Archive for January, 2011

Gleanings from a good weekend

January 23, 2011 1 comment

On SAT we repeated the great food experience my wife and I had last MON together with our Greek friends and the unbelievable tasty food Christiana makes. This time she invited us for a delicious slow cooked lamb brought from Crete. The lamb was cooked for almost 5-6 hours at a very low fire in the oven together with some Cypriot Halloumi cheese and potatoes.

The potatoes were roasted in the oven using lamb fat therefore the final result was very delicious.

As our hosts prepared such a gargantuan meal it was only fair for me to bring at least the wines, so my choices for SAT were three different wines: a white for appetizers and two reds. The reds were Enira 2007 and 2001 Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva Tenute Marchese. The white was a bottle purchased from our 2010 vacation in Greece: Biblia Chora 2009 a wine commented already several times on this blog.

As the ladies still had some immediate massage to attend before lunch, me and Iannis, our host, opened the Enira 2007 with some cold mezze – a term used in Greece for small portions of different food that can be from cold and hot appetizers to the actual final dish of the meal. The rule is to keep the small dishes coming. This can go on for hours. So we started the meal by sampling different cold appetizers and drinking Enira 2007.

Bessa Valley Enira 2007

A red garnet color wine. A youthful and developing nose with medium intensity and aromas of blackcurrant, cranberry, cloves, anise and cassis. In the mouth this medium bodied wine is round and balanced, offers a pleasant mouth feel, with sweet ripe tannins,good intensity and a medium finish with intoxicating but pure cassis. The 14.5% alcohol is very well balanced by the rich texture. The finish reminds of a good Chilean Cabernet. 86-87 points

After about 1 hour our ladies joined us at the table and we started with a hot salty cheese pie. To match this salty hot cheese pie we opened the white Biblia Chora 2009, a wine I know my friend Iannis likes a lot. The wine delivers great freshness and a pleasant modest complexity.

Ktima Biblia Chora 2009

A blend of Sauvignon blanc and Assyrtiko with 12.5% alcohol.The wine has a pale yellow-green color. The nose is very fresh and sweet with plenty of yellow flowers and freshly cut fruits with melon, lime and passion fruit. In the mouth the wine is off dry, a lifting acidity making the wine crispy, with flavors of acacia, elder, ripe pear, apple and grapefruit finishing with a fresh short to medium fruity aftertaste. Great wine to pair with fish. 85 points

For the main attraction of the lunch – the slowly cooked lamb from Crete – we opened the 10 years old Chianti Classico Riserva from Antinori and left it in the decanter for about 45-60 minutes. This is the second bottle I have this week from the lot of wines purchased recently and this bottle shows itself better. The first bottle I had on TUE was in a more developed stage of maturity.  I guess it is fair to say we have a case of serious bottle variation. Today I have the proper tools to uncork the wines so the process goes smoothly. The cork is almost completely soaked in wine. This is something that troubles me as most of the wines I had from Italian producers, especially Antinori, have this in common. I am not talking about 2-3 isolated cases here. I remember when I opened the 2000 Solaia that its cork looked the same: completely soaked in wine. These are wines that have no problem resisting the test of time, but the cork can make a serious sabotage and spoil everything.

2001 Antinori Tenute Marchese Chianti Classico Riserva

The wine has a dark red color with light brick tones on the rim. The nose is fully developed with a medium intensity with saddle leather dominating, truffles, caramelized smoked dark fruits and earth. In the mouth the wine is medium bodied, with a nice and round mouth feel, melted tannins, matured, well balanced offering great pleasure. There is a medium finish with a sour and salty dark chocolate aftertaste. 88-89 points

The wine is a perfect match for the two ways lamb. The Halloumi cheese melted and covered big parts of the lamb with a crusty layer. For me and Iannis the combination between the 10 years old wine, the tender and juicy lamb and the crusty Halloumi cheese is perfect. All the people at the table appreciate both the food and the wine, but the ladies prefer more the younger Enira because of its sweet fresh ripe dark fruits.

We finished the meal with an interesting dessert: a cheeseburger made with marsh mellow and ice cream. A little bit too sweet for my taste but good nevertheless.

