Wines from near and far for change-of-season sampling

September 9, 2019

I hope all had a terrific Labor Day weekend. I have been a beach resident since 1971 and I still get that ahhh, it’s over feeling. Truth is, in most years there is another three to four weeks of busy before the Closed Monday and Tuesday signs start popping up and you don’t need a reservation to dine at 8 p.m. in your favorite spot. BTW, living here 48 years doesn’t make one a “local.” If you weren’t born in Beebe like me, you are an interloper. As for the BiB crowd, It doesn’t matter your commitment to the community, you’ll never be a Nanticoke. Those who are curious may grab a glass of your favorite sipper, sit in a chair by the window and read the following very informative article: I’m hoping the article will prompt all to mark your calendar for Sept. 7 and 8, to visit the Nanticoke Powwow. Take Route 24 toward Millsboro, and about halfway there you will begin to see the signs. This event appeals to the entire spectrum, kids to grandparents. Starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, 9:30 a.m. Sunday, and well worth the short drive.

I’ve been reviewing my notes, looking up answers for several readers’ queries, and this week some will be answered. Jim, Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve Red Blend, like most KJ Reserves, is a stellar buy for the money, around $17, 87 McD points. Mostly Syrah-blend of juice from Santa Barbara, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, and Napa, aged 9 months in French  and American oak. Red fruits forward with barrel spice and cocoa. KJ is consistent but weather dependent like all wine. However, they cast a wide net for grapes and juice, and this allows the winemakers to ameliorate the vagaries of terroir. California’s viticulture region is huge; it encompasses many climates from the arid, hot central valleys to the mountain valleys to very cool coastal estuaries. This provides its expert winemakers with lots of ammunition. 

Ken asked about Ramey Fort Ross Seaview Chard 2016. This is a stone home run for me, 93-plus McD points under $70. A throwback, complex beauty. Rich, smooth, full-bodied, balanced, with aging ability. Look for white flowers, lemon, apple blossom nose with apple, quince, lemon zest and nut flavors supported by saline mineral acidity. It finishes smoothly and cleanly with stony hints and sea breeze notes. Ramey is a careful winemaker. They press whole clusters to derive delicate phenols while employing native yeast and full native malolactic fermentation in oaken barrels and sur lies batonnage (stirring while on lies). After aging 12 months in 20 percent new French oak barrels, it was traditionally fined for clarity during the following harvest and bottled without filtration in January 2018. If you are able, look around for Ramey Woolsey Road Chard 2012, another wonderful wine, 93 points under $70. 

Eunice, I thought I had written up the Long Meadow Estate Grown Sauvignon Blanc 2018 before. This Rutherford SB is another great buy under $20. The 2018 is the best recent vintage at 90 points McD. Most previous vintages were in the 87-88 range. Lemon zest, apricot, grass nose, with vibrant acidity supporting lime, gooseberry and guava flavors that result in a crisp, elegant wine. Slow, cold fermentation preserved natural varietal aromas. 

And on to some furriner wines: Louisa, on the Clos St. Denis Domaine Gagey 2013 Red Burgundy, I had no notes and at $300 no interest. However, two of my trusted voices, Tanzer 92-95, and Meadows of Burghound, 93, wrote favorably. Neal Martin, WA 92-94, also liked it. This came on at $330 and has backslid to $235.At that price, most Grand Cru red burgundys are decent buys. Won’t be ready until 2022.

Jackie asked about Chateau Chauvin St. Emilion Grand Cru. This producer usually gets mixed reviews. I think the 2010 is wonderful. Notes read: Dark color with crimson rim, closed nose but aeration allowed some cherry and oak. Good legs, lots of tannin, sufficient acidity says hold at least 10 years. It’s almost ready. Since Chauvin normally shows little price appreciation, I waited. Came in at $48 and is selling for $61, and ready. A nice buy. I saw a case at $648 and bottles at $65, from different dealers. Happy hunting; more letters next week.