July was very successful when it comes to tasting wine as all fourteen wines tried this month ended up being very nice to drink despite being reasonably inexpensive. Nothing was extraordinary, but most was very good to outstanding and I would be happy to have any of these bottles in my cellar. For those who like Nebbiolo, I would recommend the Wind Gap mentioned below as a rare American attempt at this grape that turned out well. A new wine from Christophe Baron of Cayuse fame, called No Girls, shows much promise. As for a rarity, a red Burgundy for under $30 from the fantastic 2009 vintage, Clos du Moulin aux Moines Auxey-Duresses, is well worth tracking down. The 2004 Müller-Catoir Riesling Spätlese is drinking fantastic right now as is the 2004 Bruno Giacosa Spumante. I also need to call out the 2009 Domaine Vrignaud Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume, the 2010 Scherrer Winery Zinfandel Old and Mature Vines and the 2006 Castell’in Villa Chianti Classico as outstanding value wines. You will also see three Bordeaux’s from great vintages all under $30, including one at $13 well worth getting.
2009 Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes (France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape): Maybe I am being overly exuberant on this wine, because of low expectations since I find their higher end wines too big. This was excellent, much easier to drink now then some of their other higher end selections. 85% Grenache, with the rest Syrah and Mourvedre. Lots of red raspberry and dark cherry fruit, somewhat brambly, some oak and vanilla, though well in check, some earth. Modern, but not overly so. Has some good years ahead. Nice. Wine Advocate gave this a 94, as did The Rhone Report. IWC gave it a 92 and Wine Spectator a 91. I would give it a 93. Though $40-50, recommended.
2006 Wind Gap Wines Nebbiolo Luna Matta & Glen Rose Vineyards (USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles): This was a very nice surprise, certainly the best American made Nebbiolo I have had (ok, perhaps that is a low bar!). In fact, I have to admit not much typicity when compared to Langhe, but delicious in making its own statement. Lots of cherry fruit, a bit of floral and tar elements; some fine tannins but easily drinkable. Bravo to Wind Gap on this, would love to see how these age. Just under $50 from the mail list. I would give this a 92. Recommended.
2008 No Girls Wines Grenache La Paciencia Vineyard (USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley): From the people who produce Cayuse (Christophe Baron.), one of my favorite wines produced in the U.S., this is the first vintage of their new wine called No Girls. Extremely good, bright, fresh and young. A Cayuse like funky nose, but tons of red raspberry and minerality; goes down almost too easy. Will be interesting to see how this evolves. Wine Advocate gives this a 93, I would go 92+ with good upside potential and a long life ahead. $55 if you can get on the mail list. Recommended.
2004 Müller-Catoir Gimmeldinger Mandelgarten Riesling Spätlese (Germany, Pfalz): Full of stones, golden fruit and citrus and small hints of petrol. Nice sweetness with enough acidity to keep it from getting cloying. Could use a bit more time to come all together and develop further complexity, but very little to quibble about now. A fantastic wine from Pfalz and one amazing value. This cost me $25 when I got it in 2006. Wine Advocate gave it a 94, Wine Spectator an 88. I would go 92+; it will still improve for another 5 years and drink well for a decade after that. Find it and buy some!
2004 Bruno Giacosa Spumante Extra Brut (Italy, Lombardia): Giacosa and bubbles can only be a good combination, and sure enough it is. This was really, really good, with a huge nose of apples and citrus that dominated the room once opened. Dry, yummy fruit, good acidity. A wonderful drink! About $36. Recommended and I would give it a 92. Drink in the next couple years. I hope to find more.
2009 Clos du Moulin aux Moines Auxey-Duresses Clos du Moulin aux Moines (France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Auxey-Duresses): This is a fantastic deal in red Burgundy from a great vintage. Lots of stone minerality dominates the fresh, red cherry fruit; some oak rears its head in those nose, but really falls into the background on the palate. Very young, will improve for at least another 5-8 years and drink well for years beyond that. Really, $30 for a 2009 red Burgundy that is this good? People, find this and buy it, you will be glad you did. I would give this a 91+.
