Monday, March 28, 2011

2006 Purple Angel Carmenere

2006 Purple Angel Carmenere by Montes (with 8% Petit Verdot)
Appearance: Opaque, inky purple
Nose: Deep aromas of dark fruits, mixed plums and berries, with smoky cedar.
Palate: Dry, full body, medium tannins and acidity, 14.5% abv; Rich dark fruit flavors mirror the aromas with vanilla and a fresh crushed peppercorn spiciness.
Finish: Long
Quality: Outstanding    Price: $65

2009 Montgras Reserva Carmenere

2009 MontGras Reserva Carmenere
Appearance: Opaque purple
Nose: Medium+ intense aromas of dark berries with herbal notes.
Palate: Dry, full body, medium tannins and acidity, 14.5% abv; Concentrated blackberry flavors with hints of chocolate and mint.
Finish: Long
Quality: Very Good+    Price: $10

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tasting Notes on some Loire Valley Wines

2007 Chateau de l'Aiguillette "Vielles Vignes" Blanc (Muscadet)
Appearance: Clear, pale straw color
Nose: Clean, medium aromas of peach, orange blossoms, white flowers
Palate: Dry, medium body, light acidity (slightly flabby mouthfeel); Pink grapefruit & less than ripe canteloupe
Finish: Short
Quality: Acceptable+  Price: $12

2009 Domaine Franck Millet Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc)
Appearance: Clear, pale straw color
Nose: Clean, medium aromas of gooseberry, bell pepper, lemongrass & citrus
Palate: Dry, Light body, medium+ acidity; Grapefruit, minerality, touch of dill
Finish: Long
Quality: Very Good  Price: $21

2005 Domaine Baumard Savennieres (Chenin Blanc)
Appearance: Clear, pale straw color
Nose: Clean, medium aromas of apricot, pear and toasted hazelnuts
Palate: Dry, Medium body, medium+ acidity, round mouthfeel; Pear, minerality, bit of lemondrop candy
Finish: Medium+
Quality: Very Good  Price: $22

2008 Domaine Montfort Demi-Sec Vouvray (Chenin Blanc)
Appearance: Clear, pale lemon color
Nose: Clean, medium aromas of composting grass, peach/apricot, bit of canned tuna
Palate: Off-Dry, Medium body, high acidity; Baked pears, lemon, minerality
Finish: Medium
Quality: Good  Price: $16

2006 Le Prieure' Menetou-Salon "Cuvee des Benedictins" (Pinot Noir)
Appearance: Clear, pale ruby color
Nose: Clean, medium aromas of cherries and herbal undergrowth
Palate: Dry, Light body, medium acidity and tannins; Dried cherries with a chalky minerality
Finish: Medium
Quality: Good  Price: $20

Domaine Chanteleuserie Bourgeuil (Cabernet Franc)
Appearance: Clear, medium purple color
Nose: Clean, medium aromas of Mint and strawberry
Palate: Dry, Medium- body, medium acidity and tannins; Mint, unripe red fruit, some medicinal cherry flavor
Finish: Medium
Quality: Good  Price: $20

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

2002 Ayala Perle Champagne Comparison

This tasting was conducted to compare how the dosage level affects the taste in two otherwise identical Champagnes-from the same house, Ayala-Maison de Champagne, and from the same vintage. The Liqueur de Dosage, which is also known as Liqueur d'Expedition, is a mixture of cane sugar and still reserve wine that is added to the bottle after disgorgement which determines the final sweetness level. Legally, the drier Brut Nature style can only have from 0 to 3 grams of sugar per liter, while the Brut style has a wider range and must only remain under 12 grams of sugar per liter.

2002 Ayala Perle Brut Nature Champagne
Appearance: Clear, pale lemon color with good bubbles.
Nose: Clean, low intensity aromas of yeasty bread dough and lemon
Palate: Dry, light body, high acidity, medium alcohol; Yeasty autolytic flavors, lemon and apple. 
Finish: long
Quality: Very Good          Price: $150

2002 Ayala Perle Brut Champagne
Appearance: Clear, pale lemon color with good bubbles.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity aromas of brioche, pear and citrus
Palate: Dry, light+ body, high acidity, medium alcohol; Baked pear, brioche and mixed citrus. 
Finish: long
Quality: Very Good-Outstanding        Price: $150

The two wines appeared the same in the glass with identical bubbles. The Brut was much more aromatic than the more closed Brut Nature. While both wines' flavors mostly mirrored their aromas, the Brut had more pleasingly complex bakery notes while the Brut Nature was more linear. The Brut Nature gave the perception of being more acidic with a slightly longer length. The Brut had a rounder mouthfeel. Each was delicious in is own way.

