Tuesday, October 11, 2005

11 October 2005 - Monday Tasting Notes

Too Much! Despite increasing consumption in the USA, the world is glutted with wine. The day after reading that wine has replaced beer as the most popular alcoholic beverage in the United States, I read an article in the NYTimes about an AOC producer in southern France who was selling off half his 2003 vintage wine to an ethanol distiller for adding to gasoline. Yesterday we tasted several wines from a terrific producer in France's south whose wines are sitting unsold in the distributor's warehouse with little hope of moving without prices being slashed to below cost. Why? Because the market can only handle so many of the wines from different producers of any given region in the world, known or unkown, before the market is saturated. It's not even a matter of reducing prices, it's a matter of space, time, focus and energy.

Montepulciano. The grape, not the place. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, or Montepulciano from the Abruzzo region east of the Apennines and Tuscany, is underrated, underappreciated and ready to emerge from Sangiovese's shadow. We tasted a few extraordinary Montepulcianos yesterday:
1. Masciarelli "Marina Cvetic" '01 - The '00 was a revelation, but this one, wow. Dark, deep, concentrated, dense and perfectly balanced -- exceptional.
2. Three wines from Dante Marramiero, all made in a distinctly modern style, but still distinctly Abruzzi Montepulciano (Think Alejandro Fernandez and Pesquera from Ribera del Duero in Spain). "Dama" '03 is the "baby" -- so pretty and polished and pure; "Inferi" '00, almost too juicy and ripe at the expense of some grip, the sort of Montepulciano that would convert California Cabernet drinkers to Abruzzi wines; and finally "Dante Marramiero" '98 - as often happens to me when I taste the "top of the line red" entry of a winery, the new oak gets to me and I end up preferring the #2 wine (in this case, the "Inferi") - still, impressive.
All in all, a great day for Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.

Sancerre in New Zealand? The big, high quality Loire firm of Henri Bourgoise purchased property in Marlborough, New Zealand, and released its first wine, Clos Henri Sauvignon Blanc '04. Tasting it (sort of herb-spiked grapefruit juice with alcohol) yesterday, I thought: "For the same price, I could be drinking Henri Bourgoise Sancerre Cuvee MD, and enjoying it a whole lot more." I've tasted better New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (Seresin comes to mind) and much better Loire Sauvignon Blanc. In short, nope, no Sancerre in New Zealand.

Consistent Goodness. Three wines, one from Woodward Canyon's Nelms Road label and two from the Perrin brothers Tablas Creek, reminded me to start a short list of great wine producers (and a different short list of great wine importers) who consistently make terrific, often eye-opening wine. My short list would have to include Woodward Canyon in Washington state's Columbia Valley and Perrin et Fils of Chateau de Beaucastel in Chateauneuf du Pape and other points in southern France as well as of Tablas Creek in Paso Robles, California.

The Wines of the Day:
Masciarelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo '01 "Marina Cvetic"
Nelms Road (Woodward Canyon) Cabernet Sauvignon '03, Columbia Valley, Washington
Tablas Creek Syrah '03, Paso Robles, California
Firriato "Ribeca" '02 (60% Nero d'Avola/40% Perricone), Sicily

5 Comments:

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