Sunday, December 26, 2010

2009 Domaine des Corbillieres TOURAINE Pinot Noir Rose (Loire Valley, France)

Always a good value when you can find it at Richard's (it's a Robert Kacher Import, so that's the only place it will be in town). The 2009 iteration is very nice.

Light salmon pink color. A little earthier on the nose and less floral on the nose than past vintages, it still smells plenty inviting, with some floral, cherry and watermelony scents. Crisp, medium-bodied, and with refreshing acidity, this is a nice value. 87. I believe this was about $13 at Richard's at Westheimer/Kirby.

2008 Heretiers de Comte Lafon MACON (White Burgundy, France)

Lafon is one of my favorite producers of Macon Chardonnays. The house style, in my limited experience, tends to emphasize the riper, fruitier aspects of Chardonnay, rather than the earthy/stony nature the grape usually takes on in Macon. This basic Macon is the entry level wine.

Earthy, crushed stone, hay-infused chardonnay fruit on the nose. Also scents of metallic pear and peach pits. Steely, liquid minerally flavors of crisp pear and apple. Very clean finish. Very nicely put together. 88. Imported by Becky Wasserman. Can't remember where I got this (Richard's maybe?) but I think it was around $18.

2006 Peachy Canyon PETITE SIRAH (Paso Robles, Cal.)

Very approachable for a Petite Sirah, a varietal which usually is darkly-unfriendly until well-aged.

Impenetrable black plasma color (classic!). Rich, earthy nose, filled with liquefied graphite, sweet, caramelly oak, and sweet cassis. Dark, low-toned flavors of smoky embers, inky cassis extract, and black pepper. Copious amounts of soft tannin, very full body, and a long, minerally, peppery finish. Good value for a P.S., the good examples of which usually end up around $25/$30. 88. Was $18 at Spec's on Smith.

2008 Louis Jadot SANTENAY "Clos de Malte" (Burgundy, France)

A decent entry-level red burgundy. Closed and young, but not that much stuffing.

Dark ruby garnet. Very closed -- needed to be poured through a Vinturi to develop any aroma at all. After a long while, delicate scents of ripe cherry syrup and warm, fragrant, minerally earth developed. High-toned, minerally, crisp flavors, with fruit tending towards crisp cherry. Refreshing, lightly-minerally finish. 86. Was about $25 at Richard's on Kirby/Westheimer. Poor price-quality ratio, as is usual with red burgundies.

PS --did anyone else hear that Spec's quietly bought out the Richard's chain?? Is that true? If so, will Richard's stop getting wines from Robert Kacher Imports? I hope not. Spec's carries nothing from Kacher, and he's got a pretty good, value-friendly line-up.

2007 "Las Rocas" GARNACHA (Calatayud, Spain)

I hadn't tried a bottle of this ubiquitous Spanish red for many years. It's still very cheap and is a decent value.

Dark blackish ruby. Medium intensity nose -- smoky embers and spicy raspberry. Very low-toned, metallic-minerally flavors, with some vague raspberry and watermelon-extract fruit. Crisp acids. Fair amount of crushed black pepper in the the finish. Some tannin too. Kind of disjointed and rustic feeling. Lots of flavor though. 86. Was about $9 at Whole Foods on Bellaire, and is available at Spec's and elsewhere too.

2008 Domaine Giachino "Abymes Monfarina" Vin de Savoie (France)

A fresh, crisp, biodynamic white made from the Jacquère grape.

Very light gold with silver flashes. Loads of character in the intensely stony nose, with straw, pear, perfumed loam, and banana notes competing for attention. Less fruity in the mouth than the nose would lead you to believe: instead, it's crisp, dry, and minerally, with mouthwatering acids. Very refreshing. Sparkingly clean finish. Would be great with shellfish. 88. Imported by Eric Solomon. Was $15 from

2007 Thierry Puzelat "Pouille" TOURAINE (Loire Valley, France)

This really fun-to-smell-and-drink red is an unusual blend of 60% Grolleau (a varietal I don't believe I've ever knowingly drunk) and 40% Gamay. It is biodynamically grown and just loaded with character.

