Thursday, March 30, 2017

2014 Alto Moncayo Veraton

This is the second wine of Alto Moncayo which I've written about before. It's about half the price in the US. It's still wonderful. It's a good advertisement for grenache. Incredibly complex and pleasing. Initial two openings (March 23-25, 2017): Almonds, gardenia, red berries like pomegranate and cranberry. Preserved with Coravin, poured again March 30 showing even more complex nuances of mint along with the red berries. Smoother now, tannins pretty much gone. I'd like to taste this next to the flagship Alto Moncayo Alto Moncayo as it's called, which I'd guess has fuller body, more tannin, longer finish.  By itself the Veraton is hedonistic and fun. The winemaker is Chris Ringland of Australia.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

2014 Caymus Cabernet

Enjoyed this--immensely--at Circa Foggy Bottom with good friend Prof. Maria José Canel of Madrid. The Caymus cabernet, a hedonistic wine, shows a kaleidoscope of flavors from pine and cedar wood inflected cassis to blackberry to cranberry with many spicy nuances. Maybe even some almond or other nut. It goes down about as easily as a cabernet could. The tannins are barely detectable but there's enough acid and tannin to allow the wine to age and I suppose develop even more complex aromas. I expect some purists would think the wine too extracted and emphatic, a little pushy and obvious. OK by me. It was a terrific accompaniment to the nicely cooked salmon I had. More subtle wines have their place too, of course, but it should be ok to enjoy a wine that just comes up and gives you a big hug.

Unfortunately my Coravin preserver is locked in my car in Alexandria so although I took the bottle home (2/3 full), all that preserved it was its original cork and the refrigerator. It tastes pretty good just the same, two days later.

Here's Parker (94 points): The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley has a dense opaque purple color, a kiss of blackberry and cassis fruit, a full-bodied mouthfeel with ripe tannin and a long finish. It is very Caymus in its immediate accessibility, but has plenty of staying power and depth. This is lush, full, intense and pure. Drink it over the next 15 or so years.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

2012 Stonestreet Chardonnay Broken Road

These days I'm not able to drink wine very often. It's a great frustration. But on New Year's Eve with friends I just had to share a bottle of this Stonestreet from my lonely cellar, a Sonoma vineyard that makes some of my favorite California chardonnays and cabernets. A beautiful place to visit and taste too.

So, this wine had a wonderful nutty, caramel spice aroma that got more and more floral, I think, as it sat in the glass. The taste was refreshing even though full bodied with a nice fruit and mineral finish. 93 points.

It reminded me that good chardonnay can be nearly as complex and enjoyable as good reds. I wish I could've drunk another couple glasses but somehow I had the self-restraint not to. For those who think chardonnay is boring or passé, this bottle (among many others) would have to give them pause. Furthermore, the notion that something like pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc can compete with an excellent chardonnay seems far fetched to me. With a few exceptions of course, like a great white Bordeaux, but they cost way more for the same quality level in my experience. Lesser known whites like Godello and Albarino can also provide a lot of pleasure. But time in and time out, chardonnay does the trick for me--granted, "different strokes for different folks" is true and to each his or her own, etc etc.

Parker says 93 points too: The 2012 Chardonnay Broken Road, made from Dijon clones, is the most tropical of these Chardonnays, revealing lots of pineapple, mango and a hint of bananas. A wet rock-like component provides minerality. It should drink well for 4-6 years.