December 10, 2011
A very nice dinner with friends included the following:
2006 Overnoy, Arbois Pupillin:
Crisp, clean and deep – perhaps not typical descriptors for Overnoy but in this vintage, certainly appropriate. A unique flavor profile to any other poulsard I have tasted and a wine I never tire of. Lovely. Find this wine
2006 Allemand, Cornas both the Chaillot and Reynard:
The Chaillot is pretty open and forthcoming for being so young and it is complex, even now. The Reynard is a coiled spring and made of sterner stuff; clearly we are too early to this bottle, but its promise is evident. Both are obviously Cornas and obviously Allemand. And both accompanied my steak very well indeed. Thanks Justin. Find Allemand Cornas Chaillot and Find Allemand Cornas Reynard
I have given up writing any notes on my wines except those not yet released. There are only about 15 cases of the 2008 Skin-Fermented Sauvignon Blanc and I tried a bottle recently.
I am pleased with where this has gone; it’s darker than when first bottled (think burnished copper), softer and has developed some ginger and sauvage notes while maintaining its balance and skin-fermented character. Starting, I think, to tend into Gravner-esque territory. I do hope our 2010 Isa does this with age.
Beautiful with squash soup.
I also recently tasted the as yet unreleased 2009 Calluna Vineyards, Merlot Aux Raynauds and was surprised by how European it came across. This one needs several years in the bottle but promises to be the kind of merlot I actually like, that is to say, merlot without the chocolate, oak signature so many CA merlots have. No “booty” here, just a focused and layered wine. Impressive and dandy with beef stroganoff. Thanks David. Find this wine
Calluna is located in the Chalk Hill AVA here in Sonoma County.
The 2008 Occipinti, Frappato is a thing of beauty; smells a bit like gamay but reminds me more of something from the Jura when tasted. I have never had this grape before so I apologize for the comparisons but it was excellent wine with good grip and sustain. Thanks Garrett. Find this wine
And one last comment; for those of you in the Oakland area, do not miss the wine bar called Punchdown at 2212 Broadway. They have two wine lists; one by the bottle or carafe, and one by the glass. Both are extraordinarily well chosen, filled with things esoteric and unusual, and loaded with quality. The service is provided by the owners (always a good thing) and the noshes are delicious. Finally, a good reason to go to Oakland.
November 27, 2011
Helen Turley, Michael Browne, Mark Aubert; all famous makers of California pinot noir and household names for those of us who love such wines.
How about Jeff Brinkman?
He doesn’t get the press or the props he deserves but he makes the best CA pinot I tasted this year; one of my “life list” wines – the 2008 Rhys, Pinot Noir Skyline Vineyard. Find this wine
This wine reminds me of grand cru Vosne; the spice of Romanée St. Vivant, the tensile strength of La Tâche and the texture of Richebourg. Beautifully focused, remarkable complexity, powerful structure and such balance and purity as to reduce me to silence.
I recently had a couple of DRC’s from 1996 (La Tâche and RSV) and this wine is every bit their equal today – imagine what it will be with 15 years on it? Find La Tâche wine ——– Find Romanée St. Vivant wine
Kevin usually gets the accolades for Rhys and rightly so; his experience, vision and investment have made this house as good as it gets. Javier too; he understands what he’s been given and no one grows pinot better.
But somebody has to make this and, these days, I have become very sensitive to that fact. For my money, no one is doing better work with pinot in this country.
Job well done.
2010 Carballo, Bujariego La Palma:
12% alcohol from the Canary Islands; the smell of fresh caught fish – musky salinity, something alive and ocean air, with bright white fruit; clean, crisp and nervy, flavors are light but precise and follow the nose, integrated but there is a tension here that lends complexity. With chicken Caesar salad, divine. About $20. Next time, with seafood. Find this wine
2009 Maule, Pico:
Skin-fermented garganega; deep golden; nose of resin, honey, herb and macerated white fruits; rich and smooth in the mouth with a texture that clings but does not cloy, flavors echo the nose, good intensity and length. The more skin-fermented whites I taste, the more I like them. BTW, no oxidation noticeable. Find this wine
2010 Ameztoi, Rubentis:
10.5% alcohol; a touch of spritz, some strawberry Jello® scents and flavors, good acidity, not sweet but not bone dry and crisp intensity. Better cold than cool. I prefer rosé from Provence and Bandol. $19. Find this wine
2005 Chateau Pradeaux, Bandol:
Decanted for several hours; flowers, dark fruit and animal fur, more open than expected and very nicely balanced. Terrific with pot roast. Find this wine
2005 Bernard Gripa, St. Joseph:
Stuffed but hard and impenetrable. Needs time. Find this wine
2009 Ceritas, Pinot Noir Escarpa Vnyd.:
13.1% alcohol; I had tried this several months ago and found it closed and structured, this time it was open and quite generous with mostly dark fruit, some spice and a broad profile. I think this needs a little bottle time. About $55. Find this wine
2009 Bjørnstad, Pinot Noir Hellenthal Vnyd.:
14.3% alcohol; lighter in delivery than the above wine and nicely nuanced; some spice, red fruit and a fruit sweetness; not a dense wine but still concentrated – a style I like a good bit. About $50. Find this wine
1999 Juge, Cornas Cuvée SC:
13% alcohol; animale, sauvage and all those other exotic descriptors that indicate a rustic, outside the box, group of aromas and flavors . . . and also a little musty. I don’t think it was even mildly corked but I have been wrong before. With polenta with Rancho Gordo Beans®, really, really good. Find this wine
2009 Jemrose, Syrah Cardiac Hill:
I did not record the abv; black olives, meat, lavender, black fruit and spice; much the same in the mouth where there is both a smooth delivery and good grip (but not drying); overall, a big wine but one that is very expressive and, IMO, a top shelf syrah, regardless of origin. $38. Find this wine
And consecutively, blind, with dinner:
1996 DRC, Romanée Saint Vivant:
Recognizable as Vosne for its earthy/olive/spice notes; uncoiled slowly such that the last glass was the best; textbook Vosne but not the spice I expect from this vineyard; precise, satin textured, complex and deep. Find this wine
1996 DRC, La Tâche:
Recognizable as related to the foregoing; each sip poured, it was more intense and spice driven but calms in the glass with air; more focused, built of sterner stuff though I get the impression it is still finding itself; more silk than satin and not the length of the RSV. Find this wine
Both exceptional wines but the nod to the RSV tonight.
