K&L’s Mulan Chan presents the second installment of her quarterly French Regional newsletter. This edition includes features on rosé wines for summer, an introduction to Corsica, a profile of two fantastic regional estates and a recipe for tapenade! Download K&L’s Vins du Soleil newsletter.
2005 Isabel Estate Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough New Zealand ($15.99) Mike and Robyn Tiller supplied much of their fruit to wineries such as Cloudy Bay. In 1994 they produced their first Isabel Estate wine. The nose has a lovely powdery note with gooseberry, passion fruit, pineapple and lime that leap from the glass. The small percent of fruit that is barrel fermented with wild yeast adds nice mid-palate richness and texture. The finish is exceptionally long and multi-layered with some mineral notes as well. 2004 Thorn Clarke “Shotfire Ridge” Barossa Cuvee Barossa Valley South Australia ($15.99) This is one heck of a wine for the money! It won the gold at the Barossa Wine Show, Best Wine of Show at Adelaide and Top of Class at The National Wine Show. It’s a beautiful blend of all five Bordeaux grapes that offers a bouquet of crème de cassis, black fruits, earth, chocolate and a hint of licorice. Balanced with good acidity, the middle palate shows a creamy texture and there a long fine finish. 2003 Craneford “John Zilm” Shiraz Barossa Valley South Australia ($29.99) 90-93 points Robert Parker. The wine has a nose of blue and blackberry fruits, earth and dark chocolate. Shows fine balancing acidity with some notes of black pepper and roasted grain. I tasted with winemaker John Zilm this past January, and I can tell you he has some more great wines to come. The 2004s will be coming soon with some great values, and the 2005s out of barrel were showing tremendous promise. —Jimmy C
I had the honor of being a member of the K&L team that went to Bordeaux the first two weeks in April to taste and evaluate the 2005 vintage. Although these extremely young wines are still changing and forming every day, it was clear to all of us that this is a very special vintage in terms of consistency and quality. The bad news is quantities will be low, and prices will be high. The ray of hope is that virtually everyone made an outstanding 2nd wine, and these usually sell for a fraction of the first wines’ price. In fact, some of the best wines we tasted on our trip were the 2nd wines of the First and Second Growths. Les Forts de Latour, Pauilac: Super intense aromas of crushed currants and berries. This is ripe and fat with a very elegant, velvety finish. Almost as good as some vintages of Latour and the best 2nd wine of the vintage. WOW! Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux: Flavors of raspberries, blackberries, chocolate and oak are in this outstanding and seamless wine. This was sweet and spicy and had the most plush texture of any of the 2nd wines we tasted. Rivals Les Forts for quality. Pavillon Rouge, Margaux: Ch. Margaux made one of the best wines in 2005, and that attention to quality shows in their 2nd wine. Bright and vibrant with tons of black and red fruit masking the 14% alcohol. Aromas of licorice flow into the rich middle and ends with a velvety, fat smooth finish. Great 2nd wine! Clos du Marquis, St-Julien: This was sweet and thick showing red berries, black cherries and toasty oak all in perfect balance. This powerful and deep wine shows great proportion and very fine, sweet tannin. Excellent! Carraudes de Lafite, Pauillac: A high percentage of merlot (45%) shows in the mid-palate of this elegant and structured wine. There is beautiful harmony in the way the sweet entry and dark cherry flavors are pulled together by the strong yet seductive tannins on the finish. Lots of class and breed here. —Steve Bearden
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