Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Wine Blogging Wednesday #30

Wine Blogging Wednesday is turning out to be a dangerous thing for me.

Normally, I drink bargain wines. I religiously stay under $15 and whenever possible under $10. I’m not afraid to admit it—I’m poor.

While others were working hard to improve their station in life and raise their income levels, I was…hmm…well, I can’t seem to remember, but apparently my attention was focused elsewhere.

So, I drink inexpensive wine (not to be confused with cheap plonk). No big deal. But then WBW comes along and gives me a reason to splurge for the occasional bottle of something nice.

The utility bill will just have to wait.

Tim Elliot of Winecast is our distinguished host for this round, and the topic is New World syrah. This is an easy topic to accommodate because it seems syrah is the “It” grape for winemakers from Washington State to Australia and everywhere in between.

I selected Luca Winery 2004 Syrah Altos de Mendoza ($30), which was recommended to me by a trusted source. The 2004 vintage is a blend of 85% syrah and 15% malbec. 800 cases were produced, and it was bottled unfined and unfiltered.

If you find yourself with an extra 30 bucks, go buy a bottle. You won’t regret it.

I decanted it for 45 minutes or so before pouring on the advice of the aforementioned trusted source. In the decanter, the color was an inky purple and the aromas drifting out were all black fruit: blackberry, plum and blueberry.

Once in my glass, the nose had opened up to include vanilla, eucalyptus and tar. The first sip was a silky mouthful of blackberry, plum, vanilla, tea, earth, tar, cola and licorice. Not necessarily in that order.

This is a serious bottle of syrah. The longer I sipped and swirled, the more layers of flavor and smell I discovered. If you have the opportunity to drink this wine, do so very slowly. You will be rewarded.

Laura Catena, of the well-known Argentine winemaking family, is the proprietor of Luca Winery. Named after her first son, the winery focuses on making small-production wine from low-yield, high-elevation vineyards in Mendoza. The average vineyard elevation for this wine was 3,020 feet.

The Catena name is synonymous with quality in Argentina. Nicolás Catena, Laura’s father, produces some of Argentina’s most highly respected wines, along with the Alamos brand, which is priced for poor souls like myself.

After tasting this wine, I may have to spring for a bottle of some of the family’s other wines. It certainly left no doubt in my mind that the wines currently coming out of Argentina, syrah and otherwise, can lay legitimate claim to being among the world’s best.

Not to mention, they are still a relative value. Although $30 is a bit steep for my thin wallet, a wine of this quality would run you twice as much (or more) if Napa or Hermitage was on the label.

So...don't cry for me, I'm drinking Argentina.

I just couldn't pass that up.


winecast said...

Thanks for splurging on the bottle this time. Sounds like a great wine.

Tim Elliott

jens at cincinnati wine said...

I have yet to have a bad bottle from Luca. Try her brother's wines, Tikal.

jens at cincinnati wine

John said...

Thanks for the tip, Jens. I'll bet there's some good wine at their family dinners.

Mendoza Holidays said...

Besides the striking, Mayan-pyramid inspired architecture, Catena Zapata offers unparalleled views of the Andes and the surrounding vineyards. The winery symbolizes a family’s pride in its roots and a keen desire to show to the world the uniqueness of Mendoza as a wine-producing region. I visited Catena during my last tour and an excellent and exclusive tasting with the winemaker.

黃立行Stanly said...