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05 September 2006

The Best White Under $15

By Guest Author Jameson of Le Wine Blog 

Sglabel 2005 Schloss Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner Gobelsburger
(Imported by Terry Theise for Skurnik Wines)

OK, here's what the Wine Advocate says:

"Moosbrugger's 2005 Gruner Veltliner Gobelsburger once again represents a sensational value. Scents of flowers and hay introduce a clear, bright, juicy, melony, limey mouthful of wine that is a touch lush, a tad invigorating, carpets the palate with flowers, herb, melon, and pepper, yet ultimately, soothingly, simply thirst-quenchingly satisfies. To obtain results like this for the price demands keenly honed agricultural and artisanal skills..."

Rating: 89 points

Beau has challenged me to find an 85-90 point wine, break down the review, and give it a "yea" or "nay." I was tempted to pick from a sea of highly rated Aussie Shiraz, but then I realized I hate those wines. So since he so rarely writes, blogs, podcasts, etc. about Austrian wine, I thought I would break the seal on Basic Juice (editor's note:  Jameson's a funny guy).

First of all, this is a sensational value; it retails for about 12 bucks. I am going to say something very provocative: This is the best white wine in the world that retails for under 15 bucks.

As far as scent, I don't know what "flowers" smell like. Is this an amalgamation of all floral aromas into a catch-all term? Ok, well, if pressed I would it smells like a flowery, hay-strewn field. One that I am frolicking in.

clear, bright, juicy, melony, limey mouthful of wine

Yes, yes, yes, yes ,yes, and absolutely.

I enjoyed the phrase "carpets the palate", but I prefer "hugs the tongue."

It is super thirst-quenchingly satisfying. I am not sure, however, that "quenchingly" is a word. (I do like it, though.)

I did get a lot of dried-herb, melon, and lime on the finish. It also had a little spritz when first opened that blew off.

I could go through a couple cases a month! If you do not like this wine, I do not want to be your friend.

Verdict: Recommended

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04 September 2006

An Australian Chateauneuf?

Cigale Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2004 ($19)

92 pts Wine Spectator Web Site (1/25/06)
Peter Schell and his wife Magali Gely came to the Barossa from New Zealand, but their hearts are in France, where Gely's family still owns vineyards near Montpellier. Their wine, a dead ringer for a Chateauneuf-du-Pape, is rich and spicy, with a gorgeous core of blackberry, blueberry and plum fruit, shaded with smoky white pepper notes that keep ringing through the long, beautifully balanced finish. Tannins are there but well-submerged. Best from 2007 through 2016.

After reading this review and before sampling the Cigale GSM, I had the following two questions:

1. Is this wine indeed a "dead ringer" for a Chateauneuf du Pape?
2. Is the finish long and "beautifully balanced" ?

Cigalegsm2004_1 The Skinny
Cigale Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2004 ($19)

  • Imported by the Australian Wine Connection (no Website); 56% Grenache, 26% Shiraz, 18% Mourvedre; 14.9% alcohol; 800 cases made.
  • Deep indigo in color with a wide, bright pink rim.  The wine nearly defies gravity by clinging to the sides of the glass after swirling.
  • The initial, overwhelming scent is of fresh concord grape juice.  After 15-20 minutes of air time, the wine evolved scents of blackberry jam, dates, hints of Pernod (licorice/anise-flavored liqueur) and notes of black pepper.
  • In the mouth, Cigale is very full-bodied and full of cooked berry flavors.  It possesses soft, round tannins that stay in the background due the intense flavor and alcoholic heft.  The finish is indeed long.  However, I found the wine slightly hot (alcohol overpowers acidity) on the finish - not terribly balanced.
  • I paired Cigale GSM to a roasted Portobello burger with mozzarella and artichoke aioli.  The wine was a bit too hefty for food.  If you enjoy extraordinarily big, intense Aussie reds, this might be a wine for you.  As to my taste, I found it too overbearing - not recommended.  However, I did notice that this wine was far less overbearing on day two.  One suggestion for these types of wines is to decant them and let them breathe for several hours before serving.

