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geo t.

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  1. Opportunities to taste 48 – year – old Bordeaux First Growths aren’t exactly frequent events for Adams – Heritier & Associates, and are generally looked upon as blessings from Bacchus. Such was the case when that modern – day Bacchus, Jim Lester, uncorked a venerable bottle at a small gathering held at the home of John and Denise McKuen in the foothills of Southeastern Michigan. Needless to say, it was a special treat. 1956 Chateau Haut-Brion Graves, 11.5% alc.: Other than its color, which is roughly the vinous equivalent of old bricks, this wine is aging very nicely, despite the poor (now THAT’S and understatement!) vintage. Haut-Brion’s own website describes the year miserably: “A severe winter in Bordeaux: -20 C in February with tremendous snowfall (80 cm.) which paralyzed the region. Many vines died and in general vineyards suffered terribly. (A quarter of their own vines were lost.) The Garonne partially froze over. Results of the cold: a very late start to the growing season, then a cold and wet summer (July 112 mm., August 104 mm.) Little wine and few good ones.” Nevertheless, this bottle gives evidence to the proposition that great producers often produce pretty damned fine wine, even under adverse circumstances. Exhibiting a brooding depth of character, this one exudes what one taster described as a “potpourri” bouquet, while Jim described a “smoky nose, almost like wet charcoal.” The wine is a seamless blend of texture, flavor and aroma, reminiscent of cassis, leather, tobacco, mahogany and cigar box, with fine presence, and a finish that lingered awhile, like that old jazz song. One person wondered if it might not have been better consumed ten years earlier, and that may well be so, but this bottle was still so rich, mellow and delicious, I didn’t worry about it much. Bravo! Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  2. Yeah, well we tried to order one of Pieropan's better Soaves, but they were all out, so the wine steward suggested this in its place. We didn't know until later that it cost $20 more than the Soave! Having said that, while we all felt that the wine WAS overpriced after the fact, we all enjoyed whilst drinking it.
  3. Our friend Gary Kahle, of Hand Picked Selections, has been telling us for some time now how good Jacqueson's Rullys are, but this is the first one we've tried, and it's a winner. 2001 H et P Jacqueson Rully "Grésigny," $29.99, 13% alc.: Kim really likes this medium gold colored Premier Cru from Rully, Jacqueson's flagship white, and so do I. It offers up flavors and aromas of tart apple and pear, accented with a streak of butterscotch, the sweeter aspects of which are diffused by an underlying base of minerality and an element of honeycomb - beeswax, all with subtle, creamy overtones of oak. Medium full bodied, with excellent intensity, lemon squirt acidity and good length on the finish, where a little something like detergent emerges. As nice as it is now, this has the structure to improve over the next three to five years. Imported by Hand Picked Selections, Warrenton, VA - from Warm Weather Whites Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  4. geo t.

    WTN: 2 from Dunn

    1996 Dunn Vineyards Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% alc.: Dunn's style of Cabernet Sauvignon is a little hard to describe, because it doesn't fit neatly into any of the usual pigeon holes; it's not well oaked (au contraire, any oak comes off as neutral, at best) and the fruit is certainly not "bright" (austere might be a better descriptor, although the wines do tend to be big), yet they don't really resemble Bordeaux that much either. Tom Natoci opened this dark garnet colored beast for us, and the best characterization I can up with for it is black currant and old wood, deep, dark and dirty, and those are positive impressions. Putnam Weekley ruminated upon it thus: "It smells like cabernet; cold, northern pine forest; herbal, old and grapey; it asks the question, 'What is Napa cab?!'" He and Tom both find it to be "like meat." Despite at least 10 years worth of tannins, it opens quickly and beautifully in the glass, becoming more harmonious by the minute. Tom and Putnam are both big fans of that "dirty Dunn" style, and it's easy to understand why, based on this and a '97 that we all tried about 6 months back (sorry, no notes taken, but the wine was quite similar to this, and remarkably approachable coming from a winery with the reputation for producing massively tannic cabernet). Despite the insistence of my better half that it was time to leave, I had to linger an extra twenty minutes or so, because this one is just too good to slug down. 1993 Dunn Vineyards Napa Petite Sirah Howell Mountain, 13.6% alc.: Like the cabernet noted above, there's nothing sweet or bright about the fruit in this wine; if there were an old French Petite Sirah, it might