October 7, 2011
2007 Dettori, Bianco:
A curious skin-fermented vermentino from Sardinia; starts out somewhat oxidative and aldehytic but, like many skin-fermented whites, gets much better with air and all of the oxidative notes disappear and the aldehydes calm; in addition, the complexity amps up and the finish lengthens. With spaghetti with sardine, herb and olive oil dressing (and other Sardinian delights), wonderful. Find this wine
1972 Vogue, Musigny:
I only got a small taste; the wine was pretty and balanced in the mouth but the fragrance was truly lovely – perfume wants to smell this charming. For a vintage one hears little of, a very fine wine.Thanks Eric. Find this wine
2001 Hirtzberger, Riesling Hochrain:
Poised and yet full of sweet flavors and smells that led me down different paths, all of them worth treading. In a good place, much as the 2001 Singerriedel is from this producer and an example of why I love Austrian Riesling. Thanks Eric. Find this wine
2006 Do Ferreiro, Albariño Cepas Vellas:
After losing a bit of faith in this bottling by virtue of recent tastings of the 2007, I find myself eating crow; and what better wine to match. A smoky, briny, mineral and spice driven nose; full fruit, some tannin, excellent complexity and a vinous delivery that follows along the notes in the nose; intense, concentrated, nearly oily, and certainly savory; extended finish. A wine that reveals itself only at room temperature. Pretty . . . damn . . . good! Find this wine
2010 Grey Stack, Chardonnay (unoaked) Bennett Valley:
13.8% alcohol; clean, crisp, correct chardonnay with some depth, no artifice and no wood smells or flavors; reminds me of a good Chablis, especially as it approaches room temperature. A chicken Caesar salad is all the better for it. This is what Wente clone chardonnay, from 25 year old vines, should taste like. Find this wine
N/V Dom. Chandon, Étoile Brut:
13% sparkling; almonds, apples, honey and yeast aromas; clean and refreshing, small bubble bead, nicely complex with flavors like the nose and a stone element; bright finish. I know little about bubbly but I sure liked this. A house-warming gift from neighbors – discerning neighbors. Excellent with assorted cheeses. Find this wine
1999 Juge, Cornas Cuvée C:
13% alcohol; some bottle bouquet, red fruit and dead leaf scents; lightweight, silky, a sort of feral complexity with some warmed wild berries and dried herb flavors; medium finish that is slightly drying. The “pinot” of Cornas. Excellent with white beans and chicken sausages in broth with kale. (Aside: It has been instructive to follow this since release. At first, I thought the lot might have been heat damaged but that impression does not seem to have worsened over the years – maybe it doesn’t, I don’t really know. But this wine does seem to be getting better or at least, more developed, so I suspect my first impression was wrong. What sweetness there is from the fruit seems to have amplified and the textures have smoothed. Even the flavor profile is more appealing these days. A learning experience for me; happily.) Find this wine
2009 Descombes, Brouilly:
This bottle was an example of tension in wine; sometimes fruity, sometimes herbal; its good but it isn’t something I’d buy again. I think this will be a joy to some for its complexity but not to me; just too green. Find this wine
2009 Knoll, Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Loibner:
Textbook GV with vegetable and fruit scents, solid and straightforward GV flavors, excellent balance and a medium length finish. On the second day it flattened out and was not very enjoyable. Find this wine
2007 Michel Gahier, Chardonnay Les Crêts:
12.5% alcohol from Arbois; clean chardonnay smells without hint of wood and with some depth; about the same in the mouth with little complexity but flavors that were true and correct; medium finish. One the second day, a little more going on but not as fresh and juicy. $20, retail. Find this wine
2008 Fraçois Pinon, Vouvray Silex Noir:
13% alcohol; the label says it is a sec, don’t believe it; fine aromas of chenin and mineral with some wool notes; demi-sec in the mouth with similar flavors and good sustain. Good wine but this level of sweetness is not for me and no match for Diane’s ratatouille. Find this wine
2003 Belle Vue, Haut Medoc:
When first opened, this was in pieces and none of them especially attractive; as the evening went along it got more integrated and enjoyable although it never got to be something I would buy. Very smooth but quite woody (in a charred sort of way) and spoofed, if you ask me. Still, something there that made me try tasting it more than once. Find this wine
September 9, 2011
2005 de Villaine, Mercury Les Montots:
Earth and mushroom nose with some fruit; similar in the mouth with some complexity but slightly watery; medium length finish. Goodness, where’s the concentration and fruit? A recent 2005 Digoine showed much the same and I can only assume that these ‘05’s from de Villaine are completely shut down. Find this wine
2010 Grey Stack, Chardonnay (unoaked):
13.8% alcohol; the nose starts with a lemon, mineral profile but slides toward sulfurous after 15 minutes or so (after decanting an hour or so, it dissipates; [reminds of J.J. Prum]); the palate is as close to fine Chablis as I have tasted in domestic chardonnay; beautiful, balanced, deep and lively with lemon oil, stone, flowers and a touch of white pepper; good length and no reprise of sulphur on the mid-palate or the finish. Raised in stainless and old oak; ML stopped just short of complete; bottled unfiltered (which, coupled an incomplete ML, likely explains the discernible sulphur). I have little doubt that the sulphur will diminish in time. Really delicious wine. I am beyond impressed. We had this with assorted cheese and then with lentil spread and crackers. But this puts me in the mood for oysters or fish; maybe, chicken in sauce or roasted pork. Yum! Find this wine
1995 Caprai, Sagrantino 25 Anni:
13.5% alcohol; brutally tannic most of its life, this has reached a state where it is more than drinkable; expansive aromatics of dark fruit, rosemary, earth and spice; juicy in the mouth with good complexity, considerable concentration and intensity, and, good balance; a medium length finish where the tannins clamp down and dry the mouth. Up until the finish, this was fabulous; at the finish, it was mandatory that one have cheese or some other fat on hand. We had it with cheese and it more than satisfied. Find this wine
2009 Dorado, Alvarinho:
Lacking the spiciness I have come to expect from this bottling but has excellent depth, balance and concentration. A delicious, if atypical, expression of the grape. But beautiful with pasta primavera. Find this wine
2009 Vissoux, Moulin à Vent Les Trois Roches:
Ahhhhh . . . equal parts Vissoux and MaV with wild strawberry/boysenberry fruit, clear and present structure and an underlying stony component that centers the wine. The texture of worsted wool, wonderful concentration and a strong finish. With cream cheese and crackers, a delight. Find this wine
Lunch with Steve Edmunds at Café Rouge in Berkeley:
2010 Edmunds St. John, Heart of Gold::
72% vermentino and 28% grenache blanc, 12.9% alcohol; very fresh and more of a vermentino profile then in past years; the aromatics are floral and fruity; the palate is fresh, lively, full of spice and flavor, and, it has plenty of cut; perfect balance and a mouth-cleansing finish. As this opens and warms the licorice element comes to the fore and the wine takes on a more serious and complex mode. This is much different than previous vintages and is not to be dismissed as simple. With tomato and watermelon soup, the bomb. Find this wine
2010 Edmunds St. John, Rocks and Gravel:
40% syrah, 39% grenache and 21% mourvèdre, 13.1% alcohol; a wine that is just beginning. At first a little funky but as it opens and gets air, the texture turns to satin and the flavors come alive; already some complexity and a very long finish. With steak and frites, nothing could be better. IMO, a wine that needs a year in the cellar, perhaps more, but needs to be served with a bit of a chill on it. Find this wine
September 1, 2011
1999 Alzinger, Riesling Loibenberg:
13% alcohol; after many years of being a light yellow and having enough structure and acidity to make me think this would never come around, it has. Deep golden now with hints of red in the highlights; potent and penetrating nose of honeycomb, resin, minerals and Alpine flowers; rich but not cloying, deep and pure, the structure now supports remarkable concentration, the balance is excellent but outsized and the finish as very long. Twelve years in bottle has served this wine and it needed them all.
