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2005 Domaine Roger Perrin Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve des Vieilles Vignes is still such a puppy. From what I can tell, this is normally a 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre blend from almost exclusively more than 100 year old vines. And that assemblage explains the wine’s expression perfectly. It has this really deep and dark cherry fruit, orange peel, dried herbs and licorice palate that is incredibly intense but completely balanced. Nothing sticks out as being out of place or lacking harmony. On the finish, it has this really interesting salinity and dark chocolate note. Realistically, this needs another 5 years before it can be “popped and poured” but it already shows well with some decanting now.
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2013 Weltner Rödelseer Schwanleite Sylvaner Trocken “Alte Reben” is a stunner of a wine. I served it with some baked Texas Redfish in lemon butter sauce, fresh corn and sauteed escarole and it was fantastic. Granny smith apple, white peach and white pepper on the palate. Quite robust and can stand up to some very flavorful foods.
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2003 Château Branaire-Ducru is in an awkward phase…when I first poured this, it was hard to believe this was the same lush wine I had tasted many years prior. It was incredibly backward and the fruit was in hiding. After many hours of air, the wine started emerging from its shell and provided a little more aroma and flavor. It did have the tell tale St. Julien cassis, pencil shavings and cigar box, but it never fully emerged from hiding. With bottles like this I find it hard to know if it was the particular bottle that is the issue or if other bottles would show the same profile. Not 100% sure what to recommend here, but based on my past history with this estate and vintage, I am leaning towards “hold”.
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Verve Costa Rica Don Jose is one of the finest coffees I have ever tasted. First of all, the tasting note is dead on…malt and lemon curd. The most impressive thing about this coffee is that it manages to maintain great tension from the first sip through to the finish while maintaining elegance and finesse throughout. In wine terms, this is a Grand Cru Burgundy from Romanee Conti. The only other Central American coffee this memorable to my palate is Ritual Hacienda Carmona. I knew when I read the story behind the beans that this would be a winner (you can read the story on Verve’s site) and Juan Ramon Alvarado is a genius.
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2001 Pio Cesare Barbaresco is like stepping back in time. This wine is made so backward and serious that it reminds me of the Piemonte wines of days gone by. There is some dark berry fruit in here, but it is driven by earth, menthol, pine and mossy tree bark. The whole palate presence is savory with a saline note and lacks the “sweetness” and approachability of many of today’s Barbarescos. I would not quite call it “punishing” at age 17, but it is not accommodating. Because of how it is built, this is a wine that will need 25 years before it begins to drink well without extended aeration and I would not be surprised to hear this wine being at peak at age 40+. What an awesome ride this one is.
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Verve Coffee Papua New Guinea Kunjin is an odd one. I have been grappling with this coffee for over a week and I think I have come to the conclusion that the beans in this one are just not up to snuff. When I brew this in my Hario V60, it turns out hollow on the midpalate and short/insipid on the finish. I think Verve nailed the roast on this, so I don’t believe that is where the problem lies. In the end, I experimented with different brew methods and found the beehive dripper to render a fuller, better cup, although it did also taste slightly more bitter. I am therefore fairly certain that this coffee benefits from brewing methods that promote more extraction and bring out the dark tobacco and bitter chocolate flavors. Using this to pull espresso or even an Aeropress may be more appropriate. In the end, I can’t do either of those methods, so this will be a pass for me in the future.
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2004 Roger Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Prestige is as people say “the good stuff”. Raspberry and plum with black cherry in terms of fruit. Provencal herbs, pastille and earthiness on the palate, too. Finishes very strong and maintains plenty of freshness and balance throughout. I actually slightly prefer this over the Grand Veneur from last night, if for no other reason that this shows more savory and makes for a slightly better companion to a roasted chicken.
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2004 Domaine Grand Veneur Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Origines is a terrific CdP. Very traditional dark cherry liqueur, dried herbs and black licorice. Feels very fruit forward and loaded with truffle and earth which is a byproduct of the large Mourvèdre component. This has massive palate presence and a strong finish and accordingly, needs to be paired with very flavorful foods like grilled lamb or beef. Still could have used several years of aging, but this was my last bottle. Delicious stuff for sure.
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2004 Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes is as good as you you think it would be. Pure black cherry, tar, licorice and dried herbs. Needs quite a bit of air at age 14, so no need to rush on this one. Plush texture and long finish. Really a pleasure to drink.
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Camber Ethiopia Shakiso Mormora is a marvel. I brew A LOT of great coffee from great roasters using great beans at my house. But this one is possibly the best I have tasted in a very long time. This coffee has it all. It is floral, shows citrus acidity, nutty flavors and a star anise and Christmas cookie spice component. The complexity of this coffee blows my mind and Camber Coffee hit a Grand Slam with this masterpiece. I am usually pretty disciplined about only making one carafe of coffee a day, but with this coffee, I have been making two the last several days…it is that good.
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2001 Delas Frères Hermitage Les Bessards is such a disappointing wine. Second bottle and consistent with the one before. Hollow midpalate, short finish, weak fruit, slightly shrill acidity upon opening and not much other than some sour cherry, bacon fat and ground pepper on the palate…all of it kind of flabby to boot. This is not a good wine in Hermitage terms in any vintage. But to have made this from a banner vintage like 2001 just boggles my mind. Based on this and other Delas wines in the last few years, Delas has now joined Chapoutier (although for different reasons) as a producer I will not buy again. What a shame.
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2015 Juliane Eller Alsheim Spätburgunder Juwel is all about the fresh strawberry and red cherry fruit with a Darjeeling black tea note, earth and a green tobacco note on the finish. Lovely wine that will pair with lots of foods. The fruit is sweeter than in 2014 and shows slightly less acid. It is a rounder, less Burgundian style, IMO, yet still incredibly fun to drink.
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2001 Mauro Veglio Barolo Vigneto Arborina with the first ramps this year for me. Just a killer pairing. The wine shows pretty rosewater, marzipane, tar and leafiness, and the earthiness of the ramps just turns both items up to 11. No rush to open this at all, but drinking great with some air.
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Heart Ethiopia Yukro has been on deck for just over a week and I am glad I checked back in with one of the first roasters that helped me “see the light”. Glad to say not much has changed. The roast that Heart have put on this is absolutely perfect. Light but not too light and just enough to bring out the sweetness and nuttiness in this coffee. I think the only thing I am slightly surprised by is that the beans had just a touch less acidity than I was expecting, but that is really a minor quibble. It is a surprisingly round and smooth coffee that should quite literally be a crowd pleaser.
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