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A Good Bottle of 1985 Warre’s, Vintage Port

January 25, 2020 Leave a comment

I opened a bottle of 1985 Warre’s, Vintage Port a few weeks ago, inspired by the then upcoming Dessert Wine Tasting of the Wine and Food Society of New York City. What a good treat this turned out to be!  I found this bottle particularly balanced with a surprisingly youthful berry component.  Of course all of the components from age were there as well: spices, wood, and leather.  This wine is at its peak of drinking.  Given how well it responded to air, I would imagine it will drink at the level across the decade.

1985 Warre’s, Vintage Port
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  Alcohol 20%.  A light to medium mahogany color on the rim with a cherry core.  Aromas of sweet custard with spice soon integrate with even more baking spices.  Sweet flavors of black and red fruit quickly become tactile by a fine texture.  It is firmer in the finish with notes of fine old wood and damp leather.  With air it develops rounded berry fruit, evocative of a youthful state, cool acidity, and a sweet, unctuous finish.  Good length with a touch of spirit eventually coming out.  ***(*) now – 2030.

Holiday Time Wine: 1977 Dessert Wines from California

December 27, 2019 1 comment

I have become swamped with work and despite a lack of posting, I have still managed to drink some interesting wines this fall.  The 1977 Monterey Peninsula Winery, Late Harvest Zinfandel, Amador County is a fine find.  Founded in 1974, Monterey Peninsula Winery soon developed award winning Zinfandel from a county which became synonymous for the variety.  Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Nathan Chroman found the group of Zinfandels submitted at the 1976 Los Angeles Fair the finest in its history.  This included the 1974 vintage of the wine we tried.  Chroman found this “high-alcohol” or “late-harvest” style of wine a great success due to their balance with the alcohol.  Indeed, that is a quality which persists with the 1977 vintage to this day.

A lack of balance with alcohol is the affliction of the 1977 JW Morris Port Works, California Vintage Port.  Founded in 1975, JW  Morris Port Works soon ran into problems with capital and was sold off to the Toth family in 1983.  Morris bought Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel from 70 year old vines in Black Mountain as the basis for his ports.  In 1986, the Toth’s still had a stock of the 1977 Port which had been aged in wood for 6 1/2 years.  They planned on releasing it as the first of the Late Bottled Ports.  The goal was to produce a smoother drinking port without “the ‘hot’ alcoholic qualities” of the younger ports.  Perhaps the wine we tried had issues from the very beginning.

1977 Monterey Peninsula Winery, Late Harvest Zinfandel, Amador County
Alcohol 17.8%.  The nose is a dead-ringer for a classic, less-sweet tawny port.  Ample, fruity flavors with baking spices, and still with fine rugged texture.  A certain robustness yet balanced all around, fine wood flavors…simply a treat.  ***(*)  Now but will last.

1977 JW Morris Port Works, California Vintage Port – half-bottle
Alcohol 20%.  A lovely nose, quite fruity and deep, revealing plentiful leather aromas with air.  In the mouth a fruity start, still youthful and well preserved but out of balance with the spirit.  Becomes hot by the end which I find distracting and a shame given the nose. *(*) Now but will last a long time.

Mid-week with Lou: Falkenstein, Pesquera, Ponsot, Tribouley, and more

November 11, 2019 Leave a comment

Mid-week tastings with Lou tend to feature wines that do not normally fit into a tasting theme.  Darryl has turned my attention to  Falkenstein so I could not resist trying the young but very good 2018 Hofgut Falkenstein, Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Spätlese feinherb AP11, Mosel.  We then changed gears with the mature 2001 François Pinon, Cuvée 2001, Vouvray.  The luxurious body of the wine surprised me.  The feral smelling 2008 Jean-Louis Tribouley, Vieilles Vignes, Les Bacs, VdP Cotes Catalanes has completely clean strawberry and cranberry flavors in the mouth.  It is actually still young and worth tracking over the next several years.

I had high hope for the 1994 Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez, Tinto Pesquera, Ribera del Duero.  This bottle came from a great DC cellar which offered up beautiful bottles of first growth Bordeaux back to the 1950s and a wide range of top-notch Burgundy.  This bottle of Pesquera was quite good, evocative of Ribera del Duero, but the finish is a little short. I formed the impression it might not be the best example.  I have a second bottle so I will report back this winter.

