Sunday, May 29, 2011

2008 Trimbach RIESLING Reserve (Alsace, France)

I LOVE this style of Riesling -- fragrant, lean, so crisp as to be zingy, bone dry yet with wonderfully ripe Riesling fruit.  Very much in the classic Trimbach style.

Very pale bright gold.  Classic Alsace Riesling nose of piercing green apple, tea, and powdered granite, it features crisp, bracing, intense flavors of fresh-crushed green apple juice poured over lemon drenched stones.  Very tight now, this wine will age effortlessly for another 4 years or so.  Not as full and ripe a style as a lot of Alsace producers are now trending toward, this really is a classic wine.  A.  I got this on sale from for $20.

2007 Eric Texier COTES DU RHONE "Brezeme" (Southern France)

A good, rustic, old-fashioned style of Cotes du Rhone.  Lean, earthy, spicy, and nowhere near the more direct, fruity style that is much more prevalent today.

Dark ruby garnet.  Intensely earthy with a pleasantly barnyardy component on the first day, on day 2 the barnyard was gone, replaced with a tart, spiced cherry and raspberry fruitiness, pungent rock dust, and a hint of sweat.  Tight and lean in the mouth, with bone-dry cherry liqueur/mineral flavors, morphing into a darkly-minerally finish with a slight bitter edge.  Good acidity.  A wine that requires rustic rich food as an accompaniment.  Not a cocktail party red.  B.  Was $23 at Houston Wine Merchant, it's imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.

2008 Chono CARMENERE Reserva (Maipo Valley, Chile)

A very classically Bordeaux-styled wine from the New World -- pretty rare.  It was very good: elegant, some complexity, not a fruit bomb.

Saturated dark ruby/mulberry color.  Gorgeous nose of cedar, ripe, dark berries, smoky stones, and chocolate powder.  Concentrated, focused, and balanced, with medium-full body.  Mouthcoating (but not heavy) flavors of low-toned berries, accented with minerally sandstone and bitter milk chocolate.  Reminds me of a high-quality, old-school Margaux but at a fraction of the price.  If the finish were a bit longer I would have given it an A, but as is it's an A-.  Imported by North Berkeley Imports, I think I got this for around $13 at Whole Foods on Bellaire.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

2007 Trinitas OLD VINE CUVEE (Mendocino County, Cal.)

This is very good and a good value, but neither the label nor the Internet discloses what varietals make up this wine.  There's obviously a lot of Zinfandel, but beyond that I'd only be guessing.

Nearly saturated blackish ruby with some violet.  Gorgeous nose of sandstone, baking spices, sweet cream, and ripe black raspberries.  Dense, ripe fruit coats the palate in a soft-textured blast.  Fills the mouth quickly with fruit, then displays loads of sweet, spiced gravel notes, and ends texturally with a fair amount of soft tannin.  My only quibble is that there's some (barely) perceptible residual sugar in the finish.  Very nice.  B+/A- (depending whether you can deal with the bit of residual sugar).  Was $14 at Spec's on Smith.

2007 Ridge "Dusi Ranch" ZINFANDEL (Paso Robles, Cal.)

Notes from memory here, as I had this at a dinner with friends at Harris' Steakhouse in San Francisco last week.

Short version:  one of the best Zins I've ever had.  Longer impressions:  Ripe and fragrant, with great minerality.  Perfect balance, ripe and full but with nice balancing acidity.  No jamminess.  No heat in the finish.  Absolutely stunning texture.  Plush but firm.  A+.

2008 Planeta CERASUOLO DI VITTORIA (Sicily)

This blend of Nero d'Avola and Frappatto was pretty decent on its own, but would probably be even better accompanying pasta with meat sauce.

