Sunday, April 28, 2013

2009 Powers Coyote Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Another day, another bottle of wine to try!  Tonight I am going back to one of my favorite regions, Washington State, specifically, the Wahluke Slope for the 2009 Powers Coyote Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon!  Now from what I've heard, the 2008 vintage of this wine was outstanding, but this one takes a bit more TLC to bring out the great aromas and tastes that the last vintage just seemed to bring out effortlessly.  So, for this wine, I poured it through my aerator, and then let it breathe a bit, and though this wine could probably use a couple more years in the bottle, it sure did open up very nicely!

The color of this wine is a deep, opaque purple color that eases into some bright ruby along the edges.  The nose is a lovely combination of cedar, dark chocolate, anise and fresh ground black pepper.  The taste is a veritable explosion of ripe black fruit up front, ripe plum, blackberries and cherry, but not nearly as sweet as some of the more "jammy" wines you might have had.  The rich fruit transitions smoothly to some nice minerality midpalate, along with wonderful notes of dark chocolate and Asian spice.  The finish is just stunning, as the well structured tannins support a rich dry finish that seems to go on for a minute or more.

Overall, I would rate this one a solid 8.5, as it might not be as matured as the 2008 vintage was out of the gate, this is a super nice wine at a terrific price, as I bought this one at my local wine merchant, G.B. Russo's yesterday for only $15!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rare grilled Angus porterhouse, some grilled asparagus with olive oil, and a baked potato with all the trimmings, yum!  And yeah, I know this is my third steak in a row, but give me a break, they were on sale!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

2007 Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon

Well, it's been a busy day of running errands, groceries, dry cleaners, wine store, butcher, car wash, so much stuff to do, and so little time!  So now it's time to relax with a bit of wine as I make my dinner, and tonight I've decided to open a bottle of 2007 Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon!  This wine is sourced from three different areas of California that specialize in Cabernet, Mendocino County (47%), Lake County (37%) and Napa County (16%).  This particular bottle I bought about three years ago, when the Amway Grand Hotel in Grand Rapids closed their famous 1913 Room restaurant, and they sold off the china and more importantly the wine cellar in the lobby of the hotel!

The wine itself has some deep ruby color, with only mild opacity toward the center.  The nose is quite nice, with a good bit of leather, tobacco and spice surrounding a rich, jammy core of black fruit.  The taste belies the fruit in the nose, with only mild hints of ripe cherry and cassis up front, which transitions easily into some lovely spice notes with a bit of mint over the top.  The finish was bone dry, though not particularly overpowering, as the tannins were very subdued.  In my view, this is a very nice sipping Cabernet.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, as it's a nice wine, but it was also a good value as I bought this one for the princely sum of $12.75!  Tonight I am enjoying it with a first course of a baked stuffed scallop, followed by big ol' Angus T-bone, grilled rare, along with some haricots vert almondine and some steamed Klondike fingerling potatoes, so yummy!

Friday, April 26, 2013

2008 Helix Stillwater Creek Vineyard Sangiovese

Well, it's been a long week and it's time to relax with a nice bottle of wine from one of my favorite producers!  Tonight it's the 2008 Helix Stillwater Creek Vineyard Sangiovese, which is produced by Reininger out of Walla Walla.  I was impressed with their Sangiovese when I visited last year, and fortunately for my, this was the Spring wine club selection so I just received a couple bottles a week or so ago.

The wine is a bright ruby color in the glass, and not nearly as opaque as some varietals, and perhaps a little darker than your standard Tuscan version of Sangiovese.  The nose is a luscious combination of rich Corinthian leather (nod to Ricardo Montalban, RIP), ripe berries, layered with a bit of dried spice.  The taste is somewhat unexpected for what is billed as a more acidic red wine.  There is some cool fruit up front, but not the sweet jammy fruit the nose might lead you to expect.  The fruit transitions effortlessly to some dried herbs and a some earthy flavors midpalate, before giving way to a lovely smooth, exceedingly dry finish. Given the dryness, the acidity and the well balanced tannins, this wine would be a very approachable one with a wide variety of dishes.

Overall, I would rate this one a solid 8, it's a pure pleasure to sip, though it's not your everyday wine with at $29, though it's a bit less with your wine club discount.  Tonight I am enjoying this one with a nice rare grilled Angus T-bone, a baked potato and some steamed broccoli, a lovely well balanced dinner!  It would also pair very well with a variety of tomato based Italian dishes, or a variety of hard aged cheeses.  A fun Italian varietal produced right in the heart of Washington's wine country, cheers!