Tasting Notes on Three Champagnes

NV Duval Leroy Rose Champagne
Appearance: Clear, pale salmon color with short-lived bubbles.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity aromas of berries, citrus, yeast and tomato
Palate: Dry, light body, high acidity, medium alcohol; Raspberry, tropical fruit, citrus
Finish: short
Quality: Acceptable  Price: $21/half bottle

NV Duval Leroy Brut Champagne
Appearance: Clear, pale lemon color with short-lived bubbles.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity aromas of apple, lemon, buttermilk biscuits
Palate: Dry, light body, high acidity, medium alcohol; green apple & chalky minerality
Finish: short
Quality: Acceptable  Price: $21/half bottle

NV Cattier Blanc de Noirs Champagne
Appearance: Clear, pale lemon color with good bubbles.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity aromas of pear, under-ripe strawberries, flint
Palate: Dry, light body, high acidity, medium alcohol; Lemon and tart berries
Finish: -medium
Quality: Good          Price: $55

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Notes from a Burgundy Wine Tasting

2008 Domaine du Chardonnay Premier Cru Chablis "Tonneree" - Clear, pale straw color
Nose: Clean, medium intense aromas of apple and chalky minerality.
Palate: Dry, medium body & alcohol, high acidity; Apple, lemon, bit of chalk.
Finish: Medium
Quality:  Very Good     Price: $23

2008 Bret Brothers Macon Vilages, Maconnais - Clear, medium lemon color.
Nose: Clean, medium intense aromas of lemon, peach, yeast, butter, bit of tomato.
Palate: Dry, medium+ body, medium alcohol, high acidity; Apple, yeast & mushroom.
Finish: Medium+
Quality: Very good      Price: $24

2006 Jadot Grand Cru Corton Pougets, Cote de Beaune - Clear, medium ruby
Nose: Clean, medium intense aromas of red fruit, leather and spice.
Palate: Dry, light body, medium+ tannins, alcohol and acidity; Cherries, smoke and mushroom flavors.
Finish: -Medium
Quality: Good      Price: $80

2006 Jadot Grand Cru Charmes Chambertin, Cote de Nuits - Clear, medium ruby
Nose: Clean, light aromas of strawberry, cherry, damp leaves or herbal undergrowth.
Palate: Dry, medium body, tannins and acidity, medium+ alcohol; Dried cherries, licorice and dark fruit flavors.
Finish: -Medium
Quality: Good      Price: $100

Monday, March 14, 2011

2008 Michele Chiarlo "Le Orme" Barbera D'Asti Superiore

     Barbera D'Asti Superiore is a red wine made from the Barbera grape in the Piemonte region of Italy. It just recieved DOCG status in 2008. To be called "Superiore", it must be at least 12.5% abv and aged for 1.5 years in oak or chestnut barrels.
     The 2008 Michele Chiarlo "Le Orme" Barbera D'Asti Superiore was a medium, ruby red in the glass with medium intense aromas of ripe, mixed berries. Dry on the palate, with high acidity, medium- tannins, medium alcohol (13% abv) and a medium- body balanced with juicy berry/cherry flavors with a medium length finish. An easy drinking simple wine, I served it with Italian sausage/smoked provolone sandwiches but it would also be excellent to have on hand for pizza delivery nights.
     A good+ wine and a great value at $12 a bottle.

Beaujolais Tasting Notes

2008 Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages - Clear, pale ruby
Nose: Clean, medium intense strawberry, hard candy, banana
Palate: Dry, light body, high acidity, low tannins; Red fruit flavors- strawberry, cherry, raspberry
Finish: Short
Quality: Good   Price: $12

2009 Louis Tete Beaujolais Villages - Clear, medium purple
Nose: Clean, medium intense cherry, strawberry, cotton candy
Palate: Dry, light body, medium acidity, low tannins; Sour cherry & lime flavors
Finish: Short
Quality: Acceptable-Good   Price: $17  

2009 Domaine Fessy, Cru Village Regnie - Clear, medium purple
Nose: Clean, medium intense strawberry, blackcurrant, herbal earthiness
Palate: Dry, light body, high acidity, medium+ tannins; Raspberry flavor
Finish: -Medium
Quality: Good   Price: $16

2009 Chateau de Capitans, Julienas - Clear, medium purple
Nose: Clean, medium intense red berries and violets
Palate: Dry, medium body, medium acidity, medium+ tannins; strawberry & a slightly salty minerality
Finish: Medium+
Quality: Good+   Price: $15

2007 Domaine Fessy, Moulin-a-Vent - Clear, medium ruby
Nose: Clean, medium intense musk & earthiness with iris floral notes 
Palate: Dry, medium body, medium+ acidity, medium tannins; Plum & dried cherry flavors
Finish: Medium
Quality: Very Good   Price: $20 

