Tuesday, July 27, 2010

2005 Andrew Will Two Blondes

This is about 35% cab sauv, 35 cab franc, and 30 merlot. extremely complex, evocative nose with about 10 components from violet to wood bark to blackberry, raspberry, cranberry, licorice and oak/vanilla. There's some other wild berry aroma--blueberry maybe? or pomegranate? and flavor I'm not sure of too. Some herbal notes with airing. There's some alcohol on the nose that is well balanced with the fruit and acid. The tannin is way in the background; there is some but it's about as sweet and silky as tannin can be I'd say. The alcohol is noticeable on the finish and perhaps a bit much but it does help to carry the long finish. This just misses on the depth and length I'd like in a 95 point wine but I'm guessing it'll drink nicely for another 4-5 years and will develop a bigger bouquet still. Medium body and medium color, pretty opaque but a bit of translucence and a bit of red on the rim even though it's just 5 years old. I guess this is an index of the relatively low tannin and does mean the wine is not a real long ager. I'd say the nature of the nose marks this a US rather than French bordeaux blend--it's bigger, and there's little currant or tobacco as far as I can tell, telltale markers of the French versions. Plus actually I'm not sure how many Bordeaux actually use a nearly balanced blend of the big 3 grapes, since Pomerol emphasizes merlot and St Emilion emphasizes cab franc. I'm giving it 93 points

Tanzer gives it just 89:

2005 Andrew Will Winery Two Blondes Vineyard Red Wine Red Mountain

($60; 36% cabernet franc, 35% cabernet sauvignon and 29% merlot) Bright ruby-red. Notes of smoke, game and dried herbs on the nose. Lush, smoky and dry, with a distinctly balsamic quality to the flavors of tart red berries, game, earth, spices and truffle. Like the Sheridan bottling, this shows firm acidity, which gives it good cut and a juicy quality. From a vineyard near Zillah planted at an altitude of 1,250 feet. The highest in pH of these 2005s, at about 3.9, according to Chris Camarda.

Parker's Jay Miller says 92:
The 2005 Two Blondes, located a stone’s throw from the Sheridan Vineyard, is a blend of 36% Cabernet Franc, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 29% Merlot. Its personality is remarkably similar to its sister vineyard with expressive red and black fruit aromas, spice box, and smooth-textured, sweet fruit. It is a lengthy, elegant effort for drinking from 2012 to 2025.

Andrew Will, located on pastoral Vashon Island, was founded in 1989 by former sommelier Chris Camarda. His focus is on blended, Bordeaux-style wines from some of Washington’s finest vineyards. The wines are made identically, the differences among them reflective of that vineyard’s terroir.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

1989 Beychevelle

Purchased in '92 or '93 in honor of Emily's birth year. Opened tonight with Francie's delicious lamb dinner and it was splendid. The nose was a bit more restrained than I might have expected, and perhaps this wine is now past its peak. A bit of a spicy/herbal mineral quality that would be more likely in a CA cab. However on the palate this was classic mature bordeaux, all the components in perfect harmony, the color classic mature brick red rim and quite light in the middle, hardly any purple left. The currant fruit played nicely against the acid with good body and tannins melted away, good finish. If only one could afford to drink 20 year old excellent bordeaux on a regular basis...92 points.


Parker: 89 points in a 1997 tasting, 91 previous to that:

ine Advocate # 109
Feb 1997
Robert Parker89Drink: 1997 - 2012$70-$132
Both the 1989 and 1990 wines scored slightly lower than in previous tastings. In contrast to the 1990, the 1989 Beychevelle, which usually performs better than it did in the recent tasting, is an elegant, medium-bodied wine with soft tannin, copious quantities of ripe, herb-tinged, blackcurrant fruit, some evidence of toasty oak, and a generous, velvety-textured finish. It appears to be evolving quickly, and can be drunk now as well as over the next 15 years.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

2002 Penfold's Grenache Reserve

As my many, many readers (i.e., somewhere between n=1 and n=2) know, I'm a fan of Australian grenache. It's fruit on top of fruit, yes, but I don't believe in making hedonistic pleasure a sin when it comes to wine (I know I echo Parker in this stance and no doubt he's influenced me; but I find it annoying that somehow the fashion is to condemn wines that are easy to like, as if the truly intelligent and refined wine lover would never stoop to enjoy such wines).

