Sunday, August 20, 2017

2014 Peju "The Experiment" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Sunday!  It was a bit of a lazy day for me today, I came back from church and then did a bit of laundry, caught up on the interwebs and just generally relaxed.  So what better way to cap off an afternoon of relaxing than with a nice bottle of wine!  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of wine the boss gave me, he's really swell that way, particularly since he does a lot more Napa visits than I ever do, the 2014 Peju "The Experiment" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  After reading the label, I did a little searching on the Peju website and found the story of this wine to be fascinating.  Apparently, Peju winemaker Sarah Fowler has an annual experiment where she try various methods for toasting and constructing the oak barrels and then shares the results with her fellow winemakers in a tasting.  For the 2014 vintage, she experimented with 33 different toasting styles and 20 coopers to make this wine, so let's see how it tastes!


The wine is a deep inky black at the center, with bright garnet along the edges, classic for a Napa Valley Cabernet.  The nose is a cascade of vanilla bean, white floral notes and a hint of white pepper that practically scream for you to take a deep sip.  The taste is a rush of sweet black fruit up front, black raspberry, plum surrounded by hints cinnamon that transition to some wonderful dark chocolate and white pepper notes midpalate.  On the finish, you have a distinct emergence of vanilla bean as the well integrated tannins provide for the long, smooth and very dry finish that seems to last a minute or more.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, it's just a classic big Napa Valley Cabernet, with a lot of flavor complexity that you seldom see on many of the Napa styled red wines today.  This wine would be great to enjoy with hearty Italian dishes, roasts, wild game or a classic steak, but I think it would be even better just to sip on the patio with some salted dark chocolate.  Tonight I'm enjoying this wine with a rare grilled prime ribcap, topped with fresh rosemary and garlic scapes, along with a baked potato with sour cream and chives, and some fresh steamed green beans with red and yellow peppers.  Cheers!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

2011 Chateau Grand Tayac Reserve Margaux

Happy Saturday!  So based on the weather forecast which called for rain and thunderstorms today, I rushed home to vacuum leaves and cut the grass before the deluge, and of course today has been the most beautiful day with sun and a high of 83!  So much for planning based on what the forecasters predict, but at least that gave me a relaxing day capped off with a nice bottle of wine.  Tonight it's a bottle I've been cellaring for a few years, as I just don't think some wines should be consumed early in their lives (you can see the review of the 2009 vintage here).  The 2011 Chateau Grand Tayac Reserve Margaux is a classic Bordeaux made from Cabernet Sauvignon (70%),  Merlot (27%) and Petit Verdot (3%) grown from 40-year-old vines right next to the Gironde.  So let's see how this one has developed!


The wine is a beautiful ruby color in the glass, a bit lighter than a typical American Cabernet, reflecting the old world style.  The nose is classic Bordeaux with a rush of leather, cherry and currant along with earthy undertones.  The taste is somewhat fruit forward, with some tart cherry and black currant that gives way to some mineral notes of dusty limestone and mocha midpalate.  The finish is lovely, with a reprise of earthy Bordeaux funk amid fine tannins that provide the structure for the long, smooth and exceptionally dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a great example of the king of Bordeaux.  This wine would pair well with some soft cheeses, pasta, or a classic steak, which is great since tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rare grilled T-bone topped with grilled garlic scapes, a baked potato with all the trimmings and steamed green beans.  The earthy notes in the wine are perfect for a hearty steak!  Cheers!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

2008 Chateau Moulin de la Rose Saint-Julien

Happy Wine Wednesday!  I just got back from the gym and I thought, it's been a while since I've opened a nice Bordeaux, so why not tonight?  Alas, a bottle I found in a hidden corner of the cellar, the 2008 Chateau Moulin de la Rose Saint-Julien, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (62%), Merlot (28%), Cabernet Franc (5%) and Petit Verdot (5%), all from one of the northernmost regions of the left bank of the Grionde.  So let's see what this one has to offer!


The wine is a beautiful deep ruby color in the glass, just as you'd expect from a Cabernet heavy blend.  The nose is classic Bordeaux, with aromas of leather, blackberry, rose petals and just a hint of barnyard.  The taste is somewhat surprising, with a rush of tart cherry up front that transitions to some lovely notes of dusty limestone and green grass midpalate.  The finish is just classic Bordeaux that takes me back the the three weeks I worked in Paris in 1995 when I learned to truly appreciate red Bordeaux wine, wonderfully structured tannins that provide for an incredibly smooth, dry finish.

This wine would be perfect with a variety of wonderful beef dishes, but tonight I am going classic and enjoying this wine with a rare grilled prime ribcap steak garnished with a sprig of fresh rosemary, haricots verts almondine and a baked pomme de terre with buerre, creme fraiche and chives, as the wine just plays so well against the richness of the steak and earthiness of the rosemary, cheers!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

2013 L'Ecole No. 41 Candy Mountain Red Wine

Happy Taco Tuesday!  What a lovely day, it's been warm and humid and feeling a lot more like summer than it did last week.  So, a perfect night for tacos and wine!  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of wine that's been sitting in my cellar for a couple years, the 2013 L'Ecole No. 41 Candy Mountain Red Wine, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Merlot (40%) from the Candy Mountain Vineyard in the Columbia Valley of Washington.  So let's see how this one tastes!


The wine is a deep ruby in the glass, almost reminiscent of a nice Cabernet.  The wine exudes aromas of leather, blackberry and caramel spice, that just makes your mouth water.  The taste is a rush of ripe black fruit, cherry, raspberry, and currant that transitions nicely to some dusty limestone notes midpalate.  The finish is elegant and smooth, with firm tannins supporting the long, smooth and very dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, it's much better than the last vintage I tried (you can see the review of the 2010 vintage here), which was just too warm and spicy for my taste. This wine would be good with steaks, or with sizzling fajita steak tacos that I'm having tonight!  The ripe fruit is a perfect foil to the zing of the tacos, cheers!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

2013 Stolen Horse Columbia Valley Syrah

Happy Sunday!  I must admit I'm starting to get a bit excited as I have just over a week until I head out to Walla Walla on vacation, so why not open another bottle of Washington wine before I go?  Obviously these will be hard to come by once I get to Washington state right?  In any case, tonight I've decided to open a bottle of a wine I originally tasted at the Doubleback Winery tasting room nearly two years ago (see that post here), the 2013 Stolen Horse Columbia Valley Syrah, a 100% syrah from the Loess Vineyard in Walla Walla and the Echo Ridge Vineyard in the Columbia Valley.  So let's see what this one has to offer!


The wine is a deep ruby color in the glass, with aromas of raspberry, cherry, along with some lovely earthy spice notes.  The taste is a rush of ripe fruit up front as you experience a cascade of raspberry, black currant and cherry that transition gracefully to some lovely notes of anise, peppery spice and a hint of vanilla midpalate.  The tannins are balanced and well integrated, providing for a long, dry and exceptionally smooth finish that beckons you to take another sip.  This is a wine that I enjoyed during my tasting two years ago, and I could easily see myself sipping during a quiet afternoon on the patio.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, as it's an exceptional syrah and certainly priced as such at $48.  This wine would be wonderful with a variety of hearty dishes, from steaks and chops to stews or Italian dishes, but for me, I've always thought Syrah was wonderful to enjoy with salmon, so tonight I am enjoying this wine with a lovely cedar planked wild Alaskan sockeye topped with lemon, rosemary and dill along with a baked potato and some steamed green beans that I bought from a farm stand yesterday.  The earthiness of the rosemary really plays well with the earthy goodness of this wine.  Cheers!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

2015 Ste. Michelle Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

This has been a somewhat lazy Saturday for me, but at least I made it to Costco to do a little shopping!  And while I was there, of course I had to check out the wine selection to see if there was anything new or interesting, and I happened upon a bottle of 2015 Ste. Michelle Vineyards Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  Apparently this was a tribute wine for the 50th anniversary of the founding of Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington, and since it's Washington wine month, I figured why not try a bottle?  Besides, I really liked the classic, Bordeaux style of the label on this bottle.


The wine is a bit lighter in color than I might have expected, of course it could also be because a wine this old really should still be in a barrel, but I digress...  The nose is a bit odd, as when the glass is still you get a good whiff of spice and kirsch, but then with a little air, the notes of leather and black cherry really come out.  The taste is actually quite nice, with a rush of blackberry and cherry that transition to some nice black pepper spice midpalate.  The tannins are still rather tightly wound, but the finish is long, smooth and very dry despite the rather bright acidity.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a very nice everyday Cabernet, and a terrific value as this wine was just $12 at Costco.  This is a good meat and potatoes sort of wine, which is a good thing as I'm enjoying this wine with a rare grilled bone-in ribeye with a big baked potato and some haricots verts almondine.  Cheers!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

2009 L'Ecole No. 41 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Wine Wednesday!  Tonight I have a treat, as I am gearing up for my upcoming vacation to Walla Walla, a bottle that I just happened across this evening, a 2009 L'Ecole No. 41 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon!  What's not to love about a good Cabernet, especially one from Washington, so let's see what this one has to offer.


The wine is a deep, inky black at the center, with bright garnet along the edges, just as you'd expect for the varietal.  The nose is screams Walla Walla, with notes of leather, earthy peat and a good bit of Bordeaux style funk.  The taste is a rush of blackberry and cherry that transition effortlessly to some cherry cola and dark chocolate notes midpalate.  The tannins are nicely integrated and structured, providing a perfect foundation to the long, smooth and very dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, as it's exactly what I've come to expect from a high-quality Walla Walla cabernet.  This wine would be perfect with a big steak, a nice prime rib, or a rich Italian meal, but tonight I am enjoying it with a simple dinner of broccoli rabe and garlic scapes sauteed in olive oil and tossed with linguine, a perfect light summer dinner.  Cheers!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Cogdal Vineyards Little Man Winery Big Lake Red Table Wine

What an eventful day!  My uncle and cousin were doing a Midwest road trip and decided to come for a visit last night and stayed for breakfast and church before they went off to visit some other relatives in central Indiana.  After they left, I decided to go to the outlet mall and then up to Lake Michigan for the afternoon, mainly to restock my olive oil and aged balsamic from the Olive Cart in South Haven, Michigan.  Which brings me to the wine I've decided to open tonight, the non-vintage Cogdal Vineyards "Little Man Winery" Big Lake Red Wine, after seeing the big lake this afternoon, how could I not open a Big Lake Red?  So let's see how this one tastes!


The wine is somewhat lighter in color, a bit of a cross between Pinot Noir and a Merlot, with nice clarity.  The nose presents aromas of green grass, mint and a hint of pipe tobacco.  The taste is quite nice, with a rush of ripe black fruit up front, blackberry, black cherry and kirsch that transition to some warm spice notes midpalate.  The finish is somewhat subdued, with mild acidity and mellow tannins supporting a smooth dry finish.

My view of the big lake in Saint Joseph, Michigan!

Now I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a big fan of my local red wines, as so much of it lacks depth or more often is just a sweet cherry fruit bomb, but having visited this winery, they have made some good progress with nice dry red wines and this one is no exception, so I'd rate it a solid 8.  An easy drinking red blend like this should be easy to pair with a variety of dishes, but as always I had to make it challenging, so tonight I'm enjoying this wine with panko crusted pork chops with some pasta and fresh green beans.  The subdued fruit and mild acidity of this wine makes it a prime target for pork, cheers!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

2006 Mancuso Vino de la Tierra Valdejalon

Hooray, it's the first Saturday of August, and we know that means it's Cellar Saturday, that lovely day when I open a bottle of wine that's at least a decade removed from its vintage.  Tonight I am opening a rather recent addition to the cellar, one which was last month's office wine club selection, the 2006 Mancuso Vino de la Tierra Valdejalon, a wonderful old vine Garnacha from Spain!  I've decanted this wine for about 90 minutes, so it should be ready to enjoy!


The wine is a bright garnet color in the glass, classic for the varietal.  The nose is wonderfully herbal, with notes of fresh cut grass and a hint of mint over blackberry and currant aromas.  The taste is fruit forward, with flavors of black cherry, plum and cassis that transitions nicely to some mineral notes of dusty limestone and basalt midpalate.  The tannins are mature and nicely structured, providing a nice backbone for the long, smooth and very dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, it's a great example of a fine Spanish Garnacha and it was a terrific bargain as I bought this from Wines Till Sold Out for $20!  This wine practically screams to be paired with paella, but alas I'm stuck with a rare grilled Angus bone-in ribeye along with some haricots verts almondine and a baked potato with sour cream and chives.  The lovely fruit and acidity of this wine cut perfectly through the fat of the ribeye, cheers!

Friday, August 4, 2017

2013 L'Ecole No. 41 Walla Walla Cabernet Franc

Oh my word, the weekend is here!  I came home from work, ran some errands and went to they gym and now it's time to relax with a nice dinner and some wine.  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of wine from one of my favorite Washington producers, L'Ecole No. 41, and the 2013 Walla Walla Cabernet Franc, a 100% Cabernet Franc from the Seven Hills Vineyard.  So let's see how this one is going to set the tone for my weekend!


The wine is a deep, inky color, with some bright ruby along the edges.  The nose perfumes of leather, cedar, black cherry and kirsch, all combine to let your taste buds know something wonderful is about to come their way.  The taste is a rush of black cherry at the front that transitions to some wild flavors of black pepper, dried herbs and cocoa midpalate.  The finish has an air of lingering spice along with some lovely tobacco notes that has you reminiscing about that weekend at a rustic mountain lodge as the wonderfully integrated tannins usher in the long, smooth and pleasantly dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, as it's a beautiful example of what some of the most talented winemakers in Walla Walla can do with a blending grape!  This wine would pair well with a variety of Northwest dishes from salmon to dungeness crab, to the more traditional meat and potatoes.  Which is a good thing, since I'm enjoying this wine with a rare grilled prime sirloin over a bed of grilled leeks, roasted asparagus and a big baked potato with sour cream and chives.  Cheers!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

2014 Woodstock McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Wine Wednesday!  So after work and going to the gym, I've decided to open a bottle of this month's office wine club selection, the 2014 Woodstock McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon from the heart of Australia!  It's been a while since I've had an Australian wine, which usually would be a Shiraz as they say, but they are also very adept at Cabernet Sauvignon, so let's see what this wine has to offer!


The wine is a deep, inky indigo with bright ruby along the edges,  The nose is a cavalcade of rich leather, green grass, blackberries and a bit of smoke.  The taste is quite nice, with a rush of rich, ripe black fruit, blackberry, plum and currant that transitions nicely to some mocha and caramel notes midpalate.  The tannins are still a bit youthful, with nice acidity to balance the long, dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a very nice, easy-drinking Cabernet and an everyday value of a wine, I bought this one from Wines Till Sold Out for just $15!  This wine would pair well with a variety of summer dishes, from barbecue to steaks and tacos, and tonight I am enjoying it with hamburgers!  Truly a wine that can go with the simplest of fare, cheers!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

2014 L'Ecole No. 41 Frenchtown Red Wine

Happy Taco Tuesday!  Guess what's for dinner tonight...At any rate, I've decided to open a bottle of wine I bought on my last trip to Walla Walla (can you believe that was two years ago?) and since it's Washington Wine Month (though really, it seems that every other month is Washington Wine Month) I've decided to open a bottle of 2014 L'Ecole No. 41 Frenchtown Red Wine!  So let's see how this one tastes.


