Vietti Roero Arneis 2009 - The wine has happily danced across my palate before, but has never riveted me so intently as this vintage did recently. Maybe there's a kinship since Vietti first made it in my birth year, 1967. Maybe I silently pine to be the age of the vines again, 25. Whatever the subtext, this wine should be part of your spring and summer fun. Aged on its lees for three months in stainless steel, there is no malolactic fermentation. The juicy entry offers crisp melon and hints of stone fruit. It nearly explodes on the palate and the flavors continue on the finish. I kept shaking my head and muttering, "Lovely, lovely...lovely." Where the hell were the shrimp? Fantastic, somewhat surprising weight and while it's a bit more expensive than I might want in a perfect world, it is THE BEST ARNEIS I have ever tasted. Yes, I mean that. I think I could eat my weight in prosciutto wrapped melon or grilled fish (white, flaky) with a mango salsa. Salty snacks will work wonders as well. $19-$22. (Imported by Dalla Terra)Vietti Barbera d'Asti Tre Vigne 2008 - Consistently one of my favorite Barberas, this comes from three vineyards, hence the name. This was the best wine of a busy day of tasting. Floral notes and strawberry dominate the nose, as one expects from Barbera, especially from d'Asti (d'Alba tends to be darker and deeper). Those descriptors don't do the wine justice though and before I hear the MEN(!) reading this flip somewhere else, I will say that the wine is more manly than they imply. The freshness does not step all over a more base note below, some earth tone lingers beneath growing in volume on the palate and finding impeccable balance with the fruit on the finish. I do not use the word impeccable lightly, it is rare to find a wine that speaks so eloquently from both ends of the flavor spectrum. It is pretty but solid at the same time. It is dry and very Italian but still offers enough fruit that drinking it on its own doesn't hurt. I want grilled tuna with olives or pork and mushrooms or a large hunk of an aged cow or goat milk cheese. It makes me want a bottle to myself and prompts me to consider telling everyone how good it is. I recommend opening the wine and pouring half glasses to let it breathe; then settle in and enjoy the journey. $18-$20 (Imported by Dalla Terra)
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
Chehalem 3 Vineyard Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2008 - Sourced from three estate vineyards, Ridgecrest, Stoller and Corral Creek, this wine impresses much more often than it doesn't. All French oak, 22% new keeps things in balance. The hallmark of Chehalem for me, in particular this bottling, is the purity of the fruit. 2008 offers that and more. The nose is nearly a distillation of cherry without seeming manipulated in the least. A hint of slightly earthy forest floor lingers around the edges and stamps this wine as pure Willamette Valley. The earth tone borders on funk on the palate, but it is gorgeous Pinot Noir funk, not stinky barnyard stuff. the wine is lively in the mouth, fairly dancing down the tongue and leaves a structured and spicy finish. I'm hard pressed to recall a Pinot Noir I have enjoyed more in its youth that also shows the elements necessary for another five years or so of welcomed evolution. Top notch! $26-28
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Elk Cove Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2009 - Despite my being a huge fan of this winery and having represented them for many years in the wholesale business, I rarely find this wine to my taste. They feature too much sweetness for my palate. Not so this year. I would drink the wine just about every year, but found it a simple quaff. Not quite a throwaway but also not worthy of much thought. Also stainless produced, this vintage has some of the same exotic, nearly sweet, fruit I expect but there it changes. Acidity more than balances out the thick, rich fruit and while it does not have the crunchy minerality of Chehalem I would love this wine with a seafood boil, some smoked salmon or just hanging out by the pool. $17-$19.
More on both wineries shortly...