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High-alcohol Verdelho, old Freisa, and older Napa Valley reds

The latest round of wines that Lou and I tasted presented a challenging start.  Perhaps only the Scholium Project would offer a high-alcohol Verdelho white wine and the 2010 Scholium Project, The Wisdom of Theuth, Lost Slough Vineyards certainly exists outside of my conventional experience.  I found an attractive blend of yeast, nuts, and lemon such that I am reminded a bit of a mature, flat Champagne.  Lovers of mature white wine will find it engaging on the first night.  Tasted blind, I would have guess the 1999 Pio Cesare, Freisa to be a late 1970s Italian Nebbiolo from a lesser region.  It threw a tremendous amount of sediment.  On the face of things, it is a decrepit wine for being from 1999.  However, if you like very old Italian wine then you’ll enjoy it after it breaths for several hours.  It becomes round and sweet with some delicate berries.

We soon moved on to a trio of Napa Valley red wines.  The 1983 Villa Mt. Eden, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley is from a very wet year which shows in a lack of quality fruit flavor and staying power.  In comparison, the 1977 vintage is still rocking.  The 1983 improves with air to be a modest wine which set us up for our next pair of wines from Burgess Cellars.

Burgess Cellars was founded in 1972 when Tom Burgess bought a 19th century winery that had been resurrected by Lee Stewart and known at the time as Souverain.  Burgess Cellars was one of only two dozen wineries in Napa and Sonoma at the time of founding.  The 1970s was a period when the house wine style was under development with the winemaker Bill Sorenson.  At the same time the vineyards were expanded and replanted.  In 1978 and 1979 the winery itself was significantly expanded.  Long-term contracts were secured to provide an increased volume of fruit.

Perhaps this transitory period explains why the 1979 Burgess Cellars, Pinot Noir, Napa Valley is way past prime.  It looks and smells old but there is still an attractive mouthfeel.  Souverain and Burgess Cellars did have a legacy when it came to Cabernet Sauvignon which could explain the quality of the 1979 Burgess Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.  The bottle stink quickly blew off to reveal deep fruit on the nose which is confirmed on the palate.  This is a clean fruited wine with a bit of herbal greenhouse flavor wrapped in a seductive, textured mouth feel.  My one grip is that it could stand a bit more acidity.  Even Jenn enjoyed it and I enjoyed my last glass as I read my mystery book before bed.

 

2010 Scholium Project, The Wisdom of Theuth, Lost Slough Vineyards
This wine is 100% Verdelho that was fermented in both tank and barrel.  Alcohol 15.88%.  There is a bit of an apple orchard aroma but then it becomes primarily of yeast and white fruit.  In the mouth this is a weighty, nutty white fruited wine with a cutting vein of acidity in the finish.  There is an attractive yeast note, lemon peel, and tropical floral flavors delivered with a very fine, ripe grip.  **(*) Now.

1999 Pio Cesare, Freisa
Imported by T. Elenteny. 12%.  Between the brick color, nose, and initial flavors I would have guessed this wine to be decades older.  After several hours of air it improved markedly.  A bacon aroma moves on to very mature flavors in a wine that rounds out and becomes sweeter with air.  While the nose remains past prime the mouth shows delicate berries, a little spice, good acidity, and an almost chewy nature.  ** Now.

1983 Villa Mt. Eden, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.9%.  This is a drier wine which improved with air.  It is fully mature with not the best fruit at this stage though there are attractive notes of wood box and a hint of tobacco. It sports powdery density and a fresh finish.  ** Drink Up.

1979 Burgess Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13.1%.  The bottle stink quickly blows off to reveal deep blue aromas.  In the mouth is clean fruit which is ripe and weighty before transitioning to dry flavors underpinned by black fruit.  There is a seductive mouthful but truth be told this could use a bit more zip from acidity.  It is very enjoyable though with fine wood notes, some fresh greenhouse, and a textured finish.  *** Now but will last.

1979 Burgess Cellars, Pinot Noir, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13.4%.  A light to medium-brown color spells doom which is confirmed on the nose.  Surprisingly round and weighty in the mouth with a sweet core.  Not Rated Past.

New releases from Domaine des Pasquiers of the Rhone

Phil has imported the wines of Domaine des Pasquiers for three years now.  The trio of 2015 Rhone wines in this post represents the latest offering.  2015 is quite a vintage and all of these wines show significant flavor and stuffing.  Of the trio, my favorite is the 2015 Domaine des Pasquiers, Cote du Rhone Villages Plan de Dieu.  It is deep, flavorful, and has grip that I like.  As with any proper Cotes du Rhone it will drink well over the next several years.  The 2015 Domaine des Pasquiers, Cotes du Rhone Villages Sablet is definitely young and in need of age.  I could see it outstep the Plan de Dieu once it is mature but for a bit of raisin flavor.  Maybe everything will come together in a couple years, in that case this could be a bit of a sleeper.  The 2015 Domaine des Pasquiers, Gigondas follows is the house style of modern Gigondas.  While I prefer more funk this is certainly impressive with fat notes and a very long aftertaste to boot. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Domaine des Pasquiers, Cote du Rhone Villages Plan de Dieu – $15
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This is a very dark, grapey red color.  The familiar, deep flavor leans more towards red fruit than black and is supported by strong, very fine tannic structure and watering acidity.  With air herbs and a bit of inkinesss come out.  It is certainly very flavorful with a touch of compelling grip, lots of flavor, and a dense almost chocolate finish.  *** Now – 2022.

