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Wines, Wines, Wines – Part 2

August 18, 2013 15 comments

As promised, here is the second part of the Wines, Wines, Wines post. In the first part, we talked about great Riesling and Gewurzrtraminer wines, with some extra value wines and Prosecco. Let’s continue our “memorable wine extravaganza” with a couple of Chardonnays.

Chardonnay

It is so interesting how things work in life. You might walk past say, a picture, every day, and never notice it. And then all of a sudden you say “what is it? Was it always here, or is it something new??”, and people around you look at you like you have two heads or something. Where am I going with this? Give me a minute, I will make my point.

Couple of month ago I got a bottle of Chardonnay, accompanied by the words “try it, it is pretty good”. I’m a sucker for good Chardonnay (yeah, true, you can substitute “Chardonnay” with any other varietal – I’m just a sucker for any good wine, but this can be a subject for a different post). But this Chardonnay was from New Zealand. And New Zealand in by book is the land of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir – but not really a Chardonnay. So I finally got the bottle opened and … wow.

DSC_0418

Seresin Chardonnay

2008 Seresin Chardonnay Reserve Marlboro New Zealand (13.5% ABV, 11 month in oak).  The symbol of the hand on the label has a deep meaning. Quoting few words from Seresin Estate web site, “The hand is a symbol of strength, gateway to the heart, tiller of the soil, the mark of the artisan, and embodies the philosophy of Seresin Estate”. Here are my tasting notes for this wine: Outstanding, classic. Perfect nose of vanilla and white apples, just right. Very balanced fruit on the palate – hint of butter, vanilla, oak, good acidity – one of the most balanced Chardonnays ever. Drinkability: 8+

Oh yes, you are still waiting for me to connect to the opening sentence about passing by and not seeing things around for the long time, right? As of very recently, as I walked in the New Zealand isle in the store, I noticed all of a sudden that almost every producer now features Chardonnay in addition to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. When did it happen, how long this was the case with New Zealand Chardonnays – I don’t have any idea, but based on this experience, I definitely want to try more.

Frédéric Gueguen Chablis

Frédéric Gueguen Chablis

2005 Frédéric Gueguen Chablis Les Grandes Vignes (13% ABV) – I don’t have a lot of experience with Chablis overall. I had a few bottles of Chablis here and there, but never was really impressed with it (I never had Chablis of a Grand Cru or even Premier Cru level). I don’t know what possessed me to get this wine from the Benchmark Wine Company, I guess it was in the right price range ( under $20), and somehow caught my attention. Then I read somewhere, that Chablis requires on average about 10 years of age in the bottle to really start transforming and going past the initial “steely acidity” flavor profile to get to the next level. And then I tried this Frédéric Gueguen wine – wow. Here are my tasting notes: some darker yellow color, but not quite golden yet. Amazing nose, reminiscent of Côte-Rôtie – almost a touch of sulfur (think freshly burnt matches), or even more of a smell of a hot piece of granite on a summer day, a “roasted rock”. Side note: pardon my naive definition here – I recently learned that professionals call it a “gunflint” – but I will not use this term as it doesn’t lead to any associations for me. Perfect complexity on the palate – white fruit, vanilla. Lots and lots of minerality. Full bodied and very balanced, excellent wine overall. Drinkability: 8+

Pinot Noir

And we are moving along to the Pinot Noir wines – both of the wines below were excellent:

Siduri Pinot Noir

Siduri Pinot Noir

2011 Siduri Pinot Noir Sonoma County (13.1% ABV) – perfectly clean California Pinot – good smokey nose, with a touch of red fruit aromas. Light cherries on the palate, hint of earthiness, medium body, perfect acidity, very clean and balanced. Drinkability: 8-

Carmel Road Pinot Noir

Carmel Road Pinot Noir

2008 Carmel Road Pinot Noir Monterey (14.0% ABV) – outstanding. Bright ruby color in the glass, raspberries and hint of smokiness on the nose. Raspberries, cranberries and cherries on the palate. Medium to full body. Excellent acidity, overall perfectly balanced. Drinkability: 8+

Cabernet Franc

I have only one wine for you here, but it was mind blowing.

Field Recordings Cabernet Franc

Field Recordings Cabernet Franc

2010 Field Recordings Three Creek Vineyard Cabernet Franc Santa Barbara (15.9% ABV, 90% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec, 18 month in French oak) – spectacular. If you read this blog on the regular basis, you know that I’m very impartial to the wines of Field Recordings – but this is not my fault, it is Andrew Jones’ fault ( Andrew Jones is the winemaker behind Field Recordings). This wine had beautiful garnet color in the glass. The nose was clean and open, withhint of black currant and other red fruit. The palate is stunning with black currant, cherries, touch of black pepper, dark chocolate, perfect acidity, soft and supple tannins, all in the format of full-bodied wine. Perfect balance of fruit, acidity, tannins and alcohol – which is pretty amazing at 15.9% ABV. Drinkability: 9

Last, but not least – Syrah

Villa Pillo

Villa Pillo Syrah

Appearance of the large amount of Italian Syrah wines is also somewhat of a revelation, similar to the one I mentioned at the beginning of this post. All of a sudden I start noticing that there are more Italian Syrah wines showing in the wine stores, and people are just talking more about them, in the blogs and otherwise.

2010 Villa Pillo Syrah Toscana IGT (14.5% ABV) – we got this wine when we visited Millbrook Winery in New York (this will be a subject of a separate post), as they are importing this and a number of other wines from Italy. Tasting notes: Dark garnet color in the glass. Nose of dark fruit and dark chocolate. Outstanding on the palate – hint of pepper, cherries, plums and raspberries, more dark chocolate. Full bodied, with the velvety texture weaved over firm structure. Drinkability: 8

Whew, we are done here! Enjoy the rest of your weekend and cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, New Life at Mayacamas, Few Reminders and more

August 7, 2013 19 comments
Field Recordings Chenin Blanc Jurassic Park Vineyard

Field Recordings Chenin Blanc Jurassic Park Vineyard

Meritage Time!

Let’s start with the answer to the wine quiz #68, grape trivia – Chenin Blanc. In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about Chenin Blanc grape.

Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: True or false: South Africa grows (area-wise) twice as much Chenin Blanc as France

A1: True. Chenin Blanc plantings in South Africa take a bit less than 25% of all grape plantings in the country, and it exceeds plantings in France by at least two times.

