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geo t.

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  1. The guys at Cloverleaf Fine Wine in Southfield got a good quantity of the following two vintages of Prieure – Lichine Margaux, and as soon as I got wind of that fact, I tried them both out. 1996 Chateau Prieure – Lichine Margaux, $27.20, 12.5% alc.: Dark garnet fading to pink at the rim, with just the faintest tinge of rust, this is pretty tight when first poured, but it opens steadily over a period of four hours, and by the last glass, it really sings. It shows flavors and aromas of tobacco, black currant, cassis, blackberry, earth – mineral and something like old barrels, for lack of a better description. Kim remarked that it “smells like a fresh cardboard box,” and she didn’t mean that unkindly, nor was she referring to any kind of taint. There’s still a good dose of tannins on a medium full bodied frame here, so this is in no danger of fading any time soon; it’ll probably drink well over the next decade. As it opens, it also develops notes of cedar and a subtle herbaceous quality that adds interest and complexity. Not great Margaux, but certainly very good Margaux, and I really enjoy it, especially at this price. 1999 Chateau Prieure – Lichine Margaux, $24.65, 12.5% alc.: Deeper in color than the ’96 model, but not as deep in body or flavor profile, which is dominated by dry, unbuttered toast from the first sip through the last, along with added impressions of black currant, cassis, some tobacco, a little dark chocolate, a certain creamy quality and again, some of that old wood underneath it all. Like the ’96, it opens, evolves and improves over four hours, showing more and more tobacco – cigar box, with at least five years worth of tannins to take it further on down the road. A solid middleweight Margaux at a friendly price; not quite up to the ’96, but fine on its own terms. Imported by Seagram Chateau & Estate Wines Co., New York, NY Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  2. 2001 Jean Foillard Morgon “Côte du Py,” $25, 13% alc.: I tried this wine based on the strong recommendation of my friend and colleague Putnam Weekley, and it’s something of a revelation. I’ve never been a fan of Gamay, but then, I’ve never had the likes of this before. My experience with quality Cru Beaujolais was pretty much limited to a few bottles of 2001 Chateau Thivin en Beaujolais Cote de Brouilly Cuvee Zaccharie Geoffray, a nice wine and no doubt, but not the one that would convert me. That was to remain for this one to do, and it has accomplished that task admirably. Ruby garnet in color, it exudes a lovely perfume, and perfume is the only term that does these aromatics justice, a lovely perfume of sweet cherry, cranberry and strawberry, with spice and floral overtones, all of which echo and expand in the silky smooth flavors. In the mouth, the wine has a not – quite – delicate personality; I say not – quite – delicate because despite the silky texture and medium weight, there’s a rich concentration to the flavors, leading into a long, lingering finish. The wine has structure, but it’s almost hidden, such is its balanced and harmonious nature. This is real wine, one that relies on no winemaking gimmicks or tricks; it’s all about good work in the vineyard and honest winemaking. I rarely sit down to write and post notes on a wine while still drinking it, but this is indeed one of those uncommon occasions. I just hope there’s more of this left at Cloverleaf, because if there is, I’m going back to get more tomorrow. I also have the feeling that my friends Blackwood, Meehan, Cook and Cowan may have some other gems such as this to enlighten me with, now that I’m a believer. Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  3. Beringer winemaker Laurie Hook was in Michigan during the second week of February to promote six selections from the venerable Napa Valley producer, including first showings of the '03 Napa Chardonnay, '01 Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and '01 Bancroft Merlot, and one of her stops was for a luncheon at Forté Restaurant, in Birmingham, MI. Ms. Hook, now in her 19th year at Beringer, attends to the day - to - day operations, consulting closely with the legendary Ed Sbragia, who now holds the position of Winemaster. I stopped by to take in the proceedings, and the Bancroft Merlot was the best wine in the lineup. 2001 Beringer Howell Mountain Merlot Bancroft Ranch, $70 - 75.99, 14.55% alc.: A deep, dark garnet shading to pink at the rim, this Merlot is certainly no wallflower, but then Beringer's Bancroft Ranch never is. It spent 24 months in custom - toasted new French Nevers barrels and features a note of eucalyptus over the sweet oak, cedar, black currant, dark plum and blackberry flavors and aromas, gaining some coffee, chocolate, earth and red currant as it opens. It has a silky smooth texture in the mouth, despite its ample size, and with air, turns a little sweeter and decidedly more aromatic. Give it some time in a decanter and it's drinking well already, or give it five or six years in the cellar and it'll drink even better. A recent encounter with the '96 model is proof enough of that. Click here for the full report on the six wines tasted. Reporting from day-twah, geo t.
