2005 Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per wine.com “Jean Pierre and Francois Perrin have taken particular care that this Cotes du Rhone meets their stringent standards of excellence. As proprietors of Chateau de Beaucastel in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the Perrin family has demonstrated exceptionally high standards for nearly a century.

The Rouge originates from a significant portion of the Perrin’s own vineyards, including those at Château Grand Prebois. Produced from 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 20% Mourvèdre, some of which are flash-heated using the same methods as those at Château de Beaucastel, the fruit is rich and jammy with peppery spice, concentration and intensity.”

What I Think:

This one was also written up on quaffability which encouraged me to finally give it a go after looking at it luke-warmly for so long…We have a typical Rhone GSM blend here (60/20/20) with light fruit on the nose followed by loads of spice and pepper. On the palate you get some cherry and blackberry before the spice takes over midway and merges into woody/barrel flavors for a finish. The last Rhone I’ve had from TJ’s was this Les Moirets from the same vintage. Which do I prefer? Not sure but both are nice. Next time I hit the store I’ll grab them both for a side by side tasting. Then I can definitively select a winner! Anyone out there have an opinion on which is better?

Rating: Buy It

2004 Tessier Cour Cheverny “La Porte Doree”

Price: $11.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Premier Wine Company

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “This is from very old vines, 60-85 years of age, to be exact, and these aren’t your average white grape vines, either. This wine is made from the rare Romorantin grape, grown on heavy clay soils. The wine is fermented in three to five-year old Burgundy barrels and undergoes partial malo-lactic fermentation, which lends a very rich, almost viscous mouthfeel to an otherwise extremely mineral white. You can taste this beautiful, esoteric white for days after you’ve enjoyed a glass. Wow! Philippe Tessier has just converted the domaine to totally organic viticulture, too.”

What I Think:

This wine, from the Loire value caught my eye in the K&L newsletter based on the description above. After that I did a little research and found the following: Romorantin is a traditional French variety of white wine grape, that is a sibling of Chardonnay. Once quite widely grown in the Loire, it has now only seen in the Cour-Cheverny AOC. It produces intense, minerally wines somewhat reminiscent of Chablis. I found elsewhere that Cour-Cheverny has a total of 11 wineries that call it home. Love to find these types of bottles.

Now on to the wine which we served it with Mediterranean style fish. Interesting I find a golden brown coloring, not the straw or yellow you may expect. Also interesting as the texture on the tongue is that of a dessert wine but the taste is something altogether different. Here you find almost zero sweetness. The nose shows mostly mineral leaving the texture to come as an even larger surprise. You get citrus notes to accompany this on the palate before a finish advertised as long that I found somewhat disappointing based on all the hype. At the end of the day this wine was extremely interesting but I didn’t dig it. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t but either way I guarantee you’ll have an interesting experience. The kind you only need once.

Rating: Pricey

2006 Michel Leon Gewurztraminer

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Plume Ridge Wine Negotiants

What They Said:

Per Hawks Head Wines “The Laugel family have been producing wine here since 1889 when Alsace was part of Germany. With classic rose petal and lychee aromas this elegant white has good varietal character and lovely complexity. Grapefruit and citrus notes keep it refreshing and the finish is long and balanced with good integrated acidity. This is a lovely example of this Alsace speciality, drinking well now but will keep to 2009. (Drink now to 2011)”

What I Think:

Another Gewurztraminer from the Alsace. As you can see from my write up on the Marcel Hugg. This was even before my recent return visit to Fleur de Lys where I had the Trimbach once again. Amazingly enough, they have this same Trimbach at Trader Joe’s. If you feel like dropping a $20 spot on that one stop reading here.

Now back to this wine. Hard to find a write up here, awfully common for wines for Trader Joe’s wines I find. I was able to track down something from a UK retailer selling this at £8 (about $16) which makes this one at $7 seem quite the steal already. On the nose you get light floral and citrus notes. On the palate the profile is almost custard like and at first I thought it was sweet. Later I realized it was more from a texture perspective than on the palate. The fruit, mostly lemon, faded quickly and led to a nice tight mineral finish. We had this as an aperitif before dinner with cheese and it worked perfectly. Not as good as the Marcel Hugg but good enough to buy until I find something better.

Rating: Buy It

2005 Les Moirets Cotes du Rhone

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Cannon Wines

What They Said:

Per quaffability “I am happy to report that I agree with other readers who have tried the 2005 — it’s a worthy successor to the 2004, which received one of this blog’s highest scores.

The nose is spice box, cigar box, cherries, plums, wet dirt. It’s juicy in the mouth, without being too ripe. The finish is long with fruit and a little oak.

