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Florida Jim

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  1. Dinner with friends – we tasted two cabernets: I had meat loaf with mashed potatoes and the wines both worked but . . . 1999 Phelps, Insignia: This is a solid wine; integrated, smooth and properly balanced – but there is no “there” there – void of character or place and despite a pleasant enough accompaniment with the food, it added nothing to the mix. 1999 Shafer, Hillside Select: Paradigm shift – this is loaded with character, brighter and more nervous in the mouth, carries the mind and senses to places they didn’t go in its absence and finishes long and vivid. ‘Night and day from the previous bottle. Best, Jim
  2. Whites: 2008 Carpineto, Dodajolo Blanc: 12.5% alcohol; 40% chardonnay, 30% grechetto, 30% sauvignon blanc; fresh and citrusy on the nose with a hint of chardonnay richness; bright, concentrated and not quite of a piece in the mouth with a tart note, good balance and a mouth-watering finish. Integrates with air and becomes smoother. Matches pasta with pesto as well as any wine could. About $10. 2007 Quinta de Ventozelo, Cister de Ribeira: A white from the Douro made of almost equal parts códega, gouveio, viosinho and rabigato, 13% alcohol; almost clear in color; citrus and limestone aromas; very crisp and a touch bitter in the mouth with bright, precise flavors, good concentration and intensity, excellent balance and a finish that leaves me feeling like I just took a shower. Diane made an asparagus, quinoa, fresh tomato dish and this went with it quite well. A quintessential refresher wine for summer that is better than you bargain for. Buy it by the case. About $8. 2006 Colonial Estate, Semillon Reserve Expatrié: Well fruited nose with hints of stone and no musk tones; over-ripe but not sugary, pineapple flavors, no musk, solid acidity and nice balance; excellent length. I usually find too much musk in semillon vinted by itself and rarely buy it, but I tasted this in a store and was pleasantly surprised. ‘Bought a bottle to have with a dish of pasta, zucchini and basil in a parmesan cream sauce and found it delicious and a good match. 13.5% alcohol and about $15. Reds: 2007 Obvio, Malbec: Some varietal character, nicely fragrant; solid flavors without any cloying sweetness, a touch of rusticity in the mouth and the overall impression of a wine one step up from a quaffer. 13.5% alcohol and tasty with an assortment of cheese and toasted bread. About $10. 2007 Bodega la Rural, Malbec La Vuelta: Candied, no varietal character, little apparent structure; a sort of generic processed wine-food. ‘Couldn’t get through a single glass. 13% alcohol and about $8. Best, Jim
  3. Florida Jim

    TN: Wow

    Very few. But I am told by those with much more experience than I, that 2005 was a vintage for very delictae wines from the OGV vineyard. Best, Jim
  4. Florida Jim

    TN: Wow

    2005 Inman Family, Pinot Noir Olivet Grange Vineyard: This OGV is not the typical Russian River pinot I am used to – it is delicate, fresh and elegantly textured. The crunchy red fruit and cinnamon/brown spice element is still there but I can tell this has had some whole cluster fermentation and has been handled very gently. The wine is floral and spicy on the nose; spicy cherry-fruited and so feminine and silky in the mouth with a charming and complex herbal tone that is well integrated, exceptional balance; and it finishes with a crisp, clean note. With a little air in the decanter, it becomes even more of a piece and presents a smooth yet bright overall impression. No evidence of wood anywhere. 13.2% alcohol, screwcap and found in a sale rack for $25. ‘Could cellar short term but is perfect now after a splash decant. I will go back today and buy what is left; I can’t think of a west coast pinot noir I have enjoyed more. Best, Jim
  5. Whites: 2008 Anakena, Sauvignon Blanc: 13% alcohol, from Chili and about $7; smells of perm solution and tastes acidulated – other then that, it’s tolerable but barely. Pinks: 2008 Domaine Guy Mousset, Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé: Bright red fruit aromas with some mineral; crisp and clean in the mouth with good fruit, complexity and intensity, bone dry and fairly long. 13% alcohol and about $10 – and more than worth a try. 2007 Le Pont, Bandol Rosé: Restrained nose; very dry almost austere in the mouth with just hints of fruit accenting a mineral/earth driven flavor profile; medium length. Much different from the preceding wine and not for everybody. But I enjoyed it – 13% alcohol and about $18. Reds: 2007 Domaine des Versauds, Morgon: A clean, soft gamay nose is followed by an initial taste impression of round, soft gamay fruit and then . . . nothing. Oh, it’s still wine-like but it’s lost all interest as it morphs into a sort of ultra-pasteurized, processed wine product. A very weird experience; it’s not bad, it just stops being even the least bit appealing. I think this is a Duboeuf product. Its 13% alcohol and about $14. 