With Caesar salad and grilled chicken, superb. Find this wine
2010 Folk Machine, Jeanne D’Arc:
100% chenin blanc from Mendocino picked at 24 brix and fermented with naturally occurring yeasts for about a month, on the skins, until dry, without sulphur additions. Got a small shot of sulphur at bottling. Has an apricot, chenin, resinous note that still is identifiable as chenin; not so in the mouth, where it is creamy but tart, strongly flavored and still a bit angular, stuffed with concentration and already displaying intensity and some complexity; quite long. This actually reminds me of the skin-fermented sauvignon that I do, although this is true to its variety. Based on the intensity and structure, this is just beginning its development and can take years in the cellar. If it develops like my sauvignon, which I do anticipate, it will soften, flesh out and deepen in color. A pretty remarkable wine at a bargain basement price of $18, full retail. As near as I can tell, available only at a small tasting room in Healdsburg, CA, and at Hobo wines.com. Find this wine
Aug. 21, 2011
Dinner with friends:
2001 Jamet, Côte Rôtie:
Considerable poop on the nose that dissipates over time but never disappears; not a rich wine but a full one with traditional northern Rhône flavors, good balance, some complexity and that certain “Jamet-ness” that I find hard to describe but easier to recognize. Nice wine. Find this wine
1995 Jasmin, Côte Rôtie (magnum):
Cleaner on the nose but with less depth and breadth and a bit grippy on the finish; nonetheless, a wine of character and balance that never lets on forget its AOC. Find this wine
1986 Heitz, Cabernet Sauvignon Martha’s Vnyd.:
All eucalyptus on the nose; the palate however, more than makes up for it with a truly supple delivery, exquisite balance, complexity and lovely fruit; good bottle bouquet and secondary character happening and a really extraordinary wine for about two hours. As the evening went on this started to fall apart but it was glorious while it lasted. Find this wine
1992 Ridge, Merlot York Creek:
For all those who espouse that merlot is a “blending grape,” this is your come-uppance; bottle bouquet and secondary development evident; good fruit, complexity and balance and remarkable sustain. A delight to drink from first sip to last dregs. Find this wine
Aug. 18, 2011
1999 Hirtzberger, Grüner Veltliner Honivogl:
13.5% alcohol; precise and compact on both the nose and palate with perfect balance and an underlying stony tone that seems to guide you through the experience. Opens with air but never loses that cohesiveness that marks it from the outset. Accompanied a Thai noodle dish with veggies and peanut sauce very well. Fine wine. Find this wine
2009 Tissot, Arbois VV (rouge):
Beautiful, ripe poulsard with mineral underpinnings and a dusty, dry but juicy delivery. Much better than my first couple bottles, which seemed fat and sweet. Very “old world” but also very good and delicious with heritage tomato pizza. Find this wine
2005 de Villaine, Bourgogne La Digoine:
12.5% alcohol; attractive cherry and earth nose with some complexity; pretty flavors that echo the nose with good intensity, little weight and a slim but not insubstantial profile. A wine that is easy to drink, accompanied baked potatoes with yogurt and other toppings nicely but does not give much indication of its place or its future. Nice, but feels somewhat like a ‘young vines’ cuvée. Find this wine
2005 Pieropan, Soave Calvarino:
12.5% alcohol; purity and precision is what this wine is about; an absolutely perfectly balanced, clean, deep presentation of garganega that is without artifice and is so of its essence as to be the standard by which I will judge the grape. Amazingly good with French fries and aioli. Find this wine
2000 Gulfi, Nero d’Avola, Nerobufaleffi:
14% alcohol; a ringer for aged left bank Bordeaux with just a bit more complexity and fruit; decanted off substantial sediment; remarkable nose that fills out with air, very complex and alluring; equally so in the mouth with a deft texture and an intensity that speaks to ten years in bottle; long, full flavored finish. Spectacular with medium rare steak and really wonderful all by itself. As good as I have had of this variety. Find this wine
July 29, 2011
2009 François Chidaine, Touraine (rouge):
13% alcohol, a blend of Pinus d’Aunis, Côt and Cabernet Franc; opaque, dark ruby; reticent nose controlled mostly by the cabernet franc; rich but bright in the mouth with plum, herb and mineral tones, juicy and bursting with flavor, no green, concentrated and intense; long and grippy. Gives the impression that one could add water and it would still taste like good wine, such is the concentration, and yet, it’s not out of shape or weighty. I bet this will last a very long time in the cellar but it’s delicious now. Find this wine
And off the charts with burgers and fries.
2005 de Villaine, Bourgogne Blanc Les Clous:
Clean and correct chardonnay with some flesh, no wood and good depth. Not extraordinary but quite good alone and excellent with margarita pizza. FWIW, one of the few chardonnays, outside of Chablis, that I enjoy. Find this wine
2009 Scholium Project, “The Prince in his Caves”:
Starts out stinky with perm solution on the nose but that blows off after about ½ hour; texturally like raw silk, considerable tannin and grip, tastes like grapefruit and nectarine and lasts on the palate. Not for everyone but I like it and nice with carrot soup. This is sauvignon blanc that has some extended skin contact. Find this wine
2005 Vissoux, Moulin-à-Vent:
Fruit sweet, luscious and almost opulent; good structure but you have to hunt to find it, beautiful ripe gamay and pinot-esque flavors and good sustain. With lamb kebobs, just superb. Find this wine
2009 Edmunds St. John, Rocks and Gravel:
Precise, compact and delicious. Makes me think of medium rare steak that is perfectly cooked – that is, savory and oh so fulfilling. A terrific wine, even at this young age. Must buy more . . . Find this wine
July 24, 2011
2010 Commanderie de la Bargemone, Rosé:
12.5% alcohol from Provence; pale salmon color; wild strawberry and mineral nose; full flavored red fruit with bright acids, bone-dry, intense and well balanced; quite long. As good a rosé as I have had this year and available here for about $15, full retail. Diane made an angel hair pasta with chicken, broccoli, and lemon and this wine was perfect; and, excellent by itself, too.
