Sunday, October 31, 2010

Almost Vin Jaune

Domaine de l'Aigle A Deux Têtes Cotes du Jura Vieilles Vignes Chardonnay 2007: Henry Le Roy has a small property in Vincelles, a little town somewhere between Chalon-sur-Saône (to the northwest) and Geneva (to the southeast), where he grows Chardonnay. This one is labeled "En Quatre Vis" which may mean "in four faces" or may not. The translator-in-chief is not on hand today, so I don't really know. I do know that this is Chardonnay unlike any other I've tasted, as it was made in the typé style of the region, meaning the wine has been subject to a certain amount of oxidation. If you're unfamiliar with the mechanics, you can read about that here.

This wine is not vin jaune, in that it is not made from the Savagnin grape. But the process was the same (although obviously a lot shorter than that for vin jaune, which may age 10 years in the barrel before bottling), and the result is a wine that offers a vigorous nose of green apple, lime, minerals, and sherry-like nuttiness. On the palate, the general impression is of bright green citrus, minerals, walnuts, and a hint of caramel. If you're not ready to plunk down $60 for a Château-Chalon, this might serve as a more economical introduction to the genre. I should probably point out that the Château-Chalon wines are famously long-lived; I doubt whether Le Roy expects this '07 Chardonnay to be aged 10 years before opening.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lava Falanghina Beneventano IGT

Campania may be in southern Italy, but its best vineyards are at high altitudes, since the Apennines run right through it. The wine reviewed here is from the province of Benevento (IGT Beneventano); which is also home to some DOC-level areas, including Taburno and Solopaca. Just saying that it should not come as a surprise to find world-class white wines here. (No disrespect to Mastroberardino, which was an outpost of quality for decades when wine from Campania was mostly mediocre.) Anyway:

Lava Beneventano Falanghina 2009: This opens with startlingly big notes of peach, pear skin, melon, and flowers. There was also some kind of red berry note going on. On the palate, yellow fruit and a rich texture, partly the result of the wine being unfiltered, and possibly the result of lees-stirring. The wine was made by young winemaker Marco Flacco under the Lava name by Terre del Vulcano da Vesevo, which is owned by Valentino Sciotti and Camillo De Iuliis, who in turn own Farnese, which is one honking big operation based in the Abruzzo. Flacco also spends part of his time there, where he presumably absorbs wisdom from head winemaker Filippo Baccalaro and consultant Mario Ercolino.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Tajinaste Tinto Tradicional 2008: This is from the Valle de la Orotava appellation on the north coast of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. The wine is made from the Listán Negro (I've also seen it spelled "Negra") which is the black version of the Palomino grape, which produces great sherry under that name, and boring wine everywhere else under the name Listán. It's dark brother is another matter entirely; you may not like it, but it sure isn't boring.

Some of the grapes were grown in the traditional braided manner, and some on the Cordon de Royat-style espalier. Frementation was via carbonic maceration. Twenty percent of the wine was aged oak.

This opens with notes of toasted cinammon stick, fresh plum, cherry, black pepper, juniper, and an exotic woodsy/earthy character that is beyond my descriptive capabilities. On the palate, there is an almost-jammy plum and strawberry character; some of this fruitiness recedes after about 20 minutes in the glass. The finish is fruity and earthy, with a hint of gamey, animal quality. Whatever reservations I may have had about it were blown away after having a glass while eating some ground lamb that had been charred on the grill and garnished with the last of the fresh tomatoes and a big dollop of home-made hummus, served on a home-made hot dog bun. It was perfect.

This was purchased at 3 Cups in Chapel Hill, from the stalwart Jay Murrie. Long may he wave.

(Blurry photo taken with my brand new ITouch. I have resisted allowing 21st Century technology into my life, mainly because I have found the 21st Century to be spectacularly ugly on the content side, if you know what I mean.)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Three Spanish Bargains

Celler de Capçanes Mas Donís Barrica 2007: It's true what they say, this is a very good wine at a very good price. Notes of rhubarb, strawberry, graphite, and a little oak spice on the nose, then bright red berry fruit on the palate. Angel Teixido, Jurgen Wagner, and Francesc Perello are the three young winemakers who produce this and a bunch of other wines (including the marvelous Peraj Ha'Abib, aka the world's greatest kosher wine).
Read more about Capçanes here.

Bodegas Borsao Monte Oton Garnacha 2009: "Bodegas Borsao" is an amalgamation of three big cooperatives, in operation since 1958. They control about 3,400 acres in the Campo de Borja, most of which is planted to garnacha. Oceans of this garnacha are bottled under the "Viña Borgia" name; the Monte Oton is sort of the business-class version: Bigger, richer, more refined, with aromas and flavors of black fruit, anise, and vanilla. Now that I think about it, there's a real luxury-class version of this wine, too--the "Tres Picos," which is a joven (not barrel-aged) but sure doesn't act that way. Like its cousin from Calatayud, the fabulous Atteca, it is an unapologetic fruit bomb, its bomb-ness ameliorated by lots of mocha and anise and earthy character.

Bodegas Juan Gil Honoro Vera Merlot Jumilla 2009: I confess, when the bottle was put in front of me, I was extremely skeptical. Merlot from Jumilla? Well, Juan Gil and Paco González at Bodegas Juan Gil (and their importer, the ever-resourceful Jorge Ordoñez) are full of surprises, and this merlot is one of them, offering very soft but not jammy red berry fruit with just a hint of cocoa.