Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2009 Monchiero LANGHE NEBBIOLO (Piemonte, Italy)

Tasted blind, I'm not sure I'd be able to place this as a Nebbiolo.  But knowing what it is, I can see some varietal character, but in a youthful, simple style.

Light, bright ruby red color.  Straightforward fruity aromas of cherry, plum, and a little strawberry.  A bit more depth and grip than the light color and bouncy, fruity nose would lead you to expect.  Good acids and noticeable tannin, but little complexity.  Clingy flavors of dark cherry and some roasted herbal resin.  Fun to drink.  But tastes like it's from very young vines.  B. Was $16 and change at Arrowine in Arlington. (I've got to get out more . . .  seems like Arrowine is the only place I ever have time to do any wine shopping.)  Imported by Scoperta Importing Co., Cleveland Heights, OH.

Monday, February 27, 2012

2009 Dragonia "Old Vine" GARNACHA (Carinena, Spain)

A good value, pure-tasting, easy-drinking wine for weekday dinners.  Not especially concentrated but the flavors are very nice.

Absolutely pure-looking ruby.  And I mean ruby, as in, take a ruby, and imagine it's a liquid.  Nose is likely freshly put-up ripe raspberry jam, with a very subtle hint of clean cracked stones.  Ripe and mouthfilling, with ripe raspberry fruit, good acids, full body, and a bit of soft tannin for structure.  Not particularly concentrated, but fun to guzzle with dinner.  B.  Drink over the next year.  Was $9.99 at Arrowine in Arlington.  Imported by A W Direct, Inc, of Novato, CA.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2010 Domaine les Ondines COTES DU RHONE "La Buissonnade" (Southern France)

A good, cheap entry level Cotes du Rhone.  At its price point, it delivers.

Luminescent dark ruby/violet.  Medium intensity nose of ripe, spicy, black raspberries, tart acidity (yes, you can smell the acidity), and high-toned stoniness.  Dark spicy blackberry/black cherry fruit with loads of rocky minerals and a teensy bit of iodiney burnt herbs.  Not terribly concentrated, and the finish thins out quicker than I'd like, but the flavors and balance make this a nice, refreshing weekday dinner accompaniment.  B.  Imported by Wine Traditions of Falls Church, VA, this wine was $9.99 at Arrowine in Arlington.

(Sorry, 2007 depicted).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

2008 Podere Canneta SAN GIMIGNANO ROSSO "Zenit" (Tuscany, Italy)

From the Tuscan town known for, in my view, one of the most overrated white wines in the world, this Sangiovese-based red is basically akin to a good Chianti, which is, unsurprisingly, the larger region within which this town is located.  Are there better Chiantis at this pricepoint?  Maybe a few.  But this is very tasty and also is a conversation piece because of its unusual appellation.

Dark ruby garnet.  Very typically Chianti-like nose of dry gravelly/schisty earthiness infusing winey cherries.  Bone dry in the mouth, with good acids and a cheek-coating dose of soft tannins.  Flavors of dry leather and earthy chokecherries.  Fairly-full bodied, with lots of schisty minerals and a slight bit of heat in the fairly long finish.  B.  Was $14.99 at The Italian Store (Lee Hwy & Spout Run, in Arlington).  Imported by Michael R. Downey Selections, Woodbridge, VA.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

2009 Boas Vinhas DAO (Portugal)

A very easy-drinking wine that will go with practically anything you could make for dinner (except fish).  And it's inexpensive.

Dark ruby color.  Loads of spicy plummy fruit accented by some subtle rocky minerality.  Ripe, fruity, and very soft in the mouth.  Not particularly concentrated, but goes down very easy with food (what the French call "gouyelant," I believe).  Fairly low in acidity, but pure and clean on the finish.  Drink over the next year.  B.  Was $9.99 at Arrowine.  Imported by Wine in Motion, New Jersey (which I've never heard of).  40% Touriga Nacional, 30% Tinta Roriz, 30% Alfrocheiro (never heard of that last varietal).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

2006 Robert Young Winery "Red Winery Road" CABERNET SAUVIGNON (Alexander Valley, Cal.)

I don't drink many California Cabs (they're pricey and many are the furthest thing from food-friendly) but I do have a weakness for the occasional Alexander Valley wine.  They tend to be softer, broader, and friendlier, with a clean, loamy earthiness.  This one is pretty typical of the genre.

Soft-hued dark ruby.  Rich, ripe cassis/blackberry fruit, accented with a modest amount of sweet vanillin from the French oak and the open Alexander Valley earthiness there in the background.  Soft and mouthfilling, with dark-toned ripe red fruit and a mouth-coating sweet graphite component.  Finishes dry and very minerally, still with some soft tannin.  Would pair nicely with roast prime rib or an Argentine-style beef cutlet "Milanese."  B+.  I got this from for $30 several months ago.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

2009 Domaine Nebout SAINT-POURCAIN (Central France)

From an area in Central France directly west of Macon -- and near no other appellations I know of -- this blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir is not necessarily a great wine (in terms of what excites wine critics) but is a fantastically flexible dinner wine.

