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geo t.

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  1. 2000 Gaja Barbaresco D.O.C.G., 14% alc.: This ruby garnet colored beauty is "fifteen years from drinkability," according to Vince Falzone (of Paterno Wines International), who rightly describes it as "so primary," but after three and a half hours in a decanter, it's actually approachable. The nose is all about sweet oak over dried cherry, black cherry and hints of chocolate; one person describes the bouquet as "candy." Deep, dark and fairly dense, the flavors echo with added notes of tar, licorice and underbrush, along with deceptively silky tannins and zippy acidity that almost give it a peppery quality. The same taster exclaimed "It doesn't need food, I can sip this alone," but in fact, it made a fine match for the veal medallions (with mushroom pate, served in a raisin port reduction, along with eggplant puree with zucchini flowers), despite its youth. Powerful, yet elegant and refined, this great wine deserves to sleep for a long time, in order for that greatness to become fully realized. - from Wines of Gaja at La Dolce Vita, Tasting Notes from the Underground Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  2. Geo, I just got to try the '92 for the first time last week when Chris Gross came to town. Really beautiful stuff. Initially I found it fairly muted on the nose, but it really got gorgeous with some time in the glass. Quite the experience! Thanks for the notes, Jean Jean, there's a reason that Chairman Moe wears that Got Chave hat! This was the second time that we've had the opportunity to try the '92, and both times, we've found it to be quite enjoyable, especially considering the vintage. Cheers, geo
  3. The party was at Anne and Putnam Weekley’s place, and the unofficial theme turned out to be Barolo, which is a good thing, since Kim and I have been exploring these lately. We were accompanied by “Cousin” Larry Meehan, in town for a few nights of modest revelry. There was plenty of great food, including braised veal cheeks, liver pate, mushroom pasta, platters of summer vegetables, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, polenta with mushrooms and caramelized onions and much more. Larry got us started with something white. 1998 Sanct Valentin Pinot Grigio Alto Adige, 13% alc.: This medium straw is probably the finest example of the varietal that I’ve ever had the pleasure to taste, with its floral apple, pear and lemon rind character; in fact, the rich, ripe flavors actually elicited a “wow” from this taster. A soft herbal component adds interest and enjoyment, and I can only wish that we could find this in the Detroit market. Larry says that it’s produced biodynamically, and showed more barrel character last year than it does now. A delicious wine, and in no danger of fading any time soon. Imported by Siena Imports, San Francisco, CA 1994 Paulo Scavino Barolo Bric del Fiasc, 13.5% alc.: This slightly bricked ruby garnet shows smoke, leather, sour cherry and prune in both flavor and aroma; a little tobacco emerges as it opens and Larry added impressions of mineral and rust. Sleek and smooth, the wine still has some moderate tannins to shed, along with balanced acidity and a nice finish, and while it’s drinking very well now, it has at least a few years of improvement left. Very nice indeed! Imported by Vin Divino, Ltd., Chicago, IL 1990 Ceretto Bricco Rocche Barolo Prapo, 13.5% alc.: There’s just a hint of rust to the dark garnet color here, and when I voiced impressions of cedar, mahogany, smoke and sour cherry, Putnam added “…turning into some kind of cinnamon fudge.” (Wasn’t that a rock band from the late ‘60s?) One taster added impressions of “figs and cream,” while another described it as being “in great shape, a beautiful wine.” There’re still tannins to resolve, but it opens very nicely in the glass; at fourteen years old, this one’s still on the way up. Imported by International Vintage Wine Co., Hartford, CT 1986 Roagna Barbaresco, 13% alc.: Ruby garnet, with just a hint of rust, this shows a little bit of the barnyard along with anise and floral dried cherries on the nose, and even more of the cherry character in the mouth. One taster found it reminiscent of red Burgundy, while Larry called it “light and pretty,” and indeed, it’s not as big or as powerful as the Barolos. Still, it’s very nice in its own regard, and while there are still some soft tannins, it would probably be best to drink up over the next year or so. Imported by Chateau St. Jean, Kenwood, CA 1998 Voerzio Barbera d’Alba Reserva, 14.5% alc.: Tom Natoci opened this inky purple – garnet as a mystery wine, and Putnam pegged it as barbera fairly quickly; it’s all about tar and chocolate on the nose, with blackberry and black plum in support. The big, chewy flavors echo loudly, and it’s not too tannic to drink now. While the “chocolate” speaks to the “international style,” the fruit is so dense, dark and intense. Certainly a horse of a different color compared to the nebbiolos. Imported by Winebow Inc., New York, NY 1995 Seghesio Barolo La Villa, 13.9% alc.: Dark garnet in color, with smoke and tobacco over black plum and dried cherry on both the nose and palate, and earth and leather underneath it all in the mouth; it turns almost floral as it opens. Tannins are moderate and don’t get in the way of enjoying this tonight, and if it’s not quite as impressive as the Bric del Fiasc or the Prapo, it’s still a fine, fine Barolo on its own terms. Imported by Vin Divino, Ltd., Chicago, IL 1997 Vietti Barolo Rocche, 14% alc.: Initially rather stingy on the nose, this dark garnet gradually gives up more and more black cherry shaded with subtle tobacco and chocolate; the fruit is sweet in the mouth and seems to show a little oak. I waited for this to open in the bottle, and after an hour and a half, the significant tannins had toned down nicely, making for a smooth, balanced Barolo that’s nice to drink now, and should be even better in five years or so. Putnam describes this as “stoney.” Imported by Premiere Wine Merchants, New York, NY At this point, I had made my way through the Piedmont wines that were on the table, but there were some nice things from France that deserved some attention. 2002 Denis Mortet Gevrey – Chambertin, 13% alc.: This dark garnet is another one that probably benefited from an hour an a half of air before I got to it, as it shows a pretty smoky black cherry bouquet accented with sweet oak and chocolate nuances. Flavors echo nicely, and this is quite approachable, if still very primary. Imported by Martine’s Wines, Inc., Novato, CA 1999 J.L. Chave Hermitage, 13% alc.: Putnam pulled this deep dark garnet out in response to the ’92 that Larry brought along, and it’s a powerful young monster, all matchstick, black fruit and underbrush. Upon her first sip, Kim uttered, “Wow, it’s huge!” Larry commented, “It’s very compelling, it keeps drawing you in.” Still, I would counsel leaving this alone until it’s at least ten years of age, for its own good, if not yours. 