Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chateau de l'Estagnol Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2009

Grabbed this for about $10 at Costco. Got to love cheap white wine (Shit, I sound like your typical soccer mom...at least I don't put ice cubes in my wine...). Lots of lemon, floral, and some riper more pineapple type aromas. Picks up some bitterness on the lively, lemony, finish--something I have come to expect from Cotes du Rhone Blanc. This is simple, but it's tasty, well made, and cheap. Probably better in the summer, instead of in the frigid temps we've been having in So Cal lately, but whatever. It did the trick last night. B

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sterling Vintners Reserve 2006

Picked this up at Costco for $26 just because it's been a real long time since I've had a Napa Cab. This has some Merlot blended in too, so I guess it's not "Napa Cab" in the truest sense, but whatever. Currant, smoky vanilla, berries. Tannins, but enough acidity to balance out all of the fruit. Surprisingly well balanced and delicious. I actually like this--it's pretty good--but I think that it's fairly expensive. B

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Domaine Pichot Vouvray 2009

12$ at the LA Wine Company. It's been quite some time since I had a Vouvray. At some point, I just forgot about Chenin Blanc I guess. This one is lightly sweet, but still has a full 12.5% alcohol. Mainly apples and pineapple, along with a good amount of acidity to back up the sweetness. Drank this over two nights; on night two, this wine really came together. Surprisingly, this wine went awesome with Chipotle. Worked way better than a Riesling, and was perfect for cutting through spicy salsa and guacamole. I imagine that your typical vintner from the Loire doesn't have visions of their wines going with bastardized Mexican (read: American interpretations) food, but you know what? It works. It's a good reminder too that some wines are really meant to shine with food and don't really show themselves unless they're in the right company. B

Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2010

This was sent to me as a sample. You can find it for around $12. Pungent wet grass (ie freshly mowed lawn), melons, and tropical fruit. Lots of acidity. Typical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. More and more, I am finding that I lean towards the less pungent expressions of Sauvignon Blanc, such as Sancerre. B-

Monday, February 21, 2011

Vinoterra Mtsvane Khakheti 2005

20$ at K&L--sold out now. I was talking about orange wines, and walked out with this. It's interesting for more than one reason. Firstly, this wine is orange, meaning that the white wine grapes have skin contact (much like a red wine). Secondly, this wine is from Georgia, which used to be part of the Soviet Union (and you can imagine what that did for quality). Thirdly, this wine is fermented in amphorae, much like wine was made "back in the day." Anyways...this is super weird and funky. Surprisingly tannic, and at first, really shut down. Stylistically, the nose reminds me of port, with lots of dried fruits and a certain nuttiness. None of this really surprised me since orange wine is oxidative. There is also a suggestion of spices. Eventually, I thought that it tasted a lot like oranges as well as more Porty type of flavors (although it certainly does not have the sweetness of Port). Finishes with some bitter notes. Definitely an interesting wine...although I have to say, I much prefer the Coenobium from Paolo Bea and the Nuns. I would pick up another bottle of this, just because it was interesting. Not my favorite, although it's well made and certainly has structure too. C+/B- One last unanswered question--what to pair with this wine? I naively forgot that this was orange until I opened it...and it wasn't a very good match for squid, or for the roasted romanesco cauliflower that I made. I saw a suggestion to pair the Coenobium with Spaghetti alla Carbonara--which is brilliant--and I think this wine would do well with that too. When I open up the bottle of Coenobium, that's what I'm making. Carbonara (which is one of my favorite things on the planet to eat).

Friday, February 18, 2011

Hubert Veneau Pouilly Fume 2009

Grabbed this from K&L for $18. Definitely a nice wine, however, not as interesting as the Regis Minet that we had from Kermit Lynch. Not only was the Minet a couple dollars cheaper, but it was more complex and interesting to drink. This wine is still quite good--it's squeaky clean and precise. Lots of jalapeno (or if you want to go the cliche route, goosberry) and melon on the nose. A significant amount of acidity, leads to grapefruit and stone and a nice finish. Excellent balance between acidity and fruit. This went very well with halibut (topped with parsley, lemon and olive oil and seared in a cast iron skillet), some roasted carrots, and some roasted fingerlings. This is a delicious wine, but it clearly is not as good drinking wise or price wise as the Minet. B/B+  

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Allure de Robles Rabbit Ridge 2009

