Friday, May 31, 2013

2007 Geyser Peak Walking Tree Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

It's been a long week, lots of work and travel and it's good to finally be home and able to enjoy a nice bottle of wine in the evening!  Tonight I've decided to open a Christmas wine, one of the bottles my Aunt Janet sent me over the holidays, so since it's hot and humid today I thought I could use a little reminder of Christmastime!  So I've opened a bottle of 2007 Geyser Peak Walking Tree Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, one of their "Block Collection" made up of grapes from select blocks within the Valley.  This one was named for the oak tree that "walked" down the steep grade in the vineyard and is blended with just a bit of Shiraz (8%).

The color is a deep brooding garnet that is so characteristic of a nice quality Cabernet from the Alexander Valley.  The nose has a distinct note of mint overlaying some nice leather, dark chocolate and mossy granite notes.  The taste is an explosion of intense cherry that gracefully transitions to some black pepper and Asian spice notes midpalate.  The finish is just lovely, with some rather tightly wound tannins supporting a lush mouthfeel and a long, dry finish that seems to last for a minute or more!

I have no idea if this is a good value, but is a wonderful wine that I would rate a solid 8.5 - this was certainly a winning pick for a Christmas present!  Tonight I'm pairing it with a petite ribeye, baked potato, grilled corn on the cob and some steamed broccoli.  It's been a long week and I need a real manly meal tonight, so cheers!

Monday, May 27, 2013

2008 L'Ecole No. 41 Seven Hills Estate Walla Walla Syrah

Happy Memorial Day!  This is an interesting holiday, in that it marks a solemn remembrance of all those who have served and sacrificed to keep our nation free, but it also marks the first holiday of the summer, as the weather gets nice and we have time to spend with our friends and families enjoying the great outdoors.  Certainly after being cooped up all winter long, I could use a break, and to help celebrate, I've opened up a bottle of 2008 L'Ecole No. 41 Seven Hills Estate Walla Walla Syrah!

The wine is a deep ruby color, and the nose is a fabulous combination of leather, limestone, tobacco and ripe black fruit, with just a hint of dried herbs and mint over the top.  The taste is a bit jammy up front, with lots of rush ripe fruit, plum and blackberry, which transition to notes of tart cherry and dusty limestone midpalate.  The finish is quite nice, with some notes of dark chocolate and tobacco, with nicely structured tannins supporting a long, dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5 as it has a lot going for it, a wine that I would enjoy sipping on the patio with friends or bringing to a party, and as a bonus it has the potential to pair with a broad range of dishes.  Tonight I am pairing it with my Memorial Day feast:

  • Baby spinach chef salad with 25-year balsamic and olive oil
  • Grilled pork tenderloin marinaded in "Kentuckyaki" marinade (a teriyaki blended with Kentucky bourbon)
  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Grilled corn on the cob
  • Steamed asparagus
MMMMmmmm!  I've been waiting all day to eat!  Cheers! And for all who have served our great country, you have my heartfelt thanks for the sacrifice and commitment you've made, here here!

Friday, May 24, 2013

2010 C.M.S. Columbia Valley Red Blend

Tonight I've opened up a new Washington wine from the Columbia Valley, the 2010 C.M.S. Columbia Valley red wine, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (48%), Merlot (40%) and Syrah (12%) from the Hedges Family Estate in Benton City, Wash.  I'll be the first to admit, although I am a huge fan of Washington wines, I have not encountered this particular wine before, so I was happy to try it when I found it as the wine of the week at my local wine merchant, G. B. Russo & Sons.

The wine has a nice ruby color in the glass, but I'll warn you ahead of time to give this wine a bit of air, as my first impression was an aroma of sweet medicine, but after some evening air, that cleared up straight away.  The nose is a combination of tobacco, jammy fruit, and some dried herbs.  The taste was dominated by some tart cherry up front, which transitioned to some earthy notes and chalky limestone.  The medium finish was supported by some young tannins that made this wine very easy to drink.

Overall, I would rate this wine a 7.5, as I think it's a nicely structured red blend with some potential to improve with a few years in the cellar, but it's also a good value at only $10!  Tonight I am enjoying a glass after dinner with a bit of 90% dark chocolate, as the bitterness of the chocolate makes a nice counterbalance to the jammy sweetness of the fruit up front.  It would also pair nicely with a variety of summer dishes, particularly as we get ready for Memorial Day, the first major grilling holiday of the summer! Cheers!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

2008 Cousino-Macul Finis Terrae

So tonight I am enjoying yet another day of stay-cation, but fear not!  I plan to get out on the road to do some camping soon, then we'll see some change!  But until then, I have cracked open a nice bottle of wine from the Maipo Valley of Chile, an area that I've become a big fan of over the last year or so.  And tonight's wine is the 2008 Cousino-Macul Finis Terrae, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (30%) and Syrah (10%).

