Fri 21 Dec 2007
Posted by Fredric Koeppel under Best Wines
, Cheap Wine No Comments
“Well, all right, F.K., this is more like it! I mean, those ‘Twelve Great Wines’ sound beyond fabulous (while people grow old until they’re drinkable), but they’re freakin’ expensive and, you know, we just want a nice case of wine to enjoy through the Yuletide season, a varied selection, a few wines for lunch or dinner or having people over for a bit of festivity.”
And here it is. I realize that trying to be all things to all people typically results in misfortune, but here’s the “Little Case of Wine That Could.” Trying to cover all the bases, or many bases, or some bases, damnit, I can’t read your mind, the choices (drawn from this year’s reviews on KoeppelOnWine.com) include a sparkling wine and a port and a rosé, four other bottles of white wine and five of red. Princes range from about $11 to $19; total cost, if you could find all the wines, would be about $176, depending on the store (minus case discount, plus tax). Remember that prices for individual bottles of wine can vary surprisingly from one store (or website) to the next. By country, the break-down is France, four; United States, three; and one each from Argentina, Australia, Italy, Portugal and Spain. Tis the season to be eclectic and globally-aware. Your local wine merchant will be able to make substitutions when these labels aren’t available, because, remember, every wine is not carried in every store. Even In New York or Chicago or L.A.
Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2006, Muscadet, France, $10-$12. (Imported by Louis/Dressner, New York.)
Angove’s Nine Vines Rosé 2007, Riverland, South Australia. $12. (Imported by Trinchero Vineyard, St. Helena, Ca.)
Paraiso Vineyards Riesling 2006, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County. $14
Domaine du Salvard Cheverny 2006, Loire Valley, France. About $14. 100% sauvignon blanc. (Imported by Robert Kacher, Washington, D.C.)
Bonny Doon Vineyard Ca’ del Solo Albariño 2006, Monterey County. $18. From Randall Grahm’s recent change to all bio-dynamic vineyards
Sparkling wine: Scharffenberger Cellars Brut (Non-Vintage), Mendocino County, Ca. 65% pinot noir/35% chardonnay. $19
Don Miguel Gascón Malbec 2006, Mendoza, Argentina. $12. (Imported by Gascón Wines, Haywood, Ca.)
Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha 2005, Campo de Borja, Spain. $13. 100% grenache. (A Jorge Ordoñez Selection.)
Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti “Le Orme” 2004, Piedmont, Italy. $14. (Imported by Kobrand, Purchase, N.Y.)
Chateau Mont-Redon Côtes-du-Rhône 2004, Rhône Valley, France. $15. (Imported by Kobrand, Purchase, N.Y.)
Potel-Avion Côte de Brouilly Vieilles Vignes 2005, Beaujolais, France. $16 (Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York.)
Dow’s Trademark Reserve Porto (Non-Vintage), Portugal. $17 What was once termed “vintage character porto” must now be called “reserve porto.” (Premier Port Wines, Inc., San Francisco).
I bet you can find some use for each and every one of these wines.
Enjoy (intelligently and responsibly, please) and have a happy and safe Yuletide season.
Wed 19 Dec 2007
Say you’ve been really good this year, or pretty damned good, or you tried to be good and achieved the 80th percentile. I mean, that’s not so bad. It wouldn’t get you into graduate school on the GRE, but in terms of human behavior in a wicked world, even that level of goodness deserves some reward.
Or say that this was a year of good things. You ran the race, closed the deal, finished the book, beat the rap, and you want to give something impressive (but not a boat) to your trainer, your partner, your agent, your lawyer.
Look to one (or some, what the hell) of these “Twelve Great Wines” reviewed in this Featured Article on KoeppelOnWine.com. Prices go from about $45 to $350, so there’s a wide range of choice. The regions are California; Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and the Rhone Valley in France; Tuscany and Alto Adige in Italy; and Hungary, in case geography plays any part in your selection. I’ve included two labesl here as a hint about the kinds of wines these “Twelve Great Wines” are.
What makes these wines great?
Well, the fact that they are unique, pure and intense expressions of a place and a grape (or grapes); that they embody every principle of balance and harmony and completeness along with some wild eloquence, some extra element of personality and character; the fact that they are downright delicious as well as profound, and it’s true that some of them won’t really be ready to consume for another five to eight years.
