Roz Mayberry's Triple Overtime Tasting Blog
Over several evenings, Roz tasted Igor Larionov's wines as she does with anything we add to our D&W Fresh Market wine selections. Here are Roz's Tasting Notes:
Wow. I tasted through all the Mediterranean varietals + the Sauv Blanc last night. Tonight I'll get through the Bordeaux and Burgundy grapes. If they are anything like last night's, I am in for a treat.
Frankly, I expected big, heavy, hot, in-your-face kinds of wines. Even though the reds were all pretty high in alcohol, they were all balanced, refined, carefully crafted, and faithful to the land and the grape. I purposefully have not read the website nor looked at the prices yet, so I could see how things sifted out without any preconceptions other than the above wrong-minded and "profiled" expectations. Both the Dry Creek Zin and Syrah take best advantage of a terroir that suits the grape. The Zin is my style--not a jammy hot monster; the Syrah is downright lovely wine, maybe not as earthy as a Northern Rhone Syrah, but delicious, with more cherry fruit than vegetal flavors. The Slapshot is easy to drink, a crowd-pleaser I can see, and the kind of wine that goes well with comfort food. The Barossa Shiraz avoided that overblown, blousy, cooked, and aggressive spice quality that so many Barossa wines have. Then there is the Grenache! It just made me happy. Since Grenache is my favorite grape and drinking Spanish and Southern Rhone wines are for me like going home, I am picky about my Grenache. The Grenache from Clare Valley. is a joy--structured, clean, vibrant, balanced... I had to keep going back to it.
I've never been a huge fan of Aussie wines, but these are good!
The Lake County Sauv Blanc was just fine, not of the ardent, grapefruity New Zealand sort, or even the minerally Loire or the softer Bordeaux sorts. But I think it would suit the general crisp white loving palate.
I tasted the rest of the wines last night. The stand-outs were the Sonoma Mountain (an AVA I don't know!) Pinot Noir and the Clare Valley Cabernet. I actually preferred the Clare Valley Cab to the Napa Cab, though I'll say that the Napa Cab avoided the Parkerized jamminess & highly extracted-ness of many Napa Cabs of repute. The Merlot was a Merlot lover's Merlot, not a Cab lover's Merlot. It was soft and a tad flabby on the edges. The 2 Bordeaux blends were good, though I preferred the one that was about 2/3 Cab Franc. It was much brighter in its fruit flavor and more structured than the softer more traditional version with the highest proportion of Merlot.
I did not get to the Chard, though I will tonight. In any event, I will definitely put Chard in the mix for our store orders. I remain surprised at the loveliness of the wines. Larinov chose to realize the pretty, subtle and magically elusive qualities potential in all these grapes rather than the obvious and grittier possibilities that have come to characterize both the wines of California and of Australia.
I went back to all the wines of the last 2 nights and my initial impressions were confirmed. And I opened the Russian River Chard, expecting it to be a decent Chard because all the other Larionov wines were--across the board - good. But, frankly, I am never real enthusiastic about Chards, especially oaky California Chards. They rarely seem to realize the promise of the gorgeous fruit in the grape itself. Most Chards seem to mask the real fruit. BUT - the Triple Overtime Chard fulfilled the promise of the grape. It is gorgeous wine!