Sunday, August 30, 2009

2006 De Lisio Quarterback

Picked this up in DC at Zola's retail store in Penn Quarter on the way to a Restaurant Week meal at Teatro Goldoni. Made happy discovery that they have half price wines during happy hour Mon-Saturday and enjoyed a good chardonnay from Yalumba before opening the DeLisio for dinner. This one is roughly 1/4 (quarterback) grenache, cab, merlot and syrah and i could at least imagine that i could detect at least 3 of the components (not the merlot, which i suppose is the tamest of these 4 varieties). For about $20 it's a fine wine that stood up nicely to the various dishes at the restaurant. There isn't a lot of tannin there but the violet, blackberry, currant nose and spicy palate with moderately long finish, and decent acid backbone, suggest this could be drinking well for 3-4 more years. Parker gave it 90, which seems right to me:

The purple-colored 2006 Quarterback is a blend of 30% Shiraz, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, and 21% Grenache aged for 15 months in seasoned French oak. It exhibits an already complex aromatic array of cedar, spice box, cherry, black currant, and blueberry. Smooth-textured, easygoing, and concentrated, it is an excellent value designed to provide pleasure over the next six years.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

2004 Priorat of distinction: 2004 Mas Romani (Mas Alta) La Basseta

This one came highly recommended by Parker (96 points) and I must say this rating is justified. A spicy vanilla aroma with pronounced cinnamon and clove perfume wafted from the decidedly inferior cheap wine glass I'm using in West Danville at the house we're renting. I can only imagine what the nose would do with appropriate glassware. The bottle was driven around on Sunday and then put in refrigerator since we have nowhere else to keep it cold. I took it out around 5 pm and by 7 it was still too cold but not terribly so. I'm impressed with how well it showed given this treatment. The clarity of the spice, reminiscent of a spice chewing gum is unique and pleasing indeed. Color is a beautiful dark ruby red/purple with almost no color at the rim. On the palate the acid is vibrant, precisely delineated and balanced against the lovely ripe fruit, predominantly blackberry and blueberry. Very long warm but not hot finish. Tannins are pretty well disguised by the acid and fruit but I have little doubt this wine will be drinking even better in a couple years and will last 8-10, let's say till 2020. I'm sorely tempted to buy more of this even though it's about $60 and that was a good price. I'd love to taste this alongside my bottles of 2004 Clos Mogador and Mas Doix.

24 hours later (Wed. at 7 pm) the wine is drinking beautifully. The spice is attenuated though still present. The black cherry component is more evident today along with the toasty oak vanilla. Lovely perfume and finish and now the tannin is even more receded into the background though clearly there and helping the finish. With more air there was a licorice element along with violet. I've gotta say the only wines I like as much are bordeaux; other than a properly aged bordeaux there's nothing much better in my view.

Parker (in 2007):
The 2004 La Basseta is 50% old-vine Carinena, 40% Grenache, 5% Merlot, and 5% Syrah aged for 15 months in French oak, 50% new. Dark ruby/purple, the wine has a spectacular perfume of mineral, scorched earth, violets, lavender, kirsch, and blueberry pie. Full-bodied, the wine is opulent with a velvety texture, layered flavors, a beautiful integration of oak, tannin, and acidity, and a well-delineated, long finish. Drink this pleasure-filled wine over the next 10-12 years. Tanzer says 94 points and that's equal to about 96 or 97 for Parker's more generous rating tendency.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Andrew Will 2005 Champoux Bordeaux Blend

My first (I think) Washington State red of any distinction. Just purchased 6 bottles of the Andrew Will Sorella 2006; Max had a bottle and raved about it, so I got a bottle of a different cepage up here in Vermont where we are staying on Joe's Pond, West Danville, for the week of Griff Seymour's wedding. So, yesterday I opened this Champoux vineyard bottling. Initially the wine was extremely complex on the palate though somewhat closed on the nose (as Max noted in the Sorella) with menthol/mint/eucalyptus, black cherry, oak and a prune/raisin/sherry quality indicating, I guess, quite a ripe vintage. The color is very deep purple with no red or anything else on the rim. With air seemed like almost a cherry cough syrup. I can sense the cherry from the merlot and the faintly woodsy/spicy/slightly vegetal (not unpleasantly so) element from the cab franc. These together overwhelm the cabernet black currant element that would I assume be present without these two in the blend prominently. As we see from Parker the wine is 45% cab and 55% of cab franc, merlot and petit verdot. The acid was pronounced and the tannins moderately firm, suggesting long life given the very highly extracted fruit that will stand up to the acid and tannin. Moderately long finish. I'd guess this will go a good 10-15 years or more.

Used the vacuvin (no gas up here) and put in refrigerator. 24 hours later, today on Aug 17, the nose still was not very forthcoming. You can tell from the color and the restrained but pleasant and complex aroma that this is a keeper. The taste is less Bordeaux than California because the fruit is so forward. I suppose it's kind of St Emilion like, showcasing the Cab franc. Now about an hour after opening the Vacuvin stopper this thing is really cooking, even opening a bit on the nose.

Parker's tasting notes are a bit opaque to me (I don't know what grilled bread smells like, maybe what I think of as the combination of oak and sherry ripeness gives a burnt element) but the 94 points is just what I'd say.

On Wednesday, 2 days after opening, the wine was holding very well. More rounded now and the cab franc was more in evidence with a slight bit of vegetal on palate (not enough to spoil) while the nose remained soft, with a raspberry and violet tinge and still long balanced finish. I am really impressed with how well it's still drinking, a great sign for ageability.

Parker 94 points:
The 2005 Champoux Vineyard is made up of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot. Purple-colored, it delivers an alluring perfume of pain grille, spice box, and violets. On the palate, it is layered, intense, and powerful. Its impeccable balance should allow it to evolve for up to a decade and drink well through 2030.

Andrew Will, located on pastoral Vashon Island, was founded in 1989 by former sommelier Chris Camarda. His focus is on blended, Bordeaux-style wines from some of Washington’s finest vineyards. The wines are made identically, the differences among them reflective of that vineyard’s terroir. He also produces a Syrah named in honor of his late wife. Chris Camarda’s efforts with Syrah deserve serious attention. The Annie Camarda Syrah is a blend of fruit from the Champoux and Ciel du Cheval Vineyards, two of eastern Washington’s finest.

Wine Spectator also 94 points so we're all agreed on the quality but WS sees a much shorter drinking window than Parker or I:
Seamless and harmonious, with beautifully articulated, ripe black cherry, cassis and violet-tinged floral notes that mingle with hints of cedar and dark chocolate as the finish plays out against polished tannins. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Best from 2009 through 2015. 1,185 cases made. –HS

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Torbreck Juveniles Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2008

This one is about on par with the earlier Aussie GSM in the blog, the Stone Horse. The nose here is pretty closed. Unusually then it was better on the palate at least initially. With some time in glass it opened a bit and had pleasant blueberry, raspberry and lavender. This version is 60% Grenache and 20 each of the others, and the dominance of Grenache could be detected, but the shiraz added its spicy note. Barely any tannin. Enough acid to be balanced. Not deep or complex. Won't get any better and should last a couple years but I think one can do better with a good Cotes du Rhone or another Australian GSM. 88 points. Having read about 2008 Stump Jump (D'Arenberg) which got 90 points from Parker and costs more like $11 I'm guessing that's a better choice where available.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Kunin 2006 pape*star central coast CA GSM blend

This was recommended when I went to Schneider's on Capitol Hill (DC) seeking good reasonably prices grenache based wines. Got several Australians along with a Spanish and this Central Coast California take. 14.7% alcohol. 50% grenache, 25% mourvedre and syrah. I'm not sure what mourvedre is supposed to taste like; I think it gives the wine more body, tannin and acid as well as color than a pure grenache would have. The grenache and syrah components seem quite apparent. The grenache offers its very pleasant sweet cherry, strawberry and vanilla huckleberry pie nose, along with the syrah's contribution of briary/woodsy/spicy fruit. The finish is moderately long and alcoholic warm with soft tannins and a good acid backbone nicely balancing the fruit. I wouldn't call it complex but it's certainly a satisfying, undemanding, forthcoming drink. I doubt this wine will improve but it should be drinking well for 2-3 more years. This is surely the equal of most Aussie GSM's but not in the league of De Lisio Grenache and not quite on par with the best GSM's I've had recently from Australia. Give it 90 points.

Parker gives it 88 points and seeing this makes me want to downgrade it to 89 but his basic description is close to mine and writing in 2008, a year ago, says it'll be good for 3-4 years which synchronizes with my 2-3 year estimate now. I would note that tasting a day later, on Aug. 11 after preserving with gas, the wine was gone already. This suggests the WS is correct to see its lifespan as limited:

The bistro-styled 2006 Pape Star, a blend of 50% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre, and 25% Syrah, is a very good California interpretation of a well-made Chateauneuf du Pape. Pepper, spice, sweet cherry, currant, and earthy aromas jump from the glass of this delicious red. With terrific fruit, medium body, and no hard edges, it should provide plenty of pleasure over the next 3-4 years.

Wine Spectator also gives it 88 points but falls quite short on drinkability window since this bottle is certainly more than drinkable in August 2009 2 years after they predict it would be drinking well:

Fresh herb--almost minty--accents mingle with white pepper aromatics and the tasty plum, pomegranate and raspberry flavors. Smooth and polished, with intensity on the finish. Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Drink now through 2007.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

2007 Janasse Terre d'argile Cotes du Rhones

This is from my favorite Rhone producer, Janasse, which Francie and I visited on our stay in Provence. We had a great tasting with the owners and bought a bottle of 2000 Janasse CDP that I believe we still have in the Eurocave. This bottle was $18.50 from CH Wine Co., where I'm increasingly impressed with the selection and pricing that's below many in the Triangle NC area.

