30 October 2005

Tasting Notes for October 29, 2005

Everything from today's tasting came from the Chilean producer Viña Morandé. One of the winemakers was present to answer questions about the wines and the region. All of these wines are very reasonably priced and easily enjoyable with a wide range of foods. The Pionero wines are the entry level bottles, the Terrarum wines are the reserve offerings, and Vitisterra wines are grand reserve.

Wine 1: 2004 Morandé Pionero Sauvignon Blanc. Grapefruit aromas and flavors, no oak, and tending towards the sweet side. $8.

Wine 2: 2003 Morandé Terrarum Chardonnay. Buttery aroma on top, with touches of oak in the flavor. Crisp acids and a round flavor. $12.

Wine 3: 2001 Morandé Vitisterra Chardonnay. Fruit and floral aromas, a hint of vanilla with a slightly sweet and creamy flavor. Impressive. $17.

Wine 4: 2003 Morandé Pionero Pinot Noir. Yes, that's right, a Pinot Noir from Chile. I found this herbal and vegetal, with medium tannins. Overall unusual experience. $8.

Wine 5: 2002 Morandé Pionero Carmenère. Hints of black cherry, with an enticing fresh baked bread aroma. Inky black with a good round flavor. Good introduction to this grape if you're not familiar with it. $8.

Wine 6: 2002 Morandé Terrarum Carmenère. This has a hotter aroma than previous wine, but with soft tannins and beautiful construction. My favorite of the day, and I picked up a bottle for dinner (Italian-style pot roast). It's got green pepper/tomato leaf flavors, along with herbal complexity. Reminds me of something from Medoc, and along with the deep color, brings to mind Petite Verdot. $12.

Wine 7: 2002 Morandé Pionero Cabernet Sauvignon. A little black cherry aroma, but with strawberry flavors. A little thin for my tastes. $8.

Wine 8: 2002 Morandé Terrarum Cabernet Sauvignon. Similar to the above, but with more oak present and softer tannins. $12.

Wine 9: 2003 Morandé Vitisterra Cabernet Sauvignon. This was a little on the tart side, and the tannins were still a little hard. I think this might need another year in the bottle. $12.

Wine 10: 2003 Morandé Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc (375mL). Wow. A Sauternes-style dessert wine. Everything you want in a botrytis wine at a great price. Hints of smoke and musk on top, with a delightful flavor of honeysuckle and lychee. Sugary, but with well-balanced acidity. $13.

23 October 2005

Tasting Notes for October 22, 2005

Yep, I'm still alive... Here's the notes for Saturday's tasting, which focused on Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.

Wine 1: 2004 Castle Rock Carneros Pinot Noir. Napa Valley, California. Bold and tannic, with a strong strawberry flavor. Somewhat off finish. $10.

Wine 2: 2002 Windy Ridge North Coast Pinot Noir. Victoria, Australia. From the southernmost winery on the Australian mainland. This is a dark wine with a pomegranate flavor, and strong finish. Interesting. $14.

Wine 3: 2003 Mark West Pinot Noir. Central Coast, California. Mellower and rounder than the above selections, but still maybe a little young. $15.

Wine 4: 2004 Edna Valley Vineyard Pinot Noir. A little buttered toast on the top, maybe some strawberry in the flavor. Decent little wine. $17.

Wine 5: 2002 Rodney Strong Estate Bottled Pinot Noir. Russian River, California. An aroma of alcohol and Port, giving way to a mellow flavor with light tannins. Classic, well produced Pinot Noir. $17.

Wine 6: 2002 Clos La Chance Pinot Noir. Santa Cruz Mountains, California. Very soft and rounded, delicate light cherry flavor. $20.

Wine 7: 2004 The Crossings Pinot Noir. Marlborough, New Zealand. Berry flavors abound, almost blueberry on the edge. Slightly tart but still well rounded. Really liked this one. $20.

Wine 8: 2004 Vision Cellars Pinot Noir Chileno Valley Vineyard. Marin County, California. Love the backstory on this guy: "I was born the son of a Texas Moonshine maker... Even though I grew up around distilled spirits and fruit wines, I did not develop a taste for either. It was not until I tasted my first Burgundy, long about 1955, that I fell in love with fine wine." Hints of vanilla and cream, but I found the tannins a little strong. This has a very spicy finish--almost like a chile pepper. $29.

Wine 9: 2001 Montevina Zinfandel. Amador County, California. Every time I try this wine, I get different things from it. This time there was a sort of menthol aroma on top, but the flavor is quite soft and well-aged. It's a good basic Zinfandel and a decent bargain. $13.

Wine 10: 2002 Abundance Old Vine Zinfandel. Lodi, California. Raspberry flavors, thin but fruity. This wine actually tasted a bit watered down to me, and aren't we supposed to get more concentrated flavors from old vines? $15.

Wine 11: 2002 Clos La Chance Zinfandel. El Dorado County, California. This one wasn't remarkable, but not bad either. I guess it would be a good neutral Zinfandel. $16.

Wine 12: 2004 Seghesio Family Vineyard Zinfandel. Sonoma County, California. Good tradtional Zinfandel, with plum and gingerbread flavors. Would be excellent around Christmas. $23.

09 October 2005

2003 Wild Bunch California Red

The 2003 Wild Bunch California Red is another crazy Cali $10 red blend like my last single wine post... This one is made by Montevina, which is now owned by Trinchero. According to one article:
The screw cap brand is touting, for example, that its winemaker Chris Leamy has purple hair and its label design is "more Harley than Hamptons."
So it's part Zinfandel, Syrah, and Barbera. Zinfandel is really the dominant flavor here, although it doesn't have a Zin finish. I've been drinking it with some cheap pizza, which is probably appropriate. Not a bad wine. I enjoyed the Fess Parker blend better--this one is off balance, but at the same time could stand as the house wine of any neighborhood Italian/pizza joint here in the States, and that's an honest compliment/suggestion. Cheap Chianti tastes like crap, and at least this has some residual sweetness that would appeal to the American palate.

A brief word on the label design... My grastronomic curiosity was greater than my aesthetic taste. If I had a nickel for ever time that I've seen that general design as a tattoo on the exposed bosom of an aging biker woman, I'd have... several dollars. Ah, the joys of life in the south. But, once again, it's liable to bring previously wine-scared folks into the fold, and that's not a bad thing. As an editorial once posited, Yellowtail might not be great wine, but it succeeded in putting bottles of wine on the tables of people that would have never enjoyed wine otherwise. And heck, if the Wild Bunch tastes better with a gas station hot dog and the scent of 89 octane in the air, then more power to them.

Tasting Notes for October 8, 2005

All of the wines for this tasting came from Argentinian producer Luigi Bosca, a 100 year old winery.

Wine 1: Finca La Linda Extra Brut. Non vintage sparkler, made of equal parts Chardonnay and Semillon. Dry, crisp aroma, with equally crisp flavor. Just a little yeast, firm acidity, but none of the citrus you'd expect from the Semillon. $19.

Wine 2: 2004 Luigi Bosca Reserva Sauvignon Blanc. Slightly harsh aroma, with a touch of lemon, but very soft and not tart at all. Unusual wine. Also, just for kicks the winemaker decided to put Sauvignon Blanc in a Burgundy-style bottle instead of the usual Bordeaux. $19.

Wine 3: 2004 Finca La Linda Chardonnay. Thin, unoaked, no clearly discernable flavors. Basically a blank slate Chardonnay. And like the above, this was placed in the "wrong" bottle--Bordeaux in this case instead of the traditional Burgundy. I don't get bent out of shape about bottle styles, but it does make it easy to look at a large number of bottles and pick out the Pinot Noirs versus the Cabernet Sauvignons, for instance. $12.

Wine 4: 2004 Luigi Bosca Reserva Chardonnay. Much better. Slightly musky aroma, something like gingerbread. There was a buttery flavor, evidence of oak, and a general well-rounded, fruit-forward feel in the mouth. $19.

Wine 5: 2002 Luigi Bosca Reserva Pinot Noir. One of my favorites out of the tasting--a slight aroma of strawberry jam on top, but with very soft tannins and a mellow flavor. Really reminded me of an Oregon Pinot Noir. $19.

Wine 6: 2003 Finca La Linda Cabernet Sauvignon. Not a big hit at our table. Some black cherry aromas and flavor, with a little bite, but ultimately disappointing. $12.

Wine 7: 2004 Finca La Linda Tempranillo. I thought this one needed maybe another year to mature. Bold and tannic, some dark fruit and just a touch of leather. $12.

Wine 8: 2003 La Linda Malbec. Hurrah for Malbec! Plum flavors and aromas, touch of smoke, and a short finish. Good bargain, great wine for pizza, burgers, etc. $12.

Wine 9: 2002 Luigi Bosca Reserva Merlot. Black cherry flavors, some strong tannins and a dry finish. Reminded me of a heartier California Merlot. $19.

Wine 10: 2002 Luigi Bosca Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon. Not much of a nose on this one, very subtle flavors. Decent, but not spectacular. However, one of the tasting hosts was blown away by this wine, finding hints of figs and all sorts of things. $19.

Wine 11: 2002 Luigi Bosca Reserva Malbec. Ah, a properly aged Malbec. Very soft, but with good dark fruit flavors and aromas. Very classy, and should be perfect for converting any serious wine drinker to the joys of Malbec. $19.

08 October 2005

2004 Fess Parker Winery Lot 51 Frontier Red

No, this isn't a joke. The 2004 Fess Parker Winery Lot 51 Frontier Red is from vinyards actually owned and operated by the great Fess Parker, who starred on TV as Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone.

