Issue 228 7,418 wines tasted
Interim End of November 426 wines tasted
Issue 227 4,835 wines tasted

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  • New and old

    2004 Chateau Bellevue la Forêt, Côtes du Frontonnais:

    Smells like a somewhat funky Rhône syrah mixed with red grapes, raspberries and dark cherries; tastes similar with a chalky/stony note, grip, medium weight, some complexity and intensity; medium length, slightly sour finish. This is made from the négrette grape (possibly blended with cabernet sauvignon, syrah and/or gamay) from an AOC in the SW of France south of Cahors. I like this for its nuance, openness, composure, lack of any wood smells or flavors and affinity for food. 12.5% alcohol, about $11, and imported by Wine Traditions of Falls Church, VA. Not for aging IMO, so I look forward to the incoming 2005 vintage.

    2005 Pieropan, Soave Calvarino:

    The smell of desert sandstone on a cold morning, the inside of freshly peeled pineapple skin, cream soda, pine needles, something vaguely floral – the nose is fascinating and a joy to behold; strongly flavored but of whole cloth in the mouth, flavors that tend toward the elements of the nose but don’t repeat them, concentration without weight or cloying viscosity, focused with a compact sense to its overall delivery but still discrete, complex and bright on the palate, real depth; surging length that seem to reprise itself again and again. Obviously, has a shelf life. All garganega based wines should be measured against this one. At its $24 retail price, as good a QPR wine as this planet produces.

    2007 Edmunds St. John, Bone Jolly Gamay Witters Vineyard:

    Fresh cherry and stone scents, expansive; bright, full fruit flavors with fine mineral and spice accents, lovely balance, silky texture and a full flavored, medium length finish. Life affirming, lively and so worth every penny of its $16 retail price.

    2005 Alesia, Syrah Fairview Ranch:

    Smells of baked dark fruit and creosote, some earth and herb tones; rich and full bodied in the mouth with brooding syrah fruit flavors, some tar and Baker’s chocolate, quite concentrated and fairly long. I have found a creosote element in other syrahs but not to this degree – not a bad thing, but very unusual. 14.25% alcohol which was not noticeable. I suspect this has a long life ahead of it and may, at some point, veer in the direction of an aged Cornas.

    1995 della Palazzola, Rubino:

    If I recall correctly, 80% cabernet sauvignon and 20% merlot from Umbria; I am no fan of the wines of Roberto Cotarella but this is unusual – right now, its too young, too closed and too tannic. Given another decade or more in bottle, I suspect this will be the rival of any of the very best Super-Tuscans. The aromatics are all about cabernet, including its herbaceous side, but there is also a stony, baked-earth component; a worsted texture in the mouth as the grip rules but also complex, fresh, and full of fruit – the question is, will the fruit live as long as the tannin; decant length but drying. What is not evident until one has a glass or two is the depth and dimension of this wine – it is vigorous, faceted and seems to deliver itself in layers, each more intriguing then the last. In what was a hard and tannic year, this wine seems to have more going for it than many of the other wines of its vintage. We shall see. $30, on release.

    Best, Jim
    Cowan Cellars

  • #2
    Re: New and old

    Love your notes on the Pieropan. Part of me agrees with you and says this is the soave to measure others by- another part of me says I might actually prefer the one from Pra. Its a tough call. But with your note you sold me for tonight anyway!


    • #3
      Re: New and old

      Jim, I must say you are the ESJ maven. I agree. A great QPR and worth every penny.
      Stephen Pohlman
      I'm not a collector


      • #4
        Re: New and old

        I completely agree with your enthusiasm for the Pieropan Calvarino, and you stated it much better than I could! I hope to visit there when I'm in the Verona area next May.
        Happy New Year!

        Don Appleton


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