taste like this. Inky opaque, fading to pink at the rim, and very dry, bordering on rustic, with black currant - older barrel character and overtones of cedar that become accentuated with air. Deep, dark and still pretty tight, this has the structure to age for years, and it needs the time, so no reason to open one any time soon, unless of course, you want to. };^)> - from Mixed Bag Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  5. Bennett Traub was back in town, and he had some spare time to spend with his Gangster bredrens, so we renewed acquaintances at a local spot with a liberal policy regarding what we could bring in and uncork. Bennett, Kim and this taster were joined by that vivacious bon vivant, Margaret Marchak, and Bill Schwab aka The Psychopomp also made a brief cameo appearance. As is usually the case with such gatherings, we got things started with a glass of white. 2002 Donna Fugata Chiarandà Sicilia DOC, 13.5% alc.: Made from not - quite - equal parts of the native Sicilian Ansonica and Chardonnay, this pale golden libation sports notes of toasty oak lending a subtle touch of butter and maple syrup over fairly rich apple and pear flaves and whiffs; Mr. Schwab added an impression of key lime meringue, while Bennett found the oak to be a little sour. The wine has a creamy texture, with undertones of minerality and just enough acidity to make it all come together nicely. A nice starter on a hot summer's evening, but you probably won't find this in stores; we were informed that it's an "on - premises (restaurant) only" selection. Bennett brought along the following two little gems, and they were each delightful and delightfully different. 1978 Monte Vertine La Pergole Torte, 12.5% alc.: A bricked ruby red in color, this gives up a slightly funky, musty (in a good way) nose showing mostly cheese rind and a little cedar. While the flavors are predominantly secondary, there's still a solid, fairly rich core of fruit underneath it all, garnering such impressions as red currant, mushroom, forest floor, herbal, ferny and potting soil. Fully mature, and by no means over the hill, this is drinking very nicely indeed, making a fine match for a plate of carpaccio and giving testament to Mr. Traub's cellar master skills. Imported by Diamond Wine Merchants, S. Francisco, CA 1985 Charles Joguet Chinon Cuvée du Clos de la Dioterie Vieilles Vignes, 11 - 14% alc.: There's little rust as of yet to the ruby garnet color of this 20 year old Loire Valley Cabernet Franc, and it exudes copious notes of herbs and underbrush on the nose, following through on the palate with plums and berries. As it opened in the glass, it attracted such impressions as lemon balm, lavender, savory, bay leaf, dirt and pepper. Fresh, yet fully mature, this may not be for everyone, due to its heavily herbaceous character, but it was very well received at our table, and was my favorite wine of the night. Bennett and I hooked up online because of our mutual admiration for Joguet Chinon, and I'm pleased that he carried through with his promise to bring one of these oldies, a veritable revelation for this taster. Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA 1993 Pogio Antico Brunello di Montalcino Reserva DOCG, 13.5% alc.: Margaret pulled this one from her bag of goodies just in time for our entrees; it's another one of those things she brought back from her travels in Italy. Showing just a hint of rust, this dark garnet is all about sticks and underbrush over deep, dark sour cherries, black cherries, licorice and earth. Lots of structure here, and while it really opens with air, giving a good idea of what's ahead, and was probably the best match for some prime, medium rare Colorado lamb chops, it's really best to leave this in the cellar for at least another 3-5 years. 1993 Fisher Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon Wedding Vineyard, 13% alc.: From what I heard, this deep, dark garnet colored cab was rather tight when first poured, but I gave my glass half an hour to open whilst considering the previous two selections, so by the time I got to it, it was quite tasty, offering hints of cedar and tobacco over cassis and black currant, with a kiss of well - integrated oak on the nose and subtle earthy undertones on the palate. A classic Fisher cab, this is rich and sweet, without being in any way excessive, and it still has at least a few years of improvement left in it. The only thing wrong with it is that it had the disadvantage of being thrown into a mix of more complex, and dare I say, more interesting wines. There you have it, another fine evening with great friends enjoying some delicious food with excellent wine, and isn't that what it's all about? - from Mixed Bag Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  6. Correct vintage of the Viader was '95, not '97. geo
