A Few Recent Tastes XLII

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A Few Recent Tastes XLII

#1 Post by Marc_Hanes »

2012 Penfolds Chardonnay Yattarna Bin 144. Strong green tint to the yellow base, glossy shine and glow. Nose of expensive oak featuring lime zest, mint, crisp toast, suggestion of bubblegum, wet minerals, not getting much fruit, some apricot, green apple or maybe pineapple, leaves an impression of fading fruit or perhaps it is just the dominance of the oak. Medium-bodied, sinewy attack and then fills out through the mid-palate. Mostly as the crisp oak gets creamier. Same mint, licorice, and floral mist, more citrus presence here. The mango, pineapple, peach fruit subtle but shows better than in the nose. I would guess that this is more or less what it was supposed to be. But it’s not for me. Sourced from Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, Partalunga, Piccadilly. (Screwcap)

1998 Château Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley The Montelena Estate. The purple hued core shows vigor yet, whereas the rims all sorts of fiery sunset reds, fine cleanliness to the liquid. Cedar and incense filled nose, plenty of fruit left without coming anywhere near “fruity,” tobacco leaf, touch of orange or grapefruit zest, light piney to menthol lift, shows poise and not because its trying to hide weaknesses. Light to medium-bodied, crisp and tingly tannic foundation with a heaping of minerally earth and brushes of bell pepper. Savory kick to the black currant, blackberry fruit, here too said fruit not showing its age nor scars of an unpopular vintage per se. Wonderfully balanced, restraint is not a dirty word. Leaves the palate cleansed and ready for more. Makes me wish this wasn’t the last of my bottles.

2017 Arnot-Roberts Gamay Noir El Dorado County. Gauzy garnet red, reflective surface helps pretty it up. Honey topping to the strawberry, rhubarb fruit scents, lemon zest and minerality keep it dancing in your nostrils, something which recalls volcanic ash, good natural staying power. Light-bodied, the acidity frames it enough to noticeably increase palate presence. Same foundation of poor dirt, rocks and minerals, emphasis on dry ash. Not to say that the red berry, watermelon fruit is weak, just not the focal point. Less citrusy than on release. Overall, not as sweet as when fresh out of the gate but has tightened up the weave to an extent I didn’t think possible. Would risk saying it’s drinking as well as it ever will. Grapes sourced from Barsotti Vineyard, Witters Vineyard.

2016 Mauritson Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley. Basically ruby-purple but getting redder at the rims, can see it going crimson with more age, liquid is clear, nothing to note. Nose leans more towards dark berries than red, touch reticent, moderate mentholated lift, gingerbread and a smattering of Indian spices, not getting a lot of oak which is pleasant. Medium-bodied, hugs the contours of your palate so you feel it every time it moves. The cherry, berry fruit concentrating into a “dry” dried fruit profile, not finding it especially juicy. Like the high level of citrus flavoring, creates a mouthwatering impression of acidity. Extended, tangy finish. Stepping back to assess there’s no one thing it clearly excels at but the package as a whole is admirably compact and to the point, no unnecessary excess.

1999 Lagier Meredith Syrah Mount Veeder. The core remains a strong purple, slight reddish cast, rims bricking red but overall looks great for its age. The nose is somewhat muted at first before sharing sandalwood incense, leather, anise notes, suggestion of green olive pit, not that citrusy, the plum, cherry scents just starting to really show any prune like characteristics. Medium-bodied with a good deal of firmness to increase presence, as with the most recent experience with this wine back in 2010 not close to “sauvage” but nevertheless has a palpable earthy ruggedness. Tannins fully massaged out, moderate acidity left to do the heavy lifting. That incense to Indian spices thing continues to lead the way. The black fruits losing general sweetness and grip through the finish. At this juncture it is what it is, cannot expect any meaningful development and the only direction left is down. Kudos for a nice showing given its age.

