Wine, Wine and more Wine – Tasting Notes from 2013, Part II

As mentioned in this article from a week or so ago, I am nearly a year behind in posting tasting notes and intend to catch up in the next few weeks. This is installment #2, covering wines tasted early in 2013. Some pretty damn high end wines on the list, some of which performed as they should considering the price. Especially the 1989 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the 2006 Sine Qua Non Grenache Raven Series, the 2006 Alban Vineyards Syrah Seymour’s Vineyard and the 2005 Glaetzer Shiraz Amon-Ra. All are well worth finding some friends to split the cost.  In addition, there are plenty of reasonably priced bargains below, well worth searching out. Especially look for the 2008 Vaccelli Sciacarello Ajaccio Roger Courreges, which at under $30 is as good as wines 10x the cost.  There are plenty of other $15-30 wines below meriting 88+ scores, find them and enjoy!

1989 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape (France, Southern Rhone, Châteauneuf-du-Pape): A wine everyone should try at least a couple times, especially since one can still find it at a reasonable price. Opens with lots of funk on the nose, especially barnyard, with time gets more complex on the nose with about every scent one can imagine from barns, to spice, to earth elements, leather, etc., most of which passes through to the palate, which has tremendously fresh and vibrant raspberry Grenache fruit. Marvelous. WIne Advocate and Wine Spectator (as well as about every other critic) gives this a 97. I would go 96+.  Will cost you $175+ to track one down, but well worth it for a special occasion.

2006 Sine Qua Non Grenache Raven Series (California, Central Coast): About as different as one could come up with from the 1989 Beaucastel, but almost as pleasing. This is big done right, which Manfred Krankl of SQN seems to have mastered. Could give you the blah blah blah about perfect balance, etc. but one just knows it when they taste it, everything is right, harmony is achieved and a smile crosses your face. While not transcendental, certainly a good case for the joys of hedonism. Wine Spectator gave this a 97, Wine Advocate a 96, IWC a 95. I go with 95.  Unfortunately will cost you about $250 to get one now, but like all Sine Qua Non’s, recommended at any price. Raid the college fund.  Get a second mortgage.  Better yet, find a tasting group and split the cost.

2009 Rhys Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard (California, Santa Cruz Mountains): Ok, wow. Wow. A California Chard that blows you away. Burgundian is an over-statement and not really accurate. Though it leans that way in that this is clearly not a buttery oak bomb, it has luscious zingy and tasty fruit, but with an amazing amount of other notes that I rarely find in the boring U.S. chard market. Must get more. IWC gave this a 94, I would go 95.  About $70 release price, now $110.  Sell something to buy some. Recommended.

2006 Alban Vineyards Syrah Seymour’s Vineyard (California, Central Coast, Edna Valley): Another contrarian example for me to throw at those who say I do not like big new world wines. Like the Raven before it, this is simply damn good. Even bigger, black as night, huge mouthfeel, filling every crevice of the palate with the essence of Syrah. Highly extracted, but hitting all the correct cylinders, one forgets criticism and just sits back and enjoys. Wine Advocate says 98+, Wine Spectator and IWC say 96. I would go 95. Certainly north of $200 at this point. Like the others above that are pricy, still recommended as the quality is as good as it gets.

2005 Glaetzer Shiraz Amon-Ra Barossa Valley (Australia, Barossa Valley): This was an amazing wine. Have not had one in a few years; well past my loving Aussie phase, but this reminds you why you once did. Sure, everyone jumped in to see who could make it bigger than the other, and actually the much less well known Aussie producers who do actual terroir based wines are world class, older Amon-Ra’s remind you that for sheer drinking pleasure, these could match up with anyone. Yes, the fruit was good, but elements of earth showed themselves everywhere in this wine, giving it minerality I did not expect but certainly appreciated. Young as hell also, this has years and years ahead of it. Wine Advocate gave this a 98, Wine Spectator a 92. I would go 94+.  Many years ahead.  Release price was around $60, now about $100. Just about as good as the wines above, for less than half the price. Recommended.

2008 Vaccelli Sciacarello Ajaccio Roger Courreges (France, Corsica): This is one fantastic wine and an almost certain finalist for a 2013 wine value of the year award. Fantastic purity, simply delicious fruit, light body (almost Burgundy-like), nice minerality, wonderful finish. Wow. I give this a 94.  At the $28 I found this for, one should buy it by the case. Highly Recommended.

