Monday, February 23, 2009

This is a cross post from my blog, Wannabe Wino. This wine earned an 89 from the Wine Advocate. Since we're still talking about it days later, at $13, it's a fantastic value...and scoop it up for the QPR! Thanks for the 89 Wine Advocate, it's probably keeping the price lower!

Red wine is multiplying and having babies in my basement. We used to have just slightly more red wine than white wine down there....the red lived in 9 wine racks and the white lived in one old wine rack and 7 styrafoam shipper halves. Now, the red wine takes up the original 9 racks, plus the old rack, and more than 4 of the styrafoam shippers. I'm not really sure how that happened, but I think I need to start collecting some more white wine. My selection is dismal at the moment. So that would explain why I'm quickly drinking the few whites I got in my Domaine547 shipment last week!

On our ski trip, we decided that fondue would make a great meal after a day on the mountain. However, when I packed to go, I realized I had absolutely no bone dry Riesling in the basement to take with us. (My usual choice with fondue.) So instead I grabbed the 2007 Clos Roche Blanche Sauvignon Blanc that I bought from Domaine547 for $13. It clocked in at 12.5% alcohol by volume, had a plastic cork, and hails from France.

On the nose I found grassy aromas, citrus, hay, lemon, herbs, tropical notes, and star fruit. I also thought I detected a hint of wet stone. In the mouth I got flavors of lemon, fresh cut grass, herbs, pineapple, stones, minerals, and other tropical fruit. Overall, I found the wine to be light and refreshing, and it went fabulously well both in the fondue and with it. At $13, this is a great bargain...Matt is still talking about it days later!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

2005 Margalit Cabernet Franc

This is a cross-post for an Israeli Cabernet Franc that received an 89 rating from the Wine Spectator. I have been recently posting reviews about numerous Israeli wines and you can visit my website for more.

Margalit Winery, founded in 1989, was the first boutique winery in Israel and is owned and operated by Yair Margalit and his son Asaf. The winery is located close to the Mediterranean, about halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa. Their two vineyards are located in the upper Galilee Mountains and the village of Binyamina.

They only produce approximately 1600 cases a year, all of the grapes having been hand harvested and using only free run juice. They have a passion for Bordeaux grapes so concentrate on growing those.

The 2005 Margalit Cabernet Franc ($54.99) is 100% Cabernet Franc and has an alcohol content of 14.9%. I was a bit hesistant about this wine as I am usually not a big fan of this grape because it often has a green/vegetal taste I dislike. But to my pleasant surprise, this wine lacked those flavors. In fact, it reminded me far more of a Syrah.

It was a dark red in color with a nose of berries and a touch of spice. On the palate, the spice was much more prominent, like a spicy Syrah, though there were also nice black cherry, plum and raspberry flavors. The tannins were moderate and the finish was long and enjoyable. Plenty of complexity, a nice structure and very satisfying. This was a Cabernet Franc that I very much enjoyed.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Fabulous Washington State Riesling

This is a cross-post for a Riesling that received an 89-point rating from one of the major wine magazines. I think it's very good QPR.

This year, one of my goals is to learn more about Washington wine. I'm starting my journey this month, and decided to take my first steps with a white wine.

Washington may be better known for its Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots, but it makes white wine, too. The climate seems especially well-suited to Rhone varietals and Riesling. It's been a while since I had a Riesling, so I picked the latter.

The 2006 Long Shadows Poet's Leap Riesling was a very good QPR choice. ($20, Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman; available elsewhere for $17-$24) While higher in price than many domestic Rieslings, it has character and finesse. It comes from fruit grown in the Columbia Valley, which is Washington state's largest appellation. It includes within it six other smaller AVAs, and the most plentifully planted grapes are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. Syrah and Riesling are also planted there in what qualifies (for Washington, anyway) as a "desert" climate of less rain and damp maritime influence.

This excellent domestic Riesling had aromas of seaspray, apples, peaches, and a hint of petrol--kind of like driving through an oceanside fruit orchard in a beat-up pickup truck. There was a slight spritz on the palate, along with flavors of melon, peach, and apple. The wine's aftertaste was juicy and a touch off-dry. This wine receives consistently high reviews from wine critics, and sells out quickly (both the 2007 and 2006 bottles are already sold out at the winery) so if you see some, nab it.

An aromatic, fruity, and flavorful wine such as this one is perfect with spicy Asian food. I made a doubtless inauthentic but extremely good stirfry of chicken, Chinese eggplant, oyster sauce, chiles, onion, garlic, and basil and it was delicious with the wine. The bottle's slight sweetness meant there was no acidic clash between the spices in the food and the fruitiness of the wine.

I'm off to a good start with my Washington wine lessons. Next month--a red.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Forget 89 points--how about unrated wines?

This blog is about finding wines that are good, even great, that didn't score so well with the mainstream critics. How about a wine that's never been scored at all? When I was in Washington this summer visiting my parents in Walla Walla, I stopped in to visit a few wineries along the way. One of those was Hedges in the Red Mountain AVA, Washington's hot new AVA that's producing some of the best wines in the state. But Pete, Hedges' winemaker, said they don't go in for those blockbuster wines. They want to make wines that work with food and reflect the Red Mountain terroir. A few years ago, they made the decision to stop sending their wines in for scoring.

As a writer I'm always on the lookout for ideas, and a seed of an idea was planted here. I went home and pitched the story to Portfolio, and it published today. At first I wondered if I could find other wineries that, like Hedges, had made the decision not to submit their wines for scoring. It turns out I had more sources than I could use, and plenty of stunning wines to choose from for the sidebar.

The reasons aren't what you might think, like the wines are bad and the winemakers were afraid of a low score. Instead, many winemakers don't submit on principle, or else as a deliberate business decision. Read the story to find out more.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Vinos Sin-Ley M4 Monastrell 2006

While other vintages of this producer came away with numbers that would appeal to any "Score Whore" out there, the 2006 was assigned 89. Since I love both the 89 Project and the varietal, monastrell, how could I resist? I snatched the bottle up.
The winemaker's notes say:The 2006 M4 is from Bullas. Dark ruby-colored, this strong effort has a classy nose of smoke, pencil lead, mineral, and blueberry. Ripe and mouth-filling, the wine is well-balanced and long in the finish. "Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate89 Points.

Hmmm. Yes, I definitely agree. Very pretty color. Less fruit than I would have expected and a lot more mineral notes. While this is a tasty, easy drinking wine, it had a little too large a scoop of the bitterness that can drive people away from mourvedre. Examples I prefer are the delightful Juan Gill Monastrell or Cline we had at Wine Bar Wednesdays past. Opened several days, the aroma converted to cocoa powder dusted blueberries and the flavors became more chocolaty with a solid core of dark berry. At $11.99, this is a nice every day wine. It is worth picking up especially if you like less fruit forward wines and want to try something different.