Sunday, June 29, 2014

2011 Ravenswood Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel

Tonight I've decided to have an old fashioned cookout, and what's better with a cookout than a fabulous Zinfandel?  And of course we know the best Zins come from Lodi, and specifically from old vines and that's what I've opened tonight, the 2011 Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel from Lodi!

The wine is a deep ruby color in the glass with very nice clarity.  The nose is classic Lodi Zin, rich ripe black fruit, blackberries, black cherry, blueberries and plum over a smoky layer of leather and cedar intertwined with some green grass and herbs.  The taste is just a pleasure from the first sip, with rich jammy fruit bursting forward that transitions effortlessly to some black pepper and Asian spice notes midpalate.  The finish is warm, smooth and very dry with well structured tannins that give this wine a backbone that's ideal for summer barbecue fare.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a great example of a classic Lodi Zinfandel, and at a spectacular price of only $12 at my local wine merchant, G.B. Russo's.  Tonight I'm enjoying this wine with a classic midwest cookout of grilled brats on pretzel buns accented with spicy brown mustard, horseradish, sweet pickled red cabbage, and some egg and mustard potato salad on the side.  Summer is such a great time for food!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

2011 Maison Bleue Liberte Syrah

Well, it's been a long week, lots to do at work, but it was a really successful week so now it's time for a little time to relax and celebrate the good things that happened this week!  And for that I've decided to open up a bottle of 2011 Maison Bleue Liberte Boushey Vineyard Syrah from the Yakima Valley of Washington.  For those who don't remember, I first found out about Maison Bleue just after they opened their tasting room in Walla Walla and I was suitably impressed with the quality of the wines I tried.  So later when they started I wine club I was happy to join so I could continue enjoying their wines.

This syrah has a classic bright ruby color in the glass.  The nose is a lovely combination of rich black fruit, blackberries, plums and black currant intermingled with leather and a hint of anise.  The taste is wonderfully fruit forward with a burst of blackberries and plum, but that transitions effortlessly to some nice smoky and earthy notes midpalate, with some nice coarse minerality that adds to the complexity of this wine.  The finish is quite nice, well rounded tannins provide a nice foundation for a long, smooth and very dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5 as it's a very solid example of a Washington syrah that should improve with a few more years in the bottle.  The wine would pair very well with a lot of big meaty dishes, but tonight I am enjoying this wine with a nice grilled salmon steak served over a bed of baby kale with white balsamic reduction and a nice baked potato.  Finally a relaxing dinner at home!

Friday, June 13, 2014

2013 Avaniel Ribera del Duero Rosado

What a day!  If anyone ever tells you that owning a home is an "investment" in an "appreciating asset" just smack them and inform them they are either an idiot or a shill for the real estate industry.  Homes are the largest depreciating assets most of us will ever own, unlike wine, they do not get better with age, they simply depreciate faster!  Today on my home I had a problem with the plumbing, so I called a plumber he couldn't fix it as apparently there are tree roots or something blocking the sewer pipe between my house and the main sewer line!  All this on the day I was planning my first cookout, so that's now postponed (sorry friends, but believe me, you'll enjoy the party a lot better with indoor plumbing!) and I'm waiting for the contractor to show up Monday!  Investment my butt!

But at least I have wine, and tonight I've opened a bottle of 2013 Avaniel Ribera del Duero Rosado, a wine I was supposed to enjoy with the virtual tasting last Wednesday, but since I was on the road I decided to hold this one until the weekend so I know it would be chilled and delicious.  The wine is 100% tempranillo, which I truly enjoy, and as a rosado I find this a lovely summer wine!  The nose on this wine is delightful, lovely floral notes over some citrus and melon notes and just a hint of strawberry.  The taste is a real treat, wonderful fresh citrus flavors of grapefruit and strawberry, crisp and refreshing with a very long finish for a chilled rose.  This is perhaps the perfect summer wine!

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's crisp, light and refreshing and a terrific value at under $10!  This would pair well with a variety of summer dishes as the heat index rises, but tonight I am enjoying this with some lovely cedar planked wild Copper River Sockeye salmon over a bed of crisp baby kale, some grilled corn and sweet potato fries, so wonderful!  This wine is a perfect compliment to hearty, flavorful fish like salmon, or just sipping on the deck on a warm summer evening, cheers!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

2010 Semele Ribera del Duero

Yesterday was time for another virtual tasting, how I love those and have missed them as it seems like it's been six months or so since the last one I participated in.  The subject of the tasting was the wines of the Ribera del Duero region of Spain, which is perfect since I really am a big fan of the nice wines coming out of Spain at very reasonable prices.  Tonight's wine is just such an example, made with a blend of Tempranillo (90%) and Merlot (10%) aged in French and American oak over a little more than a year before bottling.

