Monday, March 26, 2012

2009 Castillo de Maluenda "Punto y Coma" GARNACHA "Vinas Viejas" (Calatayud, Spain)

This is a macho, burly Garnacha -- a varietal that, if anything, I would typically liken to a fleshy, voluptuous woman.

Vibrant, pure-refracting dark ruby.  The first night it was very closed and showed highly extracted scents of scorched earth virtually overshadowing the raspberry fruit.  Night two it mellowed, and the fruit came more to the fore: lots of tight, crunchy crushed raspberries poured over a powdery mass of freshly-pulverized stones.  Loads of micro-tannin coat the mouth in the back half of the palate.  The finish is all stones.  Good acids too.  This wine actually needs a couple of years, during which the tannins and angularity should mellow and the fruit should move forward even more.  Very unique style of Grenache.  B+.  Was $12.99 at European Foods on Washington Blvd and Pershing in Arlington.  Imported by Monsieur Touton Selections.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

2010 "Les Heretiques" Red (Herault, Southern France)

From the owners of the respected Chateau d'Oupia in the Languedoc region, this cheap blend of Carignane and Syrah is a young, zesty, and well-made weekday dinner wine.  If drunk in 2012, however, give it some air time, as the nose and flavors are quite closed at first.

Deep, dark, ruby/violet.  Not especially complex on the nose, but with enticing aromas of equal parts clean, stony minerality and ripe but tangy dark berries.  Lively, tangy berry fruit hits the palate first, then broadens out and shows a soft texture and nice ripeness.  A little tannin in the clean-as-a-whistle finish.  Just a dynamite dinner accompaniment at a bargain price.  B+.  Was $10.99 at Whole Foods between Wilson and Clarendon Blvds in Arlington.  Imported by one of my favorites, Louis/Dressner Selections (which is why I even tried such a cryptically-labeled wine in the first place).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2009 Three Vineyards MATARO "Spinelli Vineyard" (Contra Costa County, Cal.)

A wine that juxtaposes lusciousness with balance.  Really fine.  Is it the 125-yr. old vines (that's not a typo) or great winemaking?  Probably both.  Get some.

Dark black ruby with violet highlights.  Nose of perfectly ripe dark berries, along with notes of dark liquid minerals, fresh parsley and sandalwood.  Mouthfilling and mouthcoating rich fruit, primarily dark, ripe, iodine-laced blackberry extract.  Gobs of very soft tannin give great structure, and the wine has depth yet is not heavy.  Decent acids, and a long finish.  Just a joy to drink.  A.  Was $19.99 from

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

2009 Domaine de la Chapelle des Bois FLEURIE "Cuvee Vieilles Vignes de la Cadole" (Beaujolais, France)

Very pure smelling and tasting but lacking concentration enough even for a Beaujolais.

Bright, crystalline deep ruby color.  Light intensity nose:  cherries and clean, cracked rocks are discernable, but you have to sniff with some focus to get it.  Nice attack of pure hard cherry candy fruit and loads of stony minerals, but they're evanescent, disappearing quickly.  Some tannins remain in the mouth, and the wine has nice freshness, but the flavors bolt for the exit too fast.  Disappointing.  C+.  Imported by Neal Rosenthal, I think I got this at Houston Wine Merchant a few months ago (before I moved to Virginia).  I think it was around $25, so it was decidedly not a good value.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Wine trends I don't like #1

Argentine Malbecs are everywhere, and they seem to be taking up shelf space at the expense of Aussie reds, particularly the Aussie Grenaches, which I love.  To me, Malbecs just aren't that interesting.  Earthy and coarse by nature, the trend in Argentina seems to be to try to bypass those characteristics by harvesting them much riper and oaking the crap out of them.  Count me out.  Haven't had one I really liked in a very long time . . . was it a Tikal?  Anyway, Australia is definitely considered uncool these days.  Not sure why.  I really miss seeing those old vine Grenaches on store shelves.  Big, ripe, yet food friendly, with warm, complex aromatics.  Bring them back please.

2009 Quivira ZINFANDEL (Dry Creek Valley, Cal)

I almost poured this wine down the drain shortly after I opened it because it was so weird initially.  I'm glad I put it away and drank it the next night, because the time helped it a lot.

Bright intense ruby color. The first day, the nose was just bizarre.  First, there was a ton of that pungent, American oak smell I associate with old school Rioja, but it was coupled with an almost cartoonishly exaggerated tangy, rhubarby/boysenberryish fruit--almost like it was concocted in a New Jersey food lab.  So I put the Vacu-Vin on it and forgot about it for a day.  The next night, it was far more normal.  The American oak smell was gone and a pure, bright, blackberryish fruit emerged.  There was good concentration in the mouth, but with nice balance.  Clingy, pure, deep fruit, a long finish, and pretty good acidity.  Almost imperceptible tannin added some frame to it.  Very nice  dinner accompaniment.  Scored on the second night, I would give it a B+.  Give this wine LOTS of air time to come around.  Was $19.99 at Arrowine in Arlington.