Sunday, July 29, 2012

2007 Chateaux des Karantes Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape

It's a beautiful summer afternoon, so what better way to enjoy the day than to open a bottle of wine and start cooking?  So that's exactly what I've done, and for tonight's festivities, I've chosen a bottle of Languedoc from one of my favorite winemakers in the region, Chateau des Karantes.  As I've mentioned in the past, I met the winemaker at a tasting here in Grand Rapids in 2008 and I was so impressed with the wines I was an instant fan.  The blending of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre (GSM) has become such a classic in my mind, even as it hasn't seemed to have surged in popularity like some wines.

The wine itself is a wonderful deep purple trailing to bright ruby along the edges.  The nose is a delightful blend of fruit, ripe plum, red berries and apricot, layers with a bit of smoke that creates a wonderful reminiscence of the sweet smell of bacon to wake you up on a Saturday morning.  The taste has some delicate fruit at the outset, transitioning to some licorice and dark chocolate midpalate.  Despite how delicate the flavors can be at times, the wine has a lush, smooth finish that seems to last in the minutes!

Now I'll confess, it's been a bit harder to find wines from this Chateau at my usual wine hang-outs, but I happened up on a few bottles of this wine at a local supermarket.  The great news was that it was market down to $22 (already an unbelievable bargain) and then with an extra 10% discount for buying 6 bottles, I had them for under $20!  The drawback (if you can call it that) was that these bottles were actually signed by the wine maker for an even held a year or two ago, so I faced a dilemma.  Do I save the bottle since it's signed or do I crack it open and drink it, sending the moment to the recycling bin?  Well, I did what any good wine drinker would do, I bought an extra bottle, so I had one to save and one to enjoy with you tonight!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's definitely a step down from the Diamant (you can see my review of the '05 Diamant here), but still a wonderful example of the quality of the wines of the Languedoc region of France.  And this seems to be a trend, just like last time, I am enjoying this wine with some chicken and veggies with a bit of Indian red curry over basmati rice.  Yum! So if you happen upon a bottle, signed or not, I highly recommend picking one up!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2002 Woodward Canyon Barbera

So tonight's wine hails from one of my favorite wine regions, Walla Walla and the Columbia Valley of Washington state.  Now you'll recall I just returned from an epic adventure to Walla Walla wine country a couple months ago, but this bottle was purchased on my last trip through Walla Walla when I moved out to the Midwest back in 2004!  In fact, on this last trip I mentioned to the folks at Woodward Canyon that I still had a bottle of the '02 Barbera, and they seemed rather surprised and suggested I might want to drink it soon, as it might be well past it's prime.  So, last Saturday I decided to bring the bottle over to some friends for a wonderful dinner.

Well, thankfully the folks at the winery were way off on their assessment, as this wine turned out to be absolutely wonderful!  The color in the glass was deep ruby, and the nose was a wonderful mix of red fruit, burnt toast, leather and chocolate.  The taste started out with a wonderful mix of fruit, rich blackberries and ripe plum which transitioned to a smokiness mixed with cedar, black pepper and herbs midpalate.  The supple tannins formed a wonderful foundation for the long, dry, smoky finish.

We enjoyed this bottle with a lovely, Pacific Northwest sort of meal, consisting of cedar planked salmon with lemon and a variety of fresh herbs, some grilled beef tenderloin and a lovely selection of grilled veggies from my friends at Schuler Farms.  It was such a delicious meal, and the wine went along perfectly.  Overall, I would rate this one a solid 8.5, and I'd love to get more, but unfortunately that is no longer possible.  I guess maybe I'll have to wait another 8 years to open a bottle I bought on my last trip!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

2009 Château Puech-Haut Coteaux de Languedoc Prestige

So tonight I've decided to indulge my appetite for southern France, both in terms of cuisine and wine!  We'll get to the cuisine in a moment, but let's start off with the wine, the 2009 Château Puech-Haut Coteaux de Languedoc Prestige, a blend of 55% Grenache (from 60-75 year-old vines) and 45% Syrah (from 40-year-old vines).

