Thursday, December 31, 2009

Marc Bredif Chinon 2007

This was 19$ from Pete's on Eastlake, which is a super cool wine shop. It was the only Chinon that they had...and there's no easy way to say this, but it's underwhelming. I even said to the guy "Hey, I've never even heard of this guy before, and 07 is kind of an inconsistent vintage" and he said "Yes, but Bredif is famous for Vouvray, 07 Sancerre is great, and I think you'll like it." OK, sold. The Vouvray, I can't speak for. This I can. Definitively underwhelming. There is much better stuff at this price point. Just off the top of my head, Breton, Mabilieu, Lang and Reed (California!), Taluau, and my favorite Baudry. Technically, there's nothing wrong with this wine, it's just simple and incredibly boring. A little bit of fruit peeking through on the nose--cherries, violets, along with mineral accents, and some leafiness. Not a whole lot of stuffing--soft, with lots of acidity. Like I said--typical Chinon, but why drink this when you could drink something lots better for the same price. C- 

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pacific Rim Dry Riesling Columbia Valley 2007

Had Pacific Rim's Riesling a couple days ago; this is the "dry" version (although it's not completely dry with 0.8% residual sugar). This wine was orginally a Randall Graham/Bonny Doon wine, according to the website. Some ex-employees started it up in 2006. The winery is doing a lot of cool stuff--biodynamic, and all natural (ie no commercial) yeasts. Cool stuff. 9$ at Trader Joes, which is reasonable. Drank this with some crab cakes--and this wine went well with them. Lots of herby white pepper (on second thought, jasmine is probably a better description--thanks bottle) on the nose along with peaches and limes (another random thought--limes almost comes across as salty). This actually comes off as a little cloying and hollow to me. It's not bad, but it sure doesn't have the same presence as German or Austrian rieslings. I liked their off-dry riesling more (even though they're different vintages). Went great with the crab cakes, but it didn't really grab me. I think there's more exciting riesling out there, for just a little more. This is a fairly new producer, so it will be interesting to see how these wines evolve over time. They certainly have good pedigree and are going in the right direction. C+

Mario Schiopetto Tocai Friulano 2006

For whatever reason, the gift certificate that I gave my Mother for her birthday about three years ago to Cafe Juanita went unused until last night. I guess the restaurant is a bit out of the way--Kirkland, and not Seattle, but still, I was surprised that the gift certificate still existed and that I got to go.

Cafe Juanita has won several James Beard awards, and it definitely could hang in a bigger city. It's on the same level as anything that I've had in LA and is arguably less expensive. They go out of their way to source local, organic, produce, ie I don't think Sysco makes a whole lot of stops there. Amen to that. Had some great dishes--foie gras with gingered apples and quince (an enormous piece of foie gras for a restaurant too--worth every penny of the 20$ the dish was), king crab on apple sorbetto with butter powder, pear salad with some truffle oil, fresh steelhead trout (which has actually been reclassified as a salmon now, I believe), and some Wagyu beef with gorganzola (didn't try that, but my Mom liked it).

Also had this wine, from one of the pioneers of high-quality white wines in Northern Italy. Here' s a decent profile. What an awful picture up above. Oh well. I'm trying to get my parents to like white wine, so I thought I'd have them try something off the beaten path (at least for them) that would match with a wide range of foods. Almond, peach, citrus and anise on the nose, with ripe mineral accented citrus fruit and a rich texture in the mouth. Lots of richness balanced by acidity; just really nice. 60$ off the list (incidentally, a whole lot of the wine list seems to be quite expensive, although they seem to be have a fantastic selection). B+ Lastly, I had a glass of 1982 Dow Colheita Port. 82 was the year I was born, so I kind of had to try it. Nutty, with lots of dried fruit character and orange. Hazelnutty-toffee finish that went on for minutes. Absolutely insane. A+ Definitely loved the restaurant; for sure I will be back. Even my Mom liked it, and she's pretty goddamned picky. 
And on another note, I went to Anchovies and Olives on Monday night, and was really impressed. Went there with my friends Dave and Emily because it's right by their place. We decided that Poco Wine Bar was a little boring (had an okay glass of wine there with them), and this is a block away. Great happy hour; nice Pinot Bianco and Prosecco by the glass for $5--I think we had about 10 glasses of it or so. Producer escapes me, but it was nice and crisp. Awesome, awesome, fresh oysters that were only a buck. A lot of details escape me, but whatever kind of oysters (we had three different kinds including Prince Edwards) we had, the best was the one with pickled beets on top. And seriously, where else can you get 9 awesome, fresh, oysters for 9$? A great deal. Perhaps the best deal besides my Grandfather's house. Emily and Dave, despite being in their late 20's, had never had raw oysters before. Got to say I was surprised, but they're no longer oyster virgins. Dave ate 4 raw oysters; I think he's probably hooked now. Still peckish, even though I'd eaten dinner with my parents earlier, so I ordered the King Mackerel with hen of the woods mushrooms and raddichio, as well as the geoduck crudo in a cucumber basil broth. Both very well done dishes; obviously extremely fresh and perfectly cooked (or in the case of the geoduck, not). Not too expensive either. We also had a piece of Tallegio (probably my favorite cheese) coated with currant jelly, and a roasted banana bread pudding. I would go to this place frequently if it was by me. And it's relatively inexpensive. Imagine that. And of course, being in Seattle and hanging out with Dave, Emily and my other Seattle peeps makes me want to move back to Seattle, if only so I can go get happy hour wine at Anchovies and Olives with them more frequently. I will be back...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Chalone Vineyards Chardonnay

