Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Carneros Pinot Noir Part 2

We drank one of our regular wines tonight, a 2006 Artesa Pinot Noir ($20 at Beverage Warehouse and available at many Grocery Stores.)  This one is also from the Southern Napa area of Carneros (like the Clos du Val Pinot Noir.) We like this one a lot - discovered it while on a trip in Napa Valley - went to their tasting room and enjoyed it, although we were not fans of many of their other wines - the only other one we liked was the blend called "Elements."  I'll have to post on that one sometime.  The best part was finding this wine in a few restaurants while in Napa for about $22-25... at the restaurant!  Amazing.

Anyway.... very solid pinot noir.  Great nose, nice cherry flavors, nice length.  Not super complex or earthy or deep.  Just very nice pinot noir for $20.  Excellent for the money.  There's maybe 6-8 Pinot Noirs we've had under $20 that we'd recommend, and this is one of them.  Happy drinking!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Not So Royal Wine

This evening's wine was a 2004 Kings Ridge blend of Syrah (67%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (33%).  The grapes come from the Columbia Valley in Washington, however the winemaker is in Oregon. Priced at $10 from LA Wine Co., who knows how it will be.

Well, it's a good weeknight wine.  Nothing flashy, nice fruit, quite a bit of spice and alcohol (14.25%) on the nose.  Good flavors, dark fruit and spice, a little imbalanced - tasted like the Syrah and Cab weren't playing together nicely for some reason.  Not over-oaked, thank goodness.

Just because I love the descriptions the wineries supply about their own wines, here's the description of this one...This is a wine with incredible depth and structure highlighted by juicy fruit and pronounced spice. Our 2004 Syrah Cabernet is made in a Rhone style with bigger, riper fruit that truly reflects the vintage. Beautiful aromas of dark cherries, hyacinth, brown sugar, nutmeg and clove fill the nose. The mouth shows bright cherry flavors integrated with coffee bean, pomegranate and plum, followed by a long finish laced with cinnamon.

Gotta love wineries.  It's good, just didn't excite me.

According to some digging around online, their pinot noir is supposed to be pretty good - I bought a bottle of that too - we shall have to check that out soon!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Aussie pinot?

I think this is the first Australian Pinot Noir we've ever tried.  At least that I recall.  Like I said, we drink a lot.  Tonight's bottle is Mornington Estate 2005 Pinot Noir ($17 at Bristol Farms) from the Mornington Peninsula.  Having never heard of Mornington Peninsula, I looked it up in "Oz Clarke's New Wine Atlas" (best book ever).  Located in the Victoria area on Port Phillip Bay, the book says it is windy with maritime stability creating wines which are light in texture but have intense fruit.  OK then.

As I'm always on the hunt for tasty pinot noir for under $20, I was really hoping it would be good... and it was!  Textbook pinot noir, for my nose and palate.  Nothing fancy, not uber-complex, but really tasty, nice quality pinot noir.  I think anyone could enjoy this one.  On the smell, you get a little of the cherry and "funk" I like in a pinot noir.  Even a little smoky.  Taste is silky, very fruity (the book was right) and basically yummy.  Medium length on the finish.  Very much recommend this one - it will certainly go into our regular drinking rotation.  

Friday, December 12, 2008

Washington Bordeaux Blend

Maybe our palates are lousy, but this wine confused us at first.  The wine in question was a 2004 Columbia Crest Walter Clore Private Reserve Red Blend.  This is one of the more high-end wines made by Columbia Crest out of Washington State priced at $26 from LA Wine Company that often gets decent scores in the 90-91 range.  It's a bordeaux-type blend made with 54% cabernet sauvignon and 46% merlot.  I've been wanting to try it for some time as I have read some good things about it.

I decanted it for two hours to help open it up.  The smell was very nice - rich, black fruit, leather and a bit of spice.  The body was somewhere medium and heavy.  Taste was very nice and long - complex, solid tannin, dark fruit and wood (cedar?)  When we first tried it, the finish was awful - bitter, over-oaked and sharp.  After an hour or so, either the wine got better or our palates changed, because the finish got much better.  Overall, very nice, but it took some time to make us happy.  So if you try this, maybe decant it for 3 -4 hours and see how it is.  Or buy it and stick it away for 6-8 years and see if that helps. :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Not so Cotes du Rhone-y

The wine this evening was a 2007 Cotes-du-Rhone from Delas.  Typically, wines from the Cotes-du-Rhone are predominantly blends of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre.  This was 75% syrah and 25% grenache, although I had a hard time pegging it that way (had to look it up on the internet.)  From what I could tell, they source a lot of their grapes from the Northern Rhone (which is very different from the larger Southern Rhone) - I'm guessing that may explain why this didn't have the normal spicy, bold characteristics of a typical Cotes-du-Rhone.  I think I paid about $13 at Beverage Warehouse, but found it for $10 at K&L Wines (where I learned Robert Parker gave it a 90 point rating, not that I'm much for ratings - I'll save that rant for another day.)  

