Sunday, May 26, 2013

E. Guigal Crozes-Hermitage Rouge

E. Guigal Crozes-Hermitage Rouge 2009
Ampuis, France
Review: Two words: rich and fruity! This affordably priced Syrah from the Northern Rhone is quite yummy. It has beautiful flavors of cooked fruits like blackberries, currants, and plums, plus an earthy note of olives and bramble. I definitely enjoyed the texture of this wine -- nice a smooth without being too heavy, a perfect medium body.

This wine spends 18 months in three-year-old French Oak barrels, helping to smooth out the wine without taking away from the fruit. In fact, the fruits linger on the palate just a smidge, and then leave you with a nice touch of licorice and earth. This wine received 92 well deserved points Robert Parker. I concur.

Food Pairing: BBQ!
Bottom Line: This wine has just what I look for from my French Syrah -- full flavors, smooth texture, and a medium body. I dig it.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2009
  • PLACE: Crozes-Hermitage AOC (Appellation d'origine contrôlée)
  • GRAPES: 100% Syrah
  • AGEING: 18 months in French Oak
  • BOOZE: 13%
  • CELLAR: Drink now, or hold for a few more years

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? High Priced

Monday, May 20, 2013

Immodest Monday: Louis Roederer Cristal 2004

Immodest Monday: Louis Roederer Cristal 2004 Champagne
Reims, France
On Mondays I've been featuring a modestly price grocery store wine for under $10. This Monday, however, was a special night -- I graduated from Business School! In honor of this occasion I am featuring Louis Roederer's cuvée prestige Cristal

Review: This brut (dry) sparkling is quite extraordinary. I hardly know where to start. Flavors: soft green apples, light citrus, minerals, brioche, and white flowers. Texture: superfine bubbles, brisk acidity, creamy and full. Finish: lingering fruit and toast. Oh so nice.

The grapes for this house specialty are sourced from three districts within Champagne: Montagne de Reims, the Vallée de la Marne and the Côte des Blanc. The differences in terroir, combined with intense care during production and ageing, contribute to the complex and interesting nuances of this wine. For example, 20% of the wine is matured in oak casks prior to the secondary fermentation. Each week the wine goes through battonage, where the lees (spent yeast cells) are stirred up with a baton. This imparts not only some yeasty flavors, but also helps to give the wine its smooth richness and depth.

Is it worth the several hundred dollar price tag? Yes and no. It was amazing to experience and to share with friends. Did it taste $250 better than quality domestic non-vintage bubbly? Nope. But I'm very glad I splurged, just this once.

Food Pairing: Caviar and friends!

Bottom Line: Amazing. A once (or maybe thrice?) in a lifetime purchase.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2004
  • PLACE: Champagne AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée)
  • GRAPES: 55% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay; 20% of wine matured in French oak
  • AGEING: 5 years in the cellars, and an 8 month rest after disgorgement 
  • BOOZE: 12% 
  • CELLAR: Drink now, age for up to 15 years

Where did I get it? Special order through the Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? Super Premium

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Federico Paternina Banda Azul

Federico Paternina 'Banda Azul' Crianza 2007
Rioja, Spain

Review: This is a darn fine Rioja. It has an intense nose of blackcurrants, strawberries and vanilla. Each of these notes echoes on the palate along with cloves and baking spicse. The beautiful flavors in this wine come from a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha that spends 18 months in sweet and spicy American oak barrels.

I opened this up, not remembering when or where I had bought it. (I have a bit of a wine collection problem...) I have to say this was quite a treat. The balance is just perfect. Delicious fruit flavors, great oak character, bright acidity, silky smooth tannins, and a lingering finish. I'm very glad it happened to be in my wine rack.

Food Pairing: I think this would be lovely with grilled or smoked meats.

