Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mom & Dad's Visit -- Round three

2009 Domaine Perraud MACON-VILLAGES "Vieilles Vignes" -- This unoaked Chardonnay was large-framed, earthy, with lots of wet straw and gravel scents, along with intense pear/apple fruit.  Very nice.

2010 Chateau Soucherie ROSE DE LOIRE "Cuvee L'Astree" -- This rose, which I believe is Cabernet Franc-based, was ridiculously crisp, fresh, floral and zesty, with excellent minerality and sweet/tart strawberry fruit.  Excellent.

2009 Three Vineyards "Old Vines Field Blend" (Contra Costa County, Cal.) -- Much bigger, riper, and in-your-face than the 2008 (which I've previously reviewed here), this wine would be an excellent choice on a cold fall or winter evening with a beef stew.

2008 Umani Ronchi LACRIMA DI MORRO D'ALBA "Fonte del Re" (Marche, Italy) -- This wine is grown in the hills where my grandfather was born, and is quite unique in its aromas and flavors.  It's got an intense, bitter dark plum/grape and licorice aroma, with a bit of dry gravelly earth, and is both mouth-filling and palate-cleansing at the same time.  Very nice accompaniment to rich, meat and tomato sauces and braises.

2002 Selbach RIESLING EISWEIN (Mosel, Germany) -- Wow.  Light tawny-copper color.  Intense, complex nose leaps out, with honey, apricot, bright citrusy acids, and sweet earth.  Utterly ridiculous in the mouth, with mouthfilling richness and honeyed, intensely sweet fruit, but juxtaposed with such vibrant intense acids that it literally makes your mouth water.  Fantastic, long finish.  In 500 ml bottle, so a little more to enjoy than the typical dessert 375.  This wine will last another several years.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mom & Dad's visit -- next few rounds

Louis Roederer CHAMPAGNE Brut Premier -- Very nice, toasty, yeasty, apply scented, on the lighter side but with a very long, crisp finish and great persistence of bubbles.

2010 Pascal Granger "La Jacarde" BEAUJOLAIS-VILLAGES BLANC (!) -- A rare white Beaujolais, from Chardonnay grapes and completely unoaked.  It has a ridiculously fresh, fruity fragrance with crisp peach and ripe apple fruit, and was nicely balanced, medium-light bodied, and as fresh as cotton sheets lined-dried on a crisp, sunny fall day.  ($21 at Houston Wine Merchant).  Get this.

2008 Core GRENACHE Santa Barbara County -- Tasted like freshly crushed plum and raspberry juice.  Very unusual, but good.  After a couple of days an herbal side came out.

2008 Chono SYRAH (Elqui Valley, Chile) -- Previously reviewed here, this wine remains a fantastic value.  (Available at Houston Wine Merchant and at Central Market).

2009 August Kesseler SPATBURGUNDER (Pinot Noir) ROSE (Rheingau, Germany) -- Fragrant, with crisp, light cherry and floral fruit, and surprisingly large -framed for a German wine.  Unique and good.

2006 Ottimino ZINFANDEL "Von Weidlich Vineyard" (Russian River Valley, Cal.) -- Very elegant Zin, showing the classic profile of a Zin with some bottle age, which tends to mute the up-front fruit and bring out a brambly quality.  More depth than the previously reviewed "Ottimino Vineyard" bottling from this producer.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mom & Dad's visit -- first few wines

Mom and Dad are down from New England for a visit, and that means breaking out some of the "non-value-oriented-stuff."  After all, they deserve it, and at their age, making the trip is pretty grueling.

2010 Cantina Terlan PINOT BIANCO (Alto Adige, Italy) -- I expected a leaner, more minerally expression of Pinot Bianco, given the climate and the vintage, but this was a bit fatter than I'm used to seeing in Italian whites, with very good, straightforward apple and slightly underripe peach fruit.

2008 Three Wine Company "OLD VINES FIELD BLEND" (Contra Costa County, Cal.) -- I previously reviewed and liked this very much, and it's still drinking really well.  Deep, soft, a little earthy, and with good weight and balance.

