Fri 1 Aug 2008
As you can see I don’t know a blessed thing about poker except that two pair beat something. Maybe. Or maybe not.
My (much attenuated) point is that here are two pair of terrific wines that are actually unbeatable, at least in their price ranges. One pair comes from the Cotes de Bourg, a so-called minor appellation in Bordeaux’s Right Bank area. The other pair hails from Corsica, an island that is part of France but has always seemed more Italian, despite being the birthplace of Napoleon.
*The blend on these two wines, made by fifth-generation winemaker Christopher Bonnet, is 80 percent merlot, 20 percent cabernet sauvignon.
XIV de Haut-Guiraud “Tradition” 2005, Cotes de Bourg, is made entirely in stainless steel, thereby emphasizing the inherent fruity, structural qualities of the grapes. The wine is robust, rich, deep, dense and intense; it features an entrancing, penetrating bouquet of cassis and black cherry, lavender, rose petal and lilac, cedar and lead pencil, a classic and more. The black fruit flavors are ripe, rather meaty and fleshy, and permeated by a trio of tannic effects: underbrush, wheatmeal, walnut shell, all leading to a fairly austere, earthy, minerally finish. Very good+, and a delicious wine that offers remarkable character for the price, about $18 to $20. Drink now, with grilled red meat, through 2012 or ’14.
Chateau Castaing 2005, Cotes de Bourg, spends 12 months in oak, and you can smell the oak and taste it, making me wish that the wood were better integrated, though of course bottle age could provide that softening and smoothing effect. Spicy and slightly roasted cassis and black cherry flavors are attractive, rounding out with a touch of wild berry, reams of smoke and layers of sleek minerals and finely-grained tannins. Best from 2009 through 2014 or ’15. Very good+. About $18 to $20.
Selected by N. Palazzi Wine & Spirits and imported by Metropolis Wine Merchants, New York.
*Clos Poggiali is owned by the Skalli family that owns a variety of properties in Corsica, the Rhone Valley and Languedoc as well as St. Supery in Napa Valley. The products available in the U.S., in addition, of course, to the wines of St. Supery, are Fortant, from Languedoc; Maison Bouachon, from Chateauneuf-du-Pape; and Terra Vecchia and Clos Poggiale, from Corsica. The Clos Poggiale wines are well-worth seeking out.
The Clos Poggiale White Wine 2005, Vin de Corse, is recognizably neither chardonnay nor sauvignon blanc. Made completely from vermentino grapes and in stainless steel, the wine opens with scents of lemon curd and lanolin, dried thyme and some little white summery flower. Bracing acidity buoys juicy and zesty citrus flavors that culminate is a blast of grapefruit; the finish picks up more spice and hints of dried herbs. The wine is dry and slightly astringent (yet, paradoxically, almost honeyed), and it seems to embody the smell of fresh, salty sea air. Absolutely delightful, but with a hint of seriousness. Drink now through 2009. Excellent. About $24.
The red wine, the Clos Poggiale 2004, Vin de Corse, blended from 55 percent sangiovese (called nielluccio in Corsica) and 45 percent syrah, flings spicy, smoky black currant and plum scents directly at you. The word “spicy” recurs thrice in my notes, lending some idea of the lively, vibrant nature of the wine. It’s dry, dusty, dense and chewy, substantial without being heavy, and bursting with ripe, delicious black fruit flavors. Oak treatment is minimal; the syrah rests eight months in French barrels, one-third new wood, while the sangiovese ages in vats; the result is a wine that feels burnished, rather than dominated, by oak. We happily drank this wine with grilled chicken, though it would be terrific with leg of lamb. Drink now through 2010 or ’11. Very good+. About $28.
These wines are imported by SFW Americas, Rutherford, Ca. Visit www.skalli.com.