Monday, February 25, 2008

2006 “The Show” Cabernet Sauvignon, California $15

Now, here is the blog that many of you may have been waiting for. Back on January 6th of this year I posted a blog on the 2005 bottling of “The Show” and gave it a pretty critical review, my first ever critical review. I felt the wine was a bad example of Cabernet Sauvignon and posted my thoughts. The folks at the Rebel Wine Co. that are the creators of this oaky beast of a wine read my post and sent me a bottle of the wine, albeit a different vintage, and a few other goodies to smooth over the experience as they thought I had a poor representation of their product. After finally waiting for the right moment (and meal, braised short ribs), Lisa and I opened up the 2006 Show and were much more pleased with this version.

The 2005 Show had to be flawed as I did some research on flawed wines and deduced it had to be oxidized. Most of my experience with flawed wines have been at restaurants were the wines were “corked” or “cooked”. A severely corked wine smells and sometimes tastes like a rotten wet newspaper or sweaty chunk of cardboard was put in the bottle at the time the wine was bottled. Usually the wine's aroma is reticent of wet paper or cardboard funk, even sometimes like a dank basement. The wine tastes muted, almost dead. Less severely corked wines show the same characteristics, but are much less evident and usually go unnoticed by the average wine drinker. The easiest way to tell if your wine is corked and you are not an experienced taster is to have a bad bottle of a wine you drink a lot of and usually enjoy its consistency. Corked wines are from TCA, an abbreviation for 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole, a really long word that is really not that important to most of you out there except for the fact it may have ruined a wine or two in your past you thought was too funky. TCA is part fungi, part chemical agent and mostly found in contaminated corks or strips of cork before they are processed into wine bottle corks, ergo the term “corked”. A "corked" wine is harmless to consume, but if you detect it send the wine back to the sommelier or the store you bought it from. If they are worth their salt, both will take it back no questions asked.

It is estimated that 1%-15% of all wines are corked. The wide range is part industry folk who say the rate of contamination is less than 2% and screw cap advocates that estimate it is as high as 15%. A good estimate is likely something in the neighborhood of 7%. There is an ever growing argument to use screw caps to seal immediate consumption wines. I agree with that idea but feel cork is necessary for wines of pedigree and aging potential as the cork allows the wine to slowly breathe allowing for a slow evolution, producing a classically aged wine. Screw caps can do too much of a good thing and retard evolution of fine wines meant to age, as well as encapsulate sulfur aromas from the sulfur used in many wines as a preservative in wine making to prevent oxidation or spoilage when racking and bottling wines at the winery. Google the term “Mollydooker Shake” to see how to rid a wine of any sulfur aromas.

A cooked wine tastes ok if its young enough, but the texture is all off because sometimes an effervescence is created, or it’s so cooked it tastes burnt or caramel like, absent of fruit and brown in color. “Cooked” wines are the result of poor storage in wine racks in a kitchen, in direct sunlight in a living room, or any other storage space where the temperature changes are volatile.

An oxidized wine is from a bad cork that dried up or was too small. Air is allowed into the wine and the fruit in the wine turns and it loses it life and fruit vibrancy, leaving behind the tannin, oak and acid – not a great tasting experience mind you. That is what the 2005 Show tasted like and therefore I do feel it was compromised after tasting the 2006 Show. This is why it is important to store wines for aging in a humidified environment so the cork does not dry out. The 2005 Show lacked any fruit. The 2006 contained copious amounts of fruit and oak. One flavor was familiar to the 2005: lots of oak and vanillin from toasty barrels (a bit too much for my taste), in addition to some wonderful ripe fruit that took about an hour to wake up from its slumber.

Tasting Notes: The color was a pleasing dark purple, a promising typicity for a California Cabernet. After an hour the wine took on some weight and the following notes are from that time as the wine at first seemed a bit disjointed, possibly because of its youth. Many wines need time in bottle after barrel aging to come together after the initial “bottle shock”. Oak, vanilla, some green pepper and cherry fruit emerged from the wine’s aromas. On the palate copious amounts of sweet vanilla and toasty oak meet some pepper, and generous cherry and grape flavors. The tannins are reserved and almost too subtle. A touch of heat on the finish completes the package. This is a nice wine to have with a nice steak or beef dish that can stand up to the ripe fruit and oak flavors. I will probably try this again in a few months after the wine settles down in bottle.

However if I were the winemaker I would be more judicious with the oak treatment and maybe use a screw cap instead of a cork as this wine is meant to be drunk now and a cork is a waste on a wine meant for immediate consumption.