So go for it! Reward yourself! Make someone else happy! Isn’t it about time?
And on Friday will come, on this blog, a case of wine for Christmas giving or getting or drinking, 12 bottles each under 20 dollars. I’m working on that now.
Thu 13 Dec 2007
Winemakers and producers in American, though they usually don’t want to admit this, have a much easier time as far as governmental regulations are concerned than their counterparts in Europe. Or maybe they do admit it, but sort of gruffly, in an American sort of way. In America, the rules set down by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), formerly the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms — and thank god they finally got the guns out of there! now the vice president can handle those directly! — primarily effect what terms can be printed on wine labels and what the terms mean.
In Europe, the story is far different. The regulations laid down by the official wine bureaus of various countries stipulate what kinds of grapes can be grown in what regions and what grapes go into different sorts of wines, often including the minimum percentages of grapes in blended wines. Some rules are so stringent that they dictate what the yields must be in the vineyards, what sort of trellising system must be used and when harvest must begin.
Whew, I’m glad we don’t have to worry about all that stuff in America! Our guiding power is the can-do spirit of frontier individualism which says, essentially, plant any grapes anywhere you want to and make the wine any way you can. The main point, as far as the TTB is concerned, is that fraud not be perpetuated by misleading label terms. So, if a label says that the wine is from Sonoma County, it “must be derived from not less than 75% of grapes, citrus or other fruit or other agricultural commodity grown in the named county AND must be fully finished (except for cellar treatment and blending which does not result in an alteration of class and type) in the state in which the named county is located.” I’m quoting here from the official Department of Treasury The Beverage Alcohol Manual: Basic Mandatory Labeling Information for Wine, a fascinating document written 75% in real English and available here.
If the label states that the wine is a product of an approved American Viticultural Area (AVA), such as Russian River Valley or Stags Leap District, then the amount of grapes in the wine from that AVA must be 85 percent. If the label states that the wine was “Estate Bottled,” then 100 percent of the grapes must derive from land owned or controlled by the winery, which much be located within the same AVA as the vineyard and “must crush, ferment the grapes, finish, age, process and bottle the wine on their premises.”
There are other various picayune label matters that producers must attend to, like the size of the type that the government warming is printed in, but it’s good that generally the federal government wants to prevent, as much as possible, the hoodwinking of innocent wine consumers.
Which brings me to the word “reserve,” a term that we see on wine labels all the time over which the TTB has no control at all and has never attempted to control and the whole reason for today’s post.
The word “reserve” on a label implies that the wine is special in some way, that it was, perhaps, produced from a better part of a vineyard, that the wine was selected from barrels whose contents demonstrated higher quality, that more care was taken with its making and that it is limited in production, therefore commanding a high price. There is also the implication that a winery produces a reserve bottling to augment its “regular” wine in the same genre.
Variations on the term “reserve” include Private Reserve, Proprietor’s Reserve, Vineyard Reserve and Vintner’s Reserve, Special Reserve and such terms as Special Selection, Special Release and Our Finest Selection. None of these terms is regulated, so that Glen Ellen, during “the fighting varietals” promotions in the 1980s, was free to label its wines as “Proprietors Reserve,” even though they were produced in the millions of cases and sold for $5 or $6. Then there’s Kendall-Jackson, whose well-known “Vintner’s Reserve” series, costing from about $12 to $16 a bottle, is ubiquitous in the country’s restaurants. Surely the situation is confusing for consumers when they can buy a bottle of Glen Ellen Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon for $5 while the Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon costs $116 and the Caymus Special Selection costs $136.
I think there need to be some rules, not necessarily the way it is in Tuscany, for example, where the differences between Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Riserva and between Rosso di Montalcino and Brunello di Montalcino are enforced by government regulations. No, I think it is enough that a producer be required to prove that a wine labeled in some manner to indicate its superiority to a cousin wine from the same winery was indeed derived from a special vineyard or portion of a vineyard, that the grapes received particular treatment in the winery and that the wine was bottled in a limited quantity. These factors should be enumerated on the back label in straightforward language that consumers can understand. Wineries that did not follow these procedures or that could not justify using the terms would not be allowed to produce so-called “reserve” wines.