This is another great $5.99 Rhone.”

What I Think:

I’m going to keep my notes brief. I was turned on to this wine in my pre-blogging days by the ’04 write up on quaffability. Based on the new ’05 write up and my history I grabbed a bottle. I wasn’t disappointed. Great Grenache flavors! Big fruit on a drier, sage backbone. A clear winner. Though this is a rare case where the audience has made me reconsider. Comments are riddled to the point where it seems that 1 out of 2 bottles may be bad. The good news is that you can apparently return these to Trader Joe’s. As for me I’ll be buying more of this is small amounts until the first bottle fails. I like it, don’t get me wrong. Just not enough to make one trip to buy it and another to return it.

Rating: Buy It

2005 Frédéric Mabileau St.-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil Les Rouillères

Price: $13.99 @ K&L Wines imported by USA Wine Imports

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “90 points Wine Spectator: “Solid, with lots of gutsy briar, black olive, black currant and tobacco flavors that pump through the finish, which puts it all together. Drink now through 2008. 3,000 cases made.” (12/06)

What I Think:

My third Cabernet Franc of late, doing a pseudo-tour through different countries ala the Malbec adventure previously. California whipped Italy and was now ready to square off with France. France was coming in with some big credentials. 90 points from the Wine Spectator and a nice review in the San Francisco Chronicle.

On my end this wine was nice. The nose showed some fruit. On the palate there were metallic hints overlaid with tobacco-ish flavors on a well balanced frame. The end was pleasant but short. A fine effort but there wasn’t much to set it apart from the norm. The Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Franc was a clear winner at half the price.

Rating: Pricey

2004 Vin de Pays des Bouches du Rhône Marselan Domaine l’Attilon

Price: $8.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Premier Wine Company

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “Marselan, a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, is a new grape variety being developed in the Aude and Bouches du Rhone areas of southern France. Vinified for the first time in 2002, Marselan has quickly become a darling of many French wine professionals and consumers. Domaine l’Attilon’s organic version of this new cepage is bursting with bright, crunchy black currant and cherry fruit balanced by violet floramatics and a vibrant acidity. This deliciously user friendly red is a wine you can feel good about on all levels, as it delivers delicious enjoyment at a fantastic price! Another terrific value from the South of France!”

They also said this in the May 2007 newsletter, “A dichotomy on the palate. Initially you get the levity and light temper of the grenache followed by the stern gravity of the cabernet. Overall this marriage is pleasing. Pronounced violets on the nose next to a mouthful of lively and snappy fruit with fresh, deep black currant flavors. There is nothing gushy or goopy about this wine. It’s got a strong acidic presence that mingles with dusty tannins. Enjoy this “little big guy” with bistro fare.”

What I Think:

A new grape, as usual, right up my alley. Anything to keep it interesting. As mentioned above this grape is a cross between cab and grenache mix. I had this one a few weeks back with steak while my wife was out of town. I sampled this side by side with the recently posted Guigal. My notes for this were more plentiful than for the other. Does that a winner make?

On the nose you were greeted with aromas that tended towards barnyard and dust. On the palate the fruit was subtle. Overall I would say the wine has sturdy flavors and dry overtones. The finish was a bit on the tart side. Given the uniqueness factor perhaps this wine may have seemed more compelling than it otherwise could have been. I am guessing the second bottle I have will tell the story. For now I will remain on the fence.

Rating: Pricey

2004 E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone

Price: $9.99 @ The Wine Club imported by Ex Cellars Wine Agencies

What They Said:

Per Wine Advocate “The Wine Advocate A strong effort, the deeply-hued, seductive 2004 Cotes du Rhone (primarily Syrah with some Grenache included in the blend) displays loads of berry fruit, not a great deal of complexity, but beautiful texture, softness, and silkiness. Guigal’s master blends are always consistent and uniform despite different bottling dates. Most of these wines drink well for 3-4 years. If readers can still find any, 2003 was a very strong vintage for Guigal, with the 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape meriting a solid 90 points. It is a slightly more tannic version than the 2004, with more meat, kirsch, and body. I also thought the 2003 Gigondas (89) was better than the 2004. You can’t go wrong with the 2003 Cotes du Rhone (88) as it offers loads of berry fruit. Guigal, who also owns fabulous vineyards in the Northern Rhone, is a superb blender when it comes to his Southern Rhones. He is turning out enormous quantities of high quality Cotes du Rhone reds, whites, and roses as well as fine Chateauneuf du Papes, Gigondas, and a terrific rose from Tavel. Score: 87. —Robert Parker, February 2007.”