2017 Fine Disregard Grenache Alexander Valley Sceales Vineyard. Poured out as lightly and cleanly, consistent watermelon red throughout, completely transparent yet with a highly reflective shine. Moderate concentration to the nose, like smelling a sheep fresh out of the shower, wool and animal hide without a trace of funk, liqueur like raspberry, strawberry fruit without the concentration, a lemon and cut grass lift at the end, somewhat short overall. Light-bodied, here there’s enough of a glycerol effect to cling to the tongue and lengthen the presence of the red berry fruit. Still, there that wool, cotton ball thing going on too. A lemon based citrus component really leaps forward at the end. My bias on Grenache is it makes a plump, usually fruit wine. So, never quite sure how to react to a leaner rendition.

2018 Congruence Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Oak Knoll District Lazare Vineyard The Aftermath IIb. Inky purple core, fully opaque if clean, thin and glowing ruby-magenta rims, complete saturation. Huge floral dew first in the nose, richly layered plum, cassis, cherry fruit seeps into your nostrils, topped off with chocolate and biscuit like a Choco Leibniz, then you get some orange zest and menthol through a prolonged dissolve. Full-bodied, round and pliant texture even if rife with spicy tannin. Here that citrus note is curiously strong. The floral mist brings out some white grape in the black fruit base, could see this getting some dried fruit nature with age. Tingly finish, menthol, gingerbread and licorice. A big boy that keeps its balance.

2013 Etude Pinot Noir Carneros Grace Benoist Ranch. Dark, flat plum red to purple, rims manage to at once look full and watery, pretty neat feat. Heavy floral musk in the nose, has an underlying dustiness as well, close to stony ash, jammy blackberry to black cherry scents, ginger root, there's stuff in there but it ain't coming out and the overall weight in the nostrils impedes scent separation. Full-bodied, feels more tannic than acidic, one's palate preference would decide between richness or sluggishness. Heavily spiced, ginger, nutmeg, close to cumin at times. The sour cherry, plum fruit starts out ripe but a general lack of juiciness causes it to trail off through the mid-palate. Shows a little citrus bite after it opens. Not sure what to what to make of it, it's not poorly made but the lack of movement and component clarity leaves me wanting. From 1.5 liter bottle.

2014 Harrington Trousseau San Benito County La Cienega Valley Siletto Vineyard. Bright and shiny ruby to cranberry red, mild dulling along the rims, could have been bottled yesterday. While nose bears no lack of candied red berry scents it is now marked by an earthy grassiness and ash, no funk but has also shed any trace of white citrus, offers a languid lift that just reaches out to trace its path across your nostrils. Was never a bruiser but has lost some girth which now and then makes the tannin stick out awkwardly. Bitters and bell pepper, starting to get volatile in its old age. Still, that core of fruit remains and here there is some citric zing. While cleaner now I did prefer the energy of its youth. Still, a worthy experiment in aging the variety in California.

2016 Alesia Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains. Slight greenish tint to the worn yellow gold base, the shine helps it avoid looking washed out. Some fine toast to the nose accompanied by a heaping of lime juice, kind of like a youngish Puligny vibe, crisp apple, pear to peach skin scents, light stone dust coating, classy package. Light to medium-bodied, while the oak presence even greater here the nose sort of prepares you for it so the toastiness and lick of brine not so offputting. Lime joined by lemon and tangerine, a big citrus soup. Overall sourness takes the fruit into pineapple, passion fruit territory. A few years more in bottle may tame the oak some but not betting on the fruit sticking around to see it happen. Nice enough now for the style.

2019 Bedrock Sonoma County Cuvée Karatas. The color is a sort of day-glo green-yellow, average reflectivity and shine, were it not for the curious hue unremarkable. In the nose by far the first thing jumping out at you is the scent of bubblegum, underneath that white grapefruit and rose petals yearn for space, a touch oily as it warms, not particularly fruity but decent enough pear, apricot, mango scents. Medium-bodied, from the first sip it establishes a “cruising altitude” and doesn’t deviate. But this doesn’t feel like balance as the latter includes the chance of being otherwise, Sour grapefruit, blood orange a major component. Nutty at turns, the acidity sufficiently searing that it may be the “bubblegum” seems more like florality here. Huge pucker factor with a building oiliness. Limited experience with this bottling but I’d hazard the guess that on release impressions should be taken with a grain of salt. Mainly Sémillon (Monte Rosso Vineyard), remainder Sauvignon Musque (Ubaldi Vineyard), Sauvignon Blanc (Judge Vineyard).

