Thursday, November 24, 2011

1989 Beychevelle (St Julien)

Opened this bottle, almost exactly the age of Emily who was born 9/11/89. It was drinking very nicely, perhaps a bit of fade in the fruit but still round, fragrant, with enough acid and alcohol to balance. Tannins melted away. Aroma was classic St Julien cigar-box, with black cherry/kirsch, woodsy, toasted oak and a nice balanced finish. I'm sure the fruit will continue to fade but I'm guessing Parker is right to say it'll still be drinking well for another year or so. Not a celestial wine but a fine one. I'd say 90+ judging against other older Bordeaux.

Herman Story Nuts and Bolts 2008 Syrah

As usual, this is a very big and delicious wine. After a few minutes of airing, I especially enjoyed the spearmint or wintergreen element added onto the deep blackberry and huckleberry essence. The wine is very dark purple, highly extracted. Tannins are soft and actually barely noticeable given how ripe and sweet the fruit is. Alcohol is high according to label but goes down without much hotness, again due to fruit. I'm sure some would deride this as over-ripe fruit bomb, but not me. I stand with fruit. I agree with Parker's rave:

The compelling 2008 Syrah Nuts & Bolts falls short of being bombastic. Its opaque purple color is accompanied by a knock-out nose of graphite, incense, blackberries, acacia flowers, and tar. This multilayered, full-bodied effort is the most backward of any of the Herman Story wines, and the tannins, while prominent, are sweet and well-integrated. Layered, pure, and stunningly rich, it should drink well for a decade or more. Readers looking for super-concentrated, extroverted, exuberant, powerhouse wines from California's Central Coast need look no further than the Herman Story estate. 95 pts.

I think Parker's "incense" what what I interpreted as spearmint/wintergreen.

2008 Stonestreet Chardonnay Gravel Bench

Thanksgiving Day, 2011, while Max and Francie cook, Emily and I vegging on the couch, watching "Work of Art," which is actually a pretty good "reality" show pitting artists against each other. One of Em's favs.

So, re: the wine, on first opening, caramel, butterscotch with quite a bit of alcohol on nose, and also on palate-I found it hot. Decided to let it air for 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, even hotter and more one dimensional. So far quite a disappointment. WIll let it air some more. After total of an hour, did get better, smoother and more dimensional. Still not more than 90+ points for me.

Below is map of the vineyard area, obviously quite mountainous. Above is a beautiful photo of the area, and it is a spectacular site. Not sure where exactly the gravel bench is.

This is how Stonestreet describes the site:

High above California's Alexander Valley stand the towering Mayacamas Mountains, home to Stonestreet's rugged Alexander Mountain Estate. This epic, untamed landscape is both challenging and rewarding when it comes to growing grapes. Here, we are truly a guest of nature, subject to both its bounty and its whims, which serve as a constant reminder that we are merely custodians to this remarkable place.

With less than 800 of our 5,100 acres planted to vine, this extreme expanse doesn't take kindly to direct orders. Comprised of 400 separate vineyard blocks aligned with the contours of the mountain, the Estate is an intricate puzzle of peaks, valleys and ridges that create a broad spectrum of aspects and facings. The story of Stonestreet is the story of our commitment to uncovering the true potential of this special land.

Parker 95 points:
As hard as it is to believe, the 2008 Chardonnay Gravel Bench is even better. A prodigious effort, it tastes like liquid rocks intermixed with tropical fruits, shortbread, subtle butterscotch, caramelized oranges, and candied apples. This beautifully textured, stunningly pure, loaded, long Chardonnay can be enjoyed over the next 6-10 years (till 2020!).

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Notes from Visit to Stonestreet visit in 2010--Various wines

Chardonnay Grandstone 2007

50% oak. Honey prominent on nose, some tea, peach hazelnut. Classic chard from CA. 93.
Upper Barn Chard2007
Also 50% aged in oak, also honey, very harmonious opening on the palate for many grapey nuances on a very long finish, a bit of heat and moderately low acid. More restrainted nose than Grandstone. An oily component with peach/pear/vanilla. 93+.

