Featured Monthly Tasting:

Focus on Argentina & Chile
with Selections from France,
Portugal and Spain

April 2008

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FRANCE

France, of course, is one of the most fabled countries in the world when it comes to wine with numerous regions, varietals, and types of wine being produced. This month we taste new releases from three regions – Alsace, Bordeaux, and the Rhone. We were most impressed with the Rhone wines of Pierre Gaillard, who is producing wines of unique character and excellent value.

French Wines Reviewed

Lucien Albrect      
Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite)    
Pierre Guillard      

ALSACE

Lucien AlbrechtLucien Albrecht

Maison Lucien Albrecht is among the pioneers of viticulture in Alsace. Jean Albrecht, the family’s eighteenth generation is chief winemaker and vineyard manager. Lucien Albrecht produces a wide selection of domaine, grand crus, and reserve wines. Those reviewed here are moderately priced reserve wines.

Importer: Pasternak Wine Imports, Harrison, NY Tel. (914) 630-8200

Lucien Albrecht 2006 "‘Cuvée Romanus’ Pinot Gris Reserve" Alsace ($21) 86

An atypical pinot gris of medium straw gold color with a hint of honeysuckle on the nose. Shows ripe apple and pear flavors on the soft, medium acid palate and finishes a tad short.

Lucien Albrecht 2006 "Gewurtztraminer Reserve" Alsace ($22) 87

Straw gold color with aromas of rose petal and cinnamon spice. Exhibits a very ripe, soft attack with light tropical fruit flavors on the medium dry palate. Finishes sweet and long.

Lucien Albrecht 2006 Balthazar Pinot Blanc Reserve Alsace ($16) 85

This 100% pinot blanc is pale lemon color with aromas of apple and citrus with a touch of green banana. Shows light, tart apple flavors on palate and finishes fairly short.

Lucien Albrecht 2006 Reisling Reserve Alsace ($19) 85

Medium straw gold color with cloves and baking spice aromas. Very ripe, fruit cocktail flavors on the fairly light palate. Not your typical Riesling.

BORDEAUX

Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite)

Over the years, the Bordeaux-based owners of Château Lafite Rotschild, have expanded their offerings through the acquisition of several French Châteaux and joint ventures abroad. Among their acquisitions in Bordeaux are Château Duhart-Milan, a fourth growth property in Paulliac, Château Paradis Casseuil in Entre-Deus-Mers and Château Peyre-Lebade in Haut Medoc. The wines from these estates and other properties are reviewed here.

Importer: Pasternak Wine Imports, Harrison, NY Tel. (914) 630-8200

Château Milon de Duhart Paulliac ($45) 88

This wine is a blend of 55-60% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 40-45% Merlot and spends 10 months in two year old oak barrels. Dark garnet in the color, this Bordeaux displays aromas of cherry fruit and warm toasty oak with leather notes. It has a medium weight palate of dark cherry fruit and cedar with earth and leather notes. It boasts deep, firm tannins and a long lasting finish..

Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) 2004 "Château Paradis Casseuil Blanc" Bordeaux ($19) 88

This is an attractive, well-priced Bordeaux Blanc. Medium straw gold in color, it shows clove and anise spice and white peach on the nose. Clean and somewhat steely on the palate with stone fruit flavors, good acidity and a pleasant mouthfeel. Finishes very bright and crisp.

Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) 2004 "Château Paradis Casseuil Rouge" Bordeaux ($19) 86

Medium dark ruby in color with a cinnamon spice and ripe cherry nose, this inexpensive, quite light bodied Bordeaux provides plum flavors, dry tannins, and finishes light with a bitter note.

Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) 2002 "Château Peyre-Lebade" Haut-Medoc ($28) 88

The wine from this 55 hectare vineyard estate is a blend of 65% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. It displays a dark garnet color with aromas of cedar and plum. It boasts a round and ripe attack with a soft, silky texture., good fruit intensity and notes of sandalwood and leather. The finish is somewhat earthy.

Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) 2006 Reserve Speciale Bordeaux ($17) 87

Medium straw color with a tropical nose of lychee and passion fruit. The attack is soft but brisk with good acidity, showing uncomplicated very light green apple fruit on the palate. A good wine

Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) 2003 Reserve Speciale Medoc ($18) 86

Aromas of oak, herbs, and dark fruit offer the introduction to this dark ruby 2003 Medoc. Herb and dill flavors dominate the fairly hard and closed palate with very dry tannins on the finish.

Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) 2005 Paulliac ($45) 90

Here’s a nicely balanced, dark garnet Bordeaux from Paulliac worth searching out. Showing black currants and touch of mint on nose, it provides a soft attack of ripe, lush mouthfilling black fruit.

Pierre GaillardRHONE

Pierre Gaillard

Located in the remote village of Malleval, Pierre Gaillard crafts elegant, complex and compelling Cote-Roties and lovely renditions of St. Joseph and single-varietal and blended Vin de Pays wines.

