Splendor in the Glass

Arturo Ciompi's blog on wine

Three to start February

Tag icon Published under Weekly Tastings

Clock icon February 2, 2014

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1994-vina-pomal-reserva-bodegas-bilbainasOld-fashioned Rioja warms the stomach, heart and soul. Aging in American oak gives a wonderful vanilla sheen to these traditionally made wines – especially true with Reserva bottlings. Today’s wine spends 18 months cuddling up to its American neighbor, and the results are totally loveable. The price for this level of quality is refreshing as well.

  • 2009 Rioja Reserva, Viña Pomal, Bodegas Bilbainas $21 srp

Translucent raspberry color. The bouquet suggests dried flowers and vanilla-scented fig, with light tobacco notes. (Quite overt for such a young wine.) Flavors resemble sour cherry in the best possible way. The wine is not sour, but rather transmits a piquant freshness that complements its cocoa and leather elements. Simply delicious in a medium-bodied style, with a longish finish and already joyful to quaff. Drink now-2017.

90/100 points

SaintJustSaumurRochesNV-LThe Loire is famous for grand chateaus (Biltmore Estate drew inspiration from them). It’s famous for white wines like Vouvray and Sancerre, and less famous perhaps for reds led by Chinon, Bourgueil (a tongue and spelling twister), and Saumur. These wines have a special cachet, and the grape in question, Cabernet Franc, finds some of its greatest expression here. Today’s wine, an exclusive in our parts of Wine Authorities of Durham, is a single-vineyard, special treat indeed. According to their website, only 21 bottles remain.

  • 2010 Saumur-Champigny, “Montée des Roches”, Domaine de Saint Juste $34.99 srp

A beautiful, deep, scarlet-red color. Nose is pure harmony of expressive fruit, dense and in full bloom. Notes of violets, blackberry compote, chocolate and a full range of herbal/spicy splendor fills the sinuses – fleshy and earthy at the same time. Mouth texture is richly generous and supple, but firmly structured and a bit monolithic now. Still, this velvety, mouth-filler would accompany game, red meat or a mushroom/truffle risotto beautifully tonight. This impressive offering will continue to improve and open for at least 4 to 5 years more.

92/100 points

UnknownThe Concha y Toro Winery has made millions of people happy over the years, with wines that cover the gamut of price structure, yet never serve up a generic tasting product. This publicly traded phenomenon simply never rests on its laurels. I’ve praised their Terrunyo line for many years and, in the $20 to $30 price range, you owe it to yourselves to get a glimpse of what they do. (The Carmenère is particularly splendid.) Once convinced, today’s offering will seal the deal. An icon of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon (with 4% Cabernet Franc), this wine conjures superlatives the moment the cork is pulled.

  • 2009 Concha y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve $125 srp

Dark, saturated garnet color. A classic Cabernet nose of profound berry essences with loamy earth, tar, tobacco, smoke and tanned leather elements. The sophistication of this bouquet is such that anyone, novice or connoisseur, is taken aback by its purity and class. The flavors are mouth-filling and remarkably mellow, with a slight undercurrent of black tea, Asian spices and chalk. The structure is firm and the flavors redolent with fruit. If drunk tonight, open in the morning! Drink now-2021.

94/100 points

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