Two From Chateau Rouillac

When all the wines in your local wine shop are curated by the owner and staff, like at The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan there are times, more often than not, where one gets to try both the first and second label from a chateau.  This was the case when I was able to taste two wines from Chateau de Rouillac from Pessac-Leognan and both of these were red.  The Chateau actually produces six labels, three red and three whites. 

Chateau de Rouillac Pessac-Leognan 2016 is an historic estate and noble land bequeathed in the Seventeenth Century to Jean-Paul Loret, then President of the Parliament of Bordeaux.  In 2009, the property was acquired by Laurent Cisneros who accepted the challenge to reinvigorate the old estate and the grounds, while his wife and three daughters enjoyed the grounds and out buildings for their love of the equestrian arts.  The Grand Vin label is decorated with a Rose des Vents, symbol of the orientation of the new course of Chateau de Rouillac by Laurent Cisneros.  The estate is thirty-six hectares, with twenty-six hectares devoted to vineyards on fine gravel soil.  The wine is fifty-two percent Cabernet Sauvignon and forty-eight percent Merlot.  The fruit is hand-harvested and manually inspected and Initial Fermentation is done in Thermo-regulated Stainless-Steel vats for about twenty-five days.  The wine is then aged for about eighteen months in French Oak, of which a third is new.  A pretty ruby-red wine which offered notes of red fruit, cassis, toasted oak and tobacco.  On the palate the fruit, spice and oak mixed quite well with some softened tannins and a nice medium-count finish of terroir.

Le Baron de Rouillac Pessac-Leognan 2019 is the second label of the winery and an homage to Baron Haussmann.  The Baron acquired the estate in 1864 through marriage and it became his retreat from business in Paris.  He revamped the entire estate to fit his pleasures and his elegance of style.  The estate after it left his hands kind of drifted until the present owner Lauren Cisneros.  This wine does not get as much exportation as the first label.  The wine is a blend of fifty-two percent Cabernet Sauvignon and forty-eight percent Merlot.  The fruit is manually harvested and inspected.  Initial Fermentation in Thermo-regulated Stainless-Steel bats for twenty-two days and aged for twelve months in French Oak, of which fifteen percent was new.  The wine was a bright ruby-red in color and offered notes of fresh red fruit, floral and spices.  On the palate tones of blackberry and cassis, some spices and it was well balanced and crafted with a nice medium-count finish of terroir.  I thought it was refreshing and a bargain.                 

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Two From La Rioja Alta S.A.

I have had a love affair with Rioja for the last fifty years and I think they are well aware of it at my local wine shop The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan.  I mean back when I was a student and just starting to learn about wines, I could buy two wines from Rioja, basically for the price of a Bordeaux.  My early mentors used to also tell me, that vintages were not reliable or necessary to worry about, and I have never been able to ascertain the validity of that, but I have also not been able to get that thought out of my memory banks.  Though when I was a kid, Rioja wines were very accessible, in fact more shelf space was devoted to Spain, than to California.

La Rioja Alta S.A. or the Sociedad Vinicola de La Rioja Alta was founded in 1890 by five families from Rioja and the Basque, and in 1904 the Ardanza winery joined the firm.  The estate also has about four-hundred hectares of vineyards planted in the Rioja region, including the Rioja Alta area. The flagship of the firm is the Gran Reserva 890, and the second label is Gran Reserva 890 (which was formally labeled Reserva 1904).   Now onto the notes of La Rioja Alta S.A. Gran Reserva 904 2011, and 2011 was declared and rated as “Exceptional.”  The wine is eighty-nine percent Tempranillo and eleven percent Graciano.  Initial Fermentation is done in batches for a period of seventeen days and some batches were allowed to complete Malolactic Fermentation for a period of seventy-five days.  The wine is then aged for fifty-four months with house-made barrels of American Oak.  A deep garnet-red wine with notes of black and red fruits and traces of orange zest, with secondary notes of cedar/cigar box and spices.  On the palate tones of fruit, silky tannins and totally balanced delivering a nice long delicate finish of fruit and balsamic. 

