Sunday, December 29, 2013

2006 Eagles Trace Napa Valley Merlot

So tonight I just got back home from visiting my uncle just south of Chicago and now it's time to relax as I begin to cook my Sunday dinner.  And to accompany my cooking exploits I've decided to open a bottle of 2006 Eagles Trace Napa Valley Merlot. As you know by now, I am an ardent fan Merlot and Napa produces some very nice ones. 

This wine is a lovely bright ruby in the glass with great clarity. The nose is a lovely combination of black currant, dark chocolate and ripe plum.  The taste is wonderfully complex with blackberry, wild herbs, and oak swirling around a base of delicate minerality. The tannins are well integrated creating a wonderfully opulent mouthfeel and a long, smooth finish. 


Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's a great example of a lovely Merlot at a wonderful value as I bought a 4-pack vertical of the 2006 and 2007 vintages from Wines Till Sold Out for just $90!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine as I make one of my favorite winter dishes, seafood Newburg, with fresh clams, mussels, shrimp and bay scallops in a rich sherry cream sauce served over flaky pastry puffs.  The complex flavors of this wine really provide a nice counterbalance to the richness of the dish.  So yummy!!!


Thursday, December 26, 2013

2010 Seven Hills Ciel du Cheval

Happy Boxing Day!  What fun there is to be had around the holidays, and for the day after Christmas, traditionally known as Boxing Day in the British Commonwealth I've decided to open a bottle of 2010 Seven Hills Ciel du Cheval!  The wine is one of my favorite blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot from one of my favorite producers, Seven Hills out of Walla Walla. 

The wine is a lovely deep purple color in the glass with limited opacity. The nose is a lovely blend of green grass, balsamic, cedar and cocoa powder. The taste is quite lovely, with some subtle fruit up front that's enveloped with some complex flavors of anise, lavender and minerality. The finish is long, smooth and with a velvety mouthfeel that just lasts for a minute or more. 


Overall I would rate this wine a solid 9, as it's just a great example of a classic Walla Walla Bordeaux style blend but at a terrific value, as I found three bottles of this at my local wine merchant for only $28 after my 15% case discount!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a lovely dinner of baked Christmas ham, baked potato, grilled Brussels sprouts and a Mediterranean salad. The wine is the perfect balance to the sweet smoky flavor of the ham and the richness of the grilled Brussels sprouts. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

2010 Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon

Merry Christmas!  It's always a great day when you're together with family and friends to enjoy the wonderful food and great fun!  So today I've opened up a bottle of 2010 Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon to enjoy with Christmas dinner. 

The wine is a nice deep indigo in the glass while the nose is packed with ripe fruit, blueberries, cherries and ripe plums along with some lovely leather notes. The taste is wonderlully fruit forward with notes of blueberry, plum and cherry cola that transitions to some mineral notes mid palate. The finish is wonderfully dry, with a long, smooth, velvety mouthfeel. 


Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, as it's a really nice example of a solid California Cabernet. Today I am enjoying this wine with a classic Christmas dinner of turkey and all the fixin's!  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2007 Cougar Crest Reserve Syrah

Well it's Christmas Eve, time to wrap those last presents and hopefully enjoy a lovely dinner while watching a favorite Christmas movie, a perfect way to end the holiday rush. And with my special dinner I've opened a bottle of 2007 Cougar Crest Reserve Syrah!

The wine is a beautiful ruby color in the glass with great clarity. The nose is full of rich dark fruit, blackberries, plum and cherry over some rich leather and oak. The taste is a classic Walla Walla Syrah, with rich fruit up front, blackberry, ripe plum that transitions to some cherry cola, dark chocolate and mineral notes mid palate. The long, dry finish is supple and inviting, practically begging you to take another sip. 


Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's a great example of a solid Walla Walla Syrah at a spectacular value as I bought half a case from WTSO for only $20 a bottle!  Tonight I'm enjoying this wine with a Christmas Eve dinner of steamed lobster, grilled Brussels sprouts and a baked potato with butter and sour cream, a perfect end to the holiday rush! Salut!

Monday, December 23, 2013

2010 Chateau Hyot Cotes de Bordeaux

So after my Christmas party last Saturday and getting all my Christmas shopping done today, I figure my theme for this evening is "eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we wrap!"  And what am I drinking?  Tonight I am finishing a magnum from the party, the 2010 Chateau Hyot Cotes de Bordeaux, a magnum I bought from WTSO's magnum marathon a week or so ago!

The wine is a classic Bordeaux, with a nose of rich black fruit, anise, leather and tart cherry.  The taste is very Bordeaux, with very mellow fruit up front that quickly transitions to dusty limestone and complex minerality mid palate. The finish is long and extremely dry, classic Bordeaux. 


Tonight I am enjoying this as a before dinner aperatif before going out to the Chubby Trout for half price sushi! Cheers!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2012 La Crema Monterey Pinot Noir

Here we are at the second wine of the Snooth virtual tasting of the wines of La Crema, a quality producer of wine from Santa Rosa, Calif.  The next wine is the 2012 Monterey Pinot Noir, now of course having lived for a while in Portland, you know my bias towards Oregon Pinot Noir, particularly those from the Willamette Valley, but I'll still keep an open mind on this effort from California!


The wine is a lighter color in the glass, quite typical of pinot noir.  The nose is classic pinot, tart fruit notes, cherry and blackberry, and a hint of leather and tar.  The taste is warm and pleasant, makes me feel like I'm enjoying a nice summer evening on the patio.  Very nice fruit, blueberry and strawberry notes with some nice minerality midpalate.  The finish is quite nice with some tartness but very smooth and dry, very creamy and quite reminiscent of many Oregon pinots. 

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, as it's a really nice example of a fine pinot noir, very light, warm and smooth.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with some oven roasted pork loin chops, mashed potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts, but I could see this one being lovely with some poached salmon with wild mushroom risotto as well.  Cheers!

 

2012 La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

So tonight I am enjoying another wonderful Snooth virtual tasting, this time featuring the wines of La Crema, a wonderful producer out of California.  Now this is a bit unusual as I am doing this virtual tasting from my office of all places as my home internet is still not up and running (moving to a new home can be such a joy!) So the first wine of the virtual tasting that I am trying is the 2012 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.


Now as a complete novice to white wines, I can only say what I've heard in the past, particularly that Chardonnay may be a more popular wine, perhaps a bit overdone, but heck I'll try anything once!  The wine itself has lovely aromas of green grass, ample citrus, honey and just a hint of caramel.  The taste is ripe and crisp, with very little of the tart fruit I so often encounter when I venture into the world of white wine.  I would characterize this wine as a classic, buttery sort of Chardonnay, with many rich flavors that would be perfect with a varierty of fall and winter dishes.  The finish is somewhat soft with some metallic notes, but ultimately a very nice wine.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, as it's a very nice example of a very food friendly white wine, particularly for fall and winter dishes.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with some thick cut oven roasted pork loin chops, mashed potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts, a perfect dish on a cold winter evening!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

2009 Bergevin Lane Vineyards Moonspell Cabernet Sauvignon

So once again I am blogging from my phone since I still don't have my phone or Internet installed, but such are the joys of new home ownership!  But tonight I have a new favorite Washington wine that I discovered right here in Elkhart, Indiana!  I had dinner at a local restaurant in town about a month or so ago and discovered this wine, the 2009 Bergevin Lane Moonspell Cabernet Sauvignon from the Columbia Valley.  I really liked the wine so I asked the manager where I could find this wine and he hooked me up with a case!


The wine is a deep ruby in the glass and the nose is a rich combination of ripe red fruit, black cherry, plum and cassis along with a pleasant aroma of rich leather and forest floor.  The taste is rich and complex with some modest fruit up front, that transitions to some dusty limestone and tart cherry mid palate. The finish is smooth and exceptionally dry, and seems to last for 30 seconds or more!  

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a great drinking wine and a prime example of a great Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a lovely dinner of linguine and spicy marinara with a nice Mediterranean salad, a perfect combination!
 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

2002 L'Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Merlot

It's another Cellar Saturday and I am still blogging from my phone!  Maybe someday I'll have internet at my house but until then I have a nice bottle of 2002 L'Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Merlot!

