Posts Tagged ‘robert parker’

Stars of the Playhouse Festival: Trefethen

April 19, 2011

Trefethen 2007 Estate Merlot

This Merlot, which I mentioned in my previous post, is here to turn heads. The 93 points by Wine Enthusiast Magazine are fully justified, if by that they mean a mean, firm and complex red. Big and bold, Californian in and out, I came back to this booth to taste it again. Great addition to thewinesyndicate portfolio. $39.99.

Trefethen 2007 Estate Cabernet Savignon

The Trefethen label also brought this Cabernet Sauvignon   to the show, defying the big Californian style that we all are so used to. Definitely more subtle than its stable mate, this wine is more about finesse than muscle and should be a great addition to any cellar as it will but improve with a few years of guarda. Robert Parker, my favorite wine point-giver, sanctioned 91 pts for this baby.


Import Vintners & Spirits Association New Products Salon: The Reds

October 24, 2009

Scary. Looking at my calendar I realize that the next IVSA event is scheduled for November 9th! So, before I get a glut of new wine notes to comment here, I will go back to those I had in the September event. And since I already posted notes on the whites I enjoyed, let’s now visit the tintos I found memorable. You may notice that mostly I am covering Italian wines but given the size of the IVSA event and the number of products (and the number of people you stop by to say hi and chat) there was little room for anything else.

• Let’s start with one of my favorites of that busy evening. Enoteca Bacco brings a truly delicious Negroamaro varietal, the 2006 Verve IGT from Salento. Pure expression of fruit, direct and ample, with dark overtones and really fun to drink. Not surprisingly, a previous incarnation of this wine, the Verve 2004, collected gold medals left, right and center. Battle the incoming November blues with Verve matching grilled blue fish like mackerel, sardines or spicy dishes (click on links for recipes). Just under 30 dollars, this listed product is available at LDB stores.

Tempus Malbec 2007. Under 18 dollars, I fully enjoyed this uncomplicated, fruity, filling Malbec brought to us by MKR Importers. A no brainer for roasted beef, grilled meats, sausage in a bun with friends, etc. Just make sure you don’t eat your friends. Ha ha.

• When I had the Anghelos IGT 2006 I did understand the reason for the name: Angelic. I recommend this wine with absolutely NO reservations to those who enjoy a balsamic nose followed by a meaty, fleshy chunk of fruity acidity and elegant tannins that do not let go. Cabernet Sauvignon, Montepulciano and Sangiovese are blended in this superb broth hailing from the Marche region. Soft enough to accompany a Pasta Fagioli (pasta and beans in tomato sauce) but will stand up to an Osso Bucco. Wine Quest importers hit it right on the nose with this vino tinto. Under 40 dollars, this is the kind of wine you want to kick off the cool part of the year in full form.

Fontanabianca means “white fountain”, which is the name of the winery that makes the Sori Burdin 2004 Barbaresco. This broth is potenza (potence) in the full meaning of the term. Nebbiolo grapes in grand style, with a tremendous aromatic profile and an equally tremendous body and tannic structure. Robert Parker, in his flowery-paralegal style calls this wine “authoritative”. I don’t know how a wine can be authoritative but I surely like the adjective here. Close to 90 dollars, granted not a wine for everyday consumption, but make sure you have a bottle around for that special occasion. And give me a shout when you do; I’d love to have this tinto again.

Di Majo Norante is a producer that always delivers quality at affordable prices, without compromising the quality and more importantly, the sense of terroir. Their Sangiovese and Ramitello are good examples of this, but here I want to mention the Prugnolo del Molise IGT 2004. A delicious, easygoing yet flavorful Sangiovese. Light and playful but balanced and structured enough to be taken seriously. This product, brought by Style Wines retails for less than 22 dollars.

•The last two wines are both represented by Liquid Art Fine Wines. The Tenuta Sette Ponti ‘Crognolo’ IGT 2006 is a Sangiovese Merlot blend from Toscana. At around 40 dollars a bottle, it merited a 92 pt score by Wine Spectator (08/31/08). Full bodied, concentrated, tannic, warm, with cherry and earthy aromas and flavors, this is a delicious, powerful wine.