  4. Has anyone here had the opportunity to try out the Jarvis Blending Kit yet? Kim and I, along with our friends Bill Schwab (aka The Psychopomp) and R.J. Tibus (aka The Wine Rackafratz) did just that last week, and we had a great time with it. Designed by Jarvis Winery owner William Jarvis to simulate the winemaking experience with blending exercises similar to those employed by Jarvis winemaker Dimitri Tchelistcheff, the kit includes six 375 ml bottles of 1999 Bordeaux varietals, including two Cabernet Sauvignons and one each of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot. You also get two blending cylinders marked with exact percentages that total 100 ml each, and a fancy corkscrew/capsule cutter. The idea is to taste each of the individual varietals by their lonesome, and then try your hand at blending. “Recipes” are included, based on such noble models as various vintages of Mouton, Margaux, Cheval Blanc and Petrus. Of course, we had to try a few of our own concoctions as well. The whole exercise could have been a bust, especially given the cost of the kit, but in fact, we had a great time with it. In the interest of shameless self-promotion, I would redirect you to our latest feature on the Gang of Pour website for the full rundown, complete with pictures, percentages and snapshots of all the wines and blends we tried. Check it out, or don’t, but if you do, we hope you like it. Regards from Day-twah, geo t.
  5. St. Supery and Voss are two Napa producers who usually do a good job with SB, so that it tastes like SB and not a Chardonnay wannabe. I'd echo Carolyn, these aren't made to age. I'd ask the question, how did they taste, regardless of the color? Cheers, geo
  6. Never had the white, I've never even seen it. Years in oak?! Yikes!!
  7. 1998 Oliver Conti Emporda – Costa Brava, 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, $19.99, 13.5% alc.: A bit of the barnyard blows off the nose of this deep, dark garnet, leaving a soft leather, black olive and cocoa powder bouquet. The flavors pick the ball and run with it big time, with the leather, olive and cocoa accents setting the tone for the expressive black currant, cassis and blackberry character of this dry, appealing Spanish claret. Moderate tannins turn somewhat drying on the finish, but as it opens in the glass, it becomes increasingly rich and harmonious. This is a deliciously interesting and enjoyable wine that can pair with a fairly wide range of food, and it should continue to improve over at least the next few years. The wine is supposed to retail for around $36-40, but because it didn’t sell in this market, is being discounted heavily by the distributor. Tasted ten times in the last six months with consistent results; I like this one a lot. Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  8. 2002 Tenuta Vitanza Quadrimendo IGT, $31, 60% Sangiovese, 40% Merlot, 13% alc.: A deep, dark garnet in color, this shows equally deep and dark black fruit characteristics on the nose and the palate, with plenty of very smooth and very dry black currant and blackberry, accented by understated notes of licorice, earth, and with extended air, coffee and chocolate. Rosalba Vitanza takes pains to choose small Sangiovese grapes with thick skins for this blend, describing them as similar to the Merlot grapes in that regard. Medium full bodied, with a nice density and balance, this soaked long on the dregs of the pressed grapes before spending twelve months in small French oak barriques, then another six months in bottle before release. It shows only the subtlest influence of the oak, and could hardly be described as "international" in style, which is fine with me. Very nice now, but with its silky tannins and ample acidity, this will surely improve for at least the next few years. Click here for the full Gang of Pour feature, including notes on Tenuta Vitanza's Rosso and Brunellos. Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  9. geo t.

    Wine Haiku

    Ah, haiku, a subject close to my heart... From a tasting at Chateau Montelena a few years ago; more winery than wine related: 2 Haiku Montelena Island pagoda, now, the goose and I are one. Hand me a cracker. Turtles in the sun, fat carp fishing for handouts. Don't play koi with me! Another, more of the moment than of the wine... Lakeside August Sky clad and sun screened, my backside for her pillow. The wine warms quickly.
