October 222006 Monte Antico Toscana
This is a blend of 85% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Spicy on the nose, and a light to medium color density.
I wasn’t expecting much before opening this wine, given the low cost and who’s heard of an Italian wine with a screw cap? Not me, I’ve only seen it in Aussie wines mainly, and occasionally with Californian wines. But hey, I tried a Cote de Rhone this summer that was not only screw cap, but had a plastic bottle! OK, we’re not talking about a very serious wine obviously, but still… winemakers are clearly willing to experiment.
First off, we probably shouldn’t have openned this wine yet… 2007 vintage, red, France… bad idea. Anyway, we were mixed on this wine… I like it, Rika doesn’t. For her I think there isn’t enough fruit. In a way, I agree… but then, it is complex, dry, and there’s nothing foul about it. It is a dark garnet color with a violet fringe. It looks dark, but doesn’t taste that dark. It has an interesting nose, that you’ll mostly appreciate after a couple of days of decanting (or wait a few years to open it), with flowers, spices, citrus, cedar, and wild berries. The vegetal component is immediately evident as soon as the wine touches your tounge, but is soon mixed with leather, wood (not really oak), and a variety of subtle fruit flavors, fairly evenly mixed red, blue and black. There is some acidity, good enough for medium weight meals. On the finish I like the spices that linger, with cherry, tobacco, and… some kind of wood. I’m not a fan of oak in my wine, and I’m not saying this wine is oakey, but I can’t escape the taste of some sort of wood. I get a little flashback from when I was a little boy… and chewed on a piece of wood from time to time. I guess I liked it. I guess I still do! I’m giving it a combined rating between mine and Rika’s… because that’s how we roll.
Price: Paid $10 (K&L) Retails for $17
Wow, what a mouth full the name is! At first glance (referring to color and density) it was a little scary… I’m usually not a big fan of “light” wines. But oh boy, with a sniff I was already imressed, and had instantly become optimisitc. Basically, it smells like a rustic Italian Rosso, (more…)
January 12006 Virgin Vines Shiraz
My experience with wine has made me a disbeliever of labels. Almost like the prettier the bottle the worse the wine. I know that is a gross generalization and should never actually be applied, but…. Anyway, the bottle is one of the best I’ve seen. It looks like its hand painted grape vines and wording. The big turn off for me, like a big red flag,
August 252005 Durigutti Bonarda
My experience with this wine is a lot like this…
You don’t have anything planned for Friday night. You’re at the library checking out your books when you notice the librarian is kinda cute. (If you’re a female reading this, just substitute the librarian for a computer geek) Very cliche, I know, but her fashion sense is off and she’s fairly shy, but she’s got a nice smile, so you decide to ask her out, if nothing else than to have something to do Friday night. She giggles and says sure, you exchange numbers and you’re on your way.
June 102005 Vitiano Falesco
This is an Italian Cab-Merlot-Sangiovese. Color is fairly rich and purple, which seems a bit rare for an Italian wine, but maybe not so rare for the Umbria region? On the nose it is like blackberry jam with dust on it, pretty much, but not bad. It isn’t a bashful wine. It is fairly tannic and vegetal up front, with good acidity. The fruit is a little subdued for the color and aroma, but still fairly pleasant… mostly red fruits with a little of that blackberry thrown in. It has a medium length after-taste that includes black pepper – one of my personal favorites. But all in all we weren’t all that happy with the wine. It just didn’t have anything really pleasurable about it. That said, I think it has the structure to improve over 3-5 years, so if you can afford the space, buy a bottle (or more) and let me know how it works out. Better yet, invite me over to taste it!
Price: $9 (K&L)
April 6Wine, Friends, and Food
Last night we had a couple of good friends over for dinner and shared a few wines that were pretty good. For starters we had the 2005 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot, from the Columbia Valley in Washington. This was the lightest of the three, which we mostly drank before the meal. It wasn’t bad, but not impressive. There was a fairly good balance of oak, red fruit, spice, and acidity. My “problem” with it was that it was a little weak for my tastes (this is strictly a matter of personal preference), and the fruit was a bit too extracted tasting.
