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Three Enjoyable Wines Under $12

January 10, 2012 Leave a comment

I recently picked up these selections from MacArthurs.  After I had picked up the bottles I specifically wanted, Phil pointed out the Moulin de Gassac and Duorum as recent affordable additions to the shelves.  John pointed at the Coriole.  I must admit I was a bit sceptical about the Coriole with it being a Sangiovese/Shiraz blend.  Perhaps this was due to a limited familiarity with their more classical Lloyd Reserve and Mary Kathleen.  But it was good, Jenn thought so too.  Both the Coriole and Moulin de Gassac have a couple of years bottle age on them which really helps.  The Coriole is in the vigorous midst of its prime whereas the Moulin de Gassac has peaked.  The Dourum drinks like the younger wine it is with Jenn finding it quite attractive.  Having just drunk the 2009 Dourum, Colheita I can taste the familial resemblance and am impressed by the quality and the price.  I recommend you try all three.  $31 for three bottles of interesting wine is a good deal.

2008 Coriole Vineyards, Sangiovese/Syrah, McLaren Vale – $10
This is imported by Robert Whale Selections.  This Classic selection wine is a blend of 51% Sangiovese and 49% Syrah.  The supple, meaty fruit show some confected notes before it becomes dusty and dark.  Some tart red fruit comes out as tannins coat the inside of the cheeks.  This pleasing wine has settled down from some bottle age.  The aftertaste leaves fresh flavors of menthol.  This wine is quite large in the mouth with a richness that belies the relatively low alcohol.  A good value.

2010 Duorum, Tons, Douro – $12
This is imported by Winebow Inc.  This entry-level wine is a blend of 50% Touriga Franca, 30% Touriga Nacional, and 20% Tinta Roriz.  The fruit is sourced from vineyards grown on soils of schist at altitudes of 400-600 meters.  The wine is aged for six months in 2nd and 3rd year French and American oak barrels.  In the glass the wine is a ruby color with purple rim.  The nose reveals powdery, fruity aromas.  In the mouth the flavors are fruity with a strong floral, black berry note that is quite attractive.  The flavors start off a tad soft before it becomes juicy with plenty of acidity and a good finish that is racy with black fruit.  This is ready for current consumption.

2008 Moulin de Gassac, Guilhem, VdP Hersault – $9
This is imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is a blend of 40% Syrah, 25% Granche, 20% Mourvedre, and 15% Carignan sourced from vines on soils of Jurassic limestone.  The wine was aged 6-7 months in stainless steel.  The wine is a light+ ruby color in the glass.  The light nose started off with earthy, red fruit before revealing strawberry aromas.  In the mouth the flavors start off pleasantly ripe with black fruit that turns towards sour red fruit (but not in a bad way).  The flavors become simple but remain enjoyable.  There is a bit of sweet spice in the finish, some very fine tannins, and a smidge of salivating acidity.  This wine has entered its mature phase and though it is not complex, it is satisfying and a good value that should be drunk up in the near term.

Two Engaging, Young Wines

January 9, 2012 1 comment

The Clos des Fees and Duorum are perhaps an unlikely pair to drink together but they were quite complementary.  Both are young, fresh wines that show delicate texture.  The Clos des Fees is juicy, showing redder fruit, and while quenching right now will develop over the next several years.  The Duorum, with its darker fruit, is purposefully structured for short-term aging but manages to remain fresh and satisfying.  I recommend that you buy both!

2010 Domaine du Clos des Fees, les Sorcieres, Cotes du Roussillon
Imported by Simon N Cellars and available for $17 at MacArthurs.  This wine is a roughly equal blend of Grenach, Syrah, and Carignan and that was aged for eight months in concrete tanks.   The red fruit is powdery with flavors of cranberry.  There is fresh depth, acidity reminiscent of sweet Mandarin oranges, which form a very pleasurable drink.  In the aftertaste, the acidity makes the back of the tongue salivate as floral sweet spices come out.  This will develop over the short-term.

