Thursday, January 31, 2013

2010 Espelt GARNACHA "Old Vines" (Emporda, Spain)

A young wine that needs a lot of air to show its stuff.  Definitely on the darker, more-extracted end of the spectrum.

Impenetrable, fully saturated black black black ruby.  The first night the nose was very scorchy and burnt, showing zero fruit.  I was unimpressed and put the Vacu-Vin on it.  The next night was a different story.  Still smoky and low-toned, but oozy-ripe raspberry syrup fruit was insinuating itself into the equation.  Very full-bodied and a bit hot in the mouth, with a somewhat coarser texture than expected for a Grenache.  Clearly the winemaker was going for intense extraction here.  I prefer Grenaches with a more fluid, less macho feel.  Still, it had a lot of low-toned berry and scorched stone flavors.  Low acids.  It's a B-, but only if you can appreciate this intensely ripe, ambitiously-extracted, massive style.  If you don't, it's just a heavy mouthful of bricks.  Imported by Eric Solomon-European Cellars.  $8.99 from B-21 Wines in Florida.

Monday, January 28, 2013

2010 Domaine du Mont VIRÉ-CLESSÉ (Southern Burgundy, France)

This was a fantastic white.  If I had tasted it blind I would have thought it was a young premier cru Chablis.  Ripe, cleanly minerally, and crisply refreshing.  Excellent value.

Light gold color.  Enchanting nose of ripe apple, ripe pear, nose-tingling lemony acids, and crushed seashell minerality, along with a hint of that Burgundian earthiness that frequently, in the whites, reminds me of dried hay lying around a barn.  Absolutely refreshing in the mouth.  Concentrated flavors, yet light on its feet, with a linear, lemony streak through the apple/green apply fruit, and a bolt of chalky, seashelly minerality follows through from the nose to the mouth.  Soft texture.  Brilliantly clean, lengthy finish.  I know it's just a Macon, but I have to give it an A.  Was $14.99 from, making it a steal.  Imported by MHW, Ltd., Manhasset, CT.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

2008 Bader-Mimeur CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET Rouge "Chateau de Chassagne-Montrachet" (Burgundy, France)

Tight, tight, tight!  This wine is very youthful and tightly-wound, but contains all the elements to become a very good Pinot in 2-4 years.

Bright medium ruby with the beginnings of some garnet.  Very shy nose (even when poured through a Vinturi).  Just a few subtle scents come through:  crisp, just-picked cherry and stony minerals, with a lifted floral element.  Bone dry, crisp (mouthwatering acids) and lightly tannic in the mouth. Fairly full body.  Lots of cherry-skin fruit and lean, stony minerals in the mouth.  Clean, medium-long finish.  This just needs time to shine (at least a couple of years).  For now, B.  In a few years, probably higher.  Was $24.99 from  Imported by MHW, Ltd., Manhasset, NY.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

2008 Vallana SPANNA COLLINE NOVARESI (Piemonte, Italy)

This is excellent.  Shows classic Nebbiolo character, in a medium-bodied, soft, and ready-to-drink style.  I'm glad to see this old-line producer (whose Spannas from the 60s and 70s are legendary) is back on line.

Medium ruby-garnet.  Fragrant nose, with textbook winey cherry/dried cherry fruit together with a nice mildly mushroomy, earthy underbrush component.  Focused, vibrant, earthy-cherry fruit in a bone dry, medium-bodied format, with excellent, zingy acids and just a barely discernible bit of tannin becoming noticeable in the finish.  B+.  I don't know how much this cost, since my brother gave it to me, but it seems to be selling in the $14 - $18 range from various retailers I've seen on the Internet, which would make it a very good value.  Imported by Michael Skurnick Wines, Syosset, NY.  

PS, there's a good article in Tom Maresca's blog about the younger generation of this family working hard to bring the estate back to its former glory.

Friday, January 18, 2013

2009 Domaine Chante Cigale COTES DU RHONE "Vieilles Vignes" (Rhone Valley, France)

A deep, soft, sultry Cotes du Rhone from a producer much better-known for its excellent and reasonably priced Chateauneuf.  It's 70% Grenache, 20% Carignane, and 10% Syrah.  For those who like their Cotes du Rhone to show lots of vibrant, earthy raspberry and/or blackberry fruit, this is not your wine.  It's on the lower-toned, chocolately end of the scale.  But expectations aside, it's quite good.