Not quite satisfied, I opened up 1983 Domaine Ponsot, Clos de la Roche which also came from the same DC cellar.  I was told it was acquired upon release.  Served out of a decanter, this was a great bottle in great shape which continued to develop until none was left.  Lou and I just sat at the peninsula, chatting and drinking, completely satisfied, thrilled at how great mature Burgundy can be.  This is my first experience with Ponsot and I cannot wait for another!

2018 Hofgut Falkenstein, Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Spätlese feinherb AP11, Mosel – $27
A Lars Carlberg Selection imported by Williams Corner Wine.  Alcohol 10%.  A pretty, floral nose.  Good body with gentle, lifted acidity and racy flavor.  It is a lively wine integrating sweet lemon flavors, chalky texture, and acidity.  Good presence.  **** Now – 2029.

2001 François Pinon, Cuvée 2001, Vouvray
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  Alcohol 12.2%.  A light yellow straw.  Chenin-like for sure, fresh and round with a woodsy/orchard note.  In good shape it develops both flesh and fat with a little tartness to keep it alive.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

2008 Jean-Louis Tribouley, Vieilles Vignes, Les Bacs, VdP Cotes Catalanes
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  Alcohol 14.5%.  A little stinky but ultimately, ferale smelling.  Rounded and ripe in the mouth with a fine vein of black fruit.  It develops strawberry confit flavors in the glass with spicy structure and a red cranberry finish.  Quite youthful in the mouth with a good dose of structure.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

1994 Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez, Tinto Pesquera, Ribera del Duero
Imported by Classical Wines From Spain.  Alcohol 13%.  Advanced in color.  A deep nose which is robust with dark, lovely, maturing aromas.  It takes time to open up, eventually offering tart red fruit over an ethereal, dark soil foundation.  It fleshes out in the mouth but the finish stays shorter than I would hope for.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

1983 Domaine Ponsot, Clos de la Roche
Shipped by Robert Haas Selections and imported by Vineyard Brands.  Upon the first pour, this is a fresh, ripe, mouth-filling wine that is round and full of soil notes.  It is substantial in personality and flavor, offering sweet orange and red fruits, minerals, soil, and a long-lasting finish.  With air it shows chewy pungency and concentration.  The mature mixture of sous-bois adds to the balance of flavor, supported by good acidity and structure.  There is a tangy persistence to the aftertaste.  This will continue to develop for some time.  ****(*) Now – 2035.

A Clos du Mont-Olivet Vertical: 2017 Cotes du Rhone back to 2005 La Cuvee du Papet

November 9, 2019 Leave a comment

I was a guest at the most recent blind tasting held by Phil’s tasting group.  Of the eight wines we tasted blind, one was a stinker, so we were left with seven bottles to deduce the theme.  Two of the wines, #5 and #8, were clearly Chateauneuf du Pape but the firmness of the younger vintages and stylistic difference of the ringer through me for a loop.  I will fess up that I had recently drunk wine #2 but I was still stumped.  In retrospect, the theme of Clos du Mont-Olivet can be appreciated.

The Sabon family have been making wine at Clos du Mont-Olivet since 1932 with the estate now run by Thierry  Sabon.  The tasting featured one vintage of Cotes du Rhone Vieilles Vignes, one vintage of Châteaneuf du Pape, and five vintages of Châteauneuf du Pape La Cuvee du Papet.  The Cotes du Rhone Vieilles Vignes we tried is a typical blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 10% Carignan mostly sourced from vineyards planted in 1950.  The fruit is partially destemmed then fermented with indigenous yeasts in cement tanks followed by aging in used foudre, demi-muids, and tanks.  The Châteaneuf du Pape is a typical blend of 80% Grenache with Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsault rounding things out.  The fruit is partially destemmed then fermented with indigenous yeasts in cement tanks.  It is aged in in foudre.  The top wine of the estate is La Cuvee du Papet which is only made in the best vintages.  It is a typical blend of 75% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah sources from multiple parcels.  The vines range in age from 30 to 100+ years of age since the oldest parcel of Grenache was planted in 1901.  The fruit is partially destemmed then fermented with indigenous yeasts in cement tanks followed by aging in used foudre and demi-muids.

