Pre-2000 Bordeaux Blind tasting

Bordeaux Pre-2000,
Blind Tasting Dinner

Restaurant 42, White Plains
December 17, 2012

Starter wines:

2011 Hamilton Russel Vineyards Chardonnay, South Africa.
Stony, Mineral, yet with full ripe citrus fruit

1991 Havens Chardonnay,
California (Magnum).

Deep golden color with no browning, good acid with flavors of caramel, almonds. An amazing non Reserve California Chardonnay, still drinking well, after 20+ years.

 

Flight 1

1982 Chateau-Lascombes, Margaux, France.
At first aromas of iron, earth but lacking in fruit continued to open and evolve with
very strong tobacco leaf with building fruit profile. Perfectly integrated tannins.
Drinking beautifully… probably the WINE OF THE NIGHT.

1983 Chateau Pichon Lalande, Pauillac, France.
Detected aromas of mint (eucalyptus?) or cedar also drinking very well. As it sat in glass it continued to change with flavors of grilled meat and tobacco.

1989 Chateau Leoville Las Cases, St. Julien, France.
Compared to first wines, very youthful and slightly tannic- will be a beautiful wine
(has PLENTY ) of life left.

Not sure the next wines can be any better… Continue reading

Pre-2000 Bordeaux and Cali Cab Blind tasting-“Big Boy” Wines

The “theme” sounded simple enough:

You are invited to a dinner: BYO California or Bordeaux wines, vintage date before 2000, containing only “typical” Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Cabernet Franc (no Malbec, no Petit Verdot). Wine can be 100% of any, or any combination of the three.

Note: Bordeaux also allows for Carmenere in the blend, but so few use it anymore that it wasn’t even mentioned.

I planned to bring Bordeaux but as I went through the older wines that I had on hand (in the wine keeper) all of them had some Petit Verdot.

Using some knowledge and the Internet I started to dig deeper, finding that this wasn’t going to be as easy as it seemed…

I started with the “BIG BOYS”,  left bank Bordeaux, that generally have a large percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon (>70%). If you like California Cabernet you should also start with this list.

The first number is their ranking (from the 1885 Classification) with the percentages of grapes that are planted in their fields. * indicates that it may have Petit Verdot in it depending on the vintage.

3rd- Château Ferrière– Cabernet Sauvignon 80 %, Merlot noir 20 %

5th- Château Grand Puy Lacoste– Cabernet Sauvignon 75 %, Merlot noir 20 %, Cabernet franc 5 %

4th- Château Saint-Pierre– Cabernet Sauvignon 75 %, Merlot noir 15 %, Cabernet franc 10 %

5th- Château Haut Bages Libéral– Cabernet Sauvignon 75 %, Merlot noir 25 %

3rd- Château Langoa Barton– Cabernet Sauvignon 74 %, Merlot noir 22 %, Cabernet franc 4 %

2nd-Château Leoville Barton– Cabernet Sauvignon 73 %, Merlot noir 23 %, Cabernet franc 4 %

5th- *Château Lynch-Bages– Cabernet Sauvignon 73 %, Merlot noir 15 %,  Cabernet franc 10 %, petit Verdot 2 %

5th- Château Lynch-Moussas– Cabernet Sauvignon 70 %, Merlot noir 30 %

2nd- Château Dufort-Vivens– Cabernet Sauvignon 70 %, Merlot noir 23 %, Cabernet franc 7 %

4th- *Château Branaire-Ducru– Cabernet Sauvignon 70 %, Merlot noir 22 %, Cabernet franc 5 %, petit Verdot 3 %

4th- Château Duhart-Milon Rothschild– Cabernet Sauvignon 70 %, Merlot noir 25 %, Cabernet franc 5 %

5th- Château Batailley– Cabernet Sauvignon 70 %, Merlot noir 25 %, Cabernet franc 5 %

5th- Château Haut Batailley– planted with Cabernet Sauvignon 70 %, Merlot noir 25 %, Cabernet franc 5 %

From here I looked at quality and price as well as my past history with these wines and chose…

 Think this was a good choice? Let me know…

Is Old Wine Better?

To join in the fun of Open That Bottle Night  I decided to open a wine special to me- a 1986 California Cabernet Sauvignon (this was the year I graduated High School).

Since I am often asked, “Are old wines better?” AND I had a younger   Napa Cab downstairs in the “cellar”- I opened them both.

2006 Atlas Peak (L) / 1986 Beringer (R)

About Older wines… Approximately 95% of wines are made to be consumed within 1 year of their release (when they are first on shelves).

As a general guide, the wines that usually reward aging are the robust reds – the better Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhones from France, their counterparts (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah) from the New World; sturdy Italian reds like Brunello and Barolo; and the rich, strong dessert wines like Port, Sauternes and the fine late-harvest Rieslings from Germany.

 On to the wines…

As you can see from the corks above there is a big difference in the color of the wines. Whites wines get darker as they age but red wines actually get lighter and less saturated (less colorful) as they age.

The 2006 Atlas Peak in the glass, was purple and opaque but the 1986 Beringer was more transparent and brick orange-red in color.

Tasting the wines proved they tasted as different as they appeared.

Atlas Peak 2006 is still a young wine and has some noticeable tannin that will soften as it ages. It had VERY ripe flavors of dark fruit (blackberry, currant), almost jammy, with noticeable OAK.

Made from Cabernet Sauvignon from different Napa Valley mountain vineyards it is a great wine for the price (around $25).

The 1986 Beringer, Knights Valley was much more subtle and restrained. As wine ages in barrel,   the tannins, imparted from the grape skins and stems, become less apparent. The flavors of this wine were less ripe fruit, but still darker fruits, like currant and black cherry, with some earth and iron. Although this wine still had some life left it was nowhere near as  fruit forward as the Atlas Peak.

So which is better?

Kinda like comparing your niece and your grandmother. One is youthful, carefree and full of life, the other has experience/wisdom and has “mellowed” a bit with life and age.

But you love them both.

 

“Top 100” Wine Values 2011

Every year at this time the wine world waits for the Wine Spectator to release their opinion of the top 100 Wines of the Year. Just because a publication rates and ranks them for you doesn’t guarantee you will like them.

However I think this list is a great place to search out value (under $20) wines/producers that you may not have tried.

Here is the short list of value wines from their list. There is something here for every wine type-why not try a few over the holidays?

#21 (94 Rating) 2009 Georges Duboeuf- Morgon Jean Descombes- $15. (Pictured here) If you like Beaujolais Nouveau you will love this wine! It is 100% Gamay grapes but has a little more body since it is a “higher” level wine. Tolerant Taster approved for the holidays.

Find it …

#23 (93 Rating) 2004 Bodegas Resalte de Peñafiel Ribera del Duero de Restia Crianza Selected Harvest- $15. I haven’t had this wine but I like the producer. If you like Spanish wine, this is a 2004 so it is probably drinking really well right now.  Why not give it a try?

#33 (92 Rating) 2008 Château Tanunda Shiraz Barossa Grand Barossa 2008- $18– Australian wine is still a great value. If you like Syrah it’s the same grape. This is on my list to try.

Find it …

#42 (90 Rating) 2008 Quinta de Cabriz Dão- $9. A full bodied Spicy red for under $10. Zinfandel or Cabernet alternative.

Find it …

#43 (90 Rating) Gruet Blanc de Noirs New Mexico NV (Non vintage)- $14. One of my favorite inexpensive USA sparkling wine producers. Made in New Mexico? Yes! And it is excellent, for the price. Tolerant Taster approved for the holidays.

Find it …

#59 (90 Rating) 2008 Bodegas Dinastía Vivanco Rioja Selección de Familia Crianza- $18. Spanish white that is an alternative to the common white wines.

Find it …

#60  (90 Rating) 2008 Allegrini Veronese Palazzo della Torre- $20. I know I said “under $20” but Allegrini makes great value Italian wines. Amarone lovers will enjoy this easy drinking red. Tolerant Taster approved for the holidays.

