Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dibon Brut Reserve Cava

This was the winner of the night. It also happens to be the wine I brought to this knife fight, which makes me happy since I have had two major duds in our four meetings.

The name "Cava" comes from the Latin "cava" which means cave which were used in early production of the Spanish sparkler. It usually uses a blend of grapes including: Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel·lo, Chardonnay, Pinot noir, and Subirat.

The Dibon is a blend ofXarel-lo, Parellada and Macabeo.

The Dibon Cava was a crisp, refreshing sparkler. With a lemony nose and a hint of vanilla, this wine presented a lot of possibilities. It could be very successfully combined with shellfish, oysters, white flesh fish, or even a salad course.

Team members thought it would be the perfect cava to use in a white sangria. Overall, he consesus was that this could become a go to wine in everyone's arsenal: the cava to have on hand for occasions which though maybe casual still called for a sparkling wine to be festive.

Bravo Zulu* Dibon.

* = military code for job well done.

RATING: 3.35 Screwcaps
LABEL: Dibon Brut Reserve
GRAPE: blend of Xarel-lo, Parellada and Macabeo
PRICE: $8.99

Spain Tasting

After Australia, Brown Bag Sommelier set its sights on Spain. Spain is a country that in the past, I have had mad success in the $8.99 to $10.99 sweet spot - even with the mad run-up of the Euro last year, I was still able to find some bargains.

Something was off for the Spanish wines this night. Perhaps, the BBS team members were turning crack commando unit - up from the dirty dozen willing to drink anything that came in a brown paper bag, was made from grapes, and got them happily buzzed after a few sips.

Personally, I think it was a conspiracy. I had the winning wine, and I really believe everyone was giving out shitty scores to purposely depreciate the value of my win. Kind of like the year Rocky won best picture. Yeah it was good, but Stallone would never have won in a year against Scorsese and Coppola.

The huge plus of the night, including of course the company, was the food. Spain has dishes just geared for having with wine. Salty, flavorful, tangy, Spanish snacks have it happening all over the place.

Now the wines...

Four Sisters

At the end of a long night of powerful shiraz wines, there was Four Sisters Shiraz. This '05 Shiraz had its work cut out for it, since the crowd by this time was really sick of shiraz wines. These wines tend to be strong, dusty, fruit forward. Some of them were totally overpowering - like the inky darkness I brought to the party.

Four Sisters won some fans in the group. It was jammy like a zinfandel with tastes of preserved fruits and dried cherries. Some found the taste a little sharp, but still the feeling of the group was that this was a nice balanced wine.

With its zin flavor, this is a wine you could serve with something like a rib-eye steak with gorgonzola butter and smoked paprika. It's tannins would cut through the steak and the cheese cleaning your palate so that you could enjoy each savory bite.

At $8.99, this wine is a solid value.

RATING: 2.75 Screwcaps
LABEL: Four Sisters
GRAPE: Shiraz
PRICE: $8.99

Penfolds Koonunga Hill

Penfolds Koonunga Hill is a solid, dependable big operation winemaker shiraz. This is the kind of wine that I think of when I think of Australian wines: a massive producer that makes oceans of decent tasting, moderately priced red juice. Nothing earth shattering, but something you can pull from the wine rack knowing that it will be decent.

Judging from the team's score cards, no one was blown away by this wine. And I think that because of familiarity with the wine, no one was going to be surprised. Still it delivers on a level.

Structure tends to break down quickly. Still, it has a nice balance with a fruit back taste and a little bit of spiciness.

This wine is dependable, and at $8.99 that accounts for a lot.

RATING: 2 Screwcaps
LABEL: Penfolds Koonunga Hill
GRAPE: Shiraz
PRICE. $8.99