Monday, April 22, 2013

2009 Markham Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

So today is Earth Day, and I am celebrating with a bottle of wine!  And I'm also recycling an Angus T-bone!  Today I received a bottle of wine from my colleague as a gift in appreciation for helping with her taxes this year, and rather than wasting time and energy cellaring this wine, for Earthday I am opening it up and enjoying it tonight, the 2009 Markham Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

The wine is a deep garnet in the glass, transitioning into bright ruby along the edges.  The nose is quite pleasant, with rich black fruit and Asian spices flowing gingerly over a bed of toasted oak.  The taste is quite nice, with plenty if ripe black fruit up front, blackberry, cassis and plum, which quickly transition to some vanilla and anise midpalate.  The finish is quite nice, with rich and supple tannins supporting a long, dry finish. Overall, a very nice example of a more classic Napa Valley Cabernet.

I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's drinking very well right now, but I get the sense that it will improve with a few years of cellaring.  As for the value, since it was a gift I really have no frame of reference, but certainly I'd be game to try this one for a few sawbucks!  Tonight I am enjoying this with a rare Angus T-bone that I bought on the way home from working out (isn't is awesome when your butcher is across the street from your gym?) along with a nice baked potato and some steamed veggies.  So delicious!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

2010 L'Ecole No. 41 Candy Mountain Vineyard Columbia Valley Red Wine

So tonight I had a chance to talk on the phone with Jaime, one of the fine folks that work at L'Ecole No. 41, one of my all time favorite wineries in Walla Walla, and as the conversation went, she suggested that after the gym, I pick up a steak and then open up a bottle of the new wine club selection I received last week, the 2010 Candy Mountain Vineyard Red Wine, so I figured why not?  Now for background, Candy Mountain Vineyard is right next to the Red Mountain AVA, which is the source of many fine, big, bold wines in the Columbia Valley, and although Candy Mountain is not part of the AVA, the soil is very similar as well as the climate, making their wines very similar. In fact, Jaime shared that L'Ecole purchases a lot of the grapes produced at the Candy Mountain Vineyard to blend in their Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  So let's give it a try!

Although this wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (53%) and Merlot (47%), the wine has the color of a big bold Cabernet in the glass.  The nose is very pleasant, with notes of leather, rich dark fruit and some dusty limestone.  The taste is immediately full of fruit, rich blackberries, cherries and cassis that effortlessly transitions to musty earth, a hint of green grass and chocolate midpalate.  The tannins are very pronounced, yet well structured, leading to a long, smooth, very dry finish.  Although the finish is a bit tight at this young age, I suspect this wine will age quite well and become more complex with a few years of maturity.

Overall I would rate this one a solid 8.5, as it's a wine that exudes quality that belies the $39 price tag (don't get me wrong, it's not an everyday drinking wine on my budget, but in my view the value far exceeds the price!).  Tonight I am enjoying it with a nice rare Angus ribeye, a baked potato and some steamed broccoli, a perfect match for this bold red wine.  And with only 345 cases produced, it looks like I need to order a few more bottles before they are sold out!  Cheers!

Monday, April 15, 2013

2005 Chateau Greysac Medoc

So today is April 15, a day of infamy.  In the United States it's tax day, the final deadline for everyone to file their income taxes and pay Uncle Sam for the great services he provides the nation...for people like me, with a more nuanced appreciation of history, this is a day known for one of the greatest sea tragedies in all of history, the sinking of the great White Star liner R.M.S. Titanic in the early hours of the morning of April 15, 1912 in the north Atlantic.  It's been 101 years since that fateful night, and it's become my custom to open a nice bottle of wine in honor of the 1,514 people who lost their lives in the tragedy, as well as the 710 who survived, including the grandmother of a family friend who was just a baby when she was placed on a lifeboat in the freezing weather.

So, in honor of the Titanic, I am opening a bottle of 2005 Chateau Greysac Medoc, which reflects what would have been a rather common wine on board the ship, being a young claret, and this wine being primarily a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Surprisingly very little is known about what exact wines the Titanic carried or served, but based on other White Star liners, there would likely have been a few younger "clarets" and more white and sparkling wines on board, as there was some concern that the vibrations from the ship's massive engines would act to dislodge the sediments common on older Bordeaux wines, rendering them unpalatable, if not undrinkable.  So my selection tonight would have been considered a younger claret at the time (after all, in 1912, the main vintage of Champagne on the ship was 1907, so an 8-year-old red wine would be quite young).  And to make it more of an honor, tonight I am drinking from a White Star Line reproduction wine glass that I bought at the Titanic exhibit which is visiting Grand Rapids until this summer.