2001 Bouchard Père, Volnay Caillerets Cuvée Carnot:
13.5% alcohol; this has finally come into some kind of balance; the overwhelming oak is now just wood tannin and, while it still deadens the fruit somewhat, the wine is now more about savory then fruit anyway so its effects are less noticeable; sous bois to burn, a bit dusty but not drying, fairly expressive nose and flavor profile with a medium length, non-drying finish. I would never have thought this could get past its wood treatment but is has. With assorted cheese, it got even better.
2006 Fillaboa, Albariño Monte Alta:
12.5% alcohol; golden color; powerful aromas of spiced pear, resin, and mineral; mouth-filling with flavors that follow the nose, some complexity, a smooth texture, bright acidity, excellent concentration and a long finish. As impressive as any Do Ferreiro, Cepas Vellas, and even better balanced. Memorable with saffron risotto.
2007 Ryme, Aglianico:
14.7% alcohol; imagine if Quintarelli made aglianico; a massive wine with huge tannins, somewhat volatile, an explosive nose and immense complexity; smells of figs, mulberries, unsweetened chocolate, earth and spice; tastes similar with mouth-coating tannins and staggering intensity. This requires rare steak, osso bucco or something fatty and is overwhelming if tasted alone.
Not for the faint of heart; an almost savage wine.
N/V Marques de Monistrol, Cava Brut Selección Especial:
11.5% alcohol; pale with a medium strong bead; scents of spice and white fruit; similar flavors that are clean and crisp, bone-dry; refreshing finish. About $10 , full retail. With salad Niçoise, perfect.
I always keep a case of this on hand.
July 14, 2011
2009 Dorado, Alvarinho:
13% alcohol from the Vinho Verde DOC in Portugal; despite its origin, nothing spritzy or innocuous about this wine; clean scents of spice and white fruit with genuine character; moderately rich and spicy in the mouth, good cut and concentration, some complexity and considerable length. With a cold tune and white bean salad abut as perfect a combo as can be imagined. About $25. Find this wine
2007 Chamonard, Morgon:
12.5% alcohol; tending to brown at the rim; slightly off on both the nose and palate with a bit of attenuation – nonetheless, a wine of character and interest, just a little short of what it should be. Slight spritz. Good with a risotto with beets, kale and chicken. Find this wine
2010 Bevan Cellars, Sauvignon Blanc Kick Ranch:
12.9% alcohol; powerful aromas of guava, citrus, herbs and stone; much the same on the palate with vivid acidity and good length. Along side a Caesar salad with grilled chicken and Acme bread, very fine. By itself, still interesting and delicious. ‘Has gotten better with about 6 months in bottle. Find this wine
2002 Clos de la Roilette, Fleurie Cuvée Tardive:
Somewhat closed upon opening and not very much of its place but over the course of about three hours, it found its fruit, evolved into a Fleurie and lengthened. I assume that continuing to age this bottling will work but, with sufficient time in the decanter, it’s lovely now. With chicken tostadas, very good, indeed. Find this wine
2009 Vaughn Duffy, Pinot Noir Suacci Vnyd.:
13.3% alcohol and the first vintage from this producer, Suacci Vnyd. is in the Sonoma Coast AVA; smells of sour cherries, cranberries and spice; tastes like a barrel sample with flavors that follow the nose, crisp acidity, a silken texture but not quite knit together yet; everything is in place but this needs a year in the cellar. Maybe the best thing about it is its sense of lightness on the palate; nothing over-extracted or over-done. Lovely wine with grilled salmon and smashed potatoes. Find this wine
July 8, 2011
2004 Giacosa, Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore:
This has gained volume with age and the rose petal aromas are in full bloom along with red fruit and milk chocolate on the nose; bright acids in a wine that completely fills the mouth without weight and a texture like satin; increasing length. This bottle has blossomed in the cellar into a Barbaresco look-alike. With rare steak and honey/lavender carrots, exceptional. Find this wine
2001 Knoll, Riesling Schutt:
One for the life list; extraordinary color in that it is full golden; scents of honey, flowers, resin, white fruit and slate, beyond being just complex, this is a landslide of aromas that change constantly; rich, viscous, powerful flavors and textures in the mouth, astounding concentration and yet the whole package seems light and fresh; infinite length. For me, great wines are a paradox; thick but weightless, deep but fresh, etc. and this wine is the exemplar. It just doesn’t get any better and this bottle was at full song. Stunning with grilled scallops on sundried tomato polenta. Oh my! Find this wine
2008 Radio-Coteau, Pinot Noir Terre Neuma:
A good example of a wine where the oak is not clearly identifiable but has done damage to the aromatics and palate. A good wine that spent too much time in wood. Find this wine
2009 Chronicle, Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast:
Wonderful; vibrant, fresh, lively pinot that tends to the feminine but is still intense. Like eating just picked fruit at peak ripeness and then having it become wine in the mouth. Nice notes of sandalwood and earth complete the bass line for this composition. Outstanding. Find this wine
1997 Araujo, Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Vineyard:
Too much oak for me; that mineral character that I remember from the vineyard is buried in sawn lumber. I can drink it, but just. Why? Find this wine
July 6th, 2011: A small sampling of wines tasted over the last several weeks:
2009 Ryme, Robolla Gialla
13.1% alcohol; this was fermented on its skins until dry; deep golden color; smells of resin, fruit and herbs; has weight and tannin such that the texture is very similar to a red wine, good complexity, fine balance. Obviously tannic when tasted by itself but with a pasta dish that had chicken, caramelized onions and fried kale, it was simply fabulous.
