Tuesday, June 30, 2009

2004 Pico Madama Monastrell

I liked last nights wine so much that I opened another bottle of Monastrell from a different region of Spain. This wine is from Jumilla. Jumilla is in the South, as opposed to Yecla, which is in the North. This particular wine is also blended with Petit Verdot, and it's 3 times as expensive as last nights wine--28$. Another interesting feature, since I seem to be on a roll listing a lot of boring facts, is that this is bottle number 21988 of 44000 (you can see that in the lower left hand corner if you don't believe me). I've never seen a winery that tells you what bottle number in their production you're drinking, but it's an interesting touch. You can also infer that they made 3666.67 cases of wine, so there are a fair number of bottles. So how was bottle number 21988?

It's superlative wine, although I've got to say, I don't know that it's 3 times better than last night. Initially, the wine has a tart nose of red currants and spice, but eventually opens up to have much sweeter raspberry and cherry flavors that occasionally touch on blackberry. There's lot's of licorice, and spicy overtones supported by a silky mouth feel and a soaring finish. There is no doubt that this wine is more elegant than the Monastrell that we drank last night, and it's a smoking bottle of wine brimming with juicy fruit, spice, and balance. It's really fucking tasty. However, I would be just as happy with 3 bottles of the Hecula from last night as one bottle of this. A-

Monday, June 29, 2009

2005 Bodegas Castano "Hecula"

You can grab this right now at Costco in So Cal for 9$, which is insane. This wine is scary good for how inexpensive it is. It's the vinous equivalent of tacos from a hole in the wall place...There's so much going on in this wine, it's tough to start somewhere. 100% Monastrell, which is also known as Mouvedre in France (the grape they make Bandol out of). Its from Yecla, in Southeastern Spain. Aromatically, this is a dense, dark effort that has a lot of minerals, licorice, blackberries, and spice. There's a lot of other stuff too, but using too many adjectives in a string of superlatives can be boring...Once in the mouth, this wine continues on the spicy, blackberry, licorice path. There's a good finish too that has chocolate character and licorice.

I like this wine a lot. Of course, it's no surprise because it's imported by Eric Solomon...I'm going to go back and buy a couple of cases of this wine. It's miles better than the Luzon. For the price, I don't know if this can be beat. Scary good. Only 9$? A+

Sunday, June 28, 2009

2007 Artazuri Garnache

11$ at K&L. Had the '06 a couple of times now and really liked it. This wine is aged in neutral oak and stainless steel, which is probably why I like it so much. It's fresh, vibrant and exciting to drink. Cherries and pepper along with sweet tannins, and the right amount of acidity. Miles better than anything from California at this price if you ask me. This vintage is a bit richer than the '06 I think; not sure if that means I like it more or less. Both of them are good, but are a little different. I think I like the '06 a little more (but just a small amount) because it seems to be a little sharper around the edges. B+/A-

2008 Famega Vinho Verde

8$ at K&L. This wine reminds me of Fresca, mixed with 7-Up. Lots of nice citrus flavors, mixed with some bubbles and a little sweetness. 9.5% alcohol. This could pass for Michael Jackson's Jesus Juice, only without the creepy consequences. You could get a kid to guzzle this without complaint. Definitely better than the other couple of Vinho Verde's that I've had this year. B/B+

Friday, June 26, 2009

2006 Luca Laborde Double Select Syrah

This wine is 19$ at Costco. Wasn't sure what to expect from this wine since I haven't had a whole lot of wines from Argentina...but this wine delivers. 13.9% alcohol, which is refreshing. Immediately when you pull the cork, there is an intense gingerbread/spice nose that's quite distinctive. The rest of the nose is made up of blueberries and blackberries. This wine is right down the middle stylistically. It definitely isn't one of those huge, California/Aussie Shiraz wines that is like drinking maple syrup, but it also doesn't have the same nervy acids as the O'Sud that we had earlier tonight. I am not the only person to have this opinion--there is an excellent post from Blind Muscat about this wine. His words and mine are similar. As he notes, he received some tasting notes with a press sample of this wine, and notes that he formed his opinion prior to reading them. I didn't get a press sample, but I formed my own observations prior to Googling. This is an obvious, in your face wine, that is tasty and well made. One of the reasons that it's so obvious is because there aren't a lot of ways to play this wine. It isn't subtle. It is what it is: a modern style wine that is fused with a more old-world balance. A-

