Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Laurona 2004 Montsant

This is a picture of the Montsant area though it looks more verdant than I remember sentimental favorite as it's the winery visited by me, Francie and Max on our 2007 (or was it 2008?) trip to Spain for a week of lectures at the Univ of Navarra in Pamplona. We took a couple of days in Barcelona (wonderful as advertised) and took a nearly random detour to see Priorat, not knowing much about the area. Turns out to be one of the great newer wine regions of the world, revivified by a group of 5 or 6 Frenchmen who replanted the area about 1 hr south and a bit west of barcelona with mostly french varietals. The area had once been a big wine center but had fallen into disuse for decades if not centuries. Well it turns out the vines love the dry, hot climate and rocky, hilly soil. We'd had a 2002 Clos Mogador Priorat in Barcelona (at the great Abac restaurant) and loved it, so I guess we thought visiting Priorat would be fun. We got there on a SUnday and only one restaurant was open, a pizza place. THe food turned out to be excellent and varied, and they served us a 2004 Mogador that was even better. We asked the owner of the restaurant, who was as friendly as she could be, if any vineyards might be open for taste/tours and she called her friend Rene Barbier--theowner of Mogador. He arranged for us to visit a separate property: Laurona. THis is located in the next village (they're all tiny), Montsant, also capable of making outstanding wine though not quite in the league of Priorat (which meansw priory, and of course it used to be a place where friars made wine for the church).

So, this '04 greats us with a wonderful soft nose that concatenates cabernet, merlot and grenache (the wine is 50% grenache, 15% syrah, 25% Merlot, 10% Cab Sauv). It spent a year in french oak. I get plum, cherry, a bit of herb a la eucalyptus, a kind of melon and a bit of mocha and hazelnut. (Hazelnut has been the predominant product in this region since the wine dried up so many years ago; now of course wine is booming in the area.) Beneath this you get the barest hint of the cabernet currant nose and taste. THe licorice is present on the nose, from grenache, syrah and cab? Max says he got slate, a kind of minerally component that I find as well though not as strong. THe palate is totally mature; there's acid and fruit and just a hint of soft tannin. The finish is moderately long with the plum predominant. Wonderfully soft and silky on the palate too. This is 90+ wine. It will drink well for another 3-5 years but I'd think it'll be past its prime by 2016.

Parker (Jay Miller) is a bit more optimistic giving it 91 points: The 2004 Laurona is composed of 50% Grenache, 25% Merlot, 15% Syrah, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Inky purple-colored, it offers an expressive nose of toasty oak, spice box, black cherry, black raspberry, and black currant. This leads to a medium to full-bodied wine with loads of sweet fruit, excellent concentration and depth, and a firm structure. It will evolve for 3-4 years and drink well through 2020.

Tanzer 87 points: Ruby-red. Ripe cherry and plum aromas are complicated by cinnamon, clove and musky underbrush. Deeply sweet, with weighty kirsch and plum flavors, supple tannins and a lightly roasted character. Finishes chewy and ripe, with good length. I'd like to have found more freshness, though.

Spectator 84 pts!

Score: 84 Release Price: $30 Country: Spain Region: Spain

This muscular red shows dark flavors of cocoa, coffee, tobacco, plum and raisin. It has very firm tannins, thick and a bit clumsy. Best from 2009 through 2014. 5,500 cases made. –TM

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dan Phillips Australian wine tasting featuring Chateau Chateau Magic Window Grenache 2006

Deep but restrained nose, reminiscent of the great 2004 DeLisio Grenache. Very long finish, well balanced, very soft tannins with black cherry perfume reluctantly giving up a fine aroma. Very clean precise finish. Oak emerging and violet with air.

Had this at a dinner at Bin 54 with Dan Phillips himself in attendance along with a less expensive Your Sun 2006 Grenache. Its nose is more forthcoming, a bit less complex, more strawberry, licorice, slightly lighter in color.

Both of these paired wonderfully with the tuna. I'd give Magic Window 95 pts and Your Sun 91+. I'd be happy to drink the latter every night and it got better after an hour.

Shiraz Southern Belle '05. Very long, gamey, meaty; opaque purple,, long finish and about as good a Shiraz as I've had. Again very soft tannin and low but acceptable acid with cherry, some kind of almost citrusy cranberrry; paired beautifully with duck raviolo. It has none of the spicy pepper I don't like; only the slightest white pepper on the finish. Almost cabernet like with some deep currant and blackberry. I liked this shiraz as much as any i've had. 94

R Amazed Carignan Mouvedre (50% each). Unusual nose, very dark purple beautiful color. I like the perfume here--Provencal herb, lavender,a bit woodsy too. Silky, good acid, not much tannin, good long finish. Plum and pomegranate and raspberry as it aired. Very nice and unusual.

RE reserve Cab '06. very dark ruby purple. classic cab nose with currant, licorice, a hint of eucalyptus. Not diff ex. perhaps in ripeness from a French version. Oh boy on the palate; very currant licorice and blackberry with a finish that doesn't quit. Vaguely like a ripe Pauillac with lead pencil. Pichon Lalande-like. Not sure of aging potential as tannin is very low; but reminiscent too of Harlan type richness. 95 points from me.

All in all it was a remarkable act of restraint that i didn't buy a bunch of each of these.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Masia Carreras 2001 from Spain

Another hidden in my refrig and had no idea when first opened that it was a high scoring wine. Thus pleasantly surprised to find an extremely complex wine with flowers, blackberry, blueberry and vanilla. Took about an hour to open up and then was better 24 hours later. THe wine won't improve from here but it seems to be at peak and will hold 2 or 3 years more. I'd give it 93 myself.

Parker 94:

The profound 2001 Masia Carreras is an unfined/unfiltered, 300-case cuvee fashioned from a similar blend. From an outstanding vintage, it boasts a dense ruby/purple color in addition to full-bodied, powerful, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, acacia flower, and crushed rock characteristics. Layered and multidimensional, with superb purity and a fabulous noble stature, this terrific 2001 will drink well for a decade. Wow! What a discovery broker Jorge Ordonez made with these terrific wines from a sub-appellation of Ampurdan in the Costa Brava. Could Costa Brava be the next Priorat?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

T. Moillard Vosne Romanee Malconsorts

This one was tucked in my wine refrig; I don't recall but assume probably obtained it from Carolina Wine in the early 2000s. Generally I don't drink burgundies since they're too expensive and confusing. If you want really good ones you have to pay over $100. Don't know what i paid for this one. First night it was pretty primary, fruit and acid and no noticeable tannin (it is 10 yrs old, plenty old for a red (or white) burgundy). It was preserved by Preservino unrefrigerated and I must say it's better tonight. The nose combines cinnamon, red fruits, including maybe pomegranate. A touch perhaps of the old beans and franks. The palate is the pinot noir rasp/strawberry, spice (nutmeg + cinnamon?) and a good acid backbone to promote a long finish. This one was only rated, I think, by wine spectator which gave it a mere 80 points. Maybe they didn't let it mellow for 24 hours as I did. I'd say it merits 88 points and in no way is over the hill--unless it was even better a few years ago. In any case more than 80 pts. I found a bottle on wine for $70 in Australia.

Fresh and a bit tart, with clean, crisp cherry, red berry character and dried herbs notes. Juicy finish. Drink now through 2003. 1,665 cases made. –PM

Signargues Cotes du Rhone Vieille Vignes 2007

100% old vine grenache and 91 pts I believe from Parker. Vineyard pictured above. Well it does smell like a strawberry/cherry granache wine but it's really rustic and once again confirms my belief that CDR's are just not in the league with Chateauneuf du Papes, even if the raters claim it deserves a high rating. It was pumped last night and tonight it isn't very good either, a marked contrast say to the 93 point Chrysaie or even to the Vosne Romanee Malconsorts that I opened at the same time and is subject of another note. Perhaps Parker was tasting all his CDRs together and got carried away, esp given the halo effect of the 2007 vintage hype he produced.

91 pts: A brilliant 100% Grenache cuvee from old vines, the 2007 Cotes du Rhone-Villages La Granacha Signargues comes from an organically farmed parcel, and is bottled unfined and unfiltered with no SO2 additions. Deep ruby to the rim, with beautiful aromas of kirsch liqueur, melted licorice, ground pepper, and garrigue, it is a superb, full-bodied effort with terrific precision, definition, and concentration. This beauty should drink well for 5-6 years.

One of the great values Eric Solomon has long sourced from a well-known cooperative south of Chateauneuf du Pape is Domaine d’Andezon’s Cotes du Rhone, and more recently, their 100% old vine Grenache cuvee called La Granacha Signargues.

La Croix St. Georges 2005 Pomerol

I obtained six of these for the relative bargain price of $60 each. I know Parker gives it 95 points. Had some 3 nights ago. Highly tannic and high acid to go with intense blackberry fruit and spice. It seems to me at this stage less promising and certainly less user-friendly than the 2005 Bon Pasteur (of which I just acquired a full case, at the same relatively low price). (Both of these are about the least expensive highly rated '05 Pomerols--$90+) I'd guess it will be drinking much better in 2012 and last for another 10 yrs but that tannin is really high so I will try to keep my hands off till 2015 and worry it won't last more than another 5-7 yrs at most. It doesn't have the cherry i'd expect on the palate or nose.


Parker 95 pts: A fabulous wine made by young proprietor Jean-Philippe Janoueix, with the assistance of the celebrated oenologist, Michel Rolland, this 12-acre estate (not far from Vieux-Chateau-Certan and Le Pin) has produced an inky/purple-tinged 2005 offering a gorgeous bouquet of spring flowers, blackberry and blueberry liqueur, espresso roast, chocolate, cedar, and spice box. High tannin, sensational richness, and a multilayered mouthfeel are the result of a blend of 96% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc. This gorgeous, opulent Pomerol should be ready to drink in 4-5 years. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2030.