A new producer located in the same facility as Arnot-Roberts and Wind Gap; definitely one to watch for. Find this wine
1999 Hirtzberger, Riesling Singerriedel:
The best showing for this wine in my memory; no bottle bouquet or evident aging but an integration, balance and complexity that are unforgettable; pure, fresh and flavors that remind me of the a graphic I once saw for time release aspirin – all these little bubbles continuously exploding; an immense finish. With pork roast with apple stuffing; sublime. Find this wine
1990 Chateau Leoville Poyferre
Also served with the pork roast noted above, this was not as good a match but was utterly charming. Bordeaux on the nose and palate, clean, precise, less dimensional than the Singerriedel but so perfectly seamless and of its place as to call one back to the glass. An archetype of a wine. Find this wine
2005 Etude, Cabernet Sauvignon
No question its CA cabernet with a purity that makes me think of blue fruit; no wood showing, slight sweetness but not from RS, smooth and texturally like satin and quite long. An entirely different animal than the Leoville but beautiful in its own right. Find this wine
2009 Rochioli, Pinot Noir Estate:
Gentle oak on a somewhat sweet nose; similar in the mouth but the flavors are true and the texture is silky. Simple but tasty. Find this wine
1995 Havens, Bourriquot
A touch of bottle bouquet and some of evidence of age on the palate this seem listless and somewhat raw; very full-flavored, tannic and a big bruiser of a wine. Not something I want more than a glass of, even with food. Find this wine
June 20, 2011
2008 Ant Hills Farms, Pinot Noir Mendocino:
13.2% alc.; smells of crunchy red fruit, light spice/oak and maple sugar; clean and medium weighted, crunchy fruit, balanced and moderately long. Not a spectacular wine but a good one with Mendocino character and the ability to accompany light sandwiches and not overwhelm. About $35. Find this wine
2008 Faivley, Bourgogne (blanc):
13% alc. stony and steely (think Chablis) with powerful chardonnay fruit that does not show any over-ripeness; intense, bright, powerful flavors and a long finish. We drank this by itself and it was excellent; I can only imagine how good it would be with food. About $16, and absolutely stealing at that price. (Aside: this wine impressed me so much I may have to start looking for this bottling regularly. A great price and the potential for development in a wine that shows well early – wow!) Find this wine
2007 Esmonin, Bourgogne Cuvee Sylvie (rouge):
Restrained but not reticent, extremely pure smells and flavors, mostly in the red fruit range, some complexity and real sustain. With Japanese food (not sushi), a wonderful pairing. This wine is expotentially better than its $22 price point. Find this wine
2008 Chevillon, Passetoutgrain:
12.5% alc.; bright, and the impression of tartness on the nose; similar on the palate with cut and full flavors, more complexity than expected and less gamay-like. Also with Japanese food, delicious. About $21. Find this wine
2008 Navarro, Muscat Blanc:
13.2% alc.; juniper and ginger smells accent white pit fruit; dry but not bone dry, flavors follow the nose, good acidity and a medium length, balanced finish. Not gaining in the cellar but not losing either. Very nice with salad and cheese. Find this wine
June 14, 2011
1999 Hirtzberger, Riesling Singerriedel:
13.5% alcohol; white fruit and stone scents with hints of resin, ozone and spice; rich and full in the mouth but not cloying, intense and concentrated, dry, well-balanced; very long. A bottle, that I think, epitomizes Austrian riesling; true to its place and vintage, and clearly in the house style. With curried shrimp on rice with peas, fantastic.
Find this wine
1999 Thomas, Pinot Noir:
13% alcohol; sous bois in its full peacock’s tail of complexity but the fruit is starting to fade; a bottle that is on the decline but still close to its peak. I have drunk a case of this since release and it has never disappointed; from its youthful exuberance and intensity to this, its mellow, cerebral waning. Along side spinach salad with grilled chicken, almost poignant.