I closed the night with the Domaine de Cristia Chateauneuf-du-Pape AC, 2006. I knew it would be my last tasting of the night. The lights had already flickered off a couple of times and the Liquid Art reps were already putting their gear away. I could not but ask for a second pouring, being late and feeling like I deserved a break. I savored every drop of the Cristia. Elated and in awe, I only jotted down

depth suavidad elegance long red fruit rocks beautiful alcohol integration A

Enough said.

Hasta la proxima.

Andeluna Wines

October 6, 2009

Argentina keeps surprising the world of wine. Last week Vancouver hosted the andeluna panoramicWines of Argentina event at the Sutton Place Hotel. Wineries from all over the country of Tango, from the hot, arid high elevation vineyards in Salta to the wind-swept pampas of Patagonia’s Neuquen, were present offering their best Malbec, Torrontes, Cabernet Sauvignon, among other varietals and blends. Andeluna Cellars was present at the event, with Mike Kenter, Vice President and Marketing Officer for the US at the booth. So, let’s leave the Wines of Argentina tasting for a later posting and let’s look at Andeluna’s wines instead.

Mike Kenter has been to Argentina a number of times, both in central, Andean bodega_1Mendoza and also in Patagonia, where he combines his wine enthusiasm with fishing trips. He knows the country and loves the wines. When his friend H. Ward Lay of Frito Lay bought property near Mendoza and started producing outstanding wines, enlisting the services of world renowned Michel Rolland and Argentine winemaker Silvio Alberto, Mike joined him on his quest. I had the opportunity to meet one on one with Mike at the Dream Wines headquarters, in Yaletown, courtesy of David Tremblay, to taste some of the best wines Andeluna has to offer today.

Most wineries claim they are on search of excellence for their wines. In the case of Andeluna, after tasting three reds and a Torrontes, this seems to be true. This 2008 Torrontes was arguably one of the best varietals I have tasted. Although this may seem anathema to many, Torrontes appears to be destined to produce rustic wines, lacking finesse or even proper acidity. This was something that I found interesting in Andeluna’s Torrontes, very good acidity, in a lean, unoaked version of the varietal. Its elegance and lingering spice has earned it 87 Parker points, and it is definitely one I favor when compared to other Torrontes I tasted before. This wine will retail for about 18-20 dollars.

The Winemaker’s Selection 2007 Malbec (already available at LDB and private stores) was the second wine in the flight. I had tried it before, and only confirmed what I found previously. This is a serious competitor in the 18-24 dollar bracket. Winemaker Silvio Alberto checked all the elements that a good Malbec should have; none stands out, none is weak. A low 10 tons of grapes per hectare harvested at 4300 feet, results in improved concentration and flavor. Simple, straightforward in its potency, loaded with pure dark fruit and with a good finish, this is a wine worth every cent you pay. No need to look any further for a solid, inexpensive steak wine.

Andeluna also offers a terrific Limited Reserve Malbec. The 2004 vintage is TN_bottle_R_Malbec2produced from vineyards yielding only 2.5 to 3 tons per hectare. This is Malbec at its best, and talking to colleagues we all agreed that you may pay 20 or 30 dollars more but you will not get a lot more Malbec (retail price in Vancouver is around 45 dollars). Great palate, chewy, meaty, excellent tannic structure… I could keep piling positive adjectives on this Malbec. The 14.7% alcoholic concentration is not noticeable, as this is very well integrated with the fruit and acidity. Knowing well the wine retail industry in Vancouver, I am convinced that this product will fly off the shelves once it hits the “City of Glass’” retail outlets.

After the Limited Reserve Malbec I believed I could not be further impressed by TN_bottle_R_Passthe last wine in the flight, Andeluna’s flagship Pasionado. This is a Bordeaux style blend that has its individual components aged for 12 months prior to an extra six to eight months once blended. I turned out to completely underestimate the winemaking abilities of Andeluna’s Silvio Alberto. The Pasionado 2004 Grand Reserve shows a restrained nose that promises a lot more. Once on my palate I stopped writing notes. I just could not keep going; I had to focus on what my body, my physical body, was experiencing. Tremendo Vino like they say in the Southern latitudes of Latin America. A tremendous wine, indeed. Incredibly powerful and equally incredibly easy to drink. Certainly Andeluna Cellars is on the right track.

