The wine diaries: Labour Day long weekend edition

Kempenfeldt Sunset. Photo by Kiowaman

As seen on canada.com

As the sun sets over one of the most glorious summers in recent memory, there’s a resolute call to reflect on food and wine. The last vestiges of summer freedom fades in the rear-view mirror, the corn morphs to starch and the kids are back to school. Props to the season’s reds, whites, rosés and sparklers, to their makers and to the cooks who feed us. Our attention now focuses in anticipation of Ontario’s promising 2012 vintage.

Grilled Lamb, racks and chops, secret marinade. Photo by Kiowaman

Wine with Dinner

Pedroncelli Bushnell Vineyard Zinfandel 2009 (463026, $22.95) first tasted one month ago is a model of Zinsistency. A page right out of the Dry Creek Valley book and plants a seed for an iconic future. Brambles on through “the darkest depths of Mordor” with nary a cloying moment. No fruit bomb.  89

Foley Chardonnay Santa Rita Hills 2003 ($35) shines like Hindu dessert gold and shimmers of a Sauternes-like translucency. Begs proof is in the Meyer lemon curd pudding for nearly 10 years on Santa Barbara Chardonnay. Admittedly on the cusp of redox, the Foley is a brilliant canary yellow diamond low rider in the SRH rough. Low beam lit this late in life, on cruise control and “drives a little slower.” Why can’t we be friends?  90

Marchesi Antinori Castello della Sala Bramito del Cervo Chardonnay 2010 (176792, $21.95) plays significant other sibling to Piero’s Umbrian Grand Cru vino bianco, the exceptional Cevaro della Sala. In times like these a wise trade up of two Cevaro for five Bramito means the little one can repeatedly ring my bell with fresh, lively citrus zest and stone fruit tang. Sip while preferably grilling wild Halibut but settling for modest Tilapia and find “the night is young and full of possibilities.”  88

BBQ Dinner. Photo by Kiowaman

Wine with Dessert

Kourtaki Muscat of Samos (938407, $14.95) has officially challenged me to find a better IVR* dessert wine under $15. Honey and apricots in waves. Candied somewhere between hard-ball and soft-crack. Caramelized yet short of praline or brittle. Would love to match with All-Day Cake.  88

Jane’s All-Day Cake. Photo by Kiowaman

More September 1st Tasting Notes

Jean Perrier & Fils Abymes Cuvée Prestige 2010 (271981, $12.95) is built of Jacquère, a mountain varietal that mimics Chardonnay with soft soap, Savoie delicacy. Porcine jambons et saucissons along with Abondance both in mucilage and in its cry for companionship. Wild mountain Artemisia, Génépi and citrus notes in line with Altesse, Savoie’s queen of white grapes.  87

Gérard Bertrand St. Chinian Syrah/Mourvedre 2009 (281832, $16.95) espouses oak’s bittersweet chocolate and smouldering dry heat to the south of France’s schist limestone, lavender and garrigue. Alluring, facile French purity in this all-purpose Languedoc red.  88

Château Clément St-Jean 2009 (199208, $17.95) spoons calm, cool, collected as a Bordeaux Cru Bourgeois with fruit, acidity and tannin all in balance. Beauty grows vicariously out of the hebetic and muliebrous 2009 vintage by way of an immediate transference to the Medoc’s middle class. This château shines, “thinking clean clean thoughts” and demonstrates there is an ecclesiastical time for everything.  88

Hamburgers and Hot Dogs. Photo by Kiowaman

Quinta Do Portal Reserva 2008 (280578, $19.95) flashes a new Douro smile with teeth stained as if by Jacaranda Mimosifolia. Sybaritic blend of three typical Portuguese grapes, a Tinta and two Tourigas. Super berry, dynamic Douro but not overdone.  89

Castello Di Bossi C. Berardenga Chianti Classico 2009 (994608, $22.95) of distilled potpourri proboscis wastes no time amnestying itself from the barbed Sangiovese wire and lights up with life. A boon for modern Tuscany, the Bossi agglutinates to the glass, better to light a candle than curse the darkness. Backs up the red plum truck and shows off improbable clarity for such a young CC.  90

Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino 2006 (928028, $41.95) abides as spokesperson for old school Sangiovese Grosso. A throwback to the classes of ’75, ’85 and ’95. Teasingly soft at the outset, the cherry, leathery grit and determination is found at its core and tastefully follows through to a hard-edged finish. I wouldn’t wait 20 years, but certainly five to 10.  91

IVR* – Vintage Direct intrigue-to-value ratio

Good to go!

