Overpriced Wines in Pennsylvania
Here are my notes on wines we had when we were in Pennsylvania (I did not have time to collect my notes for my last blog posting of September 25). As I indicated, we found wines in Pennsylvania to be highly overpriced, being in a Liquor Control state where all liquor goes through the state system of distribution. Here's what we got for our money.
2015 Louis Latour Gamay Noir ($50 at Louie Louie in Philadelphia) - Gamay Noir is the principal grape of Beaujolais. This is the first time I've seen it labeled as a varietal rather than an Appellation Controlée wine. It was a pleasant medium bodied wine with nice fruits and good depth, in the manner of a Beaujolais Villages which should cost $25 in a restaurant. 17.5/20 points.
2015 Domaine de l'Eve Pinot Noir Côte Chalonnaise ($60 at Louie Louie) - Here, again, is a varietal bottling. It had distinct Pinot Noir character and rich aromas and flavors and pleasing suppleness, but not the complexity of a Givry or a Mercurey. 18/20 points.
2015 Clos cu Bois Cabernet Sauvignon, California ($43 at Summit Inn in Farmington) - I ordered a Clos du Val Cabernet but the restaurant was out of it, so we got this. It had a modicum of varietal character, but rather direct and uncomplicated. I checked the pricing at Total Wine in Washington where it retails for $13.99. 17.5/20 points.
2016 Sean Minor Chardonnay, Central Coast, California ($40 at Tree Tops in Acme) - Tree Tops is a well regarded restaurant at the Polymath Park, home of a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house and two by Wright's apprentices. The Chardonnay was nice and easy to drink, not highly distinctive in a varietal sense, with moderate doses of oak and toast. I checked out the retail price at wine.com which was $19.99. 18/20 points.
2016 Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay, California ($38 at Summit Inn) - Again, we got a California bottling at a price that you would expect to pay for an AVA designated wine. It was pleasant and crisp with good varietal character and made a good accompaniment to our crab cakes. Priced at $10.99 at Total Wine. 17.5/20 points.
2015 Alamos Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina ($60 at Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh) - This was the most overpriced wine of the trip, and the service was terrible - "coming in a minute," which was interminable. It was thick, generous and chewy as Argentina Malbec typically is, but straightforward. Priced at $13.99 at Total Wine. 17.5/20 points.
Recently Tasted Burgundy and Rhone Wines
This year, we have been stocking up on 2015 French wines from the greatest vintage of this century. Here are our latest discoveries.
2015 Domaine Maurice Charleux & Fils Maranges, 1er Cru, Les Clos Roussots ($32.99 - wine.com) - Maranges is situated at the southern end of Burgundy's Côte d'Or, just south of Santenay. This vintage shows a brilliant brick red color and enticing aromas of wild strawberries, raspberries, red currants, rose petals, orange peel and incense. The palate mirrors the aromatics with delicious fruit forward medium bodied flavors that are imbued with red licorice, cocoa, tea and minerals. The back picks up fraise and framboise liqueurs, creme de cassis and recurring orange peel, followed by a silky moderate tannin and acid finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Domaine Maurice Charleux & Fils Maranges 1er Cru, Le Clos des Rois ($31.99 - wine.com) - This is just a shade lighter in body than the Roussots, but qualitatively nearly equal. Both are delicious easy to like wines, epitomizing what the French call a vin de plaisir. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Domaine Chevillon-Chezeaux Nuits-St. Georges, Vieilles Vignes ($47.99 - Total Wine) - Brick red colored, this wine possesses a rich, smoky nose of fraises de bois, old tree cherries and wild currants, with scents of semi dried roses, tobacco leaf, orange peel and oriental incense. The flavors are rich and earthy, typical of Nuits St.-Georges, with definite old vine character, underlain with cocoa, French roast and granitic minerals. The richly textured back picks up roasted berries and nuts, recurring orange peel and dried currants, followed by a lingering, savory dryish yet smooth tannin finish. We have reordered this wine. 19/20 points.
2016 Domaine des Rosiers Moulin-à-Vent ($21.99 - wine.com) - The 2015 vintage is considered the greatest in Beaujolais since 1947, but the 2016 is a close runner-up. This wine is a bit more robust and a bit less refined than the 2015 Rosiers. It features a ruby-garner color and a smoky nose of wild strawberries, cherries, black currants, black roses, mulberry and incense. The flavors are generous and bold, with notes of licorice, cocoa, French roast and granitic minerals. The back picks up macerated berries and roasted nuts followed by a chewy ripe moderate tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Domaine Chignard Fleurie, "Les Moriers" ($21.99 - wineexpress.com) - From one of the top crus of Beaujolais, this offers a deep ruby color and seductive aromas of fraises de bois, cherries and currants, with scents of crushed roses, violets and white incense. The flavors are pleasingly supple yet substantial, with notes of red licorice, cocoa, medium roast coffee and gravelly earth. On the back, the wine turns chewy tired with pressed fruits and bright fruit acids on the satiny tannin finish. 18.5+/20 points.
2016 Alain Jaume Gigondas, "Terrasses de Montmirial" ($37.99 - wine.com) - This South Rhone wine boasts a deep ruby-crimson color and an intense nose of wild fruits - raspberries, cherries, black currants - crushed roses, lavender and spiced incense. The flavors are full and generous, yet focused, intermixed with licorice, dark cocoa, French roast and stony minerals. The wine thickens on the back with sensations of macerated berries, grilled nuts and burnt charcoal, followed a lingering ripe tannin finish. 18.5+/20 points.
2015 Brotte Chateauneuf du Pape "Domaine Barville" ($33.99 - wine.com) - A Chateauneuf du Pape for the price of a Gigondas? Well, I had to try it. It's not the greatest CdP I've tried, but it is good value. Deep ruby colored, it possesses rich aromas of raspberry, cherry, plum, crushed roses, lavender and incense. The flavors are medium bodied but substantial, with notes of licorice, cocoa and minerals, followed by a chewy textured back and a ripe tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.