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
January 42003 Fattoria Dezi Dezio Marche Rosso
Another bargain from K&L’s clearance! Dark ruby color, dusty, smokey, black and sour red fruit on the nose, and smokey oak, plum, and black cherry, with a bit of tannin and spice on the pallet – and little veggie action and orange peel on the back end. Light acidity, but a great food wine. (more…)
November 232003 Le Cinciole Chianti Classico
We had this with pizza and it went well. Later, after the taste of the pizza was gone, the wine was basically pleasent but unmemorable. I would call this typical run of the mill chianti. We bought it on sale resently for $10, but retailed for $20 upon release. I’m very glad I didn’t pay full price. Not bad, really, but you can do better for the money.
November 232005 Vignamaggio Chianti Classico “Gherardino”
I rather liked this one, but Rika had a difference of opinion. To me it tasted very similar in profile to the Layer Cake, only to a lesser degree. It was actually your typical old world Italian wine… big on structure with plenty of vegetation, decent tannin, and good acidity. The very definition of food friendly wine. Rika felt is was overly vegetative and not enough fruitiness. The more I drank it, the more I agreed. Still, it is a pretty good wine, and for 10 bucks (retail $15) I felt like it was good wine for the money. On the other hand, the Durigutti Bonarda is less money and better wine… and a similar style.
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)
This is the first white wine that I’ve had no complaints about for as long as I can remember. This is quality stuff indeed. The nose is more or less the same as the flavor – grassy, with citrus and a little cantaloupe. It has medium acidity and is pretty flexible for food pairing. The finish is pretty long and pleasant too. I guess I actually do have one complaint, which is the price. Not that it is crazy expensive, but to me this is at the same level as many 10-13 dollar reds that I’ve had, but at twice the price. Certainly there are wines this good at a better price point. The search continues. I would recommend this wine though, because it is quite good compared to other whites I’ve tried. It probably is quite different than the California Chardonnays a lot of people are drinking too, or all of the other wines from labels that produce millions of cases per season.
Price: $22 (K&L)
June 22006 Ermacora Tocai Friulano
Full name Ermocora Colli Orientali Del Friuli Tocai Friuliano. This is one of the better white wines we’ve had so far… not that we’ve had a lot. Neither of us have been particularly fond of whites, mostly because we haven’t had one we really liked. We’re on a mission though, to find at least one we do like. I’ve heard good things about Friuli wines and so we’ve made a concerted attempt to try a variety of them. We had one that we bought from Wine Expo first. Wine Expo is this nice wine shop in Santa Monica that specializes in Italian wines. It was pretty good, maybe a point or two less than this one though. Not good enough to buy again.
Let’s cut to the chase about this particular wine though. From what I have learned about Friuli wines, this one is probably pretty classic in style. It is well balanced with minerals, floral, fruit, and acidity. Its a lot like a good Champagne, without the bubbles. This would probably be great with strawberries… maybe tomorrow night when we finish off the bottle, maybe with desert. It is highest in citrus and apple. Maybe like you squeezed a little lemon juice onto a slice of apple and ate it… but your plate was made of limestone or something. To be honest I’m not big on “the great” Champagnes, I actually prefer a cheaper taste – I want to taste white grape with a squirt of lemon and either a melon or apple basis, and can do without the honey, butter, and minerality. In a white wine I prefer heavy florals with lemon grass and a little white grape flavor… with or without the apple. What I hate is the tendency for them to have an aftertaste that is like a sweettart without all the sugar. I find that in most Rosés as well. This wine is actually a good balance of the lot. The downside is that I feel it isn’t really a great value at its price. We have another, more expensive Friuli waiting for us in the cellar, so maybe we’ll have better luck with that one. It probably would never be a “daily drinker” at these prices though. We’ll probably have to revisit the Pinot Grigios and possibly something for Australia, Chile, South America, etc.
Price $16 (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.
I read that this wine was a good example of the classic taste of Pinot Noir, and for only $11. How could I pass that up? Turns out, the reviews are right, it is a [pretty much] text book example of the Pinot Noir Variety. It isn’t special, but it is good, with nothing to complain about, and nothing to shout about. It is enjoyable by itself, or with not too strong flavored food… basically anything but BBQ. It has enough acidity to cut through some fat, and enough complex structure to compliment most meals. It has one component that I love in any wine and have been missing lately… black pepper. The wine has a light to medium body and flavors consist of mostly red fruit and fine tannins, and of course, black pepper. Strangely, right after opening the bottle we smelled a good dose of oak, which scared me, but it didn’t follow through to the palate fortunately. I did like the nose… mostly red fruit with a dose of floral aromas. It is a very balanced wine with a pretty long finish, considering it isn’t a very dense wine. All in all I’d recommend this wine to anyone who isn’t looking for a “stout” kind of wine, and isn’t looking to pair it with BBQ.
Price $11 (K&L Wines)