Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Achaval-Ferrer Malbec 2008, Mendoza, Argentina - $18



This Argentinian Malbec received 91 points from Wine Spectator and Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. I purchased it for $18 at Costco. The label mentions low-yield vineyards and low-intervention winemaking, which are characteristics I love in wines.

Aroma - black plums, a little yeasty
Taste - black plums, black tea, soft tannins, rich without being heavy

This wine is really nice! It went just okay with our Portobello mushroom/caramelized onions/goat cheese soft tacos with fresh salsa. I think a Tempranillo would have probably been a better wine pairing with this meal! But I do like the wine a lot!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Les Chiens-Chiens Cabernet Franc 2006, Chinon, France - $19


This 100% Cab Franc is made by Domaine de la Noblaie, one of the oldest wineries in Chinon. It was rated 90 points by Wine & Spirits. It is imported by Jon-David Headrick, one of the natural wine importers noted in the book by Feiring I recently read. Interesting thing is that I picked this up at Whole Foods after a tasting but before I read the book! It retails for $19/bottle at WF, but I've found it for as little as $11 online. It contains 13.5% alcohol.

Aroma - a little vegetal at first, then full on blackberries
Taste - blackberries, a little cola, soft to moderate tannins

I really LOVE this wine - it's interesting and went well with our Pasta alla Formiana tonight. It tastes fresh, not too heavy but with good body. I have to go get more!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hess Allomi Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Napa Valley, CA - $25


This estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon earned 90 points from the Connoisseur's Guide and retails for $25/bottle.

I tasted blackberries and tobacco.

Another wine we had a few weeks ago during our Moroccan dinner, the main course being Chicken Tangine. I would absolutely try this wine again!

Kitchen Sink Red Table Wine N.V., California - $9



This non-vintage red table wine is a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Sirah, according to one online source. It retails for around $9/bottle online.

I smelled and tasted dark fruit and soft to moderate tannins.

We had it with our Moroccan dinner a few weeks ago. A nice wine for the price! It seems like you might be able to purchase it at HEB.

Francis Ford Coppola Director's Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Sonoma County - $21


This California red wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon (Cabernet Clones 7 & 337) and 13.5% alcohol. It retails for $21/bottle on the Francis Ford Coppola Winery.

Aroma - tight nose
Taste - dark fruit, very dry, tobacco finish

We had this wine with Moroccan appetizers a few weeks ago. I like it!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Altocedro Malbec 2009, Argentina - $39



Had this Malbec at Uchiko tonight with D, MS, and SD - $39/bottle at the restaurant, but $13/bottle online. Wine Spectator gave it 89 points.

Aroma - raisins
Taste - dark fruit, raisins, light tobacco, soft to moderate tannins

Went great with romaine lettuce, raw and cooked sea bass, and yellowtail sushi. Yum! I would absolutely have this wine again!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Clos Roche Blanche Cuvée Pif 2008, Touraine, Loire Valley, France - $17.50



This red wine blend from the Loire Valley (Touraine, to be exact), is 50% Côt (aka Malbec) and 50% Cabernet Franc and is imported by Louis/Dressner. It was rated 88 points with Josh Raynolds of International Wine Cellar and 87 points by David Schildknecht of Wine Advocate. I purchased it for $17.50 at the Austin Wine Merchant.

Greg Soechting, one of the owners of AWM, says that this is one of the most naturally-made wines he knows of, which is actually the reason I wanted to try it. See my post about Louis/Dressner's portfolio and other notes from Alice Feiring's book.

Aroma - red fruit and leather, D says cinnamon and raisins (I don't quite concur, but now that he's said it I can't get it out of my mind)
Taste - clean fruit, a tiny bit of black tea, moderate tannins, soft and subtle, long finish

Another thing I love about this wine is that it's low in alcohol - only 12% - yay! I LOVE THIS WINE!!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Masi Tupungato Passo Doble Malbec Corvina 2009, Mendoza, Argentina - $15



This Argentinian red blend consists of 70% Malbec, 30% semi-dried Corvina. MS purchased it at Whole Foods. Online it retails for approximately $15/bottle.

Aroma - dark, a little musty
Taste - bitter fruit, a little tea, soft to moderate tannins

An okay wine - I would like to try it again.

Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2007, Mendoza, Argentina - $10



This fabulous Argentinian Malbec costs $10/bottle at Whole Foods. It was rated 91 points by Wine Enthusiast.

Aroma - red fruit, a little hot
Taste - red fruit, moderate tannins

It's a good wine, definitely a good buy at $10, and SD thought it had a nice punch/kick to it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Castillo del Barón Monastrell 2008, Yecla, Spain - $8


This Spanish Monastrell is such a bargain for just $8/bottle at the Austin Wine Merchant! Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar rated it 88 points. It contains 13.5% alcohol.

Aroma - bright red fruit, a little floral, a little hot
Taste - a little fruit, a little tea, soft tannins, slightly bitter finish

We had this with take out from Chinatown Downtown tonight - Kung Pao Chicken, Moo Shu Chicken, brown rice, and some homemade sautéed zucchini, mushrooms, onions. The label says "try it with spicy Asian cuisine" - it was a great pairing!

Cameron Hughes Lot 173 Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Sonoma County, CA - $13



This Cameron Hughes Cab retails for $13/bottle at Costco. It is a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec, 2% Carignane, and 2% Tempranillo from Sonoma County, Red Hills, and Redwood Valley APAs, with 82% Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley and 10% Chalk Hill Cabernet. It comes in at a really high 14.5% alcohol, which is more in the realm of Zinfandels than Cabernet Sauvignon blends.

Aroma - red fruit and licorice, a little hot
Taste - red fruit, moderate tannins, black tea/tobacco, relatively light for a Cab Sauv (medium-bodied)

We opened this wine to go with our roasted veggie spaghetti last night - yum! I like that it's not heavy and cloying - good thing, because we have 4 more bottles of it!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

7 Deadly Zins Zinfandel 2008, Lodi, CA - $12



I've tasted a different vintage of this Lodi Zin before - see the review for 7 Deadly Zins 2007 here.

I'm not a huge fan of this vintage. Hubby purchased it at Costco for $12 - I wish he hadn't.

Aroma - HOT!, mild hints of dark fruit and chocolate, way too much oak
Taste - very acidic (stings my nose from the inside), dark chocolate, and is that a finish of spice or heat?

This wine contains 15% alcohol - no wonder it smells so hot! Never again!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Battle for Wine and Love or How I Saved the World from Parkerization by Alice Feiring



A fabulous, fun little book! I saw it in the stacks at the central library when I was looking for Robert Mondavi's Harvests of Joy.

Interestingly, Feiring would place herself on a wine continuum VERY FAR AWAY from Mondavi. She is interested in and writes passionately about wines that have personality and are reflections of their place (AKA terroir, which you'll hear a lot about in winespeak). She bemoans the current trend towards wine manipulation (the introduction of industrial yeast and color additives, the use of heavily-toasted oak barriques) by some of the largest and highest scoring wines (i.e. Robert Parker and Wine Spectator scores) in the business. This intrigues me, as I find that I also don't necessarily agree with Parker and the other wine scorers all of the time. Wine is very personal, and palates are so different - it almost seems impossible to score something that can be so subjective.

A few great little tidbits from Feiring's book:
  • Importers who seek out naturally-made European wines (pp. 26, 242, 261):
    • Louis/Dressner (Joe Dressner, owner)
    • Kermit Lynch
    • Neal Rosenthal
    • Becky Wasserman
    • Jenny & Francois
    • Jon-David Headrick
  • Wines to try (natural and biodynamic):
    • Thierry Allemand in Cornas, France continues to make wine in the traditional way, with minimal to no manipulation (p. 71)
    • Bernard Belahsen from Languedoc (p. 239)
    • Pierre and Catherine Breton are the darlings of the Loire Valley, dedicated to biodynamics and natural wines - Feiring describes their wines as "beautiful" (p. 227)
    • Teobaldo Cappellano - Italian old-timer/anti-barrique winemaker (p. 149)
    • Castagna Syrah from Australia (yes, the winemaker, Julian Castagna chooses to call his wine Syrah and not Shiraz) is the only Australian Syrah/Shiraz that Feiring likes (p. 64)
    • Feiring's favorite Champagnes include Selosse, Françoise Bedel, Raymond Brigandat, José Dhondt, Fleury, Pierre Moncuit, Camille Saves, David LeClapart, Jacquesson, Jacques Lassaigne, and Leclerc Briant (p. 126)
    • Chave's Hermitage (Côte-Rôtie) from France is made by a domaine that has been passed down through one family for many generations, and is considered one of the best in the region (p. 67)
    • Auguste and Pierre Marie Clapes in Cornas, France continue to make wine in the traditional way, with minimal to no manipulation (p. 71)
    • Close Roche Blanche Côt (Malbec in the Loire, France), which to Feiring tastes like "velvety violet petals sucked through a chalk straw" (p.28). Clos Roche Blanche - seems to be Feiring's goto wine/vineyard - owned by Catherine Roussel, with co-winemaker Didier Barrouillet (p. 244)
    • Giacomo Conterno - Italian old-timer/anti-barrique winemaker (p. 149)
    • Nicolas Joly of Coulée de Serrant is the unofficial leader of the worldwide biodynamic wine movement, Return to Terroir, or Renaissance des Appelations (p. 231)
    • Dard et Ribo, owned by René-Jean Dard and François Ribo, in Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage and St. Joseph, France (p. 74)
    • Giacomo Fenocchio - Italian old-timer/anti-barrique winemaker (p. 149)
    • Livia Fontana - Italian traditional winemaker making old-style wines (p. 151)
    • Frog's Leap, owned by vintner John Williams, is one of Napa Valley's first organic wineries (note to self: must try - CG loves this winery!) (p. 51)
    • Bruno Giacosa - Italian old-timer/anti-barrique winemaker (p. 149)
    • Grgich Hills winery in California doesn't irrigate (this causes the vines' roots to go deeper for water, and thus the grapes are heavily influenced by the soil/land that they are grown in/on) -Feiring believes that its wine has a stronger sense of terroir than a winery that does irrigate (because with irrigation, roots stay near the surface of the soil and the vines are more easily manipulated by the vineyard) (p. 54)
    • Jacques Lardier of Domaine Jadot (p. 238)
    • Anne-Claude Leflaive (has her own domaine) (p. 238)
    • Lopez de Heredias, Rioja, Spain (p. 105)
    • Bartolo Mascarello, a master Barolo maker - "Say no to barrique!" (p. 147)
    • Philippe Pacalet’s (from Burgundy) wines are described by Feiring as being delicate with an uncommon purity. That's a wine I'd love to try! (p. 204)
    • Guiseppe Rinaldi - Italian old-timer/anti-barrique winemaker (p. 149)
    • Olivier Rivière, a Frenchman making wine in Rioja, Spain, is a winemaker to watch who uses only natural winemaking methods (p. 107)
    • Hervé Souhaut from Ardeche and St.-Joseph, France (p. 74)
    • Jean Michel Stephan from Côte-Rôtie, France (p. 75)
  • Fringe Tastings – mostly naturally-made wines and biodynamic practices
    • At France's VinExpo, Feiring found her preferred wines at the fringe tastings (p. 141)
    • ViniVeri - Paolo Gargano, owner of Triple A wine import company based in Genoa, is organizer of ViniVeri, an Italian wine show featuring wineries that use no chemicals in farming, no enzymes, no bacteria, no reverse-osmosis, no concentrator machines, no micro-oxygenation, no added tannins, no oak chips, no grape must, no added acidity, no deacidification, no overuse of new wood, and little to no sulfer (p. 171)
    • Dive Bouteilles, often takes place the weekend before Salon des Vins de Loire (p. 230)
  • pp. 172-3 - When Chianti producers Silvio Montesecondo and Paolo di Marchi (Isole e Olena) bottled wines without wood influence, they were told that they did not get the DOC mark of approval (so that they could label their wines "Chianti") because of their wines' lack of color (even though Joe Dressner thought that Montesecondo's wines tasted like Chiantis should taste).

Interesting that many of the "wines to try" listed above can be found in the Louis/Dressner portfolio. Feiring used to work for Louis/Dressner, and their portfolio seems to be a good fit for her palate.

Mark David Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Oakville, CA


This single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc is actually made from Sauvignon Musque grapes (a clone of SB) grown in the Skellenger Vineyard. However, the vineyard ages the wine completely in barrels, which I could taste immediately. I much prefer SBs aged in stainless.

Aroma - sweet, honeyed but hot
Taste - toothpicks, grapefruit, not very crisp

I really like my SBs a lot crisper than this! This wine is a "maybe" in my book.

I did use the leftover wine to make some cilantro shrimp - yum!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Valdemar Tempranillo 2007, Rioja, Spain - $11


This Spanish Tempranillo from Rioja retails for $11/bottle at Whole Foods, where I tasted it earlier today.

Aroma - fruit
Taste - woody, a little smoky, sof to medium tannins, dry

I like this wine and would purchase it in the future.

Bonterra Red Table Wine 30th Anniversary NV, Mendocino County, CA - $10


This organic non-vintage red wine is a blend of 52% Merlot, 22% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Zinfandel, and retails for $10/bottle at Whole Foods, where I tasted it earlier today.

Aroma - dark fruit
Taste - dark fruit, a little musty, tobacco finish, soft tannins

I like this wine - it's quite good!

Jargon Pinot Noir 2008, California - $10



I tasted this wine today at Whole Foods, where it retails for $10/bottle.

Aroma - tight
Taste - bitter fruit, light spice, soft tannins

There are better Pinot Noirs out there.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hahn Estates Pinot Noir 2007, Monterrey, CA - $12


I tasted this California Pinot Noir by Hann Estates earlier this summer at Whole Foods. It's an okay wine with flavors of cherries and spice. It's not complex, and that's okay, but I still love the Devil's Corner Tasmanian Pinot Noir over this one.

Santome Prosecco Extra Dry, Veneto, Italy - $14



I tasted this wine at Whole Foods earlier this summer. I found it online for around $14/bottle. It was a nice, dry sparkling wine made of 100% Prosecco (also known as Glera). It's a nice alternative to Champagne, which are usually more expensive.

Michele Chiarlo Barbera d'Asti 2007, Piedmont, Italy - $16

This wine is Barbera from the Piedmont region, which apparently produces the best examples of this grape varietal in Italy. Robert Parker rated this wine an 88.

Aroma - dark fruit, a little hot
Taste - dark fruit, soft tannins, tobacco

I don't love wines that smell or taste hot, but I'd like to try this one again because it didn't taste hot.

Bonizio Sangiovese di Maremma, Toscana, Italy - $10



This wine is a blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% other varietals. I found it online for $10/bottle.

Aroma - dark fruit, musty
Taste - dark fruit, moderate tannins

This is a good wine - I'd absolutely buy it again.

Di Majo Norante Sangiovese 2008, Italy - $10


I tasted this wine at Whole Foods a few weeks back. It retails there for $10/bottle. Robert Parker gave this vintage a 90.

Aroma - blackberries
Taste - dark fruit, moderate tannins

I liked this wine - it was good! I think RC would like this one if he hasn't tried it already!

Bodegas Alto Almanzora Este 2007, Almansa, Spain - $12.50



Another wine from Royal Blue - $12.50 per bottle at the store. This one was rated 90 points by Wine Advocate and is a blend of 45% Monastrell, 25% Tempranillo, and smaller amounts of Syrah, Garnacha, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Aroma - red fruit
Taste - red fruit, dry, soft tannins, black tea

I really like this wine a lot!

Charles and Charles Rosé 2009, Columbia Valley, WA - $12.95


Had this Rosé at Royal Blue's Thursday wine tasting earlier this summer - it sells for $12.95 a bottle there. It's made by two famous wine Charleses - Charles Smith and Charles Bieler, and is 100% Syrah.

Aroma - strawberries
Taste - strawberries, dry

I like this wine a lot! I bought the French Charles' Rosé to bring to a French dinner at a friend's. Perfect with a summer salad!!!