Saturday, August 7, 2010

Aged Merlot for $12

Ever hear wine snobs talking about the higher pleasure of drinking aged wine and haven't been able to find out for yourself whether they're just self-deceived ego-maniacs or whether they're actually on to something? Well, here's your chance. The Wine Warehouse has a 2002 Merlot for a great value, circa $12. It's 8 years old and just starting to reveal signs of aging. And as a bonus, the wine is from Israel--Israeli wines are fairly rare. So this wine may provide you with two firsts. Here are my notes.

2002 Segal Merlot Special Reserve (Israel, Galilee, Galilee Heights)
  • Nose: stewed prunes & cedar. A great nose, IMO.
  • Taste: medium bodied, stewed prunes (again), molasses on the finish. Very focused still. A fairly long, smooth finish.
Although this wine is just starting to show elements of aging, it is holding up very, very well. This wine is ready to drink now. The stewed prunes & molasses are the best way I can describe the aging characteristics of this wine. But don't take my description alone, go taste it for yourself.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Who, I ask, doesn't like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on a hot summer day? Still when I arrived at my local retailer late there were no clerks available to help me sort through the good, the bad and the ugly. So when I saw this wine in a waist-high stack of 3-4 cases in the middle of an aisle with a price tag of $9.99 I must admit that I was skeptical. I took a chance anyway and have to say that I was impressed with the wine I got for the price.

2009 The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc
(New Zealand, Awatere Valley, Marlborough)
Color: transparent pale yellow.
Nose: bold pink grapefruit with some orange blossom. Screams NZ SB!
Taste: balanced, light-medium mouth-feel, lime peel/oil with a mineral finish.

The only way this wine could improve is if it were more tightly focused (it was slightly flabby esp. on day 2) and for my tastes a little less sweet. But, again, for a sub-$10 white wine I was very happy.

I found this wine at the Timberlane location of Market Square Liquors.

Monday, August 2, 2010

2008 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Roussillon Domaine de Bila-Haut

Michel Chapoutier is one of the most respected winemakers in all of France. He took over operations of the family business from his father around 1980. All of the wines produced by Michel are from the Rhone region of France; and all of the Chapoutier vineyards produce biodynamic wines.

So any opportunity to sample a bottle of a Chapoutier wine is exciting. And his most recent vintage of his Bila-Haut for $11 shouldn't be missed.

2008 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Roussillon Domaine de Bila-Haut
(France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon): this wine is a Grenache blend, which is very common in the Rhone.
  • Color: slightly transparent edges.
  • Nose: raspberry, muted cinnamon and soil.
  • Taste: primarily raspberry, but also tempered notes of nitrogen/soil and graphite/lead. Dry, medium tannin. All of the elements are very well integrated. Balanced
This wine cries out for food. If you're a wine drinker who believes that wine is a compliment for food, you'll love this wine. I drank it with dry rubbed, grilled chicken and it was an outstanding match.

I found this wine at the Wine Warehouse, but I'm sure that you can find it at Market Square Liquors too.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Beating the heat with Chilled Effervescence

Dear Tallahasseans,
I hope you haven't had an AC unit stop working like mine did--it's tough to sleep when it's in the upper-80s...mid-90s with the heat index! I did, however, luck out with only a $100 repair, avoiding a new $5-thousand unit. For this reason (and because it's the beginning of a new month) I decided to try a couple new effervescent wines that are great served chilled. Both are available at the Wine Warehouse (WW).

The first was a South African sparkler; the second a Moscato D'Asit

NV Graham Beck Brut (South Africa, Western Cape) 58% Chard, 42% Pinot Noir. This evolves slightly in the glass slightly but shows consistent fine bubbles, very little sweetness, a frothy mouth-feel (but without creamy/yeasty notes) , with clear lead/graphite secondary elements. And with good balance. WW, $13.

2008 Oscar Bosio Moscato d'Asit La Brusciata (Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Moscato d' Asti) Light bodied, super-fine bubbles showing clear honey, peach/apricot flavors. WW, $13.

Neither of these white sparklers are complex, but are enjoyable nonetheless. I enjoyed them with some prosciutto, baguette with Fontina cheese & fig & guava jam.