The wine is a deep ruby color, comparable to a nice Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, which I'm confident are in this blend somewhere.  The nose is a pleasant combination of leather, red licorice, candy apple and black cherry that exudes a mind fake of sweetness.  The taste is classic Washington Bordeaux style blend with wonderful black cherry, plum and marionberry notes up front that transition to some lovely mineral notes of dusty limestone midpalate.  The tannins are well integrated, leading to a long, smooth and very dry finish that's remarkable for such a value priced wine.

At less than $20, this wine is such a tremendous bargain, it's hard not to rate it highly, so I'm giving this one a solid 8.5.  It would pair well with a wide range of summer dishes, from barbecue to steak to pasta, but tonight I'm enjoying this wine with some panko crusted fish tacos with spicy red cabbage slaw and avacado.  Cheers!

Friday, July 28, 2017

2011 L'Ecole No. 41 Walla Walla Syrah

TGIF!  Man I am ready for the weekend and a nice glass of wine, lucky for me I have plenty of nice wine available for me to try and tonight is no exception, as I've decided to open a bottle of 2011 L'Ecole No. 41 Walla Walla Valley Syrah!  So let's get right to it!


The wine is a rich, inky purple color in the glass, almost more reminiscent of a Cabernet than a Syrah.  The nose is perfumed with leather, blackberry and a hint of cinnamon.  The taste is a rush of rich, ripe black fruit, blackberry, cherry and currant that transitions into some dusty limestone, mocha and green acidity midpalate.  The finish is quite nice, with rounded tannins supporting 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, as it's a fine example of the varietal and a food friendly wine.  I could see pairing this wine with a variety of dishes from barbecue to steak, but tonight I am enjoying this wine with some alder planked wild Alaskan sockeye with lemon pepper spice along with some linguine tossed with sauteed garlic scapes and broccoli rabe topped with shaved Parmesan.  The nice acidity in this wine is a perfect complement to the rich fattiness of the salmon.  Cheers!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Fruit Hills Winery Cabernet Franc

Happy Tuesday!  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of local wine!  Local wine, you say?  But you live in Indiana?  Absolutely right, and I freely admit that I'm not a big fan of much of the red wine that's produced in Northern Indiana or Michigan, but I actually tasted this wine a couple years ago at a local art show and I liked it, so I bought a bottle.  So, I thought what the heck, Tuesdays are slow, so let's enjoy a bottle of non-vintage Fruit Hills Winery Cabernet Franc!  Fruit Hills Winery is a nice little winery in Bristol, Indiana, that's on an orchard that's been around since the 1850s and it's a pleasant place to stop by on your next visit to Amish country!  But what about the wine?  Here goes nothing!


The wine is somewhat lighter in color than many examples of Cabernet Franc, as this one looks more like a Pinot Noir.  The nose gives the impression of a wine produced in a much more sophisticated wine region, rich leather and smoke over ripe fruit notes of blackberry and plum.  The taste is a rush of ripe fruit up front, tart cherry, plum and boysenberry that transitions to some modest notes of Kirsch and limestone mineral midpalate.  The tannins are somewhat tight, but provide some bright acidity for the smooth, dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, as this is a local dry red wine that I enjoy and would have no qualms serving to guests.  This wine would pair well with a variety of dishes, from steaks to barbecue to chili, but tonight is Taco Tuesday, so I am enjoying this one with some chipotle rubbed sockeye tacos with a fresh red cabbage and cilantro slaw.  The acidity of the wine is a perfect foil to the richness of the salmon, cheers!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

2014 Seven Hills Walla Walla Carmenere

Happy Sunday!  I had a somewhat productive day, given that I went grocery shopping to restock the fridge after being gone a week, and then I cut the grass and did laundry, and then I was pooped so I decided to open a bottle of wine!  Tonight's selection is a wine club wine from one of my favorite wineries, Seven Hills out of Walla Walla.  I have a nice dinner planned, so I've decided to open the 2014 Seven Hills Walla Walla Carmenere!


The wine is a deep inky black at the center with bright ruby along the edges.  The nose is a symphony of spice with notes of red pepper spice and smoky chipotle intermingled with some ripe black fruit.  The taste is warm and inviting, with some green herb notes up front that cascade into some lovely ripe fruit notes of black cherry and plum over hints of dark chocolate.  The tannins are well developed and provide a nice foundation with some acidity and a hint of bordeaux "funk" on the long, smooth and very dry finish.

Well, it seems that I only review even years of Seven Hills Carmenere, as I've blogged on the 2010 and 2012, and now the 2014 (I checked and the streak will live on since the 2015 vintage is sold out!), and this vintage is by far my favorite, so I'll rate it a solid 9, well worth however much I paid for it!  This wine would pair well with a wide variety of dishes from tacos to steaks to pasta, but tonight I am enjoying this wine with a classic summer dinner, first course a wonderful caprese salad with farm fresh tomato, 25-year aged balsamic and basil I grew myself, and the main course of alder planked Alaskan sockeye with lemon and dill along with some fresh grilled asparagus.  The lovely acidity of this wine just cuts right through the richness of the salmon.  Cheers!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

2014 Mark Ryan Winery "Dead Horse" Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Saturday!  Sorry it's been a while since I've posted, but last week I had a big travel week, hitting 5 cities on the west coast in 5 days, and unlike most work trips where I like to relax with a nice dinner after a long day, last week most of my dinners were at airports!  So tonight I am looking forward to a nice dinner at home with a great bottle of wine, and I have just such a bottle tonight, the 2014 Mark Ryan Winery "Dead Horse" Cabernet Sauvignon, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (85%), Merlot (10%), Cabernet Franc (4%) and Petit Verdot (1%) from the Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, Obelisco and Quintessence Vineyards in the Red Mountain AVA in Washington.  I have been a big fan of Mark Ryan since I visited the Walla Walla tasting room back in 2013, but since joining their wine club, I've been somewhat hesitant to open the wines since they pack them so nicely in wood cases, but tonight I gave in!  So let's see how this wine stack up!


The wine is a lovely deep, inky purple color in the glass, just as you'd expect from a quality Cabernet.  The nose is classic Cabernet, with notes of black cherry, cassis, graphite and leather.  The taste is classic Washington Cabernet, with a more old world style, smooth, voluptuous and elegantly styled making this about as smooth a Cabernet as I've ever had.  The tannins are soft and well integrated, to support the long, dry finish that's so smooth, you can't bring yourself to put down your glass!  I have theater tickets after dinner tonight, and I'm going to have a hard time not finishing this bottle before I leave!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9.5, as it's one of the best Cabernets I've had in a long time, and a classic example of how Washington does the varietal.  This wine would be great with big steaks, but it's versatile enough to pair with a wide variety of dishes, from a light salad, to wild mushroom risotto to grilled salmon.  Tonight, I am fortunate to be enjoying this with a rare grilled prime T-bone, with grilled leeks and asparagus, a perfect summer dinner.  Cheers!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

2014 Sleight of Hand Cellars "The Psychedelic Syrah"

So a few weeks ago I happened to be speaking with Julie Titus at Seven Hills Winery, making sure I had the wines that I thought I had (after my hard drive crash, it seems there are wineries that have a better idea of what's in my cellar than I do!) and she mentioned that she had recently enjoyed "one of the best Syrah's" she had ever had.  Of course I was intrigued, and she was kind enough to give me the contact information for the kind folks at Sleight of Hand Cellars so that I could get a few bottles of their 2014 "The Psychedelic Syrah"!!!  Now I do love me some Syrah, and this one is crafted from fruit of the Stoney Vine  Estate Vineyard in the Walla Walla AVA.  The folks at Sleight of Hand bill their wines as "Serious wines without the serious attitudes" so I think I could definitely get along with these guys!  I encourage you to check out their website (here: http://www.sofhcellars.com/) and see some of the interesting wines they are producing, but now let's get on with the show!


