B-21 Fine Wine & S p irit s Guid e t o Win e s f ro m Aro und the Wo rld
“Andrea Franchetti is one of Italy’s most fascinating wine personalities. His wines from Trinoro, in one of the most remote corners of Tuscany, remain some of my favorite reds on the planet.” – Robert Parker
Andrea Franchetti (pg. 2)
ITALY WITH A VIEW
by Steve Rayman
Franchetti follows his own path to new heights. Four great winemakers, Michel Rolland, Stéphane Derenoncourt, Denis Dubourdieu, and Andrea Franchetti each have been honored to make a signature vintage for Chateau d’Arsac’s Winemakers’ Collection in Bordeaux. The only Italian in this club is Andrea Franchetti who is used to making conquests. He’s already conquered Italy from Tuscany to faraway Sicily. Franchetti has spent the last twenty years creating great wines in two very remote areas where no one else dared. He planted Bordeaux varietals in a remote, roadless part of Tuscany that even he described as “godforsaken” and he went full bore up Mt. Etna in Sicily where there is a constant threat from the vulcano. Clearly he’s willing to risk it all to make great wines. In his far corner of Tuscany he turns Bordeaux grapes from the same vineyards into two fine wines, one an extraordinary value and the other an extravagant masterpiece. His LE CUPOLE is an amazing value. It has a slightly higher amount of Cabernet Franc and sells for only 26.99! Ready to
drink now. The Wine Advocate’s Antonio Galloni likes it too: “an incredibly harmonious and well-balanced Le Cupole that is sure to deliver much pleasure.” (92 points Steve Rayman, $26.99) Franchetti’s grand wine in Tuscany is called TENUTA DI TRINORO and is a product of severe selections where 60% of the grapes are pruned away. Only free run juice is employed from the remaining 40%, and that is culled even further at the winery, so he ends up with only about 750 cases to offer the world. You can taste the rarity in the elegance, purity and velvety texture of his 2007. Tenuta di Trinoro is rich and full-bodied yet almost light because it is so seamless and its tannins are soft. For me, the complexity is different from Bordeaux and more pronounced than most Super Tuscans. Galloni too calls it “one of my favorite reds on the planet.” (95 points WA, $199.99) Down in Sicily and up on the volcano, Franchetti has used the local grapes and volcanic soil to explosive success.
The wine is called PASSOPISCIARO or “Fisherman’s Path.” At his vineyards high up on Mt. Etna, lava is a constant threat and has come within yards of the vines. Passopisciaro is 100% Nerelo Mascalese, an indigenous grape that has never been more refined. I liken it to a great Pinot Noir. I agree with the Wine Advocate’s description as a “weightless yet powerful wine redolent of sweet candied cherries, flowers, herbs and minerals.” (92 points SR, WA, 34.99) The lone white here is one of the highest altitude Chardonnays in the world from an incredibly lowyielding vineyard. The 2009 GUARDIOLOA is unfiltered yet clean and concentrated with very full, ripe fruit flavors. No Oak! (90 points Vino di Veronelli $29.99) And perhaps the craziest wine in Sicily is his Sicilian Petit Verdot simply called “FRANCHETTI” Less than 400 cases are made annually. The 2006 scored 97 points with Galloni who called it “one of the greatest wines ever made in Sicily.” The 2008 has received 96 points from the Veronelli guide. ($149.99) I love these wines and expect this is a great property to follow as Franchetti will settle for nothing less than perfection.
E-MAIL YOU MISSED! Each month B-21 Proprietor, Bob Sprentall offers the best deals we find to our best customers via email. These offers contain insight on great wines and pricing not available anywhere else. They are often small lots that sell out within hours never to be seen again Below is a sample of a few we offered last month (at current sale price). To make sure you don’t miss the best deals in the future visit b-21.com to sign up and tell us the wines you love. We’ll give you first crack at our finds.
To: Bordeaux Beat Subscribers Subject: First growth or Bordeaux from nowhere? YouTube has the verdict.
