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I mistake Oregon Pinot Noir for Spatburgunder

Lou asked me to bring just one bottle to a blind Pinot Noir themed tasting.  The weather was temperate so we started off with 2009 Pichler-Krutzler, Gruner Veltliner, Frauengarten, Wachau while we moved our food, bottles, and glasses outside.  Made by the son-in-law and daughter of F. X. Pichler this bottle has killer aromas that alone warrant opening a bottle.  I guess Gruner can age!

All of the wines were brown bagged save the 1983 Prince Florent de Merode, Corton Clos du Roi.  The cork fell in when Lou stood it up so we tried it out of curiosity.  Proper bottles are probably good.

The first blind wine was certainly of an earlier generation.  Schug Winery was founded in 1980 by Walter Schug who was the founding winemaker at Phelps in the 1970s.  The 1981 Schug Cellars, Pinot Noir, Napa Valley is an early example of his efforts which will continue to last for many years thanks to the impressive structure.  It is a bit curious but still a respectable glass of wine.  Much younger and in complete contrast the 2002 Cameron, Clos Electrique offers impressive amounts of sweet, strawberry compote flavors.  This bottle is in peak shape and prime drinking.

In retrospect the 2007 Albert Morot, Beaune Toussaints 1er Cru is clearly French with its aromas.  There is a bit of everything but the linear personality restrains the pleasure.  The 2006 Antica Terra, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley is in taller bottle but I mistook it for Austrian Spatburgunder due to the plentiful, bright fruit.  It continued to evolve, gaining complexity even on the second night.  Also from Oregon, the 2005 St. Innocent, Pinot Noir, Shea Vineyard, Willamette Valley is the youngest of all the wines we tasted.  It reminds me of an Oregon Pinot Noir, in my limited experience, and suggest you wait a bit longer in case it relaxes.

Thanks again to Lou for such a fun evening!

2009 Pichler-Krutzler, Gruner Veltliner, Frauengarten, Wachau
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This is 100% Gruner Veltliner from 15-35 year old vines, fermented and aged on the lees in stainless steel.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The light golden color does not suggest the excellent nose full of textured aromas.  In the mouth there is a focused, almost crisp start with white fruit, chalk, and stones by the middle.  There is a nice amount of acidity in this mature wine.  With air it develops nutty flavors and sports a moderate amount of weight from nuts and fat.  ***(*) Now – 2020.

1983 Prince Florent de Merode, Corton Clos du Roi
Imported by Robert Haas.  The cork fell in when the bottle was stood up leaving a stinky nose but surprisingly round, sweet fruit in the mouth.  Not Rated.

A) 1981 Schug Cellars, Pinot Noir, Napa Valley
This smells mature with a hint of menthol.  In the mouth is up-front dense fruit flavors followed by a wintergreen freshness and perfumed aftertaste.  What is striking is the whopping structure of drying tannins which seems like a combination of stem inclusion and oak.  On the second night it remains firm with tangy red fruit and of course the structure.  ** Now-2027.

B) 2002 Cameron, Clos Electrique
Alcohol 13.3%.  The nose is quite mature.  In the mouth are quickly building flavors of sweet strawberry compote.  The quantity and quality of fruit is excellent and in great shape.  This is matched by juicy acidity and a little spicy hint in the softer finish.  Good bottle.  ***(*) Now – 2019.

2007 Albert Morot, Beaune Toussaints 1er Cru
Imported by Robert Kacher.  Alcohol 12%.  Some sweet aromas, oak, mushrooms, and a touch of earth.  With air there is a wood incense note.  The mouth reveals dark red fruit, watery acidity, and a tight core of black fruit leaving a linear impression.  It eventually sports some grip and a little cola and spice note.  It remains firm.  **(*) Now – 2023.

2) 2006 Antica Terra, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Alcohol 14.4%.  The darker and younger looking in color.  The interesting, ample nose is very fresh and clean.  In the mouth are gobs of fruit flavors that slowly open to reveal ripe, complex flavors.  Substantial in a way but not heavy at all thanks to the brightness.  The acidity is perfectly balanced.  The flavors persist in the aftertaste.  **** Now – 2027.

