Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2008 Arger-Martucci Vineyards Napa Valley Syrah

Well here we are, the last syrah of 2014...you love my puns don't you?  Anyhow, ahead of all the New Year's Eve festivities, I've decided to open a bottle of 2008 Arger-Martucci Vineyards Napa Valley Syrah to enjoy on the last evening of the year!  This wine has quite a pedigree, coming from the Atlas Peak appellation in the Odyssey Vineyard located near the well-known Antica and Stagecoach vineyards, the latter being home to many of Napa's greatest names, like Paul Hobbes, Decade 5 and Caymus.


The wine is a deep purple color at the center leading to a bright garnet color along the edges with just a hint of opacity.  The nose is quite nice, ripe black fruits and anise transition to some wonderful mineral notes.  The taste is very pleasant with some nice blackberry and cherry cola notes at the outset that transition to some lovely dark chocolate and mineral notes of dusty limestone and graphite midpalate.  The tannins are well rounded and supportive of the voluptuous, long, dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's easily one of the finer Syrahs I've had in a very long time, and it was an incredible value at just $15 from Wines Till Sold Out!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rather interesting pairing, some dungeness crab ravioli with some tomato basil cream sauce, as the earthy spice of this wine just does something magical with a rich dinner like this.  It would also do very well with barbecue or a simple grilled steak.  Cheers and here's to a wonderful 2015!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2009 DaMa Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

A little more than one day left in 2014, so enjoy it while it lasts!  Tonight I'm enjoying a nice wine from a producer that I discovered on my last road trip to Walla Walla back in 2013 (see my tasting post from back then: My final day in Walla Walla).  A couple weeks ago I received an e-mail from DaMa noting that they were offering a half-off discount on the last of their 2009 Cowgirl Cab (see my tasting notes here: 2009 Cowgirl Cab) and 2009 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, so I ordered a case or so of each.  It arrived last week, so now I get the chance to taste the 2009 DaMa Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which is actually a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (80%), Merlot (10%) and Cabernet Franc (10%).


The wine is a nice bright ruby color in the glass, with great clarity.  The nose is a rich combination or black fruit, blackberry, cassis and a hint of prune overlaid with a nice bit of leather and earth.  The taste is very pleasant, with some rich fruit notes or blackberry and cassis up front that transition effortlessly to some wonderful flavors of dark chocolate and espresso midpalate.  The finish is warm and inviting, with well structured tannins that provide balance to the long, velvety dry finish that just beckons you to have another sip.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's an easy drinking wine that's also a great value, regularly $30, but this one was about $20 with the discount and shipping.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a classic Cabernet paring, a rare grilled New York Strip, some grilled leeks and Brussels sprouts and a nice big baked potato with butter and sour cream.  The rich fruit and subtle earthy notes in this wine make it a perfect pairing for any steak, cheers!

Monday, December 29, 2014

2012 Shadowood Napa Valley Reserve Red Wine

Well 2014 is rapidly drawing to a close, so why not go out with a bang, or at least a few nice bottles of wine!  Having just returned from the gym and feeling mighty fine about myself, I've decided to open a bottle of 2012 Shadowood Napa Valley Reserve red wine that I got about a week or so ago from Wines Till Sold Out.  This wine is a blend that's heavy on Merlot (94%) with a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon (5%) and just a touch of Malbec (1%) to round it out.


The wine is a deep, dark ruby color in the glass which combined with the nose makes you immediately think of a high-quality Merlot.  The nose is a lovely combination of dark fruit, blackberry, cassis and plum with a lovely layer of leather and toasted oak.  The taste is such a treat, with blast of great fruit up front that remains crisp, not syrupy which transitions nicely to some vanilla and mocha flavors midpalate.  The finish is quite nice, with lovely rounded tannins supporting a long, supple and exceptionally dry finish, just as you might expect from a nice quality Merlot.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a solid wine from a great vintage at an incredible value of just $13!  You know as I was sipping this wine earlier, I got to thinking how much press has been devoted to the spectacular 2012 Napa Valley vintage, and I have to admit that for Cabernets, I haven't been impressed with the 2012 Napa vintage, but every Merlot I've tried from the same vintage has been phenomenal!  As for pairing, I know everyone says to drink this with charred meat or some such thing, which I'm not opposed to by any mean, but tonight I'm in the mood for some comfort food, so I'm enjoying this wine with some lovely baked truffle mac & cheese made with a recipe I found on Epicurious (see this Mac & Cheese Recipe Link, though I added about 2 tbs of white truffle oil to the recipe).  The dark fruit and dryness of this wine is perfect with the richness of the truffle mac & cheese!  Cheers!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2007 Elk Cove Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Merry Christmas!  Yes, I know it's only Christmas Eve, but this is the night when I typically watch a whole bunch of Christmas movies while gorging myself on Chinese food, since it won't leave me too full for the real feast tomorrow!  I just returned from the gym, just to make me feel good about myself before the feast of obesity begins, all the presents are wrapped and I just placed my order at the Jade Garden, so I may as well open a bottle of wine to enjoy this evening, and tonight it's one of my all time favorite Oregon Pinots, the 2007 Elk Cove Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.  Now in all the time I lived in Portland, I never got into the Pinot scene like everyone else it seems, but I did find this one that appealed to me, a big bold Cabernet and Bordeaux drinker that wasn't the light, whispy Pinots that you often find in Oregon or Burgundy!


Now I'll admit I had a hard time finding this wine today, I tore the cellar apart, looking in case after case, knowing had to be there somewhere, and alas I found it in a half case of Languedoc!  So here we are, a beautiful deep garnet color in the glass with great clarity.  The nose is just a rush of Oregon Pinot memories, rustic earthy elements of peat, leather, blackberries and fresh herbs.  The taste is a burst of fruit, plums, black cherries and cassis, all of which blend together for some earthy mineral notes of limestone, cedar intermingled with Asian spice midpalate.  The finish is remarkably smooth, without the tannins and dryness that you can get from a Cabernet, this one is just all around pleasant to drink from start to finish!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a lovely example of the fine Pinots coming from the Willamette Valley, but it's probably reached it's peak for drinking now.  As I mentioned, tonight it's Christmas Eve which means Chinese food, so I'm pairing this with some wonderful Kung Po chicken, steamed dumplings and spring rolls, some of my favorites!  Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!

Monday, December 22, 2014

2010 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Well, 'tis the season to have lots of fun and good food, and since I was good today and went to the gym, I figured I deserved a treat for dinner, so I've opened up a very nice bottle of wine, the 2010 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon!


The wine is an inky black color at the center, leading to some bright ruby along the edges with nice clarity.  The nose is just lovely, with notes of black licorice, tarragon, blueberry and some Asian spice.  The taste is quite refined, with a some subdued flavors of cassis, blueberry and notes of espresso up front which transition to some elegant flavors of pipe tobacco, dusty limestone and white pepper midpalate.  The finish is quite nice, with nicely structured and well integrated tannins supporting the long, lush, absolutely bone dry finish that just beckons another sip.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 9, with still more potential to improve with some cellaring over the next decade or so.  This is a perfect steak house sort of wine, with great flavor, nicely structured but not overpowering, the perfect complement to a nice rare steak, with lucky for me I happen to have this evening!  Tonight I'm pairing this wine with a rare grilled cowboy cut ribeye about 3" thick along with a baked potato and some grilled brussels sprouts.  So much meat and rich flavors to make this a bottle well worth the price (I bought this one from Wines Till Sold Out for just $60, about $10 less than the usual price).  But it's the holidays and I think I deserve a nice present to myself!  Cheers!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

2012 Sullivan Heart of the Vineyard Napa Valley Red Wine

Well it's officially one week till Christmas, so not a lot of time to prepare if you haven't done so already.  Tonight I am preparing some gifts to bring in to work tomorrow but why not take some time out to share what wonderful wine I'm enjoying this evening, even as I wrap and clean and prepare for my own Christmas party on Saturday.  Tonight I've opened a bottle of 2012 Sullivan Heart of the Vineyard Napa Valley Red Wine, an interesting blend of Cabernet Franc (38%), Cabernet Sauvignon (34%), Merlot (17%) and Petit Verdot (11%).


