Friday, April 2, 2010

The Friday Lineup™

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

Wine of the Week:

2008 Robert Mondavi Private Selection California Merlot ($9). This was not the best wine I tasted this week, but it certainly was the best value wine I tried. I especially like it because it has more character and finesse than most low-priced wines, which are generally just fruity and acceptable. This Merlot is good for sipping and great for food, because it is a prickly fresh, lean Merlot - in itself unusual - and it has a nice dollop of ripe but subdued cherry just as you swallow.

Wines of Interest:

2006 Benzinger Signaterra “Three Blocks” Sonoma Valley Red Wine ($49). Is it just me, or do most wines that are biodynamic or made from organic grapes taste more like they’re good for you than simply just taste good? OK, then, forget that the Benzingers may know more about both bio and orgo than anyone else in California. This is just a damn good wine – 64% Cab, the rest Merlot – big without being overly concentrated or extracted. It is full of well-balanced flavors – dark chocolate tannins, mocha, sparkling blackberries, earthiness, fresh corn oil. – dark, dark, dark; good, good, good.

2004 Selvapiana “Fornace” Toscana IGT ($35). If you don’t decant this wine, it seems a little ordinary at first. With some air, it grows in the glass, tasting both Tuscan and Bordelaise – Tuscan for its lean citric finish and Bordeaux-like because of its leathery, cigar-box qualities. The fruit, once it rises, is like fresh, not overly ripe blackberries. Start shaving the black truffles, please.

2007 J Vineyards Russian River Pinot Noir ($28). On a visit to the winery in early 2008 to J’s veteran, but recently hired, winemaker, George Bursick, said, “Come back in two years, and we will be the Number 1 Pinot Noir in California.” It’s good to aim high. Maybe George has a special cuvee hidden in the cellars, but this Pinot falls somewhat short of that ambition. It is a very nice wine, though somewhat conflicted. The middle taste is light and a little thin – though with a moderate tangy, gaminess that I like – while the finish is concentrated dark Bing cherries that clings at the finish a little too long. I love wines that have an aftertaste, but it’s a tricky business in that the finish has to be fresh, or else it accumulates a heaviness over a few sips.

Until next time...

Roger Morris