Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Finger Lakes’

Tasting Chianti Blind at Lou’s

November 21, 2018 Leave a comment

After an unbelievably youthful and glacially evolving 2007 Domaine Vrignaud, Chablies Premier Cru Fourchaume Vieilles Vignes it was time to tuck into some red wines.  Thus a handful of us stood in Lou’s tasting room to work our way through four brown-bagged wines.  The first, clearly past prime, had me guess 1970s.  I was a good decade off.  For the other three wines, I oscillated between mid-2000 petit Bordeaux or a northern Italian Bordeaux blend also of the same age.  I had the general age correct but not the grape nor the region!

Of the trio of Felsina Berardenga, Chianti Classico Riserva, the 2006 has the greatest potential.  It is crisp with a promising future.  The 2007 has good, deep flavors but it didn’t exhibit the same potential as the others.  The 2008 is the most forward and generous. It is the vintage to drink while the 2006 ages.

With dinner Lou opened the 2012 Red Newt Cellars, Viridescens, Finger Lakes.  This generous wine drinks at its peak immediatley upon opening.  It does benefit from a touch of air as it took on bacon fat and smoke.  I like the Finger Lakes wines Lou opens.  Those with just a few years of age seem to be at peak.

2007 Domaine Vrignaud, Chablies Premier Cru Fourchaume Vieilles Vignes
Imported by KV Imports. Alcohol 13%.  A light, golden-tinged yellow-straw (phew!).  Fresh, surprisingly so, with moderate body and focused, clean flavors.  Round with hints of sweetness, nuts, and flint in the middle.  There is a touch of fat in the end.  Should continue to slowly develop.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

Blind Wine #1 – 1962 Fattoria Grande di Montagnana Chianti
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Past prime, drinkable but just barely! Not Rated.

Blind Wine #2 – 2006 Felsina Berardenga, Chianti Classico Riserva
Alcohol 13.5%.  Imported by Bacchus Importers.  Firm with sweet cherry flavors.  The wine is focused and tense with crisp, structure in the end.  Additional red fruits and polished wood come out.  More promising development to come.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

Blind Wine #3 – 2007 Felsina Berardenga, Chianti Classico Riserva
Alcohol 13.5%.  Imported by Bacchus Importers.  Lower lying, deep notes to the flavor. A polished edge remains a big closed and is still structured.  *** Now – 2023.

Blind Wine #4 – 2008 Felsina Berardenga, Chianti Classico Riserva
Alcohol 13.5%.  Imported by Bacchus Importers.  An articulate nose of cherries and other berries.  Deep, brambly red and black fruit is still youthful.  Round in the start with tense, citric acidity, ripe and sweet tannins.  A good drink that will come round faster than the 2006. Perhaps in the next year!  ***(*) Now – 2023.

2012 Red Newt Cellars, Viridescens, Finger Lakes
This wine is a blend of 67% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 13.8%.  First impressions of it are that its quite rounded and definitely new world.    Surprisingly ripe with generous flavors and some smoke around the good core of fruit.  It drinks as if its at its peak.  With air, the smoke morphs into bacon fat and smoke, as if from a Northern Rhone wine.  Great showing.  ***(*) Now.

A mixture of wines young and old

I met up with Lou and another friend for a casual after-work tasting of wines.  We started with a pair of bottles from the Finger Lakes of New York.  I have now enjoyed the 2016 Red Tail Ridge Winery, Sparkling Riesling Petillant Naturel, Finger Lakes on three different occasions.  This bottle was particularly frothy with a core of fruit and vein of bubbles that make it delicious to drink right now.  Also made from Riesling, but smelling like there is Sauvignon Blanc as well, is the 2016 Heart & Hands, Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes.  It is a solid wine of tart citrus and chalk flavor.

The pair of 2014 White Burgundy yielded a generous, rapidly maturing 2014 Gautier Thevenet, Domaine Emilian Gillet, Quintaine, Vire-Clesse.  Of good value I would say.  In comparison, the 2014 Jean-Marc Pillot, Chassagne-Montrachet is less fruity and the better wine.  With a core of lemon and ripe apple, there is an acidic spine, all of which lasts with good length.

Made from the youngest vines, 2017 Pierre-Marie Chermette, Griottes, Beaujolais is a well-made, enjoyable, grapey wine.  It is pure, fresh, and acted as our gateway to a trio of mystery wines.

I admit to being confused.  I had settled in on the wines being from the 1960s and 1970s, with origins in Italy or California, and at least one Cabernet Sauvignon.  Mystery #1 – 1974 Croce di Fralupaia, Chianti was younger than I thought but not worth drinking.  Mystery #2 – 1991 Tenuta Caparzo, Brunello di Montalcino was also younger than I thought but sound, which gives you an ideal of its maturity curve.  With air it took on body and flavor to become rather enjoyable.  The final bottle is the modest Mystery #3 – 1984 Steltzner Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.

2016 Red Tail Ridge Winery, Sparkling Riesling Petillant Naturel, Finger Lakes
Alcohol 13%.  Very frothy at first but the body soon develops.  There is a focused fruit core with the fine bubble vein.  With air and warmth the Riesling origins come out.  Easy to drink.  *** Now – 2020.

