Friday, June 27, 2008

Vacation wines -- Day 6

2006 Widmer Brickstone Cellars Semi-Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes, NY) -- This wine was a dead-ringer for a Kabinett from the Rheingau. Beautiful nose of bright green apples and slate-y minerals. Crisp, refreshing, and full of flavor, all in a wonderful, light-bodied frame.

2007 Cairnbrae "The Stones" Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand) -- This wine had a striking and unusual color -- pure pewtery silver. Crisp scents of herbs and grass, with a nice artichoke component to the flavors.

2006 "Montenovo" Godello (Valdeorras, Spain) -- This wine was similar to a simple Maconnais white. Not bad, but not distinguished.

2006 Alvarinho Primaz Vinho Verde (Portugal) -- I'm usually not a Vinho Verde fan, but this had great minerally flavors and a crisp, beautiful texture . . . in other words, it had FLAVOR! Very nice.

Dinner: grilled red snapper, flounder, and shrimp (Marche style)

Vacation Wines -- Day 5

2004 Saladini Pilastri "Pregio del Conte" Rosso (Marche, Italy) -- This Montepulciano/Aglianico blend had a wonderful tobacco-ey earthy nose. It was a bit clipped in the finish, however, but still was quite nice.

2006 Tenuta San Leone Bardolino Superiore "Montesalionze" -- The 2005 of this wine, which I previously reviewed, was phenomenal. This vintage had a lot in common with the 2005 on the nose (concentrated cherry and cinnamon scents), but was a little lighter and had crisper acidity. Still excellent, but not quite up to its older sibling's standards.

Dinner: Risotto with "salcheech" (wine marinated sausage); risotto with green onions and spinach.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Vacation wines -- Day 4

2007 Anakena Pinot Noir (Rapel Valley, Chile) -- This was a simple, yet varietally correct Pinot from Chile. Soft and fragrant, with a pine forest earthiness.

2005 Mazzocco Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel "West Dry Creek" -- This was an outstanding Zin. Large-boned, ripe, soft, with rich spicy blackberry fruit and nice underlying mineraliness.

2006 Bassermann-Jordan Estate Riesling Trocken (Rheinpfalz, Germany) -- This was a very refreshing off-dry Riesling with lots of crisp, appley-peachy fruit and nice underlying steely minerality. I'm usually not a Trocken fan, as the wines sometimes tend to suppress Riesling's beautiful fruitiness in favor of just getting the damn thing fermented dry, but this was an exception. Very nice.

Dinner: Grilled T-bones and Strips with fresh chimichurri; sauteed greens with salt pork, garlic, rosemary, and oil.

Vacation wines -- Day 3

2005 Vincent Arroyo Napa Valley Petite Sirah -- This is a small Calistoga winery that Liz and I visited in 1993, and that my brother and his wife visited last year. Usually the wines he makes are very soft, ripe, balanced, and drinkable upon release. This one was just bizarre. Everyone agreed it smelled like lemon-lime Gatorade powder.

2006 Edmeades Mendocino County Zinfandel -- Atypical, but very nice. Soft, berryish fruit, very fleshy and ripe. Won't age well, but nice for current drinking.

2006 Jean Albrecht Pinot Blanc (Alsace) -- This was very clean and fresh, with nice peachy fruit. Not complex or distinguished, but fun to drink.

2002 Pierre Sparr Gewurztraminer "Vendages Tardives" (Alsace) -- This late harvest Gewurz was really nice. Lots of apricot and lychee nut fruit, long fresh finish. Not cloyingly sweet.

Dinner: Pasta with meat sauce; pasta with garlic, oil, and broccoli.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Vacation wines -- Day 2

2006 Ferrando Erbaluce di Caluso "La Torrazza" -- This was a very refreshing, dry white. Stylistically like a good Sancerre or Chablis, this wine had great minerality and refreshing dry fruit.

2005 Tenuta San Leone Bardolino Superiore "Montesalionze" -- This wine, which I previously raved about, is still drinking wonderfully, and has lots of life left. An amazing Veronese wine.