2007 Maipe, Malbec: This smells dark and rich; tastes pretty much as it smells and finishes longer than I expect. There isn’t too much wood or alcohol, there’s ample flavor, most of it in the dark fruit spectrum, and the overall impression is that its hearty accompaniment. 14% alcohol. 2008 Maipe, Malbec: Similar to the foregoing but with some volatility, some red fruit and a little more interest. (Aside: Both of these wines lean heavily on the dark side of the grape; which is, IMO, a shame. This variety can produce such beautifully nuanced, elegant, graceful wines – almost pinot-like but with a bit more stuffing. And although neither of the Maipe’s are bad wines, they leave me thinking about Belushi’s line, “they could have given us so much more . . . but noooo!) Best, Jim
  6. Last year, we planted a stand of black bamboo in our yard. Recent daily rains have initiated a growth spurt and I have been watching as it appears to practically grow before my eyes. It’s putting on at least two inches a day. ‘Never saw anything like it. While keeping one eye on this remarkable plant, we’ve tried a few wines: Whites: 2005 Pieropan, Soave La Rocca: For a wine that sees wood, I could barely pick-up any influence – which, for me, is a good thing. Golden in color; powerfully scented and intense in the mouth, this wine will probably outlive me. But it was also delicious with a dish of pasta with smoked salmon, artichokes and fava beans in a light cream sauce. In this vintage, this bottling is very, very good. 2002 Luneau-Papin, Muscadet Excelsior Terroir de Schistes: Complex and clean nose with lots of bright aromas and focused scents; similar in the mouth but with more breadth and concentration; good length. More mineral/earth in the mouth but less precise than the Granite de Clisson but very similar in texture and depth. Perfect with Bún chả (chicken). About $20, although I got this on sale for less. 2006 Louis Michel, Petit Chablis: Reticent nose; slightly herbaceous (dried herbs – not green) and a touch thin but otherwise, fairly representative village-type Chablis; surprising length. The length makes me think this could use a year or two in bottle but its tasty now. Done entirely in stainless; screwcap. About $20. 2003 Château Réal D’Or, Côtes de Provence: Made of marsanne, grenache blanc and picpoul, 12.5% alcohol and about $6; slightly tired nose with a hint of oxidation; much the same in the mouth, lacking freshness, solid flavors and medium length. Past it – ‘might have been nice on release but it isn’t worth the calories now. Reds: 2007 Overnoy, Arbois Pupillin: Translucent salmon color; pomegranate, baking spice and mineral nose; beginning to fill out in the mouth with flavors that follow the nose and add wild raspberry accents, dry, intense and beautifully balanced; quite long. Exhilarating wine. 2006 Overnoy, Arbois Pupillin: Much the same as the foregoing wine except that this is built more for the long term, has greater concentration and structure but is less open now and speaks to me of the character of a mature Burgundy in ways the 2007 does not. Beyond good with a fresh tuna and white bean salad. (Aside: Both of these wines (as well as past vintages) are some of the most enjoyed in my cellar. They have a distinctive character that is unlike any other, they are terrific with food, they make me happy to drink them, and they appeal to the intellect. A tip of the cap to Louis/Dressner, the importer; people who truly care about the wines they select for their portfolio.) 2007 Cadencias, Ribera del Guadiana: Half and half tempranillo and syrah; 13.5% alcohol and about $10; has a bit of chocolate covered cherry in the nose but also some earthiness and spice; much the same in the mouth, no wood, moderately concentrated, not quite of a piece and medium length. So much better with food that I would not drink it by itself again. 2006 Emperador de Barros, Ribera del Guadiana: Mostly tempranillo, 13.5% alcohol and about $8. Smells like someone made cotton candy out of wine and tastes similar . . . at first. As it opens, more depth and character arrive but this never stops being fairly sweet. Not my style but I can see this appealing to folks who don’t like their reds “too dry.” Lot 48 Marietta Cellars, Old Vine Red: Adequate quaffing wine but after it gets some air, too much wood for me and a little thin. Still, pleasant. About $14. 2006 Primarius, Pinot Noir: Charming, amiable wine; not over-stated or over-oaked, pretty aromatics, elegant textures, lovely flavors and good length. Not something to cellar but a very easy to drink Oregon pinot. $14. 