Sunday, March 30, 2008

2004 Riecine CHIANTI CLASSICO (Tuscany, Italy)

This was an excellent, traditional-styled, restrained Chianti.

Eye: Dark crystalline ruby.

Nose: Needs a bit of air time to open up, but once it does, it's got a gorgeous, complex nose of brandy-macerated cherries, honey, and Tuscan earth (yes, the earthiness reminded me of Italy!).

Mouth: Soft, medium-bodied, but concentrated, it has flavors of cherries, old barrels, and minerally gravel. Great acid balance, and lots of soft tannin in the long finish.

Cellar or drink? This wine will last and maybe improve over the next 2-3 years in a cool cellar.

Score: 89.

Price/store: I have not seen this well-regarded estate in any Houston stores. I got this from Flickinger Wines in the Chicago area for $19.

2004 Zenato VALPOLICELLA (Veneto, Italy)

This was a good value, food-friendly Valpo.

Eye: Dark black ruby. Good color saturation for a regular Valpolicella, which usually don't have deep color saturation.
Nose: Distinctive nose of scorched earth, milk, and tangy boysenberries.
Mouth: Medium full, with a good, tight core of concentrated fruit accented with brambly undertones. Good balance, and a dry, clean, long finish.
Cellar or drink? Drink over the next year for its vibrant fruit.
Score: 87.
Price/store: Widely available at around $14 at all the Spec's stores, as well as some Richard's stores.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Wines (truncated, unscored notes)

It was a wonderful Easter celebration at our house. Joined by the Finleys and the Kevilles, we had the traditional Easter egg hunt, and later, for dinner, our friends Brian Jackson and the Murphys joined us.

There was so much commotion and fun that I didn't have a chance to take good, critical notes, but here are my impressions of the wines we had.

Duval-Leroy "Rosé Saignée" CHAMPANGE -- This pale pink champagne had wonderful fruit and balance, with nice but unobtrusive acidity, good concentration and a lengthy, dry finish.

2006 Martin Schaetzel PINOT BLANC "Vieilles Vignes" (Alsace, France) -- A medium deep gold, this wine had wonderful, peachy fruit and a subtle minerally undertone. It seemed off-dry, and had a soft, voluptuous texture. Very nice (I love Alsace whites!).

2005 Thomas & Fils SANCERRE "La Crêle" -- Crisp, dry, and minerally, this wine had very refreshing appley, lemon-lime fruit.

2002 Vincent Girardin POMMARD 1er Cru "Les Grands Epenots" Vieilles Vignes (Burgundy, France) -- This was a terrifically fragrant, soft Pinot Noir. Fragrant with scents of cinnamon and sappy cherries, this wine had a soft -- almost ethereally soft -- texture, with a long, minerally finish that features excellent balancing acidity.

2005 Columbia Crest "Grand Estates" CABERNET SAUVIGNON (Columbia Valley, Washington State) -- The Murphys' younger son Kevin actually picked this wine out himself after doing research about what wines would best accompany the roast leg of lamb he knew I was going to prepare. I actually drank, liked, and reviewed a previous vintage of this wine (the 2002, reviewed here), and the 2005 Kevin picked out was equally good. This is a very well-balanced, fruit-forward Cabernet that features lots of cherry fruit and underbrush scents, and has a soft texture that makes for excellent current drinking. Nice choice, Kevin!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

2006 Cousiño-Macul RIESLING (Maipo Valley, Chile)

Cousiño-Macul apparently now makes two Rieslings -- this one, which just says "Riesling" on the label, and the "Doña Isadora" Riesling. Since I haven't yet had the Doña Isadora from the 2006 vintage, I don't know what the stylistic difference is (or may be). But this is a very nice Alsace-styled Riesling, and as usual for this winery's Rieslings, an excellent buy.

Eye: Bright medium gold with greenish glints.

Nose: Beautiful nose of apple blossoms, "gout de petrol" Alsace-styled minerality, and caramel.

Mouth: Fresh, round, and soft, with medium body, and flavors of apples and pungent minerals. In the long finish, notes of bitter grapefruit skin pop up, balancing the very slight residual sugar.

Cellar or drink: Drink over the next year.

Score: 88.

Price/Store: Was $12.62 at Spec's on Richmond, but I've seen this in other places as well.

