Monday, January 28, 2013

1990 Figeac (St. Emilion)

One of my favorite Bordeaux estates, located outside of the charming hill town of St. Emilion. Apparently it was and maybe still is a site for pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

I visited Figeac in 1982 with Tom Banks in the early days of my wine fandom, and then again with Francie in 1985 during the great blizzard of January. Because of the once-every-thirty-years snow, we were the only tourists around. The winemaker at Figeac invited us into his house on the estate and opened a wonderful bottle of the 1975. In '82 Tom and I sneaked into a tour being held for German wine merchants; I translated (some of) what owner Thierry Manoncourt said. He talked about his astonishment ("nous sommes etonne") when Figeac was ranked lower than the highest rank, in 1955.  Figeac is known for using more cabernet sauvignon than most any winery on the right bank.

So, opening our last bottle of Figeac 1990 ($35 in 1993 or so when purchased), to go with a wonderful steak dinner cooked by Max and Laura: fully mature but somewhat withholding aromas at first. With air and warmth aromas of cherry, plum, mint and pine forest, then some licorice, wafted out. On palate, tannin almost totally gone, but good acid to balance ripe fruit and long finish. This reminds me of how special properly matured bordeaux is. There's nothing quite like it, though of course I take nothing away from California cabernet in saying this. I think Parker (below) underrates this wine. Or maybe his wasn't stored as well as mine! No astringency on finish at all. I'd say 93.

In 2009 he writes: 91 points. This is a strong effort for Figeac, but the wine is fully mature and is beginning to fade slightly. It offers a terrific bouquet of roasted herbs, cedarwood, licorice, sweet cherries, and background foresty/underbrush notes, a fleshy attack, medium body, sweet fruit, and plenty of glycerin, but the tannins provide a pinched finish that evaporates quickly leaving only astringency. This wine tires within 45 minutes of opening, so it needs to be drunk over the next 4-5 years, if not sooner. And, do not over-aerate! 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

2006 Domaine Guffens Heynen Macon-Pierreclos Premier Jus de Chavigne

Very toasty with lots of different fruits dominated by what I'd call a caramelized pineapple. Full body, long finish with a good acid balance to the fruit, and very burgundy/chardonnay, more so than any Macon I can recall tasting. That is, like a Puligny. Not as complex and subtle as Puligny but pretty damn nice. And this is being tasted a full six+ years after the vintage. THis was obtained from Chrish Peal's Westgate Wine for about 1/3 original price, a bargain for a white burgundy. I'd give this 91 points.

Tanzer IWC: 92 points. Light yellow. Spicy, mineral-dominated and fresh on the nose, with energetic lime and pink grapefruit scents; picks up white flowers and licorice with air. Juicy citrus and green apple flavors flesh out to offer poached pear and peach, without losing their focus. Strikingly pure wine, finishing with admirable lift and cut.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

JC Vizcarra 2010 Ribera 100% Tempranillo

Purchased at CH Wine Co for, I believe, $15, because it had a good write up by Parker. What I get is a very fruity wine with low acid and soft tannins, light-medium body--despite being just over a mere two years old. The aromas combine very ripe plum, tarry burnt oak nuances, a bit of green vegetable or maybe pine sap, a hint of vanilla and blackberry (Parker below calls it creme de cassis). It's round and extremely easy to drink. Enough acid and tannin to hold up for another 3-5 years. The finish is fairly hot and lengthy and lacks the finesse in the very best tempranillos.  I'd give it 91 points.

Parker says 94 points. The 2010 JC Vizcarra, also 100% Tempranillo, was aged 15 months in French and American oak. A truly great wine, it boasts a dense purple color along with notes of camphor, creme de cassis, licorice, damp earth and forest floor. The beautiful fragrance is accompanied by a wine with a full-bodied, opulent texture, and a voluptuous, luxurious mouthfeel as well as finish. Drink this beauty over the next 7-10 years. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Luberri Biga Rioja 2008

Quite an interesting aroma mix: Cinnamon and spearmint with restrained oak initially. Deep red purple. On palate, medium body, soft tannin; finish is fair, short and not as complex as the nose. With air it developed pronounced nuances of licorice and blackberry and spices. I don't understand why the taste doesn't follow the more interesting aromas, but for $17 in Guglhopf (a good Austrian-influenced restaurant in Durham) on Tuesday night with half price wine, it's pretty damn good. I'd give it 88+.

Interestingly Tanzer scores it at 90, and he's usually more conservative than Parker. If I interpret him right, he's saying this wine will better integrate the aroma and palate experiences in a couple more years: (100% tempranillo aged for one year in French and American oak):  Bright ruby-red.  Dried cherry and redcurrant on the pungent nose, with suggestions of cured tobacco, anise and cedar adding complexity.  Juicy and taut on entry, then fleshier in the mid-palate, offering sweet red fruit flavors and a hint of licorice pastille.  Closes on a gently tannic note, with firm grip and lingering spiciness.  This wine drinks well now with some air but will be even better with a couple more years of bottle age