Daily Glass: Wine Happenings – Georgian Wines, New French Discoveries, Australia Grand Experience and more
Every week (or almost every week) I think that I should start writing a summary post similar to what Jeff at therunkenccyclist does so well – once a week he produces a summary of the wines he had during the past week (here is an example of his recent post), which I think is a great way to round up your experiences.
My “Daily Glass” designation was supposed to be [almost] a daily summary for me, but as you know, things don’t always work in life as we think they should. Nevertheless, the week which is ending today was very “wine eventful” hence I’m sharing those wine happenings with you.
Let me start from 2005 Domaine Lafage El Maset Cotes du Roussillon. I got it at Last Bottle Wines during their last “madness” sale. At $8, you really have nothing to lose, right? Wine arrived about 3 weeks ago, looking good – inviting label, heavy bottle, good punt at the bottom – overall looks quite solid. Before opened the bottle, I went to look for information online – and I didn’t find much except a number of notes on Cellar Tracker, all looking very peculiar. Looks like people had very sporadic luck with this wine, with only one bottle out of three being drinkable, and another claim of one out of 10 (!).
First thing I didn’t like when opened the bottle was the cork. You see, I love real corks (yes, I had my share of corked wines – but this is not the subject of this post). I’m completely okay with screwtops – I would be surprised to see a screwtop on the bottle of DRC, but in general, I get it – and it makes it easier to open a bottle, especially when you travel. But the type of corks I have a problem with are plastic and synthetic corks. They are hard to pull out, and just look very artificial – they just don’t belong to the wine world, in my opinion. Besides, somehow I think that they have the worst impact on aging ability of the wine .
This wine was closed with red plastic cork ( you can see it in the picture). Okay, moving along. It is 8 years old wine, how about pop and pour? Pour, swirl, sip – ouch! The feeling of biting into a freshly cut tree brunch. Bitterrrr! My wife had her taste, put the glass down, and politely said “I think it should breath a little first”. Okay, got a decanter, pour half of the bottle in. By the way, the interesting fact is that after that first bitter sip, the wine stayed in my mouth with a very long and rather pleasant (!) finish – probably for the next 10+ minutes. Two and the half hours later… I wish I can tell you the wine magically transformed – no, it became only somewhat better. Dark fruit appeared, tannins became mellower, but the wine was not together – there was no harmony there.
We finished the bottle next day, and it still didn’t improve much more – may be it needed more time? I’m not sure, but I have one more bottle, which I plan to give a little time – will see what will happen. But I also have to tell you that I had one of the most surprising pairings with this wine – as you can guess from the picture, this wine paired excellently (I’m serious) with … cherry preserve! They were literally meant for each other – take a spoon of cherry preserve, sip of this wine – perfect! I never thought of wine and preserve together before – may be I should try it more often? This wine will stay unrated for now, as it is very hard to put a handle on this experience.
Next wine was also sourced from the Last Bottles – 2006 Clos Chanteduc Cotes Du Rhone. I was unable to find good information on this 2006 vintage, current available vintage of this wine is 2010, but I would assume that the composition stayed about the same, so it should be Grenache/Syrah blend (2/3 Grenache, 1/3 Syrah), a classic Rhone blend. The wine is associated with Patricia Wells, a well known chef living in France. While looking for information about this wine, I found an interesting post about 2009 version in the blog called Wayward Wine – here is a link for you, it is a good reading. Getting back to this 2006 wine, it was rather a typical Cote du Rhone – soft, supple, good mid-palate of plums and cherries – but may be too soft and too supple, it was missing a wow factor. Drinkability: 7.
The next wine I want to mention is 2008 Jermann Sauvignon Blanc Venezia Giulia IGT. Jermann is one of my all time favorite Italian producers – I don’t think I tasted any wines I didn’t like from Jermann. This Sauvignon Blanc was closed with screwtop, and the wine is 5 years old – but it came out clean and round on the palate, with perfect amount of white fruit, some herbal notes, perfect minerality and acidity – very enjoyable by itself and with the food. Drinkability: 8-
Now, let’s get to the subject of this post and talk about Georgian and new French wines I discovered. Last Friday I stopped at the tasting at Fairway Market in Stamford, where Michael from importing company called Corus was presenting new Georgina wines. There were four wines included in the tasting, three of them definitely standouts.
2012 Marani Mtsavane is made out of 100% of indigenous Mtsvane grape – very dry, more reminiscent of Muscadet than anything else, with cutting acidity. Will be perfectly refreshing wine for the summer day, also will be very appropriate every time you will decide to serve oysters. Drinkability: 7+
2005 Wine Man Mukuzani – this wine is made out of 100% Saperavi grapes, also grown in one single place – village of Mukuzani. This wine is made by David Maisuradze, who makes amazing wines – here is my post mentioning couple of his wines I tasted before. When I took a first sip, my first thought was about dramatic difference this wine had with the 2005 El Maset I just had a few days ago (both wines are from 2005) – silky smooth, perfect dark fruit, cherries, blackberries, round tannins and balancing acidity – overall, a wine of perfect harmony. Drinkability: 8
2009 Wine Man Kinzmarauli – Kindzmarauli is one of the most famous Georgian wines. Because it was so famous before, you can’t even imagine the amount of fake insipid concoction which arrived to US about 10-15 years ago, knowing that Russian ex-patriots will buy anything under that name. When people realized that they had been doped, the wine lost its appeal and now have to slowly work up its reputation. Kindzmarauli is also made out of 100% Saperavi grapes, but it is semi-sweet. The fake Kindzmarauli wines had nothing but the sugar in them. When you taste this 2009 Kindzmarauli, you actually first get the perfect dry grape underpinning, and then the residual sweetness comes in. Excellent wine to serve with cheese – I think it might even beat Port when served next to Stilton. Drinkability: 8-
Now, for my French discovery – it might not be a discovery for you, but it is a new line of wines which are just being imported to Connecticut. The wines are made by Domaine Laroque in the area called Cité de Carcassonne, a part of Langueoc-Rossillion (Cité de Carcassonne has a status of IGP).
2012 Domaine Laroque Sauvignon Blanc Cite de Carcassonne – in a blind tasting, I would definitely say that this is a restrained version of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Perfectly bright, with hint of grapefruit and lemon zest, refreshing, uplifting – make sure you have enough on hand for your summer entertainment – or you will deal with some upset guests. Drinkability: 8-
2012 Domaine Laroque Rose de Cabernet Cite de Carcassonne – nice, clean Rose, good amount of strawberries, good acidity. Drinkability: 7
2011 Domaine Laroque Cabernet Franc Cite de Carcassonne – this was a “wow” wine. Cabernet Franc is one of my favorite single-grape wines, which are so hard to find. This is two notches up most of the Loire stuff – I guess it is much closer to the best of Bordeaux and Calidornia – prefect dense red fruit, good minerality and herbs, firm structure, supple tannins and overall very balanced. This is what I call a “dangerous wine” – once you start drinking it, it is almost impossible to stop. Drinkability: 8
Are you tired of me yet? Okay, good – I have two more wines to tell you about.
2001 Sarah’s Vineyard Chardonnay Estate Reserve Santa Clara Valley – I got it as Bin Ends in Massachusetts last year. The unfortunate part – this wine was past prime. Well, it was more like a nice sherry – dark yellow color, nicely oxidized. I was able to finish the bottle, but this was not an amazing experience by all means. Mostly you could taste almonds, and that was about all you could find on the palate. I will not rate this wine as it would be simply not fair.
Last, but not least at all – an amazing Aussie experience.
1999 Grant Burge Shadrach Cabernet Sauvignon South Australia – from the very first smell, the expectation was that a “wow” wine is ahead. Perfect dark fruit on the nose, a whiff of chocolate. And the very first sip confirmed that “wow” – blackberries, cherries and cassis, dark chocolate, cocoa, eucalyptus, touch of roasted flavors, perfectly firm and structured. Pronounced acidity, supporting tannins – all perfectly balanced. This was an outstanding glass of wine (it was my one and only bottle, sigh). By the way, you should read an interesting story behind the name of this wine – I don’t want to retype it, hence the picture of the back label below.Drinkability: 8+
That’s all I have for you for today. What was your best wine experience of the week? Have a great week ahead and cheers!
Originally, this post was supposed to be titled Happy Passover! – but Passover started on Monday, and today is Wednesday… Well, considering that celebration technically continues for a week, I guess it is still appropriate to wish Happy Passover even on the third day… By the way, Happy Easter too – just in case I will not be posting anything on Sunday.
