Tasting Notes with Jim Beauregard: A few of Jim's favorite wines from 2017

By JIM BEAUREGARD December 27. 2017 1:20AM

At about $60, Masi Costasera Amarone Classico isn't inexpensive, but it's an excellent Amarone that's priced appropriately for its quality. 

So, here we are at the end of another year, and for me just a little over nine years of writing this column.

I wanted to wrap up the year by taking a look back at some of the best wines that have appeared in this column over the past 12 months. They aren’t listed in any particular order, rather they all showed themselves to be wines of distinction, and they will be worth looking for in new vintages in the year ahead. I’ll focus on some of the more recent wines we have sampled, so they may still be available to you. Here we go:

Masi Costasera 2011 Amarone Classico DOCG, S. Amrgogio di Valpolicalla, Italy. 15% alcohol by volume. $60, New Hampshire State Liquor Store. Yes, it’s high end, but the fact is that if you want a good Amarone, it’s around this price that the good ones start to appear. Purple with some ruby hints toward the rim, black core. This is a deep, rich wine. The nose is of medium intensity, developing, with dried fruit. The palate is silky on the tongue, dry with medium tannin and medium-plus alcohol that’s well integrated right from the start. Medium-plus body and medium-plus flavor intensity with a lot of things going on — red plum, fig, prune, raisin, cedar from the oak aging — the flavors come and go along the long finish. You can drink it now, but it’s big enough in flavor and tannin to lay down for a few years, in which case the dried fruit flavors would deepen and some oak flavors develop more explicitly. It’s got good structure, balance of components, concentration and complexity. 92 points.

Chateau Phélan Ségur 2014, St. Estèphe AC, (Bordeaux) France. 13.5% ABV. Deep purple in the glass, with good legs and tears. It’s dark at the core. The nose has an aroma of black fruit. On the palate it is dry, with good acidity and tannin, medium to medium-plus body, well integrated alcohol and again, good structure. The flavor intensity is medium to medium-plus with flavors of black fruit including blackcurrant, blackberry and black plum as well as some fig notes. Good long finish that carries the flavors, which come and go and continue to develop. 91 points.

2015 Peter Paul Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, California. 14.2% ABV, $24.99, Harvest Market, Bedford. This is a fairly dark Pinot Noir, in color purple heading into ruby overall, with a clean and refreshing nose of medium intensity that presents delightful aromas of raspberry, and with a little air, strawberry as well. On the palate, it presents itself as a developing wine, dry, with medium acidity, tannin that’s fine-grained and blends well, as well as alcohol at 14.2% medium body and medium-plus flavor intensity that run from fruit to some oak hints. The flavor profile includes raspberry, following the nose, but also strawberry, red plum, a slight earthiness and some slight hints of cedar that come and go over the finish, which is long and pleasing.

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And, since this column has begun to include spirits, let’s include one to round out the year:

Laphroaig Lore, Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 96 proof (48% alcohol by volume). $128.99, New Hampshire State Liquor Store. Now, first of all pronunciation: the island of Islay is pronounced Eye-lay, and the name of the scotch is pronounced La-proy. This will be a constant issue in both Scotland and Ireland, so it’s good to have a pronunciation guide handy. Also, as regards the price, I bought it for less than this, and periodically you may find it on sale at the state store. The thing to keep in mind, I think, when buying something like this, is that one bottle can last a very, very long time.

Clear in the glass, medium intensity, with gold-amber hues, and a nose that is clean and of pronounced intensity, and right in the forefront: peat earth and smokiness, and perhaps even a slight hint of seaweed. There is a slight medicinal aroma as well — which is a good thing for Scotch if it isn’t overwhelming. On the palate, it is exceptionally dry, with warming alcohol, not at all harsh but in perfect balance. The task is to get around that initial alcohol aroma, which can be off-putting if you haven’t tried something like this before, and see what’s behind it.

In this case, the scotch is medium bodied, very smooth-textured with pronounced flavors echoing the nose, the peat being the most prominent, accompanied by delicious smokiness and some wood flavors from the sherry casks in which it is aged, and it has a long finish that holds the flavors long after you swallow — a great scotch doesn’t disappear quickly from the palate. A few drops of water in the glass really opens up the flavor and makes it even more aromatic. A classic Islay.

Happy New Year to all, and see you in 2018.

Contact wine and beer writer Jim Beauregard at tastingnotesnh@aol.com.


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