Thursday, December 11, 2014

Castillo de Monseran Carinena Garnacha, 2009

I buy a few of these every year and drink them rather promptly. This 2009 was hidden under other bottles in the cellar--a fortunate mishap. It's still fresh and lively but has taken on additional nuances. Deep ruby. Fresh scents and flavors of sweet cherries--definitely Spanish rather than Southern Rhone Grenache in style. A distinctive texture--somewhat rustic--that probably comes from leaving the wine on its spent yeast cells for awhile. This is a practice that is more common with white than red wines but works well with Monseran and with St. Hallett's Gamekeeper's Red. Fruity but not at all simple.

Castillo de Monseran is an excellent value, selling for as little as $6.99 at World Market. And the importer often offers rebates of as much as $12 for the purchase of six bottles. It's a wine to buy in quantity and drink leisurely over three or four years.

Gilbert Picq Chablis, 2005

This is what Chablis is all about. It reeks of flint, salt, minerals and citric fruit. You can almost taste the ancient sea that once covered this limestone soil. The mature smells are beautiful, and there is even more to like in the flavors. Grabs the tongue and wraps its flavors around and around. Give me more.

Domaine Sainte Anne Cotes du Rhone, 2001

This wine has definitely reached full maturity and drinking nicely right now. There is considerable crusty sediment on one side of the bottle, the bouquet is well formed and the flavors are complex and haunting. The spicy fragrance reminds me of mature Mourvedre more than the Grenache and Syrah that make up this Cotes du Rhone. It's a smell that I love. Red berries on the mid-palate. Burnished texture. And a ripe, spicyt red fruit finish. This is not an ordinary Cotes du Rhone.

Louis Latour Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir, 2008

Louis Latour goes outside the Burgundy area for Valmoissine's Pinot grapes, and the price, as a result, is relatively low for a Pinot Noir of this quality.

Deep ruby. Vibrant fruit--cherries, spice, vanilla. More fruit and less earth than I remember from previous vintages. The 2007 was also fruity so maybe the winemaker is taking a slightly different approach. Bright red fruit at a good stage for drinking. Just enough tannin to give it backbone. Probably not for cellaring.

Chateau Pesquie Terrasses Ventoux, 2011

I like Ventoux wines, in part because they offer dramatic fruit smells and flavors for less than $10 a bottle. I don't buy much Pesquie because it typically sells for more than $10 and differs from other Ventoux wines (like Altitude 500 and La Vieille Ferme) in style more than in quality. Nevertheless, I have never been disappointed by Pesquie Terrasses.

Dark, bluish purple. Really fragrant--black and red berries, pepper, blue plums and garrigue. Same on the palate with a good peppercorn flavor on the mid-palate. Fills the mouth, and the 14.5% alcohol provides body and texture more than heat. Very pleasantly dry on the finish. I really love the impression this wine leaves on the finish.

Chateau Grand Traverse Old Mission Peninsula Pinot Grigio, 2013

Old Mission Peninsula--that little finger of land that juts out into Lake Michigan north of  Traverse City--is a special place for growing Riesling. As this bottle demonstrates, Old Mission is also a good source of Pinot Gris grapes. Chateau Grand Traverse's Pinot Grigio follows the Italian model, I guess, but there are still some hints of the fuller bodied, richer flavored Alsace approach.

 Very bright yellow. Strong scents of ripe pear and honeydew melon. Same on the tongue. Medium bodied, as you might expect from a Pinot Gris; acidity and freshness of a Northern Italian Pinot Grigio. What I like most is the pear-like finish that hangs on and tempts you back for more.

This is usually available for about $10 to $12 and a good value.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ca' Rome' Romano Marengo Barbaresco, 1999

This 1999 Barbaresco was a worthy companion to the 1970 Barolo (see below) that preceded it. Nebbiolo, in my opinion, is one of the best wine grapes for aging, developing a range of subtle and constantly changing smells and flavors.I'm sure this Barbaresco will probably continue to age well, but it is too good to resist right now.

The color is deep and dark, albeit with some orange tones around the rim, as is typical of Piedmont Nebbiolo and definitely not a sign of advanced age. Less power and more subtlety--but that is one of the differences between Barolo and Barbaresco at any age. Same range of smells and flavors: dark cherry, roses and hints of dark minerals. As you drink this wine, you are struck by its dryness; yet, there is a powerful streak of sweetness that seems to weave its way right back along your tongue, pressing gently but persistently into your taste buds. Sweetness and dryness dancing across your palate and leaving a finish that goes on and on. Oh yes.