Wednesday, December 19, 2012

2007 St Damien Gigondas Les Souteyrades

Certainly the best Gigondas I can recall tasting, drunk on 1/9/12 at FriSatSun, one of Emily's favorite restaurants near her apt in Philadelphia--our going away dinner the night before leaving for Spain. I was amazed to find that this wine is almost unobtainable in the US or even Europe, perhaps a measure of Parker's clout. Anyway, it has a heavenly spicy vanilla strawberry, blackberry scent. It's soft on the palate but with sufficient tannin to last. I wouldn't put it at 97 points but think 94 is merited, and that's a much higher score than most Gigondas wines, which come from the area northeast of Chateauneuf du Pape which generally produces better wine. But Gigondas is a charming town too.

Parker gives this 97 points. The inky/purple-tinged, multidimensional 2007 Gigondas Les Souteyrades may be even better. Composed of 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre cropped at 25 hectoliters per hectare, from 60-year-old vines, it boasts a blueberry, blackberry, charcoal, licorice, truffle, scorched earth, and spring flower-scented perfume, phenomenal purity, and a long finish. This blockbuster Gigondas possesses extraordinary focus given the freshness and good acids provided by the vintage as well as incredibly well-integrated tannins.

I was blown away by how the 2007 Gigondas cuvees, which I had rated very highly from barrel last year, had put on weight and texture, and had become essentially as compelling as Gigondas can be. Clearly Saint-Damien’s young proprietor, Joel Saurel, has moved this estate alongside the appellation’s two superstars, Domaine Santa Duc and Chateau Saint-Cosme. The three cuvees of 2007 Gigondas are absolutely profound. I am not sure I haven’t underrated them as I had them on two separate occasions and the numerical scores listed are actually from the lower rated tasting. Come what may, these are unreal wines. For statisticians, these wines are aged 6-8 weeks in cement tanks before they are moved to old wood foudres for 12 months prior to being bottled unfined and unfiltered.

2010 Louis Jadot Pernand-Vergelesses

This is a really nice affordable white burgundy (Chardonnay). It combines the best elements of California chardonnay tropical fruit with the mineral nuance and subtlety of Bourgogne. And it kept nicely in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

2006 Finca Villacreses Ribera del Duero

Just want to note that this wine is a hedonistic joy, and it provided several days of drinkability. It's got spicy blackberry and other fruit flavors and aromas, and is just incredibly juicy and smooth. I suppose some might say it's not properly balanced with acid and tannin, but I think there's enough. Maybe this won't last for five years but right now and for a few more it's a real winner. In Spain you can get this for about $25 but can't find it listed anywhere in the US, unfortunately. Maybe some restaurants have it. 92 points.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

La Rioja Alta 904 Gran Reserva 1998

Probably my favorite Rioja (though I admit haven't had an enormous number of them, and in general prefer the Ribera del Duero and Priorats in Spain) is Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904. This 1998 is a tempranillo 90% plus 10% graciano, that they age for a long time in barrel and then for 8-10 years in bottle. So it's released as a mature wine. 24 Euros from Bogeda Privada in Madrid. About twice that in dollars in the US but still a reasonable price for fully mature fine red wine. The color is very much that of a mature wine, brick red dominates over the dark center looking like a bordeaux at 20 years. Lovely strong nose with black cherry, vanilla oak, raisiny ripeness and a delightful spicy mixture of perhaps witch hazel, wintergreen and/or clove. On palate it's round--just slides down, slight and sweet tannin dryness, a bit of heat from alcohol, and enough acid for balance. All of which makes for a long finish. I wouldn't say the palate is as complex and pleasing as the aroma. I have trouble believing it can last 10 years considering how resolved the tannins are. 93+. But we can see Parker thinks otherwise.

Tanzer: 93. Bright red with an amber rim.  Pungent, expansive scents of dried red fruits, potpourri, vanilla and pipe tobacco, with a spicy overtone.  The silky palate offers penetrating redcurrant and bitter cherry flavors sweetened by notes of vanilla and mocha.  Finishes smooth and long, with very soft tannins and lingering floral notes.  Ready to drink but there's very good depth here, suggesting (along with this wine's track record) that it will reward further patience.  I also had the chance to re-try the outstanding 2001 Vina Ardanza, which is aging at a snail's pace and really needs more time for the oak to fully integrate with its fruit.  Right now the vanilla character is dominating but there's obviously excellent material underneath it.

Parker: 95. The 1998 Gran Reserva 904 is a blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano aged in American cask for four years. It has a very fine nose with notes of dried honey, cloves, raisin and wild heather that blossom in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with a touch of orange peel on the entry. It has an effortless sense of harmony and poise, with a crisp tense finish and suffused with a sorbet-like freshness. It just dances across the palate, a memorable Rioja with style and panache. Drink now-2030. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Quinta Vale de Meao Tinto 2008

The last of my 3 bottles of Portuguese reds picked up on my too-brief visit there in May. True to form, it's better having it on the third day, after opening it first on Nov 17. Now it's super-smooth and silky with complicated aromas of forest, flower, vanilla, and cream or cheese (weird but very pleasing to me). Despite the round nature and big fruit on the palate there is plenty of acid and soft tannins too so I think this will be a great pleasure to drink for 6-8 years. The finish is long, and a bit warm but not overly so in my opinion. If I didn't know this was Portuguese I might be tempted to guess it's a Priorat. I hope to learn, by reading Jancis Robinson's new book on grape varieties, how the major Portuguese grapes that generally grow nowhere else, relate to the better known types like Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet. 92 points.

Wine Advocate says 93 points. The 2008 TINTO, the winery’s flagship label, is a blend of Touriga Nacional (55%), Touriga Franca (30%), Tinta Roriz (10%) and Tinta Barroca (5%). Ethereal, showing its oak a bit too much in its youth, and reminding me just a little of fine Rioja, this seems otherwise and remarkably graceful early on, a wine that has a Burgundian feel in the mid-palate. It has that stereotypical iron-fist-in-velvet-glove demeanor, too, as it packs quite a powerful punch underneath the initially elegant and oaky demeanor. The oak should integrate with time, but make no mistake about it, there is a lot more here than oak and this wine has a lot of upside; as with a lot of 2008s, it just may not all be apparent early on. Drink 2012-2028. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Malleolus follow-up

Opened this Saturday Nov 17, five days since opening on Nov 12 and it's still excellent. Nose now giving off the most exotic spices--cinnamon, wintergreen esp.--almost erasing the blackberry underneath, with violet overtones. On palate it's rounder but still plenty of acid and tannin. Maybe a tiny bit of volatile acidity but this has been open for five days with only a primitive (Ramon Bilbao souvenir) air pumper to preserve it. Advice: if you want to have a bottle of red wine that you can keep for several days, use a Spanish or Portuguese. As I've noted before, the latter tend actually to improve a day later and keep a few more; Spanish at least maintain their drinkability for several days too. This is a generalization of course but at home, seems to me most people or most couples don't really want to put away a whole bottle of wine in one sitting so useful to know that good Spanish and Portuguese wines will keep (in my experience, and for reasons I don't know) better than French, Italian or American.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Emilio Moro Malleolus RIbera del Duero 2008

Opened this on Friday night and it was fine but perhaps a bit closed. Pumped air out of it with the trusty Ramon Bilbao vacuum item and now, 3 days later, it's really lovely. Came from the refrigerator so too cold. But after a few minutes the nose started with really strong sweet blackberry, then developed more and more complex nuances of flowers, forest, and cinnamon along with vanilla from the 18 months of aging in barriques. Two basic points: 1) Spanish wines, and perhaps even more Portuguese, do really well after being opened for a few days, much better than French. At least that's my experience, in general. 2) It's desirable to pour the wine into the glass 30 minutes before you intend to drink it. It will warm up a little and the esters will interact with the oxygen in the air and you'll get a much better drink. This holds pretty much equally for reds and whites. After about 2 hours in glass, I think the wines do, in general, go downhill.

