Monday, December 31, 2007

Bordeaux Bargin #3: 2003 Château Mayne-Vieil

The 2003 Château Mayne-Vieil from Bordeaux’s Fronsac region is one of those wines I think will be getting a little more attention as prices of the more esteemed estates continue to rise.

It’s a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. The color is brick red with a somewhat rustic aroma including dark fruits and cedar. There’s lots of structure and it’s still somewhat tannic but in a way that leaves behind a long finish more on the lush side that not.

This is not a great wine but a good one. I think this is going to be more indicative of the affordable Bordeaux of the future. I give it B-. Not as strong as the two other Bordeaux values I’ve tasted recently, the 2003 Chateau Gigault ~ Cuvee Viva from Côtes de Blaye or the 2004 Cap de Faugères from Côtes de Castillon.

The value part of this is that Sherry-Lehmann is currently selling this for $12.50 and I picked it up for $13 from Northside Wine in Ithaca to pair with dinner at my wife’s parent’s home over the holidays.

What these three all have in common are that they are from the outlying satellite regions of Bordeaux rather than the much more heralded Medoc, Graves, St. Emillion or Pomerol regions. These regions tend to be more Merlot based than Cabernet Sauvignon, tend to be made more for earlier drinking rather than long term cellaring, and tend to be less expensive.

With “baby” on the way, I’m going to be looking more into these regions to get my Bordeaux “fix”.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Moldly Screwtop?

Last night I went downstairs to my basement to put a couple of wines away for safe keeping. While moving some of my other wines over to make room, I came across a Chardonnay that my wife and I had bought from a California Central Coast winery. The wine had developed mold at the base of the screwcap foil as well as the seam where the screwcap breaks off. In addition, the wine had lost about an inch of liquid compared to the bottle fills of other wines from the same winery that we bought on the trip. No other wines were affected.

I have seen mold on a cork before but never on a screw cap. It looks more like a science project or lost vegetables found in the fridge after a couple months.

I'm curious as to if anyone has seen this happen before?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Evolving Over Time: 2003 Château Coufran

I have a few more bottles left of the 2003 Château Coufran, a Bordeaux from the Haut-Medoc which I found at Grand Wines in Astoria about a year and a half ago. My first tasting note for this wine was almost exactly a year-ago in November ’06 and it was a nice and surprising exercise to taste this wine now and compare it to then.

First, it seems much more “mature” now as its changed its color slightly and is now a slightly lighter shade of brick red. It has very earthy, wood and leather aromas just hovering above the fruit. The fruit that’s there is dark fruit but it does take a back seat initially. The tannins are in the forefront. Very dry texture with a long finish.

What was most interesting to me is that it has essentially just switched its profile. A year-ago, the fruit was up front with the wood and earthiness in the background.

My hope is that another year in bottle will really bring these elements into harmony. I’m hopeful because after letting this wine sit out for a couple hours, it because much smoother and softer in texture.

The changes seen in the 2003 Château Coufran from one year to the next were a fun lesson in how a wine evolves. It really evolves. Fascinating!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tasting Note: 2005 Querciabella Chianti Classico

I’ve had several vintages of this wine going back to 1998 or 1999 and this might be the best of all of them. I also tasted this and commented in September of this year.

Brick red color with a somewhat earthy and dark fruit aroma. Although it’s a mix of dark fruit, I think it’s the blackberry that comes out on top. There is also a gentle hint of spice surrounded by a cedar frame or structure. Mineral texture but also soft. Medium bodied with a long smooth finish. This wine has excellent balance and is a fantastic value for the $22 I spent on it at Garnet Wine. B+

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Tasting Note: 2005 Domaine Didier Pabiot – Pouilly Fume

Sometimes you just don’t recall when or how a bottle of wine ended up in your possession. That’s the case with the 2005 Domaine Didier Pabiot, a white Loire Valley wine made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape.

Straw colored with a very minerally aroma that also has hints of lemon and flora. It’s very light on the lemon though with just a hint of it there. The restraint is nice. Clean crisp texture with a fresh finish. Very nice and a solid B.

As I mentioned, I can’t completely recall how I ended up with this wine but I think it came from a Brooklyn wine shop and I can only imagine it was part of an in-store tasting. I’d keep my eyes out for this one again.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Tasting Note: 2004 Fiefs de Lagrange

Château Lagrange is one of my favorite Bordeaux red. I’m a big Bordeaux fan and think the Château offer’s very good quality for the money (the massive shift if 2005 and 2006 future prices notwithstanding.) To that end, I also love the value offered by their second wine, Fiefs de Lagrange.

I recently had the 2004 Fiefs de Lagrange. Its garnet colored with blackberry, chocolate, and cedar notes with light hints of spices. It’s medium bodied but very tannic at this point. Some aging, maybe a two to five years, should soften them up a bit. Medium long finish.

Overall, this is a good wine but verging on average. I think it’s a B wine but my personal enjoyment of it is somewhat dependant on how much I paid for it. By keeping my eye on bargains, I was able to get it from Zachys for $12. While Zachys is not necessarily known for the deals, they occasionally have sales that at least bring some wine prices down to normal in my opinion.

The regular price for this wine at Zachys is $20 and they currently have it on sale for $17. At these levels, the Fiefs de Lagrange becomes less of a bargain and for the money; you can probably find something a little more complex and interesting.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Tasting Note - Heron Hill Game Bird White - NV (Finger Lakes)

For $7 to $9 dollar at your local Upstate New York wine shot, this isn’t a bad deal at all but keep in mind that the Heron Hill Game Bird White is a good quaffer and best suited for food and less for contemplation.

Straw yellow in color. Citrus and floral or hay notes. The citrus is closer to orange peel than anything else. Just slightly sweet on the tongue. Soft texture and a medium length finish.

The wine is a blend of Vinifera and French Hybrid grapes and is cited on their website as being a Silver Medal Winner at the Florida State Fair and a Bronze Medal Winner at the Great Lakes Wine Competition. While not exactly the “Judgment of Paris”, I think the awards are at least a sign that this is a decent wine for a decent price. Something that I feel is becoming harder and harder to find. I give this overachiever a B.

This particular bottle was $9 from Northside Wine in Ithaca, New York.