Sunday, December 25, 2011

2009 Fausto ROSSO PICENO (Marche, Italy)

Rosso Piceno is the basic everyday red of the Marche region, and this one is a very direct, typical example.  It's a blend of Montepulciano and Sangiovese.  Not sure of the proportions in this example.  No delusions of grandeur or pretension: just straightforward and satisfying.  And a decent value as well.

Very dark black ruby/violet.  Strong scents of pungent gravel and tangy plums, along with a hint of parmesan cheese rind.  Direct and mouthfilling.  Loads of winey berry fruit and some rustic tannin are the strongest impressions.  Good acidity too.  Medium full body.  Would work well with meat braised in tomatoes and wine, or pasta with a meat sauce.  B.  Was $13 and change at Spec's on Smith.  Imported by Angelini Selections.

2009 Domaine Notre Dame des Pallieres RASTEAU (Cotes du Rhone Villages) (France)

Needs a little time to open up, but it's a solid effort and a decent value.

Crystal clear dark ruby garnet color.  Closed the first night, with earthy, brambly scents predominating; the second night it was more friendly-smelling, with sweet baking spices, plummy dark berry fruit, crushed stone and dry gravel scents.  Soft, enveloping, warm flavors of dry blackberry and slightly scorched dry gravel.  A fair amount of tannin in the medium length, pure finish.  B.  I can't find the receipt, and can't remember where I got this, but I seem to recall it was under $15.  I'll come back and update if my memory suddenly sparks.  A Douglas Skopp Selection imported by Dionysus Imports.

(Sorry, 2004 shown)

Saturday, December 17, 2011


I previously reviewed the 2006 iteration of this wine -- which I liked a lot -- and I like this one equally.  Very favorable smell-and-flavor-to-price ratio.  Lots of bang for the buck.

Dark ruby garnet color.  Exuberant nose of almost pungent cherry and plum extract, baking spices, and crushed stone.  Intensely flavorful -- but not heavy or jammy at all -- with penetrating fruit attacking the palate.  Some fine-grained tannins give texture, with dark cherry extract fruit then turning just a tad bitter (in a good way) and earthy as the finish wore on.  Full-bodied, but with respectable acidity.  No heat at all in the long finish.  A textbook ripasso-style Valpo with loads of character.  A.  Was $18.99 at Central Market, making it a very good value.  Imported by Banville & Jones Wines.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

2010 Dauvergne Ranvier LUBERON "Vin Gourmand" (Rhone Valley, France)

This was a great value.  Very old-fashioned southern Rhone flavor profile in a smooth-textured package.  A must buy for holiday parties, to have on hand when guests unexpected pop by, and for weeknight dinners.

Dark black ruby with magenta highlights.  Closed nose at first, but with air it displayed a rich, iodiney nose of dark sweet berries, baking spices, warm sandstone, and sweet cream.  Mouthfilling, with loads of texture from smooth nano-tannin, it had inky, iodine-laced dark berry syrup flavors.  Good acids for balance.  Performing way above its pay grade.  Imported by The Sorting Table, this was $10 and change at Spec's on Smith.  B+

2007 James Petit "Cuvee Ronsard" BOURGUEIL (Loire Valley, France)

A nice lighter style Loire red, its nose and flavors could not have been more cognitively dissonant.

A medium black ruby color, this wine's floral and sweet berry fruit nose suggested that this wouldn't be a typical, earthy, machine oil-tinged, bitter herbal Cab France . . . but not so!  The flavors screamed Cab Franc and had all the clingy, slightly bitter, earthy/herbal components you'd ever want, but in a lighter style, with very nice acids as well.  It went very well with a simply roasted chicken.  B.  Imported by Neal Rosenthal, this was about $22 at Spec's on Smith.

(Sorry, 2005 depicted).

2008 Chateau St. Jean de la Gineste CORBIÈRES "Vieilles Vignes" (Southern France)

A wine a geologist could love.  Wicked gravelly and stony.