Perhaps this and the Desolation Flats red are attempts to court men who are afraid of wine? The bottles practically beg for grilled beef and casual attire. The owner of the local shop that carries these wines claims it has more to do with other wineries attempting to jump on the Folie à Deux Menage à Trois bandwagon. Mix a few grapes together, make it big and fruit-forward, and slap an irreverent name and label on the bottle. Then sell it for $10 or less.

This is actually Lot 51, despite the Lot 41 link. A combination of six southern French grapes: Syrah, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Carignane. Despite what you might think about the Rhône, this is not a mild and sippable wine. Instead, it is a bold and powerful red, dark and tannic with lots of deep fruit flavors. And to top it off, a hot aroma that points to the whopping 15.5% alcohol content.

So it had been a rough day at the end of a long week. For reasons I won't go into, I was in a bad mood. But I had the house to myself, aside from the two trusty dogs. I poured myself a delicious rum punch of my own creation (post to follow?), put some Russian piano music on, and sat in the kitchen reading through old cookbooks. Once the melancholy had dissipated, I made up some tomato soup, a bit of bruschetta, and grilled up a boneless ribeye in the pan. Deglazed the juices with a bit of the above wine, poured the sauce over the steak and bruschetta, and enjoyed a relaxing dinner. A pleasant end to the day.

02 October 2005

2002 Alexander Valley Two Barrel Red

I don't have a website on this, but I grabbed a bottle of the 2002 Alexander Valley Two Barrel Red ($16), which is produced by the Wetzel Family Estate. It's a 50/50 blend of Syrah and Merlot. The end result: you get the classic Syrah flavor without the bite, and a smooth finish thanks to the Merlot. Some berry aromas, a little pepper and spice, delightful fruit-forward flavors.

In keeping with the half and half theme, I grilled some burgers for dinner that were half ground beef and half ground lamb. Quite good, especially with some baby Swiss cheese and sautéed cremini mushrooms.

Tasting Notes for October 1, 2005

This tasting featured Spanish and French wines from Vincent Garnier.

Wine 1: 2004 2004 Viña Vilano Rosado. Ribera del Duero, Spain. I recently reviewed this wine and Saturday's second taste was just as good as the first. $9.

Wine 2: 2001 Domaine Marcel Deiss Muscat Bergheim. Alsace, France. Sweet, musky aroma, classic Muscat, but not as sweet tasting as you'd expect. A bit of pear and apple are in there. $25.

Wine 3: 2004 Château Pennautier Viognier Vin de Pays d'Oc. Languedoc, France. The website appears to be down at the moment, but this was a lovely little wine. Slight lemon and grass aromas, dry but fruit filled, a touch of apricot. I love Viognier, but there's not a lot of it here in Memphis. $11.
Wine 4: 2001 Domaine Marcel Deiss Pinot Blanc Bergheim. Alsace, France. Another one from Marcel Deiss, but I didn't enjoy this one as much--there was a hard aroma, with an almost brett like flavor. $26.

Wine 5: 2004 Château Haut Rian Bordeaux Blanc. Bordeaux, France. Mostly Sauvignon Blanc, probably some Semillon as well. There's a wonderful bright fruit flavor with a touch of lemon and a short finish. Great bargain, and a fun summer wine. $13.

Wine 6: 2004 Château Pennautier Chardonnay Vin de Pays d'Oc. Languedoc, France. Mild, unoaked Chardonnay. Nothing particularly special, a neutral wine. $12.

Wine 7:
2003 Bodegas Javier Asensio Torsa Tinto
. Navarra, Spain. I'm linking to another blog post here. Mostly Tempranillo with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I got black cherry flavors with mild tannins. Full fruit and a short finish made me think I was drinking an Australian wine. $11.

Wine 8: 2002 Canforrales Joven Roble. La Mancha, Spain. Tempranillo, I got an aroma of raw beef on top, with good plum flavor, maybe just a little bit of toast. Really nice little wine. $13.

Wine 9: 2000 Javier Asensio Crianza Cabernet Sauvignon. Navarra, Spain. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. There's herb and grass aromas on top, with a dry feel and not much strength of flavor. I would have liked to have tried it earlier. $17.

Wine 10: 2000 La Fleur Montagne St. Emilion. Bordeaux, France. Didn't find a website, but this is mostly Merlot. To me, it smelled like cherry cough syrup. The flavor was milder than that, but overall I found it an odd wine. $23.

Wine 11: 2000 Grand Clocher St. Emilion. Bordeaux, France. Another one without a website. This one had barnyard and hay aromas--that classic French smell that turns off some people. There were medium tannins with some cherry flavors. Quite good--I don't know if I would get a bottle of it, but I was impressed. $28.