Monday, June 1, 2009

Three Recent Values

Wow, I have not been keeping up on the blogging like I should. Here are some notes on a few good values I've had recently until I can get a more coherent article together.

Willow Crest Pinot Gris Yakima Valley 2007
A lot of pinot gris in the Northwest, and when it's done well, I really like it for its spicy orchard fruits. In too many bottlings, though, it lacks the zip and the verve I look for. So I wasn't expecting a lot from this $10 bottle, which is grown in Washington state's Yakima Valley — quite far from Oregon, where most domestic pinot gris is made. But this wine hits all the marks for Northwestern pinot gris. It has those pear and spice flavors, a hint of smoke in the aroma, fresh acidity, medium weight, and good balance. So it outperforms many $15 bottles of this type.

Château d'Assas Coteaux du Languedoc Cuvée Classique 2006
It's lovely to find a $13 red from the Languedoc that shows good balance, character, and weight without any trace of heat or overripe fruit. I feel somehow that the universe is being kind to me. This blend of syrah, grenache, and mourvèdre shows aromas of violet, blackberry, clove, and orange zest. The palate's where this really shines, as brisk, citric acidity helps lift this full bodied wine over the palate, while the minerality, solid tannic structure, and black fruits show good staying power on the finish. Oh, and it's only 12.5% abv.

Domaine des Aubuisières Vouvray Cuvée de Silex 2008
We're getting to the $17 price point now, but it's hard to find a decent Vouvray for less. Happily, this is much better than decent. Bernard Fouquet makes this wine in the sec tendre ("tender dry") style, with just enough residual sugar to temper chenin blanc's high acidity. This is an extremely satisfying bottling, with slightly smoky aromas (that'd be the silex talking), gorgeous acidity, and minerality up the wazoo. The fruit is pure and creamy and suggests flavors of apple, pear, and grapefruit; the latter fruit is particularly prevalent on the finish and "talks" perfectly with the flinty minerals and gingery spice. If I had three arms, I'd give this three thumbs up. And given the great acid structure here, this should age very nicely.

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