Monday, December 31, 2007

2005 CAN BLAU (Montsant, Spain)

This is good, but not as good as the 2004 was.

Dark ruby/mulberry color. Big, galumphy, earthy nose: lots of spicy blackberry, olivey-vegetal scents, with some smoky earthy componenets too. Full-bodied, with broad flavors of mixed berries, granite, and lemon. Good, buoyant acidity helps prop up the large-boned physique (think Yao Ming). Fairly long finish. 88. Drink soon, as I think that this will become more angular with age. Was about $16 at Whole Foods on Bellaire.

2001 Badia a Coltibuono CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA (Tuscany, Italy)

This was a very elegant, restrained, yet characterful Chianti we enjoyed while entertaining our friends from Austin, the Hughens.

Dark ruby garnet color. Medium intensity nose of ripe chokecherries and smoky stones. Broad, soft, lightish mouthfeel, with flavors of cherry, new leather, and spice. Lovely, long finish. Not a blockbuster, but very polished. 89. I would drink this now, as I'm not convinced it's going to improve over the next few years. $29 and change at Spec's on Smith.

2002 Casa Lapostolle CABERNET SAUVUGNON (Rapel Valley, Chile)

This had been tucked away unseen in a corner of my wine closet for the last three years, forgotten. It had actually aged very well and was quite a surprise for an entry-level, cheap Cabernet.

Dark black ruby color with the barest hint of amber at the rim. Intense, low-toned nose of cassis, smoke, and a pencil lead/graphite component. Concentrated and medium full-bodies in the mouth, with flavors of dark cassis extract and minerals. Still lots of ripe tannins, which, in conjunction with the deep fruit, lead me to conclude that this guy could age for a few years further still. Impressive for an $8 bottle. 88. (Caveat: I've heard that the regular bottlings of this winery in more recent vintages are not up to the standards it set in 1999-2002 -- so more recent vintages might not measure up to this one.)

2005 Las Rocas GARNACHA "El Renegado" (Calatayud, Spain)

This was a relatively large-scaled but bony Grenache.

Black ruby color. Medium intensity nose of spicy raspberries, smoky gingerbread, and lemons. Very structured (for a Grenache) in the mouth, with big but kinda austere flavors of raspberry, briary underbrush, and earth. Substantial tannin in the fairly long finish. I'm not sure this is going to flesh out or get any better, so I'd drink it now. 85. Was $13.99 at Whole Foods on Bellaire.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

2001 Triacca VALTELLINA SUPERIORE RISERVA "La Gatta" (Lombardy, Italy)

In the early 1980s, Nebbiolo wines from the four towns comprising the Valtellina (Inferno, Grumella, Sassella, and Valgella) used to be some of my favorites -- they were cheap (always under $10), they were great examples of a lighter, leaner style of Nebbiolo, and, at least in NYC, where I lived, they were fairly widely available. Until I saw this one, I hadn't seen a Valtellina wine in literally decades.

This wine was very light and lean, but had correct Nebbiolo scents and flavors.

Very light ruby/garnet, with a hint of amber at the rim. Sweet, candied cherries and lemons on the nose, with a backdrop of smoky stones. Medium-light bodied, but with persistent flavors tart cherries, old oak barrels, and minerals, leading to a fairly long, but lean and somewhat tannic finish. It would be nice to age this to have the tannin drop out, but I think that the fruit is on the decline, so drink this now. 86. Was about $30 at Spec's on Smith. On its merits, definitely not worth the price, but for a personal trip down memory lane, not bad.

2005 Heartland South Australia SHIRAZ

This was a balanced, full-flavored, complex red.

Saturated black ruby, with some glints of purple still showing at the rim. Intense nose of blackberry and blueberry extract, with some sweet, spiced woodsmoke and hard lemon candy notes. Inky cassis and blackberry fruit, with a nice smoky, bacony component lurking in the background. Full and long in the mouth. Some very soft tannin in the finish augurs for the capability of 2 to 3 more years of aging. 90. Was $15.33 at Spec's on Smith.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

2004 Fattoria Selvapiana CHIANTI RUFINA (Tuscany, Italy)

This was a very elegant, medium-bodied Sangiovese.

