Posts Filed Under crowd pleaser wines
Today, we’re talking wine recommendations, simply because over the last week I had the pleasure of tasting samples of three very different but very badge-worthy Reds that I wanted to share with you. The first comes from old vines; the remainder from old winemaking families. Also, in reviewing these I’ve just noticed that each “review” has a sh*t-load of links, which is either “adding value” or “annoying as hell” depending on your viewpoint (which I’m sure many of you will share with me :-) …
09 Jean-Paul Brun Domaine des Terres Dorees L’Ancien (Beaujolais): As good as many of the Beaujolais Crus out there & a few $ cheaper! $15 B #
I’ve got a soft-spot for Cru Beaujolais, which I find to be some of the most food-worthy wine in the world for usually not a lot of cash. So it’s really cool for me when I take part in a tasting (in this case, a TasteLive.com Discover Beaujolais round-up) and find a Beaujolais that thinks it’s a Cru but actually is an even-more-approachable and slightly-less-expensive-but-just-as-good general Beaujolais appellation offering, with the added bonus of being made from old vines. Brambly, deep red berry fruit (possibly courtesy of those Vieilles Vignes), pepper, and a hint of game, and generally just really f*cking yummy.
07 Continuum Red (Oakville): Graphite & fig did it for me, but w/ complexity like this you can find 20 other things to float yer boat $129 A #
Last week, I joined Philly’s First Lady of Wine, Marnie Old, at Osteria for dinner with Continuum Estate’s H. Stuart Harrison (who, interestingly, was also Opus One’s first employee) and Carissa Mondavi (you will have heard of her granddad). I know that sounds all NY-Times-name-dropping but hear me out, okay?
During dinner, we sampled the `07 Continuum which, aside from sharing the same name as one of the most kick-ass pieces of jazz bass proficiency ever conceived, also happens to kick ass in its own right. The oddest thing about this endeavor is that Tim Mondavi launched it only a few years ago, at what should have been the worst possible time for anything new and expensive. That is, of course, a blip on the radar when it comes to the viewpoint of the Mondavis, who seem to start every venture with the belief that it will last 100+ years.
Now in its third vintage, Continuum wine is extraordinarily good, seamlessly merging the focused power of Pritchard Hill fruit with the more lush, velvety and “open” components from fruit on the Valley floor – and with a healthy dose (18%) of Petit Verdot that is, somehow, not at all obnoxious. I’m kind of amazed that they got it right so quickly, even with fruit that good and several generations of Napa winemaking DNA at their disposal. Pricey, for sure, but worth every penny of it and I hope I get to taste some of this ten or twelve years from now.
06 Louis M. Martini Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Heck of a crowd-pleasing, velvety, tobacco-infused ride for the price. $25 B #
Going to the other side of the Napa Cabernet spectrum, Martini – another (very) long-standing Napa wine family – has been pumping out some consistently tasty wines lately that lean decidedly towards the velvety-smooth-drink-me-now-baby side of said spectrometer sampling. Bottom line on this wine is that I’ve had far less interesting, less complex, and less tasty examples of Napa Cab that cost a lot more to one’s bottom line. Very good wine, very good price, and very good conversation piece for the winos at your next dinner par-tay.
That’s it – short (for me, anyway) and sweet!
(images: 1winedude.com, continuumestate.com)
Tasting Nobilo, Kim Crawford, Monkey Bay and Drylands new releases Or “Big Acid in The Big Apple”
Last week, I was the guest of Constellation Brands (good sports that they are!) who trotted me up to New York city for a media tasting of the new releases from their New Zealand portfolio. A lot of “new” going on in general there.
On deck were winemakers Darryl Wooley and a jet-lag-battling Dave Edmunds to walk me and a few other wine-writing-types through a handful of tastings at the Institute of Culinary Education. Afterward, we donned aprons and threw back a heap of wine as the ICE staff walked us through cooking our own dinners. Or, I should say, walked most everybody else through cooking dinner, while I mulled about and chatted up everyone and generally avoided poisoning the food with my sub-par culinary skills. To be fair, I did pat down a rack of lamb; not only do they need to be dried off a bit before cooking, but it’s NYC and so you never know, that lamb might have been packing heat.
Apologies if this post has a bit too much “weeeee! I was there! check out my blurry cell phone pix!” factor to it – but the approach felt right for recapping the event (and the cell was the only available photographic equipment I had at the time…).