2005 Château Rauzan-Ségla (France, Bordeaux, Margaux): Massive structure built for the long haul. Drying tannins make it hard to drink much now, but delicious fruit (not a fruit bomb), cedar, tobacco and other aroma’s and tastes give complexity. Can just imagine this being fantastic in 10-20 years. Wine Spectator gave this a 97, Wine Advocate a 94+, IWC a 92. I go 94.  About $130, but for world class Bordeaux with many, many years ahead.

2001 Vérité La Muse (California, Sonoma County): File this under the “I should not have opened it” category — it is too young, and I already had too much of others. None-the-less, what is past is past, and I will save the next bottle for a decade. Very good, screams Sonoma, excellent Merlot component, nice finish — only time is needed to flush it out a bit more, should become truly outstanding. Wine Advocate gave this the coveted 100 points, Wine Library TV a 93-94 and IWC a 92. I would give it a 93, with plenty of upside potential and a long, long life ahead of it.  Was once able to get these for around $100 or so, but since the 100 point score, you will be lucky to find one less than $320.

2008 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Bougros Cote de Bouguerots (France, Burgundy, Chablis): Tart, lots of minerality, like drinking rocks. I found it wonderful with many notes, though clearly very, very young and in need of serious bottle age. Score inevitably will reach 95+ on this one with time. Just damn good. IWC gave it a 95-97, Wine Advocate a 95, Wine Spectator a 92. I would go 93+ with lots of upside. A great deal in French Burgundy at $60 on release, now about $80. Recommended.

2006 Cayuse Syrah Cailloux Vineyard (Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley): In the mid-range in terms of the many Cayuse I have had, but that is still praise overall. Traditional Cayuse funk, though not in spades, blue and black fruits, a bit of spice…lots of character. Fun and interesting to drink. WIne Advocate gave this a 98, Wine Spectator a 95, IWC a 94, I would go 93. Release price around $90, at which recommended.  Now about $200, not worth that.

2008 Quilceda Creek Palengat Red Wine (Washington, Columbia Valley, Horse Heaven Hills): Ahhh… QC, always a good friend. Vibrant and fresh, yet commanding in presence. Huge fruit, nice dusty aspect, simply delicious. These will last many, many years, but I find QC to be just as good young, so why wait? Wine Advocate gave this a 97, IWC a 94.  I would go 93, but again, a lot of upside and a long life ahead.  At the release price of $85, recommended. Now, however, running $130 and up.

2010 Saxum James Berry Vineyard (California, Central Coast, Paso Robles): Another huge wine in a night of huge wines. This Saxum finds the right amount of harmony which makes you forget the bigness of the wine and extraction (though the next morning certainly reminds you of it). I wish they would find a way to get just a bit more complexity into these wines, James Berry is always good, in fact very good, but just seems to be missing a certain something to bring it up to truly great. Perhaps tone it down a bit, and let a few non fruit elements shine? Wine Advocate gave this a 96+, IWC a 94. I would go 93.  I like these young, and do not see it improving. $89 release price, now north of $150. Pass at that price.

2003 Château Pontet-Canet (France, Bordeaux, Pauillac): Young, though in the drinking window IMO. Vintage characteristic is there with strong, dark fruit. However, still has some pretty nice balance and secondary notes that make it interesting. Well made. While there is lots of time ahead on this, I can not see it ever becoming truly outstanding. Wine Advocate gave this a 95, Wine Spectator a 94, IWC a 93, World of Fine Wine a 17 (of 20). I would go 92. At the $68 I bought it for years ago, well worth it for this quality Bordeaux from a top estate. But at the current $120+ price, pass.

2009 Calera Pinot Noir de Villiers Vineyard (California, Central Coast, Mount Harlan): Excellent Central Coast pinot. Calera always seems to get more balance and even hints of elegance in some of it’s pinots, unlike many from Central Coast who make pinots too big. This has delicious up front red fruit, but look underneath, with some patience you will be rewarded with some earthy components, especially mushroom. Young, better days ahead, but no harm drinking now. Excellent price point for this quality. Wine Advocate gave this a 96, IWC a 92. I agree with 92.  At the $35 release price, a steal for this level of quality. Runs about $50 now if you can find it.