You have to be pretty confident to play guessing games like “Am I as good as Lafite?” Margaux, Latour, Ausone, Petrus? Ch. Reignac loves to take on the top first growths vintage after vintage. You can watch the European Grand Jury, set up a blind tasting of eleven Bordeaux. The 2001 Reignac out scored nine top crus; only one did better -- at ten times Reignac’s 14 Euro price (watch the video to find out). I was just as stunned when owner Yves Vatelot set out a similar challenge for me, here in Florida, Reignac against three first growths, and he convinced me. I bought every vintage I could; my current favorite is the ‘08, smoky and very serious. Hard to believe it’s only called Bordeaux. 30 years ago Vatelot didn’t think that mattered when he bought the gravelly old vineyards. He and Michel Rolland have turned it into a cru as grand as the big boys in the Medoc, but the wine lords still say it; give it the lowliest appellation. When we were there this winter, the 16th century chateau was as beautiful as any. The three-story tower has been amazingly retrofitted for blind tastings with a contraption that lowers competing anonymous glasses. 2008 Chateau Reignac (Bordeaux Superieur) 24.99 90-93 Points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
To: Italian Report Subscribers Subject: You must have been a beautiful baby: 2009 Canalicchio
The last name is di Montalcino and we’ll call it Brunello when it grows up in a few years. Already this baby is an all star so why wait? This little rosso from the great 2009 vintage in Montalcino now tastes better than many of the 2004 Brunellos and most 2005s. Oh yeah, this is handsome stuff, lots of aromas and elegant. Authentic. The Pacenti family, our friends for 20 years, have a jewel in this rosso. Sure sign that when the rest of the 2009 juice is released as Brunello in a few years, it will be killer...but baby look at you now. Canalicchio di Sopra Rosso di Montalcino 92RAS 750ml - Reg: $29.99 SALE 24.99, 1.5L - Reg: $59.99 SALE 49.99
To: Adventures in the Andes Subscribers Subject: Pomerol in Mendoza reinvents Malbec: 93+ pts rich
Wines I thought I hated... STEVE RAYMAN: I thought I hated Beaujolais. The wines I tried
seemed thin and often had a metallic tin can quality I was not fond of. A blind tasting of 10-year old cru Beaujolais opened my eyes. I recall a Duboeuf Morgon in particular that I thought was a premier Cru Burgundy. It was beautiful. Older Beaujolais still remind me of well-preserved Burgundy. And I enjoy younger Beaujolais now too. Either the wine making has improved there or I’m choosing better. The 2009 Beaujolais are the best I’ve ever had. I don’t think I’ll be able to stay away from them for 10 years though.
SUMMER MARTIN: I thought I hated White
Zinfandel until bottles of Sutter Home started pouring in at family gatherings (hey, don’t blame us, we’re from Kentucky!) … oh wait, I still hate White Zin!”
RHETT BEILETTI: Gravitating towards French wines very
early I had difficulty understanding the appeal of the wines of The Languedoc, or what we then sometimes called “The Dirty South”. The technological revolution in winemaking that took place at UC Davis really had an influence on the Old World, the South being probably the biggest beneficiary in France. It is rare to any longer encounter that sort of “sock juice” aroma that was so prevalent then, the wines now in fact often charm new wine drinkers with their bounty of rich fruit flavors and unabashed lushness of texture. Had the wines shown these same qualities so often I wonder if my idea of them would have differed from the start.
CHRIS SHERMAN: I choked on my first Amarone,
a cigar ashtray in a glass. I braved a smile but didn't want to go back. A few years ago I did and found fresh versions with the same powerful flavor and much smoother texture. The new style is fresher (some in the old guard will say wimpier); I felt I had manned up to a great Italian at last.
SHANNON SPRENTALL: I never thought I would like Sangria. I
always assumed the concoction was too sweet, too fruity and RED but then I discovered champagne sangria. Here is my favorite recipe. Makes 3 Pitchers: 1 bottle Absolut Mango 750ml - $17.99 3 bottles 2009 Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc - $8.99 3 bottles Gloria Ferrer Brut - $12.99 (or cava) 3 mangoes, 3 pears, 3 tangerines
Argentina got its Malbec from France a century ago and now its got some very smart French winemakers to go with it. Doing a terrific job of it too, which doesn’t surprise me since the French savvy comes from our friends at Ch. Le Gay, one of my Right Bank favorites. Owner Catherine Pere-Verge with consultant Michel Rolland have created another stunner, matching the vineyard view of the Andes. The wine is deep intense, full of blackberries and dark secrets that will unfold over the years. At this price (lowest in the U.S.) you should sock away a few bottles to watch it evolve.
• Peel, skin and chop fruit into 1 inch cubes. Soak fruit in the white wine over night in bowl (or 2 as needed) covered w/ saran wrap. • Before serving: Pour 1/3 of vodka in bottom of pitcher • Add 1/3 fruit + wine mixer, stir well. Add 1 bottle champagne, stir slowly. Enjoy!
2006 Monteviejo Lindaflor Malbec Reg: 34.99 SALE 29.99 93 Points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
sweets, so I assumed this would be awful. Wrong! This stuff is like Yoo Hoo for big peoples. Deeelish.
SHAWN REYNOLDS: Chocovine. I don’t eat a lot of
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BLENDERS OF OZ Penfolds and D’Arenberg
by Chris Sherman
One of Australia's greatest gifts to the wine world is blending; a madcap blending of varieties and vineyards. Shiraz and Cabernet? Shiraz and Viognier? Sem-Chard?