2004 Edmunds St. John "Rocks and Gravel"
-- This was a really French-styled Rhone blend from California. The label doesn't give info about the varietal(s), but from the spicy blackberry, olive, iodine, and gravelly-earthy scents and flavors, I'm guessing that this has lots of Grenache and a bit of Mourvedre and maybe some Carignane in it. Very elegant.

2005 Guigal Cotes du Rhone -- To see just how French the previous wine actually was, we opened this one next. Though tight upon opening opening, it developed a rich, spicy cassis fruitiness, with earthy, iodine, and herbal undertones. It was really good, and, if anything, it was even more Californian in style than the previous (California) wine.

Dinner: Pollo in potacchio Marchegiana

Vacation wines -- Day 1

We're on a huge extended family vacation at the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It's not avenue conducive to measured, objective note-taking, but I'll try, amidst the chaos, to write a few quick notes about the wines we're drinking. Here's the first day.

2004 Pillar Box Red -- I previously reviewed (and really liked) this Australian Shiraz-Cabernet blend. It's still drinking beautifully. Rich cassis fruit and a charcoally, smoky component. Full and soft.

2006 "Peace" -- This 1.5 liter Cabernet-Shiraz blend from southeast Australia was fruity, clean, and well-balanced.

Dinner: grilled hamburgers and hot dogs (hey, we'd just arrived at the beach house -- give me a break).

Sunday, June 15, 2008

2007 Domaine de Corbillières PINOT NOIR ROSÉ (Touraine, France)

Another winner from this outstanding Loire Valley domaine. While not as amazing as the 2005 rosé, reviewed previously here, this was really enjoyable. And a GREAT value as well.
Eye: Beautiful light pinkish-cantaloupe color.

Nose: Really exuberant nose of strawberries, powdered stony minerals, and a tres leches-like, cream-laden angel cake component.

Mouth: Bright, fresh, and fruity, with medium-light body and loads of crisp fruit, and a nice "lift" and clarity to the long finish.

Score: 89.

Cellar or drink? It's a dang rosé, for Pete's sake. You know what to do: chill it and drink it this summer!

Price/store: Was $10.99 at Richard's on Voss (near San Felipe).

2004 Martinelli SYRAH "Terra Felices" (Russian River Valley, Cal.)

This was a ripe, rich, earthy Syrah for short-term enjoyment. I thought it was very enjoyable, despite being a little softer and lower in acidity than I usually expect Syrah to be.

Eye: Dark, saturated black ruby with violet at the rim.

Nose: Fairly intense nose of roasted red meat, spicy and oozingly ripe blackberries, and balsa wood.

Mouth: Luciously soft and full in the mouth. Remarkable texture. Very low acidity, however, which is surprising to me, given that the Russian River Valley is generally known as a relatively cool climate AVA. Fleshy, rich cassis flavors, with equal magnitude notes of iodine and irony-earth. Long, ripe, soft finish.

Score: 89.

Cellar or drink? I would drink this over the next year or two. It' seems just too soft and too ripe to gamble on cellaring.

Price/store: This was on the wine list at Reef, where, despite the name, my wife and I had it with non-fish dishes. (Did you know that you can re-cork and take home unfinished wine from restaurants in Texas? Despite living in Texas for the last 10 years, I didn't, until our waitress suggested it!)

2005 Pascual Toso CABERNET SAUVIGNON "Reserve" Las Barrancas Vineyards (Mendoza, Argentina)

A complex, generous, high-class, good-value Cabernet.

Eye: Fully saturated black/blood red color.

Nose: Incredibly rich nose of ripe cassis, blackberry, chocolate, roasted coffee beans, and crushed stones.

Mouth: Soft and very full-flavored, with rich blackberry fruit and lots of dark chocolatey notes, as well as loads of metallic minerals, particularly in the finish (which is long, long!) Substantial tannin, but it's soft, so it doesn't detract from immediate drinking pleasure.

