Mixed case U15 RED (!!!)…and a Grenache Blanc mini taste-off (domestically speaking)

My pal with the hollow wooden leg Ronnie the Worker Bee says “Stevie…can you get me a case of mixed red all under $15?” Hmm. Let me think…RB-chart.jpg
I love a challenge and I have such confidence in my local vendor Woodland Hills Wine Co (new website with super search engine!) – even though my favorite sales guy has gone and left us (good news – he is opening his own “shop and dine” joint) – that I gladly agree to put it together. [ed. Credit winedoctor for posting simple instructive maps of Burgundy including this one]
You know what happens, of course. I end up buying my own mixed case because Paul & Kyle Smith’s deals are so damn good! I am working my way through the selection, presented for your own consideration.
beaujvillage2004.jpg2006 Trenel Beaujolais-Villages $11: This wine is so good it is ridiculous. I served it to the missus and she said so. Robert Chadderton Selection. We have tasted and reported on other Trenel wines, especially the Cru vineyards from 2005 . Good news…the 2006 vintage is equally spectacular. But, igottatellya, this is hard to beat this for the $$. Soft not quite ripe cherry fruit (I like that), velvety smooth (no tannins to speak of), and just down the hatch she goes. I did read a recent review complaining the finish was short. Hey…have another glass mister. At 12.5% you can have a few!!! Hell yeh!! Here is to low alcohol, balanced, tasty fruit-driven wine!!
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2005 Cotes du Rhone Domaine de Cristia $11: This may seem unusual to say BUT thank goodness I have come across a wine that is just OK. It is the domaine’s entry level so it should be at least OK. This Rhone blend is just OK. I have tasted so many fruit-driven, mostly balanced U20 wines of late it seems there is little else out there except the even BIGGER and definitely not balanced fruit-driven trophies. Revello-Dolcetto-d_Alba.jpgBut this wine has that once familiar high acid presence, light tannins, slightly overwhelming the fruit, not over-ripe but still ripe enough to recognize the grenache flavors. Mild smoke, dustiness. Was a time before Parker [ed. BP, like BC or AD] most wines tasted like this one. 13%
2004 Fratelli Revello Dolcetto d’Alba $12: This label from Barolo (Piemonte) tends to turn out younger styled wines. My 1996 and 1997 Baroli aged early. I like the wines but decided awhile ago that buying Barolo wines at lofty prices was just not worth it. The go-to importer for Barolo wines, ala’ Becky Wasserman for Burgundies, is Marc De Grazia. clautiere-mon-rouge-03.gifHowever, I think he just does not have enough variety in styles to present as broad a range as does Ms. W. This is a Marc De Grazia wine. Right out of the bottle it is quite tasty. Cookie dough and cinnamon spice flavors. However, Dolcetto’s are not meant for the long term. After about 45 minutes the fruit faded and we were left with a somewhat narrower and woody drink. 13.5%
2003 Clautiere Mon Rouge ~$18 thru wine club: Syrah/cabernet blend split almost down the middle. The blend is pretty nice. The dense cab flavors set off the syrah ripeness. I automatically wrinkle my nose at “non-traditional” blends. However, in this case, the blend worked. This food-friendly wine (i.e., not overly “extracted”) would complement many meals. It is remarkably fresh for a wine with 4 years plus.
…the Grenache Blanc mini taste-off…domestically speaking…
GB-tasteoff.jpg2006 Curran Grenache Blanc $24 at Curran website: A wine I have learned to love. I wish I could compare to French styles but….this is all peaches and spring flowers…nose is somewhat muted but flavors are all there. Medium weight for white wine. I have found this wine will age nicely for at least several years. Can be served at room temp. 14.1%.
2004 Tablas Creek Grenache Blanc $25: Estate grown (of course). hollygolightly3.jpgThis is more serous wine with strong overlay of oak and alcohol (15.3%!!!). For a 4 year old wine this is still brawny and muscular. If the Curran wine is delicate and femmy likeHolly Golightly then the TC is all Hulk Hogan (maybe less drama). The fruit is there but, right now, the wood dominates. Almost intimidates.
I cannot help but think of the Williams Selyem and Rochioli pinot noir taste-offs we have had in the past. hulk1.jpg Again and again W/S would prove to be the fruitier and lighter wine, endlessly charming and supremely quaff-able. The Rochioli was almost always for long term aging. Totally serious with tons of complexity and to be enjoyed on its own, when Rochioli is ready (Rochioli as alpha wine?).
Now you might wonder how one can fairly compare wines from two different vintages. No explanation is offered. I do not think the Tablas Creek GB wine has lost any fruit. I just think it is a tougher wine. Both will age just fine…at least a few years.
Two excellent examples of how GB can be made in California.

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