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(Aside: Many years ago, I visited John Thomas and walked his vineyard with him. So each time I have a bottle of this, I think back to that land, that day and that man. To have been able to follow this wine for more than a decade is an unusual learning experience and I feel a special kinship for this bottle. Thank heavens for wine that lasts and develops, for a good cellar to put it in, and, for the opportunity to be part of it all.)
2000 Belle Pente, Pinot Noir Estate Reserve:
14.3% alcohol; completely closed. Re-corked and put in the fridge for another day.
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2006 Overnoy/Houillon, Arbois Pupillin (rouge):
12.5% alcohol, all poulsard; I have tried this wine and written notes about it many times and it is just as wonderful, nuanced, complex, unique and delightful as ever. When I think about spending over $30 for a bottle, I get very picky. This wine exceeds all my criteria for that price point and beyond. Diane and I both treasure the dinners when this wine accompanies. With a Caesar salad and grilled chicken, divine.
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2002 François Cazin, Cour-Cheverny Cuvée Renaissance:
12.5% alcohol; lemon, flowers, honey and stones on the nose; in the mouth this is vinous, with flavors that follow the nose, sec-tendre, bright and very clean; medium length and a relatively complex finish. It gets better as it opens and by the time the night is over, this wine is remarkable. One must approach it without preconceptions; expectations are the enemy (romorantin being a most unusual grape). But with curried vegetables, one of the best pairings I can imagine; truly sublime. And at nine years of age, showing good development and no signs of age.
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May 28, 2011
1995 Laurel Glen, Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Mountain:
12.5% alcohol; there are many different styles of cabernet but when I think of what the grape would smell and taste like at reasonable alcohol levels, this is it; there’s the compact fruit scents and flavors along with light herbaceous tones, some spice and just a bit of earthiness; all in a restrained but intense profile that makes this a food wine first and a cocktail wine not at all. It’s still somewhat young although there is some bottle bouquet; well-balanced so the tannins are not sticking out, and, focused. No hurry to open but worth trying now and damn good with pizza. Find this wine
2009 Jadot, Beaujolais-Villages:
13% alcohol and $10 locally; much as other recent bottles have been; good, solid wine without any indication of carbonic maceration and easy to pair with a variety of foods. This time we had it with vegetable hash and it was perfect. What’s not to like? Find this wine
2009 Pazo Señorans, Albariño:
12.5% alcohol; representative Albariño on both the nose and palate; probably needs some time; slightly sour on the finish. With a pasta dish that included bok choy, chicken, peanut sauce and grape tomatoes, it was nice accompaniment. Find this wine
2008 Saintsbury, Pinot Noir Garnet:
13.5% alcohol; when first opened, too sweet; but with a couples hours and a light chill, this became a pleasant, not altogether simple, pinot that made an easy after dinner quaff. Nothing to write home about but not to be dismissed. Screwcap. Find this wine
1995 Edmunds St. John, Syrah Durell Vnyd.:
14.4% alcohol; my third bottle from the case and the best so far; good, solid aromas of syrah; a bit aldehydic in the mouth but still carries its fruit with some nuance; medium length. I think this case got hot during storage and some of the bottles will be better than others; or such is my hope. A huge amount of sediment in the neck from bottles stored upside down. Good with veggie hash with chicken. Find this wine
2007 Drouhin, St. Véran:
13% alcohol; perfectly executed chardonnay from the terroir of origin; no oak noticeable, precise balance, excellent depth and a really fine example of the grape. So many more expensive appellations do not pull-off this level of execution. The winemaker got everything this ground could give; or at least, that is the impression. With goat cheese and crackers, lovely. Find this wine
N/V Marques de Monistrol, Cava Brut Selección Especial:
11.5% alcohol and about $10; energetic bead, bone dry, flavorful and absolutely clean; reminds me of grower Champagne but slightly dryer. Superb with pizza and pretty tasty without. I buy this by the case. Find this wine
May 20, 2011
2007 François Cotat, Rosé:
13% alcohol; tasted over several nights with salads or curries; brassy color; smells as one would expect, sort of strawberry meets mineral; full flavored and about sec-tendre sweetness, balanced and medium length. Both Diane and I agree, it is well made but we like rosé bone-dry and this isn’t. Better with curries but not something I will buy again, particularly in view of its $40 price. Find this wine
1998 Vieux Télégraphe, CdP:
14% alcohol; a lovely meat, iron, fruit nose that is very expansive (open the bottle, fill the room with aroma); much the same on the palate with some complexity, excellent integration and balance, and good sustain. Grenache and I usually don’t play well together but I enjoyed this; not a great wine but a very good one. Terrific with ‘bubble and squeak.’ Find this wine
2009 Jadot, Beaujolais-Villages:
13% alcohol; nothing suggests carbonic maceration; strong strawberry and black raspberry scents; solid flavors that follow the nose with good balance with a medium length finish. Not remarkable but enjoyable. With a pasta dish that included greens, olives, tomatoes, sausage and parmesan cheese, nice. Find this wine
2002 François Chidaine, Montlouis Les Choisilles:
12.5% alcohol; on several previous occasions, I was not pleased with this wine (a touch sweet, a little unfocused, etc.) but tonight, that changed; if one could imagine a reduction of quince, perfectly ripe, bright, concentrated, tangy, with perhaps just a hit of mineral, that’s this wine. No wool, lanolin, herb etc.; just the purest, deepest, most intense yet balanced fruit I can remember from a chenin. And with grilled chicken, Caesar salad, caramelized onions and crusty bread, as good a pairing as I have ever had. Oh my! Finally, I get this producer. Find this wine
May 13, 2011
Will you still need me, will you still feed me . . .