Q2: Do you know how Chenin Blanc is typically called in South Africa?

A2: Steen. Chenin Blanc is South Africa was traditionally called Steen, but as many wineries are improving quality of their Chenin Blanc wines, they also use the traditional “Chenin Blanc” name on the labels more and more.

Q3: Based on DNA research, Chenin Blanc might be a parent of:

a. Pinot Blanc, b. Sauvignon Blanc, c. Marsanne, d. Ugni Blanc (Trebbiano)

A3: Sauvignon Blanc.

Q4: Wine Spectator calls wines rated in 95-100 range Classic (the highest and the most prestigious category). True or False: there are no Chenin Blanc wines with Classic rating.

A4: False. While there are only 14 Classic Chenin Blanc wines to the date (all from Vouvray region in France), Domaine Huët Vouvray Cuvée Constance 1997 scored even perfect 100 points.

Q5: One of my all time favorite Chenin Blanc wines is made by the company called Field Recordings in California. It is a single-vineyard wine, coming from the vineyard which has the same name as one of the blockbuster movies of the 90s. Do you know how this vineyard is called?

A5: Jurassic Park! I’m really curious what would give such a name to the vineyard, but hey, this is how it is called. And Jurassic Park Chenin Blanc I had was spectacular.

I’m glad to report that we have lots of winners this time! Emil, SheWinesSometimes, VinoinLove and TheDrunkenCyclist answered all 5 questions correctly, and they get the coveted prize of unlimited bragging rights!

Now, to the interesting stuff around vine and web!

I have a few interesting things for you to read. First, an article by New York Times‘ Eric Asimov, talking about new life of Mayacamas Vineyards in Napa. Mayacamas is one of the historical vineyards in the region, originally built in 1889, and owned by Bob Travers and his wife since 1968. I experienced Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon only once, and it was a spectacular wine, done in very restrained and elegant style. Now the winery is acquired by Charles Banks, who owned Screaming Eagle in the past, and he brought in Andy Erickson, a past Screaming Eagle’s winemaker, to make wine at the Mayacamas. How Mayacamas will change is a big question for all of its fans,  so you should read the article to learn more.

Here is an interesting read for you from W. Blake Gray, on the subject of [yeah, here we go again] wine tasting notes. Before you read the article, test yourself – do you know what gunflint is? You do? Great, do you know how does it taste like? My personal answer is “no” for both questions, but you go read the article to learn something new and get entertained.

The last article for today on the subject of Georgian wines, talking about new and interesting wines coming from the “cradle of winemaking”, as Georgia often is referred to. Go find the bottle of Georgian wine to enjoy while you will be reading the article.

We are getting closer to the few important dates (deadlines, rather) so here are your reminders:

August 14th – Wine Blogging Wednesday event, #WBW80 – Dry Rosé. All you need to do is to write a blog post pertinent to the subject, and submit it to the host. For all the details please click here. Let’s make it a success!

August 16th – deadline for submission for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #2, with the theme called Trouble. You can find all the rules here. I finally made my submission, so I sleep much better now. There is still time, get your trouble under control and write! Side note – if you are using twitter, I recommend using #MWWC hash tag for all submissions and discussions.

August 29th – Annual Cabernet Day 2013. Grab the bottle of your favorite Cab and join the festivities – here is the link to the invitation I received for this Cabernet Day, in case you want to state your participation officially.

That is all I have for you, folks. The glass is empty -but the refill is coming. Until the next time – cheers!

Weekly Wine Quiz #68: Grape Trivia – Chenin Blanc

August 3, 2013 20 comments
Chenin Blanc grapes, as pictured in Wikipedia

Chenin Blanc grapes, as pictured in Wikipedia

Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz!

Today we are continuing our grape trivia with the next white grape – Chenin Blanc. Chenin Blanc is one of the oldest known grapes in the world, with the first mentions tracing back to 9th century in Loire in France. In about 17th century it made it to South Africa, where it became one of the most popular grapes, and it continued spreading around the world. In France, it is mostly growing in the Loire valley, with probably the best wines coming from Anjou and Vouvray regions.

According to wine expert Jancis Robinson, Chenin Blanc is probably one of the most versatile white grapes in the world. It has very high level of natural acidity, and also capable of accumulating very high level of sugars, making it equally suitable for production Sparkling wines and luscious dessert wines. At the time, Chenin Blanc requires a lot of attention in the vineyard, as it has a tendency to overgrow. If harvested too early, its high level of acidity makes the resulting wines simply insipid, and if it overgrows, the resulting wine tends to lose it character making dull and uninteresting wines.

Traditionally, the best Chenin Blanc wines were made in France, with off-dry Vouvray being probably some of the very best examples (if you ever experienced a “wow” Vouvray wine, raise you hand – I personally have, and at about $15/bottle, it doesn’t require you to break the bank). Overall, as winemaking techniques improve all over the world, there are more and more interesting Chenin Blanc wines coming from South Africa, California, Washington, Texas and many other places.

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: True or false: South Africa grows (area -wise) twice as much Chenin Blanc as France

Q2: Do you know how Chenin Blanc is typically called in South Africa?

Q3: Based on DNA research, Chenin Blanc might be a parent of:

a. Pinot Blanc

b. Sauvignon Blanc

c. Marsanne

d. Ugni Blanc (Trebbiano)

Q4: Wine Spectator calls wines rated in 95-100 range Classic (the highest and the most prestigious category). True or False: there are no Chenin Blanc wines with Classic rating.

Q5: One of my all time favorite Chenin Blanc wines is made by the company called Field Recordings in California. It is a single-vineyard wine, coming from the vineyard which has the same name as one of the blockbuster movies of the 90s. Do you know how this vineyard is called?

Side note: Google is your friend. It is impossible to know everything, and when you research, you learn…

Good luck, have fun and cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Wine Blogging Wednesday Returns, New Wine Writing Challenge Announced, And more

July 24, 2013 13 comments

ChardonnaysMeritage time!

Let’s start with the answer for the wine quiz #66, Grape Trivia – Chardonnay. In that quiz you were supposed to answer 5 questions about probably most popular white grape in the world – Chardonnay.

Here are the questions, now with the answers.

Q1: Name the producer of the most expensive Chardonnay wine in the world. As an added bonus, please also provide the name of the wine.

