Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Les Clos 2006 Perdus "Prioundo" Corbières

Absolutely beautiful wine. Picked this up from K&L Wines in San Francisco after browsing the shelf talkers. A few facts sold me on this wine, including the fact that it is biodynamic, was the nice description about where the grapes come from:

"Les Clos Perdus is a small winery based in the village of Peyriac de Mer in the Languedoc region of the South of France. Founded by Paul Old and Hugo Stewart, Les Clos Perdus (Lost Vineyards) mission is to discover and nurture select parcels of old vines, scattered throughout the hillsides. Many of these small vineyards had been disregarded by larger producers because of their isolation, their low cropping potential and their inability to be machine worked. Their ultimate goal is to produce distinctive well balanced wines of the very highest quality. Prioundo contains 70% Grenache, 30% Cinsault from select vineyards in the Corbières hills, near the village of Villesèque."

I found a funky, earthy nose, with virant red berry flavors focused on sweet red cherries balanced by smoky tobacco and spice notes on the finish. Wonderful acidity.

While the debate about whether biodynamics has an effect on wine is fierce, I for one certainly think there is. Now, I'm not saying I can spot a wine made biodynamically if tasting blind, but what I do find when I try "BD" wines is that they don't taste too perfect, and this is a good thing.

The more wines I drink, the more I appreciate uniqueness, while earlier I might have settled for sameness in experience. There are some wines that I've drunk recently that I perhaps didn't think tasted so great, but found them fun to drink because they were so different from anything I've ever tried before (a slightly oxidized white wine from Hungary comes to mind, from A Cote).

BD wines, at least the ones I've tried, typically have an earthy note some where in the aroma and beautiful vibrant fruit flavors. I don't get tired fruit notes like other wines. They all seem to have soul, if you will, which can be missing from mass produced wines. I know I'm probably not making much sense here as I'm grasping at the appropriate way to describe what I mean, but try a biodynamic wine and see if you get the same thing. There are many beautifully made wines that seem competent, but they lack the extra "oomph" that pushes them beyond just tasty. The BD wines I've had all seem to have that quality.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ethiopia Mordecofe Natural Process

It seems like Four Barrel is really hitting its stride when it comes to roasting fresh coffee beans. I am currently enjoying their Ethiopia Mordecofe Natural Process and it's showing wonderful blueberry and apricot notes and a striking citrus-like acidity. In the past, their coffees seemed tired and roasted at levels that didn't fully show their best flavors.

Natural process means the coffee cherry fruit was left attached to the bean (as opposed to being removed as is more typical in the washed process) and as a result, the coffee has more funky fruit flavors that might have been gone otherwise. Though interestingly enough, the acidity remains, which tends to be muted when made in this manor.

So far I've prepared this coffee in an inverted aeropress, french press, and in espresso form. My only attempt at pulling this coffee was a failure, I choked my poor Gaggia, requiring 56 seconds to get maybe half the amount of a single shot. So I'll retry that soon and figure out how to properly dial this thing in (still, the espresso I got tasted great with steamed milk - the blueberry flavor shown through like a spotlight in fog). I liked this as a french press, but overall the flavors seemed muted a bit. The inverted aeropress version I'm drinking this morning is the best preparation so far - bright acidity, wonderfully sharp flavors, and a nice clean cup.

Priced at $13, Four Barrel describes this coffee's taste as "Intense strawberry throughout, blueberry and apricot jam, passion fruit, apricot, and vanilla cookie."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Robert Stemmler 2006 Estate Pinot Noir Carnaros

Picked up this wine from's shop in Berkeley for $19.99, down from it's original $36. Wasn't entirely certain this would be a good offering given my poor track record with sub-$20 pinots, but the label was
beautiful, the producer was one I thought I'd heard of being good, and the
in-store write up didn't mention "a touch of wood" in the tasting notes like the
other wine I was considering (whenever I see that I shudder because it usually
means the wine is over oaked).

When I got home and looked up what the producer had to say about the 2006 growing season, it bothered the crap out of me. The problems with the season seemed biblical in nature - flooding, "brutal" hot weather, and an overabundant crop that was picked late in the season caused me to think the wine would be thin and taste like raisin-flavored vodka.

Lucky for me, the wine was excellent, displaying an earthy nose with petrol and
cherry notes, which echoed in the glass. There was hints of black liquorish
on the finish. The winery did a good job of "aggressive" green pruning, so that the remaining berries were able to display great flavor and not the watered down taste I expected.

I really liked this wine and think it's a great deal for under $20.