Friday, November 30, 2012

2007 Clos du Caillou "Les Quartz" COTES DU RHONE (Southern France)

This is a concentrated, balanced, deep and complex Cotes du Rhone.  85% Grenache, 15% Syrah.  Very good.

Saturated black ruby color.  Low-toned nose of roasted nuts, minerals, and dark dark blackberry extract.  Low-toned clingy, flavors of blackberry and black cherry extract, along with an iodiney/graphitey note.  Very weighty in the mouth and extremely full-bodied for a CDR.  A little heat and some tannin in the long finish.  Very ambitious.  Was $22.99 from Flickinger Wines in Chicago, pricing it in the category of many higher levels Rhones like Gigondas and Vacqueyras, but it would certainly compete with those wine on quality.  B+.   Imported by Chelsea ventures, Chicago.

(Sorry, 2006 depicted.)

Monday, November 26, 2012

2009 Wine Guerrilla "Harris-Kratka Vineyard" ZINFANDEL (Alexander Valley, Cal.)

Atypical for an Alexander Valley Zin, but really good!  I usually expect Alexander Valley Zins to be loamy/earthy and have sultry, low-toned ripe fruit.  This one is big and athletic, with surprisingly good acidity.  It still needs a year or two to settle down.

Almost fully-saturated black ruby.  Big nose of tangy, ripe blackberries and a resiny earthy note.  Mouthfilling and muscular, this wine has both very full body and tangy acidity, along with some noticeable tannin, giving it a very youthful, disjointed mouthfeel at present.  But it is very concentrated and long in the mouth, with tangy ripe black raspberry fruit and lots of clean, stony minerality.  Very very good.  A- now, with the possibility of a full "A" in a year or two.  Was $26.99 from

BTW, I haven't had anything but exemplary Zins from this Zinfandel specialist.  Their wines are always worth trying, in my view.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

2010 Henri Boillot BOURGOGNE ROUGE (Burgundy, France)

I wanted to open this too-young half bottle of plain ol' generic Burgundy from a good producer close on the heels of the Louis Latour Corton I just panned to make sure I wasn't being too harsh on the Corton.  I wasn't.  This is very good, though too young.  The Corton is crap by comparison.

Medium dark, youthful ruby.  Still developing nose, but showing snappy aromas of sappy cherries, lemons, and clean stoniness.  Incredibly young in the mouth, but with lots of still-angular dark cherry skins and an intense amount of clean powdered stony minerality that clings to the sides of the mouth.  Crisp acids.  Not that much tannin.  This wine is very nice now if you appreciate wines in their extreme youthful state, but will be way better in a couple of years.  B.  Was $9.99 for a 375 ml (half bottle) from Flickinger Wines, Chicago.  Imported by Chelsea Ventures, Chicago.

Friday, November 16, 2012

2007 Louis Latour CORTON (Burgundy, France)

This wine embodies what is wrong with Burgundy.  Even discounted to $39 from $50, it is a mediocre, characterless wine that had no business being sold under a Grand Cru appellation, and even if it were declassified, as it should have been, to a generic Bourgogne and sold for $15, it wouldn't have been a repeat purchase.  Burgundy, unfortunately, is filled with wines like this, as soulless producers, in the name of making money, denigrate the amazing terroir and grapes God blessed them with.

Listless pale brick/ruby.  Weak nose of some vaguely old cherry fruit, some mineral, and dried leaves.  Lean and diluted in the mouth, with weak, drying flavors of bitter cherry.  No finish whatsoever.  D.  Avoid.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2009 Celler El Masroig "Sola Fred" MONTSANT (Spain)

A solid, workman-like, flavorful red for simple weeknight dinners.

Dark black ruby color.  Medium intensity nose of smoky peat and black cherry fruit.  Hits the palate squarely with full body and loads of direct, dark black cherry fruit.  A wee bit of tannin adds structure, and there's very good acidity.  Lacks complexity, but it's primarily Carignane, which usually doesn't aspire to great heights of subtlety anyway.  I'd give it a B-, but not in the sense of a really good student who disappoints, but of a C student who gives as good an effort as he can.  Was $9.99 from Imported by Boutique Wine Collection, Phila., PA.

Monday, November 12, 2012

2009 Felsina Berardenga CHIANTI CLASSICO (Tuscany, Italy)

A tangy, lean, but interesting Chianti.

Dark, blackish ruby with a brick tinge.  Nose features sour cherry fruit, fruitcake, and lots of gravelly minerals.  Lean and long in the mouth.  Lots of soft tannin and acid, and bone dry flavors of tart cherry and mineral that cling to the palate.  It went very nicely with a Tuscan braised meatloaf, but definitely needed the food to round out the lean texture.  B.