The wine is a bright ruby color in the glass with just a bit of opacity.  The nose is rich and jammy with black cherries, vanilla bean and marionberries with just a hint of leather at the end.  The taste is quite fruit forward with a burst of black cherries, blackberries and candied plum, which transitions nicely to some graphite, dark chocolate and white pepper spice midpalate.  The finish is smooth and inviting, as fine, dusty tannins lend considerable support to the velvety mouthfeel and long, smooth, dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a very well structured and high quality wine, but also a decent value (I bought this one from Wines Till Sold Out for about $30).  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rather nontraditional pairing of dungeness crab ravioli with roasted pepper and garlic alfredo sauce.  The fruit and spice of the wine nicely balance the richness of the crab in the ravioli.  Cheers!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

2010 L'Ecole No. 41 Seven Hills Estate Merlot

Have you ever made it to the end of the day and felt like you've just been beaten up?  That's how I feel today, after trying to get my house decorated for my upcoming Christmas party next weekend not to mention that I still have a lot of cleaning to do, particularly vacuuming spruce needles!  Oh well, I'll get it done soon enough, but until then it seems only appropriate to open a nice bottle of wine at the end of the day, and tonight it's one of my favorite varietals from one of my favorite wineries, the 2010 L'Ecole No. 41 Seven Hills Estate Merlot, which is actually a blend of Merlot (78%), Cabernet Sauvignon (13%) and Cabernet Franc (9%).


The wine is a beautiful rich ruby color in the glass, with a nice dark indigo at the center.  The nose is quite inviting, with aromas of black cherry, green cedar, and a hint of fresh herbs.  The taste is a rush of ripe fruit, blackberry, cherry and a hint of candied plum, which transition smoothly to some earthy elements of tar, toasted oak and pepper midpalate.  The finish is remarkably earthy, with integrated tannins supporting the long, smooth dry finish that leaves you wanting another sip.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's drinking very well now, but given it's from a strong vintage it will no doubt improve with some time in the cellar.  Tonight I am enjoying this with a nice petite sirloin, grilled rare, along with a big baked potato and some grilled Brussels sprouts.  A Merlot like this one is a sure bet to pair well with a nice steak house sort of dinner.  Cheers!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

2012 Encantado Oakville Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Saturday!  It was certainly a busy one for me as I was running around getting Christmas trees and finding food for my annual Christmas party next Saturday, and today I bought the biggest tree I've ever bought for the family room, a blue spruce that stands about 9 feet tall and seems to be about 6 feet in diameter at the base!  So it's time to relax, and before you accuse me of repeating a wine post (not that it's never happened) our wine this evening is a little different than the 2012 Encantado Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon as this one is made only from grapes produced in the Oakville AVA, home to some rock star wineries like Silver Oak and Opus One!  But like the regular cab, this one is still produced by Pine Ridge Vineyards, so let's get busy with the wine already!


The wine is a beautiful, deep ruby color in the glass with nice legs.  The nose is just what you'd expect from a high-quality Cabernet from Oakville, ripe black fruit, blackberries, plum and a hint of strawberry over some smoke, baking spice and a bit of mint.  The taste is quite refined, with a burst of mellow fruit up front, ripe berries and plum that transition relatively effortlessly to some earthy notes of tar, dusty limestone and black pepper.  The finish is delightful, as the fine tannins support a rich, velvety mouthfeel amid the long, smooth and exceedingly dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5 as this wine has all that I would expect from a $50 bottle, but I bought this one from Wines Till Sold Out for just $23!  Like any quality Napa Valley Cabernet, this wine would be perfect with red meat or a variety of hearty dishes perfect for the winter months.  Tonight I am enjoying this with a USDA Prime petite sirloin steak grilled rare with a baked potato and some haricots vert almondine, a classic steak house dinner with a classic Cabernet!  Cheers!


Saturday, December 6, 2014

2004 Bussola Ca' del Laito Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso

Well, it's the first Saturday in December, which of course means it's Cellar Saturday, that special day when I dig deep into the cellar and find a nice bottle a bit more mature just for the heck of it.  Tonight I go back a decade and open a bottle of 2004 Bussola Ca' del Laito Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso.  For those who have read any of my past posts on Amarone, know that the Valpolicella Ripasso is the second pressing of the grapes used to produce Amarone, which themselves are dried before pressing, creating a much more concentrated flavor that is just a joy to drink.  The only problem with Amarone is the price, hence the ripasso is a more value oriented offering which we are enjoying tonight!


The wine is a bright ruby color in the glass, with just the faintest hint of amber along the edges.  The nose is quite nice, with earthy notes of cedar, leather and fresh herbs over concentrated fruit notes of ripe plum and raisin.  The taste is sublime, with a burst of sweet cherry and anise at the outset, which transitions to some espresso and white pepper notes midpalate.  The tannins are well integrated and nicely structured, supporting a long, velvety dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid  8.5, it's drinking exceedingly well after it's first decade, and it was a great value at just $25, or about a third of the cost of a comparable Amarone.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a classic big dinner to go with the big wine, a rare grilled prime New York strip, a big baked potato with butter and sour cream and some steamed broccoli.  The fruit and spice in this wine just play remarkably well with a charred steak, tutti a tavola a mangiare!

Friday, December 5, 2014

2012 Seven Hills Carmenere

Happy Friday!  I am done with the first week of the two busiest weeks of my year, so I think it's time for a little celebration and what better way than with a bottle of nice red wine from the Walla Walla Valley?  Tonight I've opened a bottle of 2012 Seven Hills Carmenere, their fourth release of the varietal in the past decade.


The wine is a deep garnet color in the glass, rich and vibrant.  The nose is quite nice, with a nice presence of ripe red fruit, raspberries and red currant intermingled with some nice herb notes and a hint of earthiness.  The taste is quite nice, with some ripe berries up front than linger for a bit, transitioning to some nice spice notes of white pepper and just a hint of Provencal herbs.  The finish is vibrant, with somewhat mellow tannins offering a lovely bridge between the fruit and herb notes amid the smooth, dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, a very food friendly offering at a good value, this one was $30 before my wine club discount.  Tonight I'm pairing this with a rather unorthodox dinner of king crab legs, with some herb roasted purple fingerling potatoes and steamed Brussels sprouts.  The pronounced fruit and spice in this wine is a perfect balance to the richness of the crab.  Salut!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

2011 L'Ecole No. 41 Walla Walla Cabernet Savignon

A weeknight and I get to enjoy a wine from one of my favorite Washington wineries, L'Ecole No. 41!  Tonight I've opened a bottle of the 2011 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon, usually an easy choice for what's sure to be a nice bottle.


The wine is a beautiful ruby color in the glass with just a bit of opacity.  The nose is quite nice, with a combination of ripe plums, blackberries and tart cherry intermingled with some green herb notes. The taste is quite nice, with a bit of cherry compote and smoke at the outset, transitioning to some tobacco and earthy peat notes midpalate.  The tannins are well integrated and nicely structured to support the long, supple and very dry finish.  This wine reminds me a lot of the more classic Cabernets that you found 20 years ago, with a lot more finesse than many wine you find today.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's just a great bottle with the classic Cabernet characteristics that I've really come to appreciate over the years, and it comes at a descent price of just $39!  Tonight I am enjoying this with a classic Cabernet dinner pairing of rare grilled Angus ribeye with a baked potato and grilled leeks and Brussels sprouts, so yummy!  Cheers!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

2011 Forgeron Malbec StoneTree Vineyard

Well happy Saturday!  Today I slept late, ran errands, then bought some fresh pine and cedar garland to start decorating for the holidays, so tonight I've earned a little break.  And what's better with a break than a nice bottle of wine?  Tonight's selection is one that I recently received from one of my wine club shipments, the 2011 Forgeron Cellars Malbec from the StoneTree Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope.  Now had I realized when I grabbed my corkscrew how limited the production of this wine was (just 95 cases!) I might have held onto it for a while, but what the heck!