Grabbed this at TJ's for $5 on the recommendation of Jason. I've never had this wine before--the last vintage that I looked at was over 15% alcohol which is getting into what I consider to be excessive. Maybe that's arbitrary, but I like to drink wine, and generally am not a fan of getting completely wasted. Anyways, this wine is pretty good for $5. A blend of Grenache, Mouvedre, and Syrah. Definitely a fruit bomb, with a lot of raspberry, vanilla, and pepper. Comes off a little "Coke-ish" in terms of mouthfeel (meaning a little too sugary and almost jammy), but at the same time, it has enough acidity to balance it all out relatively well. Went well with a pretty assertive penne that I made with caramelized red onions, spinach, portabello, sage, and pecorino. Well worth a look for a situation where you need a cheap fruit bomb. I don't think that this going to replace a real Cotes du Rhone anytime soon, but this is a good representation of what you can get out of California and unlike most other California wines, it's cheap. B

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Guigal Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2009

Grabbed this at the LA Wine Company for $12, although I'm sure that it must be widely available. Cotes du Rhone Blanc can have a wide melange of grapes; normally this wine is 50% Viognier, and then a blend of Rousanne, Marsanne, Clairette, and Bourboulenc. You can definitely smell the Viognier with this wine--a lot of stone fruit, peachy-apricot elements to this wine. There are also some floral and herbal characteristics, (leaning towards rosemary) some mineral notes, and a citrus finish. Relatively low acid for a white with a plump, fat texture. Probably not my favorite stylistically--comes off a little too plump for me and doesn't quite have enough acidity to balance it out for me. The herbal characteristics make this interesting, but I think there are better values that are more along the style I'm into (which is obviously pretty high acid). C+ 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Catherine de Medicis" Brut Champagne De Meric 1999


Picked this up for $50 a couple of years ago at K&L. Normally this wine is quite a bit more apparently. This house doesn't make a whole lot of Champagne; according to K&L most of it goes to restaurants in France (Including Guy Savoy...where Sarah and I will probably not go in Paris. Although it sounds fun to go to a Michelin 3 star, I think that perhaps blowing a grand on dinner is a little much. Unless someone wants to comp us or treat us! We'd take that!). Very illuminating to drink this with the Deutz fresh in my head from the other day, as drinking this illuminates the differences in a base level bottling and one completely from Grand Cru vineyards. I don't know much about Champagne, but I can tell you that there is a huge difference between these wines, and they're both from Ay. I am kicking myself for not purchasing another bottle of this wine. Even at 50$--which is expensive as far as I'm concerned--I think this wine is a good deal. Compared to the Deutz, this is from a completely different planet. It's more harmonious, more integrated, and instead of being a little flabby, perfectly balanced. One last thought: I found it more than a little interesting that this is a French Champagne named after a Florentine (Florentine because she was alive pre-unification of Italy via Garibaldi.) woman. Not being particularly up on European Kings and Queens and their ilk (really, why would you retain that knowledge?), I had to look up what the association was. Catherine de Medicis was married to King Henry II from 1547-1559. So I guess the name is not as weird as I initially thought it was.  

50% Chardonnay, and 50% Pinot Noir. Completely barrel fermented, which has to be responsible for some of the more interesting characteristics of this wine. Hazelnuts, caramel, and subtle vanilla pastry notes. Dense, rich, perfectly balanced, and suave textures lead into green apples and orange/pineapple flavors lead into an insane, lingering finish. A+   

Monday, February 14, 2011

Domaine Coudoulis Lirac 2007

Grabbed this at Costco for $11. From Frank-Lin Importers, which I have been seeing pop up a lot lately. Lirac is another AOC in the Rhone, right next to Chateauneuf du Pape. I figured because this was a cheap 07, this would be a good bet for a fruit bomb. Definitely was. Ripe with med.-low acids and almost bordering on jammy. Toeing the line. Any more expensive, and I wouldn't be into this wine at all. Lots of ripe fruit on the nose--raspberry, blueberry, and currants, as well as some spice. Nice finish. Not bad for a fruit bomb, and worth a look if fruit bombs are your thing. B

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Deutz Brut Champagne NV

Picked this up for $30 at Costco a while back because I've never tried this house before. I love Champagne; Sarah, strangely, is not a fan. Something to do with Champagne tasting sweeter to her because of the dosage. Frankly, I think that's lame, because Champagne is festive and fun to drink. Oh well. 30% chardonnay, 32% pinot meunier and 38% pinot noir, which is a bit different. This particular wine has a richer style than I expected. Initially, lots of candied citrus, lemon and ginger, but eventually changes over to pears along with lots of bready notes. Comes off a little sweet, with lots of pears on the finish. This wine undergoes complete maloactic fermentation; it's rather corpulent as a result. A fairly interesting wine to me because of the flavor profile, which is much different than most of the Champagnes that I have had in recent memory. A little too flabby in my opinion, but an interesting bottle. B 

