Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wine Review Wednesday: April 27th

It’s been a while since I’ve posted notes for Wine Review Wednesday, so we’re back today with a number of wines that have really hit their mark lately in my tastings.

Pali Chardonnay “Charm Acres” 2009, Sonoma Coast

Smells like apricot cream and brown butter, like pear and baking spices: Delicate and evocative at the same time. There’s also homemade caramel corn here, as well as baked pear and vanilla, all of which stretch out from the mid-palate through to the finish. Rich, very drinkable, and appealing. Nicely made.

Robert Mondavi Winery Fume Blanc “To Kalon Vineyard I Block,” Oakville

A vivid, beautiful rich gold color presages a nose of buttered popcorn with white grapefruit, cashews, peppermint, and cedar: This is a massively rich, aromatic style, yet still with its feet firmly rooted in the terroir and varietal. With air, flowers come out too, as well as dried pineapple, smoke, and charred earth. On the palate, this small-production white demonstrates amazing concentration without a heavy-handed texture; flavors of sweet citrus, papaya, sun-warmed hay, persimmon, and a touch of honey flash throughout. The oak sweetens it up, especially on the candy corn- and mango-tinged finish, but this is a wonderfully integrated whole with impeccable balance. This is that rare sauvignon blanc that’s easily age-able for another 5 - 6 years, but it’s almost too tempting to not pop open right now. Still, another year or two will really allow all the moving parts to come together even better than they already do. Delicious, soulful, and worth the effort to find it.

Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Oakville

What a beautiful, glass-staining garnet color, even 6 years into its life. The nose shows lots of deep, dark currants, black cherries, licorice, birch bark, and a touch of bonfire. On the palate, this is a plush pleasure to drink, with that licorice, birch bark, smoke, black tea, and dark cherry coming through, and evolving to baseball glove leather, dried brown spices, and menthol on the nicely complicated finish. This is starting to take its turn to a more secondary expression of itself, and it’s wonderful for it. Still, I’d recommend holding it for another 2 - 3 years in order for it to really complete its evolution into a fully mature wine. Excellent.

Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2007, Napa Valley

Astounding from the first sniff. The nose is wildly expressive yet still gives a full impression of the structure it shows on the palate. It smells of some kind of mythical graphite cream, of crushed wild berries, currants, cedar, licorice, and cherry liqueur. On the palate, its structure for longevity is fully apparent--the tannins sweet and ripe--promising 20 years of life. Smoky plums, grilled berries and cherries, sappy fruit that’s perfectly balanced by acid: The fruit here is addictively sweet, but never devolves into caricature; it’s just exuberant and lush and detailed. On the finish, there’s an almost floral whiff, a beam of minerals running down the spine, these fleshed out with cherries. This is amazing, and nearly irresistible right now, though I’d drink it from 2013 - 2025. One of the best vintages of this wine I’ve tasted in recent memory.

Michael David Winery Old Vines Zinfandel “7 Deadly Zins” 2008, Lodi

A nose of smoky oak and cherry, coupled with licorice root and cream, lead to a palate of sweet vanilla-infused wild-berry creme brulee, lingering sweet spiciness, and wild summer berries flecked with a bit of thyme. Big and packing a punch, it’s a surprisingly lithe wine for all its power. Perfect for barbecue. This is another excellent value from this producer.

Tamas Estates Double Decker Red 2008, Central Coast

Pleasant juicy oak and ripe berry fruit define the nose here, and are softly complicated by big ripe strawberries and vanilla. The palate is consistent with the nose, featuring lots of sweet strawberries, a bit of boysenberry, milk chocolate, and vanilla. Straightforward, gulpable, and a nice wine for when you really just want something to drink. Light and pleasant.

Cecchi Bonizio Sangiovese di Maremma 2009, Toscana

Primary cherry, green olives, and oregano notes--a very nice table-wine style, and a classic expression of Italian sangiovese with its balance of fruit and earthier notes and its vague hint of flowers. The palate is as straightforward and pleasant as the nose, with fresh, food-friendly acid balancing out the ripe fruit (cherry, strawberry) and gentle, subtle wood notes. Fun, and perfect with pizza.


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