Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chateau La Fleur De Jaugue 2005

Just as with the Gevrey-Chambertain let's have a little wine lesson. When you look at the Bordeaux region of France we see a large river (Gironde) opening into the Atlantic and running through the center having two major tributaries, the Garonne and the Dordogne. Everything you need to know to sound like you are an aficionado centers on knowing these rivers.

The region situated on the right bank of the Dordogne is called the "right bank", the "left bank" is the region situated on the left bank of the Garonne (which includes the city of Bordeaux itself). The land between these tributaries is called "Entre-deux-mers" (French for "between two seas"). In Bordeaux the concept of terroir plays an important role in wine production so as with housing it's all about location, location, location. Now why is knowing this important? Because for wines that are AOC you can give a good guess to the primary grape depending on whether the wine is a "left bank" or a "right bank" wine. Since most wines in Bordeaux are blends its difficult to be exact but you can tell at least major components. In general red "right bank wines" (including the big name regions of Pomerol and Saint Emilion) are dominated by Merlot while "left bank" reds (Key subregion is the Medoc) you get bolder wines with Cabernet Sauvignon the key component. Since Entre-Deux-Mers is primarily a white wine region we'll leave it out.

Chateau La Fleur De Jaugue is located in the Saint Emilion region where wines tend to be a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon (with concentrations typically in that order decreasing). Given that we know immediately that this wine will be dominated by Merlot which will make it a little softer and more round than some other reds which is what we get. The wine is a dark ruby/purple and looks pretty in a proper wine glass :) The nose is a lovely black-fruit experience with blackberries, black plums, hints of tobacco and spicy cedar, maybe a little licorice. This is a med/(+) bodied wine, nice acidity and ripe, moderately sweet tannins that all come together to give a medium to med/(+) length finish. Very pure, smooth wine. Nice value introduction to the fabulous 2005 Bordeaux vintage which should hold up for at least five more years.

Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 125

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gevrey Chambertin Estournelles Saint Jacques 2006

Ah Burgundy, home to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, oh how you are loved... and misunderstood. Actually it's not our faults we don't understand you but it's your danged confusing classifications! So let's take a little jaunt into Burgundy wines before reviewing this lovely red.

Burgundy is located in the east-central area of France and is about one-quarter the size of Bordeaux. Part of the problem with the naming of Burgundy wines is that ownership of the vineyard lands is terribly splintered because of French inheritance laws. As a result you have a lot of land owners with small vineyards who have to sell grapes to negociants who will blend and sell the wine.

Within the area of Burgundy we find four distinct vineyard areas:

  • Chablis: Known for its minerally Chardonnay.
  • Cote d'Or: Broken down into two segments, Cote de Nuits (where the wine to be reviewed comes from) and Cote de Beaune where we find both whites (primarily Chardonnay) and reds (Pinot Noir) with Cote de Nuits known more for red while Cote de Beaune is better known for whites.
  • Cote Chalonnaise: Like Cote d'Or but generally lighter in style.
  • Maconnais: Known mainly for its Chardonnay.

    Some people include Beaujolais but we'll leave it out at this time.

    Burgundy has a rather interesting classification of vineyards where the highest ranking sites (called climats) are designated grand cru or "great growth". Each of the 33 grand crus are granted an AOC of their own named after the vineyard (examples being Chambertin, Clos de Tart, Richebourg, Romanee-Conti). The next level are called premiers cru which fall under the appellation of their commune. As you can tell from the bottle this wine is a premier cru. Don't worry if this sounds confusing, it gets even worse and confuses even the best of us from time-to-time. In fact the Burgundy region contains 100 appellations for quality wines and over 4000 domaines (wine growing estates) and you can make a career studying just this region. What you really need to focus on is that Burgundy red is Pinot Noir and Burgundy white is Chardonnay (in general).

    So what about this wine? As the label says this is a "Red Burgundy Wine" so we have a Pinot Noir. It's from the Gevrey-Chambertain area of the Cote de Nuits so it's one of the better known regions for Pinot Noir which gives us high hopes for this wine and let me say it doesn't disappoint. The color is a lovely bright ruby red, very clean and med/light intensity. The nose is classic Pinot Noir, all cherries and red berries with a hint of oaky vanilla and spice and a touch of lovely earthiness I oh so love in a Pinot Noir. On the tongue we have lovely bright acidity but not racy in any reason, nice delivery structure for the berry/cherry fruit and chewy but not overpowering tannins that create an almost tobacco experience. The wine all comes together to give a med/long mouthwatering slithly spicy finish. Very nice now this wine should be able to age and develop over the next five years.

    Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 124
  • Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Fess Parker Syrah "The Big Easy" 2006

    I know, I know people get tired of me talking about the great wines I get from Fess Parker but I can't help it, they make excellent wines. The other night I had yet another one in their 2006 "The Big Easy", a wonderful Syrah that I think would make most palates jump for joy during the fall/winter seasons. This wine is dark ruby in the glass promising a bold experience and it does not fail to deliver. But unlike some that are pretty one dimensional "The Big Easy", like NOLA itself, is deceptive. It's not a basic, laid back, one-note place. Just like the blues, this wine is layered and deep, bold and smooth. The nose opens with blackberry jam with hints of blueberry, cola, red currant, graham cracker, mocha, and a touch of vanilla. The wine is full bodied, round with slightly dusty tannins and a fine acid structure to carry the dark fruit and spicy toastiness throughout the mouth and provide a fine, long finish.

    This wine is just hitting its stride and should continue to evolve for another five years. Can't wait to see what happens then!

    Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 123

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Schilde Estate Shiraz 2007

    Ah Shiraz, just like the Aussies who made this wine are loud, playful, and energetic so too is this vintage of Schilde Estate Shiraz. It's funny that as I am finishing a book on the evils of "Parkerization" that I sip a wine that is truly in the "New World" style. You know what, screw 'em if they don't like it. Yeah, yeah, yeah I know that the Rhone region is the home of Syrah and that even the most bold of the ancestors of "Shiraz" pale against what the Yanks and the Aussies crank out. The big difference I guess between me and the the others is that I know and appreciate the differences and I take these wine for what they are, not what I think they should be. Aussie Shiraz (at least they call it something different than Syrah, points for that) is just like the good folks from down under... bowls you over upon first greeting but extends a hand to lift you up as you walk to the pub.

    OK, enough of that... there is a wine here to review.

    Very pretty in the glass, deep, dark red with a pretty broad core. The nose does lend itself to a touch of heat from the 14.5% alcohol but it's matched by lovely dark cherries, black currant, and dark chocolate along with a hint of "toastiness". This wine is full, slightly thick but not quite a cloyingly sweet wine, this is richness more like dark hot cocoa. The fruit remains and combines with solid but not overly tight tannins and enough acidity to carry it all over the mouth and linger to a medium/(+) length finish. Quite a lovely experience.

    Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 122

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Argentina Tasting at San Diego Wine Company

    Seems like ages since I've written a review, the curse of having a day job I suppose but the day job does allow me to support my avocation. I was fortunate to attend a recent tasting at San Diego Wine Company where the lineup was all Argentina. In the United States we know Argentina for its Malbec (which actually has its roots in the Cahors area of France) so it does make a solid appearance here as well as the distinctive Torrontes whites.

    Crios 2009 "Salta" Torrontes: Clean, earl, lemon tinted wine. The nose is lightly floral. Palate is "green" with citrus, hints of lime, med/- acidity all coming together with a touch of minerality on a medium-length finish. Quite nice and well priced at under $10 a bottle.

    Colome 2009 "Salta" Torrontes: Another Torrontes, nice compare/contrast in styles. Clean, clear, lighter straw color than the Crios. Nose is more floral with hints of lime and grapefruit. similar palate as the Crios but with a touch more acidity creating another clean, medium-length finish.

    Graffigna 2005 "San Juan" Cabernet Sauvignon: Clean, ruby with a hint of purple in the core. Nice nose, ripe fruit, hints of cassis and chocolate. Med/+ body, fruit-froward, smooth tannins, balanced acity all coming together to give a pleasant medium/+ length finish.

    Tempus Alba 2007 "Mendoza" Tempranillo: Well made wine from a grape better known for wines from Spain. Clean, medium intensity with purple/black hues. Berries and cherries on the nose with a touch of earthiness that I found appealing. Lively palate, fruity and peppery giving a medium length finish. Nice.

    Tempus Alba 2008 "Mendoza" Malbec: Deeply purple, intense nose of plums, ripe berries, hint of smoke and vanilla. Lively mouthfeel, less pepper than the Tempranillo and tons of ripe fruit, long fun finish.

    Zolo 2009 "Mendoza" Malbec: Broad inky core, medium/+ intensity nose full of raspberries and violets. Very fruit-forward, balanced acid and tannins, nice pleasant medium-length finish. Pleasant, fun.

    La Madrid 2008 "Mendoza" Bonarda: Surprising unknown, Bonarda was until recently the most widely planted wine grape variety in Argentina (only recently been surpassed by Malbec). Dark broad core, fruity, ripe berry nose, hints of baked figs and maybe mulberries. Med/+ bodied wine, ripe fruit and smooth tannins, nice med/+ length finish. Give this a try.

    Kaiken Ultra 2007 "Mendoza" Malbec: Dark, opaque, broad core with little bleed at the edges. Nose loaded with berries, violets, figs but slightly "hot". full bodied, juicy, good balance of fruit, tannin, and acid. Quite a buy at $16.

    Ksana 2007 "Mendoza" Reserva, Malbec: Clean, med/+ intensity depth of purple hues. Big fruity nose with hints of earthiness, balanced palate giving me a nice medium/+ length finish.

    Good wines, for something different I definitely suggest the Bonarda jut to try something different.

    Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 121