after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Archive for the ‘PLCB-be-damned’ Category

think drink pink

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t says:  g and I are always on the look-out for delicious wine – you know – the kind that you want buy over and over again because it’s just that good … and the kind that you can buy over and over again because it’s just that affordable.  Here’s our latest addition the cellar:

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it’s pink!

What you see above is a wine that manages to balance some very nice flavors.  First up, you get a plusher-than-expected lightly-sweet red fruit (strawberry, cherry) – it’s very fleeting, but a referred to it as “lollipop”.  Then it gives way to a clean citrus zip that offsets the sweet (kinda like lemon juice vs. sugar), as it goes into a nice refreshing medium-length finish that beckons you to drink more.  This is not a “really sweet” wine, but there is indeed some residual sugar in there – but I think that’s what makes it so interesting (g and I normally can’t handle sweet wines: late harvest wines, dessert wines, ice wines, etc).  Is it “complex”?  Not really – but definitely very “fun”.  I’d be willing to bet that if brought to a dinner party, people will get over it’s pink-ness very fast and drink it down.  I don’t know how many liquor stores will stock this wine regularly (i.e. it can’t be found in PA), but if you do happen to be venturing into NJ sometime, swing by our fave, wineworks, and pick up a bottle (place the online order ahead of time – it’s a buck or two cheaper).  It’s a perfect color for Valentine’s day … but it’s a great flavor for any day … (well … maybe not steak day …)

Written by afterdinnersneeze

1 February 2013 at 10:36am

goodbye La Crele, hello Saldo

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t says:  For those that haven’t checked out “the cellar” yet, it features reviewed wines that g and I like to keep on hand.  Two of the wines in there haven’t been formally reviewed in a post in the blog, so I’m just going to put them up now.  Here we go!

First up is one of our favorite sauvignon blancs.  We are sadly down to our last bottle and no more can be found [at a reasonable price].  Truth be told, it is time to move on, as this particular white isn’t likely one that would age well (peaking now), so it’s not like if we found more, we’d continue drinking it forever.  Goodbye La Crele.  You served us well.

2009 Domaine Thomas & Fils “La Crele” (France, Loire Valley, Sancerre; $20 at Cherry Hill Winelegend; $27 at PLCB).  This is a Sauvignon Blanc based wine from the Loire valley in France.  It was recommended by a guy named Phil at Winelegend in Cherry Hill; it was “the best Sauvignon Blanc he had in the store”.  I figured, “g likes Sauvignon Blanc”, so I picked up a bottle to score some brownie points with the Mrs.  What I didn’t expect was how much I would like it … I liked it a LOT.  Gone was the petrol zip of typical New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs that normally put me off – instead was a pleasant herbal zip surrounded by surprisingly plush fruits and florals that kept on the pressure well after swallowing.  This was no ordinary Sauvignon Blanc.  Even Wine Spectator agrees: “Very juicy, with a delicious core of lemon verbena and straw laced with hints of nectarine, white peach and mineral. The finish is long and fresh. Delicious. Drink now. (90 Points)”  I couldn’t remember the last time I had as pleasant a white wine.  Quintessa’s Illuminations?  Dare I utter that rare unicorn of a wine in the same breath as this $20 off-the-shelf bottle?  Yikes.  I just did.  I confronted Phil the next week to ask him whether this was typical for Sancerres (certainly none that I’ve had).  He said, “No – just this one.”  I believed him.  I instantly bought 3 more, and each has been as good as the first.  My only advice is to not precede this wine with something sweet (e.g. Lillet), because it’ll make this wine taste too petrol-y.  Other than that, order that fish or salad, pull out La Crele, and hold on tight!

The other wine we have here is a dry-but-oh-so-fruity zinfandel – and unlike the above, it actually is available.

