Friday, December 29, 2006

End of the Year Round Up

I find it hard to share notes about every wine that I enjoy. But there are some wines I tasted during the past two months that I think are of some interest, and I want to share some notes. Think of this as me cleaning out my closet, and sharing whatever I find in there with you...

2001 Palacios Remondo Rioja Propiedad H. Remondo, $24. I first tasted this wine, a blend of 55% Tempranillo and 45% Grenache, at Rosewater Restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn. This was over a year ago, and we liked the wine enough that we bought 3 bottles for our "cellar" at Prospect Wine Shop. This is the first one we've opened. Dark purple with clear rims, this wine has aromas of vanilla, but not as overwhelming as I find in most Riojas. There are smells of spices too, mostly cinnamon. After about 30 minutes of air time the wine opened up to reveal juicy blackberries and plums, and went perfectly with lamb and sweet potatoes - hearty fare. I expect really good things from this wine in a few years.

2005 Catherine and Pierre Breton Bourgueil Trinch!, $17. Trinch is a French word used to describe the "clinking" sound of wine glasses during a toast. This is a cuvee meant for drinking young, and probably as casual table wine - nothing fancy. I really liked it though, and I imagine that it is amongst the best such Cabernet Franc wines of the Loire Valley. Deep opaque purple, this wine smells of herbs, black fruit, and wild animals. Leather, like the inside of a boot, brambly piles of dead leaves, tar, and some juicy black plums in the mouth. This wine absolutely needs food, to me, and with food it is a sincere pleasure. The Bretons are, to me, amongst the most reliable producers of red wine in the Loire Valley right now.

2003 Domaine du Closel Savennieres les Caillardieres, $17. Closel's second wine, I guess, in the sense that it is not meant to age for more than 2-5 years (Clos du Papillon is their top wine). Wines from les Caillardieres are always thrilling because they offer the firm minerality of Savennieres but they are usually off-dry and offer great acidity and a honeyed sweetness too. In this way les Caillardieres wines have something in common with its cousins in Vouvray. This wine, from a so-so year, has been excellent each time I have tasted it, with well delineated smells of peaches, wet stones, and honey, and those same flavors on the palate, also some citrus. Fresh tasting and round, this wine is very satisfying with richer fish dishes.


2002 St Innocent Seven Springs, $32. This is wine maker Mark Vlossak's flagship wine, and the St Innocent bottling that can improve in the cellar for the longest time. I bought two bottles a couple of years ago, and found a great deal on 6 more a few weeks ago. That made it easy to open one with Deetrane, even though we knew it was not ready, possibly even a bit closed down. It was, in fact, closed down, but even so, this clear dark purple wine exhibited the finesse, depth, mix of clean fruit, forest, and animal flavors and the balance of a fine Burgundy from the Cote de Nuits. Yes, it took over two hours open to get there, and yes, I think that we saw only the surface of what this wine will offer in five years. If you are lucky enough to have some of this wine...hold onto it for a while longer.

2003 St Innocent Shea, $32. I first tasted this a little over a year ago and I was not impressed. Much heavier, clunkier, flabbier than I expect from St Innocent. What a difference a year makes! This wine is darker and more muscular than most St Inn's, but it has found its footing. Loads of flowers and dark fruit on the nose, with heavily extracted black fruit, pine, and mushroomy earth in the mouth. A bit loud still with the alcohol, but this was a tough year, no?

2004 Adelsheim Elizabeth's Reserve, $40. Too early, to be sure, but I love this wine and I just couldn't wait. Deep ruby with smells of fresh cherries and cooked fruit. Huge right now, need some years in the bottle still, but with some time open, especially on the second day, the wine revealed some complex mushroomy smells too. Bright red fruit character on the palate with some pine. Some alcohol heat, which would hopefully. Very good wine - could be great.


2001 Lafarge Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chateau des Ducs Monopole, $85 (but I got it on the secondary market for $27). I loved the Lafarge Volnay 2001, just the village wine. I learned from tasting this bottle, though, that 1er Cru does not necessarily translate to better. This wine was just strange. Liquor-like smells of cherry. Waxy candy, one dimensional palate of cherries. Something went wrong here - did a hail storm damage the fruit? I would trade my three remaining bottles for one of the 2001 Volnay village wine.

I also tasted several Bourgogne wines of varying quality. These wines basically hammered home for me the fact that for everyday drinking Pinot Noir, Bourgogne level wines, if you know which ones to get...I shudder to say this, but... are probably a better value than most Oregon wine.

1998 Domaine Robert Groffier Bourgogne
, $14. Nice strawberry smells, some pine too. Very pleasant balance of berries and earth on the palate. Hard to argue at this price.

1999 Domaine Hubert Lignier Bourgogne, $22. Nice clear rose petal color, lovely aromatics of red fruit and flowers. But no fruit at all on the palate, out of balance. Acidity and phenolic bitterness dominate. Maybe it was meant to be consumed much younger - past its prime. You can sort of tell that it was good a few years ago.

2002 Domaine Robert Groffier Bourgogne
, $26. Bright aromas of flowers and red cherries, some earth. Somewhat simple palate follows through on those smells, but lively and clean in the mouth, some undertones of leather after some air time. Good acidity. No awards for complexity, but very solid Pinot.

2004 Domaine Joseph Voillot Bourgogne Vieille Vignes, $22. Pure smells of raspberries and earth, with lip smacking acidity and cherries on the palate. This wine becomes much more complex with air time, and develops some pine and foresty flavors. This is the best value of them all, and you can still get it in stores...and if you like Pinot, you should!

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