On Vacation in Scottsdale: El Padrino de Mi Terra Agave Anejo Mexico

Wayward Wine hops a jet for February sun in Scottsdale, Arizona. Since this is a mini vacation from wine, liquor is on order. We despaire to find any booze since Arizona’s lottery only allows a limited number of liquor sellers. After a night of  some questionable beer, we land on the megolith Total Wine and More. We grab a wallet-friendly Tequila ($28):

El Padrino De Mi Terra, Anejo, 100% Agave.

Appearance: medium intense golden straw, bright but not brilliant.

Aromas: medium intense spiced nutmeg, vanilla, honey, golden melon.

Palate: Dry, low acid, a bit tannic, hot somewhat astringent alcohol, medium plus bodied, mostly smooth.

Flavors: rough bourbon char crackles against a plump core of pear, citrus, and honeyed melon fruit.

El Padrino’s Anejo is spicy and edgy, yet soft, plump and inoffensive enough to sip neat. Good (3 of 5).

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Thirsty Thursday: Domaine Terlato and Chapoutier Shiraz Viognier Victoria Australia 2012

This Thirsty Thursday lights on a strange affair riven between three countries. The wine is from Domaine Terlato and Chapoutier. Neither name sounds very Australian. This is because Napa bound Tony Terlato began importing Michel Chapoutier’s wines from the Cotes du Rhone. A decade later in 1998, Michel discovered land in Australia, got excited, and got Tony to support planting Shiraz. Six years of drought delayed production, but by 2004 640 cases happened.

At the same time, a larger plot over in Victoria grew Shiraz and Viognier: catnip for Michel to make into his own version of Australian Cote Rotie. Thus, 2012 saw 90% Shiraz and 10% Viognier cofermented and aged in stainless and cement tanks far from any barrel. The coferment retains shiraz’s brilliancy, while adding floral tones and much needed acidity.

Terlato chapotier Shiraz Viognier 2012 Australia wine

Appearance: a pretty intense ruby color with a razor thin clear rim.

Aromas: smell of medium intense leather, marischino cherry syrup, violet, blackberries, and iron filings.

Palate: feels dry, with just enough acidity, very present medium muscular tannins, warm coal alcohol 13.5%, making for a medium body.

Flavors: taste properly focused, brambly blackberry, tart blood orange, laced with iron filings and a medium plus length.

Terlato and Chapoutier’s Shiraz Viognier is continuously drinkable.  The lack of oak allows shiraz to flaunt its spice and complexity. It is serious wine and could stand up to most foods yet drinks alone with youthful exuberance.  At $16 you can’t go awry.

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Tasting Chateau Chalon, Vin Jaune (yellow wine) and Marc (brandy) by Bourdy Jura, France

A few months back Wayward Wine reviewed Biodynamic wines by Bourdy from France’s smallest, most extreme region: Jura, France (click here for that post).

Jura France wine Map

From 2010 to 1967, the wines ranged wildly from taught and acidic to spiced and honeyed. Time to delve past Bourdy’s varied but entry level Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blends. Time to visit their Savagnin grape-based higher tier.

Bourdy’s ’09 of Savagnin alone looks, smells, and tastes lemony tart and bright, with lime meringue, white pear, light honey, salinity, and floral tones. But their goal is something greater: Chateau Chalon.

Bourdy Jura vin jaune

Only about one year in six, a blind judging manages to find a barrel worthy of calling Chateau Chalon. Here is Jean Francois impersonating his father’s selection process:

The 2006 shines a light gold, with pronounced aromas and flavors of verbena, lemongrass, violet candy, almond, and honey. The acidity is eye-widening, young and jagged, saline, mineral and lean. Very good 4 of 5 (although it costs $107, three times their entry Savagnin).