Anyhow, I have to say Malleolus is a very good bet for a somewhat reasonably priced Ribera--about 25-30 Euros in Spain. For some reason, Spanish wines are often cheaper in Spain than in the US whereas French wines are rarely cheaper in France than the US--as I've been disappointed to realize each time I look into a Paris wine store. In addition, they seem to have given up on the famous Bordeaux names and where they stock Bordeaux, they have off-years and second labels rather than the famous, super-costly stuff. But even looking at Rhones the prices pretty much match up with what you can get in the US in dollar terms. On the other hand, just about any restaurant in France is pretty good to excellent in my experience, and sometimes they'll serve a wine we don't get in America that's quite good. For instance had extraordinarily good Taillevent generic white and red Burgundies (2008 and 2002 respectively), along with a nice Anjou, for my birthday lunch. Had some good Loire wines down there. There's always more to learn.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

2010 Villacreses Pruno (Ribera del Duero)

I've already said some nice things about this wine. Opening another bottle on Monday, pumping air out with vacuvin, and refrigerating, then opening again this evening, Thursday, I once again tip my hat to a really excellent red wine quality/price ratio here. The fact that it's quite drinkable 3 days later is good sign. The color is really deep purple, the body is full. There is substantial tannin and acid and no doubt the wine would've been better 1 day later instead of 3. But these components also suggest quite a long aging potential for the wine. On palate the taste is a bit cherry vanilla, a bit plum; the nose is reminiscent of pine forest and spring flowers and that alone makes it enjoyable to me. If I were able to drink wine every day, this would definitely be a candidate for my house red. However I must note that altho I was able to snag the wine for about $11 a bottle, the cheapest US price is $17 (plus tax) in NJ. Still for a wine that garnered 94 points from the Wine Advocate it's a good price.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Chateau de la Nerthe, Chateauneuf du Pape, 2006

This one was drunk with Betsy and Steve Galloway, dear friends from York, England, on the first night (Oct 5, 2012) they were visiting in Paris. A local eatery, La Vache Acrobate (acrobatic cow) listed this and knowing the name of La Nerthe though not the wine itself, I took a flyer and it was a very good choice. Absolutely first rate nose with the rich grenache, I'd say, slightly predominant over syrah. Finish not terribly long, but the tannin is already nicely resolving and the fruit full of the strawberry grenache of which I'm so fond. The slight sense of lavender and spice, the good balance of acid with fruit, evolving with other red and black fruits as it aired, made this a real pleasure to drink with an excellent meal of tuna tartare and then lamb chop. Wine went great with both.  I'm guessing this wine will do well for another 5-10 years and would give it 92+ points.

Parker 92 points: The 2006 Chateauneuf du Pape (a blend of 53% Grenache, 27% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre and the rest various other red varietals) shows a much more spicy, earthy, peppery nose. It is medium to full-bodied, with wonderfully broad, savory flavors and a heady finish. These two wines demonstrate the total contrast in styles between the vintages. The 2006 is spicier, slightly herbal, but full, and 2007 is super-deep, multi-layered, but with more black fruits and less spice, at least at this stage of their development.

Brunello di Montalcino 2004 Il Poggione

I brought this along with me to dine at the delightful Gustibus, a restaurant that opened 2 months ago and happens to be located right across the street from the apartment at 46 Rue St. Sebastien, Paris 75011. Very happy to have found this place 100 meters from the apartment! Again eating with Betsy and Steve Galloway.

Very fine aroma, now ready to drink but five years more, I'd guess of drinkability. Predominance of cherry, licorice then some blackberry on the nose, with vanilla oak and a slight hint of spice, perhaps mint. Nice moderately long finish. Actually one of the better Brunello's I've had in recent years. Lovely color and texture too. 94 points from me. Note Parker says this will drink well for 20+ years from now; I bow to him. This is some very fine Brunello indeed.

95 points from Parker: The 2004 Brunello di Montalcino is awesome. This finessed, regal Brunello flows onto the palate with seamless layers of perfumed fruit framed by silky, finessed tannins. The wine remains extremely primary at this stage, and its full range of aromas and flavors have yet to emerge, but the sheer pedigree of this Brunello is unmistakable. The elegant, refined finish lasts an eternity, and subtle notes of menthol, spices, licorice and leather add final notes of complexity. The estate’s 2004 Brunello is a wine to buy and bury in the deepest corner of the cellar. Brunello is never inexpensive, but this is the real deal, and in relative terms, it is one of the world’s great values in fine, cellar worthy wine. Incredibly, there are 18,000+ cases of the 2004 Brunello, so it should be fairly easy to source in various markets. The Brunello is made from four vineyards ranging from 250 to 400 meters in altitude, all in Sant’Angelo in Colle. The wines from the various vineyards were aged separately in French oak casks prior to being assembled and bottled. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2034. 

