Thursday, March 20, 2008

Purple Gold

There's gold in them thar hills...purple gold, that is!! In the shadow of the Andes, they're making some pretty darn good wine. Finca Flichman usually does it at an incredible price point. Most of their wines over $10 that I've tried have been at least good, and even their $7-8 wines are OK and sometimes good. The only exception was their "Gestos" Syrah 2006 that I tried last month which was put to shame by tonight's wine. The Finca Flichman, Paisaje de Barrancas, 2002 is from Barrancas of course, about 20 miles from the city of Mendoza. It is a blend of Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon and a bloody good one at that. Dark purple in the glass, nice cherry pie nose, this is full bodied and tannic (but the tannins are seamlessly integrated). The malbec predominates with pomegranates on the palate, with hints of violet. Deep with fruit, a rich wine but not in a lush style - more old world style than I expected. Great with food (pretty much anything that used to walk). Good finish too. Wow. And only $17 a pop. Glad I bought a case!!
And the view from the vineyard is not bad either.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Solid Citizens

Some producers just seem to make good juice year after year. Some do it for reasonable prices as well. These two wines are such specimens, a pair of solid citizens from Chile. The better of the two is the Montes Alpha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua, 2005. Black and impenentrable, this is a prime example of ripe new world Chilean Cab. Full bodied, soft, thick mouthfeel with flavours of ripe black plums and hints of caramel chocolate and espresso. A lingering finish rounds it off. Not complex enough for a "wow" rating, this is still very good juice. Worth trying at $23 and if you like it, stock up (Carlo - I think you'd like this).
The second wine is from a real bargain producer...William Cole Vineyards, Albamar, Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Curico, 2004. This is drier and less lush than the Montes - with some vegetal notes (tart green pepper) thrown in. Finish is short. A solid "good" wine and a bargain at $15.
I would buy any wine made by these producers blind - I've yet to be disappointed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


AT LAST!! I can taste again. 2003 was a hot hot year in Europe, so it must have been blistering in Murcia in Spain (this is normally a hot, arid region - I've sweated it out driving around vineyards there in the past) where tonight's wine comes from. The Casa de la Ermita, Crianza, Jumilla, 2003 spent 9 months in "new oak". Now, this could mean big oak vats or the smaller, expensive barriques (or if they're cheating, new planks or staves shoved into old barrels or, horror of horrors, oak chips). Lets give them the benefit of the doubt, but there's no clue to the new oak on the nose or palate of this wine. It is dark in the glass with chalk and plums on the nose. Smooth and medium bodied, but with a grittiness to it, this one has notes of meat, beetroot and black fruit. A dirty wine, very old school. I kind of like it, I rate it as "good". Is it worth the $18? Well, put it this way, I don't intend to buy any more of this vintage.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Golden Rant....

Should be back in the saddle soon, but I've been knocked out by the flu. Can't taste a damn thing yet, never mind appreciate some fine nectar.
I'll tell you about a wine I tried last week - the Wolf Blass, Gold Label, Shiraz, 2002. I'm generally a fan of Wolf Blass' high end wines, but their "regular" bottlings have become almost undrinkable. So, it was with great surprise to learn that in Australia, the "Gold Label" line-up is not really considered premium wine - it can be bought for $19.99 as compared to the definitely upmarket "Grey Label" at $34.99. So, someone over here is making a lot of money as the gold label is marked up to 30 bucks (!?*$#!!) compared with an unchanged 35 for the grey label. Wierd.
Anyway, getting back to the wine - nice deep colour. Smoked meat and cherries on the nose. Very silky, smooth and balanced mouthfeel with nicely integrated oak. Nice black cherry fruit and a pretty long finish. The verdict: "wow", a winner in this vintage but the price gouging still pisses me off. I can just hear the marketing guys at the LCBO - "hey, it's not too far off the grey label...lets price it a little lower, sell tons and laugh all the way to the bank..."
Oh, I'm not making this up - a quick search reveals that US retail for gold/grey label shiraz is the same as in Oz - $20/$35...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Old School

Nothing like curling up to a good book and a glass of wine (or two...) on a wintery night (-24!!). Got to compare two smaller scale Bordeaux wines, both from the Haut Medoc. The Chateau Senejac, Cru Bourgeois Superiore, 2003 is from an OK vintage year, and is made from 35 year old vines with a real mix of Bordeaux grapes. Parker scored it in the hight 80's. It has a nice dark colour and, if allowed to breathe, a quite pleasant nose of ink and graphite. Medium-full bodied, it is somewhat lean and austere with dry tannins with the fruit hiding (if there at all). Lots of pencil lead, though. Perhaps a little too young, but it's nice to go old school again. "Good". Like most Bordeaux, it really struggles for value...was on sale for $29. If I thought it would bloom into something special, at that price I would buy a case because it's hard to get good Bordeaux cheap these days.
Now, I have a bone to pick with the Vintages consultant at the LCBO who reviewed the next wine. His tasting note for the Fort Medoc, Haut Medoc, 2000 is from left field. "good depth of fleshy fruit" "very long and persistant on the finish" This guy is a professional?? maybe a pro salesman, because he reeled me in with his description. This is a middling, OK at best wine, specifically without any real fruit (except for some ugly apple cider notes according to my drinking companion that I didn't manage to fathom) and with a decidedly POOR finish. It just disappears as it goes down. Oh well, what can you expect from Bordeaux for $18, I suppose. I just wish the sales guys were honest.