  10. A most excellent offline tasting was held on the eve of Super Bowl XXXVIV, with members of the Michigan contingent of the Wine Spectator Online Forums in attendance. (Those forums are not “real names” required, so that protocol is not observed in this report.) The gathering was hosted by Mr. and Mrs. slapshot, and attendees included Thomas23162, WineO, K. Syrah, zinfanman, napacat, 69lafite and a host of friends and loved ones. bez780 was sorely missed, all the more so for contributing a 1997 Chateau Montellena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and a 1996 Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepages, as well as a variety of Michigan cheeses. The theme of the event was “US red wines with a WS or RP rating of 95 or better and ready to drink now,” and it was an impressive lineup indeed. There wasn’t a dog in the bunch, and everything paired well with K. Syrah’s pork loin roast and napacat’s slow-cooked leg of lamb, not to mention a variety of other victuals, including some killer venison mini-skewers. Upon arrival, we wasted little time getting right to the wine and food; here are my “snapshot” notes on the wines I tasted: 1987 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% alc.: Slightly murky, rusty dark garnet, not showing much on the nose, but nice dusty cocoa, black currant and cassis flavors show some earthy undertones. Thick and a little chunky, with some fuzzy heat on the finish. Still tannic? Yes, but not so much so that you can’t appreciate and enjoy it now. 1982 Silver Oak Alexander, 12.9% alc.: Rusty ruby garnet, with caramel, toffee, red currant, black cherry and just a hint of sour milk on the nose; flavors echo nicely, losing the sour moo juice, with a very soft mouth feel that one taster described as “like butter.” Shows true Cabernet character with a bit of earth underneath it all – smooth, rich, long and harmonious. 1990 Dominus, 13% alc.: Slightly rusty dark garnet, with a slightly funky, earthy cassis and black currant bouquet accented with hints of cedar and toffee. napacat described this as “years from being ready,” and while it is still tannic, I enjoyed it for what it is, being thick, full – bodied and quite Bordeaux – like, with a long fin. K.Syrah, WineO and zinfanman described this with a single word, “testosterone.” Delish with the venison skewers. 1996 Dominus, 14.1% alc.: Dark garnet, showing a bit of rust, with deep, dense and concentrated flavors and aromas of black currant and licorice, shaded with subtle overtones of oak and hints of aquarium and cedar. Thick and rich, there’s still a good dose of tannins here, but it drinks well with some air. It’s “more California” than the ’90, according to napacat. 1988 Opus One, 12.5% alc.: A slightly rusty ruby garnet, with big, lovely cassis, black and red currants, cedar and tobacco on both nose and palate; rich and luscious, with tannins mostly resolved and a long creamy finish. Very smooth and a real pleasure to drink, especially with the slow cooked lamb. 1994 Beringer Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve, 13.3% alc.: Dark garnet, with just a hint of rust; toasty cedar, black cherry and cassis nose, and bright flavors that really show the oak, but not adversely for this taster. Sweet and lovely, ultra smooth and creamy, with fully resolved tannins. 1985 Beringer Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve, 13.5% alc.: Slightly rusty dark garnet, with a little sour milk and spice that somewhat obscures the black and red fruit on the nose; on the palate, black and red currants, black cherry and sweet spice, with just a hint of mustiness. Surprisingly, not quite as smooth as the ’94, but still works well with the roast pork loin. 1997 Viader, 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Cabernet Franc, 13.5% alc.: Dark garnet, fading to pink at the rim; fragrant spicy cassis and blackberry with a nice kiss of oak on the nose. Flavors echo, with notes of tobacco and chocolate, along with moderate, unobtrusive tannins that show the most on the fin. Very nice; more fruit forward and less Bordeaux – like than a recently tasted '94. 1997 Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% alc.: Dark garnet, fading to pink at the rim, with aquarium, earth, a little tar, black currant and cassis character; rich, medium full to full – bodied, a sleek, classic Montelena. This needs lots of time, but it’s all here, so try again in 3 – 5 years. 1996 Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepages, 14.4% alc.: An inky garnet, fading to pink, with chocolate, black currant, blackberry and plum flavors and aromas; rich, smooth and creamy, and for me, surprisingly enjoyable, since I’ve never been a fan of this blend, but then it WAS WS WOTY, so it HAS to be good, right? Still showing some tannins, so this can sit a while longer. 1999 Turley Hayne Vineyard Zinfandel, 16.8% alc: I’ve rarely met a Turley that I didn’t like, and this deep, dark garnet is no exception; an effusive, jammy nose of black raspberry, mulberry and blueberry almost explodes from the glass and on to the palate with that big, classic character that’s so distinctive and typical of this producer. Showing just a little heat on the finish, but not enough to bother this taster. Classic Turley! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to the 2001 Peter Franus Cabernet Sauvignon or the 2002 Lewis Alec’s Blend before they were drained, so I can’t give impressions of those, but by all accounts, they were very well received. Just as we were about to leave, slapshot opened a 2002 Pride Cabernet Sauvignon, and while my notebook and pen were already put away for the night, I can relate my surprise at how rich, fruit forward and delicious it is for so young a wine. Not particularly tannic, this isn’t just approachable, it’s downright drinkable, and made for a terrific end to a delightful evening. Many thanks to Mr. and Mrs. slapshot for hosting this great tasting, and to all who attended for their contributions of great wine, great food and good cheer. This is a fun group to hang out with, and we’re looking forward to future encounters of the wine kind with them. Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  11. They charge what they have to, Curley, and the highest priced wines are the first ones to sell out. Fancy that...