2009 Duorum, Colheita Vinho Tinto, Douro
Imported by Winebow Inc and available for $16 at MacArthurs. Duorum is a five-year old project between Joao Portugal Ramos and Jose Maria Soares Franco.  This wine is a blend of 40% Touriga Nacional, 40% Touriga Franca, and 20% Tinta Roriz aged for six to eight months in 2-3 year old French and American oak.  The nose is a pleasing mixture of blacker fruit and floral notes.  In the mouth, delicate fruit follows the nose with dusty red berries, sweet spice notes in the finish before textured, drying-tannins coat the inside of the lips.  This tasty wine leaves an impression of freshness.  This is well-balanced and will develop over the next several years.  This requires at least one hour of air if you are to drink it now.

Two Exciting Iberian Wines

November 1, 2011 4 comments

We drank these two wines last week.  Mas Sorrer is a new venture from Sara Perez and Rene Barbier, Jr.  Founded in 2010 this bottle of 2009 represents their second vintage.  Sara Perez is winemaker at Mas Martinet, Cims de Porrera, and Venus la Universal.  Back in May, Lou and I drunk a bottle of her 2007 Mas Martinet BruConceito is a relatively new winery where Rita Ferreira uses the fruit from her mother’s estate.

The Conceito is imported by Vin de Terra Imports and available at Chain Bridge Cellars for $18.  The Mas Porrer is imported by Domaine Select Wine Estates and available at MacArthurs for $14.  The Conceito is more intellectual and unveils itself over a few hours.  The Mas Sorrer grabs hold of you and makes you want to drink more.  I am really excited about the level of quality here at such an affordable price.  I rather enjoyed both of these wines and recommend them!

2009 Mas Sorrer, Montsant
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah sourced from 10-year-old vines in the La Fuina vineyard.  This vineyard is located at 300 meters with soils of granite.  The wine is aged for 10 months with 40% in tank and 60% in 4-year-old oak barrels.  On the second night the wine was Rhone like with its ripe, robust blue/purple fruit that vigorously expanded in the mouth.  This is really good stuff with a yeast note and fine tannins that coat the lips thoroughly. *** Now-2015.

2008 Conceito, Contraste, Douro,
This wine is a blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Sousao.  The wine is aged for 18 months with 30% in tank and 70% in French oak.  The nose reveals scented berries.  In the mouth there is a lot of dark fruit which is elegant, with a powdery texture and gravelly note that is quite nice.  This wine is very approachable with some grapiness, a slightly savory midpalate, and in the end there is a lot going on.  This might be better with a year or two of aging. *** 2014-2019.

Four Wines Between $12 and $15

September 26, 2011 Leave a comment

During the early weeks of this blog, I once took a break from posting for two days.  This prompted my friend Lou to check in on me, to make sure I was healthy and still drinking wine.  I am currently flying to Seattle and have recently passed over Fargo.  I was too busy having fun with my daughter to write a post for today.  Fortunately, Alaska Air has excellent inflight wi-fi as I demonstrated from this post.  So here I am once again blogging from the air.  Jenn and I have drunk some excellent wines from Washington and Oregon this summer but the majority of these bottles comfortably cost over $25 per bottle.    For this trip I plan on tasting and buying wines under that price point.  In this vein, this post includes notes on four different bottles all $15 or less.

The Thorn-Clarke was purchased for $13, the Alpha Box & Dice for $12, the Quinta da Rosa for $15, and the Plungerhead for $15.  All of these should be currently available at MacArthur’s.  My favorites were the Thorn-Clarke and the Quinta de la Rosa.  The Thorn-Clarke strongly delivers on value and the Quinta de la Rosa is at a decent price.  The Alpha Box & Dice and the Plungerhead were both too soft, jammy, and too sweet for my preferences.  If you are craving a zinfandel blend then spend an extra $2-$3 to buy a 2009 Ridge Zinfandel.

