2006 Mandolin Central Coast Merlot ($10). This is just a little jewel of a wine at an unbelievable price. It has dark, rich cherry flavors followed by light chocolate and anise in the finish. Definite, but light, tannins. Buy a case to drink and one to put away for 10 years. Leave the price stickers on so that you can marvel at how well this cheap wine ages. Buy.
2007 Frank Family Napa Zinfandel ($37). Big and friendly. Lovely, but not overpowering fruit – mainly fresh-picked blackberries, with good acidity. Very long on the palate. It has that decided “burnished” oak flavor that some won’t like, but it is well-integrated and adds complexity. Buy.
2007 Geoffrey Domaine le Verger Chablis ($13). Excellent minerality and acidity, but it has more residual sweetness –not fruitiness – than I like. Those who like KJ Chards will probably disagree, but this one became a little tiring over the course of a meal. Pass.
2007 Va La “Seed” Pennsylvania Red Wine ($35). A discussion of this wine has many facets. (1) The winegrower, Anthony Vietri, is a friend of mine who makes excellent wines that are red or white blends of mainly Italian grapes - Mahogany, Cedar, La Prima Donna – grown under such strict vineyard conditions that it may reference his Catholic school upbringing. (2) This is a wine made of experimental crosses of vinifera whose parentage is still being kept secret. (3) The wine is a full-bodied red that is in part a response to the challenge of making a big, complex, New World style red on the East Coast. (4) It is a single-barrel wine, #53, that produced just 198 bottles which are only being sold at the winery in Avondale. I decanted the wine, but started tasting not long afterward. It began very full and a little heavy on the palate with lots of oak and a tad of grapey-ness and some sharp edges. I came back to it two hours later, and the grapey-ness had gone as had most of the sharp edges. It also seemed leaner, more like Vietri’s other reds, which lends me to believe that the wine would profit greatly from more bottle aging, which is what I intend to do with the other bottle I purchased. My take is that Vietri is well on the route to making a big East Coast red, more in the California style than the European style, which is where all the regional success to date has lain. This vintage of Seed, and the whole Seed project, is very encouraging. If you’re looking for an exciting, I-was-there-at-the-genesis bottle of wine, you should give it a try. I feel a little bit like someone watching a new Sam Shepard play in New Haven. I can’t wait ‘til it gets to Broadway. Consider.
2006 Domaine des Nugues Beaujolais-Villages ($12). Enjoyable purple, mulberry fruit, but the wine seems a little tired and lacking in freshness that goes beyond its earthy nature. Pass.
Until next time...