Dark ruby-garnet. Complex nose of bright, sweet cherries, menthol, earth, and a sweet, high-toned woody component. Focused and concentrated cherry/mineral flavors, with a long, lean, youthful-feeling finish. There is some tannin for structure here, but it's ripe and soft, not gritty or chalky-textured. Will certainly soften and improve for a year or two. 88. Was $18.89 at Spec's on Smith.

2005 Cortijo III Rioja (Spain)

Like the 2004, the 2005 version of this Rioja reminded me of a Beaujolais.

Medium dark ruby with magenta at the rim. Very nice, straightforward nose of ripe berries and fur. Clean, focused fruit in the mouth, with a nice, stony-minerally component. Good persistence. Based on the 2004 and 2005, I'm guessing that this winery goes in for carbonic maceration fermentation -- like they use in Beaujolais -- for all or at least part of the fruit for this wine. Good value, and would match well with a wide variety of foods. I'm not sure, but I think I got this at Central Market for about $7 or $8. 86.

2006 A to Z Oregon PINOT NOIR

This was disappointing in view of the successful 2005 this winery produced.

Garnet color. Muted nose, giving up only vague whiffs of hard cherry candy and metallic minerals. Soft and light, with tart cherry fruit and a lean, acidic finish. 78. I think this was around $15.

2006 Alois Lageder PINOT BIANCO (Alto Adige, Italy)

This is Italy's version of a good Maconnais white.

Very light straw color. Light intensity nose of chalky minerals, apples, and peach pits. Precise, light-bodied flavors of pear and stones. Although light-bodied, it had an interesting pleasantly oily texture. Lots of minerals in a medium-long finish. 86. Was $12.79 at Richard's on Shepherd.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

2005 Piping Shrike SHIRAZ (Barossa Valley, Australia)

This was a decent value Shiraz, though showing more of an angular (rather than fleshy) side of the grape.

Nearly saturated brooding black ruby. Medium intensity nose of blackberries, graphite, and toasty balsa wood notes. More angular in the mouth than the nose would lead you to believe -- blackberry extract competing with equal intensity components of peppery minerals and an unusual, high-toned perfumey earthiness. 87. Was $13.49 at Central Market.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

2005 Domaine la Montagnette COTES DU RHONE (France)

A very modern style, fruity, clean, and cheap, but uninspiring, Cotes du Rhone.

Dark ruby color. Straightforward, bright fruity nose -- lots of plum and boysenberry, with a barely discernible graphite-minerally component. Balanced, clean, gulpable, with pretty good concentration and length. No complexity or soul here, however, just lots of red berry flavors, leaving the taster wondering where this generic-tasting wine is from and what varietals it's made from. 85. Was $11.92 at Spec's on Holcombe.

Monday, December 03, 2007

2005 Rosenblum Paso Robles ZINFANDEL "Richard Sauret Vineyard" (California)

A ripe, concentrated, flavorful Zin.

Saturated black ruby/purple color. Richly fruity nose of oozingly ripe spicy black raspberries and sweetly smoky scents. Round and soft on the palate, with great persistence of fruit -- mostly blackberry. Spicy and creamy components as well. Not the most complex or mach style of Zin, but very rich, flavorful, and hedonistic. Very nice balance too for a wine with 15.6 % alcohol. 89. Was $24 and change at Spec's on Smith.

2005 Gary Farrell Sonoma County SAUVIGNON BLANC "Redwood Ranch" (California)

OK, but disappointing for the price.

Very light color. Delicate nose of herby gooseberries and chewy caramel, with a teensy amount of underlying earthiness. Broad mouthfeel, but with very understated, polite flavors -- the strongest being a metallic, minerally component, with bitter herbs too. 83. Nowhere near worth the 25 smackeroos I plunked down.

Nice label though.