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!