Saturday, October 25, 2008


I've been feeling indecisive about a lot of things in the last few weeks, and likewise I've placed all manner of wine on my table. Take, for example, the three disparate reds below.

Albet i Noya Tempranillo Penedès Classic 2006
While Albet i Noya subjects the biodynamically-grown grapes for this wine to carbonic maceration and eschews oak entirely, this is nicely structured and not at all overly fruity. That syrah comprises 10% of the finished wine has something to do with this, but it's primarily due to its acidic spine. It's quite affordable ($14) and should go well with a variety of foods, from cold soup to grilled meats.

Vini Biondi Outis 2002
The volcanic soils on the slopes of continually-erupting Mt. Etna are extremely young and very black, so you'd be excused for presuming that the wine would also be black and brash. Instead, the 2002 Outis is red-fruited and quite the elegant number. Now, it helps that this nerello mascalese-based blend (some nerello cappucino is here) is sourced from 2,000 foot elevation vineyards, and so we get a quite acidic wine with chalky and smoky red fruit aromas and mineral-laden sour cherry and strawberry flavors. This very good food wine needs air and there's still a lot of life left in it.

Jean-Louis Chave St. Joseph Offerus 2004
If this is my favorite of the trio of wines mentioned here, just know that I'm a sucker for ageable syrah that's simultaneously rustic, elegant, and deep. I first drank this 18 months ago and it continues to evolve slowly but surely, and I recommend a good decant if you want to drink this in the near future. While the stemmy, almost gritty tannins have an elbow-throwing charm when first opened, only by night three are they fully integrated into a wine of structured, masculine elegance. It has a great spine of acid and minerals, the tannins are briary, and the grilled meat and blackberry notes are great on both the nose and the palate. If I can find a few more bottles I'll sock 'em away.

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