But then some barrels carry a wild yeast that sometimes, under the right conditions, produces a fat cap of yeast. Rarely that cap holds, allowing the wine below to safely, gradually oxidize. That cap is called the flor. Jean-Francois helps us with pronunciation:

A five person senate declares vin Jaune. In 1993 they only declared 3 parcels. We try 1996:

The color looks a clear, bright, light gold. Aromas hardly smell of grapes but instead slightly feral, like bacon, with ethanol, sherry barrel, fruity Speyside whisky and vanilla powder. It feels dry, acidic, fairly tannic, with warm alcohol and round body. Flavors dive a different direction, tasting like crust baguette, lemon peel, cinnabar, smoke, minor mineral, that flow into a soft, creamy finish. Very, very good (4 of 5, for a mere $171.99).

But how about something older than me? 1976’s Chateau Chalon washes the glass with gold. Aromas pounce with orange marmalade, tomato leaf, Peking tea, wax, and almond, all of which match the palate.  Acids and tannins provide stiff structure balanced by a very ripe, lush body. ’76 like 2003 was warm, dry and made for a far more open, rich white (very good 4 of 5…but rarity makes it $413.50).

We rev up the time machine and visit 1959’s Vin Jaune de Garde. Aromas smell loudly but delicately of verbena, wood, chamomile, orange peel, and crystallized honey. 59 is lean, powerfully structured, and bright. It finishes long and lovely with flavors of creme fresh. It is outstanding stuff (5 of 5), extremely clear and expressive and cheapened by words (although certainly not cheap $613.99).

Bourdy suggests food to tame all this acid and complexity: eggs cooked 1 minute with wine, mixed mushrooms, Comte cheese and nuts. Our already watering palates feel desperate for food. But focus Aaron!

14 wines in, Bourdy is nowhere near finished. Time for two brandy from Jura:

Macvin and galant by  Bourdy by Jura

Leftover grape skins get pressed in small vats, then distilled into 16.5% alcohol following a 1579 recipe developed by drunken nuns.

Bourdy’s Macvin Blanc looks medium gold. Strong aromas smell of violet candy. It is sweet, acidic, alcoholic, hot, warm and bright. Flavors taste of aniseed, licorice, pear, and pleasant bitter green, leafy eucalyptus. It is very good (4 of 5) and $27.99.

The Galant Premier Grand Cru sees 3 years of barrel time. It smells fantastically of apple pie, mulled wine, mace, candied pear, and nuts: like walking past chestnut roasters at wintertime. Flavors wander towards aniseed, jerky, salt, and honey. Very good ($66.99). Bourdy suggests blue cheese, glazed pork.

Completely lost and my palate obliterated by acidity, alcohol, and intensity, I call a cab home and gorge on cheese to absorb all that cold climate brilliance.

Bourdy’s small 10 hectare plot produces fantastic, wholly unique wine.  Jean Francois is affable and confused by American cuisine (sugar in bread? Madness). This tasting was of their middling vintages, and I can only imagine greater things far beyond my meager appreciation.


Jura Bourdy chateau chalon


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Vienna Austria Part 3: Ephesus, the Secession, Sacher Torte,

It has been 148 days of travel.  So overwhelmed by Vienna’s art-packed core (last Monday’s post), we tacked on another day and return to the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Down monumental steps a marble lion greats us to the Ephesus Collection:

Ephesus relief Tracy and AaronTaken from Turkey over a hundred years ago, its marble frieze depicts scenes of slaughter, sacrifice, and succession with Hadrian hugging a preteen Marcus Aurelius:

Hadrian Marcus Aurelius EphesusOur Masters in Art History brought us here, but the museum woefully lacks anything didactic. My wife’s journal notes: “I was exhausted by the inexhaustible display of works without significant explanation”.

Wrapping stairs take us up to the musical museum. Relics of musical memory include the zither from the Third Man, pianos owned by Mozart, Schuman then Brahams, Chopin, and Beethoven, even his metronome:

Beethoven Metronome ViennaWe try to tour the world’s largest collection of armor, Monty Python singing in our heads, but by now our brains are yogurt, even if it is fabulous.