The second wine we had was La Rioja Alta S.A. Vina Ardanza Reserva 2015 and is one of three Reserva wines that they produce.  This wine is seventy-eight percent Tempranillo from thirty-year-old vines on their main estate vineyards and twenty-two percent Garnacha (Grenache) from a forty-hectare vineyard in the Rioja Oriental (formerly known as Rioja Baja).  The fruit is hand-harvested and destemmed, and this was the first year that they used an optical selection process, and examined each berry.  Initial Fermentation and Malolactic Fermentation took about seventy-five days.  The Tempranillo was aged for thirty-six months and the Grenache was aged for thirty months and then the final blending.  This Garnet-red wine offered notes of red fruit, baking aromas, licorice, coffee, cocoa, vanilla and cinnamon.  On the palate, this was a powerhouse of fruit, totally fresh with full tannins, very chewy, and a nice long finish of fruit and spices.  We tasted these two wines in reverse order, and I made a suggestion that they should do the tastings in this sequence, because the Vina Ardanza Reserva to me, just stole all the thunder, it was such a magnificent wine and the aging potential has to be at least ten to twenty years, easily.       

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Le Clarence de Haut-Brion 2019

After fifty some odd years, I still have unicorn wines that I have desires for, as I think most wine drinkers do as well.  I was visiting my local wine shop The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan and they let me get a little closer to one of the unicorns, almost within petting range, I might add.  One of the many unicorns that I haven’t tried and there are many, as I have been a working man, raising a family and have tried to be fiscally responsible, is Chateau Haut-Brion, the only First Growth that I have not had, and the only one from Pessac-Leognan.

Chateau Haut-Brion is the oldest of Bordeaux’s five First Growths, as it was established in the early 1500s by the Pontac family and then has changed hands several times since then.  A wine that was favored by Charles II, Thomas Jefferson and Samuel Pepys to name a few.  The estate was acquired in 1935 by the American Francophile Clarence Dillon and has been managed by his family ever since.  While the Chateau is famed for their red wine “grand vin” they also produce a white wine on the property.  The property is fifty-one hectares and forty-eight hectares are planted to Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot and three hectares are planted with Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

Le Clarence de Haut-Brion Pessac-Leognan 2019 is the second label for Chateau Haut-Brion in the red wine.  Prior to 2007 the wine was known as “Chateau Bahans Haut-Brion” and was renamed in homage to Clarence Dillon.  The fruit for this wine gets to enjoy the same soil as the parent and that is small pebbles of assorted quartz upon a subsoil of clay, sand and limestone with excellent drainage.  The wine is a blend of seventy-three percent Merlot, eleven percent Cabernet Sauvignon and sixteen percent Cabernet Franc; all of which was hand-harvested during a three-week period.  The juice has two weeks of maceration and fermentation, and then the juice is aged in French Oak (thirty percent new) for about seventeen months before bottling.  A nice deep-dark-red wine offering notes of fresh red and black fruit, violets and spices.  On the palate there were notes of blackberry and cassis, along with spices in a well balanced and creamy wine with firm tannins, with touches of vanilla and pepper and a nice long-count finish of terroir.  If this is as close to one of the unicorns, it will suffice. 

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Bodegas Faustino 1 Gran Reserva 1996

I was pleasantly surprised on one of my recent trips to my favorite wine shop The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan as the first wine that they poured for me was Bodegas Faustino 1 Gran Reserva Rioja 1996.  And they asked me, if I had ever had it before.  First, I told them, that I haven’t come across that many Gran Reserva wines in my travels.  Second, I told them that I almost came close to having a later vintage of this wine at a restaurant, but luckily, I stopped them from cutting the foil and the mesh, and discovered that it was a Reserva, not a Gran Reserva as listed on the Wine Carte.

