Friday, July 06, 2007

Recent Sips - June 2007

I kept meaning to write posts about some of the interesting wine I tasted in June, but I kept getting derailed. Here are some notes on wines that did not get their own post:


2005 Jean Manciat Macon Charnay Vieille Vignes, $21 (Chambers Street Wines).
I loved this wine back in March at the real Wine Attack Tasting. I asked about the wine but was told that it would not be imported. But then, all of the sudden, there it is on the shelves and at an enticing $21. An incredible value, I would assert. The new oak is very obvious right now, not overwhelming at all, but obvious. So is the baby fat on the very ripe fruit. Delicious now, this wine will be such a star with a few years of age, when everything integrates. Right now there are lively and fresh aromas of citrus and pure water, some minerals, some tropical oak smells. Clean and balanced, with citrus, mineral, and stone fruit flavors, and some tropical flavors from the oak. Good acidity. I opened this too early - the wine was best after an hour open. I will look forward to cracking open the other bottles in a few years.

2005 Lafouge Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru Les Duresses, $28 (Chambers Street Wines).
I finally got around to tasting the 2004 version of this wine, really liked it, and boom - we're on to 2005 already. I am so glad to report, however, that this is just awesome, and at under $30 a bottle, you're crazy if you don't grab a few of them. I've been recommending this wine to my friends who are looking to get into the 05 Burgundy game without breaking the bank. Of Lafouge's three 1er Cru Auxeys, this is supposedly the one for drinking young. Maybe so, but I found this to improve tremendously after an hour plus open, and then overnight. At its best it had lovely floral and cherry aromas with complex undertones of leaves and earth. Very light and elegant, yet assertive and potent with great acidity. A balanced and interesting wine that will be lots of fun to share over the next few years.

Rhone Valley

2003 Domaine Pierre Usseglio Chateauneuf-du-Pape, $40 (Chambers Street Wines).
I'm a fish out of water in the Rhone Valley. I try but I just don't get it. I find the wines hard to sip on their own, and I only think of pairing them with the heaviest of foods. Maybe that's because the alcohol levels tend to be high, or maybe because of the intense nature of the wines, with tar, meat and roasted flavors. This wine did not bring me closer to a Rhone epiphany. Deetrane and Mike really liked it, but I found it heavy and very roasted, especially at first. The nose eventually showed some nice raspberries and dusty earth, and there was a pleasant mingling of raspberry liquor and meaty flavors. I could appreciate this as interesting, but not particularly enjoyable to me for drinking.

2005 Domaine Monpertuis Cote du Rhone Vignoble de la Ramiere, $14 (Chambers Street Wines). This wine, like the above CDP, is mostly Grenache (90% in this case). Monpertuis is a reputed producer making reasonably priced CDP. I tasted the 2001 Monpertuis CDP a few months ago and enjoyed it, but not as much as this wine. It is clearly a style thing, because any southern Rhone lover would find that insane, and me a Rhone ignoramus, I imagine. But I liked this wine because it was drinkable - clear raspberry red color, almost a hint of fuchsia. Yes, there is roasted meat, herbs, and blood on the nose, but the texture and flavor of the wine is much lighter than the CDP. I could roll the wine around in my mouth and enjoy it, it was pure tasting and full of fresh fruit, with fine grained tannins. We sipped it while making dinner, and then enjoyed it very much with our turkey burgers.


2002 St Innocent Pinot Noir Seven Springs Vineyard, $25 (secondary market).

I hope that this wine is going through a dumb phase, because it was most restrained and reserved. Revealing almost nothing on the nose – some dark cherry and spice, but that’s after 45 minutes and enough swirling to make a dervish dizzy. Completely closed on the palate too, although the texture was nice. On the St Innocent website wine maker Mark Vlossak says “Maybe the best wine I have ever made. Drink some now and age some for 12-15 years,” and he wrote that on January 1st 2006. So my “now” might be a year into a dumb phase. Or the wine might be disappointing. Or the guy I bought it from might have abused it. Time will tell, as I have enough of this in the cellar to water your lawn.

