Thursday, September 27, 2012

End of Summer Update - Petit Chapeau Cotes du Rhone 2010

I have a soft spot for this utterly drinkable everyday red as it was the first bottle I touted on these pages. As many of you know, I also have a fondness for these blends from the Rhone Valley of southern France. Factor into the equation a great 2010 vintage and a $9.99 price tag and you have a winner. This great little bottle is comprised of 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 20% Cinsault, and 5% Mourvedre and is a private label project of Daniel Johnnes, which means that the wine was tailored to his taste and imported with his name on the bottle. Mr. Johnnes is one of the most important Sommeliers in the U.S. and imports quite a few wines as well. Most of the top importers now have at least one private label wine in their portfolio.

The Petit Chapeau red has just what you expect from a Cotes du Rhone, with classic aromas of black cherry, cola, damp earth and a note of black pepper. In the mouth it has excellent concentration to it's dark berry flavors, but never tastes heavy as it's bright acids lend balance and give it lift. It finishes long and lightly tannic and should make excellent company for a roast chicken, grilled sausage or even grilled shrimp. Imported for Daniel Johnnes by Michael Skurnick. Cheers!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Monchhof Estate Riesling 2011

German wines in general, and in particular the Rieslings, continue to be under appreciated by American consumers, even though there are many folks who like their wine a little on the sweet side. A lot of people come in the store I frequent for their white Zinfandel or other sweetish factory wine. Yes these wines are cheap, but once I get people to try a good German Riesling with it's fruity sweetness, balancing acidity and stony minerality, they become more open minded and more open to throwing down a few extra dollars. As they say, "life's too short to drink bad wine". Which brings me to the Monchhof Estate Riesling.

Germany had a difficult spring and early summer in 2011 but the weather turned perfect in August and September and producers were able to harvest fruit in very good condition with optimal ripeness. This estate has been a wine producing entity for some 800 years and it's current owners, the Eymal family, have been producing here since purchasing the estate in 1804. They have holdings in some of the best vineyards in Mosel and this may be the best $14.99 Riesling that money can buy. It's got beautiful aromatics with apricot, peach and that typical stony element so common to good German Riesling. This stony element comes from the slate laden soils of the steep hillside vineyards. In the mouth, this beauty is full-bodied with a somewhat oily texture and white, stone fruit flavors. It's long, lingering finish is sweet but balanced by bracing acidity. This interplay between residual sugar and acidity is an important quality here, the acidity making the wine taste less sweet than it is. This low alcohol wine goes well with Asian food, as an aperitif or even with a fresh fruit dessert. Imported by the Maximum Wine Company from the broker Rudi Wiest. Cheers.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Familia Grittini Areo Malbec 2009

Many Argentinian Malbecs continue to impress me and this $9.99 version from a little known region of Patagonia called Neuquen is a sure everyday winner. It took me quite awhile to find a website associated with the winery as it's name does not appear anywhere in the url. The Areo bottling was not listed anywhere and the importer's website (Simone International) offered no information either. Oh well, this region to the south of Mendoza, Argentina's leading wine producing area, is cooler and supposedly produces wines that are "more European" in style then those from the warmer climates to the north. I had my doubts when I noticed the 14.6% alcohol listing on the label as that kind of ripeness usually says "new world" to me.

Indeed, this wine is boldly fruited and large scaled and has everything you expect from a wine from this side of the Atlantic. To it's credit though, it also presents a measure of complexity you don't usually get at this price point. Big aromas of chocolatey cherry and coffee are prominent along with secondary notes of clove and earth. In the mouth, it's fairly full bodied with dark red fruit flavors and lingering spice notes on the finish. It hides it's high alcohol well with just a hint of heat on the back end.

Fans of the style will find a lot to like here and it's low acid flavors went well with grilled swordfish with pasta and a sauce of tomatoes, eggplant and mint. This fantastic recipe is from a friend and fantastic chef, Jack Kreitzman, whose San Francisco restaurant Jackson Fillmore Trattoria is a spot you should definitely check out when you visit the bay area. It's home style Italian cooking at it's best and at affordable prices. Cheers.