Saturday, August 25, 2007

2006 Foley Rosé – Santa Ynez Valley

Hot pink color. Another wine with a refreshing minerality that comes out up front. Floral nose with just a whiff of light cherry. Almost a cherry cotton candy aroma but definitely bright red berry. Dry. Medium bodied for a rosé. Just a slight acidic tang. Red fruit really lingers on the tongue. Good rose that’s slightly above average. B-.

Bought at the Foley Estate for $16.

This wine note is a prelude to a larger post I’ll do regarding our visit to California Wine Country where Tahirih and I spent three days tasting in Santa Barbara County and one day visiting Sonoma County.

It was fun and enlightening. I’m just not sure where to start in blogging about our trip. I’ll have to let it sit so look for a post later.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling – Finger Lakes

The Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling is straw yellow color. Minerally is the first impression. Lemon comes next but that’s only the first layer as its reveals a nice apricot note underneath along with a really nice floral element. This wine has some amazing aromatics. Crisp with a nice acidic zip. Exactly the right balance. Medium finish. Just long enough to savor. Solid A. (“Yes, I’m aware of the grade inflation I have going on with this blog!)

I’ve had many vintages of this wine and while I’ve always liked it, I don’t think I remember it being this good. I have recently been somewhat down on Finger Lake Riesling mostly because of cost. The 2006 vintage of this wine is $18 and I think that’s high compared to some excellent entry level German Kabinett Rieslings that I’ve often thought where of better quality.

That may still be the case for me but this was a nice surprise.

Monday, August 20, 2007

My Sister’s Wedding Wines

Back in June, I was tasked by my sister Cindy to help pick out the wines that will be served at her wedding in October. At the time I was thinking there would be PLENTY of time and that it might actually only take a weekend to put something together. However, not only do these things take longer than you think, it is for my sister and her fiancée and of course, I wanted things to be perfect. And of course, there is a budget.

(1) Wanting the wines to be “perfect” and (2) wanting to find them for under $10 a bottle equals creative shopping. Below is what we came up with.

The Reds…
2004 Falesco Vitiano – Umbria - $7 on sale from Zachy’s
2004 Cap de Faugeres – Bordeaux - $12 on sale from Zachy’s
2006 Julienas Flower Label: Georges Duboeuf – Beaujolais - $5.50 on sale from Zachy’s “The Flood Sale”

The Whites…
2005 Domaine Gaujal - Cuvee Dames Coteaux du Languedoc - $7 from Garnet
2005 Domaine de Pouy – Gasgone - $7 from Garnet
2005 “Rabbit Riesling” - $10 from Northside Wine in Ithaca

This last wine, the “Rabbit Riesling” is not its real name and was not chosen by me. I have had it and think its good and a good value. However, this is Cindy’s choice and she picked up the case of this. I think its German.

However, the others are all solid wines and I believe them to be better than most selections you’d get from a caterer. Especially the Cuvee Dames from Languedoc and the Julienas.

This later wine is interesting. It’s from the Gamey grape and is grown in Burgundy. It’s also an excellent wine but more on that in a minute. What’s interesting here is the price at $5.50 a bottle. In the spring, there were rains. At times they were heavy enough in the New York City area to cause flooding and this is what happened to one of the Zachys warehouses in Westchester. While not heavy flooding, it was enough to damage labels for the cases on the bottom of the pallets. For these wines, which they all claim to be undamaged except for the labels, they cut prices in half. Perfect for me and perfect for my sister’s wedding in terms of price. It’s a way to get an $11 wine for half the price!

In a different sense, this is what happened with the Cap de Faugeres although in this case, Zachys was looking to clear inventory of its 2004 Bordeaux to make room for the higher priced 2005s and 2006s. In essence, I think they needed the cash.

Now for the wine. 2006 Julienas Flower Label: Georges Duboeuf . I had to take the Julienas before agreeing that it would work for Cindy’s Wedding. It did. The wine is ruby red in color with notes of smoke, spicee, blueberry and cherry. It has a fantastic bright nose. There are other aromas going on here too. Maybe white chocolate? Cotton candy??? That might be going to far but regardless, there’s a bright cherry scent. Very soft texture, spicy taste which mixes well with the cherry. Medium to full bodied with a wonderful long and slightly dry finish. Fantastic. It gets a B+ (maybe an A if it holds up at the wedding!)

