I haven’t posted a review in some time, and I promise I will be back writing about my passion for the grape more frequently in due course. I thought I would start 2012 with a wine from an area which unfortunately gets completely overlooked. I was in Zagreb, Croatia last fall, and was surprised to try some truly wonderful red wines. This Zlatan Plavac 2008 pictured, is made primarily of the local Croatian grape Plavac Mali, which is a descendant of the worldy popular red zinfandel. It comes from the island of Hvar off the stunning Dalmation Coast. What is nice about this wine, unlike most red zins, it that it is not over the top with alcohol coming in at an average 14%, which is low compared to most red zins. I have seen some Zins from California with ludicrous alcohol levels as high as 17 percent! This Croatian red is subtle, smooth yet with hints of blackberry and cinnamon. It is quite an elegant, silky red which should get more recognition. Croatian wines are unfortunately not easy to find, as the best wines don’t leave the country, but not impossible. I highly recommend seeking them out. no Robert Parker review for this one. My rating 90pts
If you are looking for a good quality red Bordeaux without breaking the bank, then I’ve got just the wine for you. Croix Mouton is under the impressive wine stable of Jean Phillipe Janoueix and is from a vineyard just west of St. Emilion on the right bank in Bordeaux. It was formerly known simply as “Mouton” but the infamous, Mouton Rothschild objected to this, and made them change their name a couple years ago. I don’t know if they are mocking the big 1st growth, but Croix Mouton changes the design of the “M” on the label every year much like Mouton Rothschild change the artist of their label every year . I found this quite amusing, but all joking aside, this wine is serious value and is seriously yummy. It is made from mostly Merlot, with this 2008 vintage there was 87% merlot, and 13% cabernet franc. It is a silky, seductive claret ready for early drinking but will certainly keep for 3 to 5 years. What’s even better is this wine is as extremely affordable, retailing for only 10£ per bottle in the UK, and 20$ in the US. It is widely available, and should be bought in every vintage. Not all wine from Bordeaux is expensive 🙂 Highly recommended. my rating 89 points…I also bought some mags of the 2009 vintage which I will review hopefully around Christmas time….try Bordeaux Index or Jeroboams in the UK…
While Australian red wines are mostly known for their dominance of Shiraz, the bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Merlot do well also and especially in Margaret River. Moss Wood’s emphatic blend of these four grapes in their 2009 Amy’s is a joy to sip. A mix of blackberry and blackcurrant English jam comes to mind on the very first gulp. This wine is not meant for long term ageing but one or two years in the cellar wouldn’t hurt it. I wouldn’t wait too long though as it flows so elegantly off the glass. Don’t let the screw cap fool you either, as most wines from Australia and New Zealand have done away with the corks. This wine is big, bold and yet becomes refined after a few hours of air time. The final composition of the 2009 vintage was 56% Cabernet, 33% Petit Verdot with a dollop of Merlot and Malbec. And to top it off Moss Wood Amy’s blend is extremely affordable, available in the UK via their main importer, Jeroboams for only £12.50 per bottle. You can find this wine in the US for about $30 a bottle. This is one to buy by the caseload for sure. Serve with your Filet Mignon Au Poivre or just with some English Blue Stilton and crackers. Enjoy. My rating 90 pts.
I am going to let you all in a very big secret. I am sure there are many wine lovers out there who like Barolo and want to drink Barolo but don’t want to pay Barolo prices. Well, I’ve got just the wine for you. Most top Barolo producers make entry level Nebbiolo from their vineyards which when made right can rival many high end Barolos. The key is to buy Nebbiolo from solid trustworthy wine makers, and Luca Corrado from Vietti is one of the best in Italy. The grape used in Barolo is Nebbiolo, and this beauty from Vietti in my opinion is basically declassified Barolo. Think cherry and ripe raspberries on the tongue, followed by rose petals on the nose. This is an absolute joy to sip. Silk in a glass. This wine is so, so approachable now, but will get better with age. You can put this away in the back of the cellar for 10 years at least, which is what is so wonderful about Nebbiolo based wines when they are good. Viett’s Nebbiolo Perbacco retails in the UK for about 15£ per bottle and is available at Bordeaux Index. In the U.S. you can find it for between $20-30 per bottle. This is an amazing wine which I highly recommend. My rating 93+ pts.
(My wife’s homemade pizza also worked well with this. Recipes will follow at some point.)
Well if you wanted to try Sassicaia without having to break the bank, then this wine is definitely for you. Le Difese is actually the third wine from the infamous Tenuta San Guido estate, made of 70% Cabernet, and 30% Sangiovese. The wine is absolutely delightful on its own and can accompany a wide array of food including the usual Italian delicacies of pizza, pasta, or risotto, but don’t be afraid to try it with some spicy jerk chicken or just an old-fashioned burger grilled on the Weber. You will be pleasantly surprised There are velvety tannins of cherries and blueberries with slight herbal undertones and is classic Supertuscan in every sense. Le Difese is an extremely elegant wine which is yummy now, but can certainly keep for at least 5 years. At a really affordable price, you will struggle to find an Italian red of this quality for any less, especially from such a heralded estate as Sassicaia. This in my opinion is highly underrated and thankfully winemaker Sebastiano Rosa has made an outsanding wine in 2009 which everyone can drink. Hopefully it stays relatively cheap, but as more and more people find out how good it is, I doubt it will. The second wine Guidalberto is also worth a try but costs almost double, while the big daddy, Sass, trades close to 10 times more in price depending on vintage. Leave the Sassicaia for the investment. This is one to drink everyday. Buy it by the case load. Available in the UK at Jeroboams, for about 15£ per bottle, and in the US for about 30$ per bottle at a few retailers, (try Zachys in NY).
