A Splurge-off Between Two Graceful Powerhouses and a Super Duper Tuscan

14 Mar

RavensonwoodNow I ranted this week about the cost of California wine. I did hedge my indignation with a possible purchase of Chateau Montelena to discover that their 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is not on offer just their chardonnay. Well, what to do? Maybe I could cheat a bit and get another of those rich, beefy cabs……….lots of label chasing potential (eh, CR?) as in Dunn, Caymus, Shafer, Rubicon. But, they are the examples that I referenced last week. Great wines all – just too rich for my blood. No, I think that I’ll spring for a zinfandel – 2009 Ravenswood Dickerson Zinfandel (#599183 $39.95). I spoke with Joel Peterson (Ravenswood founder and wine savant) last year, when I tried this and it all just made me want more of his wine; the talk and the taste, that is. This brand is zinfandel – well, and a few others too (I did wax last time about Ridge) – but you get it. We’ve all had their entry level zin and loved it. This is a step up in interest (spice, smoke, and more minerality – someone give me another word for that – than you usually get from zinfandel) and forcefulness. Not to say it’s heavy in the mouth or strong to the taste – it just brings it. But brings it with class and grace.

BaroloAnd, to drive home my point about pricing, let’s splurge – 2008 Paolo Conterno Riva del Bric Barolo    (#172783 $36.95.) From a small producer in Piedmont. Small as in 12 hectares and in the same family for 135 years. This is not an ageworthy wine, according to Antonio Galloni which is unlike much of Conterno’s previous vintage Barolos. This Barolo, like most, sneaks up on you – power under grace.  Love these.

VenerossoThe Super Tuscan that I get most vintages is 2009 Tenuta di Ghizzano Venerosso (#103218 $29.95). I guess that didn’t come out right. I mean that I’ve picked up this wine the past few vintages and this is the 2009 version. This is a beautiful wine – as in, it’s a beaut! If you liked Brancaia Tre and the Greppicante that I’ve recommended, this is a nice complement to those. My friend Michael says that these wines are ‘elegant” and I’d have to agree. This one is balanced throughout the sniff, swish and swallow and brings a nice medicinal (I mean that in a good way – minty, horehoundy thing) quality. Plus loads of fruit. I’m regretting the medicinal note. Let’s back up and try mint, a touch of sweetness and then there’s the usual tobacco stuff that I seem to always find in these wines. I can say ONLY $29.95 without a hint of irony. If you buy one, you’ll wish you’d bought more.

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