Wednesday, February 24, 2010

2006 Tres Valles CARMENERE Reserve (Curico Valley, Chile)

Another very good Carmenere at a fair price.

Completely saturated black ruby, shot-through with violet. Richly-sweet scents of blackberry syrup, moist tobacco leaves, and gravel. Round and thickly-textured, but with very good balance. Loads of sweet cassis and blackberry fruit, augmented with a sweet-smokey, oaky note, and some minerals in the finish. Kind of like an over-the-top Graves. 88. Was $14 and change at Spec's on Smith. Imported by Fleischer International.

(Sorry, no photo) (it's a gold label).

2008 Commanderie de la Bargemone COTEAUX D'AIX EN PROVENCE ROSE (Provence, France)

An excellent rosé from this consistently very good Provençal winery.

Very light copper color with pinkish highlights. Terrifically fruity nose -- watermelon juice, fruit salad, undergirded with steely minerals. Mouthfilling, with a soft texture, but a tight flavor profile, featuring bone dry and very clean fruitiness. Long, stony/fruity finish, with good balancing acidity. Was refreshing and a great accompaniment to spicy Chinese take-out. 88. Imported by Hand Picked Selections (Dan Kravitz). Was $12 at Spec's on Smith.

2007 Kermit Lynch Selection CÔTES DU RHÔNE (France)

This was a very fine Côtes du Rhône, specially formulated for the excellent importer Kermit Lynch.

Brilliant dark ruby. Tight nose was pungently earthy at first, but opened into a gorgeously fresh-fruit nose of just-picked raspberries and blueberries, with notes of sea shell-scented gravel. Dry and lean in the mouth, but with resiny, fruity, earthy flavors that cling to the palate. A bit more concentration and weight in the mid-palate would have made this exceptional, but as it is, it's very good. 88. Was $17 at Houston Wine Merchant on South Shepherd. (sorry, 2006 pictured)

2006 Bleasdale "Langhorne Crossing" (52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Malbec, 15% Shiraz, 6% Petit Verdot) (Langhorne Creek, Aus.)

A good everyday dinner wine. Fruity, flavorful, soft, balanced.

Bright, deep ruby color. Yeasty, fruity nose -- black raspberries and sweet blackberry. Medium full body, with direct blackberry and ripe cassis flavors. Also a hint of scorched earth. Clean, fruity, steely-minerally finish. Virtually no tannin to speak of. 86. Was $12 at Whole Foods on Bellaire (also available at the same price at HEB on Buffalo Speedway).

Saturday, February 13, 2010

2008 Castillo de Almansa GARNACHA Tintorera (Almansa, Spain)

This was an excellent buy at Houston Wine Merchant (on South Shepherd). Showing an interesting flavor profile for a Spanish Grenache in that it wasn't as directly "raspberry fruity" as many.

Very dark, nearly saturated black ruby. Intense and direct nose of equal portions of raspberries and tomato skins, with some lemony, smoky scents as well. Low-toned, dry flavors of dark berries and iodiney minerals. Long, peppery finish with a pleasant hint of bitterness, and a bit of tannin for a Grenache. Very flavorful and athletic. 87. Drink over the next year. Was $10.99 at Houston Wine Merchant. Imported by Winebow. (Sorry, 2007 shown).

2005 Trentadue ZINFANDEL (Sonoma County)

This blend of fruit from the Alexander Valley and other Sonoma locations is a very good value in a fully mature Zin.

Dark, blackish ruby. Intense, low-toned nose: Smoky balsa wood, rick blackberries, and loamy, minerally gravel. Deep, rich, ripe, and peppery, with low-toned flavors of dark black fruits, and a long, smoky, ripe finish. Can still sense a bit of tannin. 88. Was about $14 at Spec's on Smith.

2006 Cabriz DAO (Portugal)

A pretty solid Dao, and a good value. Note: this wine requires lots of air-time (or to be poured through a Vinturi) to open up.

Dark ruby. Interesting, medium-intensity nose of spiced gravel, dark cherries, and lemony chalk. Focused and balanced, with minerally dark cherry and blackberry fruit. Medium-bodied, with a nicely-balanced finish, and decent length. 87. $10.99 at Houston Wine Merchant. Imported by Aidil Wines, Newark, NJ.

2006 Clos des Rochers AUXERROIS (Luxembourg)

I haven't had a wine from this very good producer in a few years, and this remains as good a value as it was then. Auxerrois, by the way, is a relative of the Pinot Blanc grape.

Bright, light gold color. Earthy, honeyed nose, with toasty straw notes and pear/apple fruit. Round and loaded with fresh, earthy minerals in the mouth, with some interesting sour pear skin fruitiness and pretty good acidity. Almost Maconnais in style. 86. About $16 at Spec's on Smith. Imported by Glazer's Wholesale in Dallas.

PS -- the Riesling from this estate is usually a good value in an dry, Alsace style wine as well.