Monday, January 03, 2005

Winecology: Marques de Casa Concha Merlot, Chile 2002 vs. Chateau La Croix du Casse, Pomerol 1999

Old World meets New World, again.

It certainly didn't have the magnitude of the 1976 Paris wine tasting competition that pitted France versus California (nicely chronicled
here at the Stag's Leap Wine Cellars website). No high powered judges. No star-studded line up of top shelf wines. No Paris. But this comparison over a great dinner of Argentine grilled meats with friends was fun and informative none-the-less.

Chateau La Croix du Casse - Pomerol, Bordeaux - 1999
This blend of predominantly Merlot with Cabernet Franc was highly recommended to me by a local wine shoppe. It is aged 24 months in 1/2 new and 1/2 old oak barrels. The wine shows a dense ruby red in the glass. Plums are apparent but understated on the nose. Tannins frame the wine's body and provide an excellent structure. Flavors of chocolate, dark plums and earth all come together nicely. A medium length finish. This is a fine, albeit subtle wine that is still a little restrained and will improve with age.
Rating - 8.5 out of 10
Price - $25

Marques de Casa Concha - Merlot - Chile - 2002
A very forward wine from Chilean producer Concha y Toro. The wine spent 16 months in french oak barrels (1/3 new & 2/3 old), which influences its dark, forward and tannic flavors. This merlot had a dark purple color with hints of blue hues. An aromatic nose. Ripe fruits exploded in the mouth. Lots of plum, cranberry and spice. Sweetness from fruit is well balanced with gentle zip and velvety tannins. A lasting finish.
Rating - 8.5 out of 10
Price - $15

A tie? In my mind yes. The Concha y Toro was more pronounced and concentrated, but upon reflection I enjoyed the Pomerol's subtle complexity. Its use of Cabernet Franc added some extra dimensions to the wine. Also the upside on Croix du Casse is big - I look forward to tasting it again in a year or two. My guess is the Marques de Casa Concha will mellow and develop some smokey notes, but won't become as complex as Croix du Casse. Time will tell.

Also, thanks to Googs for bringing along a terrific wine, found at a
recent blind tasting we attended, to whet our palettes. The 2001 Geyser Peak Alexander Valley Cabernet is a steal. It rated nicely on both our lists among stiff competition at the tasting. For the money, you can't miss. Nice fruit and oak flavors. Smooth tannins.