They simply wanted to make wines that pleased their palates. They were as far from Europe as possible, and their give it a go attitude ruled.
No worries, mate. She'll be right.
That originality holds true at two of Australia's greatest icons, grand old Penfolds and somewhat younger -- and much less staid d’Arenberg.
Australia has cobbled together blends since it planted vines. Some were inspired by the old World's master blenders like the fortified wines of Portugal or the spicy combinations of the Rhône, which seemed to match their hot weather. Mostly pioneer vintners mixed a number of grapes simply out of their own make-do optimism. They didn't know or care that one wasn't supposed to mix Bordeaux and Burgundy grapes and they didn't have centuriesold single vineyards.
PENFOLDS’ famous GRANGE, for instance, although once called Hermitage is not a purely Rhône homage. When Max Schubert toured France he was also a student of great Bordeaux, and the Grange's remarkable Shiraz is almost always augmented with a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon, four percent in 2004 (99WA, 98WS, $349.99). Further, Grange grapes are an amalgam of different parcels that vary year to year to achieve Grange style, not specific terroir. That 99-point 2004 with all its smoky blackberry, coffee and space was achieved by mixing fruit from Barossa, McLaren Vale and the home estate at Magill. PENFOLDS’ ST. HENRI is the almost-Grange better suited to my budget and patience, wonderfully rich and complex. And the 2006 (95AWC, 93WS, $58.99) blends grapes and vineyards just like Grange: Shiraz from Barossa, Eden Valley, McLaren, Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills, and Langhorne Creek
Our favorite wild pixie, Chester Osborn Artist: John Chatfield
and Cabernet from Barossa Valley, Coonawarra and Bordertown. Works for me, boy does it. At d’Arenberg, d’Arry Osborn is a legendary elder wine while grandson Chester was branded a wild pixie for blends as farfetched as his wine names. Of course the senior Osborn's 1959 recipe of half Shiraz and half Grenache, now D’ARRY’S ORIGINAL, is still a luscious red. (91ST, 91AWC, $15.99) In whites I'm a sucker for Viognier so my favorite d’Arenberg white is the fat and spicy 2009 HERMIT CRAB (90WS, $14.99) for it captures all the stone fruit nose and flavors of the varietal. Yet it is the addition of Marsanne that gives it extra depth and complexity and its first name (Hermit for Hermitage), Those are both Rhône whites but D’ARENBERG’S '09 STUMP JUMP WHITE (87WA, 87WS, $9.99) is a cross-border crowd pleaser. The mix is pure Chester Osborne: Riesling, Marsanne, and Sauv Blanc. Crazy blend but it works, great juice with a big nose. While d’Arenberg makes delicious pure Shiraz in Dead Arm and Footbolt and numerous GSMs, I love the GALVO GARAGE (93AWC, 90WA, $24.99) which is close to a classic Bordeaux blend: Cab, Cab Franc, Merlot, Petite Verdot, hold the Malbec. It makes a rich, ripe drink that's turns into an exotic maze of flavors.
A YEAR TO REMEMBER: 2009 in the Mosel bottled by J.J. Prum. by Shannon Sprentall And what could be better than two bottles of ‘09 German Riesling? The hottest new vintage from J.J. PRÜM of course! What I love most about German Riesling is its versatility. It excels in sweet or dry wine and in degrees of sweetness and dryness that conveniently pair with all my favorite Thai dishes. I was super excited when I got wind of the 2009 vintage and its raving excellence particularly in the middle of Mosel. I started my 2009 exploration with the wines of Joh. Jos. Prüm of Wehlen. The Prüms have made wine there since the 18th century: they installed the village’s first sundial (the sonnenuhren). Proprietor Manfred and daughter Katharina Prüm own some of the greatest terroir in the country, steep blue slate slopes of schist-heavy soil in Wehlen and neighboring Graach (home of the Himmelreich - kingdom of heaven - vineyard). Their wines are consistently penetrating, complex and superbly elegant while retaining the Mosel’s extraordinary minerality and gentleness. The Prüms share my thoughts that ’09 is a classic vintage and considerably richer than 08’s. It shows in the Wehlener and the Graacher Himmelreich sites and at both kabinett and spatlese ripeness. All score 90 and up. I am extremely impressed that this youthful vintage is expressive in aromatics and flavor and maintains such excellent acidity and complexity at the same time. The success of 2009 was a bit of a surprise. The crop suffered late and slow flowering in mixed weather conditions in the spring followed by tons of rain in August. Luckily, the summer returned in September giving Germany one of the best autumns ever. As a result, an outstanding expression of Riesling: vibrant, ripe, delicate and powerful at once, with a beautifully delineated minerality perfectly reflecting its origins. Like all Prüms, the 2009s are keepers that will be still better in five years and in 25 years.