The wine is a lovely bright ruby color in the glass, with a nose of rich fruit, blackberries, cherries and plum accented by some Asian spice and vanilla. The taste is wonderfully fruit forward with rich berries plum and cherry flavors that transitions to wonderful flavors of black tea, dried herbs and chalk mid palate. The finish is wonderfully dry and mineral, with a last wisp of smokey black fruit at the end, with flavors reminiscent of the classic Bordeaux "funk" that we all know and love.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a classic Columbia Valley Merlot that reminds me so much of a nice Bordeaux. Tonight I am enjoying this with a classic northwest dinner of Mediterranean crusted salmon fillet with some steamed Brussels sprouts and sundried tomato risotto. A lovely meal all around!  


Sunday, December 1, 2013

2012 The Prisoner

Well it's December already and I am now moved into my new house, but there are still some open items like my internet access!  But never one to sweat the details, I decided to put in my first blog post via mobile device!  And for tonight's selection I've opened up a bottle of 2012 The Prisoner, a red blend from Napa Valley. 

The nose is a pleasant blend of red fruit, strawberries, plum, green grass and tar. The taste is very jammy up front, with rich fruit, plum, blackberry and strawberry that transitioned to some dusty limestone and smoke midpalate.  The finish was smooth and very dry, with a smoky accent that lingered for a good while. 

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a solid Napa Valley blend but it's a little pricey for an everyday wine at $41. Tonight I'm enjoying this one with some slow cooked beef ribs, mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus tips. The fruit of the wine really plays well against the flavors of the beef ribs and the smooth starch of the taters, delicious!  


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

2011 Marques de la Musa Garnacha

So tonight I've decided to open a bottle of our next office wine club selection, I guess that's the privilege of being in charge of the wine club! And the selection is the 2011 Marques de la Musa Garnacha, a lovely Grenache from Spain that I think would be a lovely accompaniment to the upcoming holiday dinners!


The wine is a somewhat darker color than you might often expect from a typical Grenache.  The nose presents a very pleasant aromas of strawberry, raspberry cut grass, forest floor and herbs.  The taste is very pleasant, with flavors of ripe, sweet berries, tar and black pepper that transition to some wonderful Asian spice and plum sauce midpalate.  The tannins are well structured, leading to a velvety mouthfeel and long, dry finish, a very pleasant and easy drinking wine.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7, it's nothing spectacular but a pleasant everyday wine and a terrific value that I found at G.B. Russo's for $6 plus tax!  Tonight I am enjoying this with some meatball sliders and a nice salad, but it would be great with some turkey, cranberries and all the trimmings.  In other words, an ideal holiday wine for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Cheers!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

2007 Sullivan Vineyards Rutherford Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

So tonight between packing for my upcoming move I am enjoying a nice Sullivan Vineyards Rutherford Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from the outstanding 2007 vintage.  Speaking of my upcoming move, I closed on my new home yesterday, I guess I was feeling a little underleveraged, so financing this should make me feel a lot better!


But back to the wine, I figured with so much to celebrate I should open a good bottle of wine right?  And this one certainly fits the bill.  It definitely needed to breathe a bit, so I poured mine through an aerator and let it rest for a while.  It has a lovely deep purple color in the glass, with edges of garnet.  The nose of very full of jammy black fruit, plum, black cherry and raspberry, overlaid with hints of leather, Asian spice and mint.  The taste is lovely, with some modest ripe fruit up front that isn't even close to being jammy as the nose would suggest.  The fruit gives way so a wonderful minerality of dusty limestone and sage midpalate.  The firm yet structured tannins support a beautiful, dry and velvety finish that has real staying power.


Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a wonderful big bold cabernet with complex flavors at a fairly good value.  I bought this one from Wines Till Sold Out for only $30.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a nice Angus T-bone grilled rare with some steamed green, yellow and purple beans and some sun dried tomato risotto.  The rustic flavors of the wine really complement the risotto, while the big bold cabernet aspects are perfect for a hearty steak, delicious!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

2005 Stella Maris Columbia Valley Red Wine

Tonight's wine is an object lesson in keeping your eyes open for potential surprises lurking in unexpected places as that's exactly what happened with this wine!  I've had this wine before, a production of the Northstar Winery in Walla Walla, but the only vintage I've tried before was the 2008 Stella Maris vintage back in July.  So last week I was at the local wine shop in Elkhart looking for a bottle to bring over to a friend's house, and as I was exploring I happened to notice this lonely bottle sitting on a shelf, an earlier vintage that I've not seen before, and the price was a steal at only $16 so I picked it up and am sharing it with you tonight!  The 2005 Stella Maris is a much different blend than the 2008 vintage, this one is mainly Merlot (77%) with some Cabernet Sauvignon (16%) and Syrah (7%).


The wine is a nice deep ruby color in the glass.  The nose is is a nice combination of leather, cedar and rich black fruit, plum, black cherry and prune with a bit of anise over the top.  The taste is very nice, with some dried herbs, mint and a hint of floral notes up front that transitions wonderfully to some rich ripe fruit midpalate, with an almost jammy characteristic beautifully offset with some dusty limestone.  The tannins are somewhat mellow yet supportive of a lush, long dry finish that seems to last 30 seconds or more.  A very pleasant wine to sip, but also quite food friendly as well.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's a great example of a nice Columbia Valley Bordeaux style blend at a terrific value for $16, the only problem is I don't know where I can find more of it!  Tonight I enjoyed it with some homemade vegetable pizza with whole wheat crust, zucchini, orange and red peppers, organic bella mushrooms, fresh tomato and a combination of mozzarella, parmesan, asiago and romano cheeses, and the ripe fruit and dry finish was the perfect combination for the rustic flavors of veggies, whole wheat crust and cheeses, so yummy!  Cheers!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

2009 Waterbrook Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Tonight I've decided to open another bottle of Washington red wine that I bought at the Chalet Party Shoppe in Elkhart a week or so ago, so tonight's choice is the 2009 Waterbrook Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from the Columbia Valley.  Waterbrook is one of the older producers in Walla Walla, and they have a beautiful tasting room on U.S. 12 just east of L'Ecole and Woodward Canyon.  The Chalet had the 2010 vintage on sale, and I just happened to find one lone bottle of the 2009 vintage on the shelf for the same price, so why not try it?


The wine itself is a nice inky indigo in the glass leading to some garnet along the edges.  The nose is a fountain of ripe fruit, blueberries, cherries, prune and cassis, projecting a sweeter, almost jammy aroma.  The fruit is overlaid with some lovely notes of toasted oak, cocoa powder and some earthy aromas of forest floor.  The taste is very fruit forward, but much more complex than I was expecting from such a fruit centered wine.  There is a good bit of ripe fruit at the outset, blueberries, black currant and plum that washes over you in your first sip, but the fruit subsides and transitions nicely to some raw minerality midpalate.  The tannins are structured but not overwhelming, providing a nice foundation for the long, dry and velvety finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's a solid Cabernet at a terrific value, I bought this one on sale for just $17, making it an ideal everyday wine (I need to go back and pick up some more of the 2010 vintage!).  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with some crab stuffed flounder from Trader Joe's along with some steamed broccoli and some linguine with roasted red pepper pesto, yummy!  And yes, I know it's unconventional to enjoy a Cab with fish but when have I ever been conventional?  Besides, this wine has a nice earthy character that really pairs well with meat or fish in a variety of herb inspired dishes.  Salut!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

2011 Dona Paula Estate Malbec

Tonight I have a special treat, a Snooth virtual tasting of wines from the Dona Paula Estate in Argentina! I really have to offer a special word of appreciation and a hearty thank you to Snooth and Dona Paula Estate for providing me with some lovely samples to try this evening, the 2011 Torrontes (which I posted about yesterday) and the 2011 Malbec! Now I'll admit that I have not been the biggest fan of Malbec, though I think this is in part because of the recent surge in popularity of Malbec that resulted in a wave of imports that were not exactly the highest quality.  This one gives me some hope as it's a classic from the Uco Valley of Mendoza, so here's to hopefully trying Malbec with a new outlook!


