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Holiday Wrap-up

January 1, 2009

Beckmen Syrah Purisima Mountain Vineyard, Santa Ynez, 2004
Big. Killer Syrah, wafting sweet and savory aromas of smoked meats, coffee, cocoa, plums, cherries and brine. Well-balanced and delicious – Beckmen nailed this wine, and I’m eager to try more from them. One of the most truly alluring New-World Syrah’s I’ve tasted in 2008.

Jakob Schneider Riesling Kabinett, Nahe 2005
How good can a $14/liter of wine can get? This good. Peaches, gravel, cherry pits and some peppery spice. The fruit ripeness is offset perfectly by the ripping clean acidity, leaving a lingering minerality. While Donnhoff might be the Maestro delivering vinous symphonies in the Nahe, this is complete and resolved, like a great sonata.

Hirsch Riesling Zobing Kamptal, 2006
Apricots, wintergreen, and a lime-wedge punch to the mouth. Lean, but not austere – it’s all there in a compact, clean package. Bone Dry. Bring on the seafood.

Dei ‘Sancta Caterina’, Toscana, 2006
A very special blend from Montepulciano – boatloads of fruit (currant, plum, and blackberries) upfront, with an earthy Tuscan core. Some larch and clove notes come through on the finish. Opulent – but it evolved a little backwards – offering more complexity and excitement right after opening, and mellowing a bit with time.

Chateau Pesquie ‘Les Terrasses’, Ventoux, 2005
A flood of raspberries and garrigue. A stupidly cheap ringer for a Chateauneuf-du-Pape, including a serious backbone of acidity and sweet fine tannins. Real, serious wine to enjoy with meats.  Drinking like a charm right now – this runs circles around wine twice it’s price.  Very accessible and a gateway wine to the Southern Rhone.

Newton Forrest Gimblett Gravels Cab-Merlot-Malbec, Hawkes Bay, 2002
Yup, I think I’m onto something. They might not get a lot of press, but I am personally loving Bordeaux blends from New Zealand. This carries aromas of black cherries with a walk through the herbs garden. It’s much more compact than similar New-World blends, but lush and ripe within it’s framework, offering real elegance and some old-world funky-charm.  Excellent. I will be trying anything I can in this space in ’09.

Clos la Coutale, Cahors, 2005
Definitely not an Argenitine Malbec, but not some kind of old-world curiousity either. Very perfumed aromas of wild raspberries, strawberries, violets and soil. This is medium-big, slightly brutish,  but thoughtful in the end. 12.5% ABV with fresh acidity but a soft, chewey palate.  The power and richness aromatics alone make this a great value – I’d love to throw this in as a ringer in a blind-tasting of $30-50 California reds.


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