Wine Tasting Notes from Fall 2013

Fall brought many outstanding wines my way. Nothing truly mind-glowingly great, but very few misses. The 2007 Alban Reva, from Rhone Ranger pioneer John Alban, is as black and thick of a wine one can imagine; the classic definition of a BIG new world wine. Yet, it remains well balanced and a taste powerhouse. Fred Scherrer knocks it out of the park with his no longer produced Fort Ross High Slopes Pinot, which, at ten years old, is truly one great California Pinot Noir, perfectly aged, with taste and complexity. I have said it before and say it again…get on Fred’s mail list, his wine is the most fairly priced world class wine I have ever run across. Bergstrom‘s 2008 Lancellotti Pinot is one of the best Oregon Pinot’s I have had in years; truly world class and worth tracking down. A Washington state Grenache, the 2009 Cayuse God Only Knows is one of the best Grenache’s produced in the United States. Besides the Scherrer just mentioned, there are some other bargains worth tracking down, especially the marvelous and still young 1988 Schloss Schönborn Erbacher Marcobrunn Riesling Spätlese, the wonderfully priced white Burgundy 2008 Hubert Lamy Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Derrière Chez Edouard, the 1995 Ontañón Rioja Gran Reserva and the best rose wine I have ever had, the 2012 Frank Cornelissen Susucaru 5.  You cannot go wrong with anything on this list, with the exception of a few which I point out. The price points range from an affordable $12 to a not so affordable $300.

{Ed. Note: A reminder, a great place to search for wines is Wine Searcher.}

2007 Alban Vineyards Syrah Reva Alban Estate Vineyard (California, Central Coast, Edna Valley): Dark as pitch black night. Huge nose of smoked meat, coal, dark fruits, spice and more. When chewing on it, incredible taste and finish. Only drawback was some heat on the finish. The longer the bottle was open, the better and better it got. Wine Advocate gives this a 96, IWC a 94. I go 95.  $94 on release, now $120 and up. Recommended for a special wine; have on its own, no food.

2007 Alban Reva
2007 Alban Reva

2003 Scherrer Winery Pinot Noir Fort Ross Vineyard “High Slopes” (California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast): Hitting on all cylinders, truly a great wine in its prime. A cornucopia of fruit, red, blue and black, some earthy elements, and some all spice. Great acidity, long finish. From magnum. High Slopes was always my favorite Scherrer Pinot, and this reminded me why. Just fantastic. 95 points and highly recommended, if you can find any. About $90 for a magnum, $45 for a 750ml.

2009 Cayuse Grenache God Only Knows (Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley): I was very happy with this one. Young, but full of life and complexity. Nice dark fruit, mineral, smoked meat, an almost petrol nose and a palate awash with fruit and a myriad of other flavors, such as tea and herbs. Simply a lot going on. Well balanced, nice finish. Wine Advocate gives this a 95, IWC a 93; I split the difference, giving it a 94. $75 on release, now $110+. Recommended for a special bottle of wine.

2009 Cayuse God Only Knows
2009 Cayuse God Only Knows

2008 Bergström Pinot Noir de Lancellotti (Oregon, Willamette Valley, Chehalem Mountains): Really good. Ruby red, lots of red fruit notes, minerality and floral notes. Nice finish. Young, but in a very good spot. One of the best bottles from Oregon I have had in a few years. IWC and Wine Spectator gives this a 94, Wine Advocate a 93.   I would go 94. $59 on release, will age for another decade. Recommended.

2007 Marcassin Chardonnay Three Sisters Vineyard (California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast): Very nice, enjoyed about as much as the last one a few months back. Golden hue, with lemon notes, pear, stone like minerality and a bit of oak. Will only get better. Wine Advocate gives this a 96+, Wine Spectator a 93. I would go 94. $75 on release, now going for $200. Recommended at the release price, not at the current price.

1988 Schloss Schönborn Erbacher Marcobrunn Riesling Spätlese (Germany, Rheingau): Excellent, in a great spot, with some good years to go. Very golden color, apple/pear notes and maybe some lemon custard, honeyed, good mouthfeel. Just right with sweetness and good acidity. Great deal on this one at $32. I would give this a 93, and highly recommend.

2008 Hubert Lamy Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Derrière Chez Edouard (France, Burgundy, Cote de Beaune): Excellent value white burg, light straw in color, lots of citrus/lemon, but even more minerality. Great mouth feel, good acidity, an overall excellent presence. Really, really enjoyable. IWC gave this a 91, I would go 93. At $40, a steal in premier cru white Burgundy.

2009 Saxum Paderewski Vineyard (California, Central Coast, Paso Robles): Surprised myself in that I really enjoyed this. Very big, as expected, but not over the top; nor with the heat I often get with Saxum. Just delicious dark fruits and spices, as well as some floral and tar elements. Very dense, great mouth feel, nice finish. Good stuff! Much better than the 2010. Wine Advocate gives this a 97, IWC a 93. I would give this a 93.  $85 release price, now north of $135. Recommended at the release price, not at the current price.