1995 Château Smith Haut-Lafitte Pessac-Léognan. Good vigor left in the purple core, sunset red to orange rims, showing age for sure but likewise nice brightness. Upon opening no surprise to get a blast of barnyard funk, more bell pepper than might be expected, then sweet cedar, caraway seed, old potpourri nuances, the cherry to blackberry scents rightsized for its age, even a hint of oak cream left, suspect this was quite coquettish in its youth. Medium to light-bodied, partially thinned out tannic spine, plenty of polish to bolster overall poise. The level of asphalt, cement flavors makes an impression right off. Gently tarry in support, more bell pepper as well as black pepper. The fruit has faded, however, in this case the tertiary development tradeoff a positive one. Given the structure vs. fruit balance I’d say drink up. This exceeded expectations by a good margin. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc.

1995 Château Clos Fourtet Saint-Emilion. The purple core more or less replaced by brick red, shades more rust orange near the rims, yellows a bit furthest out. The nose comes off as sauvage and a little roasted at first, needs air when it gets it moderates into black earth and clay, damp cedar and freshly tanned leather, there’s a general “wetness” to its feel, the red currant, cherry fruit brisk and bright, helps kick the aromas darting about. Medium-bodied, the tannins flex their brawn from the first sip. Yet, to my tastes, it stays decently balanced with the good kind of turbulence. The darker fruits fill the attack and mid-palate then yield to cedar, sour citrus, molten mineral, herbaceous accents. Air time doesn’t change things much. One could make the argument it drinks more like a “Left Bank” wine. More energy than finesse, deserves a fatty steak or such. 72% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon.

1996 Domaine Alain Burguet Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes. Brick red core which shades into fiery reds and then a light orange aura, while the color has certainly changed since it’s youth it doesn’t look washed out at all. Anise and lavender tinged nose, fading potpourri, vague medicinal quality as well, waft of maraschino cherry all there is for fruit, very tertiary. Medium-bodied, has a sinewy grip, clear that a good bit of structure remains. More blackberry, raspberry to lesser extent cherry fruit here, all of it tart and puckering. Nice cleanliness, maybe a briny edge but no funk at all and only tangentially earthy. Dusty Asian spices and lavender, kind of cedary now and then. Tingly finish, for a wine that was clearly forgotten about in the cellar can’t complain at all with the outcome.

2005 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges. Good clarity, a sort of dried blood red to crimson hue, diminished rims give it an orange aura. Some muddy boot leather at first to the nose before a nice spiciness develops, tarry earth, maduro cigar wrapper, there’s a consistent cleansing, scrubbing sensation in the nostrils, dark complexion to the fruit scents, cherry, blackberry verging on plum. Medium-bodied, sterner than expected in the mouth as the tannin still pack a punch, acidity actually smoothes it out. That noted, the fruit remains consistent but the cruising altitude does not suggest a near full fuel tank. Floral, mukhwas, orange peel. There’s something here that keeps pushing forward relentlessly regardless of true ability. Maybe there’s some more upside to be eked out but going to dig out my last bottle sooner rather than later. From 375 ml bottle.

2002 Jean et Gilles Lafouge Auxey-Duresses La Chapelle. Some ruby-violet left to the core but mainly washed out rust red heading to orange. The nose needed a good bit of time to open, once it does you get cola bean, sage to marjoram spice, campfire ash, age has bestowed some sous bois, the red berry, cherry fruit a bit clipped but really only somewhat diminished as it wasn’t particularly fruity in its youth. Medium-bodied, no lack of tannin left to keep an upright posture, no hard edges though. Here a sourness contributes to the red fruit’s presence and also adds length. Very mild pickled aspect, more citrus cut, lemony. Overall, it tastes “matured” more than any certain array of flavors. I like it and what’s on the table today is a testament to the producer’s honorably yeoman status. On the back end of its plateau.

