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November 2010
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December 2010

Billecart Salmon Brut Reserve NV

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So as you may have heard, I've picked up Billecart Salmon; probably the most sought after Champagne house there is.  But I'm not really about hype.  "You don't drink the label" I always say.  So therefore I had to try the Champagne first chance I got and make sure it lives up to the massive reputation. 

Oh my God yes it does!  I like Champagne; sparkling wine in general, but this drank distinctly different from anything else I've had. 

Aroma: The smell is very pretty, with fresh peach, white rose, apricot, toasted almond, a hint of toast.  It didn't really have the CO2 acid smell that many Champagnes have and the fruit was more prominent, but not sweet smelling.

Palate: Gorgeous!  On the palate it was very smooth.  Intense apple and peach hit you up front, followed by a hint of white pepper from the effervescence, a hint of toasted brioche, and just a suggestion of sweetness.  Yes I said toasted brioche, it was that particular.  The flavor isn't as dry as toasted white bread and has a touch of a richness that says brioche to me.  And while the wine doesn't taste sweet, it doesn't have the dry edge on the finish, that's why i say a suggestion of sweetness.  The effervescence is extremely fine and smooth!  I didn't pick up that lean CO2 edge I usually get from the Champagnes of big mass produced houses. 

Considering that even Veuve Cliquot is up in the 40's I think paying an extra $10 or so for a much superior Champagne like this is totally worth it.  For about 20% more money you get a far more enjoyable Champagne.  I love it.  you'll find this retail for $60 or a few $ under.

This is available at Browne Trading, Provisions in Brunswick, Old Port Wine Merchant, Lily Lupine and Fern, The Wine Seller, and Tess's Market.


Tamarack Cellars Firehouse Red 2008

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Background: Tamarack Cellars was created in 1998 by Ron Coleman in Walla Walla WA.  He has a small winery in a refurbished WWII air station firehouse.  He buys premium fruit from high quality vineyards around the Columbia Valley.  He does a bunch of high end, very sought after single vineyard wines, but applies the same attention to detail and quality to his entry level red blend: Firehouse Red.  This is a blend of (primarily) Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.  I assume it's whatever really high quality fruit he can get at a good price along with the fruit he is buying for his single varietal wines.  This has been on the Wine Spectator's Top 100 list a couple times running.  The 2008 got 91 pts and is back on the list.

 

Aroma: This has a powerful, dark, aroma of currant, blackberry jam, sweet tobacco, raw vanilla bean, and a touch of mocha.  I have to say this does smell pretty awesome.  I've never been in a "drawing room" but this is the way I'd want my drawing room to smell if I had one.  Very comforting and cozy in a way; it's great on this rainy December night.

Palate:  Big.  The fruit is a red berry kind of flavor right at first, but then it goes from raspberry/cherry into dense, tightly wound grape and currant from the Cabernet, Black pepper, mouth filling fruit, and some substantial tannins from the Syrah.  It has a ripe earthy, almost undertone, particularly on the finish.  A hint of ripe vanilla bean sneaks in as well on the mid-palate.  This is a big layered red with full fruit, chewy earth and hints of dark chocolate, but it's underpinned by real structure; fresh acidity, dry tannins....I think this has some real aging potential.

So the Spectator gave this 91 points and put it on the top 100 list again.  It is quite a crowd pleaser and a very versatile wine.  I can imagine this working with a lot of flavorful comfort food from burgers, to roast vegetables, and fried chicken.  I'm only getting a few cases and I'm sure it will run out.  Overall I'd say it would make an excellent gift for someone into big ripe new world reds.  You can grab some at Browne Trading, Freeport Cheese and Wine, Provisions, or RSVP for something in the low $20's.

 


Domaine de L'Harmas Chateauneuf du Pape 2007

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L'Harmas Chateauneuf du Pape is one of the wines I'm focusing on for Christmas.  This is from a very small family winery that has about 8 acres of old vines abuting Chateau de Beaucastel.  The blend is about 70% Grenache from 60 year old vines and 30% Mourvedre.  The Fabre family have owned the land for nearly a century but only started bottling the wine themselves in 1999.

Aroma: This is a powerful aroma that has both ripe and cooked cherry but also leather, date, and maybe a hint of grilled meat.  It's a dark, musky, spicy nose that gives you a good indication of whats to come.

Taste: Dense.  I know that's not actually a taste so much as a sensation, but thats the defining quality.  This dark powerful wine has concentrated dark cherry fruit, pepper from the Grenache, and a dry mid-palate that is suggestive of the sun roasted rocks that litter the vineyards here.  The tannins aren't as intense as you'd expect though.  They're there and they linger, but they don't really grab you like the fruit and the earth of this muscular wine do. 

This is a perfect wine for a dark bitterly cold night and some skirt steaks.  An it's actually well priced, for a Chateaunuef du Pape.  low $30s is what you're lookimng at per bottle.  Available at the Rosemonat out on Brighton, Cork and Barrel in Falmouth, and Now You're Cooking in Bath.