31 July 2005

Tasting Notes for July 30, 2005

My usual tasting featured nothing but Pinot Grigio (or Pinot Gris) and Pinot Blanc (or Pinot Bianco). Two different kinds of grapes, pretty similar as far as I'm concerned. I damned near skipped it. In fact, I didn't show up until halfway through the scheduled time. Even though I don't particularly like this grape, I finally decided to go and see if something surprised me. And while I had fun at the tasting (seeing the gang, trying to guess regions), I experienced my standard Pinot Grigio disappointment: there's just not much flavor. Given that, if you're a fan of this grape these reviews will be completely useless for you.

Wine 1: 2003 Nobilo Icon Pinot Gris. Marlborough, New Zealand. Sweet and acidic, a bit surprising, but not enjoyable. $19.

Wine 2: 2002 Firesteed Pinot Gris. Oregon. A lot of people liked this one--it's dry and slightly musky, but I didn't find it memorable. Good bargain, though. $10.

Wine 3: 2004 Adelsheim Pinot Blanc. Oregon. Dry and lemony, very short finish. Probably a good solid Pinot Blanc, but this grape just doesn't click with me. $18.

Wine 4: 2004 Luna Pinot Grigio. Napa, California. Lovely label. I found it dusty, but with a more concentrated flavor than some of the other wines. $20.

Wine 5: 2002 Trimbach Pinot Blanc. Alsace, France. Tasted like a watered down Chardonnay with a squirt of lemon juice. $14.

Wine 6: 2003 Chateau Ste. Michelle Pinot Gris. Yakima Valley, Washington. Really harsh flavors, it almost tasted like it had been oaked, but it's all stainless steel fermentation. $14.

Wine 7: 2003 Tiefenbrunner Pinot Bianco. Delle-Venezie, Italy. From the upper northeast where things start to turn German. This wine tasted like watery ash. Blech. $17.

Wine 8: 2002 Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve. Alsace, France. Another one from Trimbach, and this is one that nearly every person had a bad reaction to. There was a really horrible smell coming from the wine--I think it was brettanomyces, but no one present was familiar enough with the scent to back me up. Other people smelled ammonia, and one guy described it as "a high school science experiment gone horribly wrong". All of that aside, it didn't taste too bad. $20.

Wine 9: 2003 Bollini Pinot Grigio. Trentino, Italy. Soft and rounded, with some decent fruit, but lacks punch. $13.

Wine 10: 2004 Benton Lane Pinot Gris. Willamette Valley, Oregon. Sweet, but not overpowering. This is one that I'd actually like to drink with a good seafood meal. $15.

Wine 11: 2004 Au Bon Climat Pinot Gris/Binot Blanc. Santa Barbera, California. I enjoyed this one. Hints of raw sugar and caramel on top, but it's not sweet. Good round flavor. Definitely my favorite of the bunch. $20.

Wine 12: 2004 Geretto Pinot Grigio. Delle Venezie, Italy. Sweet and musty, almost like a Riesling. Not bad, definitely unusual and a decent price. $12.

Wine 13: 2003 King Estate Pinot Gris. Willamette Valley, Oregon. Aromas and flavors of apple and pear, but way too watery. $16.

2004 Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Rosé

Continuing with the Summer of Dry Rosés, I tried the 2004 Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Rosé. From Spain, it's a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha. Perhaps the most striking thing about this wine is the color--I haven't seen a good example of it online, but it's got an orange tint to it that's really captivating. As for the wine itself, it's not bad, but not impressive either. I actually thought that it would make a really interesting sangria.

24 July 2005

Tasting Notes for July 23, 2005

Today's competitive blind tasting was all about Merlot...

Wine 1: Terre Palladiane White Merlot. Veneto, Italy. This is the first White Merlot I've had, and I'm not anxious to try another. The Merlot grape has a sort of delicate flavor to begin with; made like White Zin, it's very watery, with just a touch of pink color. Slightly musky aroma with a medium sweet flavor. A lot of people seemed to enjoy it, though. $10.

Wine 2: 2002 McWilliam's Hanwood Estate Merlot. Southeast Australia. Bright and slightly sweet, tart with a bit of plum flavor. Really enjoyed this one. $11.

Wine 3: 1999 L'Ecole 41 Columbia Valley Merlot. Washington. Dark cherry aromas and flavors, good fruit and slightly sweet. Not bad, but not spectacular. $33.

Wine 4: 2002 Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Merlot. Columbia Valley, Washington. I've had this before, and it's a big wine. Softer now than when I first tried it, but still deep and dark with solid fruit flavors. $20.

Wine 5: 2000 Chateau Siaurac Lalande-de-Pomerol. Bordeaux, France. From the right bank, this is a combination of Merlot and Cabernet Franc with a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon. Herbal nose, strong tannins. Would probably survive for quite a while longer in the cellar. $19.

Wine 6: 1999 Artesa Napa Valley Merlot. California. Great dark fruit aromas and fresh strawberry flavors. Good little wine. $19.

