Paul Avril Clos des Papes C-d-P 2004 has revived; buy several

September 24, 2012

Since 2000, RP awarded 10 Chardonnays priced under $15, 90 points or more. Those who enjoy the crisp Chards that are unfiltered, unoaked, stainless fermented and aged, plus made from Monterey AVA grapes, will enjoy Travis 2009. The 2009 spiked right up to $16-17 on the Parker review. They are around for $12 now. Don’t load up, though, because they aren’t long-lived cellar dwellers. Golden straw-colored, tropical fruit, honeysuckle, apple and lemon curd aromas, flavors follow nose. All supported by racy acidity, medium body, round mouthfeel, clean finish, 91 points, drink now.

Snooth normally provides great information. 2009 Domaine Grand Veneur Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vieille Vignes at $90 is no deal. Grand Veneur was rated 94-plus by many, but I’m going with Jancis Robinson and claiming 91 points. For $90, I would search out the Paul Avril Clos des Papes C-d-P 2004, 95 points, under $90 and just starting to drink well. Came onto the market strongly with huge fruit nose and great balance for cellaring. Then it went dead. Now revived, it is stunning and will improve through the next several years. Still plenty of dark wine color, the nose is young, with black raspberry and dark cherry (from the Grenache) influenced by hints of spices, roast peanuts, riding smooth but still grippy tannins that are beginning to incorporate. Buying several for tasting over the next several years would be a marvelous experience for all C-d-P drinkers.

Remember Domaine de Bila Haut les Vignes de Bila Haut produced by world-renowned Michel Chapoutier? The 2010 are on sale for $144 per case. Rated 90 by WS and 92-94 RP. At this price I’m going with 92. Folks, please bring in a case. Pay up to $160. Your wine guy has to eat too. This is a wonderful table wine that will really impress your pals who spend $30/bottle. Will start drinking well next year and cellar through 2018. A powerful red with concentrated spiced cherry, ripe plum and blackberry aromas and flavors. Both are enhanced with pie spice nuance. There is still a bit of tannin in the firm, long finish that left me with a dark chocolate aftertaste.

Barbara and I enjoyed a wonderful dining and gabfest with Trish's family and Captain Forney at the Back Porch last Wednesday. As expected, the meal was terrific, but the company was especially good. We had a chance to meet Trish’s Mom Betty, sister Sue and brother Tom, a Cali resident. Tom is a knowledgeable wine guy who was seated next to me. It was fun to get his insight into wine he enjoyed. We had a few favorites in common. A group of interesting conversationalists and quick on the uptake kept the evening rolling right along. If you are reading here, you probably already know about Dennis and Trish, so I will leave you to your own conclusions in their regard.

We finally got around to visiting a(MUSE.). Wow! Great menu using many wonderful, unique food combinations presented artistically. Sometimes a talented chef can manage this and serve great food, hot or cold, as required. Hari is one of them. The menu is constructed to allow one to try a host of items without gorging. We sampled a foie gras plate, a lovely vegetarian eggplant and flat bread plate, filled squash blossoms with quinoa, a soft shell rendition, a shishito roast pepper plate and an absolutely fabulous rockfish rendition. We finished with peaches and cream.

A longtime friend, David, was tending bar. He is the wine steward par excellence, formerly with Espuma. He has brought his expertise to a(MUSE.) and provided a well-rounded, fairly priced wine, beer and specialty drink list. We decided to sit at the bar to gather his input on the various wines by the glass. We were not disappointed. You should know a(MUSE.) has a happy hour daily with chef bites and various beer, wine and cocktails priced $5. I had heard rumors the pricing was high. Absolute hogwash! In my book, a(MUSE.) gets at least 2 price points. Great price-value equation.