The wine itself has a deep purple color and nice clarity in the glass.  The nose is classic Malbec, rich ripe red fruit, blackberries, cherries and plums, offset with distinct earthy tones of green grass, forest floor and some dusty granite.  The taste is quite remarkable, with some dark fruit up front, followed by some lovely spice notes midpalate, anise, mint and leather.  The finish is wonderful, as the firm tannins and balanced acidity provide ample support for the velvety mouthfeel and long, dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's a really wonderful example of what a good Mendoza Malbec should be, ample black fruit and a lovely rustic earthiness that begs for a big hunk of meat!  Since I'm tasting tonight, I am enjoying this one with a simple plate of antipasti, but it would be perfect with a big rare grilled Angus steak and some fresh veggies, just like you might enjoy in the Andes of northern Argentina.  So if you can grab a bottle, enjoy it with dinner tonight!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

2011 Dona Paula Estate Torrontes

Tonight I have a special treat, a Snooth virtual tasting of wines from the Dona Paula Estate in Argentina!  I really have to offer a special word of appreciation and a hearty thank you to Snooth and Dona Paula Estate for providing me with some lovely samples to try this evening, the 2011 Torrontes and the 2011 Malbec (which I will review on a separate posting tomorrow)!  Now the interesting thing is that the Torrontes is a white wine, so I think this might actually be the first white wine review on my blog, and it's a special one given it's source, the Valle de Cafayate in Salta.  This is special to me since I have long dreamt of retiring in the Cafayate near Salta in Argentina, home of beautiful vineyards and lovely cattle ranches, and farms with ample beautiful and healthy produce to enjoy.  Great wine and great steak, what more could you want in retirement?


So back to the wine.  I am so out of my depth with white wines I had to look up on Google what sort of grape this is, and I found that it's native to Argentina and typically displays some smooth mouthfeel and mild acidity with aromatics of peach and apricot.  And sure enough, there are some lovely floral notes to this wine, and some earthy notes that just bring to mind riding on horseback through the mountains.  The taste is quite refreshing, mildly acidic, and displays wonderful notes of peach, citrus and some earth notes that are mildly metallic, a taste reminiscent of copper and rustic forest.  The finish is very nice and crisp, perfect for a summer afternoon, and very dry, a white wine that I could definitely get to know and like!

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, as I think it's such a pleasant departure from the usual, sweeter, citrus dominated white wines I've tried in the past.  It strikes me that this could be an ideal white wine for us red wine drinkers.  Although I'm just having this with some antipasti tonight, I could see this going very well with some bright Mexican dishes, fish tacos or some fresh salsa with carne asada and a squeeze of lime, or the traditional Argentine pairing with empanadas.  So yummy!

Monday, November 4, 2013

2008 Tero Estates Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon

Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of wine from a producer I discovered on my last trip to Walla Walla this past June, Tero Estates.  They had a lovely little tasting room on the corner of Second and Rose, right in the Marcus Whitman Hotel, and there were a few others that recommended I stop by and I wasn't disappointed.  Since that visit, they've expanded with the acquisition of Waters Winery, which produces some very nice wines as well.  But tonight it's the 2008 Tero Estates Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon.


The wine is a deep, inky purple color in the glass, and it even left some deep indigo on the cork as well.  The nose is very rich, with some sweet fruit, plum, blackberry and cassis, overlaid with some leather and black pepper.  The taste is very nice and a classic Walla Walla style Cabernet, rich black fruit up front, blackberries, black cherry and plum that transition gracefully to some notes of dark chocolate and earth.  The finish is quite nice, as the firm tannins and rounded mouthfeel make for a long, lush and exceptionally dry finish that last until you take your next sip.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, it's a super quality Cabernet, but it has a price to match at $42.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with some grilled lamb chops, steamed asparagus and oven roasted Klondike fingerling potatoes, as the rich fruit and lovely finish make a great foil to the earthiness of the lamb, so yummy!  Salut!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

1998 Seven Hills Vineyard Reserve Merlot

So it's the first Saturday of the month and of course that means it's Cellar Saturday!  And tonight we have a super treat, one I've been waiting to try since I bought it in Walla Walla last June, the 1998 Seven Hills Vineyard Reserve Merlot!  I know a lot of you have an apprehension towards Merlot, but I have to tell you I really enjoy it, particularly when it comes from an ageworthy producer like Seven Hills, so that 15 years later when you try it, you are just shocked at what it does for you!


The wine is pretty clear around the edges, with some opacity toward the center, but still a bright ruby color all around.  The nose is very nice, with loads of ripe fruit, black plum, tart cherry and blueberry, overlaid with layers of anise, leather and Asian spice.  The taste is delightful, with some initial red fruit, blackberries, plum and tart cherry that transitions to some tarragon and dusty limestone midpalate.  The finish was divine, as the tannins are very structured along with some remaining acidity that gives this wine an exceptionally long, dry finish.  And I have to admit, that in the end, the finish had some of the classic Bordeaux funk to it that really made me stop and question whether this wine was from Walla Walla or the right bank of the Gironde!

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 9, as it's just such a treat to drink that I don't even remember or care what I paid for it.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a classic dinner of rare grilled Angus ribeye sliced and topped with Bearnaise sauce, along with a baked heirloom potato and some grilled carrots, leeks and brussels sprouts.  The wine is such a great complement to the richness of the food, it's a perfect autumn evening now.  Cheers!

Friday, November 1, 2013

2011 Dearly Beloved I Thee Red

Friday is here!  Whoo Hooooo!  So what are Fridays for besides having a bit of relaxation and a nice bottle of wine?  And tonight's wine is a nice bottle that like me is simply a day late and a buck short, as this bottle would have been wildly appropriate last night, for Halloween, the 2011 Dearly Beloved I Thee Red wine from California, a nice blend of red varietals from the Central Coast.  As I recall, this wine had a lot going for it when I picked it up at Trader Joe's a year or so ago, not the least of which was the painted label with the creepy skull!


The wine itself is somewhat lighter and very clear, with a bright ruby countenance.  The nose is very pleasant with some rich, ripe berries on top, with a hint of tart cherry, tar and green grass.  The taste has some nice ripe fruit up front that lingers to some real jamminess mid palate, along with some hints of oak and vanilla bean.  The finish was somewhat lackluster, as the lingering fruit was offset by some modestly developed tannins that made for a smooth, semi-dry finish, that overall was quite pleasant.

I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, it wasn't spectacular to drink, but it was pleasant and a great value at under $10 from Trader Joe's as I recall.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a classic worked late and just got home Friday dinner, or pepperoni pizza with a few peperoncinis in the side.  The fruit of the wine really balances the spice of the pizza, yummy and warm for a cold rainy night, cheers!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

2012 2 Copas Spanish Red Blend

So a week or two ago I was at my favorite local wine shop, G. B. Russo's and as they usually do on Saturdays they had a small tasting of three or four wines, and of course how could I resist?  And one of the wines they were tasting was a 2 Copas, a label I've tried before and it was always a pretty descent value wine.  But this one was different, as it was a wine from Spain, so why not try it?  I'm glad I did, because I wasn't disappointed and it was as good or better value than I remembered!


The wine is a nice deep ruby color in the glass, suggesting it might be full of ripe fruit, and it is!  The nose is chock full of rich ripe fruit, blackberries, cherries, plum and cassis overlayed with just a hint of leather and cedar (enough to make you think about it!).  Despite the distinct jammy character of the nose, the taste takes a different direction.  There is great ripe fruit up front, with some lovely notes of plum, cherry and anise, but the fruit transitions effortlessly to some green grass and minerality midpalate.  The finish is surprisingly nice, with some tight tannins and mild acidity that accents the wonderfully dry finish.  It's really a best of both worlds sort of wine, very fruity up front yet still with a nice dry finish that you don't even notice unless you're thinking about it.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's not so much a spectacular Spanish red as it is a good Spanish red at a spectacular value!  I bought this wine for just under $6 including tax!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a last gasp of summer meal, a rare grilled Angus T-bone (though to be fair, looking at the filet this is really a porterhouse), baked heirloom potato and some grilled baby carrots (that I grew myself) and some grilled brussels sprouts that I picked up at a farm stand yesterday in South Haven.  Those grilled veggies really married the Autumn with the steak of Summer, which is a great testament to this wine.  It would be great with a summer dinner, but it could be fabulous with turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberries and all the trimmings of the holidays which are fast approaching!  Cheers!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Domaine Serene Rockblock SoNo Syrah

Once again the weekend is coming to a close, so why not make the best of it with a bottle of Northwest wine?  Tonight's selection is a little different, as it's a multi-vintage wine from Domaine Serene, produced from the best grapes and vintages from two vineyard sites in the Walla Walla region of Oregon.  And for those unfamiliar with the area, Walla Walla is just a few miles north of the Oregon border and fortunately good wine grapes don't stop growing once you reach Oregon!  The fruit for this wine was sourced from the Seven Hills and Stone Valley Vineyards in Oregon.  As a non-vintage wine, this one should be interesting.


