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!