3) 2005 St. Innocent, Pinot Noir, Shea Vineyard, Willamette Valley
Alcohol 14%.  This is a light grapey red color.  In the mouth are controlled flavors of ripe and perfumed black fruit.  Fine tannins develop by the finish as does a bitter, citrus note.  This tastes the youngest of all the wines and with extended air remains structured compared to the Antica Terra. *** 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.

Maryland’s Way: A dinner based on historic recipes

As follow up to our recent Picayune Creole Cook Book dinner, our second wine cookery dinner shifted focus north to Maryland.  For this dinner Sudip and I were joined in the kitchen by Lou.  Lou was raised in Maryland which imparted a strong affinity for the foods of the Chesapeake Bay as compared to my Virginia upbringing which involved more southern food.  Lou suggested we cook from the Maryland’s Way cookbook

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This fantastic mid-century cookbook is in fact a collection of historic Maryland receipts dating back to 1634.  The receipts were gathered and published by The Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis.  This house was built in 1774 and today operates as a museum.  Lou’s parents cooked from this book when he was young and today he possesses that very same copy, complete with a few old recipes stuck between the pages.

Lou texted a pictures from the book including an entry from an old house book, “it is usual to have terrapin, canvasback ducks, or game” and an 19th century extract regarding a dinner of the Ancient South River Club, “A fine lamb…Several dozen crabs must be caught…must have asparagus…potatoes and peas…I shall bring boiled ham, and a fine piece of beef.”  Sudip and I were hooked, immediately ordering our used copies of the book.  The book has many chapters ranging from Chesapeake Bay Fish, Diamond Back Terrapin, to Vegetables, and Fragrances and Seasonings.  There are even copies of old letters and menus.  All of this first fascinated Lou as a child and will fascinate anyone interested in the history of Maryland cooking.

The first order of business involved picking our menu.  In all honesty, the recipes sounded far more interesting than what is in the Picayune Creole Cook Book.  That, of course, is a more test-kitchen product whereas Maryland’s Way is a collection of family recipes each with their own language and method of conveying ingredients and direction.  One hundred years ago we certainly would have started with Maryland terrapin and Madeira.  In our case we managed to involve oysters, crab, rock fish, and ham.  There are many recipes for biscuits and rolls.  I was intrigued by the Maryland Beaten Biscuits but this involves hitting the dough with the flat of an axe for at least 30 minutes.  For formal company the recipe suggested 45 minutes of beating!  When it came to the vegetable side dishes we had a hard time focusing.  So many of the recipes caught our appetite so we focused in on onion pie, parsnips, beets, and sweet potatoes, many of the ingredients came from local markets.

Rockfish stuffed with crab

Rockfish stuffed with crab

The routine we are settling into involves the prepping of the ingredients in our individual kitchens then gathering at our house late afternoon.  We start with some drinks and cheese then cooked the dinner with which we drink other bottles of wine.  Lou and I picked the wines together.  Champagne was a requirement given the food, as was a few whites to go with the rockfish, one from Maryland and one from France.  With the ham we opened a pair of Maryland wines from Black Ankle.  I like to see some older bottles opened so we tucked into a pair of 1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon before the fray of cooking.  Lou included a surprise bottle which he served with the ham.

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We started the afternoon outside on the deck eating goat cheese and drinking the 2002 Rare Wine Company, Les Mesnil, “Cuvee Sans Malolactique” Blanc de Blancs Champagne en magnum.  This only got better and better with air.  I would say it took at least three hours to open up to reveal the right about of white and yellow fruit, fine yet firm bubbles, and a mousse that was matched by the weight of the fruit.  A pleasure to drink now but I highly recommend letting this age another five years before trying again.

The rest of the Champagne was required for the start of our dinner so we switched to a pair of old Dry Creek Vineyard wines.   Dry Creek Vineyard was opened in 1973 by David Stare, representing the first new winery in the area since Repeal.  When David Stare presented a tasting of all his Cabernet Sauvignons vintages in 1980, from 1973 through 1979, it was the 1977 Vintner’s Selection that was the top wine.  David Stare stated it was “a little more complex with a big future.”  The Vintner’s Selection blends were in the range of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot.  The fruit was fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks then aged in small oak barrels.  The 1977 vintage in California was the second in a row to experience drought conditions.  According to the Underground Wine Letter the “crop was not nearly as affected” as with the previous vintage.

