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Dale Williams

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WTN: Labor Day wines (Meyney, Sierra Cantabria, Clavel, Guenoc, etc)

by Dale Williams » Tue Sep 05, 2006 1:49 pm

Monday we had some friends over for a Labor Day party. Betsy made ribs, I did hot dogs, squash, and salmon on the grill, plus some sausage and steak that others brought. We had potato salad, mango salsa, regular salsa, and watermelon; guests brought a cornucopia of food - soppresata, proscuitto bread, salads, veggies, desserts, guacamole, and more. There were a variety of wines, too. Only one other serious geek (Matt) , a couple of guys who are a bit into wine, and lots of folks who drink wine without paying serious attention.

Ones I brought up from cellar:

1990 Ch. Meyney (St. Estephe)
Matt had recently mentioned he had never tried the 1990 (we somehow missed it at Meyney vertical), so this seemed the time. After decanting it showed plenty of fruit, but plenty of tannin too. We put the decanter on top of a tall cabinet and sallied forth to do battle with other bottles. About an hour and a half later we returned when the steak came out the grill. Very good with rare meat, some blackberry and cassis over smoke and earth flavors. Really shows the vintage character- low-acid, a tiny bit of a roasted note to the fruit. I like quite a bit, but think I prefer vintages like '86 & '89 that aren't quite so round. B+/A-

1990 Guenoc "Langtry" Meritage
also quite ripe and low acid, but lacking the depth behind the fruit that the Meyney had. Still a decent mature Calcab- er, I mean CA Meritage - black plum fruit framed by some spice/vanilla notes. B/B+

2004 Ch. d'Oupia Minervois
The red version (also make a good rosé). For my mind, the perfect red for a BBQ. Lighter bodied with lively acidity, with a spicy note that complements rather than clashes with food like the ribs. By itself it's nice too- red berry fruit, spice and herbs, nice clean finish.B+

2005 Petite Cassagne Rosé (Coteaux du Languedoc)
Nicely crisp, with strawberry fruit. Not exciting, but refreshing. B

2005 Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough)
Grapefruit and kiwi with a hint of cat pee, typical, but there are plenty of better Marlborough SBs out there in same price range. B-/B

2004 Hofer Gruner Veltliner
This and the Pepiere Muscadet are probably my candidates for most bang for the dollar. This is $9/liter, and delivers a nice mouthfull of GV, light white pepper notes over apple fruit, and even the fabled hint of peas. Not complex, but at the price hard to beat as a summer quaffer. B/B+

2004 Clavel "Les Mas" (Coteaux du Languedoc)
I've generally liked La Copa Santa even if it is quite modern, but it's little brother seems quite disappointing. The red fruit seems flat,and the light herb notes don't make up for the short finish. No bargain even at $8. C+

And wines contributed by others:

2005 Les Trois Chemins Cotes du Rhone
(actually I brought this up, but think it was something left at an earlier party). Lighter forgettable CdR. C+/B-

2004 Torre Moron (Ribera del Duero)
Having tried this, you would have to be a moron to try more. OK, I couldn't resist, it wasn't that bad. But it sure wasn't great- red fruit was a bit short and clipped, a hint of a funny "off" smell. C+

2001 Sierra Cantabria Cuvee Especial Rioja
This is one of those wines that are hard to grade even on a nonconsistent nonobjective scale. I know several people who like it a LOT, and I can see why. Lots of rich blackberry and raspberry fruit, toasty vanilla oak, balanced tannins and acidity. The fact it's not fat and low-acid makes it stand out for me above most modern-styled Spanish wines, but the oak really gets to me. If the oak integrates over a few years this might be really tasty (if you're not an idealogue), but at this point it's too much for me. A B+/A- for quality, B- for style, makes this a B for me.

2002 Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma)
As usual, Sebastiani has turned in a credible performance for the money. Medium bodied cab with dark fruit and some light vanilla, nothing to get excited about but a pretty credible effort for $12. B/B-

Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.

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