2004 Domaine Stéphane Othéguy Côte-Rôtie Les Massales. Crimson to purple core gauzy enough to push through to opacity, rims a dimming sunset red but showing life yet. Sinewy nose, close to gristle, twists and turns but holds shape, tobacco ash, campfire ash, stone, dried meadow grasses, violets, minimal citrus or game notes, credible cherry to tart red berry scent profile. Light-bodied which arguably lets the acidity run amok a bit. Not that it’s volatile, more that it wasn’t given a mission statement. Here a creamy oak comes through which definitely does not fit with the acidity. Greenness close to bell pepper. That said, the fruit has a sweet core to it and the leather, campfire smoke, tar pleasing enough. Never had it on release but I suspect it was pretty similar to what I am getting today. Has that “lean and mean” vibe which has little to do with age.

2018 Laurent Kraft Vouvray Sec. Semi-dull, worn gold coloration but has a very nice shine to it. The nose is smoky to the point of turning acrid with brine, seashell, chalk, and oil slick, the pineapple, green apple, peach scents lean if active, not finding much by way of a citrus element. Medium-bodied, dry, if not witheringly so, leads to a compact punch to the jaw. Passion fruit, pineapple, kiwi, strawberry the dominant fruit flavors. Luckily, here they match the oil fumes and saline blow for blow. Beyond that there’s not much going on, while there’s no lack of clarity in its message there’s little grace. One glass was enough for me. (Composite Cork: Diam5)

2001 Château de la Roche-Aux-Moines (Nicolas Joly) Savennières Clos de la Bergerie. Fresh bronze hue, maybe it’s the high level of shine but looks younger than its age, snakes down into the glass. Did not decant but really tried to ignore the poured glass for as long as possible before getting to it, lanolin, aspirin, orange reduction, sea smoke, the pineapple, passion fruit, green apple scents residue by now, nevertheless in its lack it comes off as complete. Full-bodied, the acidity splays itself fully across the palate. Bitter nuts, yeast, pulped blood orange with that aforementioned medicinal aspect. The tropical fruit definitely benefits here from acidity and it accords itself well. Over time sheds the doughiness to a certain extent. While sure it couldbe considered sherried and dismissed as such, for me there’s something else going on which all but defies neat capture. And that thing either resonates with you or not, can’t see any middle ground.

1998 Domaine des Baumard Savennières Clos du Papillon. Fully bronzed a la an “orange wine,” flat surface, hue lasts decently enough into the rims. Yeasty nose, fully sherried, echoes of spiced orange peel, garden herb, peach pits, not finding much here worth lingering over and not betting than extended air time gonna change much. Medium-bodied, the angry acidity of its youth has morphed into a surly old man, but its toothless and walks with a limp now. Honey and orange to lemon citrus most noticeable, that acidity brings out more pineapple to green apple than any other fruit. Very bitter finish. Wasn’t a huge fan of it on release and would have been a kindness to have pulled this cork a good dozen+ years ago.

2016 Vallana Colline Novaresi Spanna Cuvée Bernardo Vallana. A rust red washes out the purple base, unblemished but the coloration makes it look slightly unclean. Wonderfully expressive nose of licorice, asphalt, tar, tea leaf and maraschino cherries, longlasting perfume and creates a cleansing sensation in the nostrils. Light-bodied, the tannin makes it semi-angular in feel, more earth and leather here with a white citric tang too. Not as sweet as the nose suggests but still solid ripeness in the cherry, berry fruit. Anise and flowers pretty up the finish. Easy to drink and another example of why to me Vallana is a consistent QPR winner. (Composite Cork: Diam5)

2019 Castelfeder Schiava Alto Adige Alte Reben. Transparent, has a light plum red coloration, consistent core to rims, sleek surface. Clean nose, stony accompanied by lemon peel and dried sage or marjoram, the core of strawberry, raspberry scents sold without a trace of ostentation. Medium-bodied erring towards lighter, has a gentle sappiness to it which allows any structure to do its work in the shadows. Rounder mouth feel, flirts with turning floral but doesn’t. Sweet cigar wrapper, black earth with a suggestion of ash. No rough patches and fashions a pungent perfume to linger after you swallow. I’d like to see how this would perform in a blind tasting of cru Beaujolais, suspect it would fool more than one. (Composite Cork: Diam5)

2016 Baudana Barolo del Comune di Serralunga d’Alba. Squeaky clean, cherry red to scarlet, deepens slightly into a violet core, nicely crisp visuals. Anise and tea leaf contribute to a mentholated in feel lift to the nose, spiced orange peel, kind of stony but it’s so sleek that it races past you, same general experience with the cherry to berry fruit scents. Light to medium-bodied, sappy attack allows the fruit to show best then getting successively drier both towards the finish and with more sips. Delivers the licorice and rose petals. The stony earth needs to be broken with an pickaxe. Short some at the end but to be fair did not decant and it’s fair to guess that it could be in a nascent stage of shutting down. Laid down one bottle and will treat as a medium ager, say ten years give or take.