Medium-light ruby garnet.  Intensely metallic-minerally, sour cherry nose, with spiced lemon notes.  Cherry, pine resin, and charcoal flavors on entry, quickly molting into very clingy, cherry/mineral flavors.  Good acidity, and a good finish.  Medium-full bodied.  B.  Was $22 at Spec's on Smith.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

2009 Hippolyte-Reverdy SANCERRE ROSÉ and a Recipe

I drank my last bottle of this outstanding Pinot Noir rose, which I reviewed previously, and it was still remarkably fresh and flavorful.  I had to improvise a quick, light meal based on what we had in the house, and came up with the following, which not only was really good, but paired wonderfully with the Sancerre rose.

Pasta with artichoke hearts and Italian tuna belly

 1 lb. pasta (like penne or rotini)
1 can artichoke hearts in water
1 jar Italian tuna belly (ventresca*) packed in olive oil, drained
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup finely chopped celery
¼ cup finely chopped carrot
¼ cup good olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup dry white wine (maybe a splash more. . . I didn't measure)
A bit of chopped parsley

Get a pot of salted water boiling for the pasta.

In 12” sauté pan, heat 1/8 cup olive oil and then soften onion, carrot, and celery for 5 minutes over medium low heat.

While they’re softening, drain artichoke hearts.  Cut into quarters, and squeeze out excess water with paper towels. 

When onions, carrots, and celery are softened (not browned), add artichokes.  Toss for a few minutes.  Add the white wine, and turn up the heat to get the wine boiling and reduce it a bit.  Add the lemon juice and the rest of the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, stir around, then turn the heat off until the pasta is almost done.

Just before draining the cooked pasta, turn up the heat on the sauce and add the tuna, trying not to shred the tuna as you stir it in.  Turn off the heat as soon as the tuna is stirred in (cooking it makes it taste bitter and crappy).

Add  sauce to the drained pasta, mix, then throw the chopped parsley on top.  I think this is better without Parmesan cheese, but Liz likes Parmesan cheese on every type of pasta 
known to man.

* Ventresca is like basic tuna packed in olive oil, except it's from the best part of the tuna, and has a really refined taste. 

2007 Mazzocco "West Dry Creek" ZINFANDEL Reserve (Cal.)

A luxurious wine.  No other way to say it.

Dark, sedate black ruby color.  Rich, voluptuous, sexy nose of sweet, smoky balsa wood and oodles of ripe, oozing blackberries, along with warm, baking spice-inflected sandstone.  Richly-fruited, dense, full, and velvety soft in the mouth, with mouth-filling, deep-toned berry fruit and a deep-toned minerality in the back half of the palate.  Loads of very soft tannin buried underneath.  Very hedonistic.  A.  Drink this over the next one to two years.  My brother and sister-in-law got this direct from the winery and gave it to me, so I didn't have to pay the high-price tag this commands.  Thanks, guys.

2009 Falletto (Bruno Giacosa) DOLCETTO D'ALBA (Piemonte, Italy)

A solid wine, I was expecting more from this producer.  This had too much bitterness and a scorchey component going on to really shine.  Come to think of it, I haven't had a Dolcetto that has floated my boat in a long, long time.

Vibrant dark ruby color.  Nose of scorched earth, dried leaves and piney underbrush, along with some bone dry blackberry extract.  Intensely dry, but fruity extract in the mouth, juxtaposing fruit and bitterness -- scorched, inky fruit but in a soft-textured package.  Finishes with a clean, low-toned bitter edge.  Just a teeny bit of tannin.   Interesting.  B.  Can't remember where I got it.  I think it was around $20.

2009 Punta Crena PETTIROSSO Rose (Liguria, Italy)

This unusual rose, made from the Rossese grape, was fizzy and a little earthier than the typical roses I drink, but it was good.

Beautiful watermelon/salmon color.  Very fizzy when poured, the extremely tiny bubbles lent a pleasantly prickly feel to the wine.  Intense, earthy passionfruit and pomegranate nose.  Clean, slightly fizzy flavors of bone dry, stony/earthy fresh grapes.  Clean, fruity, and with a refreshing texture that would be welcome for light meals on very hot days.  B.  Imported by Kermit Lynch, I got this for $18 from B-21 Wines in Florida.

