Sunday, August 30, 2015

Saving the Best for Last: My Visit to Seven Hills!

So I've saved the best for my last post on my summer vacation to Walla Walla, my visit to Seven Hills Winery, which is on Third Street, in the same building as the Whitehouse Crawford restaurant.  Seven Hills has long been a favorite of mine, ever since my first visit to Walla Walla back in 2002, and it seems to me they just keep getting better with time.

The entrance to the Seven Hills tasting room.

I was glad to finally be able to meet Julie Titus in person (we've been e-mail friends for a long time!) and I had the chance to meet Vicky McClellan who along with her husband Casey, founded the winery.  I also met Erik, who is in charge of marketing and Jackson, which was kind enough to give me a tour of the winery.  All of these folks are just terrific, the kind of people that you'd love to just spend an afternoon on the patio sipping wine.

That's Julie in the bright, beautiful tasting room!  She was also the broker
in arranging for me to buy a couple bottles of Cayuse!

Like many other wineries, the talk of the week was how early harvest was this year, as well as what potential impact all the smoke from the western wild fires might have on the 2015 vintage.  I imagine last week was a week full of action at the winery as grapes started flooding in.

The very first vintage, 1988 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon!

Jackson took me first to the library room, where examples of past vintages are stored, and he even showed me a bottle of the very first vintage, the 1988 Cabernet Sauvignon.  We then went around to see the giant tanks where the results of the harvest will become the wines that I'll enjoy in a couple years, including a new tank that was oak and quite impressive.

The stainless steel fermentation tanks, where the harvest becomes wine!

This was new and just so cool, I really want one!

From the tanks for fermenting, we went to the barrel room, where the wines are aged until they are ready to be bottled.  There were some impressive barrels in that room!

So much wine, so little time!

Finally, it was back to the tasting room to try some of the wonderful wines I've come to love.  We tasted the 2012 Ciel du Cheval, which was drinking quite nicely now, but will likely develop into an even more impressive wine over the next few years.  The 2013 Malbec was a surprise, as I've not been a big fan of the varietal in the past, but this one was delicious.  We also tasted the 2013 vintages of the Merlot and Petit Verdot, both of which were drinking quite nicely despite their youth.  Finally, we had to taste the 2012 Pentad, which I already love (and reviewed back in April here: Link).

Back in the tasting room with a view into the barrel room.

As always, it was a great time and I took home a bunch of wine, including a couple of the commemorative magnums of the 25th vintage, 2012 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon.  If you ever get to Walla Walla, you owe it to yourselves to visit Seven Hills, they have spectacular wines and the people are even better!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

My final day of tasting in Walla Walla!

On my last full day of wine tasting in Walla Walla, I had the chance to visit a few tasting rooms that I've been to before and one new one.  I started the afternoon at DaMa Wines on Main Street, and though I've tasted there first in 2012 (and loved their '07 Sangiovese), this was a nice tasting with Mary, the Ma of DaMa.  We tried the 2012 Syrah, which I really liked (and bought), as well as the 2010 and 2011 DaMaNation GSM blends, and of course I couldn't make up my mind so I bought one of each.  I also scored a couple bottles of the 2014 Rose of Cabernet Franc before it sold out.  Overall a very fun and delicious tasting.

The fun DaMa tasting room, some really wonderful wines here!

Next I was off to Mark Ryan, which was a new discovery on my last trip to Walla Walla.  Based in Woodinville, they opened a tasting room in Walla Walla about three years ago, and on my last trip in 2013, I fell in love with the Dissident, a classic Bordeaux style blend.  This time I was able to taste the 2013 Dissident, which was outstanding, the 2013 Board Track Racer "the Shift" which was a great blend of mainly Syrah with just a bit of Grenache to smooth things out.  Finally, I tasted the 2012 Numbskull GSM blend, which was a classic blend of Grenache (26%), Syrah (58%) and Mourvedre (16%), and how could I leave without a bottle of each, as well as some Crazy Mary and I managed to snag a couple bottles of the 2014 Rose which is sold out just about everywhere!

This is the front of the Mark Ryan tasting room, with new motorcycle!

After Mark Ryan, I went to a tasting room that was new for me, Spring Valley Vineyard.  I've seen the Uriah and Frederick available at my local wine store, but I was fascinated by the family history presented by their wines, with the flagship wines named after Spring Valley founder Uriah Corkrum and his son Frederick.  They had some really nice blends, including the Uriah, which was a great Merlot dominated blend as well as the Muleskinner, which was a really nice Merlot.  Needless to say, I couldn't escape without buying a half case to bring home!

This is the Maison Bleue tasting room, very French and very comfortable!

The last stop was the Maison Bleue Tasting room, where Mike took me through their fantastic array of wines based on Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.  We tasted the 2012 Metis, a blend of Syrah (70%), Grenache (25%) AND Mourvedre (5%) which was very nice.  Next was the 2012 Bourgeois, a blend of Grenache (90%) and Mourvedre (10%) that I really liked when I reviewed it in June (Click on the Link for that one), but Mike had just opened this bottle and it needed some time to open up.  The last wine we tasted was the 2012 Voyageur Syrah (100%) which was so nice, probably my favorite wine we tasted.

That was my last day of tasting, but fear not, this is not my last post of my trip.  I've saved the best to last, so we can wrap up Washington Wine Month with a blast tomorrow!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Forgeron - A Tasting and a Tour!

Well, I'm back home from vacation, and since its so hard to do blog posts and drive, I'll have just a few more posts to write about my wonderful vacation tasting wines in Walla Walla!  Tonight I've decided to do a review of my experience at Forgeron Cellars, a winery located in a former blacksmith shop in Walla Walla at the corner of Third and Birch Streets.  I first discovered Forgeron on a road trip to Walla Walla back in 2012 and I've been a fan ever since!

This is where the action starts, this week this area was probably humming with activity.
The destemmer is on the right, while the wine press is on the left under the roof.

Jessica was kind enough to do the tour for me, which is apparently offered in Walla Walla at 1:00 pm each Saturday, so next time you are there call ahead and ask to be part of the tour!  We talked quite a bit about harvest (just about everyone was talking about it), which was exceedingly early this year with many vineyards beginning to harvest this week!  Jessica showed me where the grapes come in, the destemmer, press, and then the giant stainless steel tanks where the wine is fermented and ready to be barreled.

This is the destemmer which removes stems and other debris before the grapes are crushed.

The giant stainless steel tanks where the wine is fermented.
Once in the barrel, the wines are separated as the white wines are cold fermented at about 10 degrees cooler than the red.  Each barrel contains about 25 cases of wine and Forgeron makes approximately 7,000 cases per year.  Most of their barrels are French oak with a minority of American oak, but like most wineries, they also utilize a number of neutral barrels in part of the aging process.  Chardonnay, for which Marie-Eve Gilla is most widely known, is aged in barrel for approximately eight months, Syrah and Zinfandel are aged about 14 months and Cabernet and Merlot are aged 16 months.

This is the barrel room for the white wines, if I recall correctly.
Each barrel is coded and labeled with its contents.

Now to the wines we tasted!  I started with the 2012 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which I had a glass to nurse on the tour.  It was a classic, smooth and very dry Cabernet with lots of dark ripe fruit and spice.  This particular vintage has about 10% Petit Verdot, which adds a bit of complexity to the wine.  Then we tasted the 2012 Zinfandel from the Alder Ridge Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills.  This was a classic Zin, with lots of ripe berry fruit and some lovely floral notes that make this a wonderful, food friendly wine, ideal for pizza night!

The tasting room, located at the front of the winery building.  My tour guide, Jessica is on the right.

The final wine we tasted was the 2012 Facon Rouge, a classic Rhone GSM blend that I reviewed back in June (see the review here: 2012 Facon Rouge).  I really enjoyed it then, and at the tasting I still enjoyed it and learned a bit more about it.  Jessica informed me that this is one of their only wines that use whole cluster fermentation, where everything, grapes, stems and all are fermented, providing for some much more intense earthy notes.  So that was my tasting and tour, I also was lucky enough to pick up a few bottles of the Zinfandel and 2014 Rose of Sangiovese which will be the topics of future posts.  Cheers!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Tasting at Doubleback

Friday I had the opportunity to enjoy a tasting at Doubleback Winery's tasting room on Main Street, this is one I've been wanting to do for a while, since I saw the tasting room on my last trip but couldn't get an appointment.  Though a tasting wasn't in the cards then, I did order some wine from their website so I guess there was a trade off.

For those unfamiliar, Doubleback is the winery venture started by former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe in conjunction with famed Walla Walla winemaker Chris Figgins.  Before we get too far, I have to thank Hanna, who did a wonderful job leading me through the different wines.  The tasting was great, and I had a chance to learn a few things and of course taste a few things!  We tasted the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the signature wine and although it could use a few more years in the cellar, it was tasting phenomenal right now!  It had great notes of leather, blackberry and cherry, and was a lovely big, bold Cabernet.  We also tasted the 2013 Stolen Horse Syrah, which was a great earthy Syrah that I liked very much.  Finally we tasted the 2013 Bledsoe Family wine, which is now a vintage wine as opposed to the non-vintage blend of previous years.  This is a fun one just because of the bottle, a 1-liter with a flip top cap, and a price that makes this an nice everyday red (just $38 for the liter).  Hanna mentioned that the idea for the bottle came to Mr. Bledsoe in a dream, which is a testament to his creativity that goes beyond what's in the bottle.

Perhaps the highlight of the tasting for me was the barrel tasting of the Cabernet from the Healy Vineyard and the McQueen vineyard.  The wine from these two vineyards are blended together to make the signature Cabernet Sauvignon, in this case for the 2014 vintage.  The wine from Healy was really impressive, with a lot of bold fruit, but a little on the soft side.  If I can remember correctly, Healy sits at a slightly lower elevation, while the McQueen vines are higher up, resulting in vines with quite a bit more stress, which shows up in the wine.  The McQueen fruit will really provide the backbone for the blend, providing some much needed structure to the softer Healy side.  Just a fascinating look at a deconstructed wine, or perhaps a pre-constructed wine before it comes into being.  Overall a super fun and informative tasting!

As I publish this post, I will be beginning my trip back home (man, vacation is hard work!) so you might not see another post for a little while, but never fear, I have much more to share from my trip to Walla Walla and the celebration of Washington Wine Month!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

First Stop in Walla Walla

So as I came into town driving a motorhome, I realized that once I park in the RV park near downtown, I would only be able to visit some of my favorite tasting rooms outside of town on US 12 either on the way in or on my way out, and given that tasting before getting on the road for 550 miles is probably not advisable, I decided to stop on the way into town.  So my first stop was to L'Ecole No. 41, which has been a favorite for more than a decade, ever since my first trip to Walla Walla in 2002.

This was a rather special time as I've since learned that they schoolhouse just celebrated it's 100th anniversary.  It's always fun to see Jaime and Ben and enjoy a nice tasting of some of their wonderful wines.  Their tasting room is such a fun treat as well, keeping with the schoolhouse theme.

And of course there were the wines, we had a chance to taste some wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and of course some Perigee, which has been a long-time favorite.  I was also able to pick up some library wines for some future Cellar Saturday posts, as well as to complete my collection of Perigee, as I think I only have them going back to the 2005 vintage and was missing the 2002-03.

Next I walked next door to visit Woodward Canyon, which is a treat.  Their tasting room hasn't changed a bit since I first visited, it's quite cozy and perfect for getting a nice sense of the wines and the focus on quality.  I had a chance to taste the Dolcetto all the way to the 2012 Artist Series Cabernet, which has long been one of my favorites.  And of course they also display the painting that is featured on the label of the current Artist Series Cabernet.

So that was my first stop as I got into town, more to come!

Friday, August 21, 2015

My Vacation to Wally World!

You know, summer is made for vacations, and with the release of a new National Lampoon Vacation movie this summer I figured I should go on vacation too, and I'll even go to "Wally World" or in my case, Walla Walla, Washington to do some phenominal wine tasting!  To give you a taste (get it?) I've decided to make an intro post to what will be a good week's or two week's of posts dedicated to the wonderful people and wines I encountered on my vacation.  First some thanks to my Company, and it's subsidiary, Thor Motor Coach for letting me use a phenomenal motorhome for these 10 days to drive across the country and see the most beautiful scenery on my way so seeing some of the greatest wineries in Washington!  I've driven 2,200 miles, through Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska (that state is way longer than it should be), Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and now Washington!

Now that I'm here and fully immersed in tasting some really great wines, I'll give you a sneak preview.  I've tasted some great food, had some wonderful sushi and sashimi the first night at Shiki Sushi, which recently opened in Walla Walla.  It was delicious!  Then today I had lunch at one of my perennial favorites, Brasserie 4 where I enjoyed the Moules Frites for lunch.  We'll see where I end up for dinner tonight.

As for wine tasting, I started yesterday on the west side of US 12, tasting and visiting at L'Ecole No. 41, Woodward Canyon and Reininger.  Today I had the greatest of intentions of visiting many tasting rooms, but as always happens, I get distracted, so I started the day at Seven Hills, which was a terrific visit (I can't say enough how much I love Casey, Vicky, Julie and all the gang at Seven Hills), then I had lunch at Brasserie 4, then off to a tasting at Doubleback, followed by some tasting at DaMa, then finishing at Spring Valley Cellars.  I meant to do so much more but that's as far as I made it!

For future postings, I will tell you it will be different from my last visit to Walla Walla.  Back in 2013, I basically gave you a time line of each day's activities.  This time, I think there are some wineries that will get their own posts in their entirety, so you can really get a sense of what I really loved about them.  In other cases, we might have posts summarizing multiple tasting room visits, for those which I don't think deserve their own post (this may not reflect at all on the quality of the wine, but reflects only on the length of my experience).  So as I type this, dirty martini in hand, I hope you'll enjoy living vicarioustly through me and my summer vacation in Walla Walla!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

2009 RouteStock Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Wine Wednesday!  It's been a pleasant week so far, so I thought why not open a nice bottle of wine to celebrate?  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of 2009 RouteStock Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that I picked up last weekend at my local wine store.  I've seen this wine before, but never really had a chance to try it, until now!

The wine is a bright ruby color in the glass, with great clarity.  The nose presents some pleasant aromas of leather, blackberry and cassis which seems right for a Napa Cabernet.  The taste was quite pleasant, with some ripe berries and plum up front that transition nicely to some warm spice and somewhat complex mineral notes midpalate.  The finish was very nice, as this wine seems to be just hitting its stride now, the well developed tannins provide for a smooth and exceptionally dry finish that seems to last the better part of a minute.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a very nice example of a Napa Valley Cabernet, and it was a terrific value at only $18!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rare grilled Angus ribeye, along with some grilled peppers and green beans, a perfect midweek summer dinner.  Cheers!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

2012 Louis Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Saturday!  Well it was sure a hot one here today, it was about 90 degrees but with the humidity it felt like 100 easy.  I ran some errands this morning and then took it easy this afternoon, enjoying the air conditioning, but at least while I was out I managed to get a new bottle of wine to try this evening, the 2012 Louis Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  I think the first time I tried their Napa Cabernet was the 2007 vintage which was outstanding, as well as a big bargain back then, I think it was about $15!  Today I bought this bottle and thought it a good value at $25!

The wine itself is a lovely deep ruby color along the edges, leading to some inky purple at the center, classic Napa Cabernet.  The nose exhibits aromas of leather, tobacco, some floral notes blanketing some rich ripe berry fruit notes.  The taste was outstanding, a brief rush of ripe blackberry and cherry notes that give way to some lovely mineral and spice notes midpalate.  The finish was full and voluptuous with fine tannins supporting the velvety mouthfeel and long, smooth, exceptionally dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, it's still a bit young, but in my opinion represents an outstanding Napa Valley Cabernet for the price.  This wine is a classic from a great vintage that certainly rivals 2007 and like most Napa Cabernets, this wine is perfect for a big steak.  Tonight I'm pairing it with a rare, thick cut boneless Angus ribeye along with a baked potato and some haricot verts almondine.  So yummy!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

2007 L'Ecole No. 41 Walla Walla Merlot

It's almost hump day, so why not dig a bit into the cellar and open a nice bottle of wine, in this case a bottle I've had for a number of years, the 2007 L'Ecole No. 41 Walla Walla Estate Merlot!  This wine is a blend of Merlot (81%), Cabernet Sauvignon (11%) and Cabernet Franc (8%) all sourced from the Seven Hills Vineyard.  Let's see how well this wine has developed over the past eight years!

The wine is a bright ruby color in the glass, with nice clarity.  The nose presents lovely aromas of cedar, tart cherry, blackberry and tobacco.  The taste is classic Walla Walla Merlot, with flavors of mocha, cherry cola and blackberry up front that transition nicely to some earthy mineral notes and just a hint of "Bordeaux funk" midpalate.  The tannins are elegant and well integrated, supporting the long smooth, dry finish that is so reminiscent of a nice right bank Bordeaux.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it has to be one of the nicest Merlots I've had in quite some time!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rather non-traditional pairing with sea scallops seared in sesame oil atop a bed of baby kale and some pesto farfalle.  The earthy flavors of the wine offer a nice foil to the sweetness of the scallops, while complementing the spice of the pesto.  Cheers!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

2011 Reininger Walla Walla Valley Syrah

Happy Sunday, the weekend is almost over, but here is the big news, I am just a little over a week away from vacation!  I will be spending 10 days driving an RV across the country to Walla Walla, Washington to visit some wonderful wine friends and taste some fantastic wines during this Washington Wine Month, so be prepared, this will be fun!  But in the meantime, I couldn't wait to get to Washington, so I've decided to open a bottle of 2011 Reininger Walla Walla Valley Syrah, which must have been a wine club selection at some point, I just don't remember when!  This particular wine is 100% syrah from the Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills Vineyards.

