As we often do in the summer, we take a month off from our regular tasting format and go over to Ali & Andy's place for relaxation, fantastic cheeses, and sharing of wines from our cellars.

Below are the notes from the bottles we opened. No points awarded.

Perrier Jouet Brut Champagne Non-Vintage. Flat out yellow in color. Fairly rich, with notions of butterscotch, honey, orange marmalade, and red apples. More robust than previous versions, while staying balanced and delicious. About $40.

Gruet Blanc de Blanc Sauvage Non-Vintage (New Mexico). Very lively, with scents of honeydew, sweet tea, baby powder, and lemon. Chalky, showing grape skin, salt air, and mineral notes. Almost tart, but refreshing and interesting. Not all severe. About $25.

Fleury Rosť 2012 (Napa Valley). Good intensity to the color. Mint, gumball, and orange scents. Bordering on medicinal, and more in the red wine zone than rosť, this is not a summer rosť, with big fruit flavors (cherries, nectarines, plums), and ends with a vanilla note. About $50.

Roucas Toumba Vacqueras Les Restanques de Cabassole 2010. Dark and intense, with notes of seaweed, black licorice, cough medicine, and iodine. Really focused and youthful. Impressive. Also, the winner of the Vacqueras and Gigondas structured tasting. About $30.

St. Supery Cabernet Sauvignon Dollarhide 2009 (Napa Valley). Still youthful, but with some hints of early age, like scents of molasses, brown paper bag, and "old fresh cut grass" (Ali), plus mushrooms, eucalyptus, and violets. Vibrant palate that is focused and pure, with delicious cassis and black cherry notes, finishing with a hint of herbs. About $80.

Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port 2011. Dark and chocolatey, with tons of blue and black fruit, but with clear, fine tannins. Dusty, and with air shows some rotten fruit, sawdust, and dark cherry richness. Cool. Not too sweet, with structure that we appreciate. About $25.

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