2008 Chateau de La Chaize, Brouilly - Clear, medium purple
Nose: Clean, medium intense fruity aromas of mixed berries
Palate: Dry, light body, high acidity, medium tannins; Tart red berry flavors
Finish: Medium
Quality: Good   Price: $15  

Sunday, March 13, 2011

2007 Bolen Family Estates Merlot

     I am a long-time Merlot lover who was never swayed by Sideways' wine snob, Miles. I watched a Cork'd Video where Gary Vaynerchuk interviewed Eric Bolen about his new Merlot, "the World's Best Merlot". If you are a fan of Gary, you know he is very enthusiastic and, usually, guests can't keep up with his level of exuberance. The owner of Bolen Family Estates managed to do this and really sell his 100% varietal Merlot at the same time. He mentions that his winemaker is Tom Rinaldi of Duckhorn Merlot fame, the quality source of his grapes in the Oak Knoll district of Napa Valley and the entire family's passion for the project. After attempting to seek it out here in Houston to no avail, I decided to order a bottle and see for myself. 
     In the glass, the wine was a deep ruby color with pronounced aromas of red fruit-primarily ripe plums, with nutmeg and touches of oak. Rich flavors mirrored the aromas and were balanced with medium acidity and smooth tannins with high alcohol (15.2% abv). An exceptional wine.
     I am certain that Miles never had Bolen or he would not have hated Merlot. Truly yummy!  

Etude Winemaker at The Tasting Room-Uptown

     The Tasting Room-Uptown hosted an Etude wine tasting with winemaker, Jon Priest, on Thursday. Event goers had the opportunity to taste eight offerings from the Etude Wines portfolio. Wines included two whites- 2007 Chardonnay and 2009 Pinot Gris, four Pinot Noir- 2007 Carneros, 2006 Temblor, 2006 Deer Camp, 2007 Heirloom and two Cabernets- 2005 Napa Valley and the 2006 Oakville.     
     Jon's philosphy is that wine "is grown, not made." He believes in using quality grapes from superior vineyards with as little intervention as possible from the winemaker. This quality is clearly evident throughout the product line.
     I enjoyed all the selections; the whites were both fresh and crisp with pronounced fruit, the Pinot Noirs were each unique- clearly representing their different terroir and the Cabernets gave everything that you expect and want from a Napa Cab. I would rate the complete line from very good to outstanding.  
Specific tasting notes will be presented at a later date as I enjoy each bottle again.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

1999 Schlumberger Selection de Grains Nobles Riesling

     A Selection de Grains Nobles wine is made from late harvested grapes which are affected by noble rot. Each grape must be botrytised before picking so harvest may take six to eight weeks while grapes are hand-picked, berry by berry, during multiple passes through the vineyard.
     The 1999 Schlumberger Selection de Grains Nobles Riesling from Alsace is an outstanding wine in this category. In the glass, the wine was a clear, deep gold with clean, medium intense aromas of honey, almond, apricot and orange peel with touches of a petrol minerality. This full body wine was so well-balanced with a medium+ acidity that it tasted surprisingly off-dry. Honeyed flavors of nectarine, tangerine and marmalade lingered for a long finish.
     Absolutely delicious at $120 a bottle.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Notes from a Bordeaux Wine Tasting

2009 Marquis de Chasse, Bordeaux Blanc
(50/50 Sauv Blanc & Semillion)
Appearance:  Clear, pale lemon color
Nose: Clean, medium aromas of pear, lemon grass and bell pepper.
Palate: Dry, Light body, High acidity, 12% abv.
   Citrus flavors of grapefruit and lemon with a slight celery stick saltiness.
Finish: Medium+ length
Quality: Very Good        Price: $14

2007 Chateau Bourgneuf, Pomerol
Appearance:  Clear, medium ruby
Nose: Clean, Pronounced aromas of chocolate cake, coffee and plum.
Palate: Dry, full body, medium tannins, medium+ acidity and alcohol (13.5%)
    Flavors of cocoa, caramel and ripe plums.
Finish: long length
Quality: Very Good    Price: $48

2007 Les Chenes de Macquin, Saint Emilion
Appearance:  Clear, medium ruby 
Nose: Clean, medium aromas of red plums, smoke, green vegetal hints.
Palate: Dry, -medium body, medium acidity, tannins and alcohol.
    Flavors of plum and black pepper. 
Finish: -medium
Quality: acceptable-good       Price: $40


2004 Chateau Pibron, Pauillac
Appearance:  Clear, medium purple
Nose: Clean, medium aromas of blackberry, cocoa, leather, forest floor
Palate: Dry, Full body, high tannins (somewhat dusty), medium+ acidity & alcohol (13.5%). Flavors of black cherry, chocolate, tobacco and mushroom.
Finish: Medium length
Quality: Very Good  Price: $30

