Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Friday Lineup™

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

Wine Tasting of the Week:

John Larchet is at it again. The man who put together The Australian Premium Wine Collection (TAPWC) a little over a dozen years, bringing us such stellar estates as Hewitson, Elderton and Grossett, has now launched WWHQ – World Wine Headquarters. The intent of WWHQ is to put together what is in essence the Larchet Collection, consisting of two to four estate each from a half-dozen countries to which Larchet as an affinity – New Zealand, Argentina, Spain, Italy, Austria and eventually France and the U.S.

Earlier this week, I tasted some of the collection in New York with John at the Cooper Square Hotel. Almost all of the wines are under $20, and there are many winners. I will give more complete notes at a later date, but I was especially impressed by the wines from Lobster Reef (NZ), Altivo and Ichanka (Argentina), and Tilenus and Monte Vicor (Spain). Good work.

Wine of the Week

2007 Mercer Yakima Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($23). I’ve always been impressed with the promise of Washington cabs, as they seem – as a group – to be plumper in fruit than those from the Medoc, yet not as big and boisterous as many from Napa Valley. This is one of those wines – lots of sweet dark cherry and purple cassis fruit, a defining touch of brambles, followed by silky tannins. Easy to drink now, but also a keeper, one perhaps under-priced by $10 to $20.

Wines of Interest

2009 J California Pinot Gris ($15). Wines from J often have a pronounced edge – somewhere between being abrasive and peppery – that is a little heavy for my taste, especially in its sparkling wines. But here it works nicely with the grape's signature firm pear fruit, allowing it to step up to food a little more than most PGs without an excess of acidity. The price is right, too.

2007 Rocca Family Napa Valley Bad Boy Red ($32). If a label is intended as a warning, heed this one, unless you are looking for a kick-ass wine. I think it is too aggressive coming out of the bottle – alcoholic, tannic, extracted – but, like many bad boys, it mellows with morning light. There is good fruit and chocolate tannins in there, but it needs a few years in the clink or some slapping around in a decanter before it becomes acceptable for polite company.

2007 Blackstone Sonoma County Reserve Merlot ($20). This is a very nice effort from Blackstone – firm, full fruit that is neither too lean nor too fruit-forward – nice for sipping or at the table. It is well balanced (with 7% Cab, 6% Ruby Cab, 2% PV), though not particularly complex. Try a bottle, because, if you like it, it would be a nice one to lay away for future drinking at a reasonable price.

Until next time...

Roger Morris