Saturated black-black ruby color.  Somewhat aloof, low-toned nose of dark chocolate, blackberry skins, loamy sandstone, and slow-roasted herbs and meat.  Weighty and soft in the mouth, it's very full-bodied, low in acidity, and shows loads of chocolatey, minerally flavors.  Lengthy finish.  Not my cup of tea, so for me it's a B-, but those who like this style will undoubtedly rate it higher.  Was $19.99 at Total Wine in Fairfax.  Imported by Saranty Imports, White Plains, NY.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

2009 Savignola Paolina CHIANTI CLASSICO (Tuscany, Italy)

This is a very easy-drinking, soft, but flavorful Chianti.  A pretty good value.  Great for weeknight or casual Italian dinners.  Atypical, but very good.

Fairly dark (for a Chianti) blackish ruby.  A lower-toned nose than is usual for a Chianti, featuring dark-roasted minerally notes battling for equal attention with dark cherry fruit, and a light note of menthol in there too.  Low-toned in the mouth too, with lots of dark, earthy, gravelly minerals, a dark chocolatey note (where's that coming from in a Chianti?).  Medium full body, and lowish acidity.  A fluid and very velvety mouthfeel is this wine's best feature.  It's a B+ if you're not detracting points for atypicality.  Was $14.99 from  Imported by Superior Wines, Cranford, NJ.

(Sorry, 2008 depicted).

(One more thing:  drink this before the summer of 2013.)

Update (1/20/13):  A second bottle seems a little more advanced, and I'd give it a B.

Monday, January 07, 2013

2011 Montesole LACRYMA CHRISTI DEL VESUVIO ROSSO (Campania, Italy)

A bright, minerally, high-toned red.  I got it for $36 at a restaurant in Charlottesville, so I think that would make it something that would retail for between $15 and $20.  Both stylistically and price-wise, consider this wine as an alternative to a Valpolicella.

Dark black ruby with violet highlights.  Vibrant nose of crunchy, ripe cherry and very clean, stony minerals.  Feels very lively in the mouth, with intense cherry fruit, lots of minerality, and crisp acids.  Medium-full body, and a soft texture with just enough microtannin to be discernible if you concentrate.  Fun to drink, and extremely food-friendly.  Will drink nicely for at least 2 more years.  B+.  Imported by Artisans & Vines, Richmond, VA.

(Sorry, Fiano di Avellino label shown, but the labels are somewhat similar.)

Sunday, January 06, 2013

2009 Mazzocco ZINFANDEL "Seaton" (Dry Creek Valley, Cal.)

Superb example of a full-throttle style of Zin (a style that Mazzocco is known for).  Rich, ripe, extracted, but with not noticeable oak and no heat.  My brother got this direct from the winery and gave it to me, so I have no idea what it costs.

Fully-saturated black ruby with violet highlights.  Deep rich exuberant nose of rich, ripe blackberries, maple syrup, and dark stones.  Incredibly rich fruit slams the palate, initially making a fleeting port-like impression and then resolving into ridiculously pure, ripe fruit.  Very concentrated, with a dense texture, but with very little noticeable heat despite its 16.2% alcohol.  Slightly low but still OK acids, this wine successfully walks a tightrope between extraordinary ripeness and over-blownness.  All it lacks is a bit more complexity.  A-.  

Friday, January 04, 2013

2011 Cono Sur RIESLING (Valle Central, Chile)

A well-made good value Riesling.  Made in a fuller-bodied Alsace style, but on the slightly sweet end of the spectrum.

Medium gold color.  Loads of up-front fruit on the nose (ripe Delicious apples, pear), along with melted butter and slightly-petrolly minerals.  Mouthfilling fruit, full-body, and with somewhat lower acid than I usually like in a Riesling, but it offers lots of clean, slightly sweet fruit and mineral flavors and has decent balance despite its size.  B, but you have to be ready for the style.  I think this was around $11 from Total Wine in Fairfax.  Imported by Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL.