November 2011
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Holiday Happiness: Bonny Doon 2009 'Contra'

The Holidays are the times to make everyone happy. Think about this when making your wine choices and remember to bring something that will suit the whole table.

Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl for Bon Appetit recommends:

Bonny Doon 2009 'Contra'

Why it's Delicious: Earthy, with tobacco and enough tangy cherry fruit to keep it balanced, this big, dark red is made of old-vine Carignan, a notoriously tough and pugnacious grape, then blended with a grab bag of other California hearties, all of which leads to a wine that tastes alive, vital, and robust. 

Why it's Cool: Made by Randall Grahm, who’s the founder of Bonny Doon and the Henry James of
American wine (that is, unspeakably important and superbrainy, and also kind of talky). Contra is Grahm’s attempt to make a serious American table wine: something affordable but big and interesting too. 

Snob Appeal, to Wine Snobs: High. Bringing Randall Grahm wines to a party is like sitting at a college coffee shop with a copy of Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra on your lap. You’re deep! 

Snob Appeal, to the Clueless: Low. People used to drinking Kool-Aid wines may find this too intense, like a Justin Bieber fan’s reaction to the Flaming Lips. 

Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2011

Congratulations to all the producers who made the list. We want to especially congratulate those who we represent, and thank you for continuing to excel in producing terroir-driven, distinctly beautiful wines. 

3. Domaine Huet 2009 Vouvray Moelleux 'Clos du Bourg' 1er Trie Please Inquire
10. Chateau de Saint Cosme 2009 Gigondas 'Valbelle' Please Inquire
25. Owen Roe 2009 Syrah 'Ex Umbris'
26. Descendientes de Palacios 2009 'Petalos'
30. Sineann 2009 Pinot Noir, Resonance Vineyard 2010 In Stock
39. Tamarack Cellars 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 In Stock
41. L'Ecole No. 41 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
52. Saxum 2008 James Berry Vineyard 2009 Sold Out

Embassy of Argentina - by Jay Miller

The setting was impressive, a splendid old building filled with antiques. The occasion was Roberto de la Mota’s first trip outside of Argentina after a terrible accident in which he lost the use of his legs. Also present was Annabelle Sielecki, owner of Mendel and wife of the Ambassador. Senor de la Mota was the original winemaker at Cheval des Andes, the Argentina outpost of Cheval Blanc and now winemaker/partner in Mendel in Mendoza.

Malbec is what Mendoza is all about so it’s easy to overlook Mendel’s superb white wine. The 2009 Semillon received some barrel fermentation. Smooth textured, fragrant, and with the oak nicely integrated, it paired nicely with the Calamari and Octopus salad.

Argentina does lamb well but I would have died for a grilled Argentina free-range ribeye to accompany the Mendel reds. The 2008 Unus is deep purple, mouth-filling, ripe, and rich. The 2007 Unus strikes me as a bit more structured and lengthy but not as extracted and layered as the 2006 Unus. The 2005 Unus is displaying a bit more elegance as well as impeccable balance. The 2004 Unus displays the greatest minerality and plenty of spice. These are all youthful wines that will easily enjoy lifelines of over 20 years. The scores next to the wines are what I gave them in formal reviews published in The Wine Advocate. On this evening, my scores for all of the wines were higher, a clear demonstration of the effects of context, terrific company and a splendid setting.

It was great to see Roberto de la Mota in such fine spirits. I look forward to visiting the Bodega in September, 2011.  As for Annabelle Sielecki, she too is back in Argentina since her husband received a promotion to a very high position in the government. 

I would also be remiss in not giving the chef sufficient credit for a beautifully prepared dinner. It all came together very nicely on this evening.

Calamari and Octopus Salad
Anchovies and Green Peppers over a Chess Board
Lamb a la Patagonia
Assortment of Argentinean desserts

2009 Mendel Semillon 90pts
2008 Mendel Unus 92pts
2007 Mendel Unus 94pts
2006 Mendel Unus 93pts
2005 Mendel Unus 94pts
2004 Mendel Unus NR

Note to Readers about the Hedonist's Gazette
The abbreviated, spontaneous, and visceral tasting notes and numerical ratings in this section should not be confused with professional, structured tasting notes from specific peer group tastings or cellar tastings. The Hedonist's Gazette notes emerge from casual get-togethers, with the food and company every bit as important as the wines. I do not consider these tasting comments as accurate or as pure in a professional sense, but they are part of a wine's overall record. In short, focus, so critical in a professional tasting without food or other distractions, is clearly on a different level in such "fun gatherings." - Robert M. Parker, Jr.



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