The wine itself is a deep ruby in the glass, and the nose is just pure Bordeaux, with the classic "Bordeaux funk" as some people have called it, a somewhat musty, combination of black fruit, leather, anise and dried spices that combine create a very memorable aroma of funk!  Though I'll admit, after a bit of air, or some decanting, the funk dissipates and you're left with great aromas of ripe black fruit, leather and anise.  The taste is quite complex, with a rush or ripe fruit, particularly cherries at the front, then we transition to just the slightest bit of cedar and mint midpalate, which goes quite quickly.  The finish is supported by some well structured tannins, as well as some notes of gravel and earth in the long, exceptionally dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's a nice example of the style and drinking quite nicely right now, and I bought this one a few years ago for only $14, making it a solid value Bordeaux.  Tonight I am pairing this with some grilled flank steak tacos with black beans, but it would go very well with a broad spectrum of grilled, marinated meats, or some nice roast lamb or braised short ribs.  So there you have it, my toast to honor a horrible date in history!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

2009 Finca Flichman Dedicado

So, this evening I had a wonderful opportunity to open my mind to new ideas at a virtual tasting to celebrate Malbec World Day sponsored by Snooth.  Now before you judge what a dork I am attending a virtual tasting, I assure you, there was actual wine and the fact that I was watching respected industry leaders on the web and chatting with other participants, made it possible for a guy from Grand Rapids to really appreciate some wines from another continent!  This time, it was the wines of Argentina, and although my dream is to retire with wine and beef in the northern part of Argentina near Cafayette, you know from past posts that I am just not a big fan of Malbec.  Well, my perspectives might just be shifting a bit as I tasted the 2009 Finca Flichman Dedicado, a blend of Malbec (70%), Cabernet Sauvignon (25%) and Syrah (5%).

Now according to the label, the Dedicado is only produced in exceptional harvest years, which hopefully will make this wine a real pleasure to drink.  Needless to say, I was not disappointed!  The wine is a deep ruby in the glass, but given the blend, it's not as opaque as a traditional Malbec.  The nose was rich with black fruit, ripe plum, cassis and berries, and a lovely hint of oak and dried herbs, and a bit later there were distinct coffee notes as well.  As the wine opened up in the glass, there was a definite sweetness in the nose.  The taste was just wonderfully complex on a number of levels.  There was a good bit of ripe dark fruit on the outset, and a nice sweetness, but not so much that it ruined the taste.  The fruit gave way to some lovely dried herbs, coffee and just a hint of mint, with so many flavors interplaying on so many levels.  On the finish, there were hints of minerality, and some wonderfully rich tannins that brought this wine together.

Overall, I would rate this one a solid 8.5, as I thought it was a great blend that would pair with a variety of dishes, and was a good value at $25.  During the tasting, I was enjoying this one with some local sun dried tomato cheese and the fruit and herbs paired nicely with the creaminess of the cheese, but I could easily see myself enjoying this wine with a rare grilled porterhouse as well.  Wines of Argentina, and even Malbec, who would have thought?  Cheers!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

2005 Fattoria Casabianca Chianti Colli Senesi Riserva

Well, I've been out of it for a little while and everyone's getting delusions of grandeur...if you know where that quote comes from then +1 for you as a dedicated Star Wars fan!  But I digress...yes it's been a little bit since my last post, but fear not, I will have at least three posts over the next three days, the last of which is tax day and you know I'll need a bottle of wine to get through that day!  But for tonight, I have a Chianti Colli Senesi, which is a bit different than your traditional Chianti, and one while I really like much better.  So tonight's subject is the 2005 Fattoria Casabianca Chianti Colli Senesi Riserva!

The color is a bit darker than your traditional Chianti, but somewhat lighter than your typical big bold cabs that have been pouring out of California the last decade or so.  The nose is very interesting, with notes of rich, dark fruit, a good bit of licorice and some lovely dried herbs.  The taste was a complete divergence from the nose, as you expect some ripe fruit up front, but instead you are treated to some wonderful tart cherry notes that transitions effortlessly to some lovely dried herbs, leather and anise midpalate.  The finish is quite nice, as the structured tannins support a long, dry finish that seems to last until you're ready to take your next sip!

