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JAPANESE GOURMAND ORGY

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Our good friend and Bryant Distributing sales manager Jimmy C. invited Shannon and I out to lunch to kind of catch up with all the samples he had been accumulating for us, deciding we should retreat to a neutral spot – one of Northern Kentucky’s best kept gourmet secrets, the Japanese restaurant Jo-An in Erlanger – along with some wines from Kermit Lynch, Folio Fine Wines, Winebow and my favorite American Riesling producer right now, Pacific Rim from Columbia Valley.

The food at Jo-An rocks, but like Jimmy told us, the service is odd – at lunchtime it’s get ‘em fed and get ‘em out fast.  Which is cool, we at DEP’s have the turn-and-burn mentality too.  The funny thing is, every single time I have ever eaten at a Japanese restaurant, the soundtrack in my head plays The Tubes’ “Sushi Girl.”

Pacific Rim Chenin Blanc Columbia Valley 2007.  Grade=Outstanding.  Though getting old, it still has nice fruit aromas and flavors of apples and pears, with a hint of melon.

Chateau Ducasse Bordeaux Blanc 2009.  Grade=Outstanding+.  Crisp, light, with notes of fresh cut hay, guava, gooseberry, and lemon peel.

Pacific Rim Riesling Dauenhauer Vineyard Oregon 2007.  Grade=Amazing.  Delicious, with candied pear, Rainer cherry, apricot marmalade, chamomile tea and petrol notes.  Finishes wonderfully.

Pacific Rim Riesling Wallula Vineyard Columbia Valley 2007.  Grade=Amazing.  White peaches, flint, white flowers, apricot and a hint of lime zest come together in this luscious, light-to-medium-bodied white.

Falesco Vitiano Rosato 2009.  Grade=Outstanding.  Richer than expected with pretty notes of ripe strawberries, some roasted herbs, and watermelon rind.

Tasca d’Almerita Regaleali Rosato 2009.  Grade=Outstanding.  A bit lighter than the Falesco, with sweeter notes of watermelon and pomegranate tea.

Domaine Dupueble Beaujolais 2009.  Grade=Outstanding.  Cherry cola, marjoram, mint and mulberry.  Soft and plush with some bright acidity.  Very nice.

Palacios Remondo Rioja La Vendimia 2008.  Grade=Outstanding.  Surprisingly dominated by Grenache, this Rioja  is soft and fruity, with zesty notes of white pepper, bing cherries and red raspberries.  Finishes with splashes of baking spices and light oak.

Chateau St. Martin de la Garrigue Tradition Rouge 2008.  Grade=Outstanding.  A terrific red value from Southern France.  Shows off medium-bodied tannins, some red and black fruit aromas and flavors, hints of mineral, earth and spice.

Les Traverses de Fontanes Cabernet Sauvignon VDP 2009.  Grade=Outstanding+.  A serious surprise, this inexpensive Cab is medium-bodied, juicy, with red and black currants, blackberry jam, hints of mocha, black tea leaves, pepper and smoky plums.

Chateau Lascaux Coteaux du Languedoc Rouge 2008.  Grade=Outstanding+.  An impressive red blend with gamy red and black berry fruit flavors, baked earth, pepper and black truffles.

Clos Coutale Cahors 2008.  Grade=Outstanding.  One of my favorite French Malbecs, this red boasts dark plum, smoky spices, blueberry pie, cloves and forest floor.

Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2007.  Grade=Amazing.  Damn, this is a helluva value!  Big, bold aromas and flavors of black fruits, cedar, tar, baked earth, chocolate, espresso, mint, and coffee.  There’s a lot of Cab for clocking in under $20.

Le Volte Vino de Tavola Rosso IGT 2007.  Grade=Amazing.  A great intro to the Super Tuscan style, brought to you by Ornellaia, one of the legendary producers of Bolgheri.  Rich, opulent dark fruits, roasted herbs, wet stone, violet, chocolate and espresso bean.