This was floating around at Christmas. California style Chard; around 20$ or so. Lots of pear, citrus, cream, and some toasty character. Ripe, but with good balance of oak, fruit, and acidity. Really pretty nice. Some of the stuff we had was, well, fairly atrocious, this wasn't all that bad. B+ Apparently made the Wine Spectator Top 100 this year.

Doyenne Roussane (Delille Cellars) 2008

This is about 35$ or so. My parents neighbors work for Delille, don't like wine, and gave us a basket with five different releases. This wine is rich, with lots of oily citrus, floral notes, and honey. Andy and my Dad say apples, which I agree with too. Has a beginning, middle, and end. Good acidity, structure, and Layers of flavor. Although I didn't neccesarily like this as much as the Riesling, it's very well made. B+

Pacific Rim Riesling Columbia Valley 2008

This was a present. Lots of pear, stone, jasmine and other floral notes. Off-dry at 10.5% Sweet, but with good acidity. A little cloying, I think. Didn't like this as much as the Kung Fu girl from Charles Smith, which had a lot more snap to it. Regardless, it went well with a whole bunch of stuff--cheese, salame, smoked salmon. Made from all organic grapes, which is, I guess, somewhat dubious? If it's labeled Organic that means they're going after a marketing angle to a certain degree...but whatever. This was a nice complement to lots of stuff. B

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yalumba Shiraz-Viognier Barossa Valley 2007

Wine at my parents house is always a bit of a grab-bag. Generally, it's whatever is in the 10-15$ range at Costco. Rarely have I had anything I thought was downright shitty. This wine is all ripe berries and pepper, with a raspberry-tinged finish. Although it's not that distinctive and fairly new world, I think it's fairly good. More restrained than I expect from Aussie wine--ie not jammy--rather, balanced. Definitely prefer the Townshend--it has much more going on, but I like this too, and I'm sure it's not too expensive. B

Townshend Cellars Vortex Red Colmbua Valley

A Bordeaux style blend of Cab, Merlot, and Cab Franc. 13.6% alcohol. 15$ Definitely got some cherry, raspberry, chocolate, pencil lead, with just a little bit of herbal character hanging out in the background. This is quite nice, especially for free. Sweet, ripe, tasty, good balance. B/B+

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Domaine Jean-Claude Boisset Chambolle-Musigny 2002/Bernard Baudry Chinon "Les Grezeaux" 2007

Sarah and I always get our landlords a bottle of wine for Christmas. He and his wife are totally cool--definitely total bon vivants. Anyways, we brought them a bottle of 07 Telegramme Chateauneuf-du-Pape (for what's it worth, they gave Sarah and I a bottle of 07 Waters Syrah, which I'm super stoked to try) and they asked me if I wanted to come over for dinner, which was an offer that I couldn't refuse. Especially since they were like, "Oh yeah, I have an 02 Chambolle-Musigny open." I guess that's the way you roll when you have a wine cellar, are a nut for wine, and are retired. What they had open was the 2002 Domaine Jean-Claude Boisset Chambolle-Musigny; about 45$ or so. 02 was a great year in Burgundy, and although this is basically a village wine (as opposed to a premier cru or grand cru vineyard), it was really drinking nice. 7 years has been quite kind to this wine. A very elegant style, with raspberry fruit (reminded me a lot of my great grandmother's raspberry farm) still very clearly present and framed by notes of coffee/truffle/chocolate. Lithe and supple, this wine isn't what I would describe as a "powerhouse," in your face wine. Tannin still just peeking out in the background, but with snappy, sweet fruit, good acids, and a great finish. Of course, I don't know shit about Burgundy, but that shouldn't matter too much should it? Good wine is good wine. A We ate some portabello peppers, topped with onions, parika, and chorizo that were really good, and my landlords regaled me with tales of drinking 1947 Cheval Blanc and DRC at Taillevent in Paris. Yeah, they get to live the good life. Let's just say that they have some people in their lives that are well off. Gotta admit, I was a little jealous, but stories like that are super cool. My landlord has pretty much had the whole nine yards of really legendary wines (all sorts of 1961's, 1947's, 1982's, etc...the list goes on), and of course, he was waxing rhapsodically about 1947 Cheval Blanc, even at 7100 Euro a bottle.