Was $9.99 for a 375 ml (half bottle) from  Imported by Wine Warehouse, Commerce, Cal.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

2008 Tahbilk SHIRAZ (Nagumbie Lkes, Central Victoria, Australia)

I haven't had an Aussie Shiraz in a long time -- I find their typical jammy, oaky profile tiring and uninteresting.  But I remember drinking some structured, earthy Chateau Tahbilk Shirazes in the late 80s and early 90s, so I picked this one up recently for $13.99 (at  And, true to form, it's a bit more structured and interesting than the typical jam-fest.

Nearly saturated black ruby color.  Needs some time for the nose to develop fully, but when it does it shows ripe blackberry and sweet cassis fruit, and iodine/graphite note and smoky embers.  Full bodied and ripe, but not overripe or jammy, it fills the mouth with clingy deep fruit and smoky flavors.  It has considerable but soft tannin, and surprisingly good acids.  (And the acidity feels natural, as opposed to many Aussie reds, whose acidity seems so at odds with the jammy overripe fruit that it fairly screams "added by the winemaker.")  Fairly lengthy, almost refreshing finish.  B+/A-.  Imported by Epic Wines, Aptos, Cal.  This wine would go well with a wide range of meat and red-sauced pasta dishes.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

2010 Gilles Gelin BEAUJOLAIS-VILLAGES (Southern Burgundy, France)

I drank a bottle of the a couple of weeks ago and didn't write about it because I didn't like it.  It seemed overly lean, austere, and dried out.
It must have been an off bottle, because this, my second bottle, was really good.

I think this grower markets his wines under two labels:  Gilles Gelin, and Domaine des Nugues.  I've previously extolled the Domaine des Nugues Beaujolais wines, and this alternate label wine is also terrific.  I'm not sure if they're different cuvees, or just different labels.  Regardless, this wine is fruity, minerally, energetic, soft and very, very lively.

Highly saturated violet-inflected dark ruby.  Unbelievably bright nose of ripe yet vibrantly crisp red fruits (you can actually smell the acids, making your nose tingle) and clean stoniness.  Bright, refreshing, and nicely concentrated in the mouth.  It's the kind of wine that both so cleanly-fruited, ripe, yet crisp that it's hard to get tired of drinking it.  No it's not complex, just ridiculously addictive to drink.  B+/A-.  Imported by Fleet Street Wine Merchants, I got this for $16.99.  Not cheap for a Beaujolais-Villages, but well worth it.

UPDATE:  I've now drunk the last of 6 bottles of this that I had, and the bottle variation was maddening.  3 bottles were fruity and nice, like the bottle described in detail above.  The other three were dried-out, lacking fruit, and hard as industrial steel -- like the first one described in the intro to this post.  This is Russian Roulette in bottles.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

St. Cosme NV "LIttle James' Basket Press" (2012 bottling) (Rhone Valley, France)

Once again this is a terrific and cheap wine.  Hard to find a better wine under $10.  It's a non-vintage Rhone blend, mostly composed of Grenache, and it's balanced, complex, and fun to drink.

Very dark ruby-violet.  Energetic nose of spicy blackberry/raspberry fruit, smoke, and minerally/sandstoney notes.  Dark, clingy flavors of iodine-laced blackberry/cherry.  A light veil of fine-grained tannin adds texture.  Very good concentration of flavor, and good acids.  Long finish.  This will be very flexible with food. I like this a lot.  B+/A-.  Imported by Epic Wines, Aptos, Cal., I got this for $9.99 from

Friday, November 02, 2012

2010 Thunevin-Clavet COTES DU ROUSSILLON VILLAGES "Cuvee Constance" (Southwest France)

This is a serious, intense wine.  A little on the rustic side, but tons of flavor and a very good value.  It's a blend, mostly of Carignane and Grenache.

Deep dark ruby-violet color.  Low-toned intense aromas of cracked stones, almost overwhelming the scents of blackberry and cassis.  Mouthfillingly rich, but bone dry, this wine assaults the palate with clingy, intensely rocky/minerally-tinged flavors of scorched earth and blackberry skins.  Loads of tannin.  This will be a dynamite wine to have with beef stews in the cold months to come.  And it will be softer and better in a couple of years.  B+(+).  Was $14.99 from  Imported by Serge Dore Selections, which clearly has some sort of business deal with since that company's wines seem to constitute the majority of French wines offered on the site.  Which doesn't really matter, however, since Dore's wines are consistently good.

(Sorry, 2008 depicted)