The wine is a pleasant, deep garnet color in the glass, and the nose is a fantastic blend of rich leather, mint, oak and ripe black fruit, black cherry, plum and blackberry.  The taste  is a lovely combination of spice and fruit on the outset, with some rich berry flavor and some pepper and warm spice.  The spicy fruit transitions effortlessly to some earthy notes midpalate, with flavors of musty oak, grass and tart cherry.  The tannins are very well structured, supporting a wonderfully tight, long, dry finish that seems to last until you're reaching for your next sip!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as this is a wonderfully structured wine that could easily sell for an inflated price, but this one was a bargain at $19 from!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rare porterhouse and some fresh grilled Michigan asparagus, nothing like fresh veggies in season!  Salut!

Monday, May 20, 2013

2009 Wattle Creek "The Triple Play" Red Blend

It's officially day 3 of my staycation, that time near the end of May when I rush to use up my remaining vacation days before they are sacrificed on the alter of work-a-holism!  And for this vacation day, I have opened up a nice bottle from the Yorkville Highlands of Mendocino County, California, the 2009 Wattle Creek "The Triple Play" red wine blend. This blend is made in the Rhone style, with a combination of Syrah, Viognier and Petite Sirah, for what should make a very interesting wine.

The wine is a pleasant ruby color in the glass, and the nose exhibits notes of ripe red fruit, spicy pepper and a hint of mint over some very subtle oak.  The taste is somewhat fruit forward, with a bit of blackberry jam on the outset, which transitions to some fresh herbs and mint midpalate.  The tannins are very well structured, leading to a firm, dry finish that would complement a wide variety of grilled meats and savory dishes.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, as it's a pleasure to drink, but I honestly can't remember where I bought this wine, so I have no idea if it was a bargain or not!  Tonight I am pairing this wine with some Tuscan herb grilled lamb chops, a bit of pasta with creamy pesto, and a Caprese salad with 25-year balsamic, yum!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

2006 Andaluna Celebracion Reserve

It's been a busy week, but tonight I am opening up a bottle of wine from Mendoza, Argentina, the 2006 Andeluna Celebracion Reserve, a wine that's a blend of grapes grown in the foothills of the Andes, specifically 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot.  Today isn't a particularly strong food day, but I'll freely admit to needing a glass of wine to unwind tonight!

The wine is a deep, inky purple in the glass, and the nose is a very complex blend of black fruit at first, but then as the air takes hold, notes of dried herbs, some mineral notes, which evolve into a combination of leather and pipe tobacco that reminds me of an old school smoking lounge. The taste is very fruit forward, with rich flavors of ripe cherry, plum and black currant that transitions effortlessly to some earthy mineral notes of limestone and smoke midpalate.  The tannins are mellow and sweet, giving this wine a long, supple finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's just a very pleasant drinking wine.  I could see myself relaxing on the patio and sipping this wine for an hour or two, come to think of it, I might just do that now!  As for pairings, this would be ideal with a nice steak, roast beef, or some hearty spicy foods, maybe some chimichurri (there's some irony for an Argentine wine, eh?), or even some grilled salmon.  But tonight I am enjoying this one with the most classic of Midwest American dishes, tuna casserole!  So here's to the weekend, may it come soon!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

2008 Gerard Bertrand Minervois

Tonight I am going to the south of France for some wine, where hopefully the taste and terroir will give me a feeling of the bright sun shining on my face as the cool Mediterranean breeze envelopes me...but I's still May in Michigan and there's a freeze warning tonight!  At any rate, this wine is a blend of Syrah and Carignan, a perfect example of the Minervois appellation.

The wine is a brooding dark color in the glass, and the nose is a pleasant combination of blackberry, cocoa powder and a hint of coffee.  The taste is somewhat less fruity than I would have expected given the nose, but it was quite nice, with initial flavors of tart cherry and black currant, which gave way to some chalky earth and green herbs midpalate.  The finish was just lovely, with some dark chocolate notes over some evolving tannins that made way for a long, smooth, dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's drinking quite nicely now, but it will likely evolve over the next few years.  And it was a good bargain as well, as I think I got this one from for about $15!  As for pairings, tonight I am going 180 degrees against the grain, as the label suggest this would pair nicely with beef, sausage or pasta with red sauce, but tonight I am enjoying this with some pan seared ahi tuna, prepared with a bit of olive oil and Mediterranean spices, along with some roasted potatoes and fresh steamed asparagus that I picked up at a farm on the way home from Chicago yesterday.  Cheers!

