Monday, December 31, 2012

2006 Féraud-Brunel Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Tonight, to celebrate the coming of 2013 and the U.S. going over the "fiscal cliff," I decided to put my wine selection for the evening to a vote of my Facebook friends, and they didn't let me down, choosing the 2006 Féraud-Brunel Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a wonderful GSM blend to end my 2012 and welcome the new year!  Now since I gave everyone until 8:00 pm to vote, I just opened this bottle and have had no time to decant, so I've poured this glass through my aerating pourer for better effect, but it's probably advisable to let this wine breathe a bit if you have time.

The wine in the glass is a deep garnet color, about what you'd expect from a nice CdP.   The nose is very mellow, almost surprisingly so, with hints of lovely fruit, black currant, blueberry, some interesting spice notes intermingled with rose petals and the faintest bit of barnyard.  The taste is just sublime, with lovely ripe fruits bursting forth on the tongue, blueberry, ripe plum and a hint of boysenberry, transforming into some lovely jammy notes midpalate balanced with some earthy minerality.  The tannins play well creating a long, smooth finish, with lovely flavors or dark chocolate and gravel.  For a rather young wine, this one really is drinking quite well right now!

Overall, I would rate this one a solid 8.5, it's a very nice example of a Châteauneuf-du-Pape that I found at a local supermarket for under $30 about a year ago.  Unfortunately it's 8:30 pm on New Year's Eve, so I'm just enjoying this wine seulement ce soir, but it would pair quite nicely with a variety of spicy dishes, or grilled meats, but I could also see it going very well with a broad array of seafood.  If you can find a bottle, I would highly recommend it!  Bon Année! 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2009 Cousino-Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon

So this afternoon, I went on a mini, impromptu pub crawl with some friends of mine from work, and unlike the old days when I was a youth, and pub crawls literally meant drinking so much you had to crawl to the next pub, this was a more staid affair.  I had a grand total of three beers and an aborted glass of Cabernet Franc in our afternoon out.  So, I have more than enough energy to enjoy a glass or two of wine this evening!

And tonight, we have a lovely sustainably farmed Cabernet Sauvignon from the Maipo Valley of Chile, the 2009 Cousino-Macul Antiguas Reservas.  Now I happened upon a couple bottles of this wine at a recent "Big Reds" wine tasting at a local establishment called Bar Divani, where I had a lovely time, and best of all, the opportunity to order some of the wines we tasted, this being one of the last minute additions to the menu.

The wine itself is a lovely deep ruby in the glass, and the nose is full of ample rich, ripe fruit, leather, cedar and anise.  The taste is very dry all around, with some very subtle fruit, black currant and cherries, yielding to some mild spices midpalate.  The finish is somewhat short, but bone dry, making this an ideal accompaniment to a variety of grilled meats and savory dishes.  As a side note, it's advisable to let this wine breathe a bit before serving, it's not undrinkable straight from the bottle, but it does open up nicely with a half hour or so in the air.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, it's drinking well now, but I think it could improve a bit over the next few years.  As for pairings, again prepare to be disappointed with my weeks of leftovers, since tonight I am enjoying this wine with some leftover chicken, mushrooms and steamed Brussels sprouts.  Yum!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2009 Firestone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Ynez Valley

Well, the holidays are winding down, but even so there are so many wonderful blessings as part of the season, like a plethora of wonderful foods and wines!  Now, this might be a mixed blessing for you readers, since I have a lot of new wines to sample over the coming weeks and months, but I also have enough leftovers for the next two weeks!  So you'll get some nice wines to taste with me, but as for pairings, they might be a little light, at least through the middle of January!

Speaking of new wines, tonight's is one such wine, a lovely gift that was a set of three great Cabernet Sauvignons that my Aunt Janet in Las Vegas sent me for Christmas, and so tonight I am tasting the 2009 Firestone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from the Santa Ynez Valley, a lovely little wine producing area of Santa Barbara county.  A couple interesting trivia facts about the valley, it is home to the town of Solvang, which is a Danish community with lots of interesting shops (and wonderful bakeries and cheese shops!) that I enjoyed on my first visit to California in 1991.  A second, and less glamorous trivia fact is that the valley was the setting for that horrific movie "Sideways" that to this day is convincing wine drinkers to avoid Merlot!  But enough trivia, let's get to the good stuff!

