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Great Wines Under $35

Sorry, was referring only to the regular bottling. Her basic Chinon, while quite pleasant, is not a wine that I think improves with age.

I agree with you, the Les Picasses bottling should age.

May 04, 2011
mengathon in Wine

Great Wines Under $35

The 2002 Les Picasses I believe is actually her most current release from that vineyard. You should still be able to find it at a relative bargain for an almost-10 year old wine. I have tasted that wine a few times over a course of 3 or 4 years. It still has a ton of freshness and has a long life ahead.

Though I haven't had the 2005 vintage of the regular bottling, I would hesitate to let cellar it much longer. While I'm sure it could take some short term cellaring, from past experience, I doubt it will improve much, if at all.

May 04, 2011
mengathon in Wine

manners at wineries

Yes, spitting is essential, no matter how good the wine tastes.

It doesn't take more than 10 reds in a span of as many minutes for noticeable palate fatigue to kick in for me. Anything over 50 in a day is brutal for me.

To be honest, I would be rather put off by a winery tasting room that did not have a spit bucket handy.

May 04, 2011
mengathon in Wine

Chablis: Premiere or Grand Cru under $40

Zin's list of Chablis producers is excellent.

I would just add Daniel Dampt and Vincent Dauvissat. And yes, Raveneau is totally in a class of its own. Much like Krug and champagne, there's Raveneau, and then everything else.

Apr 25, 2011
mengathon in Wine

California Whites Made in an Old World Style

Amen to HdV Hyde Chardonnay. One of the best examples of California chardonnay when oak, fruit, and minerals all contribute to the final wine.

Apr 19, 2011
mengathon in Wine

Buttery Chardonnays

When I think of buttery chardonnays, I always think of Sonoma-Cutrer

A little more obscure option: Vie di Romans, Flor di Vis. Produces a number of white wines from Friuli, and makes them rich and unctuous without being oaky. Loads of sweet cream on the nose

Apr 19, 2011
mengathon in Wine

Mt Veeder cab 2004 how did it get so pricey?

Where did you see it sold for $400?

Is it likely some super premium Napa winery has a cabernet that's designated "Mount Veeder" as a sub-appellation?

Apr 01, 2011
mengathon in Wine

Pol Roger Vintage Brut 2000 (Or other similar recs.)

The 2000 Pol is going to be quite a bit lighter and less vinous than the 2002 Dom Perignon, which is a pretty powerful wine. Many of the champagnes from the 2000 vintage I have found relatively unexciting and underwhelming.

If you're looking for a champagne in the style of Dom, but in the price range of the vintage Pol Roger, I'd try something alone the lines of Jacquesson or Egly-Ouriet. Plenty of other options also available if you're looking for top end tête de cuvées. There's always Krug for a special occasion.

Apr 01, 2011
mengathon in Wine

Librandi 'Magno Megonio' 2004 -- Yummy...any similar Calabria/S.Italy recs?

Very little wine from Calabria is imported into the States. Librandi is probably the most prominent producer that you'll find. The Magno Megonio is a little atypical as a magliocco/gaglioppo in that it has a good amount of new oak influence. They also make a few bottlings of the Cirò Rosso at very good prices, the best of which is probably the Riserva "Duca San Felice," though it will be substantially lighter in body than the Magno Megonio.

Many of the wines of the surrounding regions in Southern Italy of Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, Sardinia, and Sicily fit the profile of what you're looking for, often at very reasonable prices. I vaguely recall that the Magno Megonio should be right around $75-90 given a typical markup at a restaurant the quality of Scarpetta. Some of these go above that. Nearly all have a good amount of oak influence. Quite a few of my favorites below:

Mastroberardino Taurasi Riserva, Radici (aglianico)
Montevetrano, Campania - cabernet, aglianico blend.
Feudi di San Gregorio "Serpico", Campania - aglianico (unsure if this is 100% aglianico. I think Piedirosso is blended, and possibly cabernet)
Basilisco Aglianico del Vulture, Basilicata -
Cantine del Notaio, Aglianico del Vulture, "La Firma", Basilicata
Sella e Mosca, "Tanca Farra", Sardinia - cannonau, cabernet blend. Unique blend of two grapes that are almost never blended together, cannonau being the local clone of grenache. Fascinating wine. Dirty in a good way.
Santadi "Shardana", Sardinia - carignano
Argiolas "Turriga", Sardinia - cannonau, carginano blend
Tormaresca "Bocca di Lupo", Puglia - aglianico
Donnafugata "Mille e Una Notte", Sicily - nero d'avola. a modern take that really gets fleshy.

