Sunday, June 28, 2015

2010 L'Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Syrah

Happy Sunday!  It's been an eventful day of yard work and some mechanical work on my lawnmower (turns out you actually need to replace the air filter every so often!) but now it's time to relax a bit.  So tonight I'm out on the patio enjoying a glass or two of 2010 L'Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Syrah, a nice blend of Syrah (80%) and Grenache (20%).

The wine is a beautiful deep ruby color with bit of opacity.  The nose is a pleasant combination of ripe berries, smoke and some lovely spice notes, just as you'd expect from a nice quality Syrah.  The taste is so pleasant, with a blast of fresh black cherry, blackberry and raspberry up front that subsides into some nice flavors of mocha, dark chocolate and baking spice midpalate.  The fine tannins are the ideal foundation for the nicely textured, long and exceedingly dry finish.  A perfect wine for sipping on a cool summer evening!

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a really nice example of the varietal and a perfect food friendly wine.  Although I am having this with hamburgers tonight, it would be great with a steak, pizza, tacos or a variety of pasta dishes, it's just that versatile.  Of course after dinner, there will be plenty left to sip on the patio as the lightning bugs come out.  Cheers!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

2012 Maison Bleue "Bourgeois" Grenache

Another hump day comes to an end, let's celebrate with a glass of nice wine!  Tonight I've recovered from my eye exam and pupil dilation, so now I can actually see what I'm typing once again!  With the return of my eyesight, I've decided to open a bottle of 2012 Maison Bleue "Bourgeois" Grenache from Columbia Valley, a blend of Grenache (90%) and Syrah (10%).  I am a big fan of Maison Bleue, so I can't wait to see what this latest wine club selection will hold!

The wine is a bright ruby color in the glass with awesome clarity, making it look like a real jewel.  The nose is a lovely, vibrant combination of red currant, strawberry and some lovely Asian spice and a bit of pepper, that braces you for a bit of sweet and savory.  The taste is a rush of ripe fruit up front, cherry, blackberry and cassis that transitions smoothly to some warm spice notes midpalate.  The fine tannins provide just enough backbone for what is arguably one of the most elegant, lingering dry finishes I've experienced in quite some time.  I just typed that entire sentence and the finish is still going!

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 9, with plenty of room to grow with some time in the cellar.  I really like Grenache, and this one, in my opinion, rivals some of the best of the Rhone Valley.  Tonight I am enjoying this one profusely, along with a standard mid-week meal of rare grilled prime sirloin, some grilled leeks, steamed asparagus and roasted fingerling potatoes.  Such an elegant wine, I'm just sorry I don't have something better to eat with it!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

2012 Seven Hills McClellan Estate Petit Verdot

Happy Fathers Day to all you wonderful Dads out there!  To be honest I haven't done that much today, other than trimming the hedges in my front yard, cutting back some bushes in the back yard and then taking a nap, but tonight at least I have a descent dinner planned.  And what do you need to make the meal?  Of course, a good bottle of wine, and tonight it's the 2012 Seven Hills McClellan Estate Petit Verdot, a recent wine club selection from the winery.

The wine is a beautiful inky purple color at the center with rich ruby along the edges.  The nose is is just beautiful, expressing notes of blueberry, cherry, leather and mocha that exudes richness.  The taste is a blast of ripe berries up front, blueberries, blackberries and ripe cherries that transition effortlessly to some earthy notes of smoke, tobacco and dark chocolate midpalate.  The tannins are big and beautiful, providing plenty of backbone for the long, smooth, and voluptuous finish that seems to last a minute or more.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a terrific example of a Bordeaux varietal that is seldom bottled on it's own.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a classic surf and turf, a rare grilled Angus ribeye with a grilled lobster tail, some grilled veggies, and a baked potato.  The wine is a perfect accompaniment to a big steak, as the earthy flavors compliment the beef, while the acidity makes a great foil to the richness of the lobster.  Happy Fathers Day!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

2012 Gnarly Head Merlot

Well, it's a casual Saturday and having gone to the supermarket I happened upon a few bottles of tonight's wine in the bargain bin, but we won't hold that against the wine!  Tonight I've opened a bottle of the 2012 Gnarly Head Merlot, a blend from California.

The wine is a dark indigo at the center, with some brighter garnet along the edges.  The nose exhibits merlot characteristics, with aromas of blackberries, leather, cherry cola and dried herbs.  The taste was rather subdued, despite the marketing pitch on the label, with some sweet, jammy fruit up front, blackberries and plum that transitions to some cherry notes midpalate.  The tannins are rather subdued making for a rather brief and lackluster finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a 7, it's nothing spectacular, but it was in the bargain bin for only $4!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a seared swordfish steak, baked potato and lemon pepper grilled asparagus, thankfully my dinner has outshined the wine this evening.  Cheers!

Friday, June 19, 2015

2012 Protocolo Tinto Tempranillo

TGIF!!!  We are now on summer hours so we get to leave an hour early on Friday and I got a lot accomplished.  I went to the gym and worked out, then came home and mowed the yard before it starts raining again and now I've finally settled down for a nice glass of wine.  Tonight I've opened a bottle of our June office wine club selection, the 2012 Protocolo Tinto tempranillo from Spain.

The wine is a nice bright ruby color in the glass with nice clarity.  The nose is classic tempranillo, with aromas of ripe berries, plum and leather and just a hint of mint.  The taste is not as laden with jammy fruit as the nose would suggest, instead the fruit was subdued and quickly transitioned to some notes of iron and toasted oak midpalate.  The finish was rather brief, with some hints of vanilla on the back end, still an easy drinking wine.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7, it's a pleasant, easy drinking wine that was a great value at less than $7!  I picked this one up at G.B. Russo's in Grand Rapids and could be a nice mid-week wine.  Tonight I am enjoying this with some fresh proscuitto perline pasta from Trader Joe's along with some rosa prima vera, a nice easy Friday night meal.  Cheers!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

2010 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Wine Wednesday!  Though I'll admit I started a little early with a bottle of Cabernet I opened last night, but it's a new day!  And for this new day I've opened a bottle of 2010 Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which I recently scored from a local wine shop on sale!

The wine is a deep ruby along the edges leading to an inky purple at the center, just what you like to see in a quality Cabernet.  The nose is a lovely bouquet of ripe dark fruit, blackberries, plum and cassis that just exude quality.  The taste is much more refined than the typical big Napa Cab, it reminds me more of the great blends of Bordeaux, exemplifying refined flavor and complexity.  The initial ripe fruit subsides and presents lovely flavors of dark chocolate and mocha midpalate while the supple tannins support a smooth, dry finish that seems to last a minute or more.

This is a really nice Cabernet that I would rate a solid 8.5, and certainly worth the bargain price of $28 I paid for it on sale (I really need to head back there tomorrow!).  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a classic pairing of rare grilled prime filet, garnished with grilled leeks and Brussels sprouts and a loaded baked potato.  Really an ideal wine for steak, as the fruit and subtle mineral flavors just enhance the entire meal.  Cheers!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

2012 Forgeron Facon Rouge

Well it's time for Sunday dinner, and since it's been so hot and humid here lately I've opted to cook indoors in the comfort of the air conditioning!  Of course that also means it's a perfect temperature to enjoy a nice bottle of red wine, and tonight it's the 2012 Forgeron Cellars Facon Rouge, a blend of Grenache (35%), Syrah (35%) and Mourvedre (30%), aka GSM, from the Boushey Vineyard in Yakima Valley Washington.

The wine is a beautiful dark ruby color in the glass with nice clarity.  The nose is classic GSM with notes of leather, smoke and rich dark fruit.  The taste is at first an explosion of dark fruit, blackberry, plum, marionberry and black cherry, that subsides momentarily for the emergence of white pepper spice and earthy mineral notes midpalate.  The complex layers of fruit return for another round at the finish, with nicely integrated tannins providing for a voluptuous texture and long, smooth and very dry finish.

