Sunday, June 27, 2010

2007 di Lenardo REFOSCO "Dal Vigneto da Lis Maris" (Friuli, Italy)

A very interesting wine and a good value. Very chameleon-like, changing dramatically as it aired out.

Dark black ruby. Closed at first, but with air and poured through a Vinturi, it developed a gorgeous nose of cinnamon-scented, warm, moist, intensely minerally gravel, along with very nice blackberry and plum fruit. Very soft and mouthfilling, yet with a certain weightless character. Medium-bodied, nicely balanced, with lost of ripe berry fruit and spiced sandstone in the finish.

(The next day, it was still very good, but had developed an incredibly intense dried herbal streak, and with some noticeable green bell pepper flavors in the mouth.)

89. Was about $12 at Central Market. Imported by Virtuoso Selections, Austin.

Note: There is some debate whether Refosco is the same grape known as Mondeuse in the Savoie region of France.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rosé Time!!

I love good rosé in the Houston summertime. It gives some of the flavor of a light red, but you can drink it well-chilled on days when it's just too damn hot to pop a red.

But make sure they're fresh. 99% of rosés need to be drunk young. By summertime, rosés from the prior year's vintage should be arriving in stores. So be looking for the 2009s, and avoid any more 2008s or older. I've finished off a few of my remaining 2008s recently, and they have been flat and starting to taste over-the-hill, so I haven't written them up. I've just picked up a few 2009s and plan to be reviewing them in the next month.

Cent anni!

2009 Yalumba SANGIOVESE ROSÉ (South Australia)

A solid, fresh, nicely-textured rose. Good value.

Vivid bubble gum pink color. Richly fruity nose -- grape, watermelon, cherry, and peach. Hint of minerals. Round and ripe, with medium-light body and lots of fleshy fruit. Just off-dry, but with decent enough acid to keep it from being cloying. Shortish but soft and clean finish. A nice, easy-going summer quaffer. Was $9.99 at Houston Wine Merchant. 86.

2006 Domaine Louis Jadot PERNAND-VERGELESSES "Clos de la Croix de Pierre" Premiere Cru (White Burgundy, France)

A superb and very distinctive white.

Light pewtery-tinged gold color. Intensely mineral-infused, smoky, earthy nose, with clove and peach pit notes. Soft, broad, and slightly viscous (in a good way) in the mouth, yet with a lovely, light feel. Rich, long flavors of butter, minerals, stones, and slightly bitter-edged peach/pear fruit. Lots of the clove notes throughout. Love the texture and the unique flavors.

Pernand-Vergelesses is, in my view, one of the most underrated white burgundy towns in France. Very near the much more expensive and famous Corton-Charlemagne vineyard, the best Pernands share some of the distinctiveness of its more expensive neighbor's expression of Chardonnay fruit. 90. Was $29 at Spec's on Weslayan (and on Smith). Imported by Kobrand.

2006 Ross Estate "Old Vine" GRENACHE (Barossa Valley, Australia)

I love Aussie old vine Grenaches, be they the massive, ultra-full-bodied style, or the more restrained yet still substantial style. This is more of the latter.

Dark blackish ruby garnet. Mature, complex nose of spice cake and pungent sandstone, along with a fair amount of blackberry juice. Intensely concentrated flavors, without the heaviness, however. Mouthfilling, nicely-textured richness, with spicy, ripe plums and dark berry flavors, followed by an intensely minerally, gravelly finish. Still some tannin remaining in the finish, but the nose, flavors, and color all seem developed to the degree where I don't recommend much further ageing in an attempt to get the rest of the tannins to drop. Drink over the next year. 88. Was $20 at Spec's on Smith.

2008 "Adega de Pias" (Alentejano, Portugal)

This blend of 50% Tempranillo and 50% Trincadeira (according to the importer's website) is direct and fruity. Worth the $9.99 price, and best drunk cool.

Vibrant, deep ruby with cherry red highlights. Sweet, plummy nose with slight earthy-stony and rhubarb notes. Pure and succulent on initial entry, with ripe, soft, very straightforward fruit, and a pleasing touch of bitterness in the finish. Medium bodied, and a bit low in acidity, this wine is for quaffing over the next six months or so. Was under $10 at Houston Wine Merchant. Imported by Small Vineyard Discovery Imports. 86.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

2007 Viticcio CHIANTI CLASSICO (Tuscany, Italy)

Wow! This was utterly classic Chianti. I wish I could find it in Houston.

