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Friday, April 23, 2010

Friggin''s just Chardonnay, right?

I couldn’t wait to get my meat hooks on a bottle or twelve of these. Fresh off the FedEx, bottle shock be damned…and I’m already 3 empty bottles deep into my stash. I’ve drank enough vintages of Mark Aubert’s Chardonnay to be convinced that vintage bares marginal importance on his wines quality, save for a wee bit of ’06 indigestion- or the home run to dead center in ’05 (as opposed to the right-center blast in ’07, but let’s put the tape measure away & squelch semantics). Screw the vintage, the wines all rock- my note on the ’08 is as much of a non-event as an Olympic qualifier between the Dream Team & the Laotian nationals.

This type of redundancy can put a firm financial squeeze on yah. Let’s hope your spouse drinks wine, otherwise consider the couch your new somnolent haven. That’s where your ass will permanently reside post the credit apocalypse. Why didn’t I buy more of these puppies?

Oh yeah, that damn recession thingy. No means yes.

Aubert Ritchie '08

After a 2 year or so hiatus, the hazy, occluded fog has returned to the hue of Aubert's Chardonnay, saving all its clarity for flavor. The predictably compelling sheath of sweet fruit opens w/ the signal call of crème brulee, tangerine, hints of melted butter & citrus blossom notes. Its core of flavor paddles out to the palate rim in full bodied swells w/o a misstep, splicing in subtle echoes of smoke over a stream of teeth chattering acidity. She's all in proportion, all irresistible; as addictive a delivery device as can be fathomed, 95 points.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Another April, another spring. 2009 rose campaign begins

The grills are ready to spit their plumes of charcoal dust into thickening skies. The sun readies to stretch its blazing rays an extra minute of an extra day; teasing mercury up the dial past hardened numbers of cool centigrade. Producers begin to loosen their respective cellar belts & cut primary bait. The pink assembly has been capped and greased. The time for heft is dwindling. Unleash your foils for the salty days to come & share your impressions of saignee as you note them.

Mordoree Dame Rousse, CDR Rose '09

The newborn blush has begun to settle into D.C. wine shops, dripping off the rush of spring delivery trucks by the case. A perennial beauty, the workhorse CDR rose from Mordoree, checks in at all of 11 dollars and 19 cents- worth every pink penny. A blast of strawberry, deep red cherry & watermelon notes fold into the thread of round, lush fruit flavors that just won't quit. A bit of warm alcohol spills out off the finish, yet the rest of the package is just about as tasty as Provencal rose gets, 88 points.

Friday, April 02, 2010

My Cabernet hell is freezing over, I’m buying in Napa ‘07

I feel dirty. My outspoken commentary on fear and loathing in Napa Valley is currently being put on the back burner. I’ve tasted some (cringe) reasonably priced Cabernet from Napa in 2007 and have been floored. The first slap in the face was a bottle of Phelps estate Cabernet, traditionally the 'vanilla herring' of the appellation, over-delivering in two key areas:

  • Lack of distinction
  • Lack of value

That said, it really friggin’ kicks ass in 2007- and though the needle on the price-tag has been fairly steadfast at the high 40’s/low 50’s range, this one is worth every penny. It’s a…value. I bought multiple bottles. My name is Brad Coelho and I have a problem.

Well, if egg on my face tastes this good (and doesn’t cause me to loose my shirt), I’m all for it. Mea culpa me some Cabernet from Napa Valley baby! Who knows if it is the recession or not, but Grapes the Wine Company had a close-out today on Two Hands’ Charlie’s Patch ’07 from Napa, a wine that was originally slated to be priced at stratospheric levels, yet has been grounded firmly in the 40’s range and WAY over-delivers for that price point. In fact, that price point, to me, was the bane of Napa’s existence (or should I say, non-existence), but it is exactly what has recharged my batteries. In particular, the Two Hands is a massive, enveloping mouthful of pure black currant fruit, w/ a powerful bed of tannins perfectly dusted in cocoa. A serious wine for a very ‘fair’ fare at 40 dollars and change…reasonable enough to make me re-reason my feelings about Napa Cabernet. At least a little bit.

While I’m not quite off my rocker enough to go back to the days of spending 250 dollars at a Steakhouse for the stuff, this sure is a good start. So what is it, 2007 fever? Has the economic apocalypse finally choked its to the jugular of Northern California producers? Or was I just too jaded to see the oak, err forest through the trees? Perhpas its absence from my diet has made my heart grow...fungus.

My previous take on the Phelps:

Phelps Napa Cabernet '07
What a fabulous showing! Easily the most impressive appellation bottling I've sampled from Phelps & perhaps this signals a profound foreshadowing for what's to come from '07 in the Napa Valley. An exuberant expression of molten chocolate cake, mint, black currant & cassis notes turn full & layered on the potent, yet symmetrically flood the deep, darkly fruited palate. The finish ricochets along each wall of the mouth, w/ clandestine tannins tangibly prickling their way through, 93+ points.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

I cheated again, diving into my pallet of Rhys, palate first

Reading Kevin Harvey’s suggestions for his ‘07s made me almost blush to pop this cork so early, particularly after I’ve chided all the trigger happy gluttons who’ve been complaining that their ’07 Chateauneufs ‘don’t seem that great’ at this juncture. That said, my resolve is feeble & curiosity is only curable by experimentation. Don’t worry Kevin, I decanted the hell out of it.

While I’ve got one single reference vintage (’06), this was undoubtedly more structured, taut and had a depth in its core that only augmented my curiosity w/ regards to its potential (time machine anyone?). While I’m certainly an advocate of what Calera, Arcadian & the like have done in the vein of restraint & elegance, even those stalwarts don’t seem to have the poise, precision & seamlessness of young Rhys. The few Rhys Pinots that I’ve prematurely sent to the abattoir have an effortless, unaffected sensibility about them. I don’t mean to suggest that cool climate, New World Pinot Noir typically tastes as if it were ‘trying to’ emulate something, but whatever Kevin Harvey’s doing obliterates affectation altogether. There is no ‘try.’

If that’s the case, keep up the ‘lack’ of work, Kevin What’s the oldest vintage you’ve got in the cellar? How’s she doin’?

Rhys Alpine Pinot '07
Its youth is obvious, though hardly painful in presentation. A bouquet in segments, with threads of flowers, olive and red cherry notes spread about an intricate tapestry. The core of the wine whispers, suggests its nature; veiled in a bright, flinty mystery that's awash in a nuanced, rocky river of minerality. Nothing but a hint, but what a view...and what finesse, 93+ points.