Monday, October 20, 2014

Domaine de la Tourade Vacqueyras, 2008

Whether because of the vintage or the producer, this Vacqueyras is more elegant and less rustic than most of its peers. It's really at a good stage for drinking right now.

Good honest Southern Rhone color, medium deep, no hints of barriques or new oak. A prominent but not overbearing peppery streak defines this wine. Peppercorn, spice and blueberries with a hint of bulb flowers. Vacqueyras dark mineral tones. Same on the palate; a peppery dance with well defined Grenache/Syrah fruit.

As Sortes Val do Bibei Valdeorras Godello, 2007

My last bottle of this (reported here on August 21, 2013) was badly oxidized. I blamed it on the winemaking but can see now that the oxidized bottle had probably been exposed to too much heat during storage or transit. If you're looking for information about this 2007 Godello from Rafael Palacias, please ignore that note and read this one.

The color is a deep lemon yellow, not overly gold as the previous bottle was. The wine has had some new oak treatment, but most of the oak has now been integrated nicely into the wine, as with a fine white Burgundy. I smell lime, nutmeg and flowers plus a mineral tone that apparently comes from the limestone soil. Not exactly the flintiness of traditional Chablis but similar. The salty smell of an ocean breeze? The wine is ripe upfront and then dances sprightly down the tongue, leaving a lovely multifaceted finish. More limestone minerality. I can still taste the sea breeze freshness at least half an hour later. This is a special wine.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Boskydel Leelanau Peninsula Soleil Blanc, 2008

This six-year-old French hybrid white from the Leelanau Peninsula of Michigan is not showing any signs of aging. In fact, I believe it still has some positive development ahead of it.

Beautiful bright yellow. I smell flowers, melon--fresh and lively. Medium bodied with clean,bright flavors and a surprising amount of tannin for a white wine. Some subtle power here. Reminds me a bit of a young Chenin Blanc wine from the Loire Valley of France.

Bernie Rink, a former university librarian who established Boskydel in the early 1980s, says that "all wines are better with aging." This Soleil Blanc is a good example.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Rosa dell'Olmo Barbera d'Asti, 2011

I loved the 2010 vintage of this wine, labeled as Rocca dell'Olmo. And this is a worthy successor.

Medium dark, maybe a tad lighter in color and body than the 2010. Flowers, dark cherries and some dark earthy tones that are typical of both Barbera and Nebbiolo wines from the Piedmont area of Italy. Not much tannin but plenty of acidity to keep it lively. Medium long, pleasing finish but not nearly as good as its sibling, Rocca dell'Olmo.

I bought this wine for $5.49 from Trader Joe's in Dayton, OH. Although it's a bit more rustic than several $10 to $12 Barberas on the market (Veglio, Franco Serra, Michele Chiarlo, Marchesi di Barolo, Cost di Bussia), it's also half the price.

El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa Old Vines Garnacha, 2010

On the first night, I found this wine to be a bit alcoholic and unbalanced. On the second night, though, it was smooth and friendly. Darker than I would expect from old vine Grenache; has probably had some new oak or small barrel treatment. Cherry/berry compote with subtle tones. Smells ripe and lovely. Flavors are also rich and ripe but with a nice balancing acidity. The texture is particularly lush.

I've now had six bottles of this wine and am still a bit confused. Some were good; others, somewhat funky. I suspect it is still developing and needs some time.

What a Difference the Glass Makes

I have a cabinet full of wine glasses--a special glass for Syrah/Grenache wines, one for Bordeaux/Cabernet, another for Pinot Noir/Nebbiolo. I think the shape of a glass makes a difference to the smell and taste of the wine. But I can't swear by it. I have tried Riedel, Schott-Sweisel and other brands. Again, I think these wine geeik brands are better than glasses off the shelf of a department store. But I can't swear by it. So when my daughter and son-in-law gave me Zalto denk'art glasses for a gift, I was skeptical. They are smaller than my other wine glasses and have a different shape with curves "tilted to the angles...which are in accordance with the tilt angles of the earth." And they are billed as "Universal," meaning they will work with any type of wine.  Again, I was skeptical. But I was anxious to try them out. Within a short time, everyone at the Christmas dinner table had tried Zalto versus a number of other brands, styles and shapes. And we all agreed: the wine was markedly better from the Zalto Universal glass.

Last week, the difference was confirmed to me yet again. On Monday, we had the 2009 Delas Saint Esprit Cotes du Rhone in a Syrah/Grenache glass and decided it was only ordinary, not as special as the 2007 vintage of the same wine we had 12 to 15 times over the course of the previous three years. On Tuesday night, we drank the same CDR from a Zalto Universal glass...and WOW. What a difference a day...and a different wine glass...make. The peppery/spicy elements of the wine were more subtle and the flavors more sharply defined. Good wine.

On Wednesday and Thursday nights, we had the 2001 Domaine Sainte Anne Cotes du Rhone, and the experience was the same. In a Syrah/Grenache glass, the wine showed a lovely stage of maturity--bulb flowers, dark cherries and rich velvety texture. In a Zalto Universal glass the following night, the wine was lifted to another level. Again, the flavors were sharper and more defined. I kept thinking about Chateauneuf du Pape as I sipped this 13-year-old CDR I bought for $8.99 many years ago.

I love these glasses because they make my good wines taste even better. Unfortunately, I have found that they also make bad wine taste even worse. The other unfortunate thing is the cost: about $60 a glass. They are hand  blown and very finely wrought. I don't want to risk breaking one by using it every night; yet I find myself coming back to them again and again, and they seem relatively tough. I haven't broken one yet.

Believe me, I am not trying to sell a product. But if someone happens to give you a Zalto denk'art Universal glass for a present...use it and enjoy.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Beso de Vino Carinena, 2011 (85% Syrah, 15% Grenache)

Proclaiming your Tanzer score (International Wine Cellar) on the neck label is not subtle. But the wine is. And that's probably why Steve Tanzer awarded it 90 points and called it an outrageous value for $8 to $10 a bottle. Probably unoaked, 13.5% alcohol.

Medium ruby. Syrah black fruits dominate over the red berry Grenache at this point. More fruit depth and subtlety than expected for an $8 wine. Plush mouth feel, but flavors are also subtle. I like it better than the Altitude 500 (below) even though I am a lover of Ventoux wines. I don't think Beso de Vino is a wine to age, but count me in on the 90 point rating.