Wednesday, November 21, 2007

2005 Pascal Granger JULIENAS "Cuvee Speciale" (Beaujolais, France)

This was a VERY TIGHT wine that needs -- atypically for a Beaujolais -- a year or two in a cool cellar.

Dark very purply-ruby. Extremely tight nose of cherries, stony minerals, and hint of cinnamon in the background. Lots of tart cherries and stony flavors, with lots of acidity and some serious tannic structure. Long, austere finish. 87+. Was $18.99 at West Side Wines in West Hartford.

2005 Tenuta San Leone BARDOLINO SUPERIORE "Montesalionze" (Veneto, Italy)

This was one of the best, if not the best, wines I've ever had from the Veneto region -- which encompasses not only the Bardolino appellation, but the Valpolicella (and Amarone) appellation. Just amazing. Bardolino is usually a light, watery, faintly bitterish wine for uncritical guzzling. Not this one.

Started with a dark ruby purple color. Then the nose erupted out of the glass -- eucalyptus, ripe black cherries, fresh cinnamon stick, with a chalky earthiness in the background. Amazing. Haven't smelled anything quite like this in a long time -- bright, intense flavors of spicy cherry, minerals, and cinnamon. Long, long, concentrated finish, yet the wine retained a sense of lightness and balance throughout. I've never tasted a Veronese wine anything like this. Get some of this if you can find it (I've never seen it in Houston). 93. My brother got this for $15.99 at West Side Wines on Raymond Road in West Hartford -- an amazing value.

2002 Jean & Sebastien Dauvissat CHABLIS PREMIER CRU "Lechet" (France)

This was a very minerally, almost austere, but character-filled Chablis.

Very minerally, earthy nose, with lemony fruit opening up after a half hour or so. Very long, lean, bright finish.

Had this at my brother's house in West Hartford, CT. He got it for $38 at West Side Wines on Raymond Road in West Hartford.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

2005 Cousino-Macul CABERNET SAUVIGNON "Antiguas Reservas" (Maipo Valley, Chile)

This wine varies significantly in style from vintage to vintage in my experience. The 2005 is good, but somewhat lighter than usual and a bit on the herbal side.

Black ruby-garnet color. Lots of earthy, herbal scents -- verging on vegetal -- which overlay some ripe, plummy fruit. Medium bodied in the mouth, with lots of dark, earthy, graphite flavors up front, then morphing into herbal and black cherry flavors in the back end. Pretty good length, but not as concentrated as in other vintages. Some soft tannin as well may support a year or two of ageing. 85. This was about $12 and change at Spec's, but is widely available in other wine shops and bigger supermarkets.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

2005 Mutt Lynch Winery "Portrait of a Mutt" ZINFANDEL (Sonoma County)

If it weren't for just a tad of noticeable residual sugar, this wine would have been outstanding.

Deep ruby color with a tinge of purple. Almost overripe nose of spicy black raspberries, lemon juice, and rock dust. Soft, rich, and ripe in the mouth, with plenty of sweet, earthy blackberry juice flavors. The noticeable residual sugar, however, results in a certain cloyingness, though not enough to make the wine unpleasant, but only to keep it from reaching its full potential. 87. Was about $15 (which passes as cheap for Zinfandel these days) at Spec's on Smith.

2005 "MAROLA" (Emporda-Costa Brava, Spain)

This 65% Carinena/35% Garnacha was pretty good, in a funky way, but not worth a repeat purchase.

Deep, clear, dark ruby color with purple highlights. The nose was fruity but slightly medicinal, with deep grapey and blackberry jam scents. There was a whiff of a pungent, somewhat raw woody note (even though this wine isn't oak-aged), and another component in the background that reminded me of pickled fruit. It was round and soft, with decent concentration, but with moderately high levels of acidity. Not a bad quaffer with tomato-sauce based dishes. 85. Was $8 at Spec's on Smith.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Foley 2005 Rancho Santa Rosa PINOT NOIR (Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County)

I had this at America's restaurant, so these notes are from memory.

And my memory is that this was very, very good.

It had very focused, precise, and persistent cherry/pomegranate fruit, with very nice balancing acidity and a long, pure finish. Reminded me of an elegant Volnay or Pommard.

As to the food, my seared "Chilean Sea Bass" was immersed in too much of the clarified butter (or other fat) that the fish was sauteed in, but otherwise it was fresh and flavorful. Either as a result of my getting more sensitive to this as I get older, or because this is a trick that cooks use to get more flavor our of a dish, I notice more and more that fancy restaurants seem to leave way too much of the cooking fat in their finished dishes. Enough already!

2004 Castello di Selvole CHIANTI CLASSICO (Tuscany, Italy)

This was a bit too light for my taste, but it went well with the Provencal braised chicken we had with it.

Medium dark, with garnet at the rim. Loads of high-toned cherry scents jump out of the glass, with notes of spicy sandalwood and granite. Precise, focused cherry/mineral flavors in the mouth, in a lively, medium-bodied frame. Some noticeable tannin, along with buoyant acidity lend a lean tactile impression, but the finish is pretty long. $25 at Spec's on Holcombe. 86.

2004 Hartford Sonoma Coast PINOT NOIR (California)

A very together Pinot Noir.

Bright ruby color. Gorgeous nose of cola, melted brown sugar, oozingly ripe cherries, minerals, and gravel. Intense and earthy flavors, with black cherry and cola flavors at the core, and lots of warm stones in the long finish. Reminded me of a very good Nuits St. George. 88. I got this at Spec's on Smith awhile back, and I think it was around $24.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

2004 Altos de Luzon JUMILLA (Spain)

This reserve bottling of 50% Monastrell, 25% Cabernet, and 25% Tempranillo is excellent. I had the amazing 2001 a while back, and while this is top notch, it's not quite up to that benchmark wine.

Impenetrably saturated black purple/ruby color. Rich, chocolatey fruit, with dusty earth, graphite, and eucalyptus notes. Rich, weighty, and very concentrated, with dense flavors of minerals, highly extracted blackberries and cassis immediately enveloping the tongue. Long, intense, and ultimately peppery finish. Not quite as complex as the 2001, at least as I remember it. Loads of soft, ripe tannins. This wine will last, and possibly improve, for another 2-3 years . . . . but it's really nice now too. 88+ Was $19.99 at Spec's on Smith.

2004 Forchini ZINFANDEL Dry Creek Valley "Proprietor's Reserve" (California)

Disappointing. A hard, ungenerous style of Zin.

Black ruby with some purple highlights. Not entirely saturated color. The nose was tight and peppery, with lots of dry rock dust scents, hiding some nice spicy berry fruit. Tight and tannic in the mouth too, with astringent rock dust flavors overpowering the fruit. Very structured -- too structured -- at the expense of the ripe fleshiness I look for in Zins. 82. Was $23.40 at Spec's on Smith.

2004 Palacio de Eza (Navarra, Spain)

This Merlot/Garnacha blend was uninspiring.

A dense, saturated black ruby color was promising, but gave way to a tight nose, with pungent earthy, minerally scents overpowering some nice ripe blueberry/cassis fruit underneath. Tight and dense in the mouth to, but again with the pungent, almost bitterish minerals going on. Some fairly hard tannins coat the mouth as well. Maybe time will soften it a bit, but I wouldn't count on it. 78. I can't remember where I got this, but I think it was around $10.