. . . today?
With boiled shrimp and cocktail sauce, Caesar salad and crusty rolls:
N/V Cedric Bouchard, Champagne In Florescence La Parcelle:
12.5% alcohol; the old adage about “drinking stars” is apt; this has an energetic and very fine bead, scents of leesy white fruit and a peacock’s tail of detailed flavors that ebb and flow depending on the sip. Perfect accompaniment for the meal and our “go to” wine for occasions. Find this wine
After dinner, a wee dram of Cragganmore, 12 year old Scotch with a touch of water; lovely that.
Had I known I would live this long, I might have taken better care.
Other bottles of late:
2005 Pepière, Muscadet Clos des Briords:
12% alcohol; bright, clear mineral, floral and white fruit scents; much the same on the palate with intensity and concentration, some complexity and a long, mouth-watering finish. Still quite young but delightful with steamed shrimp. Find this wine
2009 Edmunds St. John, Rocks and Gravel:
13.8% alcohol; more open then expected and without the compressed feel of the last bottle; meat, fruit and spice aromas; medium bodied, layered, and flavorful in the mouth with excellent balance and sustain. A delicious and interesting wine that accompanies a de-constructed burrito very nicely. Find this wine
2002 Joël Taluau, St.-Nicloas-de-Bourgueil VV:
12.5% alcohol; closed and dusty on the nose; disjointed and dull in the mouth; noticeably tannic. Perhaps, I am too early to this. Better with chicken/feta sausages and “green” rice but we will set the rest aside and see what happens. Day two: Got more integrated but also greener; not a good time to open this. Find this wine
1997 Edmunds St. John, Sangiovese Matagrano:
14.0% alcohol; muted black cherry, light smoke, spice, fresh herbs, light bottle bouquet and the delivery is complex and alluring; much the same in the mouth where its age gives it a mellow profile and its fruit offers depth; medium length, resolved finish. Reminds of an older Brunello that is at a good moment when you open it, and then, gets better. World record with vegetable hash. Find this wine
2009 Cowan Cellars, Syrah Dry
12.8% alcohol; red fruit, poop, meat and earthy scents, moderately complex; lightweight in the mouth but the flavors follow the nose and are focused and clear, good balance; medium length. When first bottled, I did not care for this wine; but now I know what ‘bottle shock’ is, as this has become (after four months in bottle) quite enjoyable. Excellent with baked potato with veggies, cheese and yogurt on top. Release anticipated for this fall.
May 7, 2011
After a brief bout with day surgery and the accompanying meds, I can have some wine again . . .
1996 Chat. Lynch Bages:
‘No great wines, only great bottles;’ this had some seepage at the cork and did not live up to the last several bottles of this vintage I have tasted. A bit musty and rather attenuated. Adequate, but nothing more. Other recent bottles of this have been seriously good. Find this wine
2005 Pieropan, Soave Calvarino:
Riveting wine; everyone at the table tasted, then stopped and looked at each other; complex and fresh on the nose; complex and deep in the mouth, brilliant acidity and an endless finish. This bottling does not see wood (unlike the La Rocca) and it really shows off its “Soave-ness.”
Served with a swordfish kabob wrapped in pancetta; the saltiness of the bacon matched very well with the minerality of the wine and the texture of the fish gave the strong flavors of the wine a perfect foil. One of the best pairings I’ve had this year. Find this wine
2007 Overnoy/Houillon, Arbois Pupillin:
12.5% alcohol; quite pale, a sort of burnished rose color; pomegranate, soil, stone, salt and spice notes on the nose, complex and ethereal; light-weight but layered in the mouth, each seeming to carry with it another arrangement of all the elements of the bouquet, bright, clean, and long. As though someone had taken the 2006 version and peeled away the flesh; nonetheless a singular bottle that is an ever-changing pleasure for both Diane and me. With grilled chicken and Caesar salad, fantastic. Few things in this life are as reliably wonderful as bottles of poulsard from this producer. Find this wine
2002 Brégeon, Muscadet:
12% alcohol; an extended lees aged Muscadet without the creaminess achieved by the Granite de Clisson’s and the like; perfect balance, good depth and complexity, bright and intense without being overly so and bursting with flavor. I heard someone say that discovering good Muscadet made it easier to lose white Burgundy; very apt. A joy to drink and superb with a shrimp, goji berry and fresh asparagus dish that Diane makes. Find this wine