2009 Rieslings... ...you gotta try! J.J. PRUM GRAACHER HIMMELREICH KABINETT 2999 Sinewy and lithe, with tightly packed flavors of peach, apricot and mango, which are accented by minerally, herbal notes. The racy finish packs plenty of punch. 90 points, Wine Spectator J.J. PRUM WEHLENER SONNENUHR KABINETT 3499 Shows plenty of power, but remains light and crisp, offering focused flavors of mineral, peach, and ruby grapefruit. Finishes with white pepper and hints of savory herb. Very pure. 92 points, Wine Spectator J.J. PRUM GRAACHER HIMMELREICH SPATLESE 3999 Pink grapefruit, banana, cassis and lily perfume announce the extreme ripeness of fruit. It packs a sense of sassy brightness . No need to wait for a half dozen years to approach this… wait 25, this wine will still be waiting... 92 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate 2009 J.J. PRUM WEHLENER SONNENUHR SPATLESE 3999 Elegant bouquet of pineapple, pine nuts and lemon oil. Luscious papaya fruit is given a crisp quality by the wine’s refreshing mineral character. Deceptively light and wonderfully drinkable, this spatlese is just plain fun. 91 points, Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar
crossword for the bees
ACROSS: 1. “Sideways” bane 6. Yankee Bordeaux 7. Tequila rocker 8. Hess in Argentina 9. Balbo’s Torrontes 10. Austrian stemware king 11. Italian sparkler
DOWN: 1. P.I. or 1.5L 12. Prugnolo gentile 2. Owner Le Bon Pasteur, Fontenil, (Chianti’s main squeeze) La Grande Clot et al. 13. Gugial Home 15. Fortified wine from Jerez 3. It’s in your hands 4. Robert Hooke or a wine fanatic 16. Australian plough 5. Kiwi Sauv. Blanc mecca 17. Vodka Ghostbuster 11. “I wish I had grapes like that!” 18. Nouveau grape 14. “Godfather” winemaker Find the answers: b21wineblog.com
with “Skates” the beer dude...
Dude, have you seen our beer section? It will totally blow your mind. You need to check out our microbrews and imports. Awesome! Bored of the same old beer? Not sure what you like? Ask for me next time you are at the “B” and I’ll show you around. For starters try the PETRUS OUD BRUIN (OLD BREW). It comes in 4-packs for $11.99 and is one most excellent beer from Belgium! One clean crisp beer on the palate with full-bodied taste and a slight sour finish. Highly recommend it! Where’s my board? Time to skate.
DOMAINE LA COLLIERE 2009 Rasteau “La Fontaine” Pre-Order: 1999 (Reg. 24.99)
The mind-blowing 2009 Rasteau La Fontaine is composed of 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre... exhibits an extraordinary perfume of black cherry liqueur, blackberries, scorched earth, pepper, and lavender. Phenomenally intense and full-bodied with terrific texture as well as a chewy, luscious, succulent mouthfeel... Amazing! 93WA, 93RB
GIRAUD 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape $3999
“A big-time sleeper of the vintage... it offers beautiful, ripe black raspberry, licorice, cherry, roasted herb, and meat juice-like notes, full body, a voluptuous texture, and a superb finish that lasts for 40-45 seconds. A blend of 60% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre. It should drink well for 15 years.” 93WA, 92RB
ROCHE 2009 Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne $1599
A blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah. Aged in concrete as well as neutral wood, its dark ruby/plum color is followed by a big, sweet kiss of truffles, black cherries, tobacco leaf, and spice box. This medium to full-bodied, juicy, succulent Côtes du Rhône-Villages Cairanne is impossible to resist, so enjoy it over the next 2-3 years. 91WA, 91RB
3 CHEERS FOR THE RHONE Hailing a smart generation at crus old and new Over the last few years the Rh么ne Valley has exploded with new talent and new producers and we have been aggressive in locating them and lucky to have found these three: Giraud, La Colliere and Roche. The coordinates of their properties, however, have been known for some time (we found them in January, one I think I might have even been able to find without the use of GPS.) The characters in this story are vibrant young winemakers that stand out among their peers. This story is also about place, greatly important with wine, and the distinction of one place from another. The term Cru, translating loosely into a place distinguished for its greatness and character of wine, applies to Giraud from Ch芒teauneuf-du-Pape and La Colliere from Rasteau; Domaine Roche is in Cairanne, currently a village hoping to make its appeal for elevation to Cru in the next decade I was told on this last visit.
