Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Sun, 20 Apr 2014 11:20:13 -0400 Sun, 20 Apr 2014 11:20:13 -0400 Snooth An Italian Easter Gregory Dal Piaz <p>With Easter looming this Sunday, and the thoughts of yesterday&#39;s Chianti reviews fresh in my mind I sat down this morning topull both threads together. Italy, being a Catholic country that celebrates life through food and wine, has quite the repertoire of &nbsp;traditional Easter fare.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> While the cuisine we think of as Italian varies considerably from the north to the south of the country, and is also quite skewed by the Italian-American dishes we often think of as traditional, there are some themes that unite Easter dishes. Innocence andrebirth for example, often symbolized through the use of eggs, spring lamb, and asparagus. And of course the famous dove shaped cake known as La Colomba should cap off an Italian Easter feast. Not familiar with the Italian Easter? Well, read on and prepareto be tempted. These are all fabulous spring time recipes and that you don&#39;t have to be celebrating easter to enjoy!<br /><br /> <br /> </p> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5304 Cracking the Chianti Code Gregory Dal Piaz <p>Another in my series of reports focusing on the wines I was able to sample at the prowein event held in March of this year in Dusseldorf, Germany. Today we&rsquo;re talking about Chianti Classico, soon to be followed by thoughts on a line-up of the new Gran Selezione wines. I&rsquo;m not sure we need yet another level for Chianti, but that too shall wait for the next installment of this series for today i want to remain focused on the basic wines of the Chianti Classico zone.&nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> For me this is what Chianti is all about.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Classico: coming for the historic heart of the region.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> No extended ageing. No Grand selection.<br /><br /> <br /> Chianti Classico had a stand are Prowein were one could taste trough probably 100 wines from over 60 producers both large and small. For a little more background on the Prowein event please check out&nbsp;<a href=""><strong>Why You Should be going to Prowein</strong></a>. Stands like this are a very compelling reason to go, and while I was not able to devote as much time as I may have wanted to Chianti during this visit, after all Chianti occupied maybe 3% of the acres of Italian wines being featured at Prowien, and Italian wines make up only a modest percentage of the toal number of wines on offer, I did manage to spend the better part of three hours investigating &nbsp;18 Chianti Classicos followed by 12 of the New Gran Selezione wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> I skipped all the Riservas, and in hindsight that may not have been the greatest plan, but time was short and I had pressing matters to think about. Like how long the Burger truck line was going to be.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> But seriously, I was here, at the Chianti Classico stand with limited time and a pair of missions. First and foremost was to try and suss out some of the best values from all the wines on offer, and that generally means skipping the Riservas. The second goal in mind was to try the Gran Selezione wines to see how they stack up, and here is where not having a recent set of tasting impressions for the Riservas may have done me a disservice. Instead I was to compare these new wines with the basic Chianti Classicos, and as that turns out that may be a more difficult task.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> These wines are the vanguard of Chianti, released relatively early and designed to showcase the fruit of Sangiovese, often blended with a litany of other grapes. Chianti may very well be one of the most improved wines on earth. from distant but still clear memories of shrill, acidic , and thin wines happy to carry the banner of one of Italy&rsquo;s greatest wine regions we have finally arrived at a point where Chianti can rub shoulders with some of the best wines in the market today.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> Historically the Riservas got the lion&rsquo;s share of attention, not so much because they were necessarily better wines, but rather because they were both a selection of the best lots and benefitted from additional ageing. that ageing had it&rsquo;s drawbacks as well. To my palate Sangiovese is not a grape that is particularly predisposed to benefiting from extended ageing in barrel. easy to oxidise and rather delicate, the aromas, flavors, and texture of sangiovese seem to prefer time in the bottle to time in the barrel.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Today what is going in the bottle, even at the basic chianti Classico level, has never been better. these wines have complexity and depth, retain Sangiovese characteristically austere tannins and acidic snap on the palate while showing off a depth of fruit that vintners a few decades ago could only have dreamed about.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The vast majority of the wine tasted for this article were from the 2011 vintage, with a smattering of 2010s and 2012s included out of necessity. While perhaps not at the level of either the vintage that preceded it or the vintage that followed, 2011 is a fine vintage rich with fruit, from a rather warm year overall and a decidedly torrid August in particular that sped up the harvest and give some producers problems of balance. Fortunately even in August overnight low temperatures were in line with historical averages wso the grapes did retain balancing acidity. that acidity was vital in a vintage like 2011 where the grapes did suffer from dehydration, and in some cases sunburn as well leading to jammy and roasted flavors.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Due to the wet winter and rains that fell during the summer the vines were able to handle the heat fairly well, but it did speed up the harvest, which was about three weeks ahead of schedule and the poor, thin soils in the Chianti Classico region did tend to dry up and retain the heat of the day to a larger extent than those of surrounding regions. The results are certainly interesting, and in many cases with these Chianti Classicos quite attractive. These are wines that are built, after all, on fruit not nuance, and a vintage like 2011 can supply plenty of fruit.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Unfortunately many wines could only supply masses of fruit in 2011, and this lineup was, in the grand scheme of things, rather disappointing. The standouts were all delicious wines but I expected more from several of the producers. with 60 producers pouring at this stand I did have to pick and choose a bit, relying mostly on old favorites to taste from. Perhaps therein lies some of my disappointment. My expectations were high, and in all honesty I do love Chianti, but for all the wrong reasons when it comes to a vintage like 2011. I love Chianti for it&rsquo;s light, fresh, zesty purity. Edgy little tannins, mouth watering acids. An affinity for food that is tough to beat. That&rsquo;s my Chianti checklist, and only a handful of these wines checked all the boxes.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So what&rsquo;s the takeaway from this? By choosy with your purchases of 2011 Tuscans. There were wines with unripe tannin, low acids, and roasted fruit, none of which i want in my cellar. On the flip side there were some pretty terrific wines as well, so my best advice is that you probably don&#39;t need these wines, but will be able to buy many at a discount once the vintage is broadly distributed. I was fortunate to taste these wines early in their lives, so don&rsquo;t be surprised if you don&rsquo;t see them for much of the coming year, but they will be coming eventually, though sandwiched as they are between 2010 and 2012 I don&rsquo;t think they will find much of a market.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Querciabella Chianti Classico $35</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 100% Sangiovese</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Spicy on the nose with a hint of wood adding detail to the raw if not aggressive perfumes of frutti del bosco flecked with hints of seeds and spice adding real complexity. This is downright opulent in the mouth and punching way above its weight class with richness, depth of fruit and a refined quality that makes this a real standout of the tasting. the fruit, pure, lively and spiced on the palate with wild red berry, red cherry, &nbsp;and astringent lingonberry notes is wrapped around subtle mineral and herbal nuances with fantastic length, power, and freshness on the finish. 92pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Tenuta di Lilliano Chianti Classico $18</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 80% Sangiovese, 20% unspecified &lsquo;complementary&rsquo; varieties</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Wild yeast organic earthy, funky aromas greet the nose, though under all of that this really has a big, perfumed nose with great complexity. Edgy and wonderfully clear on the palate, &nbsp;this is awesome though it has some funk on the palate that will turn some people off. late arriving minerality explodes through the veil of sheer red fruits and leads to a long finish that shows real finesse and a fine edge of austerity to the tannins in the mouth. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Dievole Chianti Classico $20</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 90% sangiovese, 10% complimentary red grape varieties&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Rather explosive on the nose with superbly focused aromas of mineral, dried herbs, and smoky nuances all layered over a base of slightly jammy wild strawberry and lingonberry fruit. Perhaps a touch soft on entry, this then firms up with a fine astringent streak running through the cherry and strawberry fruited palate. In the mouth the fruit tannins built up showing great structure and compelling complexity that lingers through the long finish. This could use some more definition on the palate, which may come with time, but is already very good. 90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Val delle Corti Chianti Classico $25</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 95% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> High toned on the nose and a bit beefy then smelling gorgeously of earth, herb and spicy red fruit. This opens on the round side of things in the mouth with slightly bricky tannins and tart acids supporting a core of rich and fairly powerful raspberry. The tannins turn more polished in the mouth and through the elegant finish which is rich with slightly astringent and tart red fruits.90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Felsina Chianti Classico Berardenga $22</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 100% Sangiovese</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Perfumed and &nbsp;floral on the nose, which is filled with aromas of spiced blueberries, minerals, and sweet leather notes. &nbsp;A touch soft, or rather fleshy in the mouth, this is rich with soft, ripe tannins that makes for a bit of a chewy mouthful. There&rsquo;s plenty of bright cherry and slightly darker berry fruit on the palate that is nicely perfumed and shows fine persistence on the moderately long finish but this shows good power yet not great elegance. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 San Felice Chianti Classico $16</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 80% Sangiovese, 10% Colrino 10% Pugnitello</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Classic smoky red fruits greet the nose framed with nuanced dried herbal and tree bark aromas. Sweet fruit, nicely spicy and with a twang floats across the palate showing off a very pretty and aromatic style. The &nbsp;red fruit, ripe but fresh and raspberry toned is punctuated by slightly rough tannins that show an edge of astringency on the moderately long finish. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Fattoria Viticcio Chianti Classico $18</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 95% Sangiovese, 5% Merlot</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Big aromas greet the nose all leathery at first then bright with fresh fruit, a hint of a refreshing herbs and a hint of sweet toasty wood spice. Lively on the palate, with power, cut and inner mouth perfumes, this is very strong with fine cherry fruit on the midpalate though it does fade a bit on the finish. fairly structured today, this has everything in place to age into a wonderful chianti classico, but it would benefit from another year in the bottle. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Castellare in Castellina Chianti Classico $22</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 95% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Mineral and herb greet the nose followed by a little huckleberry over wild blackberry fruit but the dusty and mineral notes return to dominate the nose in a nuanced and attractive way Fairly big fruit in the mouth is a little chewy, a little short, tight and raw but with lovely purity of fruit and fine typicity. This definitely needs some time in the bottle but has everything in place to grow into a fine example of Chianti Classico that really wears its terroir on its sleeve. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Carpineto Chianti Classico $15</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 80% Sangiovese, 20% Canaiolo and other red grape varieties</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Damp tobacco, earthy, and a bit funky come together on the nose which is decidedly not fruit driven but complex and nuanced. Big fruit underpinned by tannins are a bit hunky and inelegant fills the mouth on entry. Decidedly young and raw, this shows off a rather old school profile with leathery, dried fruit character and earthy spice dominating the palate and the modest finish. it&rsquo;s not for everyone but a nice change of pace. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Fonterutoli Chianti Classico $30</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 90% Sangiovese, 10% a blend of malvasia Nera, Colorino and Merlot</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sweetly oaked and vanila influenced on the nose, this show some attractive black cherry and blackcurrant fruit aromas. A bit slick in the mouth in a rich but simple style that is attractively fresh with a nice mineral edge that helps to add a bit of cut to the rather chunky fruit. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Castello di Verrazzano Chianti Classico $25</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 95% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark on the nose and a bit sweet smelling with a beautiful melange of frutti del bosco, woodland spices, and mineral aromas. A bit chunky in the mouth and rich with ripe cherry fruit, this lacks a bit of structure, turning soft on the palate which is a bit roasty and fudgy. that roasted fruit does show fine persistence on the long finish, but i would like to see more energy and freshness. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong><span style="font-size: 12px;">2011 Carpineta Fontalpino Chianti Classico $22</span></strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 100% Sangiovese</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Smoky and earthy on the nose with rich aromas of potting soil and flowers with some spicy top notes. &nbsp;On entry this has &nbsp;some cabernet like power, dry and deep on the midpalate with black fruit and spicy flavors that offer nice textural cut but are abit anonymous. Blackcurrants on the slightly tannic finish which shows decent length. this is a good wine but not a terribly convincing Chianti Classico. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Monteraponi Chianti Classico $25</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 95% sangiovese 5% Canaiolo</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Deeply earthy and briary on the nose with lots of astringent red fruits and smoky top notes. There&rsquo;s plenty of sweet fruit on the palate, all raspberry and strawberry toned, but the flavors are a little roasted with a hint of truffle accentuating the ripeness which also shows up on the soft finish. This is both a bit raw and too ripe on the palate, lacking harmony in the mouth that may never come. The fruit is verging on the exotic with rich, spicy undertones. 84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Luiano Chianti Classico $10</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 90% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Smoky, ashy, and a bit overtly woody on the nose with coy fruit. Tight and nervy in the mouth, this displays decent weight though with flavors that are simple and not very distinguished. the texture is attractive, and this is refreshingly austere on the finish so it may just be going through a closed phase but if the fruit doesn&rsquo;t show up this is decidedly underwhelming. &nbsp;83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Castello d&rsquo;Albola Chianti Classico $15</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 95% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit flat on the nose showing off some old wood tones and a bit of spice character as well. Decidedly flat in the mouth with lots of candied medicinal and herbal flavors layered over dark black cherry fruit this is rather short and inelegant but not overtly offensive. 83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 San Vincenti Chianti Classico $22</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 100% Sangiovese</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark, heavy, oily and tarry on the nose, this shows more interest in the mouth where it is all spicy and mineral on entry but turns heavy with fruit and &nbsp;large scaled in a raw, inelegant, tannic, tough, extracted way that leads to a bitter, hot finish. 78pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Casaloste Chianti Classico $20</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 90% Sangiovese, 10% merlot</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit tight on the nose and frankly weird smelling of sweet oak and grape jelly. In the mouth one finds a wine that is both rich and thin. Soft and shapeless on the tongue, this is matte and has an extracted feel &nbsp;that is not entirely unappealing on a textural level but there is no depth, nuance, of distinct flavor either. This I do not like. 75pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Fontodi Chianti Classico $30</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 100% Sangiovese</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tea and tobacco emerge on the nose followed by extracted, heavy carob laced aromas of roasted fruit. &nbsp;Big, powerful, and &nbsp;inelegant in the mouth, this is all chunky and showing rich, roasted fruit with harsh tannins. Raw, unbalanced and surprisingly bad. tasted twice with similar results. 70pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5300 Wines That Rang our Bell in March 2014 <p>Spring seems to have actually arrived here in the Northeast, and while the nights are still threatening us with near freezing temperatures we&rsquo;ve broken through the 70 degree mark more than once and the sun has even started to shine brightly, bathing us in resplendent warmth. That can mean only one thing when you are a wine geek.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> It&rsquo;s time to break out the whites!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sure we&rsquo;ve been dipping into white wine now and again during the cold, dark months of winter, but now we&rsquo;re serious. new vintages are gracing out shelves, fabulous offerings from around the world are at our fingertips, but as is so often the case, the selection far exceeds our ability to filter it. That&rsquo;s where our friends come in. Check out some of these great suggestions for Springtime whites from some of the best writers in the biz!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Photo courtesy&nbsp;<a href="">Andreas Kollegger</a>&nbsp;via Flickr/CC</em><br /> </p> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5296 Where has all the Malbec Gone? Gregory Dal Piaz <p>Almost fruity by design, because that&rsquo;s what we know you like. The natural, slightly bitter character of Malbec is being obscured, in those examples that through clonal selection, cropping, or vintage character still display it. In its place we&rsquo;re increasingly finding the fruit that consumers have grown to expect from their wines. Not enough fruit? Not a very good wine.And that&rsquo;s where malbec is headed.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Hurtling towards the abyss of blackness, in grave danger of losing what was once it&rsquo;s calling card. It&rsquo;s not a situation unique to malbec of course, but Malbec, much like Shiraz before it is the current poster child for the dumbing down of wine.<br /><br /> <br /> <span style="font-size: 12px;">There is of course hope and reason to remain positive about the prospects for Malbec, but as $8 bottles turn into $12 bottles, and $12 bottles into $20 bottles, the value proposition begins to slip away, and that is where the real danger lays. A fruity, easy going wine with that extra bit of fruity sweetness works at $8, perhaps even still at $12, but as it comes into competition with other wines at higher price point it runs into problems.&nbsp;</span><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Stylistic problems, simply being outclassed by wines that offer more nuance and detail, as well as problems with its value proposition. Again reference to Shiraz is valuable here. why would someone pay $20 for a big fruity wine when for $12 you can get 90% of the experience? Consumers didn&rsquo;t do it with Shiraz, and unless the Malbec industry wises up they&rsquo;ll be in that same boat.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> And in case you&rsquo;re wondering, no I&rsquo;m not talking exclusively about Argentina here. Today&rsquo;s tasting included wines from Washington, California, France, and Chile. &nbsp;In fact my two favorite wines came from France and Chile, respectively, and they displayed the nuance that malbec is capable of beautifully. &nbsp;The subsequent wine all tended towards more of the fruit forward style that we&rsquo;re growing accustomed to, and there is where things begin to get a little dicey.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The question becomes &ldquo;What do I want?&rdquo; and to a certain extent I have difficulty articulating what I want, relying simply on the thought &ldquo; more of what the 2006 Chateau LaGrezette and the 2010 Perez Cruz Cot Limited Edition are offering. &nbsp;A little less fruit, a little less oaky, a little less sweetness. That&rsquo;s all I&rsquo;m asking for. let the detail malbec grown in fine terroir is capable of shine through. Sure, there will always be a place for the big, bold, smooth and fruity style of malbec, but when that is all we&rsquo;re left with, well then we lose sight of what malbec is all about, and it becomes all too easy to simply opt for a wine that highlights the fruity side of the variety. The $12 2012 Apaltagua Malbec Reserva does that all too well, and might just be the portent of Mlabec pricing wars coming down the pike.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I&rsquo;ve been a bit too dour today. I know that, but as Yogi berra once famously said; &ldquo;It&rsquo;s deja vu all over again.&rdquo; We&rsquo;ve been down this path before. Let&rsquo;s hope this time we&rsquo;re taken to a different destination.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong><span style="font-size: 12px;">2006 Chateau LaGrezette Malbec Cru d&rsquo;Exception Cahors France 13.5% $30</span></strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Earthy, stemmy and herbal on the nose with some sweet, small berry, wild berry fruit tones floating in the glass. A bit tough in the mouth with chewy tannins plenty of richness remaining. there&rsquo;s great depth to the fruit here, all mineral and dried herb tinged wild red cherry toned flavors. The wine remains firm right through the mouth, but well balanced with the fruit gaining some darker, earthy notes on the backend before changing speed entirely and showing of nuanced red currant and subtly spiced oak note on the long, slightly rustic but delicious finish. Still youthful, this captures another aspect of Malbec, nuanced, complex, and more lively than many new world versions. 92pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Perez Cruz Cot Limited Edition (Malbec) Maipo Valley, Chile 14% $25</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Quie a perfume here and unlike virtually anything else coming out under the Malbec banner these days. This is all sauvage, herbal, gamy, yet bright with notes of wild strawberries, lingonberries and candied cranberries. Smooth and polished on entry, this is seamless in the mouth, though there are some firm, almost stemmy tannins lurking at the heart of the pool of slightly roasted, candied red fruits that form the core of this wine. A touch chewy in the mouth, and with late arriving acids that help refresh the palate, this shows great potential for continued improvement in the bottle. The backend shows off a little black pepperiness before leading to a dried fruit finish of modest proportions. Broad shouldered and narrow waisted, this shows excellent balance and integration. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong><span style="font-size: 12px;">2011 Bramare Malbec Lujan de Cuyo Argentina 14.7% $40</span></strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Crushed black cherries, expensive chocolate, grilled meats, a hint of black pepper and sweet vanilla and powdered ginger greet the nose. A bit tight, and definitely wound up, this shows lovely depth to the fruit with an elegance and almost laciness that is rare to find with malbec. The oak, nutty and showing allspice tones, is dominant today but not offensively so and the fruit ebbs and flows over the oak, giving glimpses of fine balsamic tinged crushed wild berry fruits topped with shaved chocolate. &nbsp;A little blond tobacco and white pepper spice emerges on the finish to add some detail, along with a touch of heat as well. refined and complex, this is a fine wine but it lacks a touch of varietal character. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Felino by Vina Cobos Malbec Mendoza Argentina 14.3% $18</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Quite subtle on the nose, though showing a sophisticated blend of nuanced, cigar box oak, crushed wild berry fruit, and hints of ivy and green herbs. Smooth, fairly zesty and even edgy in the mouth, there&rsquo;s great tension and energy here with the bright crushed wild berry aromas of the nose gaining a bit of sweetness and complexity from the oak on the palate. The finish is a bit short, showing a fine steak of bitterness that helps to define the sweet, slightly jammy blackberry fruit that leads to the cranberry tinged finale. Captures the power of malbec while displaying a bit of finesse. Lovely wine. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Kaiken Malbec Ultra Mendoza Argentina 14.5% $18</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark and exotic on the nose with layers of oak, tropical flowers, pomegranate and zesty wild plums. Rich, powerful and a bit mysterious on entry, this shows slightly aggressive wood tannin today, adding a drying vein to the midpalate, but the fruit is so rich it&rsquo;s easy to miss. Dark, slightly roasted flavors of black cherry and blackberry are enlivened with subtly toasty oak spice in the mouth, and a hint of vanilla on the backend before this fades away on a moderately long, slightly hot finish. Big and smooth. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Graffigna Malbec Grand Reserve San Juan Argentina 14.5% $18</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Subtle cigar box oak greets the nose followed by sweet vanilla, a touch of ginger and dark plummy fruit topped with shaved bittersweet chocolate. Smooth and polished in the mouth with plenty of dark plummy fruit wrapped around nicely integrated oak spice. This is well knit together and supple in the mouth with a nice blend of sour plum and blackberry fruit that lasts over the long finish. This is rather elegant for malbec with a nice blend of delicacy and depth in the mouth. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Cuarto Dominio Chento Malbec Vineyard Selection Mendoza Argentina 14% $20</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark with hints of carob, earth and leather on the nose this seems a bit tight with reticent aromas of wood spice slowly drifting from the glass. Soft, almost voluptuous on entry with a hint of sweetness wrapped around firm acids and a lacy tannic structure, this unfurls in the mouth with power, yet a sense of restraint as well as there is some subtlety here. The oak pops a bit on the backend before sliding back under the powerful yet subtle dark cherry, candied cherry, berry fruit that dominates the long finish. This might improve in the bottle over the near term, 1-2 years, but is already a pretty classic expression of Malbec today. 88pts&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Niner Malbec Bootjack Ranch Paso Robles 14.9% $25</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark, spicy and slightly roasted on the nose with plenty of vanilla and spicy oak layered in under the spicy, slightly balsamic fruit. Soft, large scaled, and powerful in the mouth, while remaining moderately transparent and agile on the palate. The fruit here takes on a decidedly black cherry tone, slightly candied and sweet though with enough balsamic spice to remain fresh and enough depth to help keep the oak well covered. A bit of jamminess emerges on the backend, then the fruit slips away leaving lots of mocha tinged oak, drying and slightly bitter, to linger on the modest finish. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Apaltagua Malbec Reserva Maule Valley Chile 14% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fruity and spicy on the nose with plenty of &nbsp;nuanced nutty, nutmeg tinged oak layered in with &nbsp;blackberry, plum, and black cherry fruit. fruit forward, exuberant and bright in the mouth, this is supported by nicely judged, firm, little tannins and integrated acids that help to show off the spicy character of the fruit here. Rich yet remaining admirably transparent in the mouth, this finish with lovely freshness and clarity, and lingering sour plummy fruit. Well knit together and fun. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Sagelands Vineyards Malbec Columbia Valley 13.5% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Subtle on the nose with nuanced oak, spicy fruit and subtly floral aromas. A bit sticky up front with perhaps a touch of RS adding some richness but enough acidity to help bring freshness and brightness to the palate. The oak is well measure with some spice accents helping to highlight the slightly spicy, plum skin and rosemary nature of the fruit here. Finishing with a slight balsamic cast, this shows some nice persistence to the fruit in a style that is slightly lighter than many Malbecs and shows more red fruit character finishing with hints of strawberries. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Chateau LaGrezette Purple the Original Malbec Cahors 13.5% $14</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit funky on the nose but very plummy. Aromas of fresh Italian plums, old wood, dry earth and hints &nbsp;of tarragon and dried sage greet the nose. Smooth and broad on entry, this is almost a bit soft, though the tannins remains fairly abundant and a bit fuzzy in the mouth, adding volume and tactile complexity. There&rsquo;s a fine, clear, deep core of fruit here, all plums and wild cherry with almost a hint of wild strawberry on the backend where this gains a subtle forest floor tinged &nbsp;layer of funk. falling short on the finish, this stumble with some drying tannins and a lack of persistence to the fruit, though a peppery note does linger. A little simple perhaps, but distinct. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Cuarto Dominio Tolentino Malbec Winemaker&#39;s Selection 13.5% $15</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Vanilla, smoke and tobacco come together on the nose adding detail to the core of &nbsp;spicy, slightly savory dark berry fruit. Smooth and easy going, this is bright and fresh feeling in the mouth with attractive clarity to the simple, yet fresh and pure core of fruit. Almost delicate on the palate and through the modest finish, this is a refreshingly simple and clean example of malbec, through the nose does suggest that there might be some complexity still hiding here. eminently drinkable and just a touch sticky in the mouth as it airs out, but &nbsp;the finish remains attractively dry and refreshing with hints of chocolate and dried cherries. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Bodega Tamari Malbec Reserva Mendoza Argentina 14% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Spicy, clean and distinctly varietal on the nose with mulberry, rosemary, sage and wild cherry all coming together very nicely. A touch soft in the mouth with a hint of RS, this is fruity, forward and friendly with just enough tannin and acid to keep the wine structured in the mouth, yet not becoming obvious. &nbsp;the fruit lingers on the modest finish which shows a suggestion of juniper and a hint of bitterness, &nbsp;layered in with all the spicy red berry fruit and some fuzzy fruit tannins that add a touch of mouthgrab. 84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Waterbrook Malbec Columbia Valley 13.3% $14</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sweet, spicy if a bit anonymous on the nose with green herbal, fennel seed notes and sweet toasted oak aromas. A bit light and fresh on entry with wild berry fruit and a touch of forest floor that adds a nice attractive contrast to the fruit. Not a big wine, but not smaller either, just medium bodied, fresh, if a bit simple, and very well balanced. &nbsp;Soft and easy drinking this loses a bit on the finish, with candied blackberry notes and a bit of harshness from the oak coming together briefly. Easy going and pleasant. 84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Graffigna Malbec Reserve San Juan Argentina 14.2% $11&nbsp;</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit leathery on the nose with hints of dried herbs and some raw, vanilla, nutty oak notes on the nose. A bit raw in the mouth as well with some nice youthful energy and somewhat unformed flavors of plum and cherry that are cloaked in some sweet, vanillin laden and slightly harsh oak notes. Finishing dry, lean, and with wood tannin this is a bit rough going today though I&rsquo;m not sure the fruit will ever come into harmony with the oak treatment here. 83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong><span style="font-size: 12px;">2013 Cuarto Dominio Lote 44 Malbec Mendoza Argentina 13.5% $10</span></strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Young and raw on the nose with lots of crushed berry fruit, blackberries, pomegranate, &nbsp;and mulberries layered over spicy oak and pungent, oily, rosemary herbal notes. A touch soft on entry, there are firm if small tannins here early on the palate which shows faintly bitter notes of chocolate and medicinal herbs. The fruit is much less obvious that the nose might suggest with oak being a bit assertive today and the wine lacking a bit of stuffing, taking on the &nbsp;sweetness and weight of the oak on the midpalate before turning dry, as bit thin and firm through the long finish. 82pts</div><br /> </p> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5290 Cellar of the Month April 2014 Gregory Dal Piaz <p>Another Monday, another gorgeous cellar. Take a minute and feast your eyes on this place. Located in Westchester County, NY, this cellar accomodates 2500 bottles in classic style. Neat and orderly, it&#39;s packed and stacked with fine vintages and solid wood cases, which look especially attractive stacked as a solid block of splendor aginst the rugged look of of raw brick walls. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Curtis Dahl is an owner of <a href=""><strong>Joseph &amp; Curtis Custom Wine Cellars &amp; Humidors</strong></a>. To add some daydreaming fodder to your Monday we&rsquo;ve asked him to share some enviable cellar installation pics with us and give us a little background about the collector who has amassed such an outstanding collection.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /> </p> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5288 Peas Please Gregory Dal Piaz <p>Peas, they&#39;re not exactly what we thought they were. They were those little morsels of deliciousness; a just reward for work well done. Today they, those little balls of delight referred to as English peas, are being replaced. Our pea consumption is now greatly augmented by the peas for the lazy man. You know I&#39;m talking about you Snow pea, and yes Sugar Snap, and don&#39;t get me started on Super Sugar Snaps!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Yes, in this day of instant gratification we just go ahead and eat the whole damn pea! What&#39;s up with that? What happened to the hours of shucking, the backer lined with a printed cloth napkin? Stealing peas as you went along? Getting bits of pea fiber wedged under your nails, then being finally finished, full of peas and with surprisingly little to show for your efforts?That&#39;s what makes peas something special. Well that and their deliciously sweet, earthy, and surprisingly perfumed flavor profile. I love peas, they are one of spring&#39;s great treats, and they make you work for your reward. Something that true foodies know makes food taste better. Why do you think Fava beans are so awesome? Because you have to peel each and every one of them! OK, so even I can deal with a little convenience now and again. Let&#39;s bring on the peas, and maybe some of those new fangled ones as well as we celebrate the arrival of spring!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /> </p> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5286 Tasting Portuguese Gems Gregory Dal Piaz <p>In the coming weeks I&rsquo;ll be writing up my experiences at ProWein 2014, the great Wine and Spirits show held in Dusseldorf Germany each year. This trade show, and it is just that, exclusive to the trade and that rule is strictly enforced, is one of the great experiences wine professional can indulge in each year. This year&rsquo;s edition of the fair was spread out over 8 halls, though that will change in 2015 as ProWein continues to grow. Each hall has a theme, of sorts. Some are dedicated to specific countries, like Italy and Austria for example, while others have a blend of new or old world regions that may not have the volume to fill their own halls.