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Markus Wine Co: Sol

10 Mar

Markus Wine Company, “Sol” 2015 Vintage Red Blend, Lodi, California. 14.9% ABV, $39 SRP.

 

Dark purple, nearly black in color near the center, with purple edging. Busy, eclectic nose of dark fruit, forest floor, sand, and eucalyptus. On the palate, massive black fruit: plum, blackberry, black cherry- the violence in the crush is evident- this is a big, blasting stroke of bold flavor. A big mouthfeel, strong tannins, acidity, and fruit; secondary notes of mocha, vanilla, and salty sand- this is a huge wine with a long, Grand Canyon of a finish that goes on, and on, and echoes far past when you think the last note has ended. This wine screams for grilled meats but can work beautifully with Mexican, Italian, I even made it pair with a salad by adding some grilled chicken and a few slices of jalapeño! This wine is fun, fabulous, and a ton of black fruit flavor.

 

 

 

 

Made of 42% petite Syrah, 37% Syrah clone 877 (both from Borra Vineyards), and 21% Mourvèdre from Silvaspoon Vineyards. Each time I tasted this wine, I wanted it to be named “Black Dog”, after the Led Zeppelin song whose protagonist is in constant, amorous pursuit- because the black fruit is so forward and direct on the palate. Its driving, electric, bluesy desire never gives up!

When you want an incredible night, put some massive steaks on the grill, pop open a bottle of Markus Sol, and let the music flow!

 

 

 

Oh Baby! Oh Alright!

 

 

 

à votre santé!

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Roustan’s Big Bang from the Rhône Valley

4 Jan

Adrien Roustan Domain D’Ouréa Vacqueyras, 2011, Rhône, France. 14.5%ABV, priced on the internet from $27-32 per bottle.

vacqueyras

From France’s second Rhône appellation to receive AOC (after Gigondas) comes a delightful, rustic, powerful and tasty red blend.

Color is deep crimson (nearly maroon) with ruby edging. The nose offers dark red and purple fruit with herbs and a powerful waft of alcohol. The palate is huge -a big bang of its own, a cannon shot across the bow- showing ripe red fruit, nicely demonstrating the traditional blend of syrah, grenache and mourvèdre expected from rhone reds. After the initial impact, the palate shifts into a darker series of  gentle woodsy flavors with saddle leather, potting soil, and a medium-long, bold and savory finish with elements of clay and calcium but missing the obvious notes of wood, steel, or concrete. A hint of effervescence dissipated after the initial taste.

This wine came to me as part of a grab bag case from Garagiste and is simply a delightful wine. Were I able to find more of it at under $20/bottle I’d be quick to pick it up; at the internet prices I saw the wine offers medium-pricey but massive flavor for a tasty and well-made biodynamic wine. Compares easily to mid-level Gigondas and other bold Rhône blends price-wise, but not a killer value.

à votre santé!

 

Summerland Wine

10 Jul

While visiting Santa Barbara, I had an opportunity to do a tasting with Summerland Wine. Winemaker Etienne Terlinden seems to be quite busy, as they already have six wines from 2013 that include an orange muscat, a sauvignon blanc, a grenache rosé, a viognier, two pinot noir, a syrah, and a cabernet sauvignon, each of these wines is made from local grapes sourced from either Montery, Santa Barbara, or Paso Robles. In addition, they have a library of vintages from 2006-2012 that includes several single-vineyard chardonnay and pinots, a sparkling, and zinfandel. Here are some shots from my tasting, more notes are below!

grenache rose

chardonnay

 

viognier

solomon

 

 

 

Here is my hands-down favorite:

Summerland Cabernet Sauvignon,  Santa Barbara County, 2012. 