Of course, I had to bring a bottle over too, and they're totally in to Cabernet Franc, so I brought over the 07 Benard Baudry Chinon "Les Grezeaux," which is imported by Kermit Lynch. I felt a little pedestrian about bringing this bottle given the conversation (haha), but everyone was a big fan of this. Good wine is good wine, afterall. 22$. Wow, what a killer wine. Actually, in my opinion, this held it's own against the Burgundy. Definitely sleeker and less funky than I imagined, to be honest, but there's a little bit of the cab franc thing lurking in the background. Loads of sour cherry, with a minerally, earthy, stony streak running in the background. Juicy fruit flavors, and perhaps a little bit thin--ie not a whole lot of structure, but drinking really well, with tons of presence and a whole lot of character. The landlords liked it too. Not as good as 05 or 06 Chinon that I have had--I guess 07 was a meh vintage--but this was rocking my world. A

And of course, by the bottom of both those wines, I was kind of in a "what the fuck mode," so I was brought over some Lagavulin, which is one my favorite Scotches. Becuase my landlord hadn't had it before. Of course, he brought something out that completely trumped the Lagavulin...21 Year Knockando (which is from Speyside). I've never even heard of this Scotch before, but that doesn't matter. Now my landlord doesn't drink Scotch at all, but he got a whole case of this from one of his former tenants that also didn't drink Scotch. Of course, he's always entertaining people so he just has it around for that purpose. This Scotch was distilled in 1975, so while my parents were in high school. What a trip. Seriously. Stuff like that trips me out. It's WAY older than I am. When he got this from the previous tenant, if you could find it, it was selling for around 180$ a bottle apparently. Doesn't look like anyone has this in the US that I could find online, although you can get this in the UK for 60 Pounds (about 150$). I'm guessing it's still around the same price. Lagavulin is damn good--I mean I like it a lot, and so do other people, or at least that's what I thought. The thing is, is that Lagavulin is damned good when you stick it up next to Laphroaig or something. But next to the Knockando? It's like drinking piss, ie, really not good. The Knockando is so smooth, so subtle, so appley, peary, just blew me away. I've had some other old Scotch--25 Year Caol Ila, for instance, but this is another one of those things like Burgundy where I don't know a whole lot about it. For all I know, Knockando isn't that great when you compare it to other 21 Year Speyside Malts. Totally dangerous--you really could drink the whole bottle like it was apple juice. Just really amazing, at least to me. A+ And then, to add some more fuel to the fire, my landlord was telling me about going to Mexico with his son (whose my age) and he ended up tasting me on this amazing Tequila that they brought back. I don't know shit about Tequila either, but this was also rocking my world. About 50$ a bottle, El Tesoro de Don Filipe Reposado, had a ton of herbal, pepper, and coriander notes on the nose, and a lingering, lingering coriander pepper finish. Minutes long. Wow. I'm going to have to get a bottle of it. I guess it's owned by Jim Beam. Also insanely good. At this point, I left because with that Knockando and the Tequila and a bottle of Lagavulin on the table, that was about all I could take, becuase you know, I still work and stuff and have to get up in the morning. Oh, to be retired.  

