Archive for November, 2009

November 2009: Holiday Wines ~ $30-$50

Every wine in this lineup would make a stellar holiday gift; it just depends on what you’re looking for:  a more medium-bodied Pinot Noir from California?  a full-bodied, Cab blend from South Africa? We won’t pretend that this is an across the board representation of what’s available in Seattle in this price range (as the reps drop off their candidate bagged and so we don’t know what we’ve got for a price point tasting like this until the unveiling) but the fun thing about this tasting was the level of oohing and aahing going on in that back room! The lineup was superior as you can see from the scores and notes. And, with a wink at last November’s Holiday Wine Tasting, where the overall winner was the El Quintanal 2005 Ribera del Duero (95 points) … the Spaniards are kicking butt! Happy Holidays and happy reading:

EXCELLENT (90-94 points)
Arzuaga 2005 Ribera del Duero Crianza
(94 points)
Region: Ribera del Duero, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo/Cab Sauv/Merlot; Retail: $35
Notes: N: cherry candy, gamey, cola, vanilla, high toned – so much going on here – I feel I need night vision goggles just to capture all the elements I am missing. P: nose follows through on palate with big flavors, leather, blackberry, cherry, smooth oak, perfect balance. (Ken)
Notes: Dark, dark ruby color. Powerful, but delicate aromas of dark fruit, saddle leather and herbs. Lots going on here – layers over layers of dark fruit, leathers, with herbal and spicy notes. Wonderful. Full-bodied but elegant and complex. Great acidity and long finish. Tastes like high-end Spanish. (Jens)

Mas Doix 2005 Salangues Priorat (94 points)
Region: Priorat, Spain; Varietals: Garnacha/Carenena/Syrah/Merlot/Cab Sauv; Retail: $51
Notes: Wonderful, dark ruby color. Beautiful, powerful aromas of wild berries, dark fruits and wild flowers. Big, full-bodied, great concentration and depth. Wonderful acidity. Lots of dark fruit, boysenberries, blackberries with herbal notes and some spice. Long, long finish. Needs to age. (Jens)
Notes: N: still coy, closed on nose, needs to open yet, blueberries & spice, cloves & cardamom, French perfumes. P: taut still but good firm tannins, balanced flavors of candied black cherries, espresso mocha, spiced sugar plums, worn leather. (Ken)

De Toren 2006 Fusion V (93 points)
Region: Stellenbosch, South Africa; Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot; Retail: $50
Notes: N: roasted game meat, bacon, smoked spices, with a bright beam of blackberries & black pepper P: meaty wine with pomegranate, espresso, plum jam (Ken) Notes: Mature notes of prunes, almond and wet feather, very elegant on the palate delivering everything in the nose plus smoke, tobacco and leather on the finish. (A Pinotage style.) Rustic but yet smooth. Very good. (Giuseppe)

Capanna 2006 Rosso Di Montalcino (92 points)
Region: Tuscany, Italy; Varietals: Sangiovese Grosso; Retail: $32
Notes: Little lighter on the nose – more red fruit – cherry/plum/raspberry. Great finish. Great balance of fruit/acid/oak/alcohol! This wine is awesome! (Mike) Notes: Framboise, black raspberries, has a sweet punch, gentle and feminine upfront yet juicy and firm. (Catherine)

Freeman 2005 Pinot Noir (92 points)
Region: Sonoma Coast, CA; Varietals: Pinot Noir; Retail: $47
Notes: N: Pinot Noir! Nutty huckleberries, forest twigs, pine, savory cherry sauce P: very perfumed plalate of butter simmered plums, fennel, pepper & roses (Ken)
Notes: Love the nose, bursting with berries on the vine, classy, violets, minerals strike through it, has intrigue, flinty finish, pine & fir needles. (Catherine)

Andeluna 2003 Grande Reserve Passionado (91 points)
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Varietals: Cab Sauv, Merlot, Malbec, Cab Franc; Retail $50
Notes: Dark intense red. Sweet aromas of stewed fruit and dried blueberries. Delicious. Truly sexy.Old world smell with new World finish. Very polished. Well done. (Giuseppe)
Notes: Beautiful, dark ruby color. Powerful aromas of ripe blackberries and cassis. Dense, complex, good concentration and elegance. Lots of dark fruit, boysenberries and black berries. Very good mouthfeel. Long finish with fine tannins. (Jens)