The wine is a deep dark brooding ruby color in the glass, that is almost black at the center leading to brighter color along the edges.  The nose is just fantastic, some bright fruit notes, blackberries, plums, with a lovely smokiness overlaying some toasted oak and spice notes that just brings to mind all that is best about the holidays, the wonderful foods, fires in the hearth, pine boughs hung and trees decorated, fresh fruit, the smell of pies and cookies wafting from the kitchen, this wine just smells like Christmas to me!  The taste is just as much of a treat, with some rich fruit flavors up front, cherry cola, blackberries, currants, all cooked down to a lovely glaze, which transitions to some wonderful spice notes mixed with smoke midpalate.  The finish is just lovely, with some coarse mineral notes, dusty limestone along with the well structured tannins supporting a long, supple and sublimely dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5 as it's probably my favorite Malbec (of course you all know I'm not a huge fan of Malbec, but I could drink this one all day long).  The price was a little steep at $46, but given the limited production it's perfectly understandable and worth it.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a little unusual comfort food, some steamed snow crab legs along with oven roasted fingerling potatoes and some grilled asparagus, but it would be perfect with any hearty winter meal, from rich stews to braised short ribs or lamb, the sweet fruit and spice makes this one a perfect Christmas wine for all!  Sante!

Friday, November 28, 2014

2012 Kirkland Signature Series Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Well folks, I hate to admit it but November has been a bust for my wine blog.  I came down with some sort of cold early in the month and I was sick for about 2 weeks, and once I was over it, I had three days of no sickness before I came down with another cold!  What a mess!  Well I'm still not 100% but I'm feeling well enough to have a glass of wine or two with dinner tonight, and since I made my first venture to the new Costco that opened about 20 miles from my house I figured today would be a Costco day, and to celebrate I opened a bottle of 2012 Kirkland Signature Series Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (for those unfamiliar, Kirkland is the Costco private label brand for everything from wine to toilet paper)!


Now I bought a couple of bottles of this wine to try, and the bottles themselves were impressive, not your typical bottles, but the heavy glass bottles normally seen with higher end wines.  The wine itself is deep ruby color in the glass, with nice clarity.  The nose is comparable to some of the best Napa Cabs I've tried, rich dark cherry and cassis intermingles with leather and green herbs and just a hint of dark chocolate on the end.  The taste is wonderful, with some rich black fruit up front, black cherry and currant, that transitions nicely to some white pepper and spice notes midpalate.  The tannins are very well structure giving depth and breadth to the long, velvety dry finish.

Although it's still young, this wine from the solid '12 Napa vintage is drinking quite nicely right now, and I'd rate this one a solid 8, with room to improve with some time in the cellar.  And it was a great value at just $20 too!  Since this is a Costco sort of day, I've decided to pair this wine with a classic dinner of a rare grilled USDA Prime New York Strip, a big steak house sized baked potato with the works, and some grilled brussels sprouts.  The wine has just enough acidity to balance out the great marbling of the steak while the spice just livens up the entire meal.  Cheers!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

2012 Seven Hills Walla Walla Merlot

Holy Moley!  I am exhausted and I think I'm coming down with a cold!  First the exhaustion, which comes from helping the kids I hired to clear the leaves from my yard (have I mentioned I have a lot of leaves?).  Yesterday my iphone counted over 15,000 steps and today as I type this I'm up to 16,132 steps!  What the heck kind of employer am I?  I should have been napping while they did the leaves!  So after working in the cold the last two days as well as drinking beer in my friend's cold garage in celebration of his 30th birthday on Friday night, it's a recipe for illness!  But at least tonight I'm feeling up to opening a bottle of wine, and tonight's is a favorite, the 2012 Seven Hills Walla Walla Merlot!


The wine is a deep ruby color in the glass with great clarity.  The nose is a nice array of licorice, leather and a hint of Asian spice.  The taste is a burst of fruit up front, plum, black cherry and a hint of cocoa powder, which transitions to some nice minerality midpalate.  The tannins are still a bit young, but very well integrated, supporting a long, velvety smooth dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's an incredibly pleasant bottle right now, but it's sure to age well for another five years or more.  Now that I have a bit of my appetite back, tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rare grilled Hereford T-bone steak from my favorite local butcher, along with a backed potato and some steamed asparagus.  What goes better with Merlot than a nice steak?  Cheers!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

2004 Valentina Cubi Morar Amarone della Valpolicella

Well, it's the first Saturday of November and that means it's officially "Cellar Saturday" that time when I open a bottle of wine that's been given some time to mature in the cellar.  Tonight's feature is one that I actually bought fairly recently, the 2004 Valentina Cubi Morar Amarone della Valpolicella, a 10-year-old Amarone that should just about be hitting it's prime about now!  And for those of you who are unfamiliar with Amarone, it's a classic northern Italian wine made from the Corvina and Rondinella grapes which are partially dried (for up to 120 days) before pressing.  The result is usually a much more concentrated and powerful red wine that is a personal favorite.


This wine is a deep ruby color in the glass with a bit of opacity.  The nose is classic Amarone, rich fruit notes of raspberry and raisin, over cascading aromas of leather, white pepper and just a hint of lavender.  The taste is quite subdued up front, with some mild flavors of blackberry and cherry intermingled with vanilla and pipe tobacco, that gives way to some spice notes of white pepper and Asian spice midpalate.  The tannins are very nicely integrated, supporting a long, flavorful and very dry finish.  A very classic Amarone.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it is a fine example of the wine and a nice value, as I bought this one from Wines Till Sold Out for just $30.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a simple dinner of rare grilled New York Strip with grilled leeks, a baked potato and some steamed green beans.  This wine would also pair well with a lot of Northern Italian dishes, such as a nice wild mushroom risotto with a bit of Asiago shaved on top, wow I'm making myself hungry again!  Cincin!

Friday, October 31, 2014

2012 Seven Hills McClellan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

HAPPY HALLOWINE!!!  Ok, so I left work and got right home to carve a pumpkin and get ready for all the ghosts and goblins to come asking for candy from 6-8 pm, and the pumpkin is carved, seeds are in the oven and now it's time for a glass of wine before the chaos begins!  And tonight I've opened a bottle of my most recent wine club selection from Seven Hills Winery in Walla Walla (one of my favorites!), the 2012 McClellan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon!


The wine is a lovely deep violet in the glass with great clarity.  The nose is quite nice, with aromas of leather over some ripe boysenberry and cherry notes and just a hint of dried herbs.  The taste is just wonderful, with a rather subdued bit of fruit up front, berries and cherry that quickly gives way to some lovely mineral notes midpalate, dusty limestone and basalt and a bit of peppercorn.  The tannins are young but very well integrated, lending a bit of spice and velvelty mouthfeel for the long, smooth dry finish.


Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, with plenty of room to improve with some time in the cellar.  It was also a lot less expensive than I expected, with a list price of $45 and with my wine club discount it was only $38!  Maybe not an everyday wine, but for a special occasion like Hallowine, it's ideal!  Tonight I'm just having a glass with handing-out-candy duty, but it would be ideal with a nice steak or a hearty Italian meal, but for tonight, considering the kids are coming soon and it just started snowing (SNOWING?!?!?) it's just fine by itself.  Cheers!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

2012 Herringbone Napa Valley Red Wine

Well, it's midweek, no time to relax, no time to cook, but there's always time for wine!  And tonight midst the mid-week boredom I've decided to open a bottle of Napa Valley red wine that I recently bought from Wines Till Sold Out, this one from the rumored to be fantastic 2012 vintage, the 2012 Herringbone Napa Valley Red Wine, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which should be enough to get me through the evening!


The wine has a nice deep purple color in the glass, with a nice ring of bright ruby along the edges.  The nose is a pleasant combination of leather, blackberry and plum accented with a hint of vanilla bean.  The taste is actually quite nice, a good amount of ripe fruit up front, blackberry, plum and cherry cola that transitions nicely to some mineral notes of dusty limestone and basalt midpalate, quite characteristic of a Bordeaux style blend of these two varietals.  The tannins are young but firm, providing some structure to the long, smooth and very dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, it's a very easy drinking and food friendly red that was also a terrific value at only $12!  Tonight I am pairing this wine with everyone's favorite midweek dinner, leftovers!  A bit of marinaded London Broil, some roasted purple potatoes and an Asian kale and cabbage salad, and of course the wine is perfect for pairing with some big red meat, cheers!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

2012 Woodward Canyon Barbera

About a decade or so ago, I stopped at Woodward Canyon in Walla Walla and tried some of their wonderful Barbera, and I must admit I've been a fan ever since.  So tonight I am going to treat myself and open a bottle of the most recent vintage, the 2012 Woodward Canyon Estate Barbera from Walla Walla!


