Sunday, September 30, 2012

2009 Charles Krug Yountville Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

So tonight I've decided to go with an old standard, a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, after all, how can you go wrong with a Napa Cab?  I picked up a few bottles of the 2009 Charles Krug Yountville Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from and they arrived last week, so who am I to deprive myself of the pleasure of opening up a new bottle of wine to try?

This wine is very deeply colored, almost ink like in appearance, with deep purple to ruby along the edges.  The nose has lovely fruit aromas of black cherry and ripe plum, along with cocoa, fresh herbs and almost a raisin smell.  For taste, it's delightfully fruit forward, with flavors of currant and raspberry at the outset, quickly transitioning to a dark chocolate and smoke flavor midpalate.  The lush mouthfeel then dissipates, overpowered by the young tannins giving this wine a very tight finish.

Overall, I would rate this one an 8, with the potential to improve with a few years in the cellar.  At $18 from, this wasn't a huge bargain, but it was a pretty good value for a Napa Valley Cab.  Tonight I am pairing this wine with tacos!  You see, even chorizo and refried beans deserve a good Cabernet once in a while!

Officially Unveiled: The Taste My Vacation Line Up!

At long last, I am officially having my "Taste My Vacation" wine tasting next Saturday, thank you Shani and Karen for offering your deck!  And since this is so long in the making, I've decided to officially announce the line up a few days early.  Now you might be thinking, "what's the big deal?" or "What in the world are you talking about?"  Well, let me outline this event for you.  As you may have read, I took a bit of a wine vacation earlier this summer, and spent 10 days driving across country, visiting wineries and all sorts of tourist traps, and when I returned I thought, wouldn't that make a great theme for a wine tasting?  Since I brought back wine from Missouri to Walla Walla, and points in between, it would be like vacationing though the magic of wine.

So I've selected seven bottles of wine that I brought back with me, and rather than think through this in terms of order and what not, we are simply going to taste these wines in the order I tasted them on the trip!  And don't worry wine blog friends, I'll be posting tasting notes for each of these over the coming weeks.  So, without further adieu, here are the seven wines we will be tasting:

  1. Les Bourgeois Vineyards Jeunette Rouge, a red blend from Rochefort, Missouri that is made with the Norton grape, one of the only wine grapes native to North America.
  2. 2005 Carmela Cabernet Merlot, a blend of 50/50 Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, this wine from Glenns Ferry, Idaho was the second wine I tried on the trip from the Snake River Valley.  The climate is similar to the Columbia Valley in Washington in terms of length of daylight and temperature, but the volcanic soils tend to make these wines a bit more earthy.
  3. 2009 Seven Hills Ciel du Cheval, a wonderful Bordeaux style blend of Merlot (39%), Cabernet Sauvignon (35%), Petit Verdot (15%) and Cabernet Franc (11%), from my first winery stop in Walla Walla.
  4. 2008 Forgeron Sagemoor Vineyard Barbera, from my second stop in Walla Walla, I really came to like these wines, great quality and solid values.
  5. 2004 L'Ecole No. 41 Ferguson Commemorative Reserve, made in honor of the founders, Baker and Jean Ferguson, this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (48%), Merlot (42%), Cabernet Franc (5%) and Petit Verdot (5%).  L'Ecole was the third stop on my tour of Walla Walla!
  6. 2008 Reininger Mr. Owl's Red, this was from my last stop in Walla Walla, and this was a blend dedicated to Raul, who became Reininger's cellar master, but when the owners' children were young, they had difficulty pronouncing Raul, and it came out Mr. Owl, thus a blend was born!  This vintage is a blend of Merlot (88%), Syrah (7%) and Sangiovese (5%).
  7. Yellowstone Roadblock Red, this one I bought in the gift shop at Yellowstone since earlier in the day I was stopped by a roadblock of a herd of bison coming back into the park, and the label on this bottle has a pickup truck being blocked by bison!  This red blend of organic grapes was made by Ten Spoon Vineyard in Missoula, Montana, my last wine of the trip!
So there you have it, the magnificent seven wines that we'll be tasting next week and sharing through the month of October with my faithful blog readers, giddy up!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

2008 Coppola Alicante Bouschet

So tonight I am trying a new wine I picked up yesterday at World Market from Francis Coppola.  Now I'm a big fan of his black label Claret, as it's a lovely everyday wine for a very modest price, so when I saw his diamond label on a bright magenta background I had to investigate!  This wine was the Alicante Bouschet, which apparently is a grape that has been cultivated since the 1860s, but was made popular during prohibition, since the grapes are red fleshed, which makes them much more robust in blending, creating darker colored wines from traditionally lighter grapes.  The thick skins also make it much more resistant to rot during transport from California to the east coast during prohibition.  And all this, made it a target for Mr. Coppola, who had fond memories of wines his family made from this grape during the period, so they located some and decided to make this wine.

The wine has a wonderful, deep ruby color that is almost an inky purple at the center.  The nose is full of jammy fruit, plums, blackberries, currant, with a hint of almost maple syrup.  The taste is very fruit forward, but not really as sweet as I was expecting.  The flavors of ripe red fruit quickly transition to spice, anise and mint midpalate, and then the bright tannins take control for a tight, dry finish.

Overall, I am thrilled with this wine, not so much because it's a stellar grape or exceptional vintage, but for what it can be paired with!  This wine is a perfect compliment to barbecue, and prior to discovering it, I was fairly limited to nice Zinfandels when it came to wine and barbecue, but this opens up a wonderful second option!  And it paid off, since tonight I am pairing this with a wonderful slow roasted, barbecued beef brisket, garlic mashed potatoes, grilled white, yellow and orange carrots and corn muffins!  All those flavors, and this wine stands up like a champ!  I would rate this one a solid 8, maybe an 8.5, since it's a rare wine that pairs with something traditionally more difficult, but it was also a great value at only $10!  So pick up the pink label and enjoy some today!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

2009 Château Sigognac Medoc

It's a Wednesday evening, so it must be time to open a bottle of wine to celebrate "hump day"!  Tonight I've decided to open a lovely bottle of Bordeaux from the exceptionally hyped 2009 vintage, the Château Sigognac Medoc!

You know how I love a nice Bordeaux, and the characteristics of a lovely Medoc really bring my mind back to my printemps au Paris!  This wine is a lovely, deep ruby color in the glass, and the nose presents aromas of licorice, spices and a hint of gravelly limestone, but there's also something warm and syrupy that I can't quite place.  The taste is classic Medoc, with the faintest hint of fruit at the outset, quickly transitioning to a gravelly earthiness midpalate before the delightfully structured tannins leave you with a long, bone dry finish.

Tonight I am just enjoying this wine with my appetizers of sliced ripe tomatoes with 25-year balsamic and some aged cheeses as I think about what to have for dinner (sorry for my lack of pairing recommendations!) but I think this wine would pair quite nicely with a variety of steaks, or perhaps some lighter pasta dishes with grilled seafood, even though I know that might sound wierd to some of you!  Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, though it might have gone higher but it was somewhat expensive at $17, marked down from the normal price of $22.  In any case, I'll enjoy this one all evening long!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

2007 Ravenswood Dickerson Napa Valley Zinfandel

Well, kids are back in school and football is on TV all afternoon on Sundays, so that can mean only one thing, summer is on its way out and fall is coming into its own.  So as a celebration of the last gasp of summer, today I decide to have a little barbecue, and what could possibly go better with barbecue than a lovely zinfandel?

So with my lovely meal, I've cracked open a bottle of 2007 Ravenswood Dickerson Napa Valley Zinfandel, since the rich fruit flavor and smokiness of a good zin really pairs well with barbecue of all kinds!  Now this wine is part of a series of wonderful single-vineyard zinfandels that Ravenswood produces, including the Pickberry, Teldeschi and Barricia zinfandels.  And of course you know I'm a big fan of just about anything Ravenswood does!

This wine has a lovely ruby color in the glass, lighter around the edges and deeper toward the center.  The nose is a lovely combination of leather, limestone, oak and just a hint of ripe berries.  The taste is very fruit forward and characteristically jammy, but not is a super sweet grape jam sort of way.  It has lovely fruit that doesn't make you think you just drank kool-aid, instead this wine seems to be showing a lot of respect to the ripe fruit.  The fruit gives way to some wonderful minerality and spice midpalate, with hints of gravel and baking spice.  In the end, the delicate tannins provide for a long, smooth, supple finish that makes you want to take your time with this wine.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's really one of the nicest zins I've had in quite a while!  I bought just one bottle of this a couple years ago, on clearance sale at Meijer of all places, so the price was a real bargain at under $16, and now I wish I'd bought more!  And what sort of end of summer barbecue am I enjoying this with?  Glad you asked, a lovely rack of slow cooked barbecued spare ribs, along with some grilled corn, baked beans, corn muffins and broccoli salad, everything you need for a summer meal out in the yard!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

2010 Concannon Central Coast Petite Sirah

I've been a fan of Petite Sirah (or Petit Syrah as they say) for several years now, and I think what I like most about this varietal is that it's arguably neither petite nor very much like syrah!  It tends to be much bigger and bolder, with a more pronounced fruit profile.  Now I've had a Concannon petite sirah a few years ago, and it was very pleasant, so I'm hopeful that this wine will not let me down!

This wine still appears to be a bit young, but it's still well developed.  The color is a deep purple transitioning to a more ruby color toward the edges.  The nose feels young and green, with a clear fruit aroma of blueberries and ripe plums, almost edging toward a prune.  The fruit is accentuated by aromas of oak, savory spices and fresh herbs, which lend to the perception of this wine being young and "green."  The taste is very fruit forward, with flavors of blueberries and raisins transitioning to a combination of tar and tart cherries midpalate.  The finish at first seemed somewhat short, but then the tannins really played on some of the flavor complexity to make this a very pleasant finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7, it's certainly not the best Petit Sirah I've tasted and I'll mark them down for the artificial cork, but it was a wonderful value at only $7 from my favorite local wine merchant, G.B. Russo!  This wine would pair nicely with some roasted meats, perhaps some lamb, but tonight I am enjoying this one with some chili!  So if you're looking for a nice red with plenty of fruit and lots of body, pick up a bottle and enjoy it!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

2009 Powers Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

What a long day!  Work, then going out to Menard's to pick up a gigantic air compressor for work, so I finally got home and am ready to drop.  But not before I at least enjoy a nice evening meal and a nice glass of wine from Washington!

Tonight I am enjoying a bottle of 2009 Powers Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a nice wine at a very nice price that I picked up last weekend.  This wine has a lovely deep ruby color in the glass, and the nose exhibits classic Columbia Valley Cabernet aromas of leather, cedar, licorice, cocoa powder, and a bit of vanilla and floral overtones at the top.  The taste is very fruit forward, with lovely ripe berry and plum bursting forth on your palate, quickly transitioning to a tart cherry midpalate.  The young tannins create a tart but long-lasting finish, just as you'd expect from a classic Washington Cabernet.

As I mentioned, this wine was a wonderful bargain for only $11 at my local wine merchant, G.B. Russo's.  The only negative I could find on this wine was the screw cap, but I suppose I could overlook that minor transgression.  So overall, I would rate this one a solid 7.5, a really solid wine for the money, and one I could enjoy for an entire afternoon!  Tonight however I am enjoying this with frozen pizza, yes, my life is in fact that glamorous...

Saturday, September 8, 2012

2008 Delas Côtes-du-Ventoux

Even though it's starting to feel like autumn, it's just not time to put away the summer reds for another year, so tonight I am enjoying a bottle of 2008 Delas Côtes-du-Ventoux, a southern Rhône blend of Grenache (80%) and Syrah (20%) that just strikes me as ideal for a late summer afternoon. 

The wine is a lovely deep ruby to purple color, and the nose is thick with ripe fruit, blackberry and plum, and a nice bit of spice that balances the fruit very well.  There is also a good bit of earthiness too, somewhat reminiscent of the forest after a spring shower that reminds me of the flavors of black truffles.  The wine is quite fruit forward, with a lovely balance of ripe black fruit, black pepper and a bit of tartness that doesn't come from the tannins, but I believe comes more from the fruit itself - very interesting.  The wine is quite flavorful throughout, reaching a crescendo of cherry cola flavor midpalate, which gives way to tannins that are well structured providing for a very pleasing finish.

Overall, I would rate this one a solid 7.5, it's certainly not a spectacular, make your jaw drop sort of wine, but it's a great value!  I bought this bottle today at my local wine retailer for just $10.49, which seems a bargain for the quality of wine inside.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a lovely Polish dinner of all things!  Some fresh smoked kielbasa, pierogis and sauerkraut, so you see, you can pair lovely southern French wine with just about anything if you try hard enough!

Monday, September 3, 2012

2009 L'Ecole No. 41 Petit Verdot

Happy Labor Day!  What a wonderful holiday where we celebrate the joy of working but cooking out and enjoying a last gasp of summer with family and friends.  And what better way to celebrate the end of summer than with a bottle of wine from one of my favorite Washington wineries?  Ha!  Rhetorical questions that one!

So with my lovely Labor Day cookout, I've cracked open a bottle of 2009 L'Ecole No. 41 Walla Walla Valley Petit Verdot, what is normally a blending grape for Bordeaux, all on it's own.  Now a few weeks ago I tried a bottle of the '09 Cabernet Franc, and I must admit I really like this Petit Verdot a lot better!  I'm not sure whether it's the varietal or just the character of this year's vintage, but this is simply an outstanding bottle of wine!

The wine is a deep ruby red to purple in the glass, and the nose is a wonderful combination of luscious ripe fruit that causes your brain to immediately start thinking of juicy plums or berries just dripping down your chin. The nose is an ethereal blend of ripe fruit, with elements of grape, plum and anise, transforming to a bit of cocoa, baking spice and just the faintest hint of woodsy earthiness.  The taste is a delight, with a shock of fruit right at the outset, rich grape, plum, berry which then transitions to real dryness midpalate, before the tannins come rushing in to provide that long, tart finish.

I really have no idea if this is what the true expression of the petit verdot should aspire to, I just know that I really love this wine and could go on sipping it for the better part of an afternoon.  Overall, I would rate this one a solid 8.5, one of my personal favorites and one I wish I had more of since it's sold out!  As for pairing, tonight I had it with my typical Labor Day feast of a ginormous 28-ounce boneless ribeye grilled rare with a tossed salad of baby herbs and a bit of 25-year balsamic vinegar.  So yummy!!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

2001 Château Les Gravières Saint Emilion Grand Cru

And for my second official Cellar Saturday, I've decided to open up a wine that has only been in my cellar for less than a month!  Tonight it's a more than decade old Grand Cru Bordeaux, the 2001 Château Les Gravières Saint Emilion.  Now unlike many Bordeaux blends, this one is 100% Merlot, though I'll admit I've always found something about French Merlot that seems to make it better than anywhere else.

The wine itself has a lovely deep purple to ruby coloration.  The nose is a wonderful blend of rich red fruit, leather and smoke.  The taste is remarkably fruit forward, with wonderful ripe plum, red berries and cassis that creates a seeming jolt of sweet fruit flavor that quickly transitions to black pepper and musty oak.  The tannins are quite supple, offering a very smooth, dry finish.  Given it's age, this wine is probably now entering its prime years for drinking, so it's a good thing I opened it!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, mainly since I love classic Bordeaux and this is definitely in that realm.  The nose, the color, the taste, all remind me of the wonderful wines I drank the last time I was in France.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rare grilled ribeye, haricots vert almondine and some roasted red potatoes.  I bought this wine recently from Wines Till Sold Out for only $30, and I am just amazed sometimes at what wonderful wines they can find for bargain prices that really give you a chance to taste something out of the ordinary!