2009 Orin Swift Cellars “Saldo” (USA, CA; $29.99 at PLCB).  a is a big fan of Orin Swift Cellars.  Actually, he was the one who introduced us to “The Prisoner” back at Talula’s Table.  It was delightful!  We had another sampling of The Prisoner at The Wine School when the gang went for its Luxury Wines of Napa class.  Again, another beautiful showing.  Too bad the price of The Prisoner was increasing in recent vintages to $40+, which puts it out of the range that g and I want to spend on a “nice dinner out”.  This was problematic.  So recently, when g and I found ourselves in K&L during our trip to California, seeking a Prisoner-like experience but unwilling to pay that amount of money, I pulled up Orin Swift’s website to find their second-label Zin: Saldo.  For under $30, we hoped it would deliver.  And deliver it did!  There were gobs and gobs of chocolate and cherry/strawberry/raspberry preserves, with a bit of cinnamon/nutmeg and a hint of sweet (almost off-dry!).  It wasn’t as complex as The Prisoner, but that was actually quite a nice feature, as this was pure thought-free enjoyment from sip to sip.  Coupling it with some steak and dark chocolate would result in an absolutely hedonistic meal.  Unfortunately, PA’s stash of it is thin right now, so one should act quickly.  Procuring more in PA after the few bottles in the city are gone will require a Special Liquor Order but then the price is $35/bottle, which really kind of ruins the “steal” this is supposed to be.  Fear not, however, as Saldo’s pretty easily found , in Jersey (the 2008 vintage is just as good if not “better” than the 2009).

Written by afterdinnersneeze

26 March 2012 at 7:31pm

trust the dr. [loosen]

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t says:  a has been a fan of Dr. Loosen Rieslings for a while.  I, on the other hand, generally stay away from German Rieslings – they never do anything for me.  They’re often too sweet for my palate and make any fruit notes taste more like fruits that are preserved in sugary syrup (e.g. Dole peaches), which is heavy and overwhelming.  For dessert, great.  For eating with stinky cheeses, fine.  But for a meal or by itself, it’s just too distracting.  I even branched out to some Trimbach Riesling from France, which was supposed to be fairly iconic, but was ultimately disappointed. Why had Rieslings forsaken me?

When planning an 18-person adventure to Han Dynasty, I needed to bring multiple bottles of wine that would make everybody happy (we were celebrating birthdays, including g’s!).  a once again chimed in with Dr. Loosen.  Although hesitant, I figured that if I’m looking for a crowd-pleaser, semi-sweet wines are easier than dry ones.  After I did some research/googling, I found that Dr. Loosen is a pretty famous name when it comes to German Rieslings … however … there are quite a few different bottlings to choose from! I only needed one!  What to choose, what to choose?

This is what I did …  First, I had to re-learn the German “ranking” system for their wines (my CSW knowledge was a little fuzzy).  ‘Ze Germans put their wines into four different tiers of “quality”:
Tafelwein (table wine)
Landwein (‘country wine’)
QbA (‘region-specific wine’)
Pradikatswein (‘superior quality wine’ … from a specific region)

There’s a lot that goes into these different quality levels.  The one that I focused on was sugar.  “Sugar” in wine is important, but not for the reason that you might think (i.e. not just because it makes wine sweet).  Sugar in a ripened grape serves as the food for yeast during fermentation into EtOH.  So, the higher the sugar in the beginning (i.e. the riper the grape), the higher the alcohol in the end.  In a land with cooler climate, one could imagine that maybe it would be tough to achieve enough grape ripeness/sugar to allow for enough alcohol in the finished product.  This is the “challenge” for some of German wines.  As a result, Tafelwein, Landwein, and QbA are allowed to have their producers add sugar so the final wine can achieve enough alcohol (this process is called chaptalization).  While I absolutely do not want to say that there are no good Tafelweins, Landweins, or QbA wines, I have to say that I can see how chaptalization is a little like cheating (although I’m not as up-in-arms about it as a lot of the fanatical home-wine-makers are about it).  Interestingly, in the superior Pradikatswein designation, this process is not allowed.  I kinda respect that – it’s like an extra challenge.  Ok, so therefore I needed So I needed a cost-conscious Dr. Loosen Pradikateswein … but wait!  There’s more …