A good way to beat the heat and relax.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Wine Warehouse Sleeper Tasting

Why is this tasting called a sleeper tasting? Because the wines featured are considered unknown excellent wines... available now at the Wine Warehouse at an excellent price. And most of the wines lived up to their name. Below are my favorite, all of which I'd recommend. If you can afford them (how can you not afford them at these prices?), you won't be disappointed. I've listed both the retail and Wine Warehouse Sale prices.

Denogent Cuvee Claude 2004 1/2 bottle (pictured, left above). Retail $40/WW $15. Balanced, restrained 100% Chardonnay that IMO is what Chardonnay should taste like. Rating: 90-91.

Le Soula Blanc 2004. Retail $45/WW $25. A white Rhone blend from 13 grapes that is medium-bodied, focused, complex white that among other things showed an unusual sweet-tart element. Simply put: my favorite white wine of 2010 for sure--my favorite white wine since as long as I can remember. Rating: 94.

Brokenwood Area 2002. Retail $30/WW $19. A balanced, medium bodied 100% Shiraz. Rating: 90.

Roeder Brut 2002. Retail $72/WW $40. Perfectly balanced, complex elements of roasted marshmallow, seamless smooth finish. IMO drinks like some $100 Champagnes. Rating: 93-94.

Vieux Telegraphe 2004. 1/2 bottle retail $35/WW $20; full-bottle retail $60/WW $40. A virtually perfect example of Chateauneuf-de-Pape. This wine is drinking perfectly NOW. Incredibly food friendly. Rating: 93-4.

Quinta Do Noval 2003 (pictured, right above). Retail $95/WW $40. Not enormous mouth-feel that you find in lower quality ports that try to compensate for other . Simply put: the best port (vintaged or non) I've ever tasted. Rating: 96. If you're a port love, you simply cannot afford to miss out of this port at this price point.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Couple Good Value Ports

This winter I've had the desire for something to drink that could warm you up… something fortified. So I decided to try a few ports. Always in pursuit of variety I decided to try one aged port and another blended port; both are non-vintage. And since I’m always in pursuit of good values, I chose Warre’s 10 Year Old Otima and Trevor Jones Jonesy Tawny Port. (Both pictured above & below.)

Both of these ports are made using the traditional Portuguese blend of grapes, e.g., Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz and Tinto Cão. After fermentation it is fortified with brandy. And the alcohol content is 20% by volume.

The Otima is made in the Douro region of Portugal and is a lighter style Tawny (pictured right, below) that clearly shows aged aromas and flavors on the finish, e.g., Sherry or Madeira oxidized characteristics together with honey, hazelnuts, orange peel on the mid-palate.

The Jonesy is made in the Barossa Valley in southern Australia and is a blend averaging 46 years in age. It is dark brown (pictured left, below), with notes of candied black cherry and molasses.

I found the Jonesy more approachable than the Otima but enjoyed both for their differences.

You can find both of these Ports at The Wine Warehouse; the Jonesy is $11 and the Otima is $25.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Warming Up to Malbec

I have to confess that when Argentine Malbec first hit the market, I was not a fan because I tended to dislike malolactic, oak-y, prune juice. But since we are in the dead of winter I drove myself to my local merchant and asked for some recs for substantive reds under $15. In the process I consciously decided to put aside my aversion to Argentine Malbec. Then in my inability to decide between two different Malbecs, I decided to pick up both of them. Due to sheer coincidence I happened to purchase another cheap bottle of Malbec a few days earlier at another local merchant. So I found myself with with three Argentine Malbecs... and here they are:

2007 Urban Uco Malbec (Mendoza)- Medium bodied, red & black fruit, discernable amount of spice & oak, balanced. 90
2008 Dona Paula Estate Malbec (Mendoza) - small amount of earth disappeared quickly after opening, medium bodied, not much fruit, almost no attack, seamless transition from middle to end, longest finish of the three. 89
2008 Gouguenheim Malbec (Mendoza): light bodied, strawberry (fruitier than expected), dry finish, balanced. IMO a nice table wine. 87

The first two Malbecs were purchased at Wine Warehouse for $9.99 each. The third was purchased at New Leaf Market for $7.99. Both the Urban Uco and Dona Paula were very good and I'd recommend both, but personally I preferred the former because it had more complexity and because the Dona Paula did show more oak. But I was pleasantly surprised by all of these wines mostly because none showed any malolactic treatment. If you are like I was--Malbec-phobic--please give any of these a try and shed your Malbec phobia.