Tuesday, September 25, 2007

2005 Verget BOURGOGNE "Terroirs de Cote d'Or" (White Burgundy)

A very subtle, balanced, unoaked Chardonnay with Verget's typically minerality in check.

Very light, bright brassy gold color. Beautiful, subtle nose of buttered minerals, caramel, and pear. Soft, medium-light bodied flavors of apples, lemons, chalky minerals, with an unbelievably soft mouthfeel. Medium-long finish, with very nice balance. Would be great with light-flavored fish such as flounder, sole, or red snapper. 87. Was $14.29 at Spec's on Westheimer.

2004 Brigaldara VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO (Veneto, Italy)

Not very Valpolicella-like and disappointing. I haven't been impressed with a regular Valpo from this producer since the outstanding 2001.

Mostly crystalline black with ruby highlights. Pungent nose of tar, scorched earth, burnt gingerbread, prunes, and blackberries. Dark, mostly bass-note flavors of prunes, old oak, and scorched earth, with a fairly long, although somewhat hot, minerally finish. 83. Too big-boned for its own good. Was $16 and change at Spec's on Smith.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

2005 Viu Manent CARMENERE Reserve (Colchagua Valley, Chile)

This was a deep, rich, complex red at a fair price.

Dark blood/mulberry color. Rich, earthy nose with lots of deep blackberry fruit and an earthy, almost composty, wet tobacco leafy component, as well as a strong graphite edge. Rich, earthy, chocolately flavors, again with the tobacco leaf thing going on. Long fruity finish, with substantial but very soft and well-integrated tannin. Got better with significant air time, indicating to me that it will improve with a year or two of bottle age. 88+. Was $14.99 at Whole Foods on Bellaire.

2005 Paul Zinck RIESLING (Alsace, France)

A very flavorful dry Riesling.

Light, bright greenish gold color. Exuberant nose of lemons, citrus oil, candied chalk dust, sweet flowers, and pungent minerals. Loads of soft, mouthwatering, crisp-apply fruit, with a bright mineral/herbal component taking over in the finish. Very refreshing. Lots of depth, if not complexity, with a long, clean finish. 88. Was about $16 at Spec's on Smith.

2005 Pascal Granger JULIENAS (Beaujolais, France)

This was a terrific, traditionally styled Beaujolais.

Medium dark crystal black ruby. Deeply minerally nose (powdered granite) with hard cherry/plum candy scents. Soft, but forceful flavors paralleling the nose. Beautiful balance, medium body, and a lengthy, stone-filled finish. Superb, old-style Beaujolais, emphasizing texture, crisp fruit, and minerality rather than the now ubiquitous ripe grape/banana candy stuff. 88. Was $16.80 at Spec's on Smith.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

2004 Kilikanoon SHIRAZ "Killerman's Run" (South Australia)

This was outstanding.

Saturated black ruby color, with purple at the rim. Rich, complex nose of blackberries, cassis, graphite, lemons, and smoky spices. Rich, deep flavors of salted cassis extract coated in smoky minerals. Some soft tannin in the long, dark finish. 91. Drink over the next year. Was $16 at Whole Foods on Bellaire.

UPDATE (9/19): Whole Foods has jacked the price on this to $22 and change.

UPDATE (12/8): Price back down to $16.99!

2005 La Posta MALBEC "Pizzella Family Vineyard" (Mendoza, Argentina)

Avoid this one. Earthy, sour, old leather nose. Tart, overly earthy and leathery flavors. Very austere. 70.

2004 Zenato VALPOLICELLA RIPASSA (Veneto, Italy)

My brother told me this was good, and he was right. This was big, soft, ripe, and rich.

Deep, rich black ruby color. Really fruity nose -- overripe raspberries, sweet cream, lemon juice, and smoky earth. Extraordinarily soft-textured and full in the mouth. Lush with ripe fruit, and minerals dancing quietly in the background. Long, full finish. 89. Was about $25 at Spec's on Smith.

