Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ponzi Pinot Noir

Ponzi Vineyards
Pinot Noir

Willamette Valley
, USA2006
$35.99 -- Rum Runner, Tucson, AZ

Color: Medium ruby
Nose: Cherry, strawberry, something roasted
Body: Light to medium
Front: Cherry, spritz
Middle: Cedar, peppermint
Back: Cherry sours
Burns clean?: Yes
Cap: Screwcap

This is a light wine, with interesting fruit flavors and a nice nose. It's getting toasty outside, and this is perfect on a hot Arizona afternoon, before dinner. It helps put one in the right state of mind to watch the news.

I confess that this isn't the sort of Pinot that gives me supreme delight. But it's not Juicy Fruit: the hint of sourness and the earthy notes give it a dimensionality that isn't always there in Pinots (even, unfortunately, in this price range).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mayo Estate Laurel Hill Chardonnay

Mayo Family Winery
Laurel Hill Vineyard
Sonoma ValleyGlen Ellen, California, USA2006
$17.99 -- Spec's Liquors, Austin, Texas

Color: Very pale gold
Nose: Bread, key lime pie
Body: Medium to full
Front: Lime water, rosemary
Middle: Spicy apricot
Back: Balsa, cinnamon
Burns clean?: Yes
Cap: Cork

This wine develops fascinatingly as you drink it. It's got distinctive layers, with a thin but tasty opening leading to a spicy and then beefy middle, with acidic fruits and sweeter spices and woodiness on the way out. No new oak is used to make this wine, the label claims. The label contains a grammatical error, though, so I'm not sure how much to trust it. But for the price this is a good, interesting Chardonnay.

I'm just snacking with it today, on a hot Texas Sunday afternoon--some spicy salami and almonds. Hankering for a Dark and Stormy, I made my way to the liquor store that packs my favorite ginger beer and discovered, not at all to my surprise, that the liquor stores in Texas are closed on Sunday. Doubtless this is because hard liquor can't be sold on Sunday. My disappointment lasted 3/4 of a second, when I realized I had, with Promethean foresight, laid this bottle in the fridge last night. I like to think this is precisely what the legislature was trying to encourage with this excellent law.

I'm tired of music altogether, so I have no aural accompaniment to this other than the hum of the refrigerator and the roar of my collateral thoughts.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Domaine La Roquete Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Frederic et Daniel Brunier
Domaine La Roquete
Grenache, Syrah, MourvedreChateauneuf-du-Pape, France2003
$38.00 -- Vino100, Lakeway, Texas

Color: Medium brick red
Nose: Blackberries
Body: Medium
Front: Raspberry, tar
Middle: Seat leather, strawberry
Back: Basil, cedar
Burns clean?: Yes, delightfully
Cap: Cork

There's a lot going on in this wine. If you like your fruit grilled, or your tobacco run through the berry patch, or your peanut butter in your chocolate, even, this will probably make you happy. It was pretty much ready to drink after 15 minutes and just kept getting better over hours and hours. It's not overly tannic, but paired fabulously with Italian sausage (with cheese, caramelized onions, and yellow peppers) and with Shivaree on the stereo.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sattui Family Cabernet

V. Sattui Winery
Sattui Family
Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley
St. Helena, California, USA
$22.00 -- Sattui Winery, CA

Color: Dark garnet
Nose: Plum, buttered popcorn, black pepper
Body: Full
Front: Spicy plum
Middle: Creme anglaise, tannins
Back: Tar, violets
Burns clean?: Yes
Cap: Cork

This is the place to start with Sattui wines, I think, if you enjoy things that are not too sweet. I like many, many of this house's creations, as attested to by their frequent presence on this blog. But I haven't had much of the Sattui Family Cab, apparently to my loss.

The SFCS (let us call it) is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but I wouldn't say that it aspires to Bourdeauzitude the way a lot of the Valley's blends do. It's got fruit with character and a dose of dusty tannins that is Napa all the way. It partners well with chicken cordon bleu and wilted spinach that Central Market made especially for me this busy evening. But it's striking, relaxing, and thought-provoking simply with raw almonds.

Monday, May 4, 2009

McPrice Myers Beautiful Earth

McPrice Myers Wine Company
Beautiful Earth
Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre
Paso Robles
Santa Maria, California, USA
$50.00 -- Vino100, Lakeway, TX

Color: Opaque purple red
Nose: Blueberry pie, spice
Body: Full
Front: Blackberry
Middle: Spice, tobacco
Back: Cassis, cream
Burns clean?: Yes
Cap: Cork

This is the kind of wine that shows what is so awesome about Paso Robles wine. It’s complex, multilayered, and rich, with both fruit and old-world-style tobacco and spice flavors. With velvety tannins, it will go with a range of foods; I had it with some fresh-made orzo, mango chutney, and toasted bread, and it was delightful.

Louis Martini Sonoma Cabernet

Louis M. Martini Winery
Cabernet Sauvignon
Sonoma County
Healdsburg, California, USA
$13.99 -- Central Market, Austin, TX

Color: Dark ruby, tinge of purple at the edge
Nose: Cassis, blueberry
Body: Medium to full
Front: Chocolate-covered blackberry
Middle: Pepper, cedar, orange peel
Back: Peppermint
Burns clean?: Yes
Cap: Cork

I think I've been carrying around a prejudice against Martini wines for awhile. Maybe ten years ago, I had some at a cocktail party, and found it heinous. Then a friend of mine ordered this one at a nice Austin seafood place, and it was boffo and cheap. On reflection, I really didn't have a good reason for avoiding the entire winery, when the problem could just have been a hot summer day or a weak catering company.

With interesting layers and strong California fruit, this wine is a delight. In our cash-strapped times, it is particularly excellent, up there with the St. Francis Cab. Tonight it's paired with baby bok choy, herb-crusted baked chicken, and a killer aged goat cheese called Pata Cabra that has changed my entire outlook on life.

Note: 27 September, 2009, and it's still drinking tastily. Maybe more tastily, even. They've released the 2007, and rumor has it it's pretty good too. The price went up, one suspects on the strength of the reaction to this vintage.