Next week: A similar rant on an equally nebulous and often misused term, “Old Vines.”
Mon 10 Dec 2007
Tasting sweet dessert wines is tough. They’re extremely rich and over-ripe and can come close to being cloying, though if they’re made correctly dynamite acid keeps them honest and dry from mid-palate back; that point is essential; you want to feel the clean vibrancy as well as the lushness, the unctuousness. The best examples of dessert wines are amazingly complicated, not only directly sensuous but intellectual. Glorious though they can be, they tire the palate and weary the tongue. They are made, after all, for sipping, not drinking.
Nevertheless, I had accumulated a number of dessert wines of widely diverse origins and styles, so I invited enough people to make a group of eight and we sat down on a rainy Sunday afternoon to try them. We tasted the wines blind, the principle order being from youngest to oldest. Since the wines varied so much in mode and manner, I didn’t arrange them in flights, instead, we tasted each individually. For convenience and fun more than anything else, we scored the wines on a 20 point scale — reminder: on this blog and on KoeppelOnWine.com I do not rate wines on a numerical system — which gave us a means of keeping track of our favorites. I include on this list, which goes from highest to lowest rating, the group score followed by my score. With the exception of the Monbazillac (the last wine on this roster), I regard all of these examples mentioned here as successes in varying degrees
Some of the wines that I thought were terrific the group didn’t regard very highly. I have no way of explaining this occurrence.
There are, basically and briefly, three methods of producing dessert wines. The point is that the sugar content of the grapes will be high enough (or to put it another way, so high) that fermentation will stop before all the sugar is converted to alcohol; that’s why sweet wines are sweet.
First, in the classic procedure made famous in Bordeaux’s Sauternes and Barsac regions, the grapes are affected by the botrytis cinerea mold, which shrinks and dries the grapes, concentrating the sugars and raising the sugar level (usually measured by the Brix ripeness scale). Botrytis, the “noble rot,” may contribute a scent and flavor of over-ripeness, a sort of sweet, crystalized earthy-superfruitiness to the wine. The climate of the vineyard has to be perfectly balanced with foggy mornings and warm afternoon humidity in late summer and early fall to produce the rot. Botrytis can be induced in the winery, as is the case with Beringer’s well-known Nightingale dessert wines.
Second, the grapes can be dried on straw mats or wooden boxes or on special racks to concentrate the sugar, a procedure that takes several months, so fermentation may not begin until January or February. This is common practice in northern Italy, for example in the production of Vinsanto.
Third, in the “late harvest” method grapes are allowed to hang on the vines so the grapes dry and shrivel as sugar levels rise, while trying (usually) to avoid the presence of botrytis. This method produces the Vendages Tardives sweet wines of Alsace. Winemakers can, of course, leave grapes on the vine until they actually freeze, producing the specialty called Eiswein or ice wine.
This tasting of white dessert wines included examples of all these methods.
1. Royal Tokaji Red Label 2000, five puttonyos, Hungary. About $32 for a 500 ml bottle. The grapes are furmint, harslevelu and muscat. Imported by Wilson Daniels. Composite score: 18. My score: 17. The wine spends four years in barrels. Bright, brassy gold color; quince, peach and pear, cloves and cinnamon, spiced and macerated peaches, candied melon and lime; quivering acid, scintillating limestone. A puttonyo is the traditional 4.5 gallon wooden tub used to collect grapes in Aszu; the higher the puttonyo level (up to six) the sweeter the wine. A beauty. 2010 to 2015.
2. (Tie with no. 3) Louis Guntrun Silvaner Eiswein 2003, Rheinhessen, Germany. About $53 for a half-bottle. Imported by Broadbent Selections. Composite score: 16.83. My score: 16. Very clean, fresh and lively, quince, pear and lychee, quite floral; sleek, smooth and charming; sweet candied entry but a dry finish that chimes with acid. 2013 to 2018.
3. (Tie with no. 2) Carpineto Farnito Vinsanto del Chianti 1986, Tuscany, Italy. Trebbiano Toscano 60%, malvasia 40%. About $44 to $55 for a 500 ml. bottle. Imported by Opici. Composite score: 16.83. My score: 17. Rich and warm, toasted almonds, orange rind, toffee, bittersweet chocolate, cloves and cinnamon; quite dense and luscious, long spicy finish with a huge hit of acid. Now through 2012 to 2016.
