Saturday, September 27, 2008

2006 Inama SOAVE CLASSICO (Veneto, Italy)

This was the best Soave I've ever had. An appellation usually associated with industrially-produced, over-cropped wines that taste like water with a bit of alcohol and acidity added, this wine had lots of character! Actually, kind of a schizophrenic character, in that the nose and flavors didn't really match up. It was really good, though.

Eye: Very light gold color.

Nose: Great, pure fruit nose of ripe peaches, apple, and quince, with a subtle earthy-stony note in the far background.

Mouth: Softly-textured and round, but with very dry, intense stony/herbal flavors, with mouthwatering minerally salinity and acidity.

Score: 89.

Cellar or drink? Drink over the next several months.

Price/store: Was $14 at Spec's.

2005 Pierre Labet BEAUNE "Clos du Dessus des Marconnets" (Burgundy, France)

This Pinot Noir was tight and pretty good, although a bit on the tarter side than I like. Lots of the "terroirist" crowd seem to enjoy this style more than I do, however. It should have been a heck of a lot better for $33.

Eye: Vivid medium ruby color.

Nose: Medium intensity nose of cherry, with a hint of tart raspberry, as well as cinnamon, smoke, and powdered stones.

Mouth: Tight cherry and stone flavors, with crisp acidity but only medium concentration and length.

Score: 86+

Cellar or drink? The concentration and ripeness are marginal, but I'm guessing that there's just enough there to warrant 2 years or so to see if this softens up and broadens out a bit.

Price/store: Was $33 at Spec's on Smith, making it NOT a good value.

2005 Chateau Montroche COSTIERES DE NIMES (Rhone, France)

(Notes from memory, as this disappeared before I could take contemporaneous notes).

This is a great value. I think it was around $9 or $10 at Richard's on South Shepherd.

A big beefy wine with lots of "oomph." Earthy and tight at first, but with airing lots of deep, ripe fruit continues to emerge.

Pick some of this up soon. (I probably would have scored this around 87.)

UPDATE (10/4): I got the price wrong: Richard's at Bissonnet and Weslayan has this for $7.99, making it an unbeatable bargain.

2002 Chateau Souverain Alexander Vallet CABERNET SAUVIGNON (Cal.)

My last bottle of this excellent value, which I last reviewed 2 1/2 years ago here. It's still drinking very well and, I think, could still keep and maybe improve a few more years. In my view, Cabernets from the Alexander Valley tend to drink well earlier than Cabs from other Napa and Sonoma appellations, yet keep for several years.

Eye: Very dark black ruby.

Nose: Gorgeous and complex nose of sweet, smoky balsa wood, blackberry and cassis fruit, charcoal embers and dry gravel.

Mouth: Soft and round, yet concentrated and focused in the mouth. Lots of sweet, ripe blackberry fruit and smoky gravel flavors. A little heat and still some tannin to shed in the back end.

Score: 89+

Cellar or drink? Either one. Drinking well now, but could soften further over the next few years.

Price/store: I don't think this is available any longer, as I bought it three years ago.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

2006 Dashe Dry Creek Valley ZINFANDEL (Cal.)

A very satisfying, if not complex, Zin.

Eye: Saturated dark ruby with purple highlights.

Nose: Ripe, fruity nose, with lots of friendly black raspberry fruit and some minerals lurking in the background.
Mouth: Soft, deep, and full-bodied, with ripe blackberry and mineral flavors, a long finish, and nice balance with no excess alcoholic heat. Some tannin to ensure another year or two's keeping.

Score: 88.

Cellar or drink? Drink over the next 2 years.

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

Thursday, September 18, 2008

2005 Mas Donis Barrica (85% Garnacha, 15% Syrah) (Montsant, Spain)

A little on the lean side, but still good.

Eye: Dark, youthful black ruby.

Nose: Sophisticated nose of smoked meat, hot stones, and some subtle blackberry scents.

Mouth: Fairly weighty in the mouth, but on the austere side, with flavors tending more towards a strong minerally component rather than fruit, and with a fair amount of tannin and acidity to complete the lean personality profile. Is nice with food but not so friendly on its own as a sipper.

Score: 85.

Cellar or drink? I'd drink over the next year, as I don't think this has the concentration needed to improve with age.

Price/store: Was $12 at Spec's on Smith.

2006 Viu Manent CARMENERE Reserva (Colchagua Valley, Chile)

Like lots of other Carmeneres I've had, this wine really needs time to breathe before it starts to show its true colors. Once it airs out a bit, it's a beauty.

Eye: Completely saturated blood plasma color.

Nose: Before airing, it had a very pungent bakers' chocolate nose. After being opened a couple of hours, rich ripe cassis and plum scents wafted out, along with mocha-coffee notes and a smoky/sweet gravelly component.

Mouth: Rich, broadly-flavored, and soft, this wine has loads of ripe blackberry, gravel, and tobacco flavors. Long, lingering finish. Very nice.

Score: 90.

Cellar or drink? This is drinking really well now, but has the stuffing to hold another 2-3 years.

Price/store: Lost the receipt, but I think this was about $15 at Whole Foods on Bellaire.

