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A Tale of Two ¿Querrys?

As reported last January, we were quite fond of Bonny Doon’s 2011 ¿Querry? Pear Apple Quince Cider when we tried it, so when we got our hands on their new 2013 version, we were geeked to have a go at that one too. It was produced in a different manner than the previous model, as explained by Randall Grahm: “The production technique has changed slightly since the last (2011) bottling, which derived its carbonation from bottle conditioning. This time we’ve gone with a less labor-intensive methodology, (i.e. bottling @ 30° F. and saturating w/ CO2), enabling us to offer the new vintage at a more accessible price.” The ’11 was produced with secondary fermentation in bottle, à la méthode champenoise. (Click image to enlarge.)

I figured that since the 2011 is still available here in the Detroit area, it might be fun and instructive to try them side-by-side, which, as it turns out, put the ’13 at something of a disadvantage.
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A Cornerstone Sauvignon Blanc Vertical

A few months ago, our friends at Napa Valley’s Cornerstone Cellars sent out a three-year vertical of their Sauvignon Blanc to selected critics, reviewers and old folksingers. The idea was to demonstrate just how well these age and develop. We had already reviewed the 2009 back around the time of its release, and had quite liked it then, so, of course, I was very interested to see not only how it had fared in the intervening time, but how it compared to the two succeeding vintages.

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Alan Kerr’s Vintage’s May 24th Release – Tasting Notes

Fans of wines from the Cotes Du Rhone will be very happy on May 24th especially folks, like myself, that love great quality wines at reasonable prices. The board sent most of the red wines slotted for the release, made me happy, so read on, free up your credit cards and head to the store because you won’t be disappointed.

370189 CHÂTEAU SAINT ESTÈVE D’UCHAUX MASSIF D’UCHAUX CÔTES DU RHONE VILLAGES $18.95
A beautiful nose laden with Christmas cake spice, coal dust and smoke, backed up with dark cherry, dark fruit and treacle. Super silky blueberry fruit and dried strawberry on the palate, very good concentration and good length on the finish. Find this wine

374991 CLOS BELLANE CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES VALRÉAS 2010 $19.95
An interesting blend of cedar, smoked meat, Nori and dried cherry, showing super fruit flavours of redcurrant, raspberry and blackberry on the palate all bound with milky chocolate and clean acidity. Find this wine

374983 DOMAINE COURTOIS LA GRANGE VINSOBRES 2011 $20.95
Heady aromas of black raspberry, sweet smoke, Asian spice and a whiff of mandarin peel, solid structure on the palate featuring damson and plum, black tea and a hefty layer of bitter chocolate tannin. A wine soon to be very good, but needs a little time to do so. Find this wine

374280 DOMAINE DE LA VALÉRIANE VIEILLES VIGNES CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2012 $17.95
Very ripe, projecting aromas of tar, blueberry, black pepper grounds, dried mushroom and briar, quite smooth and round on the palate showing black cherry and currant flavours controlled by a gentle layer of tannin. Find this wine

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Three Late Model Left Foot Charley Libations

I had the great pleasure of playing music again at Left Foot Charley Winery a few weeks ago. It’s always a treat for me to play at any of our fine Michigan wineries, tasting rooms and breweries, but LFC is special for me, because we’ve followed their progress from the very beginning and we’re big fans of their wines and ciders. It was a good night of music and a great night for trying different LFC wines. I strayed from my usual choice, the Island View Pinot Blanc, opting instead for the 2012 Dry Riesling, a glass of which I nursed over my two set performance. I didn’t manage to record any impressions, other than the fact that it’s a delicious example of just how good Michigan Riesling can be.

A few months before this, LFC announced on their Facebook page that there wouldn’t be a lot of the Island View Pinot Blanc to go around this vintage, and that the savvy customer would be wise to take advantage of a six-pack pre-order priced at $18 per bottle, which I jumped on immediately. The fine folks in the tasting room held it for me to pick up at the gig, and, of course, we tried one as soon as we got back home. Here’s what we found.
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Alan Kerr’s Vintage’s May 10th Release – Tasting Notes

I do not have a lot to report on for this release. Believe it or not, my notes on the wines of Chile and Argentina, the feature of the release for May 10th, are M.I.A. While driving home from the tasting, the weather cleared and the sun came out. Thus I opened my windows and instantly my notes started to fly around the car and by the time I reacted, a couple of pages exited my vehicle and by now are in tatters somewhere on Highway 401. Therefore, here are the notes from the rest of the release.

