Sunday, December 13, 2009

Shining Wine

This evening I grilled a marinated skirt steak and wanted a big wine that would hold up to it. So I selected a 2005 Shining Hill Columbia Valley Red Wine. $30 at LA Wine Co.

This is basically the 2nd label of Col Solare, the joint venture between Chateau St. Michelle of Washington and Marchesi Antinori of Tuscany. Col Solare is a wonderful wine, but priced a bit high for us (about $50), so we've only had it once. It is made the same as Col Solare, but basically using the 2nd tier grapes. As I understand it, they intend to release this vintage a year before the Col Solare is released. This first vintage, however, was released at the same time as the 2005.

Very bold wine. Made of 58% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Syrah, 3% Petit Verdot. Big stuff, kind of crushed my palate at first, but great balance. Big medium to dark fruit, a little bit of spice and cedar notes on the nose and at the end. Long finish, nice complexity.

Really good stuff - some decanting may have helped to soften it a bit. Have to have it again!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sinning with Sinskey

Toooooonight! A 2007 Robert Sinskey Pinot Noir Los Carneros. $34 at the Wine House. Crazy guess, but I bet the fruit comes from Carneros, the cool area of southern Napa great for growing Pinot Noir. Can't recall where we discovered Robert Sinskey Pinot Noir, but we have had it before and felt we needed to try it again.

To me, a wonderful balance of the flavors of "New World" Pinot Noir with the restraint of "Old World" Pinot Noir. Will not be confused with some of the bolder Oregon pinots. If you like big, bold, knock out wines, this is not for you. A nice balance of bright cherry and raspberry, spice and earthy flavors, none of them overdone. Silky mouth feel. Just a pleasure to drink. Not uber complex, but a lovely wine.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mo Salinas, Mo Betta

This evening, a 2006 Bodegas Salinas Mo Monastrell. $11 at LA Wine Company. A big wine which, at first, I thought was simple, but actually has some nice complexity. A mix of flavors: cherry, black pepper, licorice, blueberry and significant tannin. According to a little research, this wine is mostly Monastrell (which accounts for the tannin) as well as some Tintorera Garnacha (also known as Alicante) and some Cabernet Sauvignon. A solid wine, and probably a good example of this style from Spain for a good price, but not my favorite flavor profile.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

126? No. 127? No. 128? YES!

This evening we consumed a 2006 Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz. Penfolds makes a wide array of wines, with prices ranging from $8 to $300. Overall, they consistently make pretty dang good wine and are always rated well.

Way back in our early days of wine drinking, we discovered Bin 389, which at the time was $20 - now it's closer to $30. So, we've tried others, including this for about $18 at the Wine House.

100% Shiraz from lovely cool weather Coonawarra, Australia. Very solid wine. Not much to complain about. Lots of ripe medium and dark fruit berry flavors, a decent amount of oak, nice structure. Decanting may help soften it a bit. Simply good Shiraz!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Once Upon a Wine

Really nice wine tonight. A 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. Being lazy, but this is worth reading... from the LA Times...

"This Cabernet from Once Wines, which makes private-label wines for some of the country's top restaurants, is part of their Sommelier Series. In 2007, Daniel Johnnes, wine director for Daniel Boulud's restaurants, challenged the sommeliers in town for his annual "La Paulée de New York" tasting to blend a perfect, food-friendly Cabernet. This is the wine that scored highest with the judges: a master sommelier and two of the biggest names in Burgundy. Young, but accessible, it's velvety and bright, the fruit tightly woven into the structure. Barely kissed with oak, it is a blend of Cabernet with 18% Cab Franc and a wee bit of Petit Verdot (barely 4%)."

Yup. And the kicker is the Wine House has it for $15 - everywhere else I'm finding it lists it as an excellent wine when priced at $25-30. So, $15 is an insane price. I think we will buy more!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Fetish for Wine!

A new wine tonight... 2006 Fetish - The Watcher! Exotic, right? It has a nifty label and comes from Australia, the Barossa Valley to be exact. I've been a little suspect of the wines that come from Australia that have seemed to have spent more time on clever labels and names than on wine. But happily, this one happily contradicts that suspicion. And it comes from wine maker Rolf Binder (and Joshua Tree Imports) who has a reputation for making good wines.

This is Shiraz with great medium/dark berry flavors, cherry, black plums and sweet spices. A little tobacco. Good news is it doesn't finish as a palate whomper, as many of the Aussie reds do. Nice even, long finish. Very structured.

Rachel found this at Cost Plus for about $14, but it goes for much more at other wine shops, up to $23. Please drink and enjoy!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What Happened?

Yeah, I kinda stopped blogging for a while. Not sure why, but I guess I don't have the "write every day" gene. Sorry. My bad. The good news is I never stopped drinking. Hope you have been drinking lots of wine, too. Let me know if you had anything good.

Had a pretty dang tasty wine tonight, Seghesio 2005 Home Ranch Zinfandel. Many of you have probably heard of or had the normal Seghesio Zinfandel. It runs about $16-22 and is very good - I think it made Wine Spectator's top 10 last year and you can find it in many grocery stores. This is one of their prestige wines, runs about $30, I think. Super good Zin. Tastes like Zin should... big, powerful, but not a palate-whomping super fruit bomb like many of the popular Zins. Great quality fruit, very complex. 15.3% alcohol - tasted slightly alcoholic, but more like 14%. Super yummy for $30. If you can find it, grab some. Think I got this at The Wine House, but they carry it at K&L Wines too.

