Saturday, May 29, 2010

2007 Almira "Los Dos" "Old Vines" 85% Grenache, 15% Syrah (Campo de Borja, Spain)

This was a ridiculous buy! I forgot where I got the damn thing, but I know it was around $10.

Bright medium cherry/ruby. Ridiculously juicy nose ripe, tangy reduction of raspberries and pungent hot stones. Dense, lively fruit attacks the palate with loads of juicy raspberries and clean stones. Long, warm, totally pure-tasting finish with very good acidity, and no tannin to speak of. Very food-friendly. 89. Imported by Winebow.

Speaking of Zins . . .

Had two very good and very different Zins at Abe & Louie's in Boston last week. The 2007 Storybook Mountain "Mayacamas Range" was more forward than I expect from this winery, which made its reputation making crisp, tight Zins that needed bottle age to round out. It had very bright, focused, and pure Zinfandel fruit (ripe cherry and blackberry), but was very soft and drinkable, with a bit of residual sugar noticeable. The 2007 Ridge Geyserville was more subdued and low-toned, with more complexity and a no residual sugar by contrast. Both very good. Not sure which I preferred. I would probably rate both in the upper 80s.

My strip steak was just a bit beyond the medium rare I asked for, but was still flavorful and juicy.

2006 Chateau Montelena ZINFANDEL "The Montelena Estate" (Napa Valley, Cal.)

This was a very good, but somewhat atypical Zin. I thought it seemed more like a large-scaled, rich Bordeaux from Margaux or Pessac (Graves).

Laid-back darkish ruby color. Complex nose of smoky gravel, dark fruitcake, rich, ripe plums, and a bit of blackberry. Soft, deep, and low-toned flavors of baker's chocolate, really ripe plums, sandstone, and smoky minerals. Very full-bodied, with a bit of peppery heat from the alcohol (label says 14.4%), and some chewy tannin in the finish. Definitely at its peak. It was very good, and I'm certainly no winemaker, but it seems to me this would have be ridiculously great if the grapes were picked just a tad earlier, and the wine had a bit less heat and a bit more acidity to focus it. As it is, I'd say it's an 89. Was $26 at Spec's, I believe.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

2008 Comte Lafon MACON (White Burgundy)

Another winner from this upscale producer. Classic Macon nose, flavors, and minerality.

Very light gold with light greenish glints. Fantastic nose of crisp white grapes, powdered stones, sweet minerals -- and I could swear there's the barest hint a hint of cinnamon back in there too. Crisp, yet full-bodied, with lots of body and a decent dollop of tangy acidity. Loads of lemony, green apple fruit, good weight and balance too. Not the most complex white burgundy, but a lovely and textbook example of what Macon should be (it should be a poor man's Chablis). 88. Imported by Becky Wasserman Selections. Was $19 (and worth it) at Spec's on Richmond.

(Sorry, 2007 shown.)

2006 Rancho Zabaco "Monte Rosso Vineyard" ZINFANDEL (Sonoma County, Cal.)

Disappointing for a wine from this vaunted plot of land. As I picked this out, one of the guys at Spec's on Bissonnet off-handed commented to me that the "wine guy" wasn't too impressed with this, but I blew off the comment, since I usually don't listen to random wine store employee recommendations. In this case, that was a mistake. It was decent, but not near worth 30 smackeroos.

Rich, violet-tinged dark ruby. Animated, deep and sweet nose of almost overripe, oozing blackberries and raspberries, with a barest whiff of sandstone. Broad, fat, low-acid flavors of simple dark raspberries that immediately coated the palate, faded a bit, and then re-appeared in a fairly long, metallic/minerally, slightly hot finish. Good, with lots of flavor, but a little flabby and simple. I expect Zins from Monte Rosso to have great structure and lots of minerally complexity. This tasted like it came from very ripe fruit grown on young vines. 86. Was $31 at Spec's on Bissonnet.

2008 Benaza MENCIA (Monterrei, Spain)

I don't believe I have ever had a wine made from the Mencia varietal, but if this is any indication of how they taste, I will look for more. A fruity, weighty, smooth good value.

