Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentines Bordeaux

This Valentines day my lovely Valentine gave me 4 bottles of Bordeaux!! I love my wife!
We had just finished my first vertical tasting of Linne Calodo Nemesis, and I was lamenting how I'd like to do that with the great wines of France and Italy... you know, in the interest of science.
Anyway, lo and behold.. happy Valentines Day to me!

So these 4 Bordeaux selections were not the extreme high end that is possible when buying Bordeaux. But for under $20 they were a good start, and since I'm familiar with California wines for the same price, it would be a great comparison.
But first the contestants, all from the Médoc. Apparently the Médoc, and more specifically the Haut-Médoc, is where the real stuff is.

All wines were opened, decanted through a screen to filter the sediment, and left to "breathe" for 10 minutes before being poured back into the bottle from whence they came. And this was all two hours before tasting. All tasted in a Bordeaux/Cabernet glass. I don't know the actual varietal breakdown in these wines, however. The French bottles just don't have that info.

2005 Sarget de Graud Larose, St-Julien $20
(Second wine from the Gruad Larose Estate) This wine was the most expensive at $20. When first tasted, this was the least favorite. The body was thin and it was very acidic, but over the next 4 or five days it became the favorite, as the others lost their fruit and body and became icky. The Sarget actually developed quite well! After only one day it had a great body, the acid was almost completely gone, and the nose opened up with some nice earthy, brambly stuff. I would definitely buy this one again, but open it a day before I wanted to drink it.

2001 Chateau Verdignan Rouge, Haut-Médoc $15
This wine was also acidic at first. In fact, it was our 2nd least favorite..... until the next day, then it developed and became our 2nd FAVORITE. Just like the Sarget, but the Verdignan was more "food friendly," meaning it had a bit more tannic edge, but when drank with food it really added to the dinner experience... or lunch experience.

2005 Prieur de Meyney, St-Estéphe $13
This is the second wine from the estate of Ch. Meyney, and we liked this one 2nd BEST when first tasted it. This one actually held up well over the rest of the week, and for the price it's a great bargain. It went well with food and by itself. Good fruit, structure, and not too acidic. I'm still on the fence as to which one I like more, the Meyney or the Verdignan......

2004 Mille Roses, Haut-Médoc $11
This was our favorite wine when first sampled, but as you can probably guess, our LEAST favorite the next day, and the next. This one was very fruity (some would say, "Californian") but lost all of its structure and fruit very quickly over the next day. Robert Parker said: "ruby/purple-tinged, medium bodied. Equal blend of Cabernet Savignon and Merlot. Excellent aromas of dried cherries, currants, and cranberries, and loamy soil marry nicely with the wines excellent texture and overall symmetry. Consume it over the next 4-5 years." I would agree with most of that, but I say drink it over the next 4-5 hours!

So!! French Bordeaux, all it's cracked up to be? Hmmm, I will admit that I prefer california wines still, even at this price point. But overall impressions and sweeping generalizations are that French wine more about an addition to food (like Italian wine), but so far they don't hold up being open for more than one day (though I do use the Vaccu-Vin to try and keep wine from being destroyed by oxygen - I swear by them!). It's important! Think about it, how many times have you put down a whole bottle at dinner, I mean without 4 friends, just you and your sig-other? For me, California wines have just as much structure and character, maybe a little more "fruit-forward," but I don't think the new world wines should have such an inferiority complex.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Going Vertical

For years I've dreamed of a vertical tasting. A really focused comparison of the same wine over three or more years... to really discover the differences, both subtle and crude, of the effects of climate or blend.
Unfortunately, I've never held onto anything for long enough to have actual bottles to open... if you know what I mean. Really, wine's for drinking, not keeping, no?
This week was it, however, I now had three bottles of Linne Calodo Nemesis, from '05, '06, and '07! I was soooo excited. (What can I say, I'm a simple man)

I had no idea just how revelatory it was going to be! The real "nemesis" turned out to be Mourvedre. A blending grape not generally used as a single varietal in California or in France. Here the Mourvedre was less than 15% of any of the blends:

85% Syrah
11% Mourvedre
4% Grenache
Kick ass!! Super velvety, deep back cherry type fruit with slight spice. Tannins were smooth, but the wine had tremendous structure and depth.

82% Syrah
14% Mourvedre
4% Grenache
Leathery, tight and aggressive.

82% Syrah
12% Mourvedre
6% Grenache
Fabulous earthy flavors, a little eucalyptus on the nose. Very similar to the 2005. Should age very well.

The big difference here was the Mourvedre, and it showed! Mind you, all three of these releases are fantastic! The 2006 is far better than most bottles for the same price (around $65), but compared to its brethren, that little change in blend balanced made a HUGE difference.
The 2006 was leathery and tannic... whoo boy was it.... and the 2007 was so close to the 2005 that I believe it will be just as velvety and gorgeous in another few years.... if I can wait that long.