Rachel and I actually visited the Seghesio winery up in Healdsburg, CA in 2008. Very nice winery and they make a bunch of wines you rarely see. They weren't pouring this one, but fortunately I had tried it several years ago as part of a wine course.

Hope to be blogging again soon!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Alazan take 2

So, for my loyal followers, you may recall that my very first blog post was about a Chilean Pinot Noir called Alazan. And I didn't think it was very good.

Shortly after posting that, I was contacted by Courtney Kingston of Kingston Family Vineyards who makes Alazan. She asked if I'd give it another shot. Sure, why not, especially since they graciously offered to send another bottle. Only difference was that it was a 2007, not a 2006 as before. But they swore that it's really good stuff, and they actually supply Cono Sur, the best cheap pinot of all time ($8-11 per bottle) with some of their fruit.

Again, as a reminder, the 2006 was $25 and comes from Casablanca Valley in Chile. MSRP of the 2007 was $30, so probably the same price retail.

Well, this went MUCH better. As they suggested, I decanted it for about 4 hours; in their own tasting notes they say this wine is tight. A great smokey, intense nose. Taste had nice fruit, but not overwhelming, good length, a well constructed solid wine. None of the watery, thin character of the 2006 bottle. I'm hoping/guessing we had a bad bottle of the 2006, even though there were no obvious flaws. Weird.

So, thanks Courtney. You indeed make some very tasty pinot noir. Yay!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Post number 50!

When I get to post number 51, you can look back fondly and say you knew me way back in the day. Would have blogged sooner, but we've drunk nothing new lately.

Well, get ready for another biased blog. Tonight we drank a 2006 Hocus Pocus Pinot Noir, made by my friend Amy Christine and her man Peter ($25 at K&L Wines). Although I think they make their wines in the Santa Ynez area, they sourced the grapes from the Seven Springs vineyard in Willamette Valley, Oregon, one of our favorite areas for pinot noir, and a great vineyard.

This is good stuff, although it threw me at first. Initially it had a bit of a sweetness I didn't care for, mixed with some interesting smokiness. After letting it open up a bit and drinking it with dinner, it was quite nice. We paired it with marinated Ahi and some sauteed squash and red bell peppers. Pretty mellow stuff, very drinkable and low alcohol (12.5%). Nice effort.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Even More Washington Syrah

Tonight! From the Red Mountain area of Washington, a 2006 Efeste Ceidleigh Syrah. $25 at LA Wine Co, and $30-32 elsewhere. First of all, "Ceidleigh" is pronounced Kay-Lee. Second of all, 54% of the fruit in this is sourced from the Ciel du Cheval vineyard, which generally produces damn good stuff. And Wine Spectator (aka "wine speculator") gave this 93 points. If you care.

Very few wines I experimentally buy from LA Wine Co. disappoint, and this is no exception. Big, bold and tasty, however I thought a bit alcoholic. (At 15.2%, no shock there.) Quite a bit of spice, very juicy, and even a bit of a candied quality. Overall pretty dang good. Nice length. I'd like to see how this develops in about 5 years. Don't think I'd say 93 points, but good none the less.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Priorat, better than it sounds

So Priorat is a region in Spain that really has helped in Spain's resurgence into quality wines. It was a forgotten wine growing region that was rediscovered as recently as the early 90's (I hope I recall that correctly.) And, boy, am I happy they planted there. Very consistent wine out of that area. The wines shipped to the US are generally in the $35-80 range, so to find one for $17 was an exciting and rare thing. And this one once again proved why Priorat is a wonderful area for wine producing.

This was a 2006 Viticultors del Priorat Vega Escal ($17 at LA Wine Company). Blend of 60% Carignan, 30% Grenache, 10% Syrah - blends are normal for wines from Priorat. Really good stuff - lots of oomf, but not overwhelming. Nice darker fruit, with a nice amount of blueberry, which is common for Priorat wines. Very nice length and complexity.

We will definitely buy some more - really liked this stuff. If you can find it, grab it.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tamarack Syrah

For our Saturday evening wine, to pair with our ribs, we opened a 2002 Tamarack Cellars Columbia Valley Syrah, $22 at K&L Wines.

We LOVED the "Firehouse Red" blend they have (see previous blogs) and have basically made it our house wine. So, we figured this was worth a try.

And it was pretty good... nicely balanced... bold, but not overwhelming... paired with the ribs well... overall very nice. Great flavors and seemed to open up over time. Only complaints were that it didn't have a lot of length and wasn't super complex. Also, it didn't help Rachel's back, which is causing her much pain.

But Tamarack continues to impress. Yay Washington State wines!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Genuine Tasty

This evening we imbibed a 2005 Genuine Risk Cabernet Sauvignon. On sale for $18 at K&L Wines. I like the label lots. For full disclosure, this is made by my friend Amy Christine and her man Peter Hunken. But I will compliment it none-the-less. They also make a Syrah we like called Hocus Pocus.