This is an excellent wine, and an example of the difference between American and French wine.  The color was pretty dark - it's young and filled with syrah and grenache, so that figures. The nose was mild, with blueberry, leather and a little spice.  The interesting part was that it tasted soft, not alcoholic (13.5% alc.), blueberry, a little spice and dark fruit.  Really nice easy finish.  Tannin was there, but blended nicely.  If you like big, bold wines, this is not the wine for you.  But it is a great wine for the money.  I would suggest decanting it for a few hours as it significantly improved over time.  Yummy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Santa Ynez Syrah

Tonight we drank a bottle of 2006 Beckman Syrah.  Beckman is one of the wineries Rachel and I found together and have enjoyed quite a bit.  One of our favorites is always Beckman's Cuvee Le Bec, a lovely blend.  Of course blends tend to work better as the winemaker can balance the taste with whatever grapes they have.

Their Syrah is very good, although it went much better with ribs than drinking it alone.  By itself, it was a bit heavy and oaked.  However once we had it with the BBQ Ribs we had for dinner, it really tasted great.  At $17 at Beverage Warehouse, it's pretty good stuff.  

Monday, December 8, 2008

Carneros Pinot Noir

Well, Rachel had a super long day of work, so I decided she needed one of our favorite wines, Clos Du Val Pinot Noir (this was a 2006).  The Clos Du Val cab was one of the first wines we tried together that was over $20, and we've loved their stuff ever since.  In the interest of full disclosure, we've been members of their wine club for 3 years, ever since we visited their winery in Napa during our 1st wedding anniversary trip.  It was there that I fell in love with the "orbital" decanter that we purchased a short time later - it's a cool decanter.  Each year, we tend to buy a half case of either their regular pinot noir ($30/$24 for members) or the reserve pinot noir ($50/$40 for members.)

This is good stuff, although I think this vintage is not as good as the past few, but damn good, none-the-less.  Carneros (located in southern Napa Valley) is a nice cool spot for growing Pinot Noir, and this wine shows it.  If you like the new trend in pinots almost tasting like syrah, don't drink this.  It's light, soft tannins and mild cherry flavor.  Not the most complex stuff, but nice length.  Not sure how available this is in stores, but it's worth a try.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Check out my friend's blog!

If you are looking for another blog to check out, please read my friend Amy's blog...

Not only is she insanely nice, she is far smarter and more well versed in the world of wine than me, that's for certain.  She a sommellier at A.O.C. (a fantastic wine bar/restaurant), a wine maker and wine sales person.  She knows stuff!  So look at her blog if you like mine. :)

Why I love the Northwest

This may surprise some readers, but there are some damn tasty wines coming out of the Northwest.  Washington and Oregon are quickly becoming leaders in producing great wine.  Tonight is no exception.  We are drinking a lovely 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon from Kennedy Shah (a part of Woodhouse Family Cellars.)  Rachel and I tried this wine just a few months ago in their tasting room located in Woodinville, WA (just outside of Seattle) and decided we needed a bottle and bought it there.  A few years ago, we were given a bottle of their signature wine "Darighe" which is fantastic, but runs $50 per bottle.  This was a bit more reasonable at about $32.  This is really solid juice - smooth, great length, not over-oaked and a reasonable 13.5% alcohol.   It's a little brighter and fruitier than some of the heavyweight cabs that come out of California.  Certainly there are other cabs out there which are tasty and cost less, but this is worth checking out if you are feeling like splurging.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Same wine maker as last night, new result

Well, I wasn't going to blog tonight, but we're drinking another Reilly's wine, this time with better results.  Reilly's Old Bushvine Grenache (2005) - about $12 from LA Wine Company.  Much nicer juice.  Pretty big nose and nice taste.  Smooth, a little spice, nice length, and a little residual sugar which makes it a teeny bit sweet at the end.  Pretty good stuff.  Typical high alcohol Aussie wine at 15%.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Aussie wine that barks?

Well, this one is is a bit of a head scratcher.  We tried one of the myriad of big, cleverly-named Australian wines, 2006 Reilly's Barking Mad Shiraz ($14 at Lincoln Fine Wines).  The nose was fairly typical Aussie shiraz - big, hot, juicy, dark, earthy.  And the taste was initially there, stewed fruit, spiciness and some significant acidity.  But then it sort of died and tastes kind of dirty and blah. However it was smooth.  Decanting it seemed to help significantly, but not make it something I would buy again.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Yummy New Zealand Pinot Noir

Oh, thank goodness.  Back to one of our reliable favorites, a great value pinot noir from New Zealand, Latitude 41.  Great stuff for about $17/bottle at Beverage Warehouse.  Smooth, bright acidity, some cherry and mushroom goodness in there.  A little sourness on the finish, but not off putting at all.  Hard to find a decent Pinot Noir under $20, but this is one to seek.  

And each bottle comes with a small stick!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

When mediocre wines attack

Well, this is not a good sign.  After finally deciding to start a wine blog, the first wine we (my wife Rachel and I) tried was so-so.  I went to one of my local wine shops (Lincoln Fine Wines) and asked if they carried Cono Sur, a wonderful Chilean Pinot Noir which, at $11, is one of the best values ever.  The man there recommended 
this wine, 2006 Alazan from Casablanca Valley, Chile.  At $25, it had better be good.  Not so much.  Great smelling stuff, but thin, watery and empty on the palate.  And a bit sharp on the finish.  I'll stick with the Cono Sur (available at K&L Wines for about $11/bottle.)