2004 St Innocent Pinot Noir Temperance Hill, $25 (Winery).
This is one of St Innocents less expensive (but they are all reasonably priced) early drinking Pinots, and I have always enjoyed it. I drank my three bottles of this wine last summer, but Deetrane is more patient than I. He opened this the other day at a BBQ and boy was it fantastic. Everyone at the table loved it, and this was a table cluttered with several pricey big-name wines. Light and lively on the nose with clean red fruit and earth, and bursting with red cherries on the palate, some nice pine and herbal characteristics on the finish. Impressive balance and texture. An excellent Pinot, and I defy you to find a better quality American Pinot at the $25 price point. C’mon, I double dare you.

New York

2002 Castello di Borghese Cabernet Franc Reserve, $32 (winery).

I liked this wine enough to buy a couple bottles last August when BrooklynLady and I visited the North Fork. I know I should wait, but when we made delicious herbed local lamb skewers earlier this month, it just seemed like a good time to give this local wine a go. I really liked it again! Very different style, to my palate, from the Loire Cabernet Francs I usually drink. This wine is bright garnet red and translucent, with dark fruit, flowers, and cedar on the nose. When I get cedar on the nose I think of Bordeaux blends, and Cab Franc is certainly a part of that. Maybe the producer was going for that style? In any case, the wine was just delicious, medium bodied with pure and clean plummy and blackberry flavors, and undertones of that same pleasant cedar. The earthy leathery funkiness that is usually there in a Loire red wine was absent here. An interesting and highly enjoyable departure from my usual Cab Franc habits. Hard to make a habit of it at $32 a pop, but certainly a yummy and distinctive wine.


Marcus said...

Great round-up. You're inspiring me to end my blog hiatus (I am managing to take some notes during my vacation).

Two of your reviews caught my eye in particular:

1 Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Neil don't give up on these babies, though I would encourage you to avoid Rhones from 2003 because they are going to be the most likely "hot" wines. I really identify with how you are perplexed by many Rhones. I often find the same thing (as I wrote about here.) But I tasted a 2001 C-D-P from Gardine in the same price range as yours and it was the most elegant and rich wine without being a fruit bomb or too intense. It had candied orange and coffee flavours - no doubt to be served with meaty dinners nevertheless.

2 Castello di Borghese -- I read this thinking it was a Italian wine. Even the looks of the label has it fit the bill. Again here I find our palates are similar, so I turn to you for guidance. Since New York has so many more varieties of Italian Cab Franc than Montreal, I was wondering if you could suggest some of them for me to pick up when I'm in town.


Brooklynguy said...

Hey Dok - I am not closed off to Rhone, just in need of some guidance, particularly when it comes to more serious wines like CDP. I should go to a tasting to get a better sense of what is supposed to be happening with these wines.

Castello di Borghese is a great estate in the North Fork of Long Island owned (and for sale) by an Italian Prince of some sort. They make really good wines, and their reserve Cab Franc is one of my favorite NY Cab Francs. What d you mean by "Italian Cab Francs?" If you meant to say NY Cab Francs, I would definitely check out Shinn and Castello. Also check back here:
If you did mean Italian Cab Francs then I am way more in need of guidance than you are.

Marcus said...

Northern Italy produces a fairly high yield of Cabernet Franc though I find it is not well-represented where I get my wine. WaterIntoWino used to highlight a lot of these a couple of years ago on his blog, which has now relocated from New York City to Niagara Falls.

So how's the heat down there?

Brooklynguy said...

I didn't know that. What is the region in Italy that produces this wine? What are the wines called (Italian wine labels are such a mystery to me).

It's pretty hot here, but its in the 90s, not a catastrophy. keep the shades drawn, move slowly, drink lots of wine, I mean water, and everything is a-ok. i would get through this without an AC but the wife thinks that's crazy-talk. So does the baby, apparently.

Marcus said...

Veneto and Alto-Adige are the two main regions that make Italian Cab Franc but I guess anywhere up there in the northern regions is not unexpected.

I like your zen approach to the weather.

Brooklynguy said...

I'll keep my eyes open for them, thanks for the tip. How's vacation going?