2009 Jakob Schneider NIEDERHAUSER HERMANNSHOHLE RIESLING SPATLESE (Nahe, Germany) -- A ridiculously pure, sweet, and crisp Riesling.  Unbelievable purity and intensity of fruit.  Sweeter and riper (seemed more like an Auslese) and would have served beautifully as a refreshing dessert wine.  As it an aperitif, which was how we drank it, it was maybe a tad too sweet for most tastes, but we all thought it was killer.

 2008 Poggio Antico ROSSO DI MONTALCINO (Tuscany, Italy) -- Very low-toned in the nose and flavors, with deep bass berry fruit buried under loads of minerally, schist-rich gravelly scents. Drinking very well now.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

2009 Chateau La Tour Beraud COSTIERES DE NIMES (Southern Rhone, France)

Go to Spec's on Smith and get some of the value-priced, loaded-with-character gem!  This blend of Syrah, Grenache, Marselan (a grape that is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache), and Mourvedre was intensely-flavored, balanced, and very old school in style, with lots of earthy, iodiney notes augmenting the spicy fruit.

Dark black ruby with a bit of magenta-tinting.  Intense nose of tangy blackberry and boysenberry fruit, accented with quite a snootful of iodine-infused dark stony gravel scents.  Intensely clingy, dark flavors of deeply-roasted herbs, slightly bitter blackberry extract, and scorched, iodiney earth.  Full-bodied, but with good overall balance.  This is a muscular, old-fashioned style Southern Rhone with lots of oomph but in a slightly more civilized frame than you'd expect.  A-.  Was $13 and change at Spec's on Smith.  Imported by Rhone specialist J&R Selections.

2006 Ottimino ZINFANDEL "Ottimino Vineyard" (Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, Cal.)

Ottimino is a relatively small production Zinfandel specialist known for making structured, age-worthy, balanced Zins that have lower alcohol and less jamminess than many of Zin producers that get more press.  The Russian River Valley is a little cooler than most of the other regions where Zin is grown in Sonoma and Napa, so I imagine that makes it a bit easier to achieve this style there.  This wine, from one of the younger vineyards Ottimino bottles, was very good.  As the vines get older, I expect wines from this vineyard to add a little more depth to the mid-palate.

Surprisingly youthful (for a 5 year old Zin) dark ruby color.  Deep nose of ripe blackberry, smoky peat, and baker's chocolate (the latter probably from new oak).  In the mouth, an immediate rich presence of inky, chocolatey, plummy fruit coats the mouth, and there quite a bit of tannin too.  A little hollowness in the mid-palate then leads to a dark, smoky, chocolatey finish where the tannin coating the sides of your mouth is the last thing to leave.  Drink over the next 2 years.  B+.    I got this as part of a 6-bottle Ottimino sampler from, at a price that worked out to about $22 per bottle.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

2007 "El Castro de Valtuille" MENCIA Joven (Bierzo, Spain)

This intensely-extracted wine, made from the indigenous Mencia varietal, needs 3-5 more years of cellaring, but is enjoyable now if you're not averse to a bit of a tannic blast.

Almost completely saturated black ruby.  Rich nose of dark, blackberry extract, scorched earth, and pungent crushed stones.  Tannic, rich, dry, and slightly astringent in the mouth.  A highly-extracted bruiser of a wine.  Good length, bone dry.  B(+).  Was $16.99 at Houston Wine Merchant.  Imported by Boutique Wine Collection, Phila., PA.

2007 Louis Jadot SAVIGNY-LES-BEAUNE PREMIER CRU "LA DOMINODE" (Red Burgundy, France)

Not worth the $30 price or up to the premier cru pedigree.  Too thin and angular.

