Sunday, November 27, 2016

Issue XLIX: Château Recougne Bordeaux Supérieur Edition

Château Recougne Bordeaux Supérieur [Blend] Edition

I suppose every once in a while, probably a long while, one needs a wine that will haul back and bust you a good one in the chops. This is probably more true with whisky, but I suppose it’s nice, for a chance of pace perhaps, for a wine to also do that. That is exactly what you can get here if you happen to partake of this before it’s aired sufficiently. This is a big bad Bordeaux, one of the styles that the French region from which it comes is famous for and it’s a good representative, perhaps one of the more well-known ones, in fact…just don’t jump in too early.
Once it has smoothed out (probably a good 45 minutes+, unless you use an aeration device), you can start to pick up on some intensive flavors without that sort of heavy, clunky feeling. This is due to a preponderance of Merlot in there, which is probably a good 75% or so of the blend. Merlot can also contribute heavily to astringency, which is what you will get initially. Once it does, you get a light, crisp and rather refreshing blend, which doesn’t have the tastiness of some of those other heavier varietals, but allows a lot more room for subtleties in fruitiness and with this particular one, smokiness.
I should probably also mentioned the “Supérieur” part of things. Adding qualifiers onto brandies and cognacs is a very French thing, so no real surprise it also extends to that element for which they are most famous: wines. Here, that terms has some mandates by law. The important ones for us are aging, in which it has to be aged at least 12 months and in the grapes themselves, which must undergo a denser growth. This tends to create competition for rooting but much heartier vines when they do and of course, any French winemaker – and perhaps any other as well – will tell you that this struggle makes it into the wine. It also tends to produce a much lower (and presumably higher quality) crop.
So, this one can serve a dual purpose, being both an excellent introduction into one of the more famed wines of France as well as illustrating very clearly what happens if you do dive into the pool early or, to paraphrase Orson Welles, if you drink it before its time.
As I find this one a touch finicky and don’t have it often enough to remember the fine tuning, it’s not a Standard. I’ve never seen it on SPA, so not that, either, which leaves Mixed.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Issue XLVIII: Chateau Giscours Petite Sirene Edition

Chateau Giscours Petite Sirene [Blend]

As I more fully populate the HSC column with entries for the various wines on the list, I note a lack of the white spaces in my Excel file that denotes which are still awaiting entries for the blog. Some of the names on that list won’t ever be getting HSC articles, unless I change the dollar criteria, as several are over $20/bottle and seemingly never go on SPA. Some I can no longer find, meaning those winds are now lost to time and live on only in memory. It seems ill-fitting to memorialize them in a way promoting their value and goodness when most of the populace will find it difficult at best to experience it themselves. No, we once more into the fray to find every increasing names for the list and where else to turn but dear old beloved France, where it all started, more or less, for the HSC and where most of the 40s for the HSC have been spent.

Here we have a relative newcomer to the shelves in that section - as a side note, Petite Sirene is the French translation of “Little Mermaid” - though here, it is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, done in the Bordeaux style, one of my historical favorites. Prior to the HSC, I probably consumed more of that than any other type and maybe more than the other types combined. With this as a blend, there is a very nice amalgamation of the bold and assertive taste of the Cab, tempered with the more fruity, bouncy and lighter aspect of the Merlot. There is little to no astringency here, yet the balance is fantastic on all fronts, no heavy mouth feel, yet it is solid enough to be just the right amount of heft. Truly remarkable job mixing these and with the heavy dose of Cab, could probably take being stored for a bit.

This immediately catapulted to one of my favorite wines and if you’re not familiar with French wines and want a safe entry point for not a lot of money, this is a very good bet as it shows at once both the very strong points of that world, the Bordeaux style and what blends can be capable of. With this kind of a value, even though this is on the higher side of the price point for this list, this really couldn’t be anything other than a Standard.

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.