The wine is a deep inky purple in the glass with some brighter ruby along the edges.  The nose is an adventure in decadent aromas, raspberry, blackberry and cassis along with a good bit of leather, graphite and forest floor.  The taste is just a treat, with a blast of ripe fruit at the outset, ripe berries, plum and raisin that reminds you a bit of a nice Amarone.  The fruit transitions flawlessly to some wonderfully spicy notes of white pepper, vanilla and dark chocolate midpalate.  The finish, is smooth, dry and voluptuous, as the smooth tannins are integrated seamlessly, creating a wine that's a pleasure to drink from the first sip to the last glass.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a great example of the varietal and one of my personal favorites.  At a price of $29 from the winery, it's worth every penny in my opinion.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rather unusual dinner for a northern Italian varietal, medium rare grilled London broil, with some cheesy potatoes and steamed asparagus, as the fruit and acidity are perfect with what can be a tougher cut of beef.  Cheers!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

2011 Reininger Malbec

Well, it was a busy day of leaf collection, thankfully it seems we are nearing the end of it, or perhaps just entering the middle of it, oh forget it, I just confused myself!  At any rate, after a long day of raking and leaf blowing, I figure it's time for a nice glass of wine and a nice dinner before I head out to the Elkhart Civic Theater to see Young Frankenstein this evening!  And tonight's wine is the 2011 Reininger Malbec, and for those who know, I'm not the biggest Malbec fan but in the case of Reininger's limited production (only 56 cases!) I always make an exception!


The wine is a beautiful garnet color in the glass leading to an almost inky hue at the center.  The nose is quite nice, ripe black fruit, rich blackberry, plum and currant easing into notes of leather, graphite and a hint of rose petal.  The taste is quite refined, with a rush of ripe fruit that quickly subsides, leaving you with some woody notes and a hint of spice midpalate.  The tannins are quite smooth, lending a nice foundation to the long, smooth, sultry finish that leaves you practically begging for another sip.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, and at $45 with my wine club discount this is a premium bottle but well worth it!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a classic dinner that hearkens back the the Andean origins of modern Malbec, a thick rare Angus ribeye along with a big baked potato and some grilled leeks and Brussels sprouts, really a last gasp of summer before the Autumn really kicks in!  Cheers!

Friday, October 24, 2014

2011 Encantado Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Friday!  It's been a long week and I just need to relax a bit and I figure I deserve it, after all I went to the gym after work and now that I'm home I should be able to enjoy a nice glass of wine before dinner.  Tonight it's the 2011 Encantado Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, and for those who recall my review of the 2012 Encantado Cabernet Sauvignon that night I totally blew off the gym, so I am getting more disciplined at least!


The wine is a deep ruby in the glass with nice legs.  The nose is classic Cabernet, with rich black and red fruit notes along with some nice toasted oak and spice notes.  The taste is lusciously fruit forward, with blackberry and plum bursting forth, then a smooth transition to some warm spice notes of vanilla, cocoa powder and a hint of anise.  The tannins are well integrated and provide a nice backbone for the long, dry and velvety finish that seems to last until you take another sip.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's drinking quite nicely now, but could definitely mature over time, and at $25 from Wines Till Sold Out, I'm having a tough time deciding which of these wines I like better!  Tonight I am enjoying this with a simple meal of grilled New York Strip, some steamed jasmine rice and some asparagus, as this Cabernet is a perfect grilled steak sort of wine.  Cheers!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

2011 Fontanafredda Nebbiolo

Well, it's been a busy week with some travel and a lot of work, but thankfully the week is winding down so we may as well enjoy a nice bottle of wine with Thursday dinner.  Tonight, I've decided to open a bottle of 2011 Fontanafredda Nebbiolo, a wine made from the same grape that gives the lovely Barolo wines of the Piedmont their fantastic, earthy character.


The wine has a bright ruby color in the glass with great clarity.  The nose is remarkable in its young complexity with aromas of tar, licorice, dried flowers and an almost cotton candy note.  The taste is quite nice, with notes of berries and plum that transition to some earthy notes of peat midpalate.  The finish is quite pleasant as the young, yet very well structured tannins support a long, dry and velvety finish that lingers.  A pleasant wine today that, given the character of the grape, will likely improve with some time in the bottle.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a pleasant drinking wine and solid example of the varietal, but it was screaming bargain as well!  I bought this one about six months ago from Wines Till Sold Out for only $10!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a traditional Italian dinner of spinach and ricotta ravioli with some spicy marinara and Italian sausage.  The earthy flavors are just the perfect foil to the spicy acidity of the sauce.  Tutti a tavola a mangiare!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

2009 Mansion Creek Cellars Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon

Well it's a bit of a rainy Saturday in October, perfect weather for football and a big red wine like a Cabernet!  Today I ran a lot of errands ahead of a short trip to Canada, so I figure I deserve to open something nice for dinner.  So tonight I've opened a bottle that I picked up on my last trip to Walla Walla about 18 months ago, the 2009 Mansion Creek Cellars Waldheim Cabernet Sauvignon!


The wine is a beautiful inky black and ruby color in the glass.  The nose is quite nice, a bit of ripe fruit, blackberries and plum, with some lovely herb notes, that make for a very interesting combination of sweet and tart aromas.  The taste is quite nice, we get a blast of fruit and tart, it really does remind me of SweeTARTS candy, which transitions nicely to some smoky mineral notes midpalate.  The tannins are very nicely structured, providing a velvety, long dry finish that seems to last more than a minute.


Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's really a very nice example of a Walla Walla Cabernet at a modest price (I think this one was about $32 when I bought it).  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with the monster cowboy cut ribeye you see above, along with some wild rice and fresh steamed asparagus.  This is a great wine with a big ol' steak, the fruit and mineral notes just make a great balance with charred beef.  Cheers!

Friday, October 17, 2014

2012 Dois Irmaos Winery Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Happy Friday!  I worked a little late tonight and just got back from the gym, so I figure I've earned a glass of wine or two, and for tonight I've decided to open a bottle of 2012 Dois Irmaos Winery Willamette Valley Pinot Noir that I just received today from Wines Till Sold Out!  Now those who know me realize that I'm not a huge Pinot fan, even though I lived in the Raleigh Hills area of Portland in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but there are always opportunities to try a Pinot and see if I like it.  You see, I was introduced to red wine through Bordeaux rather than Burgundy, so my tastes lean much more towards Cabernet and Merlot than Pinot, but since this was billed as a Pinot for Cab lovers I figured I'd give it a shot.


The wine is a little darker in the glass than a typical Pinot, with a nice violet color and great clarity.  The nose is fairly classic Pinot, with some tart fruit notes of cherry and a hint of strawberry amid the slightest hints of green grass and tar.  The taste is rather pleasant with great fruit up front, strawberry, tart cherry and plum that transitions to some nice smoky mineral notes midpalate.  The tannins though young support a long, lovely finish with some great acidity.  Though certainly a far cry from Cabernet, this wine is really quite pleasant.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, it's very nicely structure and it was a great value at just $16!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with the classic pairing of cedar planked wild Alaskan sockeye filet, some wild mushroom risotto and some steamed asparagus.  The acidity in the wine really cuts through the richness of the salmon and risotto, providing the perfect foil.  Cheers!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

2012 Canoe Ridge Vineyards The Expedition Cabernet Sauvignon

Well I am sure glad the world didn't end with the Mayan calendar, as there are a number of really nice 2012 vintage wines coming out now that we all would have missed!  Tonight's is one such vintage, the 2012 Canoe Ridge Vineyards "The Expedition" Cabernet Sauvignon from the Horse Heaven Hills.  I've tried a few different wines from Canoe Ridge, and they seldom disappoint, so we'll see how this one goes.


