Friday, March 26, 2010

The Friday Lineup™

A weekly commentary on selected wines tasted. All wines are sampled pristine and with food.

Wine of the Week:

2007 Pfendler Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($45). Last weekend, Jancis Robinson wrote in her Financial Times column that it might be a good idea to have food present even at serious wine tastings in spite of all those potentially distracting smells and tastes. After all, isn’t that how we consume most wine? Besides, the stomach often demands it. And when I first tasted this Pinot, my stomach said very firmly, “Roger, go immediately to the refrigerator and arrange a culinary marriage of convenience.” This wine is part of an evolving line of very good to excellent Pinots from the Sonoma Coast (that gerrymandered app) with a good concentration of ripe Bing cherries and dark plums laced with plenty of acidity, minerality and refreshing tonic-water bitters around the edges. This is not one of those complex wines that goes wandering across the terrain of the palate but instead sinuously flows across the mouth, drops down the chute and lingers long after the lips are closed.

Wines of Interest:

2007 Chaddsford Portfolio Collection “Miller Estate” Chambourcin ($26). If Chambourcin were an indigenous grape growing in Italy or Spain, the Trendy Wines Brigade (TWB) would be all over it. As is, it’s ignored because it grows best on the East Coast (oh, there…) where it is almost indigenous. It's one of those French-American hybrids that lost the battle of replacing phylloxera-devastated vineyards many harvests ago to vinifera vines grafted on American rootstock. It is still a finicky grape to make better-than-average wine out of, but winemaker Eric Miller has mastered it. And this is not a wimpy East Coast red, but a complex, full-bodied food wine that opens to aromas and flavors of dark fruits, bacon fat, tobacco leaf and a little cola. Very well-balanced. Even if Miller knows how to make Chambourcin, he is still befuddled (as am I) as to which Chambourcins will age well and which will not. He sensibly recommends, “Drink it now.”

2006 Hidden Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon ($40). This is a Spring Mountain wine that can’t call itself that because it's on a mountain dimple between the two main ridges of the Mayacamas range and is thus legally in Sonoma County. I tasted it while interviewing winery co-owner Casidy Ward in the lobby of the Helmsley in New York one morning recently, so my notes are less that laboratoryesque. But I did enjoy the plumpness of the Cab fruit and the sinewy finish and noted it is a very good wine, especially at the price. Yes, I was looking around for food.

2008 Monthaven Central Coast Chardonnay ($24 for 3 liters). This is a very good affordable party wine, the kind that won’t ruin your reputation even though it does come from a box. Or something to have in the fridge if your spouse is out of town and you need liquid to help you make it through the week without pulling corks and restoppering. Nice clean fruit with hints of tartness, moderately lean like a Macon.

Until next time...

Roger Morris

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