Thursday, December 19, 2013

2010 Rutherford Ranch Old Vine ZINFANDEL (Napa Valley, CA)

A unique style of Zinfandel.  But it's pretty good and not very expensive.

Startling light color for a Zin.  Basically a medium light ruby.  The first night, the nose was kind of funky, throwing off some stewed prune and acetate notes.  But the next night was much better.  There was a melange of superripe blackberry, fragrant baking spices, and warm sandstone.  Full-bodied and loose-jointed in the mouth, maybe lacking a bit of focus and concentration, but with lots of minerally blackberry fruit swimming around.  A bit of heat shows through in the finish (it's 15% for Pete's sake), but it's not out of balance.  Drink over the next year.  This would be very nice with winey beef stews and pot roasts.  B/B+.  Was $14.99 at Total Wine in Fairfax.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2010 I Giusti & Zanza "Nemorino" (Tuscany, Italy)

I usually don't buy non-DOC Italian wines, especially from Tuscany, because they're usually non-indigenous varietals and tend to be heavily oaked and "international" in style.  I hate that shit on principle.  But my research indicated that this 60% Syrah, 20% Sangiovese, 20% (f*cking) Merlot is aged only in large casks for a short period, and was grown organically near Pisa.  So I gave it a shot.  I like it.

The first night it was very tight and unyielding.  I got nothing out of it.  Good thing I didn't review it then.  But I put it under Vacu-Vin for two days and came back to on night 3.  Much better.

Very dark, black ruby with violet highlights.  On night 3 the nose showed very precise dark cherry fruit, framed nicely by slightly smoky, rock dusty- minerals.  Concentrated, focused fruit in the mouth, with nice persistence and texture.  Medium-full body and great acids.  Finishes just a tad shorter than I'd like, but is very pleasurable.  The fact that it took so long to show itself tells me this wine will age nicely for a few years.  If you're going to drink it in the next 12 months, be sure to decant it in a huge decanter several hours ahead of time.  This wine will go well with a wide range of dishes. B+.  Was $14.99 from  Imported by Superior Wines, Cranford, NJ.

PS -- I have to say, the label just sucks.  Really stupid.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

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

A disappointing rendition of this usually outstanding value. I expected a lot more, especially from the terrific 2010 vintage.

Dark, blackish ruby.  The first night, the nose gave up nothing, and the flavors gave up nothing either.  There was some weight, but that was it.  The second night, after being re-opened a few hours, the nose showed some tangy berries and some high-pitched rock dust.  It was clean and minerally in the mouth, with good acids, showing some simple berry fruit and some underbrush notes.  Decent finish.   C+.  Was $14.99 from Table and Vine in West Springfield, MA. Imported by Ideal Wine & Spirits, Medford, MA.  Decent quaffing material, but not nearly the standard this domaine usually puts out.

(Sorry, 2007 depicted.)

Update:  Oddly, I just realized I previously reviewed this over a year ago and gave it a much better review then.  It was a different importer, which leads me to think there might be different cuvees for different buyers.  Or maybe it just got worse, but the notes are so different that it seems like a totally different wine.  Very odd.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

2011 Allegrini VALPOLICELLA (Veneto, Italy)

Solid, basic Valpo.  Nothing special, but it won't disappoint either.  A little on the burly side for this appellation.

Basic dark ruby color.  Vinous nose of dark cherry, with a slightly macerated note, along with some smoky, gravelly notes.  Mouthfilling, with loads of crunchy dark cherry fruit and a decent wallop of alcohol for a straight Valpo.   Pretty good acids, and just a wee bit of soft tannin.  Medium long, clean finish.  A good pasta/pizza/burgers choice.  I had it with braised pork chops, and it went very well.  B.  The $14.99 pricetag makes it only a "meh" value.  Got it at Total Wine in Mclean, VA.  Imported by Leonard LoCascio.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What's been going on with Alsace Rieslings?

