Speed blogging attempt #2! This time it was all reds; and I felt privileged to try some truly unusual stuff:
2006 Barboursville Vineyards “Octagon”: I was very excited to try this magnum of a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. It’s a big wine, with good fruit, a bit of spice, medium tannins and a pleasant metallic finish. It still tastes young. I want to drink it with a grilled steak. $40 for a bottle, $90 for a magnum. Both label and wine have an elegance, making the magnum a great choice for a dinner party.
2007 Chateau Mukhrani Saperavi: Saperavi, I just learned now, is the national grape of Georgia (the country). The wine comes from a beautiful Bordeaux-style chateau, which I hope the Russians don’t try to conquer (again). It looks gorgeous. The wine has big black pepper spiciness followed by a burst of dark fruit. Most enjoyable! A fine deal for $19.99, ideal with some kofta.
2009 Boxwood Estate Winery “Boxwood”: It smells tight, this Bordeaux-style blend from Virginia, and there’s something I should remember about maceration, sandy loam and malolactic fermentation, according to the sales rep. It tastes tight as well — more like a Rhone, to my mind. It dries the tongue right out, making it a good choice for fatty red meat, like prime rib. $25 at retail.
2009 Old World Winery “Abourious”: I met the assistant winemaker for this California wine the night before, and I became very excited to try this variety called Abouriou, native to southwest France. It has to be labeled simply “red wine,” because the variety is so rare, it’s not even officially recognized by the Tax and Trade Bureau. The quintessential Odd Bacchus wine! A dark, purply red, it smells like caramel popcorn and tastes like black current/black pepper jam. A racy blast of flavor — seek it out. It’s $55, but hey, it’s Abouriou.
2009 Sivas-Sonoma “Old Vine Zinfandel”: Apparently Red Zinfandel is unusual to find in the cool-climate Russian River Valley, where only 9% of the vines are this varietal. This wine retains some strong acids, perhaps because of the cool conditions, and a tight focus. The dusty finish is rather fascinating. $16 at retail isn’t such a bad deal at all.
2009 Decibel Wines Malbec: A New Zealand Malbec? Odd indeed. It’s got a surprisingly chocolatey nose, which gives way to black pepper on the palate. Most intriguing! At $18, I would definitely seek it out. Or better yet, stay at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers and visit the vineyard.
2008 Alexander’s Crown Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon: This loftily-titled Cabernet from Sonoma may not be especially unusual, but it’s tasty and clearly very well-crafted. The sales rep said this Cabernet is Clone 7, and who doesn’t love a good Clone 7? It would be a great wine with a burger, but at $75 a bottle, you better serve it with some filet mignon.
2007 Chateau Edmus Saint-Emilion Grand Cru: A pretty purple, with a nose of chocolate-covered raisins. It’s plenty earthy, but balanced with some red fruit and acids. A spiciness develops only in the back of the throat. Very elegant, and a good buy for $30. My neighbor recommends pairing with BBQ chicken, and I think if you did, you would be the hit of the party.
2009 Veritas Petit Verdot: From the Monticello AVA, this Virginia beauty is a deep purple, with an enticing black cherry nose. It’s big, bold and spicy, ideal perhaps for a rich duck confit. Thomas Jefferson, who never succeeded in producing wine at Monticello, would surely be thrilled to taste this. If you think $30 is too much to spend on a Virginia wine, this will change your mind.
2003 Luis Cañas Reserva: This Tempranillo from La Rioja features food-friendly acids and a restrained spiciness. I would love to drink it with a fresh grilled octopus, or some paella negra (with squid ink). Not a bad value for $22.
2009 Artesa Carneros Pinot Noir: In the south end of Napa, Carneros has a cooler microclimate, according to the sales rep, ensuring the Pinot Noir doesn’t become overripe. A lovely magenta, this Pinot has lots of white pepper and some green pepper. Would I buy it for $20 to $25 retail? Well, let’s just be honest here — I don’t buy very many wines over $15. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. It’s a very approachable Pinot, with none of the meaty stuff in many Oregon versions.
2009 Rappahannock “Glenway Vineyard” Cabernet Franc: Black pepper on the nose, with a good body and a long finish, as well it should for $24 at retail. Another Virginia wine which would have surely pleased Jefferson.