Sunday, May 24, 2015

St. Hallett Barossa Gamekeeper's Red, 2010

At a wine dinner at Oakwood Bistro in Kalamazoo, Donna and I had the good fortune to share a table with the St. Hallett winemaker, Stuart Blackwell. This was the least expensive wine that Stuart presented to us that night, but he made it clear that it was one of his favorites. And he had confidence in its aging ability.

The wine is a combination of Shiraz (61%), Grenache (32%) and Touriga Nationale (7%). As an experiment, it was aged on its lees but without new oak. And the result is impressive.

Very dark, Shiraz, Touriga color. Black fruit, peppery, still young. Round, full and tannic. I'm searching for the Grenache red berry, and it may take more time to emerge. For now, the darker grapes dominate. As the wine airs, more peppery qualities emerge--some Syrah, some Grenache. And the finish becomes increasingly friendly and open. Yes, I think that's the Grenache speaking. I like this wine and have a few more bottles to enjoy a few years down the road.

Red Door Cellars Oregon Pinot Noir, 2010

I bought this wine from Jon Rimmerman at It was very inexpensive ($10 or less) and has only Oregon as an appellation. Some reviews on Cellar Tracker were negative, so my expectations were not high.

The color is so light that a one-sip pour in the glass is nearly transparent. Strawberries and spice--light but nice. The negative Cellar Tracker reviewer apparently likes his wines darker and more tannic. I've read that the secret to good Pinot Noir is the spice, and I agree. This wine has the kind of spice I like--cranberries, sour cherries, a touch of ginger. (None of the cinnamon and pie spices that I find disagreeable in Pinot wines from Monterey County.) Light body but plenty of substance. The more I drink, the more eagerly I come back for more. Great smells, great flavors, great acidity. It's not for everyone, but it's my kind of Pinot Noir. Wish I had bought more.

Pierre Bise Clos du Coulaine Savennieres, 1998

This is my third or fourth try of this wine, and it still puzzles me. The color is a deep, old gold, much more mature than much older Loire Chenin Blancs I have had. Compact smells of somewhat funky Chenin Blanc--honey, spices, stale lemon curd. Has substance but no freshness. (I know, it's a 17-year-old white wine, but I am comparing it to other wines from the region, including the 2001 Pierre Bise Anjou Blanc--a wine that cost less than half as much and is still drinking beautifully.) Full bodied and tannic for a white wine with a firm finish. Okay, but it doesn't thrill me as other mature Savennieres have.

I have read reviews of this and other Clos du Coulaine wines from the late 1990s from writers I trust. There is little comparison between what they report and what I have tasted from these wines. I suspect this batch may have been exposed to too much heat during transport or storage.

Olivares Altos de la Hoya Jumilla Monastrell, 2009

I loved this Jumilla Monastrell when it was first released and put away a couple of bottles to see how well it ages. The only thing I discovered is that it's holding well.

Very dark and bluish. French oak barriques, I believe. I smell vanilla, violets, black fruits, coffee and dark chocolate. Ripe, creamy smooth with a long finish. Very dark chocolate. French oak has been very, very good to this wine. The Jumilla old vine Monastrell traits are lurking underneath and will undoubtedly make this wine a revelation to 10 to 15 years. I'm not sure I want to wait that long, and there are plenty of unoaked and lightly oaked Spanish Monastrells on the market to satisfy my immediate appetite.

Nicolas Cotes de Gascogne Sauvignon Blanc, 2013

The label is classy and simple--looks like a $25 Sancerre but with a $9.99 price tag. And it's really a pretty classy wine for the price.

Beautiful light straw color. Grapefruit, flowers, leaning toward the sweetness of passion fruit. Same on the tongue. Pleasing grapefruit acidity and freshness but ripe fruit to counter it. Just what I like for a mid-summer evening on the deck.

Domaine Sainte-Anne Cotes du Rhone, 2001

This is a good example of a mature Domaine Sainte-Anne Cotes du Rhone. It has lost some of its bold fruit and cream and gained some finesse and depth.

The color is fading a bit but still a healthy medium light ruby. Strawberries and spice still dominate the nose but with developing complexity. Good fruit but not fruity in a simple way. On the palate, there is more of the same: strawberries, spice and a trace of pepper. The same red berry fruit that it had 10 to 12 years ago but with growing depth and maturity. This is certainly not a typical Cotes du Rhone, nor even Cotes du Rhone Villages.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Moutard-Diligent Irancy, 2009

This Pinot Noir from an area just south of Chablis was another of my favorites at the French wine tasting presented by Soif Distributors. It impressed me not because of its size but because of its lack of such.

Light garnet color. Cherry/berry scents but very reticent; takes a lot of time to start to open but well worth the wait. Light spices and dried fruits and flowers. Has the texture that you expect from a good Pinot Noir. The tannins are velvety and supple. Good acid balance but needs a few years to show its best.