4. Chateau de Fesles 1997, Bonnezeaux, Loire Valley, France. Chenin blanc. About $40 for a half-bottle. Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons. Composite score: 16.33. My score: 17. Vivid medium amber color; slightly oxidized and sherry-like, toffee, caramel, candied orange rind, touch of roasted lemon; attractive tone and presence. now through 2012 or 2015.
5. Renaissance Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 1991, North Yuba, Sierra Foothills, California. About $ for a full bottle. Composite score: 15.83. My score: 16. I wasn’t as impressed with this wine as when I tried it in October. This example seemed lighter, more delicate, though quite delicious, with hints of dried herbs, spiced pears and apricots, a bit of nectarine, candied lime peel. Good length and a dry, crisp finish. Now though 2011 to 2015.
6. (Tie with no. 7 ) Dolce 2003, Napa Valley, California. Semillon 89%, sauvignon blanc 11%. Made by Far Niente. About $85 for a half-bottle. Composite score: 15.71. My score: 19 (my highest score of the tasting). This is a fabulous wine, the nectar of the gods, the nectar of the goddesses, the nectar of the nymphs, the nectar of the nymphets. (I dunno what happened to my fellow tasters on this wine, but I like them anyway.) Golden yellow; deep, rich and spicy, fruit not only ripe but macerated and roasted, as in peaches, pears, quince and apricot with touch of mango; roasted honey; intense and powerful, like drinking liquid gold plate but never obvious or ponderous. Best from 2009 through 2015 or ’18.
7. (Tie with no. 6) Inniskillin Vidal Ice Wine Gold 2005, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario. About $85 for a half-bottle. Imported by Icon Estates. Composite score: 15.71. My score: 18. Incredibly deep and spicy and layered, so thick and dense, nectarine over peach over apricot and lychee, all super-ripe, over-the-top, macerated and roasted, yet clean, electrified by acid. Try 2008 or ’09 through 2015 or ’18.
8. Beringer Nightingale Private Reserve 2001, Napa Valley. Semillon 65%, sauvignon blanc 35%. About $40 for a half-bottle. Composite score: 15.5. My score: 18. Myron Nightingale (1915-1988) pioneered the used of induced botrytis for making Sauternes-style dessert wines in California. Medium brassy-gold; incredibly rich, deep and spicy, honeysuckle and jasmine, super-ripe peach, apricot and mango, roasted and smoky, a foundation of limestone and vivid acid, almost daringly spicy. Now to 2013 to ’15.
9. (Tie with no. 10) Schmitt Sohne Eiswein 2004, Rheinhessen, Germany. Made from scheurebe grapes. About $20 for a 500 ml. bottle (the bargain of this tasting). Imported by Schmitte Sohne Inc. Composite score: 15.33. My score: 14. No great depth or presence but very attractive, authentic over-ripe botryised aromas, rich and spicy, dense and moderately lush.
10. (Tie with no. 9) Sonnenmulde Samling Eiswein 2003, Burgenland, Austria. Samling is the local name for scheurebe in Burgenland. About $33 for a half-bottle. Imported by Domaine Select Wine Estates. Composite score: 15.33. My score: 15. Not particularly complicated but a lovely dessert wine, well-balanced and structured, slightly floral, very spicy peach and apricot, good length.
11. Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Reserve Vidal Ice Wine 2005, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario. About $20 for a quarter-bottle. Imported by R.H. Phillips, Inc. Group score: 15.28. My score: 15. Very attractive, mango and orange rind, peach and nectarine, touch of honeysuckle, sweet entry balanced by keen acidity.
12. Inniskillin Riesling Ice Wine 2006, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario. About $75 for a half-bottle. Imported by Icon Estates. Group score: 15.14. My score: 16. Light, delicate, lively, subtly woven, peach and apricot, lime and lime peel, touch of lychee and orange blossom, practically shimmers in the glass.
13. Inniskillin Vidal Ice Wine 2006, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario. About $65 for a half-bottle. Imported by Icon Estates. Group score: 15. My score: 18. Light gold color, fresh, clean and delicate but so much substance, tone and structure, crystalline acidity like a tuning fork, multiple layers of super-ripe stone fruit, citrus peel, flowers, honey and limestone. Fabulous. Best from 2008 through 2012 to ’15.