The 2017 Clos du Mont-Olivet, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone is an excellent follow-on to the 2016 vintage.  It is, however, a wine which needs time to develop and should drink well for a few years.  The best wine to drink now and one of my favorites of the tasting is the awesome 2005 Clos du Mont-Olivet, La Cuvee du Papet, Châteauneuf du Pape.  Even better is the 2010 Clos du Mont-Olivet, La Cuvee du Papet, Châteauneuf du Pape.  This superlative pair offers a wine that has just hit its mature phase, the 2005, and a wine shedding its youth, the 2010.  I went back to these bottles multiple times simply to drink them.  I recommend you buy some so you can as well!  Worth cellaring, is the very young yet outstanding 2016 Clos du Mont-Olivet, La Cuvee du Papet, Châteauneuf du Pape.  It has all the components for developing but is still firm.  I’d give it several years of age at which point it should be obvious if it is as great as the 2010.  Many thanks to Phil for hosting such an excellent tasting.

Blind #1 – 2017 Clos du Mont-Olivet, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone –
Imported by Dionysos Imports. Alcohol 14.5%.  Grapey scents on the nose.  A young wine in the mouth with flavors of black and purple fruit with fine, dry and bitter structure in the end.  With air it rounds and balances out.  The ripe fruit has a touch of sweetness from a vanilla component.  The flavors of blueberries and violets is carried by watering acidity.  This is a mid-term ager that should significantly improve over the winter.  *** Now – 2027.

Blind #2 – 2016 Clos du Mont-Olivet, Châteauneuf du Pape –
Imported by Dionysos Imports. Alcohol 15%.  A good nose of red fruits.  In this mouth this is a big wine with a spine of acidity.  With air it opens up a touch offering creamy flavors of violets, black fruit, and a little wood box.  With good depth it becomes firm in the end as a spicy structure comes out.  It should be cellared.  This bottle is tighter than a previous bottle I tried.  ***(*) 2023- 2034.

Blind #3 – 2016 Clos du Mont-Olivet, La Cuvee du Papet, Châteauneuf du Pape –
Imported by Dionysos Imports. Alcohol 15%.  An aromatic nose of blue fruits.  In the mouth this is a big wine with fine, strong tannins, and a powerful wave of flavor through the finish.  Like the regular CdP, this is closely packed and in need of age.  With air the wine has all of the components clearly focused for development.  It is savory, intense, and even a little spicy.  ****(*) 2024- 2039.

Blind #4 – 2015 Clos du Mont-Olivet, La Cuvee du Papet, Châteauneuf du Pape –
Imported by Dionysos Imports. Alcohol 15%.  A deeper, meaty nose.  A watering start then the wine falls flat, compared to other vintages, offering vintage perfume notes, wood box, and baking spice.  There are ample, fine and dry tannins.  With air it improves to be lush yet not voluptuous with a deep, dry finish.  The structure remains prominent compared to the fruit weight.  A good wine in all respects but clearly overshadowed by the 2016. For the mid-term. ***(*) Now – 2029.

Blind #5 – 2010 Clos du Mont-Olivet, La Cuvee du Papet, Châteauneuf du Pape –
Imported by Dionysos Imports. Alcohol 15%.  Saline and dense, this wine packs in tons of flavors right through the powerful end.  though powerful, it keeps focused with creamy bits, luxurious fat, and wood box maturity.  It is still so young but is clearly a great wine.  Unlike the outstanding 2005, this has the intensity of youth which hits the throat with a dose of fruity raspberries.  ***** Now – 2034.

Blind #6 – 2010 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, Châteauneuf du Pape –
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  Polished on the nose.  In the mouth it is a little saline, dry and tart with red, citric fruit.  It has fine focus for the long-haul with polished wood tannins.  With air there is a subtle, lifted hint of fat, wood box, and a killer finish.  This wine will be slow to develop.  **** 2023-2039.

Blind #7 – 2006 Clos du Mont-Olivet, La Cuvee du Papet, Châteauneuf du Pape –
Imported by Dionysos Imports. Alcohol 14%.  A stinker, smells like air make it through the cork.  Can’t stand it.  Not Rated.

Blind #8 – 2005 Clos du Mont-Olivet, La Cuvee du Papet, Châteauneuf du Pape –
Imported by Dionysos Imports. Alcohol 14%.  Taking on some garnet in the glass.  A good nose.  The ripe fruit and fine wood box notes are clearly part of a more complex Southern Rhone wine.  It lovely with young power that comes through.  Fat and weighty flavors drape on the tongue with a sweet middle.  This is a Chateauneuf du Pape with tons of future potential but you can enjoy it now became it has some bottle age flavor and concentrating ripeness.  ****(*) Now – 2034.