The wine has a nice deep, inky purple color at the center, leading to a bright ruby along the edges.  The nose is at first a spicy sweetness, with black pepper and blueberries that ease into some hints of smoke, cocoa powder and a touch of lavender.  The taste is wonderfully complex, with some spice and floral notes up front that transitions smoothly to blueberries and black plum midpalate.  The tannins are somewhat rustic and smoky that suppose a silky finish that lingers on the palate.  Very pleasant to sip at the end of a long day!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a lovely example of Walla Walla Valley Syrah that shows a lot of complexity.  The only real negative I can see with this wine is the price, as I paid $33 for this bottle at my local wine merchant, G.B. Russo's, so it's clearly not an everyday wine if you're on a budget!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a simple Sunday dinner of salad, herb roasted chicken breast and some steamed fingerling potatoes with butter and parsley.  The rich blue fruit and spice of this wine make a nice foil to the more subdued flavors of chicken and potatoes.  Cheers!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

2009 Vina Bujanda Rioja Crianza

Well, it's a rainy afternoon, and surprisingly I still didn't get much done today!  Very frustrating, and what cures frustrating rainy afternoons better than a glass of wine?  Today I am enjoying a nice bottle of 2009 Vina Bujanda Rioja Crianza that I sampled earlier today at my local wine merchant, G.B. Russo's.


The wine is a classic rioja red in the glass, beautiful ruby color with great clarity.  The nose is a lovely combination of ripe fruit, cherries, blackberries and cassis over a subtle background of cedar.  The taste is classic rioja, with a burst of red fruit at the outset, followed by some lovely floral notes.  Midpalate presents some nice minerality and wonderful dried herbs over a wonderful earthiness.  The finish is quite nice, as the tannins are well structured with mild acidity that combines for a wonderful, mid-length and very dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's a solid example of rioja, but it was also a nice value at $14.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine before dinner with a simple cheese course of Romano Locatelli sheep's milk cheese from Italy, which has a salty and nutty flavor that really accentuates the red fruit and minerality of the wine.  Cheers!

Friday, October 18, 2013

2007 Reininger Cima

Another week closer to moving to Indiana, but for now I have a long drive home on Friday and then unpacking then getting something for dinner, oh yeah and then opening a bottle of wine!  And tonight's feature is a wine club selection from Reininger that I received recently, even though it's a 6-year-old vintage it was just released!  Reininger has a habit of doing that, and I really appreciate it since when I receive the wine I know that it's ready to enjoy without any additional cellaring (though that's not usually a bad thing either).  The Cima blend (which means "summit" is an interesting one, that's surely off the beaten path of the more traditional Bordeaux style blends that Walla Walla is known for.  The 2007 Cima is a blend of Sangiovese (53%), Cabernet Sauvignon (21%), Petit Verdot (16%) and Merlot (10%), and it's really the heavy reliance on Sangiovese that makes this wine such an adventure.


The wine is a lovely deep ruby in the glass.  The nose is very interesting, with a whiff of leather that is layered upon rich ripe fruit, lovely spice, vanilla and a hint of dried flowers.  The taste is just marvelous, with a subdued combination of fruit, blackberry and cherry cola with a hint of cassis and plum midpalate.  The finish is divine, as the subdued tannins suddenly awaken and combine with a wash of acidity that supports the long, supple finish.  Truly a pleasure to sip on a crisp autumn evening!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, is it's just a quintessential Walla Walla blend that takes things up a notch.  I have no idea how much I paid for this one either, and frankly that doesn't bother me a bit!  As for pairings, it would be perfect with a variety of grilled meat, or spicy Italian fair, but of course since I am just getting home from a week in Indiana, I am enjoying this with some simple pasta and veggies with a parma rosa sauce.  Cheers!



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

2009 Chateau du Pin Bordeaux

Tonight I am coming to you from Elkhart, Indiana, the RV capital of the world, and nothing says RV like a nice 2009 Bordeaux!  I just came back from a lovely dinner with my Chairman at the Vine here in Elkhart (if you are ever in the area I highly recommend it).  We had the salmon special, grilled with a Tuscan cream sauce, delicious!  And now I'm back at the hotel ready for a glass of wine.  This one the Chateau du Pin Bordeaux from the stellar 2009 vintage that is really starting to drink very well now.


The color is very nice, rich ruby edging toward a deep purple in the center.  The nose is quite nice with rich ripe fruit, blackberries, cherry, plum and cassis that suggests a very fruit forward wine.  The taste is fruit forward but subdued, with cool red fruit up front that transitions to some nice minerality, dusty limestone and dried herbs midpalate that is so typical of a young Bordeaux.  The tannins are rather mellow, but still supportive of a long dry finish that is classic for the Gironde.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's a very nice example of a standard Bordeaux from a strong vintage, and it was a pretty good value as well as I recall this one was about $15.  Although I'm having this after dinner, it would pair quite nicely with some lamb chops grilled with sage, or some braised short ribs with some lovely root vegetables that are just coming into season with the autumn weather.  The fruit of the wine really would be a nice foil to the strong and savory flavors of a big meat dish.  Cheers!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

2010 Maison Nicolas Perrin Syrah Viognier

Tonight's wine is an interesting one that I picked up yesterday at G.B. Russo's and it's interesting for a number of reasons, not least of which is the lesson in bureaucracy I received, though it's that bureaucratic effect that led to my getting this wine at a bargain price!  The winemaker, Nicolas Perrin wanted to make a wine in the style of a Hermitage in the northern Rhone, but at a price that would make it much more approachable to young people (as opposed to $300 a bottle!).  So he came up with a blend of 97% Syrah and 3% Viognier sourced from the northern Rhone.  Unfortunately when it came time to bottle the wine, the French authorities would not allow him to classify it as anything but a "Vin de Table" which was the lowest classification and only allows you to state on the label the producer and that it comes from France.  Then, as he tried to export it to the United States, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives would not allow him to state a vintage on a "Vin de Table" so he ended up with the very basic label we see before us.  But by 2012, the French had changed their rules creating the "Vin de France" category which allowed a vintage to be added, so now he is changing the label and liquidating all the wine in the old labels, voila!  A bargain!


The wine itself is very dark ruby with a tinge if India ink.  The nose is very rustic, with aromas of peat moss, forest floor and wild herbs, over just a hint of fresh cut grass.  Now keep in mind this wine needs some time to breathe, so you might consider decanting or letting it breathe for an hour or more as I have this evening.  The wine has a very rustic taste up front, with wild herbs, grass and great minerality at the outset, with very mild red fruit that expresses itself nicely midpalate.  The finish is very smooth, as the tannins accent the mineral characteristics and make for a very smooth finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, as it's not a wine for everyone, but for those who really appreciate the great mineral character and terroir that can be expressed in a wine from the Rhone valley.  As I mentioned earlier, it was also a great bargain at only $8!  The wine would pair well with richer dishes as a nice contrast for heavy cream sauces or sweeter dishes.  Tonight I am pairing this wine with some maple and bourbon glazed roast pork tenderloin, some baby potatoes with butter and parsley and some baby carrots from my garden.  Bon Appetit!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

2010 Maison Bleue "Le Midi" Boushey Vineyard Grenache

So here we are, winding down a Washington Wine Weekend and boy are we going out with a bang!  Tonight I am enjoying one of the wines I fell in love with on my tasting tour of Walla Walla back in June, the 2010 Maison Bleue "Le Midi" Boushey Vineyard Grenache.  I was lucky enough to be visiting during the first week that the new Maison Bleue tasting room was open in Walla Walla, so I had a wonderful chance to taste their wines and order a couple bottles of tonight's wine which happened to arrive at my office last week (Oh thank heaven for cooler weather!).