I was completely blown away by the wines I tasted from Il Poggione this year. Readers who want to experience first-class Sangiovese from Montalcino won’t want to miss these exceptional wines. Winemaker Fabrizio Bindocci and his team have done an exceptional job for which they deserve all the praise in the world.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

2001 Banfi Brunello di Montalcino

Had this wine at Florhof Hotel, Zurich, with fellow SNSF panelists, in the hotel's wine cellar. It is quite good and is mature, which is a treat since a mature Brunello tends to be hard to find in restaurants. The nose is an amalgam of cherry, black plum and blueberry, with vanilla, cedar and perhaps a touch of lavender and spice. On the palate it's medium body with a moderate finish. A nice color red ruby with much of the purple resolved (along with the tannins) and substantial translucency. There isn't the depth and reverberation of lasting waves of flavor that one might like in a great wine, but still this is a very pleasurable Brunello and for a Zurich restaurant, quite reasonable (98 SF). It went nicely with the succulent veal chop that was the main course. I'll give it 91 points and surmise it'll drink well for 2-3 more years. Banfi is one of the biggest producers in Montalcino, a place I visited, quite near to the great and beautiful Sesti vineyard.

Here's what Parker (actually, Galoni) said in 2006: A dark ruby, the estate’s 2001 Brunello di Montalcino offers notes of super-ripe dark fruit, flowers, spices, chocolate, sweet oak and underbrush with a round, supple personality, excellent concentration as well as length, and fine tannins. It will benefit from a few years of cellaring and drink well to at least age 15. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2016. 89 points.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Malleolus Emilio Moro ribera del duero 2008

Wonderfully smokey and lots of fruit sweetness with half hour of air. I think there is again as with Pruno, lovely vanilla blackberry on nose and palate. Then some tutti fruiti and banana. There's a delicacy here that's missing from most Rioja IMHO. Also some hazelnut perhaps, and a woodsy pine.

Again with Tom, deb and gabriel wine and cheese at 21 Elssholzstrasse.

This is more refined than the Pruno, but it's also 2 years older so that's one explanation. But also no doubt the vines are older too. This is such pure delight.
2010 Villacreses Pruno Ribera del duero

With Tom, Deborah and Gabriel visiting in Berlin. Wonderful aroma on this even though it just arrived a few days ago from Bodega Privada in Madrid. 94 points from Parker newsletter and it cost 8.5 euros! Blackberry vanilla pronounced on nose. NIce ripe fruit. Needs a bit of time and air.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Crasto '09 and Vale d. Maria '08

I had the great pleasure of eating two fine meals with superb Duoro wines in Porto with good friend and political communication colleague Rui Novais. Once again I want to record for my many followers the under-recognized greatness of the best Portuguese table wines. I have to write from memory earlier this week but my impression of the first, Quinta do Crasto Reserva 2009, was very much like my old favorite, the Chrysaea 2004. An extraordinary combination of complexity, layers and layers of fruit nuances balanced by soft tannins and acidity that married beautifully with the food. This was at Rui Paula’s restaurant; he is the very chef whose food I loved in the restaurant out in the Douro wine region when I stayed at Quinta do Vallado in 2008. Paula himself came to the table as he had back then, giving friendly advice on wine and food. I later looked up the ’09 Crasto in Wine Advocate and found it was rated 93 points. As I was leaving town I found it selling for a relative bargain 30 Euros at the Duty Free; if only I could have lugged a case back to Berlin! I will search for it in Germany and the US. Not quite as good yet but likely to become its equal or better is the wonderful Douro that went with our meal at the restaurant of the spectacular Hotel Teatro. Fantastic food and the wine was, I think, Quinto do Vale de Maria, I believe the ’08 Tinto. (Didn’t really look carefully at the bottle because the food and wine in glass were so great.) This wine was round but perhaps a little firmer and less open now than the Crasto, with a pronounced spearmint undertone to the blue/black berry fruit that reminded me quite a bit of a great California cabernet. I think in a blind tasting of cabs it could fit right in. Another wine I will search for and procure. If I’m right about the specific bottle it also received 93 points from the Advocate, where Squires says indeed that it won’t come into its own till ’14 or ’15. As much as I love Priorats, these Douro table wines are generally less expensive and equally though distinctly exotic for equivalent quality. I hope to visit both wineries and others in Douro later this year, around harvest time so I can get in some more time as a human crusher (see picture from '08).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

