Monday, February 26, 2007

2004 Coren Pere & Fils Pouilly-Fuissé (France-Burgundy)

One of the things I like to do is check out new wine shops. What usually happens is that I go in, check out the place, look at the prices and compare them in my head to what I think they should be. (I’m usually disappointed.) Then I buy a bottle of something. Sometimes I’m lucky and the shop has a bottle open to sample or a tasting going on.

This is what happened with this wine. The 2004 Coren Pere & Fils Pouilly-Fuissé was being poured by the chateau owner at the Brooklyn Wine Exchange on Vanderbilt Ave.

The wine… Light golden colored. The nose is very floral and an actual florist could probably nail down a specific scent but I certainly can’t. Underneath this are very light and lovely hints of almond and citrus, almost like an almond cake. Smooth texture with a little zip of acidity and an easy finish. Nice wine that I would give a B to. We bought it for $25 and thought it was worth the price.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

2000 Cellole Chianti Classico Riserva (Italy-Tuscany)

It’s winter and I’m on a “hearty red Italian wine” kick. The 2000 Cellole is another product of our Honeymoon in Tuscany two and a half years ago. I had first read about the 2001 Cellole in Wine Spectator then and liked what I had read. Wine Spectator game it a 95 score which made it predictably hard to find, saying it had a "phenomenal nose, with complex smoky, tarry, licoricelike red fruit aromas" and that it was "full-bodied, with added tobacco and vanilla coming through on the palate, with silky tannins and a long, minerally finish."

We eventually found the wine in Florence on the wine list at Cibreo, a restaurant known in Florence for its somewhat out there dishes like duck esophagus (which I had and liked) and a strange take on braised beef (which my wife had and didn’t like as much.) The thing we agreed on was the wine. After that dinner, we looked around for a bottle to take home but came up empty with the 2001 vintage but we did score on the 2000 from a fantastic wine shop in Grieve where they have samples, for a fee, of close to 100 wines dispensed from enotec machines as well as samples of Tuscan olive oils.

Luckily, this wine did not have to live up to the lofty expectations and memories associated with the 1998 Poggio Antico Altero but because of the search we went through in Italy trying to find a bottle, there was some nervousness. Would it live up?

Yes, but not because it reminded us of our experience in Florence. It was just a good wine that exhibited characteristics we like.

The wine… Tahirih got it right away when she said “It’s like walking through a thicket!” This wine is earthy. It’s dark red in color with a beautiful earthy aroma, mixing in wind fruit and wood. The fruit is blackberry and fig although there might also be a light note of raspberry there to just give it a little bit of lightness. The wood is oak. There is a nice balance of tannins and acidity. The wine has a nice grip to it that leads to a long finish. A solid A grade and not because of the memories of Italy. This is just a good wine.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

1998 Poggio Antico Altero - Brunello di Montalcino (Italy-Tuscany)

What I look for in a birthday wine is a memory. Not the memory of a wine per se, what it tasted like the last time I had it, or anything like that. I look for an emotive memory, something that makes me thinks back to a time when things really felt good.

That’s where the 1998 Poggio Antico Altero fits in. We opened this up on my 37th birthday but the memory comes from Tahirih’s and my honeymoon in October 2004. We were in Tuscany. Specifically in Sinalunga at a resort, Amorosa, just outside of Siena. We tried the wine at the resort’s restaurant on the recommendation of the sommelier after discussing what we liked and didn’t like in Italian wines and mentioning that we’d like to try something from the region. This is what was recommended. The bottle was opened for us and she left us to our first sips, only to rush back and say in her broken English… “If you can, leave this wine for seven minutes.” I think what she meant was “several” but her point was made. Needless to say, we loved the wine, enhanced all the more by the “magic of Tuscany, looking into my new bride’s eyes, and by the fabulous steak in front of us! The next day we actually made the trip into Montalcino and found the Poggio Antico vineyard, buying this bottle and a couple others for transport back home.

Fast forward two and a half years later. My birthday and the biggest question, other than how does it feel to officially be in my “late thirties” is how will the wine live up to its incredible first impression when taken out of the Tuscan countryside and transported to a Brooklyn dining room. Is it even fair to ask any wine to live up to that?

Well, the answer is that good wines can and do live up to the challenge when expectations are set high by a previous experience. This was one of those wines.

The wine…. Dark, deep red in color. Almost black. First impressions are chewy and smoky. Its important to note here that Poggio Antico has two basic bottlings of their Brunellos and Riservas. One is just labeled as Poggio Antico. The other, Altero, is aged more in oak, approximately a year extra. I’ve had both and this chewy and smoke characteristic is enhanced by the extra wood the wine sees. It’s earthy with lots of fruit as well. Namely blackberry and black cherry. But there’s also notes of violets and chocolate with maybe just a hint of black licorice. There’s a lot going on here. The word makes itself know again with cedar. Long finish that leaves a lasting impression.

This wine deserves an A in my book for delivering a fine wine experience and more importantly, for bringing back the memories.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

2003 Jean Claude Bachelet – Chassagne Montrachet ‘Encegnieres’ 2005 (Burgundy)

This was a “special wine” we bought to go along with Tahirih’s and my Valentine’s Day dinner at Le Gigot, a very nice French Bistro on Cornelia St. in Greenwich Village. The wine cost $95 a bottle so it was definitely a splurge. It was a hard wine to track down on the internet and I couldn’t find the ’03 anywhere. However, it appears the ’04 can be found for around $40 to $50.

The wine itself is golden hued with a lovely and unusual burnt sugar and vanilia nose. There are also caramel, light butter, and a flinty or minerally aspect to the aroma. The texture is smooth and lush with a light buttery texture. This all leads to a wonderful, medium long finish.

This wine also really evolved in the glass as time went on. After about 45 minutes, the burnt sugar more upfront minerality which introduced a light scent of lemon. However, towards the end of the bottle, about an hour and a half later, the caramel and burnt sugar came back in a big way, reminiscent of crème brulle.

It’s not often I have wines like this and due to my own personal tastes, am rarely moved by a white wine. However, this was on the verge of transporting. I can only imagine that hard-core fans of White Burgundy would find this a good solid wine and have had better. But… I don’t have that base of knowledge and truly found this wine on the verge of transporting. A+

Monday, February 19, 2007

2005 Glenora Riesling

Straw colored with floral and citrus notes. After a little bit if time (i.e. as it gets warmer in the glass), notes of lemon emerge but the orange is still dominant. It might also be giving this wine a little too much credit to say that I noted, albeit buried deep underneath the citrus, faint notes of petrol. The taste is a little on the sweet side but there’s just enough acidity for a nice balance. The finish is on the short side but there. All in all, not a bad wine but it doesn’t bowl me over. I’d give it a B grade.

This comes from my stash of Finger Lake wines that I stock up on once or twice a year. This was bought for $12 at GPC Wine & Liquor in Elmira Heights, NY.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

2000 La Magia Rosso di Montalcino and 2004 Vitiano (pre-b-day wines)

So… Today is my b-day and to gear up, Tahirih and I have planned an “extravagant” wild boar dinner. (I really should let up on Tahirih as far as asking her to come up with fantastic dinner to match our “special occasion” wines but… she’s up to it!). We followed a recipe from Vino Italiano, an Italian wine guide written by David Lynch (not that David Lynch) and Joe Bastianich. The recipe comes from Lydia Bastianich, cookbook author, tv star, and chef of Felidia on the Upper East side. What do you pair with wild boar? Well, they suggest a hearty Brunello and we’re planning on opening the 1998 Poggio Antico Altero.

However, we’ve been cooking all day and had to have a little something before hand. What we choose were the 2000 Rosse di Montalcine from La Magia and the 2004 Vitiano from Falesco. The later is also the wine we used to braise the boar.

The 2000 La Magia Rosso di Montalcino is not from a fantastic year but not a bad one either. However, I was actually surprised to see a 2000 Rosso in a wine store as the 2004’s are currently showing up on shelves. Rosso di Montalcino’s are the 2nd wines of the Brunello estates and are made up of grapes from younger vines and grapes not deemed of high enough quality to make it into the main bottlings. However, these wines are often a good indicator and preview of the vintage.

The 2000 La Magia we opened is brick red in color with noticeable tar and a smoky, earthy nose. Dark berry… blackberry lies just underneath. There are also some spices evident. Somewhat out of balance with high alcohol (14%). That leads to a medium finish. Not a bad wine but falls short, even if its not supposed to live up to it’s bigger brother’s Brunello’s standards. I’d give this wine a B-. It was purchased at Warehouse Wine & Spirits for $16.

The 2004 Vitiano from Falesco is typically one of my “go to” wines, always offering quality at a low price point. The Vitiano is a blend of mix of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot which is aged for a short time in oak. The wine itself has a deep purple color with an earthy, cedary nose. Bark fruit underneath… again blackberry, prunes, and spice. The wine is very nocely balanced with good “grip”, leading to a medium long finish. Very very nice and a great value. This is a solid B+ for me. This was $10, also at Warehouse Wine & Spirits.

Both wines were a nice start to the day but I’m really looking forward to the Poggio Antico. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

2004 J. Vidal Fleury (Cotes du Rhone)

Sometimes you get what you pay for. At $6.99 a bottle from the hot or miss Warehouse Wine & Spirits, that’s what I learned with the 2004 J. Vidal Fleury Côtes du Rhône.

Purple hued color with funky earthy aromas of underbrush and just a slight hint of red fruit. You can also detect the alcohol on this much as you might a new world Zin. Don't get me wrong though. That's only the alcohol I'm talking about - not the taste of the wine. The texture is a bit rough and the finish lingers but not in an entirely pleasant way.

I've had worse wines than this certainly but rather than being unremarkable, this possesses some characteristics that I don't like. Mostly the texture.

It is against my recommendation to buy this, even at $7 a bottle. I give it a D+ in my book.

