New Year, New Stuff: Kicking off 2009 With the Good and the Bad. | Wine | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

New Year, New Stuff: Kicking off 2009 With the Good and the Bad. 

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In large part thanks to the terrific new Wine Store at 1605 S. 300 West, I’ve kicked off 2009 with some new wine discoveries. Not all were great or good, and maybe not all were even new to Utah—just new to me. But there’s more wine in the state now than there ever has been, so I encourage wine drinkers to try something new and different instead of doing what I tend to often do: fall back on the tried and true. n

Let’s start with the 2007 vintage of Spain’s Celler El Masroig “Sola Fred” Montsant. Could this possibly be selling for only $10? The answer is yes, and I advise stocking up because this is a serious bargain. It’s an unoaked blend of Cariñena (90 percent) and Garnacha (10 percent) from Celler El Masroig, an emerging and increasingly important wine-producing area of the Montsant region. The wine is dark ruby-red in the glass with gorgeous violet and cherry aromas. Sip a little of this particularly well-balanced juice and you’ll discover vibrant strawberry and red currant flavors and subtle tannins. True, we’re only three-plus weeks into 2009, but this is hands-down the best wine bargain I’ve found so far this year. It’ll be tough to top.

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On the other hand, there is Redwood Creek’s Frei Brothers Pinot Noir 2006 which, even on sale at $5, seems overpriced. I’m normally a fan of Redwood Creek’s budget line of California wines. But this one—with grapes sourced from Provincia di Pavia in Italy—reminds me of why you don’t see much Pinot Noir from that country. It looks like Pinot Noir, but I found the Redwood Creek Frei Brothers Pinot Noir (not to be confused with regular Pinot Noir from Redwood Creek) to be an insipid, light, flimsy wine that doesn’t really taste anything like Pinot Noir. I never would have thought, “This is Pinot” in a blind tasting. This wine might have a place as an easy-drinking red (think Beaujolais Nouveau) for a summer picnic or maybe a hot-tub winter wine, but aside from that I’d say skip it.

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While we’re on the subject of what not to buy, I would also add another Pinot Noir to the list: Hobnob Pinot Noir 2007 ($10), from France. The missus picked this up because she was attracted to the bottle. And Hobnob admittedly does have some slick marketing, including one of the coolest wine websites—HobnobWines.com—I’ve come across. It’s more of a social site than anything, where you can join the “Nobberhood,” a community of, presumably, Hobnob wine aficionados. Click on the link to information about Hobnob Pinot Noir and what you get is a list that reads: “mood: polished; orientation: soy sauce, prime rib, sausage and dried cranberries; character: as elegant as a bouquet of violets; social mastery: favorite chapter is “cooking”; book: The DaVinci Code; and music: John Mayer.” I’m not sure if that tells you nothing about this wine or all you need to know. I suggest making friends on the Hobnob Website, but avoid actually drinking this Pinot at all costs. It’s truly vile stuff, and proof that not all French wine is worth your coin.

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A better French choice is this Bordeaux from the Médoc: Château Moulin Rompu 2005 ($13.50). This is a 50/50 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, fermented in stainless-steel vats, and a surprisingly sophisticated and feminine wine for the price. Don’t get me wrong; you won’t mistake it for Margaux. But refined blackberry and black-plum flavors, medium tannins and nicely integrated acidity makes this one a winner.  tttt

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