So, as I’ve stated before, sometimes I allow weeks to lapse without writing a proper post. And while this is partially because it can be extremely challenging to set aside the proper time slot, it’s also because I have a HUGE problem with indecisiveness! This is because I simply love so many wines that I can’t choose just one. And a lot of times, I choose one, then another one shows up that I love just as much, and I’m thrown into a quandary of the worst sort. And by then it’s Friday, and once Friday happens, I just give up. Woe is me, too much good wine.
All of that is a way of introducing you to not one, not two, not three, but FOUR fantastic wines that I’ve been loving lately! Let’s start with the bubbles, because it’s before noon as I write this, and only bubbles are proper before noon:
Argyle Brut, 2009 Willamette Valley. $24
This is a fun one, because there aren’t a *ton* of sparklers from Willamette Valley. I’m racking my brain right now trying to think of some, but I’m coming up blank. My suspicion is that many Willamette wineries make Sparkling, but don’t make a lot of it, and maybe only have it available at the winery. Yet another reason why I need to visit Willamette ASAP!
I like this wine because it’s true to it’s roots; once you taste it, there’s absolutely no doubt that it’s a Willamette Valley wine. They didn’t try to make it taste like anything other than what it should. It shines a crystal-clear straw color, and cute tiny bubbles rise up from the bottom of the glass like they’s supposed to. This is a Methode Champenoise wine, which means the bubbles are created in the bottle, making them, in most people’s eyes, preferable. Made from 59% Pinot Noir and 41% Chardonnay, its light and clean, with a fresh palate of pears, green apples, a hint of almonds, light citrus, floral notes of honeysuckle and… something vaguely soapy, which I really like. At just 12.5% alcohol, it drinks easily and frighteningly quickly. A nice slap of minerality really lifts the finish to another dimension. Fantastic. At $24, it’s a great price range for a gift- and to boot, $24 is a bit less than what you might find it for elsewhere.
Hugel “Gentil” Gewurtraminer/Muscat/Sylvaner/Riesling/Pinot Gris/etc etc, 2010 France, Alsace $15
Truly, I should have posted about this wine around Thanksgiving, but – duh- I didn’t. Which is to say, that I’ve been marveling at this wine’s awesomeness for weeks. I think it is absolutely gorgeous. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve had an Alsatian white that I liked quite as much as this before. It’s balance and texture are truly sublime. “Gentil” is a term for a traditional blending of Alsatian grapes, so I gather. It’s sort of a serendipitous name, in my modern American mind, because one of the first words that comes to mind when I think of this wine is gentle. It is gentle and effortless, smooth and silky, refined and elegant. Hugel et Fils is family owned and boasts over twelve generations of winemaking. A nice tropical and floral nose is prominent, with aromas of kumquat, pineapple, lemon zest and lavender. All of which are well-integrated and not in your face; gentle. The palate is mouth-coating and has a touch of the oily-ness that is often found in Alsatian whites. Calling something oily sounds disgusting, but it’s actually very pleasant- in this wine in particular, it feels like the wine is gently caressing your mouth. Whoah. Sorry, that got a little froo-froo sounding. But it’s actually true! The finish is tart, a bit dry, and thirst-quenching. Really an exceptional value at just $15.
Onto the reds!
Decendientes de J. Palacios “Petalos” Mencia, 2010 Spain, Bierzo $22
“Well helloooooo, lover!” That’ what you should be saying to this wine. First of all, I love the packaging on this bottle. It’s just plain pretty. Simple, pretty, and memorable. This wine is my jam, y’all. And it’s actually a lot of people’s jam, because it got a spot on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2012, and a 93-point rating. Mad props. This wine has scored well most of the past few years, and it remains as delicious and consistant as ever. So let’s start with the grape- Mencia! Never heard of it? I’m not surprised, although you might want to commit it to memory, because there are a lot of good ones out there, and it’s currently experiencing a bit of “trending” in the wine world. Think of Mencia as a love child between a Tempranillo and maybe an earthy, cool grape like Carignan or Syrah. It’s deceptively dark in color, a deep purple- the body is packed with fruit, but it is not weighed down in the slightest. It’s what I like to call a drinker. One of my more creative titles for a wine, I know. But as I’ve elaborated before, a drinker is a wine that, upon completion of first sip, leaves your mouth with such a perfect acidic “quench” that you’d have to be straight-up cray not to desire another sip. Or bottle.
So a beautiful nose of rose petals and violets will greet you, followed by a plush, plummy palate of red fruits, blackberry, and a perfect amount of fresh herbs- thyme and sage, mainly- plus a touch of peppercorn. And again, the finish has such great lift, you’re gonna want to drink lots n’ lots. Would be a great pairing for a roasted gamey meat- lamb? Or- my personal love- a charcuterie plate filled with bountiful amounts of cured ham, sausage, and lots of cheeeeeeese.
One more! And then I sign off…
Orin Swift “Locations F-1”, 2011 France $22
We’ve been sellin’ the bejeezus outta this wine for a few weeks! The middle child in the “Locations” line by Orin Swift winemaker Dave Phinney, this is the French sibling. As indicated by the giant letter F on the bottle. The trio will be completed in Spring of 2013 with an Italian “I” family member (are you seeing a pattern emerging here?). The idea behind this project is to blend fruit from major wine regions (aka locations) in each country. So this wine here is a blend of Grenache from Roussillon, Syrah from the Rhone, and various unspecified Bordeaux varietals. To me, it drinks like a Cotes du Rhone but with a nice creamy addition of vanilla and a bit of oak, and more fruit-forward. It’s bright, fun, and remarkably easy to drink. A sensible, straight-forward, yet playful wine that just begs to be drunk now. It’s a great price point as well- most of the Orin Swift California wines are more in the high $30’s -$40’s, so at $22 it’s just a notch into the “treat yourself” territory. But there won’t be any next-day “why did I open that” regret! In fact, the next day you’ll probably want to buy another one.
Well, I started this at 11:30, and now it’s 3:30. Along the way, I have tasted 17 additional wines from various distributors. So that has been my day. Jealous yet? You should be. My job rocks.
I’m formulating a “Best Wines of 2012” post for next week, and that will likely be all you hear from me this year. ALL the wines listed in this post will be open this week either by the glass, or at Saturday’s tasting from 12-2! So, please stop in and grab a taste or two or four!