An Additional Blind Wine – 1998 Domaine Bois De Boursane, Châteauneuf du Pape –
Alcohol 13.5%.  Some umami mixing with red fruit and watering acidity into the salty, firm finish.  There is good flavor for drinking right now.  If you decant drink quickly.  *** Now.

Excellent 2016 Gigondas from Bouissiere, Cayron, Mourchon, Raspail-ay, and Soumade

November 8, 2019 Leave a comment

I recently tasted through five different bottles of 2016 Gigondas and found very good quality throughout.  The 2016 vintage provides wines for both early drinking and cellar potential.  In both cases, there is plenty of supple fruit for enjoyment so you are not bogged down by any structure.  The 2016 Domaine Mourchon, Gigondas and 2016 Domaine du Cayron, Gigondas are enjoyable right now.  The Mourchon offers plenty of tasty fruit and becomes a little salty.  The Cayron exhibits a strong personality due to its Kirsch aromas and flavors.  Of the longer-lived wines, the 2016 Domaine La Bouissiere, Gigondas is savory, complex, and balanced with a more elegant, less fruit-forward nature compared to the next two.  It is excellent and should improve further.  There is an attractive strawberry flavor in the 2016 Domaine Raspail-Ay, Gigondas which sports ample baking spices and an inky finish.  The 2016 Domaine la Soumade, Gigondas  is dark flavored with more herbs and minerals.  It will reach the greatest age at the slowest pace.  The Boussiere, Raspail-Ay, and Soumade are my favorite of these five.  They will be fascinating to taste several years from now.

2016 Domaine La Bouissiere, Gigondas – $30 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is a blend of 66% Grenache and 34% Syrah raised in vat and foudre.  Alcohol 14.5%.  Kirsch on the nose.  With air, it develops clean bright red flavors which are savory and dense.  There is an attractive tension from the acidity which is balanced by the fruit and structure.  It is lively on the tongue.  With extended air it shows savory complexity with notes of pine and dried herbs.  Excellent.  **** Now – 2030.

2016 Domaine du Cayron, Gigondas $36 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Roanoke Valley Wine.  This wine is a blend of 78% Grenache, 14% Syrah, 6% Cinsault, and 2% Mourvedre raised in foudre.  Alcohol 14%.  Very aromatic with Kirsch and berries.  In the mouth are pure, weight flavors of Kirsch with a fine, powerful structure in the finish.  It clearly reflects the intensity of the vintage.  With air, the core of fruit becomes more expansive yet is still lively on the tongue.  For the medium-term.  **** Now – 2027.

2016 Domaine Mourchon, Gigondas – $25 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  A special selection just for MacArthur Beverages.  Alcohol 14.5%.  Easy to drink red fruit first greets then a vein of black fruit and acidity come out.  This is a forward wine for early drinking.  It take some a salty nature with air.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

2016 Domaine Raspail-Ay, Gigondas – $36 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Michael Corso Selections.  This wine is an approximate blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre.  Alcohol 15%.  Dark and lush in the mouth with Kirsch poking through.  The acidity grows subtly in prominence as the flavors take on baking spice and bluer fruit by the finish.  There is a fine structure that is always supportive and not obtrusive.  The ability to age is revealed with air.  The wine becomes redder with strawberry flavors, lovely ripe baking spices, and an inky finish.  It is always in balance.  **** Now – 2030.

2016 Domaine la Soumade, Gigondas – $36 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah.  Alcohol 15%.  Focused flavors with a black fruited start.  Minerals and herbs first develop then a perfumed, creamy finish and eventually a salty note.  This is a dense wine with rounded edges which will slowly unfurl with age.  With air the wine shows a cool, dense nature, dark fruit, fine texture, and a black, mineral and herb influenced finish.  It is a young wine that will age slower than all of the others.  **** Now – 2034.

For the cellar: 2016 J.L. Chave Selection, Offerus, Saint-Joseph

November 6, 2019 Leave a comment

Just a quick tasting note for today.  The 2016 J.L. Chave Selection, Offerus, Saint-Joseph is a good selection for the cellar.  Whereas I found the 2014 vintage appropriate for current consumption, this 2016 vintage has the acidity and structure to support aging.  It also takes time in the glass to slowly reveal its complexity with air suggesting the flavors age.  There is interest throughout, from the meaty nose to the violets in the mouth.