Wine 7: 2002 Toad Hollow McDowell Vineyard Reserve Merlot. Sonoma, California. Dark cherry flavors, a bit of sweetness, with a delightfully soft finish. Enjoyed this, but I prefer the lower-end offerings from this winery. $20.

Wine 8: 2002 Eyzaguirre Merlot. Colchagua Valley, Chile. A wine that comes wrapped in a burlap sack for safe transport. I found this wine almost like Beaujolais, but not sweet. Very soft and delicate, with almost no tannins. Fun little wine. $10.

Wine 9: 2001 Zenato Merlot. Delle Venezie, Italy. Dark cherry, short finish. Showing a bit of age. $20.

Wine 10: 2003 Bogle Merlot. California. Almost French tasting. Crisp tannins on the front, but softens out. Very well rounded. $12.

Wine 11: 2003 Bianchi Particular Merlot. Mendoza, Argentina. Not much of a nose, and a short finish. Well rounded, but not worth the price in my opinion. $30.

Wine 12: 2003 Domaine La Milliere VDP. Vaucluse, France. An off aroma--there's something like licorice that I can't quite put my finger on. Huge tannins in this wine. $13.

Wine 13: 2002 Blackstone Napa Valley Merlot. California. Definitely a step up from the standard Blackstone line. This has great sour cherry flavors and firm tannins. Would love to try this in a couple of years. $18.

2004 Clos LaChance Estate Central Coast Rosé

Continuing with my love of dry rosés, I picked up a bottle of the 2004 Clos LaChance Estate Central Coast Rosé. It's a bright red cherry color, made from Grenache and Syrah. Pleasantly dry with a crisp acidity and great berry flavors. I had it with a chicken sandwich. It's an easy drinker as well--I was surprised at how quickly the bottle disappeared. Highly recommended. $11.

Tasting Notes for July 21, 2005

All of the wines tonight came from the same producer, Trinchero Family Estates out of California. This is the family that is responsible for first creating white zinfandel back in the 50s. Under their Sutter Home label they're one of the largest producers of table wine in the world. The revenues from that business are used to make smaller, higher quality wines, using grapes sourced from all over the state. (Each of these bottles listed the percentages from Napa, Sonoma, etc.)

Wine 1: 2004 Trinchero Sauvignon Blanc. A bit of a toasted almond aroma on top. It's quickly bottled after fermentation in stainless steel, so it's got a thin feel to it. I found the wine a little sour. Also contains about 15% Semillon. $15.

Wine 2: 2003 Trinchero Chardonnay. Apple aromas, but a normal California Chardonnay flavor. Boring, forgettable. $15.

Wine 3: 2002 Trinchero Merlot. Sort of a strawberry cheesecake aroma. Good black cherry flavors. Nice and light with mellow tannins. $15.

Wine 4: 2003 Trinchero Cabernet Sauvignon. High alcohol smell, dark fruit aromas and flavors. Short finish with a good balance. $15.

Wine 5: 2002 Trinchero Petite Verdot. Wow! This is one that is not commercially available around here, the distributor just happened to bring a bottle by. It's 100% Petite Verdot, one of the five red Bordeaux grapes. I've had it in blends several times, but only in trace amounts. It was a dark purple color, with incredible plum and smoke flavors. Dry and with surprisngly balanced tannins. Probably around $30.

17 July 2005

Tasting Notes for July 16, 2005

Similar to last week, this was a blind tasting of 12 Sauvignon Blancs. I wasn't overly impressed with most of them, and a few had really horrible aftertastes. Some of these I've tasted before, but they're scattered all over the place, and none really merit metalinks.

Wine 1: 2004 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. Marlborough, New Zealand. A lot of grapefruit with a good rounded flavor. Fruit explosion. $15.

Wine 2: 2004 Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc. South Africa. Just a bit of lemon flavor and aroma, but with a thin feel. Not bad, but pricy. $20.

Wine 3: 2004 Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc. Marlborough, New Zealand. Grapefruit flavors, but a little boring. Rough aftertaste. $11.

Wine 4: 2004 Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc. Napa, California. This may have been an off bottle, but I was getting this weird sweaty, musky aroma off the top of the glass. It wasn't me or anyone around me, and the wine didn't taste weird, but it was hard to get past that smell. $16.

Wine 5: 2004 Famiglia Bianchi Sauvignon Blanc. Mendoza, Argentina. I've had this wine before and enjoyed it, but this bottle fell flat. $15.

Wine 6: 2003 Yorkville Sauvignon Blanc. Mendocino, California. Powerful aroma of motor oil, with terrible chemical flavors. Oddly, this is a certified organic wine. $13.

Wine 7: 2003 Vacheron Sancerre. Loire Valley, France. Well balanced, a bit of a rough aftertaste. Otherwise a solid but uninteresting wine. $30.

