Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ben's Bubbly: Ruinart Blanc de Blanc (also starring Ovid and Drinkward Peschon)

Well, this past week was quite eventful. We brought our little Benjamin home when he was just four hours old and have had a continuous line of friends and family come over to meet him and lend us a hand. The first night was great. He (and we) slept for eight hours. He was quite sleepy after his grand entrance, but after catching up on sleep our little hungry guy emerged. My wife feeds him while I get diaper duty. He is very well behaved and only cries when he gets cold during diaper changes, but he usually gets his revenge during those sessions...

My parents drove out from Wisconsin to see their number one grandson. My sister flew in from college and my brother drove up from Colorado Springs. This was the first time that we'd all been together in almost 18 months and the first time my parents and sister have seen my brother since he got back from Iraq last month. To celebrate these two joyous occasions, we opened a few bottles of wine including the first of fifty-two bottles of bubbly.

While it has taken me almost a week to get this post finished, it is my intention to be more prompt with Ben's Bubbly posts. I do have to leave the disclaimer that countless diapers were harmed during the making of this piece...

2007 Peñascal Estate, Tempranillo Rose, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon

We opened this rosado to sip while cooking dinner and enjoying the 70-degree weather. Sitting in the refrigerator for more than a few months, it was time to open this one from Spain. Pinkish-copper in color, this tempranillo is a refreshingly dry rosé. Strawberries, papaya and herbs are noticeable on the nose and palate. I really enjoy dry rosés and this one is no different. While it is nothing special, I will look for more tempranillo rosés. 12% abv Purchased $8. Good (tasted 4/6/11)

2007 Drinkward Peschon, Entre Deux Meres, Napa Valley

This Bordeaux-style blend produced by  mothers Lisa Drinkward and Francoise Peschon (winemaker at Araujo Estates) is a blend of 75% cabernet sauvignon, 11% merlot, 7% cabernet franc and 7% petit verdot. This opaque purple-black wine packs a lot of aromas and flavors. Dominated by blackberry, cassis and vanilla, smoke, glycerol, and a bit of leather also make an appearance. While the tannins are smooth, the big fruit and vanilla yield a mouth-coating experience. Not for those who are looking for a more nuanced wine.14.3% abv Purchased $55. Very Good (tasted 4/6/11)

2005 Ovid, Experiment K1.5, Napa Valley
Ovid's flagship wine is a Bordeaux-style cult wine produced from grapes grown on Pritchard Hill to the east of Oakville at 1400 feet above sea level. They are also committed to the idea of experimentation with their wine. Each year they release small amounts of unique Experiment wines. The first offering was the K1.5. This initial release is a blend of 73.5% cabernet franc, 21.9% petit verdot, 3.5% merlot and 1.1% cabernet sauvignon. The wine is dark garnet and yields a unique, yet beautiful bouquet. The earthy and spicy scents are a stark contrast to oak and fruit bombs so prevalent in the Napa Valley. Chocolate, licorice and dark fruits make this experiment a tasty success. 14.5% abv Purchased $85. Very Good/Excellent (tasted 4/7/11)

NV Ruinart, Blanc de Blancs, Champagne

The first bubbly of our 52-week journey had to come from the eponymous region of Champagne. I have not had much sparkling wine and usually do not pick up on the subtle differences these under-ripe grapes and carbon dioxide produce. At an industry tasting last year, this wine stood out from the others to me. Produced from 100% chardonnay, lemon, orange blossoms and a slight yeastiness combined with the fine beads of bubbles made this a lovely opening act. Not as sublime as I remembered it to be, but still this is a lovely wine. 12.5% abv Purchased $50. Very Good (tasted 4/7/11)

1997 Murphy Goode, Vintage Port

Many Port-style dessert wines produced in California are made from zinfandel or cabernet sauvignon. That is why when I was in California three years ago I was surprised to find this very traditional wine made from 70% tinto madeira and 30% touriga and aged in barrels for 20 months. As it was only available in the tasting room, I bought a case and have been slowly going through the bottles. This is about as good of a domestic port-style wine that I have tasted. This wine has notes of toffee, prunes, dried dark fruit, and even a little vanilla. Not overly sweet and showing any of its high alcohol, this is a delicious value dessert wine. I'm glad that I still have five more bottles. 18.5% abv Purchased $24. Very Good (tasted 4/7/11)

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