  7. We got together with our friends Mark Schreier and Margaret Marchak for dinner recently, and drank some pretty snazzy wines. We were also joined by Mark and Margaret's friends Ron Hughes, Gerard Mantese and Cathy Morris. The place was lousy with lawyers, and we didn't mess around with no stinkin' whites, we just charged right into the big reds to accompany the hors d' oeuvres, which included Sicilian potato salad, jumbo Ecuadorian white shrimp dressed with parmesan shavings and nestled on a bed of arugula, white bean hummus and pita chips and Euro sticks with goat cheese. 1996 Abreu Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Madrona Ranch, 13.2% alc.: This dark garnet colored Cabernet really set the tone for the evening's wines, and would ultimately prove to be my favorite of the lot. Rich, concentrated, opulent and impeccably balanced, it exudes beautiful sea air, aquarium, cassis and black raspberry aromatics that follow through on the palate, picking up little hints of tobacco, cocoa and herbs as it opens. One of the best Cabernets I've ever had the pleasure to taste from anywhere, very food friendly and perhaps best of all, as well as it's drinking now, it has yet to reach its peak. Many, many thanks to Greg Ellis aka Vin Pays Doc for his generosity in gifting this beauty to Kim and this taster. 1996 Antinori Solaia Toscana IGT, 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 13.5% alc.: Margaret picked up this and the Solengo in Italy some years back, at a price that would probably piss off a lot of American wine collectors, and she thought it was about time to try it. Dark garnet in color, with black currant, cassis, black cherry, a note of tobacco, a bit of chocolate and a kiss of sweet oak in both flavor and aroma, this is another very well balanced, ultra - smooth red, with silky tannins and marvelous presence. Margaret agreed with me that if it has a drawback, it's that it finishes a bit shorter than one would expect from a wine of this stature (Cathy quipped, "Short on the finish, like my ex - husband..."), but that's a minor complaint in the overall scope of things. 1995 Paleo Bolgheri Rosso Superiore DOC, 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc, 13% alc.: Ron brought this dark garnet along; it fit the varietal profile of the Tuscans being tasted, and he was curious as to what it was all about. Thick, rich and intense, it shows an earthy black currant, licorice, sour cherry and bitter chocolate character. The most "Italian" of the Italians at this tasting, this is a big wine, with excellent structure, fine balance and a nice finish. Give it at least a few more years in the cellar; it's still on the way up. By the time we were ready to sit down to dinner, there were still two wines left to try, and they were more than up to the food (grilled lamb chops, polenta and pan roasted asparagus) and the competition. 1997 Argiano Solengo Toscana IGT, 13% alc.: We all noted a bit of the barnyard on the nose of this deep, dark garnet at first whiff, and Kim commented that she found it jammy, adding, "I was expecting something more tannic." It offers black currant and black cherry flavors and aromas, with a little chocolate on the nose, and a subtle earthiness underneath it all. It's a little thicker than the Abreu and Solaia, with more obvious structure, but it's not quite as elegant as either of those wines. Nevertheless, it is excellent; give it at least a few more years to show its best. 1995 Viader, 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Cabernet Franc, 13.5% alc.: Showing a fine balance in style between Napa and Bordeaux, this dark garnet blend features black currant, cassis, tobacco, earth and ash on the nose, with undertones of forest floor, all of which echo and expand on the palate with fine tannins, balanced acidity and a long finish. The rich fruit vies with the earthy character for dominance, but they never clash, and while it's great now, like everything else tasted on this occasion, it has yet to peak. After dinner, Margaret wondered if anyone would be up to something sweet to drink along with the delectable caramel topped vanilla cheese cake she was serving for dessert, and when no one objected, she uncorked the next not - so - little number. 1998 Turley Napa Zinfandel "Delinquent," 19% alc.: Not quite inky, but certainly deep and dark in its garnet color, this shows its alcohol on both the nose and in the mouth, though it does lose some of its bite with air. It's like drinking chocolate covered cherries and black raspberries, and of course, it has the signature Turley dose of oak, which has never really bothered me. While not "sappy" sweet, it's definitely ultra rich, but never quite loses that heat, which is a little bothersome. Still, once it opens some, it pairs well enough with some yummy cheesecake. It was a grand evening. No one left the table hungry or without a rosy glow, and the food and wines were simply brilliant. Many thanks to Marchak, Schreier and Associates for hosting a most superlative soirée. - From Four Morels & Mo' Better Reds Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  8. geo t.