The Pradikatswein designation includes further subdivisions, which tend to correlate with the residual sugar levels in the finished product:
Kabinett (often semi-sweet, but can be dry)
Spatlese (semi-sweet)
Auslese (sweet)
Beerenauslese (sweeter)
Eiswein (sweeterer)
Trockenbeerenauslese (oh-so-sweet)

There are more subtleties in these designations have to do with how the grapes are picked in order to achieve higher levels of sugar, but that’s just overkill for this blog.  The point of all of this is that I wanted to pick a Pradikatswein with the lowest level of residual sugar because I was worried of getting something too sweet; a little bit of sweet would be desirable to go with Han’s spicy food, but I didn’t want the syrupy honey sugar-rush – especially because g has had eisweins, noble rotted wines, and late harvest wines but did not like them.  So I was hunting for a Dr. Loosen Kabinett (n.b. all Kabinetts are Pradikatswein by default).

So I surfed the usual websites to see what was available:
PLCB website
Winelegend
Wineworksonline
TotalWine

Ta-da!  Spotted a Dr. Loosen Kabinett at wineworksonline.  I proceeded to buy several bottles for our dinner party and brought it with us to Han.

Holy.  Crap.

It was delicious!  Figuring it was a fluke, g and I have gone through 2 more bottles on other occasions.  Yup!  Each was as good as the last!  We were so impressed that this Dr. Loosen will be added to our cellar.

2009 dr. loosen "blue slate" kabinett

2009 Dr. Loosen “Blue Slate” Riesling ($14.98 at wineworksonline.com).  A peculiar nose that smells like honey and fleshy stone fruits as well as a waft of petrol/chemical/rubber – very intriguing.  On the palate, there’s honey-kissed apricot and peach up front that are very pleasant before giving way to some citrus and Sauvignon Blanc-esque zippiness.  It finishes very cleanly, making for a very  refreshing off-dry/semi-sweet wine – not at all overwhelming.  It worked beautifully with spicy food and has only 7.5% EtOH, meaning you can just keep drinking and drinking …  I do wish it had a little less sugar so I could justify drinking it by itself (with its sweetness, I kind of feel like it works best when accompanied by something savory), but other than that, I feel like it’s a solid $15 wine.

a says:  I have something to add to this post.  You should try the Dr. Loosen “Red Slate”. ($13.99 at PLCB)  We’ve had it – it’s great and it’s the”dry” version of the blue slate – it’s crisper.  It still has good feel, not heavy, but coats the palate.

t says:  I saw that at the local PLCB store the other day.  I didn’t know enough about it, so I didn’t go for it because (1) I’ve seen a lot of reassuring Blue Slate ratings but only a few for the Red Slate and (2) I originally wanted the sweetness to go with Han’s spice.

a says:  Ratings smatings!  The Red Slate is good and would be fine with spice.  Good Rieslings can do anything!  ANYTHING!

t says:  My sincerest apologies Lord Riesling.  I’ll put it on the list!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

19 March 2012 at 9:23am

pie for supper at Supper’s pi day!

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t says:  I just got back from dinner at Supper.  It was pi day!!  Get it?  “Pi” day, as in 3.14, as in 3/14, as in March 14.  Pretty cool, right?  Yea it is.

So Supper brought out some awesome pies, savory and sweet:
Ritz-and-crab pie
Veal tongue pie
Rabbit pot pie
Pork pie
PB pie
Mississippi mud pie
Pecan pie
Apple pie

Now, it should be noted that these weren’t just “pies”.  Supper actually had far fancier names for these, so it’s probably not fair for me to call them all “pies”.  But whatever …

Another awesome little coinkidink was that pi day happened to fall on a Wednesday … which means that it’s BYO night at supper!!  So not only was there a two-pies-for-$20 deal, but we could bring our own wine!  Boo-yah!  I immediately signed up the usual crew to go and notified them via email.  There was some attrition, so only a, v, and I were able to go.  That’s cool – more wine for us!