2016 Heart & Hands, Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes
Alcohol 11.5%.  A very light straw color.  A good nose, aromatic with both grassy and petrol aromas.  A soft frame exists for the whole fruit Riesling flavor.  There is some chalk and a slightly, tart citrus flavor in the end.  The acidity is balanced by the sugar such that it does not come across as lively.  Some engaging grip develops.  ** Now.

2014 Gautier Thevenet, Domaine Emilian Gillet, Quintaine, Vire-Clesse
Imported by Simon N Cellars. Alcohol 14%.  A very light yellow.  A rounded edge with with ripe lemon flavors, stones in the middle, and some fat in the finish.  It is easy to drink and will mature rapidly.  **(*) Now – 2020.

2014 Jean-Marc Pillot, Chassagne-Montrachet
Alcohol 13%.  A very light green yellow color.  There is a focused fruit impression at first but this wine is not all about the fruit.  It is dense and focused with a good, acidic spine.  There are hints of yeast and wood.  With air the flavors settle on lemon with a ripe, apple core.  Good length.  *** Now – 2023.

2017 Pierre-Marie Chermette, Griottes, Beaujolais
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. Alcohol 12.5%.  A purple, red cranberry color.  Grapey and bright on the nose.  The flavors are evocative of young, grape juicy being light, very pure, and fresh.  Tart berries and grip are closed by a round, verve finish.  ** Now.

Mystery #1 – 1974 Croce di Fralupaia, Chianti
Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%.  Past prime on the nose with a banana aroma.  In the mouth it is falling apart with some leather, animale, and a hint of freshness.  There is a touch of fat-edged flavor and body but it soon turns acidic with green apple flavors.  Past prime.  Not Rated.

Mystery #2 – 1991 Tenuta Caparzo, Brunello di Montalcino
Imported by Palace Brands. Alcohol 13%. A garnet, brick color.  It tasted quite mature at first with bottle aged flavors, citric acidity, and citric pithe on the gums.  But magically, with air, it develops both body and flavor.  It even takes on a luxurious, marshmallow mouth feel.  *** Now.

Mystery #3 – 1984 Steltzner Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Earthy fruit with red cranberry flavors, a grippy nature, and clearly the most acidic of all the wines tasted.  Vibrant but a bit thin in flavor with a slight green edge.  ** Now.

A tasting of 2015 German Riesling with a few bottles of Champagne

A generous friend hosted a small group to taste through an even larger number of German Riesling bottles.  The focus was largely on 2015 German Riesling with an additional flight of 2008 Riesling Spätlese and several bottles of bubbles throughout.

The 2015 vintage is excellent allowing for the generally high quality of the wines we tasted from both new and established producers.  On the young side, the 2015 Keller, Riesling von der Fels, Rheinhessen is in need of some age.  It is dry, matching the stone flavor with good tension from acidity.  The 2015 Eva Fricke, Kiedricher Riesling Trocken, Rheingau offers fruit and ripeness, making it a good wine right now but it will also benefit from age.  Real beauty is found in the 2015 Schäfer-Fröchlich, Vulkangestein Riesling trocken, Nahe.  I found it crisp yet with flesh and fruit.  I really liked the 2015 Hofgut Falkenstein, Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett trocken, Mosel which is powerful and perfumed with great presence in the mouth.  Offering all of the desired components, the 2015 A. J. Adam, in der sängerei Riesling feinherb, Mosel is the best choice for drinking now.  I was sure to revisit it a few times.

Of the trio of 2008 Spätlese, there was a fun pairing of 2008 Schäfer-Fröhlich, Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Spätlese, Nahe black and gold capsule.  My current preference is for the black capsule which has vibrant acidity and a chalky finish.  The gold capsule offers yellow, honied, complex fruit. but this richness is not matched by the acidity.  They are on different maturity curves and for now, the black capsule is more exciting.  The 2008 Müller-Catoir, Haardter Burgergarten Riesling Spätlese brings forth thoughts of gold, honey, and petrol.  Lovely stuff!

Of the other wines the pair of NV Ulysse Collin, Les Roises, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut and NV Ulysse Collin, Les Pierrieres, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut deserve mention.  Both of these wines are fermented in used oak barrels with indigenous yeast then spend another year or so in oak.  The Les Roises vineyard contains 60 year old vines on soils rich in clay whereas Les Pierrieres contains 35 year old vines on chalky soils.  Our two bottles are Lot 10 being disgorged in 2014.  Les Roises offers more berries, complexity, and some earth.  It is the broader of the pair and is so perfectly drinkable right now.  Les Pierrieres is drier and firm.  While it did improve with air, it really needs further time in the cellar.

Many thanks to our host for sharing all of these excellent bottles of wine.

Starters

2013 Hermann J. Wiemer, Cuvee Brut, Seneca Lakes
Alcohol 12%.  Disgorged February 2017.  A very light straw color.  Slight robust white fruit on the nose.  A moderate mousse with chalk flavors and grip exist in this refreshing wine.  Solid with a creamy mousse in the end.  ** Now but will last.

NV Etienne Calsac, L’echappee Belle, Champagne Extra Brut
Imported by Paris Wine Co.  This wine is a blend of 95% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Noir.  Bottled May 2012.  Disgorged October 2015.  More yellow with a light straw color.  Aromatic with a toast note.  Robust bubbles move towards a yeasty mousse.  Medium bodied in the middle with some fat in the racy finish.  Tastes Mature.  *** Now.