  12. Jim and Rae Lee Lester stopped in to see us recently during one of their promotional visits to Day-twah, and they brought along samples of their latest bottlings. We've been very enthusiastic about the wines of Wyncroft since we first tasted them last winter, so we were geeked to see what their new bottlings were like. As always, Jim and Rae Lee are very upbeat about their mission to produce world class wines in southwestern Michigan, and once again, they've succeeded admirably. As Jim explained, "We have this gorgeous Michigan fruit. People have to understand, Michigan doesn't have to take a back seat to anyplace on this planet for the quality of fruit that we can grow. We've got the terroir, we've got everything." The three wines we tasted with them are young and tight, but even so, their quality and potential is unmistakable. We started off with the Chardonnay. 2000 Wyncroft Lake Michigan Shore Chardonnay Avonlea, $30, 14.6% alc.: As Jim poured glasses of this greenish gold Chardonnay, he remarked that it had been uncorked for about two hours and had needed the time to open up. It exudes a lovely, effusive bouquet of spicy, toasty oak over honeyed tropical fruit, with flavors to match. Well chilled, the flavors run more in the tropical - pineapple spectrum, but as it warms in the glass, sweet apple, pear and praline come to the fore; Jim mentions buttered toast and fresh baked cookies from the malolactic fermentation. The wine is well structured (Jim says it'll age ten years and more from the vintage date), exhibiting a deep, rich viscosity, and some mineral emerges on the long, lingering finish. Barrel fermented, using native Burgundy yeast, in Allier forest, medium - plus - toasted barrels (25% new, 25% one - year old and 50% older), it went through full malolactic fermentation, with battonage every two weeks, then remained on the lees for two years. (Jim remarked, "I think leaving it on the lees for a long time creates harmoniousness in all of the flavors that is hard to get if you're in a rush.") Its best days are ahead of it, but unfortunately, it's sold out at the winery; however, you can enjoy this delicious Chardonnay at some of Michigan's finest restaurants, including the Five Lakes Grill (recently awarded Restaurant of the Year by the Detroit Free Press) in Milford, The Rattlesnake Club, in Downtown Detroit and the Unique Restaurant Group. I found it to be an excellent accompaniment to chicken shwarma sandwiches from the Pita Café‚ in Oak Park. 2002 Wyncroft Lake Michigan Shore Pinot Noir Avonlea, $45, 14.3% alc.: A smoky ruby garnet in color, fading at the rim, this shows sweet, smoky black cherry and Asian five spice on the nose, with like flavors that gain a note of rhubarb, along with what Jim describes as "a little bit of tree bark flavor that's typical of young Pinot tannins." This has a good dose of those fine tannins to take it well down the road (although the Lesters feel that it should be hitting its stride in about a year), and as it warms in the glass, some brown spice emerges to add complexity and charm. The wine paints a broad swath across the palate, with no holes in the middle, and shows very fine potential indeed. It was made from a mix of Hanzell, Joseph Swan, Chalone and Mahoney clones, along with a majority of Dijon clone 777; after three weeks maceration, it spent two years in barrel, half new, and half in one - year old Alliers, then very recently was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Only two barrels (55 cases) were produced. 2002 Wyncroft Lake Michigan Shore Shou Red Table Wine, 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, $45, 13% alc.: The tight, youthful character of this Bordeaux blend was obvious from the first sip, but then, it was bottled just two weeks before we tasted it. Showing a deep, dark garnet color, fading at the rim, it offers up a lovely perfume of sweet oak, balsa, cassis, blackberry and black cherry that echoes beautifully in the flavors with some added sweet spice, and hints of mint. Jim noted chocolate and cocoa powder on the finish, and as the wine opens dramatically in the glass, something like a wild, brambly blueberry and even a little raspberry emerge. It needs a year or so to come together, but promises to be every bit as good as the previous model. Fermented with Bordeaux yeast, macerated for more than three weeks to extract fine tannins according to classical French technique, then gently pressed and aged in new Nevers medium - plus toasted barrels for 26 months. Click here for our full Gang of Pour feature, including added Wyncroft background, images and comments from the Lesters. Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  13. Interesting that the Catena Malbec is $21 to $24 Cdn up there, and around the same price in US greenbacks here. We sell it at the place I work, but I haven't had the opportunity to try it yet. I'll have to do that soon and report back. FYI, a friend of mine here has been sipping on the '03 Clos de los Siete over the last three nights, and says it just keeps getting better, with no oxidation whatsoever. Don't think we saw the '02 hereabouts. Ciao 4 now, geo
