Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wines of Note - March 2010

Hello everyone, March is in full swing and after a nice week of weather we are again stuck with bad weather - perfect weather to write in!  This Wine Forum entry has no specific topic, but will focus on a few wines I have had the past few weeks that would be ideal for you to seek out.  A few of the pricier bottles would be ideal for a special occasion and the value priced wines are of course full of character for any occasion!

Lets start with the values coming from all parts of the world.  We'll start in Chile, where the recent devastating earthquake has caused havoc and left many producers in dire straights with broken equipment and lost inventories of older vintages.  Chile has a diverse set if micro-climates, allowing it to excel with a few different grape varietals.  Carmenere is the grape that Chile has decided to focus on, similar to Argentina and its famous Malbec.  Carmenere has yet to gain real traction globally so the verdict is still out, however success has been had with blending it into more popular Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon.  Today I have included a great Chardonnay from  Chile that is a pure expression of the grape.  This is the best Chardonnay I recall having for under $15 in a long time.  Also from South America, I have included a Cabernet and Malbec from the great Argentine winery Vina Cobos.  As many of you know by now I am a big fan of Paul Hobbs and he plays a great deal into making the wines of Vina Cobos.  

$14 - 2007 Errazuriz Chardonnay "Wild Ferment"
Chile, Aconcagua, Casablanca Valley

No butter bomb here!  Just pure Chardonnay with a hint of the oak aging.  The best Chardonnay under $15 today that I have encountered, ever.

Color:     A crisp gold with some green hues
Nose:     Apples, pears, limes, some honey, a touch of fresh vanilla.
Palate:   Well balanced, racy. The fruit, acid, and minimal barrel treatment are all seamlessly working together here to deliver a great value Chardonnay. Fresh apples and citrus glide over the palate with minerals and acidity cleaning up the finish.

$17 - 2007 Viña Cobos Cabernet Sauvignon Felino
Argentina, Mendoza

Solid QPR (Quality-Price-Ratio). This is not the first time Felino Cabernet has made it into The Wine Forum and not likely to be the last!  One of my top go-to value wines that drinks like its twice the price, Felino is one of our house wines when we can find it.  Felino is a big step up in quality from your standard $10-12 "cab", with a minimal price upgrade.  Try some out and you will be running back to the store for more!  Last year the 2007 was my #2 wine value of the year.  The 2008 from what I hear is just as good.

Color:   Claret like red core with ruby edges
Nose:    Lush currants and cherry, some mocha and spice
Palate:  Ripe black cherry and blackberry mix with chocolate, cigar wrapper spice, some licorice and cassis - great complexity at this price. Medium to full bodied, clean and full finish of fruit, spice and oak.

$16 - 2007 J.L. Chave,  Côtes du Rhône “Mon Coeur”
France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône

Exceptional CdR (Cotes du Rhone).  Classic garrigue and Provencial typicity - this is tasty stuff!  Last year this wine was my #1 value of the year in 2009.  2007 was an exceptional year in the Southern Rhone and it really shows in this wine.  If you wanted to lay these down to age, these would be ideal to do so for 5 years or so.  

Color:   Darker to purple/red hues.
Nose:    Garrigue, peppercorns and spice, crushed berries, some lavender peeks out after a while.
Palate:  Meaty, pepper, spice and crushed black fruits, delicious!

Next up we have the special occasion, deluxe, pricey, over $20 wines.  Call them what you will, these wines deliver profound character, terroir and most of all palate gratification!  Great for any occasion, though in this economy maybe best reserved for a special occasion!

$35 - 2006 Viña Cobos Malbec "Bramare" - 94 Points
Argentina, Mendoza, Lujan de Cuyo

I actually scored this one with points its so good!  We has this with a skirt steak marinated in Chimichurri sauce and the pairing was perfect.  The Lujan de Cuyo was reviewed last year and this wine is developing nicely, I 'd score this a point or two above the last bottle we had and you can read the review here.

Color: Red rim, dark red core.  I like my Bordeaux varietals wines red and not purple!

Nose & Palate: Complexity reigns: Lush and concentrated aromas of blackberry, violets, earth, iron, mocha and toasty creme brulee move on to the palate and coating all corners of the mouth. Excellent texture, viscosity and concentration, truly the best Malbec under $50 I have ever had. Velvety smooth tannins and the right amount of acidity. Super-long finish from the bonanza of flavors and concentration.