    WTN: 4 from Groth

    A few weeks ago, I spent some time talking with D. Andrew Groth, Dennis and Judy’s son and current regional sales manager for Groth Vineyards and Winery. He filled me in on the extensive replanting of vineyards that has taken place at Groth, and the resulting suspension of the Reserve Cabernet program while waiting for the new vines to mature to the point where they can produce the quality of fruit that will warrant it’s resumption. I also had the opportunity to taste through four of the winery’s recent releases, which I quite enjoyed. 2004 Groth Napa Sauvignon Blanc, 95% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Semillon, $15, 13.8% alc.: Pale straw color, with apple, pear and grapefruit flavors and aromas showing overtones of tropical fruit, a hint of boxwood and a little minerality; some soft grassiness is muted by the neutral (four and five year old) French oak. Bright, crisp and clean, with a good finish, this is a nice Napa expression of the varietal that does just what it's supposed to, and matches well with an Italian submarine sandwich, of all things! Whole cluster pressed; 30% of the wine sees no oak at all, being fermented and aged in small stainless steel tanks, while 70% is aged sur lie for five months in neutral oak. 2003 Groth Napa Chardonnay, $25, 14.2% alc.: Medium straw color, with restrained oak over soft, slightly creamy apple and pear flavors and aromas, shaded with hints of banana, fig, and some maple syrup and sweet pea as it opens. Showing good balance, with just the right amount of acidity, this is elegant and food friendly, and makes a good match for grilled chicken breasts and asparagus. Whole cluster pressed; 30% new French oak, with no malolactic fermentation; aged for eight months sur lie. 2001 Groth Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville, $55, 13.8% alc.: Dark garnet color, with some slightly green toasty oak on the nose that quickly morphs into a pretty cassis, black cherry and sweet oak perfume accented with hints of tobacco and tea leaf. These follow through on the palate with medium full body and a fine structure that should easily make this a ten year wine. With its mouth coating texture and fine sense of proportion, this is already delicious with some air and/or a good cut of red meat, but again, it's only going to get better with time in the cellar. 2002 Groth Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville, 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, $55, 14.3 % alc.: I only got a quick snapshot of this at the Decanter trade tasting, but I really liked what I tasted; it seems to show a little more of everything that the '01 model has, with sweet toasty oak over a cassis, black currant and black cherry personality, all shaded with a little chocolate and tobacco. Like the rest of these, it has wonderfully balanced structure and long finish. Fermented over seven days in small stainless steel tanks at an average temperature of 80 F.; aged in French oak (50% new) for 23 months. - from Synchronicity Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  9. 2002 Léal San Benito Chardonnay Estate, $23.99 - 25.99, 14.2% alc.: This ever - so - slightly cloudy pale gold spent 12 months in French oak, and it shows in the fat, toasty, honeyed pear flavors and aromas, accented with a little butterscotch. As it opens, notes of maple syrup and shortbread emerge. Yes, the wine is fat, but it also has good acidity and finishes well, and if it's not my preferred style of Chardonnay, it's undeniably well - made. 954 cases produced. 2002 Léal San Benito Merlot Estate, $26.99 - 28.99, 14.4% alc.: Kim described this dark garnet by saying, "It tastes like cherry vanilla ice cream," undoubtedly reflecting the 20 months spent in French oak. That creamy oak does play a fairly prominent role in the flavor profile, as it coats the black currant, blackberry and black cherry flavors and aromas. There's rich fruit here, with moderate tannins and a good finish, and if there's a slight detraction, it's just a hint of something reminiscent of carpet glue, but that's in the background, and not terribly intrusive. All in all, a solid Merlot that should improve over the next few years; 833 cases produced. 