Monthly Archives: February 2013

2010 Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Merlot

Photo taken from Coppola’s website.

The first time I came across a Francis Ford Coppola wine was after our wedding. Good friends of ours had visited the winery earlier in 2010 and brought us a 2008 Director’s Cut Zinfandel. We had that wine in 2011 and I liked it quite a bit.

Ever since moving to the US, I see Coppola wines all over the place. I have to say, I like their labels and I have decided to go on a mission to try more of the wines. I have a Petit Syrah waiting at home when I get back, and when I arrived at our friends’ house in San Antonio, I saw this bottle of Merlot on the shelves. Naturally, we opened it.

Let me give some background on the wine: The Diamond Collection is a series of 12 different wines, all sourced from California. The Merlot was first made in 1997 and the grapes come from Napa, Sonoma and Monterey. It is a blend of 80% Merlot, 19% Petit Syrah and 1% Syrah grapes and has 13.5% ABV. The wine was aged for 12 months in French oak.

The wine poured in a dark, rich red. The nose was fruity, red berries, kinda what you expect. On the palate, it was a bit on the sweeter side (just a tad), but had a great fruit aroma of raspberry. Add some vanilla to that and the fact that was very smooth, and it was a pretty enjoyable wine. I could see myself drink that on a lot of occasions. A rather simple, yet pleasant wine…

You can find the wine description of the winery here.

Tagged , , , , ,

A Tale of France and Argentina: A Malbec Tasting

The line up for the Malbec tasting with wines from France and Argentina...and a New Zealander

The line up for the Malbec tasting with wines from France and Argentina…and a New Zealander

Two weeks ago, Nina organized a Malbec tasting with friends of ours. Malbecs are some of Nina’s favorite red wines, with their strong and edgy character. It is just what she is looking for in red wines. The tasting had been a long time in the making. Given our usual shoestring budget, she had acquired different, everyday Malbecs that you can find all over the place. To make things interesting, she decided not only to try Argentina Malbecs but also two from France. And in the end, she decided to throw in a Merlot/Malbec blend from New Zealand for the fun of it.

Now, as some of you may know, I am usually not a big fan of “bold” (aka strong) reds. I prefer old world style Pinot Noirs and a more balanced approach to grapes. I also am struggling with understanding red wines in the way I feel I intuitively understand white wines. But I was curious about this tasting, too. Nina’s hope in this endeavor was to figure out what exactly draws her to Malbecs. And, let’s not forget, it’s also tons of fun to have friends over and do a tasting together (for my thoughts on tastings at home, go here). This was the first time we used the tasting sheets provided by De Long Wine Discoveries which I found super helpful (check them out here). With these caveats ahead, please take my reviews with a grain of salt from the perspective of someone who generally prefers milder wines. Also, as I indicated, the wines tasted are on the lower level of of prices and retail between $8 and $17. Each wine was decanted for roughly 30-45 minutes.

We started with the two French Malbecs. I had read prior that Malbecs from the core French Malbec region Cahors tend to be quite tannic so we decided to get them out of the way before we moved to the Argentina Malbecs, which are said to be more fruity.

2010 Vigouroux Pigmentum and 2009 Chateau de Port Cuvée Prestige

2010 Vigouroux Pigmentum and 2009 Chateau de Port Cuvée Prestige

First up was the 2010 Georges Vigouroux Pigmentum. The wine has 13.5% ABV. It was of dark, clear ruby color. In the nose it was moderately aromatic with alcohol, plum, herbs and hints of tobacco. It was dry, medium bodied, with crisp acidity and quite flavorful. I tasted strong tannins, some red berries and a mineralic note. It was fruitier than I would have expected with a long finish. I thought this was a pretty good start. The wine was less tannic than I thought and fruitier. It also paired well with the soft cheeses we tried. (When retasted two days later, it was still good: more cherry aromas in the nose, with almonds, and great raspberry and blackberry on the palate).

Next up was 2009 Chateau du Port Cuvée Prestige, also from Cahors. This wine has 14% ABV. Of deep, purplish red color, it was aromatic in the nose and showed some age. I got cherries, strawberries, mint and violets and thought the nose was awesome. On the palate, I got a dry, medium bodied and smooth wine with medium tannins. The flavor profile was a bit of a let down, though: I got vegetal notes, but mostly bitter aromas and alcohol notes. It almost tasted a bit green. The nose just promised more than I got in my mouth, which disappointed me. (After two days, this was virtually dead. Bitter aromas had increased, and it smelled musty.)

We then moved on to the Argentina Malbecs. All were from Mendoza.

2011 Catena Alamos and 2011 Gascón Malbec

2011 Catena Alamos and 2011 Gascón Malbec

First up was the ubiquitous 2011 Catena Alamos Malbec with 13.7% ABV. Of medium ruby red color, the wine showed moderate aromas of vanilla, branches and almonds on the nose. I hardly got any fruit (which I found surprising) – others at the table disagreed and got a lot of fruit (stone fruit and red fruit). On the palate, it was dry, medium-bodied and quite smooth acidity-wise. But the tannins were strong and hard and I felt the wine was quite unbalanced. It was very peppery and tasted a bit green. The finish was short and disappointing. It felt quite closed at that point. (When I retried it two days later it was quite the revelation: the nose showed raspberry and currants and was very appealing. On the palate it also showed freshness and black currant aromas that I liked a lot! So, let this one breathe for quite a bit!)