The wine is a deep ruby color in the glass, certainly appropriate for a Cabernet from the Columbia Valley.  The nose is quite pleasant with some lovely floral notes atop some rich, ripe fruit notes of plum and red currant and just a bit of smokiness.  The taste is really quite nice, very fruit forward, with flavors of ripe raspberry, blackberry and currant that blast into your psyche.  The rich fruit transitions nicely to some smoky, mineral notes midpalate.  The tannins are remarkably well developed for a wine this young, supporting a long, smooth, very dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's really drinking well and it was a terrific bargain as I found this one at G.B. Russo's in Grand Rapids for just $15!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a fall classic dinner of grilled teriyaki pork tenderloin with some cheddar bacon potato casserole and some steamed green beans.  The sweet ripe fruit in this wine is just perfect with a rich pork dish while the acidity offers a nice balance to the cheesy potato casserole, man I have to eat!  Cheers!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

2012 Waterbrook Icon Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

I cannot even begin to describe how exhausted I am!  I started the day with a nice breakfast, an Asiago and spinach omelette with some bacon and hash browns, then I ran a whole bunch of errands, bank, store, etc. and then I finally got home around 3:00 and decided it would be a good idea to rake the leaves from my yard so I could then mow one last time before the grass stops growing for winter (if that sounds like a ridiculously stupid idea, you are correct!),  Needless to say, I made it to 15,034 steps doing this and now I definitely need a glass of wine!  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of 2012 Waterbrook Icon Reserve Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.


The wine is a bright ruby color in the glass, a little lighter than I normally expect from a Cabernet.  The nose displays ample black fruit, plum, currant and cassis over a bit of toasted oak and vanilla.  The taste is very nice, with some ripe fruit up front and a bit of jammy sweetness that reminds me more of a Zinfandel than a Cabernet.  Midpalate, the takes transitions to some warm spice and floral notes, while the young, yet smooth tannins support a long, warm, dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, as it's young and not quite up to the level of some other Walla Walla Cabernets, but it was an outstanding value, as I bought this one from Wines Till Sold Out for just $15!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a lovely grilled bone-in ribeye, baked potato and some steamed green beans, a perfect autumn dinner after raking leaves!

Friday, October 10, 2014

2012 Robert Storey Cellars Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Well, it's Friday night after a busy week of travel to the east coast so I need to relax!  And what better way to relax than with a nice bottle of Napa Cabernet?  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of 2012 Robert Storey Cellars Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from the Rutherford AVA in Napa Valley that I recently purchased.


The color on this wine is deep brooding purple, so typical of a nice Napa Cabernet.  The nose is a lovely combination of ripe black fruit with somewhat of a jammy characteristic along with some leather, oak and cocoa powder.  The taste is nice, with some rich black fruit up front, black cherry, plum and black currant that transitions effortlessly to some wonderful mineral notes midpalate - part of the characteristic "Rutherford dust."  The finish is quite nice, with rather young yet plump tannins providing the foundation for a wonderful long, very dry finish that seems to last a minute or more.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it could do with a bit of cellaring, but it's a wonderful example of a Rutherford Cabernet at a terrific value - I bought this one from Wines Till Sold Out for just $20!  Tonight I am enjoying this with a lovely autumn dinner of butternut squash ravioli with a creamy alfredo prima vera (what's better than lightly steamed vegetables and cream with pasta?) but it would also pair well with just about any red meat dish, but honestly I didn't feel like cooking tonight!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

1998 I Balzini Super Tuscan Blend

Here we are, the first Saturday of October, which of course means it's Cellar Saturday!  And thank goodness for that, since over the past 24 hours it seems like we've gone from summer right into the depths of fall!  It was about 75 and rainy with a lot of humidity, and right now it's 43 and raining, heading to a low of 37 tonight!  Perfect weather for a hearty super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese (50%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (50%)!  This bottle was a part of a vertical that I bought from Wines Till Sold Out that included the 1997 (you can see my review of this one here), 1998, 1999 and 2001.


I opened this bottle a few hours ago and let it breathe a bit rather than decanting.  The wine is a lovely deep ruby color in the glass.  The nose is somewhat rustic, with some aromas of barnyard, leather and cedar intermingled with some ripe berry and plum notes.  The taste is quite nice, with some lovely mint and fruit, blackberry, cherry and raisin, up front that transitions to some iron, mineral and spice notes midpalate.  The finish is rather subdued, with mellow tannins supporting a smooth, very dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, as it just doesn't seem as nice as the '97.  Tonight I am enjoying this one with a wonderful grilled New York strip on a bed of baby kale with an aged white balsamic, a baked potato and some steamed green beans, a perfect fall dinner, with some big flavors that play very nicely with a more mature wine like this one.  Cheers!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

2012 Encantado Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Do you know what day it is?  Do you...know what day it is?  That's right, it's hump day, and for me it was an exceedingly long hump day as I didn't leave the office until nearly 7 pm, and although I was supposed to go to the gym tonight, I was just too tired, so I decided to make it a wine Wednesday instead!  And tonight's wine is one that just arrived from Wines Till Sold Out today, the 2012 Encantado Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a cabernet blend from several select blocks in Napa produced by Pine Ridge Vineyards in a 200-acre estate that spans five appellations: Stags Leap, Rutherford, Oakville, Carneros and Howell Mountain.


The wine is a deep, inky purple color in the glass edging toward some lighter ruby.  The nose is rather oak laden with a hint of green cedar, with some dark fruit notes mixed in.  The taste is really quite nice, with a veritable explosion of dark, jammy fruit up front, plum, blackberries and a hint of cocoa that transitions nicely to some dusty limestone midpalate.  The tannins are remarkably mellow for such a young wine, and the velvety, rounded mouthfeel makes for a long, dry and quite pleasant finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8 with room to improve with age, and best of all it was an absolutely spectacular bargain at just $19!  Tonight I am pairing this with a rather low maintenance dinner of heirloom tomato and basil ravioli with some creamy pesto sauce (I highly recommend the Three Bridges Refrigerated Pasta for quick, easy but delicious midweek meals where you really don't feel like cooking, like wine Wednesday!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

2012 Sullivan Vineyards Rutherford Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Wow, where has summer gone?  I spent much of the day working out in the yard and things are dying, leaves are falling and it seems as though we'll be in the middle of winter before you know it!  At least it was sunny and about 80 degrees today, so it felt like summer and I decided to have a cookout with a nice bottle of 2012 Sullivan Vineyards Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon.  Now I've been hearing so much about the quality of the 2012 Napa Valley vintage, I decided to open a bottle and see what all the fuss is about (yes I know it's still quite young, but rest assured I have more bottles to cellar!).


The wine is a lovely ruby color in the glass with a dark indigo towards the center, classic Cabernet.  The nose is not at all what I expected, rather than a blast of fruit like so many Cabernets today, this one had aromas of plum, raisin and graphite, overlaid with some notes of vanilla.  The taste is quite nice, very warm and approachable, some nice fruit up front, raspberries, currant and cassis, which transition to some lovely mineral notes midpalate.  The tannins are young but still nicely structured, providing a nice foundation for a long, dry finish that surprises at the end with a bit of residual fruit than lingers on your palate.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a very nice example of a classic Napa Valley Cabernet, at a decent price (I bought this one from Wines Till Sold Out for just $30).  Tonight I am enjoying this wine out on the patio with a rare Angus ribeye, some garlic mashed potatoes and a classic wedge salad with tomatoes, bacon and bleu cheese.  Here's to summer!

Friday, September 26, 2014

2011 Three Rivers Winery Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

TGIF!  The is a great Friday as it marks the end of the two busiest weeks of the year for me at work!  Whew!  So tonight I think I deserve a break, with a big ol' steak and a nice bottle of vino, so tonight I've selected a Cabernet from a familiar Washington producer that was a very popular wine club selection this month at work, the 2011 Three Rivers Winery Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon!


