Saturday, September 25, 2010

2006 Jacques Puffeney ARBOIS Pinot Noir (France)

Grown in a backwater region midway between Burgundy and the Swiss border, this wine makes you imagine a mountain stream flowing with Pinot Noir. Distinctive and very good.

Light ruby color with some amber at the rim. Lively, interesting nose of stony, cool minerals, crisp cherries and cherry pits, and high-toned, sweet smoke. In the mouth, it's vibrant, lively, and penetrating, with piercing cherry fruit, hints of old wine barrels, and lots of stony minerals. Still some soft tannin in the crisp, lean, but lengthy finish. 89. Will hold nicely for another year. Was $33 at Spec's on Smith (not cheap, but worth it). Imported by Neal Rosenthal.

2007 "La Huella de Adaras" ALMANSA (Spain)

This was a truly unique wine. It was kind of like an Australian rugby player who takes ballet lessons. Not for the faint of heart. Made from the Alicante Bouschet grape, which locally is known as the Garnacha Tintorea, even though it's not related to Grenache at all.

Saturated black ruby with a little lightening at the rim. Animated, animal nose, with beefy, woodsy, baker's chocolatey scents, along with tangy, rich blackberry fruit. Full, aggressive flavors of rich, ripe dark berries, along with drying baker's chocolate again, and lots of crushed stones underneath. Tangy acidity presents a startling counterpoint to the big flavors, and there's a lingering , pleasant bitterness in the finish. Loads of character here. 89. Was $14.99 at Houston Wine Merchant. Imported by Eric Solomon.

2009 Chateau Mourgues du Grés "Les Galets Rosés" COSTIÈRES DE NÎMES ROSÉ (Rhone Valley, France)

A very fruity, lively, and balanced dry rosé made from Syrah and Grenache.

Light, bright, youthful pink color. Intensely fruity nose of fresh peach and watermelon, with the barest whiff of stony minerals. Great purity. Soft, round, and mouthfilling, yet with a light feel. Lots of pure fruit flavors and a clean, dry finish. Not a crisp rosé, but not flabby either. 88. Good value at $13 and change at Spec's on Smith. Drink over the next 6 months. Imported by Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

2008 Domaine La Bastide "les Genets" SYRAH "Vieilles Vignes" (VDP, Languedoc,Southern France)

This Syrah -- from a dry, hot region in the south of France, and unoaked, I think -- is an excellent value. I would put this up against Crozes-Hermitages and oaky U.S. Syrahs costing 2-3 times as much.

Gorgeously dark ruby with violet highlights. Deeply fruity nose of rich cassis and blackberry along with smoky, gravelly scents. Concentrated and tight, with good weight in the mouth yet with a relatively soft texture. Tightly-wound core of deep-toned dark berry fruit with a long, mineral/schist-infused finish. Soft enough to enjoy now, yet its balance, concentration, and loads of soft tannin will insure that it will keep for a couple of years. 88. Only $11 at Spec's on Smith. Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.

2009 Guerrieri-Rizzardi BARDOLINO CHIARETTO CLASSICO (Rosé) (Veneto, Italy)

A relatively rare rosé from Italy. And a very good one!

Light, bright pink color with a canteloupe tinge. Direct, fresh, fruity nose: lots of strawberry and tropical fruit; slight hint of earth. Round, richly-fruited, but with medium-light weight in the mouth. Very soft texture, pure fruit, and a fresh, dry, slightly minerally long finish. Very elegant and nicely-done. 89. Imported by Enotec Imports and was $16.99 at Houston Wine Merchant.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

2006 Umani Ronchi ROSSO CONERO "San Lorenzo" (Marche, Italy)

A classically-proportioned example of the quintessential red from my ancestors' region of Italy (Le Marche -- which is mid-way up the boot on the Adriatic coast). Made from 100% Montepulciano grapes.

Very black-toned ruby. Smoky gravel scents over minerally blackberry extract. Dark, brooding flavors of fragrant charcoal embers and very low-toned dark cherry. Gives the impression of a rustic, country wine that has learned how carry itself elegantly. Good acidity and tannin for structure. Long, smoky finish. Was a great accompaniment to pork ribs braised in wine and tomatoes with garlic and rosemary (a classic Marchigiano style braise). 88. Was $17 at Spec's on Smith. Imported by Bedford International.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

2009 Domaine du Tariquet SAUVIGNON (BLANC) (VDP Cotes de Gascogne, France)

A fleshy, fruity, grassy Sauvignon. Not elegant, but doesn't skimp on flavor.

Pale silvery gold. Fresh nose of cold grapes and gooseberries, with grassy, green pepper notes. Soft and fleshy in the mouth, with lots of pear and pear skin flavors. Full for a Sauvignon Blanc, with fairly low acidity and a broad mouthfeel. Not a shy, crisp minerally Loire style. Much more New World than French-seeming. 86. Imported by Robert Kacher. I think I got this at Whole Foods on Bellaire for $12.

2006 Terredora di Paolo LACRYMA CHRISTI DEL VESUVIO ROSSO (Campania, Italy)

Teetering at the edge of old age, this wine is good but needs to be drunk immediately.

Ruby color with some amber at the rim. Right out of the bottle, the wine had a fantastic nose of smoky, rich gravel, tobacco, and rich plum juice, with a hint of eucalyptus. The mouth was not quite up to the standard set by the nose. High-toned, mature flavors of dried underbrush, iodine, and macerated red fruits. Drying finish. More austere in the mouth than the nose suggests. 90 for the nose with an 80 for the mouth. 85 overall. (Not sure where this is available, or how much it costs as it was a gift).

Two mediocre wines

These were both disappointing.

2007 Domaine Chevreau "Or Rouge" BEAUJOLAIS-VILLAGES -- From one of my favorite importers (Neal Rosenthal), strangely enough, this wine was both bitter and tart. Sour cherry and caramelized sugar flavors, and lots of green acidity. ($16 at Spec's).

2009 Domaine Castillon COSTIERES DE NIMES ROSE -- A flat, overripe rose. Loads of fruit and body, but at the expense of the acidity needed for freshness. ($7.99 per 500 ml bottle at Whole Foods on Bellaire).