Château Musar 1997

The nose is absolutely beautiful, reminiscent of baker’s chocolate, roses, fresh roasted coffee, and molasses.

The wine itself is however entirely undrinkable: a complete disjointed mess of unwelcome, shrill acidity combined with reedy fruit and unpleasant sourness. Cork taint? I’ve never had a Musar before, so I sadly have no frame of reference here.

I have nothing more to say about this wine.

Ch. Musar
Price: No idea
Closure: Cork
Date tasted: December 2008

Ridge Buchignani Ranch Carignane 2006

Splashing into the glass, this is purple beyond belief. It’s as if Harold of purple crayon fame (or any toddler) imagined a glass of wine and drew it with the brightest crayon in the box.

It smells like a caricature of “fine wine” as well, having much more in common with Bohemian college dreams of sneaking into an Tuscan hayloft with the farmer’s daughter (or the strapping young man who drives the tractor, your tastes depending). It’s a lush, ripe sort of thing; you think of flowers heavy with nectar delivered days earlier, drooping on your sideboard. And yet it’s also fresh, vibrant, filled with the smell of a verdant California spring.

The fullness took me aback, followed by a full city roast coffee finish with extremely subdued tannins. The flavors are fairly straightforward, sure, but a lot of delicious foods are beautiful in their simplicity. To drink this wine is to throw your mind back to the harvest, when the earth’s fullness and abundance gave itself up just as leaves began falling dead to the ground; it’s a quick, jolting reminder to enjoy what you have before the frost.

Drink this with your mistress, preferably with black Moroccan olives and just-baked bread.

Price: about $30
Closure: Cork
Date tasted: November 2008

Ònix Priorat 2001

In 48 hours (hopefully), we’ll have elected a new President. In the meantime, I’m doing what I can to keep a low-level buzz going so that I don’t have to think about it too much (I voted last Tuesday and really, really wish it were all over with at this point).

Anyhow: on to this bottle of wine. Right off, it smells like a somewhat dirty raspberry compote. That is, raspberry fruit cup with something like low quality cinnamon (er, cassia, not cinnamon). It’s surprising in that this wine is (a) Spanish and (b) seven years old; of course, I’m not complaining.Medium weight in the mouth, to be frank I don’t taste much for acidity until the flavor peeks on in the finish here; it reminds me of Himbeergeist, which is a fancy German way of saying “grain spirit with raspberry flavor.”Did I say raspberry? Oh, I did? Sorry.

So: Raspberry, acid, raspberry. Raspberry. More raspberry. I’m not sure what else I’m getting here. Ah well. Pretty bottle, though.

Vinicola del Priorat
Price: about $12
Closure: Cork
Date tasted: November 2008

Château de Montfaucon Baron Louis Côtes du Rhône 2004

I like a good Côtes du Rhône and, of all French wines, they are often the best QPR option if you are looking for something Old World to add variety to your choice of local quaffers. This one is an excellent example of the genre.Transparent ruby with purple edges, moderate density. The nose here is really interesting. It’s pretty but also rustic and savoury in character. Licorice allsorts, clean raspberry, dried herbs, pepper and earth wrapped in a subtle but enticing package. There’s a lot going on in here and it’s quite seamless and lightfooted. There’s good depth of flavour, which is increasing the longer the wine sits in glass, but it’s not a forbidding wine by any means. The other half suggested a bit of mould/wet hessian character that I wasn’t picking up. The entry has good impact, with flavour kicking in towards the front of the tongue and spreading sideways to coat generously. The mid-palate reveals a medium bodied wine of gentle acid and real generosity of flavour. Here’s a trick: the wine is full of flavour, yet balanced and easygoing too, with genuine complexity. Notes on the palate are very similar to the nose, with the red fruit asserting itself more prominently, and the pepper gaining impact via very fine yet drying tannins that kick in quite early on. There’s also a bit of coffee/vanilla oak that subtly supports the fruit flavour. The wine’s structure is nicely sorted, with the acid dovetailing into the tannins very elegantly and creating an excellent frame for the fruit. The after palate becomes progressively more spicy, and ends in a drying finish of good length. What a lovely wine. It’s exotic and reminds me of warm turned earth and flowers. We had this wine with barbecued meats and it was an excellent match. A very good value for what it is. It’s drinking well now but I’m going to leave the remaining bottles for a few years to see how the wine shows with softer, more integrated tannins.Château de MontfauconPrice: $A28Closure: CorkDate tasted: January 2008