I feel Paul's style of winemaking suits these wines really well.  His hand is a great match with the outstanding fruit they get out of their vineyards, weather from the Lujan de Coyo or the Vina Cobos Esate.

This is an immediate re-buy, even by the case at this price. The Bramare Lujan Malbec is a treasure that will last a good 8-10 years if you can hold out that long!

$50 - 2006 Justin Vineyard Isosceles
USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles

We had this over two days and I could not have been happier with this wine.  Rich, plush and oh so California in style, the Justin Isosceles is an extremely enjoyable, well made wine.  Justin Vineyards & Winery is a premiere, and large, producer from the Paso Robles region in Central California.  Across they board they make quality wines with their access to some of the best vineyards on the Central Coast of California.  The Isosceles is a blend of red grapes and is the flagship wine in the Justin portfolio. Here is the technical composition: 

86% Cabernet Sauvignon
9% Cabernet France
5% Merlot 

Color:    Deep red with velvety red edges, almost vibrant
Nose:    Creme de cassis, cherries, caramel
Palate:  Currants, cherry, ripe raspberry, and mocha mix with generous oak.  Smooth and supple tannins finish and loads of fruit complete the finish!

$30 - 2006 Jean-Michel Guillon Gevrey-Chambertin White Burgundy
France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin  

Unlike any Chardonnay I have every had.  Chardonnay rarely, if ever, is sourced from Gevrey-Chambertin (GC).  However, being from GC this is sort of what I expected for a White Burgundy from Gevrey-Chambertin.  Classy and crazy complex.  This baby white burg was way too young and should settle down in 2 years or so, shedding some baby fat and revealing more complexity.

Color:    Classy gold with green flecks.
Nose:     Aromas of cut flowers, slate like minerality, fresh lemon and orange peel zest.
Palate:   Laser like acidity, great delineation of flavor, structure and complexity.  Medium bodied.  This was very tough to unfold the flavors of this superbly complex white Burg.  Up front this is giving lots of minerality and fresh sweet cut grass, not in a green way.  Citrus and some apple take the mid palate by storm, then ever so slightly turn more exotic on the finish with star fruit, with more zesty apple and pear.  Given a few more years, the fruits will set a little better and mellow.  Right now I am not loving it integration, but in 2 years or so this should be doing just fine.  Powerful, complex, rich and very age-worthy red wine (Pinot Noir)  is what the GC is known for so it is of no surprise this wine needs to decant, or better yet wait 2-3 years to drink optimally.

$100 - 2000 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto
Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino

The Cerretalto was exceptional, powerful, showing great structure and concentration. This took about 1 to almost 2 hours to open optimally.  This is another wine I feel was opened a little too early and would show better with another 5 years or so of age. 
Brunello di Montalcino is one of the great wines of Italy.  After the Super Tuscan and Chianti Classico wines this is the most sought after wine from Tuscany.  To me I think it is the greatest wine from Tuscany for its originality and tradition (which has been questioned a lot lately by the authorities).  Always made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso grapes, and fermented in large oak staves and foudres, or in barriques like we see in modern wineries, the wines made from Sangiovese Grosso are long lived and expensive.  Most Brunello average $50-75 in price, but can be found if you search deep enough at $35-50.   The “Reserva” bottling can cost even more, from $65-300 depending on who the producer is.  The Cerretalto  is considered to be the “Reserva” from Casanova di Neri as the wine is only produced in the greatest of years where some production is so good it is reserved for separate bottling.  The Cerretalto spends 2 years in French oak barriques and 18 months in the bottle before it is released. 

Color:   Youthful dark core, ruby red edges
Nose:    Tarry flowers, tobacco, and dark fruits, cherries
Palate:  Great mouth feel, tannins prevalent but not overbearing. Chocolate appears on the palate with the cherry, tar and tobacco. A long finish of earth, cherry and leather. Nice acidity.

This could easily go another 10-15 years no problem, though I’d probably enjoy it more with only 10.

Well, that is all for now everyone.  Enjoy and keep an eye out for a special report on New Zealand Pinot Noir coming as soon as I can rip into those wines!


1 comment:

  1. Trying the Felino tonight. Will let you know what I think! Thanks for the recco.


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