Monday, August 29, 2005

Tasting with: The Rare Wine Company 8-26-05

The Rare Wine Co. was in on Friday, and these folks are just impressive from top to bottom – all of the wines show very good to exceptional quality and should not be missed.

In particular I recommend:

2004 Quinta do Feital “Auratus” Alvarinho from Portugal – the 03 of this wine was good but perhaps a bit too perfumed and reductive – the 04 is much fresher/lighter on the palate with lovely lemon “zip” through the finish; very tasty.

2004 Olivares Monastrell “Altos de la Hoya” from Spain – Monastrell = Mouvedre. this wine is a bargain! The 03 was great and well reviewed (90 RP), and this 04 is just in line with a bit better balance; slightly tight right now but will flesh-out nicely with its already delicious core of black fruits.

2003 Palacios Remondo Rioja “Vendimia” – this is one of the finest wine-makers working some of the most historical vineyards in Spain, today. Since 1988, Alvaro Palacios has developed a fabulous reputation in both Bierzo and Priorato with skills he perfected at Petrus in the early 1980s; he returned to his family’s property in Rioja in 2000 to take over from his ailing father. This is very soft, dark fruit style Rioja and is a great value in today’s market.

2002 Palacios Remondo Rioja Crianza “Montesa” – Palacios Remondo is located in the sub-region of Rioja Baja, which in 2002 had a cool dry season unlike its more prominent neighbor to the north. This meant that the vintage for them was actually very good with only a slightly less concentrated dark fruit base as you might expect from a warmer vintage. This wine is very elegant and balanced and was quite pleasant to drink.

2003 Alvaro Palacios Priorato “Les Terrasses” –Les Terrasses consists of approximately 30% Garnacha, 60% Cariñena, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and as I stated above Priorato is where Alvaro shines; his top wine, l’Ermita, is generally considered to be on level with Pingus as Spain’s greatest modern wines. Les Terrasses is wonderfully crafted with much concentration; dark fruit abounds and perhaps a bit tight as this wine is just a baby. Alvaro thinks this may be his best vintage ever.

2003 Dominio de Atauta Ribera del Duero – Winery of the Year in Spain last year – this wine is VERY CONCENTRATED to the point of almost being thick, but the fruit just rolls on and on. This winery is located an hours drive north of everyone else in RdD and 500 meters higher in elevation – the vineyards have been cultivated for over 1,000 years and most of the produce for this winery is taken from un-grafted, 100+ year-old Tempranillo vines. This wine is unbelievable.

2003 Rene Rostaing Coteaux de Languedoc “Puech Chaud” – this was perhaps my favorite wine of the tasting – hedonistic describes it best and my notes state simply, “Wow, this is delicious.” Rene Rostaing is most famous for his remarkable wines from Cote Rotie, but in the late 1990s, René and his wife purchased an estate, Domaine Puech Chaud, in the Côteaux du Langudoc near Nîmes. Located in a relatively cool micro-climate, Puech Chaud gave Rene a chance to produce Syrah on the limestone soils beloved by many French growers. With small amounts of Mourvèdre, Grenache, Grenache blanc, and Rolle, Puech Chaud is now producing one of the Midi’s most beautiful wines.

2003 Agostini Pieri Rosso di Montalcino – this is the only producer to ever get a Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri award for a Rosso di Montalcino. Produced from steep hillside vineyards and older vines. This wine is silky smooth and elegant with no over extraction or odd flavors from the 03 heat – just pure delicious Italian. Great, un-Italian like label.

2003 Montepeloso “Eneo” – a relatively young winery located in Tuscany’s coastal appellation of Bolgheri – this winery has quickly climbed to the top of many reviewers lists (5 Star Rob Parker winery and Tre Bicchieri award winner). The Eneo is a blend of Sangiovese, Colorino and Merlot (actually it’s Montepulciano, but that is not technically legal so they call it Merlot, which is legal). Great weight and balance; this is a powerful wine wrapped in elegance.

2001 Olivares “Dulce” from Jumilla – A late harvest, boytriis affected Mouvedre from Jumilla that gets 93+ from Tanzer?? You bet. This is a wine that just has to be tried. In fact, it is so good that the Rare Wine Co. has to allocate it.

Elio Perrone Moscato d’Asti “Clarite” – only about 600 cases produced annually – this consistently ranks among the appellations top 2-3 wines. From Stefano Perrone’s oldest vines (most 50-70 years old). Beautifully fruit and decadently sweet (5.5% abv) it would make a perfect dessert on its own, but can be paired with something light and delicate. Clarte is usually bottled in April, and sold out by fall.

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