This was the culmination of an amazing lunch spent in good company with great food and wines. I hope your weekend was as good as mine.

P.S. The pictures on this post have a lower quality as I forgot my camera at home and I had to use the Blackberry to take photos.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Bulgaria, Greece, Italy

2001 Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva Tenute Marchese

January 20, 2011 2 comments

I recently managed to put my hands on some 10 years old wines from Spain and Italy that I look forward to open and see how they evolved. Last night I got to open and taste one of these bottles. All these wines were stored in the same place by the merchant for probably more than 8 years so the provenance was perfectly traceable. The bottles were full of dust and the labels with some scratches but all in all the corks at least on the top surface looked clean and in perfect shape.

2001 Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva Tenute Marchese

It was quite a challenge to open this bottle because the cork was covered by wine almost completely and I used a really bad tool during the process to uncork it. However after breaking the cork in two pieces I managed to take it out without dropping any parts in the bottle. Unfortunately I tasted the wine at a remote location and I did not have a decanter to pour the wine into it so the breathing of the wine took place only in the glass. For sure a proper decanting and 30-45 minutes breathing would have helped the wine more. The wine shows its age and the stage of complete maturity from the moment it is poured in the glass. It developed beautiful tertiary aromas still maintaining discreet fruit flavors.

The wine has a brownish-red garnet color with brick tones to the rim. The nose has a medium intensity and is fully developed with saddle leather, truffles, caramelized smoked dark fruits, mushrooms and earth. In the mouth the wine is medium bodied, with a nice mouth feel and melted tannins, matured, well balanced, already passed its best but offering great pleasure now. There is a short to medium finish with an earthy and dark chocolate aftertaste. Drink it up. Great with lamb. 88+ points

I enjoyed the wine a lot and I think that it should be consumed this year because the wine had its peak already and now is steadily going down.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Italy

A white wine from Priorat

January 18, 2011 5 comments

nicely colored front label

My wife and I spent another lovely evening on MON with our Greek friends serving a delicious home made dinner. Christiana, our host, prepares by far some of the best dishes ever. I am her biggest fan. Last night we visited them with the clear and declared intention to learn her recipe of  pasta with prawns in a champagne and saffron sauce. Unfortunately I was busy discussing wines and different stuff with the guys so it is my wife the one initiated in the secrets of the saffron pasta. Therefore I cannot share with you the recipe. Yet.

The food was extremely good with a very rich salad with dried tomatoes, sultanas, small toasted bread, green salad leaves, Parmesan, some herbs and a mix of honey, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

The pasta was even better. I have to admit that the wine we had this evening was a better match to the salad than it was for the pasta. The honeyed flavors in the wine were matched by the sweet sultanas and honey from the salad.

The wine came into my possession from abroad and it is a white wine from Priorat, Spain. Priorat is a region/appellation close to Barcelona that is famous for its reds. The reds are usually blends of the same type of grapes as in the South of France: Grenache Noir, Mourvedre, Syrah plus some local and International varieties. It is the first time I try a white wine from Priorat. I have to try more for sure.

Produced by a well established and iconic producer from Priorat: Clos Mogador famous for its reds, the Clos Nelin, our wine for dinner is a blend of Garnacha Blanca-Viognier-Marsanne-Macabeo and Pinot Noir. Probably the Pinot Noir is vinified in white. I wonder if Recas wineries got their inspiration from Spain when they decided to make the Solo Quinta cuvee that uses also a red grape variety blended with 3-4 different white varieties. I know that their winemaker’s wife also makes wine in Spain in Rioja. That’s food for thought.

