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Month in Wines – November 2015

December 7, 2015 5 comments

November 2015 was an interesting month. On one side, I traveled intensely throughout the month, which definitely affected memorable wine encounters. At the same time, this month brought some very unique highlights, such as Chinese wine and a full range of Beaujolais Nouveau wines (never before I tasted 5 Beaujolais Nouveau in the row). And I can’t help myself – I really love the labels on some of the Beaujolais Nouveau wines – festive and uplifting:

Here is what was “wine-interesting” in November 2015:

1421 Gold Chardonnay Xinjiang China – sorry, no idea about ABV or a price – very nice and classic in its Chardonnay profile, good apple and lemon notes, well rounded. 8-

2010 Tolaini Al Passo Toscana IGT (13.5% ABV, $20? – don’t know Costco price, Merlot/Sangiovese blend) – nicely restrained, unmistakably Italian,  good taste profile, soft tannins, good acidity, good structure. 8-

2012 Penfolds Kalimna Shiraz Bin 28 South Australia (14.5% ABV, $28) – tar and tobacco on the nose, dark fruit, dark chocolate. Tobacco and pencil shavings on the palate, good fruit, good acidity, perfect balance. 8-

2011 Turley Estate Zinfandel Napa Valley (15.6% ABV, $38) – delicious nose of ripe raspberries with a touch of tobacco, a classic Zin. Soft and delicious on the palate, perfect balance, fresh fruit, dark chocolate, hint of smoke, perfect balance. An excellent wine. 8

Changyu Red Wine Blend Ningxia, China (ABV?, about $33 at a restaurant) – definitely a highlight – spot on Bordeaux taste profile, round and balanced. 8/8+

2005 Bernard Magrez Temperancia Toro, Spain (15% ABV, $11.99 WTSO price) – I got this wine earlier in the year from the Wine Til Sold Out (WTSO). It has a delicious dense core, with dark fruit and espresso. Full bodied and perfectly well integrated. 8-

2012 Casey Flat Ranch Open Range Proprietary Red, California (14.8% ABV, $9.99, Blend: 52% Syrah, 33% Petite Sirah, 8% Merlot, 5% Mourvedre, 2% Cabernet Franc) – concentrated dark fruit, plums, dark chocolate, touch of cinnamon and a touch of tar. Scrumptiously together. 8-

2006 Monasterio De Las Viñas Reserva Cariñena DO ($15?, Garnacha 70%, Tempranillo 20%, Cariñena 10%) – out of all places, had it at hotel in Korea, and it was outstanding – firm, well structured, medium to full bodied, lavender and plums on the palate, perfect balance. 8

Beaujolais Nouveau wines

2015 Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais Nouveau (13% ABV, $10.99) – exceeding expectations. A new height for Beaujolais Nouveau. 8-
2015 Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Nouveau (13% ABV, $11.99)  – a solid effort. 7/7+
2015 Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Nouveau (13% ABV, $13.99)  – rivaling Dubœuf with may be even slight edge up. Would never identify as Beaujolais Nouveau in a blind tasting. 8-/8
2015 Mommessin Beaujolais Nouveau (11%–14% ABV, $10.99) – Classic Beaujolais Nouveau. Enough said. 7+
2015 Bouchard Beaujolais Nouveau (11%–14% ABV, $9.99) – see above. 7+

And we are done here. Did you have any of the wines I’m talking about here? What were your recent wine highlights? Cheers!

Month in Wines – September and October 2015

November 4, 2015 5 comments

If there is one neglected topic in this blog, it is the “month in wines” series, which I managed to produce quite regularly during 2014 and before. I will do my best to fix this, so if you see “June Wines” blog post in December, you would know why. This also means that these “caught up” posts will be even longer than usual – but again, now you know why.

There were lots of interesting wines during September and October, so here is a glimpse into what was pouring – well, it is a long “glimpse”, as I’m trying to cover 2 month at once, so please bear with me.

2014 Notte Italiana Prosecco DOC (11% ABV, kosher) – simple and easy, good acidity. 7

2013 Via Semi Sweet Sparkling Wine, Israel (10.7% ABV, kosher, 50% Gewurztraminer, 50% Viognier) – the inner snob said “it will not be good”, and was ashamed. The wine had nice balance of sweetness and acidity, very pleasant and simple. 7+

2013 Fero Vineyards Dry Riesling, Pennsylvania (11.5% ABV) – still need to write a post about visiting Fero Vineyards. In any case, this was nice and classic, good acidity, nice touch of honey and honeysuckle, but just a touch. 7+

2012 Carlisle The Derivative Sonoma County (14.2% ABV, 54% Semillon, 30% Muscadelle, 16% Palomino) – delicious. Bright white fruit on the nose, more of the same on the palate with clean acidity. 8-

2013 Carlisle Compagni Portis Sonoma Valley (13.9% ABV, blend of Gewurztraminer, Trosseau Gris and Riesling) – another delicious Carlisle white. Fresh and bright on the nose, medium to full body on the palate, with an impeccable balance of fruit and acidity. Ahh, and the new grape – Trosseau Gris. 8

2015 The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc Awatere Valley Marlboro (13% ABV) – literally summer in the bottle. Fresh, exuberant, a pure delight. And the first wine I had of 2015 vintage. 8

2014 Left Coast Cellars White Pinot Noir Willamette Valley (14.2% ABV) – one would never think to find white wine made out of the red grape outside of Champagne, right? This was a beautiful surprise – fresh, vibrant, crisp, good white fruit, medium body, excellent balance and complexity. 8-

It appears that this is all I had for the whites – note to self – need to drink more white wines… Anyway, the rest are the red wines.