The wine is a nice ruby color in the glass, bright and clear.  The nose is very earthy, with a burst of green grass, fresh herbs and oak overlaid with a hint of tar.  The taste is really nice and easy drinking, making it a great wine to pair with a variety of dishes.  The taste is not as fruit forward as many other examples I've seen, just a hint of blueberry and blackberry at the outset quickly gives way to floral and herb notes.  The tannins are somewhat green, but still providing a great foundation for a long, smooth dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's drinking well now, but I think it will improve with a little time in the cellar, and it was a terrific bargain for only $15!  At the virtual tasting I enjoyed this wine with some hummus, olives and a bit of feta cheese, but it would be great with a variety of dishes, particularly some nicely spiced Mediterranean dishes, or simple tapas as I had.  Cheers and a big thank you to Snooth for providing another great and informative virtual tasting!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

2011 Domaine la Soumade Rasteau

So tonight I am trying something new, the 2011 Domaine la Soumade Rasteau from the Southern Rhone region of France.  Now before today I really wasn't familiar with Rasteau and the likely reason was that this appellation was formerly known for sweet, fortified wines, the so-called "vin doux naturel."  But beginning with the 2009 vintage, they began including a dry red blend into Rasteau that is typically the classic southern Rhone blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.  The wine I am enjoying tonight is just such a blend of Grenache (70%), Syrah (20%) and Mourvedre (10%).

The wine is a lovely deep ruby in the glass with nice clarity.  The nose was at first a burst of sweet ripe fruit, blackberries, plums, raisins but as it's opened up the nose has transitioned to some earthy notes of leather, forest floor and oak.  The taste is not at all what I expected, a burst of tart cherry, dark chocolate and tobacco greeted me, but soon it transitioned to some earthy limestone notes layered with dried herbs.  The tannins are very nicely structured supporting the smooth, dry, velvety finish that beckons you to take another sip.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's drinking very nicely now, but will likely improve over the next couple of years.  It was also a nice value as I bought this one from Wines Till Sold Out for just $20!  Tonight I am just enjoying this one on the deck watching the sunset as I've worn myself out from cleaning chores today, but it would pair very nicely with any Mediterranean dishes, I'm thinking some nice mussels with linguine or perhaps a nicely prepared branzino grilled with lemon and rosemary as the fruit of the wine would make a nice foil to the savoriness of those dishes.  Cin cin!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

2001 Chateau Meylet Saint-Emilion Grand Cru

Tonight is the first Saturday of June, and you know what that means, it's Cellar Saturday!  A time for me to open a more mature wine that I've been saving and enjoy it for no good reason at all!  And tonight's Cellar Saturday feature is a wine that my Aunt and Uncle brought back for me from their trip to French wine country last year, the 2001 Chateau Meylet Saint-Emilion Grand Cru!

The wine is a nice ruby color in the glass with just a hint of brown along the edges, with limited opacity.  The nose is interesting, with notes of rich, jammy fruit, cherries, blackberries, plums and raisins, that transitions to some Asian spice and leather with a hint of smoke.  The taste is classic Bordeaux, with a burst of ripe black fruit up front, plum, blackberry and blueberry that transitions effortlessly to some notes of green tea, dusty limestone and moss midpalate (this is what I would call classic Bordeaux "funk").  The finish is delightful, with very sophisticated and well structured tannins forming the foundation for a long, smooth and exceptionally dry finish that could only come from Gironde!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, mainly because I just love classic Bordeaux and this is a prime example of their age worthiness as this one is drinking very well right now, and it's only a teenager!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rare, seared Kansas City style T-bone, grilled leeks, baked potato and some fresh steamed asparagus just picked in Michigan.  A wine like this is just perfect with a great grilled steak as the dark fruit and mineral qualities are the perfect balance for the char on the meat.  Salut!