Score: 90.

Cellar or drink? This will certainly last for another several years, although its flavors are so open and inviting now, I can't see it developing additional nuances.

Price/store: Was $15 at Whole Foods on Bellaire.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Two great but very different Pinot Noirs

We had our friends -- at least I HOPE they're still our friends* -- the Finleys over last night for roast prime rib and Pinot Noir night. We enjoyed two tremendous but very very different renditions of the grape.

2004 Cristom "Louise Vineyard" Willamette Valley (Oregon) PINOT NOIR -- This relatively light-colored wine was unbelievably complex and fragrant, with earthy, smoky, minerally sappy cherry flavors, full body, and a long soft finish. (Robert Finley said something something about eating chocolate-dipped cherries in a log-cabin hunting lodge sitting in front of a peat fire). If I were scoring, this would have been in the 92-95 range. For drinking over the next year.

2002 Daniel Bocquenet ECHEZEAUX (Burgundy, France) -- This wine was densely colored and very tightly-wound, with substantial structure for ageing. The nose developed and opened slowly over time, initially revealing a prominent menthol/eucalyptus component that stayed with the wine throughout the evening. But as it sat, tight fruity aromas of hard plum and cherry candy, and well as smoky/minerally scents emerged. Nice acid balance as well, which, together with the plentiful tannic structure, indicated to me that this wine needs (yes, needs) 5 more years at least in a cool cellar. I probably would have scored this somewhere in the 90+ to 91+ range.

* I say "hope" because I was in full argumentative mode the latter half of the dinner, which, um, detracted from the usual level of collegiality.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

2006 Ferraton CROZES-HERMITAGE (White) "La Matinière" (Rhone Valley, France)

This was a very full-flavored, weighty white wine. I believe it's made with 100% Marsanne grape, but I'm not sure.

Eye: Brassy gold color.

Nose: Shy nose at first, but as it warmed up and aired out, it developed a beautiful nose of crushed stones, tropical fruit, and melted butter.

Mouth: Broadly-flavored and with a pleasantly heavy mouthfeel, this wine spreads out on the palate with deep, low acid flavors of stony minerals, pears, and zucchini blossom. Long and full-bodied. Loads of character.

Score: 88.

Cellar or drink? White from Crozes-Hermitage can age a bit, but not for nearly as long as the white from its more prestigious sister appellation, Hermitage. However, the sheer weight and concentration of this wine suggest that it could last another year or two, if you insist on delaying gratification.

Price/store: Was $19.99 at Central Market.

UPDATE (6/10): Fixed the mistake in the heading . . . sorry.

2005 Louis Latour POUILLY-VINZELLES "En Paradis" (Burgundy, France)

This wine is almost always a sure bet for a good value, minerally, unoaked Chardonnay.

Eye: Very light silvery gold with greenish glints.

Nose: Lots of lemon-lime fruit, creamy marzipan, and lots of earthy stones.

Mouth: Earthy/minerally in the mouth, with some pear-like fruit. Full body and a very pleasant earthy, straw-like finish.

Score: 87.

Cellar or drink? Drink over the next few months.

Price/store: Was about $15 at Spec's on Holcombe, though I think most sizable Spec's stores stock this.

2006 Quinta do Penedo DÃO (Portugal)

This relatively inexpensive wine, which is produced by an estate in the stable of the large Portuguese wine concern, Messias, was very balanced, flavorful, and interesting.

Eye: Saturated black, black ruby color.

Nose: Very interesting nose -- smoky embers, sandstone, and sweet plums.

Mouth: Soft and broadly-flavored, but lacking just a tad of concentration in the mid-palate. Flavors of sweet cassis and plum fruit, with iodine and a pleasant, slightly bitter earthy component.

Was very nice with pasta in a rich sauce that included tomatoes, garlic, prosciutto, soppressata, fresh mozzarella, and lots of herbs.

Score: 87.

Cellar or drink? Drink over the next year or so.

Price/store: Was $13 and change at Spec's on Smith.