2009 Domaine Vrignaud Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume (France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru): This was very, very good on a hit summer evening. Very quenching with great acidity. Lemon, grapefruit, lime, bits of spice and a good dose of minerality/wet stones. For $20, a damn good deal. Wine Advocate gave this a 91, Burghound an 89. I would go 91 and highly recommend. Those addicted to massively oaked new world chardonnay, do yourself a favor and see how good it can be without all that oak! Those who think you need to spend ten times the cost of this bottle for a good white from Burgundy, do yourself a favor and sip on this.
2010 Scherrer Winery Zinfandel Old and Mature Vines Scherrer Vineyard Alexander Valley (USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley): Very young, and, for a Scherrer, very big. Lots of dark red brooding fruit, needs a bit more time to mellow and let other characteristics shine though. That said, from a pure hedonistic drinking standpoint, nothing at all wrong with it right now, in fact very tasty. Good acidity, this thing will rock in about 3-5 years. I would give it a 91, and at $32, easy to recommend.
2006 Castell’in Villa Chianti Classico (Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico): Young, but very nice with lots of potential. Traditional in nature with lots of minerality, good cherry flavors with a bit of ‘dirt’; nice acidity. Excellent for the price point, and should improve for the next 5 years. Excellent food wine. Wine Advocate gave this a 92, IWC a 91. I would go 91 with upside. Years and years to go on this one, and an excellent Chianti for $20. Recommended.
2009 Château Garraud (France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Lalande de Pomerol): Young, but promising, from a great vintage. Nose has some modern elements, though the palate comes across reasonably traditional. Needs a few years to flush out, but nice dark fruit with earth and cedar elements. Very nice for the price point. Try to hold off for another year before popping this, or give it a nice decant. Wine Spectator gave it a 90-93, I would go 90, with some room for improvement. At under $30 for a Bordeaux of this quality from a great vintage means recommended.
2010 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast (USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast): Longtime readers know I have a love/hate relationship with the wines from Kosta Browne. The wines are always pretty hyped in Wine Spectator. They are very new world in style. Sometimes it works for me, sometimes it does not, with the vintage playing a large role. Pretty tasty with lots of cherry rhubarb and the traditional Kosta Browne cola. Pretty big, with some jamminess, but this one they kept in check in that it is nicely balanced. I would give this a 90. At the $58 mail list price, I could justify one or two of these; at a higher price I could not.
2005 Château la Bienfaisance (France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru): Good, with plenty of upside potential. Somewhat one dimensional now, but that one dimension (dark fruit) is really something, and some hints of stone, earth and tobacco portends something that really could be great, especially considering the price point (under $30) and the outstanding vintage that it comes from (2005). It will improve for a few more years and drink well for at least ten more years. Wine Advocate gave this a 92, IWC an 89-91, I would go 89. Recommended.
2009 Château la Grolet (France, Bordeaux, Côtes de Bourg): Has a lot going for it considering the price point. A bit more open than a year ago, with lots of dark fruit, but also some licorice and cedar. Easy and pleasant on the palate, though with only a moderate finish. Though not hugely complex, it does speak terroir better than others many times the cost. I would guess there will be some slight improvement the next 1-2 years, then leveling off. I would give it an 88. At $13, an absolute steal for this quality from Bordeaux in a great vintage. Buy a bunch.
2010 Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Côte du Py “Réserve” (France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Morgon): I am a huge fan of Burgaud, but this one was pretty average. Very bright and juicy; though I like lots of acidity this had too much, perhaps another year or two are needed to flush out? Good fruit and some decent minerality, though a bit too thin. Wine Advocate gave this a 91-92. I would go 87, with perhaps some improvement ahead the next few years. Still at only about $23, hard to pass up.
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