Archive

Archive for the ‘ModGoodDevelop’ Category

Grenache Blanc from California

This past week we tried three bottles of California Grenache Blanc from three different regions.  The 2015 Priest Ranch, Grenache Blanc, Napa Valley  is a good value.  You first notice salinity and stone dust which is soon followed by fruit and  a mouth-coating aftertaste.  This wine responds well to air and some warmth which will make you pleased with the wine and $20 price.

Two of the wines have an interesting connection in that the vineyard which sources the Three Clicks fruit is planted with cuttings that came from Tablas Creek.  The 2015 Tablas Creek Vineyard, Grenache Blanc, Paso Robles is locked down.  I kept an open bottle in my refrigerator for a week and the wine barely changed.  Right now it is evocative of lemons but it needs to shake off its firmness before it should be drunk.  On the other hand the 2015 Three Clicks, Grenache Blanc, Branham Vineyard, Sonoma County is expressive.  I have enjoyed tasting the last several vintages of this wine at the annual MacArthur Beverages California Barrel Tasting and the current released vintages is just as good.  You taste the white fruit and the stones but it is crispness that captures my attention.  If you can only afford one bottle then grab the Three Clicks.  Add in the Priest Ranch if you want to compare wines.

 

2015 Priest Ranch, Grenache Blanc, Napa Valley – $20
Alcohol 14.8%.  This saline and stone dust infused wine has a dense start followed by ripe, white fruit flavors in the middle, and a pervasive, mouth-coating aftertaste.  It is well structured and balanced for further life.  *** Now – 2020.

2015 Tablas Creek Vineyard, Grenache Blanc, Paso Robles – $30
Alcohol 14.4%. Tasted over several nights this wine remained largely unevolved.  The flavors of white fruit, lemon, and baking spices are supported by lemon-like acidity, fine texture, and some density.  It adds a lifted, floral note in the finish.  This will last! **(*) Now – 2032.

2015 Three Clicks, Grenache Blanc, Branham Vineyard, Sonoma County – $28
Alcohol 14.3%.  There is a slightly weighty yet crisp start with good white fruit that overlays chalk.  The liveliness makes you return for another glass. *** Now – 2020.

A pair of 1977 wines from the historic Winery Lake Vineyard

I brought backup wines just in case my selections for our latest dinner with Sudip and Melanie were not drinkable.  Though my two old bottles had high fills, I had no idea what to expect of the 1977 Merlot and 1977 Pinot Noir from the Winery Lake Vineyard.

Founded around 1960 by Rene di Rosa, Winery Lake Vineyard is important in the history of Carneros.  The site dates back to the 1880s when it was known as the Talcoa Vineyard.  Like much of California, the vinous ties were broken as a result of Prohibition.  Replanting in Carneros only began in the late 1950s and Rene di Rosa’s efforts helped re-launch the region.  He planted primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, along with a few other varieties,  selling the fruit off to other wineries in Napa and Sonoma.  Some of these wines were highly regarded, causing new interest in the area.  Carneros Creek arrived in 1971, Buena Vista moved here in 1974, Ravenswood was soon to arrive in 1976, and Acacia was founded in 1979 just to name a few.

By the 1980s, such was the fame of Di Rosa’s fruit that Charles L. Sullivan writes they were the most expensive grapes in the state.  The two bottles I opened were made using Di Rosa’s fruit but the two wineries could not be more different.  Martin Ray needs no introduction. However, this vintage was not made by him as he had passed away the previous year.  Wine and the People was founded by Peter Brehm in an old warehouse in Berkeley in 1970.  This was a home winemaking and homebrew store.  He not only sold equipment but apparently scouted out fruit and even made wine at his warehouse.

The 1977 Martin Ray, Merlot, Winery Lake Vineyard has a lead capsule.  Our bottle had a perfect cork with very dark staining and weinstein only at the business end.  The 1977 Wine and the People, Pinot Noir, Winery Lake Vineyard cork was a touch softer, dark throughout, and smelled appropriately of old wood.  The Martin Ray is a bit stinky at first and while it does clean up, the nose remains the most mature aspect of the wine.  In the mouth it is flavorful, luxurious feeling, and full of life.  There is a certain sweetness to the flavors which I felt was initially distinct.  With air the parts come together and this 40 year old wine is nothing but fun to drink.  If tasted blind, I would guess The Wine and the People is a classic Cabernet Sauvignon blend.  There is darker fruit, balanced acidity, and a classic wood box aspect to the aromas and flavors.  It does not have the staying power of the Martin Ray but for an hour or two you will have trouble faulting this bottle of Pinot Noir.  I should add that both of these wines have fair amount of body.  Whether that is due to the vintage and/or the vineyard I do not know.

1977 Martin Ray, Merlot, Winery Lake Vineyard
Alcohol 13%.  The initial bottle stink eventually blows off revealing mature flavors, coffee, and some old notes.  Despite the mature nose the wine is flavorful and full of life in the mouth.  There are sweet, baking spiced fruit flavors, glycerin, and cinnamon towards the finish.  The sweetness of the fruit is a bit separate at first but with air this wine really shapes up to become balanced.  In the end this is a fuller bodied, berrylicious wine with a luscious mouthfeel.  **** Now – 2027.

