I opened a bottle of Vincent Dauvissat's 2001 Chablis recently and I was looking forward to trying it, particularly as I've never had his classic wines. It was ruined! But was it corked, or was it prematurely oxidized? I couldn't tell.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Posted by Wicker Parker at 3:54 PM
Monday, June 22, 2009
Ahhh, it's finally summer. For real. You'd think I'd bring a crisp white to a warm weather cookout but, ever the contrarian, I brought the 2006 Domenico Pennacchi Colle di Fontivecchie Umbria Rosso instead. It was a big hit. Noses dove into bowls, mine especially. "This is just stupid good," said my friend Erin, which sums it up if you're into the short version.
The longer version is that this somewhat mysterious wine — neither the producer nor the importer seems to have a web site, and the Chicago distributor has minimal details on theirs — is a damned spicy wine that's made of 30% sagrantino, 25% montepulciano, 25% merlot, and 20% ciliegiolo. The latter grape is a parent to sangiovese and my Oxford Companion says it's named for its cherry-like flavors and aromas. But it's the spicy sagrantino that really makes this wine.
This shows good red fruit, pleasingly brisk acidity, and most remarkably, a delicate red earthiness. Like I said, I had my nose stuck in the glass all night, and the notes of jalapeño, black pepper, earth, and cherry were complex, well-integrated, and lovely. It's medium-bodied — it's not at all light — but it's light on its feet, and it totally worked for a summer bbq. For one thing, the refreshing acidity never weighed me down despite the summer heat. For another, it went well with everything from grilled asparagus (really!) to grilled burgers to peppered halibut steak to earthy blue potato salad. Yes, I'm
a pig polite, I ate a bit of all the above.
This drinks great right from pop and pour but has enough acidity and tannic structure to go for a few more years, or at least to go with the burgers you grill, like, tomorrow. (Meanwhile, if you know anything about this producer, give us the 411 in the comments section.)
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
A friend turned 30 (oh, to be 30 again!) so I flew to NYC to help him celebrate. During this brief trip we went to August in the West Village for some dinner. Everything about the experience was terrific. We were ushered to the covered atrium out back and sat under a gorgeous, pale blue sky; the potted grasses lining the room lent a rustic feel without overdoing it. Correspondingly, we were served lovingly cooked food at reasonable prices. The wine list was tended with equal care, and they even served our amazing bianco at roughly 55 degrees — ahhh, perfect.
The wine in question was the 2006 Paolo Bea Santa Chiara Bianco, which is a blend of malvasia, grachetto, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and garganega. Slap me silly and call me names, but I didn't know that Bea made a bianco; I'd only seen his rossos and have only had his "entry level" rosso — but it was fabulous, and the sommelier encouraged us to try it given that I already loved his rosso. He even told us that if we didn't like it, we could select another bottle, and the staff would drink the Bea at the end of the night. (A rather amazing offer, but then, they'd get the wine...)
Sadly for them, my friend and I hogged the whole bottle. With a wine this fascinating, how could we not? I'd describe it as being halfway between a full-bodied Roussillon blanc and a Tondonia reserva, if that makes any sense. It's a very dark, sherry-colored wine, yet it's only slightly (and deliberately) oxidized. On the palate it's delicate rather than obvious or aggressive, and it finishes with terrific minerality. It was frankly awesome with my bone marrow crusted cod, which was oh so tender under its delicate crust, and it also worked really well with our starter of roasted beets and goat yogurt panna cotta. The wine was not inappropriate with my friend's duck carbonara, but it was slightly overcome by it, if that tells you anything about the weight and delicacy of this wine. I must have this wine again!
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Sauvignon blanc and chardonnay are now officially allowed in the Rioja DOCa. "With these new varieties we are trying to make Viura more fruity and fresh as that is what consumers want."
Actually, that should be some consumers want fruity and fresh white Rioja, just as some television viewers want to watch Maury Povich.
Monday, June 1, 2009
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.