Archive for May, 2011
As another barrage of Californian wines prepares to hit the shelves, the good news is some of them are very good and a couple are exceptional. However, the bad news is they are not cheap. As always, there are several wines to be found that won’t make the wallet wince so please read on.
WINES FROM THE CALI CONFIDENTIAL RELEASE.
001537 NEWTON UNFILTERED CHARDONNAY 2007 Napa County $64.95
A rich full bodied wine that is powerful, elegant and seamless. It puts forward, fig, baked pear, mineral and peach aromas. The palate offers a perfect balance of fruit flavours, deftly administered oak, acids, mineral and great length on the finish. Find this wine
221887 ROBERT MONDAVI FUMÉ BLANC 2008 Napa Valley $22.95
Lighter in style than previous vintages, has none of the rasping acidity one expects, some pretty melon and grapefruit aromas and a neutral palate. Find this wine
059311 7 DEADLY ZINS OLD VINE ZINFANDEL 2008 Lodi 24.95
Lots of creamy sweet fruit, plum and mocha notes with a touch of black liquorice lead to a palate of black fruit jam, a creamy texture and vibrant acidity. Quite spicy on the finish. Find this wine
Last week, I decided that it was high time to try some Michigan wines with the Friday night tasting group at the retail outlet in which I am gainfully employed. The bulk of the selections were from the 2 Lads Winery on the Old Mission Peninsula. Cornel Olivier and Chris Baldyga have established an impressive level of quality with their wares in a relatively short period of time, and I’m a fan, so here was an opportunity to try some of their newest selections with our intrepid band of regulars. We started things off with some bubbles.
2009 2 Lads Old Mission Peninsula Sparkling Pinot Grigio, 12.5% alc., $24.99: Clean and crisp; medium bodied, with very good mousse and excellent acidity. Bone dry green apple and grapefruit character, and very refreshing. Here’s what the lads have to say about this on their web site: “The cool (what? I meant cold!) summer of 2009 was perfect for sparkling wine production, and our Sparkling Pinot Grigio proves it. Produced in the traditional Champagne method, this sparkling wine underwent primary fermentation in tank before being transferred to the bottle for secondary fermentation (thus the beautiful bubbles!) It then aged 10 months en tirage (on the lees) before disgorging and finishing each individual bottle by hand.” Find this wine
Since the next selection maintains a solid presence on retail shelves in the area, I thought it would be both fun and instructive to see how it’s developing, so I included it in the mix.
2009 seems to have been very favourable in France as most regions are reporting stellar wines across the board. Once again it is Bordeaux’s best ever vintage, while wines in Burgundy are being heralded as excellent. The 2009 harvest in the Southern Rhône was early and offers much promise in the quality of the wines produced. The spring was cool and wet, but the summer was long, torrid and dry. Are these wines equal to the hype? Well I for one have been a fan of Rhone wines for a while. Simple equation: Great wine + reasonable prices = one happy Alan. Vintages is selling some on May 14 so you can go, buy and try or read on.
236505 PERRIN LA GILLE GIGONDAS 2009 $29.95
A giant, showing heaps of fruit, black raspberry, medicinal aromas, mineral and a dusty note. The chunky palate boasts of dark fruit, earthy nuances and a restrictive veil of tannin. It should be very tasty after a long snooze in the cellar. Find this wine
736371 DOMAINE CROZE-GRANIER CUVÉE RÉSERVE CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2009 $13.95
Generic Cotes du Rhone that delivers ample fruit, a note of sugar snap/pea skin, wet earth and black peppercorn. Spicy palate, lots of black cherry and blackberry, note of vanilla and silky chocolate tannin. Tasty wine carrying an affordable price tag. Find this wine
223487 DOMAINE DE L’ARNESQUE CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2009 $13.95
Another QPR deal emitting notes of plum, blueberry, blackberry, sage and dried herbs. Simple palate, red and dark fruit flavours, gentle tannins with a touch of heat on the finish. Find this wine
224592 DOMAINE LE GRAND RETOUR PLAN DE DIEU 2009 Côtes du Rhône-Villages $13.95
It’s nice to see Cotes du Rhone Villages at this price, especially one that’s laden with coal, slate, mineral, black pepper, plum and blackberry aromas. Chunky and fleshy, the palate is redolent of mineral and dried blueberry, perhaps a trifle ripe, but nonetheless, a decent wine. Find this wine
082560 LES VIGNERONS D’ESTÉZARGUES LA GRANACHA SIGNARGUES 2009 Côtes du Rhône-Villages $17.95
From 100% old vine Grenache, lively vibrant red fruit, cake spice, sweet cherry and dusty soil. It is rich, chewy and viscous; there is a bitter note, comparable to Campari and dried orange peel. The finish has plenty of fruit, but does carry the bitterness. Find this wine
I first met Bob Ross a couple of weeks ago when he was up in Niagara Falls, New York on business. Bob, along with Buffalonian Howie Hart, took a little time off to cross the border to scope and taste their way around several wineries on the Niagara escarpment. I, of course, was happy to play the role of tour/wine guide. A one point during our meeting, Bob asked me if I had heard of “Jeebus”. Flags went up, but I soon learned “Jeebus” is the name given by New Yorkers when they get together for an off line tasting. “Jeebus” that was a great tasting last night”. Bob was hosting a “Jeebus” last weekend and asked me if I wanted to attend. “Why not?” I thought.
I met Howie at noon on Friday in Buffalo and we embarked upon a beautiful route through the Catskill hills and on into New Jersey. Other than stopping for a lumpy grease-laden chicken sandwich at an exceedingly popular pseudo-barbecue fast food joint called Spiedie’s, it was a wonderful ride. We arrived at Bob’s delightful home, in Franklin Lakes, NJ to a warm welcome, a tour of the property and dinner.
Bob was expecting some twenty four people attending the event on Saturday, but on Friday it was just five of us. Julia Benkert from Ohio had also arrived early and Salil, a friend of Bob’s from Connecticut, was also present. Hungry and eager to rid my memories of the luncheon calamity, we dined, courtesy of Salil, on deftly cooked roasted pork tenderloin complemented with a creamy truffle butter risotto.
Friday’s pre-dinner wines: (CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE)