The Poor Man's Guide's
|Zero Stars||A wine I don't particularly recommend.|
|Well made, simple and tasty wines that I recommend.|
|Excellent quality. Worth an extra effort to search out and enjoy.|
|Outstanding wine of the highest caliber.|
|Either a wine that is close to deserving a higher score or a wine that may not be showing that much but with the potential to move up in quality with further aging. A young wine that may be closed up or shows potential for significant improvement. Assuming it opens and improves with additional age, it may merit a higher rating.|
|???||Flawed bottles or wines that are difficult to assess for any number of reasons. Judgement reserved.|
Prosecco di Valdobbiadene
|Classic prosecco aromas of melon, salt and chalk on the entry leading to creamy and rich spumante style flavors that are both rich and refreshing. Tasty and definitely refreshing. One Star. Importer: Vinity Co. Emeryville, CA.|
|Domaine Huet Vouvray
|I featured Domaine Huet and its wines (with reviews of all their Vouvray Sec in the last issue. Less known than Huet's still Vouvrays, the sparkling Vouvrays made here are stellar. If you can find them (and its not that hard these days) then stock up! They are a great Champagne alternative with more finesse and class than most low priced sparklers.
Creamy and buttery aromas with a hint of nuttiness. Chalky minerality and peach pit flavors give zing to the luscious, expansive fruit. This lingers and expands on the palate with a subtle sweetness which keeps you coming back. This bottle went bye-bye way too fast. Delicious, super silky and fine. Two Stars. Importer: Miller Squared Inc., Buffalo Grove, IL.
|Manzane Próseo Rosé
Vino Spumante Brut
|This rosé Prosecco has exuberant fresh strawberry spiked lemons and stones which are pretty and appetizing and lead to bright and crunchy flavors of honeydew melon and strawberry. Juicy and refreshing, this makes me hungry! Great summer quaffer while the BBQ is cooking! One Star Plus.|
Muscadet Sèvre et Maine
|This producer in Muscadet was not previously familiar to me, but he is imported by Kermit Lynch, so I thought I'd check it out. As you know, I'm a big fan of the wines of Muscadet and even wrote about it in Issue 8.
Classic briny sea air aromas lead the way to a wine with saline minerality and sea stones at its core. Much of its pure and natural complexity is all about stones and minerals. So much so that they give a great tactile sense of stones and salt which make this piquant and flavorful yet light on its feet without any heavy fruit flavors to weigh it down. The balance and inner tension make me believe this will be a Muscadet that ages nicely for at least a decade. Two Stars. Importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA.
|Domaine Huet Vouvray
Le Mont Demi-Sec 2007
|Yes, another Huet. You're probably getting bored of them by now! But with value this great, its hard not to drink them all the time! This is the Demi-Sec from the Le Mont vineyard. Of note, the Secs from Huet's three vineyards are compared and reviewed in the last issue.
Deeper and more serious than the secs but with a fragrant slate, black tea, wool and hint of petrol nose that is at once hesitant and subtly complex. The palate impression is immediately of a smoky slate, much like the sec, but with a fatter midpalate and a hint of creamy citrus. It is hard to get much better than this for a Vouvray Demi-Sec. This has a powerful core yet is caressingly beautiful. The texture and expansiveness gets better and better and somehow is at once creamy yet etched and filigreed with great grip. For those of you who fear sweet, this wine, while containing some residual sugar, is well balanced by minerality and acid so that you don't even notice the sweetness. Bravo! Three Stars.
Domaine de la Louvetrie
|Landron, at Domaine de la Louvetrie, is one of the best producers in Muscadet. This bottling, Amphibolite Nature, is left on its lees much shorter than most to keep it fresh and lively.
Grapefruit pit, salt and brine on the nose. This Muscadet is pretty, fresh and simple. Not a complex Muscadet but vibrant and clear as a bell. The crisp liveliness of it makes it a great palate cleanser and very refreshing, but this is a fairly simple wine. One Star. Importer: Latitude Wines, Inc, Danville, CA.
Côtes du Jura 2004
|Jean Macle is arguably the best producer in the little known and often misunderstood region of the Jura in Eastern France. Just a stones throw from Burgundy to the West, this beautiful region tucked away at the foothills of the Jura mountains produces singular and polarizing wines. Most famously known for their Vin Jaune, or yellow-wine, which is made from Savagnin and aged in barrel for over 6 years prior to bottling! But thats not all, much like some Sherry from Spain, the wine is not topped up in bottle and as the wine evaporates it develops a layer of yeast on the surface, called Flor in Sherry and Voile ("veil") in the Jura, protecting and nurturing the wine as it ages. While the yeast protects the wine from outright oxidation and spoilage, it allows a gentle slow oxidation which is the source of much of the misunderstanding about these wines. They have intense, oxidative aromatics which can be phenomenally complex and really unlike anything else you'll taste. Some people love them, and some hate them. While Macle's Vin Jaune from the tiny grand cru appellation of Chateau-Chalon are hard to find and expensive, if you can track down these Côtes du Juras you can get a glimpse of the magic. In fact, its not just a glimpse, these are stunning and unique wines in their own right, as good as many lesser producers Vin Jaune. These wines are made from varying amounts of Savagnin and Chardonnay (the other major white grape of the Jura) and are aged in barrel sous voile for 2 to 3 years. While this 2004 is 80% Chardonnay and 20% Savagnin, the 2005 is 100% Chardonnay. Because they aren't aged as long as a Vin Jaune, they are not quite as oxidative and intense but that is splitting hairs. These wines give a classic sense of true Jura style. Of note, the vines for this Côtes du Jura are from vineyards which were previously within the borders of Chateau-Chalon until recently when the AC was redrawn. Macle does not have a consistent US importer, so you'll have to search a bit to find it. But its worth the effort!
