I had some family and friends over for a wine tasting a few days back. While we did not have anything that blew my mind, we had a number of wines that showed quite well. In fact, most tasting nights I end up disappointed as much as I end up satisfied, especially when real high dollar heavy hitters do not meet expectations. This night, the line up was not as grand as many nights, but it turned out to not have a single significant disappointment. We did not follow a theme, in fact having bottles from seven countries, and a number of different varietals. Some notes on the various wines follow.
2001 Cavallotto Barolo Bricco Boschis (Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo): Drinking outstanding right now, over-performed expectations, was liked by all. Reddish-tan, somewhat muted nose, though with nice floral, spice and tar notes. Very smooth on the palate, nice finish, excellent fruit. Very nice. Wine Spectator gave it a 94, Wine Advocate a 92. I would go 94. Also, not a bad price for world class Barolo.
2004 Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino (Argentina, Mendoza): Count me as a fan. Modern, yes, but restrained. Excellent red fruit, fantastic mouthfeel and finish. Some vanilla and spice. Despite it’s size, the body is light on its feet. Has many good years ahead of it. Wine Advocate gave this a 98, Wine Spectator a 95. I would give it a 94 and look forward to future bottles. As good as it gets from Argentina.
2004 Glaetzer Shiraz Amon-Ra Barossa Valley (Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley): (my notes from an earlier tasting, as it drank exactly the same this time) The fine wine world needs to get over its initially justified but now over-reacted push back to Aussie wines. Man is this lick smacking good. Big, wants to have some heat, but as long as you keep it cool it stays in check and just presents you with the best this style of wine has to offer. Delicious dark red and blue fruits, some oaky creaminess (but very balanced, in that the fruit overwhelms the oak so the oak hints add complexity, rather than the oak overwhelming everything). Nice dark purple color, alluring nose (like the palate, the oak is there but plays a definite second fiddle). I also get some herbs and bacon fat, and even a tiny hint of ketchup (but not off putting). Some fine tannins and moderate acidity. Okay, not the most classic wine on earth, not my typical style, it is too big to really highlight a myriad of scents and flavors, especially lacking ‘earthy’ components (the fruit overwhelms), but damn does it taste good! BTW, it has years to go, no rush on these. Wine Spectator gave this a 92, Wine Advocate a 93, Gary Vaynerchuk a 95-97 and The Rhone Report 94. I would give it a 93+.
2006 Scherrer Winery Pinot Noir ‘Big Brother’ (USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast): Wow, this is drinking great right now. Delicious. Fruit, spice, earth. Nice finish. Scherrer has been a long time favorite of mine when it comes to his reds. Reasonably priced for world class wines, and always speak a certain style that I enjoy. IWC gives this a 91. I would give this wine a 93, with growth possible with some more age.
2003 Château Rieussec (France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes): Very enjoyable and in a pretty good spot. Like most 03’s, could use a bit more acidity, though this was better in this regard then most. Apricots, peaches, flowers. Good finish. Good future ahead. Wine Spectator gave it a 95-100, WIne Advocate a 93-96, World of Fine Wine an 18/20 and IWC a 92-95. I would give it a 93.
2009 Daniel Bouland Morgon Vieilles Vignes Delys (France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Morgon): Another wonderful 2009 Cru Beaujolais from this producer, perfect for an afternoon bistro. Just delicious. Loads of red and black fruit, good minerality and personality. Very nice. For those looking for the best deals possible for absolute world class wines that do not break your budget ($15-30 range), I cannot recommend anything more highly than a wide range of Cru Beaujolais from 2009. Wine Advocate gives this a 93, Wine Spectator a 92. I would give it a 92+. Highly recommended along with some light, but thoughtful, summer reading.
2005 Cantina Terlan Sauvignon Blanc Terlano Quarz (Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Alto Adige, Terlano): Beings that I am currently in an anti-Sauvignon Blanc mode (have not had one I really liked in a couple years), I was not expecting much, though I had high hopes since the 06 was amazing. Sure enough, this was very good. Very traditional in nose and taste, hay, cp, citrus. Nice and quenching on a hot Phoenix summer day. Wine Spectator gave it a 93, Wine Advocate a 92. I would go 92.
2006 Leonetti Cellar Merlot Columbia Valley (USA, Washington, Columbia Valley): Pretty significant improvement from one year ago. Big with lots of oak, but it is pretty well integrated now, blending well with the dark fruit. Vanilla, chocolate and a hint of sweetness. Very good. Perfect with a nicely grilled steak. I would be something Hemingway would like! Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator and IWC all gave it a 91. I would give it a 92 with some upside.
2001 Bodega Numanthia Termes Toro Numanthia (Spain, Castilla y León, Toro): Still quite young. Good structure. Good mouth feel. Dark red fruits, graphite, smoke and perhaps some cocoa. Big and modern. Wine Advocate gave it a 95, IWC a 94 and Wine Spectator a 90. I would give it a 91.
2004 Bodegas El Nido Jumilla Clio (Spain, Murcia, Jumilla): This wine is stylistically not my cup of tea, being ultra modern and rich. Despite that, I have really liked this in the past as an excellent example of its style. In a past note I found decent spice, with concentrated dark cherry fruit that manages to envelop the oak, allowing the oak just to give it an oomph of sweetness. However, for whatever reason, it just did not have the same impact on me this time. I simply just got too much vanilla, it overshadowed everything else. Still good, but too one dimensional this time around. Wine Advocate gave it 97, Gary Vaynerchuk a 94, Rhone Report and IWC a 93, and Wine Spectator a 92. I would give this bottle an 88. As mentioned, however, other bottles have been great, so I would still recommend.