The Show comes in these 3 eye-catching lables:


Sunday, February 24, 2008

2004 Domaine Sainte Leocadie Minervois Fernand Averoux

Price: $14.99

Region: Minervois, Languedoc Roussillon, France

Grapes: Grenache, maybe some Syrah

The other night we had on OTB (Open That Bottle Night – Wall Street Journal Event) the 2004 Leocadie Minervois. We wanted to have something new we have not had before. I have had a Minervois or two in my time at tasting events and many were not so great. Then again a wine like this at a tasting may not impress as it’s not built to do that as it’s not a big, over the top wine - it’s not showy. I never had enough time to see if they were interesting enough to get me to look to them further. This wine has done that. Also, my palate at those times was a lot less up to speed on Southern France.

Minervois is a small village in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France. The grape content was not easy to find, but from what I can taste it seemed like it had a lot of Grenache, if not 100% maybe a dash or two of Syrah. By law in Minervois to call a wine Minervois it has to be composed with at least 60% Grenache, Mourvedre or Syrah.

The color was dark red and lighter at the edges. The nose aroma had lots of floral aromatics - roses and lilacs, some Provencal herbs and wild berry fruits and a wee bit of smokiness and that funky southern France aroma. The funk on the nose is pretty standard for many Southern French reds and is not an “off” aroma. In fact in some cases I like it and expect it in certain wines if it is in the right context and not too funky. In the mouth blackberry attacked the palate with mellow tannin and was met half way by lots of roses and tobacco. The finish was perfectly refreshing because of the good acidity level.

This wine was great because it did not try too hard. It was prefect just the way it was. Even if it reminded me of a Châteauneuf-du-Pape (CdP), it did so without trying too hard to do so. When something or someone tries to hard to be something it is not they tend to overcompensate for what it can not achieve and thus falls out of balance. This wine does not do that and is primarily what makes it great, its balance.

STAY TUNED - I just had the bottle of "The Show" Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa that was sent to me by The Rebel Wine Company...stay tuned!


Thursday, February 21, 2008

2004 Edmunds St. John "Rocks and Gravel"

Price: $14-18

Grapes: Grenache 38%, Mourvèdre 34%, and Syrah 28%

Region: Sonoma, Paso Robles and the Sierra Foothills – a true Cotes du Rhone, via California

Color: Deep red with a ruby tinge at the edges.

Aroma: Spicy with earthy cassis and wild red berry notes.

Palate: Medium bodied. I only say so because that is the average description of the texture. It’s light on its feet feeling without a loss in texture or flavor. Cherry and especially black raspberry fruit work the palate with finesse. Its funny, this wine sees oak aging but you can only tell in texture, not in flavor - there is not trace of oak flavors. Just the texture the together with eth acidity nicely frame the flavors. The acidity this wine achieves is very refreshing, especially in California where really ripe fruit tends to have little acidity.

Conclusion: Fun, but not a wow wine, this goes exceptionally well with food and is a very interesting wine. I want to get another one to have this summer with some good grilling! I think this wine is great in the fact that it models a Cotes du Rhone better than anything I have ever had from California. Not as original as a true French Cotes du Rhone, it is great in that it combines the best of both regions. One trait that they share, however, is the sun ripened fruit clearly evident, but not overpowering in this wine.

We had this wine with Lisa's chicken Marsala and the pairing was delicious!

Cotes du Rhone: According to Wikipedia, a Côtes du Rhône is a wine-growing AOC for the Rhône wine region of France, covering vineyards outside the other named appellations both in the north and south. The appellation can also be used by growers producing wines within a specific geographical location which do not meet that location's AOC requirements for grape variety or method of production. It is also sometimes used by growers when they feel that a specific vintage does not meet the acceptable standard to be labeled with their appellation name. So in theory a producer in the Hermitage AOC (or any other Rhône Valley AOC) could label his or her wines Côtes du Rhône as long as it met the AOC requirements and he or she wished to. Red and rosé wines are made from Grenache Noir, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignane, Counoise and Mourvèdre grapes. A white Cotes du Rhone wine can be made from Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, and Bourboulenc.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Week in Wine

I wanted to make this blog entry a recap of the last week starting Friday, February 1st and finishing tonight, Sunday the 10th In the past week, including last weekend, a few bottles of wine were consumed. Some wines were had with dinner and some just to drink with friends over conversation. This is the most in one week in a while for me. The last few weeks have been wine-light for me since the holidays passed, sans the Barbera blowout offline dinner I attended two weeks ago with some members of the Robert Parker Bulletin Board.

