Showing posts with label Alicante Bouschet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alicante Bouschet. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Gambero Rosso Italian Wine Masterclass - Part Three

Virtual wine tasting events are no stranger to me, especially in the era of COVID-19.  Get the box, open the box, log on and taste from home.  No social distancing to strain the process, no mask needed.  I was invited to take part in a Zoom gathering recently along with two dozen other wine writers.  The event was called the Tre Bicchieri Web Show, which featured twelve different Italian wines from various producers.  My shipment was delayed several times - it came from Italy, after all - so I didn't get to take part, but the box finally arrived and I was able to taste the wines inside.

The Tre Bicchieri Web Show was presented by Gambero Rosso, a Rome-based Italian wine and food magazine that was founded in 1986.  It was their first-ever Master Class, which indicates that there are more planned.

The interactive event was hosted by Lorenzo Ruggeri, the wine guide's international editor, with comments along the two-hour journey from each winery's representative.  This is the final of three articles on Now And Zin Wine which feature the wines that were tasted.  

Tenuta Monteti Caburnio 2015 

The Baratta family owns Tuscany's Tenuta Monteti in Capalbio, in the southern part of Maremma, very close to the sea.  The winery was founded in 1998 and it deals exclusively with international varieties like Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Alicante-Bouschet.  All the Monteti wines are aged in small wood barrels. 

The 2015 Caburnio was made from 50% estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 25% Alicante Bouschet.  The individual grapes were vinified and aged separately, then blended, then aged a year in the bottle.

Ruggeri says the area is in the wildest part of Tuscany, where the forests are populated mostly by wild animals.  The region, he says, is too warm for Sangiovese or white wine grapes, but great for the Bordeaux varieties.  Caburnio has alcohol at 14% abv and a retail price of $21.

This wine is dark enough, that's for sure.  It is a blend of Cab, Merlot and Alicante Bouschet.  No light gets through it when I hold it to the light.  It smells dark, too.  Cassis and tar fight for first place, while blackberry and oak spice aromas jostle from behind.  The palate is stately, with a muscular elegance structured by firm tannins, flinty minerals and a lively acidity.  Bring on the steaks, as big as you like.

Coppi Gioia del Colle Primitivo Senatore 2015

Now we come to Puglia - the heel of the boot, the land of Primitivo.  The winery which is now Cantine Coppi was founded in 1882 and taken over by the Coppi family in 1976.  It sits between Turi and Gioia del Colle, where the vineyards feature. traditional varieties like Primitivo, Aleatico, Negroamaro, Malvasia Nera, Malvasia Bianca, Falanghina and Verdeca.  On the label, you'll see an artistic representation of an elevation map of the property.

The 2015 Coppi Senatore was named after Senator Antonio Michele Coppi, who founded the company and makes the wine.  It was made completely from Primitivo grapes which were grown on their chalky, clay hillsides.  The de-stemmed fruit was crushed and put into fermenters before being transferred to steel tanks after separating the juice from the skins.  Aging took place in barrels of Slavonian oak for about a year.  Alcohol hits only 13.5% abv and the price is $30.

This Primitivo shows a medium-dark tint in the glass and a nose that is all fruit, all the time.  Cherry aromas are joined by notes of plum and cassis, with just a hint of oak.  After it sits for a bit, a whiff of smoke gathers at the top of the glass.  The palate shows a lot of earthiness and a chalky quality, which we can chalk up to minerality.  There is a lengthy finish that turns slightly tart on the fade.  I would love to have this wine with some nice Italian sausages and pasta, or a meatball sub. 

Còlpetrone Montefalco Sagrantino 2012 

Còlpetrone is in Montefalco, right in the middle of Umbria, which is right in the middle of Italy.  Under the umbrella of Tenute del Cerro, they are known for producing wines of note from the ancient Sagrantino grape and the white Grechetto.  The winery was founded in 1995 in the hilly region of clay loam soil.  

The 2012 Còlpetrone Montefalco Sagrantino is a full varietal wine, 100% Sagrantino, which was racked into French oak barrels after fermentation for a full malolactic fermentation.  It was aged in the wood for a year and another six months in the bottle.  The winery rep noted the big spiciness in the wine, adding that it is unusual to think of Sagrantino as elegant, but that this one earns the description.  Ruggeri said, it is "not showing off, the wine speaks in a low voice."  One of the participants commented that it is like meat in a glass.  Alcohol sits at 14% abv and the list price is $30.

