Saturday, August 25, 2007

2003 Saint-Cosme COTES DU RHONE (France)

This schizophrenic wine was both over-the-hill and youthful at the same time. Clearly displaying the weirdness of the historically hot 2003 vintage.

Deep ruby garnet with some browning. Interesting nose of brown sugar, pepperoni, and lemon peel, with peachy-plummy fruit buried down under those initial notes. Tangy in the mouth, with bizarre flavors of earth, raw meat, and, in the mid- and end-palate, nutty (pecan) and rancid butter notes. Very high acidity. Not unpleasant, but quite bizarre. 78. I bought this at Spec's over a year ago and it's been in the wine closet since. Was around $10 if I remember correctly.

2006 Cousino-Macul SAUVIGNON GRIS (Maipo Valley, Chile)

This was a very distinctive and flavorful white.

Very light, bright straw gold. Broad nose of earth, ripe honeydew melons, and mowed grass and herbs. Broad, dry, and deeply flavored, with concentrated herby, minerally, peachy flavors, and an almost oily texture. Very long finish. Maybe not for everybody, but I thought this to be a very good value in a character-filled white made from a rare varietal. 89. Was $11.50 at Spec's on Smith.

2003 Fattoria di Vetrice CHIANTI RUFINA (Italy)

This wasn't bad, but reflected its origins in the historically hot 2003 vintage.

Medium ruby color with a hint of garnet. Elegant nose of roasted pork and sweet berries, with some earthy, old leathery notes as well. Very high-toned flavors of old wines barrels, cherry syrup, and minerals, with a distinct, astringent prickle on the tongue (seemingly not from dissolved CO2 but from something else). Short, drying finish. 82. Was about $12 at Spec's a year ago (it was sitting in my wine closet for a while -- I would expect the 2004s and 2005s that are currently available to be better), but I've seen this at Richard's stores too.

2005 Falset MONSANT (Spain)

This 50% Garnacha, 30% Carignan, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon was a good value. Lots of fruit for the money.

Dark black ruby color. Big fruity nose with lots of berries and pungent stony minerals. Straightforward, big, fruity flavors. Good concentration but not a lot of complexity. At this price, however ($10), who really cares? Would be good with a very slight chill, and will go with lots of summer dishes and cookouts. 87. Available at Spec's on Smith. Drink this right away, as this style of wine is best for immediate consumption.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

2004 Casa Emma CHIANTI CLASSICO (Tuscany, Italy)

I liked this so much when I tried it in New England that when I saw it here I wanted to try it again to see if I liked it as much outside the context of a fun family dinner. I did.

This is a very youthful, vibrant, aggressive Chianti.

Very bright, dark ruby color. Extroverted nose with lots of ripe chokecherries, licorice, earth, and fragrant wood smoke scents. Forceful, vibrant flavors -- cherries, leather, and stony minerals predominate. Bright acidity and lots of youthful tannin lend an attractive if not soft texture. A nice wine to have with Italian braised meats and stews, as well as pasta with tomato & meat sauces. Should be even better in a year or two. 88+. Was $19 and change at Spec's on Holcombe (and I've seen it at other Spec's stores).

UPDATE 1/31/08: Sorry -- I had inadvertently listed this as the 2005 vintage, when it in fact was the 2004.

2006 "Balandran" ROSE "Les Mugues" (Costieres de Nimes, France)

This was a delicate, dry rose.

Very light pink-peach skin color. Nice nose of strawberry, bubble gum, and sweet, smoky minerals. Bone dry, refreshing, and light-bodied in the mouth, with austere flavors of chalky minerals and dry strawberry extract. Crisp, balanced finish. Very refreshing on this 100 degree+ day. 88. $10.47 at Spec's on Smith, making it a good value.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

2005 Mommessin FLEURIE "Les Roches" (Beaujolais, France)

Mommessin is a Burgundy house that has been increasing in quality lately, and this is one of its reserve bottlings. That said, I expected more from this wine.

Dark, crystalline ruby with purple highlights. Medium intensity nose, very austere and minerally. Lots of stones, spicy underbrush notes, and scorched earth in the mouth. The cranberry/blueberry fruit that is there is nice, but it is overshadowed by the austere non-fruit aspects of the nose. Intense but austere in the mouth too. Good length and acid balance, along with a soft texture, but more fruit would have been nice. I'm no winemaker, but I get the feeling that if they had just waited a bit longer to pick the grapes that this wine would have been the better for it. 86. Was $19.50 (pricey for a Fleurie/Beaujolais) at Spec's on Richmond.

A Has-Been and a Star

I brought a coupla French whites the other day to a dinner at the home of my good friends, the Finleys. The food was phenomenal (as usual), but the wines I brought were a mixed bag. Here are my short "from memory" notes:

The Has-Been: 2002 Verget CHABLIS "Terroirs de Chablis" (France) -- I thought this one would be peaking, but I had the wrong tense: it is on the decline. Light and minerally, to be sure, but with noticeable maderization (oxidation) on the nose and palate.

The Star: Château La Bidière MUSCADET DE SEVRE ET MAINE Sur Lie "Vieilles Vignes (Loire, France) -- this was a beautiful, textbook Muscadet. Fragrant, with fresh, minerally and lemon-lime scents. Intense, lively, balanced, refreshing, and pure tasting, with nice concentration and length. Bone dry. Spec's has this for about $12, making it a good value.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

2005 Sebastiani Sonoma County ZINFANDEL

Not bad, and a good value for an under $10 Zin, but not up to the standard set by the 2004 version, previously reviewed here.

Dark ruby color. Gentle nose of sweet cream, brambleberries, blackberries, and gingerbread. Soft, medium bodied flavors of mulled berries and vaguely minerally notes. Lacks the concentration of the 2004, but still a decent value, true-tasting Zin. 85. Was $9.72 at Spec's on Smith.

2005 CARRO (Southeast Spain)

While the 2005 edition is still a good value, I liked this wine less than the phenomenal 2004, previously reviewed here.

Dark ruby color. Sweet, fruity nose of fruit salad and milky, earthy scents. Soft, ripe, straightforward flavors, with good concentration for this price point, but not much complexity. This wine would be great for summer cookouts and parties, and could take a little chill. 86. Was about $7 at Spec's on Smith.