Medium light ruby garnet. Gorgeously fragrant nose of ripe plum, earthy sandstone, graham crackers, and lemon juice. Soft-textured and crisp in the mouth, with refreshing flavors of cherry, tart plum, and loads of stony, clean minerals. Light-bodied and addictively quaffable. Very distinctive. 89 for sheer fun. Imported by Louis/Dressner, I got this for $16 from in Scarsdale NY.

2007 Bisceglia AGLIANICO DEL VULTURE "Terra di Vulcano" (Basilicata, Southern Italy)

A very classically-styled Aglianico from this extraordinary, volcanic site.

Dark brickish ruby. Nose needs LOTS of air time to develop (use a Vinturi if you have one), as it was very closed for quite a while. Smoky, gravel and sandstone scents mingle with very ripe plum and blackberry juice. Very soft and lush-textured, with mineral/gravel-infused dark, ripe cherry fruit. Loads of fine-grained tannins. Finishes just a tad short, but still a very nice wine. 87. Imported by Winebow.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2008 Morisfarms MORELLINO DI SCANSANO (Southern Tuscany, Italy)

Comparing (very generally) the Sangiovese-based wines from Morellino di Scansano to Chianti Classicos, I'd have to say that the primary difference is that the Morellinos tend to have a more loamy earthiness and a darker-toned fruitiness, as opposed to the gravelly/schisty earthiness and piercing, more high-toned cherry fruit of the CC's. This Morisfarms (weird name) is a really nice example of a good Morellino.

Sultry dark ruby color. Medium intensity nose of earthy, dark berries, scorched earth, and cedar. Soft, ripe, and full-flavored, with lots of earthy minerals and brambly berry flavors the last to leave their impression in the mouth. Very good example of this rustic style of Sangiovese. 88. Imported by Polaner Selections. Can't remember where I got this, but I know it was under $20.

2008 Dashe ZINFANDEL (Dry Creek Valley, Cal.)

A classy Zin with everything in perfect balance, and in a textbook Dry Creek Valley style.

Dark ruby with a bare hint of violet. Beautiful nose of ripe, tangy raspberries and mountain berries; hints of lemon juice and smoky balsa wood. Gorgeously balanced in the mouth. Not too large in scale, with good acids and perfectly ripe fruit and stony minerals. Good concentration. Long finish with lots of soft tannins. Clearly this was consciously made in an elegant style that tries (successfully) to avoid "blockbuster syndrome" -- not that I'm against a big, dense Zin every now and again! 90. Was $22 at Spec's on Smith.

2005 Otter RIESLING Kastelweg (Alsace, France)

This was a heavily botrytised, ripe, heavy Riesling. The polar opposite of, say, the austere, bone dry minerally style of a Trimbach Reserve. Of course, as is usually the case with Alsace Rieslings, you have no way of knowing that by looking at the label. But once I got over my shock at the color, nose, and first sip, I liked this quite a bit.

Very dark gold with some amber. So the color was suspect, right off the bat. A tremendously rich, earthy, deeply-honeyed nose, with Alsace "gout de petrol" lurking underneath, along with nearly overripe apricot. Broad, mouthfilling flavors, with some noticeable residual sugar: tea, apricot, earth, honey, and gravel. Lengthy finish lacked only a bit of acidity. Very nice -- if you like this style. It actually went very well with a rich pasta (made "risotto style" by adding homemade turkey broth a bit at a time) that featured carrots and green beans. 88. Was about $25 at Richard's on Kirby/Westheimer.

(Sorry -- 2004 pictured)

2008 Chateau de la Greffiere MACON-LA ROCHE VINEUSE "Vieille Vignes" (White Burgundy, France)

This was one of the tightest Macons I've ever had. So tightly wound and closed at first, but burgeoning over the course of several days (during which I had it sealed with a Vacu-Vin closure) into a really remarkable wine.

