Saturday, March 26, 2011

2007 "GRANACHA" "Signargues" Cotes du Rhone-Villages (France)

From the well-respected Estezargues Co-op, this wine was a little overextracted, resulting in some astringency and a rough texture.

Dark black ruby. Nose of sharp, scorched earth, smoky sandstone, and some blackberry and peach pit scents. Ripe, lush fruit is somewhat compromised in the mouth with noticeable alcoholic, peppery notes. A bit of bitter chocolate and plentiful, rustic tannins in the finish. C+. Disappointing. Imported by Eric Solomon, I got this for $18.99 from

2009 Pagos del Moncayo GARNACHA y SYRAH (Campo de Borja, Spain)

Pretty good, but at $14, and competing with a bunch of good, solid, clean, fruity Spanish reds that come in under $10, this wine is not an especially good value.

Dark ruby color. Smoky, gravelly nose -- showed blackberry syrup fruit, rock dust, and a sharp, scorched earth note. Rich, clingy flavors of peppercorns, bitterish minerals, and dark blackberry extract. Otherwise nice, long flavors were slightly marred by a bit of bitterness that may have been the result of the winemaker trying to overextract the grapes. B-. Got it at Spec's on Richmond near the West Loop.

2007 Au Bon Climat CHARDONNAY "Bien Nacido Vineyard" (Santa Barbara, Cal.)

From one of the most exalted Chardonnay vineyards in Central California, this wine seemed like a hybrid between California style and Burgundy style.

Luminescent gold color with a greenish glint. Complex nose of chalky, smoky, dry gravel, brown butter, and pear/tropical fruit. Not overripe, overtly sweet, or cloying (which I would refer to as the "Kendall-Jacksonian" style that has become nearly ubiquitous in California), this wine showed lots of liquid-metallic minerals and dry pear extract, with some light butterscotch notes in the back half of the palate. No detectable residual sugar, thank God. Long finish. Nicely done. Was $20 on sale a month or two ago from B+

(Sorry, 2006 shown).

2009 Schafer-Frohlich RIESLING "Medium Dry" (Nahe, Germany)

This wine shows off the ability of Riesling to reflect the mineral signature of where it's grown.

Bright, glistening light gold color. The first day, it showed off a complex and intensely slatey minerals drenched in lime juice, with peach pit and crisp apples in the background. There was still a prickle of CO2 in the wine, that lent a slightly bitter impression over lots of eartrhy, minerally-tinged apple fruit. The second day the wine was significantly different, and showed a lot more fruit. The wine displayed a soft, crisp fruitiness, and was mouthfilling yet incredibly light-textured, with great concentration and a long long finish. While the first day's CO2 bitterness hid a slight sweetness, the second day the slight sweetness showed through. Excellent now, this wine will age nicely for a few years. A. Was $24 from (Scarsdale, NY). Imported by Rudi Wiest ( a great importer of German wines)

Friday, March 11, 2011

2007 Summers "Four Acre Zin" ZINFANDEL (Napa Valley, Cal.)

Another excellent, reasonably-priced Zin from this Calistoga area producer. (I reviewed another Zin from this producer here.)

Dark ruby-garnet color. Fragrant nose oozes out of the glass with smoky sandstone scents, baking spices, and sappy blackberry juice. Deliciously rich fruit coats the mouth, with a perfumey spiciness and loads of gravelly minerals. Long, long finish with pure fruit and just the barest tad of peppery heat. Really good acidity for such a voluptuous wine, too. A- I think this one was around $17 at Spec's on Weslayan, but I will verify when I track down the receipt.

2004 Chateau la Coustarelle CAHORS "Grand Cuvee Prestige" (Southwest France)

Having been burned many times in the 1980s (plus not being a Malbec fan), I always approach Cahors with trepidation, but the quality there has gotten much better of late, and this was a very good wine.

This was a blend of 90% old vine Malbec ans 10% Tannat (which, like its name sounds, tends to be very tannic).

Nearly saturated very dark ruby. Low-toned, intense nose of lemon-soaked dark cherry extract, fragrant peat smoke, and scorched gravel. Bone dry, concentrated flavors of metallic minerals and dry black cherry, along with a brambly, dried underbrush component. Loads of cottony tannins coat the mouth. In other words, this was a seemingly textbook Cahors, showing rusticity and elegance simultaneously. B+ Was $17.99 at Houston Wine Merchant. Imported by Charles Neal Selections. Drink over the next two years.

(Sorry, 2002 shown).

2009 "Leitz Out" RIESLING (Rheingau, Germany)

This was a fantastic value. Lots of classic Rheingau Riesling characteristics shining through at a bargain price.

(NB -- this is a slightly sweet wine, so if you're one of those categorical, reflexive haters of this style, just skip it.) . . . but you'll be missing out!

