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.