Friday, May 29, 2009

More Moras

Guess the best of this bunch? Spanish, Argentine or Italian? If you guessed the Chianti, go to the back of the bus. The Campomaggio, Chianti Classico, 2004 is a complete waste of money at $22/bottle. Tastes like it should cost $8. 'Nuff said.
The Albada, Old Vine Garnacha, Calatayud, 2005 is packaged like a new world wine and by gosh tastes like one too. I thought this was a new world malbec! Spicy, medium-full bodied, very generous rich boysenberry fruit but not jammy at all. Drying finish. Old vine grenache? how did they get it to taste like this? It's an OK wine, nothing special, so-so value at $16.
The shocker is the Las Moras, Black Label Shiraz, 2005. This comes from the San Juan province of Argentina, the supposedly poor cousins north of Mendoza. In fact, a couple of years ago I was told by snobby Mendozans to forget about San Juan as a premium source of wine. Well, think again...first sip was...wait for!! Opaque, full bodied, well integrated oak, silky tannins, rich plum fruit, spice plus dark chocolate. Quite the surprise. They state on the label it was picked in "early February" - this is like harvesting in August in the northern hemishphere, so they must get lots of sunshine. 15 months in new French and American oak. I think I paid about $16 for this wine, so it's a shocker value...I'll be trying anything I see from this winery in the future.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Really Old World

I didn't expect to find any wine in Syria, (1) because it's mostly desert and (2) it's a muslim country. However, 10% of the population is Christian (Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Catholic, Maronite...) and therefore does not see alcohol as prohibited. So we bought a couple of bottles of Syrian wine from an Armenian in Aleppo, I thought this will be good for a laugh - but the first one we opened was quite a surprise - a serious wine! We opened it while staying in a bedouin compound next to a ruined castle...quite the setting.
St. Simeon was a 5th century ascetic who tried to escape the world by living on a pillar...apparently it was quite high when he died. This is what's left of it after it's been chipped away by pilgrims for centuries.
The aptly named Cortas, St. Simeon, Cuvee Speciale, NV has a nose of stewed plums. On the palate it is medium bodied, plummy, figgy, rough but surprisingly drinkable. 200 syrian pounds equals $5 so it's a bargain.
After this pleasant surprise, I was quite excited to try this wineries' "premium wine" - the vintage dated Cortas, Nectar, 2006. Alas as I popped the cork it really popped - and started fizzing...this wine hadn't survived the heat!

Anyways, the label doesn't do justice to the citadel of Aleppo, which by the way has never been successfully taken despite many attempts, so here's another view:

OK, back to reality. After getting home and after my stomach settled down, I opened a zin as these are usually easy drinking wines. The Artezin, Zinfandel, 2003 is a blend of regional zins, mostly mendocino county. This one clocks in at 15.5% (as opposed to the Syrian wines that sported a more traditional 12%). Quite pungent with crushed dark berries and a hint of eucalyptus on the nose. Medium weight but with a rough and alcoholic mouthfeel. This is a shame as it has lots of raspberries and blackberries, although a little muted, likely due to the bottle age. Disappointing for the price ($25). Cheers!!

Saturday, May 02, 2009


Smoking ribs the old fashioned way...this needs some serious vino to complement. I found a quite cost effective foil - the Parducci, Petite Sirah, Mendocino County, 2005. Nice dark purple colour. Medium full bodied with evident tannins that are a little harsh - this is not a "soft" wine but it eats the smoky meat right up. Dried fruit flavours, mainly cherries. Quite the mouthful for the price...only $15.00. Good wine, and it's a "carbon neutral" winery to boot.
The 3 Rings, Barossa Shiraz, 2006 is a bit of an enigma. On the back label it states "a donkey could make good wine from these Barossa grapes", so this wine had better be good! It's a creamy textured effort with rich blackberries. At 15% alcohol it comes through a little hot on the finish. Ultimately it's a bit too sweet and kirsch-like. Good if you like the style, overbearing if you don't. $24.

From Portugul comes the D. Fuas, Beiras Reserva, 2001. An impressively dark wine with a clay-like nose. Medium bodied, old world earthy with a green, vegetal flavour profile. A little sour on the back end - sour cherries. Good tannin structure, puckering and needs the meat. First 12% alc/vol wine I've had in a few months - I thought they'd stopped making it! OK wine, priced appropriately at $13.