Jim Beauregard's Tasting Notes: A nice 90-plus, LaBelle's Americus, and Sam
The way it worked is that if the wine got one 90+ score from a wine reviewer somewhere, then it came to be called a 90+ wine. Some had one 90-point review and then some in the 80s, so technically they made it under the wire — or over it, as the case may be.
90+ Cellars, the Boston based wine merchant, buys highly rated wines from wineries around the world and sells them under the 90+ label at a fraction of the original wineries' retail price.
At Market Basket last week I came across the 90+ Zinfandel and thought I would give it a try. There's a Cabernet Sauvignon that has eluded me as well, the one several of their distributors told me was the 90+ flagship wine. I had come across that at a tasting too, but the rep told me that they hadn't opened it yet so it wasn't available for sampling. This was striking because it's the first time, in all the tastings I've been to that someone declined to pour a wine. If I happen to come across one that's open, I will try it and let you know. Now, for the Zinfandel:
2009 Sonoma County, 90+ Zinfandel, Lot 54, 15% abv. Just a reminder to be careful to check the lot number when you buy these. If there is more than one kind of a particular varietal, like the Malbec, it may make all the difference. This Zin was a medium intensity red, good fruity nose, berry fruit, dry palate, good acidity, good tannin, a little insistent on opening, but it smooths out; medium body, medium-plus flavor intensity of red fruit, red berry, hints of spice in the background, long berry finish. 86 points.
- - - - -- - - --
I was on the LaBelle Winery website (www.labellewinerynh.com) this week — I recommend you check it out. The new winery is proceeding quickly, and when they broke ground, they set up a web camera that has been taking a picture hourly since then. You can view the progress over a few minutes on the website. We had just been talking about it when our friends Dan and Francine arrived for dinner, Dan toting some beer he had made at Incredibrew (very good) and a bottle of Labelle Americus. I had written about the Americus when it was first available, and had the pleasure of meeting with Amy LaBelle for a barrel tasting when it was on its way. Here's what it's like now that's it's had a little time to develop:
LaBelle Winery Americus, Amherst, N.H., 11.5% abv. A New Hampshire red from New Hampshire grapes, French oak aged. Purple color, medium hue, tight on the first sip, though with a few minutes decanting it blossomed into a broad palate of red and black fruit, smooth and enticing. Black fruit and hints of very ripe red fruit, peppery hints in the background, dry as a bone, good acidity, medium alcohol, medium flavor intensity, some good weight and flavor. Amy suggests pairing with steak and other grilled meats — I agree completely. Long finish, with the spice moving toward the front on the finish. I mentioned the French oak above because this struck me as a classic European-style food wine (which was the reason they started making wine in the first place). What California set out to do 50 years ago — make wines that could hold their own against the wines of Europe, is happening out in Amherst right now.
- - - - -- - - --
Sam Adams is giving beer lovers a choice of bigger or smaller bottles now, so let's finish up with the three 12-ounce bottles that are now available:
Sam Adams Third Voyage Double IPA. Amber beer under an off-white head, that fills almost the top half of a Sam Adams glass, malt nose, rich malt palate of bread, caramel, grain lots of grain, nuttiness, lots of flavor. The hops come through toward the finish with very good bitterness.
Sam Adams Tasman Red Red IPA. Amber with definite red hues from the Tasmanian hops, off white head, also substantial and frothy, with some oaky resinous aromas on the nose. Intense palate of pine, resin, herbal flavors, spice, a nice spectrum on a dry palate with medium bitterness, good acidity, medium alcohol, at 6.5% and well integrated into the blend, medium-minus weight and texture, a lighter beer for summer, high intensity flavor, long finish. Bravo!
Sam Adams Dark Depths Baltic IPA. On the darker end of the IPA spectrum, not easy to see through, amber hints, but leaning toward tawny and brown. All malt on the nose, rich and insistent, the malt on the palate comes to rest at the back of your mouth, medium-plus weight and texture, long malty finish.
Jim Beauregard is a local wine and beer writer who can be reached at email@example.com