Monday, October 31, 2011

No Power, No Water Get Out the Corkscrew Pt. 2 - Ch. Helene Corbieres

Climate Change who? I'm getting tired of this people. Another freak storm, another 48 hrs. without juice. You can't tell me there isn't weird stuff going on, I live it. And the guys who work for our power company, they're wondering too. Time to spring for that badass generator putting out 10,000 watts or so. Anyway, enough whining, let's talk the good wine. Tonight's power restoration celebratory bottle was a 2009 Corbieres from Chateau Helene, courtesy of top notch importer David Bowler. Corbieres is one of those practically unknown AOC's from the Languedoc in southern France. But instead of being dominated by Grenache or Syrah, the wines of Corbieres are defined by Carignan, a grape with it's own unmistakable characteristics. The quality that stands out most to me with a typical Corbieres is a spicy element, both in the aromas and the flavors. Yes, the Chateau Helene Corbieres has attractive plummy fruit with a note of coffee, but the spicy element really adds complexity and interest. As we tried to figure out which spice it might be, my wife came up with bay leaf...and I think she's right. Add to that a soft, lush mouth feel with excellent fruit and a very smooth finish and you've got a great $10.99 value. Cheers.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Di Majo Norante Sangiovese '09

Here's a lovely Sangiovese, the grape of Chianti, from a very good producer in an area not usually associated with this varietal. Di Majo Norante is located in Molise and is every bit a modernist producer in terms of their packaging and their marketing. Yet they still take as traditionalist an approach as possible in the vineyards. Sangiovese from southern Italian climes such as this makes very different wines than it does in Tuscany. No it does not have the delicacy or complexity of a good Chianti, but this version is a perfectly good every day wine, a perfect fit for a Wednesday night pasta or a grilled chicken panini....and it cost me a mere $8.99. This version is darker and riper than the Tuscan versions, with more blackberry rather than cherry and leather notes rather than floral notes. It's very soft, round and up front fruity and is another winner from Winebow, an importer whose portfolio you should seek out. Cheers.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Off the Beaten Path; Spanish Albarino from Mardevinas

I like Albarinos, and it's not the name that rolls off your tongue when somebody asks you what your favorite white grapes are. Not many folks know about them, as evidenced by the fact that your local store no matter how big it is, will have 2 on hand, maybe 3 at the most. Albarino is a grape grown mostly in northwest Spain in the Rias Baixas (ree-ahs buy-shuss) DO. It is thought by some to be a clone of Riesling that was brought to Spain hundreds of years ago. It's name actually means "white from the Rhine". Anyway, this 2009 version from Mardevinas is typical Albarino. It's very aromatic with pineapple, pear and distinct floral elements on the nose. In the mouth, it's loaded with white fruit, a note of honey and excellent acidity and despite the sweet flavors, it finishes dry. These are great food wines that should not be overlooked. Fermented entirely in stainless steel at cool temperatures, this great little wine really lets it's varietal character shine. I've tried the 2010 vintage from Mardevinas and it is just as good as the '09. Imported by Grapes of Spain, this delicious white cost me $12.99. Cheers.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Domaine Boisson Cotes du Rhone '09

Yes, I sometimes sound like a broken record (you remember vinyl don't you?) but I can't help it. Cotes du Rhones are hands down my favorite everyday reds. For me, no other wines give as much complexity and pleasure in the low end category. 2009 was a fantastic vintage in the Rhone Valley and the CDR from Domaine Boisson is an absolute steal at the $9.99 my local shop is charging for it. This beauty is a blend made up of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Carignan, and 5% each Cinsault and Mourvedre. It's got all the stuff I love; big aromatics of bing cherry, pepper and Provencal spice and a big bold mouthful of dark berry fruit. It has excellent structure and finishes lightly tannic with note of minerality. I could easily go through a case of this over the next month. We sampled this beauty last night with some southwest style venison burgers with chipotle mayo. Imported by the wonderful small importer Alain Junguenet and his company, Wines of France, this is a portfolio to seek out. Cheers!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lenore Columbia Valley Syrah 2006

Here's a new world Syrah from Washington state that certainly gives forth the flavor you want at it's $12.99 price point. Now I'm a big fan of Rhone Valley Syrah, but you can't touch good ones for less than 25 smackers. This version doesn't yield the kind of barnyard, bacon and dark fruit aromatic complexity of it's French cousins, but it is sure to please those who favor purity of fruit and new world size. Made by the Corvidae Wine Company and repped by one of my favorites, Polaner Selections, this everyday quaffer puts forth plenty of blueberry, blackberry and petrol in the nose, along with some alcoholic heat. It's got all the size and stuffing you expect from new world Syrah and it finishes ripe and smooth with a note of pepper. It's not exactly my style, but fans of new world fruit bombs will find a lot to like here. Washington State wines can be quite attractive as they are frequently fruitier than European wines, but at the same time a bit more restrained and balanced than wines from the hotter areas of California. In addition, I know this is an '06 but it was really quite fresh and showed no signs of falling apart. Cheers.