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Month in Wines – November 2015

December 7, 2015 5 comments

November 2015 was an interesting month. On one side, I traveled intensely throughout the month, which definitely affected memorable wine encounters. At the same time, this month brought some very unique highlights, such as Chinese wine and a full range of Beaujolais Nouveau wines (never before I tasted 5 Beaujolais Nouveau in the row). And I can’t help myself – I really love the labels on some of the Beaujolais Nouveau wines – festive and uplifting:

Here is what was “wine-interesting” in November 2015:

1421 Gold Chardonnay Xinjiang China – sorry, no idea about ABV or a price – very nice and classic in its Chardonnay profile, good apple and lemon notes, well rounded. 8-

2010 Tolaini Al Passo Toscana IGT (13.5% ABV, $20? – don’t know Costco price, Merlot/Sangiovese blend) – nicely restrained, unmistakably Italian,  good taste profile, soft tannins, good acidity, good structure. 8-

2012 Penfolds Kalimna Shiraz Bin 28 South Australia (14.5% ABV, $28) – tar and tobacco on the nose, dark fruit, dark chocolate. Tobacco and pencil shavings on the palate, good fruit, good acidity, perfect balance. 8-

2011 Turley Estate Zinfandel Napa Valley (15.6% ABV, $38) – delicious nose of ripe raspberries with a touch of tobacco, a classic Zin. Soft and delicious on the palate, perfect balance, fresh fruit, dark chocolate, hint of smoke, perfect balance. An excellent wine. 8

Changyu Red Wine Blend Ningxia, China (ABV?, about $33 at a restaurant) – definitely a highlight – spot on Bordeaux taste profile, round and balanced. 8/8+

2005 Bernard Magrez Temperancia Toro, Spain (15% ABV, $11.99 WTSO price) – I got this wine earlier in the year from the Wine Til Sold Out (WTSO). It has a delicious dense core, with dark fruit and espresso. Full bodied and perfectly well integrated. 8-

2012 Casey Flat Ranch Open Range Proprietary Red, California (14.8% ABV, $9.99, Blend: 52% Syrah, 33% Petite Sirah, 8% Merlot, 5% Mourvedre, 2% Cabernet Franc) – concentrated dark fruit, plums, dark chocolate, touch of cinnamon and a touch of tar. Scrumptiously together. 8-

2006 Monasterio De Las Viñas Reserva Cariñena DO ($15?, Garnacha 70%, Tempranillo 20%, Cariñena 10%) – out of all places, had it at hotel in Korea, and it was outstanding – firm, well structured, medium to full bodied, lavender and plums on the palate, perfect balance. 8

Beaujolais Nouveau wines

2015 Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais Nouveau (13% ABV, $10.99) – exceeding expectations. A new height for Beaujolais Nouveau. 8-
2015 Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Nouveau (13% ABV, $11.99)  – a solid effort. 7/7+
2015 Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Nouveau (13% ABV, $13.99)  – rivaling Dubœuf with may be even slight edge up. Would never identify as Beaujolais Nouveau in a blind tasting. 8-/8
2015 Mommessin Beaujolais Nouveau (11%–14% ABV, $10.99) – Classic Beaujolais Nouveau. Enough said. 7+
2015 Bouchard Beaujolais Nouveau (11%–14% ABV, $9.99) – see above. 7+

And we are done here. Did you have any of the wines I’m talking about here? What were your recent wine highlights? Cheers!

Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrivé! 2015 Edition

November 19, 2015 11 comments

Geoarges Duboeuf Beaujolais NouveauHave you looked at the calendar today? Yes, it is the third Thursday of November, which means that … Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived! All the wine stores around you should carry bottles with the festive labels, and there are multiple events and parties to celebrate the arrival of the new wine, the wine of 2015.

I know that many hardcore wine drinkers scoff at the Beaujolais Nouveau wine and the whole celebration, considering the wine to be a plonk and the celebration only a marketing gimmick. Speaking for myself, I love to partake in this celebration, as may be the first wine holiday ever created (now we have the ever-increasing number of “grape days” throughout the year, to make sure we have enough reasons to open a bottle of wine).

Besides just liking the idea of the celebration of the first wine of the harvest, I find that quality of the Beaujolais Nouveau is consistently improving, year after year. Thus I happily ran to the store today at the first available opportunity to get some Beaujolais Nouveau. 5–6 years ago Georges Dubœeuf Beaujolais Nouveau was the only option. A few years back, Joseph Drouhin joined the company. This year, I had a choice of 4 wines to pick from, so I decided to limit my tasting to 3.

I don’t want to give you any overall impressions until you will skim through the tasting notes, so here we go:

2015 Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais Nouveau (13% ABV, $10.99)
C: Dark Garnet, very unexpected
N: restrained, fresh berries with the touch of herbs. Very different from the previous years, a lot less fruity. More reminiscent of a traditional Beaujolais or a nice Chinon
P: outstanding. Fresh, open, perfectly balanced fruit, ripe cherries, medium body, medium-long finish.
V: 8-, very unexpected, would never guess in the blind tasting that this is a Nouveau wine. Not sure what kind of magic Dubœeuf used, but this is a pretty spectacular wine on its own.

2015 Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Nouveau (13% ABV, $11.99)
C: dark garnet, another unexpected color
N: more traditional nose of freshly crushed berries, still not overboard, with underpinning of spices
P: delicious young wine, nice fresh fruit, finish mostly acidic
V: 7/7+, more in line with expectations of Beaujolais Nouveau – a very well made one, but still

2015 Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Nouveau (13% ABV, $13.99)
C: dark garnet, one more wow
N: restrained, with acidity and minerality been in the lead, touch floral, may a bit of tart cherries
P: excellent, round, more of classic Burgundy in style, not a hint of “nouveau” on the palate, very fresh with a distant hint of smoke and tobacco on the palate.
V: 8-, outstanding. Again a complete surprise.

What can I tell you? Very impressive. Excellent wines, well made and tasty, and offering great QPR for what they are. If you celebrate Thanksgiving, this might be a great addition to your table. And if you don’t, Beaujolais Nouveau 2015 is well worth your attention. And if this Beaujolais Nouveau is any indication, 2015 might be (yet again) the vintage of the century. Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrivé! À votre santé!

P.S. After this post was written, I tried two more Beaujolais Nouveau wines, so here are the additional notes just to make the 2015 experience more complete:

2015 Mommessin Beaujolais Nouveau (11%–14% ABV, $10.99)
C: Bright Ruby
N: initially a typical Beaujolais Nouveau nose with freshly crushed berries, eventually becoming more restrained with additional herbal component
P: fresh tart cherries, crisp, fresh, with the vibrant acidity which makes the wine show quite complex
V: 7+, well-made wine, simple and pleasant

2015 Bouchard Beaujolais Nouveau (11%–14% ABV, $9.99)
C: dark Ruby
N: fresh berries with a touch of green leaves
P: freshly crushed berries, crisp, vibrant, good acidity
V: 7+, traditional Beaujolais Nouveau, simple and tasty

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