Really nice Cabernet Sauvignon, and not at all typical of some of the other Santa Barbara wines I've had. Very balanced and low key. Still had some nice oomph, but not overwhelming. Went well with our steak, but drank well on it's own too. It was a little alcohol-y when I opened it, but settled down quickly.

Very nice. We have happy tongues and bellies now.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Another White!

First of all, it turns out Tony Franklin was the bass player on the first album by the awesome heavy metal band "Blue Murder." I totally got that wrong this evening.

Well it is rare that we both love a white wine, but this one is wonderful... and inexpensive. A 2007 Burgans Albarino, $11 at LA Wine Company, and I think widely available. Easy drinking, refreshing, wonderful acidity. From Rias Baixas, Spain. It is made in a town famous for seafood and this wine is made to pair seamlessly with it. It certainly would, but we drank it on it's own and it was quite nice on a hot July day.

Go buy this. Drink it. Tell me I'm wrong. Like I was about Tony Franklin.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hello Again, Hello

No, I'm not a Lionel Ritchie Fan. I was just saying hi.

Tonight, in this corner, with a total capacity of 750ml, is the 2006 Penley Estate Phoenix Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon. We drank this with a marinated tri-tip (thanks for inspiring us Sandy!) $15 at K&L Wines.

I've found many of the lower priced Aussie cabs and shirazes (anyone know the plural of shiraz?) are overdone and have residual sugar. This had none of that. A lovely wine - all of the great cab character and none of that "fakeness." Not the most complex stuff, but very good and easy to drink. The 15% alcohol was apparent on the nose, but not on the palate.

For those that care, this gets solid 90's by several major reviewers. Very much recommend you try it.

Sorry for the delay in blogging - you deserve better. I will make no promise that I will improve, but I will try. So there.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Are you Hungary...?

Mmmmm Tokaji.  Good lord, this stuff is good.  For those unfamiliar with Tokaji, it is a sweet white desert wine made in Tokaj, Hungary.  This stuff comes in variations of sweetness as indicated by the number of puttonyos - this one has 5.  I'm sure I will mess this up, but basically a puttonyo is a basket of concentrated rotting grapes (they use the Furmint grape to make this).  First they make base wine out of the Furmint grape - then they add a puttonyo of sweet, rotting grapes to a set amount of base wine - the more puttonyos, the sweeter it is - the scale is basically 1-6, 6 is highest.  The result is a wonderfully sweet and acidic wine with incredible honey flavors.

Since good tokaji is usually fairly expensive (this was $30 for a half bottle from Wine Library in New Jersey), I've only had maybe 6 different brands, all in the 5-6 puttonyos range - this one is outstanding - a 2001 Hetszolo.  Simply an excellent example of tokaji.  Balanced, loads of honey, not sickeningly sweet (which was the problem with the last one I bought) - just wonderful.  You must try this once in your life.

Just found this on the K&L Wines website, where they also sell it for $30 a bottle...With a stunning 120 g/l of residual sugar (minimum), this original dessert wine was made according to tradition, harvesting only starts after 28th October, and may last until the first snows, so as to allow the botrytis cinerea (noble rot) to develop and to obtain the maximum concentration of grape must. When the grape must concentration is sufficient, the grapes with noble rot are separately harvested. The Aszú grapes are manually harvested one by one, and maceration takes place with the grape must. Next fermentation takes place in barrels for one and a half to two months. The white wine is then aged for three years in oak barrels stored in underground cellars at constant temperature (12° to 13° C) and humidity. This long ageing process gives the wine its complex and inimitable bouquet.

Monday, June 15, 2009

2006 ZD Pinot Noir

Sorry for the lazy blog title - they can't all be gold.

Tonight, we downed a lovely bottle of ZD Pinot Noir.  We actually visited ZD about 5 years ago while up in Napa.  We loved their cabernet sauvignon; even bought a bottle even though it was in the $40 range (a fortune for us back then.)  The pinot is listed as from Carneros, one of the better Pinot growing areas in California.

This is a very good pinot noir, especially at $27 from Lincoln Fine Wines.  Doing a quick web search, the price ranges from $22 (outrageously low! I'll have to check into to $49.  Huge range.  Excellent quality, certainly worth the money.  Great fruit, great balance, nice acidity.  Really solid.  If you can find this - try it.  You will like it.  Just damn good California Pinot Noir.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Domaine Yum

Tonight we returned to Oregon, drinking yet another yummy Pinot Noir.  Seems like they can do no wrong in Oregon.  We had a 2006 Domaine Serene Yamhill Cuvee Pinot Noir.  $26 at LA Wine Company.  Normally, it seems that pinots from Domaine Serene are always top quality and fetch top dollar - $40 on up.  This was an excellent pinot noir, certainly worthy of the $26 price.  Great fruit, very lush and wonderful.  Don't tell them, but I think they could get more money for this wine..... 

