Those who follow my tasting notes at all will know that a lot of my wine drinking is done at informal tasting events with my wine geek friends. However, I do also sometimes take notes on bottles drunk at home with my wife and family. I tend to save those up for some period of time and then post them all at once. So, here are some notes on wines drunk at home over the past few months.
A friend’s casual birthday dinner:
2011 Bodegas Ostatu Rioja Blanco. This shows a crisp and fairly linear nose of apple, green melon, honeysuckle, chalk and minerals. It’s a bit richer in the mouth than the nose might suggest—with a pithy texture and a squeaky acidic undercurrent. The flavors veer toward sour citrus, melon and apple that are clean and have a nice little burst to them. It’s not overly serious, but provides a decently refreshing drink.
2011 Weingut Josef Leitz Riesling Eins-Zwei-Dry QbA Trocken Rheingau. This is bright and bristling on the nose, showing aromas of pineapple, grapefruit, chalk, smoked herbs, minerals and a little nick of kerosene. It’s sharp and tangy on the palate, with bracing acidity all the way through. The lighter-weight flavors of lemon oil, yellow tropical fruit and mica minerality are rather cinched up and simple just now, so I might hold off another year or so to see if it evolves into anything more interesting.
2000 Calbello (Costanti) Ardingo Toscana IGT. Man, this gave a tremendous showing on this night. The nose is very deep and loamy, with rich and gorgeous aromas of bridle leather, horsehide, funky dried sweat, sawn cedar wood and cigar box to go along with baked cherries, figs, plums and sweet tar. I suppose there’s a bit of brett to it, but it works wonderfully here as a counterpoint to the warm rich fruit. In the mouth, it’s fleshy and wonderfully fanned out across the palate, delivering luscious flavors of baked cherries, plums, leather, game meat and treacle. It’s seductive and velvety, and a little funk here and there, but all in all really showing delightfully for my tastes.
2009 Fattoria di Fèlsina Berardenga Chianti Classico. This is quite attractive on the nose, though still quite youthful and direct with its lifted and bright aromas of dusty cherries, tangy berries, smoke, fine earth and black olives. In the mouth, it’s finely-made, bright and juicy with its tingly red berry flavors and fine acidity, but the tannins are ubiquitous and strident at this time, so I’d suggest coming back to this in 5-plus years.
A family dinner:
1999 Domaine de Beaurenard (Paul Coulon et Fils) Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This is warmly red-fruited on the nose--with aromas of garrigue, olives, leather, foxy funk and minerals in the background of the core red currant and cassis fruit scents. In the mouth, it has a little savory streak to it, but is otherwise full of crème de cassis, red currant and raspberry fruit flavors that are medium-weighted, gently acidic and toothsome. A little sliver of alcohol seems to be poking out on the finish, though, so I’m inclined to suggest drinking up.
2009 Domaine Font Sarade Vacqueyras Les Hauts de la Ponche. This is a little wild and raw on the nose, showing direct aromas of black olives, prosciutto, rubber, charred wood and blackberry fruit. In the mouth, it’s full of sweet black raspberry fruit and savory bacon fat and olive brine flavors that show nice glycerin smoothness and pliant texture ahead of a bitter smoke-tinged finish. I like it just OK, but am curious to try it again in a few years’ time.
A family birthday dinner:
2011 Maison Albert Bichot St. Véran. This is not especially complex on the nose, but it offers clean and bright aromas of river stones, herbs, green apple and steel. On the palate, it has a nice sour crabapple core to go along with citrus, chalk and stone flavors that are finely-balanced and pleasingly food-friendly.
2010 Monmousseau Vouvray Clos Le Vigneau. Although this is pretty narrowly contained on the nose, I do like the aromatics of lemon peel, powdered minerals, quince, clementine and lanolin that exhibit nice tanginess. In the mouth, it’s gently squeaky in texture, with a surprisingly rich yellow fruit underbelly to support the minerally top notes. It’s medium-weighted, finely-integrated, but with an easy flow and comforting finish. I wouldn’t call it particularly distinctive, but it offers fine sipping pleasure.