2007 Clos Mogador Blanco Nelin (DOC Priorat)

The color is pinkish gold-amber. The nose is tight when the wine is cold but as it gets warmer, honey and orange peel make a distinctive nose. In the mouth the wine is rich, fat, spicy, fragrant with honeyed and exotic spices, nice fresh citrus fruits flavors, medium to full bodied, overall a complex and great mouth feel even if it has a low acidity. The finish is medium and intense with a spicy fresh aftertaste. This is a dry wine. 90 points

A great and balanced wine with 14% alc that develops complex flavors served warmer at room temperature.

somebody anxiously waits to sit at this table

We really enjoyed the food, the wine and the great company of our friends last night. Let’s hope every night will be like this.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Spain

Wines from 3rd week of January

January 17, 2011 2 comments

Last week was fairly rich in drank wines, especially as I did not attend any wine tasting. On THU evening, as I was making a brief inventory of some recently bought bottles in my cellar, I opened another 2006 Las Flors de la Peira. I did so to check if my initial tasting notes are consistent with another bottle tasted by itself. And they are.The first time I had the 2006 Las Flors was in a comparative tasting with a 2007 Chateau Puech Haut Clos du pic, a wine with a similar blend of Syrah-Mourvedre coming from very low yields.

2006 Las Flors de la Peira

The wine has a very dark red almost black color. Very meaty and spicy aromas are building a complex nose with thick layers of black pepper, juicy rare beef steak, big on blackberry and cranberry aromas, plums, a hint of minerality and a touch of heat. The wine is better served at a lower 13-14 Celsius degrees temperature. In the mouth the wine is a bodybuilder, full bodied, very concentrated flavors of meat, black pepper, ripe dark fruits, balsamic vinegar, with silky tannins and a great mouth feel. The finish is long and intense with spicy and meaty blackberry in the aftertaste. A really nice and complex wine. 92+ points

The Las Flors was so good that I ended up drinking the whole bottle by myself and this is a big thing as I usually don’t drink more than 0.375 ml of wine per  meal at home during a regular working day, especially on a wine with a 14.5% alcohol level.

On FRI I paid a visit to Calin at Le manoir and I had the chance to try two wines: a Chateauneuf du pape and a 100% Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley.

2007 Perrin&Fils Chateauneuf du pape – Les Sinards

No photo taken with the bottle.

Red garnet color, the nose shows brett, tobacco, green peppercorn with a sweet earthy mix of red cherry and raspberry. A medium body wine with lively acidity, balanced, with spicy red fruits finishing with a short to medium spicy aftertaste. Not a heavy or too concentrated wine, but a pleasant and accessible style already. Good balance of the 14.5% alcohol. 88+ points

I was expecting more from a 2007 Chateauneuf du pape as the vintage produced some exceptional wines in the appelation and plus the producers of this wine are the owners of Chateau de Beaucastel – a highly sought producer. Still the wine surprised me by how well the alcohol was balanced and how vibrant and not heavy at all it felt.

2007 Frederic Mabileau Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil- Les Rouilleres

no photo taken so I used one from a different vintage found on the Internet.

I heard some good things about the red wines from the Loire Valley, made 100% from Cabernet Franc. Usually the wines are really inexpensive and offer great value for the money.

The wine has a red garnet color. There is a spike of alcohol on the nose(even though the wine has only 12% alcohol, so not a good thing) with a mix of red fruits and a slightly green-herbal aroma. In the mouth the wine has a light body, with a pleasant mouth feel, watery like, with some red fruit flavors but no trace of the heat felt on the nose. The finish is short but really nice with pure flavors of bitter dark chocolate and mint. 78-79 points

On SAT I had lunch with my parents so I brought a bottle from the cellar, this time a 100% Syrah from the Northern Rhone. My father loved this wine. He is the kind of person that he likes it or not, a pretty straight forward guy when it comes to wines.

2006 Thierry Allemand Cornas Chaillot

This wine comes from vines younger than 40 years old. The top wine of this producer, the Reynard cuvee also 100% Syrah, is produced from 40+ years old vines. Both wines spend 18-24 months in French oak.

Color is dark red with purple hues. The nose is complex with smoke, graphite, white pepper, floral aromas mixed with red fruits, almost Bordeaux like.In the mouth the wine is balanced, with a vibrant light to medium body due to a pleasant high acidity mixed with a very interesting minerality. Flavors of smoke, red fruits, plums, floral – lavender and lilies, green peppercorn build a nice complexity with silky tannins. The finish is medium plus long and mineral. Overall a really well balanced wine with nice texture, good depth, great intensity and so drinkable. Also plenty of sediment in the bottle already so it is recommended to decant prior to serving. 92-93 points

This is such a beautiful and elegant wine and I am sure with aging in the bottle the wine will be more interesting and even more complex. I prefer this style more to the 2006 Las Flors.