2013 Valcantara Old Vine Garnacha, Cariñena DO, Spain (13.5% ABV) – closeout deal at my local wine store ($7.99) – however the wine is outstanding. Classic Garnacha with plums and dark chocolate. Good acidity and easy to drink. 8-

2013 Alighieri Rubino del Marchese Toscana IGP (12% ABV) – another closeout deal, same price as previous wine. There was an interesting bottle variation as the first bottle was just all about acidity and not much about fruit, but the second bottle was much more balanced. Quite enjoyable, especially at the price. 7

1997 Le Ragose Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore (12.5% ABV) – it showed age, but was still well drinkable. Lots of tertiary aromas, touch of dried fruit, but still with a good core of acidity. 8-

2011 ARFI Gabriel Cabernet Sauvignon Judean Hills, Israel (13.1% ABV, kosher) – not a bad rendition of Cab, but was a bit too sweet for my palate – I would like it to be a bit more balanced. 7

2014 The Crossings Pinot Noir Awatare Valley Marlboro, New Zealand (14% ABV) – very good example of Pinot Noir from Marlboro. Good balance of fruit and acidity, all the Pinot traits. 7+

2005 Viña Real Rioja Crianza (13.5% ABV) – classic Rioja, no sign of age. ‘Nuf said. 8

2005 Block 213 Merlot Oakville Napa Valley (13.5% ABV) – was opened for the “Merlot Month”, and I’m glad I did – it was right at the pick, if not starting to decline a bit. Still quite enjoyable, good body, good amount of fruit, cassis. 8-

2012 Nissley Naughty Marietta Semi-dry Red Wine Lancaster Valley, Pennsylvania (12% ABV) – and again inner snob was ashamed. While the wine shows some level of sweetness, it is perfectly balanced with acidity and tannins, very pleasant wine after all. 7+

2013 Field Recordings Hinterland Vineyard Cabernet Franc Paso Robles (14.1% ABV, $18, 88% Cabernet Franc, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot) – nicely polished and very classic. 8-

2013 Field Recordings Tommy Town Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara (14.3% ABV, $18, 100% Cabernet Franc) – a bit rough initially, but came down to its senses after time in the glass. 7+

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only a few more, I promise…

2005 Château Gravat Médoc AOC (13% ABV) – still have one last bottle from the case. Only now, 10 years later, this wine is losing the grip of green chewy branches and starts showing ripe fruit and overall power. Patience is a virtue of the wine lover. 7+/8-

2005 Bodegas Ignacio Marin Barón de Lajoyosa Gran Reserva Cariñena DO, Spain (13% ABV, 50% Garnacha, 30% Tempranillo, 10% Cariñena, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon) – perfectly structured, firm, fresh, dark fruit, delicious. 8-

2009 Wente Vineyards Small Lot Petite Sirah Livermore Valley, California (13.7% ABV, $35) – one of my absolute favorite wines – dark, polished, lots of power and structure, delicious till the last drop. You can get this beauty only at the winery, so if your plans will take you to the Livermore valley, do yourself a favor… 8

2011 Turley Duarte Zinfandel Contra Costa County (15.6% ABV)  – delicious, classic, dark and brooding. 8

2007 Verve Syrah Columbia Valley (14.5% ABV) – spot on – touch of spices, pepper, violet, dark fruit, delicious. This one comes with regret – I should’ve get lots, lots more during Last Wine Bottles marathon… 8

2007 Waterstone Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (14.5% ABV, $22) – I don’t care whether this wine contains any of the Harlan fruit or not – this is simply delicious, outstanding California Cab which you can’t beat in value. Classic, clean, loads of black currant, perfect balance. 8+

2009 Domaine Fond Croze Cuvée Shyrus Côtes du Rhône (14% ABV, $29.99/1.5L, 100% Syrah) – delicious rendition of the old world Syrah – pepper, lavender, dark fruit, all intermingled and balanced. 8-

2010 Turley Zinfandel Tofanelli Vineyard Napa Valley (15.8% ABV) – I couldn’t stop smelling this wine for good 10 minutes. I didn’t want to drink it – I wanted for smell to last for as long as possible. Can’t describe it – it had everything the wine lover would want from the glass of wine. There, I said it. Incredible. On the palate, the wine had lots of dark fruit and spices, structure and power. Then is closed up and opened only on the second day. This would definitely evolve – I wish I had another bottle… 8+/9-

2012 Turley Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (14.1% ABV) – an opposite to the previous wine. At first, it was practically closed. After a while, it showed all the traits of the great California Cab – black currant, a bit of dust, firm and delicious. 8

2010 Zaca Mesa Syrah Santa Ynez Valley (13.5% ABV) – if I would have to name 10 best Syrah producers in US, Zaca Mesa would be definitely in the top half of that list. Perfectly layered, with dark fruit, pepper, spices, smooth, balanced and absolutely delicious. 8+

Believe it or not, but we are finally done. What were your wine highlights as of recent? Cheers!

Month in Wines – December 2014

January 5, 2015 Leave a comment

Feels a bit strange when we are already in 2015, and I’m writing about the wine highlights from the month which belongs to the last year. Well, but then it is just a calendar, after all, and another month is just another month.

December 2014 was not super-eventful when it came to wines – but some of the wines stood out. Here are the most interesting wines of the December 2014:

2007 Ferrari Perlé Trento DOC, Italy (12.5% ABV, $35, 100% Chardonnay) – Delicious. Perfectly round, with all the undertones of a great sparkling wine. 8+

NV Rivarose Brut Rosé Provence  – Unexpectedly delicious. Never had Provence Sparkling until now, and this was an excellent wine, clearly reminiscent of Provence Rosé, but with the addition of toasted bread and yeast. 8

2011 Bodegas Volver Volver La Mancha DO (15% ABV, $27/Magnum) – One of my all times favorite Spanish wines. Dark, dense and powerful – good amount of fruit, but also lots of spices, espresso and pencil shavings in every sip. Also pretty much an unbeatable value. 8-

1998 Ceretto Monsordo Langhe DOC (13% ABV, $NA) – This was my last bottle. Sigh… It doesn’t show as a young wine, but at the same time the fruit is well present, coupled with excellent tannins and acidity. 8+

2010 Chateau Saint-Pierre Tradition Cotes de Provence, France – While Provence is famous for their Rosé,  this was an excellent red wine. An old world profile, blackberries, spices, touch of pepper, very elegant and restrained. 8

2004 Tenuta Friggiali Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Italy (13.5% ABV, $30?) – Unmistakably Italian. Fresh acidity, leather, earthiness, well present tannins with good astringency, kitchen spices, tart cherries, medium to long finish. Needs food. 8-

2011 Barton & Guestier Bistro Pinot Noir 2011 Pays d’Oc IGP (12% ABV, $9) – Simple, but without any flaws, which makes it a great every day wine (look at the price). Fresh fruit, good acidity, touch of lavender. 7+

2009 Chateau Roland La Garde Blaye-Cotes de Bordeaux AOC (14% ABV, $17) – Good Bordeaux, especially at a price. Warm, inviting, touch of cassis and bell peppers, eucalyptus, blackberries, good acidity and good balance. 7+

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2007 Erba Mountainside Vineyards Proprietary Red Wine Napa Valley (14.8% ABV, $55) – Delicious, textbook quality Bordeaux blend from California. Perfectly round, supple, luscious, heart-warming with every sip. 9-

2011 Cuveé Wine Cellars Pinot Noir Saralee’s Vineyard Russian River Valley (14.9% ABV, $28) – Another textbook classic from California, this time – a textbook California Pinot Noir – warm, dense and concentrated. Let me leave it at that. 8+

Graham’s 20 Years Old Tawny ($45.99) – delicious complexity of the aged Port – dried fruits, nuts, good amount of sweetness and fragrant lightness which shows in a well made, well aged Port. 8

Blandy’s Malmsey 10 Years old Madeira ($23.99) – A depth of flavor only Madeira can show – lots of dried fruits and nuts with a dash of salinity. Very elegant, good acidity makes it quite refreshing. 8

And we are done here. If you had any of these wine, let me know what do you think. If you tasted any great wines in December – please share. Cheers!

Month in Wines – November 2014

December 4, 2014 Leave a comment

Here we are again – November 2014 is now a history, so it is the time to summarize the wine experiences. Here is a run down of the best wines November had to offer – most of the wines are rated 8- or higher – with the exceptions possible. Well, I have to add that this post is somewhat unique. In a typical month, this would be really a summary, often including the wines already covered in the prior posts. This time around, I will include wines which will be still covered in the upcoming posts, so the links will be actually coming afterwords (flexibility of blogging doesn’t cease to amaze).

And now, in no particular order:

2010 Michel Chapoutier Marius, France (12.5% ABV, blend of Terret and Vermentino) – bright, uplifting, touch of candied lemon, refreshing acidity, good balance. Very summery overall. 8-

2011 Navaherreros Blanco de Bernabeleva Vinos de Madrid DO (14.5% ABV, $14.99, 50% Roussanne, Albillo, Macabeo and other varieties) – delicious. Plump and round, full bodied for unlimited pleasure. Adding new grape ( Albillo) is a nice bonus. 8

2008 EURL Gilles Bonnefoy Roussanne de Madone Loire Valley, France (12% ABV, 100% Roussanne) – another delicious Roussanne. To be honest, Roussanne is probably one of my most favorite wines. Big body, bright fruit of white plums with the touch of apple, vanilla, spices – all in a round and balanced package. 8-

2012 Willis Hall Viognier Columbia Valley (13.7% ABV, $22.99) – in a word, spectacular. Bright and perfumy nose, as expected from Viognier, and perfectly balanced, round, delicious body of the white fruit – just enough of everything, a perfect harmony. One of the best white wines ever. Period. 9

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2009 Parallax Zinfandel Amador County, Sierra Foothills (15.1% ABV, $5.99 at Grocery Outlet) – dense and dark, with enough smoke and raspberries. 8-

2013 Trader Joe’s Zinfandel Grower’s Reserve Paso Robles (13.5% ABV, $4.99) – open and simple, nice bright fruit – fresh raspberries and blackberries. An outstanding QPR. 7+/8-

2004 Viña Mayor Reserva Ribera del Duero DO (13.5% ABV, ~$20) – dark and powerful. Espresso, cedar box, black fruit, firm structure, perfect balance. Still young. 8

2010 Le Tourmentin Valais AOC, Switzerland (13% ABV, blend of Pinot Noir, Cornalin, Humagne Rouge, Syrah) – Delicious. Unmistakably old world, a restrained and earthy profile, but perfectly “vinous vino” as a call it – you fell like you are in a beautiful, hundreds years old cellar, surrounded by profound goodness of the great wines which lived there. I would gladly drink this wine every day… 8+

2006 Bogle Vineyards Phantom, California (14.5% ABV, Old vine zinfandel, old vine Mourvedre) – QPR of Bogle wines is nothing less of stunning. This was concentrated, dark and powerful wine, with firm structure and youthful elegance. Coffee, dark chocolate and spices taking this wine to the next level. 8

2004 Carlisle Russian River Valley Zinfandel Carlisle Vineyard, California (15.9% ABV) – way too young. Smoke, raspberries, finesse, eucalyptus, menthol cigarettes – in a tight, firm body. 8

2012 Field Recordings Carignan Camp 4 Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley (14.1% ABV, 85% Carignan, 10% Syrah and 5% Cinsault) – fresh berries with a touch of cough syrup and some cranberries. 8-

2013 Field Recordings Cabernet Franc Hinterland vineyard Paso Robles (14.1% ABV, 88% Cabernet Franc, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot) – delicious fruit forward wine – layers of fruit, coming in waves – blueberries, blackberries, blueberries again – fresh, just picked, plump and delicious. A distant touch of sweet oak to put everything together. Not the typical Cabernet Franc, but delicious. 8

2007 Teixar Garnatxa Vella Montsant DO (14.5% ABV, $75) – a textbook Grenache deliciousness. Dark red fruit, plums, mocha, dark chocolate, all weaved on the firm, muscular body. 8+/9-

2008 No Girls Grenache La Paciencia Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley (14.2% ABV, $65) – unique and different, very different. Also very unexpected for Grenache. Terroir all the way. Smoke and earth, with a good dollop of fruit and some coffee. 8

2004 Willis Hall Merlot Columbia Valley (13.6% ABV, $27.99) – menthol, eucalyptus, blackberries, touch of cassis, earthy and restrained. 8

2006 Willis Hall Vicki’s Choice v2.0 (13.5% ABV, $19.99, 50% Syrah, 35% Zinfandel, 15% Cabernet Franc) – probably caught at its peak, may be just the very beginning of the journey downhill. Mature fruit, over-ripe plums, still good acidity, nice coffee notes and a touch of spice. 8-

What were your most memorable experiences of the last month? Cheers!

 

 

 

Month in Wines: October 2014

November 9, 2014 Leave a comment

Ahh, the ever accelerating pace of the days, weeks and months flying by like a runaway train, as we are getting closer to the holidays… Another month becomes a history, and as usual, it is the time to summarize the wine experiences. Typically, this is not a very difficult task with may be 12 -15 wines which would be typically mentioned in this “month in wines” posts. It seems to be a challenging undertaking for October 2014, as it included a trip to Washington with 7 excellent wineries and lots of great wines. Well, I will do my best to control of size of this post and not to inundate my readers with repetitious details. Quick reminder: only the wines rated 8- or higher are included into this post (yes, with possible exceptions).

Let’s go:

2013 Mark Ryan Viognier Columbia Valley – Perfumy, bright, with crisp acidity and medium body. Delicious overall. 8

2012 Sparkman Cellars Enlightenment Chardonnay French Creek Vineyard Yakima ValleyElegant, with a touch of the Chablis-like gunflint on the nose, and enough of butter, vanilla and substance to make it a soulful wine. 8

NV Ayala Champagne Brut Majeur (12% ABV) – One of my all time favorite Champagnes. A full package – yeasty nose, freshly baked bread, toasted apple, perfect mid-palate weight. One of the best QPR for Champagne that I know of. 8

2013 L’Ecole No 41 Chenin Blanc Old Vines Columbia Valley (13.5% ABV) – I read it many times that acidity is often brought up as a primary characteristic of Chenin Blanc – but my experience doesn’t support it. This wine,. similar to some of the best Vouvray wines I ever had, was showing a bright white fruit, medium to full body, ripe apples and balancing acidity. 8

2011 Tikveš Barovo Red Wine, Macedonia (14.5% ABV, 65% Kratosija, 35% Vranec) – we can call this wine the “dark power”. Almost black in the appearance, with tar and espresso at its core, ripe blackberries and soft tannins. Vranec is considered one of the most heart-friendly grapes. And Kratosija adds one more grape to the collection. 8-

2011 Field Recordings Petite Sirah Edna Valley (15% ABV, 100% Petite Sirah, Crocket Hill Vineyard) – ripe blueberries, packaged into the soft frame, with bright nose saying “drink me” and blueberries all the way on the palate. Round, smooth, elegant – a “dangerous wine” – it is gone before you notice. 8-

2008 Henri Cruchon Gamaret Morges AOC (13% ABV) – Restrained, delicious old world wine. Earthiness and minerality, somewhat muted on the nose. Touch of blackberries and smoke on the palate, more earthiness, soft tannins and excellent balance. 8-

2009 Chateau Greysac Médoc AOC, France (14% ABV) – Chateau Greysac is one of the Bordeaux staples – always reasonably priced, and very consistent, year after year. Good dark fruit on the nose with a touch of earthiness, blackberries. More blackberries on the palate with a touch of cassis, refreshing acidity, well integrated tannins and medium to long finish. 8-

2012 Laplace Madiran AOP, France (14% ABV) – a rare breed – Tannat from its place of origin, France. Dark, dense, concentrated, with tar and ink on the palate, but showing fresh fruit surprisingly well. Full bodied wines, very dense and present. 8-

2006 Trapiche Broquel Malbec Mendoza, Argentina (14% ABV) – no sign of age – fresh, approachable, touch of sweet oak, dark fruit, well noticeable tannins and perfect balancing acidity. Delicious. 8

2011 Siduri Pinot Noir Sonoma County (13.1% ABV) – classic, classic, classic – dark smokey fruit on the nose, same on the palate – cherries, hint of mushrooms and forest floor, vibrant acidity, more smoke on the palate. 8

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And here are the [red wine] highlights of the Woodinville trip (lots of them) – for the tasting notes, please click on the wine name:

2010 Elevation Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Stillwater Creek Vineyard Columbia Valley – 8
2011 Elevation Cellars Jammin’ Red Blend Red Mountain and Columbia Valley – 8-
2010 Elevation Cellars Merlot Stillwater Creek Vineyard Columbia Valley – 8-
2009 Elevation Cellars Monolith Bordeaux Blend Hedges Vineyard Red Mountain – 8+
2011 Pondera Entwined Columbia Valley – 8-
2011 Pondera SVS Number One Columbia Valley – 8-
2011 Pondera Malbec Stillwater Creek Vineyard Columbia Valley – 8+
2009 Pondera Prima Donna Columbia Valley  – 8
2010 Des Voigne Cellars Montreux Syrah Columbia Valley  – 8-
2010 Des Voigne Cellars “Untitled” Columbia Valley – 8-
2011 Des Voigne Cellars The Composer Wahluke Slope – 8-
2012 Sparkman Cellars Ruckus Syrah Red Mountain – 8
2011 Sparkman Cellars Rainmaker Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley – 8+
2011 Guardian Cellars Gun Metal Columbia Valley – 8
2011 Guardian Cellars The Informant Syrah Wahluke Slope – 8
2011 Guardian Cellars The Rookie Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain – 8
2011 Fidelitas Boushey Vineyard Red Wine Yakima Valley – 8-
2012 Mark Ryan NumbSkull GSM Walla Walla – 8
2012 Mark Ryan The Dissident Columbia Valley – 9-
2012 Mark Ryan Long Haul Red Mountain – 8+
2012 Mark Ryan Dead Horse Red Mountain – 9-
2011 Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley – 8-
2011 Leonetti Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley – 8+

And we are done here. So, what were your wine discoveries for the past month? Cheers!