2015 German Riesling

2015 Rita & Rudolf Trossen, Lay Pur’us, Riesling, Mosel
Imported by Envoyer Imports.  This wine is 100% Riesling fermented in wooden tanks with indigenous yeasts over a period of 8 months.  Aged for 8 months.  No additions.  Alcohol 12%.  A honey tinged gold color.  Some sweetness on the nose.  Surprisingly sour in the mouth with apple orchard flavors before becoming quite dry with a streak of acidity.  Reminds me of a lambic. Weird. * Now.

2015 Eva Fricke, Kiedricher Riesling Trocken, Rheingau
Imported by Bonhomie Wine Imports.  Alcohol 12%.  A pale straw with yellow color.  Some petrol on the nose.  In the mouth this is lively yet there is ripe fruit from the start.  Good texture and tannins on the gums.  Good wine.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2015 Schäfer-Fröchlich, Vulkangestein Riesling trocken, Nahe
A Rudi Wiest selection imported by Cellars International.  This wine is 100% Riesling sourced from vines on volcanic soils in and around Schlossbockelheim.  Alcohol 12%.  A very light straw white color.  Grapefruit and peach fruit on the nose.  In the mouth this is a beautiful wine with crisp acidity and floral accented fruit.  It fleshes out with warmth showing a juicy fruit style and some fat.  **** Now – 2028.

2015 Wagner Stempel, Siefersheim Riesling vom Porphyr, Rheinhessen
A Rudi Wiest selection imported by Cellars International.  Alcohol 12.5%.  A razor sharp wine with tense acidity.  There is a chalk undertone matching the citrus pithe left on the gums.  There is a lot of presence with this wine which finally shows more fruit in the end mixing with a petrol note and an interesting, garrigue-like flavor.  *** Now – 2033.

2015 Hofgut Falkenstein, Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett trocken, Mosel
A Lars Carlberg Selection imported by T. Elenteny Imports.  Alcohol 11%.  An interesting wine.  Powerful in the start but in the middle, dried florals, lemon citrus fruit, and stones.  The finish is perfumed and the aftertaste leaves great presence.  Nice wine.  **** Now – 2028.

2015 Dr. Nägler, Rüdesheim Bischofsberg Riesling Kabinett Feinherb, Rheingau
Imported by Winesellers.  Alcohol 10.5%.  Modest texture with a fruitier start, ripe middle, and simple finish.  A bit too simple.  ** Now.

2015 Weiser-Kunsteler, Trabener Gaispfad Riesling Kabinett trocken, Mosel
Imported by Vom Boden.  Alcohol 10.5%.  Almost piercing acidity with hints of sweet tea flavor.  The watering acidity lasts through the end where there is clearly defined flavor of black tea and lemon citrus.  ** Now but will last for ages.

2015 A. J. Adam, in der sängerei Riesling feinherb, Mosel
Imported by Skurnik Wines.  Alcohol 10.5%.  Aromatic.  Very ripe fruit in the mouth soon takes on acidity and flint.  This is hands down an attractive combination of fruit, stone, texture, and acidity.  Drink well right now.  **** Now – 2023.

2015 Keller, Riesling von der Fels, Rheinhessen
Imported by Petit Pois Corp.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Close knit with fine texture and certainly tension from the acidity.  Stones and a drier nature come out by the middle with flavors of white and yellow, fruit then eventually baking spices.  Needs some time. *** 2020-2030.

A pair of Ulysse Collin Champagne

NV Ulysse Collin, Les Roises, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Lot No. 10. Disgorged March 2014.  Gentle fruit on the nose with some earth.  In the mouth are berries and already a good amount of complexity.  So drinkable.  **** Now why wait?

NV Ulysse Collin, Les Pierrieres, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut
Imported by T. Elenteny.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Lot No. 10. Disgorged November 2014.  Berry like with a gentle yeast flavor and firm bubbles.  Drier with fine, ethereal and powdery fruit. ***(*) Now – 2028.

2008 German Riesling Spätlese

2008 Schäfer-Fröhlich, Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Spätlese, Nahe black capsule
A Rudi Wiest selection imported by Cellars International.  Alcohol 7.5%.  A green of green-yellow straw.  A fresh start with vibrant acidity throughout along with some residual sugar sweetness.  It becomes dry and chalky in the finish where it ends with good effect.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2008 Schäfer-Fröhlich, Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Spätlese, Nahe gold capsule
A Rudi Wiest selection imported by Cellars International.  Alcohol 7.5%.  Gold with a hint of green. Richer with flavors of yellow, honied fruit.  Not the same level of acidity but the fruit is more complex, the honied sweetness is attractive, and there is more density. *** Now – 2023.

2008 Müller-Catoir, Haardter Burgergarten Riesling Spätlese
D. Sokolin Co. Imported by Wine Cellars.  Alcohol 9.5%.  The most golden of the trio.  Petrol on the nose with seductive flavors of honey and baking spices.  The aftertaste leaves a note of honey. **** Now.

One red wine

2005 Lillian, California Syrah
Alcohol 15.6%.  Inky and racy, a wine turned up to 110%. Hard to drink and not my style. * Now but will last.