1992 J.L. Chave Hermitage, 13% alc.: Showing little if any rust, this dark garnet almost smells corked when first poured, but the consensus of opinion was that it isn’t, as that “woody” aspect either blows off or morphs into a barnyard, aquarium, black fruit and underbrush character; Putnam added impressions of “exotic ginger and tree bark.” Soft, smooth and very harmonious, this really fleshes out with air, and is drinking very nicely at this time. J.L. Chave Hermitage Imported by Langdon Shiverick, Cleveland Ohio 1998 Chateau de Valflaunes Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint – Loup “Favorite”, 14% alc.: An inky garnet colored wine, this shows serious road tar and matchstick on the nose, with black currant – like fruit coming to the fore in the flavors. Dry, not quite reserved and not too tannic, this opens dramatically in the glass, and strikes me as a leg o’ lamb kind of wine. Good stuff. Imported by Hand Picked Selections, Warrenton, VA 1998 Jean Luc Colombo Cornas La Louvée, 13.5% alc.: Deep dark garnet, and all road tar, matchstick and barnyard at this point. Let it sleep for several years. Imported by Premiere Wine Merchants, New York, NY Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  4. We don't do a lot of Cabernet at our house, but when we do, we like to do it right. It was our first chance to get together with Alan Kerr aka Canadian Zinfan since his mum, Sylvia had arrived from jolly old England, so we used the occasion to open something good. There may have been a birthday involved as well, but since we stopped counting those some time ago, we would have popped the corks on these beauties anyway. 1986 Silverado Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Stag’s Leap District Limited Reserve, 13% alc.: There’s still not much rust to the deep dark garnet color here, but there’s plenty of dust on the nose, along with rich cabernet cassis and black currant. Flavors echo so nicely, with what Alan describes as “autumn leaves, forest and mineral, but not under ripe” fruit, adding impressions of “that honey comb cereal toastiness and a touch of dried mint leaves.” The wine is mature, with mostly resolved tannins and a smooth, harmonious texture, but without any tertiary characteristics. Very nice indeed. 1993 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve, 14.1% alc.: Alan found this dark garnet Cal claret to be “very oak focused,” while Kim immediately commented that it’s “a little poopy,” and there is a certain barnyard quality in the aromatics, but it blows off to reveal a creamy note over the cassis, black currant and blackberry bouquet. Kerr kept up about the oak, adding that it’s “a touch overdone, with a creamy coat of tannin; the fruit might show through a little more in three or four years.” However, I find the oak to be well integrated, lending a cedary element, and the cream comes out more with a bite of the delicious lamb chops hot off the Weber grill. Drinking very well right now, but as CZ suggests, it’ll be even better in three or four years. I’m not a big fan of Beringer, but I really enjoy this wine, as I did at last year’s MoCool. 1990 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, 13.5% alc.: Kim liked this dark garnet, explaining that “it’s more French in style than the others,” and she has a point; I’ve always enjoyed Mondavi cabs for just that reason. This one shows lovely flavors and aromas of sea air, black currant, cedar and herbs, with fully resolved tannins, a smooth mouthfeel and what Kerr describes as “that little meaty, fleshy quality to it,” adding “I like the nose on this more than the other two.” This one is right there, right now, a real wine with no tricks and no gimmicks, and it was the unanimous favorite of these three delicious wines. 1990 Castello Banfi Summus, 13% alc.: I opened this old friend because it seemed like the right thing to do, but it’s certainly in no danger of falling into decline any time soon. Alan picked up on one element of the wine immediately, exclaiming “Wow, I could have sworn that it was a syrah,” and in fact, there is some syrah blended in with the sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon. It’s progressing nicely, exhibiting earth, wood (but not oak), leather and fruit, in that order. Alan found it reminiscent of a Côtes du Rhône, whilst I got a big Bordeaux – like plumminess underneath the considerable soft secondary action. CZ went on a roll with descriptors such as “so smoky and pure vanillin, smoked meat, coal dust, blue John (flint), a salty gaminess, black pepper, black currant and blackberry.” Another “real” wine, and as good as any of the others tasted on this occasion, but of course, with its own unique characteristics that sets it apart, this is drinking wonderfully well, and should continue to do so for some years yet. Imported by Banfi Vintners, Old Brookville, NY Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  5. Thanks for the kind words, petite tête de chou. It sounds like we're on the same page with regard to these fine, fine wines. Cheers, geo
  6. 2000 Domaine Séguinot Bordet Chablis, $17.99, 12.5% alc.: This medium straw is one satisfying Chablis, with a minerality that's more reminiscent of chalky wet stone than slate or flint, and these characteristics dominate the rich apple and pear fruit in the flavors and aromas, with a subtle hint of cream underneath it all on the palate. Medium full bodied, with good acidity and good presence, and while it doesn't have the longest finish, neither is it particularly short, and here is where the chalkiness becomes most apparent. The more I taste wines like this, the more I love them. Good value for the money, and one of our go-to house whites. Imported by J et R Selections, Mount Pleasant, MI Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  7. While we were enjoying these two wines recently, I looked at Kim and said, “You know, when I taste wines like these, it occurs to me that pinot noir is my favorite varietal.” She agreed with me completely. 1995 Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir Lauréne, $44.99, 13% alc.: This slightly rusty ruby garnet throws a beautiful smoky black cherry and rose petal perfume with a subtle note of cola; I just want to sit and inhale the aromatics for hours. Flavors echo with soft tannins, good acidity and hints of forest floor in the background. Very smooth on the palate; feminine, almost delicate, and rather Burgundian in character, this shows an elegant balance, and if it could finish just a little longer, that’s a very small complaint. This is ultimately my preferred style of pinot noir, and a very fine example of such. 1996 Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir Lauréne, $44.99, 13% alc.: With the same basic ruby garnet color as the ’95, and a little less rust, this sports a richer smoky plum and black cherry bouquet, with a bit of the barnyard that blows off fairly soon after pouring. It’s also a little bigger and richer in the mouth, with little hints of coffee lurking in the background, and yet it’s just as silky smooth, feminine and “Burgundian” as the earlier model. The tannins are unobtrusive, so you can enjoy this now, and over the next few years. Kim likes this one a little better than the last, for its richer intensity, while it’s a toss – up for this taster. Again, not the longest finish here, but that’s small potatoes in the larger scope of what is another fine, fine effort from Domaine Drouhin. Click here for the full report on the varieties of the pinot noir experience at Gang Central this summer. Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  8. geo t.