The wine is a lovely deep, inky purple in the glass, and I've given it a good 15 minutes to open up a bit, as the first impression on pouring was that it was quite tight.  Having let it breathe a bit, the nose really presents a lovely combination of leather, sweet berries, vanilla and baking spice that suggests you're in for a treat.  The taste is somewhat fruity, with ripe plums and berries on the front, leading to some cherry cola notes midpalate.  The finish is fairly dry, but uneventful (so I guess that would be very smooth, but short).

Overall, I would rate this wine a 7.5, it's certainly a pleasure to drink, but based on the aromas I was expecting a little more from it.  As for pairings, here's your opportunity for disappointment, as I am enjoying this wine with some leftover Chinese food!  享受!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

2009 White Cottage Ranch Napa Valley Merlot

'Tis the season!  Yes, it's Christmastime, and I've just finished the last of my holiday shopping, and now it's time to wrap presents and fill gift bags and make up the gift baskets that will all be delivered over the next few days, so what could I possibly do to make the season bright?  That's right, open a bottle of wine to help me get through the last few hours of hectic humbug!  And so to help out with that I've opened a bottle of 2009 White Cottage Ranch Napa Valley Merlot, one of the sadly ignored wine of the last few years!  This wine is from the Howell Mountain AVA of Napa Valley, produced on the eastern slope of Napa Valley at an elevation of 1,700 feet, near the town of Angwin, CA.

This wine has a nice deep ruby, almost purple color in the glass, and a consistency that makes it shine as a solid example of a good Napa Valley vintage.  The nose is filled with spices and rich ripe fruit, with notes of anise, tarragon and black pepper, balanced by sweet aromas of ripe plum, black currant and just the faintest hint of leather.  The taste is just superb, with rich, ripe fruit up front, laden with plums and ripe black cherries, giving way to some tart and spicy notes midpalate, easing into a finish with nicely balanced tannins creating a somewhat tight, yet smooth, long finish that seems to last a minute or more!

This is the kind of wine that makes you quickly forget that you are sipping wine, bringing forth a lifestyle of taste and grace that we seldom find today.  As for pairings, it would be just lovely with a variety of grilled meats, but amidst my giftwrapping wonderland, I've been enjoying this with a sharp Vermont cheddar and some lovely slices of baguette and it's been a gifted partner, helping me get through my chores!  Overall, I would rate this one a solid 8, and it was at a really reasonable price of just $14, and a recent wine club selection from my friends at G.B. Russo.  So if you have a chance, pick up a bottle, I'm just sad this is my last one!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

2008 Castello Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva

Yesterday I was talking with a colleague who is taking a trip to Italy over the holidays, and as a result of that conversation, I really had a hankering for a nice bottle of Italian wine.  Hence, tonight I've opened a bottle of 2008 Castello Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva!  Now a good Chianti is a classic Italian wine from Tuscany, made entirely from the Sangiovese grape, making it a lovely accompaniment to a variety of Italian dishes, from basic pastas, to risotto, to bistecca alla fiorentina, the classic Tuscan porterhouse!

The wine itself has a lovely deep ruby color in the glass and presents a nose of leather, licorice and some floral notes that almost feel chewy as you breath them in.  The taste is somewhat fruit forward, with flavors or ripe plum and tart cherry at the front end, transitioning to some wonderful earthy, spicy notes midpalate.  The well structured tannins and bright acidity make for a lovely smooth, long finish.  It's exactly what you would expect from a nice Chianti Classico.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a great example of a classic Italian red wine, and I found it for a decent price of only $22 at my local wine merchant, G.B. Russo's.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a very simple dinner of linguine with some sausage and arrabiata sauce, as the spice of the sauce really plays well against the fruit and spice notes in this wine.

Friday, December 21, 2012

2007 Tangley Oaks Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

That's it, I'm done!  I finished my last day of work before my Christmas Vacation (hold on, I think I'll watch that tonight!) and I am done working until 2013!  And to celebrate, I've opened a nice bottle of 2007 Tangley Oaks Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and purchased a special cut of meat for my meal on the way home, so this should be good!

Now, I'll admit I'm unfamiliar with "Tangley Oaks" as a winery, but I happened across this wine last weekend at a tasting at my local wine merchant, G.B. Russo's, and what I learned was that this wine was made from the same grapes used to make the Rutherford Napa Valley Cabernet, which typically costs about twice what this bottle costs.  When there is a surplus of grapes, they simply bottle the wine under the Tangley Oaks label so as not to dilute the value of their premium brands - it's really a win-wine (get it?) as we get some stellar wine for a bargain price!

The wine itself has a deep purple color, as you might expect from a Napa Valley Cabernet from this super vintage.  The nose is quite subdued, with notes of cedar, leather, cocoa and some mixed floral notes accented by rich ripe fruit of blackberry and black currant.  The taste is exactly what a high-quality '07 NV cab should be, rich ripe fruit up front, followed by some chocolate and earthy notes midpalate, and a finish that is bone dry, with supple tannins creating a long, smooth balance of woodsy flavors.  This really represents a solid Napa Valley Cabernet effort.

Now this wine is a big, bold Cab that stands up to the best of a bold beefy dinner, which it so happens I am lucky enough to enjoy tonight!  I stopped at a local supermarket in Indiana where I've been working the last two days and picked up a "cowboy cut" ribeye!

Can you believe they classify this as "semi-boneless"?  In any case I am enjoying this wine with this monster steak and it's delicious in every way!  A rare steak, big baked potato and some steamed Brussels sprouts, what could be better?  Oh, the wine, yes I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's really a great Napa Valley Cabernet from a great vintage but for only $22!  So if you happen across this one, pick up a bottle or two for the holidays!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

2009 Soos Creek Champoux Vineyard Red Wine

Tonight I am enjoying a wine I received in the recent Snooth "Secret Santa" exchange, and what a delight, a new Washington red wine from a producer that I am not familiar with!  Now apparently Soos Creek is a family-owned winery that sources its wine grapes from the Champoux Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA in Washington's Columbia Valley.  And of course Champoux Vineyard is well known for its outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon among others, and it's always a treat to have a bottle of wine made with such fine fruit.  This particular wine is a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Cabernet Franc, which were sourced from blocks of mostly older vines.

The wine itself is an inky purple color in the glass (so far so good!) just as you'd expect from a fine Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  The nose is a lovely combination of leather, tobacco, and a wonderful combination of sweet fruits, cherries, blackberries that just seem to play around the edges.  Surprisingly, this is not a particularly fruit forward wine, instead I experienced a rush of floral notes at the outset, which was then followed by some very subdued flavors of ripe berries.  The finish was quite nice, with some earthy notes accented by some cedar and a hint of anise, as the rather young tannins made for a bit of tightness that might open up with a bit of time. 

This was really a wonderful example of a great Washington wine and overall I would rate this a solid 8.5!  It's always fun to try a new and undiscovered wine, and this "secret Santa" was a perfect opportunity to try something completely new.  And tonight I am enjoying this big, bold red with an unexpected meal of pan seared sea scallops, couscous and steamed broccoli (yeah, sometimes I get in weird cooking moods), as I find the floral notes and modest fruit play well against the richness of the sea scallops.  Salut!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2009 Las Rocas Garnacha

Happy Birthday!  No, I'm not doing my best Frosty the Snowman impersonation, but today is my birthday, 12/12/12, and I spent most of the day in New York, but made it home in time for a late dinner and a bottle of wine, and the wine I chose was the 2009 Las Rocas Garnacha.  Now I partly blame my dinner companion last night, as I met a fellow Snooth board member, Greg T. in SoHo at a lovely little French bistro called La Sirene, which is all BYOB, with no corkage!  So Greg brought a lovely 1998 Rioja so I've had Spanish wines on the brain!

This wine comes from Calatayud, which is deep in the interior of Aragon, Spain, and from what I've read, the terrain can be quite intimidating, very rocky, with lots of limestone, and quite arid.  Yet somehow the Garnacha (or Grenache in France and elsewhere) vines took root, producing some of the loveliest wines I've had the pleasure of tasting, and as a bonus, they are seldom priced at a level that would suggest their true quality!

This wine has a lovely deep ruby color in the glass, and a nose that is a wonderful blend of jammy fruit, black cherries, currant, anise and somewhat of a sour twang, suggesting that the sweet fruit might be well balanced by acidity.  The taste is an explosion of fruit in your mouth, with rich ripe berries, yet the acidity of some sour cherry notes really balance the fruit mid-palate.  The finish is quite smooth, yet it has a wonderful woodsy sort of taste on the finish, which again is a surprising counterbalance to the rich fruit.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, particularly given the price, as this was a recent office wine club selection for only $8!  As for pairings, for my birthday, I had a hankering for some Thai food, and there is a new Thai restaurant that someone told me about last week, called Thai Chef, which was right on the way home from the airport!  So I enjoyed this one with some wonderful pad kee mao, and I found the fruit and acidity really played nicely with the spice of the dish, and the fragrant Thai basil!  Not one of my more traditional pairings, but it worked, cheers!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

2008 Ravenswood Zinfandel

Tonight I've decided to open up a big bottle of wine, yes indeed a MAGNUM!  Oh that sounds intimidating doesn't it?  Well it's really not, or at least it shouldn't be, as large format bottles have been around a long time and they are pretty fun, after all no one in a large group feels bad about having a glass of wine when they know there are at least 8 glasses in the big bottle!  So tonight I've opened a magnum of the 2008 Ravenswood Zinfandel, this one being the "Vintner's Blend" which is their basic wine.  Even so, I've been a fan of Ravenswood since 2000, so I am usually quite confident that their blends won't leave me gagging!

Now you all know how I love Zinfandel, and I acquired those feelings from some of my earliest experiences with Ravenswood Zins, before that I just thought all Zinfandels were pink wines (call me a child of the 1980s!).  This particular wine has a nice deep ruby color in the glass, and the nose exhibits aromas of leather, blackberry, plum and black cherry, and just the faintest hint of baking spice.  The taste is very fruit forward, a very "jammy" sort of Zin, with flavors of ripe plum, cherries, and blackberries, giving way to some fresh herbs, cedar and spice notes midpalate.  The tannins are quite well developed, leading to a nice, tight dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, because it's good, but also because it was a tremendous bargain at only $10 for a magnum from (for those of you doing the math, that's like $5 for a regular bottle!).  Tonight I am enjoying it with a completely random and poorly thought out dinner (come on it's the holiday season, who hasn't had a random dinner?) consisting of tortilla crusted tilapia, a baked potato and the holiday classic green bean casserole!  Who knows how well this wine could possibly play with all those flavors, but by the time it's over I probably won't care one way or the other!  Cheers!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

2000 Burgess Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Here we are again, at my fifth? (perhaps it's a good thing if I've lost count!) Cellar Saturday, and what special wine do I have to share?  How about the 2000 Burgess Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon!  I love a good Cabernet, and some of the most pleasant come from Napa Valley, so why not give this one a try?

The color in the glass is a deep, inky purple which transitions to a dark ruby along the edges.  The nose just says, "Get ready, this is a great Cab coming your way!"  There are lovely notes of leather, ripe berries, plum and a hint of anise.  The taste us just absolutely everything you'd expect from a decade old Cabernet from Napa, lovely fruit at the outset, surrounded by a smokiness that just creates a carnival of the senses, notes of plum, black currant, all of which lead to an earthy, limestone quality midpalate.  The finish is wonderful, as the tannins are still vibrant despite the 12 years of age, and the flavors of leather and dry herbs create a great, long dry finish that highlights the great quality of this wine.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's aged wonderfully since the halcyon days of the birth of the new millennium.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a classic Italian dinner of hot sausage with onions and peppers along with some linguine tossed with garlic and olive oil and a hind of aged Parmesan and Asiago cheeses.  Cheers!