Monday, June 29, 2009

Kaesler Stonehorse 2006 Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre

At 411 West, @$15 half price wine night: I found this less round, perfumed and complex than expected, more one dimensional. plenty of fruit and soft tannin and acid, just not singing out from the glass or on the palate. I wondered if maybe there was less grenache than usual, and sure enough, it was about 40% each of shiraz and grenache instead of the 70% grenache that's in Ironstone Pressings and other GSMs i've had.

basically I'm not wild about shiraz, as i'm not about rioja for whatever reason. I need to explore this issue further. Meanwhile I am wild about grenache, merlot and cabernet and would be about burgundy and pinot noir if it weren't so expensive. Not that I don't love a good chardonnay too. And fine brunello.

24 hours later, the Stonehorse, which was pumped free of air and refrigerated, wasn't worth drinking at all. Meanwhile, a Marquis Philips 2007 cabernet which was opened 7-8 days ago and preserved with preservino and refrigerated, was very drinkable, indeed bordeaux-like. violet, mocha, currant, cherry, decent balance and finish; should be drinking OK tomorrow. that's impressive esp for a wine that cost under $15 at CH Wine Co.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

D'Arenberg Cabernet 2006 High Trellis

At $20 on sale at Southern Season, drank with dinner tonight at Weathervane. Fruity cabernet with a round cherry contribution from a little merlot and a bit of spicy herb from petit verdot. Acid is OK to balance the fruit. Not a lot of oak. Predominantly black currant and violet, some leather. Again soft tannins. Nose very restrained, needs a year or two of bottle age in my view.

Jay Miller in Parker 90+
The 2006 The High Trellis Cabernet Sauvignon includes 5% Petit Verdot and 5% Merlot in the blend. The nose offers up cassis and violets along with pepper and earth notes. On the palate, black fruits dominate the nicely concentrated flavors. There is enough structure for 2-3 years of additional bottle age. It will be at its best from 2010 to 2017.

2004 D'Arenberg Ironstone Pressings GSM

Predominantly Grenache with shiraz and mourvedre. Nicely open nose on second day, with a dark fruit almost pomegranate strawberry cherry medley. vanilla/oak wood too. Plenty of tannin, though soft, and acid too. Finish is long and sweet but also big in acid (diff from yesterday's first opening, when the nose more restrained, and acid less intense). It's big and fruity and I like it very much. The nose is more pleasing than most single varietal Australian cabs or shiraz wines. It competes with DeLisio 2004 grenache (grenache in Australia does very nicely for my money all by itself). I'd say it'll drink nicely for 5-8 years.

Parker 94 points:
The flagship blend of Grenache, Shiraz, and Mourvedre, the 2004 The Ironstone Pressings, is stunning. A full-bodied, powerful red, it displays notes of kirsch, tapenade , blackberries, dusty loamy earth, pepper, and spice. Rich, structured, intense flavors cascade over the palate with fabulous fruit purity and density. This stunner should drink well for 12-15 years. (as of 2006--so he thinks it'll drink well for 3-4 years more than me)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

2004 P&S Chryseia Douro Red

I tasted this wine initially when I got home from a trip to Portugal last year. It was a present from my colleague and new friend Rui Novais, who hosted me at the U of Porto where I gave a couple lectures. I took a couple of days to tour the Douro valley where I tasted both Port and the amazing new red wine blends that the Portuguese are now producing. He gave me a bottle of this wine after he heard me raving about the excellence of many wines I'd tasted in Portugal. Their quality came as a surprise to me as I hadn't heard much about their wines aside from Port. The varieties are generally unique to Portugal, including Touriga Nacionale. Apparently there was little trade between Spain and Portugal for a long time, so the latter's viticulture grew up without much influence from the rest of Europe (unlike Spain where the main varietals are pretty similar to France's and Italy's albeit with different names, e.g. Monastrell=Mourvedre, garnacha=grenache). the P stands for Prats (of Cos D'estournel) and S is Symington, the old English family that owns some of the famous Port houses (Graham's, Warre's, Dow's).

When I tasted it the first time this is what I wrote Rui: It was somewhere between magnificent and sublime. Certainly one of the best red wines I've had in the past few years: complex, perfectly balanced, and silky on the palate with intriguing spicy and berry aromas.