Friday, June 6, 2014

2012 Nelms Road Cabernet Sauvignon

It's Friday night, I left the office at a reasonable time, went to the gym and now I'm ready to relax!  So what better way to relax than opening a bottle of wine and sipping it on the deck as the sun dips below the horizon?  For tonight, I've decided to pair my relaxation with a bottle of 2012 Nelms Road Cabernet Sauvignon, the Columbia Valley Cabernet from the second label at Woodward Canyon.  The wine itself is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (78%), Syrah (12%), Merlot (4%), Cabernet Franc (2%), Barbera (2%) and Petit Verdot (2%).

The color of the wine is classic Columbia Valley Cabernet, deep, inky purple with bright ruby edges.  The nose is a burst of sweet red fruit aromas, currant, cherry and a bit of spice over the top.  The taste is really a pleasure to drink, with a bit of dark fruit up front, blackberry, plum and raisin that transitions to some spice notes midpalate, black pepper, baking spice and a bit of tart cherry.  The tannins are somewhat supple, providing for a nice smooth, very dry finish.  A perfect wine to sip on a summer evening!

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a wonderful Cabernet and at a very reasonable price, as this wine is just $25, much less than the flagship Woodward Canyon Cabernet.  Tonight of all things I am pairing this with a classic midwest dinner of tuna casserole!  See it's not all glamour around my house, besides sometimes you just need a great wine to elevate the food you pair it with!  Cheers!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

2011 Sueno Tempranillo

Do you know what day it is? Oh yeah!  It's hump day!  Time to open up a new bottle of wine and celebrate getting through to the downward slope of the work week (even though the next two days are going to be crazy busy for me).  So tonight I've opened up a bottle of our Office Wine Club's June selection, the 2011 Sueno Tempranillo!  You know how much I appreciate the quality and value of Spanish wines for everyday drinking, so hopefully this one will be true to form as it's 100% Tempranillo from the Ribera del Jucar.

The wine is a little darker than I might have expected, with a deep ruby color throughout that brightens along the edges.  The nose is classic Tempranillo with lots of dark ripe fruit, blackberry, plum and cassis intermingled with some dark chocolate and dried flower notes, that transitions to just a hint of black pepper and spice.  Despite the dark fruit nose, the taste is very light, with some lovely berry notes on the outset that transitions to some rustic flavors of anise, dusty limestone and barnyard.  The tannins are somewhat soft but very well integrated giving a nice structure to the wine and supporting a smooth, dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7.5 as it does what most Spanish wines do, pair well with a variety of dishes at a value price - I bought this one from Wines Till Sold Out for just $11!  And tonight I am enjoying it with a classic mid-week dinner of pizza, a perfect pairing as the rustic flavors just mesh so nicely with the spicy sauce and pepperoni.  Cheers!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

2011 L'Ecole No. 41 Ferguson

Well, a weekend of hard work has come to a close and it's time to relax with a nice glass of wine.  You see, this weekend was taken up with more than just the normal chores around the house, my Uncle Ron decided to visit, and at 77 years old, it's always an adventure with him!  So he made it home safe and now I think I've earned a nice glass of 2011 L'Ecole No. 41 Ferguson, a wonderful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (57%), Merlot (32%) and Cabernet Franc (11%) from L'Ecole's newest vineyard which lies on a ridge overlooking the Walla Walla Valley which consists of a thin layer of soil over fractured basalt, which gives the wine some very interesting mineral characteristics.  I had a wonderful opportunity to barrel taste this wine last summer during the winery's 30th Anniversary celebration, so I'll be interested to know how the final product turned out!

The wine is a deep ruby in the glass with great clarity.  The nose is a vibrant blend of cut grass over a layer of ripe black fruit with just a hint of floral notes at the end.  The taste is quite nice, with some rich fruit up front, but not sweet or overpowering, this isn't a jammy wine, but a wine with sophistication and complexity in the fruit.  The fruit notes transition effortlessly to some dark chocolate and mineral notes of dusty limestone midpalate.  The finish is exceptionally dry, as the young but well structured tannins support the long dry finish that leaves you wanting more.  It's hard to believe, but I think this wine improved from what I remember last June!

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 9, as I think it has some great mineral characteristics and finesse that will likely improve over time, and although the price at $59 isn't cheap, I think it's well worth it.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a thick cut Hereford beef Kansas City cut NY Strip, grilled rare with some oven roasted Yukon gold potatoes and steamed asparagus, a perfect Sunday dinner in my house!  The mineral notes in this wine are the perfect foil to spiced potatoes and a rich cut of beef, cheers!