This 2012 wine is extremely dark in the glass - inky - and bears a nose of beautiful blackberry and black plum.  There is a savory ride-along for good measure.  The sip reveals a wine with a tingling acidity and very firm tannins - eight years old and it still has plenty of fight left in it.  Bring on the rib eye, bring on the porterhouse… this wine will tame all of them.

Tenuta Sant'Antonio Amarone della Valpolicella Campo dei Gigli 2015 

The Castagnedi brothers' estate extends along a ridge in Veneto that separates the Mezzane and Marcellise valleys.  They also have vineyards to the east, towards the Illasi valley.  Tenuta Sant’Antonio was represented on the virtual event by Armando Castagnedi, who said the property's marly limestone soil is so deprived of nutrients that it is white.  Accordingly, the vines have to work to stretch their roots deep to find the richer dirt.  

The 2015 Amarone della Valpolicella was made from a mix of Italian grape varieties: 70% Corvina and Corvinone, 20% Rondinella, 5% Croatina and 5% Oseleta.  The grapes were dried for three months for raisining before being pressed late in the year.  The wine was vinified in new 500-litre French oak casks.  Afterward, the aging process took place in new casks for three years.  Tasters mentioned barbecue notes, cinnamon and fruits.  The alcohol content is 16% abv and the retail price is $73.

This wine speaks loudly through its minerals, but does not need to shout.  The dark liquid gives off aromas of meat, fine cigars, dried fruit and a slight raisiny note.  It is a complete joy to smell, let alone to drink.  The palate is silky smooth, with tannins on the back end.  Dark fruit dominates the flavor profile, but there is a hefty chunk of savory minerality that elbows through - ever so elegantly.  Pair it with pasta, marinara, Bolognese, or just sip it and make dinner wait.


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Monday, November 23, 2015

Lodi Wines: Outside The Box For Thanksgiving

Pairing wine and food is easy, but many people feel they don’t have adequate skills to select the perfect wine for a holiday feast. It can be as simple as “drink what you like,” or as difficult as you care to make it. Wine is an expansive topic, and it will take up all your extra time if you let research get just a little bit out of control.

For those who don’t have the time - or inclination - to become heavily invested in wine and food pairing minutiae for the holidays, the nice folks at the  Lodi Winegrape Commission put together a virtual tasting experience which examined a few “outside the box” wines for Thanksgiving. The social media event took place on the BrandLive platform, and I was invited to participate.

The tasting session was hosted by Stuart Spencer, owner and winemaker at St. Amant Winery and Program Manager at the Lodi Winegrape Commission, and featured Layne Montgomery, winemaker at m2 Wines,  Susan Tipton, owner and winemaker at Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards and Adam Mettler, general manager/winemaker at Michael David Winery.

The wines tasted were:

Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards Viognier 2014
Michael David Winery Symphony 2014
m2 Wines Alicante Bouschet 2013
Mettler Family Vineyards Petite Sirah 2013

These wines are available from the respective wineries, and also as a set from the Lodi Winegrape Commission’s online store. There is a special price of $80 for all four wines when purchased from LodiWine. The recipes for the pairing suggestions are also available there.



Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards Viognier 2014, paired with Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque

Susan Tipton fell in love a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and from that point on, she was a white wine fan. Her Acquiesce Winery produces only white wines and rosés of the Mokelumne River appellation.  Her wines are all about the grapes - handpicked and whole-cluster pressed - with no influence of oak to alter what nature has given.  The '14 Acquiesce Viognier retails for $23, carries an alcohol number of 13.5% abv and comes bottled under cork. The cuttings from which her vines started are from Tablas Creek, which originated in the vineyards of Château de Beaucastel, in the Rhône Valley. By the way, you may find it hard to throw away or recycle Tipton's pretty, French bottles.

