Archive for January, 2017

An Alsatian Trio

While strolling through the wine department of our friendly neighborhood Costco a few weeks ago, I noticed something that I’ve rarely, if ever, seen there before, a bin full of wine from Alsace. It had been quite some time since I’ve had anything from this notable region, and I’ve had previous vintages of this particular bottling, Lucien Albrecht’s Réserve Riesling; it has always been pleasant enough, and the price was certainly right, so I picked one up, brought it home and found it quite to my liking. (Click image to enlarge.)


2015 Lucien Albrecht Réserve Riesling Alsace, 12.5% alc., $12.99: Clean, medium color; pleasant Riesling character reminiscent of red and green apples shaded with citrus, wet stones and subtle floral hints, being not quite bone dry, but close. Medium body, balanced acids and decent length. This offers good value for the price, doing exactly what it’s supposed to, and I’ve been picking up a bottle or two with each return to the aforementioned Costco. I also appreciate the handy twist-off Stelvin enclosure. Find this wine

Imported by Pasternak Wine Imports, Harrison, NY

So, this wine got me to thinking about how much I used to like Alsatian wines; I reported on one in our first-ever Gang of Pour feature back in ‘97, and several times afterwards. I decided that I’d like to get back to drinking more of this stuff, but after visiting a few area retailers, I was reminded why I had strayed from them in the first place; the available selections have dwindled considerably in this market over the years. I spoke with both retailers and distributors about this, and the reason became clear; they’re a hard sell. For whatever reason, fewer customers ask for them, fewer retailers put them in peoples’ hands and distributors accordingly carry fewer selections. It’s a shame, because many of the wines are so very good. I’m not at all sure if there are any selections from Grand Cru vineyards available in this area, other than perhaps a few from Zind Humbrecht. I found the following two at Plum Market’s Bloomfield location. They fall into what I would have once considered the “usual suspects” category, but now they’re some of the best of what little can be found hereabouts.

2011 Domaines Schlumberger Les Princes Abbes Riesling Alsace, 12.5% alc., $21.97: Clean, medium color, with a mineral-driven nose laced with just a hint of petrol that leads into fairly rich flavors of wet stones, quince and under-ripe green apples. Medium bodied, and slightly oily, with balanced acids; not racy, but more than active enough to work well with a variety of foods. Opens nicely as it warms in the glass, and if it’s perhaps a little shorter on the finish than I would like, overall, it’s a solid specimen of a not-quite everyday Riesling. Find this wine

Imported by Maisons Marques & Domaines USA Inc., Oakland, CA

2012 Domaine Trimbach Pinot Gris Réserve Alsace, 13.5% alc., $23.97: Medium color, with just a hint of that deeper Pinot Gris pigment; rich, intense mineral-laced apple and pear flavors on entry and through the mid-palate, turning almost, but not quite, totally dry on the finish. For some reason, I wasn’t expecting this to be as dee-lish as it is, and I like it a lot. It’s an excellent choice for a variety of fish and fowl type dishes, and drinks really well all by its lonesome. It also leaves a distinct tartrate crystal path from the bottom to the top of the glass after the last sip. Find this wine

Imported by Esprit du Vin, Port Washington, NY

Reporting from Day-twah,

Bastardo

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Big Reds From Southern France

We enjoyed several big reds over the past few weeks, and while there wasn’t a dog in the bunch, I only managed to take notes on two of them. It seems that I’m less inclined to record impressions when we’re with a group of revelers than I once was, what with all the food and hoopla, but this pair was just for Kim and this taster. Perhaps not surprisingly, they were from two of our very favorite wine regions. (Click images to enlarge.)

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, we love Domaine Tempier Bandol at our house. I pulled this one from the cellar to celebrate Kim’s “special day,” and she loved it.

2006 Domaine Tempier Bandol, 75% Mourvèdre, 14% Grenache, 9% Cinsault, 2% Carignan, 11-14% alc.: Deep and dark in color, with no discernible bricking as of yet. Maturing nicely, with lovely Tempier character; a little earthy, with a bit of the barnyard and a big rich core of dense, dark Mourvèdre-dominated fruit. Nevertheless, at 10 years old, this is still a relatively young wine, not close to its peak and built for many years of further development. Give it an hour in a decanter if you’re going to open one now; better yet, give it at least another 5 years in the cellar. This will deliver everything you want from a regular bottling from this great producer. Find this wine

This was our first experience with Chateau La Nerthe’s second label Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and it is a solid “Red Wings and Red Rhônes” selection, although Detroit did not play particularly inspired hockey on the night we imbibed it.

2013 Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf-du-Pape ‘Les Granieres de la Nerthe’, 33% Cinsault, 31% Syrah, 22% Grenache Noir, 11% Mourvèdre, 3% Other, 14% alc., $29.99: A bit lighter in color than most, almost Pinot Noir-like, but it’s all Chateauneuf-du-Pape on the nose, with earth, iron and black fruit. Flavors echo and expand with much more weight and intensity than the hue might lead one to expect, very earthy and seriously structured for several years in the cellar. Textbook Chateauneuf, and if it’s not quite as refined as the regular bottling, it’ll be a darned good one in about 7-10 years. Find this wine

Happy New Year from Day-twah!

Bastardo

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Two Italian Reds

For our first entry of the New Year, we hereby submit our third and final report on the review samples sent to us by Donna White Communications, two Italian reds from decidedly different locales. We don’t drink as much Italian wine as we might like here at Gang Central, so it’s always a treat to taste something worthy that’s out there, and these are both solid selections.

Cecchi Chiantis were always a mainstay in the inventories of the wine retail outlets that I worked in not so very long ago, and I had a chance to try a few back then. The low-end Chianti was serviceable, if boring, as I remember, while the Chianti Classico was, as one would expect, a good deal more taster friendly. The current CC model reinforces those earlier impressions.

2014 Cecchi Chianti Classico, 90% Sangiovese, other grape varieties 10%, $22.00 SRP: Clean, dark color; typical sticks-y dried cherry aromatics lead into a fairly generous entry with echoing earthy fruit and underbrush, and finishing with drying tannins. Full bodied and structured for at least five years in the cellar, and a good match for Kim’s mostaccioli. A second glass after dinner was good, but not as good as the first was with dinner, so while this doesn’t “need” food, it wants food, likes food and will show best with food. Find this wine

Like the Cecchis, I’ve also tried some of the wines from the Sicilian producer Cusumano, and even reviewed one some years back, although, in retrospect, that Nero d’Avola suffered from being placed at the end of a long afternoon of tasting. Happily, we got to spend plenty of time with this one.

2014 Alta Mora Etna Rosso DOC, 100% Nerello Mascalese, 14% alc., $24.00 SRP: A new project from the Cusumano family, this wine shows clean, dark color, and offers a pleasant, if slightly muted cherry berry nose, following through with earthy dried cherry and underbrush flavors, and while my descriptors may seem similar to those of the Chianti Classico noted above, the wines are rather different in character. Full bodied and structured for at least three-to-five years of aging and development, this is rich and flavorful, finishing totally dry. It’s a versatile wine that will pair with a wide variety of foods, including just about any grilled red meat, pasta with a tomato sauce, pizza and our choice, a mushroom, onion, red pepper and cheddar dinner frittata. This seems like a fine alternative to the red Rhônes that I love so well, and I will buy it the next time I see it on a retail shelf. Find this wine

Both wines are imported by Terlato Wines International, Lake Bluff, Il.

Happy New Year!

Bastardo

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