Don't be tricked into buying 2010 Vacqueyars

November 12, 2012

Hi gang, I had to write this pre-election. Sure hope all of you voted for candidates you supported. I voted against big bird and the folks in Delaware who don’t build their bridges on sand. More than likely some of these votes lost, but I feel better for having participated. Plus it allows me to argue forcefully when things go right or wrong.

Several sent emails about the Lidio Carraro Tannat Grande Vindima 2008, Snooth’s wine of the year. I was reporting a finding by a well-regarded panel of experts and Greg Dal Piaz. Your comments were worth repeating, though. Jerry said, "An Argentinean Tannat, is that the best you can do?”  Lou: "Why recommend something we can’t buy?” Lou. it is gettable by your local wine shop friend, whom you have cultivated, I’m sure. The best was Georgina. “John, why would I spend nearly $100 for an untried bottle of wine from Argentina?”  Right you are Georgina. Lou and Jerry! My only defense is that I admire GdP’s palate, but not always his judgement on availability and price. He was beat up badly on his own site for this choice.

RP, Tanzer and Molesworth (WS) in agreement. Wow! Many are touting the 2010 Vacqueyras and comparing it to previous excellent vintages. Don’t be tricked into buying the 91-point gems from 2010, when the equally sumptuous 2007 are available for slightly less. The Xavier Vignon Vieille Vignes 2010 are selling at $290/case. Smart buyers will look for the 2007 around the same price. Primarily a Grenache, this wine from Southern Rhone Valley has some syrah and mourvedre blended into it. Sampled on release in late 2009, it has improved a great deal. My initial review: Black ruby opens to ripe berries, smoky notes with the typical scent of garrigue, an herb or weed that grows extensively in the region, whose aromas permeate the wine made there. On the palate, big, juicy, with raspberry, cherry, anise and pastille flavors riding a tight mineral frame well balanced between the sweet, juicy fruit and acidity. This finish is long and flavor-packed with the cherries and anise carrying the day. If you can’t locate Vignon, look for Domaine Le Colombier, or patient cellarers would be well served to bring in some Maison Arnoux & Fils Chappelle St. Arnoux Vacqueyras Cuvee non Filtre, whichcan be found under $180/case. Plus your pal can still afford turkey. Avoid Perrin & Fils.

Be alert for tough-to-locate, but well-made wine Fiancetto Cali cabs. Also the widely acclaimed Anderson Valley Pinots: Anthill Farms, Rhys, Copain and Radio Coteau are well known. Benovia Winery PN Savoy vineyard Anderson Valley 2009 hit it out of the park. Tanzer rated it 93.

His review hit all the bellwether PN descriptors - vivid ruby, cherry-cola, black raspberry, vanilla bean and smoky Indian spices. Spice and herb-accented dark berry flavors, intensity, depth, notes of anise, black tea and bitter chocolate, a peppery note that adds cut to the very long, penetrating finish. It is a tad pricey at $48, but I think it is worth the candle if you will cellar it.

Finally, best info for last: Ottimino Vineyards Zinfandel Von Weidlich Vineyard Russian River Valley 2008 ($38/bottle) is advertising that Paul Draper of Ridge sourced the grapes for the legendary 1974 Ridge Zin Occidental here. While that may be true, and while the 70-year-old vines now look like small trees, I visited the vineyard in 1976. The vines were 36 years old and although gnarly, certainly not treelike. Buy the second label, Ottimo Zinfinity 2008 instead for $18/bottle or $175/case, a far better deal. It is blended and maintains profile.  

Aromas of plum, ripe cherry, blackberry and spice are influenced by creamy oak. On the palate cherry, raspberry and cassis; juicy tannins support a very long, flavorful finish.

Will Rogers: "There are four kinds of editors: The ones who learn by reading.The few who learn by observation. Those who need to touch an electric fence. Those who are close minded."