    WTN: Pinot-centric

    We hosted an evening of food and wine not long ago, the focal point being Pinot Noir. Our guests were Carol and Dan Myers and Anne and Putnam Weekley. There was a big spread of pinot – friendly food, including various cheeses, pates, breads, sesame encrusted tuna steak and a variety of specialty sausages. We started with something pink and bubbly. Renardat-Fâche Vin du Bugey Cerdon, 7.5% alc.: The Bugey is one of the smallest, most obscure wine areas in France, located halfway between Lyons and Geneva, and this particular bubbly is made from Gamay and Poulsard. It shows a little deeper salmon pink color than many rosés (bubbly or otherwise), exhibiting a fine bead and an in – your – face fruit forward character that’s almost, but not quite sweet. The strawberry, watermelon and cherry flavors have some density, with that solid core of fruit, nice balance and a long finish, making for an excellent aperitif. A pure expression of fruit, and a much appreciated gift from John Blackwood. Imported by LDM Wines, Inc., New York, NY 1997 Jean Raphet Chambolle – Musigny, 13% alc.: There’s just a hint of brick to the ruby garnet color here; the earthy black cherry and plum bouquet shows hints of smoke and mushroom, and if it doesn’t exactly jump right out of the glass, it presents a seductive allure nevertheless. The flavors echo and expand, with more earth, forest floor and “dirt,” according to Dan and Putnam. Still a young wine, this has tannins yet to resolve, balanced acidity, a nice finish and dare I say it, plenty of terroir. Excellent stuff. Imported by J et R Selections, Mt. Pleasant, MI 1999 Gérard Doreau Monthelie, 13% alc.: A ruby garnet with a smoky tinge, this shows some sea air, more mushroom and less dirt over the plum and black cherry bouquet than the Chambolle – Musigny, and while these impressions follow through on the palate, there’s not as deep a core of fruit as in the previous selection either. Still, it has a nice balance, matches very well with some pungent epoisse and works wonderfully with the pan seared, sesame encrusted tuna, bringing out the cherry essence of the wine. Imported by Hand Picked Selections, Warrenton, VA 1998 Evesham Wood Willamette Pinot Noir Seven Springs Vineyard, $29.99, 13% alc.: After being knocked out by the 2000 “Cuvee J” at Moe Fest 2004, I was most anxious to try this ruby dark garnet, and it more than lived up to my hopes and expectations. It shows smoky plum on the nose, with black cherry in support, along with Putnam describes as “a savory thing going on, sage and soil and roasted herbs.” The flavors follow through with added notes of mahogany and matchstick, soft tannins, balanced acidity and a very nice finish. It’s always nice to hear Kim exclaim, “I love this wine,” and indeed, what’s not to love? It doesn’t seem so “Burgundian” coming on the heels of the Burgundies, and some subtle oak translates into the mahogany already noted. But it does have that balance, that presence that seems to distinguish this producer’s wines, making Evesham Wood our most exciting winery discovery in quite some time. 1998 Belle Pente Willamette Pinot Noir Murto Reserve, $34.99: It had been too long since we’ve had any of Brian and Jill O'Donnell's fine wines, so when I ran into this (not to mention the Evesham Wood Seven Springs Pinot noted above), I jumped on a couple, and we were by no means disappointed. Darker in color than the others tasted so far, almost a dark garnet, it shows a little bit of the barnyard that blows off quickly, revealing rich, effusive aromatics of smoky black cherry and plum, along with some subtle roasted herbs, what Kim describes as “a lot of allspice and apple pie spices,” and again, a little mahogany. These follow through beautifully in the flavors with very subtle earthy undertones. Time has tempered the wine nicely; it’s not too tannic, shows good acidity and a nice finish. It’s the most fruit forward of those tasted so far, but it’s by no means a fruit bomb. What it is is a rich, delicious and satisfying glass of pinot noir, one that’s still on the way up. 2002 Loring Wine Company Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard, 14.9% alc.: Dark garnet, with big oak, big black cherry, plum, mulberry flavors and aromas shaded with some chocolate and sea air. Dense and extracted, this shows some heat and tannins, but it’s effusively fruit forward in an unabashed, in – your – face style that we find quite enjoyable. Lots of different things going on here. 2001 Beaux Freres Yamhill Pinot Noir Beaux Freres Vineyard, $85.99, 14.4% alc.: Dan pointed out that this slightly smoky ruby garnet shows some heat on the nose, along with a black cherry, pomegranate character. Like none of the others tasted on this occasion, this medium to medium full bodied wine seems a bit vegetal, and oddly balanced, drawing such impressions as “green and soapy” from Kim and “birch root, raw, uncompromising, almost like a cold climate Oregonian version of Turley” from Putnam. More than twice the price of the others, and undoubtedly the least impressive, this one’s not worth the money based on what’s in this bottle. At that point, I was through taking notes, but Putnam Weekly was able to recall these impressions with remarkable clarity. 1997 Evesham Wood Pinot Noir Cuvee J, $29.99: After thorough palate preparation from a 1997 Chambolle Musigny and a 1998 Evesham Wood Seven Springs Pinot, this had no earthy, old wine bottle funk-barrier to overcome anymore. Instead it immediately released that hard-to-describe, perfumed integration of mocha, toasted sweet spices and arid yet impeccably ripe berry fruits - the types one associates with the best Cotes de Nuits wines. We said in unison: "now that's 'wine'." It's the antidote to manufactured tasting alcohol and fruit bombs which saturate the market – jam laden monstrosities - good at grabbing attention maybe, but poor at capturing one's imagination. No, this was real wine. Each blurry, cloudy sip blanketed the palate with melting, satiny chunks of cherry, blueberry, spice and "earth." (Editor’s note: Kim and I have had this on a couple of occasions since that evening, and it is indeed delicious, though I have found it to be earthier than Putnam describes. It’s just starting to show some mature characteristics, with a solid core of what I now recognize as typical Evesham Wood pinot noir fruit, good acidity and three to five years of tannins still to resolve. However, with a few hours in a decanter, this wine sings already, showing black cherry, plum, underbrush and tea leaf character.) 1997 Carles Joguet Chinon, Clos la Dioterie, 12.5% alc.: This must have been the only wine that could have followed the Pinot. Possibly even more "real" in its wine being, all acidity was submerged by solid, packed layers of roasted herbs, sweet black cherries, and cocoa. It was a dreamy invitation to relax one's palate. Having been braced already with a younger, more acidic Rully (needs time) and cloying alcohol flavors from a cult West Coast Pinot, the only way this could be a let-down would be if it didn't have the mass and weight that those younger wines did. In fact it had more. The tannins and acids had eroded into a mossy blanket of inexplicable goodness that presented a broad profile - panoramic in its scope - and eager to reveal nuanced, delicious flavors in its interior. Wow. I was proud of the fact that, having matured myself considerably since I first tasted this wine, I was able to recognize this would be the last wine of the evening. Sure it was late. But even if it was four in the afternoon, there would be no topping this joyous drink of wine. (Editor’s note: I can only agree with Putnam here, this is everything I could want from a wine. We first tasted it in February in Toledo, and Chris Shearer was kind enough to procure three more bottles for us. It’s not only everything I remember it to be, but has even improved in the relatively brief interim. I pulled this for our final selection because I remembered it having a somewhat pinot noir – like character, and it certainly bore than out. I’ve read comments from friends for whom I have great respect to the effect that this producer has dropped some in quality since Charles Joguet is no longer involved with the winery, and I have two comments. First, I’d like to taste some of the wines from when he WAS still at the helm, and second, if this is no longer a top outfit in Chinon, I’d surely love to sample the wares from some of those who are.) Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  9. Geez Curly, I never got a response notifier here; I must o' forgot to click somethin'... I'd be happy to spend a lot more time with that Saugere; I thought it was a dandy. And yes, those mid-90s LGs need their beauty sleep. Why I oughta...