Both of our bottles had fills of bottom-neck or higher.  The cork of the regular bottling came out easy with staining higher up the sides whereas the cork of the Vintner’s Selection was firmly seated with staining only at the business end.  Both bottles were in fine shape and drank well over the course of four hours.  I really liked the deep fruity aromas and flavors of the 1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vintner’s Selection, Sonoma County but it was the 1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County bottling that improved with air.  This bottle is a blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Merlot that was aged in French and American oak.  According to the back label this should have been consumed by 1985.  Thankfully it was not for it was the first wine we finished, no doubt due to the remarkable liveliness.

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1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County
Alcohol 13.1%.  The nose is higher toned with red fruit and a smoke hint.  In the mouth, this old school wine, has bright red fruit that mixes well with greenhouse notes.  The wine maintained a tart grip, with lively acidity, and over the course of several hours the fruit fleshed out.  Endless energy which draws you back for more.  **** Now but will last.

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1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vintner’s Selection, Sonoma County
Alcohol 13.0%.  The nose is deeper and darker with animale notes.  In the mouth is deep, old perfumed red fruit, a tart middle, and good acidity.  There is plenty of fruit presence and even an inky, lipstick hint.  It becomes a bit unknit in the finish where the structure shows.  *** Now but will last.

Once the final cooking begins it becomes hard to take the time to jot down tasting notes. The following come from memory and a few words scribbled away.  The 2014 Basignani, Seyval, Montbray Vineyard had a very interesting nose but was rather devoid of flavor and quite short in the mouth.  It took three days for the 2009 Domaine de La Bongran, Cuvee E.J. Thevent, Vire Clesse to fully open up.  The nose mixed yeasty stones whereas in the mouth were complex, round flavors of cream and dried floral fruit.  Neat stuff.

The Black Ankle wines were very solid, slowly maturing, and in no way mistakable for a wine from Virginia.  The 2006 Black Ankle Vineyards, Crumbling Rock, Frederick County is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.  I would say age has softened the edges rather than add significant bottle age complexity.  The 2010 Black Ankle Vineyards, Leaf Stone Syrah, Frederick County offered most of its flavor in the finish where it mixed grapey flavors, sweet oak, bacon fat, and smoke.  The 2004 Beaux Freres, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley stepped this up one notch by offering rich and filling Pinot Noir flavors unmistakably from the west coast.  It even had some pleasing complexity from age.  So in the end, not quite my style but enjoyable.

Cherry Glen Goat Cheese Farm, Monocacy Silver cheese
Fire Fly Farms, Mary Goat Round cheese
Grilled bread

1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County
1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vintner’s Selection, Sonoma County
***

Oyster Stew

2002 RWC, Les Mesnil, “Cuvee Sans Malolactique” Blanc de Blancs Champagne en magnum
***
Rock Fish stuffed with Crab

2014 Basignani, Seyval, Montbray Vineyard
2009 Domaine de La Bongran, Cuvee E.J. Thevent, Vire Clesse
***
Miss Fanny Chase’s Spiced Ham
Onion Pie
Parsnip Cakes
Spiced Beets
Sweet Potato Pone

2006 Black Ankle Vineyards, Crumbling Rock, Frederick County
2010 Black Ankle Vineyards, Leaf Stone Syrah, Frederick County
2004 Beaux Freres, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
***
Berry Pudding with Foaming Sauce

It was a fun evening with interesting wines and rather tasty food.  I am not a food historian but I must remark that most of our dishes had mace in them.  From what I gather this has less to do with Maryland specifically, rather it is the Colonial basis for some of these recipes.  That was a time when nutmeg and mace were commonly imported.

A 2005 Patricia Green dump bin duo

My latest culling from the dump bin includes this pair of Patricia Green Pinot Noir from the 2005 vintage.  I have had some very tasty mature Oregon Pinot Noir so I will try nearly anything I can find.  This somewhat difficult vintage seems to have produced solid enough wines.   The 2005 Patricia Green Cellars, Pinot Noir, Anden Vineyard, Polk County is clearly the best of the pair.  There is still lively fruit, a sense of maturity, and an appropriate amount of the structure.  It is best to drink it in one night.  On the other hand the 2005 Patricia Green Cellars, Pinot Noir, Whistling Ridge Vineyard, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley flavors were quite advanced for the prominent structure.  Perhaps it is best drunk with grilled food.  I would not go out of my way to find the 2005 Anden but at $20 it is certainly worth picking up a bottle if you are so presented.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2005 Patricia Green Cellars, Pinot Noir, Anden Vineyard, Polk County – $20
Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose is attractive with maturing, North-West Pinot Noir aromas.  There is very lively fruit from the acidity.  The cherry flavors are backed by some wood structure which is very much present as dry tannins left on the gums.  The wine has a citrus hint but remains very much about the fruit throughout.  With air the flavors are noticeably dry, showing both more maturity and more cherry.  Best on the first night.  *** Now but will last.

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2005 Patricia Green Cellars, Pinot Noir, Whistling Ridge Vineyard, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley – $20
Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose is more advanced with old fruit and old wood.  There is a more robust start with tannins immediately present.  There is a cola-like note then watering acidity followed by a citric and rougher finish.  The wine is drier with older tasting fruit flavors.  With air there are more dried herb flavors and the wine softens up a touch but the tannic finish remains.  ** Now – 2020.

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“Sturdy and Deep-Flavored”: Wines from our Thanksgiving weekend

November 30, 2015 Leave a comment

For the past several years I have taken the effort to drink American wine for the Thanksgiving holiday.  While I largely kept to that theme this year, I did kick things off with a bottle of Spanish Cava.  I did so because the earliest Thanksgiving memories of my mother are from Spain.  She spent her childhood in Zaragoza where the family was sure to celebrate Thanksgiving.  They used imported American ingredients to prepare the classic dishes of turkey with gravy, potatoes, green beans, and of course, many, many pies.  They did, however, drink Spanish wine with their meal.  Our Spanish bottle of 2010 Recaredo, Intens, Rosat Brut Nature Gran Reserva took several hours to open up.  While it does require a few more years in the cellar, it eventually revealed attractive hard cherry flavors with just the right amount of texture.

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2010 Recaredo, Intens, Rosat Brut Nature Gran Reserva
Imported by Neal Rosenthal. This wine is a blend of 58% Pinot Noir and 42% Monastrell. Alcohol 12%.  After a few hours of air, the firm but quickly dissipating bubble made way to dry flavors of hard cherry and cola.  Quite different and certainly rather in need of age, things wrapped up with a textured finish and just a hint of yeast.  **(*) 2018-2025.

I tend to rely on red wine for Thanksgiving and this weekend I tasted through some mature reds.  Lou and I picked up a number of bottles from the Earthquake Cellar which was recently sold off by BP Wine.  The NV Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 271, North Coast Counties bears no date but the fact that this magnum is in a 2/5 gallon bottle dates the wine to the 1970s at the latest.  I personally believe the wine is from the 1960s for several reasons which places it during a period of fascinating change as detailed in History of Sebastiani Vineyards, 1955-Present.

At the beginning of the 1960s, Sebastiani was a bulk wine operation that produced wine solely for other labels.  Some 90% of this wine was dessert wine such as port, sherry, muscatel, and tokay.  By the early 1970s the transition to selling table wine bottled under the Sebastiani name was completed.  The bulk operation was no more.

The impetus for change developed in the mid 1950s under the control of August Sebastiani.  At the time, the Allied Grape Growers/Petri Group were going to start bottling their own wine at facilities throughout the country.  Gallo, in response, decided to bottle their wine in lightweight bottles so they could ship it across the country.  These two actions put direct competition on Sebastiani which had no choice but to change.  There is also the story that August Sebastiani’s wife Sylvia tasted a “really, really, really good cream sherry” which turned out to be a wine produced by Sebastiani for another label.  Why not bottle such good wine under their own name?

The Sebastiani brand was developed in the 1950s and a very basic bottling machine known as a Fillabelmatic was purchased.  However, the transition away from bulk wine production did not begin in earnest until around 1960.  Throughout the 1960s dessert wines were still produced but various tiers of wines were developed including table and varietal wines.  The varietal wines were not only bottled in 4/5 quart bottles but also in half gallon bottles and apparently magnum bottles.

