Monday, May 12, 2008

drumroll, please . . .

So, wine-wise and otherwise, I just spent one of the best weekends of my life at my brother's house. He's made some pretty interesting friends in his life, but the one that concerns us most is the sommelier who picked out several mixed cases of his favorites at my brother's request. Skills! He's got 'em. They both do.

Each bottle alone would have been the highlight of any evening, but drunken one after another, they've wrecked my ability to enjoy $9 bargain wines indefinitely. This blog may never rise again.Without further ado:

R? Petite Sirah. ???

Why didn't I take a picture of the back of the bottle? A question one asks in the cruel light of day. Anyway, whatever your winery, ma petite sirah, I love you.

Rich, dark, spicy. It took me a few guesses, but I eventually identified some coffee notes. Grabs you by the tongue like an unexpected French kiss. A deep and passionate wine.

Il Nero di Casanova, La Spinetta. 2005. Italy.

The least impressive of the night, but still much better than any of my past entries (Le Grand Pinot Noir perhaps excepted). Clean and crisp, effortlessly smooth. An intermezzo, not an aria.

Calera Pinot Noir, 2003. Mt. Harlan, California.

The belle of the ball for me. As a discerning drinker once said, I didn't drink it so much as taste it again and again.

But my tastebuds were, shall we say, loosened by this point, as I had *tasted* quite a lot of it. I luxuriated in this wine, rolling it over my tongue and trying to experience the dancing rush of flavors fully each time. I have nothing more specific to report besides the memory of rapture. A bit like trying to hold on to the evening itself as it opened and its notes kept changing.

Mmm, the path from wine to philosophy is a short and tasty one when you start here.

Elizabeth Spencer Cabernet Sauvignon Special Cuvee, 2005. Napa Valley, California.

Thanks to my brother for this lesson in food pairing and timing. According to the carnivores present, this bottle held its own against a steak dinner like a champion. Right out of the bottle, this bold Cab punched me in the mouth and then ran away, defiant and elusive. After ten or fifteen minutes, the punch had moved to the middle, then the end, and finally it shadowboxed its way right out the other side. Sophisticated and strong--not to be shared with the timid!

Muga Reserva Rioja, 2003. Haro, Spain.

This was the second time I'd been treated to a glass (or two) of Muga, an unfiltered Spanish rioja. The last time was the night before Christmas, when it was my favorite bottle of a long and festive evening.

Spicy and warm on the tongue, even musky, with an undeniable connection to the grape that produced it. A down-to-earth rockstar of a wine, solidly tied with "R" for second place.

Carneros Saintsbury Pinot Noir, 2004.

I think I remember liking it. I'm sure it was good, but by this time in the evening, I'd begun to reel. Perhaps my friends can fill me in. . . what did you think of it?

In the words of Dr. Steve Brule, "Sweet berry wine!"

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Concannon Syrah 2004. Livermore Valley, California.

Yipes! I wish I had bought another bottle of Le Grand with my $9. Despite the ritzy pewter label, this syrah falls flat. It's not bad, it just doesn't do much. Medium-bodied, pretty smooth, inoffensive and utterfly forgettable California wine. But a damn sight better than your average Yellow Tail, America. The label suggests pairing it with BBQ or something really spicy. Might as well--your scorched tongue won't be able to taste much, anyway.
Le Grand Pinot Noir, 2006. France.

Velvety and dark, kinda mossy, in a good way. Refreshingly not-too-sweet for a pinot noir. At $9 (on sale), this wine would be hard to beat for value. Groans of appreciation could be heard issuing repeatedly from the peanut gallery. Plus we all really liked the fatass sheep. Perhaps you can't tell, but her eyes are wine red, probably because she's (justifiably) drunk on this stuff. Oak aged for 6 months, obviously time well spent. Go get yourself some, too.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Red Guitar Old Vine Tempranillo Garnache 2006. Navarra, Spain.

Mmm, finally something to wax poetic about. This is a tasty little tempranillo blend. It starts out super sweet and finishes with a bitter tang, not unlike some relationships I've had. Zing!

I frequently fail to identify fruity or savory notes that wine bottles advertise, but this bottle tasted just like tart cherries with a hint of vanilla. Very drinkable, but bold and scene-stealing, so it could be tough to pair with flavorful foods. It's Spanish, and the cover art and name seem to gesture toward Picasso. At $10 with a $2 off coupon (Piggly Wiggly prices, thank you), I'd certainly buy another bottle.