Sunday, June 29, 2008

Good Earth

The Juan Gil, Jumilla Red Wine, 2005 is made from 100% monastrell from 40 year old vines. Jumilla is in the eastern part of Spain, below Valencia and is hot and arid. This wine shows some good earthy texture, nice and thick and dirty. Medium red colour, it stinks of stewed plums. On the palate it is medium-full bodied but viscous, with spice and plums. Medium length finish. 24 hours later it actually improves, the plums stand out more and the finish lengthens. Well made, feels like you're drinking the dirt it's made from. A good wine, but pricey for what it is at $23...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

More Malbec!

The Ben Marco, Malbec, 2002 from Mendoza is made by Susana Balbo, one of the most accomplished winemakers in Argentina. She added 12% bonarda to this malbec and has produced an ageworthy wine. It has improved considerably since I last tried it about a year ago. This is an "aroma-bomb" with loads of warm caramel coated blackberries. On the palate it is spicy, there are red fruits (pomegranate) as well as some cassis. Medium-full bodied, all is kept sharp by an acidic backbone. Wow. And in the $20 range to boot. I think 2002 was a good vintage in Mendoza (unlike the horrific rainy 2008 season they had!).
PS Koko found a good malbec link from the NY Times if you want another opinion about this grape....


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Big Apple

Myself and four beautiful women in a spiffy Italian wine bar/restaurant called Stuzzichini (on Broadway and 21st)...not too bad I'm thinking. After an OK Barbera, I spot a Petit Verdot on the all-Italian wine list...very unusual to see this bottled as a varietal in Italy, so as a lover of PV, I quickly order a bottle. The Casale del Giglio, Petit Verdot, 2005 is from Lazio, the region around Rome. This is another surprise because the area produces primarily white plonk in the sub $10-a-bottle range and very little red of any significance. So, this could have been a disaster order (although the sommelier thought he might have sold out of it, always a good sign), but thankfully we got a winner. Crushed blueberries on the nose, this is full bodied with a velvet covering and supersoft tannins. Lots of black fruit and violets, it's drinking very well right now. Good stuff. Not bad for $48 a bottle in a wine bar - if you see it, and are in the mood for something different, try it.
Then we retired to our favourite unpretentious little wine bar, Turks and Frogs on 11th in the Village. They have a compact but quality selection of wines. We put the new vintage of Dreyer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, 2005 head to head against the Chateau Vieux Riviere, Lalande de Pomerol, 2001. Cab vs. Merlot, New world vs. old world. The Dreyer smells like creamy butterscotch, the L de P like smoked plums. Edge to Dreyer. The Dreyer tastes like blackcurrant, lychees and baked pears. The L de P tastes like boiled beetroot and plums with a little dirt thrown in, and has a thick glycerine mouthfeel. Both are full bodied. Tie. The Dreyer has a longer finish. Overall, both wines hit close to the "wow" factor, but the Dreyer wins the head-to-head as favourite of the night. Oh, cost wise the Dreyer was $12/glass and the L de P $14.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Class versus Crass

I knew I wouldn't find this wine in Canada but I lucked out to find it in a pretty sheik little restaurant called Herbsaint in New Orleans. As soon as I saw the Familia Cassone, Obra Prima, Malbec Reserva 2003 on the wine list I ordered it. Wow. Purple, opaque with a complex nose of red fruit and lychees. Silky, racy and elegant, with classic pomegranate and a long finish, this is impressive. Perfect foil for duck gumbo followed by prime ribsteak. At $42 (on the wine list, meaning you should be able to get it retail for about half that) this put a 2005 Chambolle Musigny ($120) and a 2004 Cote Rotie ($160) that my Western Canadian friends ordered to absolute shame. For those of you not acquainted to Argentine Malbec, I urge you to search out examples like this.

Now onto something completely different. I usually like zinfandel but this one turned out a little disappointing. The unusually named Klinker Brick, Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, 2005 showed a little pepper and currant on the nose, but unfortunately it tastes a little too much like cough syrup to be really enjoyable. Simple to boot. Big alcohol at 15.5%. A crass waste of money at $23 a pop. Yuck.


Monday, June 09, 2008

Hope You Like It!

On sale! woo hoo!! I had a good experience with Hope's Ripper Shiraz last year, so when I saw their "no-name" shiraz and "cracker" cabernet on sale at 25% off, I filled the basket up. The Shiraz, 2005 is from the east coast of Australia. It's purple, smells of sweet thick fruit and tastes like blueberry compote followed by cherries. Very soft tannins hide in the background. A simple fruit blast, zero complexity. A straightforward fun drinking wine, good for what it is. OK value for the on sale $15 pricetag.
On a different tack is the Cracker, Cabernet, 2004, from Western Australia (the juice is trucked over to the east coast for fermentation - cold soaking for 4 days...) . More brickish, much more elegant nose with cedar and pine notes. Medium-full bodied with chewy cassis, nice medium long finish. This is quite different from the shiraz, I prefer it given a glass of both. Also good, and good value at $16 on sale.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Burger Fare?

Three anticipated wines to try...with gourmet burgers! Actually, most of the wine was scarfed before the food was ready, so palates were sharp. The best? The Heathfield Ridge, Jennifer, Padthaway Shiraz, 1999 has an explosive, gorgeous nose of rich cedar and creamy blackcurrants. Full bodied, plush, oaky, very soft tannins, blackberry fruit. It's only fault - it fades quite fast. Sneaks in as a "wow" wine. Pricey at $38, so not explosive enough to buy more.
Next were two wines that were were Italian and much more subtle than the Heathfield. The Villa Donoratico, Bolghera, 2004 snatched a "91" from the wine spectator but I rate it less interesting. Subtle nose of blackberries, cherries and baked beans. Medium bodied and silky smooth, some tar, licorice. Very slick, a good wine but not worth the $29.
The Dorigo, Montselapade, 2001 didn't stand much of a chance given the lukewarm reception to the Donoratico. Shy nose again, medium bodied, it was an elegant wine showing a little anise and burnt cherries. Good but also disappointing for $39.
PS: The Italians were better matched to the burgers than the shiraz which is better as a sipper.