28 June 2005

2004 Trapiche Malbec

A cheap import from Argentina, much like one of those amazingly well-engineered vintage cameras you can grab from Buenos Aires, as long as you are willing to believe that it was engineered in South America and not in Germany between 1939 and 1945. Anyway, this is a fun little wine... the 2004 Trapiche Malbec. It's 100% Malbec from Mendoza, one of my favorite grape/region combinations, close to the NZ Sauvignon Blanc/Marlborough.

There's not a lot on the nose here, but it's a very smooth drinking red wine. Just a hint of tannins on the finish, you get dark fruit and leather flavors on the amazingly soft beginning. Not sweet, sour, or otherwise tainted by the usual flaws of cheap wine (only $6 per bottle). My only question is, why use a natural cork? This one really deserves a screwcap. Not only would it knock fifty cents or so off the price, but it would make it a perfect wine for outdoor BBQs, tailgate parties, and other events where you might be without a corkscrew. As much of a wine geek as I am, I have found myself in places without corkscrews before, and it's never pleasant. One hates to take the sorority girl route and use a butter knife to drive the cork deep enough into the bottle that one is able to pour easily.

26 June 2005

Tasting Notes for June 25, 2005

The theme for this tasting was Fourth of July/picnic beverages, as such, there are some odd ones towards the end. Normally I skip these on the wine blog, but Saturday's selections were interesting.

Wine 1: Broadbent Vinho Verde. Portugal. The famous "green wine" of Portugal, this is a lightly fizzy, low alcohol, medium sweet wine. Decent enough flavors, but the kind of thing you want to serve to a novice drinker, a teenager, or the elderly. Give me something that fights back, damnit! $10.

Wine 2: 2004 The Jibe Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand. Everything I love about New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc--firm acid, amazing grapefruit flavors, and a light finish. Perfect summertime wine. $15.

Wine 3: 2002 Red Bicyclette Chardonnay. France. This is part of Gallo's attempt to rebrand French table wines for the anti-French American market. How do they do this? By focusing on romantic pastoral views of the French, the more positive stereotpes. This strategy has been very successful. I enjoy the Merlot, but this Chardonnay is forgettable. There's a lemondrop aroma and slight lemony flavor that I found offputting, with a slightly bitter finish. If you want an inexpensive French Chardonnay, go for non-vintage white Burgundy. $10.

Wine 4: 2004 Wine Block Chardonnay. California. Comes in a 1.5 Liter box, made by Kendall-Jackson but not found on the website. This is a very basic unoaked Chardonnay, thin with a mild flavor. Unimpressive, but a bargain. $10.

Wine 5: Black Box Chardonnay. California. 3 Liter box. I had been looking forward to this wine, as I'd heard it was a higher end boxed wine, and might be good to keep in the fridge for cooking and occasional consumption. Ack. I actually dumped most of my sample out and drank a few glasses of water. There's a very cheap white wine flavor--hard to describe, but think rotten fruit and eye-watering acidity. Nasty. $25.

Wine 6: 2004 Clos La Chance Rosé. California. Hurrah! A delightful dry rosé. Slight strawberry nose and flavor, made from Grenache and Syrah. I really enjoyed this one. $13.

Wine 7: 2003 Cavalchina Bardolino. Italy. Delightful little Italian wine that will surprise you--almost no tannins, this tastes a little like a Beaujolais. Banana aromas on top, with a very light cherry flavor. Fun wine. $15.

Wine 8: 2002 La vieille Ferme La Sira. France. A very tannic, dry and ashy Rhone blend, Grenache and Syrah. Unimpressive but not bad. $10.

Wine 9: 2003 Laetitia Estate Pinot Noir. California. Amazing wine. Soft on the start, good dark plum flavors, light tannins, and a smooth finish. $23.

Wine 10: Hardy's Stamp Shiraz. Australia. 3 Liter box, couldn't find a website. Supposedly this is the same wine that they put in bottles, so the quality should be the same. I haven't tried them side by side, but there's no reason why this wouldn't be true. It's a light wine with no tannins, very little black pepper aroma, and not much in the way of fruit. It's not bad, but not something I'd get either. $17.

Cocktail 1: Cuervo Golden Margarita. 1.75 Liter bottle. This is a premixed margarita aiming for a more top shelf flavor than the other premixed cocktails. It's made with José Cuervo Gold, lime juice, and Grand Marnier. The full list of ingredients isn't in there, but there's a heavy dose of sugar. If it weren't for the sugar, this would be perfect, but I think it will sell better as is. Very smooth flavor, and you can't even really taste the tequila. Lovely golden color, but you can't taste a lot of the lime (the orange from the liqueur overwhelms the lime). Probably a great idea for a party, but needs to be served over ice in small quantities. $20.

Cocktail 2: Party-A-Go-Go Lime Margarita. 1.75 Liter box, no website found. Imagine rubbing alcohol with a cup of sugar thrown in it. Couldn't taste anything else, but supposedly there's lime of some sort in there. This was one of the most foul beverages that has ever passed my lips. Avoid at all costs. Another dump, rinse, and couple of glasses were required to get over this turkey. Spend the extra buck and go for the Cuervo. I think this company makes a whole line of other premixed cocktails in a box, but I'm going to stay away. $19.