A1: Domaine Romanee-Conti (DRC), which is probably the most famous in the world producer of red Burgundy wines also makes a tiny quantity of the white Burgundy in Montrachet. This wine is impossible to find, but if you will, it will set you back by at least $3,000.

Q2: Chablis used to be the bustling Chardonnay producer in France, supplying most of the wine in Paris and beyond, until it came to the severe decline during the beginning to the middle of the 20th century. Do you know what was one of the biggest factors which led to that decline?

A2: The time periods in this question should be slightly adjusted – it should be really late 19th century, not beginning to middle of the 20th. Nevertheless, the quick answer here is … railroad. Until the railroad was built in France in 1850s, Chablis held near monopoly on Parisian wine market, being able to easily supply the wine by the river. Railroads allowed easy access for much cheaper wines of South of France to the lucrative market, which shook Chablis’ dominance. Then there were other factors, such a philloxera, but it all started from the railroad…

Q3: Name 3 main flavor descriptors of the *big* California Chardonnay

A3: Vanilla, butter and oak – read the description of any “big” California chard, and most likely you will find all these words.

Q4: Judgement of Paris of 1976 was instrumental in bringing California Chardonnay onto the world-class wine map. Do you know which California winery we need to thank for that?

A4: Chateau Montelena was the one!

Q5: As with many other grapes, various clones had being developed for Chardonnay, to adapt better for the particular region and/or resulting wine style – for example, there is a number of so called Dijon clones of Chardonnay, which can be used by anyone wishing to produce a classic Burgundy style wine. One of the clones was developed in California in the middle of 20th century, and it is still a very popular choice among many California Chardonnay producers to the date. Can you name that clone?

A5: Wente clone. It took about 40 years to create the Wente Chardonnay clone, which became a popular choice among winegrowers in California in the 1940s – 1950s. You can read this article for more details.

Looking at the results of this quiz, I have to tell you that I actually anticipated higher success rate – but it seems that outside of the question 4, which was answered correctly by all, the rest of the questions came up to be rather difficult. We don’t have a winner today, bu the honorable mention goes to Asueba, who correctly answered questions 1 and 4, and was quite close with the answers for the questions 2 and 3.

Now, to the interesting stuff around vine and web!

Well, I don’t even know where to start – lots of interesting things are happening!

First, the newly minted queen of the Wine Writing Challenge, Kirsten, a.k.a. The Armchair Sommelier, announced the new trouble theme for the 2nd Monthly Wine Writing Challenge. Why “trouble theme” you ask? That’s just the name of the theme – Trouble. You can read all the details here, and start getting in trouble. Oh yes, and if you are a creative type, we are also looking for the cool loge for this Monthly Wine Writing Challenge exercise – get your creative juices flowing! The submission deadline is August 17th – summer days are flying fast, don’t get in trouble and don’t miss your chance to steal the crown…

Wine-Bloggin-Wednesday-Glass-200x300Now, I have to tell you that Wine Blogging Wednesday is back!!! For those of you who missed it ( which will probably be quite a few people), this was a popular monthly wine blogging exercise. Every month a new theme was announced, like Cabernet Sauvignon, or Viognier, or Single Vineyards and so on, with various bloggers playing role of the host. This was not a competition, but rather a thematic submission with the host producing a summary blog post after the wine blogging Wednesday, or #WBW, would take place. These #WBW events stopped for almost a year – and I’m glad to see them come back. The theme for the Wine Blogging Wednesday #80 (#WBW80) is Dry Rosé, and the #WBW80 event will take place on August 14th. For all the details on the #WBW80 and previous 79 #WBW events, please visit Wine Blogging Wednesday web site.

It is hot. It is the summer. But – 31 days of Riesling event is in full swing! Nothing cools you off better than nice and refreshing glass of Riesling. The 31 Days of Riesling event is going on until the end of July – check the event web site for the participating restaurants, stores and tons of interesting stuff about Riesling.

When was the last time you tasted Chenin Blanc wines? Lettie Teague, the wine writer for the Wall Street Journal, calls Chenin Blanc a “delicious underdog” in her recent article. You might want to read it, and then may be even grab a bottle or two based on her recommendations – you might be in for a delicious surprise, as I was with Field Recordings Jurassic Park Vineyard Chenin Blanc.

Last but not least, I want to bring to your attention a rant by Duff Wines about the way we taste the wines and live our lives. It will worth your time, so I highly recommend it.

That’s all I have for you, folks. The glass is empty – but refill is on the way! Until the next time – Cheers!

Sometimes One “Wow” Is Not Enough

June 24, 2013 15 comments

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you perfectly know by now that I have a tendency to get overly excited in my reviews (and if you are not a regular reader and just came across accidentally, you know it now). It is entirely possible that you also noticed that I have a soft spot towards Field Recordings wines. Based on this preamble, you probably figured out that I plan to talk about a wine from Field Recordings.

The wine which had me completely blown away a few days ago was 2011 Field Recordings Jurassic Park Vineyard Chenin Blanc Santa Ynez Valley (13.1% ABV). Opened the bottle, poured in the glass, sucked the air – and was blown away. Complex, multi-layered aromatics, which each smell showing slightly differently, and my emotional response (or rather, vocal), rotating between “wow” and “omg” with each and every breath. White stone fruit, apricots, fresh flowers, endless meadows – all coming separately, but together. Andrew Jones, the winemaker at Fields Recordings, is clearly the master of aromatics with his wines. Pretty much any of his wines I tried, have mind-boggling,  intense aromatics – here is my post about red wine call Fiction by Field Recordings, read it for yourself.

The palate didn’t disappoint as well. Bright, open, succulent white fruit, more continuing that an apricot theme, with the touch of vanilla and apple, no sweetness whatsoever. Definitely a Chardonnay-like experience, except it is not chardonnay at all! Firm structure, refreshing acidity – each sip of the wine is begging not to stop – just one more sip, pleeease? Drinkability: 8+

The words don’t do this wine enough justice. Your best bet is to find this wine and to taste it. And yes, it is okay to repetitively “wow” all the way through. Cheers!

Daily Glass: Of Wonderwall and Unwooded Pinot

June 7, 2013 2 comments

How can you tell when blogging is becoming an addiction? When you drink great wine, you think about it in the terms of the blog post. And when you are not producing that blog post for whatever reason, you become upset and feel incomplete…

I don’t want to feel incomplete – who does? And to avoid that feeling, let me tell you about few great wines I experienced recently.

Haute Cabriere Unwooded Pinot NoirLast week, when it was hot and not crazy rainy as today (did someone up there forgot to turn off the faucet?), I walked into the wine store and told Zak that I’m in the mood for a nice bottle of Rosé. “Here”, he said handing me a bottle, “you have to try this”. Okay, I’m ready to try whatever Zak hands me with such a conviction. 2011 Haute Cabrière Unwooded Pinot Noir Franschhoek South Africa (12% ABV, $15.99) didn’t look like a Rosé, but hey, the proof is in the glass.

And what a proof it was! Light ruby color, the nose of strawberries, cranberries and onion peel (classic Rosé, huh?) – same on the palate – perfect substance, perfectly refreshing body – nothing wimpy, nothing sweet, only refreshing, light and exciting wine. This wine is produced by Achim von Arnim, whose blog is called Sun Soil Vine Man – which is also a motto of his winery. Tasting this unwooded Pinot Noir, I can say that his simple model works quite well. Drinkability: 8-

Wonderwall

And then there was Wonderwall. First I tried 2012 Wonderwall Chardonnay Central Coast (14.9% ABV, $22/$17.60 for catalog members). These Wonderwall wines are produced by Andrew Jones, the winemaker behind Field Recordings wines, which I discussed many times in the blog – and of which I’m a big fun.

What is amazing about many Field Recordings wines is aromatics. Once you pour the wine into the glass, you simply can’t put it down – but not drinking, only smelling, and smelling and smelling. Some wines transform with their taste, and some just with their aromatics. Bright and beautiful fruit on the nose – together with fresh flowers. I experienced similar aromatics with some of the best Albarino wines – but not with California Chardonnay. Good amount of fruit on the palate, but tame, more controlled, balanced and perfectly weaved around acidity. When the bottle was finished (much faster than I would want to, unfortunately – this was my only bottle) – I smelled the bottle and it showed vanilla and touch of butter – but it was too late. I wish I had another bottle to try it at least in 3-4 years – oh well, may be someone will. Drinkability: 8

Then I had 2012 Wonderwall Pinot Noir Central Coast (13.9% ABV, $22/$17.60 for catalog members). To describe it in a few words, I would put it like this: from nose to palate – classic California Pinot Noir. Violet, cherries and hint of smokiness on the nose, cherries, cranberries and tart blackberries on the palate, all moving and evolving. On the palate, this wine is somewhat elusive, and it gives you a different perception with every sip. On the second day it showed bright, clean and assertive fruit, with mouthwatering acidity – you really want to give this wine some time (I will not, as again this was my only bottle). Drinkability: 7+

Before we part, I have to cite for you the words written on the back label of the Wonderwall wines:

“I’m unsure if it has been me, the grapes or the vineyards. There

has always been a barrier between me and the wine I wanted.

Finally, I have broken through the wall.”

That’s all I have for you, folks. And I feel better already. Cheers!

Wine. That. Transforms.

April 23, 2013 9 comments

If you followed this blog for a while, you know that I have a tendency to get excited around wines. May be “overly excited” is even better way to put it. Especially when I come across the wines which wow. Like this time.

Field Recordings wines are no strangers in this blog (2010 Fiction by Field Recordings was my 2011 wine of the year). Produced by Andrew Jones, grape-grower-turned-wine-maker, these wines are his personal accounts of people and places – every label on his wines will tell you where exactly the grapes came from, and who grew them – you can see an example above. And his wines have tremendous personality associated with them. What these wines do the best – they don’t leave you indifferent. Like this 2010 Field Recordings Petite Sirah Crockett Hill Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley (15.9% ABV, $22).

The very first smell of this wine just takes you away. Away from the day that passed. Away from all the little things which (of course you knew it), in essence, are not important at all. It is clean. It is powerful, It is beautiful. You can imagine any happy picture you want – the smell will support and carry it. Yes, it is pure fruit forward California wine – but it presents itself in such a bright and uplifting fashion, that this might be the way to spell “happiness” with wine.

The wine appears almost black in the glass. It is dense, it is concentrated, it is powerful. Blueberries, blueberry jam and blueberry pie all together – but without sweetness, all in very balanced, round form. You can have food with this wine – but what you really want is just this wine by itself. From the smell, the happiness continues in the glass.

Then your glass becomes empty. But you sit there, still smiling. Still carried away. To the happy place.

Is this an overly emotional account? You bet. But I invite you to find this wine and experience happy journey in the glass. Of course your personal happy wine might be different. I hope you will discover it. And I will drink to that. Cheers!

Daily Glass: Wine Happenings on New Year’s Day, as well as before and after

January 9, 2013 19 comments

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).

DSC_1866 E1 LocationsE1 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+

Chateau Maison Blanche Medoc2009 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).

DSC_0028 Bogle Phantom2008 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-

DSC_0024 Field Recordings Three Creek Vineyard2010 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-

DSC_0032 Hans Von Muller Riesling2011 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+

Abrau DursoNow 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:

two cremantsSo 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

DSC_0045 Peach CaneiPeach 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:

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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!

 

Top Wine Ratings

December 12, 2012 4 comments

Welcome to my Wine Ratings page. My rating system is different from popular 100-point scale, so here are some explanations. All the wines are rated on the scale from 1 to 10, 1 being the worst, and 10 being absolutely best (okay, I guess 10+ is theoretically possible). All the ratings might also have a plus or minus sign associated with them, as it is sometimes difficult to decide between 7 and 8, for instance. Conversely,  7+ means “a little bit better than 7” and 8- means “a little bit worse than 8”.

As it happened little by little over the years, rating 7 essentially means that the wine is decent, but lacks any excitement. Ratings below 7 mean that wines deliver less and less pleasure with each rating down (I don’t recommend touching anything below 6-). With ratings above 7 you should expect more and more with every rating up – we can put 8- as recommended, 8 is highly recommended and so on. Absolute majority of the wines are tasted non-blind with very few exceptions.