Importer: Dionysus Imports: Lorton, VA (703) 550-2250

Pierre Gaillard 2005 Cote Rotie ($59) 93 Top Quality

Medium dark ruby color with aromas of meat and leather. This elegant wine displays a soft, intensely flavored attack of black cherry with violets and leather notes on a very expressive palate. While young, this nicely balanced wine is already approachable.

Pierre Gaillard 2005 Clos de Cuminaille St. Joeseph ($25) 92 Top Quality and Top Value

Opaque ruby. Red and black fruit and earthy notes on nose. Soft on palate with uplifting flavors of violets, blueberries. Silky texture. Elegant. Great balance. Long finish of delicious blackberry, blueberry fruit. Modern style. Great price! Great value!

Pierre Gaillard 2005 Rouge Saint Joseph ($28) 91

Dark ruby opaque, purple tinged in color with a nose of black fruits, spice, and loam with hints of leather. Big and lush on the palate with mouthfilling dark fruit accented by violets. Shows a lovely gripping finish of round, ripe tannins.

Portugal

In January 2006 the International Wine Review issued a major report on the Red Table Wines of Portugal. At the time we stated, “Portugal is producing some of the most exciting and improved red wines in Europe today.”  This month we taste a few Portuguese wines from the recent vintage, and our evaluation remains the same as before.

Jose Maria Da Fonseca 2007 Twin Wines Vinho Verde ($9) 87

This new Vinho Verde by J.M DA Fonseca is pale straw in color and pleasantly aromatic. It offers a big zesty attack of green apple, citrus, and stone fruit followed by bright crisp acidity and a short dry finish. This is a wine to drink with shellfish. Offered at a good price.

Importer: Palm Bay International Port Washington, NY (800) 872-5622

Quinta da Padrela

This small estate is located in Portugal’s Douro region, where exciting red table wines are being produced. These two modern red blends are of excellent quality and are reasonably priced.

Importer: LGL Imports, Fall River, MA Tel 508-454-6213

Quinta da Padrela 2005 Douro Douro ($12) 89

A blend of 40% Tinta Roriz, 30% Touriga Franca, 20% Tinta Barroca, 10% Touriga Nacional aged 12 months in French oak. Opaque ruby in color with a purple tinge showing a fruity, young nose of boysenberry and oak. Exhibits a silky texture and soft attack of concentrated red and black fruit with young but ripe tannins. Will benefit from a couple more years in bottle.

Quinta da Padrela 2005 Reserva Douro ($25) 91 Top Value

A blend of Portuguese varietals aged 12 months in French oak. Opaque ruby in color with aromas of dark black and blue fruit and toasty oak. This modern style, elegant and seamless wine has a lovely, soft, rich attack of very expressive fruit and violets. Finishes long with gentle but gripping tannins. Could benefit from another year in bottle.

Spain

Last month the International Wine Review evaluated a large number of Spanish wines, including many from regions of the country not previously well-known for wine in the U.S. and other major export markets. We found numerous wines of incredible value. This month we tasted a few more wines from non-traditional regions, with similar results.

Bodegas San Isidro 2007 Carril de Cotos, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla ($8) 87

Carril de Cotos is made of 100% Airen, a widely grown grape native to Spain. Light in color, it offers flavors of banana and pineapple with a soft pleasant mount feel, a slightly steely mid-palate, and good acidity on the finish. A unique summer sipper offered at a good price.

Importer: Norstar Global Imports, Inc. Smithtown, NY (631) 366-0210

Pago Casa del Blanco, Quijote, 2005 Vino de la Tierra de Castilla ($25) 89

An opaque ruby blend of 53% merlot, 27% Tempranillo, and 20% petit verdot with a lovely, extracted nose of sweet vanilla oak. The palate is soft and warm with juicy ripe dark fruit, vanilla, and a note of bitter chocolate. This pleasant, traditionally crafted wine finishes long with prominent oak notes.

Importer: Norstar Global Imports, Inc. Smithtown, NY (631) 366-0210

Bodegas y Viñedos Vega Tolsa 2006 Finca Los Halcones, Manchuela ($8) 87

This rustic, dark ruby Cabernet Sauvignon was fermented in barrel. It has a very ripe, extracted nose of blackberry and a touch of cedar and, on the palate, a chewy texture with flavors of cedar and herbs and slightly bitter tannins on the finish.

Importer: Norstar Global Imports, Inc. Smithtown, NY (631) 366-0210

Vinyes Domenech 2005 Furvus Montsant ($40) 91

This medium dark ruby colored international style wine shows spicy leather and new wood on nose and soft, very ripe and concentrated, delicious red and black fruit on the palate. The attack is soft and lush with round, gripping tannins and a lovely, long finish. A superb modern wine but not distinctly Spanish in character.

Importer: Quality Wines of Spain New York, NY (212) 608-0722

Vinyes Domenech 2005 Teixar Montsant ($80) 92 Top Quality

Here’s a modern blockbuster, medium dark ruby 100% Garnacha wine from 40+ years old vines exhibiting a subtle fruit rich nose of black cherry, oak, and spice. The palate is super saturated with flavors of black cherry, violet, and loam, complemented by ripe, gripping tannins.

Importer: Quality Wines of Spain, New York, NY (212) 608-0722

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