Friday, 2/1 2006 Three Thieves, Bandit ($8) 2006 Pinot Grigio, California (1 glass with scallops)
Friday, 2/1 2006 Mollydooker Cabernet Sauvignon Maitre'D ($20), Mc Claren-Vale, Australia (shared with Lisa and our good friend Elizabeth Haight)
Saturday, 2/2 2002 Château Pradeaux Bandol ($30), France (shared at dinner with friends for Dino's birthday)
Monday, 2/3 2006 Les Domaines Barons De Rothschild Reserve Speciale ($14)Bordeaux Blanc
Tuesday, 2/4 2006 Chateau Pesquie Viognier ($14) Vin d'Pays, Rhone - dinner at home
Thursday, 2/6 2002 D'Arenberg Laughing Magpie Shiraz/Viognier ($22) Mc Claren-Vale, Australia - dinner at home- Mexican
Friday, 2/7 Mongeard-Mugneret - Savigny-Les-Beaune Les Narbantons 1er Cru ($32 retail), red Burgundy (dinner at Amanda's in Hoboken)
Saturday, 2/8 Neyers Merlot Neyers Ranch Conn Valley ($46) - filet mignon at home
Sunday, 2/9 2001 Fontanafredda Barolo Serralunga ($33) - Had with my favorite Piedmontese dinner: Osso Bucco)

The Bandol, the Burgundy and the Barolo were by far my favorites and are highlighted below!

2002 Chateau Pradeaux, Bandol $28 – Decanted at the table. Dark purple in color. Aromas of lavender and Provencal herbs, funky tobacco, some mocha and trace notes of black fruits emerged from the glass. In the mouth it was tighter and not as revealing as the nose telling me this baby has a little while to go. *** (could be ***1/2 with more time). Mostly Grenache and some Syrah.

2004 Mongeard-Mugneret, Savigny-Les-Beaune, Les Narbantons 1er Cru, Burgundy $32 – Classic Red Burgundy (Pinot Noir)! Light plum color in the center, ruby red on the edges. Smells of the land and soil, earth, mushroom, red fruits and herbs. Great burgundy smells like a beautiful woman’s perfume. Lithe, yet strong on the palate. Supple tannin and stylish flavors of earth mingle with elegant red cherry and strawberry fruits. Beautiful 30 second finish of all of the above! *** Drink now as 2004 will likely not age. Those not used to reading a Burgundy label, here is the dissection: Producer: Domaine Mongeard Mugneret; Region: Burgundy; Appellation: Cote de Beaune; Village: Savigny-Les-Beaune; Vineyard: Les Narbantons; Classification: 1er Cru or “Premier Cru”

2001 Fontanafredda Barolo Serralunga $33 – Decanted 3 hours. Dark maroon in color, red brick on the edges. Notes of tar, red cherry and ripe raspberry fruits, leather and flowers complete the nose. Firm, yet refined tannins support a complex wine with great acid structure proving there are years to come. Cherry, soil, tobacco and oak fill the palate. Excellent finish highlighted with minerals, flowers and cedar-cherry framed acidity and tannin! ***

Wine Purchases

This time of year is a busy year in the mailbox as I receive the bulk of my mailing list wine offerings. Most I am passing on as I have directed funds in other directions for our wedding, condo purchase and honeymoon, as well as conserving room in my cellar for only the best or immediate consumption wines. Speaking of the best, some great offerings did arrive and are no brainers such as Kosta Brown, Quilceda Creek (first time), Carlisle, Paul Hobbs and Bond. I passed on my first allocation of Colgin after waiting 4 years to be added to the allocation list. As the lowest cost of a wine was $275 I passed. Sorry, I’d rather buy a half case of excellent 2004 Bordeaux or 2005 red Burgundy.


For the first time in a while I bought a value case, with the wines averaging $15 per bottle. The following were our purchases at the Wine Library yesterday. Only one from the US and it was Euro-centric in style. I was jonesing for some Bandol but the only ones they had required 2 years at a minimum of aging so I passed. Only one wine was new world in style, the Cocodrilo Cabernet from Argentina made by Paul Hobbs.

Noblaie Chinon Rouge 2004 (2) $13.99 – Cabernet Franc, Chinon, Loire Valley, France
Nativo Cocodrilo Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (2) $13.99 - Mendoza, Argentina
Mascarello Dolcetto D’Alba Santo Stefano Di Perno 2005 $14.98 - Alba, Piedmonte, Italy
Masciarelli Montepulciano D'Abruzzo $7.99 - Montepulciano, Italy
Chateaux Recougne $10.99 – Bordeaux Superior, Bordeaux, France
Leocadie Fernand Averoux 2004 $14.99 Minervois, France (Carignan, Grenache, Syrah)
Tour De La Roque 2004 $9.98 Coteaux du Languedoc, Fontanes, France
Hubert De Bouard 2003 $10.99 Bordeaux, France (80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet)
Les Hauts De Smith Rouge 2004 $19.99 Pessac Leognan, Bordeaux, France
Edmunds St. John "Rocks and Gravel" 2004 $11.98 El Dorado County and San Luis Obispo County Vineyards, California – California does “Cote du Rhone”

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