The list below comprise of highly rated wines (8- and higher) encountered since 2003. Information below includes wine name, when is was tasted and the rating. When available, wine name will link to an appropriate blog post. Note that this list is expected to be constantly changing…

September/October 2015

December 2014

November 2014

October 2014

September 2014

August 2014

July 2014

June 2014

May 2014

April 2014

March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

December 2013

November 2013

October 2013

September 2013

July and August 2013

November 2012

2010 Molly Dooker Blue Eyed Boy Shiraz Australia 8
2004 Bodegas Ondarre Rioja Reserva, Spain 8
2012 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 8
2010 if you see kay Lazio IGT, Italy 8
2007 Tiare Imperiale Chateauneuf-du-Pape 8-
2010 Uroulat Jurancon South West France 8
2010 Phantasi Oregon White Wine 9
2009 Foxen Pinot Noir Block 8 – Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley 8+
1998 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 9-
 

October 2012

2011 Gascon Malbec Mendoza 8-
2004 Retro Petite Sirah Howell Mountain 9-
2010 Anakena Indo Sauvignon Blanc, D.O. San Antonio Valley, Chile 8
2005 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain, Napa Valley 9-
2005 Chrysalis Vineyards Norton Estate Bottled 8
2004 Domaine Denis Carre Savigny-les-Beaune AOC 8

September 2012

Barnard Griffin Cabernet Merlot Columbia Valley 8-
2009 Wente Petite Sirah Small Lot Livermore Valley 9

August 2012

2011 Walnut Block Wines Collectables Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand 8-
2011 Chateau de la Chasnaie Muscadet Sevre et Maine AOC 8-
2005 Domaine Fountaine-Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru La Romanee AOC 8-
2008 Achaval-Ferrer Quimera Mendoza, Argentina 8
2007 Waterstone Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 9-

July 2012

2005 Domaine Jessiaume Pere & Fils Auxey Duresses 8
2006 Gaja Alteni di Brassica Langhe DOC, Italy 9
2010 Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia, Toscana IGT 9
2009 Ken Forrester The FMC ( (Forrester Meinert Chenin), South Africa 8+
2008 Marani Satrapezo 10 kvevri, Georgia 8
1997 Estancia Meritage Alexander Valley 8+
1997 Toasted Head Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah California 8
1996 Turley Duarte Zinfandel 8-
2010 Mara White Grass Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County 8
2009 Inniskillin Three Vineyards Cabernet Franc VQA Niagara 8-
2010 Planeta Carricante Sicilia IGT 8
2005 Giribaldi Cento Uve Langhe DOC 8
2005 Heitz Cellars Grignolino Napa Valley 8-
2005 Chateau Gravat Medoc AOC 8-

June 2012

2006 Cambria Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley 8+
2004 Domaine de la Caniere Chassagne-Montrachet 8-
2009 Les Houts du Fief Crozes-Hermitage AOC 8-
2006 Capitel de’Roari Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 8-
2008 Tohani Domain Princiar Tamaioasa Romaneasca 8-
2011 Les Vines de Vienne Viognier, France 8+
2010 Evening Land Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, Oregon 8

May 2012

2000 Sant’Elena Merlot Venezia Giulia IGT, Italy 8-
2004 William Knuttel Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 8
2009 Cuvee Del Maule Cauquenes Chile 8-
2001 Domaine Saint Siffrein Chateauneuf du Pape 8+
2001 Lolonis Syrah Winegrower Selection, Redwood Valley, California 8
2009 Domaine des Palais La Tasse des Anges Fut de Chene VdP 8+
2011 Espirit Sud Cateaux d’aix-en-Provence AOP 8-
2005 Castel Maure Corbieres AOC 8-

April 2012

2009 Barkan Classic Merlot Argaman, Israel 8-
2009 Craggy Range Te Kahu Hawkes Bay, New Zealand 8+
2008 Mazzei Ser Lapo Chianti Classico Riserva 8+
2008 Fetish Playmates Barossa Valley, Australia 8
2010 La Ferme Julien Luberon AOC Rhone Valley Vineyards 8-

March 2012

1995 Gloria Ferrer Late Disgorged Carneros Sparkling Wine 9-
2007 Mara Pinot Noir Laughlin Road Ranch RRV 8+
NV M. Cosentino Ol’ Red California Red Wine 8-
2006 Anselmann Ortega TBA, Pfalz 8+
2010 Domaine de l’Octavin Dora Bella Poulsard, Arbois 8+
2008 Fox Run Vineyards Riesling Finger Lakes 8-
1984 J.E. Luper Cabernet Sauvignon Bouchaine Vineyards, Napa Valley 8
2008 Torres Atrium Merlot, Penedes, Spain 8

February 2012

NV Krug Grand Cuvee Brut 9+
2002 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 8-
2006 L’oca Ciuca Brunello di Montalcino 8-
2000 Carlisle Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 10-
1995 Chateau Haut-Corbin Saint-Emillion Grand Cru 8-
NV Abrau-Durso Russian Sparkling Wine Semi-dry 8
2002 Fontanafredda Barolo DOCG 8-
2010 Chanton Visp Resi Wallis AOC 8
1986 Le Ragose Amarone della Valpolicella DOC 8+
NV Bodegas Hidalgo Triana Pedro  Ximenez 8
NV The Rare Wines Co. Madeira New York Malmsey Special Reserve 8

January 2012

2009 Wente Small Lot Grenache, Livermore Valley 8+
1994 Clos du Mont-Oliver Chateauneuf-du-Pape 8-
NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut 8-
2007 Besigheimer Felsengarten Riesling Eiswein 8+
2010 Tensley Syrah Santa Barbara County 8+
2005 Altavia Skip Intro Syrah – Italy 8-
2008 Chateau Golan Royal Reserve Syrah – Israel 8
1992 A. et P. De Villaine Cote Chalonnaise La Digoine 8
2006 Dos Cabezas WineWorks El Norte – Arizona 8-

December 2011

1996 Lolonis Petros Redwood Valley Mendocino 8-
2008 M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut, Cotes du Roussillion Villages 8-
2009 Muses Estate Mouhtaro, Thivaikos AOC – Greece 8-
2009 Texas Hill Vineyards Toro de Tejas – Texas 8-
2009 Cuvee Del Maule Earthquake Blend – Chile 8