2010 Roar Pinot Noir Pisoni Vineyard (California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands): Very nice. Big, lip smacking fruit. Some earthy components and pepper. Delicious. I would give it 92 points. About $60.  If you like a large scale pinot, this is for you.

2004 Scherrer Winery Pinot Noir Fort Ross Vineyard “High Slopes” (California, Sonoma Coast): What can I say…excellent as always. Seems to be getting bigger as it ages. Lots of nice red and blue fruits, a lot of spice, a nice mouthfeel and finish. Fun to drink and yet reasonably thought provoking. IWC gave it a 91, I would go 92.  $60 on release.

2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Galitzine Vineyard (Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain): Dark purple. Very good, deep black/blue fruits dominate, nice medium/heavy mouthfeel, reasonable acidity, fun to drink, could use a longer finish. Wine Advocate gave it 97, IWC a 93+. I would give it 92+.  $95 release price, now $150, so have to pass.  Will get better though.

2010 Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Côte du Py Javernières (France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Morgon): Very nice, plenty of years and room for improvement ahead. Nice acidity, wonderful minerality, good light red fruit with complexity. Wine Advocate gives it a 91-91, which I agree with.  Recommended at $25.

2003 Pride Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (California, Napa Valley): Dark red fruit, cassis, and some smoke elements. Had late at night with palate fatigue, but this still showed well. IWC gave this a 93, I would go 91.  Now running nearly $200, so pass.

2008 Domaine Belluard Terroir de Mont Blanc Brut Zero (France, Savoie): Fantastic value, strong yeasty/bread nose, nice palate with lots of apple, nice beading, fun and easy to drink. Refreshing. I would give it a 91, cost is under $25 if you can find it. Recommended.

2010 Château Moutte Blanc (France, Bordeaux, Bordeaux Supérieur): $17, really? What a great QPR. The Petit Verdot gives this a little extra oomph in the nose department, nice peppery hints to give some character to the black fruit, nice mouthfeel, decent finish — all in all excellent with food we were snacking on (salami, also with roasted chicken). No harm in drinking now, it really is good stuff. I would give it a 91, and recommend highly.

2010 Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir CrossBarn Sonoma Coast (California, Sonoma Coast): Nice wine, somewhat plush, awash with blue and red fruit, nice floral elements and mouthfeel elevated this above average, especially for the price point. I would give it a 91.  About $40. Recommended.

2009 Tenuta Vitalonga Phi (Italy, Umbria): Sensed some old school elements, Umbrian in nature, biggest flaw is probably being a little young. Great for grilling. I would give it a 90. About $30-40, probably a bit too much for this.

2009 Mocine Chiusure Toscana IGT (Italy, Tuscany): Another excellent qpr. Lots of herbs and minerality to go with the red cherry notes and wonderful acidity. Good stuff. I give it a 90. About $17, recommended.

2010 Domaine Duseigneur Lirac l’Astrolabe (France, Southern Rhone, Lirac): Very nice at first, lots of brambly notes, light spice, blue fruits, a bit dusty with a nice presence and good acidity. Score suffers a bit as it falls apart after a few hours, but very good prior to that. IWC gave it a 90, I agree. About $20. Recommended.

2010 Château Martinat (France, Bordeaux, Cotes de Bourg):  Wow, this was really good. An unbelievable QPR. I liked the 09, but this is much better. Nice fruit enveloped in a Bordeaux nose, with a palette feel and taste well above it’s weight class! Should have bought a bunch!  I would give it 90 points.  About $16, recommended.

2010 Philipps Eckstein Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett (Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer): Not profound. However, I will say it was very enjoyable. Very young and fresh, nice and zippy. Lots of lively citrus and floral elements, with tiny hints of spice. I would give this a 90. At $16, recommended.

2007 Olek-Mery Chinon Cuvée des Tireaux (France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Chinon): Excellent QPR with fantastic minerality and spot on cab franc typicity. Great with steak, good finish, can drink a lot without getting plowed over. One thing, however, fell apart after one night. So drink up, once you open. I would give this a 90.  At $17, recommended.