Month In Wines – August 2014, plus a Sabering Video

September 1, 2014 7 comments

Summer is practically over, and the school is about to start, together with all the after-school activities and other busy things. Well, this is not the worst of the problems to have, isn’t it? Anyway, we should be talking about wines here, so let’s do that.

August is usually an interesting month with the wines, as August 31st is our wedding anniversary, which requires to kick it up a notch when possible. We didn’t drink anything insanely out of this world this past month, but there were quite a few of the very solid wines worth mentioning. As usual, this summary includes only 8- or higher rated wines – with some exceptions possible; many of the wines you see below were previously discussed in this blog, so this only serves as a summary post.

2007 Champagne Veuve Doussot Brut (12% ABV) – beautiful complexity of the vintage champagne – yeast, toasted bread, nice and elegant mid-palate weight, toasted bread on the palate. 8-

2011 Adega Pedralonga Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain (13% ABV, $22)ocean air in your glass – a sea-driven pleasure, with lots of minerality and delicious complexity. 8+

2012 Buil & Giné Joan Giné Blanc, Priorat DOQ, Spain (14% ABV) – a Burgundy rivaling complexity and elegance, with touch more floral and white fruit notes. 8

2012 Villa Bellangelo Chardonnay Finger Lakes (13.8% ABV, $20) – Chablis-style, restrained, balanced, delicious. 8

2012 Villa Bellangelo 1866 Reserve Riesling Finger Lakes (11% ABV, $32) – excellent minerality and complexity, classic Riesling aromatics, lots of pleasure. 8/8+

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2010 Marco Sambin Marcus Veneto IGT (14% ABV, Cabernet Sauvignon 45%, Merlot 40%, Cabernet Franc 10%, Syrah 5%) – delicious from start to finish. Multilayered, complex and bringing lots of pleasure. 9

2013 Wonderwall Pinot Noir Edna Valley (14.9% ABV) – a supercharged California Pinot Noir with fruit forward power balance. Exuberant wine. 8-

2011 Bodegas Caro ‘Amancaya’ Gran Reserva Malbec–Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza, Argentina (15% ABV, 70% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon)playful, open, dark chocolate and mocha notes, dark fruit and big voluptuous body, all very balanced. 8

2010 Château de Pibarnon Bandol Rouge Les Restanques de Pibarnon, Bandol, France (14% ABV) – cherries and blackberries, firm structure, earthiness, noticeable acidity. Very pleasant overall and pairs great with steak. 8

2009 Gramercy Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley (14.2% ABV) –  Perfect Bordeax elegance coupled with unmistakably a New World flair. 8

2005 Neyers Vineyards AME Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (14.7% ABV)  – stunning elegance of red berries, acidity, tannins and firm structure. Delicious one sip after another. 9

2013 Newport Vineyards Landot Noir SENE AVA ($18) – barnyard on the nose, freshly crushed berries on the nose and palate, very unusual – and a new grape. 7+

2011 Robert Storey Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (14.4% ABV) – classic Cabernet profile, cassis, green bell pepper, eucalyptus, balancing acidity, medium to full body and firm tannins. 8-

2000 Primus Casablanca Valley Red Wine, Chile (14.1% ABV, 60% Carménère, 22% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon) – lots of pleasure which only aged wine can deliver. Very complex, rich, with great bouquet of herbs, spices, fresh eucalyptus, touch of cassis and earthiness, fresh. Had lots of life left in it.  8+

2008 Flam Merlot Reserve, Israel (14% ABV) – restrained and elegant. Dark fruit on the nose with a touch of espresso. Blackberries and touch of plumes with supple tannins and clean acidity on the palate, excellent balance. 8

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Somewhat unusual addition to the “month in wines” post – a short sabering video. I have done sabering (opening the bottle of the sparkling wine by hitting its top to create structural damage in the glass and to allow the internal pressure of the sparkling wine to break the top off – in a classic scenario, done with the sword) before, using the bottom of the Champagne glass. Then I had a number of fiascoes, breaking a few glasses and cutting myself. Then I was again inspired by the drunken cyclist sabering video, and while I didn’t attempt to use the golf club, I did it again (successfully) with the glass. Here is the video for you (the Champagne I’m opening is the one mentioned in this post, 2007 Veuve Doussot):

And we are done here. What were your wine highlights of the past month? What do you think of sabering – would you attempt it? Cheers!

Month in Wines – July 2014

August 4, 2014 2 comments

Uff, July was a busy wine month! Especially taking into account the Wine Bloggers Conference experiences, there were quite a few wines which were on the high mark. Anyway, below are the wine highlights of the month – the wines which were rated 8- out of 10 or higher. Here we go, without any particular order:

NV Ruffino Prosecco DOC – nice apple on the nose, good firm acidity with the touch of apple on the palate. An excellent sparkler. 8-

2013 La Garagista Coup de Foudre Pettilant Naturel, Vermont (11% ABV) – Minerality through the roof, round and delicious until the very last drop. 8

2012 Bellangelo Dry Riesling Finger Lakes (12.3% ABV) – Perfect Riesling nose, clean fruit, minerality and excellent acidity. 8

2013 Bellangelo Dry Riesling Finger Lakes Seneca Lake (11.3% ABV) – nose of white stone fruit, honeydew. Touch of green apple and expressive minerality on the palate. 8

2012 Bellangelo Semi-Dry Riesling Finger Lakes (11% ABV) – nice white fruit on the nose and palate, shouldn’t be consumed ice cold, as it removes form the wine. 8-

2013 Bellangelo Semi Dry Riesling Finger Lakes Seneca Lake (10.8% ABV) -apricot on white peaches on the nose. Very refreshing and a pleasure to drink. 8

2013 Château du Rouët Rosé Cuvée Réservée Tradition Côtes de Provence AOP  (12.5% ABV) – strawberries + perfect acidity = refreshing summer wine. 8-

2013 Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc St. Helena – Napa  – outstanding. Grass, cat pee, lemon, refreshing and balanced – what else you can wish for? 8

2012 Donnachiara Fiano de Avelino DOCG Montefalcione (13% ABV) – sweet fruit on the nose, plump, open, touch of minerality and fresh cut grass, nice acidity. 8-