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Such was the case with the wines of Portugal, what may seem as a bit of an odd way to kick off reporting on a wine show in Germany, but in truth it is perfectly illustrative of ProWein. &nbsp;ou see ProWein is an international fair, and being exclusive to the trade means that the crowds are well behaved, in general, and kept to a moderately busy level. That allows participants time and space with producers that other event often lack. I had a long list of wineries, regions, and countries that i wanted to focus on at proWein. Sadly &nbsp;I was not able to hit them all, though in my final two hours or so at the event I did manage to swing by Portugal&rsquo;s space at the event and was fortunate to be able to taste through the portfolios of several producers.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /> <span style="font-size: 12px;">As you may know I am a big fan of Portuguese wines. I find them to be generally old world in style, in part due to the winemaking, but also due to the indigenous varieties used throughout Portugal. Varieties that seem to be fairly resistant to spoofilation. The results tend to be wine that are fairly fruity, but not candied, even if they do show some roasted notes with a certain frequency, resulting of course from Portugal&rsquo;s rather torrid summers. In addition to fruit though, the wines display subtlety and complexity. Floral and spice notes that are inherent in some of the varieties used, as well as soil tones brought forth from the vineyards themselves. They are fascinating wines and generally pretty fun to taste, and in many cases great values. Sometimes stunningly so.&nbsp;</span><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Today&rsquo;s line-up is made of of known players, so to a certain extent they offer less values than some smaller or undiscovered producers from Portugal, but at the same time this is to &nbsp;large extent the cream of the crop. If you&rsquo;re looking for top quality Portuguese wines across the board this is where you should begin. Of course some producers are not listed here, but many of them were included on my trip to <a href=""><strong>Portugal last year</strong></a>, so in the interest of variety, and keeping in mind that I had just over two hours to spend on Portuguese wines, I opted to visit the following wineries.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The wines were, as expected, interesting and delicious. While ProWein is a fabulous place to taste a large variety of wine, it is not the best place to taste wines critically, if for no other reason that you will end up tasting dozens of wines a day for three days. palate fatigue may set in. You definitely need to recalibrate occasionally since so many wines on offer are top level wines; it&rsquo;s easy to become a bit jaded unless you remain vigilant. I hope the notes that follow illustrate a certain vigilance on my part. They are certainly not definitive but do give one a good idea of what is coming out of Portugal these days. Once known almost exclusively for dessert wines and inexpensive table wines, Portugal has taken its rightful place at the table of fine wine producers with their unique portfolio of distinctive, terroir driven, and uniquely flavored wines that every winelover should try. You might not find all the wines to your liking, but as is the case nearly everywhere that wine is produced today, there is such a broad set of styles being produced, that it is only a matter of time before you do. And when you do, you will be duly impressed!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So now on to the wines. Decidedly Douro skewed, this region so famous for the production of port has both the vineyards and the additional resources available to have made the transition to producing premium tables wines swift and seamless. It&rsquo;s not the only region in Portugal worthy of attention, but because the port houses wield influence and have distribution channels already in place, it&rsquo;s a great place to start. the wines are &nbsp;generally available in diverse markets, that not all bottlings reach every market. As I mentioned already these may nt the value leaders in portugal but if you want to know what portuguese table wine has become in the 21st century this is where you should begin!&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Niepoort</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Niepoort Twisted Tinto $15</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dusty, meaty and &nbsp;spicy on the nose with black fruit layered over base notes of hot iron and gravel. On entry there&rsquo;s a hit of sweet oak spice sweet oak spices followed by fruit that is a bit dry and raw, though bright and fresh on the backend which turns rather smooth and &nbsp;juicy with a little licorice tone and candied blackberry flavors that linger on the modest finish. Could use a year in bottle to better integrate but shows good typicity already. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Niepoort Vertente $30</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Beautiful blue floral notes greet the nose layered over blueberry fruit that is framed by a sour meatiness. In the mouth this is &nbsp;powerful, smooth and a touch plump with lots of ripe tannins. There are hints of flowers and herbs on the palate, all wrapped up in big blueberry and black berry fruit that finishes with austere minerality and some drying tannins. Needs a year or three to come into it&rsquo;s own but shows power and purity already. &nbsp;88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Niepoort Redoma $40</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 40% of stems included, tread in lagare</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit herbal and briary with fabulous aromas of wild flowers adding detail to the dark berry and slightly plummy fruit. &nbsp;Very fresh and clear on the palate and already showing beautiful fruit with well managed tannins adding richness and depth yet this remains transparent and fairly light on its feet.even in the mouth one finds great perfumes and the tannins here, while a touch chewy, are so pliant and fresh that this is already fun to drink. The finish is long and just a bit tight today, but the fruit and perfumes do linger on the palate. Absolutely lovely. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Niepoort Batuta $75</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Big, ripe, and plummy on the nose with nuanced candied black fruit, licorice, dried plum and medicinal aromas paired with cinnamon bark and resins notes, all making for a complex perfume. A touch &nbsp;balsamic on entry, this is bright and &nbsp;vibrant in the mouth with tons of edgy tannins supporting a bright core of plums, sour black cherry and earthy fruit. The powerful acids and tannins need to age a bit to fully integrate but this shows beautiful persistence to the fruit and complexity on the palate. 92pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Niepoort Charme $80</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Lagare, 100% stems</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Very smoky and &nbsp;stemmy on the &nbsp;elegant, complex and deep nose. that elegance translate to the palate where this is fresh and surprisingly Pinot like in weight and feel, with juicy acids and tannins that are firmer than Pinot but in scale with some tannic Burgundy. &nbsp;Elegant, nuanced and long on the palate with little wild cherry fruit and lots of stemmy and stem spice accents leading to the backend where the &nbsp;tannins turn a bit dominant leading to a moderately long finish that shows tea and sweet tobacco. Not for everyone but a distinctive and fascinating wine. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Niepoort Robustus $100</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 50% stems, four years in big wood, two and three thousand liters,</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Big, spicy and complex on the nose with chocolate, old wood, dried fruit, fruit cake and balsamic aromas. In the mouth this is smooth, rich and polished with lots of small, soft tannins and flavors of wild cherries in alcohol framed with nice spice notes. Finishing a bit short and acid driven, this remains refined and</div><br /> <div><br /> powerful, still fairly tannic,and marked by some smoky soil notes from start to finish. A bit of a shift in style with a blend of youthful structure and evolving aromatics, this would probably benefit from a bit of bottle age or a moderately long decant. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Quinta do Vale Meao</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2014 Quinta do Vale Meao Meandro White $NA</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit bright on the palate with bright, clear flavors of lemon curd and gummi bears. Almost juicy fruit flavored finishing dry and with a refreshing hint of astringency. Nice texture and weight if a bit on the fruity side of things. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong><span style="font-size: 12px;">2012 Quinta do Vale Meao Meandro $25</span></strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> cask sample</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sweet and spicy on the nose with a bit of gingerbread and a green herbal floral cast adding detail and complexity. &nbsp;Bright, transparent, and very juicy on the palate with &nbsp;a bit of a minty edge to the red and black fruits, almost a touch of currant going on here. Tannins are soft and this is a bit short today. 86pts&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Quinta do Vale Meao Meandro $25</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fine depth on the nose and nuance with lots of spicy black peppery accents to the plum, earth and worcestershire sauce aromas. &nbsp;Bright, lively and full of spiced black fruit on entry, this shows great energy in the mouth, a bit inky and opaque with richness today, &nbsp;but so zesty with firm, well measured if dry tannins, supporting clear and fresh blackberry fruit with a hint of boysenberry that pops on the backend and persists through the moderately long finish. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Quinta do Vale Meao Monte Meal $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Touriga Nacional from alluvial gravel</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Big wild berry fruit on the nose is layered over a base of dusty, spicy, inky aromas that are framed with a fine dried meat note. Opening with tons &nbsp;of wild blackberry cherry fruit, and herbal spicy, this lacks a touch of brightness in the mouth and is &nbsp;fairly tannic and astringent. The midpalate is a bit tough and angular, &nbsp;with mineral driven raspberry flavors that would be rather &nbsp;elegant if not for the rustic tannins. Finishing with a lingering note of astringency, this shows a minty edge to the blackberry fruit and incipient notes of tobacco and black tea. &nbsp;Promising, but not there yet. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Quinta do Vale Meao Monte Meal $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Touriga Nacional from granite soils</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark herb stem, dried black olive, blue flowers, and a bit of nettle come together on the high toned, spicy and upright nose that picks up blue and black fruit and &nbsp;dried meat nuance with air. Fresh, tough and bright on entry, this shows power with great energy in the mouth and impressive definition. Structurally this is superbly balanced with wild berry fruit that is fresh and taut, though it does drop off a touch on the finish. Filled with black raspberry fruit, sour plums and slight port like aromas on the nose with a great green, almost balsamic freshness, this really captures the beauty of Touriga Nacional. 92pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Quinta do Vale Meao $90</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Shows some nutty, oaky sweetness on the &nbsp;dense, dark and powerful nose. On entry the nutty and lightly gingery oak is fairly assertive but this remains lively with &nbsp;juicy acids and fine grained, polished tannins that are covered by a supple, almost silky robe of brilliant black raspberry fruit. This lacks some definition on the backend, and finishes a bit short with subtle hints of herb stems adding some complexity to the finale. Fairly spicy, this should show additional elegance with time in the bottle. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Quinta do Vale Meao $90</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Nutty oak, all creamy cognac and cigar box is dominant on the &nbsp;perfumy nose which also shows some subtle fruit aromas. A touch compact on entry, this then gains weight and power in the mouth, a bit tough but with excellent depth on the palate. Some nice inner mouth perfumes emerge slowly but this is still mostly tight and closed with inky, black fruit and quite tannic. Dark, dry, &nbsp;and powerful on the finish with some stemmy spice and pipe tobacco notes that are persistante leading to mineral, stony note on the finale. This is quite young and should be laid down for five or more years. 93pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Quinta de la Rosa</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Quinta de la Rosa Tinto $20</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A touch smoky and sweet with dry port herbal and spicy notes, peppery and leathery on the nose. On entry this is smooth with great acids lending a tart cast to the clear, firm, earthy and dry fruit. Perhaps a touch simple with plummy and wild berry notes on the palate, this displays good length, is elegant in the mouth, and even shows a bit of finesse on the finish. A very solid offering and a good value. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Quinta de la Rosa La Rosa $40</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 60% old vine vineyard field lend, 40% Touriga nacional</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Smokey and fairly oaky on the &nbsp;nose with a nutty and expensive aroma. A big wine on entry, round and rolls into the mouth like the changing tide. There are great acids supporting a bright juicy bramble berry punch on entry followed by lots of tannin, dry and a little stern on the palate, though this is so well endowed with fruit that they can be hard to discern. Everything wraps up in a long powerful finish filled with nuanced bay leaf and vanilla notes accenting handfuls of crushed berries and hints of mint and balsam, and a mineral finale. &nbsp;I like this very much. 92pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Quinta de la Rosa Passagem Reserva $25</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Hottest dried part of the Douro</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Powerful balsamic, animal and gamy aromas are well balanced by nutty, chocolate oak notes on the nose. This shows power and elegance in a vibrant style even if the fruit does have a decidedly roasted edge. Textural this is quite fine, bright, juicy and transparent, it is a big ass wine streaked with medicinal, balsamic and briary accents, finishing with power and vibrancy, dusty, with a hint of pomegranate in all the depth of dark berry, plummy fruit. A statement wine, and possibly better to taste than to have at the table, but quite impressive none the less. 93pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Poeira</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Poeira Dusty $20</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Purchased fruit</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fresh and complex, and yes a bit dusty n the nose along with spicy with slightly medicinal black cherry fruit and plum tinged with a hint of licorice. Fresh and juicy in the mouth this is a bright wine all blackberries and tension in the mouth, and fairly tannic. A powerful little wine which should age well for a few years, already delivering plenty of cherry and blackberry fruit in a clean and fresh style. &nbsp;Bring on the burgers and steak. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Po de Poeira $20</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Plummy and beefy on the nose with hints of licorice and &nbsp;spicy a bit syrah like even, &nbsp;but with that caramel, sweet dried fruits and spice note typical of the Duoro. Soft but elegant in the mouth, this has &nbsp;late arriving acidity and fine tannins supporting very pretty fruit. This already shows an almost silky texture early on the palate, then the structure kicks in on the backend as black berry flavors pop before leading to a moderately long finish. This shows fine power and purity. &nbsp;88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Poeira $40</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tight on the nose with subtle hints of licorice and mint, though this is not very expressive, air does bring out shisty, dusty soil notes. This turns out to be a &nbsp;sneaky wine with &nbsp;huge power and yet it remains elegant with exceptional balance. There&rsquo;s remarkable freshness here, crushed berry fruits framed with hints of juniper that turns darker and plummier in the mouth with a backend filled with slightly medicinal black cherry fruit. &nbsp;This is seamless, a steel fist in a silk glove, with huge tannins completely covered by the rich, yet supple fruit. The finish is long and very fine. Really a fabulous wine in the making that combines power and elegance 93pts<br /><br /> [PAGEBREAK]<br /><br /> <strong>Lavradores de Feitoria</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Lavradores de Feitoria Douro Branco $12</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mineral, bright and a bit earthy on the nose. In the mouth this has a little edge of sweetness to the peachy apple fruit. Appealingly tight and well structured for a wine of this size, this remains very fresh bright, and refreshing in the mouth with attractive tension in the mouth and through the modest finish. 87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Lavradores de Feitoria Tres Bagos Branco $15</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Bit of smoke of smoke greets the nose here along with light floral, apple blossom aromas and fresh orchard fruit notes all layered over some subtle oak tones. Again one finds a leading edge of sweetness to the fruit here, though perhaps more apparent given that it is compounded by the sweetness of the oak used here. Fresh and bright, with some mineral notes and the weight of the oak adding depth on the palate, this offers a nice blend of pure fruit and oa, for those who prefer a more internationally styled wine. 87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Lavradores de Feitoria Tres Bagos Sauvignon Blanc $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fine tense grassy nose. Rather tense in the mouth as well and very bright though with a hint of sweetness on entry, than distinctly grapefruity through the palate and the modest finish. Clean and easy enough to drink. 83pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Lavradores de Feitoria Quinta Meruge Branco $30</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> 100% barrel ferment viosino,outguess, not toast,<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Lots of oak is apparent on the nose but it&#39;s very incense, church candle wax toned. There&rsquo;s some subtle fruit here as well but the oak obscures it for the most part at this point. Tense and bright in the mouth, this has power and elegance, with the oak adding a touch of sweetness to the core of lovely pineapple and lemon curd fruit here. A touch of tannin pops early on the finish then this turns quite fresh with just a hint of cool citrus fruit lingering on the palate and some hints of incense laced inner mouth perfumes. Distinctive. 89pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Lavradores de Feitoria Tinto $10</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Younger vineyards, no oak,<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Dusty, inky, and briary on the slightly root veg styled nose. Juicy, clear and fresh on the palate this is a bit easy in the mouth with lovely black cherry fruit framed with gently savory edges and a touch of dusty earth. The finish is clean, if a bit short. Straightforward and fresh. 84pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Lavradores de Feitoria Tres Bagos $12</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Intensely aromatic showing a bit of toffee, big bold black fruit, spicy notes, bit of sage, sweet black fruit that shows some emerging complexity. Open, juicy, big and pure on the palate, this is packed with black cherry, black berry fruit in a fairly tannic and powerful style. This is a touch simple but very well put together with some dried fruit leathery, dried black cherry fruit lingering on the slightly inky finish. A lot of wine for the money and one that should improve with a year or two in bottle. 88pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Lavradores de Feitoria Quinta da Costa $30</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> South facing slopes, a wine that show the full power of the region<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Big candied aromas emerge on the port like nose filled with jellied black fruits, leather, big spice, licorice and caramel notes. A bit soft on entry and broad in the mouth though not completely matte on the palate.&nbsp; Braised herbs and dark fruit emerge on entry, followed by powerful, extracty concentration of deep fruit. This does not have a lot of nuance, but it is powerful and tannic, and surprisingly fresh right through the long, firm finish. A powerhouse style. 89pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Lavradores de Feitoria Meruge $30</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Tinto roriz 90% north facing, shooting for more elegance, less extraction,<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Smoky and complex on the nose which shows off grilled meats, peppery spice, fine subtle oak shadings, and black fruit on the complex and nuanced nose. Medium plus bodied and acid driven in the mouth, this is taut, and elegant on the palate, with, great transparent red fruit that is gently astringent and complemented by hint of herbs and pepper. Everything wraps up in the long, austere finish. Very firm and dry, but impressively detailed in the mouth with real finesse emerging on the finish. This too is bound to improve with two or three years in the cellar. 90pst<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Lavradores de Feitoria Tres Bagos Grande Escolha $50</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fields blinded from vines over 70 years old, then barrel selected<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Smoky on the nose,this has that sweet dried&nbsp; fruits and spice and dried herb topped with, licorice notes typical of the region. In the mouth this is powerful but supple with late arriving acids and tannins adding structure and lending nice tension to the complex flavors of nuanced blueberry and blackberry fruit tinged with peppery spice and wood accents. The finish is a touch short, though it does reveal fine purity to the sweet, vaguely berry toned red currant fruit. There&rsquo;s a whisper of heat here as well that detracts slightly from the finale. Complex, sophisticated and harkening back to a different style of wine. 91pts</div><br /> </p> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5283 Wines We’ve Loved! <p>As we start the transition from winter to spring we&rsquo;re enjoying wines that are a bit lighter, more white wines are creeping into the mix, and tannin is being replaced by acid as the driving force behind many of these wines. Next month&#39;s line-up is certain to be quite different but the slow slide into spring makes this an exciting time for wine!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Having said all that, we&rsquo;ve got a round up of primarily red wines this month from our favorite wine writers, and skewed rather distinctly towards Burgundy at that! it&rsquo;s been quite the month for our wine lovers out there. How about for you? What was your favorite wine of the past month? Leave a comment and let us know!<br /> </p> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5281 Syrah under $15 Gregory Dal Piaz <p>Shiraz, or should I say Syrah? Either way, you have one of the world&rsquo;s truly noble grapes, yet one that tends to cause a bit of confusion. The two names don&rsquo;t help of course, or the fact that, in theory, they represent two different styles of wine. One the one hand you have Syrah, the name in French that represents the style of wine produced through the Rhone Valley. A bit wild, fresh, gamy and slightly herbal at times. Shiraz on the other hand speaks more about Australia and her style of wine, big, bold, with rich dark fruits, more oak,&nbsp; and peppery spice.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> In either case though there are savory notes to the wines, note that sometimes don&rsquo;t appeal to a wine drinking public. Notes that are responsible, to some degree, for the lack of interest in Shiraz/Syrah. The other great obstacle to Shiraz&rsquo;s growing fame is the Australian affect.<br /> In the past, the 1990s in particular and through the oughts Australia discovered that making bigger, bolder, and richer wines translated into more points, and as we all know more points, well that used to equal sales. the internet has levelled the playing field a bit, as has our shared experience with those very point wines. Wines that turned out to be best the day they were released in many cases, and wines that were thick, alcoholic, and sweet in many cases.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> To a certain extent we have this phenomenon to thank for the lessing influence of specific wine critics, but the damage done was originally to just a handful of wines, chief among them Shiraz. You see, making wines bigger, bolder, riper, and fruitier is not a challenging proposition. Finesse, elegance, complexity, typicity, all of those traits require a deft hand. Making wines with more, wines that go to 11,&nbsp; on the other hand, well that&rsquo;s easy. So easy in fact that many producers did just that with, with increasing inexpensive versions of Shiraz that, for many palates, delivered just as much pleasure as the more expensive versions. perhaps even more.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> And so it began, a race for the bottom. The competition was on to see who could make the most Shirazy Shiraz for the lowest price. A brand that had taken decades to develop was mortally wounded virtually overnight, and the collateral damage inflicted caused a world of Syrah to suffer as well.