Bodegas Faustino is one of the leading Rioja producers and they export to over seventy countries; and they make up about a third of the total exports of Rioja Reserva and Gran Reserva from Spain.  It was founded by Eleuaterio Martinez Arzok in 1861 in Alava.  Its fame came in the late 1950s when Julio Faustino Martinez began exporting the wines.  In Rioja they offer from Crianza to Gran Reserva, and offer both red and white varieties.  They also offer Cava wines and Rosado wines.  They have also expanded beyond Rioja to Navarra, La Mancha, Ribera del Duero and they have created Grupo Faustino.

Bodegas Faustino 1 Gran Reserva 1996 is a blend of Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo.  They have about six-hundred-fifty hectares across the three Riojas and with different elevations, but all basically on calcareous clay soil.  There is a minimum of thirty-eight months of aging in a mix of American and French barrels.  The label shows a painting by Rembrandt van Rijn of Nicolaes Van Bambeeck on a frosted bottle and the legendary copper chicken wire protection on each bottle.  For a twenty-six-year-old the wine still had a nice garnet color, maybe slightly orange halo at the edge, but no brick color aging.  On the nose there were notes of dark fruit, leather, cocoa and balsamic.  On the palate black cherry, ripe fruit and prunes with additional notes of green pepper and black pepper.  The tannins were totally silky, lush and elegant a soft, medium count of terroir.  It was just a beautiful wine and the day was just beginning.  

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A Solemn Afternoon

“Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians” is inscribed on one of the walls at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. We did not tour that museum, but we did tour The Zekelman Holocaust Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan.  Even as one approaches the museum the building and grounds were designed to evoke the Concentration Camps of the Third Reich.  There unfortunately has been seen a rise in Anti-Semitism around the world again, and hatred is easy to foment anywhere.  The word “genocide” was coined in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-born lawyer who fled the persecution and moved to America in 1941.  We actually had to go through a security inspection, before we could enter the museum.

Upon entering the museum, the first image to be seen is a boxcar that was used to shuttle humanity to the Concentration Camps, with no concern for humanity.  While the building does not look that large from the outside, it took me several hours to go through the exhibits, and some I did not stay for long and others that required more effort, I left for perhaps another time.  My Bride left the exhibit halls to go hear a talk, by a “survivor,” but I passed, as I worked with a survivor for three years during my high school years.  Instead, I got a chance to watch a group of students running around and laughing as if they were at a basketball game, thankfully they must have been escorted out, because they were not disrupted the serenity of the occasion.  While I could go on and on about the atrocities and hatred, I would rather mention the hope which was personified by the Viola and Gary Kappy Anne Frank Tree Exhibit and Garden.  The Zekelman Holocaust Center is home to one of eleven saplings in the United States harvested from the white horse chestnut tree that grew outside of Anne Frank’s hiding place and mentioned in her diary writings.

As we were leaving the center, we pondered where to eat, and I suggested a restaurant that my dinner club uses several times a year; and my Bride had never been there.  My Bride wanted something warm and strong after the tour and she had a Spanish Coffee, and most of the time I go there I start off with a Maker’s Mark Whiskey Sour and then have a glass of wine with dinner.  We had Broasted chicken and Broasted potato wedges and started off with creamy Cole Slaw. Alas, the restaurant is not known for a fine wine carte.  I went with something full bodied to go with breading of the Broasted chicken.  I had a glass of Jacob’s Creek Classic Shiraz Australia 2020.  Jacob’s Creek has a large portfolio of wines spanning several regions and varieties and they are based in the Barossa Valley and are known for good value.  The company Gramp & Sons was established in 1847 planting vines along the banks of Jacob’s Creek.  In 1850 the wines used the Orland Wines label, and Jacob’s Creek appeared on labels in 1976.  Today it is part of Pernod Ricard.  A deep purple with notes of dark cherry, plums and mocha.  On the palate tones of dark fruit and soft tannins with a very short finish.  The wine is a bulk wine that is to be enjoyed as close to the vintage date as possible.  My Bride enjoyed the restaurant and we were both in awe of our day at the museum and if you go, give yourself a minimum of three hours, and if they have a speaker, even longer.  

