Holiday treats and Seasonal corkings

la-morra-07.jpgIt’s Christmas Eve as I write this. The Godfather is on, everyone is chillin’. Tomorrow is the big party. Tamales, honey-baked ham. Mama’s lasagna and many U20 wines from Dar-dee’s cellar and those of our guests. So I want to get these notes down in advance since there will be many more tomorrow…I hope. We opened these wines over the past week, some with company and some on our own. All in all, a very nice group…of wines.
How about this 2007 photo of a Piemontese La Morra vineyard? My cousin’s 12 year old son took it. Think he will learn to enjoy wine? I think so.
2004 Chateau Graville-Lacoste ~$16: This is why you have to love Kermit Lynch. He brings in wines like this one that are top flight and low price. Graves is my preferred Bordeaux region. The wines are “gravelly” which, to me, means more stony, dry, mineral-like. The price/quality ratio is outstanding. Delightfully citric, lemon peel, some grassiness. Perfect acid balance. Dry, firm. 12% alcohol excuse me. A wine that knows what it is (semillon!).
2004 Page Springs Cellars El Serrano California Red Wine ~$30 in Arizona
: Just off the main road to Sedona one will find the Page Spring Cellars winery that is devoted to Southern Rhone style wines. Now this is an interesting venture. They have planted estate Rhone grapes that will produce quality juice around 2010 (one can and does harvest at five years but it really takes 7 years minimum to produce decent juice). In the meantime they source Mourverdre, Syrah and more from Paso and eastern Monterey vineyards, some with 50 to 80 year old vines. This bottle includes Mourvedre, Syrah and “a touch” of Cabernet Pfeffer. The website is excellent and the winemaker is clearly a man of vision. Read about the intriguing Dos Cabezas (now Arizona) vineyard. Reminds me of Dave Corey’s Alta Mesa property. The wine was light to medium weight, rusty red color. Nose is delicate with spice. Flavors are balanced, soft, seductive with the syrah in front. 14.7%. This winery is worth watching. Have I found a new wine club?
Seger1.jpg2002 MacKenzie-Mueller Merlot ~$30 (at the winery): Perfectly balanced to the point that it seems so simple. Why isn’t every wine this easy to swallow and enjoy? Tasted this same evening with the Reynolds mega-cab. I consider this a question of Springsteen versus Bob Seger. One guy is an iconic genius loved by rock critics and millions of fans across the nation. The other guy just writes simple straightforward classic songs that rock. One guy belongs in an arena with thousands of fans flicking their Bics. The other guy (also named Bob) plays arenas but works best in a smaller venue with fans who love the music before the man. Who knows better? Who do you love? This merlot is simply excellent. Yikes 15%!
2002 Reynolds Family Stags Leap District Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ~$60 (at the winery): The Reynolds winery is located just outside Napa on the Silverado Trail. These guys make classic outstanding extracted Napa cab. Lovely and distinctive label of crushed heavy-weight tissue paper with an embossed sprig. Instant visual appeal. My son tells me this is a popular among attorneys for a holiday gift that demonstrates the gifter knows a thing or two about under-the-radar Napa cabs.<flightdeck50msg-blk-grn.jpg Which is something like preferring an Ulysses-Nardin timepiece over a Concord. Both are over-the-top silly and priced beyond defensibility. I’ll take a Bell & Ross or U-boat when it comes to interesting and exciting wrist wear. This wine is like so many other extracted cabs, with some herbaceousness (herbocity?) I associate with elevated hilltop or hillside vineyards. It will surely be a hit among the cab crowd and will accomplish the objective of demonstrating what it means to be on the ascent when it comes to the Napa clique. 14.7%
RODA003.jpg The next two wines are from the Rioja Alta which is in northern Spain on the way to Navarra and the French border. Basque country is north of Alta Rioja by which I mean to say this is not the Spain you might expect. This is premium wine country where Tempranillo is king. This is not Ibiza or Mallorca. Not Valencia or Granada. This is premium centuries-old Spanish wine country. I have toured by car and would return in uno minuto Nueva Jorca. Here is an informative and well-written history of the region.
RODA008.jpg1994 Roda I Reserva: This is a 20 year old Spanish winery from the Rioja Alta. The winery is big boutique in tone, producing 7500 cases in 1994; 83% Tempranillo and 17% Garnacha (Grenache). This vintage is lovely and at 13 years age it has matured nicely. Tannins are folded in, fruit is fleshy but firm. The overarching tasting notes for Roda I from the Bodegas Roda website describe “The deep, dark, black fruit is almost always dominated by plum aromas together with mineral and chocolate notes, balsamic flavours…: I do taste balsamic and the mineral qualities in this vintage. Of the two vintages this is preferred. But, yaknowhat? I would not buy this wine again. Read what someone else thinks about the winery here. 13.5%
1996 Roda I Reserva: I finally get to write about an important topic in wine making and tasting…brettanomyces. This wine has a level of brett that is noticeable in the nose and taste. What is it? You can read about what is brett is in the wikipedia reference above. However, what does it taste like? The flavor is thickening And for me the sensory anchor is shoe polish. Good old fashioned Kiwi black shoe polish. The flavor is distinctive something like 70% plus cacao. Dense, heavy, narrow in bandwidth. Not at all complex. I opened both wines to taste side by side. Three days later I ended pouring both into the same glass. Definitely helped the 1996. 13.5%.

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