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Dinner at Legal C-Bar - Some Hits and One Miss

I had dinner at the Legal C-Bar ( in Dedham, Massachusetts with several work friends and came away impressed with their wine setup.  They have around 30 wines by the glass and give you the option of getting a 2 ounce pour rather than simply offering full glasses.  This is the type of wine flexibility that I really get into because you can taste 4 different wines in a sitting without stumbling out of the place.

I started with a glass of the 2010 Licia Albarino, hoping to get my palate going and what seemed like a dream match for seafood (this is an offshoot of the Legal Sea Foods restaurant chain after all).  This wine did nothing for me.  I like Albarino’s because they awaken your palate and sometime shock you with acidity.  This wine was kind of dull, bringing lime and a light floral essence but not enticing me to want more.

Sticking with whites, I switched to the slightly heavier 2011 Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc from South Africa.  Chenin Blanc’s from South Africa tend to consistently be good wines and this one was no exception.  Apples all day long and a luxurious mouthfeel with a finish that hung out for a bit.  This is a wine to seek out as I suspect it is widely available and pretty reasonable at the retail level.  We will be diving into Chenin Blanc the grape varietal in greater detail in future posts.

Even though my dinner did not match up that well with a switch to red wines, I went there anyway with two different two ounce pours - the 2007 Markham Merlot and the 2009 La Fleur Terrien Bordeaux, which is primarily a Merlot blend.  Merlot gets no respect these days and both of these wines delivered.  While different in style and weight, they both were solid.  Markham bringing you a full, warm luscious oak and berry palate and the La Fleur livens up the meal with its spicy blackberries and long, dry finish.

All in all this was a good wine experience as I enjoyed 3 out of the 4 wines.  I would purchase the Markham Merlot and the Chenin Blanc in a heartbeat if I cross paths with the wines in a store.

This was the first time this year for Albarino, Chenin Blanc and Merlot so the wine total stands at 22 and the grape varietal total is now at 15.

2013 Wine #18 - 2008 T-Vine Grenache

Wine number 18 of the year comes from California, the 2008 T-Vine Grenache.  I have had this wine several times, in restaurants and at home, but it has been almost a year since last consumed.

I pulled this up from my cellar, took a taste and was immediately transported back to the first time I had this wine at Annabelle’s Bistro in San Francisco.  It is just delicious.  

Since I am a nice guy, I poured some for my wife and her immediate reaction was “Where have you been hiding this?”.

Clearly this is one of my favorite wines for a number of reasons.  Elegant, smooth, sweet and delicious.  It is a fruit bomb and very different from some of the old world Grenache based wines, but it remains a winner. 

2013 Wine #17, Grape #12 - 2009 Chateau d’Oupia Minervois

Let’s go back to the south of France, this time to Minervois.  The wine is primarily made from the Carignan grape with some other friends mixed in.

This wine has some complexities and is well put together.  There is an earthy, light manure nose. Some red berries come through on the palate and it does soften over the course of 24 - 48 hours.  Problem is, it just isn’t delicious.

2013 Wine #16, Grape #11 - A Loureiro blend

This is a fun wine, brought to you by the good folks of Spain.  The 2011 Quinta das Arcas Vinho Verde Arca Nova is made primarily from the Loureiro grape.  This is a grape that merits some more attention and as white wines gain some popularity I could see this making some more inroads.  

It is very reasonably priced and quite a lot of fun.  A frizzante essence exists immediately upon opening and lasts longer than I have ever seen in the bottle (48 hours according to my experiment).  The palate is finished with pears and a very, persistent finish.

2013 Wine #15, Grape #10 - Chateauneuf-du-Pape

The magical dashed region of Chateauneuf-du-Pape can become an addiction once you get started.  Lots of folks swear by wines from this region and I fall into that group.  I love Grenache, it is one of my favorite grapes and this Grenache based blend is a winner.

The 2009 Domaine du Vieux Lazaret Châteauneuf-du-Pape provides an easy entry point to the often expensive CDP wines.  The nose is floral and filled with strawberries.  A touch of minerality comes through on the finish along with a wave of those strawberries again.  This is a wine that balances dryness and lusciousness.

I predict there will be more Grenache based wines in my future. 

2013 Wine #14 - 2011 Achaval Ferrer Malbec

Holy Twizzlers Batman!  If you love strawberry Twizzlers, you are going to love this wine.  There are also some interesting clove notes on the nose that add an element of intrigue here.  On the palate this wine is smooth, loaded with red berries and finishes with sweet acid on your tongue.

New World Malbec - 1

Old World Malbec - 0

2013 Wine #13, Grape #9 - A Wine from Cahors

Staying within the country of France I took a trip (in my mind) to Cahors to taste the 2008 Jean Luc Baldes Esprit de Flore Cahors.  An often misunderstood wine region Cahors wines are made primarily of the Malbec grape.  However, the wines from here are not similar to the Argentinian darlings that have spread like wildfire over the past decade.

This wine was funky, stinky, earthy and dry with an absence of fruit.  I need more fruit and will shift to a Malbec I expect to have more success with as Wine #14.

2013 Wine #12 - 2010 Ninot Rully Gresigny

The wines of Rully are made from the Chardonnay grape and are part of the vaunted Burgundy area.  The main difference here is that the wines of this appellation can be had by the common folk, like me.  They tend to offer a good amount of complexity and deliciousness without a $100 price tag.

This Rully is as smooth as silk, featuring cold minerality that is speckled with peaches.  It finishes with a small, acidic snap that I really enjoy.  Go find some Rully wine.

2013 Wine #11, Grape #8 - Let’s Drink Some Beaujolais

Let’s face it, Beaujolais gets a bad rap.  The Gamay grape has a lot to offer as long as you head toward some of the Grand Cru Beaujolais and steer clear of the mass produced Nouveau. The 2011 Chiroubles Cheysson Clos Farges deserves a place at your table and will be as versatile as any wine you can serve.

Red berries with a floral essence this wine has a light body, but it is quite a nice body.  

2013 Wine #10 - More Bubbles from the South of France

2010 J. Laurens Cremant de Limoux Les Graimenous, it is quite a mouthful, both from the volume of words as well as the quality it delivers.  The best way to describe this sparkling wine is that it exudes class.

Apples, minerals and a delightful mouthfeel.  This bubbly can be had in for close to $20 but you would never know it, and if you thought it was such a value you are simply a liar. 

One should consider this for a house bubbly.

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