Malbec used to be a famous French wine
Hugo Schulz first described hormesis in 1888, wrote Bill Bonner recently. “I am coining Hormegeddon.”
Hormesis describes the process when a small dose of something produces a favorable result, but when the dosage is increased, the results are disastrous. He followed with, “Hormeggedon [is in the offing] when you apply rational, small-scale, problem-solving logic to an inappropriately broad situation; it often has very poor results.” Does any of this strike a chord? Or is it just me? I think we are actually practicing Mithridatism. A nice PN made through a Paul Hobbs and Agustin Huneeus collaboration prompted me to sip a Veramonte Ritual PN 2012 from Chile. Another advantage was the Chilean origin usually calls for an affordable $17 price. A very good buy would be a 2009 through 2012 vertical case, three each, priced under $215/case. They are rated 90, 90 88, and 93 sequentially from 2009. The 2012 are cherry purple with strawberry and barrel-driven spice and cedar nose that flows to the palate. Ritual has generous body (good legs) with fine tannins and a tad of minerality in the clean finish. Those who enjoy the chase and want to buy under $20 PN that is “smashin” should order in Viña Ventisquero Grey Leyda Valley 2011. I found some for $18. Notes read blackberry jam, purple cherries and earth, then nose rolls into juicy ripe fruit flavors on a smooth tannin concentrated, balanced frame. Buy for cellar.
Most readers may not be aware that Malbec was once a very famous French wine. The most famous was Chateau de Haute Serre in Cahors. These were mentioned frequently in the same sentences with such Bordeaux notables as Chateau Margaux. When phylloxera wiped out the Malbec at the end of the 19th century, Haute Serre and Cahors fell into the doldrums, and eventually the chateau was abandoned. In the 1970s, Georges Vigouroux remembered the history, replanted Malbec in its perfect natural habitat and has released a true gem, the 2010 Chateaux de Haute Serra Cahors. Uh-oh, I can ESPN you thinking 2010 vintage means megabucks. Spectator gave it a 94. Wrong again, buckos, how does $25/bottle or $240/case sound? This dark velvet wine shows a black fruit, plum, herbaceous nose with earthy flavors and a long, mineral-rich, toasty finish. Perfect with hard cheeses and hearty fare, and an excellent cellar wine. For a party, invite some winos, buy some Haute Serre and a well-made South American Malbec or two to compare. Serve with barbecue or grilled meat. BTW, this came on at $100 when WS raved. Often patience wins the day.
Snooth did a 2012 Zinfandel tasting. Sadly, the wine they chose was second tier. However, the article prompted me to review my notes from a 100-bottle tasting I enjoyed. My No. 1 choice, if price were no issue and vintage not important, was a 2011 Williams Selyem Papera Vineyard Zinfandel at $70. Now, I love Zin fruit bombs, and this old-vine beauty suits the bill. This is huge in fruit but very well balanced, with black raspberry jam, red currant, mocha, pepper and sweet sandalwood on the palate. Best buy was a 94-point Seghesio 2010 Zinfandel, just the generic Sonoma Valley variety. It was $245/case or $24/bottle. Wild berries, mocha, tobacco, leather and exotic spices. Full body, great balance, clean finish. Juice from Seghesio’s best Alexander and Dry Creek vineyards.
vAnother Williams Selyem lovely is Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir, rated 99 by WE and 93 by Tanzer. Raspberries, cherries, cassis, Asian spices, crème brulee, earth, espresso, and cola aromas fill the room on a swirl. On the very smooth palate raspberries and strawberries, anise with a tad of wild game and Chinese five spice. Finishes with spicy oak, sandalwood, silky tannins, coffee and orange zest highlighted by vanilla and licorice.
Finally, Tony Gallons says Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards Estate Reserve 2011 is the bomb, with a 95-plus rating. “As good as the 2010 is, the 2011 is vibrant, layered and beautifully textured; the 2011 impresses for its vibrancy. Dark cherry, plum, graphite, menthol, tar and licorice all jump from the glass in an intense, powerful, structured wine endowed with serious density. The tannins are naturally quite youthful, but they should begin to soften with time.” Buy at $75. However, for a real fun time, contact Binny’s Beverage Depot in Skokie, Ill., and buy a salmanazar (9 liters or 12 quarts, all in one huge bottle) for $1,075 (probably some shipping fees).