Tuesday, February 27, 2007

2005 Tait "The Ball Buster" (82% Shiraz, 9% Cabernet, 9% Merlot) (Barossa Valley, Australia)

If the winery was looking for a risque name that fit this voluptuous, rich, silky wine, I could have thought of something much more fitting. (I won't say what because this is a family blog!).

Saturated, dense black ruby-purple. Decadent nose of overripe blackberries, vegetal cigar leaf, graphite, and oak. Soft, mouthfilling flavors of deep, dark fruit and wood. Loads of tannin, but it's extra soft and ripe. Not a complex, elegant damsel, but more like a cross between Elvira, Anna Nicole Smith, and Tyra Banks. 90. $19 at Spec's on Smith. Drink over the next year or two.

2004 "2 Up" SHIRAZ (South Australia)

Not bad, but a tad over-acidified, perhaps? Deep black brickish ruby. Minerally nose -- lots of crushed rocks and scorched earth -- with graphite and cassis (kind of like a stereo with lots of bass and treble but no mid-range). Austere but fairly intense flavors of minerals, dry cassis, and lemony acidity. Would be nice with pasta or meats in tomato-y sauces, but otherwise the acidity would stand out too much. 85. Was about $12 at Whole Foods on Bellaire.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

2004 Marquis Phillips SHIRAZ (Southeast Australia)

Another excellent value from this consistent producer of FLAVORFUL wines.
Deep, dark ruby garnet color. Decadent, intensely oaky and fruity nose: sweet blackberries, smoky oak, minerals, overripe lemons. Rich, deep, salty and jammy flavors of dry blackberry preserves and graphite. Very powerful and full-bodied. A real mouthful. With a tad more complexity this would have been amazing, but it's excellent as is. 89. Drink by end of 2007. (Interestingly, I'm not sure that I liked this any better than its cheaper sibling, ROOGLE RED, reviewed previously here.) $14 at Spec's.

2003 Thierry et Pascale Matrot MEURSAULT "Les Chevalières" (White Burgundy, France)

This wasn't bad for a relatively cheap ($18) Meursault, but it reinforces my theory that there simply aren't ANY good values in Burgundy's Côte d'Or region.

Elegant but somewhat low-key nose of honey and pear, with some stony earthiness underneath. Nice, simple flavors of smoky minerals and pear skin. Decent but somewhat short finish. Not a particularly distinguished white burgundy ("Les Chevalières" is not a premier cru vineyard), but I don't get to taste Meursaults that often, so it was worth the flyer to try it. 86. Got it at flickingerwines.com.

2004 "Vivir, Vivir" (Ribera del Duero, Spain)

Eh. Saturated black ruby color, with hints of magenta seems promising, but the nose and taste fail to deliver. Nose closed, with a few parts per million of high-toned cherry/raspberry fruit and vaguely minerally scents. Tight, somewhat high acid flavors of cherry, scorched earth, and minerals. Substantial, somewhat coarse tannins and a bitterish finish. A couple of years in the bottle may soften up the texture a bit, but I can't guarantee that. 80. Was $8.13 at Spec's on Smith.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

2004 Cline "Ancient Vines" MOURVÈDRE (Contra Costa County, Cal.)

This wine is pretty consistently an excellent value. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, I think that Cline used to call this wine the "Oakley Cuvée." Sometime in the 1990s, they started calling it by its current name. I still remember the 1990 Oakley Cuvée, which I bought at a wine shop for about $8 while visiting San Francisco in November 1993. In the last several years, I've had the 2000 (excellent), the 2001 (very good), the 2002 (eh), and the 2003 (chunky but simple). The 2004 is back to excellent!

Dark black ruby. Rich nose of blackberry/blueberry juice, high-toned fragrant wood smoke, and steely minerals. A broad, voluptuous mouthfeel with deep flavors of salty, mulled red fruit, peaty earth, and sandstone. Long finish. Balanced, deep, and lots of fun to drink. An excellent value at $12.71 at Spec's on Smith. 89.

Monday, February 12, 2007

2004 Marquis Phillips ROOGLE RED (80% Shiraz 20% Cabernet) (South Australia)

Another ridiculous value from Australia, this wine has tons of character for the money.

Dark, saturated black ruby color. In-your-face nose of cassis, blackberry liqueur, fragrant wood smoke, and graphite. Rich, dense, full-bodied flavors: blackberry extract, scorched earth, pencil lead, minerals. Long finish. No tannin left, to speak of. Drink over the next year for maximum intensity fruit. Superb. 90. $10.65 at Spec's on Richmond.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

2004 Sipacha GARNACHA (Calatayud, Spain)

I think this is a made-up name for another bottling from the San Gregorio co-op that operates in this region. I'm sure I've seen that name on another Calatayud-region Garnacha in the past.

Anyway, this is another winner. I love the Grenaches (a/k/a Garnachas) from Calatayud. At their best, they have a spicy, piercing raspberry fruitiness and an intense rock-dusty mineraliness -- and this one is a textbook example. Great balance, persistence, and character for the price. Very food-flexible. 88. Was $9.99 at Central Market.

UPDATE (3/09/07): I was right. The other label this co-op uses is Tres Ojos, the 2003 of which I previously reviewed here.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Bowl Wines

Just some truncated, non-scored notes from memory (while my memory's fresh).

1999 Père Pape CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE "La Crau de ma Mère" -- I think this was a year or two past its prime. The rich grenache fruit I expected was replaced by very earthy, resiny flavors, and the texture was drying out a bit. Still very good, but paled by comparison to the next wine.

2002 Ridge GEYSERVILLE (84% Zinfandel, with Carignane and Petite Sirah) (Alexander Valley, Cal.) -- I had this one last around Thanksgiving 2005, and, contrary to my expectations, it was showing better now. In 2005, I noted that this wine tasted more like an Amarone than a Zin, but this time, the rich, deep, earthy Zin character of the Alexander Valley was singing. Definitely at it peak, this was a superb wine. Depth, length, complexity, balance. Everything.

Made manly food -- Chicago Italian Beef Sandwiches (from scratch -- there's a great recipe in The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Italian) to go with the wines in honor of the Super Bowl.

2005 Paringa SHIRAZ "Individual Vineyard" (South Australia)

This winery frequently puts out some very good values. This one is an excellent value in a flavorful Shiraz that's more complex than is usually available for under $10.

Dark black ruby/violet. Nice nose of deep, ripe berries, lemons, and graphite. Rich, but not jammy like many other Aussie Shirazes, on the palate. More on the lean side. Cassis and smoky mineral flavors. Very good length. Lots of wine for the money. It will hold for a year or two, so grab a few bottles now. 88. Was $8.17 at Spec's on Richmond.

2004 Pierre-Marie Chermette (Domaine du Vissoux) FLEURIE "Les Garants" (Beaujolais, France)

I was disappointed with this one, which is made by one of my favorite Beaujolais producers.

Medium garnet-ruby. Light intensity nose of freshly-mowed grass, grapes, and granite. Light-bodied, fresh flavors of minerals, granite, and tart grapes. A little underripe in my view and not terribly concentrated. The salty, minerally finish was more intense than the flavors on entry. 83. Was $19 and change at Spec's on Smith.