Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Margerum M5

Margerum Wine Company
Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Counoise, Cinsault
Santa Barbara County

Los Olivos, California, U.S.A.
$19.94 -- Twin Liquors, Austin, TX

Color: Medium reddish purple
Nose: Cherry candy, orange, green apple, a hint of paprika
Body: Medium
Front: Cherry, plum, orange peel
Middle: Watermelon Jolly RancherTM
Back: Caramel espresso, soft tannins
Burns clean?: Yes
Cap: Cork

Finally, I think, I'm starting to see the core differences between French and California Rhone-style blends. The brightness of the mid-palate fruit in this wine--whose structure and flavors are otherwise very similar to a CDP--is distinctive. The tannins aren't as cultured as the CDP, either, but they're not the brutish ones of Napa Valley.

I've had earlier vintages of this wine and also liked them; it's much better with some decanting, as the fruit comes out more. Crucially, this wine is fantastic with a range of foods.

(Tonight I'm alternating sips of this with tastes of day 2 of Soos Creek's Sundance Merlot, which is fantastic, but which I won't review here because I want it all.)

A note on the notable, and to me suspect, glass ceiling of 90 points on Cellartracker for this wine: I fear that its questionable longevity is making folks rate it lower than their taste experience justifies, especially if they're drinking it with food. Cellartracker folks--knock me down if I'm wrong!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Vineyard Block Estate Block 939 Cabernet

Vineyard Block Estate
Block 939
Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley

Calistoga, California, U.S.A.
$19.94 -- Spec's Liquors, Austin, TX

Color: Deep reddish purple
Nose: Plums, stewed black cherry, orange, a little heat
Body: Full
Front: Plum, vanilla
Middle: Cherry, coffee, orange rind
Back: Chocolate, soft tannins
Burns clean?: No -- almost immediate headache after glass 2.
Cap: Recycled cork

This is pretty good for negociant wine. It's full on the palate, but not too cloying; great with grilled rack of lamb and almost as good with a tomato-basil soup. There's a lot of oak, so if you like that, you will be thrilled--there's not much spice or weird earthy flavor, which I prefer, but it's a hedonistic wine at a slightly less-than-indulgent price.

Feudi di San Gregorio Greco di Tufo

Feudi di San Gregorio
Greco di Tufo

Serpico, Avellino, Italy
$15.49 -- Twin Liquors, Bee Cave, TX

Color: Light gold
Nose: Grass, pear, honey
Body: Medium to full
Front: Lemony pear
Middle: Apple, banana
Back: White pepper, honey
Burns clean?: Yes
Cap: Cork

Wow. This is a phenomenal wine, to my taste. Acid up front, interesting fruit and secondary flavors battling it out in the middle, and a long, long finish with minerals and honeysuckle. This might be on the old side for Greco, at three years, but it's still seductive, like a good conversation. There may be a lot more of these appearing on the ol' Caveat Emptyer. I think would be fantastic with many, many things, especially seafood.