  14. This wine has created something of a sensation in the last few weeks in the Detroit area. Retailers and customers alike are raving about it and bottles are flying off of shelves wherever it’s stocked. Two reps that I’ve spoken with from AHD Vintners, the distributor handling the wine in this market, report 100% sales rates; in other words, every retailer that they’ve tasted this with has bought it. Putnam Weekley thinks enough of this to have devoted the whole of his Putnam’s Monthly column on the Gang of Pour site to musings and ruminations about this single wine. For those as of yet unfamiliar with Clos de los Siete, it’s a joint project of seven fairly high profile French investors, headed by that international wine whiz bang Michel Rolland, who’ve sunk millions into creating seven Bodegas in the Mendoza region of Argentina. The wine is made from vines that were planted in 1999, and shows remarkable density such for such youthful provenance. I had the opportunity to taste this with the distributor, and then I bought three bottles for further consideration. Here’s what I’ve come up with on it: 2003 Clos de los Siete Mendoza by Michel Rolland, 40% Malbec, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 20% Syrah, $15, 14.5% alc.: Opaque purple garnet in color, with little if any fading to pink at the rim, this is one seriously dense glass of wine. It exudes aromas of chocolate, mulberry, dark plum and even some ripe blackberry, with overtones of balsa or something reminiscent of a woodshop. The flavors echo and expand upon these themes, with a rich, dense, extracted character that seems almost plump. A few years worth of tannins show mostly on the finish, but can’t detract from the engaging, in – your – face fruit forward profile of the wine. Unabashedly international in style, and if that’s your bag, you’ll love this; Michel Rolland bashers (and you know who you are) will have plenty, no, make that copious gobs of reasons for further naysaying. I can appreciate this for what it is, and yes, I can even enjoy it, else I wouldn’t have brought some home, but ultimately, it’s not what I’d want to drink with my steak or even my burger. It was a brief, though fun flirtation, but now I’ll go back to the kind of wines I can drink every day. Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  15. -From Panther Creek Redux Panther Creek winemaker Michael Stevenson liked our notes on some of his ’98 and ’99 Pinot Noirs, so he sent us four of his ’02 models and a couple from his side project, Stevenson-Barrie. For brevity’s sake, only the Panther Creeks are noted here. We tasted these with noted Psychopomp Bill Schwab and his squeeze Tami; the wines were enjoyed with some killer grilled pork loin skewers, grilled salmon, purple potato gratin, and cauliflower gratin. 2002 Panther Creek Willamette Pinot Noir Bednarik Vineyard, $41.99, 13% alc.: Dark garnet, fading to pink at the rim, this takes another fifteen minutes to open in the glass and really show what it has, even after decanting, offering very nice black cherry, blackberry, plum, smoke, cola and subtle underbrush characteristics; Bill added impressions of "peppered raspberry and a little bubble gum." This is very smooth on the palate, being medium full - bodied, with great balance and a nice density to it. There are fine, silky tannins and good acidity to take this some years down the road, and yet it drinks very well already. 2002 Panther Creek Willamette Pinot Noir Freedom Hill Vineyard, $41.99, 13% alc.: About this smoky tinged ruby dark garnet, the Psychopomp opined, "It's much sweeter to the nose (than the Bednarik), with sort of a jasmine thing." A bit less dense and heavy than the previous selection, this features very pretty black cherry and plum flavors and aromas, but like the first wine, it's silky smooth, with fine tannins and excellent balance; with extended air, a hint of maple syrup emerges. Bill remarked, "If I didn't know better, I'd say it saw whole berry fermentation, it has that carbonic maceration thing." Whether that's the case or not, this is one very fine Pinot Noir, and it will only get better over the next three to five years. 2002 Panther Creek Willamette Pinot Noir Shea Vineyard, $41.99, 13% alc.: A deep dark garnet in color; Bill found it "much darker than the Bednarik or Freedom Hill, with more black and blue fruit," and I agreed, adding an impression of licorice. The wine almost comes off being more Syrah - like than Pinot, with black plum, blackberry and black cherry character, shaded with a note of lavender and a little roofing tar. Kim found it to be "not as elegant as the last two," and while she has a point, this is still a silky smooth and well - balanced wine on a medium full - bodied frame. 2002 Panther Creek Willamette Pinot Noir Nysa Vineyard, $41.99, 13% alc.: A slightly smoky tinged ruby garnet in color, this shows considerable oak, with a lot of toast on the nose and the palate, seemingly at the expense of fruit. Bill says it "smells like rotting flowers," and Kim added, "It tastes like nutmeg and apple pie spices." As it opens, it shows a little root beer - sarsaparilla and burnt rubber to go with all the toast. Like the others, this is silky smooth, with good aging potential, but "the lack of fruit is what drops this out of the sexy category," according to Mr. Schwab, who, as a longtime fan of Panther Creek Nysa Pinot, finds this one disappointing. However, he added that he has tasted this on another occasion recently, and that bottle showed much more fruit, and "even some blossom." Despite some concern about the fruit in the Nysa, we are generally quite impressed with these four. I especially like the silky elegance they all show, much more so that the '98s and '99 we tried a few months ago. As stated in the notes, these are already quite approachable with air, but we all feel that they'd be best left to age in the cellar for at least a few years. As Bill put it, "These are all about promise, and I don't like to drink promise, I like to drink wine." Click here for our full report, including notes on the two Stevenson-Barrie Pinots and a beautiful '99 Panther Creek King's Gambit Vineyard Pinot, along with comments and background information from Michael Stevenson. Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  16. After an all - too - brief but enjoyable experience with the Ripassos of Masi not long ago, I got to thinking that it might be fun to not only get to know them a little better, but to explore the varieties of the "refermentation" experience. As it turns out, there are several "ripassos" available here in Day-twah, so it was easy enough to gather six of them for sampling. We weren't up for a big blind tasting, or even tasting them all at the same time with eyes wide open, so we opted instead to evaluate (and enjoy) them in a series of casual one - on - one tasteoffs. Masi claims the name "Ripasso" as its own, having so registered it, and while some producers also use the term on their labels (Tommasi and Castellani), others skirt the issue by changing a single letter (Zenato's Ripassa) or avoiding the matter entirely (Allegrini's Palazzo della Torre ®). All however are made with a variation of the refermentation method, in which the basic wine undergoes a second fermentation on the residual pomace of the dried grapes used to make Amarone, the resulting "Ripasso" gaining increased color, alcohol, complexity, structure and fruit. The first matchup pitted the 2001 Masi Campofiorin against 2001 Zenato Ripassa. Both provided nice accompaniment to Kim's mushroom and chicken sausage dinner omelet and whole wheat toast drizzled with olive oil. This proved to be as much a matchup of glasses as wines, as we started with Speiglau Chianti glasses, then moved on to Speiglau Bordeaux stems. 2001 Masi Campofiorin Ripasso ® Nectar Rosso del Veronese I.G.T., 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 5% Molinara, $14.99, 13% alc.: This is pretty much as I remember it from a few months ago, showing black cherries, some chocolate and a little earth and tar, though little, if any of the raisiny notes that seemed apparent previously. The nose is pretty, if not that effusive, but this certainly showed better than the Zenato in that regard. It's less concentrated in the mouth, however, with medium intensity, and missing a little something in the mid - palate and on the finish. A second glass showed considerably better in the Bordeaux glass than the Chianti, with the aromatics being particularly more pronounced. All in all, a nice wine of medium intensity, not very complex, but perfectly fine on its own terms. Imported by Remy Amerique Inc., New York, NY 2001 Zenato Ripassa Valpolicella Superiore D.O.C., $19.99, 13.5% alc.: No specific information is available regarding varietal composition or production technique, other than that it goes through the "refermentation" process, with selected lots of