November 2011

2009 Landy Family Vineyards Estate Chardonnay Russian River Valley 8-
2009 Cazar Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 8
2008 Textbook Cabernet Sauvignon Mise en place, Oakville 8
2006 Kamen Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley 9-
2005 Arrayan Syrah, Mentrida DO – Spain 8
1994 Campillo Gran Reserva Rioja DOC 9-
2000 Lolonis Orpheus Petite Sirah Redwood Valley 8-
2007 Louis Latour Batard Montrachet Grand Cru 8
2006 Bogle Vineyards Phantom – California 8-
2010 Filon, DO Calatayud, Spain 8-
2010 Visp Chanton Weine Lafnetscha, AOC Vallis – Switzerland 8
2009 Burn Cottage Pinot Noir, Central Otago 8-
2010 Field Recordings Fiction – California 9
2006 Cambria Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley – California 9-
2002 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain, Napa Valley 8

October 2011

2001 Chateau Lascombes Margaux AOC 8
1998 Chateau Palmer Margaux AOC 9-
2008 Paumanok Cabernet France – Long Island 8-
2008 Conte di Bregonzo Amarone Della Valpolicella 8-
NV    Champagne Chartogne-Taillet Sainte-Anne 8-

September 2011

2010 CVNE Monopole Rioja DOC 8-
2002 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer 8-
1997 Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir, Napa Valley 8-
1988 Livingston Moffett Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 8
1990 Carpineto Brunelo di Montalcino 8
1996 Flora Springs Chardonnay Napa Valley 8-

August 2011

2000 Ken Wright Cellars Pinot Noir Freedom Hill Vineyards, Willamette Valley 8-
1995 Lolonis Petros Redwood Valley, Mendocino 8-
2009 Irony Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 8-
2009 Pasquero Hilberg Vareij, Italy 8-
2009 Cattail Creek Collaboration Riesling Clonal Blend 8

July 2011

2006 Stag’s Leap Merlot Napa Valley 8-
2001 Lolonis Orpheus Redwood Valley Petite Sirah 8+
1991 Justin Cabernet Franc San Luis Obispo County 9-
1992 Paul Jaboulet Domaine de Thalabert Crozes Hermitage 8
2004 M. Chapoutier La Sizeranne Hermitage 8-
2009 Laccento Ruche di Castagnole Monferrato DOC 8+
1995 Flora Springs Chardonnay Napa Valley 8
2008 Le Ceour de la Cote Au Grand Clos Bursinel AOC – Switzerland 8-
2004 Chateau Pesquie Quintessence 8+
2004 Sansovino Friularo Ambasciatore Bagnoli DOC – Italy 9-
2008 Mohua Pinot Noir Central Otago 8-
2009 Tres Picos Garnacha Borsao, Campo de Borja 8-
2006 Dr. Loosen Riesling Berenauslese 8
2009 Domaine du Grand Tinel Alexis Establet Chateauneuf-du-Pape 8-
2008 Clos de la Roilette, Fleurie 8+

June 2011

2004 William Knuttel Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 8-
2004 Albert Bichot Bourgogne Vieilles Vignes 8
2006 Rendola Rosso di Montalcino DOC 8-
1978 Chateau Prieure-Lichine Grand Cru Classe Margaux 8
1982 Chateau Prieure-Lichine Grand Cru Classe Margaux 9
1994 Chateau Prieure-Lichine Grand Cru Classe Margaux 8+
2000 Chateau Prieure-Lichine Grand Cru Classe Margaux 9
2003 Chateau Prieure-Lichine Grand Cru Classe Margaux 9-
2005 Chateau Prieure-Lichine Grand Cru Classe Margaux 9-
2010 Chateau Mukhrani Tavkveri Rose 8
2004 Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, Chalk Hill, Sonoma County 9
2007 Martinet Menut Priorat 9
2008 Blanc Neuf la Bastide Vin de Pays d’Oc 8-
2000 Flora Springs Soliloquy Napa Valley 8
NV Pascal Doquet Champagne Blanc de Blancs 8-
NV Sorelle Bronca Valdobbiadene Proseco Superiore 8

May 2011

2007 J. –F et J. Potterat Plant Robert, Villette AOC, Switzerland 8
2009 Turley Juvenile Zinfandel, California 8+
NV Valdespino Don Gonzalo Oloroso, VOS Jerez 8
NV Tor Albala Viejisimo Solera 1922 Montillo-Moriles, Portugal 8
NV Vimhos Barbeito Charleston Sercial Special Reserve Madeira 8-
2006 Casal Farneto Rosso Conero 8+
2005 Emilio Moro Malleolus 8-
2007 Vaona Paverno Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 8
2006 Vaona Pegrandi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 8+

April 2011

2008 Le Volte Toscana IGT 8-
2008 Villalta Valpolicella Ripasso 8-
2005 Chateau Leoville Poyferre Saint Julien 9
2008 Permund Cellars Ameritage, Virginia 8-
2007 Framingham Pinot Noir Marlborough, New Zealand 8
2005 Croix de Beaucaillou Saint-Julien 8+

March 2011

2007 J Vineyards Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 8
2005 Chateau Haut-Mondain Bordeaux AOC 8-
2007 Rengo Valpolicella Classico Superiore 8-
2009 Selene Sauvignon Blanc Hyde Vineyards, Carneros
2005 Telha d’Ouro Vihna Regional Estremadura, Portugal 8
2001 Vega Rioja Reserva 8

February 2011

2007 Emilio Moro Ribera Del Duero 8
2005 Hewitson The Mad Hatter Shiraz McLaren Vale 8
2008 Portas de Lisboa Vinho Regional Lisboa, Portugal 8

September 2010

1997 Burgess Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Vintage Selection 8
1995 Joseph Phelps Vineyards Eisrebe, St. Helena 8
2004 Vitkin Carignan, Israel 8
2008 Turley California Zinfandel Old Vines 8-

August 2010

2006 Galil Mountain Yiron, Israel 8-
2008 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir Hemel-En-Aarde Valley, South Africa 8+
2004 Vina Mayor Ribera Del Duero, Spain 8
2008 Carchelo Jumilla, Spain 8
2007 Haut Charmes Sauternes, France 8+
2004 Vigna Dogarina Ros de Plana, Italy 8
2008 Penfolds Bin 311 Tumbarumba Chardonnay, Australia 8-
2006 Cambria Bench Break Chardonnay, Santa Maria, USA 8
2008 Botani Malaga Muscat, Spain 8
2003 Beringer Bancroft Ranch Howell Mountain Merlot, USA 8-

