Posts Filed Under wine review
Another ditty for The 89 Project has me tasting a devil of a wine that good ol’ Wine Enthusiast dubbed a “Best Buy” and gave 88 points (hey, it’s not technically an 89, but it’s close enough for government work, right?): Concha y Toro’s 2007 “Casillero del Diablo” Chardonnay Reserve (Casablanca Valley, Chile).
Speak of the Devil. And just in time for Halloween, too.
You know how for some lower-budget wines, you read the tasting descriptor on the back of the bottle and it sort of, but not really, describes how the wine tastes to you; or worse, seems to be describing a completely different wine than the one that you’re drinking?
This is not one of those times. The descriptor on the back of the Casillero del Diablo bottle is frighteningly (get it?) accurate:
“A crisp [editor’s note: i.e., it’s got decent acidity] Chardonnay [well, duh] packed with tropical fruit flavors [there is definately some grapefruit and melon going down in this puppy] “and subtle hints of vanilla [the oak doesn’t skewer your nostrils like a wooden pitchfork]. Medium bodied with good balance [it’s not a booze-hound from hell] and a fresh finish [i.e., the finish is short but it’s good].”
Color me impressed. Especially for a wine this cheap (about $10 USD).
Normally the 89-point range is the Number of the Beast, the veritable wine kiss o’ death. But Concha y Toro ought to be very pleased with this rating at this price point. If anything, it’s a testament to how well poised Chile is to rule the wine world at some point in the not-too-distant future.
Sure, the CdD Reserve is far from complex. But it’s got the Fire. It has the Force. It has the power to make it’s evil take it’s course!
[Insert trademark Bruce Dickinson awesome butt-kicking heavy metal scream here].
images: (1winedude.com, ironmaidenwallpaper.com)
You know what kicks ass?
The movie IRON MAN. That film devastates when I watch it on the 50″ Sony HDTV in my basement.
You know what else stomps all kinds of gluteus maximus?
1WineDude.com readers! Especially when those readers make wine. Like Steve Lau of Volta Wine, which is releasing its inaugural Cabernet Sauvignon vintage (2005) this Fall. Steve contacted me as a fan of the blog and someone who grew up in my current stomping ground of Pennsylvania, wondering if I’d like to try their single-vinyeard, Howell Mountain Cab.
Howell Mountain? Would I like to try it? Hello! Does the Pope wear a hat?!?? Despite the fact that this kind of thing consistently gets me in trouble in the wine blog-o-world, I advised Steve to send me a bottle with all speed.
I tried Volta’s Cab. this past weekend. And it’s very, very good. The blackberry and plum coming off this wine is outrageously pure on the nose and on the palate, and the mouthfeel is smooth as silk. That Howell Mountain fruit is somehow lush but at the same time the tannins have a laser focus. The only thing I didn’t like about this wine was the high Voltage – at 15% abv, the wine’s booze power is no joke. But I was digging it, and it’s one of the few 14.5%+ abv wines that I’ve really been able to get behind lately without feeling like someone is trying to beat me up.
Still, I hesitated to write about the wine here, because at 291 cases produced, most 1WD readers are unlikely to be getting their hands on the stuff. BUT… with plans to branch out with other single-vineyard releases of Southern Rhone varietals from Sonoma and Riesling from Yakima, Volta might just be a producer to watch for high quality (but potentially high voltage) vino. Plus, they source grapes that are farmed organically so they’re adding to the growing list of wines that are proving wrong my theory that organic wines bite donkey bong…
I asked Steve for some insight on how the Volta got its start and what the winery is all about. According to Steve:
“I grew up in Pennsylvania. I was involved in the music industry for many years, first as an artist on Warner Brothers and then running a label called Kinetic records for Warner’s. I took some time off about four years ago at which point I met my partner who was, at the time, leaving the mortgage business. (Timely exits from two tanking industries I guess).
Long story short, after a fascination with wine for most of my adult life and a discussion with a friend who was importing wine in Amsterdam, we decided to explore the wine industry and went to the wine program at Culinary Institute in the Napa Valley. From there we just kind of dove in head first talking to as many people as we could about starting a new project, finding a facility, a winemaker and sourcing premium organic fruit.
It’s been an incredible journey, one that the more we learn, the more we realize how much we have to learn. Our winery is in Sonoma at a facility which is owned by a guy that is the former winemaker at Etude, Scott Rich. (He makes an awesome Pinot called Talisman.) Our winemaker is a a really cool guy named Massimo Montecelli. He’s a fourth generation winemaker and his entire family in in the business. He was the winemaker at Silver Oak, his brother is the winemaker for Trinchero family’s premium line and his dad was the first winemaker for E.J. Gallo back in the early seventies and is still running their wine making today. Phil Cotouri, our vineyard manager, is the leading organic vineyard manager in the Sonoma and Napa Valleys. We feel privileged to be working with such generous and talented people.“
So there you have it. Good peeps, and very good unfiltered and unfined single-vineyard wine. Plus, I managed to combine Volta Wine, IRON MAN, and AC/DC in the same post. Better quit while I’m ahead…
(images: blog.al.com, bigpond-images.com, 1WineDude.com,)
Sometimes (okay, lots of times) I can get truly stumped by the world of fine wine. And today, file me under the Truly Stumped category, because I can’t figure out some of what I’m going to tell you about.
Now, before I do that, I should state up front that I’m not really one to comment on a business model. But I do know a good wine when I taste it, so I’m hoping that will carry this post through the bits that I simply cannot explain.
And before you ask: No, I did not have wine with aliens from outer space on a UFO hovering above the city of Kelsterbach, or anything freaky like that. At least, not lately.
Aw, man, totally lost my train of thought there…
Are you still here? Sorry – I swear this will start to make sense in a paragraph or two…
Anyway, what I did do was enjoy a media sample of some fantastic German wines sent to me by the knowledgeable folks at TrulyFineWine.com, which eventually this post will be about, I promise.
What I do understand is how good these wines are, despite many of them being “only” in the second class of Germany’s quality wine category. The wines that TFW have picked are big-time over-achievers, delivering some tasty greatness that rivals the higher German quality categories, but often at lower prices.
What I don’t get is why a company that hand selects about 70 wines that it imports from 9 outstanding German producers calls itself Truly Fine Wine, or why it’s located in California instead of the east coast. Like I said, I’m not here to talk about business models.
How were the wines? In a word, fantastic.
The guys at TFW convinced me that they seriously know their stuff. The Sekt (German sparklers made in the traditional Champagne method) that they sent to me was one of the best sparkling wines I’ve ever had in that price category. Their portfolio runs the gamut from By-the-Glass pours to limited-availability Charta and “signature” selections.
To the mini-reviews:
99 Gutzler Vintage Riesling Sekt Extra Brut (Rheinhessen): Stellar trad. method bubbly with peach, apricot, & non-stop creamy yeastiness.
07 Hans Lang Sabrina’s Riesling Semi-Dry (Rheingau): German all the way. Stone, lemons, & honeydew melons. Crowd-pleasing price as well.
05 Barth Estate Charta Riesling (Rheingau): A walk thru a flower garden eating a peach, w/ honey-lemon candy for dessert
05 Hans Lang “Johann Maximilian” Riesling Trocken (Rheingau): Kabam! A world of flowers, apricot, & lime atop of a total Atlas of alcohol.
Of course, many of us here in the U.S. find the German wine landscape to be less than user-friendly. To help you out, TFW has a nice little treatise on the basics of German wine. Many of the selections available from TFW also have simplified labels, which will no doubt assist the budding German wine enthusiast in you to make your selections more easily.
TFW is also starting to get into the “wine conversation” online with a German wine blog, and are part of the Open Wine Consortium, so go friend them up!
Unless you’re a space alien. Because that might freak me out.
(images: 1WineDude.com, ggpht.com)
It’s not often that one receives three small (187 ml) aluminum shatterproof bottles of French wine in the mail. Even for someone who is used to getting media samples of wine, this was a first.
So when a package arrived for me from Volute Wine, containing three bottles of their new “single-serve premium wine” from the Bordeaux AOC in France… well, there was no way wasn’t going to review them…
What’s in a name? In the case of Volute, I’m not sure. Volute either means curl, spiral, or mollusk, depending on where you look. Anyway, Volute’s wines have sleek brushed aluminum packaging, which might score them points with the ‘green is great’ crowd (for the high recyclable factor).
The idea behind Volute, from what I garnered from their press release, is to provide a convenient, portable single-serving packaging of French wine, targeting a relatively young, active wine consumer.
And there’s no doubt that Volute nailed the portability factor. You’d need to stand on one of these bottles to crush it, and even then the wine inside might remain intact and unscathed. The brushed aluminum also looks attractive, and there’s little chance of inadvertently mistaking Volute for a bottle of beer. Volute is offered in three ‘flavors’: White (85% Sauvignon Blanc + 15% Semillon), Rose (85% Cabernet Sauvignon + 15% Merlot) and Red (85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Sauvignon).
So how do the wines taste?…
As in, they were drinkable, and didn’t suck, but certainly nothing to write home about.
I found the Volute White offered some stone and apricot, but the fruit flavors were muted and the mouthfeel was flabby. The Rose had the most promise, with good strawberry on the nose, and red fruit dominating the palate, but it tasted out of balance, lacking a cohesive overall structure. As for the Red, it was my least favorite – some plum on the nose, but muted cherries on the palate, and not enough fruit to carry it through even to the modest finish.
Considering the modest flavor profiles of the wines, but the high green and portability factor of Volute’s packaging, I thought I might offer up a potential alternative for those seeking the green and portable cache factor of Volute, but are looking for something tastier:
At $4 a pop, you’d need to shell out $16 to get enough servings of Volute for a full wine bottle. There are plenty of tasty wines out there that go for $16 or less per full bottle. If you’re concerned about maximizing your environmental friendliness while traveling with a single-serving amounts of your budget vino, you can always pick up a reusable aluminum bottle (such as the ones offered by Sigg).
Open Sigg bottle, pour in wine, travel, and enjoy…
(images: volutewine.com, sigg.com)