Fans of Luc Morlet can (and often do) attest to his unique ability to make wines that please both crowds and collectors at the very same time. An example of this unique ability shows itself in the 2009 Vineyard 7 & 8 Chardonnay from Napa. He adds just a touch of fruit from Lone Oaks Vineyard in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley to the Napa Estate fruit which gives the wine a roundness on the palate and an intense finish. Vineyards 7 & 8 is a Spring Mountain property owned by Launny Steffens, a New Jersey Investment Banker and his wife, Weezie.
“This beautiful wine exhibits an intense bouquet of ripe lemon, wild honey and toasted almonds, intermixed with notes of chamomile and crushed stones. Medium bodied, this bottling has great balance, displaying zest, mineral background and a smooth finish.” – Luc Morlet
I’ve recently been enjoying two fantastic Central Coast wines: the 2009 Sans Liege “En Gedi” Grenache blend and the 2009 Dragonette Grenache. Both are tremendous wines and about as food-friendly as a wine can be. I had the Dragonette a few nights ago with a fingerling potato and prosciutto pizza and it was the perfect pairing! Grenache is a grape that can pair with almost anything, from steak to quiche to (yikes!) vegetarian dishes.
2009 Dragonette Grenache Santa Rita Hills – ($44) The wine displays classic Grenache aromas of sweet red raspberry, strawberry and kirsch. On the palate, the wine combines waves of expressive, high-toned red fruits, along with streaks of creosote, and leathery notes in a pure, expressive, medium-bodied package. The wine’s finely textured fruits are lifted and maintained through a long finish by ripe acidity and firm, yet complex and spicy tannic structure, which will also provide for aging potential. Just delicious! 95 points
2009 Sans Liege “En Gedi” – ($45) A luscious California Grenache blend featuring bright strawberry and raspberry aromas with hints of the complexity of flavors to come. On the palate there are loads of rich cherries with brooding black tea, chocolate and lavender. Classic 95 points
The Dragonette is available at Porthos
The Sans Liege is available at Porthos
Oh, to enjoy a good Bordeaux. Sadly, with the exception of wildly expensive bottlings, I often find the experience a bit underwhelming. Well, here’s some good news: The ’09 Chateau Beard La Chappelle Grand Cru is under $50 (barely!) and yet has the stature and body of one of those pricey bottles. Truly, this is one of those rare finds.
Exquisite ruby color with intense ebony hue. Captivatingly complex nose of gingerbread, black cherry, rose, cinnamon and bitter chocolate. Round and full-bodied, rich and weighty on the palate. Superb concentration of spice, kirsch and semi-sweet chocolate on the finish with an exotic cinnamon note lasting a full minute. This is an exceptional wine that may be enjoyed after decanting (15 minutes) tonight but will continue reward those with patience, peaking 2016 – 2017 in our estimate. 95 points
Purchase this wine at Porthos!
It was with a bit of a shock that we here at the Wine Insiders office met with the news of Robert Parker’s decision to step down from the rigors of scoring our beloved California wines. There’s no doubt that Robert Parker is the most influential individual in the world of collector wines and has been for the past two decades. Parker has dramatically changed the patterns of wine purchasing as well as the style of winemaking worldwide. But as the Bard said “…I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him!” so, Friends, Romans and Countrymen, let’s get on with what this means to the average collector: if you’ve relied heavily on Parker’s scores to inform your decision to purchase or pass on a wine, you can relax.
Antonio Galloni will soon take the reins for scoring California wines (as well as keeping up with his current duties of scoring Italy, Champagne, Chablis and Cote D’Or) and while his palate is wildly different from Parker’s his experience and insight is just as thorough. There are a couple of differences. Parker enjoys wines with huge amounts of ripe fruit, chocolate and espresso while Galloni seems to enjoy varietal specific flavor profiles. While Parker handed out several 100 point scores each year, Galloni is much more restrained in his scoring. For perspective, in Parker’s Napa Cabernet review last year over 20 wines received 99 – 100 ratings. In Galloni’s initial review, ZERO wines were rated 99 – 100.
However, some will point out that while there are fewer 100’s in Galloni’s scoring his average score is actually higher. Parker’s average score is around 91 points while Galloni’s average is around 94. Also, he recently scored Cathy Corison’s Napa Valley Cab a 92 and her Kronos Vineyard Cab 94 stating that the difference is that Kronos “is made in a richer, riper style”. Maybe he put on his Parker hat for California scoring. Who knows, maybe he bought the hat for his new job!
My conclusion? The scoring may change, we may have fewer of the heart pounding 100 point scores, but Antonio Galloni is a well-respected critic and his reviews are as thorough and insightful as Parker’s.
Two words popped into my mind as I sipped this Don Juan Reserva: “Oh my”. This is what Malbec is supposed to taste like! All the hype you hear about South American wines comes to fruition in this one bottling. It’s dense and rich and powerful. It’s got the chocolate and vanilla and ripe fruit. There’s spice box and a bit of cedar. There’s ripe cherry and fig. There’s the long lasting finish. It really does compete with the best of the big Cabernets from Napa and yet…it’s less than $40. Awesome!!
“Rich, dense and very well-focused, with a rock-solid core of blackberry, fig and raspberry ganache flavors layered with alluring cocoa powder, exotic spices and plush oak. The long, seductive finish has great underlying brightness, allowing the silky smooth texture to appear seamless. Enjoy tonight through 2016 with any grilled meats or mushrooms!” - 95 points, The Wine Insiders
Purchase this wine at Porthos!
73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot and the balance split between Petite Verdot and Cab Franc, the 2008 “The Discussion” is a remarkable wine. Dark and inky in the glass with aromas of ripe fruit and oak. The mouthfeel is silky with well structured tannins. Generous flavors of cocoa, espresso and dark fruit abound and the finish goes on and on. For my money this is the pick of the litter and I will definitely be adding a case to my cellar to enjoy over the next 10-15 years. Classic 95+ points. -Jeff