Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bastille Day Burgundies

No doubt the wines of Burgundy (French: Bourgogne) are amazing with their elegance and a focus on terroir that is unmatched in the wine world. Indeed one of my so-called "Ah-Ha" wine moments was with a red Burgundy. But while slowly proceeding through the samples of these wines at the Bastille Day Burg Tasting at Wine Warehouse (WW), I couldn't help thinking how incredibly over-priced they are. I only buy a couple bottles of Burgundies (red or white) a year for special occasions, e.g., my wife's birthday (my wife loves red Burgundies). And although WW has some of them marked down by 50%, I would only consider one of the 12 wines featured at the tasting to be an excellent value (see below).

The French region of Burgundy has more AOCs (read: French certified geographic areas) than any other wine region of France (78 by my count), which makes the region one of the most difficult know, which makes it intimidating. Because there are so many AOCs after years of drinking wines from Burgundy, going to Burgundy tastings, etc., you probably still have only scratched the surface of all that Burgundy has to offer. With that out of the way, below are the best wines of the tasting....

All whites were 100% Chardonnay and had significant variation in character--some had Riesling-like elements, some had Sauvingnon-Blanc-like elements, etc.

1. 2004 Louis Carillon Puligny-Montrachet (Côte de Beaune, Puligny-Montrachet) [Retail $60, WW $30] Great expression of terroir on the nose, viscous body, balanced. Very good Chard. Rating: 89-90. Good Value
2. 2004 Domaine Francois et Antoine Jobard Mersault "En La Barre" (Côte de Beaune, Mersault) [Retail $60, WW $40] Nose: sweet caramel. Sweet caramel & saline up front & on the finish with dry, austere citrus on the mid-palate. Drink now--don't hold. Rating: 87-8
3. 2005 Gerbeaux Pouilly-Fuisse VV (Mâconnais, Pouilly-Fuisse) [Retail $50, WW $33] This one took some warming up to--most othes at the tasting didn't care for it. It didn't have much of a nose, but on the palate it had Sauvignon Blanc-like acidity & body with some petrol & chalk. Rating: 87.
All reds were 100% Pinot Noir and like the whites all varied significantly in character.
4. 2005 Phillipe Colin Satenay (Côte de Beaune, Satenay) [Retail $30, WW $22] Nose: pepper, cranberry and spice. On the palate light, elegant and finesse with steely tang with a black tea finish. Attractive wine. Rating: 91. Excellent Value
5. 2005 Vincent Girardin Pommard Premier Cru "Grand Epinots" (Côte de Beaune, Pommard) [Retail $80, WW $60] Nose of earth and red fruit. Medium-full bodied, red & black fruit. Longest finish of the tasting. Could stay in the cellar for a few more years. Rating: 90.
6. 2005 Phillipe Colin Maranges "Fussiere" (Côte de Beaune, Maranges) [Retail $35, WW $25] Brick red color, light bodied, elegant, medium-long finish. Rating: 88-9.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Noble Riesling Tasting

This week's tasting at the Wine Warehouse was one of the best in a long time. There were 12 Rieslings featured--6 were German, the other 6 were non-German. In every case the Germans were as good or better than the non-Germans. In fact, although I've always liked dry Rieslings, during the tasting I officially became a fan of Rieslings with sweetness. Numbers 1 & 2 were the standouts, and the others were very good. These all have some sweetness--typically, the Spatlese ("late harvest") wines are sweeter than the Kabinett. If you're looking for tasty German Rieslings, here they are:

1. Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Spatlese 2006 ($20) - honey, spice, viscous approaching Sauternes-like profile. Excellent. Rating: 93.
2. Von Hovel Oberemmler Hutte Kabinett 2006 ($17) Rating: 90.
3. Zilliken Ockfener Bockstein Kabinett 2006 ($14) - honey, petrol & floral elements. Rating: 89.
4. Bert Simon Serrig Wurzbert Spatlese 2005 ($15) Rating: 88.
5. Dr. F Weins-Prum Urziger Wurz Kabinett 2006 ($14) Rating: 88.

Comments Welcome!

p.s. sorry if the images are fuzzy--click on the hyperlinks for the wines for clearer pics.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Clairet Rosé & A Local Tasting

In the spirit of Independence Day I expressed my independence qua wine drinker by drinking an atypical wine: a Clairet Bordeaux rosé. Clairet style wines are from Bordeaux and are either dark roses (see picture, above) or light reds. (This rosé is available at the Wine Warehouse for under $10.) My notes are below:

2008 Château de Parenchère Bordeaux Clairet (France, Bordeaux, Bordeaux Clairet; blend of Merlot, Cab Franc & Cab Sauvignon)

Nose: steel & minerals with lime zest, with bright red cherry & cranberry notes.
Taste: first the red fruit, then the steel. Medium mouth-feel for a rose.
Overall: Not a fruit-forward, sweet, new-world rose, therefore probably not immediately accessible to most people. But this wine definitely became more appealing after a few glasses and especially on day 2—it didn’t lose anything by day 2. Food friendly, e.g, BBQ, shrimp cocktail, etc.

Rating: 85

New Leaf Market Tasting (every Friday @ 5:30)

First off, you should know that the staff who work the wine tastings are very friendly and they offer “healthy” pours—be careful or you’ll be drunk by the end. The tasting crowd was friendly too.

Although the wines left weren’t spectacular, the top wine of the tasting was the 2005 Gravity Hills Syrah Base Camp (USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles). I also noticed that they carry the 2008 Muldurbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé (South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch). And for only $11 it’s a great value, so I picked one up—you should too!

Last, they also held a so-called “Parm cracking”—an 80 lb. wheel of Parmesan cheese that was aged for 2 years was cut open (pictured, below). They handed out free samples with warm olive oil bread—tasty!