During the virtual tasting event, @MsPullThatCork referenced the soup recipe which was paired with this wine. "We made the bisque," she tweeted. "Great roasted squash, spice, creamy flavors and texture." @Fiery01Red loved the "surprisingly vibrant acidity w/a grape that tends to be low in acidity. Very nice Viognier!" @ThisMyHappiness summed it up with, "Elegant #wine!" Couldn’t agree more.

The Acquiesce ‘14 is one nice Viognier. This is Susan Tipton's calling card. Mellow yellow gold in the glass, the wine gives a beautiful nose of apples and lemons with a floral accent. The palate is as refreshing as you would want a wine to be. Citrus-y apples, a nice savory streak and a strident acidity are a complete joy.

The roasted butternut squash bisque recommended by Lodi Winegrowers is a great match, and so is my wife’s rustic potato, carrot and cabbage soup. Peel and eat shrimp would be fantastic, as would a Cobb salad.




Michael David Winery Symphony 2014, paired with Peach Cobbler and French Vanilla Ice Cream

A true California grape, Symphony was created by UC Davis viticulturist Dr. Harold Olmo. He began the 35-year process of crossing Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris in 1948. The grape was made available commercially in 1981, patented in '83. It registers a low 11% abv on the alcohol scale - Mettler says it is closer to 10% - and carries a retail sticker price of $15.

The '14 Michael David Symphony is frizzante in the glass, showing some fine bubbles around the rim. The golden color looks nice, while the nose gives up some muted apricot and lanolin notes. There is a savory aroma that cuts right down the middle. On the palate, things get kinda sweet, with apples and lemons - but the acidity is fresh and zippy. The finish brings to mind a margarita, go figure. Layne Montgomery quipped during the event that the wine "smells like Thanksgiving in a glass."

You can pair this with spicy dishes - maybe chicken enchiladas or pork in a chipotle sauce. Thai and Chinese food will also serve it well. I would like it with an anchovy Caesar salad. LodiWine likes it with peach cobbler and French vanilla ice cream.



m2 Wines Alicante Bouschet St. Jenise’s Vineyard, 2013, paired with Marinated and Smoked Paprika Grilled Pork Tenderloin

With its roots in France, the Alicante Bouschet grape was widely planted in California in the early 20th century. Winemakers loved the deep pigmentation and used it to add color to wines that appeared too thin. After Prohibition fell, the grape became less popular and it is now a novelty item in just a few California vineyards. Varietal examples that do not limit Alicante Bouschet to the status of a blending grape are pretty rare.

Montgomery explained that "the vines are only six to eight years old, but the wine drinks a lot older." On social media, @camron94 gushed, "Alicante is truly a beautiful and interesting wine that is underutilized as a stand alone varietal." Couldn’t have said it better myself. On the panel, Tipton likened the wine to "a Pinot Noir on steroids." It also reminds her of Sangiovese.

The back label indicates, "this is not a wine for the faint of heart." Robust and meaty, the wine shows only moderate alcohol, 13.7% abv and sells for $26. When asked what he tells his customers to pair with this wine, Montgomery showed his entertainer roots with a fast comeback, "Another bottle!" That’s a pretty good suggestion, too.

The '13 m2 Alicante Bouschet St. Jenise's Vineyard is as dark as dark gets. The inky indigo color does, indeed, look like it means business. On the nose, you get aromas of cassis and a fistful of spice - clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and anise play into the profile. The palate shows monstrous black fruit - blackberry and plum - with plenty of spices getting plenty of play. The spicy character lasts into the finish and stays awhile.

If a rib roast is on your holiday table, this should be, too. It will pair with lamb just as nicely. The Lodi Wine folk say they like it with a smoked paprika pork chop, and now I want some of that.



Mettler Family Vineyards Petite Sirah 2013, paired with Slow Braised Beef Short Ribs on Creamy Yukon Gold Parsnip Potatoes

Back in the 19th century, French botanist François Durif had a home nursery of different grape varieties, including Peloursin and Syrah. Those two vines cross-pollinated, resulting in a grape that was named Durif, which we know today as Petite Sirah. The US government recognizes the two names as synonymous, although the grapes are technically different. In fact, it is noted that the majority of Petite Sirah plantings in California are actually Durif. It was revealed during the tasting session that the Lodi appellation is the number one producer of Petite Sirah in California.

On Twitter, @wineandgoodfood chirped, "The @MettlerWines Petite Sirah is super rich and ripe," while Montgomery threw out another one-liner:  "If purple had a flavor. this would be it." @winebratsf got all eclectic on us: "It tastes like an AC/DC velvet blanket wall hanging." Kudos, by the way, for the descriptor of the evening.

Six generations of Lodi winegrowers can all be proud of this varietal wine. The ‘13 Mettler Petite Sirah shows very dark color and very dark aromas. Black and blue fruit gets help from a savory streak full of leather, tobacco and black olives. That savory feel carries over onto the palate, which is as dark as the color and smells have advertised. This is a beautiful and complex example of Petite Sirah, sometimes fancy, sometimes rustic. It’s an elegant wine masquerading as a roughneck. It hits 15.5% abv and retails for $25.

This wine will pair well with the short ribs suggested, as it will with any type of beef dish. I would love it with a beef stew on a wintry day.



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Friday, September 13, 2013

The Wines Of Jean-Luc Colombo

Jean-Luc Colombo
French winemaker Jean-Luc Colombo was in Los Angeles recently for a series of tastings and dinners to promote his wines.  The walk-around tasting at Monsieur Marcel in Beverly Hills was staged by Ian Blackburn's Learn About Wine education group.  Blackburn greeted me with the news that Colombo was in rare form.  “He won’t stop talking about non-irrigated farming.  He says irrigation destroys terroir.”  Well, he’s had a lifetime to think about it.

Colombo became interested in wine at an early age.  Back in Marseilles, he started a quest to make wine which was as good as his mother’s cooking.  Colombo is a devotee of the Syrah grape, so he was quite naturally drawn to the northern Rhone Valley.  The first vineyards he bought for himself were on a granite hillside overlooking the tiny village of Cornas.  They call it the birthplace of Syrah - in fact, Syrah is the only grape planted there.  That’s alright with Colombo.

Ian Blackburn
The winemaker shook things up a bit in Cornas with his fruit-forward tendencies, which flew in the face of traditional ways.  Colombo thought wine shouldn’t be locked away for years in a barrel before being released and enjoyed.  He is described on the winery website as having deep “respect for the unique qualities of each and every terroir, and uncompromising support of a sensible alliance between traditional approaches to vineyard management and a modern understanding of the life cycle of the vine.”  He also departs from tradition by labeling his wines varietally - Syrah, Viognier, etc.

Colombo later acquired vineyards in the Southern Rhône Valley and Languedoc regions.  He farms his vineyards organically and sees his grapes not as kings of the hillside, but residents of it.  His wines are imported by Palm Bay International.  The prices listed here are retail, found online, and they may not be exact.  He is what I tasted:

WHITE

La Belle de Mai Saint-Peray 2011, $42
Saint-Peray is in the Northern Rhône, the mirror image of Cornas.  All the wines of Saint-Peray are white.  La Belle de Mai is 80% Roussanne and 20% Marsanne taken from 80-year-old vines on steep limestone and granite slopes.  Fermentation and malolactic takes place in mostly neutral barrels, while aging on the lees last ten months with weekly stirring.  This method of leaving the wine in contact with the yeast during aging brings out some amazing aromas of nuts, flowers and lemons.  This wine is very full-bodied, creamy and buttery.  Colombo says he is “very proud of this wine.”

Les Abeilles de Colombo 2012, $12
This white from the Côtes du Rhône is 80% Clairette and 20% Roussanne.  Stainless steel fermentation, then aged on the lees - 15% in barrels and 85% in tanks.  Apple, floral, mineral.  Very fresh.

La Redonne 2011
Another Côtes du Rhône blanc, the grapes are 70% Viognier and 30% Roussanne.  Fermented in steel tanks, 20% is aged on the lees in barrels with the remainder in steel.  Minerals, oak, floral, honey.

La Violette Viognier 2011, $14
This is 100% Viognier from the Languedoc region in southern France.  Fermentation takes place in steel tanks (80%) and barrels (20%).  The wine ages for six months - on the lees, of course - with only 70% in tanks and the rest in barrels.  Minerals, peaches, almonds.