Wine 8: 2004 Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc. Sonoma, California. I found this one sour and bitter, with a very harsh aftertaste. My previous experience with this bottle was far more positive. $17.

Wine 9: 2004 Kathryn Kennedy Sauvignon Blanc. Santa Cruz, California. Good grapefruit flavors, tart and dry. Very refreshing, but that price... $25.

Wine 10: 2003 Castle Rock Sauvignon Blanc. Napa, California. Little bits of butter and toasted marshmellow aromas on top, but the wine overall doesn't really stand out. $10.

Wine 11: 2003 Verget St. Bris. Burgundy, France. No real aroma, no fruit, tasted thin and bitter. Maybe I was just way off this day... $20.

Wine 12: 2003 Paradise Ridge Sauvignon Blanc. Sonoma, California. Sweet and tart, with bright citrus flavors and aromas. Good one. $18.

2004 Goats Do Roam Rosé

Hurrah! Another rosé from a beloved producer... As soon as I saw it I had to grab the 2004 Goats Do Roam Rosé. Had it for dinner with a turkey sandwich and caesar salad. Great little wine with a ton of grapes in it. It's dry, but has a pleasant red berry flavor to it. Perfect summertime wine, highly recommended. $10.

10 July 2005

Weekend Wines

For dinner Friday night, Paul and I split a bottle of the 2003 Zolo Malbec from Argentina. A good bargain at $10, but with great leather and dark fruit aromas. Solid flavor, but the tannins were easy enough not to overwhelm the roast rack of lamb and broiled goat cheese that formed the basis of dinner. Definitely recommended.

I used a $7 bottle of 2002 Hogue Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot as the basis for a sauce. It wasn't bad, but I think it was a year past its prime. It's almost half and half of the named grapes with a splash of Cabernet Franc in there. I'd like to try a newer vintage of this.

On a whim, I picked up a $6 bottle of the 2003 NO Sauvignon Blanc. I don't have a link, and it's damned near impossible to find any information on it. You can read a review here if you like, but I can tell you now: don't bother. The label says "NO oak aging. NO cork. NO malolactic fermentation. NO attitude. NO kidding." Might I add "NO flavor, NO good". It's an inexpensive screwcap white with a funky aroma and little or no flavor. Think about drinking Pinot Grigio while wondering if there's a peach rotting in the garbage can. Blech.

Tasting Notes for July 9, 2005

This is the first of eight rounds of blind tastings at the local wine shop... Each week they'll focus on a single grape or varietal, allow the tasters to vote on their favorite, and then towards the end of the summer, all of the big winners will be tasted together. Saturday's grape of choice was Cabernet Sauvignon. Cab Sav is great, but I get kind of bored with it. To get a good one, it costs more than I'm willing to spend on a regular basis, and I have a lot of fun with the lesser-appreciated grapes and regions. I've also had several of these wines before and wasn't just thrilled with them.

Wine 1: 2001 Red Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon. Washington. High alcohol smell and taste, a little sweet with just a bit of black cherry flavors. Not impressed. $11.

Wine 2: 2002 Franciscan Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. California. Actually a claret-style blend using four Bordeax grapes. Very dry with solid tannins. I think this will age pretty well. $32.

Wine 3: 2001 Chateau Souverain Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. California. High tannins, a bit harsh and almost Italian tasting. $20.

Wine 4: 2001 Recanati Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Israel. This is the second wine I've had from this producer. There's some nice complexity here, and definite potential for aging. Plus, it's kosher, and you're supporting Israeli agriculture. $27.

Wine 5: 2002 Paul Hobbs Cocodrilo Cabernet Sauvignon. Argentina. High alcohol with a port like aroma, but dry and short on fruit flavors. $15.

Wine 6: 2003 Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon. Chile. Good plum flavors, low tannins, and delightful youthfulness. Fun little wine and a good bargain. $11.

Wine 7: 2002 Henry's Drive Cabernet Sauvignon. Australia. Sweet and fully rounded, with medium tannins. Decent wine, not sure about the price. $37.

Wine 8: 2002 Bell Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. California. Lightly sweet and fruit-forward with good plum and black cherry flavors. A little thin. $41.

Wine 9: 2003 Marquis Philips Southeast Australia Cabernet Sauvignon. Lots of great fruit, smooth tannins, always a delight. $18.

Wine 10: 2002 Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon. California. Smoky and slightly herbal nose but not much in the way of flavor. $15.

Wine 11: 2002 Penfolds Thomas Hyland South Australia Cabernet Sauvignon. Firm beginning and smooth finish, very dark but not too heavy on the flavor. Well balanced. $15.

Wine 12: 2000 Javier Asensio Cabernet Sauvignon. Spain. The one wine that I really loved, and there's nothing on the website. This wine has left bank Bordeaux written all over it. Loved the aroma (green tomato leaves and spices), beautiful dark color, and great flavor. $24.

Wine 13: 2002 Block 13 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon. Sweeter, with soft tannins but a surprisingly firm finish. An odd duck, but not bad. $20.