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Another Run to Butter Run

The last time we were at Butter Run, I said that we would be back.  The name “Butter Run” is from the time the grandfather was asked to go buy some butter, and during that errand, he got side tracked at a watering hole for a quick one and a few hours later, he returned home with the butter.  There are now four generations that have continued this family tradition of going out for a “Butter Run.”  You have to honor tradition. The restaurant always continues to find something that makes me smile. 

The Butter Run Saloon is in St. Clair Shores, but not on the water.  It is one of the old saloons that one would normally just read about.  It is long and narrow with a patio on the back, that was probably hastily rigged when the harridan insisted that only politicians could eat indoors, but people could eat outdoors in the winter.  It is the kind of joint that one could find in old neighborhoods as it had wide plank pine floors, tin embossed ceiling, long gone beer draught beer emblem levers handing from the ceiling as well.  The walls are covered with Michigan memorabilia of sports, schools, popular snack foods and candies and Motown. 

One could spend probably a day there and still miss something very cool. The menu, right off the bat, offers Escargot as an appetizer, and we still haven’t tried it, because we haven’t really been there for a dinner.  They have appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and main entrée dishes; and have breakfast, lunch and dinner. Three of us had Beef Barley Soup which is there daily offering (and it may have been the best we have ever had) and one opted for Cheese Soup.  Then we all had different versions of Cheeseburgers with either fries or onion rings (me) and they were excellent, and I tend to be fussy (go figure) about a burger.  We had to take boxes for the leftovers, as they were that good.  The other thing that surprised me, even from the last time we were there, was that they not only carry a nice assortment of wines (not just a red and a white), but they now carry their own house brand.  There were four different “The Butter Run Saloon Private Reserve” wines; a Pinot Grigio, a Chardonnay, Merlot and a Cabernet.  We shared a bottle of The Butter Run Saloon Private Reserve Pinot Grigio California NV.  The wine was “cellared and bottled” by Free Run Wine Company of St. Helena, California. I could not find anything about this company, but I can make kind of an educated guess that they are a custom-crusher and warehouse for independent winemakers that cater to both individual wineries that can’t afford their own equipment yet, and for jobbers that will affix “house labels” for restaurants and caterers.  Now some of you might think that I have lost it by ordering a Pinot Grigio to go with burgers, but I have found that a good chilled Pinot Grigio can be complimentary to many different dishes, when one isn’t looking for complexity, and even a mediocre one tends to be palatable.    There were no production notes of course on this wine, but I think it is safe to say that the wine was made in Stainless Steel to keep the fruit and the acidity as fresh as possible.  The nose was very light and so was the wine, it was what we call a quaffable wine and perfect for a hot day, but we were enjoying it in the winter.

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With Ms. Yoga Back at Hyde Park

It was our last night with Ms. Yoga and it was only fitting that we went back to Hyde Park for our dinner, as she had introduced it to us in the first place.  Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse is based out of Ohio, and it is a nice comfortable restaurant that fits in between the macho old-school Morton’s and the loud feminine Capital Grille (at least the one in Detroit is, which is in a shopping mall).  And they have a charming, dare I call it an “early-bird special” if you dine in the bar area, and as proud retirees, we will take advantage of such largesse.  Not to mention that I saw an old customer from my retail days, and he was the third generation of his family that I helped and it is always good to see an old familiar face.