The wine is a deep ruby color in the glass, with an almost inky blackness at the center, classic Syrah.  The nose presents a refreshing combination or ripe berries and floral notes, raspberry, cassis and lavender and some subdued spice notes of white pepper.  The taste is classic old school Syrah, with some dark fruit flavors up front, blackberry, ripe cherry that transition to some earthy notes of forest floor and spicy white pepper.  The fine tannins beautifully support the long, smooth and very dry finish that seems to last a minute or more.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, it's been a while since I've tasted a pure Syrah this lovely.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rare grilled Angus New York Strip along with grilled leeks and asparagus.  The fruit and spice are a perfect complement to the steak and leeks, while the earthy notes are a great balance for the earthy flavor of the asparagus.  Cheers!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

2009 Chateau Grand Tayac Margaux

Well, it's Saturday night, time for a nice bottle of Bordeaux, and tonight its the king of Bordeaux, a Margaux from the stellar 2009 vintage, the 2009 Chateau Grand Tayac Margaux.  I recently bought a few bottles of this wine from Wines Till Sold Out, so why not try it?  This Margaux is a blend of classic Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), Merlot (27%) and Petit Verdot (3%).

The wine is a lovely deep garnet color in the glass, with an almost inky black center.  The nose presents aromas of blackberry, cassis and mint with just a hint of earthy overtones.  The taste is a lovely fruit forward blast of ripe cherry and plum that transitions effortlessly to some earthy flavors of oak and limestone midpalate.  The tannins are still a bit tightly wound, but the finish is just lovely, earthy, long and dry, just as a nice Margaux should be!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, it's drinking well now, but could use a few more years in the cellar.  It was also an excellent value at about $30!  Tonight I am enjoying this classic French wine with a quintessential American meal of a rare grilled Angus ribeye, baked potato and steamed broccoli, yum!  A nice Bordeaux is always a pleasure to drink with steak, but this one would also pair well with some aged cheeses or charcuterie.  Sante!

Friday, August 7, 2015

2011 Scott Harvey Winemakers Reserve Red Wine

Well, after a day of chores, cleaning and running errands, it's finally time to relax and open up a bottle of wine.  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of 2011 Scott Harvey Winemakers Reserve Red Wine from Napa Valley, a nice red blend I recently picked up from Wines Till Sold Out.  The wine is a blend of Merlot (69%), Syrah (21%), Cabernet Franc (5%) and Petit Verdot (5%) all sourced from the Atlas Peak area of Napa Valley.

The wine is a lovely deep ruby color in the glass, with nice clarity.  The nose presents lovely aromas of cedar, jasmine and a bit of star anise, all of which just preps you for something delicious about to come your way.  The taste is a blast of ripe blackberries and plum that transitions smoothly to some rustic oak and green herbs midpalate.  The tannins are firm and nicely integrated, providing plenty of backbone for a long, smooth dry finish that seems to last a minute or more.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a lovely example of the Atlas Peak area and an exceptional value at just $15!  Certainly having tasted this now, I wish I had bought more than I did.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with some cedar planked Alaskan sockeye served over a baby kale salad tossed in aged white balsamic with some roasted summer vegetables.  This wine is a perfect complement to the rustic flavor of the salmon and a nice balance to the sweetness of the aged balsamic.  Cin cin!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

2011 Brunelli Pa' Riondo Valpolicella Ripasso

Happy Thursday!  I had a fairly productive day today, got a lot done at work, got a haircut after work, then went to the gym, and then stopped at the store on the way home to get something for dinner.  And now that I'm cooking, it's time to open a nice bottle of wine to complement the food, so tonight it's the 2011 Brunelli Pa' Riondo Valpolicella Ripasso.  As a refresher, this is more of a poor man's Amarone, as it's the second pressing of the dried Valpolicella grapes that are used to make Amarone, so it gives you a lot of the concentrated flavor and punch of an Amarone but often for a third or less of the price!