The Wine Diaries: old world reds

Mario Laporta, AFP/Getty Images

Tasting through many wines in a short time requires focus. While it would not be considered stressful or difficult, the test is something I would wish for all my friends to try. Steadfast loyalty in regard of wine everywhere is my impetus behind these  ‘Old World’ tasting notes, that is, from Europe.

Related – More notes from the VINTAGES June 23, 2012 release

With each passing vintage, the line blurs between old and new world as modern techniques are employed by the most traditional of producers. Still we see the vintners from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Germany continuing to share a common sentiment. Great wine is made in the vineyard.

France

Domaine De Champ De Cour Moulin-à-Vent 2010 (430876, $17.95) plays more like a champ than the national footballers. Mommesin’s Beaujolais is dabbed with pretty smells, especially ripe cherries. Soft tosses junk but gets them dancing and swinging. What pure Gamay the varietal is all about.  88

Château Des Capucins 2009 (279992, $19.95) of Bordeaux’s Right Bank in Lalande de Pomerol is rigged with heavy Brettanomyces and wet, leathery sails. Strong, sturdy and inky like Syrah from the Languedoc. Jury is out on this one.  NR

Château Tronquoy-Lalande 2004 (279984, $29.95) offers a reasonable look at Left Bank St-Estephe nearly ten years on. Similar nosing characteristic like the Capucins at first but here it’s just a regular kind of funk. A boondoggle of fresh energy abounds, with earth and spice. Bordeaux forest for the leaves.  Lovely CVR** potential.  89

Château De Lancyre Coste D’aleyrac 2010 (74765, $19.95) opens distinctively Syrah in both violaceous aura and hue. Considered to be of the Languedoc, the tone and redolent cherry-red Grenache also speaks directly of Pic Saint Loup, the true, though not yet defined appellation. Could drink this all the time.  90

Château De Nages JT Costières de Nîmes 2009 (736876, $21.95) is mostly Syrah with a small percentage of Mourvèdre. A hillock covered in blueberries entices a mellow ascent but the nightshade is pulled over the palate by a capsicum stinger. Quality Southern Rhône that needs two years minimum to settle in.  89

Le Gravillas Sablet 2010 (78790, $14.95) does simple Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages for the masses. Crystalized berries in every way. Dialed in.  86

Château Vincens Cuvée Prestige 2009 (272427, $14.95) from Malbec’s home of Cahors remains true to the region’s ‘black’ wine effect. Then a blueberry molasses modern take plays havoc on extraction’s oldest trick in the book. A huge thwack of tannin grips from behind. A suspendable offence by such an inexpensive Malbec.  85

Germany

Schloss Reinhartshausen Dry Pinot Noir 2007 (40543, $15.95) always intrigues and only Rheingau Pinot noses like this. Mild mushroom meets blanched almond. Surprising verve in balance and length.  87

Italy

Umberto Cesari Sangiovese Di Romagna Riserva 2008 (33399, $18.95) from Emilia-Romagna in Northern Italy is meaty, musty and frankly smells like “un pezzo di merda.” Like Oeste’s Pêra Rocha dropped from the tree and ready for baby sauce.  Or the near disastrous effort of Sunday’s national Football team.  84

Fontalpino Chianti Classico 2009 (275859, $22.95) barks more black dog and caws less crow in opposition to the mascot on the appellation’s logo. Heavy metal packaging and tenebrous complexion, “with eyes that shine burnin’ red.” A Zeppelin of heavy lead on the edge of Sangiovese’s limits. More IGT than Chianti really and sensory overload of deliciousness if you like the modern style.  89