2013 Aridus Viognier Arizona – beautiful nose, classic floral Viognier , very elegant (despite a touch of heat), nice saltiness on the palate, great complexity. 8-

2012 Sevtap Istanbul Sauvignon Blanc Santa Ynez Valley (12.4% ABV) – unusual nose, beautiful concentrated fruit, refreshing. 8-

2013 Imagine French Colombard California (13.6% ABV) – simple, refreshing, nice lemony notes and acidity. Perfect for the summer day. 8-

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2007 Ar. Pe.Pe Rosso di Valtelina DOC (13% ABV) – Nebbiolo at its best. Not the powerful rendition covered in impenetrable oak armor, but naked, vulnerable grape, in its sweet plum and sapidity (thank you, Stefano!) elegance. Really a beautiful wine. 8

2011 Ravenswood Zinfandel Teldeschi Single Vineyard Dry Creek Valley, California – delicious, layer after layer. Restrained, with smokey raspberries and herbs, perfect fruit, silky tannins and savory notes. Did I say “delicious” already? 8+

2012 Field Recordings Petite Sirah Huerhuero Vineyard Paso Robles (15.1% ABV) – wow. Sweet fruit, blueberries, blackberries, over the top wine – but with an excellent balance. If you have the bottle, don’t open it now – it will evolve over the next 4-5 years. 8+

2011 BellinghamThe Bernard Series Small Barrel S.M.V. Coastal Region WO, South Africa (14% ABV, 75% Shiraz, 22% Mourvedre, 3% Viognier) – Very restrained, firmly structured, perfect acidity and with a good portion of the dark magic of Shiraz. 8-

2011 Casa Bianchi Premium Leo Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina (15% ABV) – nose of supple fruit, herbs and spices, touch of eucalyptus and dark chocolate.  Very dense, balanced and smooth on the palate. 8-

2010 Vineyard 511 Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain – sweet plums and cassis on the nose, touch of eucalyptus, great density, elegant and with the excellent aging potential. 9-

2011 Rodney Strong Vineyards Symmetry Meritage – open herbaceous nose, touch of red fruit, raspberries, cherries, firm structure, firm tannins. An excellent Bordeaux blend. 8

2006 Jordan Winery Cabernet Sauvignon – beautiful nose, open fruit, touch of earthiness, cassis, the same on the palate. Perfect Cab! 8

2010 Jordan Winery Cabernet Sauvignon – wow, open, explicit nose, eucalyptus, soft fruit, wow again. young tannins. 8

2011 Taken Red Wine Napa Valley – blueberries and blackberries on the nose, nicely restrained, perfect acidity, firm tannins, good structure, excellent balance. 8

2012 Sevtap Zig-a-zig-ah Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Ynez Valley – eucalyptus, pure, beautiful, dark fruit, cherries, overall an excellent wine. 8-

2012 Sevtap Pillow Talk Petit Verdot Santa Ynez Valley (14.25% ABV) – concentrated, earthy, almost black color, notes of barnyard. Very balanced overall. 8-

2012 Sevtap Wish You Were Here Sangiovese Santa Ynez Valley (13% ABV) – Tobacco and earthiness on the nose, clean tobacco and coffee flavor profile on the palate, an excellent balance. 8-

2010 Lions Peak Vineyards Roaring Lion Cabernet Sauvignon  – classic Cab, cassis, green bell pepper, soft, round, supple, good open fruit. 8-

2010 Lucas & Lewellen Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 6 Santa Barbara County – classic cab, cassis, belle pepper, perfect structure. 8

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And we are done. What were your special wine experiences lately? Cheers!

Month in Wines – June 2014

July 3, 2014 5 comments

Quite expectedly, with the arrival of the consistently warm weather, June saw an increase in the Rosé wine appearances – luckily, those were good Rosé. There were also a number of great Cabernet Sauvignon wines worth mentioning, including some candidates for the Top Dozen list of 2014. And some Syrah – rather magnificent. And other great wines. Anyway, for what it worth, the list is below. As usual, most of the wines were rated at 8- or higher, with some exceptions (and explanations) for the lower ratings.

Here we go:

2013 Rocher de La Garde Cinsault Vin de France (12.5% ABV, $9.99) – beautiful light pink color, inviting nose of fresh strawberries, more strawberries on the palate. Well balanced with nice acidity, refreshing, easy to drink and very pleasant. A perfect summer day quaff. 8

2013 Temperamento Bobal Rosé Utiel-Requena DOP (12% ABV) – Beautiful in and out. Perfectly pink in the glass. Strawberries on the nose, ripe strawberries on the palate. Round, balanced, together, very good overall. 8-

2012 Albero Bobal Rosé Utiel-Requena DOP (12.5% ABV, $5.99 at Trader Joe’s) – simple and delicious. Beautiful pink color, refreshing, good acidity, strawberries profile. Unbeatable QPR. 8-

2013 14-18h Dry Rosé Wine Agiorgitico, Peloponnisos PGI, Greece (13% ABV) – beautiful intense pink color. Delicious, concentrated, cranberry laden wine. My perennial favorite for the past 7 -8 years. Never disappoints. 8

2013 La Gordonne Billette Bouquet de Provence Cuvée Tradition, Côtes de Provence (13.5% ABV) – it’s no wonder this wine is one of the best selling Rosé in France – light, clean, refreshing, each sip having enough substance to hold on to, and perfectly balanced at the same time. 8

2013 Les Lauzeraies Tavel, France (13.5% ABV) – I love Tavel wines any time of year – but they feel especially appropriate during summer. Beautiful, concentrated pink color. Nose of cranberries and rose petals. Cranberries and herbs on the palate, medium bodyu, concentrated, excellent balance. 8-

2006 Selbach-Oster Schmitt Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Auslese Mosel Saar Ruwer QmP, Germany (8.5% ABV) – Delicious. Slightly viscous, layers of sweet fruit (apricots, peaches), honeysuckle. Perfect acidity. 8-

2013 Bodegas Shaya “Shaya” Old Vines Verdejo, Rueda, Spain – one of my all times favorite white wines. Delicious complexity in the plump, mouth-coating, round package – this wine can rival any Chardonnay any day. If you never had it, make it your next wine. 8+

2011 Org de Rac Cuvée La Verne Blanc de Blancs Brut, Swartland, South Africa (12.5% ABV) – classic and delicious. Hint of yeast and bread on the nose, fine mousse on the palate, clean and crisp acidity, perfect body weight mid-palate. Excellent sparkling wine overall. 8-

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2010 St. Clement Oroppas Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (14.6% ABV)  – amazing Cabernet Sauvignon, from nose to the palate. On the nose, the wine showed cassis, a hint of blueberries and a touch of espresso. On the palate, this wine was powerful and dense. Dark fruit, perfectly restrained, thick, practically chewy mouthfeel, perfectly structured and dry, layered and silky smooth at the same time.  9-

2003 Neyers Cabernet Sauvignon Neyers Ranch Conn Valley,  Napa Valley (14.5% ABV) –  Sheer exuberance. On the nose, beautiful dark fruit, fresh berries and the touch of barnyard. The palate was even better than the nose – lots of stuff happening, eucalyptus, herbs, sage, bell peppers, cassis, blueberries, truffles, dark chocolate, espresso – just beautiful, beautiful wine.  9

2011 Michel Chapoutier Marius Red, France IGP (13.5% ABV) – Touch of barnyard on the nose. Nicely restrained on the palate. Touch of spiciness, black pepper, dark fruit, good balance. Very pleasant overall. 8-

2008 Alban Vineyards Patrina Estate Syrah Edna Valley (14.7% ABV) – My first taste of Alban wines, a cult Rhone-style wine producer in California. Beautiful dark fruit, dense, earthy, plums, velvety texture, perfect balance. Every sip was a pleasure. 9-

2011 Abacela Fiesta Tempranillo Umpqua Valley, Oregon (13.6% ABV) – very respectful rendition of Tempranillo – savory, well structured, with good amount of power typical for Ribero del Duero wines. 8-

2009 Bodegas Ochoa Finca Santa Cruz Tempranillo Crianza Limited Edition, Navarra, Spain (13.5% ABV) – another excellent Tempranillo, this time from Spain – round, ripe, deliciously layered with incredible textural complexity, tobacco, smoke, perfect balance. 8

NV Molo 8 Lambrusco Mantovano DOC (8.5% ABV) – simple and delicious! Perfectly in check, balanced, good acidity, fresh red fruit on the palate, pleasant fizz. 8-

2007 Burgess Cellars Merlot, Napa Valley – dark fruit on the nose and the palate, hint of dark chocolate, cassis, raspberry and sweet blueberry undertones on the palate, good balance. 8-

2004 Club de Sommeliers Chateauneauf-du-Pape Red, Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC , France (14.5% ABV) – a very solid effort for the France supermarket wine – it aged nicely, good open red fruit, touch of spices, good balance. 7+

2010 Celler de Capcanes Costers del Gravet Red Wine, Montsant DO (14.5% ABV, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Garnacha, 20% Samso) – dark power, focused, concentrated, starts from the classic Cabernet profile with layered and open support from Grenache. Full body, yet perfectly balanced between fruit, tannins and acidity. Delicious wine. 8+

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That completes the report on the June wine highlights. Did you have any of these wines? What were your best wine discoveries of the last month? Cheers!

Month in Wines – May 2014

June 9, 2014 10 comments

There was no shortage of the good and even great wines in May,  including some potential candidates for the Top Dozen list. The spread of wines origin-wise was mostly even, from New Zealand to Italy to Spain, France and California. As usual, the list includes only the wines rated 8- or higher, with some lower rated wines included on the exception basis. Let’s take a look.

2011 Sueño Tempranillo Ribera Del Jucar DO, Spain (14% ABV, $19,99) – a classic, round Tempranillo – eucalyptus, cigar box, perfect balance. 8-

2012 Centanni Pecorino Offida DOCG, Italy (14.5% ABV) – a supple white, with lots of big flavors, very concentrated, but still refreshing. Quite unique and different. 8-

2012 Centanni Rosso Di Forca Rosso Piceno DOP, Italy (13.5% ABV) – One of the best Pop-and-Pour wines I ever had. From the moment the glass “cork” was pulled off, a luscious, luxurious, round and delicious wine, one sip after another. It was gone in no time… 9-

2010 Rio Maggio Rosso Piceno DOC (13.5% ABV) – Another excellent Rosso Piceno wine, but very different from the previous one – dark restrained fruit, a touch of cherry pit, excellent acidity. 8-

2012 Borell-Diehl Pinot Noir Estate, Germany probably the first German Pinot Noir I liked. While not super-sophisticated, it was simple enough and food food friendly. 7+

2011 Stephen Ross Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, California  – Classic California Pinot, dark chocolate, pencil shavings, smoke, excellent balance. 8

2009 Maysara Pinot Noir, McMinniville AVA, Oregon – herbal profile on the nose, dark fruit, earthiness, balancing acidity. I can drink that every day. 8-

2012 Château Paul Mas Coteaux du Languedoc AOP (14,5% ABV, Syrah 85%, Grenache 10%, Mourvedre 5%) – dark fruit, earthiness, spicy cherries, pepper, espresso – lots of things going. Need time. 8-

2011 Château Paul Mas Clos de Savignac Grés de Montpellier (14.5% ABV, Mourvedre 50%, Syrah 30%, Grenache 20%) – Dark chocolate, loads of pepper, blueberries, perfectly balanced. 8

2012 Château Paul Mas Clos du Moulinas Pezenas Grand Terroir du Languedoc (14.5% ABV, 55% Syrah, 45% Grenache) – extremely complex, leather, tobacco, pepper, perfect balance, simply a wow. 9-

2012 Swedish Hill Reserve Chardonnay Finger lakes, New York (13% ABV) – Chablis-like personality,  with the hint of gunflint on the nose, also showing of as nice restrained California wine, with vanilla and oak, and everything in balance. 8-

