The Red Daily Slosh is in The Houze

12 Mar

More funk. It’s one of those winters, isn’t it? Snowmagedon has arrived again today. We need something to get up and dance about. I try to do my part. And BTW, that is Lionel Richie rocking the sax (can you lip sync a sax?).

These recommendations are for the March 15th release.

This release focuses on “California Classics” read: overpriced labels. I was going to save this for a ramble but I might as well do this now. I read a post (rant) by The Drunken Cyclist about ‘library wines’ as in – what a disrespectful rip off. And I thought to myself – it’s time. Let me provide a disclaimer – I love all wines, t’is true. But, for the record, I do indeed love California wines – pinots, cabernet sauvignons, Rhones, zinfandels, chardonnays, you get the picture. But, there may not be a region that’s been better at leveraging labels cache into dollars. Strike that; as I‘ll be talking about Bordeaux some other time. I could provide many examples – Cakebread entry-level cab sav costing the same as Tignanello and Chateau de Beaucastel, Screaming Eagle at twice the price of Ornellaia. Before people start commenting about the principle of letting the market decide – I get it, they’re selling this stuff – why reduce the price? And, wine is a subjective experience that takes into account everything from sight, smell, perceived value, and luxury. “If I want to spend $199 on a California cabernet (editorial comment: probably very big), why can’t I?” I’m just saying it’s my blog and I think that it’s a ’library wine’ sized rip off. There are exceptions – I can think of lots of great California wines that are an expensive-ish bargain – there’s always Chateau Montelena with a pedigree and product that some of these ‘cult’ guys could only dream of IMHO and offers its stuff at one-quarter to half their price. All this to say, that I’m not talking this week about the expensive California wines in the release because I drink them by exception not as a rule but, and I want reps out there to take note, would certainly entertain samples designed to sway my opinion? Because I do love California wines.

On to the wine.

masdauzieresWhile driving through the Languedoc, you can’t help but be struck with the thought, “Holy shit, they grow a lot of grapes!” It is indeed a large and active wine region and there are lots of cheap, mass-produced wines. This and similarly styled areas of Italy are called Europe’s Wine Lake. But, there are also many great AOC’s and producers that work to provide fine wines that reflect the history, culture and, dare I say, terroir of the Languedoc. You’ve heard me rave about St.-Chinian (Dale, remind me of how the town got its name) and Faugeres to name two AOC’s that you should keep an eye out for. This week, there’s a wine from the Côteaux du Languedoc – 2009 Mas de d’Auzierès les Éclat #271742 $18.95. This wine is made with syrah, grenache and mourvedre and grows on very rocky soils in the shadow of Pic St. Loup. The video below is great (Pic St. Loup in the background) and gives you an idea of the dedication and enthusiasm of the owners. But what does it taste like? Well, the owner speaks of rocks (les eclats) and this wine brings a distinct Nose of Stone (formerly a superhero who beat opponents with a large, super-sensitive, and hard sniffer) and a finish that has a minerally element too – so I get les eclats. The absence of oak is evident by the freshness of the fruit, in my mind. It is sturdy but for me not too – tannins not over-riding the experience of cherries and darker fruit. I’m thinking a case wine if you purchase that way and love syrah and/or grenache. I don’t venture into talking about longevity but a review suggests this wine will develop over half a dozen years. So, you don’t have to drink the whole case in the first two months…….Bill.

closlacoutaleStaying in France, there’s a great malbec/merlot blend from Cahors – 2011 Clos la Coutale Cahors #286385 $17.95. Alongside Argentina, Cahors has malbec as it’s most well-known grape. And it’s a different take on the grape as well. Maybe not as uniform as Argentinean malbec can be sometimes. Not complaining about it, mind you. This winery has a long and distinguished pedigree. It’s spent significant time in barrel – bringing a smokiness to the sniff. I’d call it full-bodied and a bit chewy with lots of different things going on and none clearly the winner. It’s not confused though just finding it’s way. The second sip (or glass) brings it into focus a bit more – the tannin seems to smooth out, mocha flavours start to develop along with spicy, tangy stuff. Lovely and sturdy – ready to go with some cold weather cuisine like maybe roast pork – or something else with some fat.

A wine that I haven’t had that I’m going to try:

lacrimusA highly reviewed Rioja under $20 deserves some attention. So, I think that I’ll pick up the 2009 Lacrimus Criaza #359968 $18.95. A crianza Rioja requires less time in barrel and bottle than a reserva (like the one below). But, this is an ’09 so has had more time than most crianzas to smooth out and get it together, I’m assuming. It sounds like a complex (licorice, strawberries and morello cherries – oh my) beaut. And, I love a beaut.

Return to the scene of the crime:

I just finished the last of my ’08 Beronia Reserva. Man, I love this stuff. There are very few bottles remaining in my market. If you see it, buy it. The rest of us will have to wait until they flood the market with some left overs or the ’09 vintage.

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