Tuesday, September 29, 2009

2006 Domaine des Ormousseaux COTEAUX DU GIENNOIS PINOT NOIR (Loire Valley, France)

This was a very light but flavorful Pinot Noir from a backwater region in the Loire (near Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé).

Extremely light ruby with garnet highlights. Nose of spiced, sweet/tart cherry candy, with some high-toned, smoky minerality. Light-bodied, crisp, yet flavorful, with loads of sweet/tart cherry fruit and mineral flavors. Not complex, but good, straightforward Pinot Noir flavors in a refreshing, balanced style. It paired very well with Liz's fabulous roast chicken. 87. I can't remember where I got this, and I can't find the receipt, dammit. Will update when I remember. Imported by Fruit of the Vine, NYC.

Sorry, no photo.

UPDATE -- I paid about $25 at Spec's on Smith for this. So it's not a particularly good buy, although it still was quite nice.

10/15/09 UPDATE: Whole Foods on Bellaire has this on sale for $12.99 -- making it a GREAT BUY! (Maybe that's where I got it -- I don't remember paying $25 for it . . . .)

2007 Altovinum EVODIA "Old Vines Garnacha" (Calatayud, Spain)

This was a very tight but concentrated red.

Dark black ruby. Lots of steely and stony minerals in the nose, accenting deep, spiced black raspberry fruit. Seemed both lean and weighty in the mouth, with tight-knit scorched earth, dark raspberry, and mineral flavors. Displays a much more stony and minerally side of Grenache. It paired very well with a rich, Florentine beef stew. 88. Should keep for a couple of years. Was $9 and change at Spec's Warehouse on Westheimer in Montrose, making it a great buy. Imported by Eric Solomon European Cellars.

Monday, September 21, 2009

2006 Tormaresca "NEPRICA" (40% Negroamaro, 30% Primitivo, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon) (Puglia, Italy)

Usually I shy away from non-DOC blends that include non-indigenous varietals like Cabernet, so I'm not sure what prompted me to get this, but it was surprisingly good after it aired out several hours. It had a gorgeously focused and unique fruitiness to it.

Fully saturated bloody-rich black ruby. The nose was closed for quite a wile, giving up only closed, dry earthy scents until a few hours later it developed a lovely, focused, freshly-crushed spiced blackberriness, with a hint of smoky gravel in the background. Full-bodied, but balanced and smooth, it featured tightly-wound blackberry fruit with a bit of a dark licorice note, along with a steely minerality. A fair amount of smooth tannins. 89 (after it blossomed). Be sure to give this lots of air time. Was a great value at $10.71 -- I'll call it "under $10, since it's close enough -- at Spec's on Richmond. Imported by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

2007 Cline "Ancient Vines" MOURVEDRE (Contra Costa County, Cal.)

This winery really has hit a consistent groove over the last several years with its "Ancient Vines" Zins and Mourvedres. This latest iteration of the Mourvedre is excellent and a very good value. Again.

Youthfully bright, dark black ruby. Deeply fruity nose, with loads of dark plums, blackberries, and even a hint of peach, along with a sweet, high-toned balsa smoke note. Rich, fruity, and balanced in the mouth, with concentrated plummy fruit accented with a vaguely bitter dark chocolate note. Lots of soft tannins in the long fruit-and-spice finish. 89. Widely available, I got mine for under $14 at Spec's on Westheimer near Montrose.

2007 Mas Carlot ROSÉ (VDP de Pays d'Oc, Southern France)

A flavorful but simple rosé.

Bubble gum pink color with orangey highlights. Big but simple, fruity nose -- lots of cherry juice, grapes, and fruit salad. Full-flavored and direct, with refreshing acidity for such a big, juicy wine. A nice, relatively cheap quaffer. Drink soon. 86. Was $9 at Richard's on San Felipe. Imported by Robert Kacher.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

2008 Domaine des Cassagnoles VDP Cotes de Gascogne (SW France)

This was an outstanding buy in a fresh, crisp, character-filled dry white. Worth buying by the case if you like to have a fair amount of everyday white wine on hand.

