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Craig Camp

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Craig Camp

  1. The following wines were tasted on Vietti winemaker Luca Currado's recent visits to Liner and Elsen Wine Merchants and Alba Osteria, both in Portland Oregon. * Barbera d’Aba, Tre Vigne, 2004 - Brilliantly fresh and clean with deeply concentrated black raspberry fruit. Very lively and mouthwatering with a wonderfully zesty bittersweet finish. ($22) * Barbera d’Alba, Scaronne 2004 - If there is a more complex barbera out there than Scaronne I’d be hard pressed to name it. A big wine, but not simply chunky big like Spinetta. Dramatic and intense while still maintaining that punchy barbera verve. Densely colored and expansive from start to the never-ending finish. Wait a few years for this one to grow up. ($43) * Barbera d’Asti, La Crena, 2001 - Deep, earthy and brooding with almost a nebbiolo like firmness. A big (not heavy) wine that has no business with a pasta, but would be more at home with a big aged prime steak. Great complexity, with layers of earth and porcini over rich wild black cherry fruit. * Nebbiolo Perbacco, 2004 - Bargain hunters pay attention. Here is real nebbiolo character for under 20 bucks. Fresh, bright fruit flavors soon give way to classic leather and dried rose characteristics that can only belong to nebbiolo. Forward by nebbiolo standards and more than drinkable now, I’d still age this another year or so to really squeeze all the complexity you can out of it. A great starting place if you’re new to Barolo and an everyday treat for hard core Barolo nuts. ($20) * Barolo, Castiglione, 2000 - Brilliant , classic dark garnet color. Warm and floral on the nose with only sweet touches of tobacco and tar. Round and forward (by Barolo standards remember!) and already drinkable if matched with rich foods. One of the more focused wines you’ll taste from the warm 2000 vintage. The Castiglione selection is still only aged in the large traditional barrels, but exhibits some of the same rounded tannins many modern-style producers hope for. If you have not tasted a Barolo before this is an excellent introduction and a good buy. ($40) * Barolo, Rocche, 1998 - A classical beauty with a brilliant translucent garnet color and aromas that won’t let your nose leave the glass. Lean and mean and fantastic - perfectly combining the unique intertwined dance of bitterness, bite, grace, delicacy, power and sweetness that makes for great Barolo. I would wait a few more years as someday this will blow you away. ($90) * Barolo, Rocche, 1999 - If you have any chance to buy this wine do so because this is great Barolo. Take all the best parts of the 1998 and turn up the volume and you get this wonderful wine. Far more concentrated than the 98 it still retains the same balance and elegant structure. Nowhere near ready to drink, it’s still closed and brooding. Wait at least five more years and you’ll have a truly fine bottle of Barolo. ( $90) * Barolo 2003 new single vineyard releases: Rocche, Brunate, and Lazzarito (all $116) - One sip of these baby blockbusters sends your palate into sensory overload. Huge and round, as you would expect from the burning hot 2003 vintage, Vietti has still put together a group of wines that retain balance - albeit a very rich, powerful balance. It is important to note that while these wines see barriques, they only age in small barrels for six months and spend the majority of their time in traditional large Slovenian oak casks before bottling. Certainly not yet ready to drink unless you happen to be serving well-aged wild boar tonight, with moderate aging - say about 8 years or so - these should be some excellent wines. In fact they’ll be just right for drinking while your still waiting for your 2001’s and 1999’s to grow up. The tannins in all of these wines are very substantial right now, but are really quite round, soft and integrated for Baroli this young. As you would expect, the Rocche is the most graceful and fresh of this trio, showing good structure and the wonderful bright floral character that this vineyard always seems to show. The Brunate is a huge mouthful of Barolo that expands and overwhelms the palate with its depth and richness. As usual, in spite of its girth, the Brunate is charming with an almost forward appeal. The Lazzarito will almost take the enamel off your teeth with its biting, powerful tannins and deep bittersweet fruit laden with tobacco and tar. Incredibly intense and powerful, this is a wine you should not go near for years to come as it has plenty of aging to do. I’d say eight years is the minimum for this high-strung monster. If you want drama this is your wine. My vote out of these three would go to the Rocche, but it’s too early to make that call. Tasting them together is a great look at the different characteristics of these vineyards. for the entire article click here for my blog post
