25 October, 2008

Wines of Argentina Visit SF: Recap and review

Once again, Fort Mason provided a dramatically beautiful back drop to an evening of delicious discovery. My exposure to Argentinian Malbecs had been limited, so I jumped at the chance to sample so many in one spot. I was also secretly hoping to plump out a few more Century Club exotic varietals. The sign up sheet promised "Tasting the Great Wines of Argentina: Salta to Patagonia" And they really did deliver. No matter what your predilection, I'm sure one of the many knowledgeable and friendly purveyors could have hooked you up. Between Xandria and me, we meant to put a focused tasting plan in action, but instead got drawn in by the many yummy selections. We decided to target Torrontes first and sample all the table offerings where found that wine. After we swept the Torrontes, we got kind of ghetto and ranked the selections highest priced descending and hit those. And so it goes, my notes get less and less legible as the evening progresses. However, here are the most interesting things we tried:
Andeluna Cellars: '05 Reserve Cabernet (Uco Valley-Mendoza),
'03 Grand Reserve Pasionado -Bordeaux Blend (Mendoza),
'07 Winemaker's Selecetion Torrontes (Mendoza) Andeluna has high quality, mature/old vines grown at high elevation. Additionally, they produce only about 10 tons per hectare. The concentrated flavors and focus on quality was delightful. The Torrontes has delicious floral-y, honey aromas and flavors. The Cab was a stunning wine with many Napa-like qualities that compared favorably with wines twice its price. We highly recommend searching Andeluna out.

Terrazas: '05 Cheval des Andes Another high elevation produced premium wine, this Bordeaux blend had delicious flavors, beautiful colors and an interesting tannic structure. If you've ever felt the quickfire burn of wasabi as opposed to the lingering blaze of jalapeno, similarly, this wine had an immediate tannic blast, which vanished. Interesting.

Dante Robino: '06 Gran Dante Malbec (Lujan de Cuyo-Malbec), Dry, complex and fruity. Soft, round tannins with lovely oak.

Dominio del Plata: '08 Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes (Salta) Accessible, affordable easy to find wine. With Aromas of lychee and lime and nicely balanced sweetness and acidity.
'06 Crios de Susana Balbo Syrah (Mendoza) Butterscotchy oak aromas, lovely dark color soft tannic structure.

Century Club entries? Yes! Bonarda and Tannat!
Delicious Torrontes? Yes!

Worth Checking out? Yes!
O. Fournier http://ofournier.com/
Quara http://lavaque.com/
Bodegas Salentien http://bodegasalentien.com/

23 October, 2008

Zinfandel: The "Horatio Alger" of California Varietels

Zinfandel: The “Horatio Alger” of California Varietals

In our current economic distress we could really use a “Rags to Riches” story. In fact, I say we should all find succor in a cheap, delicious Zin I recently discovered. But before I sing the praises of my new favorite, cheap bottle of Zin I would like to talk a bit about this all-American varietal. The Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) website call Zinfandel the “Horatio Alger” of the CA wine world. From its humble beginnings in 1800s Zinfandel is now the most widely planted varietal in the State of CA over 50,000 acres in various California microclimates . This grape is so popular it even has its own organization, it’s own annual festival, restaurants are named after it and there are website and chatrooms for Zin lovers to join (www.zinworld.org) Yes, Zin is big both literally and figuratively speaking.
After losing hundreds in the stock market (not too bad compared to others) I simply had to drown my sorrows in this delicious bottle of Zinfandel that I found at Trader Joes for $4.99. I am usually okay with cheap Zins so I decided to try the Santino 2004 Zinfandel Sierra Foothills. For this price I was not expecting something great. But what I got was a nicely balanced berry-infused delectable Zin. Not as smooth as more expensive Zinfandels but it has good acidity and a round dryness with a good dose of black fruit. Nice blackberry nose with hints of plum and just a bit of oak. More of a fruity Zin instead of a spicy one. Well worth your 5 dollars. So let us imbibe a decent, all-American Zinfandel and drown our ecomonic sorrows. At least we can do that without going broke! But if you really want to go for broke try it with the Trader Joe Barbeque Chicken Pizza. A match made in heaven that is worth breaking that Piggy bank for…