Is it me or . . . . does it seem like more and more Alsace Riesling producers are leaving significant residual sugar in their Rieslings?

This is a trend I've noticed over the last 10-15 years.  Before that, most Alsace Rieslings tended to be bone dry, very minerally and austere.  I loved them.  But in American retail stores back then, that presented a problem.  If you said "Riesling" to most customers back then, they shook their heads:  "No, I don't want a sweet wine."  If you tried to tell them that most Alsace Rieslings aren't sweet, it wouldn't change their mind.  They didn't want to try it.  And as for those who wanted sweet Rieslings, well, they would be disappointed.  So I suppose Alsace producers began to collectively realize that they may as well align the wines with (wrong-headed) consumer expectations.  And that's my theory on what happened.  Also, Parker's gushing on and on about Zind-Humbrecht's and Weinbach's sometimes sweeter cuvees didn't help, I'm sure.

But the problem is that Alsace producers pick their Riesling grapes at higher sugar and lower acid levels than, say, Rheingau and Mosel producers, so leaving residual sugar in a Riesling with 13% alcohol results in varying degrees of cloyingness.  Ironically, the big old line houses of Trimbach and Hugel still seem (at least with their higher level Rieslings) to have stuck with the more austere, dry style.  But I haven't recently had one of those, so maybe they've changed too.


Anyone have a different view?  Anyone know of any basic, entry level Alsace Rieslings that hew to the old, bone dry, austere style?

Update:  My brother sent me a link to a NY Times article about this issue that came our about 2 years ago.  Glad to see I'm not the only one who has noticed the problem, though the article suggests that Alsace producers may be going back to dry.  I hope so.

Monday, December 09, 2013

2012 Simonnet-Febvre SAINT-BRIS (Northern Burgundy, France)

I think the Saint-Bris area produces some of the best value Sauvignon Blancs in the world.  They're crisp, minerally, refreshing, and can serve as an aperitif or an accompaniment to a wide variety of lighter dinner fare.  This one's an excellent value and is a very typical, very well made exemplar.

Extremely pale, crystal clear gold color, with a slight greenish glint.  Lively nose of clean gooseberry/green apple fruit, with a squeeze of lemon, along with a gun flinty, stony mineraliness.  Bone dry, with loads of chalky minerals framing very clean, tart green apple fruit  Great acidity and a clean, fairly long finish punctuated by a tiny bitter herb note. B+.  Was $11.99 on sale at Whole Foods in Arlington.  Imported by Louis Latour, Inc. of San Rafael, CA.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

2009 Savignola Paolina CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA (Tuscany, Italy)

A darker-styled, minerally, low-toned Chianti.  Tending towards Brunello in style.  I usually am partial to the leaner, brighter, cherryish style, but this is still very nice.

Very dark black ruby color.  Very subtle nose of dark cherry/plum brandy, high-toned wood smoke, and schisty minerals.  Dark, clingy, and very minerally in the mouth.  Full-bodied, with a good amount of fine-grained tannins.  A roasted pine/rosemary resinous note lingers at the end of the finish.  B+.  While the higher-toned style of Chianti would be fine accompaniments to tomato-sauced pasta dishes and meat and tomato braises, this is a wine for grilled steaks or lamb chops.  Was $18.99 from  Imported by Superior Wines, Cranford, NJ.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

2012 Chateau de Segries COTES DU RHONE (Southern France)

This is a very good value.  Lots of character, nice texture, and it is pretty cheap.  50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, 10% Carignan. 

Very dark, black ruby with violet highlights.  Inviting nose of raspberry compote, baking spices, and minerally sandstone.  Loads of flavor, generally at the lower register.  Black raspberry, dark cherry, loads of dark minerals.  Full-bodied, but with pretty good acids.  It's also very clingy, with a long finish and a nice complement of dusty tannins.  Should last and improve over the next two years.  B+.  Was $12.99 at Total Wine in Mclean, VA.  Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.