Tag Archives: Old World wine

Syrah — Another New World vs Old World Comparison

Overlooking the vineyard

Overlooking the vineyard

Tardieu Laurent Cotes du Rhone Villages 2013

Here we have a Syrah (60%) Grenache (40%) blend from the Southern Rhone valley.  The Cotes du Rhone Villages offers great value and can be very appealing.  The style of this wine is finer and more reserved than the Guigal we evaluated in the previous post, but its emotional appeal is in emotion:  charm.  With a faint nose, dark fruits emerge: blackberry, huckleberry, and notes of leather and dark chocolate.  Raspberry lurks around the edges of the aroma.

This wine is very complex.  It ends with a balanced, medium finish and lots of pleasure.

Rating: 90

Compare the Tardieu with Luca Syrah, Lafarge Double Select 2011 from Valle de Uco Mendoza, Argentina.  

Again we are treated to full but delicate flavors.  Star anise, lavendar, bramble, blackberry, rhubarb, allspice and oak aromas combined with earth and herbs make for complexity and depth.  It is a sophisticated wine — somewhere between an Australian Shiraz and a Rhone Syrah.  As you sip this wine, note the difference that terroir makes to both the style and flavors of the wine.  I would not call this wine silky; rather more tactile, perhaps like velvet.

With these comparisons, you will see wine in its many expressions.  All are red with similar grapes, but all are so very different.  Seek to express your own emotional responses to them.

Rating:  90

Wine from the Old World that Evokes New World Expectations

Chateau Puech Haute Le Prestige 2013

Chateau Puech Haute Le Prestige 2013

Chateau Puech-Haut, Sait Drezery, Le Prestige 2013

We are in the world of heavyweights at 15% alcohol and nothing about this wine seems to suggest anything less than bold and big.  However, nothing is out of balance.  The fruit, oak, tannins and acid all stand up to the alcohol.  It takes you on a gradually ascending journey from first sight to finish as the flavors and impact of the wine increases.

Expectations are of a New World wine that has been fully ripened and extracted.  On careful examination, however, it gives itself away with its minerality that suggests an Old World origin. This wine gives us insight into what the fruit of the Languedoc region with its rugged terrain can produce — fruit as deep as and full as the New World and with a minerality that adds yet another aspect to its obvious complexity.  The result is a food wine, serious and fleshy, with a solid frame and the edge of mineral notes.

Blackberry, plum, smoke, toast, licorice and mineral notes that linger as it coats the mouth — a true heavyweight, well endowed in all aspects.  Watch for wines from this region that are well rated and enjoy the adventure into France’s southern wine world, which is undergoing a renewal.

Rating 93

A Wine Series to Indulge Your Mind and Emotions

Overlooking the vineyard

Overlooking the vineyard

Old World-New World Experiences with Wine — France and the Rest of the World

(A Series to Indulge Your Mind and Emotions)

France is indisputably the Fatherland of modern wine.  Wouldn’t it be fun and educational to experience the wines of France and the wines of the New World (New world is all the wine regions outside of Europe) side-by-side with a guide?  It will give a greater meaning to the words “Old World” and  “New world.”  It will expose you to wine and at the same time, it will stimulate your senses and develop your wine appreciation and knowledge.

France has its Old World and New World, too — the “new world,” in this case, being the south of France around the Mediterranean.  But we will treat all of French wines as Old World in these articles.  Already, French wines have been compared to wines of the New World and you may have seen the film Bottle Shock, which portrays the 1976 wine world earth shaking event.  Watch it, or watch it again!

So what has happened since?  You will answer that.  This is not a class but an experience we will both enjoy, so taste along with me and experience the fruit of the vine in a new and informative way.

We will visit the regions of France and choose some New World wine regions from which to compare wines.  I will tell you where to go to get the suggested wines and also urge you to add a wine selection of your own, if you wish.

In the near future, you will find on this website a wine-tasting course like no other.  It will focus on how to taste and many surprises will greet you.  Add the course to your experience and you will immerse yourself in yet more wine experiences.  “Wine is emotion in a glass” and the course will certainly tantalize your emotions and, at times, send them into euphoria.

Grab an Old World or New World wine and enjoy it.  We’ll start our adventure next week with, “Wine arrives in France.”

Llano Estacado’s Viviano 2010 Superiore Rosso

(In this article you will find comments on complexity, the effects of oak, and a representation of the Old World in the New World)

Llano Estadado's "Viviano"

Llano Estadado’s “Viviano”

This blend (Cabernet Sauvignon 70%, Sangiovese 30%) reminds the wine lover of a Super Tuscan marriage of grapes.   Llano Estacado, a large Texas Winery that has earned its reputation as one of the Lone Star State’s best wineries, produces this wine that is one of the state’s best wines and it deserves your close attention.  Contact the winery to see whether it can be shipped to your state and then follow the experience of this wine tasting with me.