14. Jorge Ordonez & Co. Seleccion Especial Moscatel 2005, Malaga, Spain. About $19 for a half-bottle (another bargain). Imported by Star Distributors, Memphis, Tenn. Group score: 14.7. My score: 14. No profound depth here but absolutely lovely; orange rind, orange and almond blossom, white peach, lime peel, lychee and rose petal, very spicy with heaps of limestone. Now through 2010 or ’11.
15. Beringer Nightingale Private Reserve 2002, Napa Valley. Semillon 65%, sauvignon blanc 35%. About $40 for a half-bottle. Group score: 14.42. My score: 17. What was wrong with the group? So many layers, details and nuances, deep, rich and very spicy, creme brulee with honey-peach whipped cream, jasmine and honeysuckle, and so much energy and nervosity. Now through 2012 to ’15.
16. Chateau Villefranche 2005, Sauternes, Bordeaux. Semillon 85%, sauvignon blanc 10%, muscadelle 5%. About $33 for a half-bottle. William Harrison Imports. Group score: 13.7. My score: 15. Clean, fresh and delicate, Meyer lemon, very ripe pineapple and grapefruit, peach and apricot, stone fruit, tingling acid, a wash of limestone and shale in the dry finish. Very charming. Now through 2012 to ’15.
17. Bonny Doon Le Val des Anges Roussanne 2006, Beeswax Vineyard, Arroyo Seco, Monterey County. About $30 for a half-bottle. Group score: 13.14. My score: 13. This “flight of angels” emerges from Bonny Doon’s biodynamic vineyard in southern Monterey county. Elegant, delicate, composed of finely poised layers of jasmine, spiced and honeyed white peaches, roasted grapefruit, lime peel and limestone; gripping acid keeps the finish dry. Now through 2011 or ’12.
18. Chateau Monbazillac 2000, Monbazillac. Semillon 80%, sauvignon blanc 10%, muscadelle 10%. About $22 for a half-bottle. No importer listed. Group score: 12.57. My score: 9. Unbalanced, tired, earthy and a little dirty.
Wed 5 Dec 2007
Posted by Fredric Koeppel under Uncategorized  Comments
Readers, this almost slipped by me.
I made the first post on BiggerThanYourHead.net a year ago Sunday, on Dec. 3, 2006, to be exact. A year later — 123 posts, 901 comments and 177,740 visitors to the blog — I’m having lots of fun and I hope you are too. My goal is to keep doing exactly what I’m doing: writing about wines we tried and meals we ate and casting a cold and critical eye on the sometimes sane and often ludicrous processes, language and marketing that gets wine to our tables.
I hope you’ll stay with me and be informed, provoked and amused for another year — and inspired to respond to these posts.
Tue 4 Dec 2007
Posted by Fredric Koeppel under Restaurants  Comments
This routine happened to us at a restaurant last night. It’s becoming a common occurrence. This is one of those steak and chop houses where a strip steak is $39 and a rib-eye is $42 and everything else is a la carte.
We’re seated at the table. One waiter brings water and says, “You’re waiter will be here in a moment.” So the official waiter comes, says hello, my name is whatever and I’ll be taking care of you tonight — taking care of us? — hands each of us a menu and puts the wine list on the table.
“May I start you off with a cocktail or a glass of wine?” he asks.
I say, “No, we’ll look at the wine list and the menu.”
So he ambles off and we look at the menu, compare ideas about what we might order and what kind of wine we’re in the mood for. Usually LL and I order either fish or red meat so one bottle of white or red wine will do. So we’re mulling these things over, and I’m looking at the wine list, and the moments flee by, and LL says, “We haven’t gotten any bread.” Indeed, we have not. And she adds, “I wonder if there are any specials we should know about.” Indeed, we have not been told about any specials.
The waiter shows up finally and asks, “Have you had a chance to select your wine?”
I say, “Well, yes, but could we have some bread?”
He looks amazed. “Well,” he says, “don’t you want to order the wine first?”
