Tuesday, October 31, 2006

2001 Fess Parker PINOT NOIR "American Tradition Reserve" (Santa Barbara County)

This was a fully mature, flavorful, Pinot Noir, though it wasn't that complex. Rich, sweet nose of wet earth, sappy cherries, and peaches. Rich, soft, earthy flavors, with lots of body. Very voluptuous and up front. Kind of a floozy, but floozies have their place, right? 87. Was $22 at Fiesta Mart near Reliant Stadium.

2004 Chateau de la Greffiere MACON LA ROCHE VINEUSE (Burgundy,France)

A notch above even the previous Mommessin Macon Villages, this was a superb unoaked Chardonnay. Had it at Farrago restaurant this past weekend. I've seen it around in stores -- not sure if it was Richard's, Spec's, or both. But I think it's around $15-$16 retail. It had more of everything that the Mommessin had going for it. More fruit, more body, more freshness, more length. Years ago, I preferred oaky California Chardonnays to the unoaked, more minerally and restrained Maconnais wines, but now I'll take a wine like this any day.

2004 Mommessin MACON-VILLAGES "Old Vines - Chardonnay" (France)

This is a dynamite buy in a cheap, well-made, unoaked Chardonnay. Didn't have time to take notes, but this wine had good body and ripeness, some nice minerality, and nice balance on the long finish. About $8 at most Spec's stores. GET SOME.

Coupla Mediocre Wines

2005 Domaine de Coccinelles COTES DU RHONE Rose -- Pretty, light bubble gum pink color, but things went downhill from there. Tight, austere, minerally nose, followed by tight, tart, austere flavors. Got some body, but unfriendly flavors. 74.

2004 Domaine de Gournier GRENACHE NOIR (Rhone region, France) -- An estate imported by Robert Kacher, which is usually a good sign. This wine, however, while it had good color, was austere and acidic, with sharp, scorched earth and tart cherry flavors. Lots of acid on the finish. Heartburn city. 70.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

2005 Trumpeter Mendoza TORRONTES (Argentina)

Torrontes is a white varietal that is a specialty of Argentina. I view it as a poor man's Viognier because it has lots of tropical fruit scents, fairly full body, yet falls apart within one to two years.

This one is very inexpensive, but not bad. Bright, crystalline light brassy-gold. Very fruity nose of tropical fruit (mango?), with apple and ruby red grapefruit scents as well. Medium bodied, with lots of up-front fruit and fruit-pit flavors, with citrusy notes. Fades fast in the mid-palate, however. Short, clean finish. 82. Was $7 at Spec's on Westheimer (near Fogo de Chao).

2005 "Red Guitar" Navarra "Old Vine" TEMPRANILLO/GARNACHA (Spain)

This wine has started to show up at a lot of stores. Apparently a big, well-connected company is behind this, although I can't tell which one.

Surprisingly for a wide-distribution wine, this has some character. A saturated dark ruby/purple color, with a fragrant nose of spicy ripe raspberries, cinnamon, stones, and cream. Medium full-bodied and pure in the mouth, with penetrating, tight fruit, some youthful, but soft, tannin, and a clean, spicy fruit and mineral finish. Will soften and expand in flavor over the next year. Very good value at $9 at Whole Foods on Bellaire (also available at Spec's and some supermarkets). 87+

2004 Chateau de Chatelard BEAUJOLAIS BLANC "Vieilles Vignes" Chardonnay (France)

The last wine (the Sancerre Rouge) was a rare red from a white region. This is a rare white from a red region.

Bright, light nose of crisp apples, pears, and chalky minerals. Tight, fresh and minerally in the mouth; not terribly concentrated, but very clean and balanced. A nice oddity, but not a repeat purchase. 86. Was about $10 at Spec's on Smith.

2003 Jean-Max Roger SANCERRE ROUGE "Cuvée Les Caillotes" (Loire, France)

A very distinctive Pinot Noir, displaying the minerally, austere capabilities of the grape.

Medium light ruby. Snappy nose of tart cherries, plums, and lots of sweet, pungent minerals. Dry and austere texture, this wine has lots of bone-dry cherry and mineral flavors, with some crisp acidity and peppery heat. Distinctive, and an interesting wine to sip and ponder, but not the most hedonistic of wines. 84. Was about $19 at Spec's on Smith.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

2004 Lolonis Redwood Valley ZINFANDEL (Mendocino County, California)

This was a beautiful, textbook Mendocino Zin.

Beautiful saturated black purple/ruby color. Classic Zin nose of crisp, ripe, penetrating mountain berries, creamed caramel, and lemony spice. Round, soft, and full, yet vibrant mouthfeel. Perfect fruit/acid/ alcohol/tannin balance. Ooodles of pure fruit with an undercurrent of toasty balsa wood. A big, beautiful, food-friendly Zin. I think it's organically grown too. 90. A very good value at $15.20 at Spec's on Westheimer (near Fogo de Chao).

Monday, October 09, 2006

2003 Reilly's "Old Bushvine" GRENACHE/SHIRAZ (Clare Valley, Australia)

Can't the Aussies come up with some phrase other than "bushvines" for "old vines." I've got it! How about "old vines"? Something about the name "bushvines" just rubs me the wrong way.

Anyway, this is a very distinctive wine, but it's not for everybody. It's like a big, plush ball of viscous fruit plasma . . . what some wine geeks now pejoratively call a "fruit bomb."

Medium dark ruby/garnet. Oozingly sweet peaches and raspberries on the nose, with steely minerals underneath. Plush and richly fruity in the mouth, with salty peach pit and raspberry flavors, and a nice hint of charcoal in the finish. Full-bodied and very voluptuous. Hedonistic, even. Drink right now. Do not age. 90 points based on pure pleasure, even if it's not very complex. Was $18.90 at Spec's at Richmond & The Loop.

2004 Domaine des Aubuisières VOUVRAY "Cuvée de Silex" (Loire Valley, France)

A very understated, elegant wine. Exceedingly pale gold. Delicate nose of sweet flowers, apples, and ripe white grapes. Faint stony minerality in the background. Soft fruit -- freshly-crushed grapes -- with chalky minerals in the mouth. Light-to-medium bodied, with some residual sweetness, but great balancing acidity. Persistent finish. Very good feminine style Vouvray. 87. Was $15.79 at Richard's on South Shepherd.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

2004 Altos de la Hoya MONASTRELL (Jumilla, Spain)

Yes, I've tried a lot of Monastrell-based wines from the Jumilla and other regions in southern Spain recently. Because there are lots of good values to be had there, that's why. This is another one.

Saturated black-ruby/purple color. Very unusual nose for a Monastrell: lemons,peach pit, sweet raspberry, sweet cream,and just a tad of earth. Big and intense, yet very nicely balanced, with flavors that emphasize the fruity rather than the earthy side of the Monastrell grape -- blueberries, cassis, and minerals. Lots of well-integrated tannin and good acidity too. Drinks well now, but I think it will soften considerably over the next two years. Less than $10 at Spec's on Smith. 88+