2006 Domain Mont Chavy – Morgon – Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais

This wine was tasted at the same time as the Julienas but as a way of checking out Beaujolais rather than for the wedding.

This was another winner. Dark purple in color. Earthier than the Julienas with notes of dark cherry and blackberry. Chewy texture, dry and more tannic than the Julienas. Long finish. Blackberry tastes as well. Maybe a layer of raspberry underneath. A very nice wone. Solid B.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

1994 Leoville Barton and the New Bordeaux Future Campaigns

Will this be my last bottle of Leoville Barton ever? Will it be my last bottle of classified growth Bordeaux? Maybe? Hopefully not but with the rising prices of Bordeaux starting with the 2005 vintage, I can’t be certain.

Let’s start with the 2006 Bordeaux futures. This is this the year the Bordelais may have pushed wine lovers like me, who love to find wonderful mid to value priced wine but occasionally like to splurge on more expensive special occasion wines (whatever the occasion), out of the market for classified growth Bordeaux.

It all started with the much heralded 2005 vintage which is supposed to have produced some of the best wines since the dawn of man (or something along those lines) as proclaimed by all members of the wine press, a group I have to rely on as I’m not exactly attending the spring Bordeaux tastings. In a case like that, I can understand (but don’t necessarily like) a price increase from previous vintages based on quality. Maybe you pay more for a high quality Bordeaux compared to a diluted vintage from the year before. Prices were raised significantly higher than 2004. Sometimes double the price when they were offered as futures. Ok. That was 2005

However, the 2006 vintage, while praised for its surprising quality in a tough year with rains at harvest, will never go down in history as a great vintage. But, the Bordelais used the 2005 pricing as a base price and reference point for the 2006 pricing rather than relying on the base prices for a similar recent vintage like 2004.

This new pricing structure, in which I am left with the perception of paying more than I have in the passed for lesser quality wine, is the reason I feel the need to start distancing myself from Bordeaux.

To keep things in perspective, I have never been able to purchase first growth Bordeaux like Chateau Margaux or Lafite Rothschild. Spurge bottles for me, anniversary bottles, birthday bottles, graduation bottles, fall more in the line of 2nd to 5th growths like Leoville Barton, Leoville Poyferre, Lagrange, and the very very occasional Leoville Las Cases. These are the wines that I’m about to let go.

It’s possible to go online and find some “before and after” price comparisons by looking at 2004 and prior (say back to 2001) and 2005 and after. The example I’ll use here is Lagrange, a chateau that I’ve fallen hard for and I’ll compare $25 a bottle for the 2002 vintage to the $50+ for 2005 and $45+ for 2006 vintages.

It gives me pause and leads me to my current reflection. I find myself here after sharing a bottle of 1994 Leoville Barton with friends last night, wondering if this is the beginning of the end of classified growths for me. I like to drink these wines, they reward good cellaring, and they can (relatively speaking) become an incredible bargain if you buy the wines as futures in good vintages. (The 1990 Leoville Barton can sell for $250 but cost $40 as a future.)

For all my ranting above, note that I am talking about the 60 classified growth chateaux and that, thankfully for now, my dismay has not carried over so some of the wonderful non-classified wines coming from the less heralded regions of Bordeaux such as the Haut Medoc and satellite regions of St. Emilion. Wines like Gisault Cuvee Viva, Coufran, and other under $20 values that I’ve discovered over time. And this definitely includes some of the $10 (plus or minus) Bordeaux that I’ve had such as (insert Sherry Lehman wines here). These chateaux have been improving the quality of their vines and wines over the past several years and will go a long way in softening the blow of the “new world of Bordeaux pricing.”

The 1994 Leoville Barton…

The 1994 Leoville Barton was everything I could hope for in a mature Bordeaux. Dense and tannic with a layer of fruit underneath. It’s dark purple in color. Very earthy with notes of cedar and then dark earthy fruit. Blackcurrant buts its also spicy. It’s hard to tell exactly. Notes of tabac as well. Very tannic texture with a lot of grip and a long long finish. A+.