Saturday, May 29, 2010

TN: Chateau La Roque 2007 Pic St. Loup Rouge

I'm a bit late to the party in terms of Southern France 2007s. Parker declared 2007 Rhones the greatest thing since the 100 point system about a year ago, but I just kind of don't care that much for hype that causes prices to skyrocket. Maybe there was something to it after all. The more famous terroirs may be overdone/oversold, while the less famous regions could have hit their sweet spot. Pic St. Loup in Languedoc is one such less famous zone, and while it's not technically part of the Rhone, I'd hazard to guess the same macro weather patterns were present.

Which brings me to the delicious Chateau La Roque 2007 Pic St. Loup Rouge. It's quite ripe in its fruit character, yes, but at 13.5% ABV it carries itself with poise and complexity. It's a steal for $15 to $20. There is some ambiguity in which cuvee this is, though, as La Roque makes several and the bottle is labeled simply as Rouge on the front but incorrectly as Rose on the back. It's definitely not their Mourvedre, but could be either their basic cuvee that is mostly Grenache with some Syrah and Mourvedre or their blend of 2/3 Syrah and 1/3 Mourvedre. Either way, this is good stuff. I've also tasted the Mourvedre bottling and that's even better, so chances are you can't go wrong with this producer's 2007s. This is a Kermit Lynch import, by the way.

2007 Château La Roque Coteaux du Languedoc Pic St. Loup - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Coteaux du Languedoc Pic St. Loup

This is really good, great QPR. Bouquet of cassis, blueberry, smoked meat, game, garrigue, mint and subtle oak nuances. Essentially a ripely fruited medium bodied wine. Spot on balance in terms of texture, acid and tannin. Long finish with a hint of dried herbs, chocolate and mint really does it for me. It's fairly modern and clean, but also has that classic French complexity and balance. Has the polish and balance of a wine that could cost double the price.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

TN: Alexander Valley Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc (revisited)

The Alexander Valley Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc is a wine I've tried previously. But I bought a 2nd bottle and actually enjoyed it a bit more. While the body and fruit-forward flavors were decidedly Californian, there was a strong gravelly, earthy minerality I hadn't appreciated as much in the first bottle as well as varietally correct tobacco and a little funkiness. It's a spot-on Cab Franc, basically, that's true to both region and varietal.
  • 2007 Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Franc Wetzel Family Estate - USA, California, Sonoma County
    Definite French styling here. Cedar, tobacco, and leathery aromas. Earthy, gravelly flavors after fresh fruit-forward attack. While more fruit forward and fuller bodied, this has definite Chinon qualities to it. Very much a Cab Franc. Oak is well integrated, no heat.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

TN: A handful of recent Nebbiolos

I've been on a bit of Nebbiolo kick of late as it's a varietal of great character--tannic and acidic, yet also aromatic and lithe. Unfortunately, it's a varietal that rarely performs well as a value priced wine. That hasn't stopped me from trying to find reasonably priced wines, however. The most respected Nebbiolos--Barolo and Barbaresco--not only are expensive, but typically requires years if not decades to peak. It's a waste to drink them excessively young, which is where their less expensive siblings like Nebbiolo d'Alba and Langhe Nebbiolo come in.

Having tried a mix of domestic and imported versions, I'd have to say that only the Vietti Perbacco and Matteo Correggia were really complete wines. Both are around $20, though, which is a nice value in my book. I'll be buying some higher end Nebbiolos to age, but the young drinkers actually are a solid value if you like the style. I do, and I'll be back for more.
  • 2006 Vietti Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    This one is a winner. Aromas are hard to pin down--very much a bouquet. Some spice and anise notes along with pure darker fruits. Just a hint of tar. Very good body and texture for a Nebbiolo. Plummy flavors. Steely acidity picks up on the finish along with earthy nuances. Moderately tannic, but not astringent. The finish lasts on this one. Really packs a lot of depth and character given its price.

  • 2000 Bricco Buon Natale Ragazzo Legnoso Estate Bottled Bricco Buon Natale - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley
    50% Nebbiolo, 50% Barbera. Good rustic wine with a bit of age. Herbs, leather and horse sweat on the nose. Lighter body with high acidity. Nice freshness, still has plenty of fruit on the palate. Not much to the finish. A table wine with with character, but not much depth on the mid-palate and finish.

  • 2005 Damilano Nebbiolo d'Alba - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Nebbiolo d'Alba
    Nice tar, anise, herbs and spice on the nose. High acidity. Liking the mildly herbaceous flavor. But perhaps lacking a bit of flesh and a hair over-extracted. The dark color (for Nebbiolo) and medicinal cherry flavor suggest over-extraction, at least. Definitely varietal Neb, albeit fairly direct. Although this is still moderately tannic, I don't think this is going to get much better with age. Cork said Damilano Barolo. If this is indeed declassified Barolo, it definitely was the right decision. This is right on as entry level Nebbiolo, but I wouldn't be enamored at all with a Barolo name and price.

  • 2003 Martin & Weyrich Nebbiolo Il Vecchio Reserve - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Tobacco/cigar box, dried cherries, licorice, ginger. Fruit is on the sweet/roasted/raisined side. But the acidity and tannins are also there. Sweet fruit wins out, though. It does show some varietal character and is comparable to a similarly overripe Piedmont Nebbiolo I had recently. A nice deal at $5 in the bargain bin.

  • 2005 Azienda Agricola Matteo Correggia Roero - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Roero DOC
    Really needed some air to open up, 1 hr+. Orange peel, balsamic, tobacco and dried cherries on the nose, though weak until open. Palate is good and acidic with pleasant drying tannins. Picked up weight with time, showing red fruit, balsamic and earth. Still on the light-medium body side of it. Clean, linear flavors with a pleasant finish. I really like this style of wine (high acid, honest tannin) though more effusive aromas are preferred.

  • 2005 Mckeon-Phillips Nebbiolo Bella's - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
    Fruit-forward style. Tight on the nose, eventually yields tobacco, asian spice and some cheesy funk. Good acidity. Not much structure, kind of a Beaujolais-style Nebbiolo. Like the cleanliness on the finish, very dry without being punishing. Nice delicious factor, but missing the depth and structure of an old world wine. Opens up with air.