Our particular bottle of Sebastiani wine clearly predates the conversion to metric wine bottles.  This requirement was passed in 1977 and went into effect in 1979. The basic Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon label from our bottle was used during the 1960s and 1970s.  Bearing the common theme of “Sturdy and Deep-Flavored” this label was used for both non-vintage and vintages wines.  Vintages wines such as 1963 Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 9, 1968 Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1970 Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon, Proprietor’s Reserve all list “North Coast Counties” with a winery location of “Sonoma Valley, California”.  The 1972 Mountain Burgundy, 1973 Barbera, and 1974 Cabernet Sauvignon, Proprietor’s Reserve that was bottled in 1979, all bear “Northern California” as well as the zip code 95476.  This suggests that the non-vintage blend could be from the period of 1963 through 1971.

The cork was solid and the wine itself in sturdy enough shape that it drank fine over three evenings.  It was rather stinky and animale at first but it did clean up.  The fruit was sweet with rounded flavors and no hint of French or American oak.  Instead this time-machine of a wine transported us back to the days of redwood.  The images it conjured might have outpaced the quality of the wine but it was enough to last a glass or two.

As for the other wines, the 1991 Knudsen Erath, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley slowly responded to air over the course of an evening.  With cherry and wood box flavors it only gave the slightest hint it would not develop any further.  By contrast the 1996 Newton, Unfiltered Pinot Noir, Napa Valley was forward on the nose and in the mouth with plenty of fruit and glycerin.  While clearly modern, it was not a bad drink at all, and in surprisingly strong shape.  The 1999 Domaine de la Charbonniere, Chateauneuf du Pape was in great shape, offering everything you could want from a somewhat rustic Rhone wine which has not yet hit full maturity.

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NV Sebastiani Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 271, North Coast Counties (2/5 gallon)
Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was quite earthy at first with animal fur aromas.  Over time the stink faded off to reveal sweet fruit and wood box flavors in the mouth.  The wine softened a touch revealing rounded flavors and gentle old wood that lasted over the next few days.  ** Now but will last for many years.

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1991 Knudsen Erath, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Alcohol 13%.  The nose revealed gentle aromas of earth, cherry, and tobacco.  In the mouth the firm cherry flavors matched the polished wood notes.  This slightly savory wine still sported a rather fine structure.  The flavors thinned out some by the finish where there were some cola-like flavors, watering acidity, and roasted earth.  *** Now but will last.

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1996 Newton, Unfiltered Pinot Noir, Napa Valley
Alcohol 14.5%.  The wine was immediately aromatic with round fruit and wood box.  In the mouth the flavors were forward with round black fruit that was almost thick with glycerin.  With air this modern wine showed more minerals, blackness, and some nearly resolved tannins.  ** Now – 2020.

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1999 Domaine de la Charbonniere, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Ginday Imports.  Alcohol 14%.  This wine had a good core of red and black fruit and a pleasing amount of structure that leant towards the not quite rustic personality.  Clearly a good wine in shape for continued development.  *** Now -2022.

There was also a pair of dessert wines.  From the lightest of a group, the bottle of 1988 Chateau La Tour Blanche, Sauternes was youthful, fresh, and rather unevolved which meant it did not tire the palate at all.  A brief taste of the 2007 Velich Apetlon, Seewinkel Beerenauslese, Burgenland already reveals an interesting amount of complexity.  It is noticeably richer and thicker so think of it more as a sipping wine to wrap things up.

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1988 Chateau La Tour Blanche, Sauternes
Imported by Luke’s Distribution Co.  Alcohol 14%.  In fine condition, this wine brighter, floral and yellow fruit aromas.  In the mouth the youthful, floral and orange citrus accented fruit has an appealing level of viscosity.  The level of acidity keeps things fresh and slightly watering through the saline marked finish.  I would cellar this further.   *** Now – 2035.

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2007 Velich Apetlon, Seewinkel Beerenauslese, Burgenland
This wine is a blend of Chardonnay, Scheurebe, and Riesling that was fermented and aged in oak barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Already a deep color , aromas of petrol with both fresh and dried apricots step out of the glass. With air hints of black tea develop.  In the mouth, this is a thick wine with viscosity that is noticeable in the finish and aftertaste.  ***(*) Now – 2035.