Dessert

1988 von Hövel, Oberemmeler Hütte Riesling Auslese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 375 mL
Imported by Cellars International. Alcohol 7.5%.  Long in the tooth. Not Rated.

American Trousseau, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc

Lou and I managed to work in some wine drinking right before the 4th of July.  For our evening together, I pulled out a brace of Trousseau Noir and Lou offered a pair of wines he brought down from the Finger Lakes.  I find Californian Trousseau interesting.  The 2015 Forlorn Hope, Trousseau Noir, Rorick Vineyard is the more forward, currently complex of the two wine with a nice complement of minerals and orange peel.  It is also very pale like apple juice.  The 2015 Sandlands, Trousseau, Sonoma County is darker in color and more primary.  Despite the light colors and flavors both bottles manage to contain decent structure for the near term.

It was the 2015 Eminence Road Farm Winery, Cabernet Franc, Elizabeth’s Vineyard, Finger Lakes which completely surprised me.  My first thought was that you could serve this blind in a tasting of Leon Barral’s wines from Faugeres.  It would not be out of place save less flavor intensity.  The aromas of earth and soil are ones which make me happily think of France.  I should note there is a yeast note which develops but then fades away as the wine takes on more body.  Almost as interesting and certainly confusing is the 2010 Red Newt Cellars, Merlot, Finger Lakes.  From a ripe vintage, this wine has taken on age such that it smells just like old Vallana from Alto Piedmont.  No joke! It is true that it is mature in the mouth and a bit different but a fitting end to a tasting of unusual wines.

2015 Forlorn Hope, Trousseau Noir, Rorick Vineyard
Alcohol 12.23%.  Rather pale in color, similar to oxidized apple juice.  The nose offers forward, floral aromas.  In the mouth the wine is taut in body with a mixture of minerals and prominent orange peel in the finish.  It becomes more mineral with air with ripe apple notes, flower petals, and a maintained sense of freshness.  Despite being forward, it could age for a year or two for it packs in some structure.  *** Now – 2019.

2015 Sandlands, Trousseau, Sonoma County
Alcohol 12.4%.  It is the color pale, dried roses.  The nose is robust.  It is finely controlled with an ethereal smooth flavor, watering acidity, and light floral fruit flavor.  It becomes puckering towards the finish.  That said, this wine comes across as packing more in and requiring air to open up.  *** 2018-2022.

2015 Eminence Road Farm Winery, Cabernet Franc, Elizabeth’s Vineyard, Finger Lakes
Alcohol 11.9%.  Wow, the earthy nose of bright berries transports you to France.  With air there are wet soil aromas.  In the mouth are tart cherry flavors which have good weight, a slight yeast hint, spot on acidity, and a fine textured finish.  This lively wine is of strong interest.  It does pick up a touch more yeast as it breaths but this eventually disappears as the wine puts on more weight. ***(*) 2017-2022.

2010 Red Newt Cellars, Merlot, Finger Lakes
Alcohol 13.6%.  The nose offers old, sweet, concentrated weighty aromas evocative of old Vallana.  In the mouth the sweet concentration continues with a dried fruit texture, soft but moderate body, watering acidity, and black fruited finish.  This tastes more mature than the vintage implies yet there is still acidity and structure for the near term.  ** Now – 2020.

Italian Barbera from 1964 to 2013

The gray weather parted allowing a small group of us to taste through a range of Barbera on my back deck. Unspoken etiquette ensured we had bottles of Champagne and white wine to occupy ourselves as the bottles of Barbera were opened and I fussed with the grill. Both starter bottles were excellent. Having now tasted NV Demiere Ansiot, Champagne Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs I can state that I want to drink it again. This is surprisingly complex Champagne with frothy bubbles and balance such that it should be drunk up right now. If you like mature Champagne go buy several bottles. The 2007 Red Newt, Gewurztraminer, Curry Creek Vineyard, Finger Lakes is comparatively younger in profile with its dense flavors of nuts and tropical fruit. It is a lot of wine.

We began the Barbera tasting with a trio of four old wines, one of which was bagged. My favorite is the 1967 Casa Vinicola Antonio Vallana, Barbera del Cantina di Bacco. Some did not like it which meant I was left with the lion’s share of old-school sweaty aromas and sweet, concentrated, silky fruit. From the same vintage I also liked the 1967 Cattaneo Adorno Giustiniani, Castello di Gabiano Riserva which with one “b” is one of Italy’s smallest DOCs from Monferrato and not to be confused with the estate from the south of Florence. The brighter fruit and blood are gently delivered making for a different expression of Barbera. This brightness could be attributed to the wine containing up to 10% Freisa and Grignolino.  Our oldest bottle of 1964 Poderi di Luigi Einaudi, Barbera is a survivor for I drank a glass of leftovers the next night with only slightly diminished pleasure. It is bright, tart, and bit acidic making it more of a curiosity. The brown-bagged 1974 Angelo Papagni, Barbera is a wine that is simply too old.

Our next two bottles were flawed. It is a shame because the 1990 Poderi Aldo Conterno, Conca Tre Pile, Barbera D’Alba has the potential to be very good. There is not telling what the 1999 Elio Grasso, Vigna Martina, Barbera D’Alba should be like.