We didn’t take any pictures and we didn’t get all super-critical, but had a blast.  I went with the veal tongue pie which was prepared more like a chili poured on top of a layer of frito’s.  It was quite tasty – like the best meat-based tortilla chip dip ever!  The one drawback was that cilantro was still served with the stems on – I hate that.

a’s rabbit pot pie was homey and delicious.  v’s crab pie was more like a crab cake, but at least a very well done one.

And all of the dessert pies we sampled were quite delicious: the peanut butter one was a densely whipped PB cream with a peanut crust, the Mississippi mud pie was like a moist brownie with a pie crust, and the pecan pie was exactly that – a well-done pecan pie.

In all, aside from the cilantro stems, we really had no complaints with Supper’s pies.  For $20 a head, we were full, and our mouths were happy.  It was quite a deal!  The server was a little weird/awkward, but maybe it’s because customers aren’t spending much moo-lah on pi day.  Whatever.  He warmed up some by the end of the meal.  By the way, can you imagine what’ll happen on 3/14/15?  That’s gonna be SUPER-[nerdily-]awesome

OH … and the wine!

I brought two bottles of pinot noir not from what I feel are traditional pinot noir countries: Italy and Argentina.  a picked out the Argentinian one.  I was excited because the reviewers had nice things to say about it:

“Dark ruby red in color, it reveals a charming bouquet of smoke, spice box, raspberry, and cherry. Silky, sweet and savory on the palate, this elegant, concentrated effort displays impeccable balance and length. It is an excellent value in quality Pinot Noir.”  -WA 91 pts

“Quite good and honest, with full raspberry, cherry and tea aromas along with a hint of grassiness. The palate is dark and full-bodied, with toasty cherry and herbal tea flavors. Finishes long, full and several steps ahead of most of the competition. Drink now.” -WE 88 pts

So we poured the wine into Supper’s nice a big glasses, gave it some swirl-action, and then got to it …

2008 Alma Negra Pinot Noir (Mendoza, Argentina, $21.98 at wineworksonline.com).  The nose was interesting in the beginning – smelling a lot like earth and chocolate and tart red berries.  As it opened up, the nose developed into more like a cranberry apple pie.  On the palate, it had some tart cranberries and sour cherry and this hint of something … different.  In retrospect, I honestly think that it was indeed that “herbal tea” flavor – you know – it’s what you get when you order tea, but instead someone gives you a cup of some sort of fake Rooibos crap.  It wasn’t something I was ready for and it caught me offguard.  Overall, it tasted kind of weird but it wasn’t like a restrained, elegantly balanced French pinot, and it wasn’t fresh-and-fruity like new world pinots.  It just didn’t quite taste like a pinot.  v called it a “heavy beaujolais”.  Quite right!  And, while it improved with food for sure, ultimately, I don’t think I’ll be venturing any more Argentinian pinots in the near future.  Darn.

I wonder what the Italian one will taste like?

Written by afterdinnersneeze

14 March 2012 at 11:10pm

another reason to hate the PLCB

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t says:  There are many reasons why people dislike or even detest the PLCB.  Today, I will share my latest grievance with them.  Having been on the email list for The Wine School, I received their March newsletter containing reviews of some bottles that can be found in PA Wine and Spirits Shoppes.  One particular wine stood out (I hope they don’t mind that I reproduce it here):

2009 Falesco Tellus (Umbria, Italy, $13.99 at PLCB)per The Wine School: “Luxurious, like a velvet cushion of dark sweet fruit. The only fault is its perfection –round, sexy, slick perfection– which takes away some of the pleasure of drinking a Umbrian wine.”