The Giraud family has been growing grapes for 6 centuries but began bottling their own wine only in the 1998 vintage. The sister and brother Marie and Francois work closely and make the wine and manage the vineyards together. I tasted with Marie the first time 3 years ago, knowing nothing of their wines previously, and realized immediately that these people were doing something special. Working "biodynamically", way beyond organic in its metaphysical obeyance of nature, the domaine will be certified organic later this year.
by Rhett Beiletti
Rasteau is the most recent recipient of the Cru designation. La Colliere has abandoned the "Village" with the bottling of the 2009 vintage so we will have the initial release of the Cru. Georges Perrot, the coproprietor and winemaker of the domaine, smiled when pouring his wine because of his love of wine, because he made what he was pouring and because he knew we would appreciate it too. His pride was completely charming. And it was complete. 'La Fontaine' comes from the mountain of Rasteau and his C么tes du Rh么ne is from estate vineyards that are across the street from some of his Rasteau vineyards. Georges is a dreamer with big and unfocused eyes who told me of his dream of being a vigneron ( that was his word and I like to use it here) when he was a young man. He also told me that he was never able to go to school to study and had to do many jobs (as many of us do): among them he dug pools, did construction and cut hair. And somewhere along the way he gained admission to Rasteau, and the reputation of its wines will be the better for it.
Romain Roche has recently restored honor to the domaine of his family. Ok, that is a bit dramatic. He has recently returned to take it over and begin bottling his own wine from the estate which used to sell its produce to the local co-op. From 70-120 year old vineyards! Don't get me started again. Modest, hardworking, quiet and very friendly, Romain has had the life of a journeyman, common among young university trained French winemakers and has worked in a few countries before taking on this lifelong goal and project in his home of Cairanne. B-21.com | 7
Prestige Rouge, Chateau Puech-Haut Born: 2009 Hometown: St. Drezery, Languedoc Parents: 55% Grenache, 60+ years-old; 45% Syrah, 40 years-old; limestone soil Education: Concrete tanks GPA: 93.5 (93WA, 94RP) Hobbies: Truffle-hunting, pressing olive oil, collecting barrels by artists Favorite sibling: RosĂŠ Best friends: Gerard Bru, Philippe Cambie, Eric Solomon, B-21. Values: Terroir, personality, pleasure, value
â€œA naked The incre raspberri and a fin
d expression of the vivid terroir and excellent fruit found in this region. edible aromatics consist of forest floor, spring flowers, sweet black currants, ies, licorice, and incense. With a pure, velvety, seamless, full-bodied texture nish that lasts 30+ seconds... Bravo!â€? - Robert Parker
WHEN SUMMER MET FOURNIER
by Summer Martin
A funny man who makes very serious wine in Spain, Argentina and Chile. Who is this Fidel Castro look-alike running up to shake my hand at B-21? None other than Bodegas O. Fournier’s José Manuel Ortega Fournier. A diminutive, crazy-haired guy with so much energy you’d think he’d downed three Red Bulls. José is humorous and captivating and he makes some serious wine. He shakes my hand and gushes, “My wife is going to give birth in 10 days!” Is he nuts? Why is he in Tarpon Springs, Florida right now? The answer is yes, he is crazy…crazy about his wines. He travels the globe 268 days a year, bouncing between his three estates as well as restaurants and retailers like B-21, fine-tuning operations and promoting his wine. A businessman first and foremost, José got his start at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker. In that capacity, he noticed how many wine collectors were buying high-end wines and learned what a great investment wine could be. More fun too! He claims he went into the wine business so he could wear jeans, stop shaving, and still “pretend” he’s working.
“Respect the lives and soul that gets poured into each bottle.” -José Manuel O. Fournier
Dinner that night was like a Comedy Central standup routine. José recounted his story of coming to America. His parents shipped him over in high school as a foreign exchange student. “The only thing I knew about the U.S.” he offered, “was California, and that’s where I wanted to go. Somehow I ended up in Alabama with an African American family, in a white school, and I spoke Spanish. I was like a one man United Nations!” Later he and I swapped stories about our experiences in Venezuela. Turns out he became a video sensation there after crashing a wedding. Good times. But don’t let him fool you. He works hard and it’s paid off in dividends that are delish! You might even call him a triple threat as he has wines from Spain, Argentina, and now Chile. And he’s got 90-pointers in every country. José doesn’t take credit for winemaking, a job he respects to the highest degree and for which he hires the best people. “I have seen family and friends fall to their knees,” he recalls, “and cry when a frost comes and we lose part of our vineyards. There is so much that goes into making each and every bottle. So no matter what kind of wine it is, a lot of money or not, I ask that you will respect the lives and soul that gets poured into each bottle.”
