Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2001 Ridge Zinfandel, Pagani Ranch

A visit to my OLD TASTES page will tell you I have been a fan of Ridge Zinfandels since the early '70's. Ridge began bottling old vine, field-blend zins from the Pagani Ranch in 1991. I purchased a couple of bottles of the 2001 vintage on its release in August of 2003 ($28 each) and I opened the first bottle on March 25, 2009. This zin is fabulous! Dark ruby color with very little garnet hue. Huge aromatics leap from the glass - raspberry, spice and cinnamon. Super-ripe but no signs of jam or prunes. Lush, massive, mouth-filling flavors are supported by crisp acidity. Soft, ripe tannins. If you did not check the label, you would never suspect this wine has 15.4% alcohol. I guess its overall balance is the key. I think this zin can hold its own with Turley Hayne Vineyard and Martinelli Jackass Hill Zinfandels, and that is high praise. I hope you have some of this wine in your cellar.

Rhoda Stewart's fine book, A Zinfandel Odyssey (2001), contains a section on page 319 about the Pagani Vineyard, which was planted by the Pagani family in stages between the late 1800's and 1918. Her interview with Louis Pagani is both interesting and poignant. Mr. Pagaini passed away in 2000 at the age of 98.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

2007 Breggo Pinot Gris, Wiley Vineyard

This wine is not available in the Kansas City area, so I purchased it directly from the winery in December of 2008. The cost was $27. Now, I must admit that California (and Italian) Pinot Gris, particularly at this price, generally leave me much less than enthusiastic and I bought this wine based on Parker's 93 score. Well, he was right on the mark with that number. The color is a bright yellow. Intense aromas jump from the glass - lots of ripe melon, peach and ginger notes. This is a flavorful, mouth-filling wine, but the overall balance allows it to bear its weight gracefully.

Breggo is a relatively new winery located in the northern California's cool-climate Anderson Valley. These folks have hit the ground running and I am looking forward to trying their Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer offerings. Has anyone tried these varietals? They have a nice website.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

2006 Martinelli Pinot Noir, Lolita Ranch

Although many fine Pinot Noirs are produced all along the California coast (and Oregon), my clear favorites are the ones that come from vineyards in the Russian River Valley and the "true" Sonoma Coast AVA's. This Martinelli pinot is a single-vineyard wine from one of their Russian River vineyards. The cost was $60. The production of this wine, and all other Martinelli wines, was supervised by Helen Turley. The wine has that silky, seamless quality you find in any Pinot Noir she has had a hand in making. The focused aromas of ripe cherries and wet earth are supported by subtle oak. The supple flavors are all about ripe fruit balanced with good structure and lively acidity. Parker gives this wine a 94 and that seems reasonable to me. A note on alcohol level, which seems to be a big point of contention today. This wine has an elevated alcohol content, but I suspect a person would not suspect that unless he or she looked at the bottle label. I guess it is all about balance.

The only downside to Martinelli wines is that all of the single-vineyard wines are allocated, so you will have to sign up to be on a waiting list. But, when you are finally on their mailing list, you will also be offered some of their delectable Zinfandels, Chardonnays and Syrahs - they are all beautifully crafted wines.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

2005 Archaval Ferrer, Quimera

This red wine is from the Mendoza region of Argentina and consists of a blend of 37% Malbec, 28% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. I paid $27. This is a big, extracted wine with loads of ripe fruit and moderate ripe tannins. This delicious wine is very much in the California style. If you like this style, this wine is a lot of bang for the buck. It has all the balance needed to age well for several years. Parker gave it a 92+.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

2005 Teruzzi & Puthod, Terre di tuffi

If you are looking for a terrific bargain in a food-friendly white wine, give this one a try. It is from a Tuscan producer known mostly for its Vernaccia di San Gimignano. This bottling is 80% of that varietal, with some Chardonnay, Malvasia and Vermentino thrown in. I believe the usual retail price is about $15, but I found it at World Market in south Kansas City for $8! At that price, it's a steal. Surprisingly full-bodied with fresh, clean pineapple and fig aromas. I initially viewed this wine with skepticism because a four year old Italian white can often be risky, but this one had a bright yellow color showing no signs of fading. A slightly short finish is my only complaint, but at this price that is a real nit pick.

2006 La Peira, Les Obriers de la Peira

This red wine, a blend of Carignan and Cinsault, is from the Coteaux du Languedoc (Terasses du Larzac). The most recent Wine Exchange news letter raved about it so I purchased a couple of bottles. The cost was $20 plus shipping. Parker gave it a 93 and he did not miss the mark with that score. This wine shows what a skilled winemaker can do with these two workhorse varietals. Deep ruby color, ripe blackberry and pepper aromas and flavors, full-bodied but not overly extracted. Ripe tannins complete the package.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

2005 Mayo Family Zinfandel, Casa Santina Maria Vineyard

Mayo Family Vineyards is located in Sonoma County and they specialize in small case lots of selected varietals. I purchased several bottles of this Zinfandel in late '08 at a cost of $40 a bottle. This price is the threshold of pain for me as to Zinfandel, but the wine is worth it. A very dark ruby-purple color. Intense ripe raspberry and black cherry aromas and flavors, with a touch of black pepper. Soft, ripe tannins contribute to an almost viscous mouth feel. If there is any residual sugar, I did not pick up on it. This is a knock-your-hat-in-the-creek Zin from 99 year old vines. These wines are not available in the Kansas City area so I buy them directly from the winery using their web site.

2004 Clos de la Coulee de Serrant Savennieres

A couple of cases showed up in the Kansas City market and I just had to try a bottle. The cost was $40, which I recognized was a good buy. Now, I am a long-standing fan of Loire Valley Chenin Blanc, both the dry and the sweet versions. Domaine Baumard is my favorite Savennieres producer, but I simply do not understand this wine from Nicolas Joly. For me, weird is the only way I can describe this wine - from color, aroma and flavor to the finish. Does anyone have a different read on this wine (or agree)?

2004 Sandrone Barbera d'Alba

Sandrone's famous Barolos tend to cast a shadow on his other efforts, such as this serious Barbera. Good sites, low yields and oak ageing elevate Barbera to something special. I purchased this wine in Kansas City about a year ago for $27.75. Dark ruby-black color. Classic sour cherry and plum aromas and flavors. Nicely extracted with good overall structure. Ripe tannins and good balancing acidity. I suspect the '05 version has been released and it should be worth looking for.

2006 Bodegas Naia, Naides

This is a white wine from the Rueda region of Spain. The cost in Kansas City was $26. The wine, in a very heavy bottle, is made from 100% Verdejo, a varietal found mostly in the Rueda region. The vines are very old (80 years) and have survived non-grafted because the sandy soil in the region is unattractive to phylloxera. This is an excellent food wine. The color is bright yellow. The aromas and flavors are focused and show peach and pear notes. Crisp acidity and a clean finish make for an attractive package at a fair price. Parker gave it 90 and Tanzer gave it 91.