Domaine de la Moutonnerie Muscadet 2009

Saw this for $10 at Costco; thought that it was a least worth try. Green apples and some chalkiness. Not my favorite Muscadet, if I'm at all honest. We definitely have had better. Seemed to be a little light in the acidity department, and also seemed to not really have the pungent brininess and minerality that I've come to expect. Anyways, all the info that I can find about this wine is in French. I'm guessing that it's sort of strange that it's even over here. Normally, you can at least find some info. All I could find was this. I also remember seeing a Wine Advocate score when I picked this up, which would explain why the wine is kind of meh and available for sale in the US. I will say that this wine went splendidly with Spaghetti alle Vongole (I know heathens, drinking French wine with Italian food...but it was the closest thing to an Italian white I had on hand...), and managed to cut through like a knife. C

Friday, February 11, 2011

"L'Alliance des Generations" Jean-Francois Merieau 2004

Grabbed this at K&L for $18. From the importer Jon-David Headrick who has a solid and impressive portfolio of wines. Decided to open it because I figured that as a 2004, it would ready to drink, and the Cot we had the other night from Merieau rocked as hard as an early 80's Judas Priest show (or something like that). I also (naively, in retrospect) thought this might pair up with ratatouille. A brief side note: I saw Eric Ripert make ratatouille on Avec Eric, and, well I copied him. I can report that not only is it cheap, but it's really easy, and tastes awesome. Anyways, here's a link to that recipe. The key is the eggs and the cheese. They really make the dish. Anyways, this wine was probably not the best match in retrospect. Definitely a "meat wine."

Pull the cork out of this wine, and it smells like peanuts. Not as weird as it might sound. I remember the first wine I had that I thought smelled like peanuts--that was an 05 Taluau. My first impression of that wine was that something was amiss, but after three hours, a lot of the peanut had blown off. This wine has a lot of the same leafy, kind of nutty, dried aromas. There's fruit in the background--cherries and something tarter and darker--currants, as well as coffee and chicory. Loads of tannin on this wine. Tons of structure; an enormous amount of complexity. I'm surprised how young this wine--it's an 04. This morning, the half glass that Sarah didn't drink smells like wild cherries with some earthy, leafy dried elements. The wine has resolved into a much more graceful state of being, as opposed to the out right aggression of last night. Definitely did not enjoy this wine as much as the Cot, which I think is more easily accessible, to be honest. I would love to see how this wine fares in 3 years or so. B+/A-(Perhaps I am under estimating this wine? At this stage, I think that it's definitely a little bit difficult to appreciate.) One last note, just ruminating on how the wine shows this morning as compared to last night: all of the tasting notes for this wine go over the top with what the wine smells like right when you pull the cork. Lots of talk of chestnuts, and in a first for a wine review anywhere, a word that I had to look up a definition for: torrifactive. Who said wine couldn't be educational? (Torrifactive means dried or roasted. To torrefy something is to dry or parch with heat, FYI.) There is not a lot of discussion about what the wine is like once it has its "Dr. Frankenstein moment." This wine is a hell of a lot different this morning, but I don't really see that in the reviews. Anyways, this is an interesting, if maybe challenging, wine. Well worth a look if you like the Loire. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Domaine Philippe Tessier Cheverny 2009

This is the first time that I've ever had a wine from Cheverny, which is another Loire appellation. Cheverny is a blended wine; generally it's a blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir from what I've read. This wine also has some Cot in it. $16 at K&L. Just as one would expect, it's got a lot of Beaujolais like character due to the Gamay. Lots of cherry, a little grapey (not a bad thing), some subtle spice notes, and earthiness. Lots of acidity and sweet fruit on the top end. This wine made me extraordinarily fucking happy. I actually stole Sarah's second glass of it because it was so good and she wasn't as into it as me. I rarely do that, because I try to maintain sensible limits with wine. It doesn't always happen, but I try. (Don't worry, I opened something else for her, which also wasn't that bad. The Leonhardt Zin from Trader Joes, which had sweet fruit, lots of chocolate, spice, and vanilla. Total fruit bomb, but for $10 you could do a hell of a lot worse.) Regardless, this wine rules. It's an A of a wine, although I wish it was a bit cheaper. It's like a Beaujolais with a little something else going on in the background and missing the intensely mineral characteristics. I know that I sound like a total fan boy for all these wines lately, but after drinking lots of shit that didn't make me happy for a while, a much needed dose of Loire sanity has restored the inner wino in me. I could drink this wine or the Cot that I had the other night many times and not get bored with them. That is rare indeed, at least for me. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"Cent Visage" Jean-Francois Merieau Touraine Cot 2007

This wine is feral. Seriously. Haven't had a lot of Cot (Malbec) from France, but this wine serves as a reminder that I should have a lot more. $16 at K&L. "Cent Visages" means 100 faces in French, although Sarah thought that the front of the label looked a lot like something else...and I concur, sort of. Anyways...Smelling this wine, you get very similar aromas to Argentinean Malbec, but when it gets into your mouth, instead of a plush blanket of fruit, there's a paradoxically lighter bodied, feral wine. Crazy stuff, considering the raw aromas coming out of the glass. Initially pretty reductive; that quickly blew off into smoke, leather, and extremely aromatic high-toned blueberry/blackberry fruit with some pepper on the back end. Good acidity, with tannins sneaking in at the end before the earthy finish. Really fun to drink, and not a whole lot more than your garden variety Argentinean Malbec. After drinking this, I don't know that I feel the need to drink another Argentinean Malbec. This is much more my style. A

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"Tuffe" Saumur-Champigny Chateau du Hureau 2008

This was $16 at K&L. Looking around to find out some info about this estate, you find one of the harshest tasting notes I've seen from the Wine Doctor. Of course, he's talking about the 07 version of this wine, but still. Not exactly what I'm looking for in a wine. Anyways, 100% Cab Franc, aged in tank. As of 07, this estate is completely organic. Threw a ton of sediment at the end. At first, pretty harsh. After the course of a couple of hours, this wine opens up to reveal raspberries and plums as well as some mineral undertones. Powdery with high acidity and distinctly puckery cranberry flavors. Overall, not my favorite. Definitely lots of other Loire Cab Franc that I've liked more than this one. Perhaps it needs a couple more years in bottle, or perhaps I should have tried their higher end cuvee instead of their basic one. C-

Monday, February 7, 2011

Regis Minet Pouilly Fume Vieilles Vignes 2009

I can't recall the last time I had a Pouilly Fume. For those that don't know, Pouilly Fume is an AOC in the Loire that produces Sauvignon Blanc based wines. It's close to Sancerre, but if this wine is a typical Pouilly Fume (and I'm sure it is since it says Kermit Lynch right there on the bottle), then the two are distinctively different. Compared to the last few bottles of Sancerre that I have had, this wine is richer, bigger, and funkier. There must be something to the Fume in the name, because I almost catch a whiff of smoke. $16 at the LA Wine Company. Stones, just a bit of green (grass, jalapeno, etc), peach, apricot, and a bit of smoke. Green apple notes lead into a nuanced, layered finish that starts with grapefruit and ends with minerally notes. High acidity balanced by richness. A lot less austere than your typical Sancerre. This wine is shifty and has a lot going on. An awesome deal, given that this is not much more than your typical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, but is a lot more complex. A

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Marques de Murrieta Capellania Blanco Rioja 2003

This was recommended to me at K&L when I saw the Lopez de Heredia and the Coenobium (grabbed a bottle of the new vintage). Recommended because this is a whacky white and a lot less expensive than Lopez de Heredia. 15$. 100% Viura. Made in a slightly oxidative style, so it definitely has some different aromatics than your typical white. I don't have a lot of experience with wines like this, so I was left scratching my head for a bit trying to figure out what I was tasting and smelling. The most obvious component of this wine is citrus, which really shows itself on the finely detailed and nuanced finish. There are also lightly nutty aromas, and pine. Rich and smooth with medium acidity, but good balance. Sarah and I both liked this wine, especially since it was a little bit more off the beaten path. B+/A- In some ways, it's spectacularly easy to get jaded about wine. Really, how many times can you taste a well-made Chardonnay, a well made Grenache, or some other well made wine, without experiencing some of what you've experienced before? Trying new stuff is the only way that I can keep from getting bored. I just don't know how people can drink Kendall Jackson Chardonnay every night--or even once a week! It's crazy.