Lamole Di Lamole Vignetto Campolungo Chianti Classico Riserva 2007 (231241, $36.95) blows past the 27 month ageing requirement for CC Riserva and thankfully so. The massive fruit and tannin interchange needs the oak. This CCR ventures up around the bend and all over the map. “You can ponder perpetual motion” like this Campolungo, moving backwards and forwards. Bold and beautiful, the Lamole is complex and bloody coagulating Sangiovese.  90

Le Sughere Di Frassinello 2009 (25700, $29.95) the modish Sangioveto dominated blend from Tuscany’s coastal Maremma is an encrusted, purgative Etruscan. Saucy, sugary pomegranate, crushed tomato concentrate and acidic ossein.  90

Lionello Marchesi Coldisole Brunello Di Montalcino 2006 (281238, $41.95) seems muffled, not unlike this house’s very good ’97 seemed in 2003. Currently medium in body with an oil slick of resinous fruit working towards a bright future.  89

Mastrojanni San Pio 2008 (944603, $30.95) is a not so common Cabernet-based Montalcino blend with 20% local Brunello grapes to keep it real. There is a citrus drive and berry spice but really nothing specifically Tuscan about it. The taxi is speeding through the piazza but the wheels are in neutral.  87

Le Ragose Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2007 (991984, $18.95) quite convincingly sticks Veneto at the centre of a bulls-eye. Nuts and chocolate Ragusa nougat, ox suet and potpurri polish.  87

Monte Zovo Sa’Solin Ripasso Valpoliccella 2009 (650713, $17.95) begins with Brett, airs out and then simplifies for red sauce pasta. Misses the mineral boat of Le Ragose.  85

Lebanon

Cave Kouroum Petit Noir 2007 (260141, $14.95) from the Bekaa Valley intimates Pinot Noir in a Kiwi sort of way. Soft, easy going, “mafi mushkilato be charmed by its flavours.  86

Musar Jeune 2009 (178079, $17.95) from the esteemed producer and their entry-level juice. Unfortunately a corked bottle.  NR

Portugal

Quinta Do Quetzal Reserva 2007 (277376, $27.95) out of Alentejo will, I’m hoping, take it on the cheek or chin when “faced with a dodo’s conundrum.” That I might consider this blind to be an Australian Shiraz/Cabernet blend or South African Pinotage means the fake Chinese rubber plant quotient in uncommonly high. Botox treated plastica of the head and from knee to ankle.  86

Sogrape Reserva Douro 2008 (335208, $17.95) works Portugal’s most famous locale with clean, crisp, modern drive. The vanilla oak is obvious along with cedar mulch and savoury, floral scents. Medium heft, solid, continental and conventional.  87

Spain

Barón de Magaña 2007 (280552, $17.95) was corked.

Bodegas Olarra Cerro Añon Gran Reserva 2004 (190827, $24.95) made of 80% Tempranillo with smatterings of Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano. Regnant for today’s Rioja movement. An ampelographer might be required to place the Millerized Olarra but no matter. This Gran Reserva is to Rioja what resolved, mellifluent Chianti Classico Reserva is to Tuscany. Easy on the eyes, nose, mouth and throat.  88

Langa Tradicion Centenaria Garnacha 2008 (194795, $13.95) is a repeat performance. Like the 2007 from Calatayud, the two Garnachas act out a simple, sugary and leavened oak fruit play to a standing “O.”  86

Ramón Bilbao Reserva 2005 (281097, $17.00)  does Rioja with IVR* spirit. Hewn, leathery texture and a perfume river of aromatics leading to a petal strewn pagoda’s steps. Musk of melon and ox lingers on the lawn. Subtle and captivating.  88

Torres Gran Segre De Toro Reserva 2008 (315648, $15.95) of Catalunya is a hircine of horse’s hooves. Mocha java oaks its way into the stable of Garnacha, Carignan and Syrah.  86

Tossals Junior 2006 (278135, $18.95) emblematizes the new Montsant. One third Carinena is grippy and laborious to chew through at present. A second third lavender and raspberry Garnacha are more welcoming but it’s the last third that does the real wooing. Cabernet Sauvignon on loan from Bordeaux joins near-sectarian Tempranillo to win over fans. Soporific and yet the blend is a tough nut to crack.  87

IVR* – Vintage Direct Intrigue-to-Value Ratio

CVR** – Vintage Direct Curiosity-to-Value Ratio

Good to go!