145920 MARCHESI DE’ FRESCOBALDI TENUTA DI CASTIGLIONI 2011 Tuscany $21.95
An inky enticing blend of moss, black licorice, treacle and blackberry aromas with an initial firm structure of tannin on the palate, but black cherry, currant and sweet blueberry flavours shine through. Perfect acidity, well balanced, just needs time. Find this wine

326710 LIRICA PRIMITIVO DI MANDURIA 2007, Puglia $18.95
Dark chocolate infused with black raspberry with a touch of mocha, pressed flowers and black pepper. Lovely flavourful palate, showing bright and fleshy flavours of blackberry, raspberry, lavender, cake spice and mellow tannins. A pleasing touch of sweetness on the finish along with a medicinal candy note, plus this wine is from the 2007 vintages, which indicates some bottle aging, rendering this very drinkable now. Find this wine

317313 CASALE DELLO SPARVIERO CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2010, Tuscany $19.95
Lots of aromas featuring dried cherry, underbrush, coffee grounds, prune and dark bitter chocolate lead to a mostly fruit focused palate of blackberry, damson, cherry and currant. Simple clean finish, balanced acids and minimal tannins. Find this wine

166512 VALDEMAR INSPIRACIÓN SELECCIÓN 2010, Rioja $17.00
I enjoy writing about a wine costing $17.00 that offers so much drinking pleasure at such a young age, but that also has potential to get even better with a couple of years in slumber. A dark fruit focused wine displaying great depth of black currant, black cherry, Dutch salty licorice and ground pepper. The palate hits with a whack of Ribena, dark chocolate infused with cherry liqueur, perfect acidity with a blackcurrant focused finish enhanced with mineral. Find this wine

287961 OSCAR’S ESTATE VINEYARD SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2011 Barossa Valley, South Australia $17.95
Sawdust, wet earth, violets, blackcurrant, Middle Eastern sweet spice and milk chocolate. Its palate is solid with plenty of dark fruit, a touch of tamarind, clean acidity and gentle tannins. Find this wine

097220 TORBRECK THE STEADING 2009 Barossa Valley, South Australia $53.95
A bit of a clumsy powerhouse right now, its nose is almost Port like, brimming with dark chocolate, blueberry, tar and candy floss. There is lively acidity, it is laden with chunky dark fruit, sweet toffee and has a finish of Fry’s chocolate cream. Tannins are silky, but solid, however, this will be quite the wine given time, but nonetheless it’s tasty albeit disjointed right now. Find this wine

948992 HEDGES CELLARS CMS 2011 Columbia Valley, Washington $19.95
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah boasting aromas of dark fruit, chocolate covered raisins, Coffee Crisp candy bar, bacon/smoked meat and wet soil. It is a meaty wine, well balanced; the dark fruit shows well, a touch of pepper and spice lead to a clean and well balanced finish. Find this wine

951889 IRONSTONE OLD VINE ZINFANDEL 2012 Lodi $17.00
I like the crushed blackberry, blueberry, sweet cherry, black tea, lavender and linalool aromas. It is highly extracted, but no excessive heat, solid dark fruit flavours, some peppery spice, dusty blueberry, bubble gum and dried raspberry. Find this wine

186171 DECOY CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 Sonoma County $33.95
Duckhorn’s second wine displays lots of dusty warm dark fruit, a little nutshell and plenty of mineral notes on the nose. A solid palate, with currant and raspberry, nice clean acidity, dusty chocolate tannins and spicy finish. Find this wine
That’s it!
Cheers
CZ

Two QPR All Stars from Chateau Virgile

My first experience with the wines of Chateau Virgile, located in Costiere de Nimes, was back in the spring of 2009, when I tasted that estate’s white from the 2006 vintage with the US importer, Patrick Allen, of United Estates Wine Imports, Ltd. We liked it so well that we blew through all we could find in short order, and didn’t get a chance to try anything else from them until September of 2010, when I happened upon their 2008 rosé; it was good, but not as good as the blanc, so we didn’t buy as much, and didn’t give it any more thought until I ran into Patrick again, this time, at a Rhône trade tasting put on by our friends at AHD Vintners this past February.

Patrick is every bit as affable and informative as he was five years ago, and once again, everything from his portfolio that he was pouring was excellent. The two from Virgile were the ones that really caught my attention, both for their tasty demeanor and their excellent QPR (Quality-Price-Ratio). We liked them so much, that we picked up a half-case of each. Here are my impressions of each, starting with the 2012 rosé, which I’m pleased to report is much more to our liking that the ’08 model.

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Domaine Devillard Happy Hour

Recently, we had the pleasure of attending an intimate “Happy Hour” tasting of red and white Burgundies, courtesy of our friends at AHD Vintners. The tasting took place in a side room at Michael Symon’s Roast restaurant, in the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit. The wines featured were from the portfolio of Domaine Devillard, which owns and operates, among others, Château De Chamirey and Domaine des Perdrix. At one time, these two estates were imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons, but when the Devillards sold their interests in two other Burgundy producers, Domaine Jacques Prieur and Antonin Rodet, they parted ways with Wildman. The folks at AHD are thrilled to now have these wines in their book, and when Cédric Ducoté of Domaine Devillard (shown on the left in the picture below, along with AHD’s Michelle DeHayes and head honcho Anthony “Chip” Delsener) came to town to promote them, it proved to be an irresistible opportunity to try some wines that haven’t been in the state since about 2009, except for older vintages. (Click on images to enlarge.)

