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TBIFOM #11: Everything New is Old Again

(The Bottle In Front Of Me is a series of somewhat irregular, brief tasting notes from the Rogue Estate’s resident wine guy, Ian.) Everything New is Old Again I have an old friend. By that I mean he is a friend from my distant past that I have not been in contact with for a very long time. In addition, I am old now. So is he. In every sense of the term, we are old friends now. Somewhat recently, he moved to South Carolina and dove right into gardening and the local wines, dominated by an active Virginia scene. Excited by social media, and good local wine options, he decided to share with me. I uncorked one of his gifts tonight. And it was lovely. I like what Virginia's producing now, and hope the region gets larger scale and better distribution at a steady pace, without sacrificing quality.
Blenheim 2010 "Painted Red"

Blenheim 2010 "Painted Red"

2010 Blenheim Vineyards Painted Red (About $30, but SOLD OUT) Half Merlot with Cab Sav, Syrah, Petit Verdot, and Cab Franc. Learn more about the winery: Learn more about the bottle in front of me: SEE: A very pretty bright clear medium red with a tiny rim of rose. For a wine this young, I had expected a larger, pinker rim. Someone knows what they're doing. SWIRL: The color amplifies with a swirl, leaving soft slow irregular legs on the glass. SMELL: Heavily perfumed and ripe, with light floral and cherry scents, an undercurrent of tree bark, and warm sweet muffins. SIP: On the tongue, the body is thin, with firm tannins and a refreshing bit of acidity. The flavor moves on to caramel and creme brûlée, with a faint finish of red apple. SAVOR: Bordeaux, baby! With many of the typical characteristics artfully integrated. Final impression: There is care here, and even a sense of terroir. More interesting and successful than the dozens of cheap (under $15) French Bordeaux's that are creeping into the U.S. market. Pair with: game birds, funky french cheeses or honest cheddars, walnuts. And the whole Dave Matthews connection? I like Dave's wine better than I ever liked his music. But I could just be getting old.

TBIFOM #04: The Stiff Upper Lip

(The Bottle In Front Of Me is a series of regular, brief tasting notes from the Rogue Estate’s resident wine guy, Ian.) The stiff upper lip. Imagine an Italian immigrant living in New York during prohibition, buying grapes from California to make wine in his basement. From these passionate beginnings we finally arrive at a flagship French-inspired wine favored by the British early in the 20th century. Kind of make you dizzy, doesn't it? But the wine in question stands on its own, albeit supported by a sinfully large marketing budget. It's a strong wine, but reserved - an even blend between old and new world style. It's a serious step above plonk, relatively risk-free, and wisely priced for the nervous buyer (plus, wrapped in a gold wire net!). That being said, the Coppola Claret will never give you that funky, unique love-it-or-hate-it "Wow" factor, but it's a great doorway into better class of wine for a lot of curious drinkers. 2009 Coppola Claret (About $17) Learn more about the winery: Learn more about the bottle in front of me: SEE: Rich deep ruby, fading to a slight rose at the rim. SWIRL: A medium body coats the glass with prominent legs. SMELL: A tight nose at first. As the alcohol burns off, aromas of wood, leather, plums and a hint of salted licorice. There are familiar Cabernet scents but in a more reserved style than California usually delivers. SIP: Quiet blackberry and cassis slowly open to reveal faint woody spices. Coriander, allspice, clove and orange peel in careful amounts. SAVOR: A moderately long finish adds bitter vanilla, and faint tobacco smoke. As the wine opens caramel, apple skins, and even Concord grapes emerge. Final impression: This Claret take a long time before you can even think about unbuttoning its blouse. Patience and attention pays with a balanced and very nuanced flavor. Dependable. Pair with: Nice with the Sunday roast, stews, and most British versions of French winter classics.

TBIFOM #02: The M Word

(The Bottle In Front Of Me is a series of regular, brief tasting notes from the Rogue Estate’s resident wine guy, Ian.) The M word. Seven years after it's release, the most notorious quote from "Sideways" still rings in most Americans' ears: (Miles Raymond) "If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot!" The bottle in front of me is not Miles' Merlot. It's Massive. Macho. Murderous. Aside from the few decent Bordeaux's I've splurged on, my Merlot experience is limited mostly to high volume, low-flavor Californian juice of little note. I typically associate strawberry aromas and flavors with these young bottles, rushed to market. At $10-15 a pop, there has been little encouragement to search deeper. M. Cosentino has given me that encouragement. I found their 2005 Napa County Merlot lurking behind the more current 2006 at a local shop. I got wine-jacked. 2005 M. Cosentino Napa County Merlot (About $16) Learn more about the winery: Learn more about the bottle in front of me: SEE: A very deep, rich ruby color, with nice clarity. Consistent color through to the rim, showing little signs of age. SWIRL: The wine clings stubbornly to the sides of the glass, resulting in extremely slow legs. SMELL: Very ripe (almost overripe) aromas of black stone fruits, cherry and plum. Some deep floral and herb scents - mild lilies and sweet annie. Wood shows through with faint tar, cedar, and vanilla. SIP: Powerful, dense, chewy fruit on the tongue, with cassis, black plum, and black cherry upfront. An initial sweet attack is followed with a wash of tartness. The concentration and plum flavors combine to give an impression of prunes (in a good way). SAVOR: The fruit resolves to a mildly sweet tobacco finish, which stretches into a lingering smoky espresso flavor. Final impression: This is defiantly Californian, new world, and BIG. A great value for the price, and a wine to be be savored over a few hours. Pair with: Man food. Grilled hanger steak, lamb burgers, and strong, funky, salty cheeses. P.S. Mafioso Maduros for the bonus.