DeLille Cellars 2007 D2 (91 points)
Region: Yakima Valley, WA; Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot; Retail: $41
Notes: Dark ruby. Bright bouquet of sour cherries, dried apricots and peaches. Sexy but elgant. Powerful note of tobacco leaf. Superb red with strong blue cheeses. (Giuseppe)
Notes: Beautiful, dark ruby color. Fantastic nose of dark fruit, black currants. Very complex, well-balanced with great acidity which lifts the dark fruit flavors. Coffee, espresso, mocha notes. Beautiful long finish with fine tannins. (Jens)

Terra Valentine 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (91 points)
Region: Napa Valley, CA; Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon; Retail: $45
Notes: Great Old World/New World mix – all fruit up front, but the finish has this smoky/earthy thing going on – great wine. (Mike)
Notes: Beautiful bright ruby red. Very elegant. Silky long finish, mouthfeel. Well-balanced. Sexy, velvety red. A cross between Cabernet and Syrah? Great present. Friendly but a blockbuster! (Giuseppe)

November Tasting Panel:  Jens Strecker, Ken O’Hara, Catherine Reynolds, Giuseppe Carraturo, and guest taster: Michael Friesen.

The following wines are in-stock or can be ordered at the following local wine shops:
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
phone: 206-783-2007


November 27, 2009 at 9:06 pm Leave a comment

October 2009: Bordeaux (France)

TC_Oct 09_Bordeaux_v2
Bordeaux is the grand-daddy of wines and is home to many of the world’s great wines. The nuances of the wines coming from Left Bank appellations versus those of the Right Bank (of the Gironde River) merit their own Tasting Circle tastings; however, for this first one, Bordeaux was tasted as a group. Traditionally, Left Bank appellations have gravelly soils, are therefore better irrigated, the vines get more water and the resulting Cab-based blends are noted for their elegance, with some of the world’s finest wines (Mouton-Rothschild, Lafitte-Rothschild, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Latour, and more) coming from the Left Bank.  Right bank appellations have soils with more limestone & marl (kind of a limey-mudstone) creating wines with beautiful nuances of minerality, yet these Merlot-based blends are still smooth, elegant, delicious, with equally impressive producers: Cheval Blanc, Chateau Pavis, Chateau Angelus, to name a few.  All wines from Bordeaux are intended for consumption with food and the correct pairing will make the wine, but many of these wines are delicious fireside sippers to be enjoyed for the beauty of the wines themselves. With the holidays around the corner, we hope that our panel gives you some good suggestions:

TC_Oct 09_Bordeaux_Fernando

Fernando Martinez, Chef, Purple Café & Wine Bar

EXCELLENT (90-94 points)
Chateau Larose-Trintaudon 2004 Haut Medoc Cru Bourgeois
(92 points)
Region: Left Bank, Bordeaux; Retail: $25
Notes:  Nose is classic Bordeaux – eucalyptic & mineral. Subtle tobacco on back palate, rich smoky berry. Starts off very fresh in the mouth, but finishes very complex with cherry spices. (Gina)
Notes: Dark blueberry color. Some fresh grass and cloves on the nose, eucalyptus as well. Palate: some blue cheese, mint. I like the finish, elegant and very long. (Fernanado)

Chateau de Candale 2005 Saint Emilion Grand Cru (91 points)
Region: Right Bank, Bordeaux; Retail: $55
Notes: Ruby color with wonderful aromas of blackberries and black currants with some sage notes. Well-balanced, concentrated. Great acidity and tannic frame. Gorgeous dark fruit flavors with cigar and tobacco notes – delicious! (Jens)
Notes:  A nose of mint & blackberries. Dark, brooding fruit (a nice savory quality to the flavor) with a velvety texture that’s lifted by nice acidity and tannin. The mint peaks back through the finish. (Theresa)