Unlike it's French cousins, Maison Bleue's Grenache from the Yakima Valley of Washington tends to be a bit more muscular yet complex.  Given its youth, I recommend decanting or at least opening this one up to let it breathe a bit before enjoying (I've had this one open about 2 hours now).  The wine is a lovely bright ruby in the glass, with exquisite clarity.  The nose is a lovely combination of ripe fruit, berries and black cherry, with hints of Asian spice, fresh herbs and black pepper.  The wine has an simply wonderful velvety presence, as you are cascaded with ripe fruit at the outset.  The fruit smoothly transitions to some wonderful minerality, with layers of dark chocolate mixed in.  The finish is supported by some well structured tannins that form a base for a long, smooth and dry finish that seems to last forever while beckoning you to another sip.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 9, as it's probably the best Grenache currently being produced in Washington state.  Given the lovely fruit and mineral flavors, I am enjoying this one tonight with a grilled New York strip, garnished with grilled leeks, along with a baked Bliss' Triumph potato that I got from the farmers' market yesterday and some steamed brussels sprouts.  Though you might question it, this Grenache really pairs well with grilled steak and savory vegetables, as the fruit offers nice balance to the savory, and the minerality really stands up to the hearty beef.  Cheers!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

1997 L'Ecole No. 41 Seven Hills Vineyard Merlot

So it's Cellar Saturday, time to reach back in time to enjoy a wine that's had a bit of life behind it, and of course as an added bonus, this is also a Washington Wine Weekend, so we know tonight's selection will be coming from my favorite wine region.  Tonight we are going back 16 years for this vintage, though I'll admit this wine has only been in my cellar since last Friday as I bought two bottles of this library selection at the L'Ecole 30th Anniversary celebration back in June when I visited Walla Walla.  I tried it then and ordered a couple bottles and they were just delivered last Friday, so how fortunate!  This particular vintage would have been just a couple years out of date when I first visited Walla Walla back in 2001 so it sure brings back some memories.


The wine itself still has some nice ruby color, with just the faintest hint of opacity.  The nose is very reminiscent of Bordeaux, with some funk initially followed by some lovely notes of leather, cedar and hint of lavender and plum (keep in mind I only opened this about an hour ago, so it's early in the process of opening up!).  The taste is quite complex, with some lovely floral notes up front that draw you in to a combination of rich dark fruit, blackberries, plum and black cherry that are still very vibrant.  The fruit transitions to some lovely dried herbs and mint, balanced by some musty forest floor.  The finish is long, dry and exceptionally smooth, the type of finish that makes you question why you've been wasting your time with such young wines barely 5 years old!

Overall I would rate this wine an easy 9.5, as it's simply outstanding and in my opinion just passing it's peak, and I think I bought this wine for about $35 which to me is a screaming bargain!  Tonight I am pairing this with something a little different, a lightly grilled tuna filet with some grilled leeks, red pepper and purple asparagus along with some steamed heirloom fingerling potatoes I bought at the farmers market today.  So delicious and an entire evening to enjoy this bottle, cheers!

Friday, October 4, 2013

2010 Canoe Ridge Frontier Reserve Cherry Street Red Wine

Well, tonight seems like a good night to enjoy a nice glass of wine, especially with so much going on!  It was a busy day at work today, plus I have a lot of craziness going on with trying to relocate to Indiana for my new job, we have the winner being announced for ArtPrize here in Grand Rapids, and I'm sure there's something I'm forgetting.  So let's make this a Washington Wine Weekend shall we?  Tonight is the first Washington wine and the inaugural selection for my new office wine club (we are starting small as there are only 4 of us!), the 2010 Canoe Ridge Frontier Reserve Cherry Street Red Wine from the Horse Heaven Hills of the Columbia Valley!


The wine is a lovely rich ruby color in the glass.  The nose is brimming with ample ripe red fruit overlaid with lovely notes of leather and baking spice.  The taste is a burst of tart cherry that subsides into a basket of ripe berries and plum.  The fruit gives way to some lovely notes of limestone as the nicely structured tannins provide all the support you need for a long, smooth and exceptionally dry finish that seems to last a minute or more.

This is my first sampling of wine from Canoe Ridge and I must admit I wasn't disappointed.  Overall I'd rate it a solid 8, as it's the sort of wine that is delicious on its own, but also beckons you to pair it with a variety of rich or zesty dishes.  It was also a great value as we bought this one from Wines Till Sold Out for just $17!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with just a simple linguine with some spicy marinara, since I really didn't feel like cooking tonight!  So what's next for this Washington Wine Weekend?  You'll have to come back to find out, it could be exciting especially when considering that tomorrow is also Cellar Saturday!  Cheers!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

2010 Plumb Cellars Estate Sangiovese Walla Walla Valley

Well another weekend has slipped by me and I didn't get nearly as much done as I had wanted to!  But I guess that's life in many ways, no matter how much we toil there's always more to do, and that's why God made wine!  So we can enjoy a rest from all the toil of life and take a moment and breathe a little easier.  Tonight I am breathing easier with a bottle of wine I picked up on my last trip to Walla Walla, the 2010 Plumb Cellars Walla Walla Valley Sangiovese.  I know normally I love the Cabernets and Bordeaux blends from Walla Walla, but I have to admit I tasted a lot of very nice Sangiovese while I was there last summer!


The wine itself is a beautiful ruby color in the glass, with great clarity as you might see on a classic Chianti.  The nose is wonderfully Sangiovese, with ripe black fruit notes of cherry, ripe berries and plum overlaid with leather, dried spice and some forest floor.  The taste is very nice, with good fruit up front, a blast of black cherry and cassis that transitions effortlessly to some wonderful spice, dark chocolate and dusty limestone notes midpalate.  The finish is long and dry, but very smooth as the tannins do the heavy lifting, but don't get all up in your face about it.  A wine you can just sip and enjoy on an early autumn afternoon like today!

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's such a nice example of the varietal and a super value as I think I paid under $20 for this bottle!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a vegetable pizza, my own creation of red and purple peppers, portabello mushroom and zucchini topped with mozzarella, asiago, parmesan and provalone, yum!  An American version of an Italian wine with an American version of Italian cuisine, how appropriate!  Cin cin!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

2009 Stephen Vincent Cabernet Sauvignon

The best laid plains of mice and men...so the saying goes and so my week of wine went!  I had originally planned to bring a bottle of nice Bordeaux with me on this trip and it's still sitting on my kitchen table.  But where there are disappointments there are opportunities, as I had the chance to stop at the local wine shop in Elkhart to find another bottle to enjoy, hence the 2009 Stephen Vincent Cabernet Sauvignon.


The wine is a classic deep purple in the glass, just as you'd expect of a California Cabernet.  The nose is a pleasant and full of fruit, blackberry and cherry with notes of plum and cherry cola.  The taste is fruit forward, with some ripe fruit, plum, cherry, ripe berries that transitions nicely to some lovely tarragon and floral notes, and an earthy minerality midpalate.  The tannins are fairly mellow leading to a soft finish that is just pleasing and food friendly.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7, it was nothing spectacular, but a solid wine at a great price.  I bought this wine for only $11!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with some chicken tacos and a nice salad with a balsamic vinaigrette.  Cheers!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2010 Wrongo Dongo Monastrell

It's the middle of the week and what better way to celebrate hump day than with a fun wine?  And tonight's is certainly fun, as the name says it all, the 2010 Wrongo Dongo Monastrell from Jumilla Spain!  I have to admit, I bought this bottle at the World Market about a year ago, just because I couldn't get over the name, and I figured at less than $10 how could I go wrongo?