2007 URBAN RIBERA
(Ribera del Duero, Spain)
10 | B-21.com
“A strong candidate for the best new release Ribera del Duero under $25. Purple-colored, it offers up a fragrant bouquet of scorched earth, violets, and black cherry that leaps from the glass. Smooth-textured and suave on the palate, it has loads of succulent black fruit, silky tannins, excellent depth and grip, and a juicy finish. Drink: 2009-2013.” 91 points, WA
Q&A WITH JOSÉ When you were here you said your wife was 10 days away from giving birth. Have you made it home yet? And if so girl or boy? I am still away. I flew yesterday from Miami to Santiago to greet a group. As we speak we are crossing the Andes by van after having admired our old-vine vineyards in Maule. If everything goes well, Rocio will be born next week. She will be my fourth. The other children are Carmen, José Manuel IV and Macarena. ☺ What is the story behind Urban? The original aim was to produce wines for the younger crowd: fruity but serious wines with soft tannins. The idea was to have them extremely well-priced so they would lure younger consumers from other drinks like beer. The label design with an artistic photo on every vintage and a quote from a famous writer ... We wanted consumers to be reflected on the brand: sophisticated, cosmopolitan consumers. I heard you got into wine as an investment and started collecting some high end wines. That is correct. I never believed in the stock market so I decided to invest in wine. I figured that even if I did not make any money on the investment...I could drink the investment! What is your most prized or treasured bottle from your personal wine collection? My most precious bottles, not from a monetary perspective but from an emotional one, are: magnum Pure Sang from Didier Dagueneau's last vintage before he died; Vega Sicilia 1968, Megalithe and Chateau Yquem 2000. Each bottle has a story behind and that is what makes them special. Didier's, I learned a lot from his philosophy (and the beard!), Vega 1968
WORLD SMALL BUDGET by Summer Martin
Some poor souls think you have to spend $50 or $100 for good wine. Hogwash. You don't have to spend even $20.
2008 Este 899
2009 Evodia 7
We tasted this recently and everyone on staff was impressed with how much better this vintage is than the previous. It is 100% Garnacha so big and juicy. Our new “go-to” red here at the B. Staff Scorecard: 90SM, 89+RAS, 89RB, 90+SDR, 88SR What the critics say: “Sexy, high-pitched aromas of strawberry preserves, black raspberry, minerals and pungent flowers. Concentrated but not at all heavy; sweet raspberry and blackberry flavors are lifted by a hint of violet. Very suave...” 90ST (89WA)
A bangin’ red made by Rafael Palacios. Whole lotta wine for the price. The nose and palate knock you out with tons of dark fruits, ripe, full and delicious. Staff Scorecard: 90SM, 89+RAS, 88RB, 90SDR, 89SR What the critics say: “A lightly roasted bouquet of black cherry and blueberry, underbrush, spice box, and violets. Supple, sweetly-fruited, and forward, this tasty, friendly effort has no hard edges.” 89WA
2009 Burgans Albariño 1199
Burgans sets the standard for Albariño and ‘09 is its best yet. Opulent on the tongue and light on the wallet. Just peachy. Staff Scorecard: 90SM, 89RAS, 87RB, 89SDR, 89SR
What the critics say: “Light gold-colored with a lovely bouquet of white flowers, hazelnut, peach pit, and mineral. On the palate it is surprisingly complex for its bargain price with a viscosity bordering on opulence. If you enjoy Albarino, this is one to buy by the case.” 90WA
2008 Sierra Salinas “MO” 999
Little sibling to Sierra Salinas “MIRA” that you and we both loved, this little red shows big fruit. It is a rich and spicy mouthful of Monastrell that overdelivers for the price. Staff Scorecard: 89SM, 90RAS, 90SDR, 90SR What the critics say: Not yet rated... but this red is “da bomb”!
2007 Espelt Saulo Tinto 999 Staff Scorecard: 90SM, 90RAS, 88RB, 90SDR What the critics say: “Strongly mineral aromas of vibrant cherry, blackberry, graphite and cracked pepper. Brisk and sharply focused, with racy cherry and mineral flavors and fine-grained tannins. A clean, brisk wine that offers impressive clarity and energy for the money.” 90ST (89WA)
2009 Casa Castillo Monastrell 999
one of the best wines ever made... and my birth year. Megalithe, the right wine given by the wrong woman for the right reasons. Yquem 2000 one of the best vintages ever the year I started with my wine dream.