Later the same day with dinner I opened another bottle that I received as a gift from a friend. Frankly speaking I did not have too much expectations from this wine because 1992 was a poor vintage in Bordeaux and the wine comes from a modest generic producer from Haut Medoc. But it was a pleasant surprise.

1992 Chateau de Villegeorge Grand Cru Exceptionelle Haut Medoc

Red garnet with brick color on the rim. Aromas of smoke, spices and a little bit of earthy cassis make the nose. The wine has a light to medium body but with a pleasant mouth feel, with integrated tannins, no rusty or metallic flavors, finishing with a short spicy but pleasant aftertaste. Going on the downside but yet still accessible and very much alive. 83-84 points for a 19 years old generic Bordeaux.

On SUN my wife and I attended a 5 hours lunch with some good friends at Casa Mediteraneana in Herastrau park. It is a restaurant serving a combination of Turkish-Greek food. The eggplant salad with tahini is really good, the prawns with home made butter and pomegranate sauce are delicious and the barbecue simple but tasty. We tried two of the wines they had on the list. As I have visited Serve last year at the end of November I suggested to start the meal with their 2009 Terra Romana Chardonnay.

2009 Terra Romana Chardonnay

The color is pale yellow lemon . The nose is still dominated by oak with a slightly herbaceous aroma. In the mouth the wine has a light to medium body, lacking concentration and very much watery like, with vanilla and tar lemon flavors. The finish is short and oaky. It was OK as a starter but when the cold appetizers came this wine was no match for any of it due to its thin flavors. My impression is that the wine is too dominated by the oak and not much else is able to shine out. 75 points

As our friends like Davino the next wine ordered was the 2009 Davino Revelatio that went better with the cold appetizers and the buttered prawns.

2009 Davino Revelatio

It is the second time I drink this wine over a month. The wine has a light medium gold color. The nose is fresh, more expressive than the last wine, with aromas of passion fruit, lemon, apple, cut hay and a discreet minerality. In the mouth it feels off dry, with a medium body and yellow flowers and stone fruits flavors. The finish is short to medium with a good freshness. 84-85 points

One of the persons at the table pointed out the 13.9% alcohol level and complained that the wine made an attempt to endanger his sobriety.

Overall it was a good week on wines and socializing with good time spent with friends and family and some very impressive wines tasted – Thierry Allemand Chaillot and Las flors de la Peira both from the same 2006 vintage.

Thanks for reading!

SAT dinner with friends

January 9, 2011 Leave a comment

very interesting creme de cassis

Last SAT evening my wife and I were invited for a very pleasant dinner by our friends Anne and Calin to celebrate their moving into a new home. As Calin is one of the representatives of Le Manoir, the official franchisee for Comtesse du Barry and Fauchon in Romania, the dinner was filled with high quality products from Comtesse du Bary. I am not a consumer of preserved products in a can, but I have to say that what we served were really good. Calin told us a little bit about the way the products are made by Comtesse du Bary as he visited them several times in France and was also invited during those visits to work a few hours in the factory. They do this so their partners can see exactly how the products are made. The preserved foie gras is basically the duck or goose liver only with salt and pepper added, then the can is boiled for some time to destroy any potential bacteria. It is simply the same method our mothers and grandmothers use when they make home made compote for the winter. We sampled foie gras, different duck and goose with green peppercorn terrines, some dark skinned pig from the South of France terrines, Prosseco and Champagne based sauces and red fruits mixed with Madiran wine. Many of this products can very easily be taken as freshly made food. It seems while he was in Romania for shooting the second part of Ghost Rider, Mr. Nicolas Cage was a big fan of the duck products from Comtesse du Bary.