In our family Passover is rather cultural holiday than religious, which means that our Passover dinner (seder) takes just a little longer than the regular dinner (when it is done properly, you might have the first real bite of food closer to midnight). What is important for me here, as with any other holiday where dinner is a part of the festivities, I can pay special attention to the wine (not that I don’t do it every day, but holiday is a holiday).
Of course Passover dinner calls for the Kosher wine. About 10 years ago, selecting a kosher wine for Passover or any other holiday used to be a very dreadful experience – sweet grape-juice-more-than-wine Manischewitz was undrinkable, but still better than most of the actual “dry” kosher wines which were outright terrible. Over the last 5-7 years the situation changed dramatically, and now at the most of the stores you can find a great variety of outstanding kosher wines. You don’t need to take my word for it – here are kosher wine recommendations from Eric Asimov of New York Times, here is the list from Lettie Teague from the Wall Street Journal (subscription required, unfortunately), and here is a very interesting post from Alice Feiring describing her recent kosher wine tasting experience.
I had a great experience with a two different kosher wines. The first one was 2009 Psagot Merlot Judean Hills (about $25, 14.4% ABV). Psagot means “peak” in Hebrew, and the small community of Psagot is actually located on the peaks of the Benjamin region mountains, 900 meters above sea level – and this is where this wine came from, made at a boutique winery under the same name. It is 100% Merlot, aged for 13 month in small French oak barrels. On the nose and the palate this wine has perfect dark power (umph – I gave you one strong description, but you know that I often describe the wine emotionally rather than technically). Coffee, chocolate, dark fruit on the nose, same on the palate. Roasted notes on the palate. Excellent balance of fruit, acidity and tannins, very harmonious. Drinkability: 8-
The second wine was 2007 Flam Classico Judean Hills (about $30, 13.5% ABV). Flam winery is also situated in the Judean Hills area. It was founded in 1998 by the brothers Golan and Gilad Flam after they visited Chianti Classico region and fell in love with the wines. While “Classico” is the name of the wine I’m about to present to you, the wine itself is more of a super-Tuscan than an actual Chianti Classico. This 2007 vintage is a blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, and if anything, it resembles classic Bordeaux (it is interesting to note that 2010 vintage is even more “classic Bordeaux” than the 2007, with the addition of small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot to the blend).
2007 Flam Classico has nice dark fruit on the nose and the palate, with a tiny whiff of Bordeaux greenness. Classic Bordeaux profile with touch of eucalyptus and mint. Very round and polished, smooth but with pronounced acidity, and literally unstoppable – in terms of not being able to stop drinking it until bottle is empty. Great wine which will evolve further (but it was my one and only bottle, sigh). Drinkability: 8
2011 Cave Pomerols Picpoul de Pinet “Hugues de Beauvignac” Coteaux du Languedoc (about $10, 12.5% ABV) – this wine is produced by La Caves Pomerols and it is made out of 100% White Picpoul grape. The wine was clean and refreshing on the nose, with touch of minerality. The same on the palate – white flowers, white fruit, round and easy to drink. Very balanced. Considering the price, this can be your every day white wine – and it will pair nicely with lots of different foods. Drinkability: 8-
This is all I have for you for now, folks. The usual “Wednesday Meritage” post still should be coming out today, as it is in the works already, so until then – cheers!
Can there be such thing as perfect Monday wine? What makes Monday special? On one side, it is almost “politically appropriate” to dread Monday as “yicks, it is work again” kind of day. But if you think of it the other way, Monday is the beginning of the new week – you got seven more days ahead of you, and nothing stops you from enjoying every one of them. Of course Friday is great, the weekend is ahead of you, yay! – but you just bid farewell to the 5 days of your life, and hopefully those were the good days… The Monday is the beginning, bright and exciting – I’m ignoring the smirk on your face… So excitement is the angle I want to take, because in the simple terms, the wine I’m about to present to you is exciting!
What wine is that and was it the wine at all, or may be it was some kind of obscure drug or a head trauma which caused my brain to falter and call Monday exciting? Yes, this was the wine, delivered to my doorstep by Last Bottle wines.
2009 Zýmē Valpolicella Réverie (a blend of Corvina 40%, Corvinone 30%, Rondinella 25%, Oseleta 5%; 11.5% ABV), made by Celestino Gaspari. Don’t know about you, but I never heard of Celestino Gaspari before. But when I read the note from Last Bottle wines that this Valpolicella is made by the winemaker who worked before for Giuseppe Quintarelli, I was sold instantly. Giuseppe Quintarelli holds a lot of respect in my mind (never tasted his wines, but according to the general consensus, it is very hard to find better Italian wines than those made by Giuseppe Quintarelli) – so when I see the wine made by someone who worked for Giuseppe Quintarelli for 11 years, you don’t really need to convince me to buy the wine as long as I can afford it – $13/bottle sounds quite affordable to me.