What I Think:

I still remember E. Guigal from when they received the #1 ranking in Wine Spectator’s top hundred wines of the year back a few years ago. I knew their offerings ran the gamut but it isn’t often you see them in front of you. Given it was there I grabbed it. With my wife out of town a few weeks back I was on back to back steak dinner nights which seemed like an opportune time to put this on the table. The notes are sparse but this wine falls into the upper tier of the ho-hum category. It isn’t manufactured; it is nice and starts to show something of interest. Unfortunately it stops along the way. Given that I would say that it is nice but not exceptional. This price point makes it particularly difficult; I give it a pricey rating. Good intro to Rhone wine, for those that can use this. As for me I’ll be trying to find a better version at TJ’s. This Pont du Rhone is the best I know of now, but I will be trying some of the others soon.

Rating: Pricey

2004 La Ferme Julien Rouge

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by International Wine Imports

What They Said:

Per quaffability “For some reason, despite the exalted pedigree I wasn’t expecting much from this wine. My experience with really large bulk producers from Southern French appellations hasn’t been good. Think Les Jamelle. The good cheap stuff seems to come from smaller producers in Bordeaux.

Basically, I was right. This wine is drinkable, but only borderline Quaffable. It offers Grenache cherry-spice in the nose, along with a little band-aid and dirt. We get the same flavors in the mouth with a touch of greenish plonkiness. The finish is short and simple. Much better than Two Buck Chuck, and not bad for five bucks, but nothing to get lathered up about”

What I Think:

Given that I am now a full 33 wines behind it seems that it is time to get cranking and say goodbye to my pretty world of posting all my wines in the exact order that I consumed them. With that I am first filtering my list to first time TJ’s entries as these are the ones that drive the vast majority of my traffic, who by the way I would love to see a post from after they try a wine. Good or bad, interaction is fun.

I have always heard good things about the Perrin family so seeing this on the shelf, though I believe it has been there for ages, it seemed worthy of a try. Per cork’d.com the blend percentage is as follows: 50% Grenache 20% Syrah 15% Carigan 15% Cinsault. We opened this one a few weeks back I don’t seem to have recorded the situation or the meal that it may have or not been paired with. What I did scribble is that it smelled “plonky” and a bit sour with perhaps a bit of spice hiding. The middle of the palate showed some fruit but it was extremely thin and tended towards cherries. The end was on the chewy side and not all unpleasant. At the end of the day your better rolling the dice on something else at this price point. There’s not much to see here so may as well move on.

Rating: Skip It

NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut

Price: $36.99 @ Friend/Gift imported by Clicquot Inc.

What They Said:

Per wine.com “One of the world’s favorite Champagnes. Rich, nutty, and complex non-vintage Brut.  From one of the most prestigious Champagne houses, this Brut is the gold standard for non-vintage Champagne year in and year out. Deliciously rich on the nose and palate, with almond croissant and suggestions of Calvados in the aroma and flavor. A fuller-bodied style, creamy and round, with a long, lingering nutty finish. The best Champagne in a recent tasting. Simply superb!”

What I Think:

That same friend that was kind enough to invite us over for fresh tuna also sent us home with what must have been at least a 5lb piece for our continued enjoyment. How could you say no? From there we picked a few lucky friends to help us work through the cut. The couple that had joined us had bought this champagne for us when our son was born. As it was still chilling it seemed like as good of a time as any. I am not much of a champagne guy so you’re not going to get tasting notes from me. What I will tell you is that I want a bottle of this in my house at all times because if I am going to celebrate this is how you do it.

Rating: Wow!

2005 Marcel Hugg Gewurztraminer

Price: $7.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Americal Beverage Group

What They Said:

Per the winery …well their website has yet to be updated with any details and google wasn’t showing me anything new, so it appears you still have to trust me on this one…

What I Think:

I have been enjoying these wines from Marcel Hugg over the last month or two. As I mentioned sometime back all things Alsace bring back fond memories and these wines have done nothing to alter that notion.

As usual I started this one off a bit over chilled. Even still it had the perfect Gewurzt nose with aromas of flowers, minerals and white fruit all commingling to form a pleasant bouquet. When cooled to room temperature, perfect smells of citrus rinds on the nose. A hearty texture coats the mouth. Floral flavors but can’t get more specific, at times I find myself thinking of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Having the Kono handy I do a comparison and those thoughts quickly disappear. Finishes with a touch of sweetness on the mid-palate before rounding into a nice, rich dry finish that seems familiar, nice… Not quite as minerally as I remember it but certainly a perfect match for the spice of the Thai meal that it was paired with.

If you only have budget for one get the Pinot Blanc. Better yet, skip lunch today and get both. You won’t be disappointed.

Rating: Buy It