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Burson "Rosso Ravenna" Tenuta Uccellina/Consorzio Il Bagnacavallo 2004

Today was an pretty good day. Sarah took off for Rochester on Thursday (missed that storm by a few hours), so it was all me. When Sarah takes off for an extended period of time, I kind of don't really know what to do with myself. It's almost like the first week of college before classes start. I can do whatever I want! I can stay up late! No ones going to tell me what to do! The only problem being, I'm kind of over that phase of my life. It does mean that I can indulge in all of the things that Sarah doesn't really listening to metal all weekend. (Speaking of, I heard this Christian metal band on Liquid Metal called Living Sacrifice. Aparently, they are from Arkansas. They sound like garden variety metal/metal-core. They sound all right, but they certainly aren't Shadows Fall, Mastodon, or Slayer. Funny, the Christian metal band thing, because for all I know, they were singing about raping the bass player's grandmother and sacrificing a goat. I wouldn't have guessed that they were a Christian metal band a la POD. I guess it's possible to be influenced by Slayer and not be a degenerate? Isn't some of the metal ethos a disrespect for organized religion? Whatever, they're doing their thing, which is totally cool. I hope they don't end up on a bill with any black metal bands from Norway. There might be some fisticuffs. I also heard Three Inches of Blood, who are from Seattle. A girl I know used to date one of the dudes in the band. They're more old school thrash--think Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. Pretty good too.) In addition to listening to metal all weekend, I completed the donut ride in Redondo Beach for the first time. The first time I tried to keep up, I got left in the dust. Couldn't keep up with the pace. Saturday, I kept up. The dudes on that ride get going pretty fast and set a quick pace. I clearly am not in as good of shape as most of those dudes. At one point, I looked down and was going 42 mph (which actually isn't that fast compared to some of the speeds in the Giro d'Italia or Tour de France. Look on You Tube and you can find racer guys going well over 60 mph downhill). On a road bike. Completely hemmed in by other bikes inches away from me. Such is the fun of a pelaton. Kinda scary, but really fun. It's effortless to be going that fast since the mass of all the other riders displaces all of the air and you just draft off them. The good news is that I know that I can keep up now, and I'll probably try and go just about every weekend, and try not to piss anyone off. (You want to make someone mad, just go slower than the pelaton, which is a mistake I made this weekend on a hill. I got a push and a "you can't go in reverse, dude." I won't make that mistake now--I know better. So thanks, random benevolent asshole. I honestly didn't even think about it. I'm a newbie. Next time, I'll stand up.) Today, I rode a metric century--62 miles, culminating with a trip to the Santa Monica Farmer's Market (totally dig the bike valet--I don't have to worry about my bike getting jacked). I should probably apologize to anyone that bumped into me--sorry, you caught me at about the 50 mile mark. I know I was sweaty. Look at the bright side though--at least you didn't run into me at mile 62. (Total for the weekend was just under 100 miles--a little over 99 to be exact.) At the market, I picked up a 100 % grass-fed rib-eye from Rocky Canyon ranch, some fingerlings, and a butternut squash--dinner. Yeah, red meat is another one of those things I consume more often with no girlfriend around. I also opened the wine above, which is a weird and wacky wine from Wine Expo. The best part about drinking the bottle by myself is that I have approximately 1/2 of the bottle to consumer tomorrow, which means that I get to see if the wine evolves or turns into undrinkable garbage.

The Rosso Ravenna is 35$ at Wine Expo, and made from Burson, otherwise known as Longanasi (actaully uva Longanesi, but I think that's maybe something lost in translation, since uva means grape?). Apparently, Antonio Longanesi found a single vine of this grape in the 1950's and saved it from extinction. I'm seeing a pattern here with saving the native grapes. Sounds awfully similar to Schioppettino. Got to love the Italians...The only real (there is a fleeting reference here, and Roberto from Wine Expo figures prominently) non-Italian reference to this wine seems to be from Vinography, way back in 2004. 2004? That was a long-ass time ago--the same year that I really started drinking wine. Interestingly, Alder mentions that there isn't much info about this online...and it's still the same today. The winery is located in the Southern part of Northern Italy, around Bologna and Ravenna, and officially hails from Bagnacavallo (Er well, that's what the internet says, the bottle says Russi. I'm sure they're probably both right since it seems to have two producers?), which means something about water and horses--hence the horse on the label (quite a nice little piece of design, I think). Anyways, in the absence of information about this wine, I guess there's not much else to do except for tell you what I think. Alder had the 2000, which was only the second year that this particular wine was made. I'm guessing that by his score, which was an 8/10, that this has improved, because I don't feel even the least bit cheated by spending 35$ on it. It's pretty damn good and pretty damned interesting. Cherries, dried cherries, strawberry, licorice, herbs, mushroom, and an excellent balance of ripe fruit, tannin, and acidity carry through to a lightly spicy, earthy finish. Lots of stuff going on here, which makes it fun to drink. Perhaps slightly pricey, but I don't think that you find too many wines that are this complex, big, and yet have such good balance for that much less. Update: Day Two, I would say this is holding up well, although not nearly as exciting to me as yesterday. Perhaps I was too nice? No, I don't think so. Anyways, lots of pomegranate character is apparent. Reminds me of POM juice. The earthy/herb thing has faded to the background and it's all tart fruitiness. Still a very nice wine, and interesting to boot. A