2003 Clos de L'Eglise, Cotes de Castillon
Appearance:  Clear, dark ruby
Nose: Clean,medium aromas of red fruit-raspberry & plum
Palate: Dry, Medium+ body, tannins and alcohol (13.5%), medium acidity. Fruity flavors of strawberry & raspberry.
Finish: medium
Quality: Good       Price: $27

2005 Chateau Coutet, Barsac Sauternes
Appearance:  Clear, medium gold
Nose: Clean, pronounced aromas of honey, apricot and peach.
Palate: Medium-sweet, full body, medium acidity, 14% abv.
    Flavors of baked pear, honey and marmalade
Finish: Long
Quality: Outstanding        Price: $70

Tasting Notes on Two Riojas

2005 Lacrimus Crianza Rioja: Clear, medium ruby color.
Nose: Clean, medium intense aromas of red fruit, dry hay and fresh asparagus.
Palate: Dry, -medium body, medium tannins and acidity, 13.5% abv.
Sour cherry, strawberry and cedar
Finish: medium length
Quality: Good     Price: $13 

2002  Campo Viejo Rioja Gran Reserva: Clear, medium ruby color.
Nose: Clean, medium intense aromas of red fruit, vanilla, earthy forest floor, cedar
Palate: Dry, medium body, medium tannins, medium+ acidity, 13.5% abv.
Strawberry, cranberry, plum, mushroom and oak.
Finish: medium+ length
Quality: Good     Price: $20

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

2004 Quinta de Roriz Vintage Port

     The 2004 Quinta de Roriz Vintage Port was a deep opaque purple in the glass with medium+ intensity aromas of ripe cherry and blackberry with notes of coffee, oak and fruitcake spices with an earthy, herbal hint of wet leaves. It was a full-bodied, off-dry to medium sweet wine with medium+ acidity and high tannins. It had flavors of baked berries, chocolate and nutmeg with a long length finish.
     This Single Quinta Vintage Port from one of the oldest estates in Douro is very good to outstanding, priced at $60. Delicious! 

Lucien Albrecht Cremant d'Alsace Brut Rose NV

     Lucien Albrecht Cremant d'Alsace Brut Rose NV is a 100% Pinot Noir sparkling wine made in the traditional method. In the glass, it is a pale salmon color with medium intense aromas of ripe strawberries with some floral notes. It is dry with a light body, medium+ acidity and medium alcohol (12% abv). On the palate, minerality prevails with a short, slightly tart finish.
     A good sparkling wine at $23 a bottle.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

2008 Lapostolle Casa Cabernet Sauvignon

     I became a fan of the Lapostolle wines when I entered the Uncork the Passion contest last summer to be their apprentice winemaker in Chile. I didn't win but I did discover some really good wines in the process. The Cabernet in their Casa line is one that I have recommended repeatedly. As the name "Casa" suggests, it is an excellent house wine, an anytime drinker and a good value wine for large gatherings. 
     I opened a bottle this weekend and I am pleased to say it is as good as I remembered. The 2008 Lapostolle Casa Cabernet Sauvignon from the Rapel Valley was a deep, dark ruby in the glass. It had medium intense aromas of dark fruits, berries and cherries with hints of cedar. It was medium body with medium+ acidity and smooth, ripe tannins with 14.1% abv. On the palate, flavors of black cherry, coffee and a bit of vanilla persisted for a medium length.
     An easy-drinking wine and a great value at $10 a bottle.

Friday, March 4, 2011

2005 Valckenberg Beerenauslese Riesling

     The 2005 Valckenberg Beerenauslese Riesling from Rheinhessen, Germany, was a clear, medium gold in the glass with medium intense aromas of peach, apricot, orange peel, and a stone minerality with a bit of petrol. It was sweet with medium+ body, medium acidity and low alcohol (10% abv). It had a long length with flavors of honey, baked pear and marmalade.
     It was an outstanding wine at $35 for a half bottle. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

2000 Drappier Millesime Exception Brut Champagne

     Three generations of the Drappier family work on the Champagne blends every year. The Millesime is 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. It is fermented in cellars which were built by the Cistercian monks in 1152. The family prides themselves on their low sulphur usage which not only allows more natural colors of gold and copper to show but also positively affects the aromas and mousse, creating Champagnes that are not only more pure but also have a rich complexity.
     The 2000 Drappier Millesime Exception Brut Champagne was a clear, medium gold in the glass with medium intense aromas of green apple, honey and yeasty bread. It was a dry, medium body wine with high acidity, long lasting bubbles and flavors of honey, brioche and caramel apple with a long finish.
       A very good wine priced at $65.