I must admit, my first surprise with this wine was the color, given the light color on the cork, I was expecting this to be a lighter style wine, but the color in the glass was a deep purple, transitioning to a bright ruby along the edges.  The nose was a wonderful blend of leather, black currant, ripe berries, rose petals and moss.  The taste was a wonderful complexity, starting with ripe berry fruit, transitioning to vanilla and anise midpalate, which then gives way to a stunning, long-lasting finish as the lovely, vibrant tannins play off the acid and alcohol.  I could almost smell the salt breeze of the Mediterranean as I sipped this wine before dinner!

Speaking of dinner, I decided to get a bit creative with southern French cooking this evening, mixing a bit of Provence with a bit of the Mediterranean coast.  I sauteed some boneless chicken breasts with thinly sliced shallots and olive oil, and after browning the chicken, I added some sauvignon blanc for some vibrant acidity.  Once the wine reduced a bit, I added some diced plum tomatoes and capers and allowed that to simmer over low heat as the chicken finished cooking.  As the sauce reduced, I tossed the chicken with some al dente angel hair pasta for a lovely dinner to complement this wine! And yes, back to the wine, overall I would rate this one a solid 8.5, as I thought it was a lovely example the the wonderful wines of the Languedoc, at a price that wasn't too outrageous (this one was was just under $18 and will be a future office wine club selection).  Bon appetit!

Friday, July 20, 2012

2005 E. Guigal Châteauneuf-du-Pape - a celebration!

So today was a very good day, worthy of a celebration!  Today at work I received a promotion to "senior director" and I know that might not mean that much to those outside my profession, but to me it means a lot!  So to celebrate, I decided to open up a really good bottle of wine tonight, and the one I picked was the 2005 E. Guigal Châteauneuf-du-Pape!

As many of you know, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape is at or near the top of the food chain (I would say at) for Rhône wines of southern France, and is typically a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre (GSM).  Now this particular vintage from E. Guigal is a blend of 85% Grenache, 5% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre and 5% other grapes. 

The color of this wine is a bright ruby in the glass.  The nose presents a wonderful of blackberry, spice, black pepper and licorice.  The taste is wonderfully fruit forward, with flavors of ripe plum, rich red berries coupled with lovely spices that give way to a taste of smoky grilled herbs, chocolate and earth midpalate.  The lovely rounded tannins provide for a well structured, long, floral finish that just reminds me of the time I spent in France.

This is an absolutely lovely bottle that I could easily sip for days, though I have serious doubts it would last that long!  Overall I would rate this one a solid 9, no question one of the nicest examples of a Châteauneuf-du-Pape that Ive had the pleasure to enjoy.  It would pair wonderfully with a variety of grilled meats, and particularly well with a rare beef tenderloin, or perhaps a lovely choucroute as I recall some of the more memorable dinners from my time in Paris!  But really, why would you let a full meal detract from this wine?  Just enjoy it with a few olives and a bit of cheese and what more could you ask? 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

2007 Saviez Vineyards Napa Valley Zinfandel

Well, you know I love a good Zin, especially in summer when it's time for barbecue or other outdoor cooking events, and the bottle I opened this evening has developed somewhat of a cult following among my fellow office wine club members.  We were first turned on to this wine quite by accident when we ordered a case for a wine club selection of the 2004 vintage and it wasn't a huge hit among the broad group, but there were about 4 or 5 of us that just could not get enough of this wine!  So we ordered again when the '05 and '06 vintages came out, and then we were saddened to learn when WTSO offered the '07 vintage that the winery had gotten into financial trouble and was auctioned off by the bank!  Holy Grapes of Wrath!  We had 4 good vintages of this wine to enjoy, though I've only previously reviewed the '04 (see here: 2005 Saviez Zinfandel).

This wine has a super, deep ruby color in the glass, with the slighted bit of purple around the edges.  The nose oozes (hmm...oozing nose, better get that checked out) with rich fruit, black currant, plum, and jammy blackberry along with lovely aromas of leather, tobacco and cedar.  It's the sort of wine that gives your brain a slap in the head to make sure it's ready for what's about to be unleashed.  The wine itself is very fruit forward and almost jammy in the concentrated fruit, giving way to a lovely bit of green grass, wild herbs and chocolate midpalate.  The finish is wonderfully long and smooth, as the tannins provide a nice structure and balance for the initial wave of fruit.  This really is the sort of wine I could just sip all day I have to work tomorrow?

Overall, I think this wine is even better than the '04 and '05 vintages I've tasted before, so I would rate this one a solid 8.5, even though this one was probably the most expensive at $18.  Tonight I am enjoying this with a nice rare Angus T-bone, some grilled corn and steamed heirloom carrots, which ironically is very similar to what I paired with the '05!  We got this one from WTSO, and they warned then that this might be the last of it, so if you can find it anywhere, grab a bottle!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

2010 Brumont Cotes de Gascogne Rose

So, continuing with my infatuation with rose wines, tonight I am enjoying a bottle of 2010 Brumont Côtes de Gascogne Rose, a nice blend of Tannat (40%), Syrah (30%) and Merlot (20%).  This wine again follows my logic that if I like the red blend of these grapes, I'll probably like the rose which is just a more refreshing format for a hot summer day.

This wine has a rather orange, or peach tint to the color in the glass, and the nose presents green apple, citrus, and some earthy notes of truffle and fresh cut grass.  The wine itself is very dry, with some very light fruit flavors at the beginning, followed by a hint of melon, and then a mild, refreshing finish.  Overall I would rate this wine a 6.5, as it's really just not very memorable, but at least it was a super value on sale for just $7.

Tonight I am enjoying this wine with some parmesan paprika crusted Canadian walleye, with some steamed heirloom carrots and wild rice.  The subtle flavors of the wine really take a back seat to the milder flavor of walleye, which is certainly helpful in bringing out the flavors. Fish and rose, a wonderful combination!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

2011 L'Ecole No. 41 Grenache Rose

So tonight is another one of those hot summer evenings that we've been having lately, where you really just want to hide in the air conditioning, hoping for cooler days!  Well, at least it's still Sunday, and that means Sunday dinner and a wonderful wine to accompany it!

So tonight I've decided to go retro with my Sunday dinner and make Seafood Newburg, a wonderful dish with a heavy cream sauce with lots of sherry (we never seem to cook with sherry anymore, what a shame), shallots and paprika along with scallops and shrimp, tossed in linguine (I went non traditional tonight as I couldn't bring myself to light the oven and make the puff pastries!).  So, what better wine to enjoy with my evening meal than a lovely rose, and tonight's comes from my all time favorite winery, L'Ecole No. 41 of Walla Walla.

The wine itself it s a lovely pink hue in the glass with lovely aromas of citrus, green apple and rose petals.  The taste is marvelous, with some sweet berry fruit at the outset, giving way to some spice and orange midpalate.  The tannins are very subdued, leading to a long, somewhat gravelly finish that is simply superb.

Now for any of you who have read my blog, you know that I am mainly a red wine sort of guy, but I've been enjoying some roses in the heat of this awful summer.  This is by far my favorite rose of all that I've sampled, as it is fresh, crisp, dry and speaks to what a traditional Grenache should be.  Overall, I would rate this one a solid 8.5, and by rights it should be a 9 but I can't bring myself to give a rating that high for a non-red wine!  In any case, it's a wonderful wine, that I'd be happy to sip all evening as the sun sets and the temperature finally gets back below 90!  Unfortunately it's now sold out at the winery, which I guess you could expect with only 190 cases produced, but I still have a few bottles of the 2011, as well as the 2009 and 2010 to enjoy, so if you can find this one, jump on it!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

2003 Château des Annereaux Lalande de Pomerol

So as I am fond of saying, tonight I've decided to take a different approach and crack open a bottle of Bordeaux from the 2003 vintage.  I bought this bottle a few weeks ago at the World Market on clearance for $20.88, though I'm not entirely convinced that was such a great bargain, but what the heck, I figured I like Bordeaux and this one is old enough that it should be drinking nicely by now. 

Now the Lalande de Pomerol appellation is just north of the Pomerol appellation, to the east of the Gironde, and the wines tend to be dominated by Merlot, which is the case with this wine.  The 2003 Château des Annereaux Lalande de Pomerol is a blend of Merlot (70%), Cabernet Franc (20%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%).

The wine is a fairly bright ruby in the glass, and the nose is unmistakably Bordeaux with aromas of sweet red fruit, tar and a bit of cedar.  The taste has very subdued fruit, with hints of cassis giving way to cola and black pepper flavors midpalate.  The tannins are very well structured, giving this wine a lovely smooth, dry finish that you'd expect from a nice Bordeaux.

Overall, I would rate this one a solid 7.5, as it's a lovely wine but the price is somewhat aggressive, even at a marked down $21.  Tonight I am, yet again, taking a different approach and enjoying this wine with some wonderful Cajun dirty rice, with spicy chicken habanero sausage, green peppers and red onions, a nice spicy dish that plays nicely on the rich, earthiness of this wine.  Bon appetit!

Friday, July 13, 2012

2007 Tenuta Vitanza Volare Sangiovese di Toscana

Happy Friday the 13th!  I hope it wasn't too scary, but even if it was a nice glass of wine at the end of the day can do wonders.  Tonight I am enjoying a wine that's a bit off the beaten path, the 2007 Tenuta Vitanza Volare Sangiovese di Toscana, a lovely classic Sangiovese from Tuscany.  Now this wine is not your average Sangiovese, but is actually a somewhat hidden gem.

Now for those of you less familiar, the Brunello di Montalcino is perhaps the king of all Italian wines, and as you might expect, there are a lot of regulations to ensure the King is protected from potential impostors.  The first rule of Brunello is that it must be made from 100% Sangiovese grapes, and in fact there was a big controversy regarding a few producers that had their entire 2003 vintage seized because of allegations that some foreign varietals were included in the wine.  The second major rule is the aging, which requires a minimum of 2 years in oak, and an additional 4 months in the bottle before release.  Now most regular Brunellos are released 50 months after harvest, while the Riservas are released a year later.

Now a Rosso di Montalcino is made in the same way as Brunello, but does not require the extensive aging (it is only required to be aged 6 months in oak and total aging of 1 year before release).  Often this helps producers with cash flow, by producing a wine that can be sold earlier, and it also helps provide an outlet for less than ideal vintages.  Now the most important thing to remember is that violating any of the rules for these wines can result in fines, prison, and worst of all, destruction of a winemaker's reputation.  All of which brings us to tonight's wine.  This wine was basically made from the same grapes as Brunello, but the winemaker apparently had his reasons for not wanting to comply with the rules of Brunello and decided instead to simply offer the wine as a plain old Sangiovese!

The wine itself has a wonderful bright ruby color in the glass, and the nose is so reminiscent of a nice Rosso or Brunello.  We have lovely aromas of leather, vanilla and oak, with a hint of ripe, sweet fruit.  The taste is fruit forward, with flavors of black cherry and plum, followed by a warm, peppery spice midpalate, transitioning effortlessly to the bright tannins that provide a long, dry finish.  I certainly won't oversell this as a baby Brunello, but man, this wine is richer and much more complex than any run of the mill Sangiovese!

This really is the best "generic" Sangiovese I've ever had, and the fact that it was on sale for only $12 makes this a super bargain if there ever was one!  Overall I would rate this one a solid 8, with room to improve as it matures.  I bought this wine at G.B. Russo's, my favorite local wine merchant who is actually the sole sponsor of my evening activities, since I bought the wine and the Tuscan pizza I'm enjoying it with.  The pizza is a lovely crust, with roasted peppers, prosciutto di parma, and crema di toscana sauce.  I added a few leaves of fresh basil as well, but the rich flavors of Tuscany are the perfect complement to this wine.  Cin cin!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

2009 Bogle Vineyards Essential Red

So tonight I am enjoying a bottle of 2009 Bogle Vineyards Essential Red for a simple evening at home.  I bought 4 bottles of this wine a couple weekends ago based on a promotion at World Market that offered an extra 10% off to get the wine below $9 a bottle, so I figured why not try it?

The wine itself is a blend of old vine Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Sirah, which raises the potential for this to be a wonderful everyday wine.  The color is a deep red, with some garnet along the edges.  The nose presents some some floral notes combine with leather and licorice, but overall the aromas seem quite subdued.  The taste is very nice, with some initial bits of jammy red fruit, which transcends to a bit of peppery spice midpalate, and then finishing quite nicely with somewhat youthful tannins creating a nice bit of dryness.

Tonight I am sipping this wine on the patio, watching the neighborhood kids play and enjoying the last bit of heat from the day as the sun sinks lower in the western sky.  As for pairings, this one is a great everyday wine, once that would go as well with a thick juicy steak as with a cheeseburger or zesty pasta dish.  Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7, as it's not spectacular, but it's a solid value for under $9.  So if you find yourself in the wine section of the World Market or your local retailer, pick up a bottle or two!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

2011 Rose des Karantes

I have been a big fan of this producer since I met the winemaker at a tasting event in Grand Rapids in 2008, and at that time I bought a half case of the 2005 Diamant des Karantes, which to this day is one of the best examples of the Languedoc wine, aged for 18 months in new French oak and vinified in the tradition of La Clape, what a wonderful wine that truly brings out the terroir of the south of France.

Well, tonight we have a bottle of the 2011 Rose des Karantes, a wonderful blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, of my!  Well for those of you familiar, the GSM blend is foundation for many of the most wines from the south of France, including the wonderful Châteauneuf-du-Pape!  Well needless to say, wince I love the traditional red GSM blends, why wouldn't I like a rose?  After all, when it's 100 degrees outside, I could use a nice chilled wine with my meal!

The wine itself has a wonderful nose of fresh strawberry, green apple and melon.  The taste is clean and refreshing, with citrus tones and ripe summer fruit, particularly notes of strawberry and some kiwi, but it is not sweet!  Oh no!  This wine is very dry and crisp, the perfect accompaniment to any hot summer evening, like the one I'm enduring, I mean enjoying tonight!  For this wine, I easily rate it an 8, it is by far my favorite rose of the few I've tasted, and for a sale price of $9 how can you go wrong?

Speaking of accompaniments, tonight I am enjoying this wine with a meal inspired by my friends from Schuler Farms, who were at G.B. Russo's today where I bought this wine.  I love the folks at Schuler Farms as they always have the most wonderful produce that inspires the best in my cooking.  Thanks to them, I got some fresh dill today, and that inspired me to make some lemon dill cream sauce, but what could I put that on?  How about some alder planked salmon?  And maybe add some Klondike fingerling potatoes and some steamed purple asparagus and there you have it, the perfect meal to accompany this wonderful rose!

Friday, July 6, 2012

2010 Waterbrook Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

What a day, and what a week!  I can surely use a lovely glass of wine with my dinner, but first a photo for your enjoyment:

This photo was taken from my patio two winters ago, and since it was 103 degrees here today, and over 100 degrees for the second day in a row, this photo just makes me feel better, knowing winter is only 5 months away!  And for any of you in the Midwest or East, you can certainly relate and likely appreciate the above master work in photography.

So on to tonight's festivities.  Having just returned from my big vacation to Walla Walla, I thought why not open another bottle of wine from one of the Walla Walla winemakers?  This one comes from Waterbrook, a winery that I drove past twice on the way to L'Ecole No. 41, but I didn't have time to stop.  Fortunately my local wine merchant, G.B. Russo & Sons got a couple shipments of Waterbrook's 2010 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and put it on sale for just $11.49!  So I figured even if I don't like it, it's at least inexpensive.

Now Dave Russo warned me that when first opening this wine is a bit rough, but after they let it breathe overnight, the next morning at the tasting it was lovely and people bought his whole supply that morning!  Well, since I am thirsty and don't have a day to let it breathe, I'll just make do with my aerating pourer!

The wine is a lovely deep purple color in the glass with a nice ruby color along the edges.  The nose presents with aromas of leather, licorice, some fresh herbs and just the faintest hint of ripe fruit.  The wine is surprisingly fruit forward, with a taste of ripe plum and cherry, which quickly gives way to hints or grass or hay mixed with cherry syrup midpalate.  The rather sharp tannins make for a tight finish that's really quite dry, but rather short.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7, it's nothing spectacular but for the price it was a very good value.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with some wonderful steak fajitas, as it's hearty enough to lend a strong supporting role to spicy grilled steak, onions, peppers and cheese, so yummy!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

2008 Old Zin Vines Lodi Zinfandel

Yay!  It's the 4th of July and hot as all get out!  So that presents a bit of a challenge for the red wine lover, what to drink on a hot day with lots of old fashioned American food?  Do you wimp out for a chilled rose?  Or do you go for the gusto?  Well, I chose the latter with a wonderful old vine zinfandel from Lodi, the 2008 Old Zin Vines (OZV) old vine zinfandel!

Now I love a good zin and everyone knows the best zins come from Lodi so how could I miss with this one?  This wine is a lovely deep purple in the glass, with a good bit of opacity.  The nose is a treat, with hints of ripe plum, anise, leather and cedar, with just the faintest bit of a floral smell, the kind of nose that tells your taste buds, "get ready, cause this is gonna be good!"  There is a good bit of fruit on the front end, with tastes of ripe berries and cassis, giving way to a wonderful cedar smokiness midpalate leading to a wonderfully smooth, dry finish.  Very much what you'd expect from the old vines of Lodi!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's just a great overall zin, which is even more impressive given the price at only $11 at the local World Market!  This wine would be a great one to sip at sunset, or enjoy with a variety of cuisines, from spicy Mediterranean to a rare grilled T-bone, to lovely fish tacos, but tonight I am enjoying it with the most American of fare, hot dogs!  Yes indeed, I am having some lovely grilled hot dogs served up Chicago style, with mustard, relish, diced onions, tomato, pickle, celery salt and sport peppers (don't ask how we get all that on a single bun!), along with some lovely baked beans and freshly made coleslaw, a perfectly American summer meal! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

2010 Parducci Small Lot Blend Pinot Noir

So tonight I am hearkening back to my time in the Pacific Northwest, where spring salmon season was always accompanied by a raft of lovely pinot noir from the Willamette Valley.  Unfortunately, I now live 2,000 miles from the northwest and I have to make certain, shall we say, sacrifices.

So tonight, for a wine on the lighter side of this horrifically hot and humid evening, I've decided to open a bottle of 2010 Parducci Small Lot Blend Pinot Noir from Mendocino County, Calif.  And it's certainly a lighter wine, with a bright ruby color in the glass.  The nose is very interesting, with hints of cedar, tart cherry, grass and a tiny bit of pepper.  The taste is somewhat fruity at the outset, giving way to a floral taste midpalate and finishing with a good bit of tart fruit that reminds me of firm strawberries that just haven't quite ripened, but then it quickly transitions to a taste of strawberry jam.

Overall, I would rate this wine at about 6.5, perhaps it's too young, or perhaps I've been spoiled by Oregon pinots, but it just doesn't carry a lot of body, or even some lighter sophistication that would make up for it.  At least it was pretty inexpensive, I think I picked this one from for only $8!  Thank goodness I found some more Copper River sockeye to enjoy with this, tonight I've prepared it on an Alder plank, with some curried couscous and steamed purple asparagus.  The richness of the salmon really does pair well with the tart fruit of this wine, and given it's so light on its feet it's not a killer on a hot summer evening!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

2005 Château Belle-Vue Haut Médoc

Tonight is a celebration, not only of wine and food, but of my 100th blog post!  Now to celebrate such an auspicious occasion, I need a special wine, and what better than a nice example of a wonderful vintage, the 2005 Bordeaux!  So tonight I've opened a bottle of the 2005 Château Belle-Vue Haut Médoc, a rather interesting blend containing Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Merlot (27%), Petit Verdot (20%) and Carmenere (3%), and of course it's the bit of Carmenere that makes this one interesting! 

Now I've said before that the 2005 Bordeaux vintage was exceptional (see here: but unfortunately it's been overshadowed by the hype over 2009 and 2010, which is a shame since many of the 2005s are drinking very nicely right now, including this one.

The 2005 Château Belle-Vue Haut Médoc presents a deep, inky red color in the glass, with some brightness around the edges.  The nose is quintessential Bordeaux, with hints of vanilla, spice, leather and cedar.  There's also a hint of smoke that seems to tie everything together.  The taste presents some early hints of ripe fruit which quickly gives way to a gravel and a bit of jamminess midpalate.  The tannins are somewhat sharp still providing for a long, dry and satisfying finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, with some potential to improve over the next few years, and the price was a bargain from Wines Till Sold Out at only $18!  Tonight I am enjoying it with some teriyaki glazed grilled pork tenderloin, white rice and steamed veggies, but this wine would go well with most grilled meats or, dare I say it, a 4th of July barbecue!  Bon appetite!