Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tensley Syrah Single vineyard Tierra Alta

I liked this a lot, thought it was an outstanding syrah with a complexity and elegance that doesn't always come with this varietal esp in the US (or Australia). Licorice along with the blackberry. A layered finish and soft tannins. I'd give it a 93. Had this first with the meal at Ceiba, which is a South American fusion, 14th and G, in DC on Oct 29.

Parker says 92:
The 2007 Syrah Tierra Alta reveals a similar dark ruby/purple color in addition to more scorched earth, blackberry, licorice, and bacon fat notes, excellent density, but not the breadth or expansiveness of the other single vineyard Syrahs. While it appears to be holding back some of its nuances, there is a lot going on here, and it is certainly an exceptional Syrah.

2007 L'Aventure Cote a Cote

A fine Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre with spice, cherry, plum, and perhaps a touch of cola. Not as deep or complex as the L'Aventure cabernet and the Estate Cuvee which are simply superb. 92 points now; I think it'll drink better in a year or two. Had this at Ceiba in DC with Max, Laura, and Laura's parents Bob and Betty--great to have a chance to meet them finally, on the occasion of the March to restore Sanity (Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert), Oct 30.

Parker liked it better than me, as well as the other bottlings: 95 points from him. Perhaps I mis-remember and underestimate it--this was the second bottle opened and the food was pretty heavy. We'll see how it develops. Parker:

The blockbuster 2007 Cote a Cote (40% Grenache, 40% Mourvedre, and 20% Syrah) boasts a dense purple color as well as a provocative bouquet of jammy black cherries, coffee beans, smoked meats, lavender, and spice. Dense and opulent with a voluptuous texture, tremendous concentration, a layered finish, and abundant tannin (all well-concealed by the cascade of fruit and glycerin), this beauty should be drunk over the next 10+ years.

IWC: 94 points, very high for Tanzer: ($85; 40% each of mourvedre and grenache and 20% syrah) Opaque ruby. Potent dark berry and cherry scents are complicated by notes of licorice, smoked meat, violet and fruitcake. Lush, spicy and energetic, offering sweet dark fruit flavors and a refreshing hint of bitter cherry. Seamless and alluringly sweet, with strong finishing lift and outstanding clarity. You could easily enjoy this sexy wine right now.

Le Bon Pasteur (Pomerol) 2005

Opened on Oct 24. Aired briefly revealed cherry mocha with firm acid and soft tannin, carrying a long finish. Not as superbly multidimensional as I found it when first opened in June '09. Perhaps it's closing up as it reaches the 5 year mark.

However, saved it under a long puff of argon with the Preservino specialized corking system, and then opened it today, Oct 31, a full week later. The nose was indeed superb, a combination of spicy vanilla, hazelnut or pecan brittle, peach pit--a real kaleidoscope of aromas. On the palate perhaps just a bit tired, hint of volatile acid. However I'm thinking this wine would have sung a lovely tune if I'd had it 24 hours later rather than 144 hours.

Bon Pasteur is Michel Rolland's own vineyard and it shows. I'm with Parker in feeling Rolland does well with the wineries he consults for, though it's also fair to say he's got a style that tends to show in all of them--makes them ripe, soft tannin, yet with the acid to last.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

2000 beaucastel chat. Neuf du pape

This was slightly below expectations. Nose fairly reticent after the first few minutes. Initially intriguing provencal spice, licorice and strawberry/cherry, plus some woodsiness. Faded to more restrained nose dominated by strawb and licorice. On palate light to med body; looks and color not brilliant; some amber at rim. Taste very low tannin and lowish acid with fruit of moderate complexity and moderate finish elegant as Parker says but that ain't all a compliment. All in all about. A 90 or 91 point wine that seems past it's prime to me, surprisingly.

Parker 94 pts and fairly recent review Deep garnet colour with a faint touch of brick in the rim. Classic Beaucastel earthy/meaty/gamey nose with an undercurrent of stewed strawberries, Chinese dried plums and soy. Quite elegant on the palate with a medium to full body and a reasonably taut structure of medium to high acidity and a medium level of velvety tannins. Layer upon layer of spices and savoury flavours. Long finish. Drink now to 2024. Tasted August 2009.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

2008 Herman Story Grenache Syrah Mourvedre

Another wonderful Herman Story wine, ripe and lush with extraordinary complexity, in my view full of nuance and interest despite its ripeness and unmistakably Californian style. The nuance elevates it above even the excellent Australian GSM's I've had. Dark berries, cherry, and licorice along with spice lent by the syrah. I'd give it 4-5 more years as the tannin is low and quite soft, the acid sufficient. I see no reason to attack this wine for being hedonistic; it is certainly not a Cote Rotie or a Chateauneuf but that's ok with me. I'd give it 92 points.

Russell From, the one-man show running Herman Story out of Paso Robles, just got some rave reviews from Parker. I hope he won't raise his prices as they make his wines good values in CA Rhone-varietal category.

Parker 93 points
he 2008 Casual Encounters, a blend of 30% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 30% Mourvedre, is another blockbuster. Dark chocolate, cassis, blackberry, licorice, and barbecue smoke aromas jump from the glass of this full-bodied, savory, thick, juicy, glycerin-filled effort. It is an opulent fruit bomb that should drink well for 4-6 years.

Readers looking for super-concentrated, extroverted, exuberant, powerhouse wines from California's Central Coast need look no further than the Herman Story estate. For those who love the wild side of Rhone varietals pushed to the limit (but not over), these are highly recommended. Moreover, prices are exceptionally fair for this level of quality.

2004 Mas Doix Salanques

I've had this one before and found it good but not great. A year ago (see 7/9/09 entry) it was better. Mas Doix of course, the first wine, is about as sublime as a Priorat can get. Time in bottle has enhanced this Salanques considerably. Now it offers a bouquet of blueberry, cherry vanilla, cream, violets and lavender, and hazelnut. Tannins even softer than before; acid still healthy but in no way excessive in light of the ripe fruit. It's just a wee bit restrained and will no doubt blossom in another 6-12 months. I had only a small glass so it's under gas and refrigerated, and we'll see how it fares in 24 hours. I have to note the similarity of my notes this time and from July 2009. I do think 94 points is about right.