not especially intense or concentrated but quite drinkable. Find this wine

2004 Giacosa, Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore:
13.5%; much more typical of the grape then a recent 2003; overall impression is a more four-square version of Barbaresco – good aromatics, wonderful texture, slightly rustic and blocky but solid, concentrated and with a considerable finish. I like this far better than the 2003 and it should cellar well. Find this wine

Best, Jim

February 18th, 2010

N/V Bellevista, Franciacorta Brut:
12.5% alcohol; steady bead, clean and bright in the mouth with a hint of fruit sweetness and a fairly compact delivery. A pleasant bubbly but overpriced at $42, unless you’re really enamored of this style. Find this wine

1999 Hamacher, Pinot Noir:
While I am a huge fan of wines that impress as being “from their place,” I have no problem with a wine that tastes like it came from Chambolle-Musigny, even if it didn’t. This bottle smelled and tasted like a good vintage of Chambolle-Musigny from Mugnier; feminine, vibrant, harmonious, complex and the perfect balance of tannin, acidity and intense flavors with plenty of red fruit, some dark fruit, a hint of milk chocolate and great purity on the finish. Heavenly today, but no rush to drink. Bordering on profound. 13%. Find this wine

1999 St. Innocent, Pinot Noir Seven Springs Vnyd.:
Big wine and somewhat disjointed; lots of intense fruit but a not so pleasant tartness and a lack of integration and complexity; perhaps I opened this too young – we’ll leave this to tomorrow and see what happens. 13.6%.
Day two: more together but this is just huge; it doesn’t go past ‘pinot’ but it pushes the limits. Requires strongly flavored food. Find this wine

2006 Overnoy, Arbois-Pupillin:
Day in, day out, my favorite wine in the cellar; pomegranate color, scents and flavors, spice, earthiness, underbrush and something vaguely animale; translucent, original, filled with character and easy to drink; 12.5% alcohol. My idea of what wine should be and, this house does it in every/any vintage. Find this wine

2005 Vissoux, Moulin à Vent Les Deux Roches:
An embarrassment of riches – after the fine preceding wine, I am undone; 13% alcohol; fresh, black-raspberry and face powder nose with accents of stone; rich, deep and almost sumptuous in the mouth, lots of dark fruit, a red fruit edge, a complex and considerable mineral element, and, perfect balance; a wash of mineral flavors and impressions on the finish. As close to the perfect MaV as one can come and a joy to drink. Drinks well now and will keep for years. Find this wine

Best, Jim

February 13th, 2010

2005 Luneau-Papin, Muscadet Clos des Allées:
Like drinking mountain spring water when you are parched; deep, clean, clear, refreshing, expressive and balanced – flavors and aromas to make you think of alpine rivers and a finish that lasts. A tremendous wine, showing well. Find this wine

2001 Knoll, Grüner Veltliner Vinothekfüllung:
This was my third and last bottle of this wine; the first showed nicely but young; the second was simply one of the greatest wines of my life and I had anticipated this bottle would reinforce that experience – but alas, the closure defeated that – corked in a very mild way and ever so slightly oxidized – such that the whole thing comes off liquor-esque and brassy rather than deep and pure, and the flavors are quite off (curiously, the nose is fine).
I have learned not to be upset by such things but I admit that I had looked forward to this bottle for just Diane and me. Ah well, I will enjoy the memory of bottle number two and, should I ever be able to afford this again, buy it in an instant. Find this wine

2007 Louis Michel, Chablis Montmain:
13%, under screwcap; clean, crisp, character-driven Chablis with loads of cut and good sustain. It isn’t meant to age but its excellent now. About $25. Find this wine

1999 Belle Pente, Pinot Noir Wahle Vnyd.:
Smoke and a slight char on the nose with some VA; nice in the mouth with a satin texture, earthy flavors and good intensity; medium finish. 13.8%. Too much VA for me but the texture was really fine. Find this wine