Since we were serving a grilled roast, we decided to have a little tasting of two Australian wines since I knew they’d be pretty hearty. To make it fun we used two different wines from the same maker, Marquis Phillips… the 2006 Shiraz and the 2006 “Sarah’s Blend”. As expected, they were big fruity wines, and per our preference, were pretty dense. Sarah’s blend, which is a blend of composed of 60% Shiraz, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the rest Merlot and Cabernet Franc. This was the “smoother” of the two, but less complex, ironically. The Shiraz, while largely a fruit bomb like the blend, was a bit more complex with a more identifiable tannin structure. These were both delicious wines.
Basically, we have to agree with the critics on this one, but with about a point subtraction each. The critics rated them (in order that I listed the wines above) 90, 91, and 92 points. We’ll be giving them 89, 90, and 91. I don’t know if we’re just picky, but it seems we rarely give the same point score as the critics. But then, same with Gary V. on Wine Library TV. I’ve seen him up the point score, but this is a very rare occasion. We probably give the same score as the critics about 3-5% of the time, but typically not that far off otherwise (this is not intentional, we’re just being honest, after all, this blog is for our own “logging” of what we try, for our own purposes). But I digress. Prices paid, $10, $13, and $13.
Robert Parker gave this Cab 90 points, but I think he was more trying to steer people away from California Cabs. Or maybe he just likes raw meat and earth. Or maybe this wine will be better tomorrow night. For now, I don’t see the 90 points. I love wines from Chile, but this one isn’t quite up to the 90 point threshold. It is fruity and dense, more than most CA cabs, and it does have some tannin structure, is slightly floral, and as I said before, pretty earthy, with a little raw venison, especially on the nose. The nose, while very expressive, isn’t all that pleasant to me – but this is highly personal. I mean, raw meat on the forest floor next to a camp fire might be wonderful to some, just not me. I would have liked more of the floral aspect on the nose and perhaps a better definition of the plum and blackberry that is prevalent on the palate. Actually, on the palate there is also some asian spice starting to come out as it breathes.
In conclusion, I think most things are all about expectations. I expected some of the same wonderful Chilean wine that I’ve had in the past, and Mr. Parker was not expecting so much. Therefore I was let down, and he was impressed. In the end, I think we have the same opinion of this wine. For the 10 bucks I paid, this wine rocks. It is pretty serious and complex, with a lot to offer – especially, as RP says, over a lot, if not most CA cabs of up to 3x the price. We certainly agree on that point. It does open up quite a bit with time, so I would advise decanting for at least a half hour before drinking.
January 24Cotes du Rhone Jaboulet Parallel 45 2005
I bought this wine in the hopes of finding an every day wine for 10 bucks that was readily available, and that I could count on – as from what I read this wine is pretty consistent with every vintage. It isn’t bad, but it didn’t make me want to keep buying bottles of it either. Mostly, it has the simplicity of most mass produced wines, the fruitiness of the California versions, but without the oak.
It is a pretty medium to medium-light ruby red with a slight hint of violet for color and has a fairly nice aroma with cherry and raspberry being dominant with a floral aspect and tiny bits of veggies. Mouth-feel was fairly light, but smooth and somewhat acidic, and just a hint of soft tannins. Taste was similar to the nose, but not as good really. Again, red fruit mix – the usual suspects, with a very slight hint of black pepper. The after taste was all the vegetal aspect of the nose fleshed out on your palate, along with a mineral residue not a lot unlike the after taste you get when you eat something salty.
This is a decent meal wine actually, and it would probably work decently to cook with, but I wouldn’t recommend drinking it on its own. There are better wines for the price for that purpose.
January 13Li Veli Pezzo Morgana Salice Salento 2003
Color was medium ruby and had a very nice floral and red fruit aroma. It tasted of red fruits mostly, plus a very light toasted oak and ripe tannins. Delicious. There was a nice amount of acid… not to much and not too little, and a light amount of tannins. Finish was good with a hint of black pepper (one of my favorites) red fruit and plum peel.
This paired very well with the spaghetti we ate, and would probably fair well with most meats and cheeses. Maybe not strong enough for the heaviest, like lamb chops or steak.
Price: $10 – $18 (bought this bottle on sale for $10 from K&L, but they are now out of stock)