ROSÉ

Cape Bleue Rosé 2012, $12
This pink wine is made from 67% Syrah and 33% Mourvèdre grapes from Provence.  The traditional saignée method of extraction - bleeding the juice from the grape skins - is followed by two or three weeks fermentation in steel tanks.  Minerals and strawberry, nice savory notes.

RED

La Louvée Syrah Cornas 2010, $50
This single-vineyard wine is made from 70-year-old vines growing in granite soils.  It is fermented in stainless steel tanks with skin contact of one month, then aged 22 months in oak -  15% of which is new.  Extremely floral blueberry nose, mineral-driven blueberry palate.  Oak spice stays around on the finish.

Les Ruchets Cornas 2010 Syrah, $60
These grapes are from 90-year-old vines in a single vineyard on ancient Roman terraces.
Stainless steel fermentation precedes aging of 22 months in oak, a third of it new.  Minerals, delightful dark fruit, oak spice.

Terres Brulees Cornas 2010 Syrah, $50
Fermented in steel, with 21 months in oak - 15% new, 85% neutral.  Burnt caramel nose, blueberry with a caramel edge on the palate.  Extremely rich and completely delightful.

Les Bartavelles Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2011,
45% Syrah, 35% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre, the grapes are grown in the CDP's galet soil.  Stainless steel fermentation, then 18 months in neutral oak.  Minerals, berries, spice.  Lovely, perfect use of oak..

La Violette Syrah 2011, $15
100% Syrah from Languedoc.  Fermentation in tanks is backed up with a year of aging, ten percent in oak and the remainder in steel and concrete tanks.  Floral nose, mineral palate.  Black and blue berries, herbs on finish.



Monday, February 11, 2013

Wine Artisans Of The Santa Lucia Highlands


The Santa Lucia Highlands AVA of Monterey County is a cool climate growing region, known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wine grapes.  The folks who promote the appellation go as far as to say they are California’s “premier cool-climate winegrowing district,” although I’m sure the PR firms representing the Russian River Valley, the Sonoma Coast, Anderson Valley and the Sta. Rita Hills would have something to say about that.

The cool climate comes courtesy of the geographical structure of the area.  The SLH AVA is located on the northeast side of the Santa Lucia Mountains.  The Salinas River Valley channels the cool air from Monterey Bay across the mountainside vineyards.  This gives the region a long, cool growing season, perfect for Pinot.

Artisans of some of the 50 vineyards of the SLH were in Los Angeles - Century City, to be precise - on Tuesday February 5, 2013.  They poured their wines at Craft, superstar chef Tom Colicchio’s Los Angeles creation.

The pioneers of the SLH - those who planted in the early 1970s - have been joined over the years by others in the region’s growth spurts during the ‘80s and ‘90s.  The AVA’s website says Rich and Claudia Smith (Paraiso,) the McFarland’s (Sleepy Hollow,) Phil Johnson (La Estancia) and Nicky Hahn (Smith & Hook) were the leaders who discovered that the conditions in this area were exceptional.

The vineyard acreage of the SLH is planted largely to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but smatterings of other grape varieties are around - Riesling, Syrah, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec, Gewürztraminer, Muscat Canelli, Merlot, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and a few others fill out the vineyards.

I sampled at about a dozen of the tables here, and I found that the Pinot Noirs - with some exceptions - were more savory than fruity, and the Chardonnays were mostly rather oaky.  That wasn't always the case, and those that minimized the oak effect benefited from it.

Grape varieties other than Pinot and Chardonnay were few and far between, but they proved a lively minority.  Around the room, I kept hearing the homily, "When I want a Pinot, I look for SLH."  I have also heard variations on that theme about other Pinot areas in California and Oregon, but after tasting a few SLH Pinots, I'm sure these comments are quite heartfelt.  The quality of the Pinots poured here were uniformly high.

August West
Pinot Noir SLH 2011, $32 - This blend of Rosella's and Sierra Mar Vineyards bears a fragrant nose, and a light palate struck with raspberry and tea.  A favorite from Deadhead winemaker Ed Kurtzman.
Pinot Noir Rosella's Vineyard 2011, $45 - An extremely elegant single vineyard effort, one of many wines produced from Gary Franscioni's vineyard.