Chateau Greysac 2003 Medoc (91 points)
Region: Left Bank, Bordeaux; Retail: $25
Notes:  Ruby, brownish color. Main bouquet of black currents and cassis. Wonderful flavors of dark fruit and cassis with some hints of leather. Great acidity and balance. Fine, smooth tannins. (Jens)
Notes:  Nose has a wet frost aroma – love it! Color is black with dark red edges. When I taste, it has a wonderful rose scented flavors of pine and tobacco with red fruits. (Gina)

Larose de Giruaud 2005 Saint Julien (91 points)
Region: Left Bank, Bordeaux; Retail: $33
Notes: Nose: Lovely little stink! Baby diapers, gamey, roasted elk meat, dried marjoram & bayleaves, cherry cola. Palate: Dusty cab franc flavors in forefront, rustic, baked plums, taut & focused tannins, winter herbs, nice warming, savory finish of cherry candy in midpalate. Long bitter, yet pleasant blood orange finish. (Ken)
Notes: Dark garnet, brick color. Aromas of fresh herbs, cherries & roasted peppers. Authentic cabernet flavors. Medium body. Balanced zesty acidity and tannins. Age-worthy. (Matt)

Chateau du Glana 2004 Saint-Julien Cru Bourgeois (90 points)
Region: Left Bank, Bordeaux; Retail: $42
Notes:  Nose: boysenberry, huckleberry, tar, creosote aromas alongside lilac. Palate: nice medium weight, silky, blackberry bramble, baking spices, currants. (Ken)
Notes:  Black olive color, bright!! Nose: pencil aromas, dry twigs & coffee. Taste: anise, almonds, steak flavor. Some how not that refined, but I love the wild side of this wine. (Fernando)

VERY GOOD (85-89 points)
Chateau de Bel-Air 2006 Lalande de Pomerol
(89 points)
Region: Right Bank, Bordeaux; Retail: $30
Notes: Ruby, garnet color. Gorgeous nose of blueberries and cassis. Elegant, well-balanced, great acidity & tannins. Wonderful flavors of blackberries, blueberries, cassis and black current with notes of pencil lead and tobacco. Great finish. (Jens)
Notes:  Dark plum color. Nose: anise and some leather tones, anise seeds. Palate: red meat & black tea. Good acidity & balance. (Fernando)

Chateau Mayne-Vieil 2005 Fronsac (89 points)
Region: Right Bank, Bordeaux; Retail: $18.50
Notes:  They should bottle this as perfume! Best nose yet. [#6 in the blind lineup] Definitely get the pine and stone quality. A little cedar as well. Just enticing! A little high in alcohol. Chewy tannins – the fruit doesn’t happen until the middle – very earthy and WOW. Did I mention chewy? (Gina)
Notes: Pretty nose of fresh violets, a touch of cedar, and blackberries – nice texture – the flavor is a little overpowered by the alcohol. Out of balance right now. (Theresa)

Chateau La Croix  Chantecaille 2004 Saint Emilion Grand Cru (88 points)
Region: Right Bank, Bordeaux; Retail: $28
Notes:  Dark garnet color.  Faint citrusy hints in aroma which also includes earthy and fresh plum notes.  Nice old-school Merlot flavors but not unsubstantial finish and overall, balanced. (Matt)
Notes: Mint & blackberry nose – a little lighter weight – lacking fruit on the mid-palate but ending with good acidity. (Theresa)

Chateau Couronneau 2007 Bordeaux Superieur (87 points)
Region: Bordeaux; Retail: $19.75
Notes:  Fresh huckleberries with the leaves and vines. Nice herbaceousness. Bright red fruit on the palate. Mouth puckering acidity that makes you salivate. Just a slight bitterness on the finish. (Theresa)
Notes: bright cherry, sticks, dusty (beetroot) – like an old library, slight coffee grounds aroma, clean & pleasant, floral. Palate: violets, bitter orange pith, classic cassis, medium tannins but soft with dry, bitter finish. (Ken)

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Matt Gubitosa, Winemaker, ANIMALE & Ken O'Hara, Sales Manager, A&B Imports

October Tasting Panel: Jens Strecker, Gina Gregory, Theresa Shlechta, Ken O’Hara, Matt Gubitosa, Fernando Martinez.

The following wines are in-stock or can be ordered at the following local wine shops:
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
phone: 206-783-2007

November 3, 2009 at 7:38 pm Leave a comment