2005 Domaine des Chassaud, Côtes de Rhone: Smells mostly of grenache and earth; tastes dark and somewhat tannic and has good length, albeit slightly drying – but this could be CdP if one wasn’t looking at the label. A nice wine with structure and more complexity than expected. 14% alcohol and about $11; ‘worth a try. 2006 Vinosia, Irpinia Aglianico: 13% alcohol and about $15; smells a little like talcum powder; tastes pretty good but has a semi-sweet edge that doesn’t seem to go away and medium length. Neither obvious tannins nor noticeable structure. Definitely not reminiscent of Taurasi and, IMO, not anything I’d buy again. 2005 Domaine A. et P. De Villaine, Bourgogne La Digoine: 12.5% alcohol and about $32, on release; wild cherry nose that is focused and stylish; youthful, etched fruit with a firm, mineral underpinning, precise balance, vigorous yet nicely austere; dense on the finish (think young Corton). A wine of breed and class with many years left in the cellar. Lovely. Best, Jim
  7. Florida Jim

    TN: Six wines

    Whites: 2007 Ameztoi, Getariako Txakolina: Fizzy, 10.5% alcohol from the Basque region of Spain; akin to Cava but having a more mineral backbone, less bubbles and very dry fruit flavors. A starter wine but pretty good with assorted cheeses. Thirst quenching. 2005 Pépière, Muscadet Granite de Clisson: The longer this spends in bottle the more defined and precise it gets. Still, plenty of flesh and depth with an individual character that is at once unique yet of its place, perfect balance, concentrated and quite integrated even with its remarkable complexity. Crisp, cool and captivating; one of the finest white wines in the world. $20 on release and about 12.5% alcohol. Reds: 2000 Thomas, Pinot Noir: Bright and almost spritzy at first but it evolves to reveal a nicely balanced, very Oregon pinot. Some depth and complexity; a bit of cola. I’m a little suspect of this bottle as there was some leakage at the cork. 2006 Priarius, Pinot Noir: From Oregon at about 13.5% alcohol this is pale and translucent; light scents of raspberry and spice with a touch of dark fruit; elegant but dense in the mouth with finesse and lovely varietal character, well balanced; long finish that emphasizes the dark fruit notes. A pretty, little wine for about $14. 2008 Castle Rock, Pinot Noir Willamette Valley: Smells pretty generic; tastes OK but it has a swath of chalky tannins that overwhelms the mouth – I think this is wood tannin but wherever its from, its unpleasant. A couple of sips was all I could handle. 13.5% alcohol and about $12. Pass. 2005 Philippe Faury, St. Joseph: Really pretty wine; alluring aromatics of purple fruit and leather; much the same in the mouth with excellent balance and a degree of finesse that makes this such a joy; long, fruit filled finish. A wine to compare other syrahs to. 12.8% alcohol and about $25. Superb! Best, Jim
  8. NC's wine industry is on the cusp of developing at a rapid rate. Land is still reasonable, the climate is changing with global warming and enology is becoming more integrated in what used to be "seat of the pants" winemaking. However, the wines still suffer from the infancy of the industry and the fact that vinefera don't especially like a temperate rain forest. If you can't find anything on line, you may want to give them a call. Grant Holder is head of the department. Also see: http://www.allbusiness.com/education-train...11683411-1.html Best, Jim
  9. You may want to check out Appalacian State University in Boone, NC. The state just gave the school a huge grant to expand the enology department there. Beautiful place, too. Best, Jim
  10. Bubbles: 2005 Marques de Monistrol, Cava Winemaker’s Select: Even better than their non-vintage brut, this is quite dry, spicy, focused and elegant with a continuous bead and a clean finish. ‘Hard to beat at $15. Whites: 2005 Luneau-Papin, Muscadet Clos des Allées: Beautiful wine; bright, charming, flavorful and so clean; as balanced and precise a Muscadet as one can find and drinking well now. 2008 Bedrock, Cuvée Caritas: 55% old vine semillon and 45% sauvignon blanc in 100% new French oak; powerfully scented with white fruit, spice and vanilla tones; an almost lyrical presentation in the mouth with semillon flavors emphasized and a touch of butterscotch oak; long finish. Needs 3-5 years to integrate the wood (although its not intrusive now) and was delicious with chicken Caesar salad. Day two: much the same; this either has too much oak or it needs time to integrate. 