Full throttle Monastrell... not a better bang for the buck. Strong fruit from a great vintage in Jumilla, Spain’s rising star DOC. Staff Scorecard: 90SM, 90RAS, 88RB, 90SDR What the critics say: “The 2009 Monastrell from a superior vintage has a slightly more roasted character, greater density and richness, and exceptional length. It, too, can be enjoyed over the next 3-4 years. Casa Castillo’s wines are produced entirely from estate-grown fruit.” 90WA
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WINERY PROFILE: MARIETTA CELLARS A Chat with Marietta Cellars’ Sam Bilbro
by Shawn Reynolds
From humble beginnings in a “cow barn” to wine industry ubiquity, MARIETTA CELLARS is a contemporary American success story. Started by Chris Bilbro in 1978, Marietta established a solid reputation offering quality wines at affordable prices. A closeknit family business, Marietta employs three of Chris’s four sons, Jake, Scot, and Sam, the last of whom I recently had the pleasure of chatting with about wine, southern accents, and coming up in a vineyard.
Chris Bilbro, Founder
Riding with Dad on the tractor.
In the early years, Marietta ran quite lean. But Chris made the best of it, melding his creativity with his boys’ imaginations. Sam evokes memories of epic knight battles among his brothers, each clad in homemade wine box armor festooned with the Marietta logo. And there were bike races, tearing down laser-straight vine rows. “I know the dust wasn’t good for the grapes,” Sam admits, “but I was just a kid having a good time.” Involved at such an early age, the scope of Marietta sort of escaped Sam. That was until a flight during which he struck up a conversation with a fellow passenger. The man spoke of his involvement in the music industry. A musician himself, Sam hung on every word. When the guy learned of the Bilbro family business, to Sam’s surprise, he knew of and had enjoyed Marietta’s wine. Today Sam shares responsibility for sales and marketing with Jake. When Jake first took the marketing reins, he asked his father what he was supposed to do since it seemed the winery drove itself. Chris succinctly asserted, “Don’t f--k it up.” Amen to that.
Sam Bilbro playing in a wine barrel as a boy.
PETITE SIRAH – also known as Durif -- is a cross between Syrah and the Peloursin plant. “Petite” regards the size of the berries and, as a result of their diminutive size, the berries create a high skin-to-juice ratio, which usually results in a wine heavy in tannins.
89SDR 88WA 90WA 92WA
12 | B-21.com
I featured MARIETTA’S ’07 CAB ($19.99) last October to a crazy popular response. Ripe and dripping with black fruit juices, modest, sweet tannins sustain a silky and spicy wine that teems with black cherries and pomegranate beneath ribbons of clove and herb. After an hour the ripeness calms as the Marietta blossoms into a huge, lush wine that gives Robert Craig’s 96-point 2007 Affinity a run at less than half the cost. The Bilbros have finally surpassed the quality of their 1990 vintage (92WA), a wine Robert Parker called “the finest Cabernet bargain California has produced since those marvelous 1974 Souverains.” It’s hands-down the best domestic Cab value I’ve tasted this year. Bright and approachable, this stunning, fruit-driven treat is ready to rock your face off. 92 POINTS, SHAWN REYNOLDS (SDR).
This month’s nod to MARIETTA’S ’07 PETITE SIRAH ($17.99) marks the winery’s third appearance on my Buzz real estate. It offers a healthy nose of blueberries, blackberries, and lavender. On the palate are primary grape flavors and sweet tannins, a far cry from most of the typically bottom-heavy Petite Sirahs. If you’re looking for something different, take a 99 Marietta Old Vine Red Lot 53 12 serious look at this wine. Well-balanced with boatloads Marietta Old Vine Red Lot 54 1299 of fresh fruit, it’s ideal for sweet and spicy barbecued 2008 Marietta Zinfandel 1799 meats, grilled rosemary Portobello mushrooms, and even pizza. Make mine Hawaiian-style with pineapple, 2006 Marietta Angeli Cuvee 2699 jalapenos, and ham. And bacon. I love bacon. 91+SDR, 92RAS, 90+WA, 90SR
Worth $200? The pros say yes.
“O’Ryan,” asked the druggist, “did that mudpack I gave you improve your wife’s appearance?” “It did surely,” O’Ryan says, “but it keeps fallin’ off!”
by Shawn Reynolds
A place where one might draw a pint of Guinness at 7 A.M. without so much as a second glance, Ireland seems ideal for the likes of me, a freckled IrishAmerican schlub, replete with reddish-brown afro, a liver like Micky Mantle, and the inability to tan any darker than what the folks at Crayola call “Burnt Sienna.” While my cronies and I anticipated St. Patrick’s Day with the reverence of a sordid tryst with Rihanna, real Irishmen, oddly enough, couldn’t give a shite. Most folks in Ireland still recall a time when pubs weren’t even open for business on St. Patrick’s Day, an issue circumvented by dragging your arse to the annual dog show where a licensed bar awaited. It’s reported that a pickled patron once remarked, “Darned silly place to bring a dog.”