Enjoy!

Mar 31, 2011
mengathon in Wine

Gambero Rosso 2011

I don't generally love Rosso di Montalcino, but do like Siro Pacenti very much as well. Lots of fine Burgundian qualities. A very pure, high quality expression of sangiovese.

Strangely enough, in working from good Brunelli producer backwards, I think this is one of the rare cases where you would actually be very surprised that the Rosso and the Brunello from Pacenti taste nothing like each other. The Brunello I find a little too rich and heavy with the influence of new oak. This may be an instance where the winemaker makes the Rosso as a stand-alone wine, as opposed to a baby Brunello.

Feb 27, 2011
mengathon in Wine

Gambero Rosso 2011

The Cepparello wasn't there. Was just making a comparison. Didn't get to taste the Flaccianello either.

Feb 19, 2011
mengathon in Wine

Gambero Rosso 2011

Was fortunate enough to attend this event in NYC. Also thankful that I was able to get there early, as it became an absolute zoo after about an hour and a half.

This is my second attendance, the last being in 2009. In a space of two years, I find that the red wines have become more and more monolithic. Taken to an extreme, there were no wines that I tasted that were remotely traditional. This is especially true of Tuscany, where there were some decidedly mediocre wines, mostly from the 2007 vintage. I also did not encounter one great sangiovese-based wine. There also wasn't a single distinguishable Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. The whites, on the other hand, are, as a group, much more distinctive.

Highlights:
Petrolo 'Galatrona' 08, Tuscany - IMO, the best merlot out of Italy, more impressive than the Ornellaia Masseto or the Tua Rita Redigaffi. The new oak is definitely evident, but the fruit takes precedence. Harmonious. Not as good as the 06, but still a long life ahead.

Ornellaia Bolgheri 07, Tuscany - I'm usually not the biggest fan, but this vintage was much better balanced than previous, nearly all of which were too extracted. The only impressive Tuscan wine from the 07 vintage.

Palari Faro 08, Sicily - a blend of various nerello varietals, mainly mascalese and cappuccio, from the northeastern part of the island around the town of Messina. All nerello imported into the U.S. seems to be of high quality, including Terre Nere, Passopisciaro, and Cottanera, but this is still the benchmark. Italy's answer to great Burgundy.

Nino Negri Valtellina Sfurzat, 'Cinque Stelle' 07, Lombardia - much more depth and a wider range than the normale Sfurzat, and the Vigneto Fracia, both of which are outstanding.

St. Michele Appiano Sauvignon, 'Sanct Valentin' 09, Alto Adige - always a great QPR producer, and they make no bad wines. This is a fabulous example of Northern Italian sauvignon: super fragrant, refreshing acidity, balance between the fruit and the grassy notes. A little richer than most, but super fine, begging you to take another sip.

Planeta 'Cometa' 09, Sicily - 100% fiano from Sicily's largest producer. A big surprise, as this wine was much lighter than in past years, where the extraction made the wine nearly incompatible with food. A much paler color as well, and much better balanced. The representative mentioned a cooler and rainier season. I'm very curious to taste the wines from the next vintages and see if this is a trend.

Pelissero Barbaresco, 'Vanotu' 07, Piedmont - Slick, accessible now. The best nebbiolo at the tasting.

Disappointments:
La Spinetta Barbaresco, 'Starderi' 07, Piedmont - thin, and showing nothing but oak at the moment. might improve, but the recent vintages were never this disjointed at release.

Pio Cesare Barolo, 'Ornato' 06, Piedmont - The normale bottling was much better. This wine tasted of a tree bark, without any interesting nebbiolo notes.

Fèlsina Chianti Classico Riserva, 'Rancia' 07, Fèlsina 'Fontalloro' 07, Tuscany - I've always liked Fèlsina for their ability to make a modern version of sangiovese, yet having the wine still taste and can be identified as sangiovese. Other wines in this group that I really enjoy: Fontodi 'Flaccianello della Pieve' and the Isole e Olena 'Cepparello.' Not so here. Tasted diluted.

