Wednesday, September 22, 2010

TN: Hyde de Villaine 2005 Carneros Belle Cousine

The Hyde de Villaine 2005 Carneros Belle Cousine is a wine I wouldn't ordinarily buy just based on price. However, an opportunity for a deal arose and I pounced. I've generally enjoyed Bordeaux blends from Carneros via Havens, and this blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon sounded right up my alley. For $30, it's on target for a special occasional, making it a nice choice for my birthday this year. The involvement of Aubert de Villaine, one of the heads of the legendary Burgundy producer Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, seemed auspicious, while the Hyde Vineyard sourcing also bode well for the wine.

I have to say, this is one crazy wine. There's all the structure and layering one would expect in a high end wine. In fact, this was pretty tight on the finish due to the fine but prominent tannins. But the real defining feature here was, surprisingly, seaweed. Could this be the reason this wine was being discounted? Or is it simply a casualty of the economy? Either way, I really was digging it. This is one of those wines that's like a meal all by itself: it's sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savory all at once. It sounds disjointed, yet fits together nicely other than that youthful tightness. Glad I have a second bottle to visit in a good while. Another winner from Carneros!
  • 2005 Hyde De Villaine Belle Cousine Hyde Vineyard - USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros
    This will be love or hate: briney, seaweed aromas and flavors upfront. I'm liking it, a real day at the beach in So. California (complete with tar). Eucalyptus, tar, oak spice, blackberry and raspberry aromas as well. Layered on the palate with plum, brine and then mocha on the finish. Nice juicy acidity. Quite tannic actually, though they are sneaky, kind of woven into the wine. At any rate, the tannins clamp down on the finish. Like the layering here. Does have a bit of heat. Weird flavor profile--enjoyed this immensely. Great Merlot, seems it will benefit from age due to tightness on finish, definitely old world/new world play here.


Emily Richer said...

I tasted this wine next to mine, as I love Stephane Vivier (the HdV winemaker) and he uses the Hyde merlot block next to mine. In tasting Belle Cousine next to Virage, they send each other to separate corners. My normally earthy and subtle wine seemed to explode with fruit and violets - and the overwhelming descriptor I got on the Belle Cousine was parmesan cheese rind. They just released the next vintage, can't wait to try it. You got a steal at $30, I think the normal price is $60...

Cabfrancophile said...

I agree, I think I got a steal, too! It is a radically different style from your wine. I like them both for very different reasons. Rather interesting that adjacent blocks can yield wines so disparate in character.

Then again, I think this is why Carneros is becoming one of my favorite regions: character. There seems to be a lot of room for expression in those windswept hills.