So, with that thought, I just hopped on to the web - looks like they underpriced this - most everywhere else has this for $38+  -- love LA Wine Co!  Now we're gonna buy more!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tonight, we are having a 2006 Chappellet Mountain Cuvee from Napa Valley. Chappellet is known for having pretty good 
Cabernet Sauvignon, and this has 51% Cab... as well as 40% Merlot, 7% Malbec, 1% Cab Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Seems like 
the price varies, anywhere from $20-30 - I paid $28 at Lincoln fine wines this time. Really excellent blend - great quality - 
enough Cab that it went well with our steak, but balanced enough that it could be drunk easily on it's own. For those that 
might be a bit frightened of the $50+ bottles of Cab, this is a nice alternative.  We have had this many times before and have 
never been disappointed. Better than last night's blend in my opinion, but $13 better? Who can say?

Perhaps in a day or two, I will blog about the Tokaji we had as a dessert wine...

Sorry if this post looks odd - was having a problem with the settings...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Many apologies... but there is wine!

So what I feared most happened.  I was afraid that blogging would turn into too much work.  And it did, because I made it that way.  So sorry to abandon you all.  Enough of that.  Wine is good.  Wine is tasty.  Mostly, wine is fun!  So back to having fun!  Ok?  Ok. 

Let's dive right back in with a stable, solid nice blend for $15 at LA Wine Company.  2007 Tamarack Cellars Firehouse Red.  From multiple vineyards in Washington State (one of my favorite regions).  A blend of (get a pen) 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Syrah, 16% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 7% Malbec, 5% Sangiovese, 1& Carmenere and 1% Petit Verdot.  Now THAT is a blend.  But it has the two things that make me think it is a good blend, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot.

And it is.  For $15, it's a very solid wine.  Very nice blend.  Great balance, but not dull, which sometimes happens with the multi blends.  Great dark fruits, a bit of spice, nice acidity, just damn fine juice for $15 (looks like $18 at K&L Wines, so that is a great price.)  If this was from Napa, it'd be a $35 blend.  Buy this.  You will like it.  Or I will buy it from you.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bangin Red.... no, really, that's the name!

Tonight we tried a wine that I received as a gift at Christmas, a 2006 Bangin Red.  A nice blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 8% Malbec, 6% Petit Verdot, 5% Merlot, 2% Zinfandel.  Yikes.  That's an odd mixed bag of stuff.

Well, the wine was a nice everyday drinker.  The blend managed to make it drinkable, however a bit benign.  Nothing bad at all, but nothing memorable.  The cab was definitely dominant - the mix is intriguing, but almost seems like to good aspects of in each grape cancel each other out.  Easy drinking, nice flavors, a good value, if it goes for about $10-12, which is what I'm guessing it is.  If the givers are reading this, great choice!  And thanks!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A doubleshot of tasty

Yeah, Saturday night and we have two wines!  And we made fondue!  It was a good night.

First was a 2000 "L'Ermitage" Brut by Roederer Estate, sparkling wine from Anderson Valley.  This is one of Roederer's signature wines, a dry, fruity, balanced blend of 53% Chardonnay, 47% Pinot Noir, and 3.5% "aged reserve."  I don't know what "aged reserve is, nor do I know where the other .5% went to.  Hopefully my belly.  We bought this thinking we'd drink it this past New Years Eve, but did not have a chance.  About $41 from our local Pavillion's supermarket - have seen it from $38-$50 since.  Why they call it "L'Ermitage" I do not know - seems like they are trying to invoke the name of "L'Hermitage," a wine from the Northern Rhone made from the Marsanne and Rousanne grapes having nothing to do with sparking wine.  Weird.

Anyhow, it was a lovely start to our evening.  A tasty sparkly wine - very fruity and crisp and dry.  It didn't have that yeasty, creamy, biscuity character of some of the Champagnes. I must admit, I personally prefer this style.   Is it worth $40?  That could be debated, but it's pretty darn good.

Second up was a 2005 Newton Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon.  Wow!  We had the pleasure of imbibing this about 6 months ago at Capital Grill in Seattle with Rachel's mom and "stepfather."  (They aren't married on paper, but...)  And then we got a bottle from them at Christmas!  Yay!

Well, tonight was the night to retry this and it did not disappoint.  If you care, Parker gave it a 92.  So insanely yummy.  Great big flavors countered with nice amounts of oak and leather, yet not an oak bomb.  Nice length, great balance.  Just damn good Cab from Napa.  Anyone who thinks Napa Cab is overdone and over-oaked should try this.  It's damn good.  About $40-50.

This is "unfiltered" but don't be nervous - some wine folks feel that filtering removes some wonderful flavors from the wine - there minimal to no sediment - it's just darker and more opaque than some wines.  And in the Parker review I read that "the proprietress Su Hua Newton declassified the 2003 and 2004 vintages, as she was not happy with them."  I guess she takes this wine stuff seriously.  Glad she does so I can have fun!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How do I pronounce the name of this wine?

Seriously, I simply don't know.  I will issue an official "attaboy" or "attagirl" to whomever can tell me.  Ready?  The name is Jarrarte.  Tricky, because it's from Spain and they do funny things with "J's."  