The 2007 vintage in southern Rhone has generated huge praise from Parker and others as perhaps the best vintage in decades. The Cotes du Rhone are supposedly operating at perhaps 3-5 points above their norms, to use the 0-100 scale. Parker rates lots of them in the 90-93 point range whereas normally few reach 90--certainly my experience with them is they're too rustic and simple on the palate even when good on the nose. Even relatively inexpensive CDP's seem to me a lot better than most CDR's.

Initial impression: the color is a dark purple like Welch's grape juice and a nose of black cherry and grapey, almost popsicle-like with violet and blackberry overtones. Initial palate: fairly acidic though soft tannins and the fruit is OK but not terribly impressive. It needs some time to oxygenate. Five minutes later the fruit is more in balance with the acid, giving it a very long and warm-hot finish. There's some light herbal overtone, maybe some lavender rather violet.

At 15 minutes, used the Vinturi to oxygenate further. The nose now is full of vanilla custard and what i'm more sure is lavender. In this sense it's tasting more like an Australian GSM with that really big jammy character that I love. Finish is really long, carried by the warm finish with acid and fruit in decent balance, but i'd say this one will be better in a year and will drink well for 5-6 years (till around 2016).

Parker below seems to be wrong on the varietal blend as the bottle itself says it's 40% grenache, 30% syrah and mourvedre, which accords with the GSM australian blends. i think what he calls camphor/truffles/truffles i may be smelling as herbs and lavender.

24 hours later after preservation with gas: great raspberry popsicle nose now with woodsy spicey overtones. the wine remains acidic on palate at least for the first few minutes. smoother with more air and smoother still on the palate after several trips through the Vinturi.

Francie brought out a cheese board and the goat cheese really goes nicely with this, aiding the finish of cheese and fruit together while taming a bit the hotness. the dominance of grenache in the blend is important for making it less spicy/peppery/herbaceous than would be the case with more syrah and mourvedre, i think. This one is about on par with the $20-22 GSM's from australia that I like and that get 90-92 points from Parker and the Wine Spectator so it's a good one to buy @ under $20.

Parker 91-93 points:
The blockbuster 2007 Cotes du Rhone-Villages Terre d’Argile, which comes from red clay soils, is a blend of 75% Grenache and 25% Mourvedre. A deep ruby/purple color is accompanied by aromas of black raspberries, blueberries, freshly grilled mushrooms, truffles, camphor, and spice. Full-bodied, deep, silky, and layered, it is an incredible example of a Cotes du Rhone-Villages.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mollydooker 2006 Two Left Feet

68% shiraz, plus cab sauv and merlot. Initial impression: extremely fruity blackberry/huckleberry/blueberry, vanilla, piecrust, violet and a pronounced piney/cedar/woodsy overtone on the nose. the shiraz dominates--i don't get the currant or cherry i'd expect from the cab/merlot components. very dark red/purple. pretty sharp acid on the finish. almost unnoticeable tannin though the finish does last for 30 sec and tannin comes out then. the finish is insufficiently fruity given the promise of the nose. at this point i wonder if the wine is actually past its prime in a mere 3 yrs. not that it's bad, just not as good as expected 88+ points.

However after a few more minutes...smoothing out the acid on midpalate and licorice is coming out. needs some food I think. with food and bread little better, 89.

24 hours later, having used inert gas on the open bottle, now it's Aug. 2: The nose is really strong blackberry jam and blueberry and the palate is a nice spicy impression of these fruits with a moderately long finish and lots of sediment, and decent but less obtrusive acid. The wine isn't past its prime, it's probably six months to a year from peaking and will then last a couple years more. Now I'd give it 90+.

Further note: 10 days after opening on Aug 1, on Aug 10 this was under argon in the refrig so I thought I'd try a bit. The nose was really lovely. On the palate the acid was too high but this was not undrinkable and I believe if I'd opened it say last Thursday (today being Monday) I suspect it would've been quite good. This is definitely a wine worth buying for under $20.

Below is Jay Miller from Parker's Wine Advocate with a stronger review; and Wine Spec with a similar score to my initial one. I wonder if the WS tastes so many wines they don't give it the same breathing time as Parker's staff?

Miller WA: The 2006 Shiraz (68%) – Merlot (17%) – Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) Two Left Feet is a glass-coating opaque purple color. The brooding nose reveals plummy dark fruits, blueberry, licorice, and a hint of chocolate. On the palate it is thick, layered, and voluptuous. The structure is well-concealed and the wine is seamless and very long. It will reward a few years of cellaring but delaying gratification will be difficult. It is a great value. 93 points.

Wine Spec 88 points. Crisp in texture and a bit tannic, with ripe black fruits and smoky oak making for an intense combination of flavors, finishing rich and slightly herbal. Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Best from 2010 through 2015. 9,053 cases made.