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fast forward to the present day.&nbsp; What we see is in many cases the mirror image of the revitalization of merlot in the post-Sideways era. Both varieties saw their vineyard space reduced, as productive but perhaps less well suited areas were grafted over to more profitable grapes. What remains is, as these go, pretty choice stuff. The slackened demand for both Merlot and Shiraz also put the brakes on price increases, rolling back the most egregious example. What we are left with, in a general sense, are wines that are well priced and offer real value for the money.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> That were we step in. In our ongoing look at value wines we&rsquo;ve been scouring the shelves for wines under $15, looking for both individual standouts as well as categories that deliver real bang for the buck.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> So far we&rsquo;ve tasted our way through:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>GARNACHA UNDER $15</strong></a><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>SANGIOVESE UNDER $15</strong></a><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>BORDEAUX UNDER $15</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> There&rsquo;s no doubt that the best wines were the Garnacha wines, though the best group[ of wines were from Bordeaux. It&rsquo;s easily ascribable&nbsp; to size, Bordeaux has an ocean of value priced option. But the point is clear, there is plenty of stiff competition out there at this price point and to be successful you really have to deliver the goods.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> While Shiraz/Syrah may not be a wine to please all palates, the fruity, plush and easy style of Garnacha is much better suited to widespread acceptance, there is compelling evidence from this admittedly small sample set that Shiraz is a major contender in the value wine arena. There were a ton of great wines here, from around the globe. Both the fruitier and the savorier styles were well represented, and since many of these wines are built on more than just fruit alone the prognosis for some continued positive development in the glass is quite good, even if modest in the broadest sense.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> So get out there and try some Shiraz or Syrah. And don&rsquo;t tell me you don&rsquo;t like Shiraz or Syrah. that&rsquo;s like saying you don&rsquo;t like vegetables. Some you may, some you will not, but not all Shiraz is created alike and wit the quality and diversity at levels never before seen it is absolutely time to get back in the trenches and take advantage of the coming golden age of Syra!<br /><br /> [PAGEBREAK]<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Six Hats Shiraz Western Cape South Africa 14.5% $11</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Oddly herbal in a composty and medicinal king of way, I find this to be unusual but attractive in its complexity and like the other South African Syrah in this tasting this is showing a distinctive character that is very possibly distinctive South African terroir. Or a dollop of Pinotage added to the blend. A touch candied with some vanilla nuance and a bit of tobacco emerging with air, along with black pepper notes that help to highlight the plummy, black currant fruit here.&nbsp; A bit thick on entry, though with pretty good clarity in the mouth, this is a rather solid wine in the mouth, seamless if a bit shapeless. there&rsquo;s attractive cherry and boysenberry fruit on the palate framed with very subtle vanilla and black pepper notes that lead to a fresh finish that shows good nervous energy and lingering black currant, plum,&nbsp; and gently spicy flavors. Distinctive, easy to drink, but not at all facile. 88pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Yalumba Shiraz Y Series South Australia 14.5% $12</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> A bit tight on the nose but with impressive clarity to the blackberry, black currant fruit that is underlain with nuanced vanilla, tobacco, caramel, and black pepper aromas. A bit chewy on entry, and showing a bit of reticence though ari brings out spicy, zesty black currant and boysenberry flavors on the palate that are framed with hints of mint, meat, black spice and vaguely stemmy, medicinal accents. The tannins have just a hint of youthful edginess and the acids are nicely integrated lending this a slightly rustic yet fresh appeal in the mouth. The finish turns slightly floral at first, then darker with rich, fresh fruit character of crushed berries and spiced plums barely dusted with black pepper spice and through it all this retains transparency and freshness in the mouth. Eminently drinkable. 88pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong><a href="">2011 StoneCap Syrah Columbia Valley Washington 13% $10</a></strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Lovely aromatics of macerated herb stems, grilled beef, violets, sweet wood spice and a hint of minerality come together on the finely balanced and focused nose. A hint of sweetness accentuates the wild cherry and maraschino cherry fruit this shows on entry, along with a hint of vanilla but this quickly gains a bit of tension in the mouth, showing a more faceted texture. The flavors are a bit simple after the nose but attractive with clear and wild berry and plum fruit. This is really very well balanced and show good scale in the mouth with dusty tannins and bright acids supporting the fruit and late arriving floral and herbal nuance before this fades on the modest, slightly mineral finish. This is a winner, I&rsquo;d love to experiment with this and grilled tuna. 87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Nederburg Shiraz Winemaster&rsquo;s Reserve Western Cape South Africa&nbsp; 14.5% $10</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Is that South African terroir or is there some Pinotage in here?&nbsp; A little rubbery and with the notes of burning rubber that are often found in Pinotage, this does show plenty of jammy, somewhat wild plum&nbsp; fruit on the nose with subtle shadings of chocolaty used oak and peppery accents Bright, round and well balanced on entry,there&#39;s a polish here that lends this a touch of elegance in the mouth. the flavors show the wines age. A little dusty, and polished of all bright edges and angles this retains plum skin fruit with subtle earthy, leathery and floral accents along with a hint of black pepper on the backend. Stumbling a bit on the finish, this remains attractive subtle and very well knit together until the slightly hard, but appropriate tannins kick in on the finish. The more I go back to this the more attractive it becomes.&nbsp; 87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Penfolds Shiraz Koonunga Hill South Australia 13.5% $10</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Dark, leathery and deep on the nose with rich aromas of macerated fruits and flowers. Firm on entry and immediately showing a blend of power and polish with dark earthy plum and blackcurrant flavors wedded to a tense, firm yet transparent mouth feel. This is already showing hints of tobacco and dried fruit, adding complexity and nuance on the palate which gains hints of boysenberry, vanilla and nutmeg with air. While complex there&rsquo;s not tremendous depth to the flavors here which turn black fruited and licorice toned on the firm finish, where the structure here powers on for quite some time. This is a serious wine at the price point and one that should be able to improve in the cellar over the short to mid-term, say 2 to 4 years. May underwhelm some who are looking for more at this price point but this is a terrific wine for the money. 87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Earthworks Shiraz Barossa Valley 13.5% $13</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This is quite intense on the nose with lovely aromas of violet, iris, black pepper and spicy black fruit that show attractive purity. Air does bring out the oak here, all cedary and cigar box toned and it detracts from the nose a bit for me but I can see many loving the spicy element it reinforces in the wine. Round, open and giving on the palate, this is verging towards fruit bomb territory but it pulls back just in time. While showing fine acid this seems a bit soft and possibly a bit sweet in the mouth with really attractive plum and spicy boysenberry fruit on the palate. Air helps this gain focus and adds lift to some of the aromatics of the nose, introducing floral and faintly meaty accents to the palate. The finish is firm, with nice cut and the acid really pops here, though not unattractively, helping to brighten a late return of blackberry, almost black currant flavor on the finale. 87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Rock Face Syrah Lodi 13.7% $15</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Hard and a bit reticent on the nose with light vanilla, cedar, truffle and slightly stewy fruit aromas. Tart on entry, this is a bit light bodied in the mouth, though with plenty of structure for its size. the fruit is more in the red end of the spectrum, a bit spicy and slightly floral toned with raspberry and loganberry notes on the plate. Really rather well balanced and with attractive clarity on the palate, there&#39;s a bit of wood spice and tannin here that cuts in on the midpalate but the fruit and a hint of minerality shows fine persistence on the moderately long, clear finish. Not a powerhouse but showing fairly harmoniously today. 87pts<br /><br /> [PAGEBREAK]<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Cycles Gladiator Syrah California 13.5%&nbsp; $10</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Spicy on the nose, and floral, with nice complexity and balance to the array of perfumes that include sweet, toasty oak, black pepper, slightly jammy plummy fruit and lots of peppery spice.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s all a bit obvious, and the oak is a bit harsh, but it&rsquo;s well balanced. Smooth and suple. Really remarkably so for a wine at this price. This is a bit creamy but with finely tuned acids lending freshness to the distinctly blackberry fruit on the palate. The wood creeps in adding spice and air brings out violet and peppery nuance. Finishing with freshness and dusty if sweet wood tannins, this turns a bit rougher but it retains the attractively pure and fresh fruit that it exhibits on the palate right through the long, peppery and spicy finish. Quintessential value priced Syrah. 86pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Rayun Syrah Central Valley Chile 13% $10</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This smells hugely candied on the nose with carob, sweet cardamom and Indian spice note, cola and tea accents. It is a veritable spice box. Soft and low on entry, though much drier and more precise than the nose suggests. Slowly some blackberry fruit emerges on the palate, which has some gentle sweet spice character but nothing like the nose. There&rsquo;s a hint of vanilla and cardamom on the backend as this transitions to a tight finish that shows fine grip from the modest yet firm tannins. A bit atypical for Syrah, but nicely done in a dry, firm style for the price gaining cranberry and red cherry fruit on the lengthening finish. 86pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Woop Woop Shiraz South Eastern Australia 13.9% $13</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Toasty and spicy on the nose with wood tones that are a bit harsh though filled with toasted coconut and allspice notes layered over spicy, roasted red fruits. Broad and fairly transparent in the mouth with attractive red cherry and raspberry, almost strawberry fruit that&rsquo;s nicely framed with some toasty oak and slightly bitter spice notes. This is moderately full on the palate but remains transparent and fresh, with extracted wood tannins merging on the backend and clipping the slightly bitter, cranberry, plum and licorice toned finish. Pretty easy to drink and while the slight bitterness here might be off-putting to some I find it refreshing. 86pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Chapoutier Tournon Mathilda Shiraz Victoria Australia 13.5% $15</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Dark, muscular, and macerated on the nose with dense aromas of baked blackberry and blackcurrant fruit topped with an edge of green herb, citrus pith, and lots of cracked pepper.&nbsp; Fairly large scaled onentry, this retains good clarity in the mouth. rich with plummy and black cherry fruit that has a certain baked in a pie quality to it, the palate gains some freshness on the backend with that hint of citrus and green herbal edge returning on the backend. Powerful, rich and velvety in the mouth, this lacks a bit of detail to the flavors but does offer a very refined texture and good chewy depth of flavor. 86pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Paringa Shiraz South Australia 14% $12</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Nicely fruity if a bit glossy on the nose with blackberry fruit and accents&nbsp; of black pepper and sweet, toasty wood spice hinting at toasted coconut.