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sella & Mosca "La Cala" Vermentino di Sardegna 2007

Sarah and I always go out to dinner the night before she leaves to go home for Christmas just to celebrate the holidays and what not. Sort of a tradition--we give each other presents and then go out to eat. Tonight we went to Fraiche in Culver City. I hadn't been there before, although there certainly is a lot of good press about Fraiche. The food is good, with two caveats in my mind: 1. It's as expensive as Beverly Hills, but in Culver City (I hope for their sake they are making a metric shit-ton of money), and 2. the food is good and is well executed, but maybe almost a little bit boring and not too innovative. Anytime I'm shelling out 14$ for a salad that is grain based (ie cheap), well, let's just say that it better be really fucking good. (Hardly inadequate, but it wasn't quite up to that level. I've been more impressed for cheaper/same price--Drago Centro is the first example that I can think of--they are definitely operating in a different realm from Fraiche, and yet, they are either cheaper or about the same price.) Oysters were very good, fresh, and pretty inexpensive (13$ for 6) for restaurant oysters, although they have nothing on my Grandfather's beach. Pasta special that Sarah got was good, but at 26$, ravioli stuffed with pork osso bucco and truffle butter is a bit of a rip-off. Especially when the server recommended it "highly" over another dish. Seemed like he was trying to push it (and of course, we ordered it, because it sounded good and we're gullible suckers for waiter recommendations)...just saying, and I'm guessing that the special the night before might have been osso bucco, and I'm sure that they made too much of it. Hence the need for the special. My branzino en pappilote was flawless, and is probably the most exciting/satisfying fish that I have had since we went to Providence. Clean flavors, very nice with the fennel, onions, olives and red pepper. I don't know that I will be returning to Fraiche? Perhaps it's a victim of its' own hype? Sarah went to brunch there a few weeks ago and was impressed. A better brunch spot than dinner? Was I expecting too much from it? I don't know. Enjoyed myself, but definitely not blown away by any means, despite the great branzino. There's better in LA, for dinner at least. I'll have to check out brunch sometime.

Fraiche has many cheap Italian whites from Southern Italy--this was 33$ (and about 12$ at a retailer), so cheaper than just about any wine by the glass (if you're going to get more than a glass a piece--not nearly enough for dinner). Sella & Mosca is one of the largest producers on Sardegna, and we enjoyed the "Tanca Farra" that we had from them a while back, which is why we got this. This is one of those crisp whites that's meant to go with food, probably whatever got pulled out of the sea that morning. It's slightly herbal, with some floral notes, citrus and some apple. There is a mineral streak that runs through the core of the wine as well, although it's not quite as extreme as say, a Sancerre. Lacking a bit of complexity, but with good acidity, and fruit. This wine went great with the branzino and the mushroom salad, okay with the oysters, definitely got destroyed by the farro salad (too much vinegar), and didn't have enough stuffing to stand up to the pasta. Overall, good, but nothing special. Perfectly adequate for dinner, and it's not breaking the bank. C+/B-

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Roederer Estate NV Brut Alexander Valley

You can pick this up in a lot of places for less than 20$--Costco has it for 18$ right now in SoCal, but I actually bought this at Von's (Even though I despise them, they are the closest store to me. Basically, I never go in there, unless it's late and someone needs booze.) for just 1$ more (Sometimes, you just have a craving for some bubbles with popcorn at 9PM on a Tuesday. Not exactly the time to go cracking open vintage Champagne that you've got kicking around in the cellar...). Anyways, wanted to try this because W. Blake Gray spoke highly of it, and I've decided that I really need to taste more California wines. For the most part, I haven't bothered much with California since I started drinking wine (although I have had pleasurable excursions with Land & Reed, Cambria, Pax, and Dehlinger that are all fresh in my mind). Furthermore, I've really been craving white and sparkling wine like crazy lately--at the expense of my red wine consumption. There's something about the bubbles that really has me going lately. They just seem more enticing to drink than red wine...

