Friday, September 19, 2008

Boutique Wine Collection Portfolio Tasting, Part Two

Yes, I actually did make it past the first table at Boutique Wine Collection’s recent portfolio tasting. It was only a few steps to the next, which featured a hodgepodge of wines from various segments of Michael Skurnik’s book, including a few Daniel Johnnes Selections.

Jonathan Schwartz, Terry Theise Portfolio Manger, was down from New York for the day to pour wines for the Skurnik team. Sorry about catching you with your eyes closed, Jonathan.

Some of the highlights:
  • Raventos I Blanc Cava “L’Hereu” Brut NV: This was the highlight of the table for me, not only because it was so good but also because I’ve always had a really hard time finding a Cava that moves me. Very dry attack and highly floral aromas, with a chalky, banana pith character on the palate. Neat wine. Raventos I Blanc, I was told, is apparently the only estate bottler of Cava.

  • Domaine Mardon Quincy “Tres Vieilles Vignes” 2007: Savagely dry Sauvignon, driven by honeydew melon and chalky, limey minerality.

  • Domaine des Hautes Noelles Cotes de Grandlieu Muscadet sur Lie 2007: There’s a creamy aspect here, on the nose and in the mouth, but it’s offset by loads of green extract and a pretty savage mouthfeel. Needs food.

  • Domaine des Hautes Noelles Vin de Pays de Val de Loire Gamay 2007: One of the most simply enjoyable reds at the entire tasting. Light and lean wild cherry fruit with an ample sprinkling of cracked white pepper. Chill it.

A few wines that were neither here nor there:
  • Domaine Barraud Mâcon-Villages “Les Pierres Dorrées Vieilles Vignes” 2006: Barrel fermented white Burgundy. Mute on the nose and fairly mute on the palate. Though not terribly oaky, the wood still dominates the fruit.

  • Domaine de Moulines Vin de Pays de l’Herault Merlot 2004: Solid, drinkable but boring.

  • Huarpe Mendoza (Argentina) “Lancatay” Bonarda 2005: Taking a big geographical leap, I tasted this one mainly out of curiosity. Fairly pleasing, sweet-fruited chocolate and black cherries, but with a glossy texture that sings over-manipulation.

A few that I didn’t care for:
  • Les Garrigues Côtes du Rhône 2007: Decent fruit but alcoholic and aggressive.

  • Mud House Marlborough (NZ) Riesling 2006: A ghost costume, made of threadbare sheets that Riesling once slept on.

  • Mud House Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007: Jalapeno juice.

  • Mud House Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc “Swan Reserve” 2007: A bit more refined than its little brother but why bother – at its price point, you could drink very fine Sancerre. I didn’t move on to their reds. Sorry, Mud House.

And one that I managed to leave out of yesterday’s write-up:
  • Sattler Burgenland Saint Laurent 2006: My favorite red of the entire tasting. Crunchy, juicy blueberry fruit, a little spice and lots of character. Sattler produces reds only. (From the Terry Theise Selections table.)

On the opposite side of the room, manning the last table, Nicola Biscardo was pouring selections from his own Italian portfolio, part of The Country Vintner’s line-up.

Some highlights from Nicola’s table:
  • Piane di Maggio Trebbiano d’Abruzzo “Agriverde” 2007: Typical, apple-y Trebbiano. Good acidity and clean fruit.

  • Vallerosa Bonci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico “Carpaneto” 2007: Medium bodied, fleshy and zesty. A little low acid as Verdicchio goes but quite pleasing.

  • Vallerosa Bonci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore“San Michele” 2007: Ripe, honeyed, creamy and concentrated. A touch sweet-fruited but about as hedonistic as Verdicchio gets, in a good way.

  • Feudo di San Nicola IGT Salento Primitivo 2005: From one of Nicola’s own properties. In his words, “Southern wine with a northern touch.” Clean, aromatic and very juicy. Ripe but restrained. Aged in Slovanian botte. Surprisingly good Primitivo.

  • Ortaglia Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2003: More than a solid effort for the vintage. Classic expression of both place and variety. Firm and tannic, with a mouthful of expressive, tarred red fruits. Good length. Best of the bunch.

A few on the fence:
  • Terre di Sole IGT Sicilia Sangiovese 2007: Another of Nicola’s properties. Juicy fruit. Simple and refreshing. A nice quaffer that would have made it to the first list if it actually showed any varietal character beyond its cherry-driven fruit. Lower yields might do the trick but then the wine would become too pricey to make any sense.

  • Terre di Sole IGT Sicilia Nero d’Avola “Apalos” 2005: Surprisingly pale for Nero d’Avola. Jammy blackberry fruit. Very soft.

  • Borgo Pretale Chianti Classico “Le Crete” 2006: From Castellina. Real Chianti, with lean, high acid Sangiovese character but a bit hollow and lacking in depth.

  • Marchesi Biscardo Amarone della Valpolicella 2001: From Nicola’s family property. Very traditional blend, dried for between 4-5 months. Medium color, lightly raisined flavors and medium-bodies. Food friendly but a touch dilute.

And a couple I’d avoid:
  • Piane di Maggio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Agriverde” 2007: Bright mulberry colors. Some tannin. No character. I’m not a big Montepulciano fan, so take this as you will. Typical in all the wrong ways.

  • Ortaglia Rosso di Montepulciano 2006: As much as I liked their Vino Nobile Riserva, I disliked this. Decent structure but lacking substance and way overpriced.

The third and final installment, to come soon, will touch on miscellaneous and sundry from the core of Boutique Wine Collection's own portfolio.



Mike Drapkin said...


Great notes. Love the ample Muscadets from Serge Batard too!!! Listen, I gotta get my hands on that gamay......sounds super.

Chief of Lab Research said...

Nice write up. I'm a big fan of the Raventos Cava as well. Great packaging (which can only help a special occasion) and unbelievable chalk. Best I've found outside of Champagne itself.

David McDuff said...

Thanks, gentlemen. I dug all three and hope to spend a little more time with them sometime soon.

The price point for the Gamay should be $15ish, Mike. Not without peers but certainly worth a search and imbibe mission.

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