So when I saw the wine listed for $30 at K&L, I ordered a case (normal price is around $65). I've since had three bottles. None has been as fantastic as the first; I wonder if shipping damaged it a bit. Or perhaps it's needed time to settle after shipment from CA. But all bottles have been
quite excellent 90+ points. The berry in question seems to me increasingly blueberry. The wines have lots
of sediment throughout, so maybe I should try filtering? There's nice vanilla almost piecrust on top of the
berry, like a desert--presumably from toasty oak. The finish is long and smooth and I'm moved to post this because the latest bottle improved day by day, so by 3rd day the acid was calmed down a bit and the fruit really stood out nicely. The wine is vaguely reminiscent of a grenache but distinctive--no strawberry component, more dark fruit, maybe dark plum. I would think it will be drinking well for another 4-5 years and maybe more given how well it did after opening--I guess that's testament to the tannins being so soft and well integrated.

The 2004 Chryseia seems brighter and more pointed than its 2003 counterpart, not quite as sweet, a little earthier. There are some similarities, such as refined tannins, lovely and persistent flavors and a suave, modern feel. The 2003 is far more attractive at the moment, and seems riper and sweeter, but the 2004 will likely overtake it. To me, it adds some of the complexity missing from the 2003, even if it is slightly less seductive. Ultimately, it may come down to your style preferences. I hope to retaste them side-by-side over the years. Both wines drank very well the next day and opened up beautifully, proving that they are not just about tasty fruit. This held easily for both tasting purposes and longer, despite having been open for a day, a good sign. This is primarily Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca, with Tinta Roriz and Tinta Cao blended in, raised in new French oak. Proportions of each varietal used are expected to vary from year-to-year. There were 3,000 cases produced. Fruit is sourced from various Quintas of note, including Perdiz and Bomfim. Drink 2008-2016.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pomerol is Magic: Le Bon Pasteur 2005

From now on (june 21, 2009) i am going to try to post wine notes as I open bottles, particularly of fine wines I intend to hold for some years. If anybody else is interested, fine, in any case I'll have a kind of diary and will be able to track development of wines as they and I age.

Today, 2005 Le Bon Pasteur. Clearly young and has gone thru shock of being transported from CH to Norfolk, where i'm staying at andy and susan's lake house while trying to finish a draft of my scandal book. the bottle was in 70 degrees+ in kitchen here for over a day, then I refrigerated it, so it's far from perfect timing. plus it's barely 3 months since i received it from Leon's in miami. As I recall the price was very good, $60--it's now $90 at Apex Beverage and that's one of the best prices on winesearch pro.

Nose is restrained (glass i'm using isn't top notch). color is deep purple like grape juice. initial taste is black cherry, some spice, and blackberry. on the finish there's chocolate or cocoa. midpalate has substantial acid and smooth tannins. there's certainly plenty of tannin. mouth feel generally silky. there's some other unusual component of taste, esp finish, beyond the chocolate, licorice perhaps. not sure what spice is there but it's strong esp on nose. the finish is very long. I would say given the tannin and acid with ripe fruit this will be drinking nicely 2012-2020.

Now here's what Parker says (read after I wrote the above). 94 points. Pretty good, RME:
A superb effort from proprietors Dany and Michel Rolland, the 2005 Bon Pasteur is the antithesis of the kind of wine Rolland’s critics claim he makes (which they ignorantly suggest are over-oaked, over-extracted, and over-the-top). Nothing could be further from the truth. Rolland, a brilliant oenologist, has done more than any other person alive today for the quality of Bordeaux. His 2005 Bon Pasteur is an elegant, subtle, deep ruby/purple-colored wine offering hints of graphite, sweet mocha, black cherries, and berries that build incrementally in the mouth, ending in a cascade of full-bodied, concentrated fruit with good acidity, beautiful tannin, and stunning precision as well as length. The tannin structure suggests 3-5 years of cellaring is warranted, but based on past examples (even the opulent 1982, which is still going strong), the 2005 should age for 25-30 years.

RME: On second night, after using air pump vacuvin and refrigerating overnight, so it's june 22, 24 hours after first opening:

in about 15 min the wine really started giving off flowery perfume, a preview of what it'll be like in 5 years. it's sweet berry, cherry and dark chocolate. silkier than first night. I think what Parker calls precision is what I'd call symmetry or balance among the fruit, acid, and tannin components. it's the essence of merlot. it's why pomerol is magic.