1995 Condada de Haza Ribera del Duero, Spain

This is a fully mature wine of considerable distinction. On the nose there's at first a hint of volatile acidity which is not unpleasant. Followed by a mature wine aroma of cherry, plum, blackberry, slightly burnt vanilla/caramel with little alcohol or hotness and no tannin on the palate. I have to say it reminded me a tiny bit of a mature Bordeaux, I suppose largely in the ease with which the aroma pervades and with which it goes down, tasting of no hotness or drying/puckering tannins, only sweet fruit. The color is ruby red with a pronounced brick red and light orange rim. This is delightful right now and maybe for another year at which point I'd guess the acidity will start to dominate the nose and palate instead of the ripe, mellow fruit. This is a 91 point wine, I think.

The wine was purchased at the local "Riojaspezialist" store a couple blocks away on Akazienstrasse. The owner is very friendly and knowledgable; he prefers Rioja obviously but does stock some Ribera, which I tend to prefer, so I was happy to see this venerable vintage available for a mere 24.5 Euros ($32), substantially less than it cost in 1997 dollars ($49) when it came out in the US. Again, it's wonderful to be able to take advantage of the lower prices for European wines here in...Europe! This wine is made by the same folks who put out Pesquera, a top Ribera bodega.

Parker gave it 90 points back in 1997:

The 1995 Contado de Haza exhibits an opaque ruby/purple color, followed by an expressive, sweet, jammy, toasty nose of black cherries, plums, and prunes. Generous and full-bodied fruit flavors ooze across the palate with a certain viscosity. Strikingly silky with low acidity, this marvelously-concentrated, voluptuously-textured, sexy wine can be drunk now or aged for 12-15 years. Overall, the 1995 is more harmonious than the earthier, more tannic 1994. This winery, owned by Pesquera's Alejandro Fernandez, is doing whole cluster fermentation and aging the wines for 15 months in American oak barrels. The 100% Tempranillo vineyard was planted by Fernandez in the 1980s on a south-facing slope. The first two vintages of this wine to be shipped internationally, 1994 and 1995, are extraordinarily impressive.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

2007 Gratavinum gratallops Priorat

Wonderful at thru the looking glass restaurant, Szczecin, Poland with Tom and Clay. What a treat. Blueberry, cherry, plum and unidentified spices with some piney woods too. A little short on the finish and light body retards score a bit for Parker but I loved it. Ranks below clos de l'Obac purchased for Berlin stay. 450 zlotys or $135 in restaurant. $90 in store in USA. I say 93 points.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Chateauneuf du Pape Domaine Marcoux 2005

Had this at local French restaurant--2 blocks from apt in Schoneberg-- with high rating on Tripadvisor, La Cocotte. Good food and service, nice atmosphere. Thought wine (69 Euros) was the best on the menu (outside of a couple champagnes). Cheapest price in Germany from a store is $56 so this wine is reasonably priced at the restaurant. Found it complex, full of intriguing aromas that were hard to identify. Cherry and flowery aromas with spice typical of a CdP. On palate, very round even though plenty of acid shows up on finish and tannins soft, again not esp noticeable till finish; i.e. it's moving toward maturity. I liked it a lot and think it'll be as good or better tomorrow. 92+. I was glad to find out Parker's rating almost identical to mine, that is, an excellent but not superb CdP. I was surprised this has 80% grenache--I still have trouble identifying grenache when it comes from CdP rather than US, Australia or Spain.

Parker: 93 Points. 2005 was a fabulous year for Marcoux, and the 2005 Chateauneuf du Pape (80% Grenache and 20% Syrah and Cinsault) boasts a dark plum/purple color along with beautiful bouquet filled with scents of flowers, truffles, roasted meats, blueberries, black raspberries, and licorice. This opulent, intense wine possesses heady alcohol as well as a sweet, soft, full-bodied, moderately tannic finish. This beauty is one of the finest traditional cuvees made over the last decade. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2020+.

