Sunday, September 30, 2007

Finger My Lakes

I'd love to try Riesling and Cabernet Franc from the Finger Lakes, but goddamn it, they are very hard to come by in Chicago. Zug recommends the wines from Damiani; I shall keep my eyes open for them. Funny, but just after Zug e-mailed me about Damiani, I saw that Jancis just posted about Finger Lakes wines, fingering (heh) Fox Run, Heron Hill, King Ferry, Red Newt, Treleaven, and Hermann J Wiemer as the best.

Speaking of Riesling, I opened the 2005 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett the other night. Deceptive, this one. Sweetness is its first trick: it smells like a cinnamon-dusted pie made from strawberries, kiwi and apple, and a wall of sugar hits the front of the mouth. Yet the finish feels dry and quenching, a twist of a salted lime. Upon entry it also conned me into thinking it's a lighthearted, monolithic simpleton. Turns out this is a viscous, extracted little beast, and it sits on the tongue, and sits, and sits. Third, the acidity is cloaked. Sure, there's some, but you don't really experience it until you pucker the inside of your mouth after you swallow; suddenly, the acidity blooms, and the mouth starts watering. Finally, subtle Würzgarten spice notes emerge only at warmer temps.

This all portends the wine it will be; I should buy another bottle and cellar 'til 2015. At $17 per bottle, I can afford to!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I Am a Grenache Lover

With Lyle Fass proclaiming himself a Grenache hater, what better way to kick off this blog than with a defense of Grenache?

Granted, Lyle says that "there are certain wines I am thinking about as a Grenache hater," specifically overcooked Robert Parkerized tete de cuvees from Chateauneuf, but I love the Rhône Grenache blends in part because the majority of them are not like this.

The basic 2005 CDR from Domaine Chaume-Arnaud that I brought to Shawn and Kyle's last night will serve as Exhibit A. This vibrant, fresh, medium bodied red jogs easily past the finish line, with pepper and wild herbs rooster-tailing in its wake (Cinsault (10%) and Syrah (30%) join Grenache in the blend). The raspberry fruit had just the right touch, neither sweet nor fat.

It was, in short, a vigorous wine, an alive wine, a balanced wine, but one modest enough to be simply enjoyable.

The Chaume-Arnaud family raised this wine in organic soils, harvested the grapes by hand, and let the juice spend 8 months in stainless steel and cement — no oak. And bad dollar and all, we got to experience this love for a mere $15 retail.

An organically grown, lovingly raised, very affordable wine of character... What's not to love?