The wine itself is a deep ruby color in the glass, giving you a sense that this is a heartier Spanish wine, which it is, as Monastrell is the Spanish version of Mourvedre, which is a blending grape in the Southern Rhone, but a primary grape in many wines from Southeast Spain.  The nose is very rustic, with aromas of leather, sagebrush and forest floor accented by rich ripe fruit, blackberries, ripe cherries and plums.  The taste is delightfully fruit forward, with a burst of ripe berries and prune that mellows through the midpalate where there is a smooth transition to some mint and herb notes.  The tannins are somewhat tight, allowing the fruit and spice notes to really carry through on the finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a 7.5, it's quite pleasant to drink, but even moreso it's a great value as I think I paid about $9 for this bottle!  Tonight I'm enjoying it with some rotisserie chicken and a nice salad of field greens and raspberries, as the wine really balances well with the savory spice in the chicken.  It would also pair well with a variety of roast meats, or some spicy sausage and polenta.  Cheers!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

2008 Three Rivers Winery Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

So tonight I've decided to enjoy a lovely Cabernet from the Columbia Valley in Washington produced by a long-time Walla Walla winery, Three Rivers Winery!  Now Three Rivers is an interesting producer, as I recall from my first trip to Walla Walla stopping by their winery just east of Woodward Canyon and L'Ecole No. 41 on U.S. 12.  It was a beautiful new tasting room, in a gorgeous setting complete with putting green and patio to enjoy their wines and a view of the Blue Mountains.  Alas, today there is a new U.S. 12, and Three Rivers is a little off the beaten track, but still well worth the side trip as they produce some very nice wines at great values, like tonight's selection, the 2008 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon!


The wine is a classic Columbia Valley offering, with deep purple color in the glass easing to bright ruby along the edges.  The nose is a pleasant combination or rich ripe fruit, blackberries, black cherry, cassis and plum, overlaid with a big of oak, baking spice and cocoa powder.  The taste has great fruit up front, with ripe berries and plum that transitions to some tart cherry and earthy minerality midpalate.  The tannins are very nicely structured, providing the backbone for the exceptionally long and bone dry finish.  It's the kind of wine you'd like to sip and enjoy all afternoon, especially an afternoon like today, the first day of fall!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's not an exceptional Cabernet, but it's a very nice example at a great price.  I bought this from Wineshopper.com for only $14, so it's perfect as an everyday Cab!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a lovely last of summer feast of grilled Bourbon Teriyaki glazed pork tenderloin with mashed purple potatoes and grilled corn on the cob.  The strength of this Cab just pairs so nicely with the grilled smokiness of the tenderloin, but it would do just as nicely with a steak or spicy marinara.  So goodbye summer and hello autumn!

Friday, September 20, 2013

2011 Conundrum Red Blend

My first week at the new job was busy and very satisfying, so you know what that means...it's time to celebrate with a glass of wine!  And tonight's selection is the 2011 Conundrum California Red Blend, a proprietary blend (hence we don't know the exact breakdown of the varietals used) produced by the makers of Caymus (and I just got a bottle of 2011 Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon today!).


The wine is a lovely rich and deep ruby color in the glass that just exudes a feel of quality California wine.  The nose is a wonderful combination of ripe berries, lavender and chocolate, with just a hint of leather, one of the more complex aromas I've experienced in a while.  The taste is a burst of ripe fruit and floral notes, with rich blackberries and plum.  Midpalate there is a good bit of tannins, mixed with some floral notes and cocoa powder that works so well with velvety texture of this wine.  The finish is long, but not overly dry as the fruit makes another appearance at the end, practically daring you to take another sip.

Overall I would rate this one a solid 8, as it's a beautifully drinking wine that you'd never be embarrassed to share with guests, and it's a terrific value too, as I paid about $19 for this one at Wines Till Sold Out!  Tonight I am enjoying this with a simple dinner of penne with some grilled veggies and a garlic cream sauce, as the fruit really makes a nice counterbalance to the light cream.  It would also pair well with a variety of casual dishes, from barbecue to pizza, as the structure makes is a great foil to heartier dishes.  Cheers!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

2004 Forgeron Cabernet Sauvignon, Champoux Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills

Well, it's been a busy week, my last week at my old job and getting ready for my first week at my new job in Indiana!  So tonight I've decided to treat myself to a nice, well aged Cabernet from one of my favorite producers in Walla Walla, Forgeron Cellars!  Tonight's treat is the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Champoux Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills.  So let's jump right in!


I opened this bottle about an hour ago to give it some fresh air, and the first glass has a lovely deep, inky purple color that just begs to be imbibed.  The nose is a wonderful combination of rich leather, cocoa powder and just a hint of ripe berries around the periphery.  The taste is surprisingly fruit forward, with a burst of berries and cassis that effortlessly transitions to some dried herbs, smoke and lovely mineral notes midpalate.  The finish is just wonderful, as rounded, lush mouthfeel and well developed tannins provide ample support for the long, exceptionally dry finish.  Simply a lovely wine to enjoy on a late summer afternoon!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a great wine that's had some time to age and bring out the best of what the Columbia Valley has to offer!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a nice Angus T-bone, some grilled corn on the cob and some steamed broccoli.  This wine stands up quite well to grilled beef, so a fine pairing and a lovely Sunday dinner.  Cheers!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

2009 Powers Champoux Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Well, it's been a long and arduous couple of weeks, so tonight I've decided to relax a bit.  You see, I just got back from vacation in Europe, and on that trip it seems I had a small stroke.  Nothing to be too concerned about, as I'm not paralyzed or anything like that.  It seems it was about 1 cm deep in the brain near the area that controls motor function on my right side, so the main symptom was waking up in the morning and not being able to control my right arm or leg.  So being a stupid guy, I just assumed I slept on them awkwardly, and that it was most likely due to the rather hard bed at the hotel where I was staying.  It wasn't until I arrived at another hotel in another city that I realized there was more to this.  So after a few days in the hospital in Zurich, I arrived home, thankful that I wasn't in the cargo hold on the flight back!

So what does this have to do with wine?  Well, first wine is about enjoying life, and it's impossible to enjoy life if you're not among the living.  So whoever you are, if you are in your 30s or 40s and still have this idea that you're invincible, stop kidding yourself.  If you notice strange happenings when you wake up or anytime, don't just hope it will go away, and don't make excuses for what it could be, just get checked out by a medical professional!  I was very lucky that I got past my stupidity.  The second thing this has to do with wine is that I will see my American doctors tomorrow and they may tell me I can no longer drink wine (let's hope not!) or that I may have to cut back on wine or some other thing, leading to a reduced number of posts on my blog.  We'll take that news as it comes, but until then, I've enjoyed a nice 2009 Powers Champoux Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon this evening!



This wine has a lovely deep, inky purple color in the glass.  The nose is a lovely combination of leather, cherry, ripe plum and a bit of floral essence.  The taste is very pleasant throughout, from the initial burst of ripe berries and plum, to the smoke and mineral flavors that come through midpalate.  This finish is quite nice, with some nicely structured tannins and supple mouthfeel that provide the foundation for a long, exceptionally dry finish.  This is the type of wine that you are really happy to spend time with, sipping on the patio on a late summer afternoon, hoping the sun will never slip down beyond the trees.

Overall, I would rate this one a solid 8.5 as I really like this one, and it was a fairly decent value as well at under $20.  Tonight I am pairing this with a pan seared Scottish salmon filet with a lemon dill sour cream sauce (this was a Tyler Florence recipe on Foodnetwork.com that I highly recommend), some linguine with garlic and some steamed broccoli.  So we'll see what the doctor says tomorrow, but until then enjoy a nice dinner and a glass of wine!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

2003 Christian Moueix Merlot

Well, here we are again, another Cellar Saturday, where I reach way back and open a bottle that I've been holding on to, just so I can finally have an excuse to open and enjoy it.  And tonight's bottle is a wine that I used to get a lot, as it was a nice everyday Bordeaux, but then about 2005 or 2006 the stores in my area all stopped carrying it, perhaps they lost a distributor or maybe the winemaker went out of business.  In any case, I saved a bottle and am now opening it to reminisce...the 2003 Christian Moueix Merlot!  Now this wine is a bit different than your standard single Chateau Bordeaux in that it's blended by the winemaker with the idea of bringing out the best of the Merlot grape, and from my experience this wine does a pretty good job.


The wine itself is a rich ruby color in the glass.  The nose evokes pure Merlot, with aromas of anise, tar and earthy forest floor.  The taste has great fruit up front, cherries, cassis and ripe plum that transitions to some dusty limestone midpalate, accentuated by a velvety mouthfeel throughout.  The tannins have softened a bit with age, but they still provide a nice foundation for the long, structured finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a pleasure to drink and it was a pretty good value as well since the price tag was still on this one at $13.59!  Tonight I am enjoying it with a nice rare grilled Angus New York strip and some buccatini tossed with roasted garlic and olive oil.  Bon Appetit!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

2009 Mayne Durege Bordeaux

So tonight I've decided to have dinner in as I've been walking all around Prague today, from the Vysehrad to the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, then up to Patrin Park, all the way up the hill to the gardens and the observatory, so after walking miles and up and down about 500 feet of elevation, I figured I needed a night in with a bottle of Bordeaux.  And for this my final Prague blog post, I've opened a bottle of 2009 Mayne Durege Bordeaux, let's hope it's good!