The wine is a beautiful rich ruby color in the glass with a bit of opacity at the center.  The nose is a lovely combination of vanilla bean, leather, blackberry and a hint of graphite.  The taste is a modest bit of fruit up front, some blackberry and plum, but very subtle, which transitions to some lovely winter spice notes midpalate, a bit of nutmeg and vanilla which brings my mind right to Christmas time.  The finish is very nice, with a strong minerality, dusty limestone and some basalt that intermingle with some very well integrated tannins, providing for a long, smooth and exceptionally dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's solid and a great value at $17!  This is definitely not the fruit bomb sort of Cabernet that seems so prevalent today, but is wonderfully structured and complex.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rare grilled porterhouse, baked potato and some steamed green beans that I bought fresh from an Amish family.  Cheers!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

2012 Woodward Canyon Estate Dolcetto

Well, it's a thunder stormy Saturday, but at least I finished the yard work and mowing before the rain started falling!  So now it's time to relax with a glass of wine, and tonight it's the 2012 Woodward Canyon Estate Dolcetto, a northern Italian varietal from one of my favorite wineries in Walla Walla, Washington.  Now I'll admit this wine is harder to come by now that I'm in Indiana, but thankfully despite the shipping restrictions I can have this wine shipped to a friend in Michigan so I can still enjoy it!


The wine is a deep ruby in the glass, with great color and legs.  The nose is just terrific, with rich aromas of leather, ripe berries and mineral notes.  The taste is lovely, with a blast of fresh fruit at the outset, strawberries, blackberries and cherries, which effortlessly transition to some notes of dusty limestone, cocoa powder and warm spice notes.  The finish is lovely, with a second round of ripe fruit notes to accompany the long, dry, velvety finish.  A very pleasant wine that seems to have me begging for more!

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5 with opportunity to improve with a little time in the cellar.  This would be a great wine to sip on the patio (as I was doing earlier), or to pair with a broad variety of dishes. For tonight's pairing I'm going a little off the reservation and enjoying this one with some snow crab legs, a baked potato and some haricots verts almondine.  The fruit and tartness of this wine is a perfect foil for the richness of the crab, even though it's not customary to pair a red wine with seafood!  Cheers!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

2011 Domaine du Grand Montmirail Gigondas

For tonight I've decided on a nice GSM blend to enjoy in the evening, and which I think will pair well with a rather challenging dinner.  So I've opened a bottle of 2011 Domaine du Grand Montmirail Gigondas, a classic Rhone Valley blend of Grenache (60%), Syrah (30%) and Mourvedre (10%), produced with fruit from vines about 40 years old, so hopefully that will add to the depth of flavor in the wine.


The wine is a deep ruby in the glass, with nice clarity.  The nose is wonderful,with great fruit notes of black cherry and plum overlaid with some lovely spice notes of black pepper and lavender, with just a hint of leather.  The taste is a blast of ripe red fruit, cherries, raspberries and plum, with some pronounced floral notes, that transitions to some wonderful minerality midpalate, notes of limestone and oak, iron and spice. Though young, this wine shows some nice finesse with fine tannins supporting a long, smooth dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, with potential to improve with age, and it was a terrific value as I bought this one from Wines Till Sold Out for only $20!  And for the pairing, ahhh...the pairing, tonight I am enjoying this with a nice chicken Korma, a rich and very fragrant Indian curry dish with a variety of root vegetables over some steamed basmati rice.  The fruit and mineral notes in this wine make it a perfect foil to the aromatic and fragrant spice of the curry.  Cheers!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

2011 BTR Cellars The Chief

Well, another busy Saturday, filled with grocery shopping, laundry, the gym and now it's time to relax a bit with a glass of wine and some dinner!  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of wine from a producer I discovered on my last tasting trip to Walla Walla, the Mark Ryan Winery which is actually based in Woodinville, Wash., though they opened a tasting room in Walla Walla and I was impressed.  So tonight I'm opening a bottle from their second label, Board Track Racer (BTR) Cellars, the 2011 The Chief, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (70%) and Merlot (30%).


The color is a deep, brooding indigo in the glass, somewhat opaque.  The nose is a lovely combination of ripe black fruit, cherry, plum and blackberry, over hints of tobacco, limestone and oak.  The taste is wonderful, with some ripe cherry and blackberry that transitions easily to some complex mineral and spice notes midpalate.  The tannins are somewhat refined, supporting a velvety mouthfeel and a lush, long, dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8 with some opportunity for improvement with another couple years in the bottle, and it's a pretty good value at $25 from the winery, but I bought this bottle at G.B. Russo's in Grand Rapids for $28.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a classic pairing of rare grilled Angus NY Strip, grilled Brussels sprouts and a baked potato.  And then after dinner, I might just enjoy sipping another glass on the patio, cheers!

Friday, September 12, 2014

2012 Bell Canyon Napa Valley Reserve Red Blend

Happy Friday!  Well around here it's sure starting to feel like fall, I think the high didn't even reach 70 today and it's supposed to be in the 40s tonight!  At any rate, I've opened up a bottle of wine from Napa Valley, a 2012 vintage, which many experts are saying could eclipse 2007 as a great Napa vintage.  Now I like Napa Cabernet a lot, but this wine is a red blend of Syrah (50%), Malbec (18%), Grenache (15%), Petit Verdot (15%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (2%), so here goes nothing!


The wine is a deep, inky purple color in the glass with bright ruby on the edges.  The nose is a nice combination of fruit, black cherry, tar and green grass, suggesting this wine might still be a bit tightly wound.  The taste is a blast of ripe fruit, black cherry, blueberries and a hint of vanilla that transitions nicely to some toasted oak and mineral notes midpalate.  The finish is actually quite nice (I was expecting it to be rather abrupt), but it was long, smooth and dry, and it has the potential to improve with some time in the bottle (and it presents much better after decanting).

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, with the potential to improve as it matures, and it was a pretty good value for a Napa red blend at only $14 from Wines Till Sold Out.  Tonight I am actually pairing this wine with some seafood, a nice flounder filet with a baked potato and some steamed carrots, as this blend is somewhat lighter with flavors that complement some more hearty fish.  Cheers!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

2012 Dark Horse Wine Big Red Blend 01A

Well, it's time to relax and have a glass of wine as I make dinner.  Tonight I've opened a bottle of 2012 Dark Horse Wine Big Red Blend, an interesting one that I recently picked up at Trader Joe's.  This wine is from a maker in California, but it's a blend of Malbec, Syrah, Tempranillo and Merlot sourced from California, Australia and Argentina.  Let's just hope the whole is greater than the sum of its parts!


The wine is a deep, inky purple in the glass, reminiscent of a nice bold Cabernet.  The nose is anything but, with aromas of red ripe fruit, raspberry, blackberry and currant overlaid with hints of mint and floral notes.  The taste was pleasant, with fruit flavors that were much milder than I was expecting based on the nose.  The fruit gives way to some warm spice notes midpalate, but the finish was unremarkable.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 6.5, it's a nice everyday table wine at a decent price of only $8.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a classic midweek dinner of leftovers!  I'm having some grilled wine and cheese brats with some potato salad and coleslaw, a nice easy drinking wine to pair with classic fair food.  Cheers!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

2008 Cougar Crest Reserve Syrah

Here we are on a Sunday night after Labor Day, the first day of Autumn is rapidly approaching, so to celebrate the waning days of summer I decided to grill some brats and enjoy my Sunday dinner out on the patio, as I fear the days of outdoor dining may soon be at an end for this year.  And so go with the brats, I've opened a bottle of 2008 Cougar Crest Reserve Syrah which I recently bought from Wines Till Sold Out.  Cheers to them, but I've been a fan of Cougar Crest since I visited their tasting room back in 2010 (?) and I really liked the 2007 Reserve Syrah which you can see here.  But back to the here and now, this is a very nice wine that I think I like even better than the '07!


The wine is a deep inky purple color in the glass, with a bit of opacity.  The nose is lovely, with aromas of ripe fruit, plum, blackberries and cherry, with some hints of vanilla, clove and autumn spice.  The taste is just beautiful, with a blast of ripe fruit that easily transitions to some leather, green grass and white pepper notes midpalate.  The soft tannins provide for a supple mouthfeel and a velvety, smooth and absolutely dry finish that seems to last a minute or more.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a great example of a Walla Walla Syrah and I found it for an absolute bargain price of just $20!  Of course tonight I'm enjoying this with some wine and cheese brats (ironic eh?) with some grilled peppers and onions, a perfect summer summer that pairs so well with this wine.  I wish summer could last a little longer, but even if it can't, I'll have a good reminder when the frost hits and I enjoy another bottle of this wine.  Cheers!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

2003 Corte Pavone Brunello di Montalcino

Here we are at the first Saturday of the month, and of course that means it's Cellar Saturday, that time when I raid the cellar and open a bottle that's been waiting way too long to be enjoyed!  Tonight I've decided to go straight to Tuscany for a nice bottle of the king of Italian wine, Brunello di Montalcino, in this case the 2003 Corte Pavone Brunello di Montalcino.  There's just something about a mature Brunello, brimming with Sangiovese, a wine that is great by itself or with a broad variety of dishes.


