Various bottles from over the past few weeks:
2011 Bréchet Famille 'Plateau des Chenes', Lirac
Very good balance of acid, tannins and fruit for current drinking and a young Lirac. Classy. A very modest amount of grapiness (to someone not in love with that), however, suggests that another two+ years in bottle will be a more interesting place.
1994 Château La Louvière, Pessac-Léognan
Decanted one hour. Slightly green with scant plum fruit and roasted coffee notes, but overall lacking the character and flavor of a bottle tasted early last year. Drink up.
2008 Hospices de Beaune Corton-Charlemagne, Cuvée François de Salins
Quoting another Cellartrackerer, FredB, because all I can do is agree: "Medium-bright yellow-gold color. Aromas of butterscotch, peach, apple, and lemon curd. Palate explodes with lemon, apple, pineapple, mango, mineral, and passionfruit that carries into a long, stone-infused finish. This was in a great place...." Outstanding. Brought to dinner by Ron F, and my WOTN.
1995 Bodegas Riojanas 'Monte Real' Reserva
Subtle notes of orange peel, date bar, leather and soft fruits. Just barely medium bodied with resolved tannins and low acid. Elegant and lovely, but lacks the stuffing for further aging.
2004 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Temperance Hill, Willamette Valley
Plums and herbs with a little violet on the nose. Looks and tastes youthful, though secondary development is proceeding nicely. Classic Oregon pinot, in a GREAT place right now and ready to drink but just middle-aged and by no means done.
2002 Woodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon Dedication Series, Columbia Valley (Washington)
Opened to show one of WA's best to visitor Ron F, who was unfamiliar with Woodward Canyon but knew wineries like Delille and Quilceda Creek. Unfortunately, this one is a bit young and alcoholic, and next to a couple delicate 95's (Spain and Bdx) it was overly bullish. Needs another 3-5 years or to be drunk on its own with a rare steak.
1994 Château Pichon-Longueville
Shared w/Grand Crew. Maturing in a lovely way, and perfectly ready to drink. Showed very very well among a bunch of 95's and 96's that really weren't ready to drink yet. THIS is what 'off vintages' are for.
2010 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Estate
On the lighter side. Raspberry plus cranberry and lots of acid--a food wine style. Will probably evolve into something nice enough but not til after 2015.
1990 Schloss Schönborn Hattenheimer Nußbrunnen Riesling
Sensuous and silky, great attitude. A dryer auslese but with plenty of dried apricot, marzipan and ginger.
2007 Swanson Merlot Napa Valley
Eh. Long in the tooth and tired; should have had more to offer.
1997 Dow Port
Murdered a baby, but a mighty fine one. Note to self: leave these alone.
1987 Laurel Glen Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Mountain
Took to Bill's lunch. Showed extremely well for the wine and vintage, with more structure and less plummy ripeness than the '86 we opened a few weeks before.
2004 Weingut Willi Bründlmayer Riesling, Langenloiser Steinmassel, Kamptal
Gorgeous bottle. Orange marmalade on green apple and a hint of lime peel backed up by great acidity and minerals.
1995 Chateau Musar Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Shared with the Dorks. Similar reaction to RANI's--a bit limp, which accentuated the sweetness and dulled the spice. Not bad at all, but less than what I expected based on prior bottles.
2003 Saint-Cosme Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Two bottles opened recently have been much much better than a disappointment reported about a year ago. In fact, though not exceptional among all CdPs/all vintages, these are exceptional for the 2003 vintage. Still youthful color, big bodied with herbs and lots of black pepper. Drinks perfectly for my tastes right now, and should hold here for a few years.
2001 Errazuriz 'Chadwick', Maipo Valley, Chile, Cabernet Sauvignon
We decanted for about two hours and it almost got too soft. Plummy fruit, spice and a bit of cedar, but classy. Tannins fairly resolved. Drink up.
1999 Château Pavie, St. Émilion
Plums and oil-cured black olives dominate with a little smoke and herbs in the back seat. Had I tasted this blind, the olives would have had me thinking Northern Rhone. Excellent in its own right but especially for a '99. A real shame they don't make 'em like this anymore. My last one (waaaaa).
2009 Lauren Ashton Cellars Cuvée Arlette (Bordeaux blend), Red Mountain (Washington)
Silky tannins drape classy black fruit, cedar and a touch of vanilla like a cashmere blanket. Classic warm vintage friendliness in a merlot-dominated blend (mer 57% with CF and CS at 19% ea). Has the bearing suitable to its price point ($44). Local retailers should stock this to handsell to the customer who wants something to take to someone else's house TONIGHT that has to be both impressive and ready to drink.
2000 Château Puygueraud Cuvée George, Côtes de Francs
This wine's drinking great and has a lot more life ahead of it. Still some primary fruit, great balance, stylish. Makes me feel like a genius to have purchased it and waited to open my first bottle, though many of the other sub-$20 vintage 2000's in my cellar tell a different story.
2000 Château Mayne-Vieil, Fronsac
And here's the counterpoint. Drinkable, but no joy. Was going to blame it all on myself for letting them get buried in the cellar for too long, but looking at notes posted by other Cellartrackerers all the way along, this wine's best day might have been the day I tasted/bought it back in 2003.
2010 Upland Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Old Vines Yakima Valley, Snipes Mountain (Washington)
"Memorize this flavor," I told my husband, "and you will always be able to distinguish a Washington cabernet from any other." It's the quintessential black and blue with blackberry fruit in front, coffee tones in the middle and malty blueberry tang on the finish, but ungobbed by new oak's vanilla pudding or ripe fruit's excessive alcohol and RS (it's only 13.7--can't recall the last serious WA red I had that was under 14%). Modern but not overdone, and good value at $30.
2011 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, California
Black cherry-blackberry fruit enhanced by that heavenly Rutherford dust and a green note that seemed more green cigar wrapper tobacco than underripeness, rather Haut-Medoc like. A solid buy in the high teens for those who find these flavors interesting, as I do.
2007 St. Supéry Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon , Napa Valley
Shows more maturity than expected for an 07, but not disappointing. Very dry with black cherry, licorice and some iron-rich minerality.
2001 Château la Bienfaisance Sanctus, St. Émilion
Better and richer than expected with plenty of fruit and a bit of interesting funk and leather. Very (and unusually) sensuous). Drink NOW. One of the best 01's I've had. (This was a singleton, and I'm quite sorry about that!)
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov