Ah, the first tasting of 2007 at Great Wines. The theme was decent bargain wines under $15 (with two higher end wines thrown in).
Wine 1: Voga Pinot Grigio. Veneto/Trentino, Italy. Fairly sure this is non-vintage. The packaging tends to suggest a shampoo, premium olive oil, or a prop in a science-fiction film. Yet even though I'm not a big fan of Pinot Grigio, I found this one interesting. It's crisp, ever-so-slightly sweet, with a lemony flavor to it. $13.
Wine 2: Fazi Battaglia Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi. Le Marche, Italy. Another unusual bottle shape, imagine a classic glass Coke bottle stretched out to the height of a standard wine bottle. This has that sort of "wet rocks" minerality that one writer described as petrichor. Mild with a tart finish, light and refreshing. Good bargain, and definitely something to talk about. $12.
Wine 3: 2003 Cucao Chardonnay. Casablanca Valley, Chile. (Incidentally, that link comes via Andrew. He and I worked together on the Combinations challenges, and he's up for various blog awards. His photography is stunning.) This has a big, fruity nose, with flavors of pear nectar but not sweet. Unusual for a Chardonnay, but enjoyable. $11.
Wine 4: 2006 Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc. Marlborough, New Zealand. If you ever wanted a fantastic textbook example of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, look no further. Full of rich grapefruit aroma and flavor. Dry and well balanced. Screams out for shellfish or grilled fish or a salad. $12.
Wine 5: Liberty School Chardonnay. Monterey County, California. Little floral notes one the nose. Peachy. Unusual flavor for a Chardonnay with a slight, Muscat-like musk. $14.
Wine 6: 2005 Mirassou Pinot Noir. California. Strawberry jam aroma, soft and balanced. Surprisingly good, and I wasn't impressed with some recent vintages. It's still damned hard to find a decent Pinot Noir under $20, but this can be a starting point if you're new to the grape. $10.
Wine 7: 2003 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot. Columbia Valley, Washington. Bold flavor for a Merlot, with stewed fruits and plums dominating, with just a mild ashy feeling on the tongue. Excellent and a good bargain. $13.
Wine 8: 2004 Concannon Petite Sirah. Livermore Valley, California. I love this grape, and these are the folks responsible for making it popular. Dark cherry and plum flavors, medium tannins, with a nice long finish. If you want a hearty, fruit-forward red to go with a steak or grilled burgers, try this out. $12.
Wine 9: 2005 Henry's Drive "Pillar Box" Red. Padthaway, Australia. Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Merlot, imported by the folks at Grateful Palate. Creamy mouth feel, a little spice, and with some dark fruit. An excellent table red. $12.
Wine 10: 2004 The Wishing Tree Shiraz. Western Australia/South Australia. Part of The Australian Premium Wine Collection. Woody, vegetal aroma, mild flavor. Interesting nontraditional Shiraz. $13.
Wine 11: 2004 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz-Cabernet. Barossa/McLaren/Coonawarra, Australia. Bright cherry flavor, and Penfolds is often a crowd pleaser at all of its product levels. $11.
Wine 12: 2001 White Oak Syrah. Alexander Valley, California. Well aged and balanced. Plum flavors with properly mellowed tannins. $25.
Wine 13: 2003 Pine Ridge Crimson Creek Merlot. Napa Valley, California. Ripe strawberry aromas and flavors, good balance, soft but still holding on to mouth-drying tannins. $30.