Thursday, July 26, 2007

2004 Santa Ema MERLOT "Reserve" (Maipo Valley, Chile)

I'm not usually a big Merlot fan, but this was an awesome value.

Deep ruby purple color. Luxurious, complex nose of rich, spiced blackberries, smoky creosote (clay-ey, earthy), and stony minerals. Deep, forward flavors of blackberry, cassis, graphite, and metallic minerals. Long, powerful finish, with lots of very fine, soft, integrated tannins. A superb wine at a bargain price. Was $9.79 at Richard's on Shepherd, but I've seen this at other places too. 90.

UPDATE (10/3/07): Whole Foods on Bellaire still has this for $9.88.

2005 Cono Sur CABERNET SAUVIGNON "Vision" (Maipo Valley, Chile)

Saturated blood-like ruby color. Spicy nose of cassis, smoke, and menthol. Rich flavors of dark cassis liqueur, cigarette ashes, and chalky earth. Fairly good concentration, with some firm tannin showing through a bit, suggesting that this wine could age and soften a few years. Good value. 87. Was $10.75 at Spec's on Smith.

2004 Borsao "Crianza" (Campo de Borja, Spain)

This garnacha blend was a pretty decent wine.

Soft, blackish ruby color. Ripe, fragrant nose of smoke, pencil shavings, blackberries, and rosemary. Soft, ripe entry in the mouth, but it firms up quickly with some tannin and bright acidity showing through in the back half of the palate. Flavors were of blackberry, chocolate, and scorched earth. Lean but fairly long on the finish. 87. Was about $11 at Spec's on Holcombe.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

2005 "Mano a Mano" (100% Tempranillo) (La Mancha, Spain)

A very good buy -- lots of clean fruit and character.

Dark, black ruby. Fairly saturated color. Intensely grapey-blackberry scents leap from the glass, with undertones of smoke and stony, steely minerals. Forceful flavors too, with intense minerals and dry blackberry extract. Medium-full body, and a long pure finish. A nicely, balanced, athletic wine with plenty of soft, ripe, well-integrated tannins. 89. Was $11.93 at Spec's on Smith, but I've seen this available in lots of other stores at about the same price.

2005 Torbreck "Woodcutter's SHIRAZ" (Barossa Valley, Australia)

This was a superb bottle of wine.

Dense, saturated black ruby with purple highlights. Rich, sweet nose of charcoal, fragrant high-toned (balsa?) wood smoke, and spicy blackberry and cassis extract. Rich, densely concentrated flavors delivered in a light, almost weightless chassis. The almost inky flavors were redolent of balckberries and hot sandstone. Long, soft, perfectly balanced finish. 91. Was $16 at Spec's on Richmond.

2005 Saintsbury Carneros "VIN GRIS DE PINOT NOIR" (California)

A well-built rose that's holding up nicely.

Light, bright pink color. Lively, yet subdued nose of strawberries, flowers, and tomato skins. Fairly rich and minerally in the mouth, with deep flavors, and bass notes of strawberry and watermelon. Long, pure finish. 87. Was $13 and change at Spec's on Smith.

In the summer, I usually like roses from the previous year's vintage, but this one is still drinking very well despite its additional year of age.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

2004 Matua Valley PINOT NOIR (Marlborough, New Zealand)

Took a chance on this because it was so cheap for a P.N. ($11.99 on sale at Whole Foods on Bellaire, down from $14.99). It was so-so.

Light garnet ruby. Sweet, yet sharp nose of sappy cherry juice, maple syrup, and scorched earth. Somewhat bitter flavors of cherry and minerals, with some excess heat and acidity showing through in the finish. Not bad -- like a decent generic Bourgogne. 82.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

2004 Rancho Zabaco Sonoma County ZINFANDEL "Sonoma Heritage Vines" (California)

This was a good value Zin.

Dark blackish ruby garnet. Deep, reserved nose of spicy blackberries, charcoal, and rock dust. Ripe, round, deep fruit in the mouth, with lots of concentration, length, and body. Not the most complex Zin I've drunk, but for around $14, this is an excellent buy, particularly in face of the trend toward ever-thinner Zins with ever-higher prices. 87. Available at wine shops, supermarkets, Midas Muffler shops, doctors' offices, and FedEx/Kinko's everywhere.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Wines from Our Vacation

Here are some truncated notes, mostly from memory, concerning wines we had on our trip to visit family in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

2005 Alois Lageder Chardonnay (Alto Adige, Italy) -- This was a VERY minerally, unoaked, refreshing and dry Chardonnay from a region in extreme northeast Italy known for its crisp whites.

2004 Plantate Lunghe ROSSO CONERO (Marche, Italy) -- This was an outstanding red from a region in Italy that nearly every store in Houston overlooks. Probably mostly or all Montepulciano grape, this wine had a complex perfume, and deep, winey-earthy flavors, with a leathery component, and was soft and concentrated.

2003 Bodegas Carrau TANNAT Reserve (Uruguay) -- This grape is used in FRance to make the usually-too-tannic-and-astringent wines from Madiran, and apparently is also used to make too-tannic-and-astringent wines from Uruguay as well.

2005 Poggio Argentiera MORELLINO DI SCANSANO "Bellamarsilia" (Tuscany, Italy) -- Medium-bodied, soft and perfumed, but not that concentrated.

2004 Casa Emma CHIANTI CLASSICO (Tuscany, Italy) -- For a non-riserva Chianti, this was fabulous. Concentrated and tight, yet with a forceful nose of candied cherry syrup and smokey, earthy notes. Very concentrated, with a soft texture despite substantial tannic backbone (the tannins were ripe and soft). Excellent length. Got this one for $16.99 at Spiritus, on Main Street in Hartford. Spiritus used to be one of my favorite wine stores when I lived in Connecticut, and I used to stop in just about every time I had a hearing or conference at the U.S. Courthouse in Hartford, as it is almost right across the street from it.