And trust me – these guys at The Wine School have no incentive to promote PA wine sales – they just really like wine!  Furthermore, the Wine Advocate had a glowing review as well (check the PLCB link above).  So I logged onto the PLCB website, searched for the bottle, and found that a some-what local store in center city.  So I walked on down to 12th and Chestnut, skipping along, ever-so-excited by my impending purchase.  I mean, come on: “round, sexy, slick perfection” – who could resist?.

I arrived and couldn’t find the bottle on my own.  No big deal – they only had 2 bottles left, so it was going to be hard.  I approached a person stocking shelves and asked them for help.  They had no idea what I was talking about, which was to be expected, so they looked it up on the slower-than-molasses computer.  “We’re supposed to have 2 of these.”  I was not surprised.  “You couldn’t find ’em?”  No – of course I found ’em – I was just testing him because I have nothing better to do on a Wednesday.  Duh!  But I was nice and politely responded, “nah – I’ll check the Italian section again.”  He then went back into the storeroom to “ask the wine guy”.  A few minutes passed.  He came out and said, “we don’t got ’em”.  None?  “Nope.”  And then he walked away.  The mysterious “wine guy” didn’t come out and say anything.  No “oops”.  No “let me help you find something else”.  Nothing.

Thanks PLCB.  I love you, too.

NOT.
PS  I just went to the PLCB on 5th street and they had 7 or so bottles – from which I selected two.  I hope they’re not compromised!  (The corks seem to be riding a little high.)  If so, it’d be anotherreason I’d hate the PLCB …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

7 March 2012 at 5:37pm

if wine were a cocktail …

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t says:  We invited over dz and smn a night or so ago for some take-out and wine (and dessert … don’t forget dessert*).  With pizza from Gusto’s, I went into my “cellar” and pulled out a pinot noir.  Now, I had never had this particular Pinot, so I was gambling a bit, because when it comes to a new Pinot, I never know what I’m going to get.  As soon as I hear “Pinot noir” (assuming I’m talking about red still wine), the two flavors that come to mind are red cherries and earth.  This is interesting because depending on the absolute intensities of cherry and earth as well as the cherry:earth ratio, different pinot noirs can be very different from each other.  You can get some over-extracted, over-the-top, fruit-bomb pinot noirs that coat your mouth and and scream “cherry” (or even darker fruits) from the top of its lungs, or you can get an elegant symphony of fruit and leather and earth and wood that moves you to tears.  To paraphrase that dude from the movie Sideways: “when it’s great, Pinot noir produces the most complex, hedonistic, and remarkably thrilling wine in the world.”  I assure you that the wine we had was not such a wine, but of course, it’s pretty unreasonable to have such expectations for under $20 … and with some take-out pizza.

2009 calera pinot noir

2009 Calera Pinot Noir (USA, CA, Central Coast; $24.99 at PLCB, but <$20 everywhere else).  The first thing I noticed about this particular bottle was that this was unlike any closure than I had ever encountered.  Here’s a closeup:

what’s the deal with the glass stopper?

That’s right – it’s not real cork, it’s not synthetic cork, it’s glass!  How interesting!  Maybe I need to drink more wine or something, because this is the first time I’ve seen it.  g did the honors and popped it with ease.  Wow!  No corkscrew necessary!  While I’m sure this will affect/limit any attempt to “age” the wine over time (or am I?), it’s definitely darn spiffy.  Plus, if there’s any left, you just pop it back into place and it’s [relatively] sealed once again.

The wine itself was intriguing because it didn’t quite remind me of pinot noir.  I’ll let g explain:

g says:  I smelled “jazzy strawberries”. It wasn’t just plain old strawberry – there was something else there – a lot like mint.  When I smelled it, it made me feel like I really wanted to drink it, if that makes any sense. It tasted just like it smelled, with strawberries, other red fruit, and a strong minty flavor (the fresh-cut herb, not like peppermint or spearmint). It also felt like it had a little bit of carbonation on my tongue. I guess it was kind of like a cocktail!  If t finds more at under $20/bottle, I think he should get some.

t says:  I completely agree with the above assessment.  As a matter of fact, we both mentioned red fruits (strawberry in particular) and mint independently and when I checked the Wine Advocate tasting note, I was not surprised to see that the wine critic found those two kinds of flavors as well.  The wine critic then mentions “polish” and “elegance”, but I’m not so sure I’d go there.  It does have this moderate-length finish where you continue to taste the pitter-patter of berry-mint flavor well after you swallow which is very pleasant, but it’s definitely not-so-much “elegant” as it is “flirtacious”.  To be truly “elegant”, I’d expect something else to come into play to balance the cocktail-ness (or maybe “cocktaility”?) of the wine.  There was some mouth-watering acid (which probably made it feel a little fizzy), but not a single bit of bitter tannin or funk/earth anywhere on the palate.  I did get some earth on the nose, but that’s about it.

Impression and Plan:  The Calera is an easy-going wine with flavors of mass-appeal (?who doesn’t like strawberry and mint?).  Overall, g quite liked it and she expects that kp will like it, too – we’ll see.  I feel that if it were $4 cheaper, I’d consider buying a bottle and having it on hand for emergency party situations.  g feels differently, and would pay up to $20.  I guess I just like something a little darker and a little more brooding.

*Noteworthy aside:  smn made this super-awesome lemon pound cake thingee from Ina Garten.  Holy crap it was amazing.  Between the lemon pound cake and the chocolate cake balls, she’s a pretty darn talented baker.  She was kind enough to let us have the remaining slice or two.  I will eat them when g’s not looking …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

18 February 2012 at 12:31am

big boy showdown

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t says:  Last time, we talked about the good times and good food had at Marigold Kitchen.  But, as you might have noticed, after all that hype in the beginning of the post, we didn’t have time to discuss the wine!  Just a reminder: the setup was that a and I each brought a bottle of wine unknown by the other.  After a little discussion and thought, we decided to make it a Cabernet Sauvignon showdown … a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon showdown …

I decided to pick up a spendy bottle of Cab from the PLCB; we needed a good splurge after the holidays.  Plus, I just found out that I could return my medical books to amazon.com for way higher than anyone else would buy them from me (Score!).  I searched high and low for what I should bring (our home cellar doesn’t have many spendy options that are “ready” yet).  And then I found it.  I found a bottle that would have some special meaning as well as fall within our budget (i.e. less than the $$ I got from the books I sold).  Basically, I was almost obligated to try it.  I should note that I technically didn’t buy the wine from a state-run “store”, rather, the state-run website: finewineandgoodspirits.com.  When you search for a wine, you can click the tab that says “special order” or something like that and see what’s lying around in the state’s warehouses (which I’ve read are kept at 65 degrees … however … with how tight moneys are nowadays in the state/nation/world, I seriously doubt anyone’s checking the thermostat regularly).  So yes, it was a risk.  With a vintage bottle of wine like the one I got, the risk is that it may have been improperly stored for several years and the consumer (little ‘ol me) would never know until I pop the cork.  That said, I do my best to minimize risk.  The most common problem with these warehouse-stored bottles (if there is a problem), is dried out corks (leading to air creeping down the sides of the cork and oxidizing the wine).  Consequently, as soon as I get home, I cut the foil off the top and check the cork.  And, if there’s the slightest bit of suspicious creepage of wine up the side of the cork (or less-than-perfect ullage or a cork that protrudes out the top some), I take advantage of the awesome  PLCB  return policy (i.e. no questions asked).  As previously blogged, I have run into a cooked wine, and I imagine if I ever run into a corked or oxidized wine from the PLCB, I’ll be returning it for sure.