It was actually quite an easy evening, especially for the waitstaff, as we basically all had the same meal.  We all had the Lobster Bisque, which is laced and has some poached lobster added just before serving, which is worth the price of admission.  Along with their great bread basket and crackers and a slab of butter that is seasoned on one edge and the other edge has Himalayan Pink Salt.  It is amazing that I have never have bread at home, even during the holidays, but get me in a restaurant setting and I enjoy bread.  We then enjoyed Prime Filets prepared perfectly with Bearnaise Sauce and Garlic Whipped Potatoes.  We also got a side order of classic steakhouse prepared Spinach with Garlic and butter.  There were also some desserts, but they went directly into a carry-out box, because we were full from dinner. 

We had a wine that I have read about over the years, but it was the first time I had ever encountered the wine.  We had Dave Phinney’s Locations Wine I (Italy) NV.  Dave Phinney, is the founder of Orin Swift Cellars and The Prisoner Label.  Locations Wine is an American value wine brand that blends wines from the designated country.  The wines are non-vintage-designated and have a very minimalistic label reminiscent to the old international car bumper stickers from when I was a kid (F for France, E for Spain, I for Italy etc.).  Though this must have been an old wine in their cellars, as the new designation for Italy is IT on the labels. This wine brand was purchased by Gallo in 2018, but they have retained Dave Phinney as the winemaker.   The fruits for this wine are a blend of Negroamaro and Nero d’Avola from Puglia in the Southern Region and Barbera from Piemonte in the Northern Region of Italy.  The wine is barrel aged for ten months prior to release.  A dark inky purple wine with notes of black cherry, vanilla, sandalwood and some cinnamon and nutmeg.  On the palate tones of figs, blueberry jam with soft tannins and a decent finish of wine and sea-salt.  A rather interesting little wine for one so affordable in a steakhouse setting.      

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Cruising With Ms. Yoga

A day with Ms. Yoga is either spent shopping or wining and dining, and the latter was the unanimous vote.  It was a win, win decision as my wife surrendered her beautiful ladies wrist watch for a piece of plastic and rubber on her wrist that keeps track of her steps.  So, we were out visiting downtown areas where she used to live.  We went to the City of Plymouth and the City of Northville; both rather historic in Michigan and both are still great places to wine and dine. 

Now downtown Plymouth seems to always have something to do, I think it is like thirty-nine weekends of the year, they have events in the park and adjoining streets downtown, if you go there enough, you even learn how to walk around and learn where to park, during the busy times.  The first two eateries that we went to were closed, because of private parties, so we decided to try a place that has been there since we all could remember and none of us had ever been to.  The Post Local Bistro was established in 1978, if memory serves me right as the Post Bar and Grill as it was the first building next to the old Post Office.  We were going out for dinner that evening, so in honor of Ms. Yoga we were going to have noshes and wine.  We decided to just get their Party Tray and our waitress assured us that it would be fine for the three of us.  I liked that they didn’t go upscale and call it a Charcuterie Tray.  One thing I learned years ago, was to ask, what is on the tray, because there are certain cheeses that don’t agree with me, and certain cured meats that don’t either, as I keep saying “I am a pain in the arse.”  Not only did they have a nice collection of noshes, they also had a Whitefish Dip, so my Bride was ecstatic, as Whitefish is the unofficial State Fish.  I selected a wine that I have had before from the Wagner Family of Wines, as in Chuck Wagner of Caymus Vineyards. The wine was Bonanza Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 5 California NV. I have stated before that it the old days, this wine would have been perhaps in a gallon jug with a finger ring, but with the pedigree of the winemaker, even for a wine with no vintage, it was very tasty.  This is a bulk wine produced under a great pedigree of fruit made from the “bonanza” of great vineyards in the state of California.  A nice deep red with notes of black and red fruits.  On the palate there are tones of fruit, dark chocolate and soft tannins with an easy finish.  Not what I would select for a filet, but perfect for what we were looking for.