2007 Quinto de Ventozelo, Douro Cisterda da Ribeira: A Portuguese white made from 30% códega, 30% gouveio, 20% viosinho and 20% rabigato; 13% alcohol; aromas of cream soda, citrus skin and white pepper; similar in the mouth with some unripe apricot and a light saline component added, spicy, smoothly textured but crackling acidity; a touch bitter on a very long finish. This wine is all about its acidity – it carries it and drives it but does not overwhelm it. Very good with a white bean and chard dish, pretty good on its own and well worth buying again at $7. Pinks: 2008 Bedrock, Rosé Ode to Lulu: Mourvèdre based wine with a lovely fragrance, a dry, mineral driven palate, and a dry finish. In the Bandol style and quite nice with summer grilled veggies. Reds: 2002 Clos Roche Blanche, Gamay: I’ve had a few bad bottles of this but this one is quintessential gamay – charming, complete, moderate weight and good sustain. A really lovely bottle – after all these years. 2005 Georges Vigouroux, Cahors Pigmentum: Malbec that is blurry, earthy/dirty, unfocused and just not very good. If there’s nothing else . . . 12.5% and about $10. 2007 Lurton, Malbec: Industrial grade – not objectionable but no better than something to drink if you’ve nothing else. About $9. 2008 Maipe, Malbec: So much better that the last two malbecs that one might think it was a different grape; this shows the darker side of the variety but with balance and some finesse; drinking well now and very good with a bean, chard, turkey and quinoa stew. 14% alcohol and about $12. (Aside: it seems the feminine, aromatic, elegant side of this variety is rare. And honestly, going up in price usually just gets me more wood or more power, neither of which I find attractive. The potential of this grape is considerable in that I have tasted occasional wines that reminded me of great pinot – light, pure, scented and such beautiful textures – ah, where are they when you need them?) Best, Jim
  11. Ten days in California is always dynamic: from the weather (clear and cold, then rainy, then beautiful) to the dining (from very fancy to the Taco truck) to business (some set-backs, some gains), all in a compressed period. Makes coming home a welcome respite. Along the way, some very nice wines included the 1985 Giacosa, Barbaresco San Stefano Res. which started off a bit tight, loosened nicely with air and then faded slightly; a lovely bottle. A 1999, Jamet, Côte Rôtie was in good form with plenty of complexity and good structure but this wine has often concerned me for what I discern as a hole in the middle – and here it was again. Maybe the red wine of the trip was the 2000 Edmunds St. John, Syrah Wylie-Fanaughty with its immense complexity even while being fully integrated. And the more air it got, the better it got – a remarkable wine just coming into its own. A 1996 d’Angerville, Volnay Premier Cru was decanted prior to dinner and, over the span of the meal, became a quintessential expression of Volnay. Likewise, a 1998 Chevillon, Nuits-St.-Georges La Perrières showed its gamey, mineral-based personality after a about an hour open. And a 1996 Taluau, St.-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil VV was sublime once it blew off the expected initial herbaceousness. The 2001 Hirtzberger, Riesling Singerriedel is rich and powerful, loaded both aromatically and in the mouth and quite long but I’m betting cellar time will make it even more attractive. We also tasted the 2008 Bedrock, Cuvée Caritas that was a compelling new find. This is semillon/ sauvignon and so well balanced and together that it is cause to explore this new winery further (details below). There were more than a few others; I didn’t take notes, just tried to remember a few impressions. But a couple of wines/wineries need additional comment: First, the initial vintage of Westerhold Family Vineyards, Syrah was just bottled and I had a chance to taste it. I have been very excited about this project from Bennett Valley – it’s all a single estate site, all the Alban 1 clone of syrah and the barrel program appears to be fairly constant. Winemaker is Russell Bevan and the farming here is meticulous. The wine is, as you might expect, still closed but there is an underlying saline quality that I think reflects both the clone and the place. It is balanced despite big alcohol and does not feel overdone in any way. The oak is already well on its way to integrating and I expect this will be really stunning in a year or two. Special wine. Second, Morgan Twain-Peterson (Joel Peterson’s son) has started Bedrock Wine Co. I tasted with Morgan while I was in town and bought some of his wines immediately. As mentioned above, the Cuvée Caritas is a remarkable Bordeaux blanc blend that is fresh and so perfectly balanced that I was immediately charmed. There are also a couple syrahs, two field blends, a cabernet sauvignon, a pinot and a rosé for sale now. All are worth trying and I found