We ended up drinking this wine over two nights; the second night, we ate the porcinis below, which are the last fresh ones of the season. Unfortunately, one was overcome with worms and we had to pitch it. We had them three ways: a raw salad dosed with pepper, salt, olive oil, a farmers market lemon, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. There was also a grilled slice in the center of all the raw mushrooms for contrast. The second dish was a spaghetti with cherry tomatoes, sauteed cubes of porcini, and thyme. Too bad that this is the last for the season.

2006 Côtes du Ventoux Domaine de Fondrèche "O'Sud"

This is at K&L now for 10$. Half Grenache, half Syrah. Cherry (of the candied variety), plum, pepper, and herbal notes. Went well with a mustard herb crusted pork tenderloin from the Lucques cookbook. Sarah says it's alcoholic and a little hot, and I agree. Despite this, it's a good value that's well made and it's cheap. B/B+

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

2008 Picpoul de Pinet Hugues Beaulieu

I was reading some other blogs yesterday, and I noticed that I am a fairly pedantic writer. Most of the things that I write are boring in the sense that they are me elaborating on a fruit salad using limited vocabulary. I guess what really set me off on this thought was reading a random blog that I was directed to in a circuituous fashion called Horny For Food. Let me just say, I was laughing at the irreverent tone of the whole thing, and kind of half wishing that I was 50% as amusing.

I envy the writing of Jay McInerney, which is frequently brilliant, engaging, and just down-right nerdy, all at the same time. I feel the same way about Alice Feiring, who is also some kind of crazy mad wine savant. If I was even half as interesting as these people, maybe I'd be a writer or something. Despite the above musings, I can't think of a way to make my opinion of the below wine more engaging and interesting. Perhaps it has something to do with context. I've only spent a couple of fleeting days in the Languedoc region of France (mainly Nice and Nime), and my focus wasn't on wine. When I was there I didn't even like wine. Jay McInerney and Alice Feiring are interesting writers because they write as much about their experiences traveling and meeting wine makers as they do about the wine. All this additional context makes the wine that much more appealing. Maybe I need to travel some more. Would I suddenly, magically, become more interesting if I had nothing to do all day but drink wine and travel? Would I suddenly be able to channel the abilities of McInerney and Feiring?

This wine is 10$ at K&L right now. There are a few places that you can get it by the glass, including the Hungry Cat in Hollywood. I can imagine drinking this by the bottle on a hot day in Nice or Nime on the beach...maybe with some shrimp, oysters, or mussels...Crisp aromas of lemon and stones. Focused acidity and a crisp citrus-stone finish. Cheap. Quaffable. I like it. B

Sunday, June 21, 2009

2004 Emile Chandesais Meursault

Costco must be having trouble moving through some of their more expensive wines. This particular wine has been at my local Costco for close to a year at a price of 30ish$. Today it was 24.97. I have to admit that this is the first time I've consciously had Meursault. I've had plenty of Chardonnay and plenty of Chablis, but never a Meursault that I can remember. This is a delicate and subtle wine, and it's delicious. There are pure pear aromas, some nuttiness, and a mineral, stony quality (although this wine has nothing on Chablis in that regard) in the nose. In the mouth, the wine is rich, and not nearly as acidic as I expected. It has a lot of pure pear flavors that are ringing as clear as a bell. Nice stony finish. Tasty, interesting, but not blowing my mind. Perhaps if I had more context with Meursault my perception would change? This is miles better than lots of Chardonnay that I've had, but it seems a little simple, and I have had better, more interesting Chardonnay's for less. For the price. B-/B

Saturday, June 20, 2009

2003 Castel Ruggero IGT (Tuscany)

Around $30. From K&L's wine club over a year ago--its been in my cellar ever since. Made by Nicolo D'Afflito. 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Syrah. Lots of interesting, shifting aromas on the nose: raspberry, cinnamon, chocolate, licorice, earth, and cherry. Once in the mouth, it's got tons of structure. You could definitely leave this for a few more years. Cherries, vanilla, and herbs as well. The finish has hints of vanilla and chocolate and is lengthy. I like this wine. It's complex and interesting. A