Bernardus
The Bernardus Pinots are marked by wonderful acidity.
Pinot Noir Pisoni Vineyard 2010, $65 - Savory raspberry fruit.
Pinot Noir Rosella's Vineyard 2010, $55 - The feminine exception at this table full of masculine wines.  Pretty violet nose.
Pinot Noir Soberanes Vineyard 2010, $55 - A delight, with funk on the nose and earth on the palate.
Pinot Noir Gary's Vineyard 2010 - Savory and earthy, which is how they like 'em at Bernardus.

Hahn and Lucienne
These two labels use grapes taken mainly from the cool-climate north end of the AVA.
Hahn Estate Chardonnay 2011, $25 - From the Lone Oak Vineyard, slight oak on the nose and beautiful fruit.
Hahn Estate Pinot Noir SLH 2011, $35 - Beautiful fruit on this three-vineyard blend.
Lucienne Pinot Noir Lone Oak Vineyard 2010, $50 - Great fruit and acidity.

Hope and Grace
Pinot Noir Doctor's Vineyard 2010, $48 - Napa winery comes to SLH for a little savory edge to the fruit. Very nice.

J. Lohr Highlands Bench
Chardonnay SLH 2011, $25 - Eighteen months in oak for this one, but you'd never guess it.  The label's red winemaker, Steve Peck, explains that barrel fermentation on the lees makes for a milder oak effect than fermentation in tanks before oak aging.  One of the better California Chardonnays I've had.
Pinot Noir SLH 2011, $35 - This is a big Pinot with lots of fruit on the nose and palate.  Due for a March release.

Manzoni
Chardonnay North Highlands Cuvée, $30 - Clean and fresh tasting, with good use of oak and great acidity.
Pinot Noir Home Vineyard 2011, $35 - A lovely bouquet, floral and fruity.
Syrah Home Vineyard 2009, $26 - A hint of cocoa on the nose, a savory edge on the palate.

Paraiso
From one of the founding families of the SLH AVA.
Chardonnay Estate 2010, $18 - A bit oaky, but nice green apples and tropical fruit.
Pinot Noir Estate 2009, $25 - Fruity and light, with wonderful freshness.
Pinot Noir West Terrace 2009, $45 - More masculine than the Estate, with savory black tea notes.
Faite Pinot Noir 2009, $60 - A powerful, savory nose brought high fives to winemaker David Fleming.  Great acidity.

Pelerin
Chardonnay Sierra Mar Vineyard 2010, $42 - Big and oaky.
Viognier/Roussanne Les Tournesols 2010, $30 - Easy on the oak, with tropical flavors and great acidity.
Pinot Noir Rosella's Vineyard 2009, $48 - A great nose, tea notes and very nice acidity.
Syrah "Les Violettes" Paraiso Vineyard 2010, $36 - Light, fresh and aromatic, with 6% Viognier in the mix.

Puma Road
In addition to their SLH wines, they also poured a Gewürztraminer farmed just across the highway from the AVA and some Bordeaux blends grown in Hollister.  All were very nice.
Pinot Gris Silvio's Vineyard 2011, $25 - Two months in new oak is just right.  Apples, peaches, great acidity.
Chardonnay Silver Cap Vigna Monte Nero 2010, $24 - This one gets a short time in oak, then goes to stainless steel.  All fruit.
Chardonnay Reserve Vigna Monte Nero 2011, $50 - Six months in oak brings a lush texture.  One of the better Chardonnays here.
Pinot Noir SLH 2010, $35 - A big, big Pinot.

Sequana
Winemaker James MacPhail creates single-vineyard Pinot for the Hess family of wines.
Pinot Noir SLH 2010, $32 - Elegant and a bit spicy.

Siduri and Novy
Novy Chardonnay Rosella's Vineyard 2011, $27 - The oak is played savory, not sweet.
Siduri Pinot Noir Sierra Mar Vineyard 2011, $51 - Pretty, floral and feminine.
Siduri Pinot Noir Gary's Vineyard 2011, $52 - Savory bouquet, with tea on the palate.
Novy Syrah SLH 2010, $24 - Nice and earthy.