Bottom Line: I found this wine robust and interesting, but still easy drinking. I can't get over how smooth it is. Perfect for a warm spring night.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2007
  • PLACE: Rioja DOCa (Denominación de Origen Calificada)
  • GRAPES: 80% Tempranillo, Garnacha 20%
  • AGEING: 18 months in American oak
  • BOOZE: 13%
  • CELLAR: Drink now, or hold for up to 5 more years

Where did I get it? I don't remember... but according to the Google machine you can get it Calvert Woodley
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bodegas Juan Gil Monastrell

Bodegas Juan Gil Honoro Vera Organic Monastrell 2012
Jumilla, Spain
Review: This was a new one for me -- 100% Monastrell (or Mourvèdre as it's known in France). Usually this grape is blended with Granache and Syrah, but here it is standing alone. The results are interesting. Monastrell is a thick skinned grape so this wine has a strong tannic structure. I left a bottle open for two days and upon revisiting it was much smoother. This is definitely a wine that would benefit from a few hours in the the decanter.

The fruit flavors here are nice, primarily dark plums and blackberries. The four months spent in French and American oak lend a toasty note with hints of vanilla. Given the strong tannins make this wine is best paired with food rather than on its own.

Food Pairing: A sure winner with braised beef!

Bottom Line: Most of my drinking tends to not be food oriented -- more along the lines of a glass to wind down after work. I would probably lean towards a wine that would stand better by itself.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2012
  • PLACE: Jumilla DO (Denominación de Origen)
  • GRAPE: Monastrell (Also known as Mourvèdre)
  • AGEING: 4 months in French and American oak
  • BOOZE: 15%
  • CELLAR: Drink now or age for a few years

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Monday, May 13, 2013

Modest Monday - Wines Under $10: Goats do Roam Rosé

Goats do Roam Rosé 2011
South Africa

I was wandering around the wine section at Wegmans when I found this wine. I grabbed it because it was under $10 (came in at $6.79 to be exact) and it had a goat on the label (I do love me a goat). There are a few factors that I think have influenced the price: 1) this wine is the low end label of a large producer, and 2) this is an OLD rosé from 2011 -- remember that southern hemisphere vintages are 6 months ahead of northern hemisphere...

Review: I like my rosé to be full of fruit and refreshing acidity. This one falls a little flat. There are some notes of cherries and strawberries, but it hits funny in the mid-palate. Instead of being refreshing, the wine is more bracing. It's just not that fun to drink. Perhaps if it were younger it would still have more fruit which would balance out the overall feel of the wine.

Pairing: I don't think I would put this rosé with food -- instead, I would just drink it sitting on the porch on a warm evening.

Bottom Line: Not too shabby for a $7 wine, but I think I would prefer to spend $17 and really enjoy my rosé.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2011
  • PLACE: Coastal Region, South Africa
  • GRAPES: 44% Syrah, 25% Mourvèdre, 15% Grenache, 14% Gamay Noir
  • BOOZE: 13.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now

Where did I get it? Wegmans
What's the damage? Low Price

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Roederer Estate Brut Sparkling Wine

Roederer Estate Brut Sparkling Wine
Philo, California
This sparkling wine is something special. Brought to you by the California arm of Champagne genius Louis Roederer, this wine makes me want to open a bottle of bubbly at least once a week. And coming in around $23 per bottle, it's more or less within reach to do just that.

Review: This wine has beautiful but mild yeasty aromas, tastes of fresh juicy pear, and just a hint of nuttiness. These flavors develop through a careful blending of multiples vintages of base wine followed by an ageing period of two years on the lees (dead spent yeast used in the secondary fermentation). It's dry, light, and deliciously refreshing.

Food Pairing: Perfect as an apéritif, or served with pretty much anything.

Bottom Line: I must confess that this wine is especially dear to me, as it's the bubbly my husband and I served at our wedding. Even if this wine didn't have a special place in my heart, I would love it. Affordable, great quality, and easy to drink. I dig it. Lots.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: Non Vintage/ Multi Vintage
  • PLACE: Anderson Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area)
  • GRAPES: 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir 
  • AGEING: 2 years, on the lees
  • BOOZE: 12%
  • CELLAR: Drink now 

Where did I get it? Trader Joe's
What's the damage? High Priced (but on the low side of "high")