The wine is a beautiful bright ruby color in the glass with great clarity.  The nose presents beautiful aromas of leather, plum, anise and dried herbs.  The taste is at first a bit tight, with some tart cherry at the outset that gives way to some smoother fruit flavors of ripe plum and cassis midpalate.  The tannins are still a bit young on this wine, but they still provide a nice base for the long, smooth and somewhat fruity finish.

Overall, I rate this wine a solid 7.5, it's not quite at the level of baby Amarone, but still a pleasant drinking wine in its own right, and it was a nice value at just $13 from Wines Till Sold Out.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a simple tortellini prima vera, we have such nice produce right now, it's just a pleasure to toss some red onions, green peppers, yellow squash and broccoli rabe in with a light cream sauce over some fresh cheese tortellini, delicious!  Salut!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

2010 Penalolen Cabernet Franc

Happy Tuesday!  Man this summer is going by fast, I just can't believe it!  Well in any case, this week has been unseasonably cool, which is always fine by me, but it's still warm enough to grill out some steaks and sip some wine on the patio.  Tonight I've opened a bottle of 2010 Penalolen Cabernet Franc from the Casablanca Valley of Chile, an area with a somewhat cooler climate that's ideal for Cabernet Franc.

The color is a deep ruby in the glass, that's almost black at the center.  The nose evokes wild berries, raspberries and cassis along with freshly cut grass.  The taste is somewhat fruit forward, with flavors of ripe raspberry and plum at the outset that edges toward tart cherry and some dusty limestone notes midpalate.  The tannins are nicely integrated, leading to a smooth and very dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, it's a very nice example of the varietal that would pair well with a variety of dishes.  It was also a terrific value at just $10 from, illustrating the bargains to be had from South American producers!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a nice grilled Angus T-bone, baked potato and haricots verts almondine.  The earthy herbal notes in this wine make it ideal with steak or flavorful Latin dishes.  Salut!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

2012 Luna Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Sunday!  I spend much of the day relaxing, even taking a nap this afternoon as the dog days of summer really wear me out sometimes.  So now that I've started preparing dinner I thought I'd open a bottle of 2012 Luna California Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine I recently purchased through an offer from Vivino, so let's see how it is!  This particular Cabernet Sauvignon (85%) is blended with Malbec (10%), Petit Sirah (2.5%) and Petite Verdot (2.5%).

The wine is a beautiful bright ruby in the glass with great clarity.  The nose presents aromas of oak, leather, blackberry and baking spice.  The taste is classic California Cabernet with some lovely fruit notes up front, blackberry and plum that transitions to some mineral notes of tobacco and dusty limestone midpalate.  The tannins are well integrated providing for a long, smooth and very dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's drinking nicely now, but would likely improve with a few years in the cellar.  It was also a pretty good value at $18.  This wine is ideal for steak, which is a good thing since I'm grilling a rare Kansas City cut Angus New York Strip for dinner tonight, along with some grilled veggies and fresh sliced tomatoes, a perfect summer meal.  Cheers!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

2005 Recoletas Reserva Ribera del Duero

Well, it's the first of August and it's Saturday, so that could only mean one thing, it's Cellar Saturday!  That wonderful time I raid the cellar to find something interesting to drink.  Tonight, after a hard day of yard work I've decided to open a bottle of 2005 Recoletas Reserva Ribera del Duero, a lovely Spanish Tempranillo I recently bought from Wines Till Sold Out.  Now keep in mind for this wine, I did not decant it, but it does open up nicely within an our or two of the first pour.

The wine is a beautiful deep garnet in the glass, with nice clarity.  The nose is a lovely combination of blackberry jam, leather, dark chocolate and dried flowers.  The taste is a dramatic departure from your expectations on the nose, rather than a jammy fruit bomb, you are treated with some lovely cherry cola and dark chocolate notes at the outset that transition effortlessly to some coarse mineral notes midpalate.  The tannins are perfectly balanced on the finish, which reprises some of those fruit expectation with hints of strawberry jam on the long, lush and  very dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's drinking quite nicely and was an exceptional value at just $16!  Tonight I am pairing this wine with a classic bone-in Angus ribeye topped with grilled leeks, baked potato and some steamed green beans.  The balance of fruit and acidity in this wine make it ideal paired with a bold red meat dish, but it would also be nice with small plates and cheeses.  Cheers!