Sultry dark black ruby. With substantial airing, it developed a fantastic nose of ripe cherry liqueur, spice cake, and incense-infused warm gravel. Complex and round, medium full-bodied. Had concentrated but lithe flavors of ripe cherry liqueur, tons of clean, stony minerals, and a lengthy, smoky cherry-skin finish. Some nicely-integrated soft tannin adds a welcome bit of structure. Good but unobtrusive acidity. 90. Imported by Massanois Imports, D.C. I got this for $17 from Zachy's in Scarsdale, N.Y. a few months ago.

(Sorry, 2006 shown)

2006 Chateau du Poytet MUSCADET DE SEVRE ET MAINE SUR LIE (Loire, France)

A textbook example of Muscadet, and it also showed that well-made Muscadet can take a little bottle age nicely.

Very light gold color. Great nose of lively lemon-lime and green apple fruit, along with a lightly earthy, creamed stone emulsion. Bone dry yet soft, ripe yet crisp, refreshing yet a little earthy, this wine nicely summed up the best of Muscadet. Clean, cleansing finish. Me likey. 88. Imported by Glazer's Wholesale, Dallas. Was $13.49 at Central Market several months ago, so I'm not sure if they still have it.

Couple of Rhones from the PERRINS

Based on past experience and these two wines, I think I have come to the conclusion that I am just not a fan of the Perrin winemaking style. I'm not talking about their estate wines, Chateau de Beaucastel CDP or Cru de Coudelet CDR, both of which I like a lot, but about the negociant line they have been making for the last 10 years or so. I have had maybe half a dozen over the last decade, and have found every single one of them too coarse and rustic for their own good.

2007 Perrin VINSOBRES "Les Cornuds" -- this Cotes du Rhone Villages from the village of Vinsobres had some serious dark flavors, but was way too coarse for me. Nice dark color, but the nose favored deep tones smoky, peppery, gravelly scents over the dark berries that were smothered underneath. Dense, very low-toned flavors, with lots of peppery notes and tannin running roughshod over the fruit. 83. Was about $18 at Spec's on Smith, I believe.

2007 Perrin COTES DU RHONE-VILLAGES -- In an interesting paradox, the cheaper Cotes du Rhone Villages ($9.84 at Spec's) was more pleasurable than the more expensive Vinsobres. Medium dark ruby with some violet. More fruit (berries, plums) on the nose, with some nice powdered stones and baking spices. Fleshy and medium bodies, but still with a bit of their trademark coarse tannin intruding, though definitely less so than the Vinsobres. 85.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

2007 Pillar Box Red (65% Shiraz, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot) (Padthaway, Australia)

Very good, if you like that super-extracted, super-ripe Aussie style. May be a bit much for some.

Completely saturated, nearly black plasma color. Sweet, deep, smoky, salty nose, with loads of graphite and dried blackberry sap scents. As it aired out, more fruit emerged, and the smoky, graphite elements receded. Very low-toned, dense flavors of salty sandstone-infused blackberry syrup attack the palate and then morph into smoky, liquid minerals in the back of the throat. Low acidity and a boatload of soft tannin. Huge and dense, this is a weighty mouthful. It was about $10 (I can't remember where, but it's widely available, appearing even in supermarkets). Not elegant, but no skimping on flavor. I gave it an 88, but some won't go for this style, and I admit that I have to be in the mood for it.

2008 La Salette VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO (Veneto, Italy)

A classic Valpo. Crisp, focused, flavorful, refreshing, with a touch of pleasant bitterness in the finish. A terrific summertime red that is best served cool.

Dark ruby garnet color. Lively nose of crunchy, crisp cherries and berries, with pungent crushed stone scents. Bone dry, yet brightly-fruited in the mouth, with crisp flavors of cherry, and a cleansing minerality. Good flavor persistence and excellent acidity. Light bodied. Lots of character in a totally refreshing style. 88. Was $16.99 at Houston Wine Merchant on South Shephard.