Armor Vienna We hit the pavement and find Aida cafe, birthplace of the fabulous, chocolate-tastic Sacher Torte.  Torte in hand, Aida’s just happens to be near a birthplace of modern art: The Secession.

Secession ViennaHere the first, blank, white, single gallery for modern art was built in 1897 with Gustav Klimt as its president.  But it costs too much for our Austerity Travel measures and our train awaits.  A block away is Wein & Co, Austria’s best wine shop. We grab a few bottles, tasty eggplant falafel (3 euros) at our market and hop on the 5 hour train to Prague with only 10 minutes to spare.

Vienna to Prague

We arrive in Prague completely lost. Worried about everything being closed on Sunday, we go to a grocery and discover local, yes, local Czech wine.

Czech wine isleWorrying labels and strange varietals aside, I find Rulandské modré…aka Pinot Noir. Sure it’s $6.26. Sure, we’re at the edge of cold climate, continental, northern wine making. But how bad could it be?

Sovin Pinot Noir 2010 CzechVinnysklep Sovin, pinot noir (Rulandské modré), Moravské Zemské Vino Červené Suché, Czech Republic, 2010 $6.26 ….try saying that five times fast!

APPEARANCE: Sovin’s pinot looks hazy, moderately ruby, with a garnet rim.

AROMAS: smell, um, clean (?) and powerfully of beef jerky and clove. Somewhere behind the clove hides bramble berry and raspberry aromas.

PALATE: Feels dry, pretty acidic, moderately tannic, with medium alcohol (12%) leading to a medium body.

FLAVORS: taste in one quick hit of tart red berry, apple, truffle, cigar ash, clove, all rounded out by a wild, gamey pheasant flavor of medium length.

Sovin’s Pinot is acceptable at best (2 of 5). Sorry Sovin. It is real wine but just a mess. Maybe our palates have yet to make the Eastern jump. Acclimating to new terroir takes time and focus. We just got a handle on Austria’s edgy Gruners and Zweigelts.

Whatever. We’re sticking to beer.

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Carbonic Carignan from Lioco, Kush, Mendocino, California 2012 at Coopers Hall, Portland, OR

Another burn out day in the trenches of wine sales sends me thirsty and hungry to Cooper’s Hall: Portland’s, maybe the US’s, largest conveyor of tapped wine. Yes. Bottles begone. Cooper’s features 44 keg wines: some imported, and some produced on site then self-distributed.

Instead of shipping and recycling endless bottles and producing more CO2, why not pop the wine into an oxygen deprived keg that you can ship, clean, and reuse?

Their converted warehouse, sleek and dark, echoes with rap and chatter. I land at the bar and order Carignan: a red grape usually blended with Syrah, Cinsault, and/or Mourvedre throughout the Mediterranean. But tonight’s tap features something different: carbonic macerated Carignan from Mendocino, California.

Typically, carbonic maceration is used to rush harvest wines like Beaujolais Nouveau to market. But Cotes du Rhone, Languedoc, and some Rioja also use it to avoid Carignan’s aggressive tannins. By putting grapes in an enclosed, oxygen free, CO2 blanketed environment, ambient yeasts will still ferment sugars, but within the whole berries themselves. This avoids extracting heavy tannins but develops fruit, banana, and clove notes.

So how does Mendocino Carignan fair?

Carignan, Lioco, Kush, Mendocino, California 2012

Coopers hall carignan

Coopers hall carignan

APPEARANCE: a bright, young, clear ruby core turns purple along the narrow rim. Spider legs.

AROMAS: clean, buoyant raspberry, rhubarb, tomato, light clove and vanilla powder.

PALATE: dry, crackling acidity, mild fine tannins, medium body.

FLAVORS: bright, brambly raspberries and orange peal toy with ripe tomato skin, slight plantain and clove framing from the carbonic maceration.

CONCLUSIONS: distracting and delightful yet deep and plump enough to withstand most food with flair. Well done, very good (4 of 5).

Cooper’s Hall pours and produces exciting wines. Their burger isn’t bad either.

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