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PLAYING CATCH-UP TASTING NOTES

Trying to catch up with my tasting notes again, I have comments on the wines we featured during our tastings two weeks ago (not getting a gold star this week).  During that weekend we featured our quarterly look at Pinot Noirs from around the world, as well as a quarterly visit of our favorite French wine importer, Kermit Lynch.

Redtree Pinot Noir California 2008.  Grade=Outstanding.  Here is a really nice, easy-to-drink Pinot Noir that I had talked about several times before.  Bright red fruit aromas and flavors mixed in with a generous helping of earth, mineral and red flower.  A terrific value!

Feudo Arancio Pinot Noir Stemmari 2008.  Grade=Outstanding.  Never thought anyone would ever show me a Pinot Noir from Sicily and it taste like Pinot Noir.  Juicy cherry and red berry notes, with considerable earth, mineral and slight hazelnut mixed in for good measure.  A bit on the riper side, obviously due to originating in a warmer climate.  A steal at $7.

Irony Pinot Noir Monterey 2006.  Grade=Outstanding.  In what has become one of our best selling Pinot Noirs, this light-to-medium-bodied presentation of Pinot Noir displays dark cherry, raspberry and slight pomegranate notes with splashes of vanillin oak, toasted nuts and slight mineral.  A hint of creaminess on the finish doesn’t mask its appropriate acidity.  Really nice.

Montes Alpha Pinot Noir Leyda Valley 2007.  Grade=Outstanding.  More Burgundian in style, this light-to-medium-bodied red showcases lots of cherry and berry tones, some fresh earth, light wood and hints of truffle and light-roast coffee bean.  A real surprise in Chilean Pinot Noir.

Alma Rosa Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills 2006.  Grade=Amazing.  Very dynamic representation of Sta. Rita Pinot Noir, with expressive notes of cherry, cola, raspberry, mulberry, light chocolate, coffee and earth.  The midpalate is plush yet not without some lively acidity to mix it up a bit.  It is a terrific California Pinot Noir.

Alma Rosa Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills 2007.  Grade=Outstanding.  While not as rich as the 2006, the 2007 showcases more bright cherry and pomegranate notes with some earthiness, herbaceousness and minerality.  More old world than new world, but still a great Pinot Noir.

Champalou Vouvray La Cuvee des Fondraux 2007.  Grade=Amazing.  I happen to think Champalou makes some of the best Chenin Blanc on the planet, and this semi-dry cuvee is glorious with baked apple, d’Anjou pears, crème fraiche, hazelnut and honey notes.  Finishes with some vibrant acidity to give it tremendous balance.

Chateau Thivin Cote de Brouilly 2007.  Grade=Amazing.  Folks may think me biased, but I really like Gamay.  Chateau Thivin turns in a beautifully-made Cote de Brouilly, with sultry red and black cherry fruit aromas and flavors, notes of spiced hazelnuts, cinnamon, mineral, roasted herbs and slight smoky notes.  Possesses an earthy base throughout its lingering finish.

Chateau St. Martin de la Garrigue Tradtion Rouge 2007.  Grade=Outstanding.  This little Languedoc red is primarily Grenache and shows off its soft red fruit aromas and flavors with just a bit of bitter chocolate, white pepper, coffee and mineral notes.  A great value in French red wine.

Chateau Lascaux Coteaux du Languedoc Rouge 2007.  Grade=Outstanding.  A little G-S-M blend from the Languedoc, this old house favorite has more smokiness and bacon fat notes than the Tradition, and shows off more robust red and black fruit elements, some darker earth tones and hints of truffle oil and roasted meats.  A hearty red for hearty winter fare.

Le Pigeoulet de Provence Vin de Pays de Vacluse Rouge 2008.  Grade=Amazing.  I really love this Rhone-style blend from the winemaking genius behind Vieux Telegraphe.  Highlighting dark red and black berry notes, with black pepper, black currant, mineral, mocha, espresso and tar showing up intermittently through to its rich and complex finish.

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