Valpolicella being "re - passed" on the Amarone pomace. Kim nailed this one when she exclaimed, "Boy, is this wine black!" It's an impenetrable purplish inky garnet, and it is very stingy on the nose, showing little in either glass, but like the Campofiorin, it gives more of everything in the Bordeaux glass than the Chianti. And while it's not all that complex, it is more expressive in the flavor department, with big, rich, ripe, almost creamy cherry and black cherry, accented with a little chocolate, tar and just a hint of raisin. A bit of a tannic, acidic bite smoothes out with extended air, and the wine finishes well. Rich and juicy, almost jammy, this is clearly the better tasting of the two for Kim and this taster, even if it does come up short on the nose. Imported by Winebow, Inc., New York, NY The second pairing featured the 2000 Castellani Ripasso against the 2000 La Casetta, and we didn't mess around with the Chianti glasses this time. Both wines went well with an "everything in the fridge" dinner omelet and garlic toast. 2000 Michele Castellani Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso San Michele, $21.99, 13% alc.: A deep dark garnet in color, shading to purple at the rim, with a bit o' the barnyard on the nose that blows off to reveal big, grapey black cherry and black raspberry aromas, and equally big flavors that echo loudly. It's not all that complex, but it IS ballsy, and not too tannic, on a medium full - bodied frame. Some hints of underbrush and tobacco come out with air, and if it could finish a little stronger, that's small potatoes in the larger picture. Imported by Bedford International, Larchmont, NY 2000 La Casetta Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso, $19.99, 13.5% alc.: An almost opaque purple garnet, this is another one with a big grapey personality, showing earth and tar over lots of black cherry and blackberry flavors and aromas on a moderately tannic, medium full - bodied frame. With air, a note of root beer makes itself known, and Kim mentions a little bacon. This one's a little earthier than the Castellani, though a little less full, but otherwise, there's not much to choose between the two; they're both smooth, fun and easy to enjoy. The penultimate matchup was arguably the best, with the 2000 Tommasi "Ripasso" tasting off against the 2000 Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre ®. These served quite well as burger wines, but then I've had Ridge Monte Bello that did the same. 2000 Tommasi Valpolicella Superiore "Ripasso," 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 10% Molinara, $21.99, 13% alc.: This dark garnet shows big ripe, spicy blackberry, black cherry and black plum flavors and aromas, shaded with notes of leather and root beer - cola; tannins are soft, acids are good without being too racy and it finishes nicely. What's not to like here?! Very nice indeed. Imported by Rolar Imports. Ltd., Great Neck, NY 2000 Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre ®, Veronese IGT, 70% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella, 5% Sangiovese, $15.99, 13.5% alc.: Very much as we remember it from the previous times we've had it, this breaks with tradition with the inclusion of 5% Sangiovese in place of Molinara, and maybe that's what gives it just a little more of everything than the others here have, a little more leather, a little more root beer - cola and more depth and concentration to the black cherry, blackberry and black currant personality. This one always pleases. Imported by Winebow, Inc., New York, NY Just when we thought we had a winner in our most un - scientific of tasteoffs, up jumps Dan McDonald from Viviano Wine Importers in Dearborn, Michigan with a bottle that we had yet to try. We put it up against our favorite, and here's what we came up with. 2001 Tedeschi Capitel San Rocco I.G.T., 25% Corvina 20% Corvione 45% Rondinella 10% Molinara, Rossignola and Sangiovese, $21, 13.5% alc.: A deep, dark garnet, with a slightly dusty quality to it (Kim says it smells like a dusty closet); this shows good flavors and aromas of ripe cherry, black cherry and some earthy notes; as it opens, hints of tobacco, leather and tar make themselves known. Moderate tannins and zippy acidity give this just a bit of a bite, but all in all, it's a solid wine that lacks the depth and intensity of the Palazzo Della Torre, but with some nice complexities to compensate. Dreyfus, Ashby and Co., New York, NY Finally, while our methods might be suspect, I doubt that many who have tasted these wines would argue with the fact that all of them are quite enjoyable, with the Masi Campofiorin lagging slightly behind the pack and the other five pretty