Houston Lifestyles & Homes January 2010
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Denman Moody is the former publisher of Moody’s Wine Review, which the Washington Post said was “...certainly the best publication in this country for tracking the state of rare and exotic wines. ” He was also the contributing editor on rare wines for the International Wine Review in New York from 1984-1990. He is currently a freelance wine writer and wine consultant. denmanmoody@gmail.com
By Denman Moody
www.denmanswineblog.com
I have long been a fan of tasting wines of different countries together—whether blind or not. The Robert Mondavi folks were the best at this. I remember in the late ’70s, Michael Mondavi would serve his Pinot Noir Reserve alongside an excellent vintage of La Tache, and his Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve alongside Chateau Lafite-Rothschild. He probably did this only occasionally, and with wine writers and others in the trade, but it was very instructive, and it gave some important credibility to California wines at a time when many weren ’t convinced of their value. As an aside, to return the favor some years later, when we hosted Isabel and Michael for dinner in Houston, for one course I served:
Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir Reserve 1985, Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1985 and Chateau Margaux 1985.
The Texas Department of Agriculture has invited Texans to visit its site, www.gotexanwine.org, and find instructions on how to host a Texas Two-Sip, as well as wine pairings, tasting sheets and other materials. The suggested wines to taste together (the first listed are from Texas):
Brennan Vineyards Viognier vs. Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier from Australia; Haak Winery Blanc du Bois vs. Woodbridge Sauvignon Blanc from California; Becker Vineyards Syrah vs. Razor ’s Edge Shiraz from South Australia; Llano Estacado Signature Melange vs. La Vieille Ferme Rouge from France; McPherson Cellars Sangiovese vs. Badia Coltibuono Chianti from Italy, and Inwood Estates Cornelius (Tempranillo) vs. Muga Reserva Rioja from Spain.
I’ll add another one:
Fall Creek Meritus 2005 vs. B.V. Cabernet Sauvignon from California.
You could even concentrate on one grape, for example, Syrah, by adding to the Syrahs above a Fess Parker Syrah from California and a Hermitage or Cote Rotie from France. And you could do it blind to learn a thing or two. Enjoy!

Exciting Reds for Winter Pleasure
Liberty School Syrah Central Coast 2007 – From winemaker Austin Hope, this Paso Robles super-value red was aged in predominately French oak barrels for 14 months. Tastes like something twice as expensive. Plum and cola flavors and a well-integrated minerality. A new year ’s surprise.  $12
R & B Cellars Syrah North Coast 2006 – Another incredible value in a serious red. This is one of those wines that makes you wonder
how it disappeared so quickly after opening. Blackberry jam, blueberries and spice.  $13
Herding Cats Merlot/Pinotage (Western Cape, South Africa) non-vintage – If you’re looking for something inexpensive to put in the fridge so you can pour a 6-ounce glass of cold red (I actually prefer this one cold or at least very cool), every night for around 16 nights, this is my recommendation. The 3-liter box, which stays fresh for up to a month after the first pour, is a great value with surprisingly rich, spicy fruit flavors. Fun design with small, yellow leopards leaping from the box.  $16
Sebastiani Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2007 – Pinot Noir doesn’t get better than this at under $20. Marachino cherries and oriental spice.  $18
Monticello Gran Reserva (Rioja) 2001 – A good look at how far Rioja has come in quality as Spain’s and Tempranillo’s reputations have soared. Excellent value with complexity and balance.  $22
Seven Hills Tempranillo Columbia Valley 2006 – “Aromas of rose petals, dried dark cherries and toasted oak vanillin…” Old world grape with unrivaled new world fruit.  $22
Dry Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
Perfect Pairings for a Texas Two-Sip
Kick off the New Year with an exciting red wine
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Dry Creek Valley 2006 – Although thought of as a top Zinfandel location, Dry Creek Valley actually has more acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, and this is one of the best of them. Red cherries with a hint of chocolate and spice.  $25
Decoy Napa Valley Red Wine 2007 – Possibly the best value of the Duckhorn line of super-premium wines, this offering should please those looking for the complexity and structure of a Bordeaux as well as those who appreciate lovely Napa fruit. $30
J Vineyards Pinot Noir Russian River 2007 – Night harvested to preserve freshness and hand-sorted before destemming. Malolactic fermentation in 100 percent Burgundian oak barrels. Plush and full with layers of flavors. Roses, cherries and strawberries.  $35
Torres Salmos (Priorat) 2007 – 45 percent Garnacha with Syrah and Cariñena. Big, bold and beautiful blend from one of the most famous wine making families in Spain. Rich, satisfying and an excellent value.  $40
Wrath Pinot Noir San Saba Vineyard 2007 – Located just below the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County, this vineyard provides a low-vigor, well-drained, disease-free and relatively pest-free environment for the vines. Aged in 50 percent new French oak barrels, this succcessful wine is dark in color and offers up flavors of cherries, strawberries and damp earth. Co-owned by Michael Thomas, a PhD in art and archaeology, who is currently a research professor at UT-Austin. Only 148 cases produced.  $45
Merus Napa Valley 2006 – Merus is a wine that I tasted only once, but was impressed. I’ve forgotten the vintage, but remember it was expensive. After tasting the 2006, I am overwhelmed. This is one gorgeous, inky stallion with intense aromas of dark, chocolate covered cherries, followed by intriguing texture, weight and exotic fruit flavors. Bordeaux winemaker Camille Benitah and international winemaking super-star consultant Paul Hobbs have teamed up to make one of the best Cabernet-based wines in Napa. Might be fun to taste this blind against a $1,000 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild or Chateau Latour from the great 2003 Bordeaux vintage (to be fair).  $150! l
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