We still had time to amble around wo we moved up to the City of Northville.  We went to Simply Wine which is a cute wine shop that looks and feels like it belongs there.  Maybe a bit more than half of the store is a wine shop with a large assortment of world-wide wines and the majority were affordable and then a few unicorns tossed in the mix as well.  In the back are some wine barrel tables and chairs, a dozen automatic argon-gas -filled wine dispensers that you use a preloaded credit card to pour a sample up to three different quantities.  The help seemed quite gregarious and much more knowledgeable especially compared to the corner party stores. The ladies started before me, as I ran into a friend and had to catch up for a bit.  I had to get a glass of wine and catch up with the ladies and I chose a glass of Soter Vineyards Mineral Springs Ranch Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton AVA/Willamette Valley 2020.  The winery is a two-hundred-forty-acre Biodynamic farm in the heart of the Willamette Valley in Oregon.  They have forty-acres devoted to Pinot Noir and their White Label is considered one of the best in the State.  The Fermentation and Maceration of this wine goes for thirty days, followed by twelve months in barrel of which forty-five percent is new French Oak.  They made 1,340 cases of this wine.  The wine had a nice deep red color with nice legs and offered notes of black fruit and spices.  On the palate tones of black cherry, plum and blackberry, soft tannins with additional notes of leather and a finish more of wine, than terroir.  A very enjoyable wine, and the wine bar would be a nice place to meet people for a glass of wine.   

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Ms. Yoga Revisits The Earle

Years ago, just after The Wine Raconteur and his Bride, Ms. Yoga frequented The Earle; one of our favorite haunts, especially if we are in Ann Arbor.  She wanted to go there with us, and of course, how could we say no?  This occurred back in December and I have so many articles that are on backlog, all I have to do is write them, when I am not working around the house, or being the Domestic Goddess for my Bride, as part of our division of labor, I do the laundry and then I have a hot and steamy day with Ms. Rowenta.  I digressed again.

The Earle is in the basement of an office business in downtown Ann Arbor and opened up in 1977 as a Jazz Club with a light fare of sandwiches, soups and omelets.  In 1979, it had a casual club environment and finally to the romantic European Bistro that it now is.  To this day there is still live music five nights a week.   Now Ms. Yoga is a nosher, she likes appetizers and small plates compared to big plates of food.  While she was noshing, we started noshing as well, first with Roasted Garlic, then we split the Panzanella salad of cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, basil capers and anchovies with Tuscan-style hard bread.  We shared a bottle of Domaine Alain Chavy Bourgogne Chardonnay 2018.  The Domaine is a leading Burgundy house with its cellar in Puligny-Montrachet in the Cote de Beaune and is known for elegant wines and only with Chardonnay grapes.  It was formed when Alain and his brother decided to split their father’s estate Domaine Gerard Chavy.  Alain Chavy’s holding of six and half hectares of Premier Crus, Grand Cru, lieu-dit vineyards, and some Bourgogne Blanc vineyards.  He is a firm believer in low-intervention, the fruit is hand harvested, Initial Fermentation begins in the barrel for extra depth and intensity, with minimal lees stirring and Malolactic Fermentation begins later, basically due to the cool subterranean cellars of the domaine.  Bottling is staggered and allowed to age according the status of the vineyards.  This wine was a very pretty soft-golden color with notes of lemon, grapefruit and citrus with some spices.  On the palate the tree fruit was front and center showcasing tones of apples and peaches with creamy sensations and a nice finish of chalk and minerals (the terroir).  For a basic Bourgogne Blanc wine, it delivered extremely well, well above its class. 