2009 Copain Pinot Noir “En Haut” Kiser (California, North Coast, Anderson Valley): Wanted to wait on this another year or two, since the one I had 18 months ago was so stunning and I only had one left. Wonderfully complex, red fruit (lots of cranberry and pomegranate), floral notes, earthy spice and minerality. Good acidity and finish. A bit less exuberance than last year. Great wine, however. Wine Advocate gives this a 94, IWC a 93. I agree with 93. $70 on release. Recommended, and has years to go. As good a pinot as one can find from the North Coast.

1995 Ontañón Rioja Gran Reserva (Spain, Rioja): Youthful, very pleasant to drink. Dusty, lots of minerality, perhaps a bit of tobacco with the fruit. 13%, very well balanced. Would love to find more! I would give this a 92+. $48. Recommended, though hard to find.

2012 Frank Cornelissen Susucaru 5 (Italy, Sicily): Probably the best ‘rose’, certainly the most distinct, I have ever had. Tastes as fresh, natural and unmanipulated as one could imagine, almost like squeezing the grape juice directly into your mouth. Bright red and somewhat murky, but with a mesmerizing cornucopia of smells and flavors. Strawberry and other red fruits, all spice, minerals and rock, potpourri. Simply cool stuff. I give this a 93, and at just over $20, highly recommended.

2012 Frank Cornelissen Susucaru 5
2012 Frank Cornelissen Susucaru 5

2009 Quilceda Creek Palengat Red Wine (Washington, Columbia Valley, Horse Heaven Hills): Has a very nice future to it — dark purple, nice bouquet of spice, dark fruits and tar/cocoa, long finish, good acidity and structure. Lots of depth and purity. Should/may get much better, for now, outstanding, if just a bit young. Wine Advocate gives this a 97, IWC a 93. I would go 92+, with years of improvement ahead. $90 release price, now $130 and up.

2006 Passopisciaro Passopisciaro Sicilia IGT (Italy, Sicily): Very similar to my last drink of this 2 1/2 years ago. Silky. Nice depth, Cherry, flowers and minerality. Still young. Good acidity. Excellent food wine, and nice to sip on its own. Wine Advocate and IWC give this a 93, I would go 92. $35-40. Recommended.

2009 Daniel Bouland Morgon Vieilles Vignes Delys (France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Morgon): Has not moved much in 2.5 years, still fresh, bright, full of minerality and red fruit. Great acidity and finish, works with about any food. Wonderful stuff. Wine Advocate gives this a 93, Wine Spectator a 92, which I agree with. $23. Recommended.

2009 Saxum Syrah Booker Vineyard (California, Central Coast, Paso Robles): The fantastic taste raises the score quite a bit, and helps you forget the hot finish and the just ‘too big’ overall feel. When one chews on the wine, a fantastic burst of spice, especially cinnamon and allspice, makes it presence, and the dark fruit explodes in flavor. Damn good, just slightly out of balance (almost pulls off the size). Wine Advocate gives this a 96+, IWC a 94. I give it a 92. $85 on release, now $130+. Hard to recommend at that price.

2010 Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Côte du Py Javernières (France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Morgon): I could drink these day in and day out. Dark red and black fruit, with smoked meats with an iron/iodine hint and tons of minerals. Great acidity, still improving. This one is as good as the 2009, if not better right now. I would give this a 92, as did Wine Advocate. Just under $30. Recommended.

2007 Domaine du Château de Chorey (Germain) Beaune 1er Cru Les Cras Vieilles Vignes (France, Burgundy, Cote de Beaune): Opened it by mistake as I just had it a couple months ago and meant to wait another year or two for the next. None-the-less, much better than the previous bottle, with lots of depth that was not there before. Strawberry, plum and wet forest floor. Soft tannins, lots of acidity, though under control. Very good. Wine Advocate gives this an 88, I would go 92 with plenty of upside and a long life ahead. A steal at $30, though probably twice that now.

2011 Cascina Chicco Langhe Nebbiolo (Italy, Piedmont, Langhe): Wonderful value with lots of fresh, alive flavors, especially the red fruits and floral elements. Tons of flavor, easy drinking. I would give this a 92. At $17, a hell of a deal.  Buy some!

2008 Domaine du Pégaü Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réservée (France, Southern Rhone, Chateauneuf du Pape): One of the great producers of Chateauneuf. Not going to get any better than this, even though it has years to live. From a marginal vintage, but I think I like it better because of that (does not have the ‘bigness’). Bright, red fruits, lighter than normal Pegau funk, very good acidity. Easy, fun drinker. Wine Spectator gave this a 93, Wine Advocate a 91. I agree with 91. However, one can find this for half of a normal vintage, $30-40, at which recommended.

