Friday, February 02, 2007

Robert Pecota Cabernet

1997 Robert Pecota, Kara's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($38) -- Napa Valley. Found this straggler at a big store that was blowing out some old inventory. I figured 97 was a big year for Napa Cabs so what the hell, it should have some stuffing. I can't say whether it was the storage conditions or the age of the wine, but most of the fruit was gone. It didn't taste as delicate and fragile as a 1970's Napa Cab from a good producer but it was headed that way. It reminded me of some of the average 1998 Napa Cabs, 98 being a relatively difficult year.

Fading elusive nose, with tight, straight-forward un-complex flavors and a medium finish. As the 97 is well regarded by others I can only assume that this is a badly stored bottle. In most vintages the Kara's Vineyard Cabs are blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc, fermented in stainless steel and aged for 20 months or so in mostly new French oak.

Last year Pecota sold his vineyard and winery (but not the name as he has bought new property and will continue to make wine there) to Jess Jackson where he will produce the Atalon brand.

Pecota Family Sells Calistoga Estate . . . Will Launch New Vineyard and Winery

In July, 2006, Robert Pecota and his family sold their Calistoga winery and estate vineyard, established in 1978, to Artisan and Estates, owned by Jess Jackson of Kendall-Jackson fame. It will become the home of the high-end Atalon brand of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The Pecota family has retained ownership of the Robert Pecota Winery name and all Pecota-branded wines, and has acquired another property close by on Bennett Lane just across the Napa River from Chateau Montelena. Plans are to plant 22 of the 27 acres to grapes, primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, while devoting the balance to a home and small winery. Until the new winery is operational, the family will continue to produce wines at its former facility.

It will be interesting to re-taste the Pecota wines from the new vineyards when they are released.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Another Garage Wine Blog

I have not been keeping up with the proliferation of new wine blogs, but today I stumbled onto a real "garage" wine blog.

Jean-Luc Thunevin is the real garagiste as one of the first garage winemakers in St-Emilion with his label, Chateau Valandraud. Two of the books I have devoured recently, "Noble Rot" and Parker's "World's Greatest Wine Estates", devote much coverage to Jean-Luc's role in the whole Movement. In fact, he has gone from making wine in his backyard to being listed in Parker's book as one of the world's greatest wine "estates". His wine is on my short list to buy.

Well, from one Wine Garage (oops, Warehouse!) to another, welcome!

Argentine Wine Find

2002 Finca Flichman, Paisaje de Tupungato ($16) -- Estate bottled from Mendoza, Argentina. Did you ever find a $20 bill in a pair of pants tucked way back in your closet? I just found this wine after more than a year in the back closet.

Tupungato is a blend of Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon aged in American and French oak for 12 months and then 6 months in bottle. Flichman makes a lower-end value wine also.

Actually it got an extra year of bottle aging back in the vault as it went missing. I thought the whole wooden case was corked, if that is possible, because when I opened the crate, it reeked of TCA. (Can a whole case be corked? I thought of dragging the box outside in case I infected the entire shop!)

The wine is stunning for $16 with full-bodied fruit, soft tannins and a medium to long finish. It pays to clean out the closet from time to time. The bad news on waiting so long is that the warehouse is out having gone through 130 six-packs. Damn! If you find any grab it. The last 5 bottles here are going back into hiding.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Row Eleven Pinot -- Update

2004 Row Eleven, Vinas 3 Pinot Noir ($19) -- California. The Vinas 3 means, I think, that the wine comes from 3 vineyards, 3 appellations, and 3 clones. Three cubed!

Do you remember the scene from "Broadcast News" when Albert Brooks' character is at home on the phone to the newsdesk and he is walking William Hurt's character through the interview. Albert comments, "I speak into the phone here and it comes out of his mouth on TV. Amazing!", or something like that.

Last week I posted a piece on the Row Eleven Santa Maria Pinot after tasting a bottle at a party and wished that the wine was in Ohio. Today a rep dropped off this bottle to sample. There are 14 cases in the warehouse.

I type into my laptop here, it posts to my blog, and then wine appears at my shop. Amazing!

The Vinas 3 is more about California Pinot, versus the Santa Maria which is about the Bien Nacido vineyard. The Santa Maria is big and muscular and brooding, whereas the Vinas is elegant, well-rounded and sophisticated with a long finish for an under $20 California Pinot.

The Great Wines of America

I just finished Paul Lukacs' book, "The Great Wines of America", and just happened to recently have tasted two of his selections (although the vintages and labels are not the same as in the book). Although I would disagree with the subtitle, "The Top Forty Vintners, Vineyards, and Vintages", I did enjoy the coverage of the winemakers and their struggles to bring their wines to market. There are far too many great wines out there to list these 40 as the best.

One of the themes throughout the book is the concept that it is the terroir that determines the greatness of the wines, if the winemaker can let the true expression of the place come out. With minimal intervention, and low yields and proper ripeness, the wine makes itself, or as one winemaker commented, it is better to manipulate the grapes instead of the wine.

All in all a good read, particularly if you have a good bottle open. I have already ordered some of the wines mentioned (L. Mawby and Horton).

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

German Pinot Noir

2004 Fitz-Ritter Pinot Noir ($19) -- Pfalz, Germany. Rotwein Trocken (Dry Red Wine); QbA. Yes, Germany does make red wine, although little makes it over to the US. I found this wine on the list at the old Pho Paris and I grabbed a few cases. I have enjoyed a few other Spatburgunders before, but this is a good entry level German Pinot for those who want to experiment. Not overly complex, but elegant with some cherry flavors and a medium finish. Probably best with food. Not overly acidic. Very pleasant and worth trying.

Azul Profundo

Beside being a hot restaurant in Santiago, Azul Profundo is a new line of wines from Chile produced by Jeff Jarvis and Jessica Tomei. They make their own Sierra Foothills Syrah, consult on some Chilean projects, import some other wines from Chile and run a distribution company in Northern California. Oh yeah, they also have a new born and still manage to sneak off and go skiing occasionally.

2005 Azul Profundo Syrah and 2005 Azul Profundo Pinot Noir (under $20) -- Chile. The Pinot reminds me of Jessica's Pinot by Porta as they are both from the Bio Bio Valley. Elegant with more fruit than Burgundy. Definitely not Russian River.

The Syrah is full-bodied with a long finish. A definite winner at this price point. Coming to Ohio very soon.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Port Club Annual Meeting

Last Saturday (or maybe it was two Saturdays ago as I am still recouping) a bunch of guys got together to share some Port and bad jokes. After steak dinners and copious amounts of wine ( I did manage to miss out on the mag of Hundred Acre and the El Nido as I was at the wrong table), the boys dove into the Port. Besides these beauties, there was also a Grahams 40 year-old Tawny.

The 1980 was tight and might never achieve the greatness of the 1977 or 1966. The 1977 was going strong with lots of intense fruit and has many years left. The 1966 was stunning with a huge aromatic nose that lit up the room (I almost skipped dinner to dive in early!) and very long finish. Nuanced, elegant, complex, etc., etc,! Unfortunately there are few bottles left and they go for $275 a piece.