This wine exhibits the bright ruby color that is typical of Brunello.  The nose is classic Brunello, with rich earthy aromas of leather, coffee, smoke and limestone overlaid with just a hint of dried flowers.  The taste is just lovely, it brings be back to my last trip to Tuscany nearly 20 years ago, lovely black fruit notes right up front, plum, blackberry and black currant, that transitions effortlessly to some earthy notes of leather and tobacco midpalate.  The tannins are nicely integrated, providing great structure for the long, dry finish that just has you begging for another sip.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a very nice example of the best that Tuscany has to offer when it comes to wine, and this one was a good value from Wines Till Sold Out for just $25!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a non-traditional pairing of grilled wild Coho salmon with a lemon dill cream sauce along with some oven roasted root vegetables, purple potatoes, orange and purple carrots and golden candy stripe beets.  A wonderful autumn dish that is really accented by the earthy flavors of this wine!

Friday, September 5, 2014

2007 Robinson Family Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Let the weekend begin!  And to celebrate I've opened a nice bottle of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from the impressive 2007 vintage, the Robinson Family Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, a great wine from the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley.  A bit on the winery, which I've borrowed from Dave Russo at G.B. Russo's in Grand Rapids:
After retiring from the U.S. Army in the late 60’s, Norman Robinson bought land in the Stags Leap district of Napa Valley with the intention of planting a vineyard and starting a winery.  He picked a good spot because his neighbor was Napa vineyard pioneer Nathan Fay.  (The Fay Vineyard bottling of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars now sells for around $200 a bottle.)  Robinson now has the next generation of his family running this tiny hillside estate winery (less than 500 cases of the Cabernet is made) selling most of their wines to restaurants and collectors.  One of the specialties for the Robinson Family Vineyard winery is library releases for their wines.  They hold back a certain amount of their production to be released to restaurants when they feel the wine is ready to drink (restaurants don’t like aging the wines themselves).  

The wine itself has a beautiful, classic deep purple Cabernet color in the glass, leading to some bright ruby along the edges.  The nose just explodes with rich aromas that immediately signal to my brain that a great glass of wine is on the way, blackberry, cassis, leather, oak, red meat and some hints of tar.  The taste is a subdued blast of fruit up front, some plum and raisin flavors that transitions to some smoky spice and coffee midpalate.  The tannins are incredibly well structured, providing for a long, smooth dry finish where the flavors continue evolve right up to the end.  Simply wonderful!

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 9, it's just simply a great Cabernet from a great vintage that is drinking spectacularly now!  Granted, it's not an everyday wine, as I happened to luck out getting some of this one from Russo's since it was delivered to a restaurant in Michigan by mistake (they wanted the 2005 vintage).  So even though the regular price on this wine was $60, I bought it for $45!  Tonight I'm enjoying this wine (perhaps a little too much) with a rare New York Strip, grilled Brussels sprouts and some roasted purple potatoes.  This is a perfect wine for a big ol' steak, cheers!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

2012 La Chosa Joven Rioja

Ahhh...hump day of a holiday-shortened week, what could be better?  How about a bottle of Rioja?  You know how I love the tempranillo, so tonight I've opened a bottle of 2012 La Chosa Joven Rioja, a wine I got a month or so ago from Wines Till Sold Out, so I figure what the heck, I'll give it a try.


The wine is a lighter ruby color in the glass, with nice clarity.  The nose is quite aromatic, with aromas of red fruit, cherry, strawberry and currant overlaid with some floral and spice notes, black pepper, hints of anise, as well as some earthy notes of grass and cedar.  The taste is very fruit forward, with a blast of cherry and strawberry that quickly transitions to some mineral notes of iron and graphite midpalate.  The finish is quite warm, with some spice notes intermingled with the subdued tannins providing a bit of structure for the moderately dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7, it was a nice example of the varietal at a terrific bargain price of just $10!  Tonight I am pairing this wine with some chicken, baked potato and some grilled vegetables, but it would also pair nicely with a variety of soft cheeses and olives for a pleasant appetizer, as the fruit and spice notes practically cry out for something smooth and creamy to pair with.  Cheers!

Monday, September 1, 2014

2013 Charles & Charles Post No. 35 Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah Blend -Columbia Valley

Well here we are, my first post of September.  I'll freely admit I've been slacking off at the end of August and should have made a number of posts, but with family visiting from out of town and holiday excursions it was a tough life!  But now I'm back in the saddle and tonight I've opened a rather young wine, the 2013 Charles & Charles Post No. 35 Red Blend, a nice little blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from the Columbia Valley of Washington.  I admit that in my visits to Walla Walla, I've been past the Charles Smith tasting room, but have never had the opportunity to stop in, either I was on my way somewhere else or they were closed when I came by, but at least now I've tried one of their wines!


The wine is a lovely deep ruby color in the glass.  The nose is a wonderful combination of ripe fruit, leather and lovely warm spice notes, over just a hint of tar and cut grass.  The tastes is actually reasonable given its youth and immaturity (oh for the days when I was youthful and immature!), with a nice bit of black fruit, currant, black cherry and cocoa power with just the faintest hint of rose petals midpalate.  The finish is somewhat subdued, as the fruit and spice subside, the young tannins give structure to a soft but very dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this one a solid 7.5, it's a very nice table wine blend at a great price - I bought this at G.B. Russo's in Grand Rapids for just $10!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with leftovers from all the labor day grilling we did over the weekend, some brats, grilled veggies, dill pasta and cucumber salad and broccoli slaw.  But this wine would work just as well with a nice steak or big beef dish, or some nice pasta with red sauce, as the wine has enough character to stand up to those big flavors without being overpowering.  Cheers!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

2008 Marques de Caceres Crianza Rioja

What a momentous day!  Well, it wasn't that impressive, but I did get a lot of work done in the yard and I managed to change out all 6 florescent lights in the garage so now I have a well lit work space rather than a dim flickering one!  So to celebrate little victories, I've decided to open up a bottle of Rioja, specifically a 2008 Marques de Caceres Crianza that I bought a couple weeks ago.


The wine is light in the glass with great clarity, almost reminiscent of a pinot noir, but not quite.  The nose is pure Rioja, with bright fruit notes blasting forth, cherry, plum and cassis overlaid with a but of tart apple.  The taste is somewhat different than I was expecting, it was fruit forward, but bursting with tart cherry rather than jammy berries.  The initial fruit transitions effortlessly to some herb notes and earthy notes of dusty limestone midpalate.  The tannins are still quite pronounced lending structure to the long, smooth dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as you know my penchant for Spanish reds, plus I found this one in the bargain bin (literally a shopping cart at my local market full of discontinued wines!) for only $12!  Tonight I am pairing this one with a classic summer cookout of grilled brats with sauteed onions and peppers on a pretzel roll along with some broccoli slaw and grilled corn on the cob.  The fruit of the wine is such a great pairing with the spice of the brats, so yummy!

Friday, August 22, 2014

2011 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon

Well the weekend is here, I left work, went to the gym, picked up something for dinner and now I'm ready to relax with a bottle of 2011 Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  I bought this one from G.B. Russo's up in Grand Rapids, and here is what Dave Russo had to say about the wine:
"When I visited Napa Valley a couple of months ago to taste wines in advance of release, I was very impressed with how the 2011Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon tasted.  It reminded me of the elegant, classic style Phelps Cabs used to have twenty years ago, before the production of their top wine, Insignia, was expanded.  My guess is, like other Napa wineries, they made less of the flagship wine Insignia in the difficult 2011 vintage and put a lot of that juice into the standard Phelps Cab.  This wine is drinking beautifully now.  It has a silky black-fruit character and very polished tannins, and a gently earthy finish.  I like the fact that this is a more classic style, not the high octane – sharp tannin style that so many Napa Cabs seem to have these days."
 Needless to say, I bought some for me and my boss but tonight is the first I've opened a bottle so here goes nothing!