2001 Léal San Benito Meritage Carnavál Estate, $23.99 - 25.99, 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 14.2% alc.: Despite spending 21 months in French Oak, this inky blend doesn't reflect that characteristic as much as the Chardonnay or Merlot. It offers a sweet blackberry nose, filling out on the palate with some added black currant, all with a well - proportioned kiss of oak. Sleek, medium full to full bodied, with good intensity and concentration, this has the structure to improve for two to five years. 1900 cases produced. 2001 Léal San Benito Meritage Lavanda Estate, $23.99 - 25.99, 88% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec, 14.1% alc.: "Lavanda" is Portuguese for lavender, and this dark garnet does throw a pretty perfume, but while it spent 21 months in French Oak, it also isn't as fat or as overtly oaked as the Chard or Merlot. It features nice notes of black currant, blackberry and blueberry, shaded with subtle, earthy herbs. Fairly deep and dark, on a medium full bodied frame, this has a sleek density to it, and tannins to age and develop over at least the next few years. 643 cases produced. 2001 Léal San Benito Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, $23.99 - 25.99, 14.2% alc.: Dark garnet in color, this one gives a hint of something like girly face soap over creamy black currant, blackberry and blueberry in both flavor and aroma, with more blueberry emerging as it opens. It shows more oak that the two Meritages, but less than the Merlot; it's medium full bodied, with good concentration and intensity and two to five years worth of tannins, which show mostly on the finish, where they clamp down a bit. A solid, enjoyable cab, even if the slight "soapy" thing is a bit odd. 19 months in French oak; 225 cases produced. 2002 Léal San Benito Syrah Estate, $26.99 - 28.99, 92% Syrah, 5% Viognier, 2% Grenache, 1% Malbec, $29.99, 14.2% alc.: My favorite wine of the six, this deep, dark garnet gives plenty of deep, dark plum and black currant flavors and aromas, with notes of leather, balsa, cocoa powder and tar in support. It shows a good dose of oak (19 months in French), but not so it's overdone, with medium, unobtrusive tannins, medium full to full body, and a long, earthy finish. The wine is excellent now, getting better and better as it opens, and should improve over the next five years and beyond. This was the one I helped myself to a second pour on the first evening. 1148 cases produced. - From Léal Vineyards: It's the Shiznit! Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  10. 2001 Moris Avvoltore Maremma Toscana, 75% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah, $55, 14% alc.: Like pouring a blend of motor oil and ink, this exudes effusive aromas of huge dense black fruits that follow through on the palate, and with air, fan out to show rich, steely blackberry and black currant adorned with supporting notes of cedar, dark chocolate, coffee and leather. Very smooth, yet dense and concentrated, this opens and opens, showing more and more of what it has; it doesn't so much evolve as simply expand in its generosity. This has the structure to take it well down the road, and yet it's already so good, with an hour's worth of air, I'd be hard pressed not to open another soon, just to show it off to friends. An exciting, dare I say, sexy wine. Imported by J & J Importers, LLC, Bloomfield Hills, MI - From (Not Just) Flotsam and Jetsam Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  11. Sally Schweiger came to Day-twah as April turned to May, spending five days in the area promoting her family's wines. I was pleased to have the opportunity to taste with Sally on two occasions, but then, I needed no coaxing, having fond memories of the 1999 Schweiger Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon we so enjoyed this past winter. 2004 Schweiger Vineyards Sonoma Valley Sauvignon Blanc Uboldi Vineyard, $19.50, 13.5% alc.: Just released on May 1st, this is the only wine the Schweigers make using other than Estate fruit. Pale straw in color, it's patterned after New Zealand and Loire Valley models, offering pungent boxwood, cat spray, gooseberry and grapefruit aromatics, underscored with subtle oak, from its fermentation in three to five year old neutral French barrels. The flavors echo nicely, with good acidity, some added minerality and a good finish. Sally says it performs admirably in cutting through the creaminess of chicken Alfredo, and it presents a solid value for what's in the bottle. 