1977 Wine and the People, Pinot Noir, Winery Lake Vineyard
Alcohol 12.5%.  Smoke and leather aromas develop into a good nose made more complex by wood and spice scents.  In the mouth is a rounded start of blue and black fruit.  The wine is weighty and a little soft in the middle but with air it becomes correct with the acidity supporting throughout.  It only last for one to two hours before turning sour. **(*) Now.

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.

A very tasty wine from Umbria

Simply put if you need a red wine for daily drinking or a large party then look no further than the 2011 Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio,  MonVi, Colli Perugini Rosso.  This is a Sangiovese based Bordeaux blend with a bit of bitterness and cocoa but it is very tasty.  It delivers a lot of satisfaction at only $13 per bottle.  I must thank Tim for pointing it out to me.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio,  MonVi, Colli Perugini Rosso – $13
Imported by Vini Inc.  This wine is a blend of 55% Sangiovese, 22% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc which is fermented in stainless steel then aged in a mixture of stainless steel and oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This is really tasty.  For those in search of more information this a  moderately ripe wine with ripe texture, a black bitter element, and cocoa aftertaste.  It has watery acidity and a billowy structure which should support development for a year.  But why wait?  **(*) Now – 2019.

2015 Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio,  Villa, Umbria – $10
Imported by Vini Inc.  This is 100% Sangiovese made from the youngest vines and raised entirely in stainless steel.  Alcohol 14 %.  This is a firm wine with slightly bitter black fruit, acidity, and fine texture.  *(*) Now.

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.

Two blends from Bulgaria and Armenia

Both of the wines featured in this post are blends featuring an unusual variety.  You will find a small proportion of Regent, a cool-weather grape created in the 1960s, in the 2014 Saedinenie Winery, F2F, Bulgaria.  I could not tell you what Regent smells or tastes like.  The wine, though, is a gentle, blue-fruited, low-acidity wine that should please many.  The 2014 Tierras de Armenia, Karas, Armenia features a splash of the native grape Khndoghni.  I wish there was more, so I could taste it, but this is a crazy international blend which also includes Syrah, Tannat, and Montepulciano amongst other varieties.  It is made by Gabriel Rogel, who comes from Argentina, with consulting help from Michel Rolland.  This is a wine worth checking out.  It is flavorful, lively, and has texture.  It might even develop over the short-term to better integrate the cocoa notes.   These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2014 Saedinenie Winery, F2F, Bulgaria – $15
Imported by VP Brands International.  This wine is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, and 10% Regent.  Alcohol 13%.  There are rounded blue fruit flavors, gentle supporting structure, and just enough acidity to move things along.  There are no edges to the blue fruit.  There is a bit of interest in the finish where black fruit and minerals come out.  *(*) Now – 2018.

2014 Tierras de Armenia, Karas, Armenia – $13
Imported by G+B Imports.  This wine is a blend of 40% Syrah, 18% Tannat, 15% Cabernet Franc, 14% Petit Verdot, 10% Montepulciano, and 3% Khndoghni.  Alcohol 14%.  Chocolates and blue fruit precede the ripe textured middle.  This is a good, flavorful wine with lively acidity, some weight, and cocoa.  **(*) Now – 2019.

A pair from Rosso di Montalcino

As happy as I am to continue drinking the 2014 Fornacina, Rosso di Montalcino I thought it best to get Tim’s advice on other wines from the region.  He first recommended the affordable 2013 Tenuta Vitanza, Le Paturnie, Rosso di Montalcino.  This is a firm wine of black fruit that mixes in pleasing herbal notes.  It could stand a few years of development to open up perhaps becoming elegant and focused.  The 2012 Le Ragnaie, Rosso di Montalcino is a step up in quality and price.  The deep nose will excite you and the lively flavors will only add to the positive impression.  I highly recommend you drink a few bottles over the next several years.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2013 Tenuta Vitanza, Le Paturnie, Rosso di Montalcino – $17
Imported by Tenth Harvest. This wine is 100% Sangiovese fermented in stainless steel then raised for six months in Slavonian oak.   Alcohol 13.5%.  This is a firm wine that remains focused with air.  There is black fruit with dry herbal notes, polished wood, and an ethereal ripe finish.  It remains tight with watering acidity.  **(*) 2019-2024.

2012 Le Ragnaie, Rosso di Montalcino – $26
Imported by Vine Street Imports.  This wine is 100% Sangiovese fermented in concrete then aged for 24 months in Slavonian oak.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose is deep and a touch pungent.  The red and blue fruit quickly takes on polished wood notes before the brighter, red middle.  There is fine acidity and grip in the end.  With air this becomes a lively wine with controlled ripe fruit, a dry and bright middle, stone accented finish, and wood tannin aftertaste.  Delicate floral notes even come out.  This has strong development potential over the short-term.  *** Now – 2026.