Friday, May 10, 2013

2008 Naisi Nero D'Avola Tannat

Tonight I've decided to open an little red blend from Sicily, the 2008 Naisi, a blend of Nero D'Avola (75%) and Tannat (25%), which should make a nice wine to stand up to my seemingly daily steak intake!  I bought this wine a few weeks ago at John Russo's in Grand Rapids, which has a really nice selection of interesting wines, particularly from areas of Italy that you don't see as often, like Sicily.

This wine is a deep purple in the glass, with a good bit of opacity near the center and graduating toward a brighter ruby along the edges.  The nose is an interesting combination of ripe cherry, dark chocolate and leather, with a good bit of smokiness as well.  The taste is nicely fruit forward, with a blast of tart cherry and prune up front, which sounds awful, but actually works quite well.  The fruit transitions to some bitter herbs and gravel midpalate, before the rather tightly wound tannins bring it all together for a smooth, dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, it's a very nice wine that's a bit off the beaten path of your everyday red, with a more rustic quality that pairs nicely with red meat and game.  And the cost wasn't outrageous either, I think I bought this bottle on sale for $14.  Tonight I am enjoying this with a rare grilled New York strip and some grilled veggies and steak fries, which offer a perfect balance to the wine.  Cheers!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

2005 Cerro Anon Rioja Reserva

Tonight I am venturing to Spain for some wonderful Rioja, a wine I've really developed a fancy for over the past year or so.  This wine was an office wine club selection, and it a lovely blend of Tempranillo (80%), Garnacha (5%) with the balance made up of Mazuelo and Graciano.  I think what I like so much about the Spanish reds is how food friendly they are, the wines are just so balanced that you could pair them with a wide variety of dishes and still at the end of the meal you just feel satisfied.

This wine has a lovely bright ruby color, with limited opacity.  The nose is quite nice, with notes of red currant, anise, tar and a good bit of minerality swirling around.  The taste is a sophisticated blend of ripe red fruit, but without the sweetness you might expect, the rich dark fruit is wonderfully balanced with acidity that just gives this wine a vibrant pop midpalate.  The lush mouthfeel and smooth tannins make for a balanced, but long finish that leaves you asking for more.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as I think it's a great example of the greatness of Spanish reds, but at a spectacular value - this wine was available from Wines Till Sold Out for $12.99!  To demonstrate the versatility, tonight I am enjoying this wine with some poached salmon with honey dijon reduction, some steamed rice and broccoli, the tartness and structure of the wine is the perfect counterbalance to the sweetness of the salmon, cheers!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

2007 Stag's Leap Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

So it's Sunday evening, time for my traditional Sunday dinner, and tonight for the wine selection I added a twist.  I requested from my Facebook and Twitter friends to look in My Cellar and make suggestions as to which wine I should open with the marinading New York strips I am planning on grilling.  So if you don't follow me on Twitter, you should or you'll miss out on fun stuff like this!  And the result, as me opening a 2007 Stag's Leap Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, from a stellar recent vintage!

The color of the wine is a deep, opaque purple at the center, transitioning to a bright garnet around the edges.  The nose is a subdued combination of blackberry, anise, dark chocolate and a touch of oak.  The taste is complex and brooding, with just a hint of dark fruit at the outset, transitioning into some pepper and spice and a bit of limestone midpalate.  The finish is exceptionally dry, supported by some nice structure in the tannins making it last a good 30 seconds.  It's just surprising how dry this wine is, so often today Cabernet Sauvignons are jammy fruitbombs, but this one is subtle, quite reminiscent of the exceedingly dry Bordeaux I've enjoyed in Paris nearly two decades ago.

