Thursday, November 25, 2010

Grandma, Nonno, and Molly's visit -- night 5

Every 5 years or so, I put a white in the freezer to chill it fast, but then forget I put it in there and by the time I remember it has frozen solid. The cork typically blows out as the liquid expands (water expands when frozen, and wine contains lots of water). It happened again. Good thing it wasn't a screw cap wine. It was an excellent German dry Riesling I previously reviewed, and after thawing it actually tasted pretty good, though not up to the standard of the unneglected bottle I had a few months ago. It was a 2008 Schafer-Frohlich RIESLING Trocken "Bockenauer" (Nahe, Germany). I won't review the frozen bottle.

Next up was the 2001 Chateau Haut-Bergey (Pessac-Leognan), one of my sentimental favorite estates in the Graves region of Bordeaux (I used to sell this when I worked for Paramount Wines in NY back in the early 80s). It's way more expensive now, but it's also stepped up in quality. It had a dark black, brickish ruby color befitting a mature Graves, and sported an intensely fragrant smoky, spiced gravel, and sweet cassis nose. Rich and soft, with deep, ripe fruit, and a smoky, earthy, oaky finish. It would have preferred the oak to be a bit less overt, but still it was very, very good, and peaking. 89.

Grandma, Nonno, and Molly's visit -- night 4

Polpetonne alla Toscana with two great wines I have enjoyed before and wanted to share with M&D:

2005 Chante Cigale CHATEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE (Southern Rhone, France) -- I have reviewed this wine previously, and it remains very very good. Medium dark black ruby. Elegant, intensely minerally nose, with warm, dry gravel scents, incense, iodine, and dry blackberry extract. Dark and tannic, with deep-toned, iodine-rich blackberry fruit. Long finish coats the mouth with soft tannin on the physical side and clinging minerals on the taste side. Very nice. Drink in the next 2-3 years. 89.

2004 Renato Ratti BAROLO Rocche "Marcenasco" (Piemonte, Italy) -- Previously reviewed here, this remains a great Barolo. Dark black ruby with a hint of amber at the rim. Rich nose of dark cherries, cherry liqueur, and smoky earth. Soft, but with a dense concentration of dark cherry and dried cherry fruit. Fair amount of tannin in the back half of the palate. An excellent Barolo for drinking with special meals over the next 2-4 years. 91.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Grandma, Nonno, and Molly's visit -- night 3

2009 Hippolyte-Reverdy SANCERRE ROSE (Loire Valley, France) -- I think I've decided that the Pinot Noir roses from Sancerre are my favorites. This one was remarkable. Gorgeously light salmon color, gorgeously fruity nose of strawberries, cherries, and a light floral component. Perfumed as all get-out. Gorgeously light texture, but with intense yet vivacious fruit. Very nice acidity and a clean clean finish. Loved it. 90. $19.99 from B-21 Wines in Florida.

2005 Guigal GIGONDAS (Southern Rhone, France) -- Gigondas can be an unforgiving wine, sometimes too angular, lean, and/or rustic/coarse. But when it hits, it hits, and this one hit. Black ruby-garnet. Fantastic old-school spicy, gravelly-stony, dark berries and garrigue nose. Smells like the arid southern French countryside in a bottle. Dark, intensely rich, iodine-infused blackberry extract flavors. Full-bodied frame (just the teeniest bit of heat noticeable on the finish), and a fair amount of tannin. Very expressive and satisfying. Textbook Gigondas. 91. (Can't remember where I got this, but it wasn't in Houston).

2007 Domaine Weinbach RIESLING Schlossberg "Cuvee Saint Catherine L'Inedit" (Alsace France) -- this half bottle of late-picked Riesling (from a Grand Crus vineyard) was very backward at first, but then blossomed after about an hour. Extraordinarily pale gold color, and an amazingly rich, complex nose of deeply-spiced grapes and tropical fruit, brown sugar, and the sweetest minerals imaginable. Intensely flavorful, with earthy, spiced peach extract, ending in a long cling peach syrup and liquid mineral finish. Fairly full-bodied for a Riesling with a little heat in the long, long finish. Redunculous. 93. Was $46 per 375 ml at Houston Wine Merchant.

Grandma, Nonno, and Molly's visit -- night 2

2007 Darting Durkheimer Nonnengarten GEWURZTRAMINER Kabinett (Rheinpfalz, Germany) -- A relatively rare German Gewurz (Grandma's favorite grape?). A lilting and light nose of sweet, musky, tropical fruit, ripe pear and a teeny bit of Gewurz lychee nut. Gentler fruit (pear, grapefruit, guava) coats the mouth, but with a light texture, leaving a clean, lingering finish with the barest hint of bitterness. Slightly sweet, light bodied (only 9.5%). Terrific aperitif style Gewurz. 87. $20 at Spec's on Smith.