What makes me call this Valpolicella a perfect wine? It is the whole package.
Color – ruby red, pretty bright.
Nose – fresh fruit, raspberries, touch of cherries, very inviting.
Palate – clean acidity and young fruit, very light at first, evolves in the glass as it breezes, showing broader shoulders, more substance, adding plums and earthy notes to those bright sour cherries which were dominating at first.
Finish – long, with lingering fruit.
Overall very balanced, very bright, well made wine – guaranteed to brighten up your Monday, no matter what. As a bonus, I think this wine will evolve with time (will I be willing to wait is a whole another question). Drinkability: 8-
In addition to this Valpolicella Réverie, Celestino Gaspari makes a number of other wines at Zýmē, including Amarone and Amarone Riserva – but those would have to go more into the dream category. Well, Monday is as good of a day for dreaming as any other day, isn’t it?
Do you have a special Monday wine? Happy Monday to all of you and cheers!
On a given day, outside of any big holidays or special dinners, I have no idea what bottle I’m going to open in the evening. Sometimes it can be a painful procedure of looking at 20-30 bottles not been able to decide. Today, it was easy – @wineking3 mentioned on twitter that he had not the best experience with 2003 La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi Reserva, which sparked my interest. You see, La Rioja Alta is one of the very best (and of my favorite) producers in Rioja, so I wanted to see if I can taste the same or similar wine – and I quite convinced that I should have some 2003 La Rioja Alta wine. Also it appears that Decanter magazine suggests that 2003 Rioja should be drunk now, however suggesting that better producers created powerful wines – which again only increased my interest.
La Rioja Alta was founded in 1890 by the group of five winegrowers in the Haro Station District. In 1941, the winery introduced its Viña Ardanza brand, which became one of the most famous in Rioja. In 1970, Viña Arana and Viña Alberdi were introduced, and since then La Rioja Alta wine had being produced under all three labels – but not in all the years. Each “brand” has it’s own unique source of grapes and grape composition, which is rather expected.
So as I pulled the 2003 La Rioja Alta Viña Alberdi Reserva from the wine fridge, somehow the thought came to my head – let’s use wine thermometer. You see, I have this nifty device called VinTemp, which is an infrared wine thermometer – it can perfectly measure temperature of the wine in the bottle without actually touching the wine. While I know that temperature has a great effect on the taste of wine, I practically never use this thermometer – but today I did, so the simple wine tasting became more of a study of the temperature effect on the wine.
According to the producer’s notes, 2003 was a very difficult year, due to the extreme heat and lack of the rainfall in July and August. As the result, only the grapes form the highest areas were used to produce the wine, which is made out of 100% Tempranillo coming from 3 different areas. The wine was fermented for 12 days, following by 26 days of malolactic fermentation and then aged for 2 years in American oak casks. The resulting wine has 13% ABV. That’s it – I’m done with all the technical and general stuff – let’s go to the tasting notes. Ahh, sorry, last detail – the winery notes recommend drinking the wine at 17°C (63°F).
The bottle is opened and the wine is poured. Initial temperature – 16.2°C (62°F). Color is dark ruby red, a color of mature red wine, but without brown hues. Rim variation – practically absent. The rim is clear and noticeable, which talks about some age, but it is clear. Nose: Mushrooms, earth, cherries, touch of barnyard – clearly an old world wine. Palate: Perfect acidity on the sides of the tongue, tart cherries, tannins. Tannins completely covering the mouth, very similar to Barolo, only with the wine been a bit lighter. And then there are more tannins. And they are going. And going. And going. For about one minute forty seconds ( yes, I looked at the clock). First verdict – perfectly dry wine. Need time to warm up and to open.
Second taste – about 20 minutes later, temperature measures 17.6°C (64°F). Nose – unchanged. Palate – more fruit, less tannins. Green notes, the wine almost tastes bitter. Worrying – is this the case of bad Rioja? Tannins are back, killing and overpowering.
Third taste – about an hour later, 19.3°C (67°F). Nose – coffee and chocolate showed up. Palate – beautiful. Fresh acidity. Bright fruit, cherries, blackberries. Still lots of tannins, but the fruit now comes first. Very round, smooth and expressive. Lots of pleasure.
Final verdict – Beautiful wine. Needs time!! Drinkability: 8
Let’s sum it up, shall we? In my opinion, this wine needs at least another 10 years to open up. And as you can see, the temperature plays key role here – considering level of tannins, the recommendation of 17°C is very surprising – you do need to drink this wine at a room temperature to let it show up in all its beauty.
Our study is complete. Now, can I have another glass? Cheers!
New Year holiday in our family always means lots of food and drinks. And it is not even New Year’s evening – all the festivities start a few days before, and continue going into the New Year’s day itself. As the result, it means that a lot of wines were opened, and I don’t even want to talk about food (I refuse to touch the scale at least for the next two weeks).
We didn’t drink anything amazing (well, may be with the exception of one wine), at the same time we didn’t drink anything really bad, so here is a summary of what we went through (side note – I will make an attempt to produce “wine review” posts more regularly this year – call it New Year’s resolution or what).
E1 Locations, Spain ($20, 14.5 ABV) – This wine is made by Dave Phinney, winemaker behind Orin Swift wines, and its goal is to showcase best grapes form the best places. E1 Locations is a blend of Garnacha, Tempranillo and Carinena, all grown in three famous regions in Spain - Rioja, Ribera Del Duero and Priorat. To be very honest with you, this is not my style of wine – it has a lot of heavy fruit ( I call it “burnt fruit”), some warm spice and hint of oak with not enough acidity – however, the wine opened up somewhat next day, showing brighter fruit and more harmony. Drinkability: 7+
2009 Chateau Maison Blanche Medoc ($19.99?, 14% ABV, sorry for the picture of the ripped label) – tasting of this wine was an interesting experience. On the first day, it was drinkable, but lacked any excitement. The next day, it became plain bad – but I don’t pour wine down the drain easily, so I put it aside. Day number 3 – same story, not the wine I want to drink – and again I let it be. On the day number four, I decided to give this wine one final taste before disposing of it – and found it completely changed. The wine opened up, showing nice luscious fruit, supple tannins, good acidity and good overall balance, it became soft and round. This wine definitely needs time. And before I forget – this wine is made of 85% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc. Drinkability: 8- (either decant when serving or cellar for a while).
2008 Bogle Vineyards Phantom ($17, 14.5% ABV) – Bogle Vineyards is one of my favorite producers of inexpensive California wines. While they make pretty much a full line (Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc.), Bogle Vineyards Petite Sirah typically represents an unbeatable QPR – it is simply an excellent wine usually priced at $11.99. The wine we had, Phantom, is a bit of a higher end – it is a blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre. It drinks very well, showing a bouquet of warm spices on the nose, and a lot of nice bright fruit on the palate, ripe plums, touch of cinnamon and nutmeg, good acidity – quite an enjoyable wine. Drinkability: 8-
2010 Field Recordings “Neverland” Red Wine Santa Barbara ($26, 15.4% ABV) – Have you ever tried any wines from Field Recordings? You know, may be I shouldn’t even talk about this wine here? Too many people will find out, it will be hard to get, do I really need all that hassle? Well, okay – feels good sharing a secret.
