Sunday, September 30, 2007

'04 Barrel Monkeys: revisited! '04 Ch. Haut-Maurac (Medoc)

In brief:

2004 Haut-Maurac ($18, Corkscrew)
Almost no fruit, slight bitterness, a drab wine that smells better than it tastes, and is not really worth swallowing.

2004 Barrel Monkeys ($19, Community)
Still the standard for an excellent Shiraz! Deep, smoky, with blackcurrants and blackberries. A complex nose. The aroma blooms after~15 minutes, and the taste improves with each sip. Ripe fruit without residual sugar. Very long, fruity, tannic finish without bitterness. (RP90)

Tasting Notes:

Purchased two stemless Reidel Bordeaux glasses ($10/glass). The aromas are noticeably clearer and more enjoyable. We began to understand Alexis Lichine's assertion (and many other famous tasters') that scent/bouquet is everything: taste is merely a confirmation of the bouquet. In another manner of speaking, the aroma is the art, smelling is the tasting. The literal tasting and the drinking/swallowing of the wine are just perks.

At the Princeton Corkscrew's recommendation (not the Mr. Chapuis, a younger guy) - we purchased a 2004 Ch. Haut-Maurac. Cru Bourgeois, from Medoc, Bordeaux, $18. We were hoping to get an idea of a representative Bordeaux.

The nose had no fruit and smelled bright, yet inorganic. There was very little tannic finish, and puzzlingly it was bitter without being tannic, while the Barrel Monkeys was tannic at the end without being bitter. According to the guy in the shop, this wine has aromas of leather and earthy scents. We cannot corroborate this. We are in agreement that it was an unremarkable wine - there is no fruit in the taste at all, the mouthfeel is watery compared to the Barrel Monkeys. The nose was better than the taste. In fact, the nose was almost interesting - with a hint of fruit and perhaps some mineral scents, but it was not an inviting, or delicious bouquet, and I doubt it is a good representative of Bordeaux. With the thousand-odd Bordeaux wines that Robert Parker reviews every year, including 100 or more in our price range (<$25), I am intensely suspicious of a Bordeaux wine not reviewed by Parker. In fact this Chateaux has no vintages reviewed by Parker, or by any other significant critic.

Method: The wine was still very cool from the shop. We put a damp paper towel on it to cool it to slightly below air-conditioned room temperature. We poured it and let it sit for ~5 minutes before smelling and drinking. I was disinclined to finish the glass, so I left half the glass open while we went for a snack. Upon returning an hour later, the wine had noticeably changed. There was a distinct acid tone I had not noticed before. I thought perhaps there was a bit of fruit that had not been there before. The wine had bloomed slightly into a more complex entity, though unfortunately still not delicious. It still smelled better than it tasted. The rest of the bottle went to Monsieur Le Sink.

2004 Barrel Monkeys: Revisited!

After mentally comparing all wines with B.M. since that first tasting on Jo's birthday, I began to wonder how accurate my memory was. We poured a glass, let it sit for ~10 minutes, then tasted. My memory was accurate: the wine was intense as I remembered with beautifully deep flavors and aromas. The warmth of one's hand noticeably changes and deepens the bouquet, improving the clarity of the scents. The brief sweetness on the tip of the tongue was more noticeable to me this time. According to the importer (Vine St. Imports), the wine has 1.1% residual sugar, higher than the <.2% of a textbook "dry wine" (according to Alexis Lichine). The taste of fruit was profound - blackcurrants, blackberries, and smoke. There was something else in the nose as well - a flavour I could not recognize (perhaps RP's "liquorice"?). The tannic finish was long and delightful. More viscous than the Haut-Maurac, the feel was not quite chewy, but there was considerable concentration and substance. In conclusion: a wonderful wine that (at this inexperienced point in my tastings) challenges me and instantly reminds me of the dear friend with whom I first tasted it.

Barrel Monkeys Specs (Vine Street Imports)

Region: McLaren Vale
Varietal: Shiraz
Vintage: 2004
Vineyard: Multi vineyard blend - McLaren Vale
Vine Age: average of 20 years
Clones: predominately 1654 1127
Residual Sugar: 1.1
Alcohol: 15.5%
Brix: 24 - 27
Skin Contact: 10 day ferment, minimal post ferment skin contact
Oak: Tight grain, med toast 30% new french & american
Winemaking: Monkey Kung Fu
“Lover, not a Fighter" or “Chance favors the prepared mind".
We source fruit which naturally exhibits great concentration of flavor and color. We sometimes delay harvest until there is partial shrivel of the berries – a natural “Amarone” conducted on the vine. We drain off up to 15% of the free juice from the skins immediately after crushing. This bleeding or “Salasso” as coined by the Italians, results in a must with a much higher skin to juice ratio. The resultant wine is therefore more generous and carries more natural extract and darkness of color.
Production: 4,500 cases

1 comment:

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