Sunday, April 27, 2014

2009 Cliff Creek Cellars Merlot

I love travel don't you?  Even if it's just for work and you barely have time to think much less enjoy a glass of wine. But sometimes in your travels you discover some wonderful new wines that you just have to share, and this was the case on Friday as I was waiting for my flight home from Portland.  If you ever happen to find yourself in PDX, the Made in Oregon store has a lovely selection of Oregon wines, and since it's past Security, you can buy as much as you want and carry it on the plane with you! On Friday, they were having a tasting of Cliff Creek Wines, a producer from Southern Oregon located in Gold Hill, Ore. to be exact (about halfway between Grant's Pass and Medford along I-5).  At the tasting I was fortunate to sample the red wine, the Merlot, the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Syrah, and needless to say I fell in love with the Merlot!

The wine itself is a dark ruby leading to an inky black center, classic for a nice Merlot.  The nose is just chock full of ripe black fruit, blackberry, plum and cassis, that transitions effortlessly to some nice Asian spice and coffee notes.  The taste is classic, big bold Merlot, with bright fruit up front that transitions to some stark minerality mid palate, limestone, leather and cedar.  The finish is divine, with nicely structured tannins that provide the perfect foundation for the long, dry and velvet smooth finish.  This is the kind of Merlot I'm used to drinking from the Walla Walla Valley, but who knew they were producing wines this nice down in southern Oregon?

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as I really did fall in love with it on my first taste at PDX, and it's such a terrific value as well!  This wine was normally priced at $21.95, but with the 10% discount at the tasting it was under $20!  In fact when I bough 2 bottles of Merlot and a bottle of Syrah and the total was far less then I was expecting I added another bottle of the Merlot (which in hind sight was a real strain on my arms carrying that bag!).  Tonight I enjoyed this wine with a rare grilled porterhouse topped with some grilled leeks along with some mashed potatoes and green beans almondine.  Such a great wine for a big ol' steak!

Friday, April 25, 2014

2011 Woodward Canyon Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon

So here I am at PDX, waiting to fly back to Chicago and of course seeing the "Shop/Dine/Fly" banner I decided to do them in that order! First stop the Made in Oregon wine shop and they were doing a tasting of some southern Oregon red wines, so I bought three bottles of Merlot and a bottle of Syrah!  Shopping done!  Now to dine...of course with a half bottle of 2011 Woodward Canyon Artist series Cabernet Sauvignon, I chose a nice mixed green salad with grilled chicken. 

Oh yes, the wine!  One of my faves (didn't I just review the '10?). It's a deep purple in the glass, this 20th annual edition of the wine had great aromas of blackberries, cassis and leather giving it a rich profile before you even begin!  The taste is wonderful, with a rich, velvety mouthfeel and great fruit up front that transitions to some great spice and minerality mid palate. The nicely structured and fully integrated tannins provide for a long, lush finish that had me wanting more!

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, a classic of the best of what a Cabernet can be from the Walla Walla valley. And it was the perfect accompaniment to the lovely Italian dressing and fresh greens of my salad!  Here's to flight delays!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

2010 Woodward Canyon Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Easter!  It's been an absolutely beautiful Easter in northern Indiana, with sunny skies, flowers blooming and birds singing and a temperature in the low 70s, a perfect day!  So to celebrate I've decided to open a bottle (technically a half bottle) of 2010 Woodward Canyon Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon.  For those unfamiliar, the artist series was started with the 1992 vintage with a painting by a Northwest artist that will then be featured on the label for that year's vintage.  The 2010 is the 19th edition of the artist series and is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (84%), Merlot (7%), Cabernet Franc (5%) and Petit Verdot (4%) with grapes sourced from a variety of great Washington vineyards including Champoux (55%), Woodward Canyon Estate (24%), Sagemoor (17%) and Weinbau (4%).

The wine itself is a lovely deep, inky purple at the center that melds into a bright ruby along the edges.  The nose just seems to grab you by the collar and really let's you know that you're about to sip something truly sublime, with rich black fruit notes, leather and cedar all dancing in your mind.  The taste is wonderfully complex, with some bright fruit at the outset, blackberry, cassis that transitions effortlessly to some warm spice notes of black pepper and dried herbs.  The finish is divine, as the tannins are nicely structured and integrated to support a wonderfully complex finish that seems to last forever.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's just a great example of some of the best Cabernets being produced in the Columbia Valley today, but it's definitely a special occasion sort of wine as this half bottle was $26 even with the 10% case discount, but still worth every penny!  Later I might pair this with some dinner, but for now I'm just enjoying this glass out on the deck as the sun is just starting to settle in the west.  A perfect end to a beautiful day!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

2012 Nelms Road Cabernet Sauvignon

Well, it finally feels like spring, even though I woke up to a covering of an inch of snow last week, today it's sunny and warm and I feel like grilling a steak!  And what's better with steak than a lovely Cabernet Sauvignon?  That was a rhetorical question, as tonight I've opened up a bottle of 2012 Nelms Road Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the second label from Woodward Canyon winery in Lowden, Washington.  Now Woodward Canyon makes some truly beautiful wines, like their Artist Series Cabernet, which I've enjoyed from Walla Walla to Tampa Bay, but thankfully they also produce great wine under their more affordable Nelms Road label, so I can enjoy a bottle with less financial guilt!