Andrew Jones, winemaker behind Field Recordings, was grape grower first, working with many wineries and tending to their vineyards. Later on he started making his own wines, each of them coming from the different sites, from the places were particular grapes do particularly well. This wine, called Neverland, comes form the Three Creek Vineyard site, and it is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Petit Verdot and 16% Malbec. The wine was perfectly balanced, with layered soft fruit, black currant and touch of blueberries, dark chocolate notes, very long and pleasant finish. Why I wanted to keep such a great wine to myself? Very simple – total production: 150 cases. When it’s gone, it’s gone… Drinkability: 9-
2011 Brick Lane Pinot Noir California ($?, 13.4% ABV) – When faced with the wines like this one, I always have a dilemma – do I write about them in this blog, or do I not? I don’t want to pretend to be a big critic and proudly proclaim my scores – I look at the wine rating mostly as a fun exercise. Anyway, as you probably guessed, this was not a very good wine. Thin, green, acidic, unbalanced, drinkable, but not delivering any pleasure. Drinkability: 6-
2011 Dr. Hans VonMuller Riesling Spatlese Mosel ($11.99, 8% ABV) – I either don’t drink enough Riesling, or I don’t write enough about it, or both – somehow, I think Rieslings are scarcely discussed in this blog. For the Spatlese, this was a very modest Riesling – yes, it had an explicit sweetness – but it was not cloying by all means ( some of the 2010 and 2011 German Rieslings I tried had this clinging sweetness even at the Kabinett level). Sweetness was nicely balanced by acidity, and overall this was a very pleasant wine with good amount of white fruit, some apricot and may be peach, very enjoyable. Drinkability: 7+
Now it is time to talk about Sparkling wines – I have a few to share with you. First, NV Abrau-Durso Semi-dry, Russia ($12.99) – as planned, we ringed the New Year 2013 with this wine. Yes, it is not the first time I write about Abrau-Durso in this blog (it was also my wine #19 in the Top wines of 2012 list) – but I can’t help it, as the wine is good! Apple and touch of yeast on the nose, very restrained white fruit on the palate, good acidity, hint of sweetness, perfectly refreshing bubbles – you have to try it to believe it. Drinkability: 8
We are almost done, I promise! A few more sparkling wines:
So here are NV Cremant D’Alsace Brut Cattin ($16.99, 12% ABV) and NV Cremant de Bourgogne Louis Bouillot Grande Reserve Perle de Vigne ($?, 12% ABV) – the reason I lump these two wines together is that they are literally indistinguishable (unfortunately!). It is interesting that grape composition is quite different between them – Cremant d’Alsace is made out of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay. Cremant de Bourgogne is a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay, and Aligoté. Both wines are drinkable – a bit of yeast, good acidity, crisp and refreshing – but not exciting. Drinkability: 7
Peach Canei Italy ($4, 7.5% ABV) – I guess by even mentioning this “wine” ( it is more of a wine cocktail – it is peach flavored grape wine) in this blog I have to officially renounce a self-awarded title of a wine snob and never even try to claim it again.
I told my friend Zak that way back ( about 20 years ago), when I was just slowly getting into wines, Peach Canei was one of our favorite wines. I think only a young age protected Zak from having a heart attack – he was completely shocked. So he got me a bottle of the wonderful beverage as part of my New Year’s present. As you can imagine, I had no reason to cellar it, so we decided to open the bottle right away. It had a pronounced peach flavor, with a bit too much sweetness, lightly fizzed, probably could’ve used a bit more acidity. But – it was drinkable, and we managed to finish a bottle. It is highly unlikely that I would ever crave this wine, but again, it is not that terrible as you might think. Drinkability: 6.
That’s all I have for you regarding the wines – wait, don’t go yet. New Year is usually celebrated with lots of food – here are couple of pictures which will give you an idea of how the table looked like:
That’s all for today, folks. Did you have a most memorable New Year’s wine? Please use the comments section below and share! Cheers!
As promised, the bottle of 2010 Turley The Label Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($40, 14.5% ABV) was open today, and here are my notes – almost live, as I still have some wine left in the glass. For those who just run into this post, it is pretty much a sequel to my rant about the bottle, which is extremely indiscreet, and the post answering that rant and explaining that the bottle looks that way by design.
Now let’s go past the bottle itself, and let’s talk about the content – i. e., the wine. Considering that I started from the rant, I wanted to give this bottle a proper evaluation, so here we go, step by step. We even reached out for the Reidel Cabernet glasses, which are only used for the special occasions.
Color: Dark garnet color. You can’t read through the glass, so the wine definitely needs more time.
Rim variation: absent, it is a young wine. But – rim is pretty wide, which suggests high alcohol content.
Smell: Blueberries, hint of tobacco, earthiness, a touch of barnyard (which I personally like) – on the nose, this wine resembled Dunn Cabernet.
Taste: earthy, with touch of green notes which disappeared after ten minutes in the glass, alcohol initially noticeable, but as wine continued to breathe, it became well integrated. Tobacco and dark chocolate notes, touch of eucalyptus, fresh plums, black currant and more blueberries – but restrained, no blueberry jam of any kind.
Legs: Very visible, also carrying some color – suggesting that this is full-bodied wine.
Finish: Long. Tannins only started showing up after about 30 seconds, and then they lingered for probably another minute.