60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir. A blend of various vintages. Perhaps it was my reading of the W. Blake Gray review, but I have similar notes as he does--there's a whole lot of lime character, along with some yeasty breadiness. I also get a fair amount of ginger on the nose, especially right after the cork is popped, and a lot of lemon on the palate in addition to the lime. The lime almost gives it a bit of an exotic flair in my book--that isn't what I normally associate with Champagne. I bet this thing would go awesome with some non-nuclear spice-wise Thai Food (like maybe some larb??). Definitely a whole heck of a lot fruitier than the Champagne that I had last week, although not as fruity as the 01 Gloria Ferrer. Wine Spectator gave the 01 GF a 93, and I'm guessing that was because it was so ripe and fruity. It was a huge wine. In comparison, this wine is more refreshing, with more acidity, good balance of fruit and other elements, and a lot more allure as far as I'm concerned. It's like a good cross between the fruity California style and the crisper, more delicate Champagne style. A stylistic intermediary, that has some almost exotic tasting flourishes. Maybe a wee bit on the pricey side, but this is a nice fun bottle to drink, plus it's easy to find and readily available. B+/A-  

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Château de la Negly "Cuvée de la Falaise" Côteaux du Languedoc-La Clape 2006

I had the entry level cuvee of this earlier in the year, and liked it quite a bit. I was slightly annoyed that K&L sold out of it soon after, because I would have liked to have another bottle of it. This wine, "Cuvee de la Falaise," is the mid-level wine (Porte du Ciel is the top cuvee), and for whatever reason, it got marked down to 13$ and one of the guys from K&L recommended it to me. It's sort of funny that this got marked down to 13$ from 25$, becuase that makes it cheaper than the "La Cote" by a couple of dollars. I definitely would have preferred another bottle of the "La Cote" to this. Simply put, I didn't look at the alcohol level until I got home and realized that this was a 15% ABV wine. Oops. It's a rare day when I really like one of these wines. (Interestingly, on Friday, I was at my girlfriends office Christmas party (at Cache in Santa Monica) and had a couple glasses of wine. The waiter didn't know much about the wines, but they had a California Chard, a Pinot Gris from Germany, a Napa Cab and Koehler Syrah. The Pinot Gris was actually quite nice, but I kind of wanted a glass of red, so I bailed and got the Koehler Syrah. Took a sniff--smelled all right, with lots of spice, pepper, meat, and blueberry--but then it got in my mouth and I realized that it had the same texture as Coke and that it was hopelessly hot. No suprise, that wine clocks in at 15.5%. Needless to say, for 13$ at TJ's, I won't ever be picking up a bottle of Koehler Syrah.)

The Cuvee de Falaise is a blend of 55% Grenache, with some Syrah, Mouvedre, and maybe one or two other grapes too (couldn't find the percentages). Aged half in 50% new and 50% one year old 300L barrels. Big nose of blackberries, with lavender, lots of spices and smoke. There is also a dusty "candied" blueberry element at the beginning. This has a plush (reminds me of Coke--you can taste the sugar) but polished texture and is fairly rich. Doesn't seem to be badly out of balance, although it is clear to me that this wine is missing some acidic snap, and it's a little bit hot. The finish is tinged with coffee, and is fairly long. This wine is OK, but definitely not my style. It's funny, because I have had 14.5% wines that I liked just fine--they didn't seem out of whack to me--but this is too much. It's only a 4% increase in ABV, but it has a big effect in my opinion. It would be interesting to taste this wine in a 14.5% version (although I'm sure it doesn't exist), just to see the relative effect that the alcohol has on the flavors, texture, and structure of the wine. Anyways, there are undoubtedly people that like this style of wine, and I can't necessarily knock it. You should drink what you like, after all. I do find it interesting that K&L is discounting this and still can't get rid of it, but had no trouble selling out of the "La Cote." Maybe they didn't have as much of it? Or maybe people willing to drink wines from the Languedoc run away from high ABV wines? Who knows, but it is an interesting question to ponder. C

Thursday, December 10, 2009

NV Marguet Pere et Fils Rosé Champagne

I don't know why I don't drink more Champagne. Maybe because it's so fucking expensive? This bottle was 35$ at K&L, and I could spend this much on bottles of wine every night if I wanted to, but I think that misses the point. There are a lot of sub-20$ wines that I am extremely satisfied with. Unfortunately, none of them happen to be Champagne (although the Costco Champagne is pretty good) and it's only 20$ ie dirt cheap). One other thing that I should note is that I know relatively little about Champagne. Ironically, I have had some of the "big guns" of Champagne, where I haven't had many of the "big guns" of red or white wine. There was a bottle of 1990 Pol Roger that I had that was pretty extraordinary (at least to me), as well as a bottle of 1996 and 1998 Dom Perignon. The 1990 Pol Roger, well, thank god that was something I didn't have to pay for (sometimes work can be cool, I guess); it was pretty fantastic. I don't know if I would have been quite as entertained with it if I had to pay for it. The same is true of Dom Perignon--gifts. I don't know that I willingly would have forked out 100$ for a bottle...for that price, you might as well go whole hog and get a bottle of fucking Krug for another c-note (shit, maybe I'll take my own advice soon and be less boring and predictable). I think Champagne, at least to an extent with the big houses, is about conspicuos consumption. But with that said, I would like to learn more about Champagne, and there is something that is inherently festive and fun about drinking Champagne. Which is why I popped the cork on this on a Wednesday night--just to be festive. (Note to self: don't open Champagne with Sarah, because she will only have one glass, leaving you to finish 75% of the bottle. Too much for one night.)

