Wine Talk

Snooth User: outthere

Stepping out of my comfort zone...

Posted by outthere, Jan 17, 2011.

Living in Sonoma County my cellar is pretty Cali-Centric. I mean in an earthquake it just may break off and fall into the Pacific Ocean. So tonight I'm going with something completely different. I picked up an El Nido Clio 2008 that I'm giving a test drive to see if I want more. Anything other than California wine or Rhones and I am treading on thin ice so I am looking forward to this.

What was the last wine you took a leap of faith on?

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Replies

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jan 17, 2011.

Outthere

What is El Nido Clio?

My last leap of faith was trying an Oregon Pinot [08 Argyle Reserve from memory] and it was a very pleasant drink.

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Reply by outthere, Jan 17, 2011.

Bodegas El Nido from Espana. The Clio is a blend of Mourvedre/Cab like 70/30. Big bruiser of a wine so far. Has almost 3 hours of air. Dense, rich texture, dark fruits, licorice, cigar box, super long finish. A wowser so far.

 

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jan 17, 2011.

Sounds like good stuff, I will see if I can find some in this part of the world

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Reply by outthere, Jan 18, 2011.

So, back to my original question: "What was the last wine you took a leap of faith on?"


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Reply by dmcker, Jan 18, 2011.

A 1953 Remoissenet Clos Vougeot. Bought it a while back to have at a friend's birthday party, which isn't here yet. Had a fairly clear view of its provenance. Here's hoping that when it's opened it'll have as much bang left as the previous '53s I had earlier this past decade... ;-)

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Reply by outthere, Jan 18, 2011.

My birthday is in 2 months. Can I be your friend? ;-)

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 18, 2011.

No probs. What year? ;-)

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 18, 2011.

dmcker, I'll lie about my birthday if I can be your friend, too.  Heck, I'll lie about your birthday...

Most of the wine I buy is kind of a leap of faith, since I tend not to repeat too often.  But Mourv./Cab is a pretty unusual combo, yes? That by itself requires a little courage. 

When I started buying RdD, I bought really low on the price scale at a discounter, and was amply rewarded.  Bunch of bottles that I think got orphaned and had received less-than 90 point scores, but they were really good.  I didn't really understand at the time that RdDs were often a good fit for Cali drinkers, so that was just lucky.  If taking a leap of faith means not having tasted it, I only buy less expensive stuff when I am not at  the wine shop that knows my taste or at the wineries.  So usually thoe more expensive leaps of faith work out well, or I have tasted the wine and it's not a leap at all.  But I have found that CdP still is sometimes a pig and a poke for me--I just don't have enough experience and am not spending a ton to guarantee that every one of them knocks me out.

I like getting a bargain, so buying something unreviewed where the importer got excited but then couldn't get press for a song appeals to me.  More a "what the heck" approach than taking a leap of faith.  I've been pretty lucky on the whole, although I admit the odd bottle gets poured down the sink.

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Reply by outthere, Jan 18, 2011.

No probs. What year? ;-)

Celebrating the big 5-Oh, was born in '61. I hear it was a VERY good year. ;-)

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jan 18, 2011.

61 was definitley a great year in Bordeaux

I am sure dmcker can point you in the direction of a reasonably priced 61 worth a look - remember you are only 50 once!!!

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Reply by GregT, Jan 18, 2011.

Stephen - that el Nido is a special wine.  The premier importer of Spanish wines to the US, Jorge Ordonez, had discovered that Robert Parker and other critics loved the big, ripe, lush wines that can be grown in hot climates.  They didn't know much, if anything, about Spanish wine, so they were dumbfounded by the big, ripe, fruity wines that began to appear in the late 1980s and 1990s as the legacy of Franco faded and new winemakers came to prominence.

Don't forget that much of Spain is pretty much desert, so it's a good place for hot-climate grapes, as is much of Australia.  Spain is also the home of the grapes we often think of when we think of warm climates, specifically Garnacha (Grenache in French), Monastrell (Mourvedre in French) and Cariñena (Carignan in French).

These grapes tend to be associated with south France by people who don't know better, and consequently they're called  "Rhone" varieties, but they all originated in Spain, mostly in the kingdom of Aragon. 

When phylloxera hit in the late 1800s, the French were hit first.  As they were losing their vineyards, some of them travelled to Spain.  Even earlier however, there had been people like Murietta and Riscal, who had traveled to France and who had brought back French techniques.  So we find things like Cab Sauvignon planted in Spain, although that's native to France.

Most of the critics in the US were aware of and in love with S. Rhone wines, so finding Garnacha, and even more surprising, Monastrell, in Spain was a revelation for them.  But of course Garnacha was all over Spain - they had more than any other country in the world.  And Monastrell?  They had more than all the other countries in the world combined.   So you get a love for certain wines in a guy like Parker who may be more responsible for the current popularity of Chateauneuf than anyone else in the world, and you recall how much he championed the wines from Australia, and you start thinking about the little-known regions in Spain that may offer opportunities for the savvy merchant.

Ordonez himself had come from Malaga, which is a hot place in the south of Spain.  Sensing an opportunity and taking brilliant advantage of it, he teamed up with one of the people who had been championing the Monastrell around the Jumilla region.  He also brought in the fellow who had more 100 point wines than anyone else in the world, and who was making big, jammy wines in Australia - Chris Ringland.  They produced some wine for the American critics and hit the bull's eye.  That's the Clio.  Monastrell and Cab Sauv are unique only if you lock yourself into the paradigm of "Bordeaux" grapes and "Rhone" grapes, but if you don't slavishly follow French rules, there's no reason you can't blend those and of course neither Spain nor Australia see any reason to follow French rules. 

Unless you know the wines, tasting them blind, you'd easily mistake some of those Ringland wines for stereotypical Australian wines and in fact, some of the big-name critics in the US did exactly that.  And in fact, in the US, the market for both Australia and Spain has died at that particular level.  Parker ceded the reviewing of Spain and Australia to a friend of his who knew nothing of the countries but favored big, jammy wines, and he bestowed a few 100 point scores.  That backfired with the people who are willing to drop $80 or so on a bottle.

So there in a nutshell is the answer to your question.

As far as the answer to Outthere - it's hard to say.  If I'm confronted with a wine I've never had and perhaps never heard of, and a wine I know, more often than not I'll try the one I don't know.  It's not so much a leap of faith as an urge to try something new. 

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Reply by GregT, Jan 19, 2011.

BTW - I may have been unclear.  The Clio is about 70% Monastrell, the rest Cab, the El Nido is the reverse proportion.

And I'm not sure if you can get it in Australia - it may only be sold in the US, since it was made for the US market.

Here are some scores of the Clio from the Wine Advocate, but remember that they are by 2 different critics.  By comparison, I've included the more realistic WS scores.

2003 - 96, WS 90

2004 - 97, WS 92

2005 - 95, WS 90

2006 - 95, WS 90

2007 - 94, WS 92

 

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jan 19, 2011.

Given Ringland has some involvement may available here.

I certainly have tried a few of Chris's wines and when he not in "Pleasing Parker" mode he can and does make some excellent wine.

He currently is helping Rocky O'Callaghan at Rockfords produce his famous Basket Press Shiraz which is an excellent wine made in a riper style but certainly not overripe or over extracted.

Thanks for the guidance

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 19, 2011.

So Stephen, at the end of the previous page were you referring to the halfcase each of Mouton and Haut Brion '61 that I said had finally been consumed with the '59 Latour and La Mission? ;-)

Greg, as usual, an excellent expostulation of the history of those particular wines, and their place in Spanish wine history. Hey, if you started a blog I'd read it....

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jan 19, 2011.

D - I knew you were the fortunate being to have had some 61's and yes you had referred to them.

Hopefully some will come onto the market at not to silly a price

 

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 19, 2011.

Assuming we're talking Bordeaux, at this point in time, I'd be searching first for Latours and Trotanoys.

I'm seeing Montroses at around $500, Calon Segurs at around $300, Cheval Blanc circling around $2,000, Ducru-Beaucaillou ranging from $400 to $1,000 and up, Leoville Las Cases from $200 to $600, Petrus all over the place from $2,600 to $6,000, Lafite also ranging from $1,000 to $2,000, and so forth. 

Goes without saying that provenance is just about all for these bottles...

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Reply by outthere, Jan 19, 2011.

I'd be first searching for a second or maybe a third job before I thought I could afford $1,000+ for a bottle of wine. Way, way out of this boys league.

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 20, 2011.

If you avoid those the Chinese have been targeting, I'm sure you can find some interesting bottles in the low triple figures. Caveats about provenance still standing, of course.

Not much satisfaction with the Trotanoy nor the Latour searches.  ;-(   What's with that merchant in Staffordshire who's charging $5600 for a Trotanoy 750 and $14,600 for a magnum? Or the merchant in Devonshire who charges 50% more for a Latour with a 'super' as opposed to 'very good' label?

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jan 20, 2011.

To the point re the Chinese

Very interesting article on the impact of China on Bordeaux in the Jan 24 Edition of Time Magazine - Pg 40 Titled "A Bordeaux Bubble. China has gone crazy for claret. But will the Middle Kingdom's boom to bust?"

Interested in peoples views

 

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Reply by GregT, Jan 20, 2011.

The billionaires want the labels.  So there are a handful of labels that sell.  Most of the people don't particularly care for the wine anyhow, and it's a terrible match with fermented soy, fish, ginger, hot pepper, and many other things found in the various regions of China.  So the impact is zero once you get away from the top brands.  The guys making $30 and under Bordeaux, which is about 90% of the region?  Those guys are suffering.

Matt Kramer, who isn't my favorite writer but who knows something about the business, wrote an interesting piece the other day.  Some girl had just told him she was taking some sort of exam and had to know about Bordeaux.  He told her after the exam she never had to think about it for the rest of her life.  When she asked why, he asked her how many of her friends drink it or talk about it.  None.

There are wine bars, and very good wine bars, in NYC that don't carry a single bottle of Bordeaux.  It's become a prestige thing for people who a slightly out of fashion - i.e. grandpa.  And that's largely their own doing.  In Detroit, they had the "big three".  When the first Japanese cars started appearing, the big three took no notice.  When people started buying those cars, the big three complained and got restrictions put on imports.  All to what end?  So that last year they almost went belly-up and now struggle to survive?

Bordeaux is in the same position.  While the top names carry some weight, if the bottles were filled with rancid milk they'd still sell to the label buyers. 

Most of it is the fault of the Bordelais.  You can't force demand for a product, but you can respond to demand and they've refused.  Nobody knows or cares about "terroir" and that's a questionable concept in Bordeaux anyway.  So why not sell by grape variety, which is how the world increasingly looks at wine?  And why pretend that their classification system means anything to people other than those who have bothered to study it?  The refusal to accept that they're not the only game in town and their indifference to the wider world has now been returned in full.  I think a lot of producers will and should go out of business.  Nothing like going there and tasting through a few hundred wines to make you wonder what the hell they're thinking!

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