The color seems somewhat light, but then again it's now quite dark out, so who knows?  The nose is actually quote nice, with hints of cherries and ripe berries overlaid with a aromas of leather and smoke.  The taste is nice, but it didn't quite live up to the expectations brought about by the pleasant nose.  It had some nice ripe fruit on the outset that transitioned to some strong minerality midpalate.  The tannins were somewhat subdued leading to a more abbreviated and lackluster, but still very dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a 7, it was a nice effort, and another incredible value at 90 Kc, or about $5.  Tonight I am pairing this with the ultimate standby for carry out, Chinese food!  Tonight I have some stir fried noodles with chicken and a Thai spicy sauce.  The wine actually pairs well with this, as the more subdued fruit notes tend to balance the spice, while the dry finish counteracts the heaviness of the dish.  Na zdraví!


Saturday, August 31, 2013

2011 Il Giglio Chianti

So, my second wine blog from Prague features an Italian wine, the 2011 Il Giglio Chianti which I bought from a wine store at the mall for 190 Kc (about $10.50).  What was I doing at the mall you ask? Especially when you are on vacation in a lovely European capitol?  Funny you should ask, it seems last night I did something in my sleep and knocked my glasses off the night stand and the frames broke.  At first I thought a screw came loose, easy fix, but no, it was broken where the lens fits to the frame.  So my helpful front desk clerk, Pavel directed me to an eyeglass shop in the mall that was open today!  It took most of the day to fix them, but I have them back now and can see, but boy do I need a glass of wine!


This wine is quite typical of the lighter bodied Chianti being produced so widely now, so the color is a light ruby throughout, with very little opacity.  The nose is somewhat alarming with a robust aroma of wet dog or wool, but when that dissipates there is a strong aroma of berries and spice so typical of Tuscan wines.  The taste is surprisingly fruit forward, with a burst of fresh fruit, strawberries, ripe plums which transitions easily to a good bit of peppery spice midpalate.  The finish is somewhat abrupt, but still pleasant as I could see myself enjoying this one on a sunny patio over an afternoon.

Overall, I would rate this one a 7, if only for the wet dog on the nose, but once you get past that it's a really easy drinking wine, and I certainly can't complain about the price!  Tonight I will once again be pairing this with nothing since I'm enjoying this as an aperitif before heading off to dinner.  Tonight it's more traditional Czech fare at the Olympia Restaurant, so follow me on twitter if you want to see the meal!  But for this wine, it would be perfect with Italian dishes like a pasta with red sauce, or some grilled Italian sausage, as the fruit would really balance out the spiciness of those dishes.  Tady je na jiný dobrý den v Praze!

Friday, August 30, 2013

2009 Abbaye des Templiers Bordeaux

So tonight I've decided to open a super bargain wine that I bought at the market down the street from my hotel in Prague.  So for those of you unknowing about such things, Prague is really more of a beer city, though I did try a little of the local Moravian wine at dinner my first night here and it wasn't awful.  In any case, I decided the other day to stop at the local market on the way home and find a bottle of wine I could just open up and enjoy while I'm here, and tonight's the night!  I bought this bottle of 2009 Abbaye des Templiers Bordeaux and am trying it tonight.


The color is somewhat lighter than your typical Bordeaux, so we'll see if that means anything in a moment.  The nose is classic Bordeaux, with strong notes of cherries, blackberries and leather, along with a bit of smoky character across the top.  The taste is nice, with warm fruit up front, ripe plum, cherry cola and berry notes that transition to some dusty limestone and spice notes midpalate.  The tannins are soft yet elegant, supporting a long and very dry finish that's so typical of a classic Bordeaux.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, it wasn't a spectacular wine, but it was a spectacular bargain at only 89 Kc, which translates to a little less than $5 for the whole bottle!  Maybe this weekend I'll have to splurge for one of the fancy $8 bottles!  Tonight I am enjoying this before I go our for a traditional Czech dinner which will undoubtedly involve pork, potatoes and beer!  Na zdraví!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

2008 Chateau La Roque de By Medoc

So tonight I am enjoying a nice glass of 2008 Chateau La Roque de By Medoc on my Lufthansa flight from Washington to Frankfurt. My first attempt at a wine blog post over the Arlantic!  

The wine is a deep purple color in the glass and the nose is a very pleasant combination of leather and anise. The taste was quite nice with flavors of ripe plum and berries. The taste transitions effortlessly to some dusty limestone mid palate as the well structured tannins support the long, dry finish that seems to last at least a minute or more!
 
 
I'm enjoying this wine with my dinner of Nantucket scallop followed by a fresh salad. For the main course I've gone with the beef tenderloin Randang with Yukon potato purée and sugar snap peas. Followed by the cheese course of goat, Brie and gruyere followed by a key lime tart with strawberry consommé. Yum!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

2009 Owen Roe Abbot's Table Red Wine

So tonight I needed a nice wine to relax, I've been a bit stressed lately, so I need something that I could enjoy with a relaxing dinner, and tonight it's a bottle of 2009 Owen Roe Abbot's Table Red Wine!  This is a classic Northwest red blend from a solid Washington producer, so it should make a good complement to my evening activities and of course my dinner!  This wine in particular is an interesting blend, one that I like to call the kitchen sink blend as it seems to have a bit of everything: Zinfandel (25%), Sangiovese (20%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), Grenache (13%), Syrah (10%), Blaufrankish (7%), Cabernet Franc (2%), Malbec (2%) and Merlot (1%), wow!


The wine itself is a little lighter bodied than I was expecting, but that really does nothing to detract from the overall quality of this wine.  The nose is a lovely expression of ripe dark fruit, blackberries, cherries, plum accented by notes of dark chocolate and baking spice. The taste is surprisingly pleasant, with an initial blast of fruit quickly followed by some black licorice and spice notes.  Midpalate we have ample fruit and cocoa powder, with a dusty limestone overtone.  The finish is very nice, with well structured tannins supporting a long, exceptionally dry finish that seems to last a minute or more.  Very nice!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a great example of the best of Northwest red blends, but I can't remember what I bought this for, so if it was under $25 as I suspect, it was a great value as well.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a lovely dinner of crabcakes, a bit of steamed jasmine rice and a light green salad, the perfect dinner for a hot summer evening, Cheers!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

2011 J. Scott Cellars Rendezvous Rose

Well after a couple of weeks of unseasonably cool weather, summer is back in all its glory as it was sunny and hot today!  And of course with summer heat back, what can follow but a nice chilled rose wine, and tonight it's the 2011 J. Scott Cellars Rendezvous dry rose wine from Oregon!  I bought this bottle at the Portland airport of all places, as I flew through PDX on my way home from my Walla Walla vacation earlier this summer.


The wine is a nice peach color in the glass, not a pure pink but with more of an orange tint to it.  The nose has wonderful notes of grass, mild citrus and strawberry notes and some lovely floral overtones.  The taste is quite interesting, with your typical bright citrus notes, some strawberries, and then toward the end, out of nowhere there is a taste of Champagne, not overwhelming, but just a flavor that made me think of sparkling wine.  The finish is very dry, which probably explains a bit of the sparkling wine flavor, and the tannins are nicely structured to support the finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, it wasn't spectacular, but it was a very solid rose effort, and a pretty good value at only $15 at the airport!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a lovely summer dinner of stuffed scallops and a salad of mixed spring greens and white balsamic.  This wine would also be good with a nice salmon fillet, or just by itself as I could easily see myself sipping this one on the patio as the sun goes down and the evening cools off.  Cheers!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

2009 L'Ecole No. 41 Seven Hills Estate Syrah

It's been a busy week, and it seems like my weekends are just as busy!  This weekend I did a bunch of chores around the house, had dinner with some friends last night, did more chores today, went to the airport to tour a World War II era B-17 bomber, and now I'm ready to relax!  And what better way to relax than to open a bottle of wine from one of my all time favorite wineries, L'Ecole No. 41!  Tonight it's the 2009 Seven Hills Estate Syrah, a wine that L'Ecole has been doing exceptionally well for more than a decade, so let's see how this recent example stacks up.


The color is a bright garnet in the glass, with a bit of opacity.  The nose is a blast of ripe black fruit, blackberries, cherries, layered over leather and oak, along with a sweet twang that is very reminiscent of a nice Bordeaux.  The taste is not nearly as fruity as the nose would suggest, as you start with some mild berry and plum flavors that transition to some notes of tart cherry and dark chocolate mid-palate.  There is a nice layer of minerality here as well, with some earthy notes.  The finish is quite nice as the well developed tannins support a long, very dry finish that seems to last a minute or more.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's just a pleasure to sip, despite the recent bit of warm weather we've been having.  Tonight I am pairing it with some classic surf & turf, a nice Kansas City cut, bone-in NY Strip along with a grilled lobster tail, served with some pesto buccatini and steamed brussels sprouts, what a summer feast!  The wine really plays well against the bigger flavors of this meal, as the sweeter fruit notes play against the hearty beef, while the tannins on the finish are a nice foil to the richness of the lobster.  Cheers!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

2005 Steve Hoff Barossa Shiraz

Sometimes you just need to open a bottle of wine to remind yourself of the many blessings you have in life, wonderful people, friends and family, health and wonderful food to share, and even summer days that are cooler than normal (like much of this summer it seems!).  So to remind myself of all these wonderful things, I've decided to open a nice bottle from down under, the 2005 Steve Hoff Barossa Shiraz, or Syrah as they say in the northern hemisphere!


When I opened the wine, the cork was almost black, and for an 8-year old wine, that's not a bad thing, and it certainly showed it in the color in the glass, a deep, majestic purple at the center and a bright ruby along the edges.  The nose was lovely, rich ripe black fruit, blackberries, cherries and prune, overlaid with lovely notes of leather and anise and some exotic spice notes that just scream Aussie Shiraz!  The taste was very nice, with some rich ripe fruit at the outset, almost jammy at times, blueberries, plum and cassis that transitions to some wild spice midpalate, baking powder and Asian spice.  The tannins are very subdued, yet the finish was still quite nice, smooth and dry.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's a very pleasant example of a classic Barossa Shiraz, and I don't recall if this was a bargain or not since it's been in my cellar a few years (this should be a prompt for me to keep better records eh?).  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with, of course, a grilled lamb chop with a dry spice rub, some linguine tossed with garlic and olive oil and some steamed purple, yellow and green beans that I bought from the farmers' market this past weekend.  Cheers!

Monday, August 12, 2013

2012 Villa Pozzi Nero D'Avola

So tonight I've decided on a recent wine club selection to open with my dinner, the 2012 Villa Pozzi Nero D'Avola from Sicily.  I know it's still a bit young, but I think this is one of the red varietals of Italy that can be enjoyed relatively young as opposed to something more ageworthy like a Brunello or Super Tuscan.


The wine itself is somewhat lighter in color than many heavier red wines, but it presents a lovely nose of blackberry, tart cherry, rich leather, dried spices and an interesting twang.  The taste was surprising, I was expecting it to be rather tart based on the nose, but rather it was very smooth with tastes of sweet berries, plum and a bit of fig that transitioned into some candied apricots and dusty limestone midpalate.  The tannins were somewhat mellow, lending to the round, supple finish that really capped off the fruit.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, it's a bit young, but it was also a good value as I bought this one from wineshopper.com for $9!  Tonight I am enjoying this with a rare marinated T-bone steak topped with caramelized red onions and served with some fresh steamed brussels sprouts and some linguine tossed with garlic and olive oil.  The fruit of the wine offered a wonderful foil to the heartiness of the charred steak and lightness of the pasta.  Cheers!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

2003 Bodega Matarredonda Libranza Toro

Well tonight is Cellar Saturday, even thought it's a week late!  As I mentioned earlier in the week, I had my high school reunion last Saturday so I had to travel to Chicago for that and missed the first Saturday of the month, hence I missed Cellar Saturday.  Well tonight we are catching up with a nice decade old Tempranillo, the 2003 Bodega Matarredonda Libranza Toro!


The wine itself is a beautiful deep indigo, almost an inky color at the center transitioning to garnet along the edges.  The nose is classic Tempranillo, with lovely ripe fruit notes, blueberry, black cherry and cassis, overlaid with some lovely notes of leather, oak, dried herbs and floral notes.  The taste is very interesting, with some muted fruit notes at the outset, accented by some dried flowers which rather smoothly transitions to some exotic spice notes and dusty limestone midpalate.  The finish is quite nice, with flavors of dark chocolate and cherry cola over the nicely structured tannins that provide for a long, exceptionally dry finish.  What a lovely example of the wines Spain has to offer!

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, it's a lovely Tempranillo and it was a great value as I bought this one from Wines Till Sold Out for only $16!  Tonight I am pairing this with my first ever attempt at a grilled Angus porterhouse with homemade chimichurri, to pair some Argentine flavors with a Spanish wine, new world meets old world!  Along with the steak I have a variety of grilled root vegetables, including heirloom carrots, golden and candy striped beets and some lemon herb couscous, yum!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

2005 Kunde Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

So tonight I was perusing my cellar in an effort to find a bottle of wine to give to a colleague of mine who got a new job.  His girlfriend was looking through my cellar listing and came up with a choice, but I thought maybe I could find something that would be a good choice for a new job celebration, but I struck out on that front.  But what I didn't strike out on was finding a bottle I forgot I had that I could open and enjoy this evening, the 2005 Kunde Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon!  Now I like almost any Cabernet, but this one I always loved for the label, a representation of the California State Seal, which just looked to me like something from a nineteenth century stock certificate, great engraving and lovely allegorical figures.  So why not enjoy it tonight?


The color was pure Cabernet loveliness, a deep inky purple at the center and bright ruby along the edges. The nose is pure joy, lovely notes of leather and cassis, with a pure meatiness to it, accented by hints of anise and wonderful dark chocolate notes over the top.  The taste was just beautiful, with some dark fruit notes at the outset, ripe plum and black cherry, that gracefully transition to some black licorice, green tea and rich dark chocolate notes midpalate.  The mouthfeel is just all around lush, rich and velvety.  The finish is just perfect, well structured tannins supporting a long, exceptionally dry finish that seems to last for a minute or more.  The kind of wine that you don't give a second thought to sipping all evening long!

Overall I would rate this one a solid 8.5, as it's just a wonderful example of a Cabernet from Sonoma Valley.  I can't recall where I got this wine or how much I paid for it, so whether it was a good value is anyone's guess, I just know it was a really good wine!  Tonight I am enjoying it with some grilled steak fajitas with homemade guacamole, as the richness of the wine just melds perfectly with the strength of the steak and creaminess of the avocado!  So yummy!  Oh, and back to my original purpose in perusing my cellar, what bottle did my colleague Brad opt for?  The 2007 Stags Leap Artemis, a pretty darn nice bottle to help him celebrate, so cheers Brad and good luck on your new job!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

2010 J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon

Well tonight just felt like a Cabernet night, it's been a bit cooler in the evenings, almost like fall except it's August!  So I've decided to open a bottle of 2010 J. Lohr Seven Oaks Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon to enjoy with my dinner.


The wine is a very classic deep purple Cabernet color, with a lighter ruby along the edges of the glass.  The nose is classic Cabernet, with aromas of blueberry and cherry layered with a bit of vanilla and leather.  The taste is a big bold Cabernet from California, with a burst of blueberry and plum at the outset, giving way to some dried herbs and dusty limestone midpalate.  The firm tannins are supportive of a long, smooth finish that begs you to take another sip.

Overall I must admit I'm pretty impressed by this wine!  I'd rate this one a solid 8, it might age well for a few years, but it's drinking quite nicely now, and it was a terrific bargain as I bought this bottle at Trader Joe's and I think it was about $12!  Tonight I am enjoying this with a rather nontraditional pairing (imagine that!) with some bourbon glazed grilled port tenderloin, some steamed jasmine rice and veggies, delicious!