2009 Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Côte du Py Javernières (France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Morgon): Lost some exuberance in the last year or so — may be a bit more complex than a couple years ago, but the exuberance was worth more than the complexity. Classic Gamay notes, certainly 09 vintage characteristics on the fruit, yet still nice notes of licorice, iron, allspice and cherry.  Lots of acidity. A pleasure to drink, I may be underscoring this. Good stuff. Wine Advocate gave this a 94-95, perhaps their highest ever Beaujolais score.  I would go 91+. Has years to go. $37, but probably impossible to find at this point.

2009 Copain Pinot Noir “En Bas” Kiser (California, North Coast, Anderson Valley): Very little movement since one year ago. Very good, lots of nice fruit (especially red), though I am not as confident of it really flushing out as I was last year. Still, an excellent wine. Wine Advocate gives this a 94, IWC a 92. I give out a 91+. $65 on release. Recommended, and has years to improve.

2011 Wind Gap Wines Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown Vineyard (California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains): One of my favorite newer producers. Early, and will get better. Light, lots of bright fruit, good acidity. Earthy, almost mushroom like hints. I would give this a 90+. $56 on release. Recommended.

2011 Domaine Guion Bourgueil Cuvée Prestige (France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Bourgueil): A very herbaceous wine, with lots of green bell pepper, minerals and blue fruits. Interesting to drink, good taste and finish. A steal at $12. I would give this an 89, and highly recommend.

2010 Saxum Paderewski Vineyard (California, Central Coast, Paso Robles): Lots of deep, dark blue and black fruits, with a concentrated feel…tar, spice and deep cocoa. Alcohol was too noticeable for my taste, but setting that aside, certainly had taste going for it. Wine Advocate and IWC gave this a 94. I would go 88.  $89 on release, much more than that now. Pass at this cost.

2010 Champ Divin Côtes du Jura Cremant Du Jura Zéro Dosage (France, Jura, Cotes du Jura): This one is all about minerality and zip. Probably way too young, but quenching and sharp with liquid stones and a custard like taste. Interesting drink, and the color was quite dark, almost a salmon color. Would be interesting to try in 30 years. I would go 88.  $18, so hard not to recommend.

2011 Domaine Les Faverelles Bourgogne Le nez de Muse (France, Burgundy, Bourgogne): Very fresh, bright red, lots of delicate red fruits, and a bit of minerality. Not hugely complex, but well made and fun to drink. I give this an 88. At $20, recommended.

2009 Sybille Kuntz Riesling Gold-Quadrat Trocken (Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer): Has not put on any weight in the 18 months since my last one. Reasonably simple right now, though decent structure. What is great here is the minerality, seemingly speaking terroir through the lemon and pear palate. I would give this an 88, but with years of likely improvement ahead. $25. Recommended.

2008 Marie Courtin Champagne Efflorescence Extra Brut (France, Champagne, Aube): Very focused and zippy, with piercing acidity. This is all about minerality and place, and it is there in spades. I think a few more years would settle it down, and it would/could become outstanding. Wine Advocate gave this a 95, I would go 88+, with plenty of room for improvement and aging. $60+.

2008 Azienda Agricola Cos Nero di Lupo Sicilia IGT (Italy, Sicily, Nero d’Avola): Decent wine, medium light bodied with dark fruits (plum especially), notes of tobacco, and a smoke like taste lingers in your mouth. Good acidity. Short finish. I would give it an 87. About $27, at which price, pass for better Nero’s.

2011 Emplacement Syrah (Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley): I would call this interesting. Perhaps just too young. I do not mind the lightness, nor the herbal aspects. Just not together, at least yet. Still decent components, and well made, especially for the price ($12). I would go 86.

2007 Domaine du Château de Chorey (Germain) Beaune 1er Cru Cuvée Tante Berthe (France, Burgundy, Cote de Beaune): Thin and a bit too much wood. Filled out some after a while, decently made and reasonable taste, but those weaknesses could not be overcome. Lots of acidity, a bit tart. IWC gives this a 93, Wine Advocate a 90. I go 85, and drink up, as this is fading fast. $60 and up, pass.

2004 Markus Molitor Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese (GermanyMosel Saar Ruwer): Too cloying. Still very young, but simply needs more acidity. Wine Spectator gives this a 95, I would go 85. $30, pass.

2 thoughts on “Wine Tasting Notes from Fall 2013

  1. I drank a bottle of the Susucaru 2 (i.e., 2009) this year. Either the stuff is too natural to age well, or the bottle variation is too great — but it was not good. Lots of thick, gloppy, pink sediment had been thrown, and there was an unpleasant fizziness and volatile acidity. I would say it was either a bad bottle, or 3 years in the cellar exceeded the “best before” date. I have another bottle that I’ll open soon, to see if it’s at least consistent, but I’m envious of your positive experience of the wine!

    1. Hi Ari;
      Best of luck on the next bottle, let me know how it goes. Certainly with how natural these are, I would expect (unfortunately) lots of bottle variation, as I assume any negative environment for even some hours could cause negative impact on these. Unlike any other rose, I let this one sit open an hour after opening because it seemed off, but came together beautifully!

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