Friday, June 08, 2007
Friday Wines - Where Have You Been? Edition
Greetings, gentle wine drinkers:
As someone - ahem - you know who you are - told me, it's been almost three weeks since I last blogged. I thought you might like to know where I've been.
The weekend of the 15th-27th, I attended my niece Olivia's graduation from a very prestigious boarding school in New Jersey and it was a great trip. Friday night, I toured the campus where she attended school and had a dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in the whole world - Tiger Noodle - a haunt from two summers I taught a program at Princeton.
Saturday, my brother and I took another niece, his youngest daughter Madison, to the Big Apple for the first time ever. We had a blast! After about 5,000,000,000 blocks of walking up and down the length of Manhattan, we caught a late train back to Princeton for yet another round of fabulous food from Tiger Noodle.
Sunday was graduation and we couldn't have been prouder of Olivia. She excelled in both athletics and academics and is going on to a stellar career at Williams College in Massachusetts.
Two days later, I was hacking and coughing and not feeling so good. MAN, sit on an airplane next to the wrong guy just once and your whole life changes. I spent both my days off that week in bed, not getting up for anything but the basics. Almost two weeks later, I'm finally beginning to get over the whole thing.
In fact, I'm feeling chipper enough to recommend a few wines for your weekend! Try one of these bottles to maintain your good health and stay off airplanes:
White wine under $20
2003 Galhaud Viognier/Muscat Vin de Pays Cotes Catalanes ($10)
WOW! Classic aromas and flavors of Viognier flash themselves up front - ginger, apricot and honeysuckle flowers. Don't get used to it because soon the Muscat dominates like the Chicago Bears' Mike Singletary.
Some will be scared by the Muscat. They'll think delicate, lacy, sweet wine like Moscato d'Asti or pancake syrupy rich wine like Australian stickies. This is dry Muscat - a completely different animal. With not a trace of sweetness, this wine has infinite fruit - yellow peaches, grapefruit, guava, lemon and tangerine zest. It's perfumed - white flowers, apricot, clove and crushed rocks. An though this is a white wine with considerable age on it (4 years), there's still plentiful acidity to balance the creamy texture and fruit. Body? Pamela Anderson, Carmen Electra and Angelina Jolie would curse their anorexic, stick-figured bodies in comparison.
Don't waste any time buying this one. We bought the last 20 cases. With quality this high and price this low, it won't last.
Red wine under $20
2006 Jacques and Francois Lurton Hacienda Araucano Pinot Noir Central Valley ($13)
I recently admitted I don't think Chile is Wine Utopia, but that doesn't mean you can find some keepers here. The Araucano Pinot is something of an unusal find - good quality Pinot Noir that's under $15 dollars. You'll get a big nose of cherry, vanilla and Christmas spices. Cherry is the dominant fruit on the palate, with layers of cola, dark chocolate, smoke and earth following. Light to medium bodied with silky, easy tannins make this wine an affordable pleasure.
White wine over $20
2003 Costa de Oro Chardonnay Reserva Dorada Gold Coast Vineyard Santa Maria Valley ($35)
I love this Chardonnay. Delicate and refined like white Burgundy but with the concentrated ripeness you get from California wines. Peaches and honeyed pears define the nose here, with spicy notes and nutty oak. The flavors are more citrus and apple driven than the nose but buoyed by acidity until honey and cream appear in the finish. If you're tired of Chardonnay that tastes like buttered toast or just curious about the range of wines made from Chardonnay, please try the Costa de Oro.
Red wine over $20
2003 Spann Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 24 Barrels Mayacamas Range ($35)
Speaking of wines produced in California with French sensibility, I give you Spann Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine isn't your typical California Cabernet - a one-two punch of a bonk on the head of fruit followed by a fat lip of oak. Instead, Peter Spann made a wine with the sleek mineral elegance of Bordeaux combined with luscious, juicy, ultraripe California fruit. The nose is blessed by black cherries and a faint echo of strawberry fruit, followed by cedar, tobacco and cigar box. You'll find black cherry flavors up front but the wine eventually runs more toward blackberry and black currants. Herbal notes of cedar and mint flesh out the midpalate but acidity and mineralilty in the finish fence in the wine admirably.
The only thing more ridiculous than the tiny production size (600 cases) is the equally diminutive price. 35 dollars is a third the price you would pay for more popular wines (notice I didn't mention wines like Caymus and Silver Oak? Isn't that diplomatic of me?) made in amounts literally thousands of times larger. Don't be stupid. Spend your hard earned money on wines like those made by Spann. You'll be guilt and remorse free!
That's all I have for you. I hope you enjoy your weekend!