Saturday, September 17, 2005

2001 Beaumes de Venise "La Chapelle Notre Dame d'Aubune" (Côtes du Rhône Villages)

Definitely the feminine side of the Rhône--not the earthy masculine side. Kind of like a cross between a Bourgogne and Côtes du Rhône. Fragrant nose of sappy blackberries and plums, with warm gingerbready spice notes. Soft, focused, and ripe in the mouth, with some soft tannin in the finish. Not a blockbuster, but a wine you want to keep drinking. 87. Will last another year or two. Made by the Beaumes de Venise growers' co-op. About $10 at Copperfield's on Bellaire in Bellaire.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

2003 Viña Antigua Sangiovese-Bonarda (Maipu, Argentina)

What a GREAT value. This was $3.99. Yup, four bucks. You can still actually get a good wine for four bucks. Took a chance on it because it's imported by Hand-Picked Selections (Dan Kravitz) -- a great importer. Medium ruby color, with a unique nose of earth, fresh whipped cream, and tutti-fruity bubble gum. Earthy plums and cherries in the mouth, medium-bodied, with a clean, mid-length finish. This would be a great choice for a big party or an everyday red that won't break the budget. 85. Picked it up at Copperfield's on Bellaire (in Bellaire next to Bellaire Burger).

2003 Georges DeBouef Fleurie (Flower Label)

Quite enjoyable, but not one of the stars of the DeBouef stable in 2003. Deep ruby. Sweet cherry-grapey nose, with a nice touch of earth in the background. Lots of pure, ripe fruit in the mouth, but with peppery alcohol and some tannin bullying away the fruit on the finish. 87. About $12 at Spec's on Westheimer.

Monday, September 05, 2005

A Sunday of Good and Great Wines

Had a superb bunch of wines Sunday. Started off at our friends the Murphys' new house, where they uncorked a . . .

1990 Dom Perignon -- a perfectly preserved, gorgeous, deeply flavored champagne. Nose of freshly baked Parisian baguettes. Tremendous depth a flavor and great balance, with a long finish. Haven't had a champagne this good since the mid 1980s!

Thence on to our house for fresh mozzarella/backyard basil/heirloom tomato salad, citrus-marinated skirt steaks, and Liz's not-so-Waspy potato salad, accompanied by . . .

2003 Domaine La Hitaire "Hors Saison" Côtes de Gascogne blanc -- A Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend from southwest France near Bordeaux. Deep gold color. Fresh, grassy, grapy, nose, and good balance. Very pleasant.

1998 Domaine Le Galantin Bandol -- Deep ruby, showing some brick at the rim. Unbelievable fragrance of incense, earth, spicy raspberries and plums, roasted meat and dried herbs. Great depth, length and balance. Bought 6 of these in 2000; this was my last one and was showing better than ever. Sad to see it go.

2002 Turkey Flat Vineyards "The Turk" (Barossa Valley, Australia) -- A very good wine (blend of Shiraz, Grenache, Cabernet & Mourvèdre), but I thought it paled by comparison with the preceding Bandol. Nice earthy, jammy nose, but with some lemony acidity showing up. Good fruit in the mouth, but clearly acidified a bit, which somewhat shortened the finish.

2000 Alvear Pedro Ximénez -- A superb and unbelievably rich dessert wine from the Andalusia region of Spain. Intense and warmly alcoholic nose of maple syrup, raisins, and honey. Rich and viscous in the mouth, but with excellent balance and great length. Sweet but not cloying at all. (Still a few half bottles of this left at Copperfield's on Westpark!)

I'm not going to grade these, since, as you can tell from the fact that this roster was consumed by only 4 people, my critical faculties were taking the day off.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

2003 Messias Tinto (Setúbal, Portugal)

Here is a GREAT buy for a light but flavorful picnic, cookout, or party red. Youthful medium ruby-purple color. Ripe nose of black fruits, with a note of ripe peaches and hot granite in the background. Although it's light-bodied in the mouth, it's got impressive purity of fruit, nice roundness, and good balance. Nice finish, with a little youthful chalky tannin and some alcoholic pepperiness. Can't ask for more at $5.25 per bottle at Spec's on Westheimer. 86.

From the Setúbal peninsula, just across the Rio Tejo from Lisboa. Label says 50% Aragonês, 50% Castelão Françês, two grape varietals I am unfamiliar with. I remember a few years ago drinking the 2000 of this wine; it was excellent, with a tad more concentration than this one.

2003 Joseph Drouhin St. Véran (Burgundy Chardonnay)

Just misses being really special -- but pretty good anyway! Lots of pear extract, ripe apple, stone, and straw aromas. Full, ripe mouthfeel on entry, but then fades, with drier, minerally flavors taking over, and the pears sleeping in the back seat. Fairly long finish with the pears rallying. With a tad more ripeness and concentration in the mid-palate, this wine would have been really nice. 86. $13.99 at Cost Plus on Richmond.