2003 Schweiger Vineyards Napa Chardonnay Spring Mountain District, $30.00, 14.6% alc.: Barrel fermented with 25% new French oak and 75% 2-4 year old French oak, with 10% of the wine undergoing Malolactic fermentation, and aged sur lies for 10 months, this medium straw is balanced, elegant and refined; it comes off in more a Burgundian style than Californian, with lovely, somewhat restrained apple and pear flavors and aromas, accented with subtle spice and hints of mineral. It has a nice presence, finishes fairly long and should continue to develop and drink well over at least the next few years. 2000 Schweiger Vineyards Napa Merlot Spring Mountain District, $42 - 45, 13.9% alc.: This dark garnet colored claret - styled 100% Merlot saw 22 months in 60 gal oak barrels, 5% of which were new American, 65% new French, 25% two year old French and 5% two - four year old American. Again, this shows a sense of balance and elegance, with perfumed red currant, cherry and muted cocoa powder aromatics that echo on the palate with soft tannins and a nice finish. The oak is restrained and not at all dominant, seeming to express the character of the older barrels more than the new. It's rare that I enjoy Californian Merlot, but here is one that I could drink on a regular basis. 2000 Schweiger Vineyards Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District, $26.99 - 48, 14.2% alc.: Dark garnet in color, and having spent 20 months in 60 gal oak barrels (5% new American, 65% new French, 28% 2 year old French, and 2% two - four year old American), this too has that claret character, with black and red currants, dusty dried herbs and a hint of dark chocolate, complimented by just the right kiss of oak (again, seeming more old than new), being balanced, not too tannic and restrained yet expressive at the same time. Cloverleaf Fine Wine's Chris Brandt exclaimed, "I can taste the mineral and soil," and indeed, these wines all seem to show a "sense of place." Very nice, a great bargain at the lower post - off price listed, and if it finishes just a bit short, that's a small complaint given the overall package. 2001 Schweiger Vineyards Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District, $43.99 - 46, 13.9% alc.: This dark garnet 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is a departure from previous vintages, having been given an extra year in barrel (32 months in 60 gal Oak barrels, 21% of which were new American, 54% new French, 20% two year old French, and 5% two - four year old American), and it shows in the overtones of coffee and toast that accent the cassis, blackberry, black currant and dark chocolate flavors and aromas. This features the richest fruit of the three reds, and yet it's still so balanced, with silky tannins and a long finish; it has power, weight and depth, without being at all overdone. And, as enjoyable as it is already, it can only develop and improve over at least the next decade. Schweiger Vineyards Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Port IV Spring Mountain District, 19.3% alc.: Sally brought along some of this just for the fun of tasting it, since it's sold out; however, the Port V will be coming out in July or August. The rich, ripe grapes for this Solera blend (1997 - 2%, 1998 - 3%, 1999 - 27%, 2000 - 49%, 2002 - 19%) were picked at 28 brix, then fermented down to around 13 before being fortified with 143 proof double alambic distilled Pinot Noir brandy. Rich and delicious, this exudes lovely notes of white chocolate, red currant and cherry, along with whiffs of sea air - aquarium on the nose. It would go well with a variety of chocolate delectables, and would also pair nicely with a good Cohiba cigar. For my full report, see Tasting with Sally Schweiger. Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  12. I didn't have a choice; it would have been gone. As I stated in my notes, it still "showed" pretty darned well! Cheers, geo
  13. 1999 Sang des Cailloux Vacqueyras, $19.99, 13.8% alc.: There's still no rust showing in the deep, dark garnet color of this old friend, but it's finally coming around and entering a nice drinking window. It's tight when first poured, but with 45 minutes to an hour's worth of air, it really blossoms into a fine Vacqueyras. Giving grilled meat, black fruit and some barnyard and rotting vegetation on the nose when first poured, the funky notes mostly blow off to reveal a root beer - rock & rye - cola character. Big, rich and powerful in the mouth, the flavors follow through on the promise of the aromatics with plenty of structure and a nice finish. Still on the way up, with a good three to five years of improvement ahead of it, so why have we gone through six bottles since New Years? Must have had something to do with how well it's drinking already, because there sure hasn't been any Red Wings action to enjoy it with. I'll try to keep hands off that last bottle for a while, but... Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA -From (Not Just) Flotsam & Jetsam Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  14. 2002 La Begude Limoux Chardonnay, $13.99, 13.5% alc.: Medium straw, with softly herbal apple and pear flavors and aromas dosed with a good deal of mineral and some detergent on the fin; notes of lime and chalk emerge with air, and the rich fruit really shines in the mid - palate. Medium - bodied, with crisp acidity and a nice finish; very tasty, and an excellent QPR value. We've gone through several of these in the last few weeks, and it will certainly be one of our house whites over the summer months. Between this and the white Burgundies reviewed recently, we've enjoyed more Chardonnay in the last couple of months than we've had in the last couple of years. Imported by Langdon Shiverick Inc., Cleveland, OH -From (Not Just) Flotsam & Jetsam Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  15. Our friend Jim Friedman organized a tasting in Bloomfield Hills, MI last weekend that focused on Oz Shiraz that rated 96 Parker points or better, and despite not being a numbers kind o' guy, it was an event that was too promising to pass up. Of course, it was also an opportunity to rub shoulders with some old and new friends, so I anted up, put on a clean shirt and they let me in! Here're my brief notes on everything I tasted. Laurent - Perrier Champagne Brut NV, 45% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 15% Pinot Meunier, 1.5L, 12% alc.: Medium straw, with a fine bead, good froth in the mouth and delicious yeasty, smoky mineral and green apple flavors and aromas; there's good length to the finish of a sparkler that I could drink on a regular basis. Jim opened two of these, having aged them for five years. 2002 Torbreck The Factor Barossa, 14.5% alc.: Deep dark garnet, fading to pink at the rim, with perfumed black cherry, plum and blackberry aromatics accented with hints of chocolate and sea air; these impressions follow through on the palate, with a very smooth, yet dense texture, being rich, but not over the top. There's a good dose of tannins underneath all that fruit, and it throws a little heat, but all in all, this is a nice glass of wine. 1997 Penfolds Grange South Australia, 14.3% alc.: I don't know how this 94 point dog got in the door, but it wasn't hard to tell that this wouldn't last long, so I took a pour as soon as I could, and sure enough, the bottle was drained within half an hour. An inky dark garnet in color, with lovely blackberry and black plum flavors and aromas, shaded with notes of sea air, coffee and a nice kiss of sweet oak. Dan called the wine seamless, and I wouldn't disagree; despite still showing plenty of tannins, this is eminently drinkable, with its smooth, almost creamy texture. While not having the last pour of this, there was some fine sediment left in the bottom of my glass. One of the best damned aperitifs I've ever had, and to hell with the points, this was one of my two favorites of the evening! 2003 Kangarilla Road McLaren Vale Shiraz Viognier, 15% alc.: Dan called the dense color of this "impenetrable," adding that "the Viognier gives it a nice floral edge, reminiscent of d'Arenberg's Laughing Magpie," and again, he was right on with that assessment. Indeed, the Viognier is obvious, giving this overtones of honeysuckle and lilac, and complimenting the big sweet oak, blackberry and black plum character; it also throws a little sea air on the nose, and finishes with a note of blueberry. At first, there's a little something like old wood here, but it dissipates with air, proving not to be TCA, as Loren and this taster initially suspected. Many thanks to Alan Kerr for this very nice wine, which I snuck in the door, despite the fact that it only received 95 points from Parker; it more than held its own against the higher rated (and priced) competition. 