2000 Gravity Hills, Syrah Killer Climb:
13.9% from Paso Robles; tar, earth and sappy dark fruit on the nose; very concentrated with a sandpaper texture and very powerful flavors of dark fruit and earth with some fresh meat and complex spice notes; big finish with considerable tannin and a wash of mouth-watering acidity. This needs time to come together but it has the concentration of Hermitage, the rusticity of old-school Cornas and the fruit of CA – one of the most intense syrahs I’ve had from the left-coast. About $35. Find this wine

2005 Edmunds St. John, Syrah Bassetti Vnyd.:
Stands as counter-point to the Gravity Hills noted above – it’s pure, deep, integrated and smooth with a silky texture, fresh fruit and gentle nuance that belie its structure. Much more drinkable and every bit as promising for the cellar. Stylish and still intense – finesse with power.
Really good. Find this wine

Best, Jim

February 8th, 2010

1992 Sullivan, Coeur de Vigne:
80% cabernet sauvignon and 20% merlot, 13.2% alcohol; this has a smoky, fruit nose with a resolved fruit and smoke palate, lots of structure and a pretty good finish. But it has a slight note of mercaptan playing in the background that is enough to distract but insufficient to destroy. Not something to seek out. Find this wine

1999 Girardin, Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses:
Muddled on the nose and palate without any Chambolle character; still, good with meat-loaf and corn. It’s intense, concentrated and pretty well balanced but it could be from anywhere – and when one is buying Amoureuses, that is unacceptable. Find this wine

1999 Barthod, Chambolle-Musigny Les Cras:
Much like the foregoing wine; lots of concentration and intensity but muddy, characterless and a bit hard. Okay with food but this is disappointing. Find this wine

1996 Joël Taluau, St. Nicolas-de-Bourgueil VV:
Sandalwood, fading flowers, red fruit and just a hint of dried herb; visceral in the mouth with juicy flavors that echo the nose, a musky, slightly rustic overall delivery and a 1500 thread count texture; smooth, mouth-watering finish. I never had a better cabernet franc. Find this wine

Best, Jim

February 5th, 2010

N/V Casal Garcia, Vinho Verde:
10% alcohol and about $6; light spritz, fresh grapefruit and pear aromas; excellent cut across the palate with light flavors that follow the nose, a distinct mineral tang and a clean, fresh finish. I adore this wine. We had it with a fresh pasta dish that included sautéed zucchini, parmesan cheese and a very light cream sauce and it was absolutely perfect. Six bucks and a complete delight! Find this wine

2002 Chidaine, Montlouis Les Choisilles:
13%; the difference in this wine since release is remarkable – unripe pineapple, wool, mineral nose; brisk, tart fruit with substantial concentration and intensity, flavors that follow the nose and have the beginnings of nuance, a texture that coats the entire mouth; and one hell of a finish. From a sweet, somewhat insipid wine to a powerhouse with finesse – nice. Find this wine

2005 Pépière, Muscadet Granite de Clisson:
Utterly closed; do not open this bottle. Find this wine

2005 Tete, Juliénas Clos du Fief:
Open, wonderfully aromatic, perfectly balanced, deep, and with a long and full finish. This may be a wine that will last a long time in the cellar – the stuffing is there and so is the balance – but it is heavenly right this minute. 13% and the top shelf for the AOC. Find this wine

1998 Vieux Télégraphe, Châteauneuf-du-Pape:
Open on the nose with good fruit and meaty aromas; a saltiness in the mouth with round fruit and a worsted texture that seems thick but not heavy, integrated structure and considerable length. Finally, this is showing well, after years of being quite angry. I don’t expect vin de garde from this house but this vintage certainly is. Find this wine

2007 Edmunds St. John, Porphyry Barsotti Ranch:
Gamay from El Dorado County, CA; 13% abv; in a league with the very best Moulin-a-Vent in good years – this is serious wine with tremendous depth and character; very pure, focused, detailed, balanced and long. ‘Nothing else even comes close on this side of the pond. Find this wine

1999 Verset, Cornas:
12.5%, price tag on bottle says $37.99 (I don’t remember when I bought it); I lament here that I have so few bottles of Verset in my cellar – this starts out funky and animale but within half an hour, turns into a wine so distinctly representative of Cornas as to be moving; not a big wine or a plush one yet its full flavored and a magnificent rendition of its terroir. With meat loaf and mashed potatoes, something to write home about. Find this wine