2008 Thorn-Clarke, Shotfire, Quartage, Barossa
This is a blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Malbec, 18% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, and 3% Merlot that was aged for 18 months in 85% French and 15% American oak. I first tried this at the Fran Kysela tasting held at MacArthur’s. We recently tried a full bottle that I had purchased that day. This wine has savory, soft, dark fruit with notes of olive. It is smooth, easy to drink with textured tannins, and supporting acidity. It is definitely an Australian wine and one that Jenn quite enjoyed. On the second night there were more blue fruits and the wine gave the impression of maturity beyond its age. *** Now-2015.

2008 Alpha Box & Dice, Tarot, Grenache, McLaren Vale
This wine is 100% Grenache from 10-year-old vines grown on hard red clay over limestone.This is very youthful and fruity with ample flavors of raspberry. A bit jammy in the sense of sweeter fruit, some blue notes, and plenty of acidity. Pleasant but not the most interesting. Drink with in a couple of years. * Now-2014.

2009 Quinta da Rosa Vinhos, Dou Rosa, Douro
This wine is a blend of 30% Touriga Nacional, 35% Touriga Franca, and 35% Tinta Roriz that was aged in French barriques. The nose was light with floral and fruity notes. There were flavors of youthful, purple fruit that immediately left the impression of being an easy to drink wine. With air a gentle, berry, ripeness develops with an enjoyable perfumed violet and lavender quality. The fruit becomes a mixture of red and blue flavors as tannins come out in the finish. *** Now-2017.

2009 Plungerhead, Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi
This wine is 98% Zinfandel and 2% Syrah sourced from mostly 30-60 year old vines. There are ample flavors of jammy, soft raspberries and strawberries. The flavors are a bit sweet, with unobtrusive acidity, and some spice.  Sealed with a Zork, which is actually quite handy for resealing the bottle. * Now.

A Wine Dinner at Bristol, 30 April 1993

April 30, 1993 1 comment

Though we all gathered outside of the Bristol Wine Circle for many formal and informal wine dinners only once did I write down my tasting notes. This particular dinner was hosted at Rob’s house where he prepared our dinner. We started off by tasting four wines blind then moved on to a pair of 1970 Clarets and finally a very young, vintage port.

The dinner menu consisted of:

  • Cheese and Tomato Swirl
  •  Quails Egg and Asparagus in a Pasty Case
  •  Breat of Barbury Duck with Greenpepper Corns and Apple
  •  Chocolate and Coffee Marquise
  •  Cheese
  •  Petit Fours

#1 – 1959 John Harvey and Sons, Riesling, Spatlese, Rudesheimer Hauserweg, Rheingau
75cl Bought at Avery’s 5 Pounds Sterling.
Rob.  Eggy on first nose.  Golden Color, sulfur malt color malt though dull.  No acidity, dull.  Old taste.  Quite sweet similar to 1971.  Best vintage between 1945-1971.  The label has an amusing Photo/Picture of a man and a woman pouring grapes.

#2 – 1991 Umani Ronci, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
3.99 Pounds Sterling. 12%.
Jon.  Alcoholic on the nose, very smooth.  Dark ruby color.  Sweet nose.  Quite young.  Italian, 1991.

#3 – 1989 Huadon Tsingtao, Chardonnay
6.50 Pounds Sterling.  China!!
Supervised by Rosemont Estate.  Crisp and fragrent.  Very pale light straw, slightly carbonated.  Acidy, apple citrus.  Finish may be due to acid.

#4 – 1988  P. Misserey, Mercurey
Nuits Cotes d’Or, 12.5%, 75 cL.
Tannic, big, finish, wonderful.
FF45 Cellier Normand

1970 Chateau Giscours, Margaux
Incredibly dark, huge nose, definitely not cigar-box, definately old Bordeaux.  Young, not there nose.  There is a hell of a lot of tannin.  Disappointed with palette and finish.  Not typical Margaux.  Disappointing.  “You are buggered without fruit.”  This wine has traveled.

1970 Chateau La Lagune, Haut-Medoc
From the nose it is obvious that this “better” than the Giscours.  I would lay it down for a few more years, but it is bloody good now.  Another evening.

1985 Quinta do Noval, Douro
8.50 Pounds Sterling
“You were getting up so early it was like getting up yesterday.”

Rob, Jon, Andrew, Iain, and Aaron