Tuesday, May 29, 2012

2007 Cavalier Bartolomeo BAROLO "Solanotto Altenasso" (Piemonte, Italy)

This is a very good Barolo that was -- surprisingly for a Barolo -- a good buy.  Big, fairly open, identifiably Nebbiolo, and nicely structured.

Deep, dark ruby color with just the barest hint of amber at the edge of the rim.  Extroverted nose of winey dark cherries, balsamic notes (including a bit of volatile acidity, though not enough to worry about), spiced balsa wood, and loamy earth.  In other words, pretty complex.  Burly and mouthfilling, it's got a boatload of tannin, but is showing lots of flavor right now:  deeply minerally black cherry and loads of dark, schisty earth.  Leaves the mouth reluctantly, with puckery tannins and acid, as well as long-lasting dark minerals.  Very full-bodied.  Kind of like a loud, gregarious 6'5" defensive lineman.  B+.  Got this for $24.99 from Wines Til Sold Out (wtso.com).  Imported by Superior Wines, Crannford, NY.

Friday, May 25, 2012

2008 Sausal "Century Vines" Zinfandel (Alexander Valley, Cal.)

A structured, fully mature Zin.  Not as overtly fruity or massive as one might expect from a Zin from vines that were 131 years old at harvest.  But still very good.  This is a Zin that needs grilled beef or lamb to really shine.

Dark blackish ruby-garnet color.  Not fully saturated.  Medium intensity nose of dark blackberry fruit with a slight wisp of prune, along with a low-toned minerally/graphite note.  Intensely minerally in the mouth, with a clingy, pervasive iodiney/graphite streak that fades into a slight bitterness.  There's fruit there too, in the form of blackberries macerating on their skins.  Bone dry, with a fair amount of tannin and pretty good acids.  The overall impression is that this Zin favors structure over fruit.  Grilled meat will bring the fruit out more than other dishes will.  Drink over the next 12-18 months.  B.  Was $19.99 from Wines Til Sold Out (wtso.com).

(Sorry, 2002 depicted)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

2010 Domaine Dupré RÉGNIÉ "Vignes de 1918" (Beaujolais, France)

Fragrant, ripe, fleshy, and eminently quaffable.  Not as crisp and minerally as I would have expected from a traditional producer in this vintage, but it was a very good value at $12.99.

Intensely vivid magenta-tinged ruby.  Ripe cherry, plummy fruit with a very subtle high-toned smoky, rocky note.  Fleshy and a little tannic in the mouth, but with very pleasing ripeness,  it's a tad less tightly-wound and concentrated as I usually look for in a Beaujolais.  But despite its atypical character, I enjoyed it a lot.  Decent acids keep it from being too flat, and it went really well with a hamburger from the local Five Guys.  B.  I got this from Wines Til Sold Out on the web at wtso.com. Imported by Serge Dore Selections.

(Sorry, 2009 depicted).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2009 Three Vineyards CARIGNANE "Lucchesi" (Contra Costa County, Cal.)

This is a remarkable wine.  From 100+ year-old Carignane vines, on their original rootstock, planted in deep, sandy soil.  It's fragrant, rich, balanced, and long.

Dark deep ruby color.  Very fragrant, with scents of ripe blackberry and plum, a sweet light earthy note, and smoky balsa wood.  In the mouth, it's weighty and instantly mouth-filling.  Loads of clingy, minerally, iodiney notes accenting very low-toned deep blackberry juice.  Lots of soft tannin, and a very pure, deep berry-skin finish.  I know I've said that Carignane is a grape that simply cannot achieve greatness, but I was wrong.  This is by far the best Carignane I've ever had.  A.  I got this for $19 from WineAccess.com.  I would love to be able to insert this bottle blind into a tasting of 2009 Chateauneufs, as it would certainly be at the top of the list, and at half the price of most of the better estates.  Readers would be well-advised to sign up for email offerings from these guys because it's hard to find Three Vineyard wines anywhere else.