July 2010

2005 Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Charbonnieres, France 8+

June 2010

2008 Block 2 Syrah Horse Heavens Hills, Walla Walla. USA 8-
2005 Lolonis Orpheus Redwood Valley Petite Sirah, USA 9-
1999 Renaissance Merlot Sierra Foothills, North Yuba, USA 8
2008 Enricale Verdicchio di Matelica 8-
2000 Quinta do Infantado Porto LBV, Portugal 8-

May 2010

1993 Vinarium Tokaji Aszu 6 puttonos, Hungary 8+
1999 St. Clement Cabernety Sauvignon Napa Valley 8
2996 Luigi Righetti Capitel de’ Roari Amarone, Italy 8-
2004 Allende Red Rioja Wine, Spain 8
2004 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 8
2005 Lolonis Zinfandel Redwood Valley, California 8-
2001 Balgownie Estate Shiraz Bendigo, Australia 8-
2007 G.D. Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo, Italy 8-

April 2010

2006 Emilio Moro Ribera Del Duero, Spain 8

March 2010

2007 Domaine de la Muraz Humagne & Cornalin, Switzerland 8
2008 Cornalin du Valais Les Felines, Switzerland 8-
2005 Pascal Marchand Pinot Noir, France 8-
2005 Castel Mavre Grand Cuvee Corbieres, France 8
2003 Chateau Lescalle Bordeaux Superieur, France 8-

February 2010

2005 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs, USA 8
2006 Pedroncelli Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Morris Fay Vineyard 8+

January 2010

1999 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 8
2007 Atticus John Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 8-
2007 Jade Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, USA 8-
2006 Bogle Vineyards Phantom, California, USA 8
2006 Mt. Difficulty Pinot Noir Central Otago, New Zealand 8+

December 2009

1994 Chambolle-Musigne Premier Cru Les Cras. France 8

November 2009

2007 Bogle Petite Sirah, California 8-

October 2009

1996 Carmenet Moon Mountain Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley 8-
2004 CVNE Vina Real Rioja Crianza, Spain 8+

September 2009

2008 14-18h Agiorgritico Dry Rose Wine, Greece 8
2005 Heitz Cellars Grignolino Napa Valley, USA 8
2004 Marietta Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 8-

August 2009

2007 Don David Torrontes Reserve, Argentina 8+
1999 Mayacamas Merlot Napa Valley 8-
2006 Prazo de Roriz Douro DOC, Portugal 8-

July 2009

2004 Jade Mountain Syrah Napa Valley, USA 9
2006 San Giuseppe Lambrusco Emilia, Italy 8-
1996 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol, France 8+
2006 Turley Duarte Zinfandel Contra Costa County, USA 8-

June 2009

2008 Leit-dit Cocagne Coteaux du Vendomois, France 8
2008, Adego de Pegoes, Portugal 8

May 2009

2006 Goats in Villages Shiraz Pinotage, South Africa 8

April 2009

2006 Monte Das Talhas Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal 8-
Casas del Vosce Winemaker’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Chile 8
2001 Conn Creek Cabernet Franc Napa Valley, USA 8+
2006 Perrin Vinsobres “Les Cornuds”, France 9-

March 2009

1996 Rioja Faustino V Reserva, Spain 9
2008 White River Chenin Blanc Breedekloof, South Africa 8
2008 Warburn Estate Shiraz Barossa, Australia 8

February 2009

2001 Chateau Clos Haut-Peyraguey Premier Cru Classe Sauterns, France 9

2008

Moet and Chandon White Star NV 9
2001 Beringer Chardonnay Sbragia Limited Release, Napa Valley 9
2005 Bennett Lane Maximus, Napa Valley 8
2005 Chateau Cabrieres Chateaneuf-du-Pape, France 8
2004 The McRae Wood Shiraz, Clare Valley, Australia 9-
2003 Bealieu Vineyard Syrah Napa Valley 8
2002 Mira Luna Syrah, Russain River Valley 8+
2006 Peirano Estate Vineyards Petite Sirah, Lodi 8
2006 Delta Vineyard Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand 8-
2006 Angeline Pinot Noir Sonoma County 8-
2004 Pirramimma Late Harvest Riesling, McLaren Vale, Australia 8+
2003 Mount Palomar Castelletto Sangiovese, Temecula Valley, USA 9-
2005 Drylands Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand 8-
2002 Blair Family Estate Chardonnay, Monterey 8
2005 B.R. Cohn Olive Hill Estate, Sonoma Valley 8+
2006 Yarden Gewurztraminer, Israel 8+
2004 Chateau de Sancerre, Sancerre AOC, France 8-
2005 Chateau Beaulieu Comtes de Tastes, Bordeaux 8
2001 Rioja Vega Reserva, Spain 9-
2005 Chateau Gravat, Medoc, France 8+
2004 Alazar Winery and Vineyards Merlot, California 8-
1999 Domaine Saint Lauren Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France 8+
2004 Assolati Sangiovese, Montecucco DOC, Italy 8
1993 Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, California 8+
1995 La Rocca & La Pira Barolo, Italy 8+

2007

2006 Goat Roti, South Africa 8+
2006 Michel Rolland Clos de los Siete, Mendoza, Argentina 8-
2001 Loxarel Reserva, Penedes, Spain 8-
2004 Chateau St. Michelle Orphelin, Columbia Valley, USA 8+
2003 Pena Ridga Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County 8-
2005 Bodegas Ercavio Tempranillo Roble, Spain 9-
2000 Tommasi Viticoltori Crearo della Conca d’Oro, Italy 8+
2005 Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile 8
2006 Sileni Cellar Celection Pinot Noir Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand 8
2005 Domaine Lafond Tavel, Roc-Epine, France 8
Santa Margherita Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut, Italy 8-

2006

2004 d’Arry’s Original Shiraz Grenache, McLaren Vale, Australia 8
2003 M. Cosentino The Cab, California 8
2004 Club des Sommeliers Chateaneuf du Pape, France 8-
2004 Domaine Denis Carre Savigny-les-Beaune, France 8-
2006 Terra Grande Reserva, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal 8+
2001 Domaine Saint Siffrein Chateaneuf du Pape, France 8
2000 Chateau des Mille Anges Cuvee Royale, Bordeaux 8
2000 Vaucher Pere et Fils Aloxe-Corton, France 8
2002 Domaine Calvet-Thunevin Les Dentelles VdP D’Oc, France 8
2005 St. Urbans-hof Riesling VDP, Germany 8+
2004 Centennial Vineyards Pinot Noir Reserve, Australia 8
2000 Poggio Le Coste Barolo DOCG, Italy 8-
2004 Domaine des Fontaines Viognier, France 8-
Chandon Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Wine NV 8-

