Saturday, April 10, 2010

Perrin & Fils Vinsobres Les Cornuds 2007

This 2007 Cotes Du Rhone is yet another in a string of absolutely delicious wines I’ve had from the outstanding 2007 vintage in the Southern Rhone; however, this one is quite a bit different from the others that I have had in that Grenache is not the predominant varietal in the blend. This Cotes du Rhone from the Vinsobres region, which is further north than most of the better known Cotes du Rhone Village areas, consists of 65% Syrah and 35% Grenache.

In your glass the Perrin & Fils Vinsobres Les Cornuds 2007 is deep purple in color. The nose has no single defining element, but it has a nice blend of black and red fruit with some pepper and spice. In your mouth cherry and raspberry fruit combine beautifully, and there is also a nice but subtle element of pepper. Earthy tannins and great acidity provide balance and structure. The finish is not overwhelming, but it is pleasant and sneaky long.

Overall, this is a very interesting and very good wine. It walks a fine line between some of the cooler climate, more delicate wines of the Northern Rhone and some of the more powerful wines of the south. At a price point in the high teens, it is also an excellent value. This pairs nicely with grilled beef or lamb, and it’s a great red wine to serve with a variety of cheeses. It also tastes great just paired with a glass!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dancing Coyote Wines

Ok, so I’m going to come out and say this right at the beginning. As a general concept, I hate critter labels. I find that most of these labels are made by industrial volume producers who are much better at manufacturing and marketing than they are at winemaking. So it was with quite a bit of reluctance on my part that I agreed to accept some samples for tasting from a California winery called Dancing Coyote.

Dancing Coyote’s story is that the name comes from coyotes that come into their vineyards at night and chew on their irrigation lines. The more interesting part of their story to me is their interest in unusual varietals. This California winery bottles a number of varietals that include Albarino, Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Grigio, Verdelho, and Petite Sirah. Not your usual collection of grapes from the Golden State. Their current production is about 10,000 cases, and they are focused on the value end of the price scale with most of their wines retailing for $10 to $12.

Now I’m a big believer in non-traditional varietals and trying as many as you can, but my concern here is that Dancing Coyote has a lot of different grapes all being grown in the same basic area in the Clarksburg AVA. I also question if the climate in the Clarksburg AVA is cool enough for some of the white varieties that Dancing Coyotes has chosen.

The first Dancing Coyote wine that I tasted was their Albarino. Albarino is a varietal that is native to the Galician coast of Spain, with its rather cool climate. At its best, Albarino makes fresh, crisp, delicious wines with wonderful aromatic qualities. The Dancing Coyote Albarino 2009 has some pineapple and peach on the nose, but it just doesn’t deliver the intense bouquet that I expect from Albarino. My concern here is that the climate in Clarksburg is just too hot for this grape which is native to the Spanish coast where the average high temperature in July is in the high 60’s compared to the mid 70’s for Clarksburg. On the palate this wine simply falls a little short. I love the idea of growing Albarino in new places, but I’m pretty convinced that the Clarksburg AVA is not the place to do it.

The second wine I tried from Dancing Coyote was their Petite Sirah 2008. The wine was inky purple in color with a rather nice bouquet of black raspberry jam, which had me anticipating a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, this wine was just completely off on the palate. The fruit was raisiny, and the finish had a rather unpleasant oxidized taste to it. This wine was pretty much what I expect from a critter label.

The last wine from Dancing Coyote was their 2009 Gewurztraminer. In your glass, the wine is very pale in color. The nose brings pleasant aromas of honeysuckle with a hint of citrus. On the palate you got more of the same with a good dose of spice. This Gewurztraminer had just the right level of sweetness for me, which is to say it didn’t overwhelm you with residual sugar. All of this was balanced by crisp acidity. In trying these wines, it was the third one that brought some charm. The Dancing Coyote Gewurztraminer is a decent value, and it would pair nicely with spicy Thai food or sushi.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Girard Cabernet Sauvignon Pritchard Hill 2006

There are certain wines that just take me to my happy place. Just about anything from Girard Winery has that wonderful effect on my state of mind. Girard is a little discovery from one of my fortunate visits to Napa when travelling for my real job. Last summer, during a visit to my friends at Elizabeth Spencer Winery, I asked for suggestions for other wineries to visit, and I was told to look for the Girard tasting room in Yountville. From the moment I walked in, I knew I had found something special. The d├ęcor is classy yet relaxed. The tasting room staff is knowledgeable, but they also know how to make wine tasting relaxed and fun. Even the music they played in the tasting room was to my liking. The most important thing, though, is that the wines were simply outstanding.

A couple nights ago, sitting here in the Buffalo, NY area, I decided that I needed a little taste of Yountville to conjure up my happy place. Lucky for me I had a bottle of Girard’s Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 laying down in my cellar. I opened it up and let it breathe in decanter for a couple hours, and then I took the wonderful journey to my happy place.

In your glass the Girard Pritchard Hill Cab is deep garnet red in color. The nose brings aromas of blackberry, cassis, and black cherry with subtle notes of licorice and vanilla. On the palate the flavor is stunning. Although this wine is no simple fruit forward bomb, it does bring an initial blackberry explosion to get things started in your mouth. Smooth tannins and nice acidity for a Napa Cab bring some structure and balance to the deep, dark, and delicious fruit flavors, and the finish does not disappoint Overall this is an absolutely delicious offering from winemaker Marco DiGiulio, who I think is making some of the best wines in Napa today. In my humble opinion, he knows how to walk that fine line between intense fruit flavor without crossing over into too much weight on the palate. Retail on this is $75 and if you join their wine club it’s only $60 which is a bargain for wine of this quality.

As far as food goes, this is a pretty food friendly Napa Cab for the right pairings. I had this a couple nights ago with a grilled filet mignon with a crimini mushroom reduction. It would also pair very well with a nice blue cheese.