Very light ruby garnet color.  At first the nose displayed a fair amount of barnyardy earthiness, but with air the earthiness receded and the wine showed off tangy grapey-crisp cherry scents with an earthiness that reminded me of river stones. Barely medium light-bodied, but with minerally crisp cherry and lemon juice flavors, great acids, a soft texture, and a refreshing finish.  I went fantastically with leftover provencal chicken (here's the recipe).  I wish it were a bit cheaper, but certainly give this a shot to see how a wine SHOULD fit in with a meal.  (Hint, it shouldn't be something that contrasts so vividly that it distracts your attention away from the meal, but should feel like a complementary liquid extension of the food.)  In the abstract, this is a B.  With the chicken, it was an A.  Was $14.99 at Arrowine in Arlington.  Imported by Dionysis Imports, Manassas, VA.

Friday, February 10, 2012

2010 Viejo Isaias Clasico BONARDA (Mendoza, Argentina)

Typical modern "international style" red.  Big, fleshy, extracted, and oaky . . . but it's almost impossible to tell what is is and where it's from.

Almost fully-saturated black ruby.  Oaky nose, featuring loads of baker's chocolate and some jammy dark berry fruit underneath.  Dark, chocolatey flavors as well.  In terms of flavor intensity, there's a lot here, but it tastes more like some labor-intensive mocha drink from Starbucks than a Bonarda (which should have loads of red berry fruit and good acids).  If you like the oaky, way ripe, very extracted "international style," you'll like this more than I did.  To me, this is a C+.  Was $9.99 at the Clarendon-area Whole Foods in Arlington.  Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils. 

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

2009 Laurent Martray BROUILLY Vieilles Vignes "Combiaty" (Beaujolais region, France)

Fruity and fun, this wine satisfies in a simple, straightforward way.  At least if you're, like me, a Beaujolais fan.

Brilliant, crystalline ruby color.  Very bright, vibrant, crunchy, grapey scents, with a light note of clean, stony minerality.  Medium-light bodied, with dry, clean crisp cherry and grape flavors, fading into a stony finish.  Great acidity makes it feel very crisp and refreshing.  Very clean, medium length finish.  A great accompaniment to light dinners.  (I had it with spicy Thai basil chicken, however, which kind of overwhelmed the wine.)  B.  Was $15.99 at Arrowine.  Imported by Elite Wine Imports, Lorton, VA.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

2009 Santo Cristo GARNACHA (Campo de Borja, Spain)

Yet another pure-tasting, deeply-flavored Spanish Grenache at a bargain price.  Sometimes I just crave that straightforward, succulent raspberry extract fruit that these Iberian beauties frequently deliver.  No, they don't have the complexity of Chateauneufs, but they're 1/4 of the price.
Crystalline dark ruby with magenta highlights.  Stunningly vibrant, deep, electric nose of reduced ripe raspberry extract, lemons, and clean, cracked river stones. Full-bodied, intense flavors of black raspberry and black cherry fruit, with a dark, clean minerality in the finish.  Mouthfilling and weighty, but with good acids, this wine is a great choice for weekday casseroles, stews, and braises.  Heck, this would be plenty fun on one of those weekends between paychecks.  Not complex, but it satisfies.  Drink over the next year.  B+.  Imported by Europvin USA, this was $9.99 at Arrowine in Arlington.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

A Bleg: Intel on DC/Northern Virginia area wine shops

Here's a "bleg" (blog beg) to any readers either living in the DC/Northern Virginia area or otherwise familiar with the wine shops there:

What are your views on the best wine shops around? Keep in mind that my preferences are for stores with a broad selection from offbeat or otherwise underappreciated regions and grapes.  I really don't care who's got the best selection of first growth Bordeaux, DRC, or cult cabs.  I'm familiar with Arrowine in Arlington, which I think is exactly the kind of shop I love.  Please include comments about why you like any shops you mention.


Friday, February 03, 2012

The First Virginia Post: 2009 Crivelli RUCHÉ DI CASTAGNOLE MONFERRATO (Piemonte, Italy)

Well, I finally have a computer and an Internet connection here, so I guess it's time for my first post.  And this wine is unique and very good.  Ruché (or Ruchet) is a varietal indigenous to Piemonte, but there are not many who grow it.  I haven't seen one since I lived in NYC in the mid-80s (from Giuseppe Scarpa), so it was a treat to see it in Arlington (and at a reasonable price).  Loads of unique fragrance, a smooth texture, and a light, refreshing feel in the mouth characterize this very food flexible wine.

Light, vivid ruby color.  The fragrance is ridiculous, bright, licorice-inflected dark plum candy fruit and a vivid cracked stone note.  Smooth, loaded with ripe, clingy fruit, but with good acidity and medium weight.  Gorgeously rich, but not heavy, plummy fruit. Not a wine to age, enjoy this over the next 12-18 months with pastas, pizza, Chinese take out, or, like I did, with take out from Crisp and Juicy, my favorite South American cheap roast chicken joint (in Arlington).  B+.  Was $15.99 at Arrowine (which is on the same block as Crisp and Juicy).  Imported by Michael R. Downey Selections of Lorton, VA.