I have not really attended many formal tastings of late, but continue to sacrifice my liver trying as many wines as can be managed in order to provide some guidance to my dear readers on which wines to try and which to avoid! Here are wines that I have sipped on over the previous month or two.
1998 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco (Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco): Giacosa is Piedmont’s greatest. I love his work. Same as 3 years ago. Amazing bottle of wine. Pretty much a field of flowers on the nose, great on the palate, outstanding with food. Only $49 for one great, world class wine. I would give this a 94.
2004 Artadi Rioja Pagos Viejos (Spain, La Rioja, Rioja): This is an emerging awesome wine. I know some old school wine drinkers think this too massively modern and almost undrinkable, but I think they are drinking it way too young and have blinders on to their own prejudices. This has amazing structure. Very, very young still, but with significant and sweet tannins, decent acidity and tons of fruit (though not jammy). It just needs years. Bravo. Wine Advocate gives this a 97, Wine Spectator and OWC both a 94. I would go 93+, to be much higher in a few years. At $90-100, not inexpensive, but worth it if you have some patience to sit on it a while.
2004 Marcassin Pinot Noir Three Sisters Vineyard (USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast): From America’s most sought after Pinot producer. This was much better than 6 months ago. Red fruits, spice, earthy funk on the nose. I would give it a 93. Wine Spectator gave it a 95, Wine Advocate a 94. Not sure I can say it is worth $129.
2008 Daniel Bouland Morgon Vieilles Vignes (France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Morgon): This has improved dramatically in the last year. Great fruit, precise, spices, earth, good acidity, good concentration. A pleasure to drink and went down quickly! It has plenty of years left. All rave, rightfully, on the 2009’s, but this producer hit it out of the park in 2008 also. Wine Advocate gave this a 93, and I agree with that. At $19, buy a truckload.
2005 Dominio Pingus Ribera del Duero Flor de Pingus (Spain, Castilla y León, Ribera del Duero): The “second” wine of the uber famous and even more uber expensive Pingus. I have enjoyed many bottles of this, over a few vintages. Modern, dark fruit, chocolate and a bit of sweetness. Fine tasting, young. For the style, not many complaints. Will probably improve quite a bit with a number of additional years. This will never be subtle, but the flavors are nothing to be ashamed of. Wine Advocate gave this a 96, I would go 92+. At $60, a fine example of a top Spanish wine.
2006 Sine Qua Non The Hoodoo Man (USA, California): America’s premier cult winery and impossible to get on mailing list. Did not think I would care for the style as I am not a fan of big whites….but, turned out pretty decent. Alcohol was reasonably hidden. Apricot, oily beeswax, a bit of butter. Yes, big, but pretty balanced and different. And Sine Qua Non, so who is complaining! Wine Advocate gave it a 95, I would go 92. At $129, run fast when a friend is opening it, and run away fast if they want you to spring for it.
2003 Cuvée du Vatican Châteauneuf-du-Pape Réserve Sixtine (France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape): Wow, huge difference compared to my last one of these from two years ago. Flab has pretty much gone, and some of the hugeness has dissipated some, leaving a damn good CdP. Lots of pepper and dark red/black fruits, could even get CdP notes on the nose which were nonexistent last time. I’ll bet it will really be singing in a few years, I will try to lay off another for 3+ years. Wine Advocate gave this a 98, Wine Spectator a 95. I would go 92+. At $50, a good value for a top CdP.
2007 Scherrer Winery Pinot Noir Russian River Valley (USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley): Scherrer remains my favorite producer of affordable Sonoma wines. Beautiful wine, young but showing its stuff. Delicous red fruit, spices, herbs, etc. One of the best 07 pinots I have had yet. I would give it a 93, and at $40, you will not finder a better California pinot.
2007 Cayuse Grenache God Only Knows (USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley): Cayuse is one of America’s top wineries and one of the most sought after collectibles. It is always a pleasure to have; always distinctive with a character that just screams Cayuse. The nose is great, ala normal Cayuse with lots of funk. The palate has cherry, cola, herb, and forest floor, just young needing some years to integrate. I think this will be fantastic in a few years. Wine Advocate gives this a 96, Wine Spectator an 89. I would give it a 91, with upside potential with more aging. At the $65 release price, a steal for this quality of wine. At $110 secondary price, probably a pass for this vintage.
2002 Two Hands Shiraz Ares (Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley): One of South Australia’s premier wines. New world. Big, thick and rich. Lots of dark fruits, especially blackberry, with eucalyptus and vanilla. Still, pretty reasonably balanced, and I think will improve with a few more years. Alcohol under control, a bit of sweetness, but again, worth following for a number of years. Wine Advocate gave this a 98, Wine Spectator a 95. I would give it a 91+. If you like real big wines, you would probably go higher. Still, at well over $100, tough to recommend.