The Wine Diaries. VINTAGES June 9, 2012: Southern France

Southern France. Photo Credit: Travel Blat

Previous posts on the VINTAGES, June 9th release:

The Wine Diaries. VINTAGES June 9, 2012: Reds

The Wine Diaries. VINTAGES June 9, 2012: Whites and Rosés

VINTAGES June 9, 2012 Release: Six from Chile

Four alternative whites from the Vintages June 9th release

If vineyards were retail stores in a mall, a wine’s cheapness would be directly proportional to its proximity to a food court. Southern France knows little of fast food and its vineyards are stamped with an emblematic sense of place. Add to that an across the board aptitude to craft as art from indigenous fruit and it is clear that quality has never been better.

Domaine Piquemal Tradition 2009 (272419, $15.95) out of the Côtes du Roussillon shines like the sun on purple vetch. A taste of black licorice popsicle dripping into a wooden bowl of raspberries. Taut and firm, looking for roasting meat.  87

Foncalieu Réserve Du Sud Languedoc 2009 (272443, $15.95) is another SGC composition. Jets to black where Syrah is sooty, Grenache gamey and Carignan cumbrous. All tolled and told this is a very big wine for $16. Will get my thumb lost in its plum pudding.  88

Gérard Bertrand Grand Terrior Grenach/Syrah 2009 (147983, $18.95) the languid one of Montpeyroux in Languedoc is certainly more Anita and less Enrique. Still, it fails to ring my bell. There is sour licorice and also low acid-lees sediment. Would work for a disco rendezvous. “Well lay back and relax while I put away the dishes.”  84

Hegarty Chamans No. 2 Grenache/Mourvèdre/Cinsault 2009 (277061, $21.95) of port-like, cassis and orange whip qualities cabs and scats its way onto the stage. The brother John Moucher from Minervois, blue-candy and heavy in style, “a red-hot hoochie coocher.” Some citrus animation keeps it tapping.  88

Mont Tauch Le Tauch Fitou 2009 (272484, $19.95) of chew, chunk and funk seems ancient in style. An acerbic bomb of tannin, alcohol and fruit. All I can say is wow. Bare, bold and beautiful.  88

Château De L’aumerade 2010 (277616, $15.95) ascertains a sunny disposition so colloquially Provence it’s obvious. Rosé scent of strawberry cream and modish in its gastronomic versatility. A locavinous foody.  87

Château de Trignon Gigondas 2006 (681817, $29.95) is old school, weighty, Frank the Tank. Base, brash, fleshy, formidable. The kind of Rhône that kills off brain cells, abandons all reason and goes streaking through the quad. Oh, baby.  91

Domaine Des Fées Côtes Du Rhône 2010 (272450, $14.95) should rightly flash like a nocturnal animal’s eyes, what with the unfiltered Grenache and Syrah raised in concrete on the outskirts of Rhône town. Not so. Elegant, refined and quite pretty actually. A wee wine this fée, gnomish, of peace and fair play.  88

Montirius Le Clos Vacqueyras 2007 (76547, $28.95) the organic one is consistently relevant and creatively prolific, “goin’ as much with the river as not.” The Grenache throws no punches while the Syrah “don’t push the river.” Initially idiosyncratic, the funk abides with a swirl to reveal a licorice and Kirsch liqueur. The wine as sleeping beauty becomes a giant. Soulful vacuum of traditional country meets R & B.  90

Romain Duvernay Vacqueyras 2009 (280966, $24.95) is a dark Vaq, modern, big on extraction. Possesses the least sense of place from these ten. At times seems Tuscan, other times Napa. Minerality and dark berries abound, as do chalky tannins. Time will tell the story but either way, you have to like the concentrated style.  88

Good to go!