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

2004 Pierre Usseglio Chateauneuf-du-Pape "Cuvee Imperiale"

Today was my 10,000th day walking this planet. Yeah, I know it sounds sort of arbitrary, maybe a little ridiculous, maybe even morbid or fatalistic, but I truly feel like it's a significant milestone. First, It really marks a point in your life that you rarely see. A couple of generations ago, the average life expectancy was only about 47 years for a white American male. So that means that by the time you hit "10k Day," you were already more than half-way through your life. Even today, hitting a 10K milestone is something that will only happen twice on average, three times if you're pretty healthy, and if you're some kind of crazy long-tail anomaly, you'll see 40k days (almost 110 years!). 10000 days also marks some significant life events--27, 54, and 82--basically, adulthood, end of adult hood, and end of life.

I set out to do something to mark this day. I heard about a guy who ate 10,000 mini marshmallows...cool...but not really me. Instead, I ran a 10k yesterday, which was something that I'd never done. Actually a lot easier than I anticipated, even though I regularly run 4.5 miles three times a week.

I also decided that I wanted eat something really good for dinner and spend 10,000 pennies on a bottle of wine. I decided on Joe's in Venice Beach. Since there were no 100$ bottles of wine, we had to pick something else, so I went with what I really like--Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This was slightly more, but it was absolutely stunning. Raspberry, cherry, spice, and fig, with an awesome depth, awesome balance and a spicy, almost cinnamony finish. This was an excellent wine, and we both enjoyed it. A

We had a few things to eat as well, all of which were great...mushroom ravioli's, foie gras with tuna and a potato cake, and we both had a prime pork loin with mushrooms, mashed potatoes, and a vinegar sauce. Lastly, we had a chocolate souffle for two with passion-fruit cream, ice cream, a rice-crispy, and port. Joe came over and talked to us too, which I really like just because the chef doesn't just come by most of the time, and he seemed stoked that we like his restaurant. We do. And we'll keep coming back because everything is great.

We drove home, and then, we jumped in the ocean. Because I don't know of anything more life-affirming than realizing that the water is cold and the Earth has powerful tides. So I have to ask myself: what am I going to do on 20k day???

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Charles Baur NV Cremant D'Alsace

About 15$ at K&L. Don't like this as much as the Cremant de Bourgogne from a couple of days ago, but still tasty. Strawberries, cherries, and lots of stony/mineral flavors. A fruity style. Went great with a spicy stir-fry. B

2005 Domaine des Hauts Chassis "Le Chassis" Crozes Hermitage

100% Syrah. Imported by the Premier Wine Company (which I have generally found to be a good bet). I picked this up at K&L over a year ago; I think it was about $30. This is a fruit-driven wine in many respects, but it accomplishes being fruit driven differently than a new world wine. If this were an Australian Shiraz, or a Napa Syrah, this wine would undoubtedly be jammy, plush, thick and tipping the scales at 15% alcohol. Instead, the "Les Chassis" accomplishes powerful and elegant fruit at a low level of alcohol and retains it's balance. Immediately, the first thing that you notice is that this wine has a pure, deep, blueberry nose. It's supported by a wide variety of things, all at different times: tar, soy sauce, violets, blackberries, figs, plums, spice, and constant minerals. Once the wine is actually in your mouth, it's got just the right amount of tannin to balance out the acid. Then on to the finish which is full of lingering minerals. This is great to drink. For any one that cares, Wine Spectator gave this wine a 91. I'm thinking A-, (because it is fairly expensive).

Friday, June 12, 2009

2007 Ermacora Pinot Grigio

This wine is great. Apples, peaches, pineapple, and minerally, stony flavors galore. Also some nutty sweet notes. Just killer for 15$. But you know, I'm biased because I fell in love with this wine in Italy. A