Liqueur 1: KeKe Beach Key Lime Cream Liqueur. Wow--this was really delicious. It's the pale green color of pistachio pudding. Tastes just like key lime pie filling, and I was picking up a bit of graham cracker flavor, but that could have been psychological. (Hey, it looks like they really add a touch of graham flavoring!) Like I said, this is really good, but I couldn't say how or when to serve it, except as a post-dinner light dessert. Could be fun to boost the flavor of a key lime pie. $18.

Liqueur 2: Voyant Chai Cream Liqueur. No website. Think about the flavor of a chai latte, concentrated with cream and a bit of alcohol. Quite tasty on its own, it supposedly goes great with coffee or black tea. $24.

Weekend Wines

Friday night, I grabbed a bottle of the 2003 Bogle Chardonnay, ostensibly for the purposes of cooking. However, it turned out to be a great little sipper. Even though there's some barrel fermentation, you really don't taste it. There's a sweeter, fresh fruit taste that was unexpected (as opposed to the old overripe fruit you get in a lot of Chardonnay). Highly recommended. $10.

Saturday afternoon, I made an impulse purchase of the Bouvet Ladubay Rosé Excellence, a Loire sparkling wine made solely from Cabernet Franc. This is a very rare thing, and the only other sparkling Cabernet Franc I've ever seen was a thing of pure magic I had at a dinner party last year. Unfortunately, I wasn't really impressed with this wine. There was little or no flavor, just heavy fizz and a bitter aftertaste from the notoriously tannic grape. Beautiful color, but ultimately disappointing. $15.

21 June 2005

Toad Hollow Erik's the Red

There was a Far Side cartoon that showed a group of generals sitting around a table, and one guy says, "What if we had a war and everybody came?" That's kind of the idea behind Toad Hollow's Erik's the Red, which is a blend of 15 red grapes from Paso Robles in California. From the site:
The majority of the blend is Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera, and Rofosco with a small amount of Syrah, Primitivo, Sangiovese, Merlot, Zinfandel, Dolcetto, Cabernet Franc and Petit Sirah only to be polished at the end with Grenache, Mouvedre, Petit Verdot and Malbec.
Wow. I'm surprised they didn't throw in a splash of Pinot Noir just for the hell of it.

It's a firm wine--smooth beginning and tannic finish. A fun wine to drink (and it would be hilarious to take one to a blind tasting), but I don't know what food I'd match it with. Every sip tastes a little different, as you pick up different elements from the various grapes. No one grape stands out. It's non-vintage, but tasted pretty fresh. With all those tiny grapes like Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, it could age well, but I wouldn't go to the trouble. $13.

20 June 2005

Tasting Notes for June 16, 2005

Odd tasting from the past Thursday, run by a local distributor. These are all wines carried exclusively in this market by his company.

Wine 1: 2004 Las Brisas Rueda. Spain. An unusual white wine--50% Verdejo (same as Verdelho), 25% Viura, and 25% Sauvignon Blanc. Strong aroma of ripe fruit on top, pears and grapefruit. Nicely sweet, a little bitter on the finish. I grabbed a bottle for later consumption, and I can say that it's much better with food than on its own. $10.

Wine 2: 2003 Sebastiani Sonoma County Chardonnay. California. A little buttered toast aroma, hints of apple and light fruit on the palate. Just a bit of barrel aging, not enough to make it too dark or heavy. Not bad, but then again, it's just another California chard. $13.

Wine 3: 2004 Ferrari Carano Fumé Blanc. California. For anyone reading, Fumé Blanc is the same thing as Sauvignon Blanc, it's just a marketing term used here in the US. Acidic fruit flavors, good general balance but it was a little hard on the finish. Very full bodied. A good wine, maybe not a great value. $16.

Wine 4: 2003 Códice. Spain. An unusual but delicious wine. It's pure Tempranillo, which is generally fairly tannic, but this has been made in a very light style, like a Grenache or Gamay. Fun and a good bargain. $10.

13 June 2005

2004 Toad Hollow "Eye of the Toad" Pinot Noir Rosé

Here's a fun summer wine: the 2004 Toad Hollow "Eye of the Toad" Pinot Noir Rosé. About $10, made from pure Pinot Noir. The website says that it's only available in their tasting room, but I grabbed it off the shelf at a local wine shop. First off, I've got to say that even as a childhood lover of The Wind in the Willows, this is one of the ugliest wine labels I've ever seen. Not only is there a drawing of a toad, but one eye is open and replaced with a bit of red foil, meaning that if the light is right, the toad is staring at you with a glowing solid red eyeball, no pupil or iris.

As for the wine? It's quite good. Very mild berry flavors, dry, no tannins, and a short finish. Serve cold with just about anything--I had it with a burger and fries. It goes down pretty smoothly, like a Beaujolais Nouveau. Good wine for turning someone away from White Zinfandel.