Medium light ruby garnet.  Medium intensity nose of tart, wild cherry fruit and pungent crushed stones, with a hint of freshly-baked bread.  Loose, somewhat diluted flavors of sharp, bone dry, winey cherry fruit and dry, stony minerals, with a squeeze of lemon rind.  Good acidity, a little bit of tannin.  A bit of bitterness in the disappointingly short finish.  This wouldn't be worth complaining about if it were a $15 generic Bourgogne Rouge, but at double that price and from a premier cru vineyard, disappointing.  B-.  Was $30 and change at Spec's on Smith.

2006 Terra del Re AGLIANICO DEL VULTURE "Vultui" (Campagnia, Southern Italy)

A highly-extracted, tannic red that may not have the fruit to outlive the tannin.  Fairly nice now if you don't mind a bit of rusticity.

Completely saturated black ruby with a brickish tint.  Reasonably deep, low-toned nose of dark plummy fruit, menthol, and pungently minerally earth.  Intensely tannic in the mouth, with somewhat rough, mouthcoating flavors of dry blackberry and scorched, stony minerals.  Good acidity for such a big boy.  The tannin suggests more age is required to smooth it out, but the modest fruit concentration might not be up to the task.  I'm on the fence as to whether to drink this now or risk it and wait another 2-3 years.  B.  Was $22.99 at Houston Wine Merchant.  Imported by Empson Selections.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

2010 Domaine Balandras MÂCON-SERRIÈRES "Les Gravières" (Red!) (Southern Burgundy, France)

A very fun 100% Gamay red from the Mâcon region, which is almost exclusively known for its inexpensive whites from the Chardonnay grape.  Consider it a nice, but obscure, alternative to Beaujolais (which is the adjoining region known for its reds).

Dark ruby garnet color.  Direct, crushed rock-infused crisp dark cherry and grape aromas.  Lively, medium-bodied and flavorful, this wine isn't very concentrated or complex, but balanced, crisp, and untiring to drink.  Lots of crisp, dark cherry flavors.  Clean, medium long finish.  When you are in the mood for a refreshing wine to have with dinner, this is a great choice.  Will go well with a wide range of dishes.  B.  Imported by Fruit of the Vines.  I can't find the receipt for this one.  I think I may have gotten it for about $15 at Central Market, but don't quote me on that.

(Sorry - 2005 depicted).

2009 Domaine la Soleiade VACQUEYRAS (Southern Rhône, France)

A solid value, flavorful Côtes du Rhône.  55% Grenache, 45% Syrah.

 Very dark dark mulberry ruby.  Medium intensity nose of cassis, sweet blackberry extract, crushed dark stones, and a bit of scorched earth.  Rich, deep, and tannic, with extracted dark berry fruit and stony earth/iodiney flavors.  Good weight, good balance, and good length.  Could use, and should improve with, 2-3 years of cellaring.  B+.  $14.99 on sale at Whole Foods on Bellaire.  Imported by Fruit of the Vines.

2009 Palama "Arcangelo" PRIMITIVO (Puglia, Italy)

Simple, flavorful, and interesting, with a tad of residual sugar, but definitely worth the on-sale price of $5.99 at Houston Wine Merchant.

Medium soft ruby garnet color.  Sweet tangy, plummy/grapy fruit, with a tiny bit of high-toned rock dust.  Soft and ripe, with jiggly plum and very slightly prunish fruit.  Unstructured and fleshy, in a loose sort of way.  A tad bit of residual sugar, but otherwise a clean, pure, fruity finish.  Medium full body.  B-.  Imported by Small Vineyards Selections.

2007 Lolonis ZINFANDEL (Redwood Valley, Mendocino County)

A lively, full-flavored good value, and organic to boot!

Very bright crystalline dark ruby/garnet.  Bright, spicy black raspberry and black cherry fruit, accented with some noticeable but unobtrusive American oak.  Vigorous spicy black raspberry fruit in the mouth.  Some tannin clings the walls of your mouth, but it's soft.  Good acids.  Finish is fairly long and has some nice zing to it.  Not a complex or super-deep Zin, but a total pleasure to drink either alone or with a meal.  B+.  Was $16.99 at Houston Wine Merchant.