Monthly Archives: December 2012

2009 Veramonte Pinot Noir Reserva

2009 Veramonte Pinot Noir Reserva

2009 Veramonte Pinot Noir Reserva

I seem to have no luck with picking my reds these days…the 2009 Veramonte Pinot Noir Reserva was no exception.

We picked up this Chilean pinot noir a while ago at Costco. You know you lost track of your wine cellar when you come home and realize that you had already acquired that same wine at one of the previous trips. I guess I liked the label. Now, I also had been warned about this wine by our friends whom we tagged along with to Costco at the time. She told me that she had tried it and did not like it. Too unbalanced, I think is what she said…Still, I liked the logo so much. And I like pinot noir. So, the heck…I must have thought.

According to the winery’s website, they have been growing pinot noir since the 1990s and have recruited the California winemaker Paul Hobbs to help them figure out the grape. Apparently, all the winemakers involved either still live or have lived in California before. I guess I should have looked into that before…you find the technical information for the wine here (compare it with my notes, if you care…they are very different).

Well. So we opened the wine a couple of nights ago. It had a lighter red color. On the nose it was quite rustic, alcoholic. I detected some chocolate notes but they were dominated by a pungent earthy-bitter mix. The worst thing on the nose, though, and it took me a couple of minutes to wrap my head around that, was that it reeked of burnt rubber. Yes, burnt rubber. That is a smell that my brain immediately connects with everything that can go wrong with a pinotage, a wine I love when made well, but want to spit out when not.

On the palate, the Veramonte Pinot Noir tasted slightly smoky and a bit green, the rubber continued in the opening. The wine was best in its middle section: there were hints of raspberry and cherry, some nice acidity and it had a decent mouthfeel to it. The end however was slightly bitter and did not leave good feelings. Nina noted early on that the wine also showed significant amounts of sweetness in the middle section which I did not get initially but over time.

All in all a disappointing wine. I should have listened to my friend. To me, pinot noir is best when it is subtle and deep. This one was totally different: in your face, no balance whatsoever and therefore unfocused and unpleasing. It just left me befuddled and disappointed.

Now the only problem is what to do with the other bottle…Christmas gift, maybe? Anyone?

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Ice Wine Harvest at Schloss Vollrads

Temperatures in Germany have been exceptionally low this December and it has enabled many winemakers to harvest grapes for ice wine, Germany’s fabled treasure. I have written about ice wine in the past (here) but there is no way to better understand what makes this wine so special than actually seeing under what conditions the grapes are harvested and then processed. I came across this video by the Rheingau winery Schloss Vollrads (Germany’s oldest continuing winery, see here) yesterday and I was just completely in awe once again about what these harvesters go through to produce tiny quantities of absolute deliciousness.

Maybe this will help you understand what the myth surrounding German ice wine is. Remember, in order to harvest ice wine it has to be below -7 degrees Celsius (19.4 degrees Fahrenheit). In the middle, the guy is talking about how they initially planned to harvest the grapes before sunrise, because it is coldest then. But they had to move it up to midnight because weather forecasts predicted some warm air coming in in the morning. The juice has 195 degrees Oechsle, way above the 110-125 degree threshold it needed to meet.

UPDATE: I just saw photos from the ice wine harvest by Dr. Hermann winery. They expect 200 liters (under 600 bottles) and are really excited that they got to harvest on 12/12/12.

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2009 Armantes Calatayud Old Vines Garnacha Tempranillo

2009 Armantes Old Vine Calatayud DO

2009 Armantes Old Vine Calatayud DO

Last Friday, it was almost weekend and I realized I didn’t have a single glass of wine all week. Frustrating. While a casserole was simmering in the oven I decided to open up this wine that we picked up at Plum Market a while back for $8 (marked down from $12).

The wine is produced by San Gregorio Sociedad Cooperativa Limitada, a cooperative in the Calatayud region of Spain. I had to check where that is because I am not very familiar with Spanish geography or wines. According to Wikipedia Calatayud is a city and and municipality located in the western part of the province Aragon, pretty much in the heart of the Iberian peninsula. Calatayud has its own denomination of origin (DO), see here. Unfortunately the website is only available in Spanish, and my Spanish is virtually non-existent. It seems like the area boasts 60 vintners and some cooperatives. In 2009, it produced 5.72 million bottles of wine and is supposed to be a “muy buena” year.

The winery’s website can be found here. The website states that DO Calatayud was established in 1989. The team at the winery is said to have an average age of 34 (exciting!) and is producing for the international market, whatever that means. It looks like this wine is their basic wine (it better be at that price), although they changed things up a bit from the website. This wine has, according to the bottle, 90% Garnacha and 10% Tempranillo and 14.5% ABV.

Armantes poured in a dark, ruby red. The nose is initially a bit sour and alcoholic. After 15 minutes in the glass that is reduced. Then it smells fresh, earthy, a bit of red fruit. On the palate it shows some smokiness, medium tannins and a nice touch of acidity. It’s light to medium bodied, feels silky at times and is actually enjoyable in the middle. The short finish, however, is rather harsh with bitter and unripe notes which are even too long for this short of a finish.

Not sure what to make of this. The finish definitely ruined the wine for me, although the initial stages of tasting were alright. Nothing special, definitely not fun. Not something I will likely pick up again.

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