The color of this wine is a gorgeous ruby red with a lovely brightness along the edges.  The nose is sublime, with notes of ripe dark fruit throughout, blackberries and currant over hints of dark chocolate and cherry cola.  The taste is wonderful, warm and bright, it almost feels like your tasting a late summer day just before harvest.  The lovely berry fruit lingers through the midpalate until you begin to taste some coarse minerality of dusty limestone.  The finish is long and lush, as the elegantly structured tannins provide a foundation for a finish that seems to last a minute or more.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's a great everyday drinking Cabernet at a price that makes it affordable for everyday.  The regular price is $25, but since I ordered this with a case I received an extra 10% discount, so I'd be hard pressed to find a nicer Cabernet for only $22.50!  Tonight I'll be enjoying this wine with a lovely rare grilled ribeye, along with some oven roasted red potatoes and some grilled leeks, baby candy stripe beets and asparagus.  The wine will be perfect with a nicely charred steak, but first, I think I might enjoy the early evening on the patio finishing this glass!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

2010 Salvatore Principe Blue Groove Zinfandel

So tonight I'm having my Easter dinner a week early, so what goes better with glazed ham than a nice Lodi Zinfandel?  I can't think of anything, so tonight I've opened a bottle of 2010 Salvatore Principe Blue Groove Signature Series Zinfandel that I bought yesterday at one of my old time favorite wine stores, G.B. Russo's in Grand Rapids.

The wine is a lovely deep purple color in the glass, classic Zin.  The nose is a marvelous, jammy combination of black plums, raisins and a hint of leather and limestone.  The taste is a wonderful  blast of fruit, plums, raisins, blackberries and cassis that lasts for a few seconds and then transitions to some herb notes of black pepper, thyme and cocoa powder.  The finish is lovely, with some bold tannins supporting a long, silky finish that seems to last a minute or more.  A classic Lodi Zinfandel, rich, fruity and somewhat rustic.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, as it's a very nice example of a quality Zinfandel, but it was also a terrific value at just $7!  I wanted to buy a case, but there were only three bottles left, so I bought those.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with my early Easter dinner, of glazed ham, some red hasselback potatoes (thanks for the recipe Epicurious! Red Hasselback Potato Recipe at Epicurious) and the ubiquitous green bean casserole!  The wine makes such a great compliment to meats like ham, but it would also be great with a steak or pizza.  Cheers!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

2009 Peique Ramon Valle Bierzo

Yes I know, it's been a while since my last post and since I've been so busy with work lately that shouldn't be surprising.  So I'll make up for it this afternoon, after completing all my yard work I finally have time to open a new bottle and enjoy a glass of wine, and today it's the 2009 Peique Ramon Valle Bierzo, a wine that is made from the mencia grape of Spain, and one that I've not had the opportunity to try before.  Mencia has developed somewhat of a negative reputation, since some newer vines were planted and many producers focused on mass market wines meant to be consumed soon after bottling.  Fortunately this wine is from 55-60 year old vines, so it might be more of an age worthy sort of wine. So here's to trying new wines!

The color on this wine is a deep ruby, somewhat darker than I expected.  At first blush, the wine had a distinct nose of "Frankenberry" but as I let it open up a bit, the fruit subsided and a lovely combination of leather, spice, tobacco and espresso made themselves known.  The taste was rather surprising, as I was expecting a rush of fruit at the outset that never really appeared.  There were some hints of berries with a good bit of spice at the outset, black pepper and anise that quickly transitioned to some lovely mineral notes midpalate.  The finish was quite striking, with some balsamic over the stark minerality of dusted limestone and granite that made for a long, dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, it was very interesting as a new varietal that I've note tried before, and it was a nice value, as I bought this one from Wines Till Sold Out for about $11!  Although this wine hails from the northeastern part of Spain, tonight I'm pairing it with a starkly Mediterranean sort of dish, of fresh mussels sauteed in garlic and olive oil and then simmered in some San Marzano tomatoes and spicy red peppers and tossed with linguine with a touch of fresh basil and shaved parmesan to finish it off, my classic version of mussels fra diavalo!  The fruit and minerality of this wine are an ideal compliment to the hearty spice of the sauce and mussels.  Andiamo a mangiare!