Very pale gold with glints of light green and pewter. Very open, fruity nose with loads of crisp apple and lemon-drenched peach fruit. Very clean, minerally stone notes too. Lively, mouthfilling, with ripe but crisp fruit -- lots of peachey notes. Slightly sweet, but with very good balancing acids. Light-bodied. B+ I got this for $11 at Spec's on Weslayan. Imported by Michael Skurnick Wines.

2009 Les Mugues "Balandran" COSTIERES DE NIMES ROSÉ (Rhone Valley, France)

A good, chunky rose. Lots of flavor, but needs to be drunk soon.

Light bubble gum orangey pink. Juicy aromas of ripe grapes and watermelon, with hints of stone dust and sweet cream. Round, dry, and ripe, with nicely concentrated fruit in a well-balanced, medium full-bodied format. Decent acidity. B-. About $15 at most Spec's stores. Imported by Douglas Skopp Selections.

(Sorry, 2007 depicted).

2008 Mas Lavail "Terre d'Ardoise" CARIGNANE "Vieilles Vignes" (VDP Cotes Catalanes, SW France)

A good, solid Carignane. Carignane, however, is a grape that never can achieve greatness. It's almost always going to have straightforward flavors, maybe a bit of coarseness, and usually a short finish. This one had those qualities, but minimized them, and was a good wine.

Dark black ruby color. Old-fashioned, earthy nose with lots of dark cherry and scorced earth mineral scents. Chunky, minerally cherry fruit on entry, but fades quickly in the mid-palate, only to linger, in reduced volume, in the finish. Rustic and inelegant, it's a solid old-style country red. Paired nicely with a baked ziti dish featuring a ground pork and tomato sauce. B-. Was $11.99 at Spec's on Weslayan. Imported by Robert Kacher.

(Sorry, 2007 depicted).

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

2009 Regis Minet POUILLY_FUME "Vieilles Vignes"

This Loire Valley Sauvignon was a little too much on the herbal side for my taste. It was good, however, and those that like this style may rate it more highly than I did.

Very pale pewter-tinged gold. Chalky, minerally, intensely herbal nose, with some gooseberry fruit. Mouthfilling, direct flavors of pungent, intensely herbal/minerally notes, with some tart green apple fruit. Good acidity together with surprisingly full-body (I usually associate this herbal style with less-ripe, less full-bodied Sauvignons) and a very clingy, herbal finish. Not everyone's favorite style, and kind of galumphy rather than elegant, but it doesn't skimp on flavor. B. Imported by Kermit Lynch, I can't remember where I got this wine, but will update that info if I find the receipt.

2008 Chono SYRAH Reserve (Elqui Valley, Chile)

Holy crap! I've never had as strong a sense of "deja wine" as with this one. It reminded me of a 1979 Cakebread Howell Mountain Beatty Ranch Zinfandel I had a couple of bottles of in the early 1980s in my Upper West Side apartment on w89th Street in NY. It almost literally transported me back to that place and time. But enough New Age drivel.

Dark ruby color was not remarkable. But then I stuck my nose in the glass. And the time warp began. Fragrant nose of cracked black peppercorns, smoky gravel, and ripe, flavorful spicy blackberries. Ripe (but not jammy or overblown) dense, clingy flavors of black peppercorns, cassis, and smoky embers. Long, very clingy, low-toned, minerally finish. Full-bodied, yet not overdone, with good acidity for its size and good balance. Will keep and maybe even improve over the next 2-4 years, but, why wait? This is delicious now. A. I got this (I think) for around $13 at Whole Foods on Bellaire. Imported by one of my favorite importers, North Berkeley Imports.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Wines at my brother's house

2008 Domaine Henri Darnat MEURSAULT "Clos du Domaine" -- Very tight but nicely concentrated. Nose was earthy, smoky, apply. Leaner style, but showed very good presence in back half of the palate, as well as good length and acidity. Very elegant. Will keep and improve for a few years. Got this from awhile back.

2008 Vallana SPANNA COLLINE NOVARESE -- My first wine of the new era of Vallana's presence in the U.S. after a long absence. This wasn't bad, but not up to the Spannas this producer cranked out in the 1960s and 70s. Earthy Nebbiolo fruit on the nose, but with a slight shoe polish, funky prune note detracting a bit. Medium concentration, but with some nice earthy cherry fruit. Decent finish.

2009 CHAD Carneros PINOT NOIR -- From, this was an excellent value. Classic Cal. Pinot Noir with rich but focused sappy, earthy cherry fruit. Good concentration, with good acids too. Loads of cherry fruit with earthy minerals and some toasty oak. Yummy. Not sure who makes this, but it's good!