2012 Dr. Konstantin Frank Gewurztraminer Finger Lakes, New York (12.5% ABV) – beautiful honeysuckle and white peaches nose, coupled with exotic fruit and spices the palate, and most importantly, all nicely balanced. 8-

2013 Rabbit Ridge Allure de Robles Rosé Paso Robles, California (13.5% ABV, $4.99 at Trader Joe’s , Mourvedre 49%, Grenache 26%, Syrah 25%) – simple, balanced, delicious, surprising. Yes, this was a perfect summer wine from Trader Joe’s – get it by the case. 8-

2010 Cairdean Vineyards Malbec Nape Valley (14.2% ABV) – My first experience with California Malbec. Very unusual – socks (yep, you can think whatever you want of me), baking spices, lavender, fresh cookies, very elegant. 8

2010 Cairdean Vineyards Chardonnay Russian River Valley (13.9% ABV) – touch of vanilla and butter, toasted bread, soft and round. 8-

2012 Matua Pinot Noir Marlboro New Zealand (13% ABV) – this wine screams “classic Marlboro” all the way – smokey nose, cherry on the palate, light and at the same time savory profile with cut-through acidity. 8-

2005 Dama de Toro Crianza Toro DO (13.5% ABV) – wonderful complexity, makes you smell this wine indefinitely, and then you can spend eternity analyzing each sip – herbs, lavender, sage, nutmeg, red and black fruit – just a wonderful example of the wine [probably] at its peak. 9-

2010 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (14.5% ABV) – great open Cabernet Sauvignon nose, bell peppers, black currants, very classic. Medium to full body on the palate, perfectly restrained, excellent balance. 8

2008 Tamaya Syrah Reserva Limari Valley, Chile (13.5% ABV) – this wine would perfectly impersonate a classic Northern Rhone Syrah – very restrained, dense, concentrates, pepper and spices on the palate, savory herbs. A Thought provoking wine. 8-

That completes my wine highlights report for May. Did you make any interesting discoveries in the last month? Did you have any of the wines I mentioned here? Cheers!

Month in Wines – April 2014

May 4, 2014 4 comments

April was a good month for the good wines, with some of the gems worthy of Top Dozen consideration. Syrah and Pinot Noir were probably the biggest stars, but not the only stars. I already wrote about some of the wines before, so I will not inundate you with the repetitive details, and instead will simply give you the reference to the prior post. All the wines are rated on the 10 points scale, with + and – adjustments. These summary posts only include the wines with the ratings of 8- and higher – in the very very rare cases, I might include 7+ wines if I feel that the wine was simply unique.

Let’s go!

2010 Lenné Estate Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton AVA, Oregon (14% ABV, $45) – dark and delicious, and will age well for the next 10-12 years. 8+

2010 Renieri Invetro Rosso Toscano IGT (14% ABV) – delicious Super-Tuscan, powerful, round, a pure joy. 8+

2011 Michel Chapoutier Tournon Mathilda Shiraz Victoria, Australia (13% ABV, $14.99) – simply spectacular. A clear pepper profile on the nose and the palate. A stunning beauty. 9

2003 J.L. Chave Offerus Saint-Joseph, France (13.5% ABV) – Barnyard, touch of spice (pepper), dark and delicious. 8

2005 Domaine Philippe  Bornard Arbois Pupillin La Chamade Ploussard (12.8% ABV) – beautiful, powerful, multi-layred. Pleasure in every sip. 8+

2012 J Wrigley Estate Pinot Noir Proposal Block McMinnville AVA (14% ABV, aged 10 Month in French oak, 250 cases produced. $45 SRP) – chocolate, mocha, a bit of mushrooms. Nice and balanced, and will age well. 8-

2010 Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (SRP: $47.99) – perfect Claret, if you will. This wine would rival many top California Cabernet Sauvignon wines, which would also cost at least 2-3 times as much. 8

2007 La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi Rioja Riserva, Spain (SRP: $19.99) – Perfect balance of fruit, structure, power and earthiness which only Rioja possess. Beautifully round and delicious. 8+

2001 La Rioja Alta 904 Rioja Gran Riserva, Spain (SRP: $47.99) – Mature and delicious, with lots of subtle nuances. A thought provoking wine. 8+

2009 Shiloh Legend Judean Hills, Israel (14.2% ABV, 45% Shiraz, 40% Petite Sirah, 9% Petite Verdot, 6% Merlot, each grape vinified and oak-cask aged separately for 8 month, then blended and aged for another 8 month) – round, velvety, delicious, with dark fruit core and firm structure. Perfect balance of power and concentration. 8

2012 Tousey Chardonnay Estate, Hudson River, New York (12% ABV) – a Chablis on Hudson would be a good way to define this wine. Chablis style minerality and hint of gunflint on the nose, creamy and round on the palate, with subtle apple and vanilla notes. Delicious Chardonnay. 8-

2012 M. Chapoutier Les Vignes des Bila-Haut White Côtes-du-Roussillon (13% ABV, $13.99, blend of Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Macabeu) – in a word, delicious. Bright white fruit on the nose, fresh lemon, some earthiness. Perfect balance on the palate, each sip makes you crave for another. 8+

2004 Bodegas Ondarre Rioja Reserva Rioja DOC (13% ABV) – dark fruit on the nose, with the hint of eucalyptus and cigar box. Palate full of dark fruit with earthy profile, supple tannins and bright acidity, very balanced. 8-

2010 Chapelle-St-Arnoux Côtes du Rhône  AOC (13.5 % ABV, $10.99) – nose of inviting dark fruit, the same on the palate with addition of dark chocolate notes and rounding acidity. Very dense and well structured for Côtes du Rhône. A steal for the price (sorry, it was some sort of closeout). 8

2010 Les Trois Chemins Côtes du Rhône AOP (13% ABV, $8.99) – fresh red fruit on the nose, blackberries and cherries, more of the same on the palate, coupled with bright acidity. Simple and elegant, and beyond steal at the price (again, a closeout of sorts). 8-

That concludes my report on the April wine highlights. Did you taste any of these wines? What were your best wine experiences of the month? Cheers!