Find it …

#68 (90 Rating) 2009 Buehler Zinfandel Napa Valley- $18. Any wine with Napa Valley appellation listed on the label costs more (it’s true). Great value for Zin lovers.

Find it …

#70 (90 Rating) 2009 Morgan Chardonnay Monterey Metallico Un-Oaked-$20. The only Chardonnay on this short list. If you like a cleaner style chardonnay (crisp, fruity) this could be a great find.

Find it …

#71 (90 Rating) 2010 Bodegas Godeval Valdeorras Vina Godeval 2010-$18. I had to google this one… 100% Godello (native Spanish grape varietal). Sauvignon Blanc lovers should try this as it has similar flavor descriptions (grapefruit, minerality).

Find it …

#72 (90 Rating) 2009 Ravines Riesling Finger Lakes Dry-$16. Domestic, dry Riesling should go well with almost all foods including Chinese/thai takeout.

Find it …

#73 (90 Rating) 2007 Fratelli Oddero Barbera d’Alba-$20. Barbera is one of my favorite everyday red wines-due to it’s high acidity it goes really well with pizza, pasta. Chianti alternative. This is on my list to purchase.

Find it …

 As always, please let me know if you like these wines…

 

 

 

Wines of Pompeii- Death, Destruction and the Tears of Christ…

I Recently attended the Pompeii exhibit at Times Square. Unfortunately, the last time we were in Italy we did not have time to see Pompeii/Mt. Vesuvius in person. But we like to have reasons to return!

Bodies frozen on the stairs

Pompeii was a bustling, developed metropolis at the base of Mt. Vesuvius before it erupted in 79 A.D. and buried the entire city under 12 ft of volcanic mud, soil and ash.  Over time they excavated the site and unearthed perfectly preserved human bodies (a little spooky) and the remnants of a modern society. They found pottery, cooking ovens, fashionable jewelry, and plumbing that looks more sophisticated than I have in my 1926 home.

The people of Pompeii enjoyed themselves…they had dice and other gambling games, along with prostitution, and over 200 wine bars!

One of my favorite relatively unknown red wines from that region (Campania) is Lacryma Christi or “Tears of Christ”, which is made from Piedirosso grapes grown on the volcanic soil of Mt. Vesuvius. There are several interesting stories about the religious reference…
Continue reading

My Super Bowl picks (wine and recipes)

 

Ticket created at CupCake Cards

Looking forward to Superbowl XLV? I am.

Pittsburgh and Green Bay are “old school” football teams. This is the first title game with 2 teams more than 75 years old. Combined, these two teams account for 9 Super Bowl titles.

Football, at it’s best, is testosterone-fueled, hard hitting action. To compete with this level of intensity we need BIG, BOLD, teeth-staining wine.

Keep reading for a couple of my favorite “gridiron greats”- hearty recipes and wines for the big game.

ARE……YOU…..READY???!!!

Continue reading

Wine of the Week-Early Fall Red

Beautiful warm weather, early fall day after apple picking…. what to drink?
I have the perfect suggestion…

Wine of the Week- any Bob Dylan fans?
Le Terrazze Praeludium- around $12 retail if you can find it.
Perfect for early fall/Thanksgiving

Praeludium-Fattoria Le Terrazze

When the weather turns cooler I think red wine. However it is still early fall and we have been blessed with 70 degree weather. Now I am thinking light to medium bodied, slightly fruity, red.

You might think I went for Syrah or Beaujolais (Gamay grape)?

Nope. Rosso Conero (Montepulciano grape and a dollop of Syrah) from Le Marche (lay MAR-kay) which is located on the back of the Italian boot (top of the calf). The wine is made by Bob Dylan fanatic Antonio Terni of Fattoria Le Terrazze. Several of his wines have received the Tre Bicchieri (three glasses) award which is the highest Italian honor for a wine to receive.

At my local wine shop they were trying to Continue reading