Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Some Lovely Values from the New House

We have been settling down on Hirsch Street this week and have enjoyed a series of delightful wines that I thought I'd put together in a single blog post.

First, I discovered a bottle of Chateau Haut Batailley 1999 from Bordeaux's famed Pauillac region on sale recently. We had it with the left over leg of lamb, this time served with a cucumber and wild mint sauce. At seven years old it was beginning to show some maturity. And while it lacked a long and intriguing finish, it performed admirably for a classified growth Bordeaux priced at only $16. The wines from '99 are worth seeking out; they're considerably cheaper and earlier-drinking than those from 1998 and 2000.

The following evening we drank another older $16-bottle, this time a Bodegas LAN Rioja Gran Riserva 1996. Made entirely of tempranillo grapes and smelling decidedly of black truffles, this medium-bodied wine proves that ageworthy wines don't have to be enormously ripe and extracted. I have since forgotten what we ate with it, but the wine an incredible value, perfect for game.

Breaking from these hoary bottles I took at stab at a bottle of Carmenere from Apaltagua in Chile's Colchagua Valley. Carmenere was originally a Bordeaux varietal that was transplanted in Chile and mistaken for Merlot in the 19th century. After the phylloxera attacks in France earlier in this century, it was not replanted in Bordeaux and was thought to be lost until grape geneticists discovered in growing in Chile. Carmenere is noted for its often overwhelming bell pepper aromas and flavors, and while this wine was unmistakably Carmenere, it managed to combine the earthiness of the peppers with some ripe fruit and a well-toned finish. At $12, this proved to be a remarkably food-friendly and well-balanced wine.

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