Conclusion: This is one beautiful wine. This wine was described by the winemakers as an attempt to recreate Napa Cabernet as it was in 60th and 70th, more of restrained and down to earth type – I think this attempt was very successful. The wine was very balanced, with fruit, acidity and tannins being in a complete harmony. Drinkability: 9-
I’m not going to recite my learned lessons again (I already recouped them in the previous post), but yes – don’t judge a wine by its bottle, at least I will try not to. Cheers!
Today was my wife’s 19th anniversary of coming to US, so I was looking for the appropriate wine to celebrate. I didn’t have anything from 1993. There were ’86, ’88 and ’90, but somehow opening those wines didn’t make too much sense. And then I saw a bottle of Norton. No, it was much younger than 19, but Norton is often called a True American Grape, so it should be perfect for the occasion.
So I pulled this bottle of 2005 Chrysalis Vineyards Norton Estate Bottled from Virginia (12.8% ABV), which I got during our visit to Chrysalis Vineyards about two years ago (here is the post about it). Somehow, from the moment the cork was pulled, the wine worked perfectly. It had that hint of barnyard aroma, just a hint, as much as you get from the well made Loire Cabernet Franc – a bit of explicit earthiness on the nose. On the palate, it was very restrained and balanced, quite dry – somewhat similar to Barolo, only without a bear claw grip of tannins, with some leather and again earthy notes. As the wine warmed up, it showed more fruit, some raspberries and plums, with good acidity, and it stayed very balanced until, well, the bottle was empty. In terms of rating, I will put Drinkability at 8.
I’m sure this wine will continue evolving – but this was my only bottle, so it is what it is. Oh well, at least it was a good bottle of wine, so no regrets here. Cheers!
P.S. I’m purposefully avoiding mentioning the debates, which were also an all American event today – let me only tell you that the wine was far more superior than the 5 minutes of debates I watched…
It’s been awhile since I posted in the Daily Glass category, and by design of this blog the plan was actually to have the posts exactly as it said – daily. Well, we all have plans, and then we have the reality – whether we like it or not.
A couple of months back, I got an email from Benchmark Wine Company with an offer to buy the wine. It was about Petite Sirah, and the way it was written, it was hard to resist (besides, Petite Sirah is one of my favorite wines in general) – so I got a few bottles of Retro Cellars Howell Mountain Petite Sirah. To be more precise, I got one bottle of 2004 and 2 bottles of 2007.
I was visiting a good friend and decided that today would be a good day to open the 2004 Retro Cellars Howell Mountain Petite Sirah (14.2% ABV, $35). From the moment the wine went into the glass, it was very clear – the wine was opened way before its time. In one of the wine classes I learned a simple way to find out if wine is ready to drink – you pour the wine in the glass, and hold the glass tilted above some text written on the white paper – if you can read through that glass, the wine is ready to drink. This Petite Sirah was practically black – very concentrated very dark garnet color, without any possibility of reading through. On the palate, the wine had lots of sour cherries, ink and a touch of very dark chocolate – almost a baking chocolate level, the one which practically has no sweetness. Firm tannins. structure and perfect acidity were completing a very balanced package. This definitely was a great wine – drinkable now, but in reality, needing probably another 20 years to shine fully. Drinkability: 9-
That sentiment (needs time!) was also confirmed when I turned the bottle over – it was made by Mike Dunn, the son of Randy Dunn, one of the best winemakers in the Napa Valley. known for making Cabernet Sauvignon wines which require a very long aging period (some stories about Randy Dunn were mentioned in the last issue of Wednesday’s Meritage).
I definitely enjoyed the wine – but when it comes to the 2007 which I still have, patience ( and a lot of it) will be my best friend. Cheers!
I have a question for you. Have you ever experienced a special bottle “today is the day… or not” effect? It is when you have a bottle you want to open, but you can’t decide if today should be the day, or you need to wait a bit longer? I’m not talking about special bottle which. let’s say, bears vintage year of your son or daughter’s birthday – those are easy, you only contemplate once a year whether to open the bottle or not. I’m talking about more of an everyday, reasonably priced wine, of which, let’s say you have only one bottle, and you know that you can’t get another one – this is the case in point.
Ever since I was blown away by the bottle of Fiction by Field Recordings (here is the link to my post about that experience), I wanted to try another wine made by Andrew Jones – Chorus Effect. I had the bottle for about half a year in “to use in the near term” place, and I can’t even tell you how many times I was in the “today is the day” mood, and … nope, I guess it was not.
