Tuesday, June 30, 2009

California Cabernet

I am really starting to discover some great California wines. This is big news for me since I generally gravitate towards Italian and French wines.

Case in point: Two new Cabs I am very fond of (new arrivals):

2005 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley $42.99
91 Points: Wine Advocate
The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa exhibits a dense ruby/purple color as well as sweet, tarry, black currant, chocolate, cedar, and wood smoke-like flavors, and decent acidity. Drink it over the next 10-15 years.One of Northern California’s most successful winemakers/consultants, David Ramey’s personal winery continues to go from strength to strength. Ramey has had the best of both worlds, working in Bordeaux for the Moueix family, and in California at Dominus, Chalk Hill, and Rudd Estate.

Now in stock! (but going fast).

2006 Larkmead Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $54.99
94 Points: Wine Advocate
The 4,400-case cuvee of 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (96% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Merlot and Cabernet Franc) is brilliant. It would probably be hard to find a Cabernet Sauvignon of this quality with this production level, all estate fruit, and such impeccable viticulture and winemaking. This wine reminded me of a great vintage of Pontet Canet in Pauillac, Bordeaux. The deep creme de cassis flavors intermixed with charcoal and lead pencil shavings soar from the glass. Its full body, stunning ripeness, sweet tannin, and substantial flavor authority make for a brilliant Cabernet Sauvignon to drink over the next two decades.

These are both full-throttle wines but with elegant textures and pure fruit. A real joy to drink.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Who Says California Wine Doesn't Age?

Inspired by a friend who turned me onto a 1991 Dominus some months back, I proposed to our tasting group that I source a few 1991’s and we compare 18-year-old Napa Cabernet. As my inclinations are almost always old world (I will generally pull an Italian or French wine as my “go to” wine) this tasting might be the one to start to alter my thinking.

These wines were all amazing. They had some things in common from a profile perspective but they were all distinct and delicious. Not a corked or damaged wine in the bunch and a fantastic experience overall.

We tasted the wines blind and none were decanted. The group’s overwhelming favorite was the Insignia. But we decided this might not be fair because the Insignia had 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, so not a “true” Cabernet. My blind favorite was the Montelena (along with one other person).

This is the order they ended up being served blind.

1991 Laurel Glen Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Very good. Fleshy, easy fruit. Good aromatics. Dark red berries and earth.

1991 Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Napa Valley
More complex than #1. Higher acid. Some good funk in the nose. Cherries. Mint. Forest floor.

1991 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley
Silky. Tar in the nose. Intense. Gobs of fruit on the palate.

1991 Joseph Phelps Insignia Napa Valley
Tomatoes and Twizzlers in the nose. Nice brightness. Rich. Good balance.

1991 Dunn Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Dusty. Rich red fruit. Bright acidity and a little funk in the finish.

1991 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Red candied nose. Silky texture. Great balance of intensity and richness. Well done.

Go find some quality older California wines and see for yourself.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Supper Club #3

June 17, 2009
Theme: South of France

rillettes de truite avec capres et creme fraiche
salade de jardin avec lardons et chevre
poulet et le citron braisés
baies et crème

Southern French wines from Costieres de Nimes and Minervois.

2008 Chateau de la Tuilerie Costieres de Nimes Blanc
Made with Grenache Blanc and Viognier. Aromatic nose with hints of grapefruit and exotic fruits along with with clean peach and floral notes. Well balanced and fruity.

2007 Domaine Pujol Minervois Cuvée Edouard
An elegantly styled Minervois made primarily from Syrah. Rich and deep with flavor and spice. Think dark berries and currents with some cracked pepper. Nicely balanced and possessing a long and pleasant finish.

Friday, June 5, 2009

2004 Brunello di Montalcino

2004 Brunello di Montalcino
Over the next few weeks we will be receiving our 2004 Brunello selections. Here is what the Wine Spectator has said about the vintage: "You are going to like 2004 Brunello di Montalcino. Do you remember the great 1997 and 2001, as well as the super 1999 Brunellos? Well, 2004 is along those lines of quality, but it is a different style. The vintage produced more perfumed, more refined Brunellos than other recent top vintages."

Needless to say, we are excited. The first arrival is the fantastic Pertimali (Sasetti).

92 Points: Wine Spectator
2004 Camigliano Brunello di Montalcino $54.99 Coming in late-June
Aromas of blackberry, with a dried floral undertone. Full-bodied, with balanced and silky tannins and beautiful fruit and spices in the aftertaste. Best after 2010. 14,500 cases made.

94 Points: Wine Spectator
2004 Argiano di Montalcino $64.99 Coming in late-June
Delivers raisins, blackberries and roses on the nose. Full-bodied, with a soft and silky tannin structure and a long and delicious finish. This is the best Brunello ever from here. Best from 2010 through 2016. 10,300 cases made.

93 Points: Wine Spectator
2004 Fossacolle Brunello di Montalcino $67.99 Coming in late-June
Very ripe and powerful, with ripe plum, fresh porcini and cinnamon. Full-bodied and powerful, with loads of fruit and powerful tannins. This has structure for the vintage. It's tight and closed right now. Best after 2010. 1,050 cases made.

93 Points: Wine Spectator
2004 La Poderina Brunello di Montalcino $67.99 Coming in late-June
Blackberries and black cherries on the nose follow through to a full body, with soft and silky tannins. Long finish. Best after 2011. 4,585 cases made.

97 Points: Wine Spectator
2004 Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino $68.99 SOLD OUT
Complex aromas of rose, blackberry, blueberry and dark chocolate. Full-bodied, with wonderfully velvety tannins and focused, juicy, rich fruit. Long and intense. The finish shows berry, tobacco, toasty oak, berry and chocolate. Goes on and on. One of the wines of the vintage. Best after 2011. 1,890 cases made.

93 points: Wine Spectator Insider
2004 Pertimali Sasetti Brunello di Montalcino $74.99 In stock
Candied plum notes, with hints of flowers and mushroom, follow through to a full-bodied palate, with very soft, juicy tannins and lightly grilled meat, berry and fresh shiitake mushroom flavors. A decadent style. Best from 2010 through 2015.

94 Points: Wine Spectator
2004 Lisini Brunello di Montalcino $83.99 Coming in July
Floral, with berry, plum and sandalwood aromas, as well as a hint of vanilla. Full-bodied, with firm tannins and vanilla, berry and plum flavors. This is dense, layered and balanced. Best after 2012. 3,000 cases made.

95 Points: Wine Spectator
2004 Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino $88.99 Coming in July
Has a wonderful nose of roses, strawberries and sandalwood. Full-bodied with fine tannins and an aftertaste of berry, cedar and light coffee bean. Caresses every inch of your palate. Very fine, yet chewy. Needs time still. Best after 2010. 2,265 cases made.