Wednesday, February 27, 2013

2005 Anderson's Conn Valley Right Bank (Merlot, Cab Franc)

This is an homage to St. Emilion, made in Napa 70% Merlot, 30% cabernet franc. I think I had this at a tasting once. It always gets good reviews from Parker, and a local liquor store here had it at very low price (near wholesale) so I picked it up. The store is kind of warm so I doubt the wine has been kept below 70 degrees; my hope in purchasing was that it's fully mature but not ruined (obviously).  So, looking at it, sure enough, it's not all that dark in color and has lots of brick red on the rim, suggesting maturity even though it's pretty young at 7+ yrs. On the nose it's a bit reticent at first, but the cab franc component, which lends it a not unpleasant green pepper and spice aroma, shines through, along with vanilla, violet. On the palate it's medium-full bodied, soft tannin and lots of acid, more than I'd like at this stage--that is on first pouring around 6:25--and perhaps suggesting a too-warm storage situation. However as always I want to give this wine some time to develop in glass; sometimes the acid settles down and rounds out with time, sometimes it gets worse. What suspense! The acid does make for a long finish, though also it's pretty hot (alcohol). That isn't to say fruit is lacking, but at the moment I'd call it out of balance relative to a good St Emilion or even California meritage.

6:50: Well, not much different. Maybe a little more fruit balancing the acid. Let's see how it does tomorrow.

Day 2: Very slightly better balance but still not the excellent wine the reviews led me to expect. Ditto Day 3.

Moral: Don't buy wine, especially fancy wine that's probably been on the shelf for years, from a wine store that is noticeably warm--even if it's selling at a great price.

Friday, February 22, 2013

2009 Dosterras Vespres (Montsant)

At Jaleo, dinner with my good friend and first cousin, Mark Entman, up from Houstonin DC for NIH meetings. Ordered this wine after some quick research and glad I did. It is grenache with carignan, and very nicely blended it is. Delicious sweet black cherry with vanilla, pine forest, maybe blackberry, and smoke and spice. Very soft tannin and just right acid to balance the big fruit. Dark in color and, unlike a couple of other recent highly touted wines tasted from the Priorat (Montsant adjoins Priorat)it doesn't taste disjointed and vague to my palate. True, the aromas were somewhat restrained and lacked some complexity; as a general rule Montsant doesn't reach the heights that Priorats can reach. But it's less expensive and prestigious yet pretty damn similar in climate and (I believe) soil, so a good place to look for excellent fruit-driven wines in the Priorat mode. I'm not sure this one will get much better, and think it'll be pretty good drinking, perhaps with some more complexity on the nose developing, over the next 5-7 years. 92 points. $28.

Wine Advocate says: The 2009 Vespres is a blend of Garnacha and Carinena with a bouquet of liquid minerality and confiture of black fruits. Dense, sweet, and incipiently complex, it will reward another 2-3 years of cellaring and offer a drinking window extending through 2024. 92 points.

IWC Tanzer says: Deep violet color.  Exotically perfumed scents of red and dark berries, incense, lavender and smoky minerals.  Bright, tightly focused cherry and dark berry flavors are lifted by a zesty mineral quality and gain spiciness with air.  Leaves licorice and floral pastille notes behind on the long, fruit-driven finish.  This drinks very well now, with some decanting. 91 points.

Saved half bottle and having it 24 hours later right now. It's excellent still, with more nuance and openness in the nose--not just black cherry and blackberry but tea and spice. This doesn't equal the greatest De Lisio or D'Arenberg or Clarendon Hills fruit bomb grenaches from Australia but it's as good as many Priorats, in fact better than the "Black Slate" that Parker hyped with 94 points. I give this 92.

Parker gives it 92 also; IWC gives it 91. It's about $20-30. Worthwhile for $20.

Friday, February 15, 2013

2009 1er Cote de Beaune Louis Jadot 150th anniversary

This is a special cuvee done in only the better years, and it's also a big anniversary. So it got super reviews for a genuine burgundy at a relatively reasonable price (I think it was $30 from Calvert Woodley where I bought six btls). Tonight I opened the first of the six. I'm somewhat disappointed. It's a nice but rather light and simple pinot noir.  But I see that Parker's newsletter says the wine shouldn't be opened until 2019. My experience with pinot noir is admittedly limited and I hope Parker et al are right. To me this is a light, simple wine with a nice strawberry nose and palate but not much else. Though I admit that the longer it sits in the glass the more it seems to thicken up and develop some body and acid and even a bit of tannin. So, a learning experience for me with good burgundy. I'll leave the rest of the bottles alone for 5 years.

Parker 94 points: The 2009 Beaune 150 th Anniversary Cuvee is a commemorative wine created to celebrate Jadot’s 150th birthday. The 150th Anniversary Cuvee is a selection of the maison’s best parcels in the Cote de Beaune. It boasts extraordinary richness and length, not to mention fabulous overall balance. Seemingly endless layers of intensely fragrant dark red fruit build to the effortless, huge finish. This is a fabulous showing from Jadot. It is just as impressive from bottle as it was from barrel. I think it is safe to say Jadot hit it out the park with this effort. Readers will be tempted to drink the 2009 early, so immense is its appeal, but opening a bottle before its tenth birthday is likely to be nothing more than an academic exercise. Anticipated maturity: 2019-2039. 

91 points Allen Meadows - Burghound
  This anniversary wine commemorating Jadot’s 150th year or operation is a much more interesting effort than the name would suggest. I say this because they have blended together some 19 different Beaune premiers crus. I would start by explaining that when I first opened the bottle it was very closed and reticent and this note is based on a decanted bottle that was kept at cellar temperature while seeing approximately 2 hours of air first so please calibrate your impressions accordingly. The natural ripeness of the 2009 vintage is less apparent with the air though at the same time it accentuates the underlying structure. While the nose is certainly ripe it is not over ripe and is actually quite pretty with attractive red berry fruit, earth and very subtle mineral hints. There is good volume and reasonable concentration to the fleshy and delicious medium-bodied flavors that possess fine intensity and detail, all wrapped in a moderately structured, dusty, mouth coating and firm finish that displays a touch of youthful austerity. This should reward 6 to 8 years of upside and need 2 to 3 before it could at least be drunk with pleasure as it’s a bit tight today even with air.   (10/ 2012)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

2009 arnauton (fronsac)

This is 98% merlot from outlying district beyond Pomerol. Parker originally gave this a rave so I bought a case of futures. In bottle it's not as good as he predicted, but still very pleasant. It is round medium bodied, with an aroma and -with air- strong taste of cherry. There's a decent finish with acid and alcohol balancing the ripe fruit. I'm quite sure the wine is at its peak right now. A nice fairly simple effort that I'd give about 86+. Parker says 88 in his last tasting of it. With some artisan goat cheeses it pairs nicely--after my first yoga class since 1972.