Overall, I would rate this one a solid 8.5, as it's just a great example of an old school, classic Napa Valley Cab, and although this one probably cost me upwards of $40, it's certainly worthy of a special occasion like a Sunday dinner!  Tonight, as I mentioned earlier, I am enjoying this wine with a rare grilled New York strip, which I marinaded with a bit of port instead of the usual red wine (that made for a much more woodsy, rustic flavor), some wonderful grilled asparagus and purple carrots, and a baked potato, what a classic steakhouse meal at home (I must say, the service wasn't as good!).  Cheers!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

2002 Tenuta Col D'Orcia Brunello di Montalcino Riserva

Here we are, at another "Cellar Saturday" and I'll have to confess that although I've selected a wine for this day that's over a decade old, and is at an ideal age for drinking, it hasn't really been in my cellar that long!  In fact, I bought two bottles of this one a month ago and have been excited to try it, the 2002 Tenuta Col D'Orcia Brunello di Montalcino Riserva!  Of course, the 2002 vintage for Brunello has been widely panned in the wine press, so my expectations were already somewhat depressed going into this, but what can I do, this is the oldest vintage I have, so it's on!

I thought about pouring this one through the aerator, but instead just let it breathe for an hour before tasting.  The nose is quite complex, with a lot of different aromas going on that it almost makes you dizzy, there is a lovely smoky aroma that pervades the nose, with hints of dark fruit, leather and oak, and then there is a sudden twang of tart cherry that sort of hits you from behind.  You really don't know what to expect from the nose, but on your first sip, it hits you with lovely ripe fruit up front, blackberry and plum, and then a bit of tart cherry as you transition to some floral notes, rose petals and a bit of anise midpalate.  The tannins are very well structured, supporting a long, lush and very dry finish that seems to go on for a minute or more.  I know it was a terrible vintage and I'm not supposed to like it, but this one just brought me straight back the the last time I was in Florence, enjoying some fava beans on Tuscan toast at a little cafe down the street from Il Duomo.  If a wine can do that, it can't be all bad!

Overall, I would rate this one a solid 8.5 as it's just drinking wonderfully right now, and it was a relative bargain as I bought this a month ago from Wines Till Sold Out for only $39.99!  Tonight I am enjoying this with one of my favorite Italian dishes, some sweet Italian sausage sauteed in olive oil with onions and peppers, a bit of homemade garlic bread and some linguine tossed with garlic and olive oil, delizioso!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

2010 Michael David Winery Petite Petit

So tonight I am enjoying two lovely wines from Lodi, California for the Lodi virtual tasting (you can check it out here: and the second one I am tasting tonight is the 2010 Michael David Winery Petite Petit. This wine is a somewhat interesting blend of Petite Sirah (85%) and Petit Verdot (15%), hence the name!

This wine is a bit darker in color, with a bit of opacity at the center, easing toward some ruby at the edges.  The nose on this one is quite a bit different, with some distinct woodsy notes reflecting the Petite Sirah (which also lends structure and the fantastic deep purple color), some wonderful fresh herb notes accented by anise and black cherry.  The taste of this one is somewhat more fruit forward, reminiscent of the more jammy Lodi zinfandels, with flavors of black cherry and cassis that transition into some flavors of forest floor midpalate.  The finish is quite nice with softer tannins leading to a more subdued, dry finish.

This wine is a very nice example of an interesting blend, that I would rate an 8 overall, as it's also a pretty good value at $18.  Tonight I am enjoying this one with my spicy Thai noodles and it holds up quite well against the Thai spice. It would pair quite nicely with some smoky barbecue, or a nice grilled brat with pickled red cabbage.  Cheers!

2011 Macchia "Amorous" Lodi Sangiovese

So tonight I am enjoying two lovely wines from Lodi, California for the Lodi virtual tasting (you can check it out here: and the first one I am tasting tonight is the 2011 Macchia "Amorous" Sangiovese.  This will be interesting, since I very partial to Lodi Zinfandels, but I don't think I've tasted any other varietals from Lodi!  Here goes nothing!

The color of this wine is a lighter garnet all around, very similar to many Sangiovese from Italy.  The nose is very interesting, with some tobacco, lovely dry spice notes, black pepper and a hint of fresh mint and lots and lots of oak.  The taste has a wonderful floral quality up front, which eases into some lighter fruit notes and fresh herbs midpalate.  The finish is very smooth, with lovely notes of gravel and mint that is quite dry.  This wine strikes me as a very food friendly wine, as the more subtle flavor profile would tend to compliment a wide variety of dishes, from rich pastas, to grilled salmon to pizza on a Friday night!

Overall, I would rate this one a solid 8, as I think it's a very nice example of a classic Sangiovese that would be great with food, or just sipping on the patio on a summer afternoon. It's also a decent value at about $22, an added plus.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine and it's companion with spicy noodles from a local Thai restaurant, I love Thai food and this wine really holds up nicely to the spice! This would also be great with a lot of pasta dishes, and especially braciole, so long since I've had good braciole!