Morgan to be very knowledgeable and obliging. I expect big things in the next several years from this young man. Last, but certainly not least, I got to taste, on several occasions, the wines from Bevan Cellars. As most of you know, Russell Bevan is a dear friend and my mentor in this business. Russell’s style is different from mine; he loves big, yummy, full blown wines with new oak. Yet his wines are not the monsters that I would expect – for instance, his 2007 syrah is less alcoholic than mine and mine is 13.9%. In any event, Russell’s wines are not for the faint of heart but they are not misshapen or incoherent and they have so much concentration and intensity of fruit that I think anyone that likes the CA style will love is syrah and cabernet sauvignon. And I hear he’ll be making a sauvignon blanc under his own label next year – after his efforts with Dry Stack/Grey Stack sauvignon in the past, I look forward to his own bottling. So much more to tell but this should do it for now. Thanks to all who made this trip a success and a lot of fun. See you in a couple months back on the leftcoast. Best, Jim
  12. Whites: 1999 Nigl, Grüner Veltliner, Piri Privat: The texture of a big viognier but the precision of a fine riesling; a wine of contradictions, fleshy and cerebral; showing well but no secondary development; intensity and concentration yet no flab or diffusion; endless finish. 13.5% alcohol, about $23, on release. 2002 Luneau-Papin, Muscadet Clos des Allées VV: Harmonious, crisp, complex, deep and just the slightest bit thinning; a wonderful wine that is either coming the end of its peak or beginning to close down – frankly, I think the former. One of the very best white wines in my cellar for the last seven years, I’d recommend drinking this sooner rather than later. Still lovely and charming but starting to turn a corner. 12% alcohol and about $7 on sale, several years ago. 2005 Pieropan, Soave La Rocca: This is a single vineyard that is aged in wood – it is often not to my taste because the wood intrudes – not this vintage; pure, rich aromas that have lots of layers; equally rich and full in the mouth but a bubbling spring of acidity wells up and washes everything clean, huge concentration, intense, balanced and extremely long. This is the most impressive garganega I have ever tasted and one that has years ahead in the cellar. Utterly breathtaking with insalta caprese. 13%alcohol and about $24 (obviously a mistake in pricing as this is usually $20 more than that). (Aside: I have had the regular Soave, the Calvarino (single vineyard, no oak) and the La Rocca (single vineyard, aged in oak) from this vintage and producer; I think it is safe to say this is the most successful vintage I’ve tasted in the last ten or so. Brilliant wines, at all levels and this La Rocca is likely the most expressive Soave I’ve ever tasted. Try . . . these . . . wines!) Pinks: 2007 Dom. Fontanyles, Rosé Côtes de Provence: Quite pale and fairly dry; light strawberry and stone aromas and flavors, crisp and clean, some layering. Comes in a Dom. Ott look-a-like bottle, caries 13% alcohol and is about $12. Pleasant. 2007 Le Pont, Rosé Bandol: Twice the quality of the preceding bottle; every bit as pale (sort of a watery light copper) but the nose is stony and spicy with just a bit of fruit; lots of ripe fruit in the mouth but none of it sweet, spicy, a beautiful silky texture, great acidity that is fully integrated and a very long, tangy finish. Showing a sense of place, good finesse and flesh, and, so complex that the $18 price tag makes sense. 13% alcohol and a terrific, dry rosé. Don’t drink it too cold; this one is worth having at cellar temp. or even warmer. Reds: 2004 Giacosa, Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore: Not the soaring power of Barolo nor the finesse of Barbaresco but without question nebbiolo – gutsy nebbiolo – nothing remotely feminine here: sinewy, direct, firm, strong, cool but integrated and composed; not for lighter fare and definitely better with food. Hold at least a decade. 13.5% alcohol, about $30, on release. 2008 Maipa, Malbec: Good varietal character, layered on the nose and palate, very well balanced, no overt wood, some grip, a worsted texture and very good sustain. A step (or two) above industrial malbec; I will buy a lot of this. 14% alcohol and about $12. 2000 Chat. Cantelys: This is from Pessac-Leognan and cost about $23; it’s got some funk on the nose but that clears to reveal very young, powerful Graves fruit with lots of earthy/mineral nuance; much the same in the mouth with a very youthful, grippy attack and plenty of complexity; decent length. This is too young but it is a terrific wine with decades to go to peak. Unfortunately, my last bottle but this wine, from the folks who make Smith-Haut Lafite is top quality. 