In young territory the 2005 Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa, La Bogliona, Barbera D’Asti is young primary and attractively floral. In contrast the 2006 Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa, La Bogliona, Barbera D’Asti sports heft, brawn, and good flavor. It is one to age for many more years. Also promising is the elegant and impeccably balanced 2008 Bartolo Mascarello, Barbera D’Alba. The last bottle of 2013 Coppo, Pomorosso, Barbera d’Asti proved to be the youngest and most modern wine. It is a good, articulated wine but not of my preferred style.  Based on these wines I would like to repeat the tasting but focus in on 1990s and older.

NV Demiere Ansiot, Champagne Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs
Becky Wasserman selection imported by USA Wine Imports. This wine is 100% Chardonnay. Alcohol 12%. The nose begins with a yeast hint then toast and apple orchard aromas which together make for a very satisfying nose. In the mouth are racy flavors of delicate berries, definitely fruity, and frothy bubbles. The fizz is not hard rather it is subtle. This is an excellent wine for drinking now, it is complex with baking spices and a clean finish.  **** Now.

2007 Red Newt, Gewurztraminer, Curry Creek Vineyard, Finger Lakes
Alcohol 14.7%. The color is bright and golden with a green hint. The flavors mix nuts with tropical fruit with a tilt towards sweet flavors. This fine, dense wine has a minerally middle.  Good stuff! **** Now – 2020.

1964 Poderi di Luigi Einaudi, Barbera
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports. Alcohol 11%-14%. The nose is musky at first morphing to old leather as it cleans up and with air adds in cinnamon. The wine itself is earthy with bright acidity and a clean flavor profile of tart cherry and cranberry red fruit. It is a little tired towards the finish but the tart fruit persists in the aftertaste. ** Now.

1974 Angelo Papagni, Barbera (brown bagged mystery wine)
Alcohol 12.5%. A garnet color but one sniff and taste tell that this wine is way past prime. Not Rated.

 

1967 Cattaneo Adorno Giustiniani, Castello di Gabiano Riserva
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports. This wine is probably a blend of 90%-95% Barbera with the rest Freisa and Grignolino.  Alcohol 11%-14%. The nose smells of blood. In the mouth this is a bright, forward wine with nice bright acidity and up-front grip. It sports an old-school gentleness and softness. Notes of polished wood eventually come out. The blood returns in the aftertaste. *** Now but will last.

1967 Casa Vinicola Antonio Vallana, Barbera del Cantina di Bacco, Colline Novaresi
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 12.5%. The nose is old-school, sweaty and sweet. In the mouth the ripe fruit is sweet with concentration. This silky, smooth wine gains focus and length with air. There is fine texture and weight to the core of fruit which is surrounded by sweaty notes and wood. **** Now but will last.

1990 Poderi Aldo Conterno, Conca Tre Pile, Barbera D’Alba
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports. Alcohol 11%-14%. Sadly cooked on the nose. In the mouth though are gobs of mouth filling fruit with a fine, ripe texture from the tannins. There are tart red fruit flavors in the finish. Correct bottles should be quite good. Not Rated.

1999 Elio Grasso, Vigna Martina, Barbera D’Alba
Alcohol 14.5%. Bad bottle! Not Rated.

2005 Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa, La Bogliona, Barbera D’Asti
Alcohol 14%. The nose is still young and clean with finely scented aromas of violets. Still youthful in the most this primary wine is fresh with watering acidity. ***(*) Now – 2027.

2006 Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa, La Bogliona, Barbera D’Asti
Alcohol 14%. The color is darker with a purple tinge. The nose sports more heft to the aromas. In the mouth the flavors are brawnie and matched by additional tannins. There is dark red fruit, rounded feel, and a good personality. This will age for a long time. ***(*) Now – 2032.

2007 G. D. Vajra, Barbera D’Alba Superiore
Imported by The Country Vintner. Alcohol 14.5%. It is hard to get past the over-ripe, full-bore fruit. The wine becomes tangy with serious weight.  ** Now.

 

2008 Bartolo Mascarello, Barbera D’Alba
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 14%. An elegant nose moves on to bright red fruit over a black fruit foundation. This wine is balanced with grippy personality, texture and some ink. The structure is finely integrated with the fruit. ***(*) Now – 2027.

2013 Coppo, Pomorosso, Barbera d’Asti
Imported by Folio Wine Partners. Alcohol 14.5%. This is an articulated, young, modern wine that is not without attraction. Not really my style but I can appreciate it.  *** Now – 2025.

Wines with Thanksgiving Leftovers

November 28, 2016 Leave a comment

leftovers

Lou brought a trio of bottles over to go with Thanksgiving leftovers.  Coupled with a magnum of Bandol we tasted through some diverse wines.  The 1997 Argyle, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley is from a moderate vintage and provides enough interest for a small glass.  The wine tastes as if the fruit were not quite ripe when picked.  Despite that criticism, the wine itself is chugging along and in no way decrepit.  From a much better vintage the 2001 Castello di Brolio, Chianti Classico looks significantly younger than its age.  It is full of color and dark red fruit delivered with some bright acidity.  While it is not particularly complex, it is in fine shape and made for solid drinking.  The magnum of 2007 Domaine de Terrebrune, Bandol proved to be my favorite wine of the night.  It is a touch soft at first then opens up to plenty of clean, maturing flavors with an attractive mineral streak.  It even seemed racy for a bit. There is no mistaking the 2013 Damiani Wine Cellars, Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes for any other grape.  The aromas and flavors work in that lifted greenhouse or vegetal quality to good effect.  Actually, the wine is surprisingly packed with flavor.

