Sunday, September 30, 2012

2010 Mas de Gourgonnier LES BAUX DE PROVENCE (Southern France)

This wine is consistently a very good wine and very good value.  It's always organically made from 50-60 year-old vines, and tastes like a traditional Provencal red.  The 2010 is definitely up to past quality standards.

Very dark blackish ruby with a violet tinge.  Dark rich, ripe berry fruit, equaled measure-for-measure by scents of graphite and sandstone.  Low-toned minerally fruit coats the mouth, with lots of youthful tannin.  Full-bodied, with good concentration, but no alcohol peeking through.  It actually seems a bit tight.  Very long finish, and nice balance.  Will keep and improve for 2-4 years, but drinking well now for those who, like me, like 'em young (we're talking wines here, of course).  B+.  Was $15.99 at Whole Foods in Alexandria (Old Town).  Imported by Dionysos Imports, Manassas, VA.

(Sorry, 2005 depicted)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

2010 Birichino GRENACHE "Vieilles Vignes Besson Vineyards" (Central Coast, Cal.)

Grown in the Santa Cruz Mountain area, this Grenache (from 101 year-old vines, grown on its original roots), shows off intense cherry fruit with a bit of black raspberry, along with a pungently stony minerality.  It's very good, balanced, and focused, and not at all the fruit bomb one would expect from such old Grenache vines in California.  In fact, it's a little on the lean side.  This wine would do very well with pasta in a good meat sauce or grilled burgers.

Deep violet-tinged ruby. Dry cherry extract coats the mouth, along with stony minerals.  Lots of soft tannin, as well as acids and alcohol.  Not very complex, but satisfying and athletic in a linear way.  B+.  Was $17.99 from

Thursday, September 27, 2012

2007 la Maia Lina CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA (Tuscany, Italy)

A solid Chianti with good depth of flavor and balance but a little shy on the nose.

Deep, youthful, vibrant dark ruby color.  Fantastic nose that I wish was a bit more animated, but as it is it shows rich, ripe, sweet cherry extract, warm gravel, and a bit of lemon juice.  Rich and mouthfilling, with deep cherry fruit and a nice, clean, minerally earthiness.  Lots of soft tannin and good acidity add structure and balance, and the finish is long.  Not a classically-built, old-school Chianti, but a very good example of the modern style.  A-/B+.  Was $13.99 from, making it a very good value.  Imported by Domaine Select Wine Estates, NYC.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

2004 La Lecciaia BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO RISERVA (Tuscany, Italy)

A big, earthy Brunello that, on the first night, almost seemed over the hill.  But I put it under a Vacu-Vin for a night, and on night two it seemed more youthful, with more fruit showing through.  That indicates this wine probably needs to be decanted for a few hours on the first night it's opened in order to shine.

Dark, very brickish red color.  Medium intensity nose of underbrush, warm sandstone, and dark winey black cherry syrup.  Intense, broad, and mouthfilling.  Loads of dark, rich roasted cherry fruit and earthy sandstone notes coat the mouth.  Loads of soft tannin and pretty decent acidity.  Long finish.  A bit earthier in style than I prefer, but those who like this side of Brunello will probably like this a lot.  B+.  Drink over the next 1-2 years, and be sure to give it plenty of time to breathe.  Imported by Monsieur Touton Selections, I got this for $24.99 (pretty cheap for a good quality Brunello, actually).

UPDATE (11/10/12):  A second bottle was older and more tired.   I would give #2 a C+.

Friday, September 21, 2012

2010 Vega Sindoa "EL CHAPARRAL" Old Vines Garnacha (Navarra, Spain)

A pure, balanced, deep red that shows off the cherryish side of garnacha.

Absolutely vibrating magenta ruby.  Nose of deep, ripe, but crisp black cherries, smoky embers, and minerals.  Wonderful, high-toned cherryish/slightly raspberryish fruit, with lots of limestony minerals.  Good concentration and depth.  Some soft tannins coat the mouth, and the finish is medium long, pure, and lively.  Very food-friendly, this wine is the furthest thing from tiring to drink.  It will keep well for a few more years and is a great value.  A-. $10.99 from  Imported by Jorge Ordonez.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2009 Domaine Mazilly Pere & Fils BEAUNE 1er CRU "VIGNES FRANCHES" (Burgundy, France)

This is an energetic, electric Pinot Noir that is way too young to drink now.  It deserves at least 2-3 years to settle down and mellow and fill out, but make no mistake, it's really nice right now if you like your PNs zingy and youthful.

Bright, crystalline dark ruby.  Piercing nose of crisp, tangy, ripe cherries, stony minerals, brown sugar, and a whiff of fruitcake.  An intense, linear streak of minerally cherries with a hint of dry barnyard gravel hits the palate immediately.  There's a bit of tannin and zesty acids to keep the vigorous sensations going.  Long, lean, clean finish.  Very, very good.  An A- now, this has the potential to be an "A" in 3-5 years.  Was $26.99 from, making it a bargain for a premier cru Beaune of this quality!  Imported by MHW, Ltd., Manhasset, NY.

(Sorry, 2008 depicted)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

2009 Domaine Louis Boillot SAINT-AUBIN 1er CRU "LES CASTETS" (White Burgundy, France)

A fragrant wine, with nice flavors, balance, and length, but a little undernourished in the mid-palate.