Best, Jim

February 2nd, 2010

2003 Chapoutier, CdP Croix de Bois:
Massive, alcoholic, torrefied, smoky, liquor-like wine-product; 15% abv (or more). No thanks. Find this wine

2002 Michaud, Brouilly Prestige de Vieilles Vigne:
Mute, closed and if I were guessing, a little past prime. This has never shown really well – adequate. 13%. Find this wine

2002 Luneau-Papin, Muscadet Semper Excelsior – Schistes:
Softer and sweeter than a recent 2007 Granite de Clisson I wrote about but every bit as deep and viscous. Still plenty of acidity in the mid-palate and finish cleans and refreshes. 12.5%.

Day two: pineapple tones and less sweetness but otherwise, much the same. Find this wine

1996 d’Angerville, Volnay Premier Cru
13%; it’s pure, very Volnay, fine grained and . . . hard. Maybe it needs ten years. But I have yet to have a 1996 Burgundy that doesn’t come across as hard and I am starting to wonder if I ever will. Find this wine

2003 Giacosa, Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore:
I’ve had this bottling in most vintages since 2000 and this is the least typical, 14%; smells more like South American malbec; it’s big in the mouth with strong flavors that don’t taste much like nebbiolo and intensity like a CA cab. Not a bad wine but certainly not representative of what this house can do in this vineyard. Lacks finesse. Find this wine

1999 Bizot, Vosne-Romanee Les Réas:
12.5%; from first pour, this is beautifully detailed on the nose and palate; sauvage, elegant, integrated, complex and long. Very fine, classy and expressive in that way that the best Burgundy experiences can be – and terrific with chicken and lentil stew. At or very near, peak. Find this wine

Best, Jim

January 29th, 2010

France, Oregon, Chile, Italy . . .

2007 Dom. Pépière, Muscadet Granite de Clisson:
I do not believe that one can do better in the AOC – and I am certain it is one of the great white wines of the world – at a case price of less than $20/bottle. Steel, Fuji apple, rain-water and lemon cream on the nose; similar in the mouth with amazing concentration and breadth, terrific acids, depth, balance and verve; enormous length. 12% alcohol. This wine is alive! Find this wine

1999 Thomas, Pinot Noir:
Lightweight, silken, translucent, fruit filed, complex, bright and really, really long. An extraordinarily beautiful wine that carries its place and its pedigree in such a way as to make me wish I had bought a lot more. One of the longest finishes of any pinot and a delight to drink. Diane’s exact quote; “its one of those wines where you wish the bottle held more.” Superb. Find this wine

2006 Ona, Malbec Anakena:
14.5% on the label (but I’d guess at least a point higher), made by A.F. Iris S.A. Requinoa of Chile (but that’s in the fine print on the back). If you like Bryant Family or Colgin or any of those big assed, frighteningly expansive CA cabs., this is for you. At $18, you can buy cases of this for the price of a single bottle and it’s remarkably similar. A full, milk-shake texture that, while it could be from anywhere, is choked full of broad fruit and chocolate flavors and would make a great substitute for a cocktail. No overt oak (but lots of influence), plenty of ultra-ripe dark fruit, low acid and a mouth-feel that was built out of down comforters. Seriously, if you like the cult cab. style, try this wine. It is a dead ringer and really is made to their spec. Impressive, albeit not for me. Find this wine

2008 Caleo, Salice Salentino:
13%; mostly negromaro; smells of black fruit and licorice; tastes similar but is just a bit to bitter to be enjoyable on its own – fine with food, but neither Diane or I care for it without. About $8. Find this wine