&nbsp; Just a touch thick on entry, hinting at being a bit sweet with plummy and blackberry fruit on the palate that shows a fine acid spine. the tannins are really soft here, and this picks up some licorice and bitter spice on the backend before turning a bit jammy and slightly sticky on the black raspberry finish. Classic Shiraz that shows some restraint but remains a bit jammy and sweetish with tannins building on the modest finish. 85pts<br /><br /> [PAGEBREAK]<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 McWilliams Hanwood Estate Shiraz South Eastern Australia 13.5% $8</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Lightly perfumed on the nose with aromas of candied red cherries and a touch of woodsy spice and a camphor base note. Round and juicy on entry, this is more savory than the nose suggests with attractive meaty, woodsy, and slightly leather flavors. That camphor/mint accent shows up on the palate as well. The tannins are fairly soft here, if supportive lending a dusty cast to the moderately long, slightly raw plum and oak finish.&nbsp; A bit raw and rustic but not unattractive. 84pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Rosemount Shiraz South Australia 13.5% $10</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> A bit candied on the nose but with lovely black cherry and plum fruit covering some aggressive oak spice and streaks of vanilla and coconut.&nbsp; round and fruity in the mouth, there&rsquo;s some soft tannin here lending this a bit of structure in the mouth but this is mostly about the fruit. Not quite a fruit bomb, this flows across the palate with slightly candied black berry fruit that shows some violet and medicinal tones before dropping off on the modest finish. Super easy drinking with a candied wild cherry finale. 84pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Cusumano Syrah Terre Siciliane IGT 13.5% $12</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fruity and a bit simple on the nose but with attractive blackberry, bramble, and vanilla accents gaining a late dash of cracked pepper. Ripe, lush and a bit oddly tart in the mouth, this is an easy going wine but it lacks some balance coming off as a bit raw with acid in the mouth and some dry tannins that grae on the finish. Feels both small and extracted at the same time with blueberry and black cherry fruit. A bit of a simple fruit bomb that could be refreshing. 82pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Banrock Station Shiraz&nbsp; South Eastern Australia 13% $8</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This smells really woody and not in an attractive way. Cedar, resiny, vanilla, and harsh on the nose. Smooth in the mouth, this then turns astringent with hints of attractive astringent red fruit, lingonberry and plum lurking under the harsh oak veneer. Short and dry on the finish. 70pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 McManis Syrah California 13.5% $10</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Blatantly oak and peppery on the nose, this smells rather odd with lots of cedary, resiny wood and harsh peppery spice. Rounded in the mouth, this enters with some hard acids and soft tannins lending this a rather raw feel. The fruit, raspberry and lightly plummy on the plate, is framed by gently creamy and distinctly vanilla laced oak. There&rsquo;s some nice spice that emerges on the palate, before the oak begin to assert itself on the back of the palate and clamps down on the short, dry finish. Not defective but hard to like. 78pts<br /><br /> </p> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5280 Getting to Know Il Palazzone Bob Fyke <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">In conversations about better Brunello producers, it&#39;s usually not long before the name Il Palazzone comes around. This is a winery that produces consistently excellent Brunello Di Montalcino, and a wonderful non-vintage Rosso of great value.</span><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So what is behind the consistency and quality for which &nbsp;Il Palazzone has come to be known? To answer that question I&#39;ve taken the opportunity, over the last few months, to get better acquainted with the wines and people behind the label.</div><br /> <br /> <span style="font-size: 12px;">In conversations about better Brunello producers, it&#39;s usually not long before the name Il Palazzone comes around. This is a winery that produces consistently excellent Brunello Di Montalcino, and a wonderful non-vintage Rosso of great value.</span><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So what is behind the consistency and quality for which &nbsp;Il Palazzone has come to be known? To answer that question I&#39;ve taken the opportunity, over the last few months, to get better acquainted with the wines and people behind the label.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I&#39;m happy to say that I developed my first impression of this winery well before I learned that it was owned by a major American businessman, Richard &quot;Dick&quot; Parsons. Therefore, I didn&#39;t have the opportunity to develop any presuppositions about it possibly being a casual hobby for one of the rich and famous (although I like to think that I still would not have done so). Still, there is some concern at Il Palazzone that some might dismiss the winery off-hand based on the owner&#39;s storied career. That would be a mistake.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The story of Il Palazzone is one of rebuilding, team work, family, and, most importantly, a passion for well made Brunello.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The winery is located just southwest of the village of Montalcino, in Tuscany, high on the slopes that fall away from this historic hilltop. Its elevation, more than 500 meters above sea level, places it among the highest of Brunello producers. The grapes are sourced from their three vineyards, one located at the winery, and two others near Castelnuovo dell&#39;Abate, at approximately 200 meters elevation.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> For this article, I interviewed three members of the Il Palazzone team, Richard &quot;Dick&quot; Parsons (owner), Laura Gray (she and her husband Marco run the winery), and Mandy Presser (Head of &nbsp;U.S. sales, distribution and marketing). Speaking with each of them, certain consistent impressions kept coming through; they approach wine making, and the wine business, as a team process and everyone on that team views traditional quality as a top priority. The team is close and loves the work that they do. There seems to be a sort of balance in the way they run the enterprise, a balance between practicality and passion.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Apparently, when they first took over the estate, Dick and his team had some work to do in order to bring things up to the standard of quality found today in a bottle of Il Palazzone. It seems the vineyards had been overworked and needed a lot of attention to bring them into harmony with the philosophies of the new owner. It&#39;s clear, from conversations with the team, that the vineyards are today handled with tender loving care and are cultivated using practices that favor quality over quantity.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Overseeing the day-to-day operations, are Marco Sassetti and Laura Gray.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Laura jokes, &quot;Marco and I have nothing in common, that&iacute;s why we make such a good couple. He doesn&iacute;t have e mail, and I don&iacute;t know where the keys to the tractor are.&quot; &quot;He does the vineyard and cellar management, and I do people and paper.&quot;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Listening to Laura describe Marco, her husband and General Manager of the property, I get the impression that he is a denizen of the vineyard, constantly checking the status of things, verifying the tasks of the workers, and basically getting as complete an awareness of the vines as he can.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> She says, &igrave;He&iacute;s a kind of wild man, forager, hunter/gatherer. Very much a man of his context&icirc; &igrave;It&iacute;s difficult to get him out of Montalcino for very long. That&#39;s what makes him such a key element here...this is his life.&quot;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Marco is a native of the Montalcino zone, born in San Angelo in Colle.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Mandy Presser said of him, &quot;Marco is such a part of the fabric of Montalcino, whether he&#39;s trying to get the butterfly population to come back, or to get our new bottling machine up and running, he knows where to go and what to do to make it happen. It was his idea to use willow ties, instead of plastic, to be even more traditional, and more natural. He just wants to make the best wine that he can.&quot;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Laura is Scottish, a graduate of Oxford University, and a trained Sommelier. She has lived in Montalcino for 18 years. At Il Palazzone, she cares for the finances, world sales (outside the U.S.), marketing, and general administration.</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> Marco and Laura</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Together, Laura and Marco are the day-to-day anchor of the winery, living there with their three children.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I asked Laura about the potential of people who might be turned-off when they hear that the winery is owned by an American business man, assuming that some non-traditional impact is being made by his influence. She did note that they sometimes play down the owner&#39;s history so as to side-step such prejudices. Of Richard she said, &quot;There&#39;s no micromanaging from him. He has a galvanizing...great effect...makes you want to do this properly.&quot; Of Il Palazzone she says, &quot;It&#39;s a real farm, with real people, making good decisions. People [who work there] come from many walks of life. It&#39;s a lovely world to be in.&quot;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Another key member to the team is veteran oenologist, Paolo Vagaggini. Sometimes called &quot;Mister Sangiovese&quot;, he has 30 years of experience making Brunello, and other wines from Sangiovese, and consults for approximately one third of the producers in Montalcino. I asked Laura about his impact on the wine making there and the style. She said, &quot;Here he gets a chance to flex his muscles a different way... he comes to us quite often&quot; &quot;But the reality of the consultant wine maker is, there has to be someone at the estate with a clear philosophy at the helm, and that is the case here. He takes into consideration the style and preferences of the winery.&quot;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In my conversation with Dick Parsons, he told me an interesting story that illustrated how Dick had the same stylistic bent as this renowned winemaker.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp; &nbsp; <span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>&quot;My winemaker is a guy named Paolo Vagaggini, who is probably right now, the best known of the &nbsp;Brunello oenologists, and one of the best in Tuscany. He is as much a part of the team as anybody. He and I, essentially, make the wine each year.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Paolo always says to me, &#39;&quot;You have a good palate.&#39;&quot; &nbsp;This year we went to blend the wine from our three different vineyards...</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> We had 11 bottles to blend from... and we&#39;re trying to make the best blend. He&#39;s using all his scientific data, and all I had was my taste buds and nose. My best friend was with me, and I said, watch this. I took the first, the third, and the seventh bottle, and a mixed them up and said, &quot;taste that&quot;. &quot;Steve (Dick&#39;s friend) said, this is really good!&quot;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So then Vagaggini came back from the computer room, with his blend, and I was joking with him, and I said, &quot;I got it for you already&quot;, and he tasted it and said, &quot;&#39;that is this!&quot;&#39;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> He picked the same three bottles, and he was pretty close on the percentages. &quot;&#39;How did you know?&quot;&#39;, he asked. &nbsp;And he showed me his paper, and except for the exact percentages, we had the same blend.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> He and I are getting really close in that. And he&#39;s a really good man.&quot;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Laura says of Dick, &quot;He&#39;s been quietly learning for 13 years off stage, he has clear ideas about what he wants from the estate.&quot; &quot;He chooses the wine that he likes best, what works for him&quot;.