Monday, May 14, 2012

2009 Fattoria ColSanto "Ruris" (Umbria, Italy)

This is a non-DOC blend of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot, and 10% Sagrantino.  It is a very rustic mouthful of wine, and got more enjoyable over the course of three days after initially being opened. But it's cheap, and not a bad gulper to have with rustic tomato/meat/cheese pasta dishes.
Relatively innocuous dark ruby color.  The first day, the nose seemed sharp and overextracted.  By the third day it was pretty good.  Lots of tart cherry fruit and angular cracked stony scents.   Drying, slightly sour cherry fruit fills the mouth, with some dry earthiness, as well, and it's all transported along on a wave of acidity and some aggressive, not-so-soft tannin.  Finished clean, but leaves the mouth somewhat puckered.  I know these notes don't make this wine sound so good, but I actually kind of enjoyed it (with food -- without food, it's way too taxing).  C+/B-.  I think this was around 9 or 10 bucks at Whole Foods in Clarendon.  Imported by Siema Wines, Springfield, VA.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

2009 Chateau de Nages COSTIERES DE NIMES "Vieilles Vignes" (Rhone Valley, France)

This 50/50 Grenache/Syrah is terrific.  Soft-textured, open, but densely-flavored.  Drinking really well now, but should hold for another 2 years or so.

Pure, dark blackish ruby.  Low-toned, deep nose of dark blackberry extract shot-through with smoked meats and shovels-full of sandstone.  Deep, minerally, iodine-infused flavors immediately fill every nook and cranny in the mouth, with a deep, dark slightly bitter fruit component I can only say tastes like fermented, crushed blackberry pomace. Loads of tannin that's neither coarse nor soft, and fairly low acidity, but it doesn't seem over-extracted or out of balance.  Just deep and clingy.  B+, maybe a little more.  $14.99 at Total Wine in McLean, VA.  Imported by Saranty Imports, White Plains, NY.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

2008 Beckley Family Vineyards ZINFANDEL Reserve (Napa Valley)

A really nice, structured ripe, balanced Zin.  I am not exactly sure why Napa Valley Zins tend to have a more structured, subdued, "Claret" (i.e., Bordeaux) like feel than their Dry Creek, Mendocino, Sonoma Valley, or Paso Robles counterparts, but they do.  This one has both the typical Napa structure and great Zin character.

Very dark pure, black ruby color.  The first night it was a bit closed on the nose, but two days later (sealed with a Vacu-Vin) it really blossomed.  Deep dark vibrant blackberry fruit, together with a graphite/gravelly note on the nose.  In the mouth, it explodes with flavor, coating the mouth with pure, ripe Zinfandel dark berry fruit, with a terrific sweet iron/iodiney note that expanded as the finish wore on.  Excellent structure, with a lot of fine-grained tannin and decent acidity.  This will hold and maybe even improve for another 2-3 years.  A-.  Was $14.99 from WTSO.com, making it an excellent value.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

2009 Domaine Laleure-Piot PERNAND-VERGELESSES PREMIER CRU (White Burgundy)

This was an extreme wine.  So minerally and brothy that it's hard to believe grapes had anything to do with it.  Not my cup of tea, but I know several wine geeks who would love this style.

Medium light, pewter-inflected gold color.  Nose very closed the first day, even with pouring through a Vinturi. Day 2 the nose was more extroverted, smelling like an emulsion of freshly-pulverized limestone dust, chicken broth, and tart green apple/lemon peel.  Quickly attacks the palate with very lean, minerally, straw-tinged earthy and brothy flavors.  The mineraliness clings long in the mouth, and there's good acidity (duh), but where's the fruit?  Mineraliness is great as a complexity-adder, but there's got to be fruit there to add to.  Right now, this is a C-.  But I've experienced white burgundies that blossom from green and closed to real beauties in 2 or 3 years.  I don't know if this is one, but it's probably better to wait and hope than drink now.  Was $22 from WTSO.com.

(Sorry:  2005 shown)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

2009 Weber PINOT NOIR "Mishelle" (Santa Rita Hills, Cal.)

I got this for a song ($10) as a close-out, and it's really good!  Loads of pure Pinot fruit in a crisp, almost tart style, but with excellent varietal character, very good concentration, and great balance.

Medium dark ruby with a magenta tinge.  Nose of pure cherry with pomegranate, along with a whisper of root beer and sandstone.  Lively, crisp, penetrating fruit on entry, first filling the mouth and then turning into mineral-laced cherry extract as the finish wore on.  Just a bit of tannin providing physical structure. I would put this up against all but the top Beaune Premier Crus any day.  I'm not sure if they have any left, but you should check out the Winex (a very good Orange County, Cal., retailer) website and find out.  B+.  This could age nicely for a couple of years.