After a week of tasting there were some clear winners and some clear losers. No really crappy wine (we try and avoid those – usually it’s easy), but some were disappointing (especially considering their price).
The clear winner was the Clos du Bois, Marlstone, Alexander Valley, 2003. This is a very approachable, full bodied, lush, rich wine that everyone clearly enjoyed the most (thanks, Joe!). Wow.
Hot on its heels was the Condada de Haza, Ribero del Duero, 2000. Much more old world in style than the Marlstone (as would be expected from Spain!), this was also full bodied but had that dense dirty old barrel richness mixed in with spices such as cloves and nutmeg…yummy, also a “Wow” wine, and very good value as this wine usually retails for about $25. I have to find a bottle of their Reserva from the same year…
The Los Vascos, Grande Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 is from the Lafite-Rothschild property in Chile. Perhaps not unexpectedly, this wine tastes more old world than new – medium-full bodied, quite elegant – a good wine. Good value at $19.
Now for the losers. The Domaine de Boiron, Vin de Pays de L’Agenais, 2004 is a mixture of Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. On the nose it was promising - a mixed berry compote. The palate is a bit of an enigma – soft but still quite tannic. The fruit is hiding somewhere (I hope it shows up with some bottle age). Not a sipper, this needs some food (a very old sharp cheddar made it somewhat enjoyable). As we kept looking at each other trying to enjoy this wine, I have to rate it as only “Okay”. Try decanting it. Poor value at $25.
We were looking forward to Jarno Trulli’s Podere Castorano, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, 2002 as we had tried his top wine a few months ago and rated it as a ‘wow’. This effort is nowhere near as good – medium bodied with silky mouthfeel, but again the fruit is hiding somewhere. Just not very enjoyable at this stage in it’s development. It needed steak to be drinkable. If the fruit doesn’t come out in a few years (and I predict it won’t), I rate it as an “okay” wine. Not worth the $35 by a long shot.
Now, here comes the fruit – the next two wines had it in abundance. Problem with the Penmara, Reserve Shiraz, 2003 was that there wasn’t anything else! Pure raspberry jam, no complexity, very one dimensional. An “okay” wine, but at least it was enjoyable. At $20, I won’t be buying anymore.
The Santa Julia, Reserva Malbec, 2005 from Mendoza put the Aussie Penmara to shame – this is a medium bodied but still chewy wine with bright, bright cherries and a fairly long finish. Lots of fun to drink, a “good” wine, and the bargain of the bunch at $15.