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.
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…)
November 302004 Vin de Pays d’Oc Jean-Louis Denois “Chloé”
This is the 2nd vintage of this wine we’ve had, the first being the 2003. Again, my expectations were high, but this time impressed me even more. This is for sure the same wine and most of what was found in it last year, are present this time around, but with a bit more fruit and acidity. It isn’t at all hot, and still has little tannin. After 18 months in the barrel, you can definitely taste it, a little smokey vanilla. The black pepper was more subtle this time and licorice was non-existant sadly. The finish is quite nice and long. Most people will see this as a better wine, including myself. Highly enjoyable! Remember to decant!
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)
Deep rose in color and smells like a dusty cellar with tobacco and black licorice, and a little smoky. Mouth-feel is fairly light with slight acidity and very slight ripe tannins. The taste is well balanced with mostly red and some black fruit and a touch of black pepper (my favorite thing to find in a wine). The long and pleasant after-taste is basically plum and black pepper, really nice.
I had the wine in my cellar for quite a while waiting for the right moment to open it. My expectations were high and I was not disappointed. This is a K&L exclusive, and they’re sold out, so good luck finding it. I wish I could get my hands on another bottle… I’d love to see what it tastes like in another 5 years!
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.
We got lucky with this one. I’m not sure how K&L got it, but I think I got the only bottle.. which was at one time owned by a private party. There was even a message written on the bottle with a grease pen, which said "Enjoy this puppy in 10 years, [guy's name], and the date, which was in ’95. So, I think it was a gift back then. Not sure why it wasn’t enjoyed in 2005, but we enjoyed it at 16 years old, in 2008. It isn’t every day we get to drink 16 year old wine, so I jumped at the chance, since it was only $15 (the wine originally sold for $20).
It is a lightly filtered wine with some sentiment in the bottle. It was pretty dark – like a dark plum (on the outside). Aromatically it was pretty earthy and smoky with a little floral action mixed in… and you could smell the fruit, which was a mix of red and dark. The flavor was a good portion of the barrel, which I would guess was mostly used toasted french oak, along with a healthy dose of mostly black and some red fruit. It had near perfect acidity for most "regular" meals and not much tannins. The finish was about average, with mostly the fruit lingering behind.
Not that you’ll be able to find this wine anywhere at this point (or us), but if you do, and can get it for $20 or less, I say go for it. With this much age you never know what happened to the bottle, but its probably worth the risk. We enjoyed it.
Price: $15 (K&L Wines) $20 new
January 13Pago De Los Capellanes Joven Roble 2006
This is from the Duero region of Spain, which I’ve taken an insterest in lately, ever since I saw the winelibrary tv show on them. I have found that I typically like Spanish wines, so was happy to hear about a region I hadn’t discovered yet. Eiko brought this wine over when we had her over for spaghetti last night. Thanks Eiko!
On the pour into the decanter it was pretty purple and I knew I was in for a fruity ride. On the nose it was raw meat and black fruit – blueberry and blackberry mostly. I was surprised had how balanced it was, and that it wasn’t like dark fruit and vodka. It was very smooth and supple, and as expected, plenty of fruit. There was a little bit of rip tannins and some oakiness as well. It has low acid on the pallet, but was very well suited for a steak. Finish wasn’t particularly memorable, but certainly not unpleasant.
Price: $16 (Wine House and K&L Wines)
January 1Tait "The Ball Buster" Shiraz 2004
This was a pretty highly rated wine for $16, and since I like Aussie Shriraz, I decided to give it a whirl. We ended up not rating it as highly as some of the pros, but it was enjoyable none-the-less. Mostly I appreciated the complexity and we had a good time picking out the flavors/aromas.
Color was deep purple with an interesting aroma of sweet tobacco, cranberry, cherry, raspberry, cassis, and a farm aspect that I thought was pretty cool. It tasted like black cherry, blue berry, white asparagus, terroir, and blackberry. It had medium to high acidity and palate staining ripe tannins. Finished with blueberry, blackberry, licorice, and a hint of mint.
This is a Shiraz-Cabernet-Merlot blend from South Australia… a first for us. The color was medium to dark ruby and had smoke, black pepper, and a yeasty bread smell on the nose. It tasted of black grape, ripe black plum, a vegetal aspect we couldn’t quite finger, and ripe tannins. Mouth-feel was fairly acidic, but smooth. Finished with plum, cranberry, herbs, and orange rind.
On paper this seemed better than in the mouth. It has a lot of what I like in a wine, but was just a bit awkward somehow, and a little too alcoholic. All in all, pretty complex and not a bad wine at all for the price.