So you look at this 8 year old grenache and it's still very dark, a beautiful purple/red with only a hint of brick red at the edge. The nose is the wonderful blackberry/huckleberry that I love, along with a hint of mocha that comes on strong in mid-palate. There is also the woodsy/pine resin nose that seems more common with grenache than others but can also be found in cabernet and blends thereof. Maybe some spice and flowers; a hint of alcohol also (which is not a bad thing in my view) on the nose. The tannins and acid are there on the finish to keep it balanced and long-lasting. I'd think this one is about at its peak but will also last another 3-4 years given the healthy acid and tannin levels. This one just about equals my 2004 DeLisio Grenache standard: 94 points for this one, just a tad less deep and long than DeLisio. When it comes to all around pleasure, I'd put Australian grenache from old vines like this in the near league with Pomerols.

Had this 24 hrs later, preserved with argon but not refrigerated. It held up very nicely; maybe a shade muted but otherwise in fine drinking shape. I'd gladly drink this weekly.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

2008 Tensley Syrah special cuvee for Chapel Hill Wine Corks for Kids

Strong perfume of strawberry and blackberry with pinewoods, spice, and some toasted oak vanilla quality. On palate maybe a bit of fig? The color is medium, not as deep as the other cuvees I'd guess. On the palate there is fine midpalate, silky feel, moderately long finish carried by moderate acidity and fairly low tannins. The alcohol does its job nicely, producing a round wine with fruit and acid well balanced. This is a typical Syrah, good but not special. 89 points. There is nobody else to review since it's a special cuvee for CH Wine Co's charity. It cost $20 whereas other fine Tensley Syrahs cost $35 and up.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

2007 Pierre Usseglio Chateauneuf du Pape

This was a real treat, on sale in St Paul where I was visiting Clay and Inge. Picked this up to drink on our trip to the far north lake country. So, on the first night, it was a bit disjointed (of course it had been shaken up on our 4 hour drive, some of it over bumpy roads). I could tell the plum and black cherry fruit was there but it was overwhelmed by the acid and alcohol. So, as if to confirm Charles's argument (the guy from Lynch Bages in Bordeaux), tasted it 24 hours later with no gas preservation or vacuum pumping and it was wonderful. Drinking from plastic cups, so nose wasn't great. But on the palate a masterpiece of silky balance, with toasted black cherry, blueberry, white pepper and a damn-near Pomerol like roundness. The acid is now in perfect balance with fruit. Maybe a touch of licorice and with air, black raspberry. And a very long finish carried by the acid and alcohol. Tannin soft and drinking great right now, but should help it last for another 5-10 years. Unmistakably a syrah-grenache blend but the grenache gives it the Pomerol roundness. I'd give it 93.


Parker in Oct 2009:
93 points. The 4,400-case blend of 80% Grenache and the rest Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsault, the 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape boasts a dense plum/purple color as well as a wonderfully sweet nose of fresh black truffles, incense, blue and black fruits, roasted herbs, and earth. The wine is full-bodied and pure with fresh acids, silky tannins, and a voluptuous mouthfeel. Drink this beauty over the next 10-12 years.

Palmer 1996 and Alter Ego 2007

These are notes from the tasting at Palmer, very near our hotel in Margaux, France a few weeks ago. They are fragmentary since I didn't take detailed notes at the time. Alter Ego is the second wine of Palmer and '07 is considered a mediocre year. The wine was oaky and plummy, certainly not unpleasant. It was a great treat to taste the '96 Palmer which is an expensive bottle of wine from a good year. My notes say sweet Margaux nose, plum and cherry with currant. Very silky tannins and firm acid. I'd say it's about 2 years from peaking.

A Parker taster (not Parker) in March 2010 wrote: 93 points. Deep garnet colour going a little brick. The nose is very forthcoming with a good intensity of earthy loam and black truffle aromas mingled with dark cherry, leather, tar and black olive. Medium to high acidity and a medium+ level of very fine tannins. Great balance. Long finish.

Parker said in 1999:

Wine Advocate # 122
Apr 1999
Robert Parker91Drink: 2007 - 2028$114-$262
This wine, a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot, is performing well after its July, 1998 bottling. It boasts an impressively saturated purple color, in addition to a backward yet intense nose of black plums, currants, licorice, and smoke. Following terrific fruit on the attack, the wine's structure and tannin take over. There is plenty of sweet fruit, and the tannin is well-integrated, but the wine requires 7-8 years of cellaring. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2028.

From a Sept 2009 tasting on Jancis Robinson

55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc (last Cabernet Franc at Palmer), 40% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot. Cooler but sunny summer. Great Cabernet in this vintage in Bordeaux generally. A more classic Palmer.
Deep youthful garnet. Open, sweet dark and spiced fruit. Smell the sun. Spice and truffles coming through as it opens up. You can still smell the sweet toasty oak though this was not the first vintage of new vats. Rich sweet pure fruit. Firm but rounded tannins and long aromatic finish. Fine cedary aftertaste. Very pure and direct and frank, some herbaceousness adding aroma but not greenness. 17+.