Saturday, December 5, 2015

December 3 Market Square Sparkler Tasting

Well folks, the holiday season is upon us and so time for celebrating with some bubbles. Now, I need to disclose what may be an unpopular opinion: I don't love Sparklers.  I prefer the complexity and depth that red wines and some whites (e.g., Rieslings) can.  I’m a wine geek! What’d you expect? And at last night's tasting, somewhere around Sparkler #7 I began experiencing palate fatigue and all of the sparklers started tasting fairly similar to one another, besides the occasional very sweet (e.g., Asti Spumante), the sparkling Shiraz, or the Veuve Clicquot Rich that was poured over slices of red and green bell pepper (yes, you read that right).  

Now I will say that I do appreciate a good Sparkler. A good sparkler in my opinion has structure and successful integration of the relevant elements like alcohol, sweetness, secondary and tertiary qualities, etc., which makes for a seamless transition from beginning to finish on the palate. These are the 2 sparklers that I found most appealing.  Both of these Sparklers showed excellent structure and balance.

Sparkler #1: NV Le Mesnil Sublime Rose (Cotes de Blanc,Sur Oger, Champagne, France): mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this Champagne is rare in that it is one of only six cooperative producers in Champagne.  Note that this bottle retails for $48.
Tasting Note: austere nose, chalk up front on the palate, bone dry, very little fruit, excellent structure, very fine bubbles, long finish.  
My Rating: 91.  

Sparkler #2: 2011 Argyle Brut (Willamette, Oregon): 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay.  From a cool-climate in a very cool vintage. 
Tasting Note: some sweetness and very small amount of oak, overall great structure and integration of the elements, good finish, fine bubbles.
Rating: 90.  This retails for $23 at Market Square Liquors.

Champagnes—the elite of the Sparkler category—tend to be over-priced and I pride myself as someone who values a wine with a good QPR (i.e., quality to price ratio).   If you agree you might want to check out a couple of solid value Proseccos or Cavas sold almost anywhere around town, e.g., Segura Viudas CavaJaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava, or La Marca Prosecco.

Feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you have any questions:

Happy holidays!

Friday, November 20, 2015

11/19/15 Tasting at the Wine House

Last night I stopped by the Wine House (formerly, the Wine Warehouse) for a tasting.  Here are the wines that I'd recommend with brief notes on each.  

Bortolotti Prosecco Superiore Brut NV (Valdobbiadene, Veneto Italy): this is a higher quality Prosecco, not of the more common varieties that tend to be sweet, etc.  This Prosecco isn't sweet, is balanced and has a longer finish that common Proseccos. 

Tip: this would be a great sparkler for the holidays that costs much less than Champagne.

Another wine that wasn't part of the tasting line-up that the Wine House owner, Bart, was kind enough to open and share with me was are rare one: 

Ruca Malen Petit Verdot Reserva 2011 (Mendoza, Argentina): what makes this rare is that it is a 100% Petit Verdot (PV).  Typically PV is a blending grape, is very tannic and has a dense, inky black appearance.  As a result making a 100% PV wine is challenging and therefore rare.  It was immediately obvious upon opening that, although this wine was 4+ years old, it was very tight and needs more time; if you choose to purchase and drink now, you'll want to decant it for at least 1 hour.  

Last, I'll finish with a wine that I didn't taste last night but I have tasted a prior vintage and absolutely loved it; and I've noticed that the current vintage found at the Wine House has great public ratings on Cellartracker that are consistent over all vintages.

2012 Aia Vecchia Lagone Toscana IGT (Tuscany, Italy): this is a Super-Tuscan, i.e., an Italian version of a Bordeaux blend.  I picked up a bottle of the 2012 vintage last night.  My note on the 2009 Lagone was: this wine has dark red & black fruit on the nose, is big, dense and dry (read: not fruity) in the mouth, very tannic but balanced with a long finish.  

Again, I'd recommend all of these wines if the characteristics in the notes are appealing to you preference.  I also noticed a couple other reds on the shelves that I'll be picking up for the holidays that I'll write about soon.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions:


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Value Mendoza Cabernet

2013 Bodega Sottano Cabernet Sauvignon

This wine hails from the a vineyard in the foothills of the Andes Mountains in the Perdriel district of Argentina's Mendoza region (see map, above left).  Mendoza has been producing excellent wines in the last few years and was named the Wine Region of the Year in 2008 by Wine Enthusiast.  The altitude of the Bodega Sottano is almost 3,000 feet above sea level, which means that the vineyard receives intense amounts of sunlight.  The soils in the Pedriel region are predominantly loamy with clay on top of a layer of gravel, which makes for good natural drainage, causes modest exposure to water all of which makes for rich and complex wines with great structure and firm tannins.  Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon are the two most commonly grown grapes in the Perdriel district.

Day 1: popped and poured.  Immediately you notice that this is a big, muscular red with powerful red and black fruit on the nose and great structure in the mouth.  On day 1 it is a little hot.

Day 2: the heat from day 1 is gone but the fruit and structure of the wine is still present.

This is an excellent wine for $12 and can be found at Market Square Liquors (Timblerlane Drive location).