As a fan of the box wine format, though not always the wine inside, I was pleased to see Eric Asimov and the NYT wine panel recommend some box wines. Their clear favorites were the Wineberry Cotes de Rhone red and the Estézargues , boxes that I have also recommended.
One they may not have included in the article was the Magdala rosé. We’ve worked our way through a box of the 2010–liquid air conditioning–so far this summer at the Dr. Vino World Headquarters. It’s from importer Jenny & Francois and is a darker rosé in the glass that hails from organic grenache and cinsault vineyards in Provence. Solid rosé, especially for the equivalent of $7.50 a bottle. (Find this wine at retail.)
I was talking about this wine with a friend recently and he told me that he loves the Magadala rosé for its stealthy refreshment. Every year, he pops the bag of wine out of the cardboard box and puts it at the bottom of a large canvas tote bag, covering it in ice packs, towels and sunscreen. Then he proceeds to a tennis tournament that may or may not rhyme with US Ropen and drinks the rosé all day instead of whatever overpriced swill is at the concession stand.
I always relish the rare opportunity to taste a California wine from the 1970s, the era before rising temperatures and fruit bombs. But I recently had something even more rare: tasting the BV, Georges de Latour, Private Reserve, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, 1958.
The wine was made by the venerable Andre Tchelistcheff, the “dean” of California winemakers of his day. Georges de Latour, a Frenchman, bought Beaulieu in 1899 and apparently made a fortune selling sacramental wine during Prohibition (people were so devout during Prohibition!). With the end of the Prohibition profits, de Latour decided to embark on the quality route and went to France to find the best Frenchman for the job. But in 1938, he returned with Andre Tchelistcheff, a Russian refugee as winemaker. The Private Reserve slightly preceded Tchelistcheff’s arrival (the first vintage was 1936), but it as the flagship for the estate, it was his signature wine for much of his career. In 1969, Beaulieu sold to Heublein; now it is owned by Diageo.
The 1958, a legendary wine, was showing gloriously at a recent tasting at a collector’s house. Easily one of the best California wines I have ever tasted, the gorgeous mature cabernet from start to finish was spectacular: the wine was still structured and very much alive. Some dark fruit remained but there was also a a dose savory, earthy notes. More than anything, it was the texture of the wine and the finish that just wouldn’t quit that really set it apart and made it so downright drinkable, enjoyable, and worth savoring every drop. It was so outrageously good that even showed better than the 1971 JJ Prum that was at the same tasting–and this was according to one of Riesling’s most ardent fans was was also at the tasting.
Incidentally, I checked out the back label and was amused Read more…
With the year almost half over (um, where did it go?), I thought it about time to post about a few memorable wines that I’ve tasted so far this year.
First among these needs to be the J.J. Prum, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Auslese, 1971. In the vernacular of the day, the wine is epic, though not an #ecpicfail mind you but an epic success. Forty years young, I’ve had the good fortune of tasting the wine twice this year. The first was in Vegas celebrating a high school friend’s fortieth birthday party. I saw it on the list at Lotus of Siam and had to buy it for him. Although he’s not that into wine (it does happen from time to time but he’s still a great guy), he loved the wine as did the others in our group who don’t even usually drink white wine. It was really fun to reach back in time the way wine can so joyously. My buddy tells me he keeps the empty bottle on his desk.
I had the wine again recently (actually, it was the “gold capsule” bottling this time) with a small tasting group and it was singing. The wine is a golden color with a deliciously honeyed nose, terrific purity, weight, and an astoundingly integrated blend of acidity and sweetness. Truly, if you remain unconvinced about the soaring greatness of Riesling, get your hands on one of these bottles. Among the world of collectible wines, it remains a relative bargain for the superb quality.
Saul had his conversion on the road to Damascus. Wells Guthrie had his conversion on the road home from Burgundy.
The lanky, California maker of pinot noir, chardonnay, and syrah told me at his Sonoma winery that he had his conversion in 2005, after returning from a trip to Burgundy and the Rhone. He tasted the pinot noirs and syrahs he had been making since starting his own label, Copain Wines, in 1999. The wines were made in a big, full-bodied style and had received high scores, including some 95s from Robert Parker. (Wells’ resumé includes working a year at Turley, as well as briefly at Marcassin, and two years with Michel Chapoutier.)
“A light went on,” he says Read more…
A group of friends that know each other through their sons’ school has a tasting every so often. I’ve been fortunate enough to lead the smart and fun group in about ten tastings over the past couple of years. Our most recent tasting explored the exciting category of Spain beyond the fruit bomb, focusing on indigenous grapes, values, and/or off-the-beaten-path regions. Read more…
Nebbiolo, it’s not just for Piedmont! Well, actually it is just for Piedmont (think: Barolo, Barbaresco) since there are so few examples of the grape outside the region. But consider this example from Valtellina, in the adjacent region of Lombardy, slammed up against the alps and Switzerland.
Perched at about 4,200 ft altitude, the vineyards of producer Ar.Pe.Pe. are so steep that the grapes are harvested by a sort of modified ski gondola! And their steepness so rivals Hermitage that they also have signs in the vineyards in between terraces! It sounds outrageously cool and I am putting this on my list of places to visit. Fortunately, we can taste the fruits of these vineyards in the US today.
Ar.Pe.Pe.–an abbreviation for Arturo Pelizzatti Perego, pronounced “are pay pay”–provides a tasty treat with its Rosso Valtellina, 100% Nebbiolo fermented in stainless steel with brief aging in old oak barrels. The traditional producer makes more expensive, longer-aged reds, but this entry-level wine is ready to drink. I threw it in a decanter just for laffs, served it at 55 degrees and the transparent, light red color was appetizing in and of itself on a summer evening. Delicate fruit, stoniness, and the alluring slight bitterness of Nebbiolo, combine to make this wine (about $30) a stunner.
Diddy’s Bad Boy staff will receive etiquette training including how to hold a wine glass. As slatewine put it, “Pass the Courvoisier, correctly.” And maybe not to spill the Cristal on the floor? Sheesh! [nypost]
Francis Ford Coppola says that he wants to make more elegant wines by reducing alcohol and oak and increasing freshness in his newly revitalized Inglenook wine. While tasting is believing, it is notable to hear a Napa vintner articulating such a position. [decanter]
Also: Groupon files to raise $750 million in an IPO.
And… Jon Stewart riffs on a Coppola character by chewing out Donald Trump about New York pizza.
Ah, Memorial Day. Grilling. Veterans. And politicians pandering to motorcycle groups.
It also happens to be the kickoff to summer drinking season and here in the Northeast, we had terrific weather. My wine highlight of the weekend was uncorking a Domaine Baudry 2010 rosé, made from cabernet franc in the Loire appellation of Chinon. It’s a gorgeous, fresh rosé that has great color from the skin contact, delicate fruit as well as terrific acidity and even a little length.
What did you uncork? Or what are you looking forward to enjoying (outdoors) this summer?