2015 Domaine des Pasquiers, Cotes du Rhone Villages Sablet – $15
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This wine plays it close with black fruited, powdery ripe flavor.  There is extract and just the right amount of acidity.  The very fine drying structure and wood notes indicate it needs a year or two for integration.  The one distraction are fleeting flavors of raisins.  **(*) 2018-2024.

2015 Domaine des Pasquiers, Gigondas – $25
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This blue fruited wine is strong in flavor and strong in structure.  It is a dense, sexy with a modern personality of fat, minerals, and structure.  The aftertaste is persistent.  *** Now – 2027.

The 2015 Pierre Le Grand, Crozes-Hermitage is a savory, mouthful of wine

The 2015 Pierre Le Grand, Crozes-Hermitage must set a benchmark for dense flavor and strength when it comes to Crozes-Hermitage.  Perhaps it is atypical for the region but the wine is attractively savory, textured, and lively from acidity.  This is a lot to receive from a $20 Northern Rhone Syrah.  Give it a try!  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Pierre Le Grand, Crozes-Hermitage – $20
Imported by Misa Imports.  This wine is 100% Syrah sources from 40 year old vines.  Alcohol 13%.  This is a dense, savory wine coupled with smooth edges.  There is ripe texture made more engaging by the lively acidity.  Though this wine has power it is still evocative of the Northern Rhone with its floral notes.  *** Now – 2023.

There are deep flavors in the 2013 Bosco, Dainero

Castiglion del Bosco produces several wines from Montalcino but also the flavorful Dainero from their vineyards in Riparbella.  Located near Bolgheri, Riparbella is also an area conducive to the Bordeaux varieties.  The 2013 Castiglion del Bosco, Dainero, Tuscany shows off as a successful blend of mostly Merlot with a touch of Sangiovese. It is ultimately quite tasty with the additional benefits of texture, almost lively acidity, and surprising depth.  It is a well-priced wine worth checking out.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2013 Castiglion del Bosco, Dainero, Tuscany – $18
Imported by Maisons Marques & Domaines.  This wine is a blend of  90% Merlot and 10% Sangiovese fermented in stainless steel then aged for 6 months in a combination of new and used oak.  Alcohol 13%.  Deep red flavors overlay minerals and bright black fruit.  There is a good amount of acidity, almost bordering on lively, with texture and tang hitting the back of the mouth.  The wine plays it close with structure and brightness to support further development.  Development is no doubt possible because the wine has surprising depth to the pervasive, blue and black fruit flavors. *** Now – 2022.

Ample, affordable flavor from Ventoux

With spring break winding down it is time to start posting again.  Of good value and ripe for drinking is the 2015 Chateau Juvenal, Jolie, Cotes du Ventoux.  This is a deep, black fruited wine with a mineral middle which keeps things in perspective.  At $15 per bottle, this joint effort between Philippe Cambie and Chateau Juvenal, will please many people.  We have already pulled the corks on two bottles!  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Chateau Juvenal, Jolie, Cotes du Ventoux – $15
Misa Imports.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah sourced from 50+ year old vines.  Alcohol 15%.  This is a youthful wine with deep fruitiness that conveys richness from red then powdery black fruit.  Though rich with a smooth start, the wine becomes more focused with a mineral middle and dry finish.  *** Now – 2019.

Fun Grenache from Envinate

Envinate not only produces wines from the Canary Islands but from the mainland as well.  When I first opened the 2015 Viticultores Emilio Ramirez y Envinate, Albahra, Almansa I was immediately reminded of Des Tours.  This impression lasted for 15 minutes or so before the wine morphed from that ethereal ripeness to a dry, focused, mineral wine.  It is definitely worth checking out this unique wine. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Viticultores Emilio Ramirez y Envinate, Albahra, Almansa – $18
A Jose Pastor Selections imported by Llaurador Wines.  This wine is 100% Grenache fermented and raised in cement.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This is a textured, lively wine which begins with ethereal ripe flavors.  With air it becomes a dry, focused, mineral wine to drink over the next few years.  *** Now – 2020.

The lively 2015 Fratelli Alessandria, Barbera d’Alba

Fratelli Alessandria has produced a Barbera d’Alba from “slimy limestone” soils since 1968, though the family has owned the winery since the 19th century.  The current 2015 Fratelli Alessandria, Barbera d’Alba is a lively, tangy wine that provides good fun.  After a small period of breathing it comes into its own offering flavors from tangy red fruit to blue and black by the finish.  There is structure for short-term development but the acidity will make you want to drink it this year.  This is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Fratelli Alessandria, Barbera d’Alba – $16
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is 100% Barbera sourced from 20 year old vines.  It was fermented stainless steel tanks then aged in a combination of stainless steel and cement.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There is lively, tangy fruit, spices and mineral.  The acidity is immediately attractive.  The wine quickly opens up with air.  The bright entry brings tannins, red fruit, and a minerally tang then the wine morphs to a blue and black fruited middle.  *** Now – 2019.