Overall I would rate this one a solid 8, I'm a sucker for a good GSM blend, and in my judgement Marie Eve and the folks at Forgeron really do an outstanding job.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a lovely summer dinner of seared sea scallops on a bed of baby arugula along with some oven roasted rainbow carrots and asparagus.  The rich layered fruit in this wine offers a lovely contrast with the savory aspects of the veggies and the richness of the scallops.  Cheers!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

2013 Kirkland Signature Columbia Valley Merlot

I made it through hump day and once I got home that's when the chaos started.  It was 90 here today and although my house was still a comfortable 71 degrees (thank you shade trees!) I decided to turn on the air conditioner.  But before I did that I wanted to go check and make sure there were no branches, vines or bird nests in the unit.  That's when apparently I upset a bee and it stung me square on the nose!  That's when I gave up, went to the gym and then came home to open a nice bottle of 2013 Kirkland Signature Columbia Valley Merlot that I recently picked up at Costco.

The wine is a brooding ruby color in the glass with nice clarity.  The nose is a pleasant combination of ripe plum, blackberry and leather with just a hint of dusty limestone, a classic CV merlot nose.  The taste was a rush of warm ripe fruit intermingled with a bit of anise and baking spice which transitioned nicely to some notes of mocha and violets midpalate.  The finish was very nice, firm but youthful tannins providing for a long, smooth dry finish that seemed to last a good 30 seconds.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, it's not very exceptional but a very good everyday wine, particularly at the $9 price point at Costco.  Tonight I am enjoying this with a rare grilled Angus ribeye, big baked potato and some grilled leeks and Brussels sprouts.  A great steak wine! 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

2012 Helix Columbia Valley Rose

So today it was about 80 degrees, but the humidity went way up so it felt stifling, which I guess is natures friendly reminder that it's rose season!  That glorious warm and sunny time of year when it's just grand to enjoy a chilled glass of rose on the patio.  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of 2012 Helix Columbia Valley Rose, a limited production from Reininger Winery of Walla Walla.

The color is a deep pink, truly the color of a nice rose.  The nose is lovely combination of cool citrus, strawberry and watermelon notes.  The taste is blast of summer right from the outset, fresh fruit flavors of strawberry and watermelon with a hint of fresh cut grass transports you to your favorite picnic spot.  The acidity is well balanced and the dry finish seems to last 30 seconds or more, just long enough to get you to your next sip.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a delicious, crisp and refreshing rose that's sure to get you through the dog days of summer, or if you're like me, looking out on the patio as a thunderstorm rolls in!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with some seared sea scallops over a bed of baby greens tossed in aged white balsamic, some toasted pine nut couscous and fresh picked steamed asparagus.  And if this bottle lasts, I might enjoy my last glass with a dessert of fresh strawberries over shortbread, cheers!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

2005 Gaetano D'Aquino Brunello di Montalcino

It's the first Saturday of June and of course that means it's Cellar Saturday, that wonderful day when we open a wine that's been maturing in the cellar just for the enjoyment of it!  Tonight, I've opened a decade old wine, though it has only been in my cellar for a few weeks and honestly despite it's age, it's still pretty young for a Brunello!  Of course I am talking about the 2005 Gaetano D'Aquino Brunello di Montalcino, a bottle I recently picked up at Trader Joe's of all places!

The wine is a nice garnet color in the glass with great clarity.  The nose is classic Brunello, with aromas of leather, anise, oak, spice and a hint of vanilla.  The taste is warm at the outset, with mild flavors of blackberry and plum that give way to some tart cherry and black pepper spice midpalate.  The tannins are somewhat mellow as the acidity provides some nice balance for the long, smooth and very dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, it's a nice bottle but certainly not a Brunello that will wow you.  Of course it was also a bargain at Trader Joe's for just $20, so what more could you ask for?  Tonight I am pairing this wine with a rather non-traditional dinner to go with Sangiovese based wine, I'm having some grilled root beer brats on pretzel buns with mustard and pickled red cabbage and some fresh grilled corn on the cob, an entire dinner that can be eaten with your hands!

Friday, June 5, 2015

2012 Harney Lane Old Vine Zinfandel Lizzy James Vineyard

Here we are, the last wine from the virtual tasting, the big one, the one I've been anxiously awaiting, the 2012 Harney Lane Old Vine Zinfandel from the Lizzy James Vineyard in Lodi!  This was a nice one to taste since Kyle Lerner, the owner of Harney Lane was one of the guests in Lodi broadcast during the Virtual Tasting.

