Monday, August 30, 2010

2007 Coudoulet de Beaucastel, Cotes du Rhone

Coudoulet de Beaucastel is the second-wine from Chateauneuf-du-Pape producer Chateau de Beaucastel. It is a blend of syrah, mourvedre, cinsault and grenache. The vineyards from which this wine is created are located not far from Beaucastel's estate vineyards, but they are not located within the Chateauneuf-du-Pape appellation, so the wine is entitled only to the less-prestigious Cotes du Rhone appellation. I have had many earlier vintages of this wine but I think this one, from the southern Rhone's glorious 2007 vintage, could be their best yet.

Although this is a big wine (14.5% alcohol), it is harmoniously balanced with supple tannins and a richness that is not at all flamboyant. It is drinking well now, but another five years in your cellar will pay good dividends.

This wine was priced at $33 at the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA, but it should have a broad distribution. Parker gives it a 92, and I think it is every bit that.

2008 Domaine Huet Vouvray, Le Mont, demi-sec

I believe Domaine Huet makes the finest of all Vouvrays, and this estate has been cranking out these beautiful chenin blancs for many decades. In good vintages they usually make a simi-sweet version, such as this one, and a dry or almost dry version. Please don't pass on this one because it has some residual sugar. The supporting acidity takes the edge off the sweetness, making for a table wine that pairs perfectly with Chinese and Thai dishes. Or drink it on its own as your dessert course.

The apricot and peach aromas (no new oak used here) leads to mouth-coating flavors of green apples and marzipan (probably a bit of botrytis here). The zesty acidity keeps in all in balance and this same acidity will see this wine through 10 or more years of ageing.

I had the pleasure of meeting Gaston Huet in the fall of 1999 at his home situated adjacent to his beloved vinyards (Le Mont is one of three.) Mr. Huet passed away in 2002, a sad moment for lovers of his wine. But Mr. Huet had turned over winemaking to his son-in-law, Noel Pinguet, many years ago and Pinguet has carried on Mr. Huet's work, including making the vineyard management and winemaking completely biodynamic.

I purchased this wine from the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA. The price, $33, is a bargain for a wine of this quality.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

2008 Guarachi Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

"Wine Spectator" magazine recently gave this wine a 94, so I expected it to be a good performer. I was not disappointed. This lovely pinot delivers the same rich, ripe, seamless style I always find (and love) in pinots from Martinelli and Rochioli. This is a nicely focused and harmonious wine with the signature pinot aromas of black cherry, cola and hints of wet earth. The finish is satisfyingly long.
The only question I have is on the "Sonoma Coast" AVA designation. That AVA is really a joke since it encompasses parts of Sonoma County that are many miles from the Pacific coast. But no matter, the wine has many of the superb qualities you can find in pinots from the "true" Sonoma Coast - those ridge lines (islands in the fog) just a few miles inland from the ocean. These vineyard sites deserve an AVA of their own.
I purchased it from the Costco store in Kansas City (off Main Street). The cost, $40, is very reasonable for a pinot of this quality