November 2011 Wine Tasting Notes

November 2011 was a relatively light month for wine tasting on my part. Mostly a bunch of Rhone type blends, including one that will probably be in the running for my wine of the year, along with a smattering of Italian reds and California pinots.  The month also included a continuing love affair with 2009 Cru Beaujolais, which clearly has delivered the best price to value ratio for world class wine in many years.

2004 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Hommage à Jacques Perrin (France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape):  A phenomenal wine. Tons and tons of CdP funk when initially opened, including an interesting dash of petrol (which soon blew off). Huge raspberry fruit on the palate, with a myriad of spices, and layers of flavor. Wine Advocate gave this a 96-98, Wine Spectator a 96.  I would give it a 97, with upside potential holding it for years.  At $300, I am glad someone else provided it (!), but this is one phenomenal uber high end Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

2007 Alban Vineyards Syrah Reva Alban Estate Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley): Just like the 06 in that it is great young. My experience with Alban’s are that, if I am to like it, I will like it when it is a baby. Huge and extracted, as you would guess, but nice spicy fruit and a finish that lasts 30 seconds. Can last a long time, but why hold it? 96 Wine Advocate, 94 Wine Spectator.  I would give it a 94. $95 from the mail list; much more than that on the secondary market.

2009 Jean-Claude Lapalu Brouilly Croix des Rameaux (France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Brouilly): Yum. This wine has it all; great, pure fruit, minerality, earth and spice, flowers. Even better after open 24 hours. Wine Advocate gave it a 92/93. I would give it a 93, and is one of the best 2009 Cru Beaujolais yet.  Buy it by the case.

2009 Louis Jadot Moulin-à-Vent Château des Jacques (France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Moulin-à-Vent): Damn, I am a sucker for these 09’s. Better than 10 months ago. Lots and lots of minerality. Great fruit and earth. Perfect acidity. I would give it a 92. At $20, a complete no brainer which should be on your holiday table.

2007 Scherrer Winery Pinot Noir ‘Big Brother’ (USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast): Cherry and spice, very nice mouthfeel, minerality, very focused. Bigger than many of his pinot’s, but very balanced. An excellent and enjoyable wine.  Constantly good over the three bottles I had this year, should have bought a truckload. I would give it a 92. $23 a half bottle, cannot be beat for that price for world-class Sonoma pinot.

2006 Domaine Pierre Usseglio & Fils Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de mon Aïeul (France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape):  One of the consistently top Châteauneuf-du-Pape producers. I normally like it. This one: Too young, too much vanilla and wood, not allowing the underlying CdP to escape. Well made, with lots lurking to come out, just hope the modernity blows off with some age. 96 Wine Advocate, 94 Wine Spectator.  I would give it a 90. If you have it, sit on it for a few more years.

2007 Tenuta di Trinoro Le Cupole Maremma Toscana IGT (Italy, Tuscany, Maremma, Maremma Toscana IGT): More or less the same as five months ago…just a bit bland distracts from it. Easy to drink, nice fruit and herbs. Wine Advocate gave it a 92.  I would say 89. However, at $20, not a bad deal.

2009 Domaine Jean Royer Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Tradition (France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape):  Pretty good stuff for the price; medium bodied, good acidity, hints of spice and earth to go with the cherry fruit. At $27 for an 09 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, mostly traditional in nature, not a bad deal, but there are Cotes de Rhone’s that are as good, for less. I would give it an 88.

2007 Sea Smoke Pinot Noir Southing (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills – Sta. Rita Hills): Consistent with prior note of 8 months ago, but just a bit of green flavor in the finish. Well made wine and enjoyable. Not sure why, but there just seems to be an element of ‘manufactured wine” about this that does not help its case.  Wine Spectator gave it an 88, I would agree.  There are better pinots to be had though for under the $50 price tag on this.

2007 La Maialina Chianti Classico Riserva (Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico):  Pretty reticent, not giving much up even after a few hours. Pretty light on the palate, good smokey cherry nose and flavors (though maybe the smoke aspect is a bit much), along with some earthy components. Not bad, not great, but for $17 a fair drink. I would give it an 86.

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