Summerland

Deep purple color with violet edging. Nose of blue and black fruit, the scent of  alcohol burns off with more exposure to air, revealing vegetation and fresh cedar. In the mouth, the cab features boysenberry, blueberry, and black cherry fruit along with notes of dark chocolate, licorice, and a hint of potting soil on the upper and back palate. The nice, lingering finish is one more element of this wine that complements food well. Note: all of the Summerland wines have high alcohol content, the cab is no exception with 14.1%ABV.

 

I was also impressed by two other wines, the 2012 single vineyard pinot noir from Wolff Vineyard, as well as their 2012 “Trio”, a mix of syrah, grenache and mouvedre grapes, which is Summerland’s take on the classic Rhône style wine. Summerland has a little of something for everyone, it seems. I’d love to see their Cab or Trio in a 3L large format bottling, which seems to be popular for their single vineyard pinots. A note for pinot lovers, I much preferred the older vintages I tasted,  -they felt settled, while younger vintages seemed like they still needed time to blend- so age may be a determining factor in your enjoyment. YMMV.

wolf pinot trip

 

à votre santé!

 

Taste the Mediterranean- On a Budget!

3 Apr

“Tala” Monastrell 2012, Alicante, Spain. 14.5% ABV. Bottled exclusively for Astor Wines & Spirits. $5.96/bottle.

Showing a violet color with ruby edging, the nose is ripe red fruit, menthol and slate. Tart raspberry and  cherry meet green stalkiness on the front palate,secondary notes of pepper,  spice and stone are followed with a dry, tight finish.

Better than a basic vin du table, this wine shone when paired with food. On its own, the acidity may be overpowering, but with a basic pasta & meat sauce, Tala cuts through and leaves a fresh, clean palate. It reminded me of dining outdoors in southern Spain, looking out from the restaurant to view the Mediterranean sea. I enjoyed the fruit, strong tannins and acidity on my initial tasting of the wine by itself, but preferred Tala on the second day when I  took time to enjoy it, and pair it with an appropriate dish to match the spanish grape. A good party wine at a superbly low price, I’d suggest opening to air for 30 minutes prior to service or decanting for best enjoyment.

I’m not used to liking much I’ve found under $10 but Tala and the Horgelus have enough to make anyone pay attention for good value.

photo-2

 

 

à votre santé!

Un, Deux, Trois: Three Wines from Paul Mas and the Languedoc Region

16 Aug

I often rant about how first and second growths are impossibly expensive. To find great value today you have to seek out  lesser-known wines that have rich history and huge local presence that have not yet exploded globally.  That way,  you can acquire good pricing on a wonderful product that amounts to great value. This is one of those tales. Through a winding story we won’t tell, I met up with a fellow wine lover who also adores country wines and especially wines from the Languedoc region. I was nervous I wouldn’t care for the wines I got to taste as happens sometimes, but read on, and you’ll see how I responded. Special thanks to Michelle and Anne for your help and support! -JvB

Un

Paul Mas Estate Pinot Noir 2011

List price  $14/bottle. 13.5% ABV. Samples provided by McCue Marketing.

Light ruby in color with a nose of fresh, sharp cherries, hints of cola and saffron. Cherry and red plum are the dominant fruit flavors on the palate. Holding the wine in my mouth, I pondered the experience: an unexpected, ideal expression of the grape. The clean finish made this wine feel like a pricier burgundy to me, but without the historic wooden barrel effects. Notes of gravel and chalk appear on the medium finish. Overall, my response is a great balance of fresh red fruit with a good acidity and tannin. Juicy, tart, and mouthwatering, you can drink this all day without getting bored, or start the evening with it and move on to pair it with lighter fare up through a fish course.

photo-4

Deux

The Paul Mas Estate Malbec 2011 

List price  $14/bottle. 13.5% ABV.  Samples provided by McCue Marketing.

Bright violet with a purple center and ruby edging. Ripe red fruit on the nose with herbs and wildflowers. On the palate: soft essence of cassis, boysenberry. Short notes of clay and lime and a long, tart finish.  Concentrated, singular and enjoyable, I expected this was a single vineyard before I looked at the label. Paired perfectly with spicy marinana sauce, strong cheese, and spicy food- such as Thai or Mexican, I made fajitas specifically on the second night of tasting this and was wowed by how nice the pairing was. The bright acidity and ripe fruit will allow the wine to cut through the palate when served with powerful flavors such as duck or a bourguignon sauce. Another surprising value from winemaker Jean-Claude Mas. 

PaulMas Malbec

Trois

Chateau Paul Mas Clos de Savignac Grés de Montpellier 2011

List price $27/bottle. 14.5% ABV. Samples provided by McCue Marketing.

Deep purple color with violet edges in the glass; the nose exhibits a lush blend of dark blue and black fruits. On the palate, the initial rush of blackberry, black plum, and currants are met with spice, licorice, oak, and a green vegetation note that hung across my top palate. Limestone, gravel, and mocha notes appeared during the lengthy, oaky finish.  This is a wonderful old world blend with modern efficiency. Speaking of the blend, it is 50% Mourvérdre, 30% Syrah, and 20% Grenache.

PaulMas Montpellier

Centuries of rustic charm on sun-beaten vines meets finesse with the relaxed tannins pulling forward after the liquid has moved below. Powerful, invigorating, and complex are my initial overall impressions, and they stayed consistent as I came back to this wine time and time again. Over four days the nose and fruit aired nicely and developed without losing quality. You can enjoy the 2011 now at this ripe young age, but the smart buyer will pick up a case or three hold this six to eight years and taste it to see how the tannins and fruit mellows over time.  I’d think this wine would cost at least twice as much for the quality, so enjoy it before everyone starts to stockpile and drive the prices up.

Clos de Savignac

About the winemaker: Jean-Claude Mas is a fourth generation winemaker who began work with his family’s winemaking at the age of three. He ascended to run the family business (begun in 1892) in 2000, and has expanded the acreage and updated the technology to mass production, including pneumatic pressers and stainless tanks. The brand Arrogant Frog are among his most visible successes and he has been named International Mediterranean Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst and Young and the Domain Paul Mas was named Winery of the Year by England’s The Guardian Newspaper under his helm.

Jean-Claude Mas - Chai à barriques (1)

Paul Mas wines are carried nationwide by BevMo and other fine wine retailers. In the NYC area Paul Mas wines can be found at Beacon Wines & Spirits, London Terrace Liquor Shop, Phillipe Wine & Liquor, and 120 Wine & Liquor to name a few locations in Manhattan.

More about Domain Paul Mas can be found at their website,  www.PaulMas.com.

à votre santé!

Going Out On a High Note

31 Dec

 

Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhône Réserve  2010 (From Mayfair Wine on Union Turnpike, Queens $9/bottle)

Color: Ruby center edging in garnet. Nose: red and black plum with violet, touch of spice.

perrin

On the palate this wine shows boysenberry  and cassis up front with loads of pepper, some earth, notes of oak, clove, and limestone on the finish. Nice balance, medium body, shows more depth than many young wines. Great value. An impressive blend of grenache,  syrah and mourverdre grapes to develop a tremendous wine at this price and age. Consistent work from a talented winemaker whose  stable includes Chateau Beaucastel and La Vielle Ferme. If you like French wines, don’t miss out on this one- it’s a great deal at this price and shows very well compared to wines priced at double this.

 

Check out more about Famille Perrin’s wines here.

Here’s to a great 2012 send-off, and looking forward to an amazing 2013 with my readers and fellow oenophiles.

à votre santé!

Stealing Home: The 90-point Côtes du Rhône

22 Sep

Delas-Freres St-Esprit Côtes du Rhône 2009

My brother-in-law went to a big-box store in search of a good red wine value for dinner and came up with this!