Dark blackish ruby/garnet.  Intensely gravelly dark stony nose, with some dark berry fruit underneath.  Peppery, intensely stony flavors as well, with lots of cling and bite.  Good acidity and some tannic structure.  Shows loads of terroir but not a whole lot of friendly fruit.  Needs rustic food; not to be sipped by itself.  B-.  Was $11.99 at Houston Wine Merchant.  A Becky Wasserman Selection.

(Sorry, 2009 depicted)

Friday, December 09, 2011

2006 Ridge SYRAH "Lytton Estate" (Dry Creek Valley, Cal.)

Our friends the Murphys bought this at Ridge when they were out there visiting a coupla months ago, and were nice enough to share it with us recently.  It's available only at the winery or if you're a member of the Ridge "Advanced Tasting Program" (which is well-worth being on if you have the wherewithal.)

It was outstanding.  Very much a "Ridge style" wine, with great depth, length, and linear flow, without being too heavy, too jammy, too alcoholic, or too tannic.  In other words, everything in perfect balance.  Great nose of dark, ripe berries, bacon drippings, and dry gravel.  Loved it.  Perfectly mature, though seemed like it could hold for several more years.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Mom & Dad's Visit -- last coupla rounds

Mom and Dad have gone back to Massachusetts, but we went through quite a few goods wines during the last week of their visit:

2007 "Rosso del Vulcano" AGLIANICO DEL VULTURE -- This was an excellent, balanced, flavorful, traditional styled Aglianico.  Great, minerally, gravelly nose with deep winey, berry fruit.  Excellent balance and persistence.  Not too tannic and, best of all, no smell or flavors of new French oak.  ($17.99 from Houston Wine Merchant).

2009 Chateau Thivin CÔTE DE BROUILLY  -- Outstanding old school Beaujolais.  Gobs of minerally, rich, crunchy cherry fruit.  Vivacious and deep-flavored.  Smooth, clingy, and refreshing.

2009 Domaine Diochon MOULIN-À-VENT "Cuvée Vieilles Vignes" -- This wine pointedly displayed  the typical difference between the neighboring Beaujolais applelations of Moulin-á-Vent and Cote de Brouilly (or the Moulins and ANY of the other Beaujolais appellations):  The Moulins are typically earthier, larger-framed, more structured and austere, and less overtly fruity.  (This one fit the profile to a "t".)  In a word, they are -- at least to me -- more challenging to drink.  Some would argue that makes it the best Beaujolais appellation.  I just think it's different, and I usually go for the non-Moulin style when I'm considering drinking a Beaujolais. 

2009 Leitz Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz RIESLING Spatlese (Rheingau, Germany) -- A fantastic, more than slightly sweet Riesling, with piercing peachy, apricot fruit, coupled with intensely minerally (almost petrolly) notes, and a dark tea leaf aspect.  Fantastically balanced, with outstanding acidity and a great, pure finish.  Loved it.

2010 King Estate "Vin Glacé" RIESLING (Oregon) -- This "fake" Eiswein (the grapes were harvested late and then frozen by the winemaker and crushed, as opposed to being harvested late while frozen, then crushed) was a fantastic buy in a dessert Riesling.  Intensely fruity, with loads of pure peach/apricot fruit, a tad bit of minerality, and intense acidity adding lift to the finish.  Was about $14 for the half bottle at Spec's on Smith, making it a steal for a delicious, lighter-styled  dessert wine.

2007 Selection Laurence Féraud GIGONDAS (Rhone Valley, France) -- A classically-styled Gigondas.  Loads of herbal, austere, iodiney-minerally fruit on the nose.  Fairly full, with that classic Gigondas austere feel, but with an excellent, clingy finish.  Great with winter stews and wine-braised pot roasts.

2008 Francine et Olivier Savary CHABLIS "Selection Vieilles Vignes" (No. Burgundy, France) -- A traditionally styled, austere, earthy, straw and broth-scented Chardonnay.  Lean, penetrating, and with loads of crisp, earth-tinged, apply fruit.  Very nice.