My friend, Josué, was complaining about the font on the Las Rocas bottle. I agree that it is a tragic choice, but I stand by the fact that the wine is absolutely delicious, and well worth the bottle. However, if you just can’t see past ugly bottles, then here is another amazing, cheap wine that has a pretty (or at least, prettier) bottle to enjoy while you drink.
Bogle Phantom is the shit.
I mean, this shit is good. Seriously good.
A blend of Petite Sirah and Old Vine Zinfandel, with a bit of Mourvèdre to round things out, it is inky and dark, intense and complex. On the Bogle website and on each cork extracted from Phantom, you will find some variation of this:
bogle \bõ’g?l\ n. [Scots, perhaps from Welsh] A goblin; a specter; a phantom; a bogy, boggart or bugbear.
This wine lives up to its name, as when it is released it disappears so quickly from the shelves … as if it were never there. An apparition. The same can be said of it when a bottle is opened in our house. We have a bottle on the wine rack now that we are trying to save until 2012 … every time I remember we have it, I am tempted …
Why do we love this wine so much? Well, let’s get right to it, Steinberg …
My experience with the Petite Sirah varietal is very limited … it makes up 53% of Phantom according to the label. Petite Sirah is typically marked by its dark color and intense acidity. It has a high skin-to-juice ratio which lends itself to highly tannic wines, but also lends itself to aging. It brings dark berries (blueberries, blackberries) and black pepper to the party … it has a full and round mouthfeel, but tends to lack a solid profile through the finish. So, basically it comes on strong, pushes through a bit, and then it’s gone. This is why it pairs so perfectly with our next varietal in this blend …
Zinfandel has been hit or miss with me. I’ve had some really terrible red zins that were like drinking liquified, candied fig newtons … just horribly jammy, overly sweet, and flat. But then I’ve had really amazing red zins where the sweetness was balanced by oak, pepper, and clove … where the fruitiness didn’t remind me of jamming 6 whole boxes of Sunmaid raisins in my mouth at once. The heat on the end lingered with the spice and oak. Bogle’s Old Vine Zin is one of the good ones … and here we find it in Phantom to the tune of 44% of the blend.
Where the Petite Sirah struggles, the old vine zin picks it up by offering depth and complexity. Oak and spice mingle with dark berries, adding some much needed punch in the finish.
I don’t know if Bogle decided to throw in the Mourvèdre only because they needed to fill the remaining 3% of Phantom, and I have no idea how much effect the Mourvèdre has on this blend, but let’s talk about what it can do for the blend … especially before we start saying 3% is too small to do much of anything. Mourvèdre is most commonly used in Rhone blends, which feature Grenache, another grape that yields wine with high alcohol content. So, theoretically, Mourvèdre would do the same for the high alcohol content of the Old Vine Zin, softening it a bit and adding body.
So, here we are … 53% Petite Sirah, 44% Old Vine Zinfandel, and 3% Mourvèdre … and what we get is a delicious red blend that is loaded with complexity … blackberries, raspberries, clove, toasted oak, leather, black pepper, a little anise … the longer it breathes, the better it gets. Once the bottle’s gone, you’ll be very sad … I feel like I’ve been going through withdraw symptoms … let’s hope I can hold out for the next bottle rather than opening the one waiting for 2012 … I can’t wait to see what a bit of in-bottle aging does for this already amazing wine.
Go. Buy some. Now. I’m pretty sure the new vintage will be released at the end of this month, so be on the look out for it. I will be.
Question: “Hey, wasn’t there at least one other contributor to this blog?”
Answer: Well, yes. The answer is yes. And my defense is this: I have just found myself up to my eyeballs in sangria. That’s not exactly true. But I have found myself, as the weather improves, experimenting with a couple different sangria recipes.
Sangria is a drink that I (and all of Spain) believe is the quintessential summer cocktail. Icy cold, fruity, and refreshing, Sangria should be in everyone’s summer cocktail arsenal. As a wine lover, and lover of most things Spanish, I thought it was high time to make some of my own. I had some ideas in mind, but wanted to cross check my ideas against a “traditional” Spanish sangria recipe. Whether or not my search on the internets, this vast series of tubes we find ourselves tangled in, led to an actual traditional recipe, I do not know. But it did yield a few guiding points. My initial instincts were not way off. Here is what I was thinking …
Take a bottle or two of a youngish Spanish wine … why youngish? Well, I wanted a wine that was more fruit forward and possessed less oak. My two favorite Spanish varietals are Tempranillo (grown in the north of Spain) and Garnacha (the “workhorse” grown all over Spain, pretty much). I selected one of my favorite, inexpensive garnachas, Monte Oton from Aragón. Once my wine was selected, I consulted a good friend of mine in the wine department about an ingredient, besides brandy, that would make my sangria really pop. I told her I was anti bubbles, so that ruled club soda out. She suggested gin. Gin is probably my favorite spirit, so, I was all over this suggestion. She also suggested that I leave any citrus juice out, as that can cloud the finished product. She instead, suggested I use the zest of any citrus I was thinking of using.
So, I had my wine picked out, I was armed with a few new pointers, and I was on my way to making a (hopefully) delicious and refreshing sangria. I picked up two bags of frozen mixed berries, a couple of gala apples, an orange, lime, and lemon. Once I was home, I began preparing the fruit. I chopped the apple into pieces that were of similar size to the average sized strawberry from the bags of mixed berries. I zested some of the orange and lemon. I added 3oz. each of gin (had Tanqueray on hand), brandy (Cognac to be exact), a splash of Cointreau, Chambord, and Navan (a vanilla infused cognac). I had wanted to let the fruit set with the alcohol for several hours, but I was so anxious to try this concoction, that I doubt it set for more than 20 minutes. I added the wine and into the fridge it went … for minutes, not hours.
The June sun was out, the deck, drenched in warm light. I anxiously pulled the pitcher from the fridge. I grabbed a pint glass and a spoon. I poured the deeply colored libation into my glass and spooned in some of the delicious fruit. Since the berries were frozen, they acted as ice (who needs ice in wine, anyway???).
It was love at first sip. Maybe not sweet enough for some, but I found that the addition of Cointreau and Navan added enough sweetness, along with the fruit, for me. The gin added some lovely herb notes. The wine paired with the fruit very well. It acted as the perfect red canvas for this liquid artistry. I’m not gonna lie (and this is not saying that I think I make the best sangria ever), but, I could have consumed the whole pitcher in one sitting. It’s like the most dangerous fruit punch you’ll ever drink.
It is summer. Ice cold beers should not be the only beverage you reach for. Take some initiative and make yourself up a pitcher of sangria. The fruit you use is completely up to you. The wine is, like I said, a red canvas for liquid artistry, but in case you are not feeling as gung ho, here is my recipe …
2 bottles of red wine (again, I used a garnacha … the only wine I would warn against using is Cabernet Sauvignon. Too oaky)
1oz. Cointreau or triple sec
splash of Chambord (just to help the berries)
2 bags of frozen mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
2-4 apples, chopped (I used gala)
1 t. orange zest
1 t. lemon zest
Combine fruit and all alcohol, except wine in pitcher. Feel free to let this mix infuse, but beware its charm! Add wine and stir. Again, feel free to let it set for hours … but, it will be hard not to want to tear into this drink right away! Once it has set for as long as you deemed appropriate, spoon fruit into glasses, and pour. Garnish with a slice of orange or lemon, or both, and enjoy!
“Move over Las Rocas, there’s a new smash hit value in town. Outstanding ripeness and concentration, with notes of black cherry, black currants, mocha and a savory coffee note. This is a must buy by the case.” — Wine Library
I thought that this quote from the Wine Library was an appropriate way to begin this post on Alto Almanzora Este. If you’ve read this blog, you know that we here at Roused love our wine … more specifically, we love our red wine … even more specifically, we love Las Rocas. I’ve always been a sucker for Spanish reds, so I am constantly on the lookout for the next amazing and cheap Spanish wine … not to replace Las Rocas by any means, for that cannot be done, but to broaden the scope of delicious Spanish reds our house enjoys. I recently ventured outside of my home Whole Foods to the Roosevelt Square location … so glad I did. Their wine department is much larger than my store. I immediately found two wines that caught my eye. One of these wines was one called Monan, another Spanish garnacha that will most likely make an appearance here at some point, the other wine was Alto Almanzora Este.
I’ve since been back for another bottle (already gone, so I’ll be headed back again soon), but from the first sip, I knew that Las Rocas had a new brother to play with. Este is pretty great. The winery is located in Andalucia, a region in the southeast of Spain. The label of Este depicts a pregnant Andalusian mare, which is a tip of the cap to the unique and beautiful horse native to the region (and some of the most beautiful horses in the world), the rich history of the region, and the fertility of the land. A blend of 45% Monastrell/Mourvèdre, 25% Tempranillo, and the remainder being rounded out with Syrah, Garnacha, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, I was instantly reminded of Bogle Phantom … maybe it was the blend being somewhat similar, but it was more from the big blackberry and cherry notes along with pepper, oak, spice, smoke, and even some dark chocolate. Este gets its oaky depth from being aged a combined 6 months in both French and American barrels. Despite being a full bodied wine, it drinks easy. I feel like this is a product of each varietal that builds the blend working in perfect harmony with the next to create a depth and mellowness that is mindblowing. Monastrell, which tends to be tannic on it’s own, becomes more easy and deep when blended with Garnacha, which features spice and berry notes. Tempranillo introduces some herbaceous and tobacco qualities. Syrah brings some dark fruit and pepper to the party. What little merlot enters the blend balances the tannins of the cabernet sauvignon and offers plum and currant notes. Cab Sauv loves oak and lends more herbaceousness and peppery notes to round out this astounding blend. And oh yeah, have I mentioned that this bottle is less than $10?
Go find it … buy it … open it … you will love it.
2008 Punto Final is a Malbec from Argentina.
Malbec is an interesting varietal because it was first grown in the Bordeaux and Cahors regions of France, but because of a devastating frost in 1956, 75% of the vines were destroyed. Though some were replanted, the grape dropped in popularity in Bordeaux but stayed fairly popular in Cahors, where it is primarily used in blends.
Malbec was introduced to Argentina in 1868 and since then, it has really come into its own. The Argentinian Malbec produces “a softer, less tannic-driven variety than the wines of Cahors.” It is said that the Malbec in South America (it is also grown in Chile) has virtually nothing in common with its European sibling. As a varietal, Malbec has become almost synonymous with Argentinian wine. This is no surprise as evidenced by the abundance of Malbecs to be found on the shelves of wine shoppes worldwide. They are fruit-full wines, packed with full bodied punch, and one can usually do well for under $20. I picked up this bottle of Punto Final from Whole Foods for around $11.
First pour: Harsh and overwhelmingly fruity, but promising. A lot of dark fruits with a finish rife with minerals, green earth, and acid. Virtually nothing on the mid-palate.
Day One: Perhaps i was a bit congested, or perhaps Punto Final needed some more time to open up, but the notes on the mid-palate explode in this wine after letting it breathe a bit. Still very fruity and sweet … cherry, some cranberry, currant, almost raisinlike. The mid-palate reveals pronounced earthiness. Berries linger, but mingle nicely with tobacco and green earth. Finish is hot and woodsy. Had part of a glass with some spicy chili and the heat of the chili was intensified by the heat of the wine. Preferred it by itself.
Day Two: Had a guest on Day One, so the bottle didn’t make it past first day intact …
Overall: I am curious about this one. On the fence a bit. Would maybe buy it again and keep it on hand for a year or so, since it is so young, and see what happens, but definitely a good Malbec.
The Wolftrap, from Boekenhoutskloof (that’s the vineyard in South Africa), is a red blend consisting of 68% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre, and 2% Viognier. Picked it up on a whim. Just perused the wine aisle at Whole Foods and found an intriguing wine for under $10, of which there are many.
I am not very familiar with South African wine … on New Year’s we drank a South African sparkler … outside of that, I don’t know that I’ve encountered another South African wine. So, I conducted a bit of research …
South African winemaking dates back to 1659 and has experienced a rather varied worldwide interest since. South Africa’s current production puts it in the top ten wine producing countries in the world, though this wasn’t always the case. Before the end of apartheid throughout much of the 20th century, South African wine received little attention worldwide.
“Its isolation was further deepened by boycotts of South African products in protest of the country’s system of Apartheid. It wasn’t till the late 1980s and 1990s when Apartheid was ended and the world’s export market opened up that South African wines began to experience a renaissance”
Once the export market opened up, the renaissance experienced in the South African winemaking was helped along by the Vine Improvement Programme. This program(me) was brought into existence in order to bring up the standards of South African wine by bringing a better understanding of the viticultural arts, if you will, to the winemakers. This has spurred the winemakers to strive toward a more “international style” of wine, that would find fans on a global scale. In some cases, winemakers from France, Spain, and California were flown in, bringing with them new techniques and styles to the already unique style of South African wine. Today, as I mentioned earlier, South Africa is in the top ten of wine producing nations in the world. It should be an exciting world of wine to delve into …
Traditionally, many South African wines have been characterized by very rustic flavors, and The Wolftrap certainly hits on the rustic side. It is a very substantial wine; full and heavy, with a touch of gameyness (Some describe it as meaty. I don’t like the sound of meaty) to it, which I didn’t find unappealing at all. Loads of spice and smoke throughout. There is a subtle floral quality I picked up on that was soon washed away by heavy berry influence (blackberry, strawberry). With all of these heavy flavors (the smoke, spice, gameyness), the subtleties remain intact, interestingly enough, which added to the surprising balance achieved in this red blend. If you like big, red blends full of spice, smoke, dark berries, this wine is for you … just be prepared for the gamey aspect, it could be a turnoff to some. For around $10 you could definitely do a lot worse.