Anyway, highlights for me included catching up with Tish (who was working an event in an adjacent room), and finally meeting the World Wine Guys. Oh, and watching Constellation’s Rebecca Hopkins perform the most perfect oyster shuck that I’ve ever witnessed (see inset pic).
While not all of the 2010 Kiwi SBs floated my boat, the style is more “me” than the heavier take on SB so prevalent on the U.S. Left Coast, and the 2010 Marlborough harvest has yielded some interesting fruits worthy of note.
The yields in Marlborough were down seven percent vs. 2009, thanks to a slightly cooler end of Summer and a dry harvest that ran three weeks late in some places. This had the effect of raising abv levels to some of their highest points ever, though you’d be hard-pressed to tell when it comes to Constellation’s NZ brands, as the wines on the whole were very well-balanced. There were a few badge-worthy standouts from the festivities, and I found Nobilo generally to be the best brand of the bunch – particularly their Pinot Noir, a grape that, after a rocky-but-promising start in Kiwi land seems to be coming more and more into its own. PN clone selection has been an ongoing experiment, but Marlborough seems to have found the right matches now, and plantings are up 930% since 1996 (no, that’s not a typo).
Badges and the full run of the wines sampled are after the jump…
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A short-and-sweet little ditty for a couple of badge-worthy wine recommendations this week. I also want to thank everyone who has contacted me through various channels with their positive vibes for the badges; so far I’m enjoying using them so they’ll be sticking around:
2008 Three Rivers Winery Insania Red (Columbia Valley): A bit hot but pleasingly complex (hello Olives & cedar!) Bord’x-style blend. $35 B+ #
Produced in cooperation with bad-ass hard rock vocalist Geoff Tate, this is one of those reds that has the virtue of being pleasantly drinkable now, complex enough on the nose to get wine geeks talking about its olive and cedar overtones, and carries with it the cache factor of limited production from an emerging hot-spot wine region (and being associated with Queensryche, who kick all kinds of ass).
2006 Hugel & Fils Pinot Gris Classic “HUGEL” (Alsace): I consider it very awesome that someone is making a lively & very non-flabby PG. $15 B #
This wine will definitely come off as too racy and acidic for some, but the geekier among us will love the fact that there’s a food-friendly PG out there that delivers oodles of tropical fruit aromas without turning into a flabby-ass alcoholic mess on the palate (PG lovers will know what I am talking about here).
If anyone out there gets the chance to try these puppies, let me know your thoughts!
There’s a special mention this week as well, one that doesn’t really fit into any of the badge categories, but does deliver some serious goods:
07 Shinn Estate Vineyards Nine Barrels Reserve Merlot (Long Island): Walk-on part by dried fig steals the show in off-Broadway hit. $42 B+ #
Part of a Taste NY twitter live-tasting event earlier this week, this Merlot-based blend from Shinn should bring the smack-down on any naysayers who continue to believe that East Coast reds can’t compete in terms of ripeness and complexity.
Ok, so one of them isn’t that cheap… and come to think of it, the better term is inexpensive because neither of them are cheaply made… whatever, you’ll get what I mean…!
Anyway, we’ve got two badges to hand out this week, both to whites from the sample pool that really impressed me. Here they are, with twitter mini-review attached (along with more expanded thoughts):
2009 Aveleda Alvarinho Vinho Branco (Regional Minho): Accomplished, accessible but slightly more serious big sister of Vinho Verde. $11 B+ #
Hot damn, Portugal has been coming out swinging lately and this white is no exception – it’s got enough citrusy perk to please the foodies, enough fruit to attract the casual sipper, and enough seriousness to make the wine geeks do a small double-take-head-fake after trying it.
2008 Fess Parker Ashley’s Chardonnay (Santa Rita Hills): 3 words – Home [insert declarative expletive of your choice here] run. $28 A- #
This wine has its fair share of admirers in the wine media and, well, I’m late to that party but can now tell you that they are spot-on. It’s rare that a big-ass Chard gives me enough depth and complexity to want to sit back and contemplate it (usually, big-ass Chards make me want to step back and pour them down the kitchen sink). But this one… this one delivers, nearly brilliantly and for a price way under what they could be charging for it if the label read “Napa” instead of “Santa Rita Hills.”