Thursday, May 04, 2006

4 May 2006 - Real Wine, #1

It started with tasting two expensive red wines from the same producer -- a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot first; I knew it was Merlot because the label said so. The Cabernet Sauvignon next -- again, the label was the only hint. No difference. Both wines were deep red, full of unidentifiable fruit and oak, soft and smooth and utterly devoid of varietal character or a sense of place. Silly me. I figure if you're going to pay between $40 and $55 a bottle, you should get a sense of what it's made from and where it comes from. It would be easy to blame technology, but the fault lies with the people who choose to use it. Instead of ranting about that, I thought it would be much more productive to make a list of wines made by people who make different choices -- they make real wine that smells and tastes like a particular grape (or blend) grown in a particular place.

Domaine de Fontsainte Corbieres Rouge 2003, France - 70% 85 year-old Carignan, the balance Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre. Kermit Lynch has been importing this wine since 1978. Always a remarkable value.

Frey Zinfandel 2004, Mendocino County, California - The oldest organic (and now biodynamic) producers in California, who seem to have figured out how to make interesting, delicious wines that are stable as well. Also from Frey, Pinot Noir 2004 and "Natural Red."

Nelms Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Columbia Valley, Washington - The second label of Woodward Canyon. Classic, polished Cabernet Sauvignon distinctly from Washington State.

Weininger, Vienna, Austria - Both Riesling and Gruner Veltliner, amazing character and concentration that, considering the price (@ $20), are remarkable values. This producer is new to me, but all three wines I've tasted have been special.

Louis Michel Chablis 2004, France - Nowhere else in the world does Chardonnay taste like this. Imported by Vineyard Brands.

Rene Leclerc Bourgogne Rouge 2003, France - Nowhere else in the world does Pinot Noir taste like this.

Cantina del Pino Freisa 2004, Langhe, Piemonte, Italy - Spritzy, sappy, fresh, unique and so damned tasty!

Casa Silva Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Reserva, Colchagua, Chile - Unmistakably Cabernet Sauvignon, imported by Vin di Vino, who specialize in wines from Italy and Austria (see Weininger above), and who, along with the list of names below, seem especially adept at finding real wine.

Real Wine Importers (incomplete, alphabetized):
Classical Wines - Spain, Germany
Kermit Lynch - France, Italy
Louis/Dressner - France, Italy
Neal Rosenthal - France, Italy
Rudi Wiest - Germany
Terry Theise - Germany, Austria, France (specifically Champagne)
Thomas Calder - France
Vin di Vino - Italy, Austria, Chile
Vineyard Brands - France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, South Africa, Argentina, Chile