The aromatics on this thing are insane! It is so intensely aromatic that I can smell it sitting on the table 3 feet away! Fragrant celery seed, Asian spices and curry overlay roasted nut aromas. Quite complex from the get go and very much like a Vin Jaune but this just got better and better with air as it sat over many hours. Later, savory, umami aromas like chicken bouillon came out to add even more richness and depth to the wine. In the mouth this is intense and young with a chiseled texture of fine marbleized minerals. Long lingering and mouth-watering acid, creamy marzipan and a lingering finish that is at once warming, caressing and pungent. Not warming as in alcoholic heat, rather it has a similar impression to a clove-like spice with an expansive warm spiciness, not unlike Chartreuse liquor. This is better than most Vin Jaune and definitely the best Jura non-Vin Jaune white I've had! Bravo! Three Stars.
Côtes du Jura 2005
|Another Macle. Apparently this 2005 is made from 100% Chardonnay, without the addition of Savagnin that the 2004 has.
This comes across as more reserved than the 04 but with a similar nose of nut oil, Indian aromatic spices, cumin, grapefruit pit and a citrus note which seems more pronounced than the 04. Maybe its the year difference but this seems more primary, coming across as more fresh but not as refined and complex. Initially creamy and fat on entry with a vibrant mineral middle and finish. This doesn't have the expansive intensity of the 04 and is not as clearly and uniquely Jura. Almost reminded me more of a Corton-Charlemage but with some umami and exotic spice notes thrown in. But maybe thats just because I know its 100% Chardonnay! With lots of air this firmed up and also became more pungent, rocky and even a bit coarse. I like this a lot and it only suffers in comparison to the 04 which for my taste is more integrated and more refined. Give this one time and it will probably gain in complexity and finesse. Two Stars for now.
|This wine from Italy may be a bit controversial because it seems to have a hint of an oxidative style. It is a blend of three grapes, Trebbiano Toscano, Malvasia and Moscato. The nose shows that hint of oxidation with nut oils and papaya fruit but the mouth remains fresh despite its ripe, creaminess. Caressing texture and you can sense the sweetness coming from the Malvasia and Moscato but this remains a fairly simple quaffer to enjoy over the next couple years. One Star.|
|Saint Roch Les Vignes
Côtes de Provence Rosé
|This pretty rosé from the south of France is made of 65% Cinsault and 35% Grenache. Fresh strawberries ripening on the vine by a briny sea breeze in the telltale Provençal nose. Intense and mineral, this has a freshness and clarity to its fruit that is great and just simply delish. Enjoything throughout the summer with just about anything. One Star Plus. Selected by Jeff Welburn. Importer: Wine Agencies, Inc, Van Nuys, CA.|
|Vino Tierra de Castilla Y Leon
Caballero de Castilla
|This rosé, or Rosado, from Spain is made from Tempranillo, the grape of Rioja. Although its a rosado, it is quite dark in color.
As the dark color hints at, this is quite rich with jammy ripe fruit. Red vines and fruit leather on the nose with hints of Earl Gray tea. The rich, dark red fruit flavors are almost more like a red wine than a rosado, adding meaty and earthy nuances to the strawberry juice fruitiness. Another great summer BBQ wine that should stand up nicely to rich summer fare. One Star Plus. Importer: Vitis Imports, Inglewood, CA.
|C & P Breton Bourgueil
|Breton, also the local name for Cabernet Franc, is a great domaine in the Loire Valley run by a couple. Their Chinon and Bourgueil, both featuring primarily, you guessed it, Cab Franc, are consistently good to great in recent years. They practice biodynamic viticulture. This wine, Trinch!, means something like "Cheers!". It is not meant to be a powerful, long-lived Bourgueil, but rather a fun wine to help you enjoy life while not taking it too seriously. It is a great summer red slightly chilled and to accompany a whole host of BBQ goodies.
Effusive and ebullient aromas that just scream fun and life! Rather than any kind of complexity to speak of, this is just scrumptious, fruity and brings a smile to your face. The chewy happy fruit is high toned and refreshing yet with depth. There is just a hint of Bourgueil earth and meatiness to keep it interesting for the wine snobs. A quaffer that is fun and delicious. Two Stars. Importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA.
|Mugnier Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru
"Les Fuées 2006
|OK, OK, OK! You can flog me with your wallets! I know this is not an inexpensive wine. But occasionally, I just feel that the relative worth of a wine exceeds its price. No, no one could argue a $150 wine is cheap. But for relative value it can be a deal. For example, Freddy Mugnier, one of the big stars of Burgundy these days, makes several stunning wines. Most of his top wines from heralded vineyards are getting to be crazy in price. The Musigny and Bonnes-Mares are almost sickeningly expensive. Even the other great Chambolle-Musigny premier cru like Les Amoureuses is twice this price. Yet this lesser known vineyard, Les Fuées, really performs. No, its not the Musigny, but it is so flattering and pretty, its truly a great wine in its own right. Of note, for an even better value, the relatively new Nuits-St.-Georges Clos de la Marechale from Mugnier is an even better value. At around $50 to $75 it offers much of the purity and finesse that Mugnier is known for but at a much more affordable price.
This Chambolle is lovely. It took quite a while to come out of its shell but eventually showed a very perfumed smoke, earth, rose petal and floral nose. The wine is velvet and lace. Subtle and ethereal yet with a silky grain to the texture that grabs you and shows lots of depth. Quite seductive, this grew and gained presence on the palate over time, becoming more lush and seductive as it went, just hinting at how great this will be in 10+ years. Three Stars.
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