2010 Scubla Colli Orientali del Friuli Lo Speziale Bianco (Italy, Friuli): Fresh wine, nice bright fruit and floral notes. Really would be great as a spring wine, out on a picnic. Good effort. Wine Advocate gives this a 91, IWC an 88. I would go 89+. Around $25, but hard to find. Recommended.

2011 Cantina Rigatteri Graffiante Isola dei Nuraghi IGT (Italy, Sardinia): Reminds me of thirty years ago, what my Grandfather would drink every day. Modern but a bit if rustic-ness which makes it good. Decent QPR. I would give this an 88. At under $20, recommended.

2005 Gemstone G (California, Napa Valley, Yountville): Another late in the night wine. Lots of licorice, deep dark fruit and some spice. Seemed young. Either I was fatigued or it seemed lush, but still somewhat closed. IWC gave it a 93, I would go 88.  $150, at which price, not recommended.

2008 Favia Cerro Sur (California, Napa Valley): Too young. Decent material was clear, but lots of baby fat to shed, resulting right now in a monolithic fruit bomb with some cocoa. I did not get much Cab Franc typicity, but perhaps it is lurking under there? IWC gives it a 93, I would go 87, and at $120, pass.

2010 Château Guibeau (France, Bordeaux, Puisseguin-St. Émilion): For the very inexpensive tariff, this was very good. Silky, with enough fruit and earth to keep it interesting. Also, very food friendly. Glad to have another stashed away. Drinking well now, probably for another few years. I would give it an 87. At $14 for a Bordeaux of this quality, recommended.

2005 Louise Brison Champagne Brut (France, Champagne): A little too much citrus and a bit too little other ‘stuff’; still quaffable and very good for the cost. I would give it an 87. At $26, not a bad deal.

2008 Durigutti Malbec Reserva (Argentina, Mendoza): Very dark purple. Licorice and cocoa notes with dark fruit, medium bodied. A bit tart on the finish. IWC gave it a 92 and Wine Advocate a 90. I would give it an 87. At under $20, recommended.

2006 Alban Vineyards Pandora (California, Central Coast, Edna Valley): From one of the premier Rhone Rangers. Huge wine. Loads of dark fruit and white pepper on the nose. Palate awash in fruit…not really overripe, but too much of a good thing. Tiring. Still the first glass is good, if monolithic. Wine Advocate gave this a 97. I would go 87. $115 on release, now nearly $200. Pass.

2010 Château Peybonhomme-les Tours Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux (France, Bordeaux, Cotes de Bordeaux): Very good $12 bottle of Bordeaux. Lots of earth elements to complement the blue fruits. Easy to drink, decent finish. Did not hold up greatly over night. I would give it an 86, but at $12, worth getting.

2008 Aubert Pinot Noir UV Vineyard (California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast): From one of America’s most sought after (and hard to find) Pinot’s. Too big, somewhat disjointed. Clobbers you. Good fruit, yes, but needs more than that. Others liked it better. I generally like Aubert’s, but this one was so-so. Wine Spectator gives this a 96, Wine Advocate a 95, IWC a 93. I would go 86. $80 on release, $130+ now.  Pass.

2004 Marcassin Pinot Noir Three Sisters Vineyard (California, Sonoma Coast): From the premier cult Pinot producer, with a five plus year waiting list, in the U.S. Overripe, monolithic and sings only one note — that being rich (over)ripe fruit. I do usually like Marcassin Pinot’s, even though the style is not my favorite, but this one was plan and simply boring. So lush one can sleep right through it, with only a headache reminding you that you drank something the night before. Wine Spectator gave this a 95, Wine Advocate a 94, and IWC a 93. I would go 85. Was $129, now $200, pass.

1998 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape (France, Southern Rhone, Châteauneuf-du-Pape): Not giving it a rating, as I am not convinced that this was not slightly off. Suffered next to the 1989. By comparison, this had a much thicker mouthfeel, almost portish, with much more emphasis on non fruit elements, lots of almost brown sugar/molasses. Actually pretty good, but ????

4 thoughts on “Wine, Wine and more Wine – Tasting Notes from 2013, Part II

  1. Hmm, interesting notes on the 1998 Ch. de Beaucastel CDP. I have a couple of bottles in my cellar — I’ll try to concoct an occasion to open one soon, and see if it’s consistent with your bottle.

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