2009 Domaine Chignard FLEURIE "Les Moriers" (Beaujolais, France)

A very lively, zingy wine that will jolt your palate awake.

Dark ruby with magenta highlights.  Intense and zesty nose of ripe, crunchy berries and extroverted, almost overwhelming melted stone minerals.  Assertive and very youthful in the mouth, with ripe but zesty, high-toned berry fruit, along with crisip acidity, some tannin, and a clean, minerally, refreshing finish.  Very distinctive, this wine will pair nicely with simple, assertive foods.  B+.  Was $27.99 at Houston Wine Merchant.  Imported by Kermit Lynch.

2007 Bodegas Mustigiullo MESTIZAJE (Tierra el Terrarazo, Spain)

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Bobal, Garnacha, Syrah, Tempranillo, and Merlot.  Tastes like a middle of the road new style, fruity, oaky Bordeaux.  Well made but not my style.

Dark blackish ruby.  Very Bordeaux-like nose of dark chocolate, smoky oak, with dark berry fruit underneath.  Lots of chocolaty berry fruit accosts the palate and then fades quickly, as I would expect from a wine that discloses that it's made from young vines.  A bland example of the "international style" of technologically unflawed wine but completely lacking in any soul.  B-.  An Eric Solomon selection, this was about $14 at Spec's.

2009 L'Ameillaud COTES DU RHONE (Southern France)

A well-made if unexciting red.  

Very dark violet-tinged ruby.  Direct, very clean nose of tangy blackberry fruit, stony minerals, and sweet cream.  Richly fruity, with gobs of dark berry fruit with a slight dark chocolatey component.  Lots of fine-grained tannin.  Good clean finish.  If this description sounds good, then I guess my lack of enthusiasm is that this wine simply lacked a sense of place; there certainly was nothing wrong with it.  B.  Imported by Douglas Skopp Selections.  Was about $14 at Spec's.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

2007 Falernia SYRAH Reserva (Elqui Valley, Chile)

Another good Syrah from the Elqui Valley. This wine was intense in a very lean, zero body fat way.

Nearly saturated deep mulberry ruby color. Strong nose of intense crushed black peppercorn, deeply-roasted bitter herbs, and sandstone, overlayed with dark blackberry fruit. The first night is was intense, lean, and austere, with very clingy herbal flavors predominating. On night 2, more fruit and roundness emerged. It displayed ripe blackberry fruit and a high-toned, chalky minerality. The herbal stuff decidedly took a back seat for the ride home on night 2. Good acidity to bring liveliness to the clingy flavors. Still some tannin left. This will hold and maybe improve over the next 2 years. Be sure to let it air out well in advance (pour through a Vinturi into a wide decanter if you can). B+. Imported by Meadowbrook Estates (an arm of Neil Empson's company). Can't remember where I got this, but I think it was around $12.

2009 "IA" GARNACHA (Carinena, Spain)

A bright, zesty, tasty inexpensive red that would pair with lots of meals.

Bright, magenta-tinged ruby. Zesty, bright nose of ripe cherry and raspberry fruit, abundant rock dust, and fresh woodsy scents. Lively, zingy and intense in the mouth, with crisp, assertive flavors of winey, spicy raspberry and liquid rock. Very pure-tasting, with fairly full body and a fairly long finish. Very well made at this price point ($9 at Spec's on Richmond). B+. Imported by Hand-Picked Selections.

2009 Reserve des Oliviers CHATEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE Blanc (Southern Rhone, France)

This unique wine had lots of character but may not be everybody's cup of tea. It's a blend of 25% Grenache Blanc, 25% Roussanne, 25% Clairette, and 25% Bourboulenc.

Bright but deep-hued brassy gold. Rich aromas of ripe pear and sweet marzipan, along with a stony minerality. Initially round and ripe in the mouth upon entry, it develops a bitter herbal edge in the finish. Lots of body and length, but very low acidity as well in the clean finish. This is a wine for drinking over the next several months, but don't keep it more than a year. B. Imported by Massanois Imports in DC, I got this for $20 on sale at