Lots of exciting new wines this week to talk about!
As we head into holiday season, look for upcoming newsletters including my Thanskgiving Pairings Newsletter, Champagne Value of the Year, Sparkling Wine Value of the Year and more! Remember if you are having a party this holiday season send me an email ahead of time so that we can make the proper selections and get them here on time. I have access to lots more wines than are in the shop, so don’t hesitate to ask for a special request.
Enjoy the newsletter!
2006 CHÂTEAU MOULIN DE TRICOT HAUT-MÉDOC
I had an interesting visit from a new customer this weekend, who questioned me as to whether he as a wine consumer was priced out of buying Bordeaux? I explained to him the simple truth – for around $10 – $15 a bottle many good table Bordeaux exist. They will be composed predominantly of Merlot, as you won’t find much Cabernet Sauvignon based wines in that price point. “How much would I have to spend to get a quality Cabernet based Bordeaux?” he asked. I think he thought I was going to start by saying $75 or $100. Instead I mentioned that I have recently tasted a whole bunch of delicious Cabernet based Bordeaux in the $25 – $40 category. While not something you would have on a taco night, for the quality you are getting, these were terrific wines.
Probably the best “old school” Bordeaux value I have tasted recently is this one from Château Moulin de Tricot. If the name sounds familiar it might be because a little while back NY Times wine guru Eric Asimov wrote an excellent article called the “Soulful Side of Bordeaux.” He highlighted the little guys that are still around making hand crafted, top-notch wines, of which Moulin de Tricot was highlighted.
This is a small estate, with a total of 13 hectares of vines owned, 4 in the Haut-Médoc, and 9 in Margaux. Run by the Rey family, everything is traditional here. No chemical herbicides used in the vineyard, high density vineyard planting, low-yields, and most importantly to me, they get it right when it comes to the usage of oak. You are not going to get any splinters in your tongue drinking this, everything is in balance.
So here you go Bordeaux fiends – I’m presenting you with a delicious Bordeaux that you can drink now and also hold onto for a few years if you want. It is Cabernet based, and also an exceptional value. No need to give up hope on finding good value Bordeaux, at least yet.
$31.99 BTL. / $383.88 CASE
2007 SINEANN CABERNET SAUVIGNON, COLUMBIA VALLEY
We are going Northwest on this edition of the newsletter, with three wines in different flavors from Washington and Oregon!
I am always looking for good value Cabernet Sauvignon’s from the US to offer. QPR is a term I hear a lot now, especially when referring to American cabs. Quality to Price Ratio is a difficult judgment call to make, but sometimes you know it when you taste it.
Such is the case with this terrific Cabernet Sauvignon from Peter Rosback of Sineann Cellars. This winery is well known for making terrific, full-throttle reds from both Oregon and Washington. I’ve been selling these for a long time, and can tell you they are some of the most thoughtfully made wines in the Northwest.
There is a definite style to the Sineann wines as I mentioned before with the words full-throttle. There is never a shortage of fruit and structure in any of Peters wines, but they always work and still seem balanced.
Much of the focus of the winery is on single vineyard wines, which makes this wine an exception. The fruit for this wine is sourced from three vineyards including some old vines from the Cold Creek Vineyard, one of the longstanding top vineyards in the Columbia Valley. Peter also uses a lot of fruit from The Dalles in his wines, and this Cabernet has some fruit from the Hillside Vineyard.
The result is a full-bodied, dark fruit scented and flavored wine with ripe tannins and a long, mouthwatering finish. Big Cabernet at a great price – you got it!
$24.99 BTL. / $299.88 CASE
2001 LÓPEZ DE HEREDIA RIOJA RESERVA “VIÑA BOSCONIA”
This is a wine that I have had in the store for a little while but have yet to write about. Shame on me.
You should buy this wine if you love the classic, earth driven style of Rioja. In that category, López de Heredia is THE producer to know.
Bosconia is one of the producers’ four vineyard sites. This one is located next to the Ebro river on south facing foothills. The vineyard is planted with Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graziano. The average age of the vines in this vineyard is 40 years.
A Bosconia Reserva is made in every vintage. The fermentation and aging techniques are the same as other wines, but Bosconia Reserva is aged for five years in old American oak barrels. It is then rested longer in bottle.
2001 is considered an excellent vintage in Rioja, and it shows in this great bottle of wine. If there ever was a vintage to stock up on, this may be it!
“Red with an amber rim. Smoky redcurrant, dried cherry and floral aromas gain power with air, picking up notes of licorice and pungent herbs. Highly complex in the mouth, displaying sweet red berry and bitter cherry flavors along with a spicecake quality. The tannins are fully absorbed, allowing the sweet fruit to stand out. As complex as this is right now, it will reward many more years of cellaring. 93 Points, Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar.”