JAMESON’S RAREST IRISH WHISKEY
So what’s the hubbub about? St. Patrick was, in fact, a real person. Born Maewyn Succat just prior to 400 A.D. – not likely bearing the name “Patricius” until becoming a bishop – he arrived in Ireland a teenage slave who eschewed Paganism, a faith he believed betrayed him, for Christianity. Six years after his enslavement, he escaped to Gaul and studied under then-bishop St. Germain. Pope Celestine I eventually assigned St. Patrick the task of converting Irish Pagans to Christianity. Contrary to popular belief, Patrick didn’t introduce Christianity to Ireland, but was theology’s most successful instrument, opening schools and churches while reportedly baptizing in excess of 100,000 people. The notion that St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland is more of a miscommunication of metaphor than a myth. The snake is a common symbol for Paganism, so it’s clear how people inferred that Patrick was some sort of Pied Piper, though there is no evidence that he forced anyone into the sea. In honor of this past St. Patrick’s Day, we offer another gem from the heralded Midleton Distillery: JAMESON’S RAREST VINTAGE RESERVE IRISH WHISKEY (199.99). As with Midleton Very Rare, Jameson’s Rarest Vintage Reserve is a blend, carefully assembled from twenty-three to twenty-four-yearold grain whiskeys and pure pot still whiskey, some of which distillers aged in ruby port casks while the rest in second-fill bourbon casks. Also, as with Midleton, Jameson sports a vintage statement; we have both the inaugural 2007 and the 2009. Triple-distilled and forgoing chill-filtering, Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve is deep and complex. A nose of plum, banana, and melon precede well-integrated flavors of ripe berries, sugared orange wheels, maple syrup, and hot, buttered cinnamon. Carefully swaddled in a sturdy wooden case with bound tasting booklet, this is an ideal souvenir for any St. Patrick’s Day party host. So raise your glass as I offer this toast: “It is better to spend money like there’s no tomorrow than to spend tonight like there’s no money!”
WHAT THE PROS SAY: “The combination of aging some of the pot still whiskey in port casks, including some older whiskeys (over 20 years old), along with bottling the whiskey at 46% ABV (and not chill-filtered) has helped make this whiskey rich, deep, and complex. This is a silky smooth, lush, multi-faceted whiskey with notes of honeydew melon, nectarine, banana bread, creamy vanilla, chocolate fudge, toffee, warming cinnamon and nutmeg. The port influence marries nicely with robust oak notes, and the grain whiskey component helps to keep it very drinkable. A more intense affair when compared to the ”great anytime” 18 year old expression. A classic after dinner Irish whiskey.” Malt Advocate
● 95 points and “Irish Whiskey of the Year” – Malt Advocate ● 96 points – Shawn Reynolds of B-21 ● Gold Medal – 2009 San Francisco World Spirits Competition ● Gold Medal – 2009 International Spirits Challenge ● “World’s Best Irish Blended Whiskey” – 2009 World Whiskies Awards B-21.com | 13
SPIRITED RECIPE: NEGRONI by Shawn Reynolds
A Negroni is the perfect, crisp cocktail to combat summer heat. Be sure to get everything ice cold: glassware, shaker, everything. My best advice: stay true to your measurements. Anything over two ounces loses its chill before you have the chance to finish it.
● 1 ounces London dry gin ● 1/2 ounce Campari ● 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth Shake well with cracked ice, then strain into a very chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a twist of orange peel.
T H E S E C O W S T I P T H E M S E LV E S !
by Shawn Reynolds
There are some fellas in B.C. feeding their cows wine. Yep, you read that right. Wine…to cows. My college roommate used to engage in a similar ritual with mixed results. So what’s the scoop? In the wake of mad cow disease, some farmers in Canada assembled to create a product that would compete with Kobe beef. The Wagyu cattle from which Kobe is derived enjoy daily brewskies and sake rubdowns. Free beer and massages? Hell, I may eschew the wine business and take up a post as a cow. So what wine would you feed to your cows? In the interest of cost-effectiveness and quality, I elect the 2008 ESTE (9.99). This amazing bargain was mad popular. We burned through a ton of it and finally received another boatload – literally – last week. Find me a better wine in this segment. I challenge you.
90 POINTS AND TWO HOOVES UP FROM ME!
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Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and all the grapes born in the vineyards of Bordeaux are now the base of great wines around the world. Don't miss the chance to taste more than 100 fine wines in a unique tasting, all made from the same grapes – and very different terroirs, Old World and New from Spain to Australia. The great names you know at B-21 and our latest discoveries.
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