The wine is a deep ruby color in the glass.  The nose is just an explosion of everything that's great about Syrah, green grass, lavender, green olives, smoke and minerals with lovely undertones of ripe purple fruit.  The taste is like nothing I've experienced before, it just takes me right back to the many lovely tasting rooms in Walla Walla, with wild earthy flavors, bursts of ripe cherry, blackberry and blueberry, earthy limestone, licorice and smoke that just give you such a sense of the place that produced this wine.  The tannins are elegant, creating a velvety mouthfeel than envelops you creating a long, dry finish that's silky and very memorable.  This is appropriately names, as this was a psychedelic experience!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9.5, as it's one of the best examples of the varietal that I've ever had the pleasure to drink.  I could tell you about pairings, but why ruin the experience?  Just sip this wine on the patio with a group of friends and you'll forget all about dinner.  Of course I'm hungry though, so tonight I am pairing this with a lovely grilled lemon herb halibut filet with some grilled organic rainbow carrots, earth meet sea!  Cheers!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

2014 Maison Bleue Voyageur Syrah

Happy wine Tuesday!  I know I'm a day early for Wine Wednesday, but what the heck?  Tonight I have decided to open a recent wine club selection from Maison Bleue Winery, one of my emerging favorite producers of Grenache, Syrah and GSM blends.  Now it's the 2014 Maison Bleue Voyageur Syrah, a blend of 100% Syrah from the Yellow Jacket Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley of Washington.  So let's see how this wine tastes!


The wine is a deep ruby color in the glass, with just the heft you'd like to see from a nice Syrah.  The nose is chock full of violets, blueberry and blackberry overlaid with hints of smoke and black pepper spice.  The taste a rush of ripe berries, that transitions nicely to some fresh herbs and chipotle spice midpalate.  There is a bit of a reprise of fruit and a bit of kirsch on the finish, with the soft tannins supporting the long, smooth and very dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, as it's just a pleasure to drink and a fine example of what this varietal can achieve on its own.  This wine would pair exceedingly well with a variety of hearty dishes, but could hold up just as well to some lighter fare for the summer.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a lovely cedar planked wild Alaskan Sockeye filet along with some garlic scapes and broccoli rabe sauteed in olive oil and tossed with linguine and parmesan.  The ripe fruit and spice notes of the wine play exceedingly well with the richness of good wild salmon.  Cheers!

Friday, July 7, 2017

2015 DaMa Columbia Valley Tempranillo

Happy Friday!  In a holiday shortened week, it's such a pleasure to get to the weekend so much sooner than normal!  To kick things off, I've decided to open a bottle of a recent wine club shipment from DaMa Wines in Walla Walla, the 2015 DaMa Columbia Valley Tempranillo.  This wine is a 100% Tempranillo from the Chene de Mille vineyard in the Columbia Valley.  So let's see how this one stacks up!


The wine is a lighter ruby color with great clarity, which is classic for the varietal.  The nose is chock full of spice, cardamom, nutmeg and lavender over lovely ripe fruit notes of strawberry and raspberry.  The taste is warm and inviting, with a vapor of fruit flavor at the outset that transitions to some lovely earthy mineral notes midpalate.  The tannins are smooth and well structured, though young, providing for a lovely, warm and dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it really reminds me of some of the best Tempranillos of Spain, smooth fruit with a bit of a spicy edge.  This wine would pair well with a variety of summer dishes, from caprese salad to grilled salmon, but tonight I am enjoying this wine with some barbecued baby back ribs, corn on the cob and potato salad, it doesn't get more summery than that!  Cheers!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

2012 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon

What the heck, it's Thursday so why not open up a good bottle of wine to enjoy?  Today I've decided to open a bottle of 2012 Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, their 40th Anniversary bottling which I bought a few years ago and squirreled away.  Now when this wine was released there was some controversy as it seemed a bit different from the normal Caymus Cabernet, but hopefully it's had a chance to settle down over the past three years.  Let's see how this one tastes!


The wine is a deep, inky purple in the glass, classic color for a Napa Valley Cabernet.  The nose presents lovely aromas of prune, black cherry, mint and oak.  The wine is somewhat subdued at the outset, with a bit of blackberry and cassis that transitions to some earthy notes of tar and oak midpalate, but then the finish is a sudden rush of prune and fig that just seems to explode in your mouth.  The tannins are nicely integrated, providing for a velvety smooth finish, but I think it must have been the rush of dried fruit at the end that so many found off-putting.  I'll admit I'm not the biggest fan of the fruit rush, but I can appreciate it.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a solid effort, but a bit too much concentrated fruit for my taste (call me crazy, but I'm more of the old world, dry red sort of wine fan).  This wine would be great with barbecue or a nice lobster mac & cheese, but tonight I'm enjoying it with a rare grilled prime ribcap, along with the last of my elephant garlic scapes, grilled purple cauliflower and a big baked potato.  Cheers!

Monday, July 3, 2017

2014 Reininger Walla Walla Syrah

Happy Monday to you all, and happy Independence Day eve!  I was fortunate to have the day off today thus creating a 4-day holiday weekend.  So tonight I am celebrating with some 4th of July classics, among them a nice wine from the Walla Walla Valley of Washington, the 2014 Reininger Walla Walla Syrah.  This wine came in a recent wine club shipment and is 100% Syrah from the Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills vineyards, so let's see how this one tastes!


The wine is an inky black color at the center with bright ruby along the edges, somewhat more reminiscent of a Cabernet than a Syrah.  The nose is a lovely combination of leather, blueberry and violet notes that practically grab you by the collar and force you to take a sip.  The taste is lush with ripe fruit, blueberries, blackberries and plum that transition smoothly to some wonderful mineral notes midpalate, ending with some nice white pepper spice.  The fine grain tannins are perfect to support the long, smooth and voluptuous dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, as it's one of the nicest Syrahs I've had in quite a while.  This wine would be great with a variety of spicy Mediterranean or North African cuisine, but tonight I've pulled out the stars & strips and am enjoying this wine with some Kansas City rubbed barbecued baby back ribs, grilled corn on the cob and potato salad, a perfect Independence Day feast!  Cheers!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

2015 Kirkland Signature Malbec

Happy Sunday!  I am about to start cooking my Sunday dinner and thought I'd open a bottle of wine I picked up at Costco yesterday, the 2015 Kirkland Signature Malbec from Mendoza Argentina.  Now I know that Malbecs are good value and Argentina is well know for the varietal, particularly Mendoza, so let's see how this one tastes!


The wine is a beautiful ruby color in the glass, not as dark as a Cabernet, classic for a Malbec.  The nose is chock full of ripe fruit, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry and plum over some wonderful spice notes of white pepper.  The taste is quite nice and easy going, with some lovely black fruit notes up front that transition easily to some notes of toasted oak, white pepper and smoke midpalate.  The finish is smooth, with youthful tannins and some bright acidity on the smooth, dry finish.