2007 Biggio Hamina, Pinot Noir Ana Vnyd.: This has got to be a whole cluster fermented wine (at least to some degree). Translucent, it shows the spice and high tones of whole cluster and its savory elements are readily recognizable. More dark fruit than red, good acidity, some complexity and a crisp, clean finish. Showing young and undeveloped but also well within limits for whole cluster wines. So many whole cluster wines are just plain green or bordering on it to the extent that one has to intellectually sort out the aromas and flavors and convince oneself that all is well. This is more poised and appealing; neither green nor leanings that way but still that herbaceous spice and lifted prettiness that whole cluster can give. Day two: even better as the depth is now evident and the wine is quite elegant. Diane says, “[T]his is the way pinot noir should taste.” I agree – one of the most impressive domestic pinots I have tasted in a long time. And superb with turkey/cheese panini. 12.5% alcohol, screw-cap, $38, and, again I say, this is a producer to watch – someone here has a clue, they are daring and they seem to have a good handle on what their fruit can and can not do. Stay tuned . . . Best, Jim
  13. Florida Jim

    TN: Four reds

    2005 Clos de la Roilette, Fleurie Cuvée Tardive: Unwinds quickly in the glass and delivers aromatic complexity and authenticity; a deep, structured mouthful of flavor and excellent length. With food it is even more attractive as the fruit comes to the fore and the structure integrates. A fine bottle of gamay and lots of years ahead. 13% alcohol and about $20 at release. 2000 Belle Pente, Pinot Noir Wahle Vnyd. Res.: Earthy black fruit nose, quite savory; more fruit driven in the mouth with a distinct dirt/earth element, some complexity and lovely silky texture, medium length. Diane made turkey meatballs in broth with chard and white beans and this was ideal accompaniment. Showing well now. 13.8% alcohol and about $36 on release. Better still, by a pretty good margin, on day two. 1991 Sullivan, Cabernet Sauvignon: Decanted off substantial sediment. Smells of tannin and torrefied earth with solid dark fruit tones and some smoke; really first-class in the mouth – lots of flavor, little overt secondary development but a cohesiveness that is uncommon, loads of complexity, great intensity, no green, satin texture and some grip; very long finish.. Nothing Bordeaux-like about this; it is 100% California cabernet and a powerful, glorious example. Here is what great CA cabernet can age into given 18 years and the right stuff to begin with. 13.1% alcohol and about $45, on release. 1993 Laurel Glen, Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Mountain: Decanted off substantial sediment but unlike the above wine, this does not smell of tannin or smoke but of ripe fruit, mineral and just a touch of brett; more flamboyant in the mouth but still composed and satin textured, some grip, good complexity and intensity; long finish. This wine tends more to a Bordeaux connection but still has the power of CA fruit. Yummy with dinner. 12.5% alcohol and about $40, on release. Best, Jim
  14. Whites: 2005 Dom. de l’Ecu, Muscadet Expression de Garanite: Very bright, juicy and fresh fruit smells and flavors backed with a peppery spice and mineral backbone; all delivered as though on the snap of a whip. This is a tremendous bottle of wine, has lots of years to go but shows beautifully now. 12% alcohol and about $17, on release. 2005 Tribut, Chablis Côte de Lechet: Has richened and become more strongly flavored since the end of last year. Steely aromatics but more depth and complexity in the mouth; immense length. I’m guessing this is just starting to reveal its core of concentrated fruit. Very energetic and excellent with grilled chicken. About $26, delivered. Reds: 1996 Dom. de Montgilet, Anjou Villages: After 13 years, this has finally become drinkable – actually, more than that – its a smooth, balanced expression of Loire cabernet franc that has good depth of flavor and some richness. For years this wine was nothing but green pepper juice – now, that element is but a hint and the fruit has come around very nicely. But that’s too long to wait for a wine to become drinkable and, while I enjoyed this bottle (my last) tonight, I’ll not be buying more from these folks. 13%alcohol and about $20 on release. Very brief impressions of wines at lunch and at a tasting: 2003 Marcassin, Pinot Noir: Spicy and balanced but without complexity and very slightly hot on the finish. Pleasant; no more. Marcassin, Chardonnay (vintage and vineyard unknown): All vanilla all the time. Not for me. 1982 Château Ducru-Beacaillou: A somewhat musty nose (not TCA) but fairly fresh fruit, some grip and a decent finish. Not special but pretty good. 1999 Produtorri del Barbaresco: Beautiful, feathery wine with sustain and presence. Almost Burgundy-like in weight and texture. Drinking very well. 2006 Bevan Cellars, Syrah: Too much new wood at this stage of its life for my taste but the concentration and flavor profile are just plain yummy. 