Tanzer: 2005 Domaine de Marcoux Chateauneuf du Pape. 92 points. ($74). Fresh, full-blown strawberry and raspberry aromas are complemented by fresh lavender and baking spices. A smoothly textured midweight, offering sweet red fruit flavors and gentle mineral lift. The round, supple character will allow for early drinking pleasure.

Monday, March 12, 2012

2005 clos de l'Obac 2005 Priorat.

Black cherry, spearmint, pine forest, flowery. Dark color, silky on palate with soft tannins. Early stage of maturity I'd say with 6-8 yrs or more left. Seems more Grenache than anything else but also syrah. Maybe Cabernet supplies mint? 93+. Parker gives it much longer life than me. Hope he's right. 35 euros from store in Belgium shipped to me in great container to Berlin. More like $70 in USA. I love the big discount on Spanish and Italian wines here in Europe. Not so much French I guess because of global mkt for Bordeaux. With air I'm getting more of the smoky scorched earth overtone mentioned by Parker.

Update Thursday drinking better than before 3 full days After opening. Wonderful strong spices minty plum cherry fruit with anise undertone. 94+ today...why I love Priorat.

Parker 93:
The 2005 Clos de L’Obac is 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Garnacha, and the balance Syrah, Carinena, and Merlot. The wine was aged for 14 months in new French oak and bottled unfiltered. More structured and expressive than its sibling, the nose delivers smoke, slate, scorched earth, black cherry, and blueberry. Plush and layered, the wine has excellent length and 6-8 years of cellaring potential. It will be at its best from 2013 to 2025.

Tanzer 94 pts
2005 Costers del Siurana Clos de L'Obac Priorat
($94; the same blend as the Miserere) Deep ruby. Ripe cherry and blackcurrant aromas are complicated by cured tobacco, iron and fresh flowers. Vanilla and baking spices come up with air and carry onto the palate, which offers sweet red and dark berry flavors and a velvety texture. Leaves sweet blackberry and boysenberry behind on the long, seamless finish. Extremely alluring wine that is surprisingly accessible already.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

2006 Il Marroneto Brunello di Montalcino

Enjoyed this wine with new colleague Barbara Pfetsch of Free University-Berlin, and Francie, at the excellent Il Calice on Walter Benjaminplatz last night. (Walter Benjamin being a hero among left-leaning social theorists, this is an appropriate venue indeed.) This is the first Brunello I've had in a while and I'd forgotten how distinctive this wine's profile is. You can't mistake it for a cabernet or a grenache. The earthy quality, along with lavender, black cherry and strawberry, are distinctively Brunello and I suppose a mark of the terroir in Tuscany where the Sangiovese is called Brunello (and maybe there is something about the particular clone of sangiovese they use there). Although the wine was well short of maturity, it opened up nicely with airing. There will be more nuances in a couple years. The tannins were soft and the acid sturdy enough to support further aging. I'd think it will be markedly better in 2014-15 and be good till 2020. 92+

Parker says:

May 2011 Antonio Galloni 94+ Drink: 2016 - 2026 $64 (64)
The 2006 Brunello di Montalcino offers up freshly cut flowers, black cherries, minerals, new leather and menthol in a polished, totally vibrant style that is highly appealing. Over time, the wine’s inner sweetness emerges, hinting at what is in store over the coming years. Still quite firm, the estate’s Brunello will need a few years in the cellar. It will appeal most to readers who like firm, ageworthy wines. This finish impresses for its focus and overall purity. Smoke, underbrush, tar and a host of other aromas and flavors add complexity on the finish. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2026.

Tanzer: 91
Good full medium red. Red berries, rose petal, lavender and a whiff of gingerbread on the nose. Juicy, sweet and savory, with lovely intensity and grip. Harmonious acidity energizes the mid-palate and gives definition and cut to the wine's dark berry and spice flavors. Not a silky style but penetrating, firmly tannic, long and built to age. Broad on the back but a bit youthfully tough today and in need of at least several years of cellaring.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bodegas Cerenas Evohe Old Vine Grenache 2009