Tonight's wine is a 2003 Jarrarte Rioja.  Found this about a year ago at Sepulveda Wine Company for about $10 a bottle.  We loved it and quickly drank through it; Rachel had to dig the internet to find it elsewhere for about $15 a bottle.  We liked it so much, we paid the extra money and thus we have some tonight.  No info on the label, so I had to do a little research which proved to be tricky.  Listed on the back is the name "Jorge Ordonez" - nothing came up about him.  In small print on the front was "Bodega Abel Mendoza" which is the actual producer of the wine - that yielded some surprising results.  I found this wine online for as much as $32!  Since I bought it for $10 originally, I feel pretty smart.  That is if this is the same wine... I found another wine with the same name, same producer, different label.  I think it may be the same wine but a "joven" (young) version.  Gotta love wine - wonderful as it is confusing.

Between the taste and reading online, seems like it's Tempranillo, I think.  Again, couldn't find information that made me certain.  Really easy drinking wine, but has some nice depth to it.  Lots of earth and dark cherry on the nose, even a bit musty, in a good way.  Taste has more of the same and some spice.  Nice finish - really polished.  Boy we like this stuff.  I doubt we'd buy it for $30 since we don't often drink wines at that price, but it's pretty darn good.

Monday, March 9, 2009

.......annnnnnnnd we are back.

Sorry for the horrendous gap in blogging. Have no fear though... even though no blogging occurred, we continued to drink wine.

Let's get right back to it.  We return to Spain, specifically to Campo de Borea. Tonight, we are imbibing a 2007 Masia D Bielsa Garnacha Vinas Viejas (grenache old vines).  For the life of me, I can't recall where I bought this, but according to the interweb thingy, it goes for about $12 or so.  On the label, this wine is listed as "joven" which means it was bottled the year after the vintage (which mean it may or may not have been put in oak barrels) and is meant to be drunk young, within a few years of release.  Can you tell I'm back in wine class?

The color is super purple - nose has a bit of spice and medium dark fruit - think I smell a little oak.  The taste is quite nice even if it is fairly one dimensional.  That intense berry fruit which is fairly typical of the Spanish garnachas.  Kind of a yucky finish - a bit sour and what my mouth thinks in tannic, but can't be - this wine probably didn't get much oak and it's grenache, which is not too tannic.  Nothing too special or unique but OK juice for $12 (if that's what I paid).

Now get out there and drink!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sex sells wine

Tonight, we are trying a 2007 Menage a Trois made by Folie a Deux ($7.50 at LA Wine Company.)  The trois refers to the three grapes in the blend, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  If I recall correctly, the winery is located in Napa near Sterling and their awesome sky tram.  Although the exact blend is not indicated, I'm guessing it's dominated by Zinfandel.

This wine is good for the price.  Nice fruit, good flavor, basic fermented grape juice.  Basically balanced and easy drinking.  The addition of Merlot and Cab probably saves this wine - it is still very much on the sweet side.  A bit too sweet for us, but still drinkable.  It's been a while since I drank Yellowtail, but it reminds me of that, although this is certainly higher quality.

I guess an OK weeknight wine, although we have no plans to buy it again.  There is simply much better wine for a few bucks more.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Newton's Law of Wine?

Tonight is... 2005 Newton Napa Valley Claret; the blend is Cabernet Sauvignon 47%, Merlot 41%, Cabernet Franc 4%, Petit Verdot 4%,  Syrah 4%.  FYI, claret is basically another word for Bordeaux blend (a blend dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.)  I think it was around $19 - don't recall where I got it.

Decided we should try this after loving their 2005 Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon, which was outstanding, but is more in the $50 range.

Solid wine - nice blend - all the right grapes, that's for sure.  Big and bold, but not a palate crusher.  A bit musty and earthy on the nose.  But very easy to drink. Medium finish.  Dark fruit and earthy with a little hint of spice.  A fairly typical Napa blend.  Good tannin, but again, not overwhelming.  Really solid wine, but missing that "wow" factor.  But good!  Oh wine, why do you confuse me so.

Friday, February 13, 2009

This evening, we sampled another pinot from New Zealand.  A 2007 Sherwood Estate Pinot Noir from Marlborough, New Zealand ($15 at K&L Wines)

Very nice weeknight wine.  Nothing special; not amazing, but not bad.  Soft and round, light cherry flavor.  A little tight - almost an unripe fruit character to it - a bit green.

For $15 it's OK, but I'd rather pay a few extra bucks for better juice.

note: this is a re-post - for some reason the first post was deleted.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Proof we drink white wine

Holy cow!  A white wine!  Gasp!

Well, this is not a new one to us, but it is a new vintage, and I had to share it with you.  Tonight we had a 2007 Weingut Reuscher-Haart Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett ($20 at Beverage Warehouse).  That's a mouthful.  I originally had this in a wine class and fell in love with it.  It actually started my love and appreciation of riesling.  If you are wondering, all those German words mean it is a 2007 vintage wine, made and produced by Reuscher-Haart, made from riesling from the Goldtropfchen vineyard (which is an outstanding vineyard located in Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) in the region of Piesport, Germany.  "Kabinett" refers to the level of sugar; in this case it's very low.  And it's low in alcohol at 8.5%, which is normal.