When I popped the cork and poured a glass, the first thing that I noticed were actually a little yeast and apple on the nose. At this point, I was sort of asking myself what the fuck was going on because this is a rose Champagne. Of course, after a little bit, that blew off to reveal a lot of red fruit (strawberry, raspberry, cherry) and hazelnuts lingering in the background. When I looked for some more information, I found out that this wine is 65% Chardonnay and 35% Pinot Noir, which, at least to me, explains that "apple thing" at the beginning. Aged on the lees in the bottle for two years as well. Anyways, there is something about Champagne that makes it graceful. Comparing to the South American sparkler that I had last week probably isn't fair for either wine, but let's just say that I see why people are willing to pay a whole lot more for Champagne...because it's pretty fucking obvious which wine is better. Although this isn't the lemony, citrusy, toasty style, and is instead somewhat fruitier and less savoury, this wine has all the same grace and poise. The bubbles themselves are luxurious and persistent, and of course, really augment salty food. Which in this case, happened to be popcorn I made on the stove (Yep, I'm a freak and am one of 7% of Americans that doesn't own a microwave. I guarantee my popcorn is better than your microwave shit.). I enjoyed this; I think it's a bit pricey within the context of all wine, but within the context of Champagne, it's cheap. Definitely enjoyable. B/B+

UDPATE: Sarah and I drank another bottle of this on 8/19 with a different disgorgement date--December 2009. Very similar, with obvious hazelnut and berry notes coming through. It could be my memory deceiving me, or it could be very real, but the 12/09 disgorgement seemed to be more concentrated, complex and more well made. All together, it seemed to be a better bottle of wine than the first one. Still on the pricey side at 35$, but worth a try. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2003 Tenuta Ca' Vescovo Cabernet Sauvignon Friuli Aquileia

Picked this wine up at Wine Expo for 6$. Imported by Zonin. Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the main red grapes that is grown in Friuli (some other big ones are Merlot--#1, Cabernet Franc, and lots of wacky indigenous ones like Pignolo, Schioppetino, and Refosco). This particular wine comes from the Friuli Aquileia DOC, which is basically right on the Adriatic and close to the town of Grado, which is in between Trieste and Venice. 2003 was a scorcher of a summer in Europe, although this wine comes from a cooler climate. At six-ish years of age, on the nose this wine displays lots of chocolate and licorice character (which I'm assuming comes at least in part from the age), in addition to plummy black cherry fruit (I suppose that "plummy black cherry" is another synonym for cassis in my book), and just the slightest bit of herbaciousness. In the mouth, at first, the flavors are all chocolate and licorice, but gradually turn over to black cherry. This wine has a fair amount of acid, although it doesn't come off as unbalanced. Perhaps it had some more tannin in the early stages that has been fully resolved (I'm just guessing, since I haven't had too many "middle-aged" wines and my knowledge of wine is expanding each time I get a bottle of wine like this...)? The finish is fairly short, but I think that the main intent of this wine is to be drunk with food, often and early. It's interesting that it's even gotten to the stage of having a bit of bottle age on it as far as I'm concerned. This is an interesting little wine for 6$. It's not complex, but it also isn't breaking the bank and it's got some interesting secondary characteristics that are worth the price of admission.  B+/A-