Overall, this wine is a classic Mendoza Malbec, easy drinking and ideal with a variety of foods, so I give this one a solid 8, particularly given what a terrific value this was at just $6!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rare grilled prime ribcap (to make the gauchos proud), along with grilled elephant garlic scapes, orange cauliflower and broccoli rabe.  This wine is ideal for a nice rich steak, cheers!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

2007 Seven Hills Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy 4th of July Weekend!  I know it's only the 1st, but it's also the first Saturday of the new month, which means it's Cellar Saturday, that magical day when I open a bottle that's been in the cellar for a while.  This month's selection came about by happenstance, as I was on the phone with Julie Titus from Seven Hills last weekend, looking all over my house for some 2014 Pentad that I ordered (yes, I found it!) but as we were looking I came across tonight's selection and Julie suggested that I open it, so here we have it, the 2007 Seven Hills Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon!


The wine is a deep, inky purple color in the glass, classic Cabernet.  The nose is a blast of leather, ripe berries and some earthy notes that remind me of the smell of the Seven Hills barrel room in Walla Walla!  The taste is just marvelous, with a rush of ripe blackberry, black cherry and currant overlaid with some smoky oak notes.  The fruit transitions to some wonderful mineral notes overlaid with dry herbs and a hint of mint midpalate.  The tannins are still firm but well integrated, providing a wonderful base for the long, smooth and very dry finish.

Julie mentioned she thought this wine wouldn't be getting any better, and I agree in the sense that it couldn't have been much better than this!  This wine is really singing at this point, perfect for sipping on the patio or enjoying with a big steak.  Which of course is a good thing, since I am enjoying this wine with a rare grilled USDA Prime T-bone with grilled elephant garlic scapes, grilled orange cauliflower and a big baked potato with sour cream and chives.  This wine is a perfect big prime steak wine, cheers!

Friday, June 30, 2017

A wonderful evening on Mercer Island

I've lived in a lot of different places, so over time I've made many friends and still maintain contacts all over the country, from New York to Seattle.  That presents wonderful opportunities to meet up with folks that I don't see very often when I travel on business, and that was the case this past week when I was in Seattle.  I had the chance to enjoy dinner on Mercer Island with my friend Charlie and his wife Susie and their two daughters, Pacey (who's now 3) and Kenzie who just joined us in February of this year.


I met Charlie when I was in graduate school at Indiana University in Bloomington, and he was an undergrad studying criminal justice.  We were neighbors in an apartment complex just off campus and we've kept in touch over the years as he moved to Boston and I moved to the west coast, then I moved back to the midwest and he moved out to the west coast to get his MBA at USC.  So it was great to catch up and finally meet his family.  He treated me to his famous chicken with a butter caper and lemon sauce, chipotle grilled corn and sauteed asparagus, it was really quite delicious.


And of course there was wine!  Charlie's parents live in Napa and so he has great access to some wonderful California wines and he certainly didn't disappoint me on this visit!  We first enjoyed a starter of a Columbia Winery blend and then he pulled out the big guns, a 2001 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon that was drinking beautifully!  Quality Napa Cabernet can age gracefully as this one had, and it was a real treat to enjoy (even with chicken, as Charlie shares my sensibiliy that big red wines can pair with just about anything!).


Charlie gave me a tour of his beautiful home (including the pet rabbits home) and as we enjoyed some ice cream for dessert as it began to get dark around 10:00 pm (I forgot the 18 hours of daylight in the summer in Seattle) we opened a bottle of 2009 Astrale e Terra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from the Atlas Peak AVA in Napa Valley.   It's tough to admit, but this wine was the highlight of the night, a wonderfully fruit forward and exceptionally structured, classic Napa Cabernet.  A perfect wine to end a night of wine, food and fun!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

2014 Maison Bleue Frontiere Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Sunday!  Today I've opened a bottle of wine from Maison Bleue, a wonderful producer of great quality Grenache and Syrah from Walla Walla.  But this time I've gone a different route and opened a new bottle of their 2014 Frontiere Cabernet Sauvignon, a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Waliser Vineyard in the Rocks AVA in the Walla Walla Valley.  Given my dinner choice tonight, I needed a good Cabernet, so let's see how this one stacks up.


This is my first wine from the Rocks, and I've been hearing positive things about this AVA.  The area is mainly alluvial material washed down the Blue Mountains by the Walla Walla River, resulting in soil dominated by large cobblestones.  This enhances drainage prompting roots to go deeper, and more heat deeper in the soil, which comes through in this wine.  The wine is an inky black color at the center with lovely garnet hues along the edges.   The nose is quite interesting, with a soothing combination of coarse mineral notes, cassis and mint that are somewhat unexpected.  The taste is a real departure for a Cabernet, with some lovely notes of red and black currant up front that transition nicely to some mineral notes of dusty granite over notes of tobacco and black tea leaves.  The tannins are firm and provide for a velvety, smooth and very dry finish.


Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a wonderfully structured and pleasant drinking Cabernet that would pair well with anything from steak, to pasta to hearty stews.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a USDA Prime cowboy ribeye, along with a big ol' baked potato and some grilled broccoli rabe.  The wine really holds up well to the steak, as the acidity nicely cuts through the richness of the steak.  Cheers!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

2014 Seven Hills Klipsun Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Wine Wednesday!  It's been a harrowing week thus far, so I'm glad we made it past hump day!  Traveling for business is not as glamorous as you may think and this week was no exception with flight delays galore, but I'm home now and it's time for a nice glass of wine.  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle from one of my all-time favorite wineries, Seven Hills from Walla Walla.  Tonight I'm enjoying the 2014 Seven Hills Klipsun Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, a 100% Cabernet from the Red Mountain AVA of Washigton.  So let's see if it tastes as good as the aromas I've been inhaling as I type!


The wine is a deep, brooding inky black at the center with bright ruby along the edges.  The nose is a lovely combination of leather, basalt and lovely ripe berries, blackberry, cherry and black raspberry.  The taste is wonderfully elegant, with a some lovely fruit up front, cherry and blackberries, that transitions to some earthy mineral notes midpalate that is a wonderful marriage of old world and new world.  The finish is just lovely, with fine grain tannins that provide multiple levels of complexity on the smooth, velvety and wonderfully dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, as it's just a wonderful example of the potential for Cabernet from the Red Mountain.  This wine is an ideal steak wine, but would be nice with some rich pasta dishes, or earthy mushroom risotto.  But fortunately for me, tonight I am grilling a nice USDA Prime New York Strip, along with a baked potato with sour cream and fresh chives and some steamed broccoli.  Cheers!

Friday, June 16, 2017

2014 Seven Hills McClellan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Friday!  I have to admit, I've been looking forward to the weekend for many reasons, not the least of which is my upcoming steam train excursion on Sunday, but also for the chance to open up a good bottle or two of wine!  Tonight is no exception as I'm opening up one of my favorite varietals from one of my favorite vineyards made by one of my favorite producers, the 2014 Seven Hills McClellan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon!  So let's see how this one tastes!


The wine is a deep black color at the center with bright garnet along the edges.  The nose is a lovely breath of leather, dark cherry and smoky oak over the faintest hints of earthy minerals.  The taste is just divine, with some lovely black fruit notes of cherry, blackberry and plum that transition nicely to some notes of dusty limestone midpalate.  The finish is as pleasant as could be, with a bit of black pepper spice amid the well integrated tannins, providing a long, smooth and very dry finish that just make me want another sip.

Overall, I would rate this one a solid 9, as once again this great wine doesn't disappoint.  This would be a great wine for grilling, which is a good thing since I have a nice prime New York strip ready to grill along with some fresh asparagus from Michigan.  The rich black fruit and dusty mineral notes are perfect to pair with a nice charred prime steak, cheers!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

2014 Sullivan Artist Series Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Thirsty Thursday!  It's been very hot and humid here all week long, so you might expect that I'd be opening a nice chilled rose on this sultry evening, but you'd be wrong!  It's so hot I don't even want to venture out of the air conditioning, so I've gone the other way and opened a big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon!  Tonight I will enjoy the 2014 Sullivan Artist Series Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that I recently bough at a Wines Till Sold Out Napa Valley marathon, so let's see how it tastes!