Overall I would rate this one a solid 8, as it's a great example of the wine, but it's a bit on the pricey side, as I bought this one on sale for $19 (which was a lot better than the $34 original price!).  Tonight I am pairing this with a rather unconventional meal since it's taco night!  I am enjoying it with some traditional tacos, with spicy beef and fresh cilantro, tomatos and jalapenos, drizzled with shredded cheddar and sour cream, wrapped in a warm soft tortilla, oh I love taco night!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

2005 Clos du Val Napa Valley Merlot

It's a lazy Sunday afternoon, and I just got back from the gym, so it's time to do a load of laundry and relax with a glass of wine.  Seems like a Merlot sort of day, so why not open a bottle of 2005 Clos du Val Napa Valley Merlot?  This one is a little more than your average Merlot, as it's a blend of Merlot (83%), Cabernet Franc (11%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (6%), so it's really more of a Bordeaux style blend, and from the nose, it's certainly reminiscent of many quality blends from Bordeaux.

The nose on this wine is very interesting, with some black fruit aromas up front, blackberries, plum, and a good bit of spice, all wrapped in some wonderful earthy aromas (for my friends who like that "barnyard" quality, this one has it in spades!).  The taste has some lovely fruit up front that effortlessly transitions to dried herbs, anise and a bit of oak, the nicely structured tannins lend great support to a long, smooth and earthy finish.  This wine is remarkable, in that despite it's label, it just takes me back to Paris, sipping a nice Margaux at a sidewalk cafe on Avenue Kleber, where we stayed in 1995.

Overall, I would rate this one a solid 9, especially given that I found it for a bargain price of only $17!  I'm just sorry I only picked up one bottle!  This afternoon, I am enjoying this wine with a small snack of olives and some grilled veggies as I think of what to make for dinner this evening.  It would pair very nicely with a grilled steak, or some wonderful game or even some wonderfully seasoned cedar planked salmon.  Salut!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

2004 La Mora Barolo

So here we are again, another Cellar Saturday, and tonight I've decided to open up a bottle that's almost 10 years old.  This might be a big deal for some wines, but for a Barolo, a decade is about the minimum age to make the wine really enjoyable.  And such is the case for the 2004 La Mora Barolo we're enjoying tonight!  Now Barolo is made in the northern part of Italy, in the Piedmont region from the Nebbiolo grape, which is very different than the popular wines of Tuscany which are made primarily from Sangiovese.

The wine was very light in the glass, almost like a pinot noir, but the color was a bright ruby.  The nose was a lovely combination of leather, anise, floral notes and grass.  The taste was very different, with an explosion of tart cherry right at the outset, which then gave way to some earthy notes and a hint of spice midpalate.  The finish was bone dry, accented by the well structured tannins.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, it was a very good example of a nice Barolo, but such a different style than most other Italian wines that it was a real treat to drink.  Tonight I enjoyed this wine with some friends with a nice Italian dinner of pasta, fresh marinara and eggplant, and the wine really made a great combination with the rich, earthy flavors of the eggplant.  Delicious!

Friday, April 5, 2013

2008 Stonehead Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Well, it's Friday so I have no excuse for not opening up a bottle of wine with my dinner!  And tonight I've decided to open up a bottle I picked up last Friday at John Russo's in Grand Rapids, not to be confused with G.B. Russo's which is also a great wine seller here in Grand Rapids.  I'd never been there before, but as I was waiting for my fuel injectors to be cleaned I figured I'd have the shuttle from the dealer drop me off to do a little wine shopping, and the shuttle driver suggested I try John Russo instead.  So why not?  I ended up buying about 8 bottles of wine, including the one I opened tonight, the 2008 Stonehead Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile.

The color is a deep purple in the glass, just as you might expect from a Cabernet, and the nose has some strong notes of prune, blackberry and just the faintest bit of leather and mint.  There's also a bit of earthiness, and some aromas that remind me of charred meat.  The taste is fairly subdued, with some nice dark fruit up front that transitions to some stronger mint notes midpalate, but the finish was pretty disappointing as the taste just seemed to end abruptly.

Despite the lackluster finish, the wine was ok and I'd rate it a 7 simply because it was an outstanding bargain at only $4.99!  I've had a lot worse for under $5, so how can I complain?  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with some Thai green curry with chicken and veggies over rice, as the spice of the food makes up for the short finish on the wine.