1997 Argyle, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Alcohol 13.5%.  More stemmy flavors the fruit at this point but the lifted fruit is still there in the form of bright, dry red fruit.  It tastes a bit short of ripe fruit.  With enough interest for a small glass it is more remarkable for holding up this long.  * Now.

2001 Castello di Brolio, Chianti Classico
Imported by Paterno Wines International.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Surprisingly dark but on closer inspection there is a garnet hint on the edge.  In the mouth are dark red fruit flavors, polished wood, and unfortunately a touch of heat in the end.  The flavors are dry with a generally bright outlook.  There is even some structure.  Overall this is a very solid wine that is simply not too complex.  ** Now – 2018.

2007 Domaine de Terrebrune, Bandol en magnum
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 85% Mourvedre, 10% Grenache, and 5% Cinsault.  Alcohol 14%.  It is subtle for just a bit before the flavors accelerate through the mouth with a racy, mineral quality.  *** Now – 2018.

2013 Damiani Wine Cellars, Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 13.5%.  Fairly attractive nose of red and blue fruit marked by lifted greenhouse aromas.  The flavors bear the same vegetal hint but it works well with the fruit.  There is quite a bit of stuffing and freshness to make this enjoyable.  ** Now – 2017.

A Casual Tasting Involving 2013 Finger Lakes Riesling to 1979 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Earlier this week my brother-in-law and I went over to Lou’s house to taste a selection of primarily American wines.  Lou recently brought back a bunch of wine purchased during his vacation in the Finger Lakes.  The 2013 Forge Cellars, Riesling, Finger Lakes is the first bottle he has shared with me from this new stash.  It is a collaborative project involving Louis Barruol of Chateau Ste Cosme in the Rhone.  It is also interesting because Louis Barruol decided to use old oak when making the Riesling.  This version is crisp and tart but it remained mostly closed throughout the evening.  I would revisit it a few years from now.  Our second white is the $6 dump bin selection of 2006 Barnett Vineyards, Chardonnay, Sangiacomo Vineyard, Carneros.  This is a barrel fermented and sur lie aged Chardonnay which exudes the richness you can obtain in California.  Lovers of this style of wine will gush over it more than I do but I can write that with air it is an enjoyable fully mature wine.

As for the red wines we started with and promptly moved over the 1979 Chateau Prieure-Lichine, Margaux.  The 1982 vintage of this wine still provides pleasure but this 1979 is past any enjoyable drinking window.  We opened it as a vintage pair to the 1979 Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, 125th Anniversary Selection, Rhine Farm Vineyards, Sonoma Valley.  The 1979 is admittedly not the best Californian vintage and it reflects in the aromatic hints that this wine is moving past maturity.  It came from the Earthquake Cellar hence the label arrived stained and is not a reflection of us spilling wine everywhere.  The wine is pretty tasty in the mouth and was not frail.  It really is just the nose holding this one back.  Completely different is the very youthful 1989 Clos du Val, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley.  It is slightly herbaceous in a good way, bright, acidic, and structured.  I like the floral aspect and believe you should drink this up now.

We required one more bottle of wine to finish up our sous-vide then grilled flank steak so the cork came out of the 1999 Ravenswood, Pickberry Vineyard, Sonoma.  It offered up flavorful black, bramble berries with some added complexity from age.  This dump bin find is drinking at its top form right now and would make an interesting alternative as a daily drinker.  In the end, none of the wines blew me away or really captivated my attention but that is fine as I spent a good amount of time talking and not taking notes.

Cali6

2013 Forge Cellars, Riesling, Finger Lakes
Alcohol 12.8%.  The color is a lighter, yellow green.  The Riesling aromas moves to a richer note of petrol flavor in the mouth that exists in a tart and crisp wine.  There is some body but the fruit is largely closed down.  The wine is very fresh and tart with a chalky finish.  It does round out a bit with air but it really needs several years of age to integrate and open up.  **(*) 2018-2022.

Cali1

2006 Barnett Vineyards, Chardonnay, Sangiacomo Vineyard, Carneros
This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was barrel fermented then aged sur lie.  Alcohol 14.8%.  The nose is of yeast and toast that speaks to the winemaking.  In the mouth is a round, glycerin loaded, ripe fruit start.  This wine bears a lot of wine with some green apple flavors and just enough acidity.  It actually brightens up with air and reveals its mature flavors.  ** Now.

Cali2

1979 Chateau Prieure-Lichine, Margaux
Imported by Woodley Wine & Liquor.  Alcohol 13%.  There are advanced aromas and roast on the nose.  In the mouth there is a bright start but the wine is too advanced with thin flavors and structure still around.  Past! Not Rated.

Cali3

1979 Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, 125th Anniversary Selection, Rhine Farm Vineyards, Sonoma Valley
Alcohol 13.0%.  The nose speaks of its age and there is a roast hint.  In the mouth this wine has good body and red fruit flavors.  The sweet, powdery fruit coats the mouth leaving ripe tannins on the gums.  Attractive.  ** Now.

Cali4

1989 Clos du Val, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13.1%.  The nose is fresh and  slightly herbaceous.  There is still fresh red fruit in the mouth with a balance between fresh floral flavors and an inky hint.  It is a nice wine that becomes a little shy with air.  I believe the structure will ultimately outlive the fruit.  Why not just drink it now?  *** Now but will easily last.

Cali5

1999 Ravenswood, Pickberry Vineyard, Sonoma
This wine is a blend of 72% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvigon, and 3% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 13.6%.  There are plummy, black fruit and bramble berries.  Rather flavorful but the acidity and structure balance make for a good feeling in the mouth.  There is a good balance between bottle aged complexity and fruit.  *** Now.

Cali7

An excellent 2009 Hermann J. Wiemer, Cabernet Franc Reserve

I tasted a number of good bottles over the last holiday week including one from New York.  My experiences with excellent wine from New York is solely due to Lou who has visited the Finger Lakes.  On the 4th of July, he opened the 2009 Hermann J. Wiemer, Cabernet Franc Reserve, Finger Lakes.  He bought this at the winery and I believe it was the last bottle.  How lucky for us!  You get that modest bit of herbal or greenhouse flavor which reminds you that you are drinking Cabernet Franc.  The wine is well balanced and lively.  Though driven by acidity, the flavors are weighty and perfumed.  It slowly improved with air and I strongly suspect it will continue to develop in the bottle.

Wiemer1

2009 Hermann J. Wiemer, Cabernet Franc Reserve, Finger Lakes
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 12.5%.  There are articulate flavors of grapey, greenhouse infused fruit.  The wine is weight with acidity driven vigor.  With air the dry flavors expand in the mouth through the perfumed finish.  ***(*) Now – 2021.

Wiemer2

“a classic cabernet with great potential”: Tasting mature Californian wines by the fireplace

January 20, 2016 2 comments

A last minute effort to host a casual wine tasting over the holiday weekend did not turn up any remarkable numbers. Instead, Lou and I relaxed by the fire in my living room to be eventually joined by Jenn. The 1989 Stony Hill, Chardonnay, Napa Valley is a recent purchase from The Rare Wine Company. With perfect fill, label, and cork this wine was fantastic introduction to an elegant style of mature Chardonnay. The aromas and flavors reflect maturity but the acidity and structure speak of years of continued development.

CaliTasting1

Our two bottle of mature red wine came from the Earthquake Cellar which has yet to let us down. My experience with Lytton Springs has always been positive, stemming from bottles of Ridge which I have tasted including the fine 1973 which Lou opened a few years back. Ridge first bought fruit from Lytton Springs in 1972 eventually acquiring the vineyard and the winery in 1991.  It makes sense then that the 1988 Lytton Springs Winery, Zinfandel, Private Reserve, Sonoma County was in fine shape. There is no doubt that the generous aromas and flavors came from Zinfandel but they were not overdone, rather supported by structure. This bottle was double-decanted to remove sediment. It drank effusively for a few hours before starting to fade.

From a drought vintage came the 1977 Villa Mt. Eden, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Incredibly, the fruit from this wine was sourced from five year old vines in a 25 acre vineyard.  The wine itself was made by Nils Venge who went on to produce the 1985 Groth, Cabernet Sauvignon which was the first 100 point wine rated by Robert Parker.  Here is Terry Roberts tasting note from 1981 published in The New York Times.

“Villa Mt. Eden cabernet sauvignon 1977. $14.99. Dark ruby color. Slightly peppery, spicy bouquet. Full-bodied, with plenty of fruit evident beneath an astringent overlay. Raspberries and plums, a classic cabernet with great potential.”

The top-shoulder fill was matched by a perfect label and solid cork that was soundly seated in the neck. Popped and poured, the nose was low-lying while a quick sip revealed the wine was solid. A few more sips revealed the wine was really quite good with deep fruit, mature wood box flavors, and even fresh acidity. It was the opposite of the fruity, berry driven Lytton Springs. I really liked the Villa Mt. Eden. There was no need to make allowances for its age, it was outright satisfying.

We wrapped up the early evening with a bottle Lou purchased during his trip to the Finger Lakes. It seems incongruous to move forward decades but the 2013 Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, Cabernet Franc, Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes neither overwhelmed nor felt out of place. Zippy with persistent flavors this is an excellent example of Cabernet Franc. And an excellent example of a wine from New York.

CaliTasting7

1989 Stony Hill Vineyard, Chardonnay, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13%. The golden color was taking on amber hints, clearly reflecting time spent in bottle. In the mouth were yeast and toast accented, tart yellow fruit which was rather lively and structured. It took some time for this elegant wine to open up. It remained focused with quiet complexity from flavors of dry spiced, fallen apples, chalk, and a finish, which left noticeable tannins on the gums, that kept me returning to the glass. Drinking great. **** Now but will last for a long time.

CaliTasting8

1988 Lytton Springs Winery, Zinfandel, Private Reserve, Sonoma County
Alcohol 14.4%. The aromatic nose was scented with bramble berry and hints of leather. In the mouth this berrylicious wine had a hint of animale and leather. It still bore plenty of ripe fruit that was almost zippy from the watering acidity. The maturity was noticeable with air. After a few hours the flavors became higher toned, simpler and began to fade. **** Now.