Best, Jim

January 26th, 2010

1999 Texier, Côte-Rôtie VV:
Substantial sediment requires decanting; while still youthful and probably needing a decade more for more obvious development, the signs are there now – deepening fruit, a smoothing texture, a sense of a knitting together at mid-palate, extending length and a dynamic push-pull between the quite evident complexity of this fruit and the distinction of the AOC. Being a fan of Côte-Rôtie, it is always difficult to pick one bottle over another, especially when one throws in vintage (and bottle) variation. Nonetheless, this bottling in this vintage is my benchmark, for both the AOC and the variety. (Please Lord; let me make syrah that even comes close to this.) Its terroir is clear yet does not overshadow the fruit – and the fruit is layered and intense without being sugary or in any way manipulated. A poised tension that works to create something greater than the sum of its parts. This is an exceptional bottle at the very beginning of its best years. Oh my! Find this wine

2007 Bruno Clair, Marsannay Rosé:
Bone dry, flavorful, clean and becomes more interesting as it warms in the glass. I won’t be putting any ice cubes in this one; wine first, rosé second. About $12, 12.5% abv. Find this wine

2005 Terres Dorées, Moulin A Vent:
12% abv; somewhat reticent nose; big, fruit sweet, happy flavors and lots of tannin – showing way too young (although I like the flavors) but became stunningly good with fresh butternut squash ravioli with pumpkin reduction and feta – one of those pairings that I will write down – the drying of the tannin morphed into grip and the wine’s boisterous fruit became mellow and integrated with its structure. I love when that happens. Day two: turns liqueur-esque and somewhat volatile but in a good way; more integrated and rounder – quite persuasive. Find this wine

1999 Bruno Clavelier, Vosne-Romanée Les Beaux Monts:
The nose has a deep sweetness with some sauvage notes, some rhubarb, balsamic and baking spice; sautéed fruit flavors, especially grippy, more balsamic and rhubarb; there is a disconnect between the fruit and the tannin and the only thing that stops this from being drying is that the acid hits at the end to make the mouth water. Youthful, disjointed and yet engaging in some sort of stimulating and essential way. 13% abv. Day two: more integrated, without the rhubarb and balsamic scents and flavors, better fruit intensity and without quite the disconnect mentioned above; still this wine has a lot of tannin and probably needs further cellar time to resolve. Find this wine

Best, Jim

1999 Hamacher, Pinot Noir:
Once opened to the air for an hour or so, a pretty stunning version of Oregon pinot – black cherry predominates but there is nuance and depth. ‘Still a young wine and no bottle bouquet as yet. A lesson for me – well made pinot noir’s shelf-life is much longer then one expects – this, at ten years, is barely an adolescent. Find this wine

2008 Navarro, Muscat Blanc Dry:
I have written on this before – a lovely wine.
I took a bottle to a tasting at a local wine store. The store opened several inventory bottles to taste in hopes of selling them and this sort of stole the show. I’ll try to be more considerate of that retail motive in the future. But it really is a wine that stands out and it appeals to a fair cross-section of wine drinkers. 13.6% alcohol, $19 (less by the case) and they ship a case anywhere in the U.S. for one cent. Fine this wine

2002 Gravity Hills, Syrah Killer Climb:
13.9% alcohol from Paso (west side); from what I understand, GH does not get the fruit from this vineyard anymore – ‘wish I knew who did; very dark on the nose, black plum, freshly turned earth, faint red fruit accents and an allspice/nutmeg note; very concentrated in the mouth with bright flavors that follow the nose and add a cooked fruit/slightly bitter/Baker’s chocolate note, balanced, a worsted almost rustic texture, well integrated but the structure is always playing in the background; long, dry (but not drying) finish. Although this is CA fruit it has the structure and even some of the nuance of Hermitage. I look forward to trying this over the next decade or so.
I suspect some folks will like this and some won’t – I love it. Fine this wine

Best, Jim

Related posts:

  1. Florida Jim Cowan’s 2009 Tasting Notes Archive
  2. Alan Kerr’s January 23rd, 2010, Vintage’s Release – Tasting Notes
  3. Alan Kerr’s February 6th, 2010, Vintage’s Release – Tasting Notes
  4. Alan Kerr’s February 20th, 2010, Vintage’s Release – Tasting Notes
  5. Alan Kerr’s June 26th, 2010, Vintage’s Release – Tasting Notes

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