Anyhow, this wine is so amazing!  We last had the 2005 vintage and this is almost as good - this was a bit less acidic and bright - but still damn good.  Over the last few years, we've probably tried at least 20 different Kabinett level German rieslings, and this is still one of our tops.  High acidity makes it super crisp, great minerals, lime, apple, super refreshing - great to get your taste buds ready for dinner.  We had it with some Spanish goat cheese called Leonora - very tasty.  Anyhow, this is a wonderful riesling, wonderful fruit but not sickly sweet.  If you can find it, grab it.

By the way, just found this on an educational website - not sure is Reinhold Haart has anything to do with Reuscher Haart, but still interesting:

The best vineyard in Piesport is the Piesporter Goldtröpfchen. But there are over 350 different estates making wine from the Piesporter Goldtröpfchen vineyard. So if you want the best, you have to look for the wines of Reinhold Haart. His wines which are made from the best portions of the Piesporter Goldtröpfchen vineyard, and vinified to perfection and earn high scores every vintage.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

When DeRose is not a rose

OK, another short blog tonight.  We drank a 2006 DeRose Zinfandel ($23 at Wine House) - the label claims it is "Dryfarmed Old Vines."  I do like seeing old vines on a label - usually a good sign, but I don't think the term is technically regulated.

We discovered DeRose at a now closed steakhouse - they make a great wine from Negrette grapes - it's insane stuff - I have a bottle of that around and someday will blog about it.  This stuff is big - 16.2% alcohol.  Anyhow, I couldn't describe this wine any better than the folks at The Wine Exchange, so they can do it for me :) 

"Sometimes their stuff can be a little over the top.  But this one, even though it packs a pretty good octane, reins in the ripeness to the degree that you get the lush, plump, spicy, peppery red fruits, but it stops short of being porty.  The end result is delicious, character-filled, very zinny Zinfandel with plenty of stuffing and no pretense, right down to the price."

Yup. Done and done.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bio-dynamic Carignan

Not a big blog tonight, but had to mention this one.  2006 Ferrer Ribiere Empreinte du Temps Carignan Cotes Catalanes.  And I didn't even type all the fancy words on the bottle.  No wonder Americans are intimidated by French wine.  This was another purchase from the restaurant/wine shop Palate.  I think around $16.

100% Carignan and very good, apparently from 129 year old vines.  Very lush, big fruit, blueberry especially.  A little earth and spice.  Long finish.  Really nice.  Not oaky at all, but had nice tannin.  Took some time for Rachel to get used to the intense blueberry flavor, but she also recognized it was good stuff.  This would be a great complement if paired with the right food, not that I know what that is.

Monday, February 2, 2009

G5 is not a jet

Tonight, we return to what seems to be our favorite place, Spain.  The wine is a 2007 Vinos Sin Ley G5 from Madrid ($12 from LA Wine Co.)  Poking around online, I found this on the website for the wines importer (

"Vinos Sin-Ley “Wines Without Law”in translation.  The twofold objective of Vinos Sin-Ley is to create “new wines” that are value oriented.  The concept, driven by creative innovation using non-conventional methods of harvesting, fermenting, blending, ageing and labeling, results with wines processing new 

fresh fruit driven flavors that are different from those achieved in the past. Composed of a group of young winemakers from different regions in Spain, the wines crafted at Vinos Sin-Ley are value oriented, driven by experimentation and innovative insight shared by their philosophy. They meet twice ayear to set in place new 

projects of mutual interest and shared knowledge of the winemaking techniques implemented."

This bottle is kind of cool - it has a bunch of info on the back of the label about the grape (100% grenache), the soil, the climate, the vine... all kinds of good stuff - I wish all bottles were like this. Hopefully you can check out the posted photo.

Most importantly, this is a tasty wine.  A nice bright fruit component (cherry, raspberry) but none of the sugary fruit you get with some of the Aussie wines.  Nice length.  The word savory seems to apply here.  Not over oaked.  Big alcohol (14.5%), but it didn't taste like it.  For some reason, it reminded me of a beaujolais - lots of fruit and almost no oak.

Definitely try this if you get a chance.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Argentinean Clos

Although I was apprehensive, I really liked this one.  Tonight's wine is a 2007 Clos de los Siete, a blend of Malbec (48%) Merlot (28%) Cabernet Sauvignon (12%) and Syrah (12%) from Argentina ($15 at LA Wine Company - I also saw it for $16 at Beverage Warehouse).  According to the label, Clos de los Siete is an "oasis comprised of seven vineyards in the foothills of the Andes, south of Mendoza."

I was apprehensive because this wine has been heavily advertised lately in several of the places I buy wine - obviously, it was recently released and they have a big marketing push.  Seems, very often, these wines are over-hyped.  Not true in this case.

This wine is really nice - totally in the flavor profile we love.  Dark color (it's young)- medium to dark fruit on the nose, a little oak and spice.  Taste is very dry, dark fruit, a little spice, medium acidity, medium to heavy tannin (but not obnoxious to me), well balanced - simply very pleasing.  14.5% alcohol, but I didn't peg it that high.

Scores I've seen go from 89-91.  Various places I've looked say it is "tightly wound" - perhaps, but it is very drinkable now, surprising for a 2007.  Highly recommend this one.  The more I drink it, the more I like it.  Yay!  And I like the label - what do you think?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Just Added - An Email Tool

If you like this blog, be sure to enter your email in the new "subscribe via email" feature.  You will get an email containing the latest blog sent right to your very own computer.  What an amazing technological advance.  