2007 Domaine de la Pépière (Marc Ollivier) Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie Vieilles Vignes Clos des Briords (France, Loire Valley, Pays Nantais, Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine): Someone said zippy, I would agree on that. Great minerality, nice line/lemon hints, some saline and sea shore notes (yea, really). Fantastic QPR at $15, has acidity to keep it lasting for years and years. Fantastic with food. A would give this a 91. This is a great deal in world class white wine.
2009 Domaine Ninot Mercurey Vieilles Vignes (France, Burgundy, Côte Chalonnaise, Mercurey): Very young, but very good and an excellent QPR. Tart cranberry and cherry, plenty of earth and minerality, very good acidity. $20, are you kidding? Run out and find this! I would give it a 91.
2000 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano (Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco): Very pleasant wine, especially the nose, which was pretty classic of cherries, leather, flowers and tar. Brickish-amber/red color. Nice flavors of cherry, rosewater and tobacco, with a nice finish. Pretty good showing, with some improvement likely over the coming few years. Wine Spectator gave this a 94, Wine Advocate an 87. I give it a 91. At $45, a good, reasonably priced example of a Barbaresco.
2009 Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Les Charmes (France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Morgon): Like my last bottle, good minerality. Very fresh. Tasty fruit, a bit more full than the last. Very good example of the excellence of the vintage. At $13, a fantastic QPR and one that you should buy by the case. Wine Advocate gave it a 91, I would say 90+.
2006 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast (USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast): I have largely lost that loving feeling for this producer, a producer that remains very highly thought of in many wine circles. First in almost a couple years….was surprised as it was actually pretty good. Mellowed some, nicely, nice fruit, actually constrained. Perhaps I wrote the others off to soon? Wine Spectator gave it a 90, I would largely agree. At $48, not at all a bad deal for the quality of the bottle.
2006 Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards Right Bank (USA, California, Napa Valley): For those of you not familiar with Anderson’s Conn Valley, their wine is one of the fairest price top end wines one can get from Napa. Normally a big fan of this bottling, though this bottle was a bit flat. Dark red fruits, some cedar and tobacco flavors, but no pop, not real integrated. Perhaps in an awkward stage. Still I give it an 89, and with more years under its belt is sure to improve. At $49, a steal for Napa. Wine Advocate gave it a 95.
1999 Feudi di San Gregorio Taurasi Riserva Piano di Montevergine (Italy, Campania, Taurasi): Disappointing to me. Rustic, which is good, but somewhat plain. Lots of tar, not enough fruit, lots of drying tannins on the finish. Having said that, it had nice texture, a decent taste, some nice pencil shavings, leather and plum notes. Based on the reviews, was expecting more. Wine Advocate gave a 95, Wine Spectator a 90. I would go 89. Still, at $45, not a bad deal on a very well thought of Campania wine.
2009 Domaine La Garrigue Côtes du Rhône Cuvée Romaine (France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône): This inexpensive Rhone bottling has gotten a lot of good press (including a 92 from Wine Advocate), though I have not been much of a fan. It must have serious bottle variation as this one was night and day from my first bottle of it months ago. Lots of herbs and pepper with good blue fruit. Easy to sip on, decent finish. I would give this one an 89. At $14, hard to pass up, but beware that I have had other bottles that would rate 79.
2008 Auteur Pinot Noir Shea Vineyard (USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley): Typically big wine from Auteur, with lots of red and blue fruit which explodes, in a syrupy like fashion, on the palate. Enough acidity to keep it interesting, there is a nuanced wine deep within trying hard to escape the shackles of it’s weight. Wine Advocate gave this an 88, i would agree. At $60, hard to recommend this vintage. Earlier vintages have been better.
2008 Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Côte du Py “Réserve” (France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Morgon): Pretty similar to a bottle I had a couple months back. Lots of earth and meaty aroma’s, this time with fruit a bit more prominent in the picture. Easy drinking, not hugely complex, but a nice bistro wine, pleasant enough. Wine Advocate gave it a 91. I would go 87. Stick to the 2009. However, at $17, still worth having.
1998 Domaine Paul Autard Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée La Cote Ronde (France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape): This had the most disgusting look of a wine, once poured, than any I have seen. Murkier than beach water that kids have been playing in. Yet, the nose was pretty funky in a good way, and the taste pretty reasonable. Lots of tart red fruit, and toasty earth. Yet, could not get by how murky it looked. I do not think bad in any way, just weird. Will leave unrated. Wine Spectator gave it a 97, Wine Advocate a 93. I had one a few years ago that was plenty good, so not sure what happened here. At $90 now, a pass.
2008 Sebastien Riffault Sancerre Skeveldra (France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Sancerre): I enjoyed better than six months ago, though the nose was just as funky…perhaps just a bit more together and not as tart. In any case, it was reasonably enjoyable, but remains different from any SB I have ever had. At $30, an easy pass for a Sauvignon Blanc.
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