And somehow it happened that the day was finally today, and the bottle was open ( one easy move, you know – those screw tops are perfect for easy opening).
This 2009 Field Recordings Chorus Effect Koligian Vineyard, Paso Robles ($26, 15.3% ABV, 249 cases made) is a Bordeaux-style blend – you can see the exact composition on the picture of the back label.
The wine had beautiful purple color, bright and fresh. Nose was showing sweet cherries, plums and a touch of spices. But the palate… If Fiction, which I mentioned earlier, had absolutely astonishing nose, this wine had the same on the palate. This was a textbook study of a red wine, all in one sip – not the Bordeaux specifically, but the red wine overall. Sweet cherries, ripe plums, blueberries, tar, sweet vanilla, licorice, violet, chocolate, pepper, tobacco, eucalyptus – you could easily taste each and all. At the same time, the wine was balanced, with soft tannins, without any jamminess which can be often observed at such high alcohol levels. I’m not sure if I’m ready to rate it – I really want to see what will happen with this wine tomorrow – but for now, I will put the Drinkability at 8-, mainly due to the alcohol burn which was not noticeable at the beginning but showed up couple of hours after the bottle was opened.
Did you open your special bottle today? Will be glad to hear your story. Cheers!
This past weekend was filled with different wine events, which I want to share with you. First and foremost – arrival of the No Girls wine. No Girls wine is made by Christophe Baron, the wine maker behind Cayuse – one of the cult wineries from Washington state. What is so special? No Girls wine is available only through the mailing list. If you ever dealt with winery mailing lists you probably know that before you get on the mailing list, first you spend time on the waiting list for the mailing list. It took more than two years for me to move from waiting list to mailing list with Turley, makers of the great Zinfandels. I think for more than 3 years I’m still on the waiting list for Alban, Cayuse and Carlisle. With No Girls wine, despite the fact that I signed up literally on the same day as the offer came in, initially I got an e-mail that I didn’t make the mailing list, with the follow up e-mail in a couple of month saying that I got an allocation.
Hence the excitement and anticipation associated with arrival of No Girls wine – 2008 Grenache and Syrah from La Paciencia vineyard in Walla Walla. I can’t tell you anything about the wine itself – I plan to give it some time first. However, even packaging alone can make you excited – and to explain what I mean, here are few pictures for you.
Very bright and clever – what do you think?
Now, on the subject of the wines I actually tasted over this weekend, there were few I wanted to talk about.
First one is a Spanish wine 2010 Laya D.O. Almansa (14.5% ABV). This wine is a blend of Garnacha (70%) and Monstrell (30%). When you open the bottle and take a first sip, it comes out very grapey and young. It took this wine 3 days to develop a nice undertone of richness, with some ripe red fruit, a touch of spices and smokiness. Considering the price ($7.99) this is a great everyday wine (Drinkability: 7+).
Next one is a 2009 Textbook Cabernet Sauvignon Fin de journee Napa Valley (14.5% ABV). I had this wine for a few months, waiting for the right moment to try it and building up expectations – somehow the name “Textbook” caused a lot of warm expectations, especially with the back label promising a “textbook Napa Cabernet”. The wine had a nice nose of the dense black fruit, not too jammy, but present. On the palate, the fruit grew together with nice tannins and silky texture, only to somehow stop short of delivering the “oompf”. Almost like watching the golf ball slowly rolling after the putt “almost, almost, almost, ahh”. Signature black currant was almost there, but didn’t really show up in its clean beauty. Don’t get me wrong – for a $20 Napa Cab, this was a good wine, but it had to battle my inflated expectations… and lost. Drinkability: 7+.
Last but not least was 2009 Catastrophe Red Cattail Creek Estate Winery, Four Mile Creek VQA, Canada (12.5% ABV). We brought this wine back from Canada after the last year’s trip. It is a blend of Gamay Noir, Merlot and Cabernet. On the nose, it has a bright red fruit. On the palate, there is more red fruit, such as sour cherries, hint of earthiness, good clean acidity, very balanced. Medium body and very easy to drink. This wine also would be a great food wine – too bad, I only brought one bottle back. Drinkability: 8-.
That’s all folks. Don’t forget that April 25th is a Wine Blogging Wednesday, with the theme “Barossa Bumerang” – find a bottle of Barossa wine from Australia, enjoy it, and write a blog post or at least leave a comment here. Have a great week! Cheers!