Sunday, February 28, 2010

2006 Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin "Combe aux Moines"

My buddy Cosme is legendary for his love of Burgundy, so it was no surprise that he brought one by when I invited him over for a drink. His 2006 Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru "Combe aux Moines" Vielles Vignes was tremendously complex on the nose, with notes of cola and green nuts, wildflowers, strawberries, pencil shavings, cocoa and a hint of honey. Ample velvety tannins - drier than most burgs - with a notable minerality. Very fresh, and very well balanced, another gem from Cosme!
Score: 18/20
Price: gift

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Castelgiocondo Brunello Vertical

Ever since he visited my cellar in December, my buddy Guy and I have been plotting an evening of Brunellos. According to Guy we had a complementary vertical of the Castelgiocondo, but that wasn't really true - I had the "regular" Castelgiocondo, while he had a bottle of the higher-end (and pricier) "Ripe al Convento". An "imperfect" vertical, but a perfectly enjoyable blinded tasting!

The 1999 Castelgiocondo was showing its age - a pretty nose of prunes and leather, vanilla and cherries. Soft and silky smooth, a palate of minerally cooked fruit. Delicious, but simpler than the other two. Drink now. cork. 14% alcohol, Score: 16.5/20

Guy's 2000 Castelgiocondo Riserva "Ripe al Convento", the estate's top bottling, impressed with a complex and ever-changing nose - flint, violet and tobacco, some fresh cherries and fruity hard candy. Delicious cherry fruit and a long, long, finish of soft, velvety tannins. Very balanced, nearly flawless. cork. 15% alcohol, Score: 18/20

The 2001 Castelgiocondo had a big dose of tobacco and smokey ashes, vanilla - a tad too heavy with the oak. Younger, fresher, cherry fruit with a beautiful finish - everyone's 2nd favourite and a winner considering the price differential vs. the Ripe al Convento. cork. 13.5% alcohol, Score: 17.5/20

A wonderful evening of wine (all in their prime), paired beautifully with great friends and a tasty prime rib roast.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

2004 Olivares Dulce Monastrell

My first bottle of this was a gift from my friend Andreas, but after an unfortunate accident I HAD to go out and replace it (it was a Mourvedre dessert wine from Spain, for crying out loud!).

The 2004 Olivares Dulce Monastrell (Jumilla) was rather odd for a dessert wine - blueberry jam and almond liquer (amaretto), pruney and some aromas that could easily have been single malt scotch. Soft and and pruney on the palate - an odd juxtaposition of sweet, syrupy fruit and dense, grainy tannins. Nice, with a very long finish, but just a bit too sweet.
cork. 16% alcohol
Score: 16/20
Price: C$30.25 (SAQ) 500mL

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Exploring the Reds of St-Chinian

St-Chinian is the 4th largest Languedoc appellation, with 3300 hectares under vine. The reds, approximately 90% of production, are fashioned from the grapes Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault and Lledoner Pelut grown in hillside vineyards trapped between the Mediterranean and the mountains. While the climate and grapes point towards big, heavy wines, tonight's offerings were surprisingly light - only one had 14% alcohol.

My brother-in-law picked up this 2007 Le Secret des Capitelles in Ontario, a blend of Grenache and Shiraz. A terrific nose of peppery cooked meat, leather and blackberries, violets and sour cherry, some wildflowers, rubber and ink - very complex for a wine at this price. Hot and peppery with a lengthy finish, it softened up as it aired out, but it was not as balanced as the Hecht et Bannier below. But what a great price! I may have to cross the border to get a few more bottles.
cork. 14% alcohol
Score: 16.5/20
Cost: C$14.95 (LCBO)

The 2006 Les Fiefs d' Aupenac sported a "Decanter" sticker on the bottle, which was good enough to entice me into an experiment. This wine was a "St-Chinian-Roquebrun", from the village of Roquebrun in the St-Chinian region. Mostly (60%) Syrah, with some Grenache and Mourvedre, it was less complex than the others. Deeper, darker, with peppery meat and leathery notes, some blackberries, creme brulee and violets to follow. Softer, hotter (cherry liqueur came to mind), with a good, fruity finish.
cork. 13% alcohol

Score: 16/20
Price: C$19.95 (SAQ)

I loved this 2006 Hecht et Bannier, a négociant-éleveur specializing in the Langueoc-Rousillon offerings. The nose starts off slowly - nice, but subtle. A little air and it opens beautifully, showing minerally black earth, peppered meat, vanilla and grenadine. Probably the smoothest and best balanced, with a soft velvety touch, yet tight and minerally at the same time. A plum and blackberry finish that felt lower alcohol than the others. Did I say very very very well balanced? Drink now.
cork. 13.5% alcohol
Score: 17/20
Price: C$24 (SAQ)

It was a perfect blind tonight, as all were random selections and never tasted before this evening. Be forewarned, as my preference for the H&B not shared by the others who preferred the fruitier Aupenac.

Key take away? A fairly random sample of St-Chinian shows wines that recognize the big fruit available, but the winemakers have deftly crafted this fruit into more balanced wines than I have seen in other Languedoc appellations - give these a try!

Friday, February 12, 2010

2008 Moulin de Gassac "Elise"

"Un Vin Comme Autrefois" declares the label of the 2008 Moulin de Gassac "Elise" Vielles Vignes, a Merlot-Syrah blend from the Vin de Pays de l'Hérault appellation. A mouthwatering nose of ripe blackberries enveloped by a distinct, green earthiness, with some vanilla and new leather added later on. Soft and grainy, with a smokey, flinty finish. A terrific wine for decanting, the oxygen helped this open very nicely over the evening - blinded this wine could fool many into thinking they were drinking a much more expensive wine.
Cork. 13% alcohol
Score: 16/20
Price: C$15.45 (SAQ)

Monday, February 08, 2010

Two takes on a 2000 Barbaresco

So Guest Blogger sends me a message: "did we buy the '00 Moccagatta together? had a btl last night. outstanding."

Well, Lloyd was correct - we did order the 2000 Moccagatta Barbaresco Bric Balin together, a Vintages special release in 2005. How did these bottles fare in our respective cellars? Here are two sets of notes:

"Drank with my wife 01-10, really shone. Nose is a light bouquet of roses, violets and tar with some Indian spice. On the palate, medium weight, exceedingly smooth with more tar, coffee and cinnamon, extracted fruit with cherry dominant and a subtle, well-integrated acidity. Fine, drying tannins left me begging for a prime rib. Very long - at least 30 seconds - on the finish. Could've been mistaken for an old burgundy. Wow. 18+ on the Joe scale." - Lloyd

Joe's bottle, Joe's nose, came to similar conclusions - a nose of violets and black cherries, creamy and earthy, with an inky/rubbery undertone. Really impeccable balance, silky smooth with woodsy tannins, tasty bitters and a nice long finish. Just kept opening up over the evening, lovely. Score: 18/20
Cost: C$54.95 (Vintages)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

2007 Brazilio Syrah Cabernet

Another surprise from my brother in law, a Brazilian wine. Brazil?!

The 2007 Brazilio, a blend of Syrah and Cabernet, started smooth, quite tasty, but I sensed it would fall apart like so many inexpensive wines do after they get some air. An earthy and rustic nose, adding cedar, leather and black cherry notes over the evening. A smooth, dark berry finish - nothing flashy, but it didn't fall apart either. Surprisingly good, and a steal at this price.
cork. 13% alcohol
Score: 15.5/20
Price: C$13.25 (SAQ)