The wine is a lovely deep garnet color in the glass.  The nose is just fantastic, with jammy fruit, blackberry, plum and some earthy notes of leather and toasted oak.  The taste is surprisingly crisp despite the jammy fruit on the nose, with some notes of tart cherry, blackberry and plum and a hint of rosemary and vanilla.  Really nice complexity and great balance, with nicely structured tannins that provide for a long, smooth dry finish that dares you to take another sip.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's one of the nicest old vine Zinfandels I've had, and even though the price is a bit higher at $35, it's well worth it.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with thin crust pizza with roasted veggies, but unlike many Zins, I would by no means limit this wine to pairing with pizza and barbecue.  This wine would hold it's own with lamb or wild game meats, hearty stews or even some hearty seafood dishes.  The best part about this wine is that much of their business is direct to consumer, so you can order this one on their website at  Cheers!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

2014 Uvaggio Rosato

With the virtual tasting, you have a really great experience tasting wines along with other users around the world, sharing thoughts and tasting notes.  Best of all, you get to watch a presentation and interact with Q&A with the wine makers that produced what you are enjoying!  So now our second wine of the evening, the 2014 Uvaggio Rosato a lovely rose made from Cinsault.

The wine is a lovely vivid pink color in the glass.  The nose expresses lovely notes of cherry, plum and rose petals.  The taste is quite unexpected, with some bright berry notes up front that yield to tart cherry and some mineral notes of iron midpalate.  The finish is quite nice but not particularly long, but quite dry.  I'll admit that based on the color I was expecting a much sweeter wine, but nothing could be further from the truth.  This wine is crisp, fruit forward, earthy and refreshing, ideal for summer drinking!

Overall I would rate this one a solid 7.5, it's a nice rosato, but for my tastes there are a number of lovely dry roses on the market right now that to me are superior.  Tonight I am enjoying all of these great Lodi wines with some thin crust pizza with roasted veggies, but this one would also be great on a sunny afternoon on the patio with a caprese salad of heirloom tomatoes and aged balsamic.  Cheers!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

2014 McCay Cellars Viognier

Well tonight is the big night, the virtual tastings of Lodi wines, we have two reds, a white and a rosato, just to prove that there's more to Lodi than old vine zinfandel!  First up will be the 2014 McCay Cellars Viognier, a classic full bodied white wine.

The wine is a pale amber in the glass while the nose is a rather subdued combination of pear and violets.  The taste is quite well developed, with lovely flavors of pear, violet and a good bit of minerality.  It's not as crisp and shocking to the palate like some white wines can be, but rather has more subdued acidity and a full mouthfeel that makes it almost seem more like a nice red wine.  This finish is quite nice with ripe fruit notes throughout, making this an ideal summer patio sipping wine.

Overall I would rate this one a solid 7.5, as it's a nice white wine that even I could enjoy!  Tonight I am pairing all of these lovely wines with thin crust pizza with roasted veggies, but it would be great with lighter fare, like a baked cod or lemon pepper chicken breast.  Salut!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

2012 Fields Family Wines Estate Syrah

Well, it's a Tuesday night and tomorrow I have another awesome virtual tasting of the wines of Lodi (you know I have a special place in my heart for Lodi wines, particularly the awesome Zinfandels), but I couldn't wait until tomorrow so I decided to open one bottle tonight, you know like your parents let you open one present on Christmas Eve.  And tonight it's the 2012 Fields Family Wines Estate Syrah, so here is your sneak preview of tomorrow's Lodi virtual tasting!

The wine is a lovely bright ruby color in the glass with nice clarity.  The nose is classic Syrah, with a good bit of pepper, violet and that classic twang of tart cherry and fresh herbs.  The taste is really quite nice, with a blast of tart cherry up front that quickly subsides to some rich, jammy flavors of blackberry and plum midpalate that just scream Lodi.  There are some nice earthy notes of peat and black pepper on the finish, as the subdued tannins create a nice, smooth, dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's a classic example of the varietal and a solid value at $24 from the winery.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a nice marinaded sirloin, baked potato and some fresh steamed asparagus, a classic early summer meal.  The wine would also pair very well with lamb, braised short ribs or a hearty pasta dish.  If the rest of the wines we are tasting tomorrow are like this one, we'll be in great shape!  Cheers!