  2. Nice site! I notice one featured wine on the current page is the O'Reillys" Chardonnay from Oregon. also lots of New World wines recommended (not many French) He does live in LA!
  3. ...by the by - I just found a nice blog dedicated only to wines under $20. Here is the link: http://goodwineunder20.blogspot.com/index.html
  4. A few more bargains from my notes: Bourgueil, Domaine le la Chanteleuserie, Cuvée Beauvais, 2004 Brilliant ruby, with seductive fresh picked cherry aromas highlighted by fresh mint. A totally charming wine that slides effortlessly across the palate kicking your saliva glands into high gear in the process. Drink this pretty wine up young and slightly cool on a warm summer evening. Cairanne, Cotes du Rhone Villages, Domaine Cros de Romet, Alain Boisson, 2004 Brilliant ruby, with an explosion of fruit on the nose. Not that kind of fake, contrived extraction you see so often these days, but a clean, brilliant ripe fruit with an underlying zest of acidity. Just plain delicious. Drink over the next couple of years. Chinon, La Croix Boissée, Bernard Baudry, 2000 Light ruby with a touch of garnet. The spicy, herbal, minty nose broadens into refined bitter cherry and cranberry fruit. The lean flavors expand to involve every niche of your palate starting with a lively minty-ness that leads to bittersweet cherry. The long finish makes your mouth water with fresh acidity and spiced dark fruit flavors. A great food wine defined. Even better the next day. Château La Rogue, Pic Saint Loup, Coteaux du Languedoc, 2003 Pic Saint Loup is probably a tough sell. It’s a shame for in the under $20 category red Lanquedoc wines still offer some of the best value you can find. Full rich fruit flavors mix on the palate and nose with tar and black licorice to make for a really interesting drink and a bargain at $16. A great wine for summer cook outs. Lirac, Château de Ségriès, Henri de Lanzac, 2004 I thought this was a wonderful wine and a bargain. The kind of wine you can drink in gulps with grilled sausages that still delivers something to spice the meal and interest the mind. Well balanced with bright fresh fruit that offers good complexity and a good backbone, this is exactly the kind of wine that serious wine aficionados buy by the case for everyday meals and barbecue parties. Very nice stuff at a very nice price.
  5. In principle I agree with you, but amongst my peer group (the 20 and 30-somethings) in this country at the very least, there is a growing view that unless you're paying serious bucks, it's the French wines that are crap. Somehow, this is slowly but surely being taken as gospel, and reports of 2005 Bordeaux futures don't help much. Many people aren't even aware that France has some great inexpensive wines which will handily compete with the New World for price, and equal or better it for quality. The "snob value" of French wines is never questioned, it's the quality and price of everyday drinking stuff that needs to be hammered home. I very much enjoyed the above article. Si ← I think this is very much an issue for French wines and I often hear the comment that "I'd love to know more about French wines, but they're just too expensive." I saw one young blogger comment that he would probably start drinking French wines in his forties when he could afford them. The French obviously have to work on their marketing.
  6. What often makes so many of these wines so fascinating to drink it that they come from old vines. Old vines just have the potential to make wines wine more nuance and complexity. If you find producers that combine old vines with a passion to make something special you'll find interesting wine to drink. These are the things the best importers look for too.
  7. At this time examples of distinctive new world wines in the under $20 category are few and far between. This does not mean they do not exist, just that there are not very many of them and they are crowded into the same few slots. For example Australia is driven by shiraz and nearly every producer has one. Same goes for the USA with cabernet and merlot. There is just much more diversity in Europe and that makes for more interesting choices. A big issue in new world wine making is the economics involved, most under $20 wines from the USA, Australia and South America that are generally available in the market are produced by a small group of corporate wineries using many different labels on basically the same wines produced in industrial quantities. I am always struck by the wine sections of American grocery stores as they offer dozens and dozens of chardonnay, shiraz or cabernet labels that offer only different labels, not different wines. The same goes for chain restaurants like Fridays that list four chardonnays by the glass that are indistinguishable from each other. The small family wine estates that produce excellent, reasonably priced wines that reflect the character of their vineyards so common in France or Italy finds it hard to exist in the American three tier system. A small French producer has the entire European Union as their market, while a small American producer has to do back flips to sell in the next state. This is a tremendous economic advantage for the European producer and is helping fuel the explosion of top quality, small producers from lesser known regions whose wines sell at very competitive prices. When it comes to the Australians, I think they're smart enough to keep their best buys at home and send their mass industrial production to the Americans and British. At least the small French producer has champions out there like Joe Dressner, Peter Weygandt, Kermit Lynch and and others who are will to go out there and do the work (and paperwork) it takes to get these wines to the consumer. Who is going to do that for a small new world producer making a few thousand cases of interesting grenache or gamay? There are heroes out there in Australia, South America, South Africa and the USA who are doing their best to make outstanding wines from distinctive vineyards at reasonable prices, but the market does little to encourage others to join them. Until this system changes, it is unlikely that there will be an explosion great wines in the $20 category from new world producers.
  8. Below are some great examples of French wine bargains from my recent tasting notes: Muscadet, Climat, Château de la Fessardièe, Alex Sauvion, 2004 It’s almost getting boring to write about excellent Muscadet, but it may well be the most exciting white wine region around these days. Not that there are so many great producers, but now there are literally dozens of top notch wines being imported by small importers dedicated to quality and these wines are without a doubt the best values in white wine available in the market today. This wine is no exception with a refined balance between its firm, mineral-laden fruity-ness and its bright acidity. Just lovely and only about $12 a bottle. Delicious now, but this fine wine will improve for the next several years. Coteaux du Languedoc, Grange Phillippe, 2003 There are so many great French bargains these days it’s hard to keep up. Such wines are a major embarrassment to the American wine industry. How can they sell wines at this price that taste so good with the Euro is so much stronger than the dollar. Here is a big, deep fruity wine with real flavor and complexity for $11 a bottle. Give me a break, why can’t we do this in the USA? A blend of 70% syrah, 20% grenache and 10% mourvedre, if anybody made a wine of such quality in the USA it would cost $40 a bottle. Bourgueil, Trinch!, Catherine & Pierre Breton, 2004 A candidate for great house wine of the year, I dare you to find a domestic wine that tastes this good for under $13. Almost explosively fruity and clean with an acidity that dares your saliva glands to keep up this wine is food friendly perfection. A great combination of juicy ripe fruit and balance. Yes, you can be deeply fruity without being overweight. Buy cases. Cour Cheverny, Le Petit Chambord, Domaine Francois Cazin, 2002 Pungently mineral and firm and almost demanding food, this is a really lovely wine. Lean and mean, but with just enough fruit, every sip demand yet another. Not surprisingly, this is a Louis/Dressner selection, who else would bring in such an obscure Loire appellation. We can be glad they did as this wine is a steal at around $12. Buy, buy, buy! Made from 100% Romorantin, a rare varietal to say the least. Picpoul de Pinet, Coteaux du Languedoc, Saint Peyre, 2005 Here is a zesty, refreshing delight that will match your best seafood and provide the perfect clean, acid driven foil for deep fried fish. Absolutly mouthwatering and fresh. IT COST’S $8.75!!! Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie, Domaine de l'Ecu, Expression de Granite, Domaine Guy Boussard, 2001 Current winner of the longest name wine award this year, you’ll think the name is short when you taste this wonderful wine. Still a baby, it will develop and expand for many years. A lighting bolt of a wine that in all its leanness still explodes on the palate. Concentrated mineral essence with a delicate balance. A beauty that costs all of 16 bucks. Amazing. 2004 Beaujolais, L’Ancien, Vielles Vignes, Terres Dorees from Jean-Paul Brun. Just writing about this wine makes me salivate. It’s not big. It’s not powerful. It’s not pointy. It is simply delicious. No juicy-fruity Duboeuf here, but a wine with a strangely powerful delicacy. The bouquet entices not attacks and on the palate it dances, challenging your palate to follow its lead - if you have the time and inclination. Considering the under $15 price tag, a wine that can lead your senses in so many directions is a staggering bargain.
  9. I'm a big fan of this wine. Great style and balance.
  10. Jeremy Seyesses of Domaine Dujac is making some interesting posts on Chez Pim about the 2006 harvest that are quite interesting to read. There are three reports so far. Here is a link to the site: http://chezpim.typepad.com/blogs/2006/10/a...gundian_ha.html
  11. Craig Camp

