Sunday, August 30, 2009

Finger Lakes Red: '03 Atwater Meritage

The ’03 Atwater Meritage from New York’s Finger Lakes is a perfect example that the region still has a lot to work on in respect to their red wines.

At 6 years, this wine was already on a downward trajectory and while I’m sure this wine was meant to be consumed on release, it still seems like a quick decline.

The wine is a blend of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Cabernet Franc, and 17% Merlot. It has a brown/tawny color with secondary notes of oak, tar and smoke up front. Little fruit replaced by a vegetal green pepper aspect to the secondary aroma. Green pepper also mixed into the tart taste.

Not very good.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

2000 Beni di Batasiolo Barbaresco - Piedmont, Italy

Cherry red and just bordering on brick red so now is the time to drink this up if you have them. Secondary notes of leather and spice start with darker fruits in the background. The blackberry and currant is fading but they still come through as pleasant secondary notes. A fine texture and a slightly tart finish. Even with that at the end, it’s still a good wine. Although definitely nearing the end of its drinking window.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Tasting Group Tries Out Loire Valley Wines...

The Food Network Wine Group got together last Thursday and tasted through a fantastic selection of Loire Valley whites and reds.

The wines…

’08 Chinon Rose - Wilfrid Rousse – This light pink wine had green apple and grapefruit notes. A little tart but not unpleasant. Juicy and mouthwatering with great acidity.

’08 Cheverny Blanc – Domaine Francois Cazin – Light gold in color with a lot of minerality. Grapefruit notes and a little bit of peach and floral notes mixed in. A little tart but with juicy acdity and a smooth, medium long finish. This wine is unfiltered and a blend of 85% Sauvignon Blanc and an interesting addition of 15% Chardonnay which addes to the weight of this wine. Very good.

’06 Chenin Blanc “La Croix Boissee” - Domaine Bernard Baudry – Golden colored with a flowery aroma mixed in with a hint of petrol. It might not sound like a good combination but it works. Grapefruit and peach on the taste but also slightly earthy too. Another incongruous combination that works. Rich texture with a long finish. Very good and the wine of the night for most attendees.

’99 Le L d’Or Muscadet Serve et Maine – Domaine Pierre Lineau Papin – What was most interesting about this wine was the age. It allowed a glimpse in at what a well made Loire would taste like with a little bit of time in the bottle. Very minerally with green apple and another dose of petrol and a touch of floral notes, similar to the Baudry. Hay colored and dry. What was different about this wine is that it had more in common with a good Riesling than a Loire white. Still very good.

’03 Sancerre Los Belles Vignes – Fournier Pere & Fils – This was the first of two reds for the night. Notes of stewed meats, smoke, and cherry. Medium bodied and smooth with a medium long finish. Although the wine notes here are a little on the light side, this was a good wine and pleasant to drink. Not as complex as the whites but its not hard to imagine this as part of a backyard bbq and more than pulling its own weight.

’06 Bernard Baudry - Chinon Les Granges – This wine was fermented in stainless steel. The nose shows red fruit and a little bit of spice. Medium bodied with a medium long finish. Good wine.

Overall a great night and a nice overview of Loire Valley wines. Its an area I’m excited to learn more about.

Monday, August 17, 2009

2004 Cap de Faugeres – Cotes de Castillion – Bordeaux

The color is deep purple. Black currant and blackberry aromas aling with general dark fruit. This is mixed in with spice and cigar box. Dry but with a smooth and soft texture. Medium to full bodied with a medium long finish.

This is really at a nice drinking window right now. I don’t think its going to get better than this but it should hold up there for a few more years.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Our Tasting Group visits Moët Hennessy

This past Tuesday, our Food Network tasting group was treated to a tasting at the Moet-Hennessey headquarters in New York. Moet owns or has a hand in 18 different estates producing approximately 100 different wines.

We stated with the Veuve Cliqout Brut which was straw yellow in color with yeast and lemon notes and a driving minerality.

After that aperitif, we tasted through six wines from their portfolio, a mix of red and whites.

First up was the ’08 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. It was dry and acidic with lemon and minerals. Medium long finish. Balanced, zippy and grassy.

’07 Livio Felluga Terre Alte followed that. It was an interesting blend of 40% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Pinot Blanco, and 30% Freluano. It was soft and rounder than the Cloudy Bay with plenty of acidity. Medium bodied with a medium finish. While this was the wine of the night for some in our group, I found it a bit all over the place.

’07 Chateau La Nerthe – Chateauneuf du Pape White was next and this was also round with nice acidity. Light gold in color with floral and orange spice aromas. Stone fruits, flowers, and minerals emerged as the wine had time to warm up. Medium bodied with a medium long finish. I thought this wine was very good and the white wine of the night for me.

’06 Newton – Unfiltered Chardonnay finished off the white wines. This had obvious oak and vanilla notes with lemon fighting through the background. Golden colored and the darkest hue of any of the whites tasted. Lush texture with a long finish. Good but not necessarily my style of wine.

We moved on to two reds after this. The first being the ’06 Terrazes de los Andes Reserva – Malbac which was a garnet colored, acidic and dry. Notably tannic leading to a long finish. OK.

Last was the ’06 Numanthia from Spain. Garnet colored with dark fruit, cider and spice box notes. Lots of various dark fruits going on and chocolate, cocoa, and mocha mixed in. Smooth, balanced with a persistent long finish. This was my wine of the night hands down.

What was also interesting about this tasting was the “how to taste” suggestions we were given from our guide.

(1) Is the wine “Yum” or “Yuk”?
(2) Does the wine have any faults or is it funky in any way?
(3) What are the fruit aromas and are they primary or in the background?
(4) What are the secondary or tertiary notes? Are they up front or in the background? Is there noticeable wood notes? They are more likely to be upfront in older wines?
(5) What’s the color of the wine? Lighter wines are likely to have less or no wood aging while darker wines are more likely to have them.

- Acidity is best defined by how much the wine makes your mouth water.
- Tannins are mainly imparted by the oak/wood aging or through seeds, skins, and stems. Tannic usually translates to a dry wine. It can also become astringent.
- Alcohol – If you smell it and your nose burns than it’s too alcoholic.
- But… Just because a wine might be 15% alcohol, it doesn’t necessarily mean its “crap” if its still in balance.
- Balance – When all of these elements come together.
- Finish – Are you still thinking about it after you drink it?
- Persistance – You should get this, essentially an extended finish, with an expensive bottle.
- Acid cuts though fat.
- Proseco is grapy by nature and goes great with a good fresh squeezed OJ.

- If is there for you, its there for you.
- Trust your taste.

These “musings” are the opinions of our tasting guide and guided towards our relatively “newbie” tasting group but I think he did a pretty good job of summing everything up.

Overall it was a great outing and we’re looking forward to our next visit.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Pichon Lalande - 1997

I’ve had the 1997 Pichon Lalande a few times at this point after picking up 6 bottles about 5 years ago on sale. This was the last bottle of the lot.

The last time I had this I felt like its time was up. This last bottle didn’t necessarily change my opinion on that but I did think it was much better than the last time out.

Medium bodied. The fruit is still there but muted and just hidden behind the tar, leather, and pencil lead. Cassis notes come out a little more towards the end of the taste along with a light layer of chocolate. This wine has become more steely than creamy over time with a dry, medium long finish.

This wine served me well and was certainly a piece of my earlier wine education.

Thanks Pichon Lalande!