Just to stay on the same line the main course was rare duck breast with dried funghi porcini, baby spinach and arugula salad and a balsamic vinegar reduction. The foie gras went very well with the Pouilly Fume we had. The duck breast was accompanied by a 2004 Chateau le Boscq from Magnum.

rare duck breast

We also tried four different types of fresh French cheese imported weekly by Le Manoir. Unfortunately there wasn’t any more white wine left and we had the cheese only with red Bordeaux. I believe the white would have been a much better pairing for the cheese assortments. Nevertheless the experience was very interesting.

cheese including a 6 months matured- the one with the brown edge

Just to finish the meal Anne was kind and offered us a great creme de cassis made by Mouton Rostchild in a very limited amount (only 1563 bottles made) from a bottle she received as a gift for her birthday a while ago. At only 22% alcohol this is a great drink and way to finish a tasty meal.

Here are my tasting notes for the wines we had this evening. The same tasting notes were added on for these two wines.

2004 le Boscq from Magnum

2006 Michel Redde et fils Pouilly Fume Les Champs des Billons

The wine has a clear gold color. The nose is initially tight but as the wine gets warmer in the glass beautiful aromas of honey and wet rocks are dominating with lemon, passion fruit and green apple on the background. Great complexity on the nose. In the mouth this medium to full body wine has great acidity and mouth feel, good concentration with very pleasant mineral flavors accompanied by fresh yellow flowers and fruits. The finish is medium with pure flavors of honey and grapefruit in the aftertaste. A great bone dry Pouilly Fume. Excellent(90 points)

2004 Chateau le Boscq St Estephe

The wine has a red garnet color. The nose is rich with classic St Estephe aromas, the nose of a young wine, spicy with green peppercorn, shows pleasant green vegetables: asparagus and green bell pepper mixed with smoked dark cherry, red currant, plums and a touch of discreet oak. In the mouth this medium body wine is enjoyable, balanced and accessible, with a pleasant mouth feel and acidity and plenty of red fruits and spicy flavors. The finish is medium, with a mix of spices, asparagus and firm tannins in the aftertaste. The wine will benefit from more years of aging.The wine was drank from a Magnum. Very good+ (87 points)

It was a very successful SAT night with plenty of good time and fun.

somebody loves her Liquer de Cassis – who can blame her

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Bordeaux, France

Now on

January 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Yesterday I started to post my tasting notes and ratings on the very useful and famous

You can find the same tasting notes as on this blog but this time with rating points on a scale of 1-100 (to be more precise the scale starts at 50 and can go to 100 points – I really hope I will not drink any wine that I’ll have to rate 50-60 points). My postings will be made as cosmin_grozea.

The main focus is to introduce ratings for Romanian wines that lack a presence on this International wine community and therefore to be introduced to foreigners through this channel. The first posts with Romanian wines were for 2009 Davino Revelatio and 2009 Theia Chardonnay from Cramele Halewood made on 01/07/2011.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Uncategorized

Domaine des Escaravailles – Heritage 2007

January 5, 2011 Leave a comment

This wine arrived recently into my cellar from a merchant from abroad. The Domains des Escaravailles in Rasteau (Cotes du Rhones Villages Appellation) is making some incredible high quality wines and their prices are not exceeding the 35-40 EUR range. This is a very serious producer that is worth seeking out.In Provencal, Escaravaille means beetle and the name of this domaine comes from the nickname given by the people from Rasteau in the 17th century to the monastic order called the “Black Penitents of Avignon.” This order worked the vineyards wearing long black cloaks and when seen from the village below, the monks looked like beetles scurrying among the vines.

The wine has a red garnet color with a thick, oily appearance and plenty of legs left on the glass. The nose is complex, fresh with plenty of spicy herbs: thyme, sage, mint, pure strawberry aromas, kirsch and raspberries mixed with sweet spice. In the mouth this full body wine has a lifting acidity that creates tremendous balance, there is some heat but nothing disturbing even if the wine has 15% alcohol. A very silky mouth feel with very pure aromas of fresh red fruits, red cherry, strawberry, white pepper, chocolate and black olives. The finish is long with firm tannins hinting the great potential this wine has, with black olives, candied cherry and chocolate in the aftertaste. Excellent ripe and elegant wine. Beware that 15% alcohol even if this cannot be felt in the mouth. Your sobriety might be in danger. Pairing with food is mandatory and make sure to drink the wine at a lower(perhaps 14-15 Celsius degrees) temperature for a better appreciation.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: France
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