2011 Domaine Romaneaux-Destezet (Hervé Souhaut) La Souteronne. I really enjoy the old world sensibility put forth on the nose by this Gamay-based wine, starting with aromas of barnyard, leather and tobacco leaf to go along with juicy cranberry and sour cherry smells. On the palate, it’s more fruit-driven than on the nose, with a juicy gulpable personality. There’s no real tannin interference, but there’s pleasing acidic structure and lift to it. It turns a tad more savory at the end, but overall this is dangerously chuggable.
2001 Le Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This wine delivers really lovely old-fashioned aromas of crusty old leather, dusty back roads, garrigue, fireplace ashes, toasted orange peel, cranberries and cassis. In the mouth, there are still some faint tannins, but otherwise it’s sleek, tangy and filled with surprisingly airy flavors of raspberry and cassis fruit. It’s pretty tasty and very good with the food, but I admit I was expecting a bit more depth and concentration of flavor from this.
2001 Chateau Musar Bekaa Valley Lebanon. With this 375 ml bottle, one finds lovely aromas of suede leather, tobacco leaf, creamy cherries and faint notes of fine funk. It’s drinking great, too, with a very smooth mouthfeel devoid of rough edges, and plenty of pretty flavors of cherry and raspberry fruit. It’s a rather clean version of Musar that’s drinking quite nicely right now.
1999 Raymond Vineyard & Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Napa Valley. This wine delivers an immediate and engaging bouquet of pure cassis, raspberry, oak spices, mocha, menthol, cedar wood, earth, suede and bacon fat aromas that are just very appealing and enjoyable right from the start. In the mouth, it seems to be drinking at peak-- still showing plenty of juicy dark berry, black currant and dark cherry fruit with a nice sweet chocolate underbelly. Although the tannins are totally resolved, there’s still decent structure to it and plenty of cool supporting acidity. It’s not particularly profound or layered, but it’s just really smooth, drinkable and tasty with grilled tenderloin.
A different family dinner:
2008 Argyle Brut Willamette Valley. This smells of almonds, chalk, herbs, apples and quartz. In the mouth, it’s intensely bracing and extremely dry and puckering. It’s about as crisp as they come, with a bit of apple, herb and faint biscuit flavors. In the end, it doesn’t give much pleasure, frankly, as it’s just too acidic and dry for my tastes.
2011 Marc Brédif Vouvray Classic. This is quite stony on the nose initially, slowly pulling in richer scents of lemons, herbs, oyster shells and wool. In the mouth, it’s more immediately expressive—with a strong punch of zesty grapefruit, lemon pepper, river stone and graphite flavors. Some gentle sweetness starts to make itself known over time, as the wine fleshes out while staying tangy and juicy yellow-fruited. It’s a pretty fun wine to drink when all is said and done.
2000 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Veronese IGT. This is dark and mysterious on the nose, showing earthy and slightly murky scents of raisins, bacon fat, asphalt and black pepper that occasionally show slight hints of volatility. In the mouth, it delivers juicy and sinewed black cherry and black raspberry fruit stuffing that comes across as robust, rich and gutsy. It’s a bit chewy and certainly quite concentrated, but it could use a bit more length and refinement. I’d probably suggest drinking up.
Some steaks and such with the family:
2009 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva. Although still a bit primary, there are nicely lifted aromas here of cherry, black raspberry, herbs and olives that are vibrant and inviting. In the mouth, it’s tangy and bright, but also a bit chewy and tannic. There’s an excellent streak of acidity all the way through that carries along the fine flavors of cherry fruit, olive, herb and oak flavors. It shows excellent raw materials but could use another 3-5 years in the cellar before trying again.
