Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Del Dotto Napa Gio and Cab Franc 1997

Del Dotto Napa Gio and Cab Franc 1997

With Son Alec visiting from NYC for Christmas, we had Linda's homemade lasagna for late dinner after late arrival from the airport. To accompany dinner, I opened this vintage Del Dotto Giovanni's Tuscan Reserve 1997 from the cellar. We hold a decade of vintages of this wine and opted to open the oldest as its no doubt time to drink as its late in its drinking window life.

Del Dotto Napa Valley Giovanni's Tuscan Reserve 1997 

Clearly showing its age at 20 years, the black cherry and berry fruits are giving way to leather, earth, smoke and a bit of funkiness starting to set in. The garnet color is starting to show some bricking and brownish rust hue on the edges.

RM 86 points.

Del Dotto Napa Valley Cabernet Franc 1997

The next evening we opened another 1997 vintage Del Dotto, this time the Napa Valley Cabernet Franc, which I suspected would be the next oldest drinking, ready to drink varietal from our vintage collection from this producer.

Holding its age better than the Tuscan from the evening before, this too was ready to drink, nearing the last chapter of its drinking window.

My last published tasting notes of this wine were last year when I wrote: "Tonight's tasting was more consistent with notes from a few years ago, dark ruby color, medium to full body, spicy black berry and black currant fruits are still vibrant in this nineteen year old, accented by tones of earthy leather, cedar and tobacco with hints of anise on the smooth tannin finish."

RM 88 points. 

Domaine de Boisrenard and BBQ Beef Brisket

Christmas holiday bbq beef brisket dinner w/ Special Birthyear Vintage CDP

For dinner following Christmas holiday church service we carried out BBQ beef brisket and I pulled a Boisrenard CDP from the cellar for a red wine accompaniment. I first discovered Domaine  Boisrenard while touring Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Southern Rhone Valley wine region back in 1999. With son Alec home from NYC for the holiday, I pulled a from our cellar collection a special vintage bottle from his birth year for the occasion.

Domaine de Beaurenard (Paul Coulon et Fils) Châteauneuf-du-Pape Boisrenard 1990 

Showing remarkable longevity, this shows no signs of diminution from aging at 27 years, this was consistent with last tasting five years earlier.

Medium to full bodied, slight earthiness and leather accompany layers of black and green pepper that accompany the slightly subdued black cherry and black berry fruits with a hint of spice, moderate lingering tannins.

RM 89 points. 


007 Shiraz-Cab Blends

Ten year old vintage Cab/Syrah Blends highlight tasting

Returning home after returning the Great-grand-parents home after our Christmas holiday gathering, I found sons Ryan and Alec engaged in a comparison tasting of a pair of ten year old 2007 vintage Cabernet/Syrah blends - Lewis Alec's Blend vs. Mollydooker Enchanted Path. What a joy to see son's partaking in my passion of earnest wine tasting. It was remarkable how similar these two wines were being from opposite sides of the globe, California vs South Australia.

I joined them and fetched from the cellar another ten year old South Australian Syrah, Marquis Philips '09' McLaren Vale Shiraz, to compare with the Enchanted Path, for reasons I explain further below.

This is a style of wine that we love and enjoy often with food, cheese, chocolates, or casual sipping. They stand up great to bbq, spicy foods, or simple salads. Both of these were dark inky purple, thick, concentrated, chewy, syrupy and fruit filled accented by spice, clove and sweet oak.

Lewis Cellars Alec's Blend Napa Valley Red Wine 2007

This might also be considered the namesake wine for son Alec who shares his name with Alec Lewis, the grandson of producer Randy Lewis, who was born on the day of harvest and subsequently this wine was named for him and has recurred ever since that inaugural vintage in 1997. We keep a vertical collection of this wine to enjoy when Alec comes home to visit. We just recently consumed our last 1997 inaugural vintage bottle, but still hold ten different vintages in our collection.

I've written much about Lewis wines in these pages as they are family favorites. We visited the Lewis Napa Estate for a private tasting during our Napa Valley Wine Experience this summer.

This '07 Alec's Blend is a blend of 70% Syrah, 20% Cabernet, and 10% Merlot. The alcohol content was 14.7%

Winemaker's notes - "These days drifting the rear wheel of his 4 stroke bike on a dirt oval is Alec's idea of fun, while his 2007 vintage wine is a straight line sprint to pleasure. 70% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot, this is one sweet ride, loaded with wild blackberries and laced with mocha, cola, and vanilla oak spice. Super smooth, plush and round, there's plenty of throttle too, with chocolaty tannins and just enough grip to keep the fun serious."