Gold Run Chard 2007
100% new oak aging. Very long finish with peach/pear. Acid is smoother. Honeysuckle, tea. Vineyard at 1400' soil district. Deeply complex nose. Some lime and sweet citrus. Actually more subtle than Upper Barn! 94 points.

Black Cougar Ridge Cab 2005
100% cab., 64% new oak. Licorice, black cherry, a bit of cheese and pine Very complex indeed with the licorice, blackberry and a bit of plum and prune and camphor.

Christopher's Cab 2005 (9% Syrah)

Piney/woodsy. Oh boy! Like L'Aventura. Soft tannins. The fruit and acid nicely balanced. Has a touch of green vegetable w/o too much of the vegetal quality i don't like--this does have even cabbage and broccoli. 96 from Parker!

Christopher's Cab 2006

Absolutely first-rate. Blackberry, huckleberry. Unbelievably complex berry compote with very long ripe finish.

Legacy 2006 Cab

Very juicy, soft tannin and low acid. Blackberry and blueberry, strawberry. Very fruit forward, plum, prune with a hint of eucalyptus. Aboslutely lovely nose with a touch of spice. 91+.

Lost Pine Merlot 2007

This is a serious merlot. It's black cherry with a strong wine--a serious merlot. Parker 89+.

Rockfall 2007 cab from the Bear Point vineyard. Fabulous. Everything in perfect balance. Plum, black cherry, blackberry, currant, huckleberry. Ripe and no sharp edges. A bit of woodsy pines--close to a Harlan. Got a 95 point from Parker.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

2008 Salanques (Mas Doix Priorat)

A reliable good performer at the less expensive end of the Priorat spectrum this one featured chocolate and thyme, a most unusual nose and palate. Silky, sweet tannins. 90+ is what I'd give it. Extremely pleasant and it went very well with sparerib dinner.

Parker says The entry level is Salanques with an annual production ranging from 18-25,000 bottles. The 2008 Salanques is made up of 65% Garnacha, 20% Carinena, and the balance Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The owners consider 2008 to be one of the top 3 vintages of the decade, “a great vintage with low yields and vibrant acidity”. Its older vines were aged for 12 months in 50% new French oak while the younger vines were aged in second year barrels. Medium purple in color with a fragrant nose of cedar, mineral, spice box, lavender, black cherry, and blueberry, on the palate it is smooth-textured, intense, and concentrated with 2-3 years of aging potential. It will perform optimally from 2014 to 2023.

Friday, November 4, 2011

2000 Domaine de la Janesse VV

Garden flowers, blackberry/blueberry, a bit of spicy musk and what Parker likes to call "toasty oak" highlight the aroma and palate of this excellent, mature wine. Tannins are all smoothed out, and there is no alcohol heat, just about everything in perfect balance from first sniff through good but not extra long finish. The color is an interesting red-purple. 93+. probably drinks nicely for another 5 years. I'm going to guess that it's More syrah than Grenache and only a bit of the other varietals. As Parker writes below however the wine is mostly grenache and the pepper and kirsch he mentions don't seem quite right to me, but the plain fact is that the wine evolves through varied tastes as it sits in glass and no doubt over years in bottle too. So maybe earlier it was more peppery. Tanzer says chocolate, which might be right.

Parker in 2003 wrote, giving the wine 96 points: The limited production Cuvee Vieilles Vignes (70% Grenache and 30% Syrah and Mourvedre) was rocking when I tasted it. The 2000 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Vieilles Vignes represents the essence of kirsch liqueur intermixed with pepper. Sexy, full-bodied, layered, and multidimensional, it exhibits great intensity, even more length than the Chaupin, sweet fruit, adequate acidity, and ripe tannin. This is a flawless as well as seamless blockbuster to drink now and over the next 15-20 years.


($60) Dark red-ruby. Distinct surmaturite on the nose: roasted red fruits, roasted herbs, chocolate, earth and minerals. Lush, sweet and layered, with classic superripe grenache flavors of chocolate and spice cake. Very smooth wine, finishing with toothcoating tannins and the quintessential warmth of a wine from the South. "In an outstanding vintage like 2000, I tried to preserve freshness of fruit and finesse, and thus did not try to do a big extraction," noted Sabon. 93 points.
Importer: Eric Solomon, European Cellars, Charlotte, NC; tel. (704) 358-1565