2005

2004 Tait The Ball Buster, Barossa Valley, Australia 8+
2004 Oliverhill Winery Jimmy Selection Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia 8-
1995 Beringer Nightingale Napa Valley 8+
2005 Mulderbosch Faithful Hound, Stellenbosch, South Africa 8-
2000 Masi Costasera Amarone Classico, Italy 9
2002 Briar Ridge Vineyard Old Vines Resource, Australia 8
2002 Jackson Barry Pinot Noir Olssens, Central Otago, New Zealand 8
2001 Bryan Woods Merlot California, USA 8+
2002 Turley Zinfandel, Napa Valley Tofanelli Vineyard, 8
1996 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol, France 8+
2001 Stone Home Ranch Petite Sirah, Paso Robles, USA 8+
2001 Rutz Cellars Maison Grand Cru Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, USA 9-
2002 Giovina Rosso di Toscana IGT, Italy 9-
2001 Stone Home Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 8+
2002 Bodegas Torrique Catania Ribera Del Duero, Spain 8
1999 DieVole Broccato Toscana IGT, Italy 8
1998 Beringer Johannisberg Riesling Special Select Late Harvest 9+
2001 Schramsberg Brut Rose, California 8-

2004

2001 Pietra Majella Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italy 8+
2003 Bentgate Cabernet Sauvignon, California 8-
1998 Tria Syrah, Monterey, USA 8+
2001 d’Arenberg McLaren Vale  Shiraz, Australia 8+
2000 Castle Zinfandel Sonoma Valley 8
2000 Domaine Saint Benoit Elise Cheteauneuf-du-Pape 9-
2001 Chateau de Micouleau Bordeaux White, France 8-
2001 Leo Montagne Cote du Languedoc, France 8-

2003

2001 Bramblewood Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 8+
2001 Domaine d’Andezon Cotes du Rhone, France 8+
2000 Crane Lake Cabernet Sauvignon, California 8+
1998 Villa Mt. Eden Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, USA 8+
1999 Calera Pinot Noir Central Coast, USA 9-
2000 McGuigan Black Label Shiraz, Australia 8-
2001 Rosemount Estate Shiraz Cabernet, Australia 8-
Categories:

Wine, Pick Me Up, Please!

May 23, 2012 8 comments

So you had a bad day at work. During the meeting boss kept giving you the look, you know, that one. Engineering just informed you that project delivery will be delayed [yet again]  by 4 weeks, and you are the one to come up with the third(!) apology/excuse to the customer. And actually, this Sunday you will have to be on the plane, and it will be 3rd week in a row you have to travel over the weekend and cancel all your plans. Is that bad enough, or do we need to throw in a flat tire and a speeding ticket on the way to work?

Okay, you arrive home in sufficiently bad mood. Sit down, relax, may be put on some nice music (I don’t know about you, but Stan Getz, Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett will fit the bill for me). Will glass of wine help to cheer you up? Most probably. But what bottle should you open? If your answer is “the only one I already have”, this post might not help you much…

My wine teacher Kevin Zraly always said that “the wine should give you pleasure“. So another short answer would be “the one which will give you pleasure” – and what we need to keep in mind is that the wine I would enjoy immensely might be completely not your thing. Let’s put this aside, and let’s assume that I actually had a bad day at work. Well, it would be the easiest then to write this blog post empirically and emphatically, but I’m not sure than if I actually had a bad day at work, I would be able to write a good blog post, so … did I lose you yet? Let’s get back to the subject.

Here are three important criteria for selecting the “pick me up” wine. First, it should be an “instantly on” wine. What I mean is that the wine should be ready to drink as soon as the bottle is open. This will effectively exclude lots of big Italian wines, such as Barolo and Brunello, as well as many California Cabs (unless you have something aged to perfection in your cellar and it is actually ready to drink now) – anything which needs decanting or prolonged breathing time should be avoided here.

Then I would suggest that the wine should be familiar. It should be the wine you had before and you know how it will taste like. There is nothing wrong with opening a totally unknown bottle of wine, but – you are in a bad mood already, are you sure it is worth taking chances?

The last factor I want to throw in here – I want this wine to have a great smell. I think the “pick me up” process should start from the very first whiff from your glass, way before you take a first sip. Smell has a great power to transform your mood right away – and the great bonus or a great smell is that you can smell the wine indefinitely as it opposed to drinking it.

Oh, wait, there is one more desired feature here – the wine should be good. In other words, it should give you pleasure. In my personal book it means that the wine should be balanced and as an added bonus, have sense of place.

Let me give you some examples of the wines which should be able to improve one’s mood (I’m sure they will work for me).

2010 Fiction Red Wine Paso Robles by Field Recordings. I talked about this magnificent wine a number of times already in this blog, so let me just quote myself:First and foremost, it is a smell which doesn’t lets you put the glass down. Fresh flowers, meadows, herbs, fresh summer air – it is all captured in the smell of this wine. On the palate, this wine shows bright red fruit, like raspberries and cherries, all perfectly balanced with a great finesse. Any time you want to experience beautiful summer day, reach out to that wine.”

Flora Springs Soliloquy Sauvignon Blanc 2009. “One of the very best California Sauvignon Blanc I ever had. Beautiful combination of traditional grassiness with fruit forward and finesse. Outstanding!”

 

 

Rozes Over 40 Years Old Port. “My best port ever. I can close eyes and imagine the smell and taste of this wine – multiple layers, tremendous complexity and great opportunity to reflect on life when the finish lasts for 15 minutes or longer.”

 

 

2007 Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Icewine “This was definitely the best Icewine I ever tried. Light and effervescent (not your usual descriptors for the icewine), with perfect acidity complementing beautiful fruit. True masterpiece.

 

There you have it – I’m sure either one of this wines will greatly improve your mood. However, there is an extremely good chance that any [your personal good] bottle of wine will help too. Besides, having a bad day at work is not at all mandatory to enjoy a glass of wine (or two). Tell me, what will be in your glass today? Cheers!

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