Tag: Eric Asimov

Dec 12 2010

Argentine Malbec: The World’s Best Value Red Wine?!

Posted on December 12, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

The Wine Spectator recently released its Top 100 Wines for the year. Argentina was well represented with five wines (Australia had six), and all of the Argentine wines were malbecs, mainly from the Mendoza region at the foothills of the Andes in Argentina.

According to the Wine Spectator’s wine critic Matt Kramer: “There is no greater value in red wine anywhere in the world today than Argentine malbec.” (Augustus Weed, 2010 New World Wine Experience: Miraculous Malbec, The Wine Spectator, 1 November 2010).  Of the five Argentine wines in the Top 100, only the Trapiche Mendoza Vina Fausto Orellana de Escobar 2007 (rrp $US48) was more than $US25.

Malbec is one of the accepted varieties in Bordeaux. The Cahors region in south-west France was granted appellation controlee status in 1971. Due to the ravaging effects of phylloxera and changing tastes, until recently malbec plantings in Cahors were in decline. But perhaps spurred on by the export success of the variety in Argentina, some outstanding producers are now making fine examples of this big, rich and darkly coloured ‘black’ wine.

The spotlight, however, is on Argentine Malbec. Here the variety thrives in the high altitude and semi-desert landscapes of Mendoza and the surrounding regions. One of the wines in the Top 100, the Bodega Colomé Malbec 2008 (ranked 66th), from the Calchaqui Valley of the Salta province, holds the record for the world’s highest vineyard at 3000 metres!

The combination of high altitude, long days of bright sunshine and the warm, dry La Zonda winds, which bring warmth to the high altitude vines, produce vivid fruit of intense flavours, good acidity and fine tannins. Many of the better wines are made from 100 plus year old vines.

In contrast, French malbec is subject to a shorter growing season, which produces … Read the rest

Oct 10 2010

Champagne: Highlights from a Memorable Tasting!

Posted on October 10, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Talking about a recent dinner at El Bulli, possibly the most famous restaurant on the planet, Eric Asimov, wine writer for New York Times, said, “I would have stuck happily with Champagne throughout the meal. Not ordinary Champagne either, but superb, hard-to-find bottles like Selosse Brut Initiale, which retails for about $US125 but was on the list for $US165, or Jérôme Prévost for $US140, or maybe both.” El Bulli and a Meal for the Ages by Eric Asimov, The New York Times, 21 September 2010.

Too often we don’t think of having Champagne with a meal. The big Champagne houses have done such good job of associating Champagne with celebratory events that we tend to drink it at parties and with hors d’oevres, instead of enjoying it with the main course.

Wednesday evening’s Vintage Celllars Double Bay Champagne tasting at the Botanic Gardens in Sydney certainly had a very festive air. Of course, being in the company of the most famous Champagne Houses in the world happily sharing some of their best bottles created a wonderful sense of occasion – heightened by a pretty elegant and knowledgeable crowd and an excellent array of delicious hors d’oevres!

Almost in hushed tones did we ask each other if we had tasted the Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin La Grande Dame 1998 or the Dom Perignon 2002 – my friend Richard’s pick of the evening!

Comparing vintage Champagne to the House style non-vintage cuvee is perhaps the best way to appreciate why spending a couple of hundred dollars more for the vintage is worth it!

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin La Grande Dame 1998 had all the marvelous attributes you associate with fine vintage Champagne: a blend of nearly two thirds pinot noir and one third chardonnay, the wine is crystal clear with very fine bubbles. It … Read the rest

Sep 09 2010

Weekend Wine Reading

Posted on September 09, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Looking for a few interesting wine-related articles to read over the weekend?

I’m always on the look out for wine news and wine related information posted on the web.  Many experts, professional and lay, are now writing about wine on a regular basis, and sometimes the plethora of information available can seem a bit overwhelming!

Hopefully my posts are giving you a bit of guide about what’s available, so you can create or edit your own bookmarks of favourite sources.

Here’s a few not-to-miss articles for this week:

If you’re dreaming about making a booking at one the most famous restaurants on the planet, El Bulli near Roses on the Costa Brava, Spain, then an account by Eric Asimov, The New York Times wine critic, of his 38-course meal and accompanying wine at the legendary establishment may spur you to try to secure that reservation!

Picking a Wine for a 39-Course Meal by Eric Asimov, The New York Times, 21 September 2010 and El Bulli and a Meal for the Ages by Eric Asimov, The New York Times, 21 September 2010

Gregory Dal Piaz, an editor at Snooth, has posted a very fun article about the role wine has played in some our favourite movies, Wine in Movies The Most Memorable Cinematic Moments, 23 September 2010.

On a more serious note, William Lyons has a very intriguing article in The Wall Street Journal on wine as an investment, A Bull Market for Wine: Top vintages have outperformed almost every other asset class over the past decade. How much longer can it last? 19 September 2010. According to figures compiled by Fine + Rare wine brokers, Château Lafite Rothschild 2000 has climbed a staggering 611% in value since December 2004! Read his article to find out what’s fueling demand!

Hope … Read the rest

Sep 09 2010

Australian Cabernet: A Worthy Contender to Shiraz’s Crown!

Posted on September 09, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Campbell Mattinson, the well respected wine critic and a principal author of the popular wine blog The Wine Front, remarked in a recent post, Notes from a cabernet masterclass Tuesday, Aug 10 2010, that “when we talk of what Australian wine does best we invariably mention shiraz first, semillon second, chardonnay or riesling third and then cabernet or pinot noir.” In his opinion, a recent Dan Murphy’s cabernet masterclass, which included stars such as Mount Mary, Cullen, Yeringberg, Balnaves, Wantirna Estate, Petaluma, Yarra Yering, Voyager Estate and Moss Wood, would have equaled, if not surpassed, a similar tasting of  twenty or so Australian top-flight shiraz or chardonnay.

So why isn’t Australian cabernet getting the attention it deserves? In James Halliday’s list of the 100 Top Wines of 2009 and 100 Tops Wines of 2008, the two varieties, shiraz and cabernet, are fairly evenly represented, so you probably can’t argue that top Australian wine critics are biased towards shiraz-based wines. Of course, Penfolds Grange and Henschke’s Hill of Grace have set the bar pretty high for aspiring makers of fine Australian shiraz, and the international profile of Australian shiraz has certainly been lifted by influential American wine critic Robert Parker’s great enthusiasm for the variety. But could fashion also have something to do with it?

In a fascinating article Eric Asimov of The New York Times observes that younger Americans have lost enthusiasm for French Bordeaux, Bordeaux Loses Prestige Among Younger Wine Lovers, 18 May 2010: “Not so long ago, young wine-loving Americans were practically weaned on Bordeaux, just as would-be connoisseurs had been for generations. It was the gateway to all that is wonderful about wine. Now that excitement has gone elsewhere, to Burgundy and the Loire, to Italy and Spain. Bordeaux, some young wine enthusiasts say, is … Read the rest