The wine is a deep, inky black at the center with bright ruby along the edges, classic for a Napa Cabernet.  The nose presents aromas of blackberry, black plum and a hint of mint over the top.  The taste is a wonderful marriage of fruit and spice, with some ripe fruit up front that gives a hint of sweetness, with notes of kirsch and ripe plum intermingled with some white pepper and Asian spice notes.  The finish is quite nice, with a reprise of fruit sweetness along with the well structured tannins providing for a long, smooth and very dry finish that has you asking for more.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5 as it's a very nice quality Napa Valley Cabernet that was also a bargain as I snagged this $85 bottle for just $30 on WTSO!  This would be a nice steak wine, but I could also see it pairing well wits braised short ribs or steak kabobs. But alas, since I don't want to go out to grill, I'm enjoying this one tonight with some spinach ravioli and tomato basil cream sauce.  Cheers!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

2014 Maison Bleue "Bourgeois" Grenache

Happy Sunday!  It sure feels like summer here, and it's supposed to be above 90 degrees for the next 5 days!  Given the heat, it seems like a nice time to open some lighter, more summer friendly red wines, and tonight's is a treat.  The 2014 Maison Bleue "Bourgeois" Grenache is a 100% Grenache from Monette's Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley of Washington, so let's see how this one tastes!


The wine is somewhat lighter in color with vivid garnet color and great clarity, as you'd expect for a nice Grenache.  The nose offers aromas of red currant, kirsch with undertones of earth and white pepper spice.  The taste is wonderfully light, with a lively bit of red fruit up front, cherry, raspberry and currant that transitions nicely to some notes of peppery spice, and earthy notes of peat and pipe tobacco midpalate.  The fine grain tannins offer great support for the long, smooth and very dry finish that beckons you for another sip.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5 as it's just a light, pleasant and complex red wine for summer that pairs well with food, but could also be easily sipped on the patio on a nice warm evening.  This wine would be great with pasta, summer salads or seafood.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a lovely cedar planked sockeye salmon with a maple glaze along with some steamed asparagus and jasmine rice.  The fruit and acidity are perfect against the richness of the salmon, cheers!

Friday, June 9, 2017

2014 Reininger Walla Walla Carmenere

Happy Friday!  It's been an adventure this week as my hard drive failed last weekend and it took a few days for my good friend David to make the repairs (I still have many files to try to recreate and passwords to reset, but I think I'll live!).  So tonight we get a new blog post as it's my first opportunity to get back to reviewing wine (though trust me, I've certainly been drinking it during the technological hiatus!).  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of 2014 Reininger Walla Walla Carmenere, a 100% Carmenere from the Seven Hills Vineyard, so let's see how this one tastes!


The wine is a deep, inky black at the center with bright garnet along the edges.  The nose is a lovely combination of green grass, tart cherry and earthy notes of mushroom and black pepper spice.  The taste is lovely with a nice array of ripe black fruit up front that transitions effortlessly to some pepper spice and dark chocolate midpalate.  The finish is supported by some nicely integrated tannins that reveal a somewhat earthy, long and very smooth dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a lovely example of the varietal but still has some potential to improve over the next few years.  The wine would pair well with some hearty meat dishes, but tonight I am enjoying this wine with some wild mushroom ravioli topped with a bit of creamy tomato basil sauce.  The earthy notes of the wine really accent the earthy flavors of the wild mushroom.  Cheers!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

2015 Forgeron Rose of Sangiovese

Happy Sunday!  Boy it sure feels like summer here now, I was mowing the grass today and was sweating like mad as it reached the upper-80s today!  Hot is the perfect weather for a summer favorite, rose!  Today I've decided to open a bottle of our office wine club selection for June, the 2015 Forgeron Rose of Sangiovese from the Walla Walla Valley of Washington!  I reviewed the 2014 vintage (you can see that here) so let's see how the 2015 stacks up!


The wine is a very light peach color, perfect for a dry rose for summer!  The nose is a lovely combination of grapefruit, strawberry and orange blossom notes, with just a bit of minerality in the background.  The taste is a lovely rush of sweet strawberry and tropical fruit up front that transitions to some wonderful floral notes midpalate.  The finish is crisp, with mild acidity and a smooth, very dry ending.


Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's one of my favorite roses for summer, perfect for sipping on the patio on a warm evening light tonight.  This wine would pair well with a variety of summer fare, from caprese salad to lighter fish dishes, but tonight I am enjoying this wine with some pan seared sea scallops along with some bucatini tossed with broccoli rabe sauteed with garlic and olive oil topped with a bit of shaved parmesan.  Sante!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

1996 Vigna La Villa Paiagallo Barolo

Happy Saturday!  It's the first Saturday of the new month, which means it's Cellar Saturday, when I raid the cellar and enjoy a wine that's at least a decade old.  Well of course some of you may have noticed that I didn't have a Cellar Saturday last month, and that's because I just totally forgot!  Yeah age-related memory loss really is a thing!  So to make up for it, I've doubled the normal 10-year requirement for this month's Cellar Saturday going back more than two decades and opening a bottle of 1996 Vigna La Villa Paiagallo Barolo!  Now a good Barolo needs at least a decade just to be drinkable in my opinion, but they usually begin to sing once they get to 20 years old, so this one should be singing by now.  I've decanted this wine for about an hour so let's see how she tastes!


The wine still has some nice garnet color at the center, with some orange-brown along the edges.  The nose is classic Barolo, with some wonderful floral notes overlaying some nice mint and spice aromas under the surface.  The taste is just marvelous, with some mild fruit notes up front, strawberry and cherry that transition to come lovely notes of mint and earth midpalate.  The finish is classic Barolo, with well structured tannins that leave you breathless on the long, smooth and meticulously dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, as it's a really lovely example of Barolo and the potential for Nebbiolo over time.  This wine would be ideal with a variety of northern Italian dishes, but tonight I am enjoying this one with a rare grilled New York strip, grilled leeks and grilled broccoli rabe, and roasted red potatoes.  The bitterness of the broccoli rabe really plays well with the spice of the wine.  Cheers!

Monday, May 29, 2017

2013 Forgeron Red Mountain Mourvedre

Happy Memorial Day!  So yesterday I was reading an article on Twitter, maybe it was in Food and Wine, or maybe Bon Appetit, but in the article it had all sorts of wine pairing suggestions for the summer cookout season, and the one that I found fascinating was Mourvedre with barbecued ribs!  Well, it just so happens that I was planning to make some baby back ribs today, and I also happen to have a bottle of 2013 Forgeron Red Mountain Mourvedre on hand!  So here we go!


The wine is a lovely deep ruby color in the glass, classis for the varietal.  The nose is a lovely combination of leather, violets, white pepper and red fruit.  The taste is remarkable, as the aromas set your expectation for a rush of fruit, but instead you have more subdued notes of fig and tart cherry at the outset that transition to some wonderful notes of black pepper spice and caramel midpalate.  The tannins are well thought out and very supportive of the velvety and very dry finish.  Yes, this wine would be perfect for barbecued ribs, as the tart acidity and spice make a perfect foil for sweet smoky ribs!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a really lovely example of the varietal and my new go to wine for pairing with barbecue!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a classic start to the summer barbecue season, with some slow cooked baby back ribs, grilled corn on the cob, potato salad and beet and red cabbage slaw.  Cheers!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

2011 Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards Right Bank

Happy Sunday!  I know with the long holiday weekend, everyone probably has some plans for gathering with friends and family and honoring those who have served and sacrificed in the military.  My Memorial Day weekend usually involved going home and planting flowers on my parents' and grandparents' graves and then trying to relax a bit, which is what I am doing today.  And what better way to relax than with a nice bottle of wine.  Tonight's wine is a bit of a departure for a Napa Valley wine, in that it's not a Cabernet, but rather an homage to the classic Right Bank Bordeaux, which typically rely more heavily on Merlot in blending.  The 2011 Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards Right Bank is a blend of Merlot (78%) and Cabernet Franc (22%), so this one is comparable to a Saint-Emilion.  So let's see how this one tastes!