Monday, December 7, 2009

2007 Baricci Rosso di Montalcino

This wine was recommended to me by one of the guys at K&L Hollywood...I love me a good Rosso di Montalcino. Last time I was in Rome (which was really just when I was beginning to like wine), Sarah and I went to a restaurant called Bramante, which is located fairly close to Piazza Navona. Sitting at the bar, I ordered a glass of wine that, to this day, is still a benchmark in my head for red wine. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but I think that it was a 1997 or 1999 Rosso di Montalcino (like I said, I don't remember exactly, and this was before the note taking/familiarity with wine days). That would make sense, since the wine was fairly cheap--less than 10 Euro, it had a lot of primary fruit, it was by the glass, and it wasn't Brunello. I know that that particular glass of wine/epiphany is forever going to be played back in my head, can't be re-created, and is at this point, a figment of my memory. If I could have another glass, it might even disapoint me. Anyways, this wine took me back to Bramante, if only for a fleeting moment. It's not really the same as that glass at Bramante flavor wise, but it has similar characteristics. There is a wild nose on this thing that has licorice, blackberries, herbs, leather and earth all hiding out. (Not the funky, sappy, cherry in the memory, but it has the same Sangiovese soul.) Complex and shifty (which is one of my favorite ways to describe a wine--it's almost like Spy vs. Spy--my nose is one spy, the wine's nose is the other). A very nice marriage of tannin, acidity, and blackberry fruit, along with a chocolatey herbal-tinged finish. This wine is a humdinger, I think. It's really too bad that there isn't anymore of it at K&L. A

Sunday, December 6, 2009

2005 Valle dell'Acate Cerasuolo di Vittoria

I've had this wine kicking around for a while. 23$ at K&L for the current vintage (06). Wasn't completely sure what to expect from it, I believe it was part of the Italian Wine Club. What's interesting to me about Sicily is that even though it's really far South in Italy (and at about the same latitude as Napa), most of the wines I've had have not suffered from being over-ripe, and seem to maintain their acidity and freshness. I guess that you can chock that up to Mount Etna, Italian cuisine/ Italians liking food-friendly wine ie knowing how to eat, and ocean breezes? If someone wants to enlighten me...60% Nero d'Avola and 40% Frappato. Strawberry, berries, cherry, tar, earth, stones. This has a Pinot-like balance to me--a somewhat lighter frame, but with lots of intensity of flavor, acidity, just noticeable tannins, and some funkiness. A very versatile food wine that I enjoyed quite a bit (although it isn't what I would call earth-shattering). Sarah liked it too. B

Saturday, December 5, 2009

2005 Cantine Cipressi "Macchiarossa" Tintilia, Molise

I picked up this wine at Wine Expo in Santa Monica for around 20$. The grape is so wacky--tintilia--that it isn't mentioned in Vino Italiano, or The Oxford Companion to Wine. There is also little about it on the internet, although Cantine Cipressi has a website. What I do know is that tintilia is native to Molise and has apparently been disregarded by most bulk producers because it's difficult to grow. Perhaps the "tin" portion is some Italian adaptation of Spanish "tinta?"Maybe it's related somehow to tinta fino, ie tempranillo? I don't know just a thought. It has somewhat similar characteristics, what with the spiciness and cherry.

Immediately on pulling the cork, you can smell this wine. Spicy, with lots of fruit and lots of intensity on the nose. Various spices, blueberry, plum, cherry, raspberry, maybe a bit of herb, a little earth, all shifting and swirling around. There's a lot of complexity. This wine has a great depth of sweet fruit flavors, with some vanilla, accompanied by a moderate level of tannin, and just the right amount of acidity to even out the structure of the wine. The finish is okay. Exciting to drink, because it keeps up offering something new with each sip and swirl. It has great bones, and is obviously very well made. This went great with pizza, although I'm not sure that that's the best match. Or maybe it is? By far the best wine that I've picked up from Wine Expo so far. A couple of the others, I've been somewhat indifferent about, but this one is definitely worth a look, espcially since it's way off the beaten path. B+/A-

Friday, December 4, 2009

2006 Clos du Gravillas "Le Rendez-Vous du Soleil" Vin de Pays Cotes de Brian

Well, this gets my pick for longest ever name of a wine...14$ @ K&L; they still have it too, if you're interested. From the Cotes du Brian, which, as near as I can tell, is part of the Languedoc (even though there's no mention of it in the Oxford Companion to Wine). This is a strange blend of 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Carignan, 30% Syrah, 5% Mouvedre and 5% Grenache Noir. If it wasn't for the Cab, I'd say this was CdP like...but you can't put Cab in CdP as far as I know.

This wine has a big curranty nose, along with some pepper, licorice (maybe) and lavender notes. (Incidentally, currants are one of those things that I have only encountered in person a few times, and the only real reason that I know what they smell like in wine is because they smell somewhere between raspberry, blueberry, and licorice to me, which is totally unique in my mind.) Although this is fruity (and fresh), this has a good dash of acidity to balance it all out, and a little bit of  spice on the end of the finish. It's not all that complex, but it's really perky and fun to drink. B+