Tuesday, October 21, 2008

2007 Menguante "Old Vines" GARNACHA (Carinena, Spain)

A great buy in a young, flavorful Grenache. Needs a little time in the bottle to settle down, though.

Eye: Vivid dark ruby purple.

Nose: Intensely youthful and unformed, fruity nose of crunchy raspberries and stones.

Mouth: Layers of pure, straight-up fruity. Very primary at present, but with excellent ripeness and depth. Good balance and some noticeable, youthful tannin in the back end of the palate.

Score: 87+

Cellar or drink? Pleasant enough now -- particularly with a any intensely flavored, rustic meat or pasta dish -- this wine really needs a year or two to settle down and soften up. It could be even nicer when it does.

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

2006 Torbreck "Woodcutter's" SHIRAZ (Barossa Valley, Australia)

A very deep-toned, exceedingly full-bodied wine.

Eye: Nearly fully saturated black black ruby, with violet highlights.

Nose: Deep, inky cassis liqueur scents with smoky cedar, a prominent eucalyptus component, and graphite in the background.

Mouth: Deep-toned flavors of spicy cassis extract, black peppercorns, tar, and grilled Italian sausage flavors. Extremely full-bodies, with noticeable alcoholic warmth in the finish. Massive and inky. Needs a rich meat or game stew to really shine.

Score: 88.

Cellar or drink? My experience is that wines with this much alcohol showing in the finish usually don't hold up that well in the cellar. The alcohol tends to burn through the fruit more over time. Drink over the next year.

Price/store: Was $18 and change at Spec's on Richmond.

2005 Domaine Schlumberger PINOT BLANC "Les Princes Abbes" (Alsace, France)

A perennial good value, the 2005 iteration of this wine is a very satisfying, if not very complex, white.

Eye: Light, bright greenish gold.

Nose: Beautifully ripe fruit melange: peach skin, apples, and watermelon, with a hint of earthy gravel.

Mouth: Gobs of fruit on entry (like fruit salad with lemon juice squeezed on top), but then tapering quickly into a crisp finish. Average concentration and weight, but still lots of fun to drink. A very nice aperitif or party wine.

Score: 87.

Cellar or drink? Drink over the next 6-8 months.

Price/store: $14 and change at Spec's on Smith.

2004 Domaine de Fenouillet BEAUMES DE VENISE "Terres Blanches" (Rhone Valley, France)

This Cotes du Rhone Villages was very elegant and flavorful.

Eye: Dark ruby garnet color.

Nose: Sultry nose of deep-toned ripe red and black berries, smoke, and lots of stony minerals.

Mouth: Broadly-flavored and mouthfilling, with lots of soft, mouth-coating tannins and long, rich flavors of cassis, blackberry, subtle iodine, and deep herbal notes. Long finish transitions from deep fruit to minerals. Very civilized, mature, and balanced.

Score: 90.

Cellar or drink? At its peak, drink this over the next year.

Price/store: $16 and change at Spec's on Smith.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

2006 Joel Gott ZINFANDEL (California)

Robert Parker rated this highly (giving it a 90), but I didn't think this was a particularly distinguished Zin.

Eye: Deep plummy violet color.

Nose: Rich nose of plum jam and sweet cream, with a hint of lemon juice and sweet cream.

Mouth: Big but simple fruity flavors (sweet plum and blackberry), with a flat mouthfeel. It lacked the vibrancy and minerality I love in top-flight Zin from, say, Mendocino County or Paso Robles. This wine was chunky but unexceptional.

Score: 85.

Cellar or drink? Drink over the next year.

Price/store: Was about $18 at Whole Foods on Bellaire.

2004 Verget SAINT-VERAN "Terroirs de Davaye" (Burgundy, France)

This wine delivered lots of flavor in a big, galumphy (in a good way) style.

Eye: Very light gold with a slight lime green glint.

Nose: Loads of sweet pears and apples, with two scoops of minerally earthiness and a slight, almost cinnamony spice component.

Mouth: Big, rich, mouthfilling flavors of earth, pear and peach fruit, and a sweet minerality. Long finish with low-ish acidity. More chunky than crisp.

Score: 88.

Cellar or drink? Drink over the next 8-12 months.

Price/store: Was $19 and change at Spec's on Smith.

(Sorry -- picture of 2002)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

2007 Domaine Matignon CABERNET D'ANJOU (Rose) (Loire France)

YUK. Cloyingly sweet. Avoid.

Score: F.

2005 Les Heretiers du Comte Lafon MACON-MILLY-LAMARTINE (Burgundy, France)

This was the best wine I've ever had from a Macon-_____ appellation. If I had tasted this blind, I would have guessed that it was a top-flight Chablis Premier Cru.

Eye: Light gold with the barest glint of green.

Nose: Amazingly Chablis-like nose, with lots of lemony, gun-flinty scents, and some deep apply and pear fruit.

Mouth: Crisp and deeply flavorful, this featured lots of earthy, straw-tinged fruit, augmented with lemon/mineral streaks. Loooong finish with perfect balance. I could drink too much of this.

Score: 91.

Cellar or drink? Tough one. It's concentrated and balanced enough to sit a couple of years, but it is so delicious now I would get and drink this over the next few months. I mean, why risk it changing from its current delicious state?

Price/store: $27 at Spec's on Smith -- expensive for a Macon-based wine, but worth it!

(Label is wrong vintage -- sorry).

2006 Terredora DiPaulo AGLIANICO (Campania, Italy)

A while ago I implored Houston wine shops to start stocking Aglianico-based reds, and finally a few are showing up. This one is a broadly-flavored, weighty beauty.

Eye: Nearly saturated black ruby with a hint of brick.

Nose: Fantastic nose that changed over several hours. It started with a pungent, freshly-cracked black peppercorn, earthy character (which took me back to a couple of bottles of 1979 Cakebread Howell Mountain Zinfandel I drank a couple in the early 80s) dominating some deep-toned fruit that seemed almost overripe, but over several hours it morphed into an exotic perfume of spring flower nectar, plums, orange peel, talcum powder and dry rock dust.

Mouth: Dark, rich, mouth-coating flavors of sweet cassis, smoky charcoal/graphite, and sandstone. Nice balance, full body, and a long finish that I thought had a barely perceptible bit of residual sugar.

Score: 91.

Cellar or drink? This is drinking incredibly well now, but it's got the stuffing to last and possibly improve over the next 3 years.

Price/store: $22 at Spec's on Smith.

2006 Casa Castillo MONASTRELL (Jumilla, Spain)

A 100% Mourvedre (Monastrell), this wine was richly fruity and a great value.

Eye: Dark ruby with violet highlights.

Nose: Beautifully pure fruity nose -- ripe plums, grapes, and blackberries, with a subtle background note of stony minerals.

Mouth: Soft, broad entry, with good concentration and lots of body. Loads of fruit and soft tannin in the finish. Not complex, but very satisfying as an everyday red.

Score: 88.

Cellar or drink? Drink over the next two years.

Price/Store: $12 and change at Spec's on Holcombe.