The wine has such a rich color, dark crimson in the center leading to a bright ruby along the edges, classic of a Napa Cabernet.  The nose is at first somewhat fruity and spicy, with notes of black cherry and anise, but then it transitions to some earthy notes of leather, iron and moss.  The taste is a quick blast of dark fruit, plum, blackberry and cassis, which then transitions to some lovely warm spice notes of white pepper, dried herbs and Asian spice.  The finish was quite nice, with velvety smooth tannins supporting a long, smooth, dry finish that seems to last a minute or more.  The wine is certainly drinking very well now, and I agree with Dave, this is much more of a classically styled Cabernet.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's just a beautiful Cabernet, but it's definitely not for your everyday table wine as I bought this one on sale for $65 a bottle.  Tonight I am enjoying it with a thick Hereford ribeye grilled rare and served with some grilled zucchini (thanks Emily!) and a giant Amish baked potato (you should see these things, there were 4 potatoes in a 5-pound bag!).  Salut!

Friday, August 15, 2014

2012 Castlebank "Vivian's Vineyard" Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Friday everyone!  And of course to start the weekend we should enjoy a nice bottle of wine, and tonight I'm having a bottle of 2012 Castlebank "Vivian's Vineyard" Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a bottle that I just received today from the fine folks at Wines Till Sold Out.


The wine is a nice deep ruby in the glass and the nose is a rich, jammy combination of raspberries, blackberries and cherry cola with some interesting floral notes and vanilla over the top.  The taste is quite nice, but somewhat surprising as the nose tricked my brain into expecting somewhat more of a jammy sort of Zinfandel type wine but this was nothing of the sort.  There was good fruit at the outset but it quickly transitioned into some wonderful mineral and spice notes, dusty limestone and smoky oak with a hint of white pepper.  The finish was sublime, as some wonderful cherry cola notes mingled with the firm but well integrated tannins to provide for a long smooth and very dry finish that had me wanting more.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's a very solid Cabernet at an absolutely fantastic value at about $14!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rather non-traditional pairing, but still a classic summer supper of jalapeno brats with some fresh grilled corn on the cob and fresh sliced tomatoes.  The wine stands up nicely to the rich spiciness of the sausage but brings out the freshness of the vegetables.  It would also be great with a big ol' steak or some hearty pasta dishes.  Cheers!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

2010 Revelry Columbia Valley Merlot

Ahhh...a relaxing summer Sunday evening, all the chores are done, dinner is started and it's time to open up a bottle of wine to cap off the evening.  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of 2010 Revelry Columbia Valley Merlot.  This is a new one for me, a winery based in Walla Walla that I'm really not very familiar with, but one which I found at my local wine store for a reasonable price.


The wine is a bright ruby in the glass with great clarity, but somewhat lighter than a typical Merlot.  The nose is somewhat fruity, with nice aromas of blueberries and cassis, dusty granite and a hint of toasted oak.  The taste starts off strong, with a blast of fresh berries, blueberries and cherries, which transitions to some earthy notes of black truffle and oak midpalate.  The finish is quite nice, with nicely integrated tannins supporting a velvety, smooth dry finish that seems to be short, but lingers for quite a while.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, it's a very nice Merlot that would be perfect for everyday drinking as I'm doing tonight, particularly at the value price of $15 that I paid.  The wine seems food friendly and would pair with a variety of dishes, from steaks to pizza.  Tonight I am enjoying this with some heirloom tomato and basil ravioli in a four cheese creamy grape tomato alfredo, perhaps an odd choice for summer, but I had a craving!  Salut!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

2011 Slingshot Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

It's been a busy day, what with farmers' markets and tractor shows, life in the country can get really busy!  So tonight I've settled in with a new bottle of wine that I just got last week, in fact this was my first order based on an offer I received from Snooth.com, and I saw it was a 2011 Napa Valley Cabernet at a great price, so how could I pass it up?  So I ordered half a case and am enjoying the first bottle this evening.


The wine is a dark ruby in the glass, a classic Cabernet color.  The nose, I must admit was surprising.  It was a lovely combination of black fruit, blackberry and black cherry intermingled with a bit of anise, black pepper and a hint of mint.  The taste was a blast of rich jammy fruit, much more like a Lodi Zinfandel than a Napa Cabernet, but that gracefully transitioned to some nice warm spice notes along with a bit of dusty limestone midpalate.  The finish was quite nice, as the spice, vanilla and fruit made for a complex bit of flavor as the well structured tannins provided for a velvety, smooth, dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, it's a great and versatile wine at a value price as I paid only $13!  The nice thing about this wine is that at some moments it feels like a nice Napa Valley Cabernet, which makes it great to pair with a nice rare porterhouse topped with grilled leeks and red peppers as I'm doing tonight.  But it also has that secret identity that seems more like a Zinfandel, which would make it great to pair with barbecue or a variety of classic summer fare.  A surprisingly nice and versatile wine, cheers!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Snooth Vouvray Virtual Tasting

Tonight is a fun night since it's another Snooth Virtual Tasting!  Tonight we are tasting the Vouvray wines of the Loire Valley of France.  Tonight at my house we are tasting two lovely Vouvray wines, the first is the Brut Champalou Sparkling Vouvray and the second is the 2012 Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau Vouvray Sec, a dry still wine based on chenin blanc.


The first wine we tried was the Brut Champalou Sparkling Vouvray, very interesting nose, a little floral aromas, and a bit of iron and graphite.  The taste is remarkably bright and crisp with some nice fruit and honey notes at the outset.  The finish is really nice, and super dry, without the aftertaste that so often accompanies a sparkling wine.  Overall I would rate this one a solid 8, as it's a wine that's a good value at $24 as it tastes like a much more expensive sparkler.  I'd be very pleased to offer this to my guests as I did tonight!


The second wine was the 2012 Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau Vouvray Sec, a more traditional dry white wine based on the chenin blanc.  This wine has some nice fruit up front some citrus and melon aromas, along with a bit of green grass and herbs.  The taste is so interesting, with a great silky mouthfeel and so much flavor that it keeps evolving in your mouth.  There is a good bit of minerality, it's so smooth and complex rather than crisp like the sparkler, a truly wonderful white wine that would go beautifully with a lovely mushroom risotto or some rich buttery cheeses.  Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5 and a terrific bottle for just $21!

So there you have it, our Snooth.com Virtual Tasting of Vouvray, a big shout out and thank you to Snooth and the wines of the Loire Valley!  Cheers!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

2013 19 Crimes Red Wine

Well tonight I've selected a wine on a whim, hmm...that seems like an ideal title for a wine blog, or maybe a selection for a blog...have to think on that one some more.  In any case, tonight's selection was totally purchased based on the packaging, both the label and the bottle wrap was very cool looking as I was pushing my cart through the grocery store, so I bought a bottle and am not trying the 2013 19 Crimes Red Wine from where else, Southeastern Australia!  This wine, a blend of Shiraz and Durif (aka Petit Sirah in the USA), which should be ideal for my dinner tonight.


The wine is a deep ruby color in the glass, while the nose is classic Syrah/Petit Sirah, bursting with jammy fruit, blackberry, cherry and a bit of strawberry along with some lovely spice notes, cinnamon, baking spice and cocoa powder.  The taste is lovely and classic in the sense of an Australian Shiraz, with a burst of jammy fruit, blackberry, plum and cherry that shifts to some warm spice notes mid palate.  The finish has some classic Shiraz twang as the soft tannins provide for a smooth warm finish that ideal for summer cooking.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, making it an ideal everyday table wine, particularly with the $10 price tag (not to mention it's got a pretty cool bottle and label, did I mention that?).  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with some grilled dyngus sausage with carmelized onions and peppers on a pretzle bun along with some creamy potato salad, a perfect late summer supper!  Cheers, and try not to commit any of the "19 crimes" that will get you sent to Botany Bay!