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.