June 28, 2010

Another Well-Aged Goodie: 1990 Prince Poniatowski Vouvray Aigle Blanc

The Poniatowski family has a history of cranking out age-worthy Chenin Blancs for some time. Their Vouvrays are top-tier and worthy of your attention. Best part, the wines are quite affordable, many can be found for under $25. The Wine Doctor has a nice write-up and notes on Prince wines.

We opened the 1990 from a clean bottle that was in pristine shape. The wine showed a rather vibrant yellow color still. Fleshy and soft palate with sweet fruit and cool minerality. Apricot and hazelnut flavor, but a spine here, too, that keeps the boytrytis in check. Very nice indeed and a pleasure to taste the past in fine form.

June 21, 2010

Aged California Pinot Noir: 1980 Hanzell Vineyards Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Back in the fall I posted about the 1976 Hanzell Pinot Noir and the amazing experience it was to drink a California pinot that tasted great at 33 years of age. I should probably stop being surprised by the great showings of older Hanzell wines. Hanzell Vineyards was founded by Ambassador James D. Zellerbach, in the 1950s.  The Ambassador's ambition was to create a small vineyard and winery dedicated to the best traditions of Grand Cru Burgundy: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay of extraordinary quality and great longevity.  Hanzell's wines have proven to stand the test of time, many drinking well for 30+ years. 

This week I was wowed again by an older Hanzell Pinot, this time, it was the 1980. Got together with The Legend and Eat It Atlanta for some wines and food, and this Hanzell was on of the bottles opened. We also opened a 1990 Vouvray, more details on that later. This 1980 Hanzell was really full of life and still holding strong. A really tasty drink and a treat to drink a California Pinot with this much age.

It's always fun, too, when the wine being drunk is older than some of the drinkers at the table.

June 14, 2010

2006 Rhys/Alesia Pinot Noir San Mateo County

2006 Rhys/Alesia Pinot Noir San Mateo County
In the past five years, Rhys Vineyards has appeared on the California wine scene and established itself as one of the finest makers of California Pinot, Chardonnay, and Syrah. Rhys owner, Kevin Harvey, and his team, are non-interventionist producers who are consistently cranking out age-worthy wines with old-world, some-might-say-Burgundian, sensibilities.

The Rhys philosophy as stated on their webpage:

At Rhys Vineyards we aspire to make great wines from unique and expressive vineyards. This pursuit has lead us to select five different sites in the Santa Cruz Mountains for growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. Our overriding belief is that unique vineyard expression is the key to truly great wines.

Like many other world-class wines, Rhys wines are produced in small quantities and available only through the winery mailing list. A list which I am fortunate to be on.

For the past four vintages, Rhys also produced non-estate grown wines under their second label, Alesia. In 2006, the Rhys team declassified the fruit from their estate-owned Family Farm Vineyard and used it to produce the 2006 Pinot Noir San Mateo County cuvee under the Alesia label. It is an incredible wine that was offered from the winery for under $25 on release.

2006 Alesia Pinot Noir San Mateo County--The wine is still absolutely kicking ass. A great wine for its modest cost. Pale red in the glass. Full of stemmy-spice notes and a long herbal warmth on the finish. So persistent with cranberry fruit and minerals and spice on the palate. So light on its feet, yet so packed with intensity. Drinking well for a few more years if not longer. Bravo Kevin and co.

June 9, 2010

Quick Take: Lunch at Lunacy Black Market

Hooked up with Eat It Atlanta for a quick lunch at Lunacy Black Market earlier in the week. It was, in fact, lunacy trying to get there on Monday as much of Spring Street was closed due to an ongoing film shoot. I saw creepy-looking guys bearing large rifles on horseback (maybe this is everyday on Spring St.?)...perhaps it was the ongoing filming of The Walking Dead, which is currently shooting around town.