Testarossa
Chardonnay SLH 2011, $34 - A combo of grapes from Lone Oak and Fogstone Vineyards.  Oak spice on tropical fruit.
Pinot Noir SLH 2011, $42 - A fruity middleweight with a floral, spicy nose.
Pinot Noir Fogstone Vineyard 2010, $59 - Fruit and flowers.

Wrath
Chardonnay McIntyre Vineyard 2010, $45 - Minerals and oak.
Pinot Noir Tondre Grapefield 2010, $49 - A savory angle to the floral notes.  Very interesting.
Pinot Noir Boekenoogen Vineyard 2010, $49 - Rich and full in the mouth.
Syrah Doctor's Vineyard 2010, $39 - Cool climate Syrah with a funky edge to the dark fruit.  Quite nice.


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Monday, December 19, 2011

TWO FRENCH WINES AT MONSIEUR MARCEL


French wines at Monsieur Marcel

The famous Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax in Los Angeles only has a few places to sit and have a drink, and they are mostly good for beer.  Monsieur Marcel is an open-air market/restaurant at the southeast corner of the venerable collection of shops and stands which speacializes in wine.

The outdoor seating is warmed on cool nights by plenty of overhead heaters, and diners get a constant stream of shoppers coming and going for their people-watching pleasure.

We happily accepted the customary basket of bread and plate of mixed olives, then ordered some cheese and wine.  The wines at Monsieur Marcel are unfortunately served in tiny little glasses, making it hard to get the aromas.  On the plus side, they serve their red wines at cellar temperature.

The Pierre Laplace Madiran Tannat 2007 is a blend of Tannat, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Madiran is in the Southwest France wine region, in Gascony.  The tannic Tannat is the main grape of the region and is often blended to soften the tannic attack.  This wine sells for $9 by the glass in the restaurant.

The nose was hard for me to discern, but the flavors of blackberry and blueberry jump out immediately.  An herbal, tarry note flies under the radar and the wine is not as tannic as I had expected.  The Cabs do a good job of taming the Tannat.

Our other wine also hails from the southwest part of France - Carcassonne, to be exact - in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.  Carcassonne is inland from the Mediterranean, west of Narbonne.  It was near Carcassonne that sparkling wine was invented, in the 16th century, when the Champagne region was only producing still wine.

The Chateau de Bonal Vin de Carcassonne 2007 is a still red wine selling for $9 by the glass.  Five grapes make up the wine - Grenache Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, and Alicante.  It has a fruity, almost grapey, flavor that smacks of blackberries.  It's nice and dry, with a good tanninc structure.

As for pairing with the cheeses, we liked both wines best with the firm Etude, closely followed by the hard Manchego.  The Brie de Meaux was our least favorite pairing, although it wasn't unpleasant at all.




Saturday, August 21, 2010

BODEGAS ATALAYA, ALMANSA 2008



Bodegas AtalayaGreenblatt's Deli is an institution on Sunset Boulevard.  They've been there since Sunset was “a dirt road west of Doheny,” according to their website.  Nowadays they are right next to the Laugh Factory, but I don't think there were any comedy clubs anywhere on Sunset in 1926.  There were no parking valets either.  Sometimes progress is a good thing, sometimes not.

In addition to having some truly great corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, and a killer grilled cheese with a tomato slice on it – the healthy grilled cheese – Greenblatt's is also a wine shop.  That is reflected in their wine list, which beats all other deli's in Los Angeles hands down.

I tried a Spanish wine in a recent visit to Greenblatt’s, Bodegas Atalaya, from Almansa in the Castilla-La Mancha region.  It’s a dry and arid region with hot temperatures.  This wine is made from Monastrell - known elsewhere as Mourvedre - Garnacha Tintoreara - also called Alicante Bouschet - and other red grapes.  It was $9 by the glass.

Owing somewhat to the fact that Garnacha Tintorera is one of the few grapes with red fruit inside, the wine’s purple color is inky, with no light able to get through.  On the nose are plums and road tar, with the taste dark and smooth.  I’m reminded of blackberries and even blueberries, but without the sweetness of the fruit, just the darkness of it.  It is a rather dry red, with some mouth-puckering tendancies, but overall this wine is exceedingly well made.  It’s loaded with character and smooth as silk.