The wine is a deep ruby color in the glass with mild opacity.  The nose is a wonderful combination of green herbs, ripe red raspberry and currant, black licorice and a bit of rose petal, very similar to a nice right bank Bordeaux.  The taste is quite nice, with a nice bit of red fruit up front, raspberry, cherry and currant that transitions nicely to some wonderful mineral notes over some hints of tobacco midpalate.  The finish is elegant and subdued as the tannins are very well integrated such that the flavors just linger on the palate like a fine Bordeaux.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, it's certainly a great effort from a cool vintage that's just a pleasure to drink!  Of course, I have no idea where I got this bottle, it was just sitting in the wine rack, so I'll have to be thankful for such pleasant treasure finds!  This wine would be ideal with a variety of dishes, but as usually, I am enjoying this with a nice steak, in fact a big honkin' porterhouse grilled rare along with some nice grilled asparagus that just came in from Michigan.  Cheers!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

2012 Krutz Family Cellars Stagecoach Vineyard Napa Valley CabernetSauvignon

Happy Wine Wednesday!  It's been a busy week so far, so it's nice to celebrate hump day with a nice glass of wine!  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of 2012 Krutz Family Cellars Stagecoach Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that I purchased a month or so ago during a Wines Till Sold Out Napa marathon.  This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (78%), Malbec (13%) and Petite Verdot (9%) from the Stagecoach Vineyard, which ranges from 1,200 to 1,850 feet in elevation, situated between the Pritchard Hill and Atlas Peak AVAs.  So let's see how this one stacks up!


The wine is a deep inky purple at the center, with bright ruby along the edges.  The nose is lovely combination of leather, oak and some earthy notes of peat and sage, somewhat more Bordeaux than big Napa Cabernet.  The taste is white nice, with a rush of ripe black fruit up front, black cherry, blackberry and currant that transition to some lovely notes of mocha and tea leaves midpalate.  The tannins are silky smooth and well integrated for the lingering and very dry finish, that brings a reprise of a bit of Bordeaux style funk at the end.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a wonderful example of an old world style Cabernet.  This wine would pair well with a nice steak or a variety of spicy Mediterranean dishes, but tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rare grilled Prime ribcap, along with some grilled leeks and Brussels sprouts and a bit of linguine tossed in garlic and olive oil on the side.  The earthy flavors and dark fruit really pair well with the richness of the steak.  Cheers!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

2016 DaMa Wines Rose of Cabernet Franc

What a day!  It started by pouring down rain this morning when I am in a pinch to get my yard and garden ready for having some folks over for a cook out this week (you can't be ill prepared for the first yard gathering of the season!).  But alas, I was able to clean all the patio furniture, pick up branches that came down in the storm, pull weeks and mow in what seemed like a very compressed timeframe, though now that I look at the clock it's been seven hours!  Well with patio get together's and warm weather, it's definitely the start of rose season, and tonight I've decided to open a bottle of 2016 DaMa Wines Rose of Cabernet Franc.  This is a 100% Cabernet Franc, the second vintage from the Chene de Mille Vineyard in the Columbia Valley, so let's see how this one stacks up!


The wine is a lovely, very pale peach color in the glass, such that you might even mistake it for a white wine if you weren't paying attention.  The nose presents aromas of grapefruit, melon, strawberry and a hint of lemongrass.  The taste is quite nice, very fresh, notes of citrus, mango, and a hint of pineapple that transitions to some wonderful white floral and lemongrass midpalate.  The finish has nice backbone, clear acidity and a bone dry finish.

Overall, I like this one better than the 2014 or 2015 vintages, so I'd rate this one a solid 8.  It's crisp and refreshing and this girl is ready for summer!  This wine would pair with a variety of summer dishes, from salmon to a caprese salad, but tonight I am going way off script and enjoying this wine with some chicken Tikka Masala!  What's better with Indian food than a nice dry rose?  Cheers!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Snooth Murrieta's Well Virtual Tasting

Well, tonight is another wonderful Snooth.com virtual wine tasting featuring wines from Murrieta's Well Estate Vineyard located in the Livermore Valley of California.  The virtual tasting was curated by their winemaker, Robbie Meyer, who struck me as being very down to earth and truly connected to vineyards and someone that treat winemaking more as an art than a science.  In listening to him speak about the vineyards, vines and the wines, he reminded me of some of the wonderful wine craftsmen of the Northwest, like Chuck Reininger, who let their passion shine through their wines.  Overall a pleasure to listen and interact with such a wonderful artist!

We tasted through the wines is a somewhat quixotic order, but I've organized my tasting notes putting the white wines first, followed by the rose and then the reds.


2015 The Whip, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (30%), Semillion (30%), Chardonnay (30%), Viognier (7%) and Muscat Canelli (3%) - Very nice aromas, notes of flowers, mild citrus and some marked mineral notes, very nice use of the Viognier and Semillion really come through on the nose.  Taste is a perfect summer food wine, I could easily sip this in the patio with some hummus or enjoy with a light summer dinner.

2016 Muscat Canelli (100%) - Pineapple, papaya, white floral, lovely crisp refreshing white, perfect for summer.

2016 Dry Rose, a blend of Grenache (55%) and Cournoise (45%) - Farmed to be a rose, canopy management, picking, to give a great fruit/floral expression.  Lovely floral notes on the nose, peach, apricot and some mineral notes.  Crisp acidity and a very nice, dry finish.  Would be great with cedar planked Coho Salmon filet.


2014 Spur, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), Petite Sirah (22%), Petit Verdot (14%), Merlot (10%) and Cabernet Franc (9%) - Some may group this wine with a Bordeaux style blend, but the addition of Petite Sirah really makes a difference and places it outside the traditional Bordeaux Blends (it also makes a big difference in the taste of the wine, bringing in more fruit.  Nose just makes me want to drink this wine immediately.  Aromas of leather, smoke, oak, warm spice, lovely black fruit, blackberries, cherries.and some notes of dried fig.  Lovely fruit up front, lovely mineral and smoke notes midpalate.  Wonderfully dry, velvety finish.  This was absolutely my favorite of the wines we tasted, and would pair well with a big grilled steak any day of the week!

2014 Cabernet Franc, a blend of Cabernet Franc (88%), Cabernet Sauvignon (6%) and Petit Verdot (6%) - Great earthy nose, white pepper spice, perfect for a chilly autumn evening in front of a fire.  Great with pasta, perhaps with a creamy white sauce, would also be wonderful with a more mellow fish dish, perhaps a halibut steak.

2014 Merlot, a blend of Merlot (90%), Cabernet Sauvignon (7%) and Petit Verdot (3%) - you know I love me some Merlot and this one was a standout!  Notes of cinnamon and ripe blackberry on the nose, wonderful black fruit and spice midpalate.  Midpalate some notes of cocoa, mocha and vanilla bean come through.  The finish is smooth and very dry, well structured tannins on the backbone, pure Merlot joy!