For our entrées, Ms. Yoga went with the Salmon in Puff Pastry with Dijon Mustard and a Mushroom Duxelles in tarragon-cream sauce.  My Bride and I shared an order of our favorite Coquilles St. Jacques al crème de Xeres, or Sea Scallops sautéed with mushrooms and garlic, pan-sauced with Sherry and cream with rice.  For dessert we shared an order of Crème Brulee with three spoons.  We were fine with our wine with dinner, but there is never a shortage of wines to select at The Earle with over twelve-hundred different wines to select from and international in scope.  They have had the Best of Award of Excellence from the Wine Spectator magazine for thirty-five years in a row and still counting.  While the ladies were more interested in the dessert, I went for a more liquid form in the way of Chateau Bastor-Lamontagne “Les Charmes de Bastor-Lamontagne” Sauternes 2018.  The estate is in Preignac, in the heart of the Sauternes region, with three centuries of history and one of three properties with an Organic certification.  The estate has staying power because of the product, as it was not part of the 1855 Classification of Sauternes and Barsac and has changed hands a couple of times in the last hundred years.  The estate is forty-six hectares planted with Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle on land that is sand, limestone, gravel and clay; with vines averaging about thirty-seven years of age.  The wine is aged for about fifteen months in French Oak, of which twenty percent is new.  The wine had a very pretty gold color for a young wine with notes of lemon curd, honeysuckle, almond and vanilla.  On the palate notes of apricot and apple with nice acidity and balance with a very crisp finish with some terroir.  I think the ladies liked the wine over the dessert.      

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Fine Wine Source Club Selections – January 2023

If you don’t belong to a wine club, I would strongly recommend that you find a good one and join; if you are near Livonia, Michigan than I would suggest The Fine Wine Source.  I was just there yesterday, to pick up the January Club Selections and we were catching up, since the holidays.  I mentioned to the owner that I received a message on my blog, extolling his expert taste in wines, his knowledge and his ability to market to his customers.  There is always laughter and true appreciation towards the customers, and respect to the wholesale wine salesman, as I once again was able to witness yesterday.  The also offered me an impromptu tasting, and asked if I could back the next day to try some wines that may make the cut for their restaurant and for the wine shop.  You really could not ask for a better way to spend a couple of hours.

The wine representing the Old World is one that I am well acquainted with, as I even tasted this wine back in May 2022.  Lorenzo Gatteschi of Podere Ciona had hosted a tasting of his family’s wines that day, and their winery is in one of the oldest parts of the Chianti region on a south-facing hill and the estate has thirteen acres of vineyards, two acres of olive groves and one-hundred acres of woodlands, plus assorted fruit trees, chickens, vegetable gardens and soon apiaries.  The Podere Ciona Chianti Classico 2018 is the winery’s basic Chianti wine and they still maintain their desire to only produce one bottle of wine per vine.  The soil of the vineyards is a mix of sandstone, clay schist and marl. Depending on the vineyard the vines are between seven to eighteen years in age.  The wine is eighty-nine percent Sangiovese, nine percent Merlot and two percent Alicante Bouschet.  They still maintain hand harvesting and initial fermentation is in Stainless Steel for about ten days with extended post-fermentation maceration on the skins for about a month, followed by malolactic fermentation, and then aged in French Oak for about eighteen months, finally refined for twelve months in the bottle.  This light-ruby colored wine offered notes of red fruits and spices, and on the palate fresh fruit, soft tannins and a velvety texture from the Merlot with a nice medium finish of fruit and terroir.

The next selection represented the New World with Dunning Vineyards Chardonnay Paso Robles/Willow Creek District 2018.  Another moment of déjà vu as I had a chance to taste this wine as it was being touted by their neighbor Willie Newman of Tre Son Winery back in January 2022, in fact I enjoyed this wine so much that I had to take some bottles home to my Bride, who didn’t attend the tasting with me.  Bob and Jo-Ann Dunning are the winemakers and owners of this forty-acre estate which was established in 1991 on the west side of Paso Robles.  The winery produces about fifteen-hundred cases a year using several different varietals.  This Chardonnay wine is produced in the classic Burgundian style with full oak barrel fermentation and sur-lees aged for one year.  It was a delightful wine with notes of pear and citrus, nutmeg and vanilla.  The wine had a nice creamy taste with balance acidity and layers of flavor that opened up and finished with a nice medium finish of terroir. 

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