Available from one of the 4 or 5 small local wine stores, each specializing in a specific wine--this one is a Rioja specialist with whom I've spoken at length, a passionate devotee. Walked by his store, about 2 blocks from our Berlin Apt across from Kleistpark, and saw a circular for a 7 Euro bottle of Grenache that earned 92 points from the Penin guide to Spanish wines. So I just opened a bottle. It's very very good and I will buy a case for just 70 Euros, making this about $7/bottle. It's a hedonistic fruity Grenache, not deep and profound but a perfect daily red wine with blueberry/strawberry/blackberry aroma and flavor, no tannin and just a touch of acid.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Feb. 17, 2012 Dinner at Sergi Arola, Madrid--with pix of incredible food--Clos Mogador '07 and a real find in Spanish white wine

Clos Mogador 2007 is profoundly good. It's really young and in a way a shame to drink now, but with several hours of air it offered an incredible tour of its varieties, first smelling and tasting like cabernet, then syrah, then grenache/carignan. At least so I thought. I was reassured to read Parker review giving it 96 points and showing it does indeed have these major varietal components (though I thought it was mourvedre not carignan--can't keep those grapes straight):

"The flagship, the 2007 Clos Mogador is made up of 40% Garnacha, 20% Carinena, 20% Syrah, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is purple/black-colored with a sensational bouquet of mineral, truffle, espresso, black cherry, blueberry, and licorice. Dense and Reubenesque on the palate, it has great concentration, loads of savory fruit, impeccable balance, and several years of aging potential. Accessible now, this lengthy offering will be at its best from 2013 to 2027. It is one of the stars of the vintage in Priorat."

Because the wine was such a showcase for its key varietals, thus offering signature elements esp of syrah, cab and grenache at diff times, it was truly incredible in its complexity and interest. I would keep it for 2 more years because the tannin and acid could still use some integration; at that point it has the potential I think of 98 points, that is, challenging Mas Doix. Note that Mogador costs $63 here in Madrid at the great wine store Bodega St. Cecilia, and $90-100+ in the US.

Parker (or Jay Miller) gave 93 points to this outstanding white Spanish wine, which is $40 in the US. His notes are just right. Had it at Sergi Arola, a fantastic, superb restaurant run by a disciple of Fernan Adria. "The 2009 As Sortes is also 100% Godello aged for 8 months in foudre sourced from 14 hectares of estate vineyard. Medium straw-colored, it offers up an expressive nose of mineral, spring flowers, honeysuckle, pear, and tropical notes. With huge volume on the palate and amazing concentration, this creamy textured effort is impeccably balanced and long. Drink it over the next 4 years."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

2007 Altos de Losada (Bierzo)

Here it is, my first blog entry from Madrid. Been here since Jan. 11 in a most delightful apartment overlooking Plaza de la Paja, the oldest square in Madrid. An extraordinarily lucky pick since I really didn't know the neighborhood, but it turns out I can walk to many of the best tapas places, to the river, to the Prado and other museums, and pretty much everything. The #18 restaurant on Tripadvisor is literally next door and we've had two excellent meals there.

Anyhow, found via Winesearcher a great sale (half price, about 13 Euros) on this wine which is made from the Mencia grape. Don't think I've had it before but Tanzer gave this a 92 which is quite high for him. So just opened a bottle and it is smashing. It has a big, complex aroma with components I can't quite identify, and on the palate it is very round, soft. Only a hint of tannin and acid, really complex tastes. The toasty oak is very evident but not burying the fruit, which has some combination of cherry, violet, spicy vanilla, with a long complex finish. THis is a real crowd pleaser. Acc to the web, Bierzo is an obscure area in NW Spain which is up and coming, and specializes in this particular grape. I'd say it's got a future, judging from this bottle.

From the winery:

The more complex and particular wine to enjoy all the subtlety and elegance that gives the new Bierzo Losada. Farms: Vineyard unique, almost impossible to access, grown on the property at the top of Valtuille Pieros Up and coming to the farm Losada.
Soils: clay slopes with different orientations.
Variety: Mencia old vineyards.
Aging: 15 months remains French oak barrels.
Evolution and Service: 8-10 years. Aerate in the decanter. Unfiltered wine.
Bottling Date: January 2009

From a website on Bierzo:

Rural and remote, lushly beautiful but little known, Bierzo is the kind of region wine lovers dream of discovering. This verdant DO in northwestern Spain, whose hilly, castle-studded landscape is hemmed in the mountains between Castilla y León and Galicia, was virtually unheard of a decade ago. Yet today this former Roman mining area has a promising future as one of Spain's new wine hotspots. It's a region where mineral-rich slate soils, a continental climate, and intrepid winemakers have come together to create some truly memorable red wines.
The Mencía grape is the star here, where it occupies nearly two-thirds of the vineyards. A variety cultivated almost solely in northwestern Spain (especially in the Galician DOs- appellations- Valdeorras, Monterrei, and Ribeira Sacra), Mencía has only recently come into its own as a respected grape variety. In good hands, it reveals fresh fruity notes, smooth tannins and an enviable reflection of the minerally terroir. Although known as a wine that shows very well in young, fruity wines, some Bierzo producers are proving that with the right balance of oak it can also age well.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2009 Morlet Chardonnay Ma Princesse

First wine of the 1/6/12 dinner: Apple, pear, hint of citrus with nutmeg and honey-vanilla toast. Very long finish and with 30-45 minutes of air took on a really great caramel nose. Just short of a great Puligny Montrachet, lacking the gout de terroir minerality that a burgundy would yield. But about as good as California chardonnay gets. I do think this one is young and will be better with a couple more years of aging. 94+ points. We visited Morlet in 2010 and had the fortune of eating dinner with him at a Frankie Lemmon event; he's a delightful guy, a French native from an old winemaking family, and it shows in his wines.

Parker says 94-97 points:Produced from 100% old Wente clones, the light gold-colored 2009 Chardonnay Ma Princesse offers beautiful aromas of tangerines, mangos, sweet white currants and quince, a creamy, full-bodied, voluptuous texture and gorgeous acidity.

1989 Pichon Lalande

At same dinner on Saturday Jan. 6, 2012: Beautiful red purple, lighter and more translucent than Clinet ’89. An incroyable long, long finish with the plum taste echoing the Clinet tasted at same dinner. But blackberry replaces cherry in this one. Beautifully balanced, soft and round, perfectly mature and at its peak. With air, a touch of lavender in the aroma. With 30 minutes in glass, a touch of white library paste arose then developing more distinctively into crème caramel—or maybe it’s a sweet vanilla that combines with the blackberry/cassis to yield something akin to kir. A prototypical Pichon, more St. Julien than Pauillac. 95 points.

Parker says 93 points as of 10 yrs ago: Apreaching full maturity, Pichon-Lalande’s1989 has a deep ruby/plum color with some lightening at the edge. The nose offers sweet plums and creme de cassis intermixed with vanilla and graphite. The wine is lush, medium to full-bodied, and layered with texture, low acidity, sweet tannin, and the hallmark purity and elegance this estate routinely produces. Some tannins remain, but this wine has reached its plateau of maturity, where it should remain for another 10-15 years. Anticipated maturity: Now-2017. Last tasted, 5/02.

1989 Clinet

At a going away dinner given by dear friends Bob and Laurie, with Wib and Charlotte in attendance. Drinking 3 extraordinary wines with Clinet the highlight of the three. Very pretty red brick rim with ruby highlights to the dark red/purple core. Still quite dense in color, no transparency. Nose of tar, black cherry, pine woods, mint and spice. A bit of tobacco/St Julien aroma too. Touch of plum comes out with more air and there must be fairly high alcohol since it’s apparent with sniffing, but not unappealing. On palate the woodsy cherry is most apparent, delightfully so. The finish is truly the longest I can recall tasting! It seems to go on pretty much indefinitely, and I’m not exaggerating. Acid and fruit are in perfect balance and there remains enough tannin for me to think this one could last another 8-10 years. This is as good a Pomerol as I’ve ever enjoyed. I’d be happy to drink this wine every night for the rest of my life, though in actuality this is the last time I’ll drink it as it’s rare and prohibitively expensive since Parker gave it 100 points. I think I agree. Recalling it and other great Pomerols I’ve drunk previously—I believe this is the 4th Clinet ’89 I’ve had—Pomerol remains my favorite of the 7 bordeaux regions, though I love all of them.

Parker: One of the great modern-day Bordeaux, the 1989 Clinet still has a saturated purple color and a sweet nose of creme de cassis intermixed with incense, licorice, smoke, and mineral. As the wine sits in the glass, more blueberry and blackberry notes emerge, intermixed with some toasty oak, earth, and spice. This spectacularly concentrated, full-bodied, multi-dimensional wine is the stuff of dreams. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2025. Last tasted, 10/02.