And I say, “No, the wine is to go with dinner, and when the wine comes we’ll want some bread to go with it.” So off he goes to bring us some bread.
Which he does, and then we order the wine, and then he has to go get the wine and then he opens the wine and goes through all the folderol and THEN we get around to the matter of reciting the specials and ordering dinner.
By now, a time zone has slipped away to the east. Friends, life is too short to sit in restaurants where the preferred method of business is to get the cocktails and wine on the table as fast as possible and get patrons good and oiled before allowing them to decide what they want to eat or even bringing them some bread with which to buffer their stomachs.
It’s not — to be fair — the waiter’s fault. He was only doing what management tells him to do. But, lord love a duck, isn’t it enough that we’re paying $60 or so each for dinner? Must we be led down the path of inebriation too?
Waiter image from images.inmagine.com.
Mon 3 Dec 2007
Posted by Fredric Koeppel under Cooking at Home  Comments
With what do you follow a tasting of 20 dessert wines, when your whole body feels as if it has been steeped in crystallized ginger, baked peaches ‘n’ cream and faintly rotten apricots? When sugar overload threatens to sent you into Sweet Tooth Shock Syndrome?
Something very clean and crisp and rigorous, a little nun-like in its purity and power. Wild sockeye salmon and the Silverado Vineyards Miller Ranch Sauvignon Blanc 2006, from Napa Valley’s Yountville appellation.
I organized this dessert wine event for eight people, including me and LL, and we all sat down at the table at home yesterday, on a blustery, rainy afternoon, when “the thermometer,” as Yeats says, “sank in the mouth of the dying day.” The dessert wines were all white, all non-fortified, representing many countries, regions, grapes, styles and strategies and ranging in year from 2006 back to 1986, lending the affair a tidy sense of symmetry. We tasted the wines blind, but since they were so different, I didn’t arrange them in competitive flights but offered each one individually. Quality varied, of course, but as LL said, “There wasn’t a clunker in sight.” And as Benito (wine-by-benito) averred, it was a great way to spend a chilly, rainy Sunday afternoon. I’ll post the results of the tasting in a couple of days.
Meanwhile, after clean-up, it’s eight o’clock or so and we needed that simple dinner, the salmon prepared with nothing more than salt, pepper, thyme and lemon juice and briefed seared, then briefly roasted (I mean, all this takes about four minutes); a handful of roasted potatoes; and some unadorned broccoli.
Made in stainless steel, the Silverado was perfect, fresh, clean, crisp and appropriately steelly, vibrant with acid, resonant with taut grapefruit, lime peel, lemon flavors and a touch of green apple; there’s a subtle weaving of dried thyme and tarragon, a hint of smoke, a bell-tone of leafy currant at the core. Classic and elegant and a bit austere from a flash of limestone in the finish. I rate it Excellent. About $18. Bottled with a screw-cap for easy opening.
Actually, we were supposed to eat that salmon Thursday night, but after what one always calls “a long day” — days aren’t really longer than each other; they just feel that way sometimes — before getting out the salmon for dinner we opened a couple of plastic-foam boxes (for a pre-dinner snack) we had brought from a restaurant the night before. Somehow this snack turned into dinner itself, which we ate standing in the kitchen, right out of the boxes, with a bottle of the Gainey Vineyard Merlot 2005, Santa Ynez Valley.
The restaurant was Umai, a small place in Memphis where an open kitchen the size of a modest walk-in closet turns out brilliant efforts at Franco-Japanese cuisine. We brought home 48-hour marinated duck in a “drunken duck” sauce and sirloin steak, crusted with chilies and chicory coffee and served with the best “fried” rice I have ever eaten.
The Gainey Merlot 2005 is aged 21 months in oak, 33 percent new barrels, and it wears that wood like a silk scarf around its shoulders. This is such a beautifully layered and structured merlot that it’s irresistible, but it doesn’t neglect the more stalwart elements of dusty, earthy tannins and touches of briers and brambles on the finish. Mainly, the wine is rich and intense, bursting with bright and vivid black currant and black cherry flavors framed by spicy oak and a supple chewy texture, bringing up, after a few minutes, waftings of dried flowers and bittersweet chocolate. Serious and delightful simultaneously. I rate this one Excellent, too. About $24. Drink now through 2010 or ’11.
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