CaliTasting9

1977 Villa Mt. Eden, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13%. Top shoulder fill. There was a little animale stink to the nose. In the mouth the wine was surprisingly deep with menthol, wood box, and pleasing tannins on the gums. There was fresh acidity, perfectly integrated with the blue and black fruit. It is true that the finish was a touch short but this wine had fine flavor and fruit which lasted for hours. It stayed lively until there was no more.  The acidity always bound with pleasing wood influences. **** Now but will easily last.

CaliTasting5

2013 Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, Cabernet Franc, Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes
Alcohol 13%. The nose bore some green leafiness. The wine was driven by zippy acidity which brought mineral, clinging fruit flavors which were undeniably alive. The good fruit made for a juicy, berry wine which drank with complete satisfaction. *** Now – 2018.

CaliTasting6

Hanging Out In Lou’s Tasting Room

January 14, 2014 Leave a comment

This past Sunday afternoon Lou and I gathered in his tasting room just outside of his wine cellar.  There was no particular theme for the afternoon but I did think the mini-flight of 2002 Auslese would be good fun for him.  So I brown bagged those three half-bottles.  We started with the 2012 Hermann, J. Wiemer, Riesling Dry to acclimate our palates.  Lou had recently enjoyed a glass while dining out so a bottle naturally found its way into his cellar.  This was a well-made distinctive Riesling.  I lost the battle drawing the cork from the 2002 Emrich-Schönleber, Monzinger Halenberg, Riesling Auslese.  I had to dig it out with the screw and after clearing a passage for the wine a large chunk of cork remained impossibly bonded to the inside of the neck, it had never budged despite my heavy-handed approach.  The wine itself was full of cider flavor showing old notes beyond full maturity that were a little off-putting for me.  Much better and in retrospect clearly Scheurebe (or should I write not Riesling) was the 2002 Weingut Ed. Weegmüller, Haardter Mandelring, Scheurebe Auslese.  Lively, viscous, complex, and still on the upslope.  Definitely worth buying.  The 2002 Weingut Ed. Weegmüller, Haardter Herzog, Riesling Auslese was really good too.  There was a tension between youth and maturity with Lou particularly liking the tart finish.  This was less overt the the Scheurebe, taking more time to open up and actually drank well on the second night.

Our switch to red wine was foiled by a badly corked half-bottle of 1998 Brigaldara, Amarone dell Valpolicella Classico.  Shame.  Fortunately the 2005 Pax, Syrah, Castelli-Knight Ranch was coming into its own in the decanter.  It always sported a great nose but at first the flavors were a touch austere but this perfectly matched the black fruit and drying tannins.  Jenn and I tried it again several hours later when it had come together by taking on a little flesh and a racy quality.  I think this should be cellared more.  What I particularly liked about all of the wines we tried is that they each presented aromas and flavors I do not encounter on a daily basis.  Curious wines for a Sunday afternoon!

Lou1

2012 Hermann, J. Wiemer, Riesling, Dry, Finger Lakes
This wine is 100% Riesling.  Alcohol 12%.  There was moderate, lively ripeness to the flavors with notes of stones.  Clearly new world it remained lively on the tongue.  There were chalk notes and a refreshing aftertaste.  On its own the touch of sweetness to the fruit is evident as well as grapefruit notes.  ** Now-2015.

Lou2

2002 Emrich-Schönleber, Monzinger Halenberg, Riesling Auslese, Nahe – $25 (375 mL)
Imported by Chapin Cellars.  Alcohol 9.5%.  The color was a medium amber.  The nose bore older aromas, cider, and hints of plain oldness.  In the mouth there were definite flavors of apple cider.  Due to less viscosity and residual sugar the acidity showed better.  Rather advanced and not too exciting.  * Now.

Lou3

2002 Weingut Ed. Weegmüller, Haardter Mandelring, Scheurebe Auslese, Pflaz – $29 (375 mL)
Imported by Terry Theise.  Alcohol 9%.  The color was a medium to dark lively yellow.  There was a good nose of peach and nectarine with fresh aromas.  In the mouth were stone fruits marmalade, viscosity, and some grip.  The acidity was balanced and integrated.  Towards the finish the wine became fresh with levity, complexity and gentleness.  On the second night there was a bit more apricot note, good weight, and a touch of salty flavor.  This is drinking well nose.  ****  Now-2024.

Lou4

2002 Weingut Ed. Weegmüller, Haardter Herzog, Riesling Auslese, Pfalz – $28 (375 mL)
Imported by Terry Theise.  Alcohol 8%.  This was amber in color and actually the darkness.  There was a very aromatic nose of marmalade.  In the mouth there was brighter acidity, a little wood note, and mature flavors.  It still had some freshness of youth.  There was some residual sugar with good viscosity.  It was tart in the finish with a tangy aftertaste.  A nice wine.  **** Now-2020.

Lou5

2005 Pax, Syrah, Castelli-Knight Ranch, Russian River Valley
Alcohol 14.9%.  There was a good nose with fresh smoke aromas.  The wine had a salty entry with pencil lead mixing with black fruit and drying tannins.  It was a little austere at first but I thought this matched the black fruit and tannins.  There was a core of dried herbs and a little liquor heat in the finish.  With air the stones and watering acidity was matched by more flesh and a racy component.  ***(*) Now-2020.

Lou6