Dark ruby with purply highlights. Fragrant and fruity, this wine's nose oozes rich berry sap scents, along with a scorched earth note. Enters the mouth with wonderful softness and weight, with a tight core of minerality and loads of ripe berry fruit. Full bodied, with a long, clingy finish. A wee bit o' tannin too. Mineral "tang" at the very end. Not super complex, but a satisfying mouthful. 88. Was $13 and change at Spec's on Richmond. Imported by Jose Pastor Selections (an up-and-coming Spanish importer).

Sunday, May 09, 2010

2008 Palama "Arcangelo" SALICE SALENTINO (Puglia, Southern Italy)

Salice Salentino is an appellation in the heel of Italy's boot that has long produced well-balanced, well-fruited reds at reasonable prices. This is one of the best -- if not the best -- I've had.

Sultry dark ruby. Incredibly sweet, ripe nose, featuring oozing blackberries and super-ripe plums, baking spices, and sweetly-smoky embers. Round and soft in the mouth, with very good concentration, but also with nice balance. Fairly full bodied. Not completely dry, with just a touch of sweetness (although those used to drinking California Chardonnays will think it equally dry). Ever-so-lightly-pruney flavors of blackberry syrup, and dry, gravelly minerals. The finish features some significant, but soft, tannins, and a very small bit of peppery heat.

Now that I'm looking at these notes, they really don't reflect how much I enjoyed this wine. Don't be put off by some of the adjectives I used -- just buy a bottle.

89. Was $12.99 at Central Market. Imported by Small Vineyards.

(Sorry -- can't find a photo).

2008 Messmer SPATBURGUNDER TROCKEN (Rheinpfalz, Germany)

German Pinot Noir! German, for Pete's sake! And it was fun and tasty. Not to mention a unique conversation piece. And no, Pinot Noir (a/k/a Spatburgunder) is not something the Germans started growing because they thought Sideways was a cool movie. It's been grown there for many decades. Put a light chill on this 1 Liter bottle and bring it to a cook-out.

Very light ruby garnet. Spritely nose leaps out of the glass with sweet/sour cherries and smoky minerals. You can also almost smell the crisp acidity that follows once you take a sip. Bright, almost prickly mouthfeel. Really nice fruit/acid balance. Soft, tanninless texture, with refreshing cherry fruit and a minerally finish. 87. Was $19.99 for a liter bottle at Central Market (so that makes it "under $15" per hypothetical 750ml). Imported by Terry Thiese (top-flight importer of German wines). Drink this year to enjoy the freshness.

(Sorry, 2006 pictured)

Sunday, May 02, 2010

2006 Tenuta San Antonio VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE RIPASSO "Monte Garbi" (Veneto, Italy)

A very well-done, full mature Ripasso.

Mature color. Dark garnet with rust highlights. Closed nose at first, but run through a Vinturi it displayed a complex bouquet of roasted meat, macerated dried cherries, licorice, and smoky pecan wood. Rich, low-toned, peppery flavors initially, with brandy-soaked plums; then lightening into earthy cherry/licorice flavors. Long, dry finish. At its apogee right now despite substantial tannin. Very distinctive and nice. Drink before 2010 is up. 89. Was $18 at Spec's on Smith.

2005 Chateau d'Archambeau GRAVES (Bordeaux, France)

A solid, workman-like red Bordeaux at a decent price.

Jet black ruby with the bare beginnings of brick at the rim. Fairly closed nose, even with air time and being poured through a Vinturi. Light intensity aromas of cassis, toasted oak, resin, and scorched earth. Broad mouthfeel, with medium-fine-grained tannins present throughout. Ripe but bone dry flavors: dry, dark blackberry, smoky gravel. Long, interesting, though not particularly soft finish, with a slightly bitter, scorched edge. Elegant is not a word that describes this wine, though it was pretty satisfying in an unpolished way. 85. Was about $15 at Spec's Warehouse on Westheimer and Commonwealth.