Patricia Green’s 2014 Pinot Noir Reserve is a great fun

November 12, 2015 Leave a comment

The wines of Patricia Green have been a regular staple at our house for a few years now.  In particular we tend to drink the Pinot Noir Reserve.  The latest vintage, in the form of the 2014 Patricia Green Cellars, Pinot Noir Reserve, Willamette Valley, recently hit the shelves at MacArthur Beverages  This forward drinking, energetic wine possess ample flavor without being marred by oak.  It drinks well right now but will also open up with short-term cellaring.  When you factor in the quality of the flavor and the fact that this is Pinot Noir, the $24 price tag means this is a relative bargain.  It will also fit the bill if you need a crowd-pleasing Pinot Noir for the holidays.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2014 Patricia Green Cellars, Pinot Noir Reserve, Willamette Valley – $24
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir.  Alcohol 14%.  This young wine contains cool blue flavors, cola spices, and lots of minerals presented with coiled up energy.  The watering acidity is noticeable on the sides of the tongue.  This is quite simply a good drink with gobs of flavors.  *** Now – 2020.

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Several recent bottles drunk with friends and one without

It is a treat to have friends with strong interests in cookbooks, cooking, and cocktails who are both curious and excited to try new wines.  This meant that earlier this year I shared bottles not just from France but Croatia, Turkey, and Israel.  These were all youngs wine that I opened to expand their experience with wine regions.  At the beginning of the summer I was fortunate to purchase a number of old and mature wines (in case you have not yet noticed the radical shift in average vintage that Lou and I have been opening).  With a slew of vintages mostly from the 1970s my patiently cellared Rhone wines from the 1998 vintage now seem no longer precious.  Though modest in selection, they were the oldest bottles I owned so I held fast.

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At a small dinner this past weekend we started off with the recently acquired 2007 Yves Cuilleron, Les Poitiers, Saint-Peray.  I had no clue what to expect nor did Phil who pointed the wine out at MacArthur Beverages.  This blend of Marsanne and Roussanne was surprisingly young!  It showed some maturity in color but the palate was fresh with good acidity.  I did not take any notes at dinner so I am curious to try another bottle.

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We then proceeded to a trio of red wines including the previously described 2003 Brick House, Cuvée du Tonnelier, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley.  The other two bottles were minor Chateauneuf du Pape that I had forgotten about until I unpacked my wine in the new house.  I was expecting less from the 1998 Comte Louis de Clermont-Tonnerre, Chateauneuf du Pape but it offered plenty of fruity aromas and a burst of clean, uncomplicated fruit in the mouth.  The finish was rather short and my interest faded fast.  I called it a one trick pony to which S. commented that he liked this pony.  I think though he ultimately preferred the 1998 Domaine Saint Benoit Grande Garde, Chateauneuf du Pape which was clearly favorite amongst the group.  It was austere at first but over a few hours it fleshed out to show reasonable complexity and appealing structure.  You could drink this now after an hour in the decanter or over the next five years.

With that selection largely finished I returned with a double-decanted bottle of 1975 Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron, Pauillac.  This particular example was rather stinky with a strong leather component on the nose and in the mouth.  It was too distracting so I eventually gassed and re-corked it.  I finished off the bottle the next night after which the stink had left.  The leather was still prominent but the wine had some heft and made for a decent Sunday night drink.  With the Pichon out of favor I then returned with the bizarrely consistent 1971 Chateau Montgrand-Milon, Pauillac.  This wine is very stable (perhaps filtered?), showing good fruit and though smaller in personality, is engaging enough.  I suspect it would work well at lunch.

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For dessert Lou opened the 2007 Domaine des Baumard, Coteaux du Layon.  This sweet, Chenin Blanc based wine drank forward without being heavy.  It was a spot-on match for our raspberry tart and a good note to end the evening.

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One bottle that Jenn and I drank alone this week is the 2000 Domaine La Garrigue, Vacqueyras.  Apparently I bought four of these, of which I discovered three bottles at the time I also discovered the pair of 1998 Chateauneuf du Pape.  My tasting note from four years ago did not offer much promise.  I was hoping for bottle variation in the positive direction but this was not the case.  It remained ethereal in flavor with very fine, drying tannins, and some heat.  It only became harder with air.  Drinkable but not pleasurable.

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