Sunday, September 25, 2016

Issue XXXXVII: Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon Edition

Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon [Blend] 

It’s funny…I came across this little gem while on vacation in the otherwise generally useless state of North Dakota (don’t ask – I’ll tell you when you’re older) and for as much ballyhoo as there is about Utah’s alcoholic beverage pricing being funky, this bottle was actually more out of state than at the Utah State Liquor stores. Now, we’re talking a buck or two and it’s good enough to command a much higher price, in my estimation, but I found that to be kind of amusing…and normal. At least on wines, Utah is not notoriously off the mark, in most cases…

That aside, most cabs are a punch in the face, big, huge, bold, with a dominating presence. These are the heavy duty hitters of the wine world, for the most part and when something like that winds up also being abrasive, it can be a bit hard to take. It is partially for this reason that I tend not to look at Cabs a great deal, but here…more funny business…I really liked the label. I know, dumb (or more accurately, irrelevant) reason, but I’m not afraid to base my purchases on that. In fact, I got another 3 bottles for the selfsame reason. Not all of those worked out quite as wonderfully, but you never can tell until you get into one, of course, pull the cork and dig in to see what it’s all about.

What it’s all about here is a blend that also contains Syrah. Regular readers will know I love the Syrah and am nearly always interested in blends and I found the influence of Syrah here to impart both a nice taste and smoothing influence. This is another one that had a nice lingering finish out of the gate, but was also silky from the jump. More air time just added to that and it was an extremely pleasurable bottle to enjoy.

Perhaps the best part is that it’s under a $10. Wine this good could easily be more but at that price point, this heavy Cab blend just might start making its way into the rotation. As it is, I’m calling it a Standard now. It may be on SPA, but I wouldn’t hesitate regardless with this most excellent wine.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Issue XLVI: Delas Côtes du Rhône Saint-Esprit Edition

Delas Côtes du Rhône Saint-Esprit [Blend]

One of the great things about the various wines in the HSC is that they all have character. Most of them have individual character and even though they all perform more or less the same function for me, there is very little blend together. The last few editions have seen us mired in French soil and to that again we go for this installment as well.

Unlike the Guigal, this one took little to no time to “grow” on me and out of the gate, I thought it was fantastic, which is more the norm for the wines listed here. With this one heavily fueled percentage-wise by Syrah, one of the HSC’s most favorite varietals, if not outright favorite, this isn’t perhaps so surprising.  Typically this style of wine will more heavily feature Grenache, which adds to the St. Esprit’s uniqueness. This one also takes very little air time to hit the sweet spot.

This is an eminently smooth and highly enjoyable wine, balanced by the Grenache, which adds a note of astringency to things lest they get too boring. This is perhaps the most accessible wine yet on this list from France and a good demonstration as to that country’s renown in the various wine circles. It is not overly fruity, but rather displays the great depth of body and maturity of taste that Syrah is so very good at. Again, not so surprising, but certainly pleasant. 

This one never seems to be on SPA, but at right around $12 a bottle, it’s not much of a hit to pick up a few bottles and it does very well as a drinking/sipping wine. It’s also one of my favorite French entries and is as tried and true as they come, hence a Standard.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Issue XLV: Château Tour d'Auron Bordeaux Supérieur Edition

Château Tour d'Auron Bordeaux Supérieur [Blend]

Once more into France the mighty HSC plunges (and perhaps a few more to come) and this time, we undertake a wine that truly tests The List, both in boundary and in patience somewhat. More on this in a moment, but this, unlike some of the other wines, is not as easily accessible. It is not, in short, a wine for the weak, but rather that proverbial gold nugget in the stream or diamond in the pile of rocks.

As I’ve made mention of numerous times, the HSC methodology involves both a degree of chilling as well as significant airtime. While this wine is a very solid representative of the Bordeaux style of wines, it takes significant air time as well as a much warmer temperatures than several other names on the list, to really open up and shine. Once it does, it becomes a very welcome companion, but the slight chilling and less than hour air time will leave this very bracing and astringent.

On the plus side, you could easily rack this into storage and visit in the future. On the down side, unless you use a decanter, be prepared to wait. The wait is worth it, as this is a very complex offering, at once earthy and comforting in the mouth, delivering notes of slight bitter and leather and some of the darker fruits, perhaps along the lines of dark cherry gracing blueberry and blackberry. It is not overly fruity, in fact, far from it. Most of those notes are more suggestive than there outright and it becomes a lot more refined as it goes on. This is one of the reasons the HSC is so happy with the method noted, as you can really get a grasp on changes and a firmer handle on the wine. 

Most of the time, my wife and I are not super interested in a “good things come for those who wait” wine, so this one won’t be a Standard. I don’t recall seeing it on SPA, but this is more of an occasional wine, even if it was on SPA, so that doesn’t factor in. All that’s left is Mixed, which is where this falls.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Issue XLIV: Château Damase Bordeaux Supérieur Edition

Château Damase Bordeaux Supérieur [Merlot] Edition

It is said that you never drift too far from your first loves. I’m not going to debate whether they mean it in a strictly physical or metaphorical sense, as I have always believed the intent that it is a matter of the heart and it to this, I speak, leaving off actual people, of course. For me, some of these first loves were for Mopar muscle cars, which later extended into trucks (and which finally manifested itself in me coming full circle when it came time to get a truck – I do, however, prefer Japanese cars for day-to-day driving as they’re considerably more practical), it was science fiction, a genre of literature I’ve never left entirely for any period of time, it was heavy metal music, another one which I’ve never been tempted to so much as lessen, let alone leave. For wine, for better or worse, it was vineyards of France and so we now come back around to those hallowed and much beloved shores once again. Yes, I know it is probably overly priced and it has equals elsewhere, such as some of the Italian and domestic blends that have shown up in these pages, but they will always have a special spot with me. No use denying it, but rather, as I do with all my other loves, to turn and embrace it as a good and timeless friend.

With this particular wine, it really goes back nearly full circle, as one of the first types I really latched onto was Bordeaux. This was well before I knew anything about bottle shapes having distinctive meanings in French regions (which the world kinda sorta also adopted). For whatever reason, I naturally gravitated to those and this, while perhaps not the best example, is a very worthy example. Before I get into things proper, I did want to note that while this technically is a blend, it is a blend of mainly Merlot grapes and doesn’t really, therefore drift much from Merlot territory. It is not a single varietal, however. I have thus chosen to consider it a Merlot moreso than a Blend.

This is a good example, however, of when they call something fruit forward. This one is very, very fruity and once it airs out, becomes a very nicely bouncy wine, full of flavor and brightness. It does, however, take significant airtime (well over 30 minutes) before this really starts to take hold, though, so this may be another one to consider using an aeration device or decanter. Merlots tends to be very medium-bodied and this one continues that. It does carry a pervasive astringent note to it, again very indicative of Merlots, though this one will smooth out and become quite enjoyable.

It’s not one for which I’ve the greatest love for from this country – that particular one is too expensive to make it on this list, actually, unless I revamp pricing – but it is a very solid choice and has tons of distinct character, which I do admire. At its price point, it trends towards the higher side of things and I’ve never seen it on SPA. I don’t like it enough to be a Standard, more a happy change of pace, so Mixed it is.