Medium ruby, clear, clean, and bright, with aromas of earth, truffle, vanilla, smoke, clove, mineral suggestions, spice, cedar, leather, and dried cherries demand the term “complex.”  Complex flavors are not just a multiple of tastes but also the creation of new taste experiences that make tasting wines so much more interesting than just the identification of aromas.  Gripping fruit and oak tannins that tame as the wine breathes will endear this wine to steak (the wine insists Texas steak, of course).

This wine has spent 40 months in new French and American oak and its long tenure has shown how more time in oak is not necessarily more oak on the palate.  The oak has softened and integrated with the cherry flavored base of the wine.  The nose and palate are so complex that you keep getting impressed with new offerings on every sip.    It is not a reminder of Napa but of the Old World, with its lighter punch and its obvious finesse and minerality.  After the rich models of Napa and the heavy wines from Barossa Valley in Australia, this wine is a refreshing journey into the world of “less is better.”

The fruit, as you will already have gathered, is not in your face but is married and melded into the oak flavors, creating new and developing excitement as you drink.  It should age well and its tertiary flavors should constantly surprise as the ongoing chemical actions in the bottle reveal the wine’s as yet unknown charms.    However, notice how the finish evolves.  The fruit vanishes first; the oak lingers longer, and then the heat of the alcohol and the acid fade away slowly after a long, slow departure.  We would call this a medium finish because when we refer to the length of the finish we mean the way the fruit and oak flavors last, not any other lasting effects from the wine’s characteristics, such as alcohol or acid.

The grapes were picked at 24.5 brix (the sugar level at harvest), so it does not display any overripe fruit, such as very ripe plum or prune flavors.

Rating:  89+

Emotional rating?  For those who love the wines of the Old World and worship the wonders of the marriage of fruit and oak, it is a wine that will thrill and ring long lasting emotional bells.

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Sassicaia and Super Tuscans

SassicaiaThe wine world has been shocked more than once by unexpected achievements.  In the 1970’s, a wave, described by some in Italy as an advance and others as a horrifying departure from tradition, shocked the wine world.  In the last 30 years or so Italian wine has undergone huge improvements and won international attention in a way it never has before.  The wave (the emergence of the Super Tuscans) added a new name and spurred this surge in quality of Italian wine.

Marketed by Antinori, these wines, in particular Sassicaia and Tignanello, won world-wide acclaim in a hurry.  In 1978, Sassicaia won first place in a prestigious international tasting conducted by a no less prestigious magazine, Decanter.  That Italy would beat French wines and those from 11 other countries created quite a stir.  This is a highly priced wine, but the lessons we can discern from tasting it need to be learned, at least from reading — better still from tasting.

  1. Wines are built for aging or for immediate consumption and this wine, along with its counterparts in Bordeaux, is made for the long haul.  I tasted it young and was not disappointed, but wait a few years and the wine will be much more giving.  We can tell a wine is made for aging by the power of its tannins and the firm structure of the wine, among other things.  When young it will usually be tight — a word tasters use to suggest the wine has much more in terms of flavor and aroma that is hiding behind the strong tannins and has not yet been released.  When the tannins soften, the flavors will pop.
  2. When you encounter a wine that is tightly wound but you want to enjoy it now, serve it with some rich protein — in this case with a rib eye, perhaps — and the tannins will be softened somewhat by the protein, releasing more of the fruit.
  3. When you taste a great wine, the tannins will no doubt be fine, not course and rough in texture.  Strength and texture are two different qualities of tannin to be observed separately.  Compare this in your memory with a black tea that has been brewed for 5 or more minutes and you will not mistake the textural difference of the tannins in the wine and the tea.  Fine tannins make for a better wine.
  4. This wine is a perfect example of a great European wine.  It is not made to be a fruit bomb or even to focus on the fruit.  Fruit, tannin, acid, and alcohol are all balanced beautifully with the obvious addition of minerality, which is like the finishing touch on an Old World wine.  Therefore, it may seem to some to be a little more austere when it really is not.  It is waiting for its debut a few years out.  As it ages, the wine’s elements will marry, softening more and producing a wine that changes with its age much like humans mellow and change.
  5. Great Old World wines can also be said to be both soft and aggressive.  This is one of the pleasures of drinking the best of the Old World.  The wines both attack and soothe.

If you have a chance to taste this wine, note these lessons and any others that you might discover as you taste.  You will have been treated to a measure of what a very great wine from the Old World is meant to be.

For those who are curious, here are a few of my notes:

Firm tannins and structure, tightly wound.  Perfectly balanced and stimulates the mouth with a velvety touch.  Citric and lactic acids dominate because of the malolactic fermentation.  This also means the wine can be approached while young without pummeling your senses.

The flavors are many:  blackberry, blackcurrant, toast, cedar, dark chocolate, and already hints of leather with some coffee beans and their slight bitterness (what the Italians call amore) from the tannins (but not in any way offensive).  Cabernet Sauvignon 85%, Cabernet Franc 15%, 24 months in French oak barriques.

Rating: 94

Emotional rating: 94 and rising!  Salute!

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