 James Laube of Wine Spectator, gave this 92 points and wrote: "Combines richness with delicacy, offering a firm, subtle mix of plum, red currant, cedar and spice. Gains depth and finesse, with hints of mocha, sage and dried berry. Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Drink now through 2014. 1,400 cases made." (Tasting Highlights, Sept. 14, 2009)"


Mollydooker "The Enchanted Path" Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz McLaren Vale 2007

I write about Mollydooker in my blogpost on their premium Shiraz Carnival of Love. As I've written before in these pages, Mollydooker is the handiwork of the husband-and-wife winemaking team of Sarah and Sparky Marquis. Prior to starting their own label the pair produced under the Marquis Philips brand in partnership with their distributor Dan Philips. Previously, they produced award-winning wines for Australian producers including Fox Creek, Henry’s Drive, Shirvington, and others. The term Mollydooker is Australian slang for a left-handed person as both Sarah and Sparky Marquis are left-handed.

Since 2005, they've focused exclusively on making their own exuberant wines which include a range of Shiraz labels and a variety of Shiraz/Cab/Merlot blends, as well as some adventuresome white wines such as The Violinist, a Verdelho varietal. Their branding features whimsical names and labels with cartoonish characters and illustrations resembling carnival or circus posters in the premium labels 'Carnival of Love' (right) and this 'Enchanted Path' (below).

They source their fruit from 116 acres of vineyards at their winery in McLaren Vale where about 50 percent are planted in Shiraz, with the rest made up of Cabernet, Merlot, Semillon and Chardonnay. Most of their wines bear distinctive whimsical and humorous names and labels with cartoon characters. Never-the-less, many of their wines, while modestly-priced, Mollydookers are often highly rated. Their premium label, 'Velvet Glove' Shiraz retails for $175, however.

Like the Alec's Blend above, this is also Syrah (2/3) based accented by Cabernet Sauvignon (1/3), just without the Merlot that comprises 1/3 of the Bordeaux varietal components in the Alec's Blend. Being from South Australia, it is remarkably similar to the profile of the California based Alec's Blend - dark inky purple, rich, concentrated, syrupy, chewy fruit filled. Both share a profile of spicy, clove accents.

This unique blend really works with the Cabernet adding breadth and depth to the big black inky purple colored full bodied Shiraz. The result is a powerful full bodied complex wine with concentrated forward chewy tongue coating black berry and black cherry fruits accented by ripe plum and spice, a layer of leather and hints of anise with fine silky tannins on the long finish.

RM 92 points.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate gave this wine a whopping 95 points and wrote in their review: " The 2007 Enchanted Path, a blend of 67% Shiraz and 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, is aged in mostly American oak, 70% new. Purple/black colored, it has a brooding bouquet of spice box, toasty oak, mineral, espresso, black currant, and blueberry. Structured and powerful on the palate, this dense, rich effort requires 5 to 7 years of additional cellaring and will offer prime drinking from 2014 to 2028. 95+ Points (JSM) (2/2009)."

Wine Spectator gave it 91 points  and wrote: "Big, ripe and focused, offering a blast of cherry and plum, with a welcome floral note that lasts through the long, vivid finish. Has a touch of spice as the finish lingers against fine tannins. (HS) (10/2008)".


I added to the mix, pulling from the cellar this Marquis Phillips '09' Shiraz from the same 2007 vintage. I can't help but wonder if and have to presume this is the same Shiraz juice as in the Mollydooker, just without the blended Cabernet. This suspicion is strengthened by the fact this is the last vintage of this label in our cellar, of which we own every release of this wine since its inception.

Marquis Phillips '09' McLaren Vale Shiraz 2007

Like the other Marquis Philips/Mollydooker branding, this features a whimsical cartoon characterization, this time of a 'roogle', which is 1/2 eagle, and 1/2 kangaroo, representing the American Australian partnership of Marquis and US distributor and partner Dan Phillips. As noted above, this partnership disbanded and the Mollydooker brand was born, launched in 2005.

Consistent with earlier review notes, "this 2007 vintage '9' is dark, big, full bodied and concentrated. It is not as complex or polished as some of the other vintage releases. In addition to the black berry fruits accented by mocha, tobacco and leather, there is a layer of graphite in this that has an edge that tends to detract from the fruit."

Lacking the blend of the Bordeaux varietal (s) would explain this wine being more single-dimensional and less complex, yet no less bodied or concentrated.

RM 89 points.


We rounded out the tasting with a total departure from the Shiraz, turning to a 'sticky' or a dessert 'ice-wine' from the legendary Inniskillin from the Canadian Niagara Peninsula. This is not only an amazing wine, but it actually complemented the Shiraz' which were big enough to stand up to the comparison, even when going back to comparison taste against it.

Inniskillin Niagara Peninsula Vidal Ice Wine 2004

We tasted and acquired this wine during our visit to the Inniskillin Winery Estate back in 2013 when I had the pleasure of meeting and tasting with the producer.

This was tea or caramel in color, full bodied, thick, unctuous, smooth and nicely balanced with tones of apricot, hints of peach and citrus giving way to a layer of caramel, subdued honey and brown sugar with a lingering smoky finish.

RM 90 points.