Exceedingly pale, greenish straw gold. Beautifully fresh nose of herbs, pear, stones, and clover blossoms. Smells like there's a fair amount of Sauvignon Blanc in the blend. Crisp, lip-smacking mouthfeel, with loads of focused, green appley fruit and a lightly chalky minerality. A ridiculously refreshing, light-bodied dry white. 88. Was $8.76 at Spec's on Westheimer (outside the Loop near Fogo de Chao). Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.
(Sorry: 2005 label shown)

2006 Wine Guerilla "Forchini Vineyards - Old Vines" ZINFANDEL (Dry Creek Valley, Cal.)

Another terrific, hedonistically-styled Zin from this relatively new Zinfandel specialist.

Sultry, dark black ruby, though not fully-saturated. Decadent, rich, incredibly ripe, fruity nose of crushed, sweet mixed berries, with peach, lemon, and spice notes. Mouthfilling flavors of blackberry/cassis liqueur, crushed sandstone, and carmelized baking spices. Lots of body, lots of soft tannin, and a bit of alcohol showing through on the finish. But I can't get all dogmatic about the high alcohol (I think it was 16.5% or something like that), despite the fact that it's all trendy these days to denigrate wines like this as "Parkerized" fruit bombs. This wine was just too much fun and too tasty. 89. I think this was around $30 at Spec's on Smith, but given that there were only 48 cases made (what's that, one barrel?), that's not too bad.
(Sorry: 2007 shown)

2007 Viu Manent CARMENERE Reserva (Colchagua Valley, Chile)

Jeez, I'm really getting to LOVE this varietal. Carmeneres mostly fall in the $10 - 15 range, and have a flavor profile that goes well with the stews, braises, and pasta dishes I love to cook.

This is yet another winner from Viu Manent, although it is a little less overtly fruity than other vintages, maybe due to the slightly cooler year Chile had in '07.

Fully saturated black black ruby color. Intensely low-toned nose that got sweeter with air time, displaying cassis, iodine notes, pencil lead, and sweetish, smoky cinnamon component. Soft, ripe, mouthcoating flavors of cassis, blackberry, and lightly scorched earth. Extremely long, rich finish, displaying lots of soft tannin. This wine could benefit from another 2-4 years of cellaring. 89+. Was $14.99 at Whole Foods. Imported by Bacchus International (Longview, TX).

2005 Montebuena RIOJA (Spain)

This was a very straightforward, middle-of-the-road red. It's hard to get up any emotion to write about.

Had a nice, vibrant dark ruby color. Pleasant, low intensity nose of crushed, nameless berries. Medium-bodied, decently balanced and structured, but really devoid of any interesting flavors in the mouth. The finish consists more of the feeling of the physical structure of the wine than any memorable flavors. Quintessentially forgettable. 70. Was $14.99 at Whole Foods.

2004 Michele Castellani CORVINA ROSSO VERONESE "Seral" (Veneto, Italy)

This is a single varietal wine made from the dominant varietal in the Valpolicella blend (and therefore cannot be called Valpolicella). A year ago, it would have been a bit better. As it is, it's still pretty good, but it needs to be drunk up.

Medium dark ruby with some amber at the rim. Big, earthy nose, with lots of blackberry extract, and pungent, smoky balsa wood. Also, incongruously, a squeeze of lemon juice. Low-toned and intense in the mouth, with cassis fruit and woody flavors vying for attention, with a vaguely tarry note in the background. Seemed a bit flat-feeling at first, but then developed a bit more vibrancy with air. 87. Imported by Bedford International. Lost the receipt, but I think this was about $20 at Central Market.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

2008 Domaine La Suffrene BANDOL ROSÉ (Provence, France)

A crisp, dry, and unique rosé. Not to mention expensive.

Gorgeously bright, light copper-tangerine color. Refreshing nose of flowers, peaches, fruit salad, and earthy minerals. Round and silky in the mouth, with flavors of mixed, ripe fruit skins and lots of stony minerals. Long finish. Bone dry, full-bodied, and had decent acidity too. (Just a tad more acidity would have catapulted this one into the 90s.) As it is, I gave it an 88. $21.99 at Spec's on Richmond. Imported by Bandol Wines LLC of Houston.

