Thursday, January 28, 2010

$13 - 2007 Bodegas Volver, Tempranillo, La Mancha
(Spain, Castilla-La Mancha, La Mancha)

Every now and then I run into a Tempranillo that I like. The problem is that if you have ever had Rioja Reserva from the likes of Lopez de Heredia, Muga, Marques de Murrieta, or Aratdi its typically all down hill from there as that is the classic, benchmark representation of Tempranillo for the world. Is this wine close to that, no, but I don't think that was the intention of Bodega Volver and I am okay with that. Most Tempranillo under $15 is best left alone, or I just have had the worst luck with the under $15 category. The Volver is a great casual mid-week wine.

Volver Tempranillo is made in a more modern style and hails from the lesser known region of La Mancha. Jorge Ordonez Selections is the importer, who is widely known for importing other great wines from Spain, many more modern in style and in a great affordable price range.

Tasting Notes

Color: Dark core with purple red edges.

Nose & Palate: Hearty and rustic black fruits and gobs of sweet black licorice mingle with some bramble and tobacco notes. Noticeable tannins on the finish so have with heartier foods.

Satisfying wine, mostly modern in style with a touch of rusticity. This is a pretty big wine, so if you are looking for old school Tempranillo, this may not be for you.

Grapes: 100% Tempranillo


Friday, January 15, 2010

2005 Pax Syrah Griffin's Lair $60
(USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast)

California Syrah can be a dicey game. On the quality low end it can range from
a sappy uber-fruit bomb to a savory, peppery meaty wine deep in Syrah character reflective of its roots in the Northern Rhone on the high. The best from California, to me, show those latter traits of the Rhone, but also show more fruit which is typical of wine from the California. The best examples will show Rhone character, but never be too close to the real thing from France. Not one Syrah from anywhere outside of the Rhone has been anything close to what the best in the Rhone can be from Hermitage or Cote Rotie. That is not a bad thing at all. What is typical of the Rhone should be expected of the Rhone. The same should be said of Syrah or any other wine from any
other region, be it Sonoma or Southern Australia.

Poor California Syrah is one dimensional, over-ripe and juicy showing just the sunshine that is easy to capture in a glass of California wine. Its sweet and fruity up front, flat on the mid-palate, then finishes hollow. And why is it hollow? Its empty. It lacks the natural aromas and flavors that Syrah gives when its made right. Whether it be Syrah or Shiraz, it should be reflective of the place it is from, its terroir. Here we have one such Syrah from Cailfornia: the 2005 "Griffin's Lair" from Pax (Wine Cellars). Pax was an outfit out of Sonoma that had the brilliant idea to make mostly single vineyard Syrah from all over Sonoma County in Northern California. Pax also made a few white Rhones made from Viognier and Roussane grapes, and one Grenache based red. The wine maker and the family that founded the winery have split ways and the last vintage of Pax wines are the 2007 reds and 2008 whites. They both have thankfully moved on to their own ventures so we can still enjoy wines from these wonderful sources: Donelan Family Wines and Wind Gap Wines (former wine maker).

Tasting Note

Bravo! Serious Syrah here from California that is actually what California Syrah should be!

Color: Deep purple red core, lighter purple red edges. Color saturates the inside of the glass.

Nose & Palate: Tar, violets, aromatic flowers, black fruit aromas, nice oak integration as its not very noticeable. More Blackberry/currants, pepper, minty herbal, violets, tar and meat flavors fan out over the palate. Very complex!

Finishes long with tarry black berry and smoky bacon, delicious.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

(France, Jura, Arbois Pupillin)

There is something great to be said about the old saying having to do with learning something new every day. Today that something new had to do with wine and it was my palate’s turn to learn, or rather experience something new and different. I am sure you can tell by the title you are saying “what the heck is this wine?” and maybe closed your browser. If you are still reading cheers to you!

The Jura is a tiny region east of Burgundy in France. It is little known in the main stram wine drinking world. However, in the uber wine geek world that I also live in, the Jura is an immensely respected and appreciated region. Kind of like a band I like called Wilco. From past readings on this region, thanks to New York Times wine writer Eric Asimov, visiting here is truly like stepping back in time. Traditional methods are the rule of thumb. The Jura also is typically known for their whites, both still and sparkling. Reds tend to play second fiddle to the white wines. The modern world has not exactly made its way to this little know corner of the wine world, thus the wines are very different than your average wine made in regions like Bordeaux or California. Based on this introductory wine, I am glad it has not and will try to do more discovering of this region. It is truly unlike any wine I have ever had.

The color? Check! New and different!

The nose & Palate? Check! New aromas and flavors mixed with those typical of multiple other French regions.

This is truly a Franco-phile’s wine delight! Its almost like a Chinon from the Loire meets a village level red Burgundy. Such a cool experience!

The recent prices on Wine-Searcher are around $30, but we paid under $20 at a shop that no longer has any inventory of this wine. It is well worth seeking out or finding a wine from the Jura soon to try out. Your palate will thank you, and you will have added big bonus points to educating and expanding your palate!

I listed at the bottom the exact specifics from CellarTracker, now on to the notes!

Color: Bordering on Rose-pink, light ruby core to salmon/copper outer bands, beautiful!

Nose & Palate: Smells of Bourgogne rouge, or red burgundy, village level stuff. Earthy, pepper, some subtle anise spice reminiscent of Cabernet Franc from Chinon. On the palate silky strawberry mingles with some vegetal green bell pepper and cracked black pepper. Excellent, acute acidity provides great focus on the minerally finish. Drink now.

Vintage 2006

Type Red

Producer Philippe Bornard

Variety Trousseau

Designation Le Ginglet

Vineyard n/a

Country France

Region Jura

Appellation Arbois Pupillin



Saturday, January 02, 2010

Clos La Coutale 2007 $12.99

Happy New Year Wine Forum readers! To kick off 2010 we start with a value wine of a grape that you all know, but from a region many do not – Malbec from Cahors.

Malbec the world over is synonymous with wine from Argentina. It is the backbone of the Argentine wine industry, and the main component of the majority of the red wine that sets sail from this Southern Hemisphere wine region. There are a few examples of great, and expensive, Malbec wines from Argentina, but little people know that this grape’s origins lie in a little know region south and east of Bordeaux called Cahors (pronounced Kah-OHR). Cahor had fallen off the map literally from a wine perspective for quite some time. In the 18th century Bordeaux had eclipsed Cahors and left it in the dust. Only 50 years ago had attention start to come back to this once regarded region that made the “black wines of Cahors”. The wines are similar to Bordeaux in that they are blended with Merlot, but neither Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc are allowed to be planted in Cahors. Appellation rules state that the wines from Cahors must be composed of at least 70% Malbec.

After some quick looks this wine is widely available at many good wine shops, just try In your average wine shop that deals with quality wines, you may find 2-3 Cahors at most. They are not as popular as Malbec, but if you like Malbec from Argentina, I think you will be quite happy with its French ancestor, especially the Clos la Coutale. It's probably the finest Cahors I have had under $20.

Tasting Note

Color: Dark center with purple red edges

Nose & Palate: Rose petals, some iron and earth, blackberry, great fruit depth, ample acidity and wonderfully fine grained tannins. A touch of dusty lilacs and roasted herbs taper off with the finish. Easy drinking and complex enough to keep you interested. This is Malbec with a Franco soul!



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