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Winery Owner, Richard &quot;Dick&quot; Parsons</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Richard Parsons purchased Il Palazzone in 2000. He is best known for his prominent role in American business having been Chairman and CEO of Time Warner, and Chairman of Citigroup. You may have seen his face on the cover of Newsweek, Black Enterprise, or another magazine. I asked him how he came to be a Brunello producer.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dick: I was not committed to Brunello at first. For my 50th birthday, I took my wife, myself, and some friends, on a tented safari in Africa...and you get up in the morning and watch the world come alive out there on the savannah. It is a fabulous thing. And one day I was sort of contemplating, this is cool, I&#39;m really liking this. At that point in time I was fairly well off, because Time-Warner had done really well before the AOL merger. So I said to my wife, maybe I&#39;ll retire. She said, &quot;You&#39;re 50 years old, you can&#39;t retire, I don&#39;t want to have this conversation with you for at least another ten years.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> And secondly, when we do have the conversation, don&#39;t give me any nonsense about how maybe you&#39;ll teach or write...because what would you do the next week? You work. You need to find something that will absorb your time and attention and pull you away from work and that you can establish an interest in. So that when you stop working you can move into it.&quot;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I thought it was good advice. It would be fun to own a vineyard. I had brought all these wines with us on the safari from my collection, we drank very well.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So, the next year, we went to Florence...and we set-up base camp there, the same group of people that were on the safari. The women all went shopping, all day, every day....I had this guy, Silvio, who would pick them up every morning and drop them off at night.&quot;Incredible&quot; was all he ever said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So the guys, we started up north of Lucca, and we drove down through Chianti, looking for vineyards and fields, and we ended up in Montalcino, and we had a great Brunello, and I looked around and said, this is the place.And that&#39;s how I ended up in Montalcino. And then I spent the next year looking for a vineyard in Montalcino.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Me: And Il Palazzone happened to be available?</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dick:Yes.There&#39;s a big dollop of luck in everything. That was good luck.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> You can read much more about Dick, and how he came to be a wine maker, in my full interview with him, in an upcoming post.</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Distribution and Sales</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Mandy Presser, director of sales in The United States, was kind enough to shed some insight on the business end of things. I asked her about production levels.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Mandy: The 2006 normale Brunello is only 8300 bottles, and the Riserva was just 100 cases. So, we&#39;re not trying to take over the world.&quot; &quot;The Rosso production for the 2013 blend is around 13,000 bottles.&quot;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Me: Do you do &quot;cellar releases&quot; of later vintages.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Mandy: Sort of. We don&#39;t specifically hold back vintages for later sales, but if inventory remains, when the next vintage comes out, then we focus on selling the new vintages and the remainder stays in the cellar for a while.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Me: What might I, as a consumer, be able to find?</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Mandy: The oldest that is out there right now is the 2001 Riserva, there are a handful of the 1995&#39;s.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Me: Here&#39;s a corny question, what would you say is the &quot;heart&quot; of Il Palazzone.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Mandy: Well, I&#39;m going to give you a corny answer. The personalities...Dick, Laura, and Marco are great.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Really the heart of it is the great passion that they have for the work;s not just a;s like every bottle is a child going out to the world. We love to hear stories of people enjoying the wine as part of a special evening.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>The Environment</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Laura says, &quot;When people ask, &quot;are you organic&quot;, I joke about the proximity of our children to the vineyard, playing on their swing set, a few meters away.&quot; Il Palazzone is not certified, organic, which is a rigorous process that may be more trouble than it&#39;s worth for some producers.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>The kids at play amongst the Sangiovese</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &quot;We seek a symbiotic, sensitive relationship with the environment. We&#39;re not certified organic, but we are extremely careful, giving consideration to things like packaging, and bottle weight so as to minimize our carbon footprint. Whatever we do is subject to revaluation; we&#39;re constantly striving to make good decisions.&quot; They have even gone to the extent of using willow ties to secure the vines, a practice that was used in ages past.These simply fall to the ground and biodegrade when their useful life is over.Il Palazzone is a member of One Percent for the Planet, a non-profit whose members have committed to donate one percent of their gross sales to planet friendly organizations. You can read more about that in my post from May 2013.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Wine Making Modernization</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Marco oversaw the construction of their new cellar, a beautiful structure that fits perfectly with its old world surroundings, but has modern wine making capabilities, and environmental considerations. It was designed to be as &quot;green&quot; as possible, and to support Il Palazzone&#39;s policy of sustainable agriculture. You can read much more about this in Mandy Presser&#39;s post on their blog.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In addition to building a new cellar, the winery has added eight new wood fermenting vats. These too represent a traditional approach to wine making while utilizing the modern tools that are available. Fermentation in wood is a significant refinement over the former stainless steel.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>One of the four new fermenters.</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;The temperature in the vats is individually controlled by a computerized system, but fermentation is natural, using yeasts indigenous to the grapes.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Another big improvement is the new bottling machine, which has quickened and improved that process. Its first assignment, was the bottling of the latest Rosso Del Palazzone, in June of this year. Next, the 2009 Brunello bottling, all 9,304 bottles, was completed in one single (long) day. This resulted in more time for other important tasks.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Clearly, there is no skimping here when it comes to creating a facility that enables them to make the best wine that they can. This bodes well for future releases, which should logically improve the, already excellent, level of quality.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>The Rosso Del Palazzone</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Most Brunello producers make a Rosso Di Montalcino, DOC, as a second wine to their Brunello. Il Palazzone does not produce a Rosso Di Montalcino, rather, they produce their &quot;Rosso Del Palazzone&quot;, which is composed of 100% Sangiovese Grosso, but does not officially conform to the DOC protocol for a Rosso Di Montalcino.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Because their Brunello is made from a blend of three different vineyards, and the selection is critical, at the blending of each vintage a certain amount of wine from a particular vintage / vineyard may not be included. The &quot;leftover&quot; wine is blended (multiple vintages) to make the Rosso Del Palazzone. The result is an excellent wine that outshines a fair number of Brunellos, and this at a great price.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Laura says, &quot;I&#39;m very proud of the Rosso [It was her idea]. I thought if we make a wine that was unique, and had its own story, it would be easier to market.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> It&#39;s always terrifically popular and we always run out quickly. Stories sell wine...the Rosso is a great story since it is the remaining &quot;Brunello&quot; that we chose not to use in the final blend. The most recent (2013 release) is a blend of 2011 and 2012, both top vintages.&quot;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In my conversation with Mandy Presser, she explained that the Rosso is a great candidate for &quot;by-the-glass&quot; pours in restaurants and is frequently used as such.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I asked her if people are turned off by the &quot;NV&quot; (non-vintage) designation. She said, &quot;Actually, I think it sometimes helps sell the wine. It starts a conversation about why it&#39;s non-vintage, and then they hear the story of how it&#39;s made.&quot;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> About 13,000 bottles of the NV Rosso were produced this year. Until recently they were only distributed in New York, where they sold out quickly. Now the Rosso can be found in Florida, Las Vegas, and California.</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>The Vineyards</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Il Palazzone&#39;s Due Porte Vineyard</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Il Palazzone grows grapes in three vineyards, two are located in the vicinity of Castelnuovo delle&#39;Abate, about 15 minutes from the winery, at approximately 200 meters elevation. These are noted for producing juice with mineral and saline character, due to the presence of &nbsp;marine fossils, magnesium, and manganese in the soils. The vines in these vineyards are over 30 years old. The remaining vineyard, &quot;Due Porte&quot;, is located close to the winery at 530 meters elevation, and is known for producing highly aromatic wines due to the altitude, the temperature swing between night and day, and the influence of the nearby woodlands. These contrasting vineyard characteristics work well to add complexity in the final Brunello blend.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Conclusion</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> There is much good taking place at this lovely winery that is rich with Montalcinese tradition, and international team passion. While the current and recent releases are very nice, the wines can only get better thanks to the constant improvement and development taking place. Does ownership by a big-time American business man serve as a negative influence? Absolutely not! On the contrary, Dick Parsons has given Il Palazzone new vitality by pulling together a wonderful team, supporting them with the resources needed, and by inputting his own preferences, to make great wines.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>My Tasting Notes on Il Palazzone Wines</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2004 Il Palazzone Brunello Di Montalcino</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Find This Wine on Snooth</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2005 Lorenzo &amp; Isabelle IGT</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Find This Wine on Snooth</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2005 Il Palazzone Brunello Di Montalcino</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Find This Wine on Snooth</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2007 Il Palazzone Brunello Di Montalcino</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Find This Wine on Snooth</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">Rosso del Palazzone NV (the 2012 release)</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Find This Wine on Snooth</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>More Information</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Il Palazzone has an excellent and informative website that not only gives insight to their winery and vineyards, but also to Brunello Di Montalcino in general. Don&#39;t miss Laura&#39;s blog that provides current news about the vineyard, harvest, winery, and more. Along with Laura&#39;s posts, Mandy Presser, the VP of North American Sales, frequently contributes as well.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> *At press time, Mandy Presser has moved on to a new position in Australia; Laura says, &quot;We all miss her very much, but her replacement (Jenny Cuddihy) is great!&quot;</div><br /> </p> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5273