Category Archives: Big Al’s Notes
Al Fialkovich, owner of Decanted, provides brutally honest micro wine reviews.
I really don’t mean to, but I rub off on people. It might be my youth, insatiable personality, or the mullet I’m currently working on. But I’m also pretty sure it has something to do with my wine knowledge. I wrote last time about how I have a little wine box – chardonnay, cabernet, and pinot noir. Unfortunately sometimes I think that my little box rubs off on my clients as well. As I have started to venture outside the box, subsequently they do as well.
Recently, I suggested a bottle of Purple Angel to a group for dinner. Purple Angel is a premium carmenere and petit verdot from Chile. We also added some other bottles to the pile including Soda Canyon’s newly released 2009 Cabernet. So what happened with my little experiment? The Purple Angel was popped open at dinner to reveal a complex, but tightly wound wine. Giving it even just an hour to breathe doesn’t do it justice. So the group opened the Cabernet which paired wonderfully with the meal. The Purple Angel was put aside for another day and time.
The next day, one member of the group tasted the Angel. Better. The day after, better still. The wine continued to develop over the next three days and blew the client away – something he was not expecting from a carmenere or Chilean wine.
Lesson learned? Drink what you like, but have the courage to explore once in a while. Oh…and always bring a back up bottle to dinner, who knows what is going to happen!
I stay in the same box all the time: chardonnay, cabernet and occasionally get crazy with some pinot noir. But lately for some reason all I want to drink is zinfandel. It’s so god damn good! And no, it doesn’t matter that we’re heading into the unbearable hot summer in Florida. Apparently zin pairs perfectly with humidity.
Last Wednesday was my blue collar day. A full day of manual labor, I packed and shipped around 125 cases of wine. At the end of the day most people crave a beer…all I wanted way a cheeseburger and a glass of zinfandel. Maybe it stems from my recent memory of heavy wine and burgers. About a month or so ago, a friend suggested a bottle of 1997 Guigal La Tourque with a Five Guys, not your typical pairing but I was up for it. Turned out to be both a brilliant and delicious idea.
Unfortunately, since then I haven’t been able to replicate that bottle of Guigal but have found that zinfandel pairs equally as well with burgers (Five Guys or not). Some recent finds include Martinelli Giuseppe and Luisa and for those ‘everyday drinking’ bottles Klinker Brick. So for me, put those summer whites and roses away. Just hand me a big, bold, kick you in the teeth wine and a juicy burger and I’m all set.
This is one of those secret gems I’m always talking about. This is one the first cult wines we carried, and subsequently one of our favorites. Second label of Beau Vigne, I discovered it last year on recommendation when I was trying to find another wine similar to Dave Phinney’s the Prisoner.
The blend changes every year. I think this year is mainly Cab and Syrah? Doesn’t matter, it’s just really good. Wasn’t expecting much out of this vintage especially following 2007 (they skipped 2008 due to low yields) which received those ridiculous ratings as a vintage. I guess this is another wine that goes to show you vintage to vintage doesn’t matter as much when you are dealing with a high class producer.
Call this wine whatever you want, storm chaser, tornado crusher, grape stomper, Barrel Chaser just plain rocks.
I had a surprisingly great tasting yesterday at the La Playa Hotel new wines. Trade tastings are not my favorite. You’d be amazed at how many people want to tie one on at 12pm on Tuesday at these tastings. I’ve even witnessed wine professionals mix two different wines together and continue to sing its praises afterwards. I’ve held back my comments.
Today was different though – great group of people that followed the protocol of normal human beings. We tasted through seven wines, six of which were better than average. This rarely happens especially with the mood I was in today – I kind of set out expecting not to like any of them. Paul Hobbs is making wine for a new project called Gaurachi, producing a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Here are my favorites:
- 2009 Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast: Rather good, 2.25 on my 3 point scale.
- 2008 Montes Purple Angel Carmenere, Chile: The standout of the group. Itook a sip or two of the other wines due to lack of spittoons but drank the entire glass of Purple Angel. Incredible nose but followed through front to back flawless throughout; lots of blue fruit and layered…made me even think a bit. Sat next to a Master Sommelier (only 250 in the world) and he found the Angel incredible as well. The Purple Angel received a 2.75/3 scale today.
Michel Ogier Cote-Rotie, 2007
I’ve been on a Rhone buying (drinking) spree the past few months. 2007 Rhone vintage was questionably the best ever. The Ogier Cote-Rotie is no exception.
I knew very litte about Cote-Rotie until a few weeks ago we had a 1982 Cote Rotie; it tasted similar to if I decided to chew on my Gucci loafers. Cote-Rotie is in Northern Rhone, a wine of extremes…slopes, le mistral (wind for you Jersey people), blood/sweat/tears. The Ogier has a great aroma of dark red fruit and white/black pepper. It follows through similar on the palate balanced throughout…front, mid and finish. This wine is 100% Syrah but by law they can have up to 20% Viognier. This wine will be drinking excellent in 4 years but last for decades. The bottle we opened at 11am today will be better tomorrow night at 11pm. With a proper cut of beef this wine would have a flavor explosion in your mouth.
You are missing out if you have not tried one of these wines. We ”stole” the last 10 cases in Florida at a substantial discount. Regular price $135/bottle, currently $65/bottle by the case (52% discount). Recently reviewed by Parker at 94 points.