Thursday, December 29, 2005

2002 Caymus Connundrum (white)

A very distinctive and fun white. Intense nose of lychee, honeysuckle, and custard. Though the label doesn't say, I'm betting there's some Viognier, Moscato, and Chardonnay in the blend. Maybe even some Gewurztraminer. Soft, round, and medium-bodied in the mouth, with persistent flavors of ripe grapes, minerals, and flowers. Not completely dry, but close. Very nice and memorable. 91. This was a gift from Christmas 2004, so I don't know what it cost.

2003 Domaine St. Antoine Costieres de Nimes Rosé

Fairly dark color for a rosé. Sweet, ripe watermeolon, grape scents, with hints of tomato skin and steely minerals. Very round and soft in the mouth, with low-ish acidity -- yet still fresh tasting. Very flavorful, softer style of rosé. 87. (And drink up, as this is going to start downhil soon). About $9 at Richard's on San Felipe.

This is yet another of the rosés from the south of France imported by Robert Kacher. He must bring in at least a half dozen of them, and they are always among the best rosés of the given vintage.

2004 Pascal & Nicolas Reverdy Sancerre "Les Coutes" (Loire, France)

Outstanding Sauvignon Blanc from the chalky soil of the upper Loire. Pale gold/straw color with greenish glints. Gorgeous (and textbook) nose of flowers, citrus, grapes and chalky minerals. Even a peachy-appley component is there. In truth, the nose immediately transported me to France (I drank a lot of Sancerre, both white and red, in Paris in '85). None of the overly-herbal, grassy or even "cat pee" scents that some folks mistakenly think Sancerre is supposed to have. Only unripe Sancerre has that sort of funky stuff going on.

In the mouth, bright, vibrant appley-mineral flavors prevail, with lemons and steely minerals on the finish. Dry as a bone, yet round and soft in the mouth. In short, ripeness, concentration, and balance are all present. Superb. 91. Was $19.99 at Spec's Warehouse on Smith.

PS -- How many Sancerre wine families are named Reverdy? Must be at least a dozen.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

2003 Chateau St. Jean Sonoma County Fume Blanc (Sauvignon Blanc)

This is ALWAYS one of the best buys in a complex, balanced, drinkable white in the marketplace. I'll have to describe this one from memory, since my notes on this vanished -- a rare occurrence in my orderly, uncluttered house. . . . NOT.

Chateau St. Jean always gets the oak quality and oak level just right on this wine, year after year. Gorgeous grapey-lanolin nose with bright floral scents and beautifully integrated, subtle high quality toastiness from the barrel aging. Powerful flavors of grapes, honeydew melon, toast and earth. Long finish. In addition to its wide availability, this wine is frequently available at substantial discounts. I got mine a couple of weeks ago at Randall's on Weslayan for $8.99. A steal and a half. 90.

2002 Louis Jadot Rully (White Burgundy)

Blech. Mercifully weak nose of oxidation, acetone, and a vague whiff of chemical infused pears. Flavors not quite as bad, with more pears, but still not pleasurable. Something wrong with this puppy. Can't tell if it was poorly-stored or poorly-made. Either way, 15 bucks down the drain. 55.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Mayo Family Winery 2001 Ricci Vineyard Zinfandel Port (Russian River Valley)

Interesting, but a disappointment. Straightforward, ripe, simple stewed raspberries and earth on the nose. Fleshy and sweet, but lighter and simpler in the mouth than I had hoped. Eh. 76.

2004 Cousino-Macul Riesling "Dona Isadora" (Maipo Valley, Chile)

87. I like this one a lot. It's a really good value in an Alsace-style Riesling. Intense nose of earthy-minerally scents, limes, and green apple. Really nice persistence in the mouth. In the crisp, dry style, this would be great with shellfish or shrimp. About $9 a bottle at Whole Foods on Bellaire.

1998 Gary Farrell Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel

My bud Robert brought this over for dinner last night, and it was a real refresher course in Zinfandel's aging curve. Deep color, with a tad of lightening at the rim. Not identifiable as a Zinfandel. If I were to have been served this blind, I would have guessed it was a mature Barbaresco. Intensely winey, leathery nose, with some fruit hanging in there underneath, but not the spicy raspberries that mark a young Zin. After a bit of air, notes of menthol and maple syrup emerged. Very long in the mouth. Zin really changes its character quickly after 2 or 3 years in the bottle. I have to say, I am partial to the young ones, however.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Lolonis "Ladybug Red" Old Vines Cuvee V (Redwood Valley, California)

88. A blend of Mendocino County Zinfandel, Carignane, Merlot, and Cabernet. The Zin and Carignane take the starring roles, however. Rich nose of raspberries, plums, and sweet cream. Ripe, soft, fleshy fruit in the mouth. Full, balanced, lingering finish. Gutsy and smooth, if not very complex. Perfect with pasta with meat and/or tomato sauces, or braised meat dishes. Organically grown, to boot. $12.99 at Whole Foods on Bellaire -- a very good value.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Two More Wines from Mom & Dad's Visit

All of the wines from back on November 17 are from Mom & Dad's visit. That explains why I've gotten into some of the "non-cheapies" in my wine closet. These will be the last two from the visit, and then it's back to more reasonably priced fare.

2002 St. Clement Carneros Chardonnay -- This was a really good California Chardonnay, and I'm not that big a fan of California Chardonnay anymore. It had a nice, lightly toasty, smoky nose with lots of ripe apply-pear scents. No cheap oak, cloying butterscotchy-ness. Huge body (15.4% alc.!), but nicely balanced and still fresh. Got it at Richard's on San Felipe about 9 months ago. Can't remember the price.

Three Rivers Winery "Biscuit Ridge Vineyard" Late Harvest Gewurztraminer (Walla Walla Valley, Washington) -- A moderately priced, light bodied, soft dessert wine, with nice, if not inspiring Gewurztraminer character. Auslese style. Very pleasant, but not very complex or deep. About $14 a half bottle at Whole Foods on Bellaire.

1999 Marziano Abbona Barolo "Pressenda"

THIS is old style Barolo. Black ruby color -- no sign of age. Very closed, tight nose. With significant decanter time, however, austere, tight, earthy baker's chocolate aromas reluctantly emerge, with minerally black fruits and prunes underneath. Long, austere, tannic, and very full-bodied. This wine was WAY too young. It needed at least another 5 years to open up and soften. This is truly an old-style, ageworthy Barolo. 89+. I ordered this from Zachy's in NY about a year and a half ago (Good Barolos are hard to find in Houston, for some reason; and other Piemonte wines as well). I think it was around $36.

2003 Dashe Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel

Classic Dry Creek Valley Zin aromas of sweet, spiced, oozing raspberries and powdery crushed stones. Dense, balanced, rich flavors of raspberry syrup, fragrant briar-forest scents, and minerals. Absolutely prototypical. I just love Zin. 90. Got it at Spec's Warehouse on Smith. Can't remember the price, but I think it was between $20-25.