If you can hold onto wine for 5 years then you may get to experience the same kind of fun... after all, you get to drink the "leftovers" over the next few days!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Budget yes, Plonk no!

I read an article recently that said over 90 or 95% of all blogs are left fallow within two months. Yes, yes. That's mine. Growing weeds, untended, lying fallow.
OK OK. We can't dwell on the past. I've been on the hunt for good, BUDGET conscious, wines of late. Why on earth would I be so concerned about price, you may ask? It's the hip new thing... being poor. Well, you can find them, but you've go to get over that fear of talking to "the wine guy" at the store. Find someone whose recommendations match your tastes. You can do it, c'mon.
Here's my two cents (literally):
1) Rosenblum Vintner's Cuvee Zinfandel. In my fair city it usually runs around $10.99 to $12.99. Always solid, if a bit "tight," with loads of fruit, but always drinkable and affordable!
2) French. There, I've said it. Yes, I find it's actually easier to find good (even great) wines from smaller producers in France for $9.99 even! Like the 2007 Delas, from Saint-Esprit in the Cotes-du-Rhone. I've been drinking it with everything from charcuterie to pot-stickers (don't ask). But you have to get over that fear of telling the "wine guy" that you don't know jack about French wine and you can't even read the labels. Every reputable store I visit is so intent on providing good wines as inexpensively as possible right now, they are not going to make fun of you.

Anyway, that's two cents. Plus I'm using the little module on my iGoogle page, so no pics just yet. check back in a couple of days.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Si Si my C.C.!

I've kept this bottle around for almost a month now because I couldn't remember where I bought it. I hate when that happens. Especially when I want some more.

Casisano Colombaio Brunello di Montalcino at Trader Joe's for something like $40!! Go now! Buy!! Usually Brunello's go for well over $65 a bottle to start. For a Brunello this good, that is a great price... uh, I'm sounding like a traveling salesman. It'll remove stains!! 

Brunello is deep and dark, but with loads of sophisticated panache, and it will age well too. Brunello is definitely the wine I fell in love with in Tuscany. 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Russian River respite

It's been a while....
What can I say, I'm busy. But there's always time for good food and wine. It's important to take a moment each day and reset your attitude and your outlook. One of the best ways is by having satisfying food and wine. If your mouth is happy, you'll eat less, and be healthier. My love and I recently broke away for a weekend and went to the Russian River. Just a couple of hours north of San Fran, the Russian River runs through a spectacularly beautiful mountainous gorge to the ocean. It also is home to a host of small, family owned, sometimes quirky, wineries. Man, I want a little house or something here where I can just come to whenever I need to "get away." Yea, and Ed McMahon will show up at my door with a million dollars.

Every so often I try to "re-discover" a maligned wine varietal, like Chardonnay. What?!?! An avowed Zin fanatic, drinking Chardonnay??! Now, like most things that have come to be overused, over-exposed, or over saturated, there's a reason for it's popularity; and Chardonnay helped put California on the world wine map. (Anyone seen "Bottle Shock"? Don't bother. It's a horrid little film with bad writing, grade school acting, and many omissions of fact, i.e. it's misleading. Check it out on The Pour.)
So, on a recent trip to the Russian River, I decided I would look for one, just one, Chardonnay that I could choke down. Can you tell I don't generally like Chardonnay? The "California style" is way too oaked (though many producers have started using less oak), so much so that it reminds me of being a small boy in church, sitting behind an old woman wearing far too much lilac perfume... can't breathe.. going to die...
But I was determined, and I came away with 3, yes three, Chards that I actually enjoyed!! Nope, sorry, just 2. I bought 2 bottles of one... so I guess you could say three.

Number one: Gary Farrell 2005 Cresta Ridge Vineyards

The least oaked of all the Chards I tried on the trip. Crisp, but with actual body, and a nice citrus touch on the nose. This one could turn me 
into a Chardonnay fan..... OK, not really. But I will definitely buy the Farrell more, as it is also more available than most Russian River wines.

A close second: Amphora 2006

A beautiful full bodied white, with enough acidity to make it sing. A bit floral on the nose, and more oak than the Gary Farrell, but not overwhelming. And for some reason it actually went well with pecans.... don't ask.

So, yes I found Chardonnay! But I also found some other's while I was there.

Balletto 2006 Pinot Gris

Lots of nice acidity, and green apple.. 
seriously. The first time I've actually gotten green apple flavors, as advertised.

And of course Zin!!
Dutton Goldfield 2006 Zinfandel Morelli Lane vineyard

A delicate Zin when compared with some of the big fruit explosions of some Cali Zins. A nice, easy drinking Zin with definite cherry overtones. Very good with food... hickory smoked burgers actually.