  10. Phil, these are marvelous wines, and real bargains in todays inflated, over-extracted Cal Cab marketplace, don't you think? Cheers, geo
  11. More from Chairman Moe's offline from a few weeks back: There were more "incidental" wines opened than those of the "main events," so many so that I doubt seriously whether anyone tried them all. I know that I didn't come close. By the end of the festivities, what was left was combined, so that Kim could make memorial batches of vinegar, and there were fifteen bottles of reds and whites. That should translate into plenty of vinegar! Here's what I was able to taste: Friday I've been developing a serious taste for varieties of the white Burgundy experience lately, so the first three selections were must tries. 2002 Les Heritiers de Comte Lafon Macon - Bussières Le Monsard, 13% alc.: Light straw colored, showing spice, mineral and apple flavors and aromas, being crisp and bone dry, with a chalky, stony finish. Florida Jim describes it as "lightweight," and while it may be that in comparison to the following wine, I'd be happy to have some of this in my cellar. All it needs is a few more years to develop more stones. Imported by Wines Unlimited, New Orleans, LA 2002 Eric Texier Macon Macon - Bussières Tres Vieilles Vignes, 12% alc.: Backroad Bob described this pale gold as "fat and focused at the same time," and it certainly is bigger than the Comte Lafon, with a nice density to it, less acidity than the previous wine, and a honey, butterscotch, pear and mineral profile. A big crowd pleaser. Imported by Vintner Select, Mason, OH 2001 Olivier Leflaive Chablis Valmur Grand Cru, 13% alc.: Pale to medium straw, showing flint and slate over subtle toasty oak and pear on the nose; flavors do a flip - flop with the toasty pear coming to the fore. Definitely showing its oak right now, and more and more as it opens in the glass, so give it some years to integrate. Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons, Ltd., New York, NY 2002 Clos des Alleés Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie Vieilles Vignes, 12% alc.: A pale straw, with river stones, apple, pear, subtle herbal undertones and a little chalk on the finish; bone dry, rich and delicious. Florida Jim exclaimed, "There's so much acid in it," and he most certainly meant that in a good way. A marvelous wine that more than holds its own against the Macons and Chablis, for significantly fewer dollars. Imported by LDM Wines, New York, NY 1992 J.L. Chave Hermitage Blanc, 13% alc.: Amber - gold, and quite nutty, somewhat sherried; over the hill, and not to my liking. Imported by Langdon Shivrick, Inc., Cleveland, OH 1995 J.L. Chave Hermitage Blanc, 13% alc.: Now this medium straw is more like it! Bright, honeyed melon, pear and rainwater flavors and aromas; rich and concentrated, with some mineral on the finish. I could get to know this beauty better! Imported by Langdon Shivrick Inc., Cleveland, OH 1991 La Colline d'Argent Saugere Côte - Rôtie, 12.5% alc.: This slightly rusty garnet smoky garnet throws a noticeable dose of oak over plum, blackberry, mulberry and sea air on the nose, then turns decidedly more earthy on the palate, with less obvious oak. I agree with Florida Jim, who describes this as delicious; to me, the oak is well integrated. It was, however, too much oak for Tim Thomas. Imported by New Castle Imports, Myrtle Beach, NC 1997 J.L. Chave Hermitage Rouge, 13% alc.: Dark garnet, with big smoke, new leather, black plum, black currant and blackberry flavors and aromas; still tight, but showing relatively well in comparison to the last time we had it in Cleveland. Imported by Langdon Shivrick, Cleveland Inc., OH 1990 Giovanni Cappelli Brunesco de San Lorenzo, 13.5% alc.: My first impression of this slightly rusty dark garnet was, "Mmm, real wine!" By that, I mean there were obviously no tricks used to make this; it's not in the "international" style, but rather a traditionally made one, with its earthy, leathery stewed prunes and tomatoes. It still has some tannins to lose, along with zippy acidity and a certain density on a more than medium bodied frame. This comes from right next door to Brunello, according to Cousin Larry Meehan, who poured me a taste of it. Very nice indeed! 2002 Marquis Phillips Integrity: I'm not sure if Scott Cardone was serious or not in bringing this for this crowd to try, but if he wasn't, it was a pretty expensive joke. Cousin Larry describes it as "oak wrapped grape jelly," while Kim called it "an abomination." Florida Jim opined, "There's no reason to put this in your mouth unless you wish to die," whilst I found it to be over - extracted, over - oaked and too hot for its own good. Imported by The Grateful Palate, Oxnard, CA Saturday 2001 Franck Peillot Roussette du Bugey Montagnieu Altesse "Cuvée Buster," 12.5% alc.: A pale straw with grapefruit, apple and mineral flavors; very stingy on the nose at first, but while the flavors fill out with more mineral, it doesn't give any more aromatically, once it warms some in the glass. Nice, but better if it ever grows a nose. Imported by LDM Wines, New York, NY Since the main event was to be Hirsch Vineyard pinot noirs, some of the wise guys thought it would be fun to bring along some of the fine Hirsch white wines of Austria. I only got to two of them. 2002 Hirsch Kamptal Veltliner #1, 11.5% alc.: Medium straw, with beeswax, pear and wet stone - mineral flavors and aromas; good acidity, nice wine. 1998 Hirsch Zobinger Gaisberg Riesling Alte Reben Kamptal / Osterreich, 13% alc.: Medium straw, with a soft petrol, apple, pear and quince bouquet; flavors echo with a marvelous presence in the mouth, lovely complexity, perfectly balanced acidity and a long finish. The best white of the weekend, for my tastes. Imported by Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, NY Pierre Boniface Brut de Savoie NV, 12% alc.: Pale straw, with a fine bead and flavors and aromas of smoke, stones and apples; "has a subtle kind of creaminess to it," according to the ice cream man himself, Bob Graeter. Delicious, and only $13.99 in the Detroit market. Imported by Hand Picked Selections, Warrenton, VA At that point, I simply said enough whites! There were five pinot noirs that I was itching to try, and that was before I would even get to the Hirsch Vineyard selections. 2000 Evesham Wood Willamette Pinot Noir Cuvée "J", 13% alc.: My first ever Evesham Wood Pinot Noir, and I'm hooked! (I've had 3 other beauties from this producer since.) A smoky ruby garnet, with smoke, black cherry, forest floor and matchstick flavors and aromas; medium weight, feminine and much more Burgundian than most Left Coast pinots. Mark Horvatich is a big fan of Evesham Wood, and said of this, "It's actually 12.6%, not 13," and "the fruit might be a little to sweet to blend right into a Burgundy tasting," as EW pinots often do, but nevertheless, it's absolutely delicious, and certainly one of the very best wines of the weekend. 1996 Chateau de Maligny Chablis Fourchaume, 12.5% alc.: Enough whites indeed! But what is one to do when a bucket of steamed mussels and a bottle of Premiere Cru Chablis is put in front of one?! This pale to medium straw is a perfect match for those steamed mussels, with its chalky wet stones over apple and pear and still zippy acidity; this is kind of funky, in a very good way, and my kind o' Chablis. Imported by Parliament Import Co., Atlantic City, N.J. 1992 Calera Reed Pinot Noir: Brian Loring brought along four Calera Pinots, and being a fan, I had to try them. Had I opted to go for the Hirsch Vineyard Pinots, I would most certainly have been able to get notes on all of those, but ask me if I care. This bricked ruby garnet shows a little funky decaying vegetation and mushroom over deeper smoky, earthy black cherry and plum, but still has some bitter tannins to resolve. Needs more time. 1992 Calera Selleck Pinot Noir: About this slightly cloudy rusty ruby garnet, Colonel Bob says," Wow, this is more than just a middle weight contender!" It throws a lighter nose than the '92 Reed, with a slightly vegetal black cherry, plum and smoke character and softer tannins than the previous wine, all on a medium to medium full bodied frame. A bite of some marvelous grilled shrimp brings out more of the sweet fruit here, and this one's in no danger of fading any time soon. 1996 Calera Selleck Pinot Noir: Slightly rusty ruby garnet color, with sweet, smoky earthy black cherry and dark plum flavors and aromas om a medium to medium full bodied frame; not too tannic, rich and delicious, and still on the way up. Colonel Bob added impressions of "an exquisite sappiness and some maple syrup." 1999 Calera Selleck Pinot Noir, 14% alc.: This seems lighter than the previous three, with its slightly smoky ruby garnet color, smoke and black cherry flavors and aromas and tannins that are subtle at first, then make themselves know more and more. Smokier than the others, but not as substantial. All four of these are worthy offerings, but none are as big boned as the '89 and '90 Calera Mills that Kim and I have loved so over the last several years. After the Hirsch Pinots, I was about ready to switch to ice cream, when Brian Loring brought out the dessert wines. I made the mistake of taking a pour of the 1995 Tircul Cuvée Madame before trying the 1990 Chateau d'Yquem. Not that there is anything wrong with the d'Yquem, it's a lovely wine on its own terms, but it's much too polite and refined to follow an over the top apricot and honey explosion like the Cuvée Madame, which totally overpowered it with its super sweet, unctuous character. The Tircul is a joy to sip, and after that, the only option is indeed the best ice cream in the whole wide world, Graeters' Black Raspberry Chip ®. Click here for the full feature on the Gang of Pour website, including images and added thoughts. Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  12. More from Chairman Moe's offline from a few weeks back: There was an impressive lineup for this tasting, including a complete vertical of Siduri’s Hirsch Pinots, mini – verticals from Williams Selyem and Whitcraft, and a ’97 “horizontal” from Kistler, Rochioli and Flowers and the aforementioned WS and Siduris. Being that they had by far the most bottles in the bunch, it seemed only right that we start with the Siduris. The 1995 Siduri Sonoma Coast Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir (14.1% alc.) at this particular tasting was a raging VA (volatile acidity) monster, with a nail polish - like character that is entirely unpalatable and abominable. Spit happens, so one can only hope that this is an isolated flawed individual. The '96 - '98 models are variations on a theme, being clean, medium weight ruby garnet colored wines that show somewhat stingy aromatics, and typical smoky black cherry character. The '96 (14.1% alc.) shows some added plum, with some tannins still to resolve, while the '97 (13.8% alc.) has some strawberry, moderate tannins and zippy acidity; the '98 (14.1% alc.) seems to have a more smoky quality than the previous two, and, initially I thought that all three are a bit too light for my tastes. That assessment changed with regard to the '98, however, when I tried it with the grilled salmon and mushroom risotto going around; then it worked perfectly. Maybe I should have tried all three with food. (Interestingly, John Blackwood, shown here with Tim Thomas, found the '97 to be "tart, all alcohol, with not enough fruit left." The '99 Siduri Hirsch (14.2% alc.) is another variation on the ruby garnet, smoky black cherry, but it's bigger in body, spicier and more concentrated than the others so far, showing a nice note of chocolate, along with some tannins still to resolve and racy acidity. A fine pinot noir, and most definitely more in the weight category that I prefer, but it was definitely outclassed by the following selection, from the same vintage, no less. 1999 Siduri Sonoma Coast Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir Christian David: This ruby garnet, named after Adam and Diana Lee's firstborn, isn't the biggest, most intense of these Siduris that I tasted, but it certainly is the most complex, flavorful, delicious and complete. (The Lees think that it's the best tasting pinot noir they've ever produced; you can read more about it here.) It exudes smoky black cherry and roasted meat aromatics, with chocolate accents, with like flavors that gain cinnamon and clove nuances. More substantial than the previous Siduri Hirsch bottlings, with a marvelous balance, good tannins and acids, this is still some years from its peak. As it opens, it shows more and more smoke and roasted meat, and Bob Cuozzi noted some mulberry in the flavor profile as well. Not quite the Wine of the Night (that honor went to a delicious '00 Evesham Wood Cuvée J Pinot Noir), and one which had received a glowing review from "Florida" Jim Cowan only a few weeks before, reprinted here with permission of the author. Siduri's Masterpiece (July 11, 2004) I'm sure if you asked Adam and Diana to tell you the name of their true masterpiece it would be Christian David, their son. Fittingly, they named their 1999 Hirsch vineyard pinot after him and this evening, Diane and I shared our second bottle. I only got three and our first we drank in the spring of 2001 (release) and it was superb but showed quite young (again fittingly). Tonight was leftover night, which in my house, is something to look forward to. Diane took some grilled olive bread and dressed it with white beans and a leftover combination of the tomato and caper sauces from last night. We also had left over grilled tuna for her and leftover grilled pork chop for me. And of course, a bottle of 1999, Siduri, Christian David Pinot Noir: Slight sediment/ Penetrating, brambly nose of fresh black raspberry and spice; complex and layered and never once drifting from bramble to stem/ Medium body with crisp acids, a mineral driven, earthy, crisp raspberry profile that is both lilting and intense, the bramble character is repeated and it delivers a certain focus that makes this clearly a Hirsch vineyard wine, intense, clean, well balanced and mouth-watering/ Long, spice and bramble driven finish that is decidedly dry without being tannic. Last night we shared the 1996 Kistler, Hirsch Vineyard pinot with friends. It is a pretender to the terroir, being nearly overwhelmed by its wood. This, OTOH, is precise and the oak plays but a supporting role in the complexity of the nose and palate. A wonderful example of the vineyard, a wine obviously made with great care and a triumph among this region's pinots. Ready now and delicious with the food. Another masterpiece. The 2000 Siduri Hirsch (14.1% alc.) is a darker garnet than any of its predecessors, being slightly cloudy, and possessing the most weight and intensity of fruit so far, with its sea air, smoky black cherry and a note of chocolate in both flavor and aroma. There're good tannins and acidity here, along with some stemminess on the finish; needs at least five years to show its best, so hold, don't drink. The ruby garnet 2001 model (14.2% alc.) shows an overripe, over the top character that I didn't care for. Maybe time will smooth it out, but it's just too much right now. Mark found it "undrinkable, too alcoholic." There were so many other Hirsch bottlings from other producers that I abandoned the Siduris before trying the 2002. We'd already sampled a number of other wines before even getting to these, and I wanted to get to as representative a cross section as I could while still capable of taking notes. 1995 Littorai Sonoma Coast Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir, 12.9% alc: Not much rust to the ruby garnet; typically smoky black cherry flavors and aromas are very pleasant, if somewhat restrained, with a soft, mature character. 1996 Williams Selyem Sonoma Coast Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir, 13.8% alc: Cloudy ruby dark garnet, with a slightly flat variation of the smoky black cherry theme. Florida Jim felt that this "has a nice tension in the balance of all the elements," while Bob Cuozzi noted "an almost puckery dried cherry." 1997 Williams Selyem Sonoma Coast Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir, 14.9% alc: I found this to be a ravishing variation on the theme, being big, rich and sweet (but not too sweet), with a note of chocolate. Jim DID find it too sweet however, adding "I'd like to taste this in five years." 1998 Williams Selyem Sonoma Coast Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir, 13.9% alc: A little poopy on the nose, so poopy that it makes me sneeze; a pomegranate quality to go with the smoky black cherry, as well as notes of cola and root beer that add interest and something a little different to this lineup. Some tannins present, but not at all obtrusive. 1997 Kistler Sonoma Coast Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir, 14.1% alc: A deeper, darker ruby garnet than most of these, with cloves even before the "smoky black cherry;" medium to medium full body, with excellent intensity and some tannins still to lose. A little stemmy on the finish, but very nice nevertheless. Colonel Bob Cuozzi called this "an amazing wine, so powerful." 1997 Rochioli Sonoma Coast Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir, 14.9% alc: There's a brambly briar , root beer and cola nose on this slightly cloudy ruby dark garnet, and the flavors, while still tight, generally echo; tannins still to lose, and excellent acidity. Sadly a '97 Flowers Hirsch was horribly corked, which is too bad, because it most likely would have shown well, if a bottle tasted last September was any indication. It was at this point that I retired the pen for the evening. I'd taken all of the notes that I cared to, since we'd also tasted a number of "warm - up wines" before the main event, and ended up bringing 15 accumulated bottles of red and white back to Day-twah to make stocks of memorial vinegar. There may have been too much wine uncorked on this evening, but what are you going to do with a crowd like this? Click here for the full feature on the Gang of Pour website, including images and added thoughts. Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  13. Chairman Moe Vedre, aka Chris Gross and his wife Cathy held a 2-day offline at their home in suburban Cincinnati a few weekends ago. The featured events were a survey of seven Laurel Glen Cabernet Sauvignons on Friday night, and a big splash of Hirsh Vineyard Pinot Noir from various producers on Saturday night, to be covered in a separate posting. Mark Horvatich, a longtime fan of Laurel Glen (he supplied the ’86 and ’91 bottlings for this tasting), suggested their estate Cabernets as a Friday night theme, and our savvy, intrepid crew had no trouble rounding up 7 older vintages for evaluation. 1986 Laurel Glen Sonoma Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon: There's little rust as of yet to the dark garnet color, and I get a big hit of forest pond right off the bat on the nose. It opens in the glass to show earthy black currant, cassis, glove leather and what Backwoods Bob describes as green tea. Still some tannins here, but they're not at all obtrusive, and while this smooth, harmonious cabernet is showing really well right now, it has yet to peak. There's definitely a Bordeaux - like quality here, and that's fine with me. 1991 Laurel Glen Sonoma Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, 12.5% alc.: This deep, dark garnet shows a cedar, sweet spice, cassis and black currant character that is rich and delicious. Again, the tannins are unobtrusive, the texture is smooth and lovely and the wine is still on the way up. I find these first two selections to walk a fine line in style between Bordeaux and California, much like Ridge Monte Bello, and when I say so, Mark agrees, adding that both are two of his very favorite California cabernet sauvignons on a very short list. About the '86 Laurel Glen, he remarked, "I've always found this to be the best Californian cab of the decade," adding, "to me, the '86 and '91 are about as good as Californian cab gets." 1992 Laurel Glen Sonoma Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, 12.5% alc.: Mark noted that there was a style change between the '91 and '92, and it is evident from tasting them side by side. Another deep, dark garnet colored cab, this is a bit poopy on the nose at first, but that dissipates to reveal sweet spicy black currant, and black berry, with a cedary accent. The fruit is richer and riper, but not as substantial in depth of body and finish. More Californian in style than Bordeaux, and while Mark opined that "it hasn't aged as well as previous vintages," it would be a mistake to conclude that it's not a very fine wine on its own terms, and indeed, it will continue to improve for at least a few more years. 1993 Laurel Glen Sonoma Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.5% alc.: There's a slight cloudiness to the dark garnet color here, and a little barnyard blows off of the nose to reveal sweet spice, cassis, black currant, blackberry and plum aromatics that follow through very nicely in the flavors, all with earthy undertones. Tannins are more obvious than in the '92, but again, not obtrusive; sweeter, more Californian in style, and delicious. 1994 Laurel Glen Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon Counterpoint, 12.5% alc.: No one had the '94 Estate bottling, but this filled in admirably, and indeed, Mark describes Counterpoint as "for me, the best under $20 cab made in California." One can't argue with that statement if this one is any indication. It shows a deep, dark garnet color that borders on the opaque, with perfumed cassis, blackberry and even some black cherry to its profile. Lovely cabernet character, with pretty much fully resolved tannins; not quite as big, and not quite as deep as the Estate bottlings, but delicious in its own right, and great quality for the price. 1995 Laurel Glen Sonoma Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, 12.5% alc.: This inky garnet shows iodine and black currant on the nose, with sweet cassis, plum and blackberry underneath; flavors echo with some cedary overtones, a hint of dark chocolate and substantial tannins that need a minimum of five years in the cellar. Tons of promise with this, so be patient, and hold, don't drink. 1996 Laurel Glen Sonoma Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.5% alc.: Almost opaque purple garnet in color, with a tight cassis and black currant nose showing hints of cedar and sea air. These follow through more expressively on the palate, but while this is "approachable," it's still years away from optimum drinking, so do the right thing, and just let it sleep. Click here for the full feature on the Gang of Pour website, including images and added thoughts. Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  14. 2001 Copain Wines Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Dennison Vineyard, 14% alc.: This ever – so – slightly cloudy ruby garnet isn’t one of those syrah – like California pinots that some people feel so obliged to bash. It actually has much more in common with zinfandel in flavor and aroma, with its big, spicy black cherry and raspberry character, and I’m not complaining, mind you. These days, I almost expect aberrations like this from “young Turks” such as Wells Guthrie, and I mean that in the kindest way. Medium to medium – full bodied, this has a moderately earthy underbelly, with only hints of the smoky cola quality that I often associate with many northern Cal pinots, and it’s the red berry that really sets this apart from the crowd. There’re tannins here, to be sure, but they don’t intrude that much on the pleasure of drinking this tonight, and there’s more than enough acidity to keep it all lively. It finishes nicely, with a little stickly – stemliness, due to the tannins no doubt. I’d suggest that optimum drinking is at least a few years down the road; it certainly has the fruit to go the distance. A very nice wine that dances to a different rhythm than most of the usual suspects. Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  15. Banfi describes their proprietary blend SummuS as “an extraordinary blend of Sangiovese (used regionally to make the famed Brunello di Montalcino) which contributes body; Cabernet Sauvignon, fruit and structure; and Syrah, elegance, character and a fruity bouquet. Each wine is individually vinified and aged one year in French oak barrique to develop its unique style, then masterfully interwoven with the others to achieve a rare dimension of taste. Additional 14 -16 months of bottle-aging brings forth a fragrant bouquet of fruit, oak and spice.” We’ve found this to be a marvelous wine in the past, but recently, only one out of two hit the mark. 1997 Banfi SummuS, $54, 13% alc.: This deep, dark garnet is like no Summus we’ve had before, and we’ve had more than a few. It shows a big toasty sweet oak bouquet right off the bat, with plenty of dark plum and black cherry in support, and a little sea air that emerges as it opens. The flavors echo, with moderate tannins and a big flat spot in the mid – palate. This comes off much more like a Californian red than an Italian, and while I suppose it’s pleasant enough on its own terms, it’s a big disappointment, and way overpriced at $54. 1995 Banfi SummuS, $38, 13% alc.: Now this is more like it! Dark garnet in color, with perfumed black currant and dark plum aromatics shaded with a little smoke, this is the kind of Summus that we know and love so well. Flavors echo with a dry, not quite austere character, and the wine is smooth, with tannins that are mostly, but not entirely resolved. As it opens, and it opens dramatically, some leather and a bit more smoke make themselves known, and this seems to straddle the line between the old world and the new, being rich and refined, yet very dry, almost austere at the same time. Still on the way up, and a perfect match with a mixed grill of lamb chops, eggplant and zucchini, along with a wild rice salad, this is like drinking fine Bordeaux, rather than Toscana. Banfi Wines Imported by Banfi Vintners, Old Brookville, NY Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  16. 2000 Marc Morey Chassagne – Montrachet Les Vergers, $39.99, 13.5% alc.: Much as we remember it from our latest Toledo adventures, this medium straw is showing more of the wet stone – mineral character than it did in February, and less of the tropical fruit, vanilla crème; there’s still plenty of spicy pear here, along with racy acidity that bodes well for further bottle aging, but the oak is less obvious than it was then. While big, bold and delicious, this will be SO much better with some time in the cellar, and I’ll try to keep my hands off for a good five years. 2000 Marc Morey Chassagne – Montrachet En Virondot, $44.99, 13.5% alc.: A pale to medium straw, with matchstick, flint and slate over apple and pear aromatics, this is showing more rich fruit and less of the slate and sulfur in the rich flavors. With zippy acidity and a long finish, it is absolutely delicious, and should only improve over at least the next five years. I’ll never go back to California Chardonnay. Imported by Robert Kacher Selections, Washington D.C. Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  17. 1999 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Red Wine, $33.99, 14.5% alc.: A deep purple garnet turning pinkish at the rim, this throws a sweet oak, black currant, black berry bouquet, accented with hints of chocolate, blueberry and mahogany. The decidedly dry, stylish flavors echo, more or less, and the wine strikes a fine balance between the sweet oak and a Bordeaux – like austerity. It’s rich and refined, but the finish is crimped some by drying tannins. As it opens, it smells more and more like my mother’s cedar chest. Kim and Shar Douglas aren’t wild about this, saying that it isn’t worth the money, but I liked it quite well, and it should only improve with another few years in the bottle. 1999 Galleron Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Taplin Vineyard, $79.99, 14.2% alc.: This smoky dark garnet shows subtle sweet oak, cassis and black currant flavors and aromas, with hints of coffee and cedar; it’s actually sweeter on the palate than on the nose. It’s also sweeter and more fruit forward than the ’99 Quilceda Creek Red Wine, and a big note of chocolate comes out in the sweet cabernet fruit as it opens. Some burry tannins and acidity keep it from achieving an opulent texture, so it needs a few years to smooth off the rough edges of what impresses me as being a nice $30 – 35 Napa cab, but that’s all. 1999 Kathryn Kennedy Lateral California Appellation, 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, $49.99, 13.6% alc.: Ruby garnet in color, this shows a pretty nose of sweet toasty oak (not at all over done), black currant, plum and mahogany that follows through nicely in the medium to medium full bodied flavors with soft tannins, good acidity and a long finish. As it opens, a creamy quality emerges, and the mahogany character becomes more accentuated. Is this a very nice glass of wine? Absolutely. Is it worth $50 a bottle?! No way. 1999 Stonefly Napa Cabernet Franc, $37.99, 13.25% alc.: This ruby dark garnet cab franc show a pretty nose of red currant, blackberry, cranberry and plum, with flavors that echo nicely on a medium full bodied frame. Moderate tannins, good acidity and contrasting floral notes on entry and earth on the decent finish add bookend complexities; a smoky quality emerges with air, adding another element to the total package. Although this is drinking well now, there’s probably a few years worth of improvement, and if I’d like a little more heft to this, I can’t deny that it’s a fine wine, but $38?! I don’t think so. $25-30 is much more reasonable for what’s in the bottle. Frankly, I’ve had ample opportunity to buy more of each of these, and even with a nice discount, the only one I would consider adding to the cellar from heck would be the Quilceda Creek. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it. Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  18. 2002 Radio - Couteau Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Marsh Vineyard, $35, 14.4% alc.: Kim and I are so happy with this wine, not only because we really love good Pinot Noir, but also because the grapes were grown by Pete and Barbara Marsh, two of the nicest people you'll ever want to meet. A ruby dark garnet in color, it exudes a beautiful bouquet of pretty black cherry, raspberry and Asian spice, with hints of cola and smoke. These follow through in the exuberant flavors, and despite a few years worth of tannins, this is already drinking so well that I fear for the safety of our other bottles; they may not last long. Nice intensity and concentration, with a long lovely finish, this is a no - brainer for anyone who loves fine California pinot noir, except that it's probably all spoken for, with only 76 cases produced. More recent Pinot Noir notes can be viewed in A Small Parade of Pinot Noir, Tasting Notes from the Underground, The Gang of Pour. Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  19. 1993 Ridge York Creek Petite Sirah, $40, 12.6% alc.: 69% of the grapes for this inky, almost opaque purple - black colored wine saw whole cluster fermentation, which Paul Draper says enhanced the fruit, added complexity and moderated the tannins, but this is still a chunky, chewy wine with a long life ahead of it. A hint of the barnyard is just one element that gives it a Rhone - like character, along with big earthy black currant and dark plum, a little smoke and a note of leather as it opens. There's also less of that "Draper perfume" than I would have expected, though just enough to I.D. this as a fine Mr. Ridge. Approachable? Yes, especially as it opens with air, but still, this wants another five years minimum to mellow and develop more complexity. Many thanks to Dan McDonald for this excellent Pettie Sarah. More recent Ridge notes can be viewed in The Ridge Report, Tasting Notes from the Underground, The Gang of Pour. Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  20. 2002 Carlisle Sonoma County Zinfandel, $19.50, 15.8% alc.: This deep, dark garnet shows the signature Carlisle perfume of big sweet oak, blackberry and black raspberry, with overtones of cola, chocolate, mint and menthol. The flavors echo and explode on the palate with an added earthy, brambly character, and what Kim describes as a note of lavender. This wine is delicious poured straight from the bottle, despite three to five years worth of tannins and zippy acidity. It finishes with decidedly briar - brambly, cola, root beer and rock and rye overtones, often a hallmark of Mike Officer's fine Zinfandels. Very nice indeed, and a fine example of why we buy Carlisle religiously! 2002 Carlisle Sonoma Valley Zinfandel, $23, 15.9% alc.: Decidedly dark garnet, with sweet oak, zinberry, blackberry and raspberry flavors and aromas that show accents of bramble, briar, cola - root beer and a hint of Rhône - like vegetal decay. Rich, extracted and very much in the signature Carlisle style, this gets a little creamy with air, and should improve with at least two or three years in the cellar. We should have tasted this side by side with the '01 Sonoma County bottling to compare, but didn't. We only got two of each, so we'll make a point of doing that in about three years. More recent Carlisle notes can be viewed in The Carlisle Report, Tasting Notes from the Underground, The Gang of Pour. Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  21. The bottles were fresh off the boat, and should have had a week or two to settle down, but the Psychopomp wanted an opinion, so there was no time to dally in the alley, or in the cellar, as the case may be. There was nothing to do but stick out my trusty stem and accept a generous pour, as did the little lady. The wines came on like busty babes, sporting big Bobbie numbers that made the boys’ eyes bug right out of their heads, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little intrigued by the pre – tasting hype. 2002 Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha Calatayud, $13, 13.5% alc.: Produced from 75 – year old Grenache vines planted on pure slate, 60% of this dark garnet was aged in tank, and 40% in neutral wood foudres, so the sweet notes of the wine are all about fruit, not oak. The Psychopomp said, “13.5% is a lie, smell it,” and there IS a certain hot quality on the nose, but it never dominates the beautifully effusive bouquet. Psycho went on to say, “There’s a lot more white pepper and raspberry than when I first opened it (5 hours earlier); before, there was more kirsch and dark berry action goin’ on. This is some pretty racy, sexy juice for the money,” and I couldn’t agree with him more. The next day, we opened a fresh bottle, and while Kim wasn’t wowed by these (not enough mud and poop, maybe), I was mighty impressed. The wine is medium full bodied, and more than medium intensity, with a creamy mouthfeel and lovely texture, coming off like a reduced dark berry and black cherry sauce with just a little chocolate, sweet, but just shy of being over the top. It’s not too tannic at all, so there’s no reason whatsoever to wait on this one. 2001 Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha Vinas Viejas Calatayud, $19, 14% alc.: Produced from 100-year old vines planted at 900 meters in 100% slate, this ruby dark garnet is aged 10% in new French oak and 90% in old barrels and demi-muids, and it’s even better than the ’02. The nose isn’t as pronounced as the younger wine, but it’s no less pretty, showing richer kirsch, blackberry, black raspberry and black cherry, with just a hint of menthol. These impressions follow through on the palate with a little earth underneath it all, being ultra – smooth, medium to full bodied, just shy of over the top, and not too tannic at all. Again, the same sweet quality of the wine is due mostly to the fruit itself, considering the percentage of new oak used, and while it will probably improve over the short term, I’ll have a hard time keeping my hands off of this right now. Both of these are almost too good to be true for such relatively modest tariffs (even by Michigan standards). Run, don’t walk to the nearest place that has some of these marvelous wines; they were made in fairly sizable batches (20,000 and 10,000 cases respectively), so there should be enough to go around for a while, anyway. Imported by Eric Solomon, European Cellars, Charlotte, NC (A tip of the top hat to Mr. Parker for the background stats on these two beauties.) Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  22. It's just the way things happened, Coop, no rhyme or reason; we DID do Brunellos for Games 1 and 4. Haven't had the Pruddottori 1999, so I can't say.
  23. The first two wines were enjoyed during Game 4, with noted Southeastern Michigan wine – psychopomp Bill Schwab. The last two were savored at home during the climactic Game 5. 1997 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino, 13.5% alc.: Dark garnet, and not showing a lot on the nose, but plenty of dried sour cherry, leather, licorice and soy on the palate. Sleek, streamlined, rich and dee-lish, with quintessential Tuscan character, and a fine future ahead of it; still, this needs to grow a nose. Imported by Winebow, Inc., New York, NY 2000 Lamborghini Campaleone Umbria IGT, 13.5% alc.: This deep, dark garnet Sangiovese – Merlot blend throws a fragrant bouquet that features toasty oak over black and red fruit shaded with underbrush and a little barnyard; flavors are dense and concentrated, with elements of plum, blackberry and black currant. Chewy and yummy, flirting with a New World – international style while retaining a very dry character at the same time. Bill Schwab describes this as “a food product.” Imported by Winebow, Inc., New York, NY 1990 Domenico Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra, 14% alc.: This rusty garnet is all secondary action on the nose, reminiscent of a cedar chest and smoke, and little if any primary fruit; in this case, that’s a good thing. Flavors echo big time, with added prune, raisin, leather, and as it opens, some tobacco and more than a hint of decaying vegetation. Still some tannins here, but they’re not at all intrusive, the acids are in balance and the finish is long. Rich and delicious, the wine has a sleek density to it, and it evolves continuously with air; by hour number four, it’s all cedar and saddle leather. If I’d like just a wee bit less of the decaying vegetation element, this is still undeniably great Barolo. Imported by Julienne Importing Co., Chicago, IL 1996 Az Agr Boasso Barolo Gabutti, 14% alc.: Dark garnet fading to pink at the promiscuous, this is tight on the nose at first, showing grudging black currant, black cherry and dried sour cherry, with a hint of something like a full ashtray next to an aquarium. The tight flavors echo, but with impressive intensity and concentration, and while it opens noticeably after an hour or so, it’s still deep, dark and mysterious; more of that dried sour cherry character emerges after two hours. While approachable, this needs time (it should be singing on or about its fifteenth birthday) to show its best. It’s a Ben Wallace kind of Barolo, with impressive structure, so it’s not about to fade away any time soon. A Marc de Grazia Selection, imported by Vin Divino, Chicago, IL Reporting from Day-twah, geo t.
  24. I'd agree with you now Coop, but back in the day, the Lakers were my favorite team... ...except when they were playing the Pistons. I loved Magic and Kareem and Silk and Clark Kent and the rest of those guys. It was the Celtics I never liked... };^)>
  25. All stops pulled. Great Barolo consumed. Great defense played, and 100 points to boot! Who'd o' thunk it?
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