I swear I liked this wine before...

So, sometime last year, I tried this wine.  It was mentioned on a conversation thread about wines people liked priced under $10.  I found it at Beverages and More for $10.  Drank it, liked it.  Even bought some for my parents who also liked it.

Cut to: today.  I'm at Target and I see this wine.  "Wow - that's surprising," I think.  Didn't know it was such a high production wine that it could supply Target.  Weird.  So, I buy two bottles at $11 each and take them home.  I thought it was kind of cool that I was buying wine at Target, especially one I knew I liked.

Well... I don't think I'll be buying wine at Target again anytime soon.  The wine in question is a 2006 Red Guitar from Navarra, a blend of Tempranillo (55%) and Garnacha [aka Granache] (45%).  Not sure what happened in the past year and a half, but this wine is a mess to my palate.  When we first opened it, there was a benign nose - nothing weird - dark fruit and some smoke.  But the taste was disjointed - earth and tobacco with some cherry, a sour finish.  The worst part was the residual sugar which made it pretty awful.  OK, maybe it needs to breathe.  

Five hours later in a decanter, it's not improved.  Same problems.  A bit more mellow, but not tasty to me.  The sugar component is just completely off-putting to me.  Maybe this is a bad bottle, but it has none of the signs of it being flawed.  Rachel had the same reaction.  

I checked around and this wine gets pretty good scores and is well liked.  I don't know.  Maybe they've had to increase production and, as a result, reduce quality?  Totally a guess.  Perhaps the previous vintage I had was better.  It's a head scratcher.  But definitely not a wine for me.  So, if anyone needs a bottle, I have a spare.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Return of the King

Yeah, I just had to dork out a bit there - a little Lord of the Rings reference for my geek readers.  Tonight we tried the 2007 King's Ridge Pinot Noir.  $13 at the LA Wine Company.  A while back I reviewed the Cab/Syrah blend which was not fantastic.  But, in doing a little poking around on the web, I had learned that the pinot noir was the best liked of their wines.

Again, this is from Oregon, which is one of the new outstanding places for pinot noir - the soil and weather are great for it.  Unfortunately, they know it and charge big bucks for the good stuff like Beaux Freres, Domaine Serene and Dusky Goose, all in the $40-60 range.  Grapes in this one come from Willamette Valley and Umpqua Valley.

Well, for $13, this stuff is pretty good.  Not amazing, but a good QPR.  It's hard to find good, inexpensive pinot noir, but this I would recommend.  Nice nose - good fruit - a bit deeper than French pinot, which is typical of Oregon.  Nice flavor - sour cherry, a bit floral, light body.  Nice acidity, well balanced.  A little bit sour on the finish - almost like some of the stems got in there.  13.75% alcohol.  This is a good inexpensive example of Oregon pinot noir.  A solid wine - a good week night wine.

Monday, January 19, 2009

An upcoming event - RSVP ASAP!

So I got an invite to an event this Monday, January 26 from 5:30–8:00 p.m. at the Makai Lounge ( in Santa Monica.  And I was told to invite my readers.  That's you!  It's hosted by Alison Sokol Blosser of Sokel Blosser Wines - I've had their Pinot Noir and it's very tasty.


Sokol Blosser Winery has a long history in Oregon (there were only five or six wineries in the Willamette Valley when they started in the early '70s!). Alison is part of a second-generation that is now leading the winery.  She will be offering her perspective on organic and sustainable viticulture, Pinot Noir in Oregon, fun blends like Evolution and Meditrina and anything else you and the other guests are interested in chatting about. 


An RSVP is required by Tuesday, January 20 --  contact or call (707) 251-9818.

So come on out!  Hope to see you there.


And even more shiraz

This evening was another visit to Australia.  We are drinking a 2005 Heartland Shiraz, $14 at the Wine House.  Heartland makes another wine we often drink (but haven't blogged about) called Stickleback - it's a tasty wine for about $10.  Someday, I'll blog on that one.  Anyhow, Heartland is made by Ben Glaetzer, a well known wine producer in Australia who makes wines like the well respected AMON-Ra.  This wine comes from the Limestone coast and Langhorne Creek in South Australia and is 100% Shiraz.

Well, it's another solid wine, somewhere in taste to last night's Cape Barren GSM blend and the prior d'Arenberg d'Arry's Original.  The nose is nice; dark fruit and oak (I feel like I've said oak a lot lately - hopefully I'm not getting too stuck on that.)  Very dark color, taste is fairly dry, lush and bright fruit (which contrasted the nose) with some spice on the finish.  A smooth, well balanced wine - medium tannins.  Often these types of wines are so fruit forward that I mistake it for sugar, which I'm not crazy about, but this one ain't bad.