Finally, I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to Snooth.com and Murrieta's Well for sponsoring this wonderful tasting, it was a real treat!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

2016 Healy Rose

Happy Sunday and Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there!  So today, was a day of modest accomplishments, after church I went grocery shopping then did laundry and then decided to try my hand at assembling the bike that I recently exchanged United miles for.  Needless to say, I'm not super mechanically talented, and I've gotten as far as it looking a lot like a bike, but I still need to attend to the details, like the brake assemblies!  So perhaps next weekend I'll have my chance to finish it. At any rate, it's time for wine!  And tonight it's a nice 2016 Healy Rose, from Drew Bledsoe's Doubleback winery in Walla Walla, after all, it's now rose season, and what mom doesn't like a good rose?


The wine is a pleasant pink color in the glass, with hints of orange.  The nose is layered with rose petals, honeydew and a hint of grapefruit, a perfect affirmation of rose.  The taste is just summer in a glass, with some nice sweet fruit notes up front, strawberry and melon that transitions nicely to some lovely mineral notes midpalate.  The finish is loaded with bright acidity and ephemeral dryness, perfect for sipping on a summer evening.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5 as it's a perennial favorite for rose season, and it's a good value at $28 for the limited production of just 411 cases.  This wine would be perfect for the patio, as well as pairing with a wide variety of summer dishes, from caprese salad to burgers and barbecue.  Tonight I am enjoying this one with a Santa Fe marinaded grilled chicken breast, with some grilled baby bok choy and some wild rice.  Cheers!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

2012 Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Holy Moly!  I just came inside and realized it was 6:30 and I've just spend 7 hours working out in the yard!  At least I accomplished quite a bit: I planted 8 flats of impatiens, pulled up a forest of maple sapling that had sprouted this spring, mowed the lawn and helped a friend take one of my 7 ginko saplings that I've been trying to find homes for.


 And although I know my back is going to remind me of all this work tomorrow, tonight it's time to relax with a nice glass of wine.  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of 2012 Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that I picked up at Costco a few weeks ago.  I've reviewed the 2009 vintage (you can see here) and the 2010 vintage (you can see here), so let's see how this one stacks up!


The wine is an inky black color with just a hint of garnet along the edges, just what you'd expect from a big Napa Cabernet from a stellar vintage.  The nose is layered with leather, blackberry and oak that just dares you to take a sip.  The taste is just lovely, with a rush of blackberry and currant that gives way to cherry cola and dark chocolate.  The finish is classic Napa Cabernet, but somewhat softer than the many overpowering Cabernets coming out of Napa today.  This one has some well structured and integrated tannins that provide nice balance for the long, smooth and voluptuous finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, it's just a classic Napa Valley Cabernet from a terrific vintage and for $32 at Costco, this wine was worth every penny.  This wine would pair well with a variety of bold flavors, from steak to roast lamb to braised short ribs, but tonight I'm going with the tried and true, a rare grilled bone in ribeye with roasted Brussels sprouts and some linguine tossed in garlic and olive oil.  Cheers!

Friday, May 12, 2017

2012 Tobias Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Friday!  It's been a busy week and I am so ready for the weekend!  And since we are starting the weekend, it may as well be with a nice bottle of wine.  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of Napa Valley Cabernet that I got in the Wines Till Sold Out Napa Valley marathon a month or two ago, the 2012  Tobias Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a 100% Cabernet from the Howell Mountain AVA.  So let's see how this one tastes!


The wine is a deep, inky purple at the center, with bright ruby along the edges, classic for a Napa Cabernet.  The nose presents aromas of cherry, oak and a bit of dried fig.  The taste is a rush of ripe cherry up front that blankets your palate.  The cherry transitions nicely to some notes of vanilla and a bit of oak midpalate.  The finish is rather subdued, with some nicely structured tannins providing for a very smooth, dry finish that's a refreshing departure from many of the in-your-face Cabernets on the market today.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, it's very nice quality, but not a terrific value at $29.  This is a classic big steak wine, though I think it would pair quite nicely with a variety of pasta dishes, smoked brisket or classic barbecue as well.  Tonight I'm enjoying this wine with a Thai chili rubbed New York strip along with some grilled baby bok choy and couscous.  Cheers!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

2014 House of Cards Napa Valley Red Wine

Happy Wine Wednesday!  It's been a busy travel week, being in Toronto on Monday and Montreal yesterday, but now I'm home!  I went to the gym after work and now I feel like the entire evening has slipped away, but at least there's wine.  Tonight I've decided to open a recent Costco purchase, the 2014 House of Cards Napa Valley Red Wine, which is so appropriate as lately I feel like my entire life is a house of cards!  So let's see how this one tastes.


The wine is a deep inky purple at the center, more reminiscent of a nice Napa Cabernet as opposed to a blend.  The nose is a pleasant array of leather, smoke, tobacco and dried herbs over some more subtle fruit notes.  The taste is more classic red blend, with some lovely ripe berries at the outset that transition to some wonderful notes of cocoa and Italian spice midpalate.  The finish is very nice, with rather mellow tannins supporting a nice, smooth dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a pleasant drinking everyday table wine and a very good value for just $15!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a simple midweek dinner of Kielbasa with kraut and pierogis, a throwback to my childhood on the south side of Chicago, where every grandma force fed you smoked sausage, cured cabbage and giant pasta pockets every Sunday!  Cheers!

Friday, May 5, 2017

2014 Forgeron Primitivo

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  I'm not sure I've ever posted on this most famous Mexican holiday, so here goes nothing!  Tonight I've decided to open a wine that I really liked when it came to the 2013 Vintage (see here) and since the 2014 recently arrived in a wine club shipment I couldn't wait to try it, the 2014 Forgeron Primitivo.  The wine is primary Primitivo (92%) from the Stone Tree Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope, but this year, they added a bit of Zinfandel (8%) from the Alder Ridge Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA to mellow the wine a bit, so let's see how this vintage stacks up!


The wine is a deep, inky black at the center, with bright ruby along the edges.  The nose is a lovely combination of leather, blackberry and anise, soft and velvety.  The taste is a rush of rich black fruit up front, blackberry, black cherry and plum that transition nicely to some notes of black pepper spice and a reprise of anise midpalate.  The finish is quite smooth and luxurious, the tannins are rounded making for a less abrupt finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, it's a great effort, but I have to admit I really enjoyed the 2013 vintage more.  This wine would pair well with a nice spicy pasta or pizza, but since it's a Mexican holiday, I'm enjoying it tonight with some wonderful tacos filled with pork chorizo and refried beans, topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream and chipotle pepper sauce, the wine complements the spiciness so well!  Cheers!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

2014 Forgeron Facon Rouge

Happy Wine Wednesday!  I just got back from the gym and am ready for a nice dinner and a glass of wine.  Tonight I've decided to open a recent wine club selection from Forgeron Cellars in Walla Walla, the 2014 Facon Rouge.  This wine is a GSM blend of Syrah (58%), Mourvedre (26%) and Grenache (16%) from the Columbia Valley of Washington, so let's see how this one stacks up!


The wine is a deep ruby color in the glass.  The nose is a lovely cascade of fresh herbs, peppercorn, berries and a bit of smoke.  The taste is a lovely combination of ripe berries up front along with some wonderful spice notes that transitions nicely to some notes of bergamot and tea leaves.  The tannins are young but nicely structured for the long, smooth and voluptuous finish that simply beckons you for another sip.

Overall, I would rate this one a solid 8, as it's a very young GSM blend with some good potential to improve with a bit of time in the cellar.  This would pair well with a variety of dishes from summer barbecue to hearty pasta.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with some Trader Joe's lobster ravioli with some pesto cream sauce topped with shaved parmesan and a baby arugula salad.  Cheers!