2004 Produttori del Barbaresco Rio Sordo Riserva. Crimson purple core with broad brick red rims with a yellowish aura, pure and trim, doesn’t look tiring/tired. Nose tends to unfold in layers, inconsistent sniff to sniff, giving up camphor, licorice, graphite, violet pastille, menthol, clean and without any real earthiness nor funk, the blackberry to cherry scents the steadiest element. Medium-bodied, arguably more muscular here, the tannin has no qualms about flexing some muscles. Floral with cumin, coriander like spices and then that asphalt, graphite thing. Fruit level satisfactory but comes off as in a slow decline. Often struck me as of two minds, likable but would make a more positive impression if it had deeper clarity of purpose.

2017 Lisciandrello Perricone Sicilia (100% Perricone aka Pignatello). Vibrant ruby-violet color, clean and sparkly, fresh glow in the glass. Some muddy barnyard funk to the nose, pickle brine, eventually melts away in favor of juicy red berries and blueberries, some tea leaf and menthol but nothing horribly complex going on. Medium-bodied, juicy enough that the tannin sneaks up on you but it’s there for sure. Here darker berries to cherries, thicker texture than expected. Earthen stone more than barnyard, like kicking rocks down a dirt path. More tar and black tea leaf. Stays square shouldered through the finish. Again, no paragon of complexity but it’s honest, consistent, and I’d say punches above its weight class. (Composite Cork: Diam5)

2016 Cantine Crosio Piedmont Canavese Rosso. Very dark purple core, the rims scarlet now but likely to keep moving towards brick red, liquid clean enough. More underbrush than sous bois but it does display a rustic appeal, sour [sic] dark berry to cherry scents, worn leather, slow mentholated scrubbing sensation. Full-bodied, much rounder and softer in the mouth than expected based on the nose. Tannin there but well-managed to create an everyday drinker. Leather, black minerally earth and rocks, more straw than grass. the cherry, plum, blackberry fruit breaks a sweat getting to the finish line but doesn’t collapse thereafter. Grew rather fond of it as consumed, “the little engine that could.” 75% Barbera, 25% Merlot. (Composite Cork: Diam3)

2015 Abacela Tempranillo Umpqua Valley Fiesta. Reddish purple core, dark and unblemished, dense crimson rims, don’t suspect that it is showing much age. At first the oak cream in the nose is a bit much, slowly dissipates in favor of flowers, strawberry to red cherry fruit, anise, pleasant enough but nondescript and does not “speak of a place.” Medium to light in body, not particularly structured, suspect what is registering qualifies as wood tannin. Reddish fruit, orange citrus, flowers. Starts to dry out through the mid-palate and become mildly astringent. Vanilla bean and heavy cream. It’s not unimaginable that one could guess blindly that it’s Tempranillo, more that there was no need to dress it up to this extent. (Screwcap)

2016 Anselmo Mendes Vinho Verde Pardusco. Very light and transparent rust red to cranberry red, consistent with intensity loss at the rims. Floral with a crisp red berry spine to the nose but the funkiness does distract, twigs and muddy earth, maybe some lemon peel, just not much there. Light-bodied, shows a pleasingly strong acidic grip which luckily does not diminish the length of the juicy red berry fruit. Floral here too, some white grapefruit citrus, perhaps savory garden herbs. But again there’s little flesh on the bones. I’m all for purity but it’s nice to have some flavor too. Firm lines, zips quickly from start to finish. But there may be a legit reason one thinks of white wine when “Vinho Verde” is mentioned. 40% Alvarelhão, 30% Pedral, 25% Borraçal, 5% Vinhão. (Composite Cork: Vinc)
ITB: Manhattan Wine Company. "In order to understand anything, you must understand everything; but in order to say anything, you must leave out a great deal."

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