A solid value in a good red table wine that has also received a 90 point rating from Robert Parker, this Delas Freres St-Esprit ’09 Côtes du Rhône has a nice ruby-purplish color with a nose of red ripe fruit and herb garden with hints of white pepper and vanilla. The palate is full of raspberry, cherry, licorice, and spice with notes of loam, earth and gravel on the finish.  A well-balanced combination of fruit, acid, tannins in a tasty wine that pairs quite nicely with most foods, easily with fowl or medium to light fare.

At $10-12/bottle, don’t pass this by if you see it in your aisle without trying it. At this price point, it’s a steal.

You can find out more about the vineyard, winemaker and importer here.

à votre santé!

Gabriel Meffre 2009 La Châsse du Pape Côtes-du-Rhône Reserve Rouge

13 Aug

 

I started drinking the Meffre Reserve red wine almost a decade ago when a local wine shop owner showed it to me. “This is one of the best buys I have and it’s delicious,” she said to me quietly, “you should really try it.” Her preference and shop stock was largely Italian wine, and to crack open a wooden case of Meffre Châsse Côtes du Rhône for me in the back of her small store demonstrated her passion for the brand. I bought the bottle, tasted it that evening, and went back for more later that week.

 

Since that time, I’ve watched and tasted as the winemaker has evolved in their approach to wine and marketing. Today in addition to the reserve, they offer other red blends listed as ‘tradition’ and ‘prestige’ which may be listed depending on the year as ‘winemaker’s selection’. Note the interchanging of synthetic corks and screwcaps in the modern bottling, as well as the custom-inscribed bottle. That’s all good for packaging, but how is the wine?

 

In common French style, this is a blend of four grapes:  grenache, syrah, cinsault and mourvèdre. That means to the casual drinker that the wine is a deep red with purple tinges in the glass. It has ripe red fruit and violet on the nose. The palate has red plum, raspberry, and black currants, licorice, with notes vanilla, pepper, limestone, clay, and a touch of oak with a tight finish. It’s fruit forward and spicy, “chewy” is a word often used for younger wines made for drinking now and not aging or cellaring as most Bordeaux wines would be.

 

 

This is a solid and flexible Rhône red that is decidedly Mediterranean in its style and flavors- with the spice of the syrah, it is ideally paired with grilled meats, strong cheeses or other powerful flavors that will complement those spices well, and has performed consistently well over the years as a solid, good daily vine du table that can be kept in your home and served for company at a fancy dinner party or served with burgers on the barbecue

 

The only thing I don’t like about this wine is the number of accent circonflexes (that’s the little roof accent above the a, o or u) you should type when reviewing it for your blog. Yes, I’m kidding…well, only a little. Purchased locally at $12/bottle, available online from $9-14/bottle.

If you are interested, you can see the entire line of the La Chasse brand of wines here.

and winemaker Gabriel Meffre’s site is linked  here.

 

à votre santé!

 

100% Monastrel!

12 May
ImageTarima’s Monastrel 2009 is a spicy Spanish red from the Jumilla region. With a high alcohol content (15%!) Its violet color and nose (with notes of graphite and cola) don’t warn the taster of the powerful spice you will experience in the glass- it demonstrates a palate of dark cherry, black pepper and a hint of dark chocolate with a tart finish. I’m surprised at the biting flavor; at $11/bottle it’s a steal if you pair it right- with tapas or salsa, gamey grilled meats, or a spicy entree like lamb or flavorful steaks, even a spicy pasta sauce would do. It needs something strong to stand up to. I tried it with one of my favorite pizzas (that features a delicious spicy tomato sauce) but it just wasn’t powerful enough a flavor to make a good pairing until I tasted a roasted garlic salsa with it. Nice!

The Monastrel is a grape you might know by anther name I have mentioned before, the Mourverdre, which is commonly found in great Rhone blends and lending to dark color and high alcohol content from its thick skins. In this wine, the grapes are obviously picked late on the vine, full of condensed flavor and color. Excellent job to the winemaker, and a good value for the right pairing.

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