What did I pick it up… I’ve been coming to the realization that I like Rhone wines and I’ve been hoping to find a nice everyday one for less that $10 a bottle. I was hoping this would be a contender. I was wrong. Lesson learned.

1990 Chateau Lagrange (Bordeaux-St. Julien)

Deep garnet color. Notes of cedar, tobacco leaf and still strong fruit. Black currant. Blackberry. Hints of a red fruit mix as well but layered in the background behind the currant and blackberry. The texture of this wine is wonderful. It has a very soft and velvety feel. Very fine tannins and a super long finish. An outstanding wine what deserves an A+.

Read the full story of my wine experience with this bottle of 1990 Chateau Lagrange here.

1990 Lagrange with Mac & Cheese

First the tasting note for the wonderful 1990 Chateau Lagrange….

Deep garnet color. Notes of cedar, tobacco leaf and still strong fruit. Black currant. Blackberry. Hints of a red fruit mix as well but layered in the background behind the currant and blackberry. The texture of this wine is wonderful. It has a very soft and velvety feel. Very fine tannins and a super long finish. An outstanding wine what deserves an A+.

Now the story… I picked up three bottles on the internet auction site for what I think was approximately $75 each. Note bad for a wine that’s been retailing lately for $100+. I bought it during the summer of 2005 after actually having it at a dinner at Chateau Lagrange on our trip to Bordeaux in May 2005. That’s a whole other story.

This was obviously a special occasion wine for me given the price I paid. However, we ended up having it with some of my sister-in-law’s Mac & Cheese that she made for us just before we moved in October. I had been storing the three bottles in my winefridge in the closet and when pulling the wines out as we packed for our move, I notices that the cork on this wine had been pushed into the wine and there was significant seepage as a result. In addition, there was actually ice around the capsule that had eroded the tin. I had never seen anything like it before.

So, I set the wine out and chipped away the ice. I then took candle wax and tried to “reseal” the wine. When this didn’t work, I knew I had to open the wine and hope for the best. We had packed our kitchen at this point but thankfully Jasmine, my aforementioned sister-in-law, was making mac and cheese for us that night. We took the wine down to her apartment and enjoyed what ended up being a wonderful combination. Impressively, Jasmine’s homemade mac and cheese stood up to the 1990 Lagrange better than I would have ever thought.

Don’t get me wrong though. My next bottle is going to opened alongside a rack of lamb.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

2004 Les Arums de Lagrange (Bordeaux-St. Julien)

This is the white wine from Chateau Lagrange in the St. Julien appellation of Bordeaux and I think this wonderful!

Golden hued with a very nice aroma of light oak and vanilla along with floral notes. The aromas blend so well together that you could sit and sniff this one for hours. There is a certain weight to the texture to this wine. There is a light caramel and honey taste which lends itself to a medium length finish.

I’m not sure I expressed all the characteristics of the Les Arums de Lagrange but the bottom line is that this is a fantastic wine. It’s not a necessarily easy wine to fine but Sherry Lehmann sells it for $17. What I think is amazing about that is this drinks more like a $30+ wine. Great QPR and really a must buy in my book for my tastes.

Friday, February 02, 2007

2000 Pavillon des Connetables (Bordeaux-St. Julien)

This is the 3rd wine of Leoville Poyferre in Bordeaux’s St. Julien appellation. Purchased for $22 at Warehouse Wine & Spirits in Greenwich Village. It was a curiosity buy as Leoville Poyferre is a favorite of mine and I didn’t even know this was one of their wines until I saw it in the store.

Garnet colored with blueberry, cedar and spice notes. Somewhat “bright” fruit my taste in Bordeaux but it has body to it. Enough tannins for a medium length finish.

A pleasant wine which is really all you can ask from a 3rd wine but it wasn’t worth the money I ended up paying for it. However, that seems to be the game in Bordeaux with the classified growth. Leoville Poyferre is a 2nd growth chateau.

2005 Gaujal de Saint Bon – Cuvee de Dames (Coteaux du Langedoc)

Straw yellow in color with a very nice light orange, maybe evern tangerine citrus nose. There’s also a floral and a grassy element to the wine. Overall, a beautiful aroma.

Light honeyed texture with just enough acidity to give it a perfect balance. Medium length finish.

I love this wine and it’s a solid A in my book. It gets extra points for being a great price-per-quality wine too at $11 a bottle from The Fermented Grape in Park Slope, Brooklyn on Vanderbuilt Ave.

New Wines to Start Off February

Not much of an intro to this post other than an offer to check out three wines I've tasted recently including two whites who make a run at claiming the title of "Favorite white Wine Of the Year" for me. Yes, it is only February and white wine season (i.e. Summer) is still months away. I know this. However, do yourselves a favor and check out the 2004 Les Arums de Lagrange and the 2005 Gaujal de Saint Bon - Cuvee de Dames. The later at $11 is also in the running for the "Price per Quality" title as well. To round out these three wine, Isatiatedd my curiosity by trying the 3rd wine of a Bordeaux favorite of mine, Leoville Poyferre. It was the 2000 Pavillon des Connetables. Enjoy.