These two latter products will be hitting Vancouver wine stores around the third week of November, and there will not be a lot of them. Make sure you grab your bottle.

Prazo de Roriz 2004, Portuguese Red Blend

August 11, 2009

Prazo de Roriz, a 2004 blend from Douro Valley in Portugal, is a beautiful wine that did not merit major accolades by the king of noses, mr. Robert Parker. I guess he is more focused on biggies, and this one is not. The character of this blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca resides in its mineral, earthy qualities, rather less robust body and its aromas of red cherries carried by a breeze in a deciduous forest. Wet stone, riverine scents, granit, all these elemental qualities wrap the red fruit. Medium tannins and a long finish with raspberry acidity. I loved it and let’s hope a new style is being ushered to the world of wine’s mainstream, with more personality withouth having to be a full weight champion.
Price (Everything Wine) 23.99, 13.5% alcohol.

The Battle for Wine and Love, Parker Wins

August 5, 2009

BOOK REVIEW. 2008 by Alice Feiring. Harcourt.BattleForWineAndLove

After reading Alice Feiring’s book the first thing that comes to mind is that she is a journalist, not a writer. Basically what is an account of her own life and dislike of Robert Parker is “decorated” with half a dozen fictional characters that show very poor development. We never get to know enough of them as to justify their presence in the memoir, except as narrative clutches for a limping writer. She uses them when they are convenient to add body to an otherwise dilute section or sometimes are used as hinges to move from one scene to the next.

A big issue with this book is why, instead of writing a solid, serious book –given that she takes Parkerization in earnest- Feiring chooses to “spice it up” with her love life. Unfortunately for her, and for her readers, she fails in both accounts. For seven anodyne chapters Feiring prepares us for the narrative orgasm, her phone interview with Parker. To keep with the sexual metaphor, this would have been one of those occasions when after sex one thinks “I’ve had better”. The account of the interview feels manipulated, lopsided –in her favor- and shallow. One can only think “Robert Parker must be a retard”, which we know he is not. That is a trait to be found in other encounters she describes in her book, especially when she talks to wine people “from the dark side”. She always manages to convey a sense that she totally outsmarts them. However, in most cases –and if the exchanges are as she shows them- she fails to ask the tough questions, to press the weak points, sometimes because “I am shy” or because, as in the case of the phonterview with Parker, because she doesn’t want to ruin her shot at talking to him.

Feiring says very little about love. In fact, I don’t understand why she even uses the word love in the title of her piece. But we can summon a few strokes of what her love life may be like from the way she describes her encounters with men. She is not straightforward. She keeps a grudge but she won’t let it out in the open for discussion. She fails to show the other what she really knows and thinks of them. Who would like a lover like that? Not this man here, for sure. There is one line where she mentions that –during the second phone interview with Parker- she is wearing underwear (suggesting she was not on the first one) doesn’t come as sexy but it rather suggests that when she looks at a mirror, Feiring sees one hot babe. Eee-W! I thought when I read that line. Also, if this man is a person that Feiring dislikes so much, why the innuendo?

Another issue that I found annoying is the tone of the narrative. It is like it wants to be in Sex and the City style. The cloying, annoying, repetitive use of nicks, owl man, big joe, skinny, is over redolent of the super-popular TV show, but they belong there, not in a wine memoir which pretends, after all, to be serious. All in all, the book feels like Feiring couldn’t come up with a solid story line and figured that intertwining her wine stories with her love life was the patched-up solution. It obviously does not work.

In the positive side, she will wake up many people to the fact that wine is not as natural as they may think. That a lot of technology is used in winemaking, some of which may not be agreeable by all. She also gives good insight on the winemaking of Barolo, Rioja and the Rhone. Perhaps that is what Feiring should have used as a core for her book, rather than her insipid references to love and her obsession with Parker. It seems to me that in using the critic as a central theme, Feiring tried to get attention to a book, which without the constant reference to “the emperor of wine”, would have not merited major interest. And by the way, no, Feiring never saved the world from Parkerization. If at all, this attempt comes ten years too late to do anything about it.
To use Parker points, I score this book 81.