2006 Chateau de Lancyre PIC ST. LOUP Rosé (Southern France)

This was a strangely-colored but beautifully fruity rosé.

Eye: Very interesting orangey-copper color.

Nose: Despite the advanced looking color, the nose is redolent of fresh fruit (valencia oranges and cherries) with powdered stones and sweet cream in the background.

Mouth: Soft, round, and fruity, with excellent balance and absolutely pure flavors of sweet grapes, watermelon, and strawberry. Long, fruity finish. Fruit! Fruit! Fruit!

Score: 88.

Cellar or drink? Drink before Thanksgiving.

Price/store: $12.88 at most Spec's stores.

Sorry -- I could find a picture only of the 2004.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

2006 Castillo de Monseran GARNACHA (Carinena, Spain)

An outstanding buy in a flavorful, fun, soft red.

Eye: Dark ruby with a slight purple tinge at the rim.

Nose: Bright, ripe, fruity nose: raspberries and ripe cherries, along with a slight herbal, minerally component (but mostly it's about the fruit).

Mouth: Loads of crisp, minerally raspberry flavors, with good concentration and a soft texture. Nice balancing acidity too.

Score: 87.

Cellar or drink? Drink over the next year.

Price/store: Got this at Spec's for $6.83, but Whole Foods on Bellaire also has this for $7.99 (and still a very good buy at that price).

2005 Domaine Jean-Luc Dubois CHOREY-LES-BEAUNE "Clos Margot" (Burgundy, France)

A good (not great) Pinot Noir that is fairly priced, as PNs go. Features some bright, crisp Pinot fruit and good balance.

Eye: Medium dark ruby with purply highlights.

Nose: Bright, tart fruity nose of crisp cherries, crushed rock powder, and rhubarb.

Mouth: Tart cherry and stony mineral/graphite flavors. Very tightly-wound, but with decent concentration and length. The texture is quite light.

Score: 87.

Cellar or drink? I would cellar this one for 1 - 3 years, and it will likely soften and gain a little complexity.

Price/store: Was $21 and change at Spec's on Smith.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

2006 Trenel CHIROUBLES (Beaujolais, France)

Not bad, but kind of disappointingly thin and straightforward for a wine from a highly-regarded negociant and imported by what used to be one of the most hoidy-toidy (sp.?) importers around (Robert Chadderdon)*

Eye: Dark ruby.

Nose: Nice, fairly exuberant nose of straightforward cherry, grapey fruit, sweet cream, and hard stony scents.

Mouth: A bit thin, but with nice, clean flavors of cherry pit and stony minerals.

Score: 84.

Cellar or drink? Due to its lack of concentration, I'd say drink up before years' end.

Price/store: $18.50 at Spec's on Smith.

* When I was working in the wine business in NYC in the early to mid 80s, restaurants and retailer shops had to beg this importers rep to come by and sell some of the wines it imported(to be fair, they were largely really good!) Unless you were Lutece or one of the City's most prominent retailers, you were lucky if they came by once a year and deigned to sell you a few cases. I have no idea whether that's still the case, but it was then.

2004 Sieber Rd. GSM (60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre) (Barossa Valley, Australia)

A terrific red with ripeness, complexity, weight, and balance. Even though it's a blend, it's a great example of Aussie Grenache, which clearly is the most prominent component.

Eye: Dark, rich black ruby.

Nose: Gorgeously rich nose of ripe, oozing raspberries and cherries, with significant notes of baking spices and hot stones.

Mouth: Round, soft, and full, with minerally, dry raspberry flavors and a soft, peppery finish.

Score: 91.

Cellar or drink? Drinking beautifully now, this wine can probably hold (although I don't think it will improve) for another 2 years or so.

Price/store: Was $23.40 at Spec's on Smith.

Monday, September 01, 2008

2004 Domaine du Dragon COTES DE PROVENCE "Cuvee Saint-Michel" (Southern France)

Another "spoofulated," but good, wine in the "international" style, this time from the south of France. It doesn't say on the label, but I'm willing to bet this is largely composed of small barrel-aged Cabernet.* The south of France, and Provence in particular, was, along with Tuscany, one of the first European areas to heavily experiment in the 1970s with planting Cabernet Sauvignon (not a traditional varietal in that area, but, at the time, was as popular with the uninitiated as Merlot is now) and seeing what would happen. Domaine de Trevallon, Chateau Vignelaure, and Mas de Dumas Gaussac are three of the earliest and best-known of the experimenters.

Eye: Rich, saturated dark black ruby/mulberry color.

Nose: Shy and linear at first, with air time this wine developed a very nice nose that reminded me of an Australian Cabernet -- roasted herbs, toasty oak, and gobs of ripe, inky cassis and blackberry.

Mouth: Soft and concentrated, with very good depth but avoiding the sweet, jammy flavors and texture that sometime characterize Aussie Cabs. Full-bodied, with broad cassis and smoke flavors. Some soft but noticeable tannin in the long finish.

Score: 89.

Cellar or Drink? Delicious now, this wine should keep nicely for another 2-3 years in a cool cellar.

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

*UPDATE: I found the domaine's website, and it lists the blend for the 2004 vintage as: Syrah 50% - Cabernet Sauvignon 35% - Grenache 15%.