2016 J.L. Chave Selection, Offerus, Saint-Joseph – $30 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Erin Cannon Imports.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Slightly meaty on the nose.  There are initial flavors of blue and black fruit, herbs, and brown sugar carried by almost citric acidity.  There is good texture in the mid-palate with a very fine structure to support development.  With air, the finely delineated black fruit takes on an interesting violet and purple fruit notes.  You may drink this now but these are early days for this wine.  ***(*) Now – 2029.

Another tasting with Lou, from maturing Chablis to old Boeger wines

November 5, 2019 Leave a comment

While it was still warm, I met up with Lou and another friend for grilled steak and a variety of wines.  Two favorite wines from the evening include the lush 2005 Domaine Vrignaud, Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume and young 2010 Scholium Project, The Courier, Shake Ridge Ranch, Amador County.  I found the 2006 Domaine Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Gigondas young and capable of much further development.  Though it did become a bit hot with air (and perhaps some warmth).

We then moved on to a trio of old California wines from Boeger Winery.  Founded by Greg and Sue Boeger in 1972, Boeger Winery was the first commercial winery in El Dorado County since Prohibition.  It is located in the old Elmo Fossati Ranch winery built in 1870s and operated until the 1920s. It remained in the Fossati family until it was sold in 1972.

Boeger Winery was part of an expansion of vineyard acreage in the county from 11 largely experimental acres in 1967 to 380 by 1981.  Greg Boeger felt El Dorado County was special with a better climate than in Napa Valley.  The vineyards are located at a higher elevation, the temperature is cooler, and the area is without fog so grapes may ripen without mildew.  Boeger was ready for its first crush in 1974 and by 1977, he doubled capacity to 12,000 gallons.  It is from this period that our three oldest bottles stem from.  The NV Boeger Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon Lot No. 3, El Dorado County is a solid drink, still in firm shape.  The 1979 Boeger Winery, Merlot, El Dorado County steps up the quality with savory, strong flavors.  Sharing a common savory quality, the 1978 Boeger Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, El Dorado County has a clear, blue fruited vein.  While not mind-blowing, these bottles were in fine shape with the vintage dated ones exhibiting a common personality.

2005 Domaine Vrignaud, Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume
Imported by KV Imports.  Alcohol 13%.  A light, gold-straw color.  Aromatic on the nose with some ripe orchard notes.  More rounded that the nose belies, it is even lush with a touch of softness, wood hint, and underlying maturity.  With air the wine comes into focus with dense lemon flavor, flint, and quite the mouthfeel.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

2010 Scholium Project, The Courier, Shake Ridge Ranch, Amador County
This wine is a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Granche.  Alcohol 14.8%.  A young, lifted Syrah nose which is articulate and aromatic.  Complex, tense, and young. Needs time.  ***(*) Now – 2029.

2006 Domaine Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Gigondas
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  Alcohol 15%.  Young but there is a savory focus for future development.  A licorice note comes out.  Strong with a touch of heat after extended air.  Will it remain balanced or should you pop and pour?  *** Now – 2029.

1990 Giuseppe Contratto, Solus Ad, Barbera d’Asti
Imported by Bedford Brands Ltd. Alcohol 12.8%.  Mature on the nose and on the cusp of falling apart. Not Rated.

NV Boeger Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon Lot No. 3, El Dorado County
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from vines located at 1400 ft in elevation in the Gold Hill district.  It was aged in small French Never oak barrels.    Alcohol 12.5%.  Still good color.  Sweet wood notes on the nose.  Tart and firm red fruit supported by black fruit flavors.  A solid wine with good, citric acidity.  ** Now.

1979 Boeger Winery, Merlot, El Dorado County
This wine is 100% Merlot sourced from the highest ridge at the winery. Alcohol 13.2%.  A bricking color.  Savory in the mouth with a big start.  In a strong state with supportive acidity throughout.  **(*) Now.

1978 Boeger Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, El Dorado County
This wine is a blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Merlot sourced from vines at 2300 ft in elevation.  It was aged for 2 years in small oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.2%.  A little stink.  Rounder and softer yet there is a good edge in there.  Good flavor with developing blue fruit.  A savory wine.  *** Now.