2006 Rainoldi SASSELLA Valtellina Superiore (Lombardy, Italy) -- Disappointing. In my view the main flaw in the Nebbiolo wines from the Valtellina is that they are frequently maddeningly thin. Like this one. Medium-light ruby garnet. With lots of airing, it exhibited a medium intensity nose of spiced cherries, balsa wood, and crushed stones. Medium-light bodied, with refreshing, focused, if somewhat thinnish flavors -- cherry fruit and an earthy, woodsy component. Still a little tannin present, which actually helps give the wine some textural interest. 85. Drink soon. $16.99 from (NY).

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Grandma, Nonno, and Molly's visit -- night 1

Grandma, Nonno, and our niece Molly are visiting. So we're breaking out the good stuff.

2007 Leitz Rudesheimer Klosterlay RIESLING Kabinett (Rheingau, Germany) -- Outrageous nose of ripe grapes and peach, slate and sea shells, and a lightly floral component. Piercing up-front fruit coats the mouth, wrapped in a thin veneer of minerals. Light to medium-bodied, slightly sweet, but with very good balancing acidity. A long, lithe, ridiculously pure finish. 91. Was around $18 at Spec's awhile ago, so I am not sure they still have it. Imported by Michael Skurnick Wines.

2007 Herman Story Winery GRENACHE "Larner Vineyard" (Santa Barbara County, Cal.) -- From a teeny, weeny winery, this was a brooding but civilized monster. Completely saturated ruby purple. Intense nose of crushed rocks, gravel, and spicy raspberry syrup, as well as warm, just-out-of-the-oven baking spices. Huge body, with almost port-like richness, but dry. Deep favors of liquefied stony minerals, dried raspberry syrup. Long, long finish, with some peppery warmth from the alcohol (16.1%), but it's actually hidden well. 90. Was $39 at Spec's on Smith.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

2008 Bishop's Peak PINOT NOIR (Central Coast, Cal.)

A second label of Talley Vineyard (an excellent Pinot producer), this wine was a decent value as Pinot Noirs go, showing off mostly the earthy side of the grape.

Medium light ruby garnet. Rich nose of wet, earthy cherry syrup and cola, along with some sweet high-toned smoke. Soft, medium-bodied, and ripe, this wine had ripe, earthy, cherry flavors and a long, sandstone-infused finish. Low acidity makes for a broad mouthfeel, and there's a bit of heat on the finish. A pretty good example of the traditional, earthy, ripe California style of old. Was $19 at Spec's on Smith. 87.

2006 Chateau Patache d'Aux MEDOC (Bordeaux, France)

I used to drink wines from this chateau in the early 80s but haven't had it since. They were good, solid, inexpensive wines then. The 2006 was lacked fragrance and was thinnish.

Sedate black ruby. Very shy nose gives up little: some cassis, some gravel and some green bell pepper. Tannic and bone dry, with some scorched earth and dark cherry/cassis fruit, but not much. Lean, medium length, somewhat bitter finish. 74. $17 at Spec's on Smith.

2007 "Quatro Pasos" MENCIA (Bierzo, Spain)

A decent Mencia (a grape apparently indigenous to the Iberian peninsula).

Fully saturated, violet-stained bloody ruby. Earthy, sweaty, humus-like fragrance, with dried balsa wood and blackberry notes. Tannic, highly-extracted flavors of scorched earth, baker's chocolate, with blackberry extract taking a back seat. Long, peppery finish. An angular, earthy bruiser. 84. $13 and change at Spec's on Weslayan & Bissonnet.

2007 Peter Franus ZINFANDEL (Napa Valley, Cal.)

A big, ripe, but still-in-balance Zin.

Fairly saturated dark black ruby. Big, briary, spicy black raspberry "Zin" nose, with some sweet smoky scents and some chalky, powdered minerals. Deep, weighty, full-bodied, with flavors dark raspberry and baker's chocolate. Gobs of soft tannin and very good, fairly crisp acidity for its size. Massive, but not too ripe or heavy. Will keep another 2 years or so. 89. $24 at Spec's on Smith.

2007 Pierre Morey BOURGOGNE ALIGOTÉ (White Burgundy)

Not bad.

Very pale grey gold. Medium intensity nose of earthy minerals, toasted nuts, and crisp, citrusy apples. Bone dry, crisp, liquid minerals in the mouth, with some vague lemon lime notes and a tart, refreshing finish. A light-bodied, palate-cleansing sort of wine that would pair nicely with New Orleans Barbequed Shrimp or an Italian fish stew like a brodetto. 85. Was $18 at Central Market. Imported by Wilson Daniels.