2005 Pierre Riffault SANCERRE "Domaine du Carroir Perrin" (Loire, France)

This was a classic grassy, minerally Sancerre.

Very light, bright gold with greenish glints. Nose of bright, tart gooseberries, lemons, and creamed grassy/chalky scents. Lively and focused in the mouth, with refreshing lemony/mineral flavors, and a long, crisp finish. Would be fantastic with shellfish. 87. Was $19 and change at Spec's on Smith.

2004 Curtis "HERITAGE CUVEE" (50% Grenache, 19% Syrah, 18% Mourvedre, 13% Cinsault (Santa Barbara County, Cal.)

I knew nothing about this winery, but it looked interesting, so I tried a bottle. What a nice surprise!

Compare this to a big, ripe Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Medium dark ruby color with magenta highlights. Big, galumphy nose of spicy raspberries, black olives, and smoky balsa wood. Intense, earthy "garrigue" and black raspberry flavors, with lots of body and a soft, rich texture. Long, dark fruit and iodine-laced finish. Not elegant, but lots of character. 88. Was about $14 at Spec's on Smith.

2004 Avignonesi VINO NOBILE DE MONTEPULCIANO (Tuscany)

This was a bit disappointing.

Medium ruby color. Big, earthy nose -- barnyard, gingerbready, old leather, sour cherries. Medium-bodied, with modest cherry/strawberry fruit, along with dried underbrush and minerals. Lean but reasonably long finish. Not bad, but I expected more ripeness and density. 84. Available at Spec's ($19) and Central Market ($21).

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

2004 MontGras "Quatro" Reserva (35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Malbec, 22% Merlot, 15% Carmenere) (Colchagua Valley, Chile)

For the second vintage in a row -- the 2003 was excellent -- this wine is tremendous.

Impenetrable black ruby color. Ridiculously rich nose of liquid dark chocolate, earth, toast, cassis and blackberries. Dense and deep, featuring rich flavors of chocolate, toasty oak, and ripe cassis. Long and quite full-bodied, with lots of soft, ripe tannins in the finish. 90. In addition to being excellent, it's an excellent value at $12.99 at Whole Foods on Bellaire.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

2005 Almira "Los Dos" GRENACHE/SYRAH (Campo de Borja)

This was an outrageous value.

Dark soft ruby color. Massively fruity nose erupts from the glass, with ripe fresh raspberries and crushed, smoky stones. Soft, dense, and ripe in the mouth, with lots of concentration, soft, spicy raspberry fruit, transitioning to minerals in the long finish. Great balance too. A knock-out value at $5.99 at World Marketplace on Richmond (where it was tucked away in a corner of the wine section). 89. Drink in the next few months for the soft, rich fruit.

2005 XYZin California ZINFANDEL "10 Year Old Vines"

This was a fruity, straightforward Zinfandel.
Deep black garnet color. Deeply fruity nose -- blackberries, loamy earth, and sweet malty scents. (This nose would indicate lots of Lodi fruit, to me.) Good concentration and flesh, if not a lot of definition or complexity. Lots of "oomph." It was a gift, so I don't know where it came from, but a quick Internet search shows that many stores sell this at arounf $15. 87.

2006 Cono Sur PINOT NOIR (Central Valley, Chile)

A great value in Pinot Noir. Not very complex, but true Pinot flavors and texture for under $10 -- unheard of.

Very bright ruby. Intensely fruity nose: grapes, plum, strawberry, rhubarb, with some steely minerals and spearmint leaves waaay in the background. Bright flavors of cherry, root beer, and high-toned woody notes. Not burgundian at all, but lots of flavor and character. Was about $8 at Spec's on Smith. 87.

2002 Domaine Billaud-Simon CHABLIS PREMIER CRU MONT DE MILIEU "Vieilles Vignes" (Burgundy, France)

(Unscored notes from memory). This was a primo example of the 2002 vintage in Chablis: bright, focused, minerally, stony, lemony flavors, with a weightless texture and tremendous length. Tremendous. Got this one from Flickinger Wines in Chicago.