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Month in Wines – February 2014

March 3, 2014 3 comments

Here we go again – a summary of the best wine experiences of the February 2014. Reminder – I rate the wines on the 10 points scale, with pluses and minuses, so the wines typically included in this summary post are those starting with 8- ratings (yes, there can be exceptions). Here we go:

2013 Paumanok Chenin Blanc North Fork of Long Island, New York (11% ABV) – I had an interesting experience with this wine. I had it earlier in January, when it was not at the proper temperature (a bit too warm), and then later on another bottle which was properly chilled – and it was outstanding. Bright, refreshing, perfect acidity, white fruit notes with the touch of minerality, medium to full body, with pleasant creaminess. Very enjoyable. 8-

1966 Louis M. Martini California Mountain Pinot Noir (12.5% ABV) – incredible. Finesse, elegance, clear profile of a classic Pinot Noir – complete surprise and complete delight. 10

2012 Fiction by Field Recordings Red Wine Paso Robles (14.9% ABV, 40% Zinfandel, 13% Tempranillo, 12% Petite Sirah, 11% Touriga Nacional, 10% Mourvedre, 8% Grenache, 6% Cinsault) – fresh meadows on the nose, perfectly elegant and balanced wine, with clean acidity and medium-long finish. 8+

2012 Contrada Santa Croce Casteltermini Sicilia Cuvée Artisanale Chardonnay Grillot (13.5% ABV) – very unique and different wine. Finesse, balance, apricot and apricot pit, clean acidity. 8+

2011 Emile Beranger Pouilly-Fuissé AOC (13% ABV) – vanilla, butter, hint of toasted oak – all perfectly elegant and balanced in effervescent, cleanly structured package. 8+

2011 Domaine Jean Ernest Descombes Morgon AOC (12.9% ABV) – excellent earthy profile, good red fruit, good acidity, very enjoyable. 8-

1998 Ceretto Monsordo Langhe DOC (13% ABV) – Mature fruit, round, inviting and seductive. I think ‘sexy wine” will go fine as a descriptor. 8

1999 Philippe Prie Cuvée Love Flowers Champagne (12% ABV) – Great example of the vintage champagne – fresh bread, yeast, toasted apples, acidity – all together. 8

2011 Peter Lauer “Senior” Fass 6 Riesling, Saar, Germany (12.5% ABV) – A treat from our fellow Riesling guru, Oliver – perfect Riesling, balance, acidity, sunshine in every sip. 8

2008 Dr. Hermann Erdener Heremberg Riesling Eiswine (7% ABV) – Another treat from Oliver – and my first encounter with the actual German Eiswein (had only NY and Canadian wines before) – perfect complexity, perfect balance, good acidity – great finish of the meal, with or without desert. 8+

2009 Fat Cat Rotie Red Wine, California (13% ABV) – this is 100% Syrah, and it is nothing short of spectacular considering the QPR ( it retails for $17.99 is you can find it). Core of dark fruit with earthy profile, mocha and espresso, very balanced. 8+

2004 Carlisle Judge Family Vineyard Syrah Bennett Valley (15.9% ABV) – This is Carlisle – need I say more? Dark, concentrated, but elegant and perfectly balanced at the same time ( don’t even think of the ABV – you wouldn’t notice it unless you read the label). 9

2010 Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (14.2% ABV, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon) – classic. Cassis on the nose and palate, touch of espresso, medium to full body, perfect balance. 8

2008 Shaya Verdejo Old Vines, Rueda DO, Spain (13.5% ABV) – one of my very favorite Spanish white wines. In general, it beats Chardonnay hands down, 9 times out of 10 – buttery complexity on the palate, roll-of-your-tongue goodness, round and perfectly balanced. 8+

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I also want to mention separately few of the rare grapes I added this month.

2011 I Borboni Vite Maritata Asprinio Aversa DOP, Campania (12% ABV) – very interesting wine which Stefano brought directly from Italy (it seems to be scarcely available in US). Made from the grape called Aspirinio –  the wine had very nice acidity, coupled with a plump body and nice lemon notes. 8-

2006 Azienda Agricola Vestini Campagnano Casa Vecchia Terre Del Volturino IGT, Campania (13.5% ABV) – another great treat from Stefano. Made from the grape called Casavecchia – very nice nose of plums with more plums on the palate, medium body, round and inviting, perfect balance. 8

2012 Sant’Isidoro Colli Maceratesi Ribona Pausula, Marche  – this wine is made of the grape called Maceratino – very nice with good acidity. I tasted it at the VinItaly expo, so no ratings.

That concludes February wine report. Cheers!