Livio Felluga 'Terre Alte' 08, Friuli - a blend of friulano, pinot bianco, sauvignon. Not sure what has happened since I fell in love with the wines a few years ago. First, there seemed to be too much oak influence, now the wine is just flat. A shell of its former self as a benchmark northern Italian white.

Feb 18, 2011
mengathon in Wine

A venture into Italian wines

I think this hiatus was a little shorter!

Been busy trying wines from all over the world =)

Feb 18, 2011
mengathon in Wine

Dry Riesling recommendations?

Try some from Australia:
Leeuwin Art Series from Margaret River
Grosset Polish Hill
The Leeuwin should definitely be no more than $20, while the Grosset might be around $25 or so.

Feb 17, 2011
mengathon in Wine

Sparkling Wine Pairing for Sushi

Go with a good non-vintage champagne, preferably one with a yeasty style. Billecart-Salmon and Aubry if you can find them.

Feb 17, 2011
mengathon in Wine

A venture into Italian wines

Must respectfully disagree with some of the suggestions.

The two Ornellaias are the second and third wines of the estate. Le Serre Nuove is predominantly cabernet and merlot and could use short term aging. 10 years is really pushing it. Le Volte is predominantly merlot and sangiovese, with a little bit of cabernet and sometimes syrah. This is a wine meant to be drunk now. A decant would surely be helpful with either of these wines, but many hours is unnecessary. 2008 in Tuscany was a decent year, but by no means outstanding. I don't see either of these wines being fantastic in 2021. Le Serre Nuove may hold up, but there is no need to age Le Volte.

Saracco is a very good producer for the price in Piemonte. They make an outstanding Moscato d'Asti that's a great bargain. The pinot nero, as most from Piemonte, is a relatively light, minerally, fruit-driven wine, meant for easy, early drinking. There's also no reason to cellar this.

The two Barbarescos are quite distinctive in style. La Spinetta has been and remains one of the most fruit-foward and oak-driven nebbiolo producers you will find, especially in Barbaresco. The wines are rich, heavily influenced by new oak, yet retain their nebbiolo character. The estate makes 4 different Barbarescos: Valeirano, Gallina, Starderi, and Bordini, with Bordini being the newest addition from younger vines, and much less dense than the rest. The Starderi is usually the most austere of the group and in a good vintage would easily last 15-20 years. On the other hand, this is a wine that can easily go into a "dumb" phase for a few years, where your drinking window is either now, or 10 years later. Having tried every vintage back to 1999, I would save this bottle for a the 10 years later. But if I had a hankering for a rich nebbiolo, I would have no qualms about drinking it straight out of the bottle now, with or without a decant.

I've had the Rocca Coparossa back to 96, and the wines, young or old, have an earthier, more rustic element to the slickness of the Spinettas. This is also a wine that is very unforgiving when young. Given the vintage in 04, I would put this bottle away and forget about for a long time.

Feb 17, 2011
mengathon in Wine

2011 - What are you Drinking!

Very good, a solid A-minus. Not quite the richness or intensity of other Chambertins I've had, but all the elements were there. Not sure if it needed more time. Given the vintage though, must say I expected a little more.

Feb 17, 2011
mengathon in Wine

2011 - What are you Drinking!

Goofing around with friends at an overly excessive lunch...

Dom Perignon 90 - slightly corked, unfortunately
Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 96
Dugat Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru 93
Mortet Chambertin 99
Henri Bonneau CdP 01

The Burgs were great, but the Bonneau was showing the best. My first experience with this producer, and would love to try more.

Feb 17, 2011
mengathon in Wine

What are You Pouring for Thanksgiving 2010?

Milziade Antano Grechetto 09
Texier CdR Brézème 07
Clerico Barolo Percristina 99
Foreau Vouvray Moelleux 95

Nov 26, 2010
mengathon in Wine

The strange case of a case of 1999 Domenico Clerico Barolo Per Cristina

Had the Percristina 99 with a traditional Brasato al Barolo, that was actually cooked in nebbiolo.

I found much of the same things both of you did, but not to the same extent and definitely not disjointed. The tannins were still stiff with the wine on its own, but obviously mellowed by the beef. The nose, IMO, was quite typical Clerico, but the oak is definitely heavy, but no more so than something like a Scavino Bric del Fiasc 97 out of a magnum I tried recently, as well as a Gaja Conteisa 96 last year.

That said, this is likely to be a wine that should not be decanted.

Ric, thank you for the treat. I'll return the favor soon. Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 26, 2010
mengathon in Wine

2010 - What are you drinking?

Massimo Rivetti Barbaresco Riserva Serraboella 01
Pierre Usseglio CdP Mon Aïeul 04
Joly Savennières Coulée de Serrant 04
Baumard Quarts de Chaume 02

An 01 Mascarello Santo Stefano di Perno was corked... too bad. was looking forward to that wine.

Oct 11, 2010
mengathon in Wine

The strange case of a case of 1999 Domenico Clerico Barolo Per Cristina

Just had a taste of the 2000 Percristina. Quite stunning, typical of Clerico with the dark chocolate and a minty nose, terrific long finish.

Oct 07, 2010
mengathon in Wine

how about some syrah from the Rhone?

A complete coincidence... just popped open a bottle of Graillot Crozes 07 that was marred by volatile acidity.

Must agree with them. Haven't come across many 08 Rhônes in general that have impressed. The Domaine des Lises 07 is a pretty fantastic value.

Sep 28, 2010
mengathon in Wine

Who wants to play to the wine list game?

In addition to the others...

Ciampagnis Vieris, Vie di Romans
Casamatta Bianco, Bibi Graetz - one of the better versions of vermentino from tuscany.
Lapierre Morgon

Sep 28, 2010
mengathon in Wine

2010 - What are you drinking?

Did the Offerus have any life left? Just curious to see if the Chave Selection wines can last a decade.

Sep 26, 2010
mengathon in Wine

The strange case of a case of 1999 Domenico Clerico Barolo Per Cristina

I think it's destined for the cemetery as well...

I've never had the Percristina 99, but I can say this:

1. I've had Clericos all the way back to the 93 Ciabot Mentin Ginestra. The wines made in the 90's all tend to be heavy-handed with oak. The 93 Ginestra that I had experienced the same thing your Percristina did: pretty bouquet out of the glass, but the tannins dominated; we then decanted, but instead of improving, the fruit simply dissipated further, while the tannins remained.

2. The 99 Barolos from the "modernists" I have had have me a little perplexed as being disappointing. Not that one bottle confirms it, but instead of needing more time, i think most of them are likely to be over the hill. There just isnt much fruit left and the wines don't improve in the glass. On the other hand, 98s and 00s are showing much better.

3. From experience, I would drink up Clerico's before between 5-7 years. I have the 04 Pajana and Ginestra that I don't intend to keep much longer. Granted, the vintage may be stronger, but I'm not willing to take the risk.

Ric, if you are willing do donate, I'd be happy to take one to my tasting group!

Sep 10, 2010
mengathon in Wine

2010 - What are you drinking?

Krug Grande Cuvée NV - never disappoints!
Rene Geoffroy, Empriente 04 - showing very well. one of the first 04s i have had.
Seven Springs Chardonnay, La Source, Eola Amity Hills 07 - super crisp, minimal new oak, smoky, stony, one of the finer examples of Oregon chardonnay
Nuits-St.-Georges, Domaine l'Arlot, Clos des Forêts 98 (magnum) - perfect with veal. at peak. delicate, very elegant. a top 1er cru. one of the best 98 NSGs I've had.

Aug 31, 2010
mengathon in Wine

2010 - What are you drinking?

I'm not the only one with a champagne fix, I see!

2006 Dogliani Abbona, "Papà Celso" with pizza

Aug 23, 2010
mengathon in Wine

Your favorite blanc de blancs

Thank you. I had forgotten about Lassaigne. Never had an Agrapart, but will seek it out.

Aug 21, 2010
mengathon in Wine

Your favorite blanc de blancs

Thank you Jason. Exactly what i was looking for! Lots more producers that I had not known about to try.

I'm not only looking for tête de cuvées. I think The Billecart-Salmon vintage BdB belongs as well.

Aug 21, 2010
mengathon in Wine