2006 Felsina-Berardenga CHIANTI CLASSICO (Tuscany, Italy)

This "entry-level" Chianti from a respected producer is very nice. A classic-styled Sangiovese from a classic terroir.

Youthful, medium-saturation black ruby. Nice, exuberant nose of sweet cream, macerated, tangy bu ripe cherries, and gravelly minerals. Nicely-focused, medium weight flavors of winey cherries and dried gravelly earth. A fair amount of tannin and a tight core of fruit augur for 1-2 more years of beneficial cellaring to soften and expand. 87+. Was $18.99 at Spec's on Smith, making it a fairly good value for a Chianti Classico. (Sorry, forgot to make a note of the importer.)

2005 Verget MACON-CHARNAY "Les Clos St-Pierre" (Burgundy, France)

Yet another terrific 2005 from Verget. This unoaked Chardonnay was round, minerally, vibrant, complex.

Crystal clear, almost luminescent light gold with greenish glints. Interesting and complex nose of creamed crushed stones, and spiced pear juice. Round and flavorful, with bright acidity and a nice, insistent but subtle minerality over dry pear and apply fruit. Long finish. Refreshing and satisfying. 89. Was $18.46 at Spec's on Smith.

2005 Villa Matilde AGLIANICO "Rocca dei Leoni" (Campania, Italy)

A big, but austere and tannic red. Just missed the mark.

Sultry black ruby. Deeply earthy, gravelly nose, with high-toned minerality and some macerated dark cherry fruit. Weighty but austere in the mouth. Lots of tannin and acidity, with little fruit, and lean, minerally flavors. Despite not being the friendliest style, it actually went pretty well with stracotto (Italian pot roast braised in red wine), though it wasn't nearly as good on its own. 85. Imported by Empson. Was $24.95 at Central Market (which, judging for what it goes for on the Internet, was a rip-off).

2004 Fire Block Old Vines GRENACHE (Clare Valley, Australia)

This was a terrific, full-flavored, soft, and balanced Grenache. Yummy.

Medium dark ruby. Rich, ripe nose of oozingly sweet raspberries and dusty, spicy, hot sandstone. Luscious and rich in the mouth, but not an over-the-top fruit bomb. Lots of rich blackberry fruit and a sweet, minerally smokiness. A long, rich finish, with some just-perceptible alcoholic warmth (at 16.5% I would have thought there would be more hotness). Paired beautifully with homemade mac-and-cheese, and would be dynamite with grilled steaks too. 91. Was $21.59 at Richard's on San Felipe & Voss.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

2005 Teira ZINFANDEL (Sonoma County, Cal.)

A pretty good, leaner style Zin that won't break the bank.

Medium saturation black ruby color. Medium intensity nose of crushed plums and sweet cream. Not a fleshy style Zin, but with medium-full body and a tight core of dusty berry fruit. Finish is refreshing and a little tangy, although a bit clipped. A fairly food-flexible wine. 86. Was $15 at Spec's on Smith. (Don't believe the shelf talker on this one. It portrays this wine as fleshy and lush, which is exactly what it is not.)

2007 Domaine des Herbauges MUSCADET "Cotes de Grandlieu Sur Lie" "Classic" (Loire Valley, France)

Zingy, zesty, and terrific, from one of the lesser known subregions in the Muscadet appellation.

Very pale straw gold. Stunning, intensely minerally/stony nose, with creamed pear and apple scents. Bone dry, with razor-sharply defined minerally, green apple and lemon-lime fruit. Mouthwatering acidity and great intensity, yet carrying only medium-light body. One of the best Muscadets I've ever had. Will easily last another year or two. 90. Unfortunately, I can't remember where the heck I got this. I'll update this post if I find the receipt or otherwise remember. Imported by The Stacole Company.
(UPDATE -- found receipt; was $10.44 at Spec's on Smith, making this a sick buy).