Tuesday, May 27, 2014

2009 Chateau Haut-Canteloup MEDOC (Bordeaux, France)

A very nicely-balanced, velvety-soft Merlot-dominated blend.  No oak showing at all, and that's a nice thing.

Very sultry black ruby.  On day 1, the nose showed next-to-nothing.  Day 2 (after being under a Vacu-Vin closure, it exhibited a medium-intensity nose of plummy, dark cherry/blackberryish fruit, along with a scorchy gravel component.  Medium full bodied in the mouth.  It's bone dry, but very soft, with lots of plummy fruit and a gravelly/graphitey note.  Clean, clingy finish.  While the lack of discernible tannin would normally lead me to think it should be drunk in the short term, the tight, closed nose and flavors, which opened only on day 2 definitely augur for 1-2 more years of cellaring.  This will drink well until 2018 or so.  B+.  Nice value at $14.99 from WTSO.com.  Imported  by Serge Dore Selections, Chappaqua, NY.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

4 Wines with Great Friends

Jonathan L. is a long-time friend from NYC from when I was just out of college and starting in the wine business (pre-law school period).  He and his wonderful wife Marge were in DC to see some sights and visit friends, and luckily we were among the targeted friends!

As we're getting older now, and have to pace ourselves (unlike those hangover-inducing Grand Cru and Port benders we'd occasionally indulge in in the early 80s), the 4 of us paced ourselves through 4 bottles over the course over 6 or 7 hours.  Here are the notes from memory.

2011 Johann W. Schild Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Kabinett -- We used this inexpensive Mosel as our "pace car" to get things going.  It's fruity, with peachy apply notes.  Not much complexity but a decent enough mid-afternoon sipper.

2010 Simonnet-Febvre Chablis Premier Cru Cote de Lechet -- Although I'm partial to Chablis that is fermented and aged in seasoned (not new) barrels, this "stainless steel only" Chablis was really nicely-cut.  Medium bodied, fragrant with brothy, wet limestoney notes, straw, and apply fruit.  Very precise, and drinking well now but could certainly go another couple of years.  

2010 Ridge Paso Robles Zinfandel (Dusi Ranch) -- Dusi Ranch has, over the last 10 years, become my favorite of Ridge's stable of Zins, with its remarkable, laser-like focus and purity.  Great fragrance, texture, depth, and freshness.  Could last and improve another 2-3 years.  

2005 Ridge Montebello -- It was hard to top the Dusi ranch Zin, but this did, and easily.  Jonathan brought this from his cellar (what, you think I can afford wines like this?), and it was amazing with grilled steaks topped with chimichurri.  Great depth and length with perfect balance, this iconic Cabernet was showing well yet seemed amazingly young.  I think this wine could go on for a long, long time.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

2004 Chateau La Tour de By MEDOC (Bordeaux, France)

This is a fully-mature, reasonably complex, smooth red.  Strangely, for decades I've been ambivalent about whether I really like the aged, tertiary aromas and flavors of "mature" Bordeaux.  After all this time, I just can't decide.  I feel like I should, because this is wine orthodoxy.  But, truth be told, I really do like wines on the younger side.  When they're younger, I feel like I can taste the terroir more acutely.  When they're older, I feel like I'm really just doing a science experiment on the effects of slow oxidation.  Well . . .  I guess I have decided.  My answer: not so much.  This one is about as far as I go.

Deep, mature ruby with a brickish tinge.  Nose showing lots of tertiary aromas of smoky gravel, dried fall leaves, old leather, a little menthol, and mulled cassis fruit.  Velvety soft in the mouth, with clingy flavors of leather, minerals, and some fading dark cherry fruit.  Clean, reasonably lengthy finish.  This needs a simple roasted chicken, steak with a red wine sauce, or a roast rib of beef to be at its best.  Any more vigorously-flavored food would destroy this wine.  B.  Was $24 from wineaccess.com.  Drink 'em if you got 'em.

Monday, May 12, 2014

2012 Chateau Pesquie "Terrasses" VENTOUX (Rhone Valley, France)

As it usually is in most vintages, this wine is a solid, ripe, minerally Rhone that will go with lots of foods.  This wine fleshes out a grows on you as it airs out.

Dark, youthful ruby violet.  Nose features loads of minerally scents, ranging from crushed sandstone to very dark, iodiney rocks.  Almost, but not quite in equipoise is spicy blackberry fruit.  In the mouth, the flavors are clingy and long, but while the wine has a good attack and is very persistent, it's not heavy at all.  Decent acidity and loads of medium-soft tannin.  Imagine a Domaine Tempier regular cuvee Bandol, but with more Grenache influence (and at half the price).  B+/A-.  I got this for $14.99 from zachys.com.  Pretty good value at that price.  Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars, Charlotte, NC.

(Sorry, 2008 depicted.)

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

2011 Three Wine Cellars Old Vines ZINFANDEL (Contra Costa County, Cal.)

Three Wine Cellars is one of the most consistent, and consistently good, wineries out there.  They don't try to do everything, but their reds from Contra Costa County's old immigrant-planted vineyards are delicious and food-friendly.  This one is typically excellent.  Ripe, balanced, and complex (for a Zin).

Youthful, very dark blackish ruby/violet.  Really nice nose of ripe blackberry fruit, with hints of baking spices, warm sandstone, and high-toned wood smoke.  Concentrated flavors immediately grip the palate, but it's not heavy.  Rich blackberry fruit, dark minerality, and a long, clingy finish.  Full, but no alcoholic hotness despite its 15.4%.  A barely-perceptible level of very soft tannins add some nice physicality.  A-.  Drink over the next 2-3 years.  Decent acids.  Got this for $19 from wineaccess.com.