Sunday, March 27, 2011

Punto Final Reserva Malbec 2007

Ahhhh’s almost unfair to other varietals how easy it is to find good Malbec at a great price from Argentina. The incredible terroir in Argentina has taken a grape that was not so exciting in Cahors in France and made it an everyday red winner that you can easily find in the $10-12 price range. There are also some fantastic higher end Malbecs that are a steal in the $40 to $50 range (for a review of one of my favorites see What I haven’t seen much of on the market, though, is anything between the entry level and the high end reserve that is worth the extra money.

The makers of this Punto Final Reserva, Bodegas Renacer in the Lujan de Cayo area of Mendoza, have finally changed this for me. I have known about their entry level Malbec for years, which you can read more about here but I only recently discovered their reserve Malbec which retails in the high teens to low $20’s. Their wines are made by the team of Alberto Antonini, a flying winemaker from Italy, and Hector Durigutti, who is a very talented winemaker from Mendoza. Their combined effort with this Reserve Malbec is right on. The grapes for this wine are sourced from vines that are over 50 years old in the Uco Valley and Lujan de Cayo, and the wine is aged for 10 months in French oak.

In your glass, the Punto Final Reserva Malbec 2007 is very dark red in color. The nose brings aromas of blackberries, cherry, and a fantastic element of cola. On the palate, black cherry and cola dominate and like so many Argentine Malbecs, there is lots of great fruit up front. Beyond that fruit, however, are some really nice tannins that are neither too mild nor over the top, and the acidity is just right.

Overall this is a really nice Malbec that can be found for under $20 without too much trouble. It is one of the best balanced Malbecs I’ve seen in this price range, and the balance and structure that back up all the fruit really separate this from all the good Malbec out there that can be bought for a few dollars less. The extra money you’ll spend on the Punto Final Reserve is well worth it if you’re making a nice steak with an authentic Argentine chimichurri. Cheers!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Chateau Rivière Cuvee Prestige Minervois 2009

Today I am continuing my exploration of the Languedoc Roussillon region of southern France. The first wines that I tried from this area were all from the AOC of Minervois. Situated in the northwest corner of Languedoc Roussillon, Minervois is a relatively large AOC in the greater region. Formed in 1986, the AOC now has 220 private wineries and 30 co-op wineries. The AOC allows both white and red wines; however, the reds make up 94 % of the region's production. The main red wine grapes allowed by the AOC are Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault, and Mourvedre, and there must be a blend of at least two varietals for any AOC wines The Chateau Rivière Cuvee Prestige Minervois 2009 is made from a blend of Grenache and Syrah. In your glass you get a wine with a deep red color with a bit of purple hue to it. On the nose there are aromas of blackberry and black raspberry fruit with a little bit of black pepper as well. On the palate you get beautiful and pure blackberry fruit up front with a hint of spice. Mild tannins and decent acidity add a little balance and structure. This wine is a great value at $10 a bottle. There is no single element of it that blows me away, but it's a very well balanced wine that would pair nicely with grilled pork or even a simple beef stew. It would also work very well with assorted cheeses and charcuterie. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cote 125 Corbieres Rouge 2009

As someone who loves wine and spends a fair amount of time researching and writing about it, I start to believe that I know a little bit about the subject. What makes wine so interesting thought is that no matter how much you know, there are always new things to discover that force you to be humble about your knowledge. One new thing that I have discovered lately is that I'm starting to enjoy wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. Languedoc-Roussillon is not very well known, even by many who profess to be knowledgeable about wine. Even many of those who might be familiar with the region, don't know all that much about it. I for one was surprised to learn that it is the largest wine producing area in the world. Like many other lesser known regions that are gaining awareness recently, it's wine heritage largely consists of low quality wines produced in high quantity. Over the past few decades, however, that has changed. There is a new found focus on quality wine in the region that is benefiting everyone in the form of very enjoyable wines that won't break the bank. Languedoc-Roussillon is in Southern France and is just west of Provence and the Southern Rhone. Many of the red wine grapes used here are the same grapes you will see in Rhone reds. The climate is hot and dry and will vary quite a bit as you get nearer or further from the Mediterranean. There are also several microclimates as you move east and west in the region. As the region gains in reputation, some of these areas are getting their own AOC designation. This includes regions like Coteaux du Languedoc (or simply Languedoc), Corbieres, and Minervois. Over the next several days, I will be examining some red wines from these varied regions of the Languedoc-Roussillon area. To start, let's take a look at a wine from Corbieres, the Cote 125 Corbieres Rouge 2009. Corbieres is the largest AOC within the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It has very different terroir throughout that includes hillside vineyards and flatlands with heights from sea level to 1600 feet, and the soil itself also changes considerably throughout the region. The region's variety is so strong that the growers have divided the AOC unofficially into 11 different zones, many of which might attain AOC status in the future. The Cote 125 Corbieres Rouge 2009 is dark purple in color and brings aromas of blackberry and raspberry fruit with some very subtle barnyard. On the palate you get blackberry and sour cherry fruit with some very mild tannins from this blend of 50% Carignan, 35% Grenache, and 15% Syrah. The acidity is nice and there is a little bit of minerality on the finish. Overall you get decent fruit with just a little bit of tannins and acidity to balance things out. It's certainly not spectacular, but for $10 a bottle it's a pretty enjoyable, everyday red. Pair with everyday fare such as pork tenderloin or grilled pork chops. Cheers!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Archstone Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Napa Valley

Everyday wine. That's what its really all about isn't it? Oenophiles can talk all they want about the best years for a top growth Bordeaux or that $9000 bottle of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti or even a $50 bottle of Napa Cab, but most of the time most of us are drinking wines that we can afford on a regular basis. These everyday wines may not be perfect, but they bring you something that you enjoy and are easy on the bank account.

One of these everyday wines that I recently discovered is the Archstone Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from Napa Valley. Try as I may, I can't find out much about this winery. I have heard from unverified sources that this is a phantom label of Sterling Vineyards, although seeing as they put their name on their Vintner's Collection bottling, there is not that much reputation to protect by going to the phantom label. In your glass the wine is deep purple in color. The nose brings blackberry jam, cassis, and black cherries with a very subtle element of cloves. On the palate, the wine is fruit forward with very nice black fruit flavors and smooth, very mild tannins. Its certainly not a wine for the cellar, but it sure drinks nicely right now. It also has some fruit that lingers very quietly on your palate for quite some time. Its a much better finish than you would expect from a fruit forward Napa Cab, especially in this price range.

Overall this Cabernet delivers a whole lot more than just about anything I've seen from Napa Valley in this price range. I highly recommend spending the $13 and trying some yourself. You might just find an ever day bargain that works for you. Pair this with pot roast or a soft, creamy blue cheese like a Saint Agur.