2007 Chariot Gypsy Jim Neal (California)

Picked this up at Trader Joes for $4.99. Jason really likes this wine. As much as I want to hate on California, it's pretty great for 5$. A couple of caveats though. First, I think that while it's good in a modern fruit-bomb style, it's really missing some depth that you're going to get out of less ripe/extracted wines. Nothing wrong with this wine, but it's missing depth. Second, it comes off as fairly sweet, and although I like it, I kind of think that it's like Coca-Cola. This wine has got to be almost all Zinfandel due to the spicy melange of cloves, pepper, and other spices that are on the nose upfront. After a bit, there are also bright red cherries, maybe a bit of strawberry, and vanilla. This wine is thick and viscous (what else would you expect from California), with a rounded mouth feel. After being open for a day, it picks up some raspberry and chocolate notes as well. The alcohol is left in check at 13.7%, which is nice. Kind of scary that 13.7% is low alcohol for a California wine... Overall, this wine is an awesome value if you like the fruit forward style. It's got a lot of flavor, and would be a great thing to serve to a bunch of your friends that don't know anything about wine or who are into the "soda-pop" style of wine. There are definitely wines that I like more that are only slightly more expensive that I would rather drink, and for me there is something that's missing from it, but I'm finding it hard to diss this wine at 5$. If it was $20+ (which would be more typical for California), it would be a different story. A (for sheer value)

Had a second bottle of this 6/20/09; this bottle definitely had a lot of similar characteristics to the above, but added a lot of chocolatey notes.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Voarick Cremant de Bourgogne Brut NV

Costco is trying to get rid of this wine. It used to be 16$, but Tuesday when I went it was marked down to $11.97 (anytime you see a 7 as the last digit of the price, that means that they are trying to get rid of the inventory). I would imagine that a lot of people look at this wine and immediately go to the Champagne, which is significantly more expensive, and honestly, I don't think nearly as good. Too bad for them. You can drink Veuve Clicquot at 35-40$ if you want, but I don't know why when you could drink this. This comes from Burgundy, and utilizes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. I'm going to guess that it's mostly Chardonnay because of the strong pear component. Toasty, with aromas of bread, pears, green apples, and a smidgeon of vanilla. Once in the mouth, pears supported by some citrus. Made in a richer style, but not flabby. Perhaps somewhat unsophisticated, and straightforward, but I enjoyed this bottle of wine immensely. A-

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Is this what the world is coming to?

WTF?? Saw this at a trade show yesterday and thought it was kind of funny, but also sad. Really??

Sunday, June 7, 2009

2007 Delas Cotes du Ventoux

Let me just say that Colorado's liquor distribution system leaves something to be desired. Although there are a number of interesting wines available, they are quite expensive compared to California and you can't buy wine at the grocery store. The only thing you can buy at the grocery store is 3.2% beer. (Hey, Colorado does border Utah!) Apparently, the liquor lobby in Colorado is afraid that if grocery stores get into the game that all of the small-time liquor shops will go out of business. They're really seeking to protect their interests to the detriment of consumers. It's an insane system. What ends up happening is that customers end up holding the short end of the stick because 1. wine is more expensive, and 2. choices are more limited. Meanwhile, the liquor stores continue to have a "government-subsidized" industry because there's not a ton of competition to keep them in check. What are the liquor stores and distributors afraid of? The good ones will end up better off anyway, since they'll gain business from the ones that don't do a good job. No smart company is afraid of competition. It only makes you a better business (unless you're a crappy one to begin with). Lets hope for the sake of Colorado consumers that these blue laws get tossed out. It's almost insulting to know that a bottle of the Perrin Cotes du Rhone that I like so much is twice as expensive--12$!

About 11$ in Colorado. Cheaper in California (well, at least I'm 99% sure it is, because almost every other bottle that I saw in Colorado was cheaper in California). We also had another bottle of 2006 Artazuri (tasty again, and only 1.50$ more than K&L...still about 15% though) to go with a bunch of BBQ at my little brother's place. Grenache and Syrah. Plums and pepper. Richer than the Artazuri, pretty tasty, but it's not too exciting at the price. C+/B-

Friday, June 5, 2009

2007 Oberto Barbera d'Alba

Had this at Il Posto in Denver win my little bro and his girlfriend. 45$ cherries, earth, and minerals. Maybe a hint of licorice. More structured than a lot of Barbera's and with less acidity. Tasty. B+ Had it with an excellent charcuterie/cheese plate, magliatelle, zucchini truffle risotto, berkshire pork loin and some sole. All in all a fun night. Good wine, good food.