Monday, April 25, 2011

2007 Heavyweight Red - A fun Bordeaux blend!

Ok, I'll have to admit I opened this one yesterday, but am enjoying a glass tonight.  You know I love wines with fun labels or quirky names, so what better wine than the "Heavyweight Red"?  This one is quirky and it has a fun label with the "champs" Giant Jess and Bob the Bruiser about to square off.  This one bills itself as a "luscious, big-tasting red" and it lives up to the promise.  A blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% syrah and 10% Zinfandel hailing from Lodi, Calif., this wine is big and luscious!

The nose of this wine gives an impression of leather and canvas, not unlike the mat you might be going down on after a slug from Bob the Bruiser, but then it gives way to hints of black cherry and ripe fruit.  The taste is fruit forward as the playfulness of a Lodi zin softens the hard California Cab exterior.  The smooth taste dances on your palette and ends the party with a long, graceful finish.  This wine would feel at home with a variety of dishes, from grilled steaks to kielbasa and pierogis (guess what's for dinner!), or just relaxing on the patio of a cool spring evening.  This one was also a wonderful bargain as I picked up a bottle locally for just $10.99!  Overally, I like the quality, especially at the price, so I'd rate this one a comfortably 7.5, enjoy!

Friday, April 22, 2011

2007 Ancient Peaks Cabernet

What a wonderful day off, wish it could last a week, but alas work calls!  Today I tried a nice bottle of 2007 Anceint Peaks Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles.  Now normally, I really like the Zins from Paso Robles, and seldom have I tried the Cabs, but this one was very nice.

It was quote fruity, with a nose of blackberry, cherry and black currant, and a taste that reminded me of some of the finer cabs from Napa Valley.  The taste was refined, with hints of berry, leather and tobacco, and a long, smooth finish.  Overall, a very pleasant wine, particularly given the price at just $14.  I had this one tonight with a halibut steak (it's amazing how little halibut resembles fish!), baked potato and some fresh steamed asparagus.  Such a wonderful meal, and a wine that I continue to enjoy even after the meal.  Overall, I would rate this one a solid 7.5, it's not spectacular, but for the price it's a nice everyday wine.  Salut!

Monday, April 18, 2011

2006 Nipozzano Riserva Chianti Rufina

Ahhh, a long day at work with another long one set for tomorrow, so tonight I relax with a nice glass of Chianti!  Tonight's selection was from my office wine club, a nice Chianti Rufina from an estate that traces its roots back to the 11th century, Castello di Nipozzano.  Not to be confused with the standard Chianti Classico, the Chianti Rufina comes from the furthest corner of the Chianti DOCG, perched almost as a separate addition to the northeast corner of the Chianti region, just to the east of Florence.  Blessed with a distinct soil and climate from the broader region, along with long, warm and dry summers creates a distinctive taste to this wine.

Given this background, it's not surprising that this wine exhibits much different characteristics than its dry Sangiovese cousins.  With a rich ruby color, the wine exhibits a nose of earth, leather and spicy oak, offering a preview of its structured tannins, coupled with a hint of black cherry suggesting an interesting balance in taste.  The wine has wonderful flavors of rich fruit, with rich berries, with with a tangy zest of acidity that offers an amazing balance.  This one can really get you going, thinking it's going to be a sweet fruity wine, but then in the end it snaps you back in a completely different direction!  As for food pairings, this would go wonderfully with a classic zuppa Toscana, or the classic fagioli, beans on Tuscan toast, and especially a wonderfully grilled steak, a favorite throughout Tuscany!  Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, only because it's a bit on the expensive side at $17, but still a wondefuly wine to end the day!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

2009 Chateau Sauman Côtes de Bourg

Ahhh...a rainy April Saturday afternoon, a perfect opportunity to uncork a bottle of wine and enjoy the taste of summers gone by! Today I've decided to open a bottle of 2009 Chateau Sauman Côtes de Bourg to capture the taste of the Gironde in the midst of wet grayness.  Well as any wine fan knows, the 2009 vintage of Bordeaux is being celebrated as the best vintage to come along since time immemorial, okay, maybe I exaggerate, but I've heard folks say it surpasses the wonderful 2005 vintage, and is probably the best in the last three decades at least.  All of this may be true, but you know I am only a novice really, and my experience with Bordeaux is that it often takes years or even decades to know the true quality and potential of the finest wines of the region.  Heck, you can't even buy a Margaux two years after the vintage!  So to me it seems just a bit premature for this 2-year-old vintage to be declared the best in a generation.  Call me old fashioned, but I'd at least like to try a few bottles before I declare such stupendous things!

