Archive for May, 2011

This red from from Southern Rhône is made from equal parts Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Roussanne and Bourboulenc. It has a powerful nose of black currant, lavender, raspberry, licorice, and spice that opens considerably after decanting. Tasting shows ripe flavors of deep currant, ginger, peach, and pear. The Les Gallimardes has exceptional balance with a long, buttery floral finish. It has a pronounced acidity that plays well with the firm tannic structure. This is one of the best values of Rhône on the market. Drink now or cellar.

-92 points


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Germany’s noble white grape variety, Riesling, is a versatile performer capable of producing lusciously sweet wines as well as distinguished dry wines. Given that Riesling produces a wine high in acidity, German Rieslings are often balanced with a dusting of natural sweetness. In the warmer climate of Alsace there is enough ripeness to offset the acidity, allowing the wine to have balance even when completely dry. Even very light German Rieslings have good aging potential because of this pronounced acidity. After many years their tart citric fruit evolves into a spellbinding pungency reminiscent of the heady fumes of gasoline.

The warm, dry weather at harvest gave the 2009 vintage exceptional balance of fruit and minerality. Though the yields are down, this vintage is on par with the exceptional offerings from 2001 and 2005 – and even perhaps older notable vintages 1953 and 1969.

2009 Schloss Lieser Niederberg Helden Riesling –
This ’09 is very fresh with a lively acidity. It has a profuse bouquet of graphite with notes of cherry and apple on the palate. The substantial finish smacks of cream and is lightly sweet. This is a prime candidate for aging as it is quite concentrated – almost brash.
-92 points
2009 Selbach-Oster Riesling Qualitätswein Mosel –
This is another 2009 Riesling with an intense aroma of minerals. It has elegant and refined notes of peach and baked apricot with hints of citrus. The finish is also creamy but shows a moderate amount of spice. A great buy at $25.
-93 points

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Aging Wine

The time-honored tradition of aging wine is perhaps the most misunderstood facet of the hobby. How should a wine be stored for aging purposes, and what happens to wine as it ages?

The process of aging wine is far more involved than tossing a bottle or two in the kitchen cupboard and forgetting about it for a few years. Bottles must be stored under optimal conditions to control the variables that contribute to aging for the best, most predictable results. Generally speaking, bottles must be stored on their side in low light conditions. Horizontal storage helps maintain a near perfect bottle seal since the wine remains in direct contact with the cork, keeping it tightly expanded. The atmosphere should be 55 degrees farenheit and between 60 – 80 percent relative humidity. Higher temperatures speed up the aging process and can cause bottles to leak. A humid environment keeps the cork from crumbling in the bottle. Wine will evaporate from the bottle even under perfect storage conditions; ullage levels will increase at a rate of up to half an inch per decade of cellar time.

Not all wines make good candidates for aging; low quality wines will generally not improve with time. Inexpensive wines are generally blended in a fruit-forward manner that are to be enjoyed immediately. As wine ages, phenolic compounds form sediment in the bottle. This is why a harshly tannic young wine (several Cabernets come to mind) will become more balanced and gentle on the palate with time. The color will slowly fade, and notes of fruit will become less prominent. Complex floral, spicy, earthy, or mineralic tertiary notes and aromas will develop or gain definition. Exactly what should you age? I look for a concentrated wine with a strong structure that is giving me a glimpse of something special. It may be fairly inexpressive and closed that moment, but it is of good lineage and has some wonderfully subtle notes that could be better developed with time. Cellar some wine and watch it slowly unfurl its wonderful secrets.

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This classic Cuban torpedo is arguably the gold standard of cigars. At 6 1/8 inches long with a 52 ring gauge this cigar feels sizable in the hand; however, the tapered head guides the smoke onto the palate in a nice concentrated stream. The milk cholocate-hued wrapper is smooth and rolled to perfection.

Even with seven years of box age, the Montecristo No. 2 remains a complex powerhouse. This cigar is brimming with notes of cedar, dark chocolate,  roasted coffee, and cinammon with an earthy, yet spicy finish. It’s a very rich and full bodied cigar but is balanced with a mellow and supple texture. This Montecristo No. 2 easily ranks among the best cigars I have had.

-96 points

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