$31.99 BTL. / $383.88 CASE – ONLY 3 CASES AVAILABLE
2009 ANTOINE ARENA PATRIMONIO BLANC “HAUT DE CARCO”
When you try a wine from a region or country that is new to you, it is best to begin your journey with the top producer of that place.
Corsica is an island that measures 115 miles long by 55 miles wide. Sitting in the Tyrrhenian Sea, south of France and west of Italy, the islands 275,000 residents enjoy a Mediterranean climate.
A surprising amount of acreage is under vine in Corsica, despite the fact that much of the island is mountainous. Perhaps the most famous appellation in Corsica, and the oldest, is that of Patrimonio in the northern part of the island. For white wines you are likely to encounter the grape Vermentino, or as the locals call it Malvoisie. Vermentino in parts of Italy can be a simple quaffable white wine, but in the hands of a master producer on a notably warm island like Corsica, it takes on great intensity and a sense of place.
The Carco vineyard is a special site owned by Antoine Arena. Composed of limestone with chalk and clay, the parcel used to be planted with olive trees. In recent years, Arena planted an area above the Carco vineyard called Haut de Carco. Such a steep hillside that the seemingly unmovable rocky terrain was transformed into terraces. In such a short time of being produced, to me this is the go to reference point for Vermentino in Patrimonio.
There is nothing light about this wine, as it oozes with rich tropical and stone fruit notes. There is medium weight in the mid-palate, but clearly the higher elevation of this vineyard provides great balancing freshness. Above all this is a wine of the Mediterranean – which to me means that you are going to smell and have flavors of wild herbs and mineral. All of this goes to make a remarkably complex and interesting white wine. New to Corsica and their white wines? Punch your ticket here.
$36.99 BTL. / ONLY 12 BOTTLES AVAILABLE
2007 GRAMERCY CELLARS SYRAH, WALLA WALLA VALLEY
Back to the Northwest and this time we go to Eastern Washington home to the Walla Walla Valley.
Syrah has exploded onto the scene in the region over the last decade, and there seems to be many expression of the grape depending on vineyard and most certainly producer style.
In just a short time Greg Harrington of Gramercy Cellars is making some of the best Syrah in Washington State, and the United States for that matter. Many people have take notice including the press – Food & Wine voted it Best New American Winery for 2010.
Winemaker Greg Harrington, who came from working in restaurants as a sommelier when he earned the Master Sommelier certificate at age 26, has set out to produce wines with a sense of place. As a wine geek, he is against wines of excessive alcohol and new oak, and doesn’t practice that at his winery.
The Walla Walla Syrah featured today is 100% Syrah. The fruit is sourced from hillside blocks of the Les Collines and Forgotten Hills Vineyards. Greg has gone old school on this one by doing whole cluster fermentation, long maceration, lees stirring and partial destemming. New oak is kept to a minimum at 10%.
Bright, peppery Syrah nose, combining dark fruit, blue fruit, baking spices and hints at tapenade on the palate. Really pure, with excellent delineation and length. This is a Syrah that keeps you coming back for another glass – and that is the point!
This is one of the most fairly priced Syrah coming from the US today. Syrah fans – do not miss this!
$41.99 BTL. / $503.99 CASE – ONLY 389 CASES PRODUCED
2006 SHEA WINE CELLARS PINOT NOIR “SHEA VINEYARD – WÅDENSWIL CLONE”
Our last Northwest stop is at Dick Shea’s place in Newberg, Oregon. If you enjoy the brawny style of Pinot Noir, then this is up your alley.
The Shea Vineyard is one of Oregon’s most famous sites. 140 acres of prime land in the Yamhill-Carlton district of the Willamette Valley. Only 25% of the vineyard fruit is kept for Shea Wine Cellars, the rest goes to many of the elite names in Oregon – Ken Wright, Penner-Ash, Bergström, Beaux Frères.
The Wädenswil Clone is planted in only 3 acres of the Shea Vineyard. From it Dick Shea makes a separate cuvee that is really complex and unique. Low-yielding at 1.98 tons per acre, the fermentation uses partial whole cluster and lots of whole berries. Aged for 10 months in 43% new Burgundian oak barrels and the rest in used barrels.
This is really starting to show beautifully, with notes of forest floor, dark berries, plenty of that classic baking spices and a really long finish. It will most certainly continue to develop over the next five years, but it really is drinking well now.
I caught a little bit of a price break, normally this retails for $50+, instead I have a little under a case at $44.99. Take advantage of this great deal.
$44.99 BTL. / ONLY 11 BOTTLES AVAILABLE – 92+ POINTS, WINE ADVOCATE