Next up was the 2011 Don Miguel Gascón Malbec with 13.9% ABV. Dark and purplish in the glass, its aroma profile was good and youthful, with raspberries and other red fruit. I wrote down “pleasant nose”. On the palate, it was dry and medium bodied with a crisp acidity. The tannins seemed low and it was fairly balanced to me. Initially, I thought the taste was pleasant but then it got a bitter. It definitely showed more fruit than the two previous wines, but also had some pepper notes. What disturbed me most was its heat. There was just something about it that was too alcoholic for me. (Two days later, this wine showed a great nose of gooseberry, tart raspberries and jasmine. Very pleasant. On the palate, it had lost its bitterness and showed jasmine and green tea aromas and was very herbal. Again, I enjoyed this much more two days later, so: decant or aerate a lot!)

2010 Terrazas de los Andes Altos del Plata and 2010 Trapiche Oak Cask

2010 Terrazas de los Andes Altos del Plata and 2010 Trapiche Oak Cask

Next came the 2010 Terrazas de los Andes Altos del Plata Malbec with 14% ABV. Again, deep ruby colors with moderate aromas of oak, mountain flowers and almonds. I found the wine surprisingly sweet with smooth acidity and medium tannins. It showed aromas of pepper, red fruit, mint and some slight bitter notes. It was nicely spicy, but also showed too much heat for me. With a rather short finish. I wrote down “best of Argentinians so far”. (Two days later, this wine was dead.)

We then tried the 2010 Trapiche Oak Cask Malbec with 14% ABV. Deep ruby red color and a quite unpleasant nose of greenness, acidity, crude oil and butter. Not pleasant at all for me. On the dry side, with a light to medium body and crisp acidity, it showed high tannins and felt quite unbalanced regarding alcohol and tannins. It had a lot of heat, was watery and showed no signs of oak. Some red fruit and pepper. I did not like this wine at all. (Two days later, it showed strawberry and blackberry in the nose. It tasted sour with some spice and felt a tad better than initially assessed. Still would not buy this again.)

2009 Norton Reserva and 2007 Mills Reef Reserve

2009 Norton Reserva and 2007 Mills Reef Reserve

The final single variety Malbec was the 2009 Norton Malbec Reserva with 14.5% ABV. Deep and ruby colored, it showed powerful aromas in the nose. I got toffee, salt, soda, coffee and some cabbage notes. It was dry and medium to full bodied with medium to high tannins. It was nicely balanced, I thought, and flavorful: I got sour cherries, raspberry, lemon curd. Some said they got pie crust as an aroma. The finish was medium to long. All in all, I thought this was an alright wine. Maybe too citric and not as smooth as others felt, but still enjoyable. (Two days later it still tasted fine. The flavor profile showed some vanilla that I did not get initially)

We finished the red tasting with the 2007 Mills Reef Hawkes Bay Merlot Malbec Reserve from New Zealand. A 51% Merlot, 49% Malbec blend that has 14% ABV. Of medium red to garnet color, it was aromatic with some age and showed raspberry, herbal aromas, mint and strawberry. It was dry and medium bodied with fresh acidity, low tannins and was decently balanced. I thought it was quite enjoyable with some wood and slight vanilla aromas. It was a tad sweeter than the previous wines and not very fruity. Again, I thought this was an alright wine but it did not impress me. (Two days later, it had contracted to a thin, sweet wine that reminded me of bad port wine.)

So, who was the winner? I guess from the initial tasting I would go with the first one (Pigmentum from France) and the last wine (the New Zealans blend). However, after enough air got to them, the Alamos and the Gascón were actually quite enjoyable and pretty good value at around $10.

What I preferred: 2010 Kurt Hain Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett

What I preferred: 2010 Kurt Hain Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett

We finished the evening with a German Riesling, what else? We had planned for an aged Riesling (a 1991) but when I saw the cork and how wet it was, I decided against opening it. I want to talk to the seller first. So, I threw a 2010 Kurt Hain Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett in the freezer. Opened it, and loved it. Notes will follow when I actually am taking notes. It was a wonderful refreshing Riesling from a producer I like a lot. And a great way to end an awesome night with friends, wine and cheese.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Vineyards in Photos: Würzgarten, Prälat and Treppchen

Three grand cru vineyards (from left to right): Ürziger Würzgarten, Erdener Prälat and Erdener Treppchen

Three grand cru vineyards (from left to right): Ürziger Würzgarten, Erdener Prälat and Erdener Treppchen

It has been a while since I last posted a vineyard photo and I remember that I had been meaning to post more. Yet, I don’t have all that many great photos of vineyards so this series is a slow project. But today I came across a stunning photo, taken with a fish eye lense of three vineyards that are very dear to me: the Ürziger Würzgarten, the Erdener Prälat and the Erdener Treppchen. The stretch of the Mosel is actually quite straight in that area, it is the fish eye lense that makes it look like it curves.

The Würzgarten stretches further out to the left of the photo. The tiny white thing you see on the left is the Ürziger Sonnenuhr, one of the many sun dials along the Mosel. It is the old heart of the Würzgarten. In the center of the photo, under the red rocks, is Erdener Prälat, one of the top sites on the Mosel. The micro climate is insane: It is the first plot to lose snow in spring, and the vines usually are up to 14 days ahead in their growth. To the right starts the stretch that is the Erdener Treppchen. If you read my piece about the Karl Erbes Kranklay Spätlese: The area slightly to the left and up from Prälat is the amphitheater that forms the Kranklay.

There are now hiking trails through these very steep and exciting vineyards. If you get a chance, I can only encourage you to take a day, hike, and then try wines at one (or more) of the wineries. It sure has made for some of my best days on the Mosel.

The photo was taken by Christian Hermann of Dr. Hermann winery.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: