Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Issue LVIII: Neil Ellis Pinotage Edition

Neil Ellis Pinotage

Part of the beauty of this series, for me, anyway, is that I am able to be motivated to really reach out and be exposed to such a great collective of worldly wines and learn a great deal about varietals whose existence I was not previously aware. In this case, we travel to South Africa and a varietal of Pinot Noir, which you no doubt guessed already and a grape called Cinsaut, which had another name in the region, Hermitage, hence the new name for the new cross-bred varietal.

Pinotage, however, is a very volatile grape and it is one that takes a great deal of care and tweaking to make palatable, sort of like the exquisite massaging one would need to do to juggle liquid nitroglycerine, for example. I may be overstating it, but historical records have not been kind to some of the end result. In this case, though, we have a nice and smoky flavor, along with a touch of both astringency and effervescence, which I found endlessly delightful. The flavor seems modest but allow it to linger and you find a deep well of power hidden beneath the surface. This is a very complex wine and expect some of the darker berry fruits, perhaps with a dash of plum and very slight cherry for flavoring notes, along with that smoke and a bit of leather as well.

Mouth feel is where things really get intriguing, both with the slight carbonated aspect (it is not, however, an actual carbonated wine, such as a real sparkling white or champagne. By no means should that be read into this, it is very slight and utterly pleasant, a brilliant and refreshing change of pace) as well as the wine skirting the edge between being light and have some solid mouth feel. Tannins are definitely present, but quite far from assertive. Altogether, this is one of the more pleasant wines I’ve experience and puts South Africa back on the radar for me, having been off of it for quite some time after several wines from that regions striking me as misfires.

At the price point, this is a great bargain. I don’t anticipate you would keep all the wonderful characteristics cellaring it (and I can’t imagine what hoops that would require one to jump through) and I don’t do any of that, in any case, so this is much more immediate. I have not seen this on SPA, but again, I don’t usually wander into this region in the store, so it may be and I’ve just not noticed. It is one of my new favorites, though, so it is beyond a Mixed…therefore South Africa puts itself on the HSC list with a bang…coming in as a Standard.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Cumulative List of Wines Posted, Circa 2017

Running list of wines posted here, in what is basically a re-post of the Table Of Contents for this blog, now current through 2017. I don’t typically provide a lot of commentary in this end of the year post, but I did a somewhat uneven job posting for this blog overall this year, partly because I was running out of wines and didn’t want to have a huge gap before the end of the year. That problem has been erased, at least for now, and the HSC wine train is more or less back in full swing, though I’m still perilously close enough to the end that the posting schedule still won’t be much more regular than monthly. Of note, this is the 4th year I’ve been doing this, which is somewhat startling to me.

As usual, there is no weighting here, so this is chronological order only.

01) Martini & Rossi Asti
02) Navarro Correas Colección Privada [Malbec]
03) Concannon Crimson & Clover [Blend]
04) Fat Bastard Chardonnay
05) Penfold Koonunga Hill Shiraz-Cabernet
06) Bouchard Chardonnay
07) Colosi Sicilia Rosso [Nero d'Avola]
08) Terredora DiPaolo Aglianico
09) Marqués de Cáceres Crianza Rioja [Blend]
10) A By Acacia Pinot Noir
11) Dark Horse Big Red Blend
12) Columbia Crest Grand Estate Merlot
13) Apothic Red [Blend]
14) Penfold Koonunga Hill Shiraz
15) Sean Minor Pinot Noir Carneros
16) Castello Del Poggio Moscato
17) Atrea Old Soul Red [Blend]
18) Meiomi Pinot Noir
19) Montebuena Rioja [Tempranillo]
20) Sean Minor Cabernet Sauvignon
21) Peralillo Arenal Carmenere
22) Zantho St. Laurent
23) Clean Slate Riesling
24) Gloria Reynolds Tinto Real [Blend]
25) Prunotto Fiulot Barbera D’Asti
26) Menage A Trois [Blend]
27) Fantini Farnese Montepulciano D'Abruzzo
28) Rosenblum Vintner’s Cuvée XXXVI [Zinfandel]
29) Sean Minor Sauvignon Blanc
30) Michael David Sixth Sense Syrah
31) Borja Borsao Tinto Seleccion [Garnacha]
32) 19 Crimes [Blend]
33) Fat Bastard Cabernet Sauvignon
34) Tait Ball-Buster [Blend]
35) Bouchard Pinot Noir
36) Francis Ford Coppola Claret [Blend]
37) Chaucer's Mead
38) Bogle Essential Red [Blend]
39) Terra-Bossa Shiraz
40) Juan Gil 12 Meses [Monastrell]
41) Terra del Nero d'Avola
42) Waterbrook Melange Red 
43) E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rouge [Blend]
44) Château Damase Bordeaux Supérieur [Merlot]
45) Château Tour d'Auron Bordeaux Supérieur [Blend]
46) Delas Côtes du Rhône Saint-Esprit [Blend]
47) Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon
48) Chateau Giscours Petite Sirene [Blend]
49) Château Recougne Bordeaux Supérieur [Blend]
50) Menage A Trois Midnight [Blend]
51) Toasted Head Untamed Red [Blend]
52) Alexander Valley Sin Zin [Zinfandel]
53) Cupcake Black Forest [Blend]
54) Big Red Monster [Blend]
55) Menage A Trois Silk [Blend]
56) Ergo Rioja [Blend]
57) Pizzella Malbec 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Issue LVII: Pizzella Malbec Edition

Pizzella Malbec

Ahhh, after some time, quite some time, literally years after inception of the mighty HSC, Argentina has finally made its way of a 2nd entry into the picture and on the list. Now, lest you decide to accuse me of favoritism – and are you? I can’t say the charge wouldn’t be warranted at least somewhat – in the beginning, this was a mountain of wine, if a liquid could form a mountain, so let’s say a veritable flowing river of deep and heady red to begin to get the names that form this grand and glorious list. It was a delicious and fun undertaking and admittedly, I had high hopes for Argentina, after the glorious Navarro Correas, but none of the other wines panned out well enough. 

As to this one, it may sound dumb, but this is the kind of wine that one can sink one’s teeth into and I don’t mean it has meat overtones, but rather it is a full-bodied and rich drink. I caught several hints of flavors, from dark berry to a slight bit of leather to hints of dark chocolate and even a bit of floweriness. In fact, I strongly suspect this may take a few bottles (oh, the horror!) to really get a grasp on things, so possibly this may wind up being the first entry into the HSC I then have to go back and revise. The balance and harmony here are immense yet it still retains a nice degree of refinement and dare I say it (dare, dare!), more than a splash of elegance here.

As for now, it is relatively new to the shelves, so far too new for SPA and I haven’t experienced enough of its wealth of charm to get a full grasp, so not quite a Standard, but a Mixed…albeit a very strong mixed at that. Argentina definitely made its 2nd entry onto the list felt with a blast here.