I have been very busy lately, but have not stopped finding exciting wines to try. I have found some real gems, extraordinary nebbiolos, cotes du rhone, and alsace pinot gris all come to mind. New posts and reviews coming shortly…Stay tuned
I am already so sick of all the HYPE on the NEXT GREAT BORDEAUX VINTAGE of 2010!. Wasn’t it just last year that the critics were calling 2009 the THE BEST VINTAGE EVER!, not to mention 2005, 2003, and 2000 all vintages with huge accolades. With all the technology now, will there ever be a bad vintage? Sure the weather has a big effect, but come on. This is getting ridiculous now. 2009 was released as the most expensive vintage ever, and after what I’m reading, 2010 Bordeaux will be even higher. Not for me, unless something is drastically mispriced. My word of advice, is stick with the less heralded vintages both for investment and/or drinking. 2006/2008, and even 2009 if 2010 comes out too high, which most likely will be the case. Apparently the US retailers are still skeptical also:
I haven’t posted a review in a while, and I apologize. Nonetheless after sipping on this wonderful white from Burgundy, I felt compelled to share my thoughts on this gorgeous 2005 Chardonnay.
This is classic white Burgundy but at a reasonable price. Domaine Caillot is located in the village of Meursault, notorious for its luscious, sumptuous Chardonnay. This wine does benefit from some bottle age being a 2005 and the Caillot Bourgogne Blanc does not disappoint. I’ve heard that good white wine can take on more character with some age, and have even been suggested to decant some age worthy whites. This Caillot 2005 Bourgogne Blanc has creamy, smoky texture, with coffee bean aromas and apricots and honey on the tongue. The wine melts in your mouth and if tasted blind could be mistaken for high-end Meursault. In fact let’s just call it “Meursault in Disguise.” This is definitely white Burgundy and Old World Chardonnay in its element. Not too oaky or monstrous like some Chards from Australia and California. This is 100% Burgundy and divine. I am not a big white wine drinker, but that might change after trying this. You can find Caillot’s Bourgogne Blanc for a mere 12-15£ in the UK (try Bordeaux Index) and 20-30$ in the US. my rating 90pts
This has always been of my favorite Italian wines, and was one of the first wines that I was introduced to years ago before I knew anything at all about wine. It is a classic in SuperTuscan style, blending 70% Sangiovese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. I was fortunate to be given a bottle of the 1997 vintage from a friend, and it did not disappoint. Thanks Spike. Its best years might be behind it, but the wine still has lovely floral aromas and undertones with a silky finesse in the taste. It is wonderful to drink a nice wine with some bottle age on it as the tannin has now disappeared, but the palate is still fruity with a hints of raisin and espresso. What is remarkable is for a wine of such quality recent vintages of Terrabianca Campaccio are still very affordable. It can be found for about 20£ in the UK and $30-40 in the US depending on state. Unfortunately not many retailers in the UK sell it, but try Great Western Wines. It is widely available in the US. my rating 90pts
If you are a looking for a nice alternative Italian red wine to the more popular and overly marketed Tuscan and Piedmont wines then this one might be for you. There is much more to Italian wine than Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello, Chianti or Supertuscan. I have recently stumbled upon the wines of Southern Italy of which there is some seriously good wine being made. What is even more fantastic is the wines are not expensive at all. Sure there are some that are, but for the most part the region represents very good value in reds and whites.
One of Campania’s most popular red varietals, Aglianico, is a wonderful black grape which actually originated in Greece. This 2008 Aglianico from Terrodora is absolutely splendid, and a classic example of the varietal to try. Think dark, bubbly strawberries and mocha in the glass. Soft, elegant, and not too much alcohol or over ripeness. In one word, yummy. And at only 10£/$16 a bottle you will struggle to find an Italian red of this quality at this price. In fact I’ve had wines much more expensive that aren’t nearly as good. The reserve version of Aglianico, called Taurasi should also be sought out. Terredora’s 2004 Taurasi is supposed to be a real jewel of a wine, but costs a little more. I haven’t actually tried any YET, but I am sure Taurasi is called the Barolo of the South for a good reason. The whites are also worth a try. My reviews to follow in due course. my rating of 2008 Terredora Aglianico, 92 pts. If you see it buy it by the caseload, in fact I just did. It will pair very well with a grilled ribeye steak or just a plain old fashioned burger. BREAK OUT THE WEBER BBQ!!!! WHO CARES IF IT IS WINTER. MINE IS ALWAYS READY TO GO!..Terredora’s wines are available in the UK at Jeroboams and Uncorked. And in case you are a wine advocate follower, they like it too:
The estate’s 2008 Aglianico is a gem of a wine. Wild cherries, dark raspberries, spices, leather and licorice come together beautifully in this medium-bodied red. Floral notes waft out from the glass on the finish. There is nothing fussy here, just a flat out delicious bottle of unoaked Aglianico readers are sure to enjoy. Even better, this is a terrific value. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2014. These new releases from Terredora are among the most impressive I tasted. From top to bottom these are serious wines readers will not want to miss. The 2009 whites, all of which are aged in steel, reflect the rich, generous style of the vintage, while the 2004 Taurasis are simply off the charts.