So today I have a bottle of wonder vintage, and for those who know, the Côtes de Bourg is certainly one of the earliest wines to mature, being primarily based on Merlot, with blends of small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (and even occasionally some Malbec), but certainly not like the blends based predominantly on Cabernet which take several more years to mature.  But given the nature of the wine, it seemed like a good candidate to get an early taste of the wunderkind vintage.  And I must admit, it's pretty darn good!  The wine is definitely still quite young and could benefit from a few more years in the cellar, but it's still drinking quite well now.  The wine itself is a rich garnet color, with a scent of leather, cedar and earth.  The wine itself is quite dry, like a good Bordeaux soldier should be, and it has delicate tastes of berry and a hint of cassis.  This wine would go well with the usual red meats (a nice rare ribeye might fit the bill), but I think it would also accent a variety of seafood dishes given that the small town of Bourg-sur-Gironde where this wine originates has been home to fishermen, sailors and winemakers for the better part of two millenia!

I picked up a bottle of this wine on the recommendation of a colleague who I happened to bump into at our favorite wine merchant, G.B. Russo's and Sons.  Bob mentioned that it could benefit from some aging but was drinking well right now, and right he was.  Overall, I would rate this one a solid 7 with the chance to go higher as the years go by, and since I bought this bottle for only $9.99 it's a tremendous value!  So if you happen to come across it where you live, I highly recommend picking up a bottle!

Monday, April 11, 2011

2006 Riscal Tempranillo

What a long and busy day!  I came home and thought about opening a good bottle of wine, but it's only Monday!  If my life is this hard already this week I'd be drinking gasoline by the weekend...on second thought, good wine is now cheaper than gasoline!  Instead I've opened up one of my bargain bottles from a few weeks ago so I can save money to drive to work next week, and this one is a very nice 2006 Riscal Tempranillo from Spain.  It's quite light, with a rich red color, though not as opaque as some heartier reds.  As you raise the glass to your mouth, you notice a distinct aroma of leather, cedar and tobacco, but then the taste is rather unexpected.  Quite dry, with hints of cherry, blackberry and licorice with a rather light feel, perfect for a warm spring evening after a long day.  I'm enjoying this with some nice Italian cheese and the lightness of the wine is a sharp contract to the flavors or parmesan and asiago, perhaps a study in contradictions!

Although this wine is certainly not a big bold cab or anything like some of the finer reds of Bordeaux or Italy, it's really nice, expecially considering the value.  I purchased a few bottles of this wine on close out at my local wine merchant (and all around awesome Italian store) G.B. Russo's for the unbelieveable price of just $3.49 per bottle!  The wine does have a screw cap, which is good for some demerits, but really, how could I complain?  For all this, I would rate this wine a solid 6.  Salut!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

2005 Château La Tour de Bessan Margaux's been a stressful week, and today I am just in a foul mood, but it's 4 o'clock and time to relax with a glass of wine.  To treat myself today, I decided to take myself back to France, and enjoy "Printemps à Paris," imagining myself back in the warm breeze enjoying a glass of fine bordeaux at a sidewalk cafe overlooking the Eiffel Tower.  And to do that without dealing with the morons from the TSA, I have to just open a nice bottle of Margaux, this one from the exceptional 2005 vintage from Château La Tour de Bessan.  Arguably, Margaux is the king of bordeaux, and it is really the most elegant and complex wine of the Médoc (and when I was first introduced to fine red wines on my first visit to France, the Haut Médoc was a personal favorite). 

This wine certainly does not disappoint!  It's still quite young (6 years old is merely a babe when it comes to Margaux, and this one will age nicely for the next 20 years), and aleady it's very dry.  In the nose it has a wondeful hint of leather and earth with the faintest hint of cassis.  It has a lightness, yet a rich, velvelty mouthfeel, with a taste of spice that really lets the gravelly terroir of margaux shine through.  With every sip, the wine exhibits more complexity, with a long, smooth finish.  In my mind, this wine would complement almost any meal, as it does not over power, but simply expresses itself in an understated way as only a fine bordeaux can.  Even more importantly, this wine is great all by itself, as I relax and enjoy it, bringing back memories of Paris.  It's really almost impossible to describe how different a fine French bordeax can feel and taste, particularly if you are used to the big bold cabs of Napa Valley, or even the more fruit forward bordeaux blends of the Columbia Valley in Washington.  A fine bordeaux is in a class by itself, and thankfully, a benefit of the great recession is that many of these great wines are even more affordable than ever, with this wine recently coming down in price from $44 to only $34, and well worth every penny!  Now I just need to grab a bit of nicely aged cheese and finish enjoying my afternoon with this wine.  Oh, and as for a rating, I would give this one a solid 9, and I'm sure that rating will only expand if I taste it again in 2015 or 2020!  À votre santé!