much on the same level, half a step behind the front runner. (We might have substituted Masi's Brolo de Campofiorin for the less expensive Campofiorin, but a local distributor rep who shall remain nameless failed to deliver on a promised bottle, and besides, this "competition" wasn't exactly held under laboratory conditions, so let there be slack.) While most basic Valpolicella is a little too tame for our tastes, the "refermentation" process beefs it up into something that we can sink our teeth into, something that we can come back to again and again. Maybe our system for picking a favorite out of this bunch leaves something to be desired, but pick a favorite we did, and it's the Palazzo Della Torre. Anyway, that's our story, and we're stickin' to it. (Click here for the full Gang of Pour treatment of this commentary.) Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  17. Actually, most of our East Coast friends tend to heavily favor (but not always) Euro wines (French/Italian/Austrian/German), whilst our west coast buddies tend to bend more towards (but not always) west coast and down under vino. If there's an east - west palate split, that's the biggest one I see. But it's by no means a clear split. I think there's more being made out of this then there ought to be. Just my 2 oz., geo
  18. Yeah, so did I. Interesting what's not available where, eh?
  19. The '02 is $75 a bottle from the winery, if you're on the mailing list.
  20. Chiming in late here, and like Redwinger, I'm stuck in the middle of the country, so I'll drink anything you put in front of me, as long as it's good...
  21. Only one of these I've been able to locate locally is a '99, and from what I read, this is not a wine that's made to drink 5 years after the vintage date, especially with so-so storgage at best. I'll keep looking... Ciao 4 now, geo
  22. I’m a little surprised that I don’t see more notes on Jarvis, considering the quality of their wines. Maybe it’s because they’re not steroidal oak and fruit bombs, or maybe it’s just that they fly beneath a lot of people’s radar. We tasted these two at a wine tasting disguised as a birthday party this past weekend, and I was mucho impressed, having only tasted Jarvis Cabernet once before; here are my Saturday Snapshots. 1994 Jarvis Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, 13% alc.: Dark garnet, with no rust to speak of; dusty cassis and black currant nose. Flavors echo very nicely with a dry Bordeaux-like character, rather than Napanese, and a little tree bark on the back end. Smooth and lovely, and still not at its peak, and drinking very well right now. Richer and more delicious as it opens, or as my friend Karwyn Abrams put it, “gooder and gooder!” 1996 Jarvis Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, 14% alc.: Deep, dark garnet, with a subtle perfume of cassis and black currant, with a perfect kiss of oak in the background. Flavors echo and expand with a note of tobacco in the corner; this is another one with a more Bordeaux-type personality than Napanese, and it too is still on the way up. So smooth, so fine, so delicious. Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  23. geo t.


    I'll take two!
  24. Hey Rebel Rose..., I mean Mary Baker, no hey problema! Sorry to get back to you so late, but your post came on my wife Kim's birthday, and we were understandably (I hope) distracted. Post your notes when you can; we're looking forward to the data points. Best regards, geo
  25. 1988 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Chateauneuf du Pape, $19.99, 11 – 14% alc.: Sharlan Douglas found this hiding in her cellar, the last of a batch of ’88 and ’89 CdPs she invested in a decade or more ago, and she and her husband Ken Hebenstreit brought it over to share with us on New Years Eve. A rusty dark garnet in color, it’s a little musty (in a good way) at first, gradually opening to show classic Chateauneuf characteristics of smoke, cola, leather, earth, cedar – mahogany and a hint of something like brass over sweet plum and prune on both flavor and aroma. Velvety smooth on the palate, with modest tannins at best, fairly low acidity and a long finish, the wine is lush, rich and delicious, easily one of the finest CdPs any of the four of us have ever had. It made a wonderful match for Kim’s confit of veal breast with garlic mashed potatoes, caramelized pearl onions, wild mushrooms (porcini and morel) and veal sauce reduction. My poor words simply cannot do justice to this marvelous, mature Vieux Télégraphe. Bravo! Imported by Kermit Lynch, Wine Merchant – Berkeley, CA Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
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