To answer my questions:
1. I didn't find this wine to be a dead ringer for C. du Pape.  It does have some similarity to 'modern', youthful C.d.P.s.  However, I didn't detect any meatiness or herbs - which for me is always part of great du Pape.

2. The finish is quite long.  However, I didn't find it to be well-balanced.  It was definitely hot due to the high alcohol-to-acidity ratio.

Other reviews of this wine: Winorama

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29 August 2006

VdP Viognier Gone Wild?

Viogonewild "..some of the most robust viognier plants in Condrieu."

There seems to be a trend in importer Eric Solomon's portfolio of wines custom blended for the U.S. market.  I've seen a number of his European Cellars' Spanish selections labeled as such.  Southern France appears to be next up on the Solomon custom cuvee list.  For example, take Domaine de la Janasse's VdP (Vin de Pays - essentially a notch below the AOC system) Viognier.  Here's what Robert Parker says about the '04 vintage:

Rating:    88 points Drink:    2006-2007
The 2004 Viognier VDP d’Orange reveals copious quantities of orange marmalade, litchi, and mango notes in its exotic personality. Drink it over the next year.  (Parker, 02/06)

Nice Bob, but is this description for the scent?  For the flavor?  Exactly what will this wine do in my mouth?  And, should one purchase this 88-point wine based on big Parks' adjectival alliteration?

Continue reading "VdP Viognier Gone Wild?" »

28 August 2006

Only 87 Pts

Suppose you're leafing through a back issue of the Wine Enthusiast and come upon this review:

"Score: 87 Points
Produced from biodynamically grown grapes, this wine certainly has pure fruit. It also has fine tannins, a subtle mix of red fruit flavors, and juicy acidity. Tannins dominate the finish."

I don't know about you, but I stopped reading after 87 points.  How many people would get up out of a their comfy chair to track down an 87-point wine?  Not I.

Here's what I would do:

I leaf through a small French bistro's wine list and notice a reasonably priced bottle of red wine from France's Minervois appellation - demarcated as a distinct wine region only since 1985.  What the hell?  For 30 bucks, I'll try a new wine & add another notch to my corkscrew handle.

I order Chateau La Croix Martelle 'La Reserve de Sirus' 2001

Sniff & Sip #1: Pleasant scents of blackcurrant, cedar and leather.  Fairly basic flavors and structure.

Sniff & Sip #2: There seems to be a slight meaty aroma and the wine's silky smooth tannins appear to be striding towards my tongue's main stage.

With filet mignon & mashed potatoes in a brandy-white peppercorn gravy: Dine-O-Mite.  The wine makes this one of those long, slow, exceedingly enjoyable dinners in which all the flavors compliment one another perfectly.  In other words, while this wine was simply an '87-point' tasting experience when sampled alone, it became a key ingredient to a memorable meal once enlivened by food.

The moral of the story: Numbers on a hundred-point scale and a few vaguely descriptive sentences don't do most wines justice.  Occasionally, in order to create fond culinary memories, an adventurous spirit comes in handy.  This week, try a wine from a region unknown to you.  You might just get lucky.

Sirus The Skinny
Chateau La Croix Martelle 'La Reserve de Sirus' 2001(~ $16 - retail)

  • Imported by Boisset; 13% alcohol; 40% Cinsault, 35% Syrah, 23% Grenache, 12% Mourvedre
  • Deep, black cherry in color with a dusty-red rim
  • The wine initially offers scents of blackcurrant, cedar and leather.  After 20-30 minutes of air time, Sirus introduces aromas of meat, black pepper and a touch of funk (compliments of brett)
  • The wine is rich and smoothly textured.  Without food, Sirus seems restrained.  Once a steak or roasted game is introduced, Sirus shines.  It accentuates succulent flavor and extends the foods' 'palate time' in the mouth.
  • Verdict: Highly Recommended

All that; and only 87 points.

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