Light gold with silver/greenish highlights.  Toasty, hazelnut and brown butter notes dominate the nose, with nice pear fruit and stony minerality underneath.  Soft and full in the mouth, with oaky and mineral flavors overshadowing the fruit a bit.  Bone-dry, with good acidity, and after the lean midpalate the finish stretches out and lasts for a while.  B/B+.  Was $23 fro  Imported  by MHW, Ltd, NYC.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

2009 J. Lohr CABERNET SAUVIGNON "Seven Oaks" (Paso Robles, Cal.)

This wine was a gift, and I was ready to use it strictly for cooking, but it was actually pretty decent.  I'm not a huge fan of middle-of-the-road California Cabernet, but this was nicely done.  It's apparently widely available at around $11 or $12.

Pretty, dark ruby color.  Pleasant nose of dark berry fruit, vanillin from oak, and a touch of menthol.  Soft, round entry, with nice clean berry and oak flavors.  Not very concentrated or complex, but it's hard to find anything wrong with it.  It's just not my cup of tea, but plenty of folks will like it, I'm sure. C+/B-.

Monday, September 10, 2012

2010 Chapoutier CÔTES DU RHÔNE "Belleruche" (Southern France)

A mediocre Cotes du Rhone, but at least I didn't spend too much for it.  Not nearly up to the level of their excellent 2007.

Deep violet-tinged ruby color.  Reticent nose of meat, iron, scorched gravel and blackberry.  Drying tannins coat the mouth from the get-go, detracting from the fruit and lending a coarser than usual texture.  Lean, with a dried leaves-type scorchiness obscuring the fruit.  A disappointing effort from this normally superlative house.  C-.  Was $11.99 on sale at the Giant supermarket, Columbia Pike and S. Barton.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

2010 Chateau Thivin CÔTE DE BROUILLY (Beaujolais, France)

A vigorous, lean and intensely minerally Beaujolais.  This is typically one of my favorite estates in Beaujolais, but I think they've recently started making different cuvees, and this is the basic bottling.  I am a little fearful that this will result in the same thing that's pervading Chateauneuf-du-Pape, where reserve cuvees have led to diminishing quality in the wines bearing the regular (and previously only) label.

Medium dark violet-tinged grapey ruby color.  A nose reminiscent of crisp plum and cherry juice poured over sharp, just-cracked stones.  Lots of crisp, minerally and grapey/cherry fruit hit the palate immediately, but there's a little hollowness in the middle.  A crisp, zesty finish carries with it a surprising amount of soft tannin.  A little angular but a very pleasant dinner wine with rustic food.  B.  Was $19.99, but I forgot where I got it.  Imported by Kermit Lynch.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

2009 Luigi Righetti VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE RIPASSO "Campolieti" (Veneto, Italy)

This was a classically-dilineated Ripasso Valpolicella.  Exactly mid-point between a crisp, light, cherryish straight-up Valpo and a rich, deeply-fruited and large-boned Amarone.

Dark brickish ruby.  Medium intensity nose, which repays patient sniffing with scents of deep, dried cherries, tobacco, fruitcake, and earthy minerals.  Medium-full bodied, with flavors of intense, winey cherries and minerally gravel.  It's bone dry, with lots of extract, a fair amount of tannin, and good acidity.  I think this will age nicely for another 2-3 years.  This would pair nicely with a wide range of Italian meat stews, pot roasts, and meat-sauced pastas.  B+.  Was $15.99 at Trader Joe's in Clarendon/Arlington, so it's a pretty good value.  Imported by Prestige Wine Imports.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

2010 Domaine Brazilier CÔTEAUX du VENDÔMOIS (Loire, France)

A good, lively, bone dry red weeknight dinner wine from a relatively new appellation in the Loire Valley.  It's 50% Cab Franc, 30% Pinot Noir, and 30% Pinot d'Aunis.  (Good thing the proprietor is a better winemaker than mathematician.)

It's got a clear, vivid ruby violet color.  The nose was quite closed the night I opened it, and then I forgot to put a Vacu-Vin (or any kind of) closure on it, and 2 nights later the nose was really nice and open:  brambly underbrush, cassis, and an herbal/machine oil note (from the Cab Franc no doubt).  Clean, fruity, and brisk in the mouth.  Soft-textured and bone dry, with crisp cherry fruit with a mineral/limestoney edge, turning more minerally as the finish faded.  Crisp acids.  Drink this in the same situations you'd normally reach for a Beaujolais for a change of pace, but make sure to decant it through a Vacu-Vin several hours before serving to let it come around.  B+.  An excellent value at $12.99 at Arrowine in Arlington.

2007 Stroppiana BAROLO "Gabutti Bussia" (Piemonte, Italy)

An excellent, vigorous, big, exuberant wine.  Lots going on and packed with aromas and flavor.

Very dark black ruby with a brickish tinge.  Intense, complex nose of moist, warm earth, deep-toned chokecherry syrup, smoke, and with a whiff of balsamic vinegar (yes, there was a bit of volatile acidity, but it only added to the complexity of the wine, at least at this point).  Intensely earthy in the mouth, with tons of mineral-infused moist gravelly notes framing dark cherries and graphite.  Very full-bodied, with correspondingly large amounts of tannin and a high level of acidity.  Even with the v.a. I see this aging well for another 5 years.  A.  Imported by Superior Wines, Cranford NJ, it was $29.99 from a few months ago.  That's a good price for a Barolo this good.