2002 Kaesler Stonehorse Barossa Shiraz, 15% alc.: A deep, dark garnet, giving some sea air and aquarium over sweet oak, blackberry and black plum, with hints of chocolate, coffee and tar. A nice wine that was perhaps somewhat lost in the crowd. The Main Event The seven wines served with dinner were poured in advance, giving them time to open with air. There were three bottles of each selection contributed, one for each table, with more than enough wine to go around. Dinner consisted of a Caesar salad to start, followed by a fine thick rib eye steak, served medium rare and accompanied by gratin mashed potatoes and asparagus spears. Without exception, each glass in the flight looked as if it held ink, rather than wine, and as said glasses were smallish, the aromatics of some may have suffered. I started off with the two I thought might be the least food friendly, based on previous experiences. 2002 Marquis Philips McLaren Vale Shiraz 9, 16% alc.: Big sweet oak dominates the plum and berry on the nose of this ooze monster, with more plum and berry on the palate, and noticeable heat. With just a little swirlatude, it takes on a vanilla milkshake quality, and indeed, Dan Myers found it somewhat reminiscent of J. Lohr Cabs from the '80s. Not totally disgusting, but I didn't finish my glass. 2002 Marquis Philips McLaren Vale Shiraz Integrity, 16% alc.: Not much on the nose, with hard dark fruit and big oak in the mouth, packin' serious heat. No mas for this taster, but it had its admirers. 2002 Amon - Ra Barossa Shiraz, 14.5% alc.: Reticent aromatics, with relatively restrained, balanced spicy black plum and blackberry, showing no heat to speak of and no excess oak. Food friendly and very enjoyable; Loren agreed, calling it beautiful. 1999 d'Arenberg McLaren Vale Shiraz The Dead Arm, 14.5% alc.: Showing mostly sea air on the not - overly - exuberant nose, this fills out in the mouth, with black plum, black currant, and hints of chocolate, earth and mineral, being almost Rhône - like compared to some of these. The oak is restrained, and the tannins are soft, making for a lovely glass of Shiraz. This was a big favorite at our table, and my wine of the night, along with the Grange. It's in no danger of fading any time soon, so drink or hold. 2001 d'Arenberg McLaren Vale Shiraz The Dead Arm, 15% alc.: This one has a little more of everything that the '99 shows; a little more on the nose, a little more oak, a little brighter fruit and of course, more tannins, all while maintaining the same essential flavor profile. Very nice with the rib eye, despite showing a little heat. 2003 Mitolo G.A.M. McLaren Vale Shiraz, 14.5% alc.: Paul Ragheb's fiancé‚ Amy described this as "like a botanical garden in my mouth," and while it doesn't give much on the nose, it is quite tasty, with a note of cloves over blackberry and black currant. Very smooth, and not too tannic, this is almost claret - like, and matches well with the rib eye. With a little air, an element of maple syrup emerges, adding complexity and interest. 2001 Torbreck Barossa Shiraz The Factor, 14% alc.: Restrained oak over a little tar and black fruit on the nose, with a lot more of everything on the palate; rich, medium full bodied, with a nice finish and just a little heat, this is fairly food friendly, with a slightly creamy quality and a bit o' chocolate as it opens. With the exception of the two from Marquis Phillips, most of these paired better with food than I might have expected, and even though they aren't the style of wines that I would make a habit of drinking on a regular basis, I found a lot to like with several of of them. Obviously, not everything red from Down - under has to be an ooze monster. We finished up with some sweet stuff, as I opted to take my tiramisu with coffee the next morning, rather than one of the following three selections. 1996 d'Arenberg McLaren Vale Riesling The Noble, 10.5% alc.: Tawny amber in color, with lovely characteristics of petrol, apricot, white peach, honey and subtle herbal undertones; rich, sweet, but not cloying and not quite unctuous either. Very nice. R.L. Buller Fine Muscat, 18% alc.: Tawny amber in color, this smells like maple syrup with alcohol, and tastes like it too. Thick, rich and unctuous. R.L. Buller Fine Tokay, 18% alc.: Tawny amber in color, this smells like dry cat food with alcohol, and tastes like it too! Throws more heat than the Muscat. Many thanks to Jim and Faye for organizing what was a very fine evening of wine, food and friendship. Thanks also to all who attended for their contributions, and to the staff at the Wabeeck Country Club, for their fine food and attentive care. Click here for my full report, including pictures of some of the participants. Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
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