2005 Bevan Cellars, Syrah: Much more complex and with much less oak than the 2006; graceful despite remarkable intensity. Quite good. 1996 Dom Pérignon: Oh my! Without question, the most delectable and impressive Champagne of my life. Thanks Kevin. We also had a Paul Hobbes, Cabernet (vintage unknown) that supposedly got 100 points from Mr. Parker. I found it nicely balanced and showing some complexity but having little varietal character and being a little hollow at mid-palate. Then we compared it to the 2006 Bevan Cellars, Cabernet and I found the Bevan to have more character, be more identifiable as cabernet and much more concentrated. At the end of the night, somebody poured a recent vintage Colgin, Cabernet which smelled like a pickle barrel – I never got any farther than the nose and didn’t want to. Best, Jim
  15. Florida Jim

    TN: The truth

    Whites: 2007 Jermann, Vinnae: Mostly ribolla gialla with small amounts of tocai and riesling; 12.5% alcohol, screw cap and about $25. Day one: lemon, mineral and herb aromatics; fairly full in the mouth with flavors that echo the nose, a distinct tang and a tactile sensation that comes up just short of tannin; a quite long and lightly bitter finish. Reminds me a little of greco but without the resinous qualities. Probably a bit closed at the moment but indicative of character, concentration and purity. Exceptional with food. Day two: pretty much the same – perhaps a little more open but I think this could use a year or two (or more). 2005 Grosset, Riesling Polish Hill: 13% alcohol, under screw cap and about $20, on sale. This is one of the most powerful dry rieslings I’ve tasted. It has the concentration of a Zind-Humbrecht without the weight. Angular coming out of the bottle and showing very young but it turns fuller and more fruit driven with a creamy texture as it airs – it has plenty of structure, stuffing and acidity. Probably will age longer than I’ll live and be approachable all along the way. Reds: 2002 Clos de la Roilette, Fleurie Cuvée Tardive: Day one: fairly tannic and closed but showing its depth and concentration; not especially Fleurie-like – more Pommard or something similar. Came alive and truer to its place with lentil stew. Day two: although somewhat more resolved, a bit duller also. This wine needs time in the bottle; decanting won’t do it. 13% alcohol and about $21 on release. 1994 Penfolds, Grange: This has been the only bottle of Australian wine in my cellar for over ten years. It is what you’d expect; there’s evidence of American oak on the nose but it seems to have morphed into a cola-like smell; it has chocolate in the flavor profile but not the sweet kind, and it has an extraordinarily silky texture. Rich, plush stuff that is more cocktail style than food style. Even so, not a bad wine and anything that was done to it seems to have softened over 15 years. Others liked it better but I will say that this is not outsized or unbalanced and does have some finesse (probably due to its age). Not my sort but for those who like this style, I suspect you’d be very pleased. 2006 Edmunds St. John, That Old black Magic: A co-ferment of syrah and grenache, screw-cap, 14.3% alcohol and about $20. Clean, expansive and attractive nose of dark fruit, salted meat, lavender and mineral; beautifully precise and alluring in the mouth with finesse and complexity, flavors that follow the nose adding an iron tone and a personality that is hard to describe but that keeps me coming back; excellent length. This is balanced, shows better than most CdP I’ve tasted recently, gives no indication of its alcohol content, has a distinct individual quality and has all the ear-marks of wine that will age well. So easy to drink and perfect accompaniment to pasta with broccoli, roasted peppers, feta and olives. (Aside: I think that Steve Edmunds has (after 25 years in the business) discovered the “truth” of wine; it needs to have an individual character so you can identify it from all the other wines it competes with, it needs to pair well with your dinner, it needs to age well in your cellar, it needs to be a true joy to drink and it needs to be affordable. IMO, no other winemaker currently working in CA delivers these essentials, does so across his entire line of wines and with such consistency. If you have not tried Steve’s wines, I urge you to do so. ‘Cure what ails ya.) Best, Jim
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