Sooooo … I bought the wine, prepared it (i.e. decanted it), and brought it to the restaurant, ready to go toe-to-toe with a’s selection.  The waiter brought out the wines with the appetizers (i.e. after four or so amuses).  We tasted, analyzed, pontificated, and, right before entrees came out, revealed the wines’ identities.  This was followed by more tasting, analysis, and pontification.  In short – it was a lot of fun and something we’ll definitely do again (except a more fiscally responsible next time … or g will have my head …).

Now for 1/2 of the big reveal:

t's pick: 2002 dominus estate

2002 Dominus Estate (USA, CA, Napa, ?Yountville?; $97.19 at PLCBI had seen identical bottles going for $150 in NJ so I just had to give this one a whirl when I found it for under $100 at the state store.  Furthermore, Dominus holds a special place in g’s and my hearts, as a 1999 Dominus was the wine at our rehearsal dinner (we still have the empty magnum and cork) … and 1999 was a special year because that’s when we started dating <insert obligatory “aww” here>.

By the time we had gotten around to tasting, our ’02 had been decanted three times (once into the decanter, once back into the bottle, and once into the restaurant’s decanter) and allowed to sit for a total of 2.5 hours.  Because he’s tasted far more wines than I, I’ll let our wine guy take over:

a says:  To start, thank you t for bringing out the big guns. At first, on the nose, I found this a little underwhelming and mainly dominated by funky (but not FRENCH-funky) earth. On the palate, it was lighter than I would have expected for what I knew at the time (big cab from Napa) with much less fruit. Plain and simple, this wine was dusty with lots of dirt and leather. The grip was excellent and the tannins quite smooth, however, the aftertaste ended abruptly. As this wine decanted, it evolved with the meal and became more enjoyable and less dominated by library/earthy flavors; the fruit woke-up on the nose and palate along with some nice chocolate notes. When I learned of the bottle’s origin, I was genuinely surprised… by the label outside and restraint inside. Having never had Dominus, this was not what I would have expected. This drank more like a 3rd growth than a cult napa cab. It was definitely an enjoyable bottle, especially as it opened up, but that being said, was it worth the coin? I can’t say it was. And unless we popped this guy during a dumb phase, I have a hard time believing the drinking window purported by Parker. I would say this is ready now and quite possibly on the downhill.

[on to the next wine:]

a's pick: 2004 Chappellet Signature Cabernet Sauvignon

2004 Chappellet “Signature Cabernet Sauvignon” (USA, CA, Napa; $40 in NJ some time ago)  This knocked my socks off. This was a good year from Napa Valley but I didn’t expect such a round wine from a lesser known producer at this price point. At the start, beautiful color with a lively nose of dark fruit and typical green vegetal notes. On the palate, I found blueberry jam, mocha, and some nice heat. This evolved to get a little more earthy [we mentioned baby-poop at one point] on the nose and peppery in the mouth, while beautifully lingering on the tongue. The heat did turn up during the final sips which could have been caused by warmish wine or just serious aeration for the last drops. Baller. (I have another bottle that I’ll give a little more time in the cellar.)

t says:  I agree with a here.  I think my unrefined palate may have gotten the best of me, as I, too, preferred the mouthfeel and plushness of the Chappellet.  With a slightly longer finish, a little less heat, and a bit smoother tannin, I would have be scouring the net right now to find every last bottle I could.  On the other hand, what the Dominus really needed was some sex appeal.  It had some funk, it had structure, and it had silkiest tannins I’ve had in a while, but it was missing the center-stage fruit.  It was like a Britney Spears music video without Britney (n.b. the Britney circa late-90’s, not the current Britney).  Compared to the ’99 we had back in the day, this ’02 had less fruit, less acid, and smoother tannins.  Parker-points-be-damned, the ’02 needed some oomph!  Nevertheless, I now look forward to future bottles of Dominus, as Christian Moueix’s later vintages are known to be a bit showier.  Dominus vertical in 2019?  Who’s game?

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14 February 2012 at 10:33pm