Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Ladybugs know...

Put six adults and 4 good bottles of wine together and the wine doesn't stand a chance...
First off was a Tedeschi Amarone 2001. The ladybugs know when they're onto a good thing and tried to slip into the bottle... This is a typical sweetish, porty, alcoholly (I don't think that's a word, but what the heck...) amarone. Amarone is made by allowing the picked grapes to dry on mats for weeks before they are crushed and fermented; they wrinkle up and the drying process concentrates the juices (sugars) so that you get a high alcohol, intensely flavoured wine. The Verdict: if you like amarone, this one's good. (And if you don't, then you're not likely to buy this anyway). Value: good in that amarones are not cheap; this is in the lower end of the scale at $35. If you want to spend less, try the Zenato Ripassa (they add what's left over from the amarone fermentation to some ordinary valpolicella like wine, this "thickens up" the flavours at much less cost than the amarone...).
The Rolling, Cabernet-Merlot, 2004 from Australia has a trendy, pretty cool label and is screwcapped; in this case the wine inside the fancy packaging has the goods - a light fruity nose, medium bodied fruity palate with no hard tannins. An enjoyable sipper with the appetizers. The Verdict: Good. Value: very good at $15.
The Penfolds Bin 389, Cab-Shiraz, 2001 has a beautiful vanilla oak nose (ahhh...the best), has the typical Penfolds full bodied style on the palate - dense black fruit followed by a long oaky finish (like chewing on a tree). This one goes on and on. Thanks for sending Lianne with this bottle, Joe (too bad you weren't there to drink it!). The Verdict: WOW. I love this wine. Value: a mid range Penfolds, about $30-40 depending on where you live. Worth every penny.
The problem with a wine like the Bin 389 is that you can't drink less intense wines afterwards - they just wilt in comparison. This happened to a Two Hands, The Lucky Country, Shiraz-Cab, 2004. And this is no fading violet - it is a pretty "big", jammy wine - a cross between fresh blackberries and blackberry jam, feels thick on the tongue. No oak apparent. 15% alcohol to boot. Not a food wine, and cannot be fully appreciated after a blockbuster like the 389. The Verdict was mixed. I give it a "good". Value: OK at 15-20 bucks, buy the Rolling Cab-Merlot instead.