Wednesday, September 12, 2007

WBW#37 - Wines You Never Drink...

...From Places You've Never Been, Made From Grapes You've Never Heard Of
That's my alternate title for Dr. Vino's WBW#37 - "Go native!". After all, that is really the purpose of this week's WBW - Tyler wants us to break out of our ruts and try something REALLY different. With South West France on the mind and the Good Professor offering bonus points, I couldn't resist drinking two Tannat-based wines this evening:

2001 Chateau D'Aydie (Madiran, France)
2002 Bodegas Carrau "AMAT" (Uruguay)

Ok, so you heard it here first, Uruguay is an up and coming wine region. Overshadowed by Argentina and Chile, and unloved because of its bet on Tannat, I fearlessly predict that Tannat will do for Uruguay what Malbec has done for Argentina. Read on....

The 2002 Bodegas Carrau AMAT is a fabulous, interesting wine. A deep, cherry red in the glass, I put the glass to my nose and .... smiled, a big, fabulous, Cheshire cat grin. Cool and right out of the decanter, it smelled rich and chocolatey with dark cherry fruit. Then I let it warm up and oxygenate - leather, mushroom, earth, pepper, tobacco and smoke. On the palate this rich, full-bodied, wine presented powerful velvety tannins that danced across the tongue - omnipresent, but not overpowering. Brooding, complex, interesting, and only slighty rough around the edges, this wine is tempting now but should be cellared for a few more years. Long after the wine has gone I am still sniffing the glass and smiling...mmmm, THIS is Tannat.
14% alcohol
Score: 17.5/20
Price: C$21 (SAQ)

The 2001 Chateau D'Aydie comes from Madiran, a region in South West France and the "home" of the Tannat grape. A dense, dark purple in the glass, this wine has to be decanted carefully, as it threw off a mountain of sludge. More delicate on the nose and definitely showing the elevated alcohol, I thought this signfied that the wine was not 100% Tannat, but the label assured me that my nose deceived me. Bone dry and 'hotter' on the palate, this medium-bodied tannat was more off-balance than the AMAT, but the acidity and tannins were a nice match for the olive and pasta dinner. It may benefit from a few years in the cellar, but I am not sure it has enough "stuffing" to go the distance. Nice, but disappointing at this price - for a few bucks less you can have the AMAT above (or a Bouscasse), or for a few more you can enjoy the heavenly Montus.
14.5% alcohol
Score: 16/20
Price: C$29 (SAQ)

Given the price and score, I have to recommend the Uruguayan Tannat, which is growing up very well in its new home. Please do try one of these!

For Tyler: In lieu of Bonus Points for the new/old world presentation of a freaky grape, I humbly accept your attendance at a tasting with Brooklynguy and I on Nov. 4th...Cheers!


Dr. Vino said...

Thanks, Joe! In the interim, you'll have to settle for the bonus points. Great stuff!

Joe said...

I love these bonus points...cheers!

Marcus said...

Scooped by you again. I thought you'd Malbec it tonight.

Marcus said...

Okay I'm reading this again now that I have more time... never mind us both drinking two Tannats for WBW 37, we ate the exact same dinner with it! Pasta with olives. How freaky is that?

Oh and I'm also reading over the mentions for the 2003 A Capella on Google and I found out that I already did mention this wine to you six months ago. I'm a broken record and it takes a search engine to discover it.

David McDuff said...

Nice notes, Joe. I've yet to find any Uruguayan Tannat in these parts. Based on your write-up, I'll have to keep my eyes peeled.

As for the Madiran, it's too bad you encountered a less than stellar example. 14.5%, by the way, is higher than typical alcohol for the AOC. Keep a look out for the Madirans of Chateau Laffitte-Teston. They're excellent values. Plus, their 2000 Vieilles Vignes made my top-ten list of the most memorable wines I drank in '06.

Joe said...

Marcus - Yeah, I noticed the pasta with olives - too funny! I saw your A Capella notes, and I will have to wait for my in laws to help me clear some space in my cellar.

David - Pisano (Uruguay) makes an absolutely fabulous wine, the Arretxea, look for it. Yes, the Aydie was not stellar and I know the 14.5% is atypical. I am usually a Montus/Bouscasse guy. It was a very unusual wine to have so little body and so much alcohol. We don't have the 2000 Teston, but we do have the 2004 - I will pick some up and give it a try.

RougeAndBlanc said...

Funny you and I both choose Tannat and France vs. Uruguay as topic of discussion.
You and I should meet when you come to NY in November.
Well done!

Joe said...

Hi Andrew - I never thought there would be three of us! I will get in touch with you as we get closer to the date. If not on this trip, I will definitely be in NYC a few times this fall.

Fadi said...

Joe, just wanted to say thanks for recommending that Bodegas Carrau Tannat (2002). I've been wanting for a while to try Tannat wines so I picked up the Bodegas Carrau and popped it up this weekend. After a 3 hrs rest in a carafe, this Tannat was delicious and powerful at the same time. I totally enjoyed it!!
BTW, I love trying wines from different grape varieties!! Lately, I've been intrigued by the South African Pinotage, a cross between the fragile Pinot noir and the robust Cinsault...It did not do well in the past and was criticized for its acetone smell and rust taste, but it seems that it's coming back now in a more refined way!! I have not tried it yet...Have you any recommendations on PINOTAGE?

Joe said...

Hi Fadi - I have to say the AMAT was an experiment that worked out very well - glad you liked it (I bought another bottle and put it away)! Good job giving it appropriate air time...On the Pinotage, try the Kanonkop - I have had bad Pinotage, but I really liked this one (there is a review on this site). Cheers, and thanks for the feedback!