Wine Picks August 5, 2006

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French Red Wine

CHÂTEAU CHAVRIGNAC ROUGE 2004 AC Bordeaux (Vign. Bouron, Prop.-Récolt) VC: This winery has been fully organic since 1964. The wine is generally made with a blend of 35% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Malbec. This organic wine contains 6 mg/L of free sulphur. The 2004 was a classic Bordeaux vintage, so expect aromas and flavors of cherry, plum, cassis and earth tones. Enjoy it with grilled portobello mushrooms. My note: Nicely balanced, full-bodied but not heavy. Classic Old World style. 002436 (XD = extra dry) 750 mL $15.95 Score: 89/100.

DOMAINE DES COTEAUX DE TRAVERS CAIRANNE 2004 AC Côtes du Rhône Villages VC: A flavorful wine for shish kebabs or even a cloved ham. The aromas suggest blackberry, plum and air-dried beef. It is dry, juicy and fleshy with supple tannins. Medium-bodied with a lingering finish. My note: Jammy and purply, with ripe fruit and lip-smacking goodness. Full-bodied. 626648 (D = dry) 750 mL $17.95 Score: 87/100.

French Rosé

DOMAINE LA GENESTIÈRE TAVEL ROSÉ 2005 AC, 'Cuvée Raphaël' VC: Tavel rosés are amongst the richest and most robust of the great French pink wines, and Domaine La Genestière's is an excellent example. Expect cherry/raspberry aromas and flavors with a good crisp acidity for refreshment. Enjoy it as an aperitif or with spicy Mediterranean fare. My note: Perfect barbecue or picnic wine. Serve slightly chilled and let the kids run through the sprinkler. 680900 (D = dry) 750 mL $17.95 Score: 90/100. Favorite Rosé

Spanish Rosé

'HERMANOS LURTON' ROSADO 2005 Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León (Jacques & François Lurton) VC: Vino de la Tierra system is similar to France's Vin de Pays. These are regional wines made using techniques or locations not allowed in the DO of Spain, but are definitely representative of the region. The Lurton brothers have fashioned a rosé from Tempranillo and Garnacha that show lovely fresh cherry/berry aromas and a balancing acidity. Enjoy with pan-fried freshwater fish or with Spanish tapas, including olives, anchovies or tapenade on toast. My note: Lovely for the money. Drink it with salmon, paté, salads and seafood. 684985 (XD) 750 mL $10.95 Score: 89/100.

Spanish Red Wine

JUAN GIL TINTO 2003 DO Jumilla VC: Made with 100% Monastrell (Mourvèdre), expect this wine to exhibit aromas and flavors of black currant, root beer and espresso. It is rich, ripe and very concentrated. Enjoy with flavorful beef or lamb dishes. My note: Interesting and different. Aromas of chocolate and dark fruit. Round and full-bodied. 001677 (D) 750 mL $21.95 Score: 88/100.

Argentine Red Wine

DEL FIN DEL MUNDO MALBEC 2004 Patagonia VC: 'Del Fin del Mundo' or 'the end of the earth' is, essentially, where this winery is located. Patagonia, Argentina's cool climate growing region, was made famous by journalist Bruce Chatwin in his 1970s travel book "In Patagonia". Expect a tasty wine with ripe berry aromas, lots of depth and concentration, ripe tannins and a long finish. My note: Rustic, full-bodied and busting at the seams. I'm recommending this because it's decent quality at an excellent price. Black fruit aromas. 681197 (XD = extra dry) 750 mL $12.95 Score: 86/100. Best Value Red Wine

New Zealand Red Wine

FRAMINGHAM PINOT NOIR 2004 Marlborough, South Island: Gorgeous, silky pinot with aromas of cherries, plums and spices. Da-vine. 699322 (D) 750 mL $28.95 Score: 92/100. Favorite Red Wine Tied

Italian Red Wine

SENSI 'MANTELLO' SANGIOVESE/SYRAH 2000 IGT Toscana: Dark, rich and full-bodied. Extracted black fruit. Heavy duty wine; stunning. 683706 (D) 750 mL $25.95 Score: 91/100. Favorite Red Wine Tied

'VAL DI SUGA' BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2000 DOCG (Tenimenti Angelini): Mature aromas of dried fruit, leather and spice. Perfect to drink now. (I wouldn't keep it more than a year or so.) Comes in the handy dine-along half-bottle size: 687244 (XD) 375 mL $24.95 Full bottle: 713719 (XD) 750 mL $45.95 Score: 90/100.


MANUAL D. POCAS COLHEITA PORT 1988 Btld. 2006 VC: A ready-to-drink Port that is ideal with a summer berry/fruit flan. Attractive aromas of dried fruit, orange peel, pecan, fig and caramel dominate here. It is sweet, smooth and very ripe with great depth of flavor and a very, very long finish. My note: Lovely port with classic almond-caramel goodness. Perfect after-dinner drink. 581140 (S = sweet) 750 mL $29.95 Score: 90/100. Favorite Port

Nat Decants 100-Point Scale

95-100 Brilliant, Exceptional
90-94 Excellent, Superb
89.5 Hovering on the doorstep of excellence, better than very good
85-89 Very Good
80-84 Good (still worth buying and drinking)
79 and below Average to poor (I don't include these in the newsletter due to space constraints)

Favorite Wines: This isn't necessarily the wine with the highest score, as high scores go to the wines that best typify their region and style. Rather my favorite wines are just that: the ones that appeal to me most personally and to my own taste.

Best Value Wines: Not necessarily the cheapest wine, but the one that maximizes the price-quality ratio. (Although I don't always go by strict mathematical ratios on this either, but rather what seems to me to represent tremendous value.)

For more detail on how I do my wine reviews and scores, click here. For tips on how to find these wines, click here.

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Copyright © 2006 by Natalie MacLean. All rights reserved. Please ask permission of the author before copying or using this material.