2004 Bogle "Phantom" (California)

This blend of 54% Petite Sirah, 43% Zinfandel, and 3% Mourvedre was fairly deep and nicely-balanced.

Eye: Dark garnet with ruby highlights.

Nose: Sweet-smelling, with high-toned, lemon juice-inflected cherries, gingerbread spice, and chalk dust.

Mouth: Very nice fruit and concentration -- black cherry, balsa wood, and smoky ashes. Fair amount of soft tannin still perceptible. Nice balance and length.

Cellar or drink?: Drink. While there's substantial tannin, the fruit is so mellow (as opposed to vibrant or youthful) that I think leaving this wine to allow the tannins to settle out will be at the expense of the nice fruit present now.

Score: 87.

Price/Store: $18.79 at Richard's on Richmond.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

2006 Borsao "Tres Picos" GARNACHA (Campo de Borja, Spain)

This was an AMAZING wine for the money!

Eye: Very dark ruby/mulberry with violet highlights.

Nose: Gorgeous and exuberant nose of spiced, oozing raspberry syrup, sweet cream, and baked stones.

Mouth: Focused and densely-fruited, but with a sense of lightness and balance, this wine features rich, salty, minerally raspberry flavors. The finish is like a dry port, with great length, and full body, and showing a bit of heat and tannin (but in a good way!).

Cellar or drink?: This is drinking phenomenally well now, but my guess is that it wouldn't hurt to leave it a year or two in a cool cellar.

Score: 92.

Price/store: Was $15 and change at Spec’s on Smith.

2005 Chateau de Lancyre PIC SAINT-LOUP "La Coste d"Aleyrac" (Coteaux du Languedoc, Soutjwest France)

This Grenache-Syrah blend really needs lots of air (decant it a few hours), but then is very nice.

Eye: Nearly saturated black ruby with purplish-mulberry highlights.

Nose: Exceedingly earthy-meaty at first, with increasing air time these characteristics were replaced by lush black raspberry scents, with undertones of walnut oil and earth.

Mouth: Ripe and concentrated, with very nice earthy-saline and blackberry flavors, leading to a long, slightly tannic finish, though the tannins are soft. Excellent balance, and medium-full body.

Cellar or drink?: Drinking well now (with air), this wine should improve over the next 2-3 years.

Score: 88.

Price/store: Was $13.50 at Spec’s on Smith.

2006 "Bitch" GRENACHE (Barossa Valley, Australia)

Immediate gratification personified: Very fruity and hedonistic, but with virtually no structure for aging.

Color: Medium-light ruby garnet.

Nose: Wonderfully jammy, fruity nose: crushed black raspberries, and spring flowers.

Mouth: Broad, voluptuously soft, and ripe, this had richly fruity raspberry and black cherry flavors, framed by hot, gravelly tones and a bit of a peppery alcoholic bite. No tannin whatsoever to speak of.

Cellar or drink?: Drink now. I mean it.

Score: 88.

Price/store: Was $10 and change at Spec’s on Smith.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

2006 Pierre Boniface APREMONT (Savoie, France)

This wine is usually fresh, crisp, and minerally, and in some vintages can have some nice apply fruit. This one was pretty good, but would have scored higher with more fruit.

Color: Light, vivid yellow-gold.

Nose: Lively, bright aromas of lime, limestone, pungent minerals and hay.

Mouth: Minerally, fresh, bone dry, and medium-bodied, with green apples, tart lemon-lime, and mineral flavors. Long, pure-tasting finish.

Cellar or drink?: Drink now.

Score: 85.

Price/store: Was $11 and change at Spec’s on Smith.

2004 Domaine de la Sauveuse COTES DE PROVENCE Rouge (France)

This wine, made from organically-grown grapes, was OK, but that's it. Made of roughly equal parts Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Color: Dark black ruby with purply highlights.

Nose: Medium intensity nose of scorched earth, sweet cream, and ripe blackberries and grapes.

Mouth: Ripe, but tight and peppery, and a bit tannic. Flavors of grapes and hard cherry candy, with steely minerals underneath.

Cellar or drink?: While the color looks youthful, I don‘t think this one‘s got the stuffing to improve much, if at all. Drink now.

Score: 83.

Price/store: Was $15 at Spec's on Richmond.