And I just checked, this got a 90 from Steven Tanzer at IWC, in case you care.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

GSM Tastyness

Tonight's wine is a 2005 Cape Barren GSM (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre) from the McLaren Vale of Australia.  Wow, what a huge difference between this and the last wine from the McLaren Vale, the d'Arenberg (see last post.)  Obviously, this is a blend, but it still is a much more tasty.  Although, this wasn't an amazing wine, it was a really solid effort.  I'm always curious what the "critics" say about wines - I make an effort to try the wine, make my decision about what I think, then see what they say.  This wine got 90-91 scores - pretty solid scores.  Especially at $13 at the Wine House.  And looking it up told me it was 50% grenache, 40% syrah, 10% mourvedre.

Not the normal blow-your-nose-off stewed fruit of many Aussie wines.  Nice dark fruit, although there is quite a bit of oak and vanilla on the nose, but not overwhelming.  Also get the oak on the palate, but it's not obnoxious at all.  Very dry, which I like.  Well balanced.  Good dark fruit. Medium tannins.  Overall, very nice.  Very much recommend. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

d'Arenberg Dud

Tonight's  wine is a 2005 d'Arenberg d'Arry's Original Shiraz (50%) Grenache (50%) blend from the McLaren Vale of Australia.  From LA Wine Company for $12.  Now, d'Arenberg is a major Australian wine maker, making plenty of wines in a wide range of prices.  Their most famous (and pricey) is The Dead Arm, which we've never had, but have two bottles sitting in our wine closet.  Some day...

Well, I guess we disagree with the critics on this one because this wine got 88-89 points from major reviewers, pretty good scores.  Nothing is essentially wrong with this wine, but the fruit is just too fruit-juicy for our palates.  Nose is pleasant - nice dark fruit, oak and vanilla.  But the taste is very bright fruit, so much so, that it feels a bit overdone.  I've heard of people calling some wines "fake" when talking about the fruit; I don't think this wine is doing that, but I can't think of quite the right description.  It's not quite a fruit bomb, but it's pretty darn strong.  If you like big wines, you will like this wine.  Balance is good - smooth, no strangeness on the finish, short to medium finish.  But wine is about what you like, and we just aren't fans of this style.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

To Portugal via Oregon

Tonight, we return to Portugal, with a 2006 Restoration Old Vine Red, from the Alentejano Region of Portugal, a new area to me.  To paraphrase their website, it is produced from three traditional “old world” grape varieties: Tina Roriz (aka Tempranillo) gives bright fruit and structure, Trincadeira Preta supplies beautiful aromas, and Alicante Bouschet (an offspring of Grenache) gives tannin and backbone.  This was another grab at Cost Plus for $10.

Well, this turned out to be a pretty darn good wine.  It surprisingly tasted like some of the quality pinot noir coming out of Oregon.  A wonderful mix of berry and bright fruit along with hint of old world earth.  Light to medium body with a miner-ally finish - really nice acidity.  Medium to long finish.  Very approachable and easy drinking.  No need to decant.  Will absolutely buy it again.  Yay!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Douro Dance

During a recent visit to Cost Plus, I just grabbed some various wines that seemed interesting.  One of them was a 2005 Aveleda Charamba red wine from the Duoro region of Portugal.  According to the label, "charamba" is the traditional Portuguese dance from the 19th century.

At $5.99, I wasn't sure what to expect.  Good wine comes from the Douro and it's thought of as one of the next great areas for wine.  It's the region where port wine comes from and this wine is made from the same varietals (Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cao, Tinta Roriz [aka Tempranillo], Touriga Francesca and Touriga Nacional,) although I couldn't find which ones and in what quantities.

Well, it ain't bad... nice fruit, a little tobacco and earth, pepper, medium bodied, pretty heavy tannins.  A tiny bit sour and bitter on the finish, which is short.  If you are curious what many wines from this region taste like, this has the traditional flavors of Douro table wine.  We didn't decant this - it was a little tight, so I guess it may have changed it a little.  I would say it has a good QPR (Quality Price Ratio) but we weren't crazy for it.  May have to buy a second bottle and decant it for four hours to see the difference.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Bear from France

Ok, the winter break is over.  Back to work... and, more importantly, wine!

Tonight's wine is from France, specifically from Minervois.  We got this in a relatively new restaurant/wine bar in Glendale called Palate.  They have a wonderful tapas menu with some great wines. Great food and an excellent wine list with a broad range of types and prices.  Only complaints would be smaller portions than I'd like for the prices, and an odd decor.  After dinner, we wandered into the wine shop/wine bar in the back which is a whole different world where they sell many of the wines on their menu.  Next time, I'd like to spend all our time back there.

Anyhow, one of the wines we got from the wine shop was a 2006 Luc Lapeyre Minervois called "L'Amourier", a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre.  Couldn't find any info about the blend percentages on the web.  According to Silverlake Wines, the wine maker is called "The Bear."  Apparently, Luc "The Bear" Lapeyre lives and makes wine in Minervois, a small appelation in the Languedoc region of France.  As I write this, the palate website is down so I don't recall how much I paid, but at Silverlake, they list it at $16.50 - That sounds about right.

Our overall impression was... ok.  Very soft wine.  Not a big, smack you in the mouth blend.  It was much better with food, as is the norm with french wines.  It had a mild version of the earthy syrah funk which I've noticed in hot weather syrahs.  Soft tannin, silky, medium length.  Nothing wrong with it but didn't excite us.

Happy New Year to y'all!  I promise to drink and post more now that the holidays are over.