French, Italian, and California red kosher wines
This past week was Shavuot and though we had no friends over we did get to enjoy some lovely kosher wines from around the world. Along the way, we had some delicious meals at friends homes and ours as well. We made some tasty beef tongue, using a very simple and basic recipe, and we had some great braised meatballs. To complement these lovely dishes my wife made her killer spinach kugel and we had some fresh green salad and quinoa.
Wine wise we had some very interesting wines from around the world, wines that many would belittle but ones that I liked, though none were anything to write home about. Still these are all reasonably priced wines that are also mevushal and taste fine. Some are plain quaff wines and one was a bit above that level.
We had a bottle of the 2010 Weinstock Cellars Alicante Bouschet, a wine we enjoyed some six months ago and my how the wine has changed! Gone are the violet and heady spice and in their place – rich cedar and forest berries demand your attention. The wine showed itself quite well and is one that will live well till 2015.
We also had a bottle of 2009 Borgo Reale Maturo, which many have panned but one that I really liked. It is a wine that MUST be consumed now and not one for even short term cellaring. That said, the wine is rich, and though filled with sweet ripe fruit, it is a wine that can support the ripeness and does not make the wine feel raisin driven or overly “New-World”. I understand others may disagree and that is fine with me.
The other two wines hail from France and both were cheap and highly enjoyable – though not anything more than a B to a B+ at most. Still, they are wines that work well throughout a meal, no matter if you are enjoying fish, soup, pasta, chicken, or meat. Both hail from Bordeaux and neither are wines that are sold by Royal Wines. The first is the 2010 Château Bertranon and the other is the 2010 Château de Cor Bugeaud. The 2010 Château de Cor Bugeaud was aged using oak chips and it shows with chunky tannins and unbalanced structure. The Bertranon was the nicer of the two, but its lighter body will make many shy away from it, even though it is nice and has enough tannin and structure to keep your attention.
I would love to hear what you guys think about these wines – many of them could be called controversial and undesirable, but I would call that a mistake.
The wine notes follow below:
2010 Weinstock Cellars Alicante Bouschet – Score: B+ to A-
This wine will surprise you – no doubt, if you have not tasted the wine in the past six months. GONE are the floral notes and the crazy heady spice. In their place is lovely chocolate and a deep integrated cedar flavor that adds depth to the wine.
The nose starts slow but then explodes with lovely licorice, dark cherry, raspberry, plum, and a damp earth quality. The mouth also starts slow but then fills in nicely with a concentrated attack of blackcurrant, graphite, forest berries, lovely cedar all tied together with nice mouth coating tannins that package the flavors into a mouth appealing wine. The finish is long and spicy with cloves, black pepper, chocolate, vanilla, and a hint of leather. The heady spice of old is now tempered but spice and oak influence still remain. In the end the deep and dense purple colored wine is growing on me and a wine that should happily last till 2015.
2009 Borgo Reale Maturo Salento IGT - Score: B++
This is a polarizing wine for sure. It has plum liqueur notes along with notes of passion fruit and pomegranate, all stemming from overly ripe fruit. However, this sweetness does not bother me nearly as much as many of the Yarden wines. So, like I said this is a polarizing wine, with many of my buddies scoring this one low while I like it. Either way – drink it now and either enjoy it or find someone that does!
The Maturo is a blend of 55% Primitivo (Zinfandel) and 45% Negroamaro. Negroamaro, is Italy’s Alicante Bouschet, a grape made for blending that adds color and perfumed aromas, though the wines tend to be rustic in nature. The nose on this wine starts off with a heady blast of passion fruit, plum liqueur, pomegranate, raspberry, graphite, and dirt. The mouth is rich and layered with lovely blackberry, fig, sweet and jammy ripe berries, loads of good sweet cedar, and nice tannin that holds it all together. The finish is long with good spice, cloves, licorice, chocolate, tobacco, and vanilla. This is a wine that I would drink by the end of this year and enjoy it. It needs no decanting, open the bottle and decide for yourself if you like it or not.
2010 Château de Cor Bugeaud – Score: B
This fine wine which is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet is another example of the difference between oak barrels and chips. The big drive to use oak chips instead of barrels comes down to cost and also the pairing of a barrel with sometimes inferior wine. Inferior grapes would not do better with a barrel, still this wine starts off coarse with chunk country style tannins and that never gets better.
The nose starts off with a lovely perfume of Merlot notes; licorice, cherry, strawberry, and raspberry. The mouth is unbalanced with notes of Cabernet fruit, blackcurrant and plum, and forest berries, that blend into chunky tannin and cedar notes. The finish is long and spicy with sweet cedar, chocolate, herbs that arrive late, and vanilla. This is a wine with a short shelf life and one that dies off quickly after a few hours. DRINK UP!!
2010 Château Bertranon - Score: B to B+
This is another of those bargain basement wines that are nice wines to quaff – do not look for anything grand here. That said, this is a wine which tastes light but has enough body, tannin, acid, and fruit to keep your attention and to enjoy throughout the meal, whether it is soup, salad, fish, chicken, or meat. Another classic French wine that works throughout the meal.
The nose of redolent with ripe strawberry, raspberry, a slight medicinal note that blows off, earthy notes, and herb. The mouth is light to medium bodied with good acidity, and enough tannin to keep your attention, along with nice tart cherry. The finish is long with good mineral notes, quince, citrus zest, and what I can only call chocolate covered tart cherry. This is a wine that will please some and others will hate it as it lacks the body they desire. Still, I found this enjoyable enough and a good complement to an entire meal.