Light bright gold color. Closed nose at first. Days later, a very elegant, fragrant nose developed. Smoky, lemony, limestone & chalk, along with peach and white grape fruit. Smelled like a baby Puligny-Montrachet. No joke. Just beautiful. Rich, and packed with stones and vibrant, ripe apply fruit, this wine had nice concentration and acidity. Very clean, refreshing finish. GREAT value. 91. $15 at Spec's. Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. Make sure to let this wine AIR OUT!

Monday, December 06, 2010

2007 Mount Eden Vineyards PINOT NOIR "Saratoga Cuvee" (Santa Cruz Mountains, Cal.)

From an area that used to be the up-and-coming Pinot Noir area back in the early 80s but has lost the public's interest in the wake of new appellations such as Sonoma Coast and Santa Rita Hills. This was an outstanding wine, bridging the gap between California open , ripe fruit and Burgundian minerality.

Medium ruby garnet. Fragrant, high-toned nose of sweet, sappy cherries, lemon juice, and warm, incense-infused sandstone. Intense attack, with peppery, dried-cherry syrup fruit, and loads of smoky minerals throughout. Medium full body. Silky mouthfeel. Ridiculously long finish. 92. $30 at Spec's on Smith.

2005 Domaine du Murinais CROZES-HERMITAGE "Cuvee Vieilles Vignes" (Rhone Valley, France)

This Syrah was good, but nothing more.

Youthful dark black ruby. Meaty, earthy nose with warm sandstone scents and some faint, slightly yeasty cassis fruit. Tight and crisp in the mouth, and actually a bit thin and lacking concentration. The modest fruit quickly transitioned in the mouth to a clingy, brambly component. Not bad, but not a repeat purchase. 80.

2006 Castello di Rampolla CHIANTI CLASSICO (Tuscany, Italy)

I think I'm getting to the point where I generally like the regular Chianti Classicos better than the more expensive Riserva bottlings. More accessible in aromas and texture when young and completely unobscured by any noticeable oakiness. Not to mention much cheaper.

This one rocked! Very rich dark ruby color. Fantastically fragrant nosed morphed over time. Started out really earthy but then the fruit emerged. Sweet, smoky schist/gravel and rich, plummy fruit. Intensely concentrated and ripe, with quartz-laced earthiness throughout the rich, ripe cherry fruit, and excellent acidity adding freshness. Still loads of fine0grained tannin in the long, mineral-laced finish. Fantastic, old-school Chianti. 90. Imported by Vias Imports. $30 from (New York)

2005 Thierry Germain "Domaine des Roches Neuves" SAUMUR CHAMPIGNY (Loire Valley, France)

This organic (biodynamic, actually) Cabernet Franc-based wine was very elegant and distinctive. Like most Loire Valley Cab Francs, however, its unique aromas and flavors may not be for everybody.

Very dark ruby garnet. Laid-back aromas of toasted walnut, melted caramel, blackberry/cassis fruit, mineral oil, and smoky embers. Soft in texture, bone dry, with cassis and mineral oil flavors. Nicely-balanced, fully mature. Went well with post-Thanksgiving hot turkey and gravy sandwiches. 87. Imported by Jon David Headrick Selections. $16 at (New York).

2007 Jean Foillard MORGON "Cote du Py" (Beaujolais, France)

A beautifully balanced, elegant, refreshing Beaujolais. Went down way too easily.

Medium ruby garnet. Gorgeously sweet nose of spiced ripe plums and fragrant powdered stones, with a squeeze of lemon juice. Soft but persistent fruit, in a fresh, medium-bodied package. Stone-infused, fruity finish. Very approachable and fun. 88. I think I got this at Houston Wine Merchant a while back, and it was around $25, but I can't be sure. Imported by Kermit Lynch.