12 June 2005

Roncier Rouge NV

Lately I've been seing more bottles of the Roncier Rouge, an inexpensive non vintage red Burgundy (again, pinot noir). I really loved the Blanc version, but found that it lost its fruit over time. I'm not sure if they're making more of this or if it's old stock. The idea behind Roncier is that they take a lot of leftover grapes from decent wineries throughout Burgundy, and then package it as an inexpensive table wine. The rouge has held up well enough--still a lot of good fruit flavors, and it benefits from just a little breathing. $10.

Tasting Notes for June 11, 2005

Interesting tasting format--blind tasting in groups of two. The wine couplets were identified by name, but you didn't know what the order was. Additionally, the wines were of the same varietal and had the same high score via Wine Spectator or Wine Advocate, but were much different in price. I did pretty well, correctly identifying 10 of the 12--the sauvignon blancs threw me for a loop with a grapefruit-flavored South African versus a bland New Zealand offering. In many of the cases, the more expensive wine was slightly older, though I tended to prefer the less expensive bottles.

Wine 1: 2003 Yalumba "Y Series" Riesling. Australia. I always enjoyed Yalumba wines, including their very affordable ports. For an inexpensive riesling, this was medium sweet and had a nice whiff of petrol on top. Good lemon flavor, a little acidic. Good summer wine, great match for Asian food. $12.

Wine 2: 2004 Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling.Washington state. Slightly musty, more refined, lemon flavors again, but drier than the Yalumba. $23.

Wine 3: 2004 Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc. South Africa. Great grapefruit flavors, acidic and dry. I really thought this was from New Zealand, but was quite happy with it. Not as excited about the price. $18.

Wine 4: 2004 Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand. Herbal, grassy, slightly musky aromas, medium sweet but with a stale and boring finish. There are much better wines for the price and region. How did this score a 91? $12.

Wine 5: 2003 Rosemount Show Reserve Chardonnay. Australia. Decent offering from Rosemount--I've never had any of their higher-end wines. Good buttered toast flavors, obvious well-oaked. Great bargain, and though a well-crafted wine, not the kind of thing I personally like. $14.

Wine 6: 2002 Landmark Overlook Chardonnay. California. How did I know it was from California? It looked more like a urine sample than the Aussie chard. That's not a slam, it's just the way they oak Chardonnay in California tends to give the wine a deep gold color. Buttered toast flavors again, but a bit milder than the first wine. Don't think I'd buy it at this price. $25.

Wine 7: 2003 Argyle Reserve Pinot Noir. Oregon. Amazing black cherry flavor, yet dry and light on the tongue. A great wine. $18.

Wine 8: 2002 F. Magnien Ruchots Morey St. Denis. France, no link. A solid red Burgundy, meaning it's all Pinot Noir. Unlike the above, it doesn't have as much fruit flavor. Instead, there's a sort of claylike quality that you find in a lot of French wines, as well as higher tannins. Probably awesome in a couple of years, but too rich for my blood. $50.

Wine 9: 2003 Goats Do Roam in Villages. South Africa. I've had this one before, and had the simpler version just last week, so I spotted that weird pinotage flavor in a heartbeat. Herbal and tannic, I'm still not a big fan. $14.

Wine 10: 2001 Guigal Chateauneuf-du-Pape. France. This was my first exposure to the heralded Rhone blend. I was unimpressed, finding it dark, sour, and not well balanced. Why would you grab this when CDR is so much tastier and cheaper? $40.

Wine 11: 2002 Paringa Cabernet Sauvignon. Australia. Amazing little wine. Dark purple color, dark fruit flavors. Well balanced, good fruit-forward feel, incredible price. I loved their Shiraz, and am equally impressed by this wine. $10.

Wine 12: 2001 Hedges Three Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. Washington State. I think this is the first wine that I've had from the tiny Red Mountain region. Black pepper aromas on top, but with a hot and dry flavor that I found offputting. $21.

07 June 2005

2003 Fairview Goats Do Roam Red

Consider this a followup to my earlier review of the same winery's Goats Do Roam in Villages. I didn't like that wine, even though I love the story behind it. But the regular Goats Do Roam was only $8, so I thought, what the hell? I sipped it along with a traditional pizza margherita. The breakdown has varied a bit over the years, but one list I found broke down the ingredients as follows: 33% Pinotage, 22% Shiraz, 13% Grenache, 13% Carignan, 10% Cinsault, 5% Gamay Noir and 4% Mourvèdre. In other words, this is like taking the native grape of South Africa and throwing it in a blender with all the major grapes of Southern France. And I liked it. Dry, and nicely tannic, but not overly fruity (in other words, well balanced). It doesn't have that sour smell/taste one asscociates with cheap red wine. This is definitely a great table wine, and I think it would go well with an afternoon barbecue. In fact, I plan on bringing a couple of bottles to the family Fourth of July BBQ in Murfreesboro next month. Definitely recommended. My dream is to serve one of these wines with goat cheese and roasted goat, as I love those two foods deeply, and this is the only wine I know of that is specifically crafted to match those two dishes.