Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Saint Émilion

Popped open a bottle of the 2005 Christian Moueix Saint Émilion tonight. This one is made from 85% merlot and 15% cabernet franc. I liked it very much even if it was a little bit light. It had a nice medium purple red color that you could easily see through, so it was obvious this would not be a heavy wine. On the nose I was presented with subtle ripe cherries and aromas of sweet tart candy. Very interesting to say the least. On the palate, however, there was nothing fruit or sweet about it. It was oh so vegetative. I enjoy that. It had a medium body, solid acidity and smooth tannins. Red fruits came across so very subtly however it was the roasted beets, cooked carrots and tomato sauce that dominated the flavors. It was a little bit chalky and a tiny bit disjointed on the finish but overall it was a nice Bordeaux red. I bought it for $14 on sale which was an ok price. I don't think I'd pay the $30 or so full price for it.

South Africa Shiraz

I tasted another red wine from the Dark Continent. The 2005 Neil Ellis Sincerely Shiraz. I think I liked the pinotage I had the other night better, but it was all right. It had a gorgeous dark purple color. I really liked the nose on this one. It was chock full of blueberries! I adore blueberries and haven't smelled or tasted it in a wine for a long time. However, along with the blueberries came an awkward petroleum/soak/plastic smell. It came across on the palate as well. It was not too heavy and hand sone nice red cherry and blueberry flavors that give way to more earthy notes on the mid palate. After an our or so the strange petroleum/soap had diminished significantly, but it was still there. It has a really nice mouth feel right up front but was a little thin on the end. Overall

Dark purple red color. Blueberries on the nose with hints of petroleum, like plastic and soap. Not too heavy on the palate with nice red cherry and blueberry flavors giving way to earthy flavors. It has a slightly soapy taste with that strange petroleum flavor that mostly blew off after an hour or so. It had a nice mouth feel up front but was a little thin on the end.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Let's go South

The Pinotage grape has been grown in South Africa for almost 100 years. It is a hybrid of pinot noir and cinsault. I like the big fruit that comes from this grape but it can be somewhat finicky to grow. During fermentation it has been known to produce a significant amount of isoamyl acetate giving it a paint-like smell and taste. This evening I opened a bottle of La Cave 2003 pinotage produced by the Wamakersvallei winery in Wellington, South Africa. This is a deeply colored wine with an inky quality. The nose I would say is terrific with gobs of dark red and black fruits and hints of tropical bananas (as the label says). I pick up cocoa and leather as well on the nose. On the palate the fruit is big and heavy. The tannins are very solid yet not too overpowering. Cherries and blackberries mingle with oak and chocolate in the mid-palate. Unfortunately this wine has a rather unpleasant finish reminiscent of gasoline and plastic. I wonder if that is some of the isoamyl acetate coming through. You don't notice it too much until the long lasting fruit wanes, but it leaves you with a chemical taste at the end that is hard to overcome. Because of that I have to score this wine lower. I would give it a 90 for the up front fruit and mid-palate but an 80 for what it does on the end.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spanish White

I am a huge fan of the Albariño grape grown mostly in the Rais Baixas region of Spain. This is a grape that expresses very interesting tropical fruit qualities that I just adore. When I saw this Oriel 2004 Albariño in my local shop for $11 I had to pick it up.

The wine had a delightful golden color and the nose did not disappoint. It had aromas of pear, pineapple, mango, papaya and all the things I usually associate with this grape. Aromatically it was quite interesting. It fell flat on the palate, however, in a big way. Oh, it had a nice acidity and flavors of pineapples and honey for days. There were hints of apricot and lemon (as in lemon pledge furniture polish). It was very light and overall not as interesting as I expected. I would give this one an 85 if I were to score it.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Here and there

Greetings Wine Lovers! I want to share a couple of wines I had tonight. The first is a German pinot noir. A 2005 Hans Lang Maximilian Edition pinot noir to be exact. I haven't experienced red wines from Germany before so I was excited to try this. Not unexpectedly it had a nice light color and aromas of acid and strawberries mingling with sour cherry candy. On the palate it was very interesting. First you get hit with a spicy black pepper that I just adore. Then your mouth tingles with fresh red raspberries and strawberries. It is certainly light and low on tannins but very interesting overall. The finish is subdued but clean. The acid is nicely balanced. It wasn't razor sharp but did show its presence. Overall a very nice light pinot noir with an intriguing complexity.

I fell in love with zinfandel in the early 1990's when they were making big peppery zins in California. Lately the zins have been more sweet than spicy with tons of over the top jammy fruit. It's not that I don't like that but I miss the more refined fruit and black pepper of my youth. This 2003 Kenwood Jack London Vineyard zin is definitely made in the newer style. Right away on the nose you get huge blackberry jam. You can just tell it is fruity and almost sweet tasting from the aromas. On the palate, however, I was nicely surprised. It was jammy and full of black and red berries, but it wasn't the over the top fruit bomb that I expected. Nice wood mingling with fruits and just a hint of that spice that I like so much. It is definitely zinny in all aspects. It is actually a nice marriage of the zins I remember from long ago and the zins being made today.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My first Grüner

I've heard about this grape but never had it before. Grüner veltliner is a grape found largely in Austria and to some extent in the Czech Republic. The 2004 Oriel comes from the foot of the Falkenstein cliffs. There the soil is a mixture of weatherd limestone and clay. The grapes were picked between October 23-28, 2004. This wine was fermented slow under controlled temperature. I have to say I'm quite impressed. It has a really wonderful pear nose with some interesting hints of spice. On the palate it is silky and smooth with a nice crisp but balanced acidity. It has pear with green apple flavors and a slight stone quality. I guess that would be called minerality. Normally about $20, I picked this up on sale for half off. Not too shabby.