    Some changes

    Can I ask where you found the Janodet (one of my favorite producers) for such a price?
  12. Craig Camp

    Some changes

    Those old Fisher wines have aged beautifully. I am lucky to have quite a few older Fisher wines and every bottle has been a gem.
  13. How did you get a bottle of Lafarge to last that long? Every time I open one it seems to disappear almost instantly.
  14. Spanish bubbles (Cava)
  15. Craig Camp

    Sangiovese in the US

    Good Chianti "few and far between"? I think not, the quality level of Chianti has skyrocketed over the last decade. Sure if you want to include all the crap in "fiasci" and the low end Ruffino type stuff there is a lot of junk, but you can apply that logic to Bordeaux and Napa too. Do you really want to define a region by its industrial mass production - its "boatloads"?. Fine sangiovese is nervous, high-strung and refined. I don't think it should be Rhone-like. It is a varietal known for both high acidity and low color and a dark over-ripe wine is just not varietal in character.
  16. Craig Camp

    Sangiovese in the US

    While old plantings in Tuscany may have been a mess, new ones are not. The family of sangiovese clones, thanks to the Chianti 2000 project and Banfi's research, is among the most defined on the planet. New plantings have been based on better clonal selection for years. Certainly sangiovese, like cabernet sauvignon, can benefit from blending (with the notable exception of the magnificent Montevertine Le Pergole Torte) unlike mono-varietals like pinot noir and nebbiolo. However, unlike the more robust cabernet, the delicate nature and naturally light color of sangiovese make it a poor candidate for new oak barrique, which quickly overwhelm its character.
  17. Craig Camp

    Sangiovese in the US

    I hesitate to impose. I don't ask for a winery discount outside of my immediate region . . . but will gladly accept one when offered. ← impose Mary, impose!
  18. Craig Camp

    Oregon 2006

    I think part of the problem is at harvest too many winemakers are excited by ripeness of fruit in itself without enough thought to acidity and pH. Fortunately this is changing fast and vintages like 2003 are an education for all of us. Now when we taste the 2004's, we realize how out of balance the 2003's were. These lessons will help make better wines in the future. For example, crop loads were kept higher in 2006 than 2003 and this is making the wines more balanced as most vineyards reduced crop too much in the hot 2003 vintage and the resulting wines were often over the top because of this.
  19. Craig Camp

    Sangiovese in the US

    Because places like Oregon and New Zealand have established themselves as unique and successful growing regions for pinot noir. Many fine wines of definable styles are made. The best soil types and clones are known and in use. There is no such region outside of Italy when it comes to sangiovese, which is still experimental in the new world. Tuscany is the home of the international style of winemaking in Italy and there are many wines just as ripe and fruity as new world wines. Oak and over-oaked are indeed two different terms, that's why I use them.
  20. Craig Camp

    Oregon 2006

    Cole - I don't think that's exactly true. I think we see each vintage as different and unique with its own combination of qualities and faults. For example, you would be hard pressed to find a grower here in Oregon that would classify 2003 as either great nor their favorite vintage. However, most producers made excellent, if atypical wines. Certainly not wines they are looking to replicate, but wines that within the context of that vintage are well-made and enjoyable to drink. I find most serious producers accurately describe the character of each vintage and few that would claim every vintage as great. ...but then again maybe 2003 was a great vintage, after all, it got a lot of big scores in The Wine Spectator
  21. Craig Camp

    Sangiovese in the US

    I am suprised (mildly) that you can't get some kind of reciprocal deal going with Leonetti and your winery. Professional courtesy etc etc. Agree with J Bonne. The Sangiovese is quite good. A brief check on Wine Search Pro shows the 2004 available at Wine cask in Santa barbara for $62 and at Taylor and Norton in Sonoma $69.00. (they have the 2003 for the same price) Leonetti wines have a lot of fans and they have no problem selling out at these prices. They can be found on the retail market with a little perseverance. ← Why would anyone pay such prices for oaky sangiovese? There is a glut of high quality over-oaked sangiovese in Tuscany that you can find for half the price.
  22. Craig Camp

    Oregon 2006

    I could not agree more. (Hi Cole! Welcome to eGullet.)
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