Serious Fun With Wines

January 28, 2014 11 comments

wine lineupWe do drink wine mostly every day, thus we do have fun with wine every day. But then every so often, we are lucky to get together with the other wine crazy people aficionados, usually to celebrate some sort of occasion (Birthday, etc. ), and this is when from everyday simple fun we advance to the area of “serious fun”.

What makes the wine fun “serious”? It is age and pedigree for the most of the cases, where just a quick glance at the bottle makes your heart race. “Wow, this is so cool” the brain sings, and you literally start to salivate even though it will be a long time until dinner will be served and the wine will be opened. If you will look at the lineup in the picture, you will easily get my point.

We started our evening with the 2013 Paumanok Chenin Blanc North Fork of Long Island, New York (11% ABV)  – it had a nice nose of white fruit, white stone fruit on the palate, fresh acidity and overall very uplifting character with residual sweetness on the finish. Drinkability: 7+

The next wine was quite unique and different, at least for me – it was Sauternes, but – it was a dry Sauternes. 2007 Chateau Suduiraut S de Suduiraut Blanc Sec, Bordeaux (70% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Semillon, some oak aging) was definitely an interesting wine. I’m still trying to understand if this wine was already past prime, or was simply in its slumber. It is unfortunate that the Chateau Suduiraut’s web site lists no technical information about the wine, only implies that it underwent the oak aging. The wine was showing as full bodied and plump. At the same time, the fruit was very muted and initially the wine showed a hint of oxidation on the finish, which disappeared as the wine was breathing. I think this wine left all of us puzzled – it was not bad by all means, but it was not great either. It would be interesting to try the same wine maybe in 5 years – not sure it will be easy to do as it is quite rare. Drinkability: 7

And then there were reds. We opened both 1994 Tignanello and 2001 Quilceda Creek, and Tignanello was exhuming the pleasure, while Quilceda Creek was clearly asking for decanter – which was provided. Meanwhile, another fun and rare bottle was opened. I’m sure you know Bollinger. Yes, the Champagne producer. But – according to Champagne AOC rules, even Champagne producers are allowed to make … yes, still wines! 2002 Bollinger Ay Rouge La Cote Aux Enfant Coteaux Champenois was a bit tight first in the glass, but after about 10 minutes, it opened up into a luscious, complex goodness. Dark garnet color in the glass with some orange hue, an earthy nose of mature fruit with just a touch of characteristic Pinot Noir smokiness. Soft, supple and round on the palate, good amount of dark fruit, well integrated tannins and balancing acidity. Definitely a very interesting wine and experience. Drinkability: 8

1994 Antinori Tignanello (80% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon) didn’t even show any signs of age! Dark ruby color in the glass, intense nose of dark cherries with a touch of leather and herbs. Fresh fruit and fresh acidity on the palate, cherries, leather and sage, perfectly balanced and ohh so enjoyable! I believe I tasted Tignanello before at some of the trade shows, but this was my first one on one encounter with this wonderful wine, with the ability to slowly enjoy and savor every sip. Drinkability: 9-

2001 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Washington (14.9% ABV, 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, 22 month in New French oak) spent about two hours in the decanter – but even that was not enough. Dark, brooding, concentrated, powerful – but not yielding much of the fruit, all closed up behind that power. After a first glass, we decided that we were simply wasting this wine, and we moved on to the another bottle.

1999 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red Oakville, a classic Bordeaux blend with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Dark ruby red in the glass, blackberries and blueberries on the nose. Powerful and concentrated on the palate, with black currant, eucalyptus and espresso notes on the palate, soft tannins, very balanced with the medium long finish. Drinkability: 8

And last, but not least – dessert! Yes,the liquid dessert. 1977 Grahams Port. The first challenge was to get the cork out – this is where I regretted not having the Port Tongues available. The cork was pulled out almost completely, with a few little crumbles going back into the bottle, so we used a little mesh to pour the wine. The Port was beautiful – fragrant, fresh, with good acidity, palate full of not overly sweet dried fruit – dried cherries and may be dates come to mind. Perfectly balanced and very very enjoyable. Drinkability: 8+.

And the drop of Scotch to finish the meal properly – very unique and different, Bruichladdich 14 Years The Italian Collection Sassicaia French Oak – the scotch was beautifully mellow, well integrating a touch of traditional Bruichladdich peatiness with round and polished, almost sweet finish imparted by Sassicaia French Oak casks.

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That concludes my “drool report” for now – well, life is an interesting thing, so it seems that couple of upcoming weeks will lead to more of the “great wine” reports.

Whether you had or had not any of the wines I’m talking about here, your comments are most welcome! Cheers!

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