We tasted through seven wines, which ranged from very good to excellent. Burgundy may not be one of my strengths, but I certainly know fine wines when I taste them, I know what I like and these are all quite enjoyable. Here are my snapshot impressions. Prices listed are based on standard markups on the wholesale pricing in this market.
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Alan Kerr’s Vintage’s April 26th Release – Tasting Notes

April 26th release showcases wines from several of the lesser known regions within the vast area known as Bordeaux. In great vintages wines from these regions usually offer the consumer very good quality wines at a fraction of the price of their more affluent neighbours.

Most of the wines in this release are from the 2010 vintage along with a couple from 2009. Both were heralded and highly touted and to quote Mr. Robert P who declared ”It is an inescapable truth that 2010 has produced another year of compelling Bordeaux that will go down as a prodigious vintage alongside of 2009.”

Sadly it looks like the LCBO left it to the last minute to shop and got the dregs of what was left over from their suppliers. Many of the wines are overly ripe and extracted; full of aggressive tannins, high levels of acidity and oak, it was tough to taste through them. I fully expect young wines to have ample tannins to survive time away in the cellar, but the levels of tannin in some of these wines is in excess of the norm.

307363 CHÂTEAU LE GRAND MOULIN GRANDE RÉSERVE 2010 Blaye – Côtes de Bordeaux $16.95
Bright aromas of plum, cherry and currant, backed with whiffs of cinnamon and toasty oak, the dark cherry flavour hits the palate, and all is good until a whopping veil of tannin comes along and shuts down the fun. It is astringent, tight and really shut down. Find this wine

368159 CHÂTEAU LAMARTINE 2010 Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux $16.95
A wine of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, exhibiting enjoyable aromas of earth, lead pencil, sweet spice, blackberry and cherry. The texture is rich and ripe, but not over the top, its fruit is focused on plum, black raspberry and currant flavours, oak aging is deftly performed and the acids are in fine tune. Find this wine

365908 CHÂTEAU LE BOURDILLOT SÉDUCTION 2009 Graves $18.95
This starts nicely with gratifying aromas of red raspberry and sweet cherry mixed with forest floor and mineral. The palate however loses its seductive charm, the fruit is thin and the finish is short. Find this wine

365882 CHÂTEAU DE MONBADON 2010 Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux $18.95
A wine showing pure black fruit, dried cherry, cherry cola and forest floor aromas. It has good structure, there is some sweet oak, but the battle between fruit, tannin and oak is evident, hopefully a couple of years in a cellar may bring out its good side. Find this wine

374264 CHÂTEAU VIEILLE DYNASTIE 2011 Lalande-de-Pomerol $25.95
Very ripe, full of dark fruit, cherry cola with underlying aromas of cedar/balsa, smoked meat and tar. It teases the palate with dollops of blackberry and strawberry, the acids are clean and tannins while powerful, are dusty and tea like. Find this wine

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Red Wings and Red Rhônes from Caves Saint-Pierre

When I purchased the 2011 Caves Saint-Pierre Vacqueyras that I reported on in my last blog entry, I had actually opted to try the least expensive of four wines from Caves Saint-Pierre that are available at our friendly neighborhood Trader Joe’s. Having enjoyed that selection, I decided the other three were probably worth trying as well, so I picked them up during my next two shopping trips. While they varied some in quality, all three provided solid red Rhône mojo for my beloved Detroit Red Wings late season surge that has seen them clinch a 23rd straight berth in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, despite a rash of injuries throughout the campaign that would leave lesser teams mired in the cellar with nothing but bitter wine.

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Alan Kerr’s Vintage’s April 12th Release – Tasting Notes

Wines made in Veneto’s Appassimento fashion is the theme for this release on April 12th. There are some wonderful wines, but sadly there was not a lot sent for sampling, so here is my take on those that were.

650713 MONTE ZOVO SA’ SOLIN RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA 2011 $17.95
Very good concentration of dried fruit, polished mahogany, brown cardamom shell and cigar leaf on the nose, lively palate has vibrant blackberry and blueberry flavours with a hint of dusty cocoa on the finish. Find this wine

685107 TENUTA SANT’ANTONIO SELEZIONE ANTONIO CASTAGNEDI AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2010 $43.95
Lovely aromas of blackcurrant, tar, black tea, fresh cut flowers, new leather and dark roasted coffee grounds lead to a mouth-watering palate of pure dark fruit, perfect acidity, bitter clove and dried plum, with a dose of astringent tannin on the finish. Find this wine

300012 BRIGALDARA AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2009 $49.95
A wine brimming with aromas of cherry cola, sweet candy, dried cherry, cassia bark and dried meat. There is a floral background too whilst heady aromas of cherry brandy take centre stage. It has seventeen degree of alcohol, which deposits some heat on the palate, it is quite astringent, dysfunctional and clumsy now, but given time, this could be quite some wine. Find this wine

333575 CAPARZO ROSSO DI MONTALCINO 2011 $19.95
Earthy, with lots of aromas of wet cut grass, mineral, rosewater, damson and red currant. The fruit aromas flow through to the palate. It’s nicely balanced, lively acidity, with a note of mocha and chocolate tannins on the finish. Find this wine

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