1999 Chateau Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley. This wine presents a deep, plummy nose of cedar closet, black currants, black plums, cigar box, green pepper slices, menthol and melted chocolate that’s pretty darned nice. In the mouth, it’s a bit plump and a touch over-ripe in some ways, but also very giving, velvety-smooth and easy to drink. Plum, fig, menthol and mocha paste flavors are hanging in there and do a very nice job up against a grilled steak.
2006 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Veronese IGT. Here one finds a firm but also fairly bold bouquet of black cherries, black raspberries, tar and peat aromas that are a bit primary at first but show more and more layering the longer you stay with it. It’s quite smooth and rounded on the palate, showing plenty of dark cherry, blackberry, licorice and port-like spirits flavors that exhibit solid length and structure. It feels like it can hold just fine, but I don’t think it’s going to necessarily improve any. It does go great with a burger from the grill, though.
Dinner with my wife and brother in law:
2010 Edmunds St. John Heart of Gold El Dorado County. This wine smells of flowers, talc, peach, melon and plantain in a soft, mellow bouquet I find quite appealing. On the palate, it has a certain heft of yellow fruit and a citrus-tinged creaminess to go along with a bright mineral cut. It’s subtle, refreshing and easily-balanced, with a pleasing personality and character to it.
2010 Faiveley Mercurey Clos Rochette Blanc. Here one finds rather nice aromas of seashells, pea tendrils, limestone, pear, hazelnut and faint oak. It’s got a nice sappy quality to it on the palate, with flavors of pear flesh, nuts, sweet oak and toasted spices that have limpid weight and fine cut. It’s hard to beat at this price point and does really well with the food.
2007 Aubert Chardonnay Lauren Vineyard Sonoma Coast. This wine delivers beautiful smoky layers of vanilla bean, hazelnut, lemon meringue, butterscotch candy, applewood smoke, nutmeg, pear and crushed shell aromas that are full-blown and attention-grabbing. It’s thick-textured, viscously cohesive, spicy and still fairly oaky on the utterly luscious palate--delivering gorgeous flavors of spiced pears, hazelnut, butterscotch and baking spices that are powerful and regal, yet elegantly-finishing and magnificently long. I really enjoyed it, but probably should have given it a few more years to let the wood integrate even more.
A “Got Well” seafood dinner for my father-in-law:
N.V. Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Brut. This has a crisp but surprisingly vinous bouquet of red apple peel, ginger, toasted bread and fine herb aromas that I find interesting. In the mouth, it shows a good deal of litheness and drive to the flavors of struck flint, apple flesh, lemon and red berry fruit. It has a nice mouth-filling quality to it and finishes clean and refreshing. No complaints and a solid crowd-pleaser at a great price.
2012 Domaine du Salvard Cheverny Blanc. I enjoyed this wine, starting with the gently prickly nose of wet chalk, river stones, grapefruit, cantaloupe and white pepper aromas. In the mouth, it has a very pleasing roundness and a smooth, pliant texture. It has refined acidity and just-there piquancy to the gooseberry, herb, chalk and citrus flavors. It has a lively finish, but otherwise stays finely controlled and classy.
2012 Domaine de la Pépière (Marc Ollivier) Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie. This is tight, nervy and popping-fresh on the nose, which features fine aromas of stone, chalk, oyster shell, slate, herb and salt air. It’s wonderfully refreshing on the palate, with lighter-weight flavors of minerals, grapefruit, lemon and oyster brine that have great lift but also airy elegance to go with sneaky concentration. This is really nice.
2010 Domaine de la Louvetrie (Landron & Fils) Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie. The nose here is broader and a bit more giving—featuring more grounded aromas of chalk, lime zest, pineapple, lemon meringue and flint. In the mouth, it seems a bit more powerful and clearly more fanned out, with pithy flavors of lemon/lime, white pepper, yellow apple and sea foam. It all leads to a tangy but full finish that leaves a rather nice and lasting impression.