Lunacy Black is an interesting little place. It's homey inside with its couches and coffee tables and global-inspired artwork; yet, it also feels somewhat like an underground coffee house where one would gather to discuss revolution or other subversive activities (which Eat It Atlanta and I did discuss...sort of).
The menu at Lunacy features mostly small bites and plates with all most menu items priced under $3.00. I started with the very tasty purple and green cabbage salad with walnuts and gorgonzola.This little salad rocked; a great mix of textures and flavors with a the little hint of mint adding a nice lift...I've actually been thinking about this salad since lunch on Monday and am ready to go back for another taste.

I also tried a couple of slider-sized sandwiches. The mushroom with crushed tomato sauce was good, but unremarkable. It actually tasted like a mushroom pizza one would find in a box in the freezer. The other slider I tried was Asian pork and spinach, which was quite delicious with tender pork and a ginger and sesame sauce.

After the sliders, chef Paul kindly offered us an order of tasty dry-fry green beans in a sesame and soy sauce. This was another simple, yet satisfying and tasty dish.
Despite our numerous tastes and bites (2 salads, and 4 sliders total), the lunch fill for the two of us was just over $13, which is a deal by ATL lunch standards these days. It wasn't a lot of food, but it was tasty and satisfying and I left without feeling like I needed a nap. I look forward to another meal at Lunacy Black Market in the near future.

Lunacy Black Market on Urbanspoon

June 7, 2010

2000 Louis Jadot Beaune Theurons and Some Light Reading

Popped a 2000 1er from Beaune this weekend that was drinking pretty nicely. 2000 is not a great vintage in Burgundy, coming between the more heralded 1999 and 2002 vintages. However, many of the 2000s are offering drinking pleasure now. This one, The Theurons from Louis Jadot, was quite nice. It's not a great 1er, but it's a nice wine, that is drinking now for a Sunday night with a cast-iron (thanks to Eat It, Atlanta) roasted chicken in bacon fat and Meursault.

I also caught up on some light reading while finishing my wine after dinner. Atlanta Wine Guy thinks I'm obsessed. I won't disagree.

June 1, 2010

Blind Tasting Fun!

Had friends over during the Memorial Day weekend for a little blind tasting. Blind tasting is perhaps the best way to refine one's ability as a taster. It removes label bias and expectations, while allowing you to simply concentrate on tasting what is in the glass.
 The wines were all sourced from my cellar. I gave my wife a dozen or so bottles from which to choose, so I had a general idea of what bottles were represented, but I had no idea of exact bottles or bag placement. It was easy to peg two of these wines by varietal and locale; the 2007 Fevre Chablis was clearly a Chablis, and the 2006 McHenry Pinot was clearly a rather high-octane and ripe California Pinot.

It was a fun and educational night.  The old blind tasting mantra, "Often wrong, never in doubt" still holds true.

2005 Arcadian Chardonnay Sleepy Hollow Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands (5/31/2010)
Yellow, buttery color. Pear and floral notes on the nose. Rich palate shows some lemon-laced acidity. Finishes dry with some sweet tannin. Very nice. With air, there is a buttered popcorn nose and more minerality on the back side. A very nice wine. My guess is Cali Gewurtz, maybe Navarro.

2007 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis 1er Cru Montmains - France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru (5/31/2010)
Faint yellow tinge in the glass. Smells of rocks with hints of oak. Palate is sharp, big cut of acidity here. Dry, very dry. Nice and crisp. Decent power on the finish. Shows young and is primed for a better showing down the road a bit...My buddy called this one as young Chablis...good for him.

2006 McHenry Vineyard Pinot Noir Swan Clone Estate Vineyard - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains (5/31/2010)
Screams new world on first whiff...shows baking spices, vanilla, brown sugar elements. Palate features really rich, unctuous dark cherry and brown sugar notes. Finishes slightly hot. I find it a bit too one dimensional. After the reveal...this is uncharacteristically rich for this producer.


2006 Nicolas Potel Savigny-lès-Beaune Vieilles Vignes - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Savigny-lès-Beaune (5/31/2010)
Light red, almost garnet color. Looks older than it tastes. Palate is tight, there's almost a watery sensation to the palate. With air it shows some cranberry, but there's a lot of structure here, too. This either needs to sleep some more, or is just not that interesting. Better with the pork dish. Try again tomorrow.
Posted from CellarTracker