In Store Tasting 6/26: 2008 Paringa Shiraz

Today we are trying the 2008 Paringa Shiraz from South Australia. The nose gives off pleasant aromas of coffee and chocolate. It has flavors of mocha, black cherry, coffee and ends with a nice spiciness. A good picnic red. A steal for $8.99!

Wine Spectator 89 Points

“Dark and spicy, this red offers fresh sage and tarragon overtones that mingle with the black cherry and spice flavors, persisting against polished tannins. Drink now through 2013.”

Tasting Notes from 3 Father’s Day Wines

My Father-in-law is a big wine drinker (he’s in our wine club) so I decided to break out a few nice bottle to mark the occasion.  We had a nice dinner planned so I was going to try to pair the wines but in the end I said forget it. It was a really muggy day so we started off with a 2006 Colonial Estate Semillon Expatrie.  This is a gem Dave picked up on discount a couple of months ago. It usually sells for over $25 but with the discount we sell it for $14.99. It was perfect for the hot day. Displaying a very light body, this dry white has a touch of sweetness from the 15% Riesling they blend into it. It has some nice citrus flavors with a great minerality. This will only get better over the next several years.

The next wine was the highlight of the day, a 1985 Opus One Bordeaux Blend. Once in a while I get to taste a nice older bottle.  It’s difficult because they are tough to find in good condition and typically expensive. I had chance to pick up a few bottle of this for almost nothing. We tried a bottle last year and it tasted past it’s prime so I was a little worried how this would turn out. Upon opening the cork came out with no problem at all.

As you can see above, the cork was intact with some sediment at the top. It had slight signs of seepage but other than that it was fine. My father-in-law poured it into a decanter and we were surprised that there was not  a lot of sediment everywhere.  I looked in the bottle once poured and it had collected nicely in the bottle.

You can see in the pic above, the sediment collected at the top and bottom. In the glass, the wine was very dark, perhaps even borderline black (see below). One whiff of this and I could immediately tell that it was different from the bottle last year. I got leather, smoke and raspberry on the nose. On the palate I got cherry, raspberry and earth. I was really surprised at the fruit this displayed since the last bottle didn’t really have any.  The raspberry flavor was interesting because it had the sweet and sourness that raspberries typically have. The wine was very smooth and perfectly integrated at this point in its life. The finish was nice but sort of clipped, only lasting just over 15 seconds. Overall, a great older bottle that I’m glad that was different from the first.

The last wine we tried was some leftover 2007 Chasseur Pinot Noir Freestone Station I had from the night before. This was amazing because it was just as good on night two as it had been on night one. The nose had aromas of strawberries, flowers and tea.  The nose was really fantastic! This wine is so rich with just an explosion of flavor on the palate, exhibiting blueberry, red berries, and green tea flavors. Chasseur is really at the top of their game with the 2007 vintage and it was a nice way to end with the steaks we were eating.

In Store Tasting 6/12: 2007 Four Vines Old Vine Zinfandel

Today we are trying the 2007 Four Vines Old Vine Cuvee Zinfandel. This was sourced from vineyards all over California for this appellation wine. One of their other bottles appeared on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 of 2009. This is very juicy, with big raspberry, black cherry and bosenberry flavors. Perfect for backyard BBQ’s and the price is right at $12.99.

Wine Spectator 86 Points

“Juicy and user-friendly, offering cherry and toasty oak aromas and flavors that are smoky and spicy. Drink now through 2013.”

Notes on 6 Wines from a Sunday BBQ 6/6/10

Got together with a few friends of mine in Waterbury for a nice Sunday afternoon BBQ. The weather was on and off but the food was great and the wines tasty. We dove into the whites first, both from Italy. I, admittedly, don’t have the most experience with Italian whites besides Pinot Grigio. The first bottle was a 2008 Bigi Orvieto Classico. Bigi is the leading wine of Orvieto and the wine is dubbed “the wine of popes” because of its popularity at the Vatican. The Bigi wasn’t a big wine but was light bodied, smooth, refreshing with nice acidity.  A white wine blend that reminded me of a Sauvignon Blanc.

Next came the 2006 Bastianich Vespa Bianco. Owned by Joe Bastianich, who owns several restaurants in NYC besides a variety of other things. Comprised of 45% Chardonnay, 45% Sauvignon and 10% late harvested Picolit, this had much more complexity than the first wine. It displayed some apple, peach and smoke flavors with a  nice creaminess to it as well. Impressive.

The 2006 Viticcio Chianti Classico Reserva we tried a few weeks ago on one of our Saturday afternoon tastings at the store and it is a very nice wine.  Ranked #35 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 of 2009, the wine took about an hour to open up. Once it did this medium bodied wine had flavors of sour cherry, earth, and meat with silky tannins and a polished finish.

In Stock $25.99

The next wine is one of my favorite value wines out of Napa Valley, the 2007 Atticus John Cabernet Sauvignon. Word has it that it is the leftover grapes from a larger winery in Napa that sells for close to $100 a bottle. I have heard three different wineries although it is obviously speculation. Regardless, this is a very nice bottle with a lot of upfront red and dark fruit flavors. The silky tannins glide across your palate and it has a hint of vanilla on the finish. Doesn’t drink like a $25 bottle!

We changed gears with the next bottle, opening a Bleasdale Uncle Dick’s Sparkling Shiraz. This is the only sparkling Shiraz I have ever had. Quite an interesting contrast.  You really get the fruit flavors of the Shiraz but the bubbles add an interesting twist.  If your ever in the mood to try something different, pick up a bottle of this.

In Stock $19.99

We rounded out the night with a classic Italian value wine, the 2005 Villa Antinori Toscana. A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, it had some upfront cherry and plum flavors that gave way to herb and coffee on the backend. Got better with time but the tannin suggested this could use either a decant or a few more years in bottle.  Overall, a very nice afternoon trying a variety of different wines.

Napa Valley Trip: The Final Word

With notes from all 5 days posted, a few people asked if I would post the top wines from the trip. After giving it some thought, I decided to post the wines highlighted by varietal. I pretty much had these lists in my head as I was tasting throughout the trip so all I really had to do was put it on paper.  I want to stress that the opinions in this post are mine and don’t reflect the views of Dave, as I’m sure he or anyone for that matter would have a different set of favorite wines. I also want to say that the degree of separation between these wines in some spots is very small. I am going to post the lists and put in a note or two where necessary. This also gives me a chance to post a few more pics. So without further delay, here we go.

Top Cabernet Sauvignons from the Trip

  1. 2005 Shafer Hillside Select
  2. 2007 Continuum
  3. 2008 Alpha Omega Era
  4. 2006 Rudd Oakville Estate
  5. 2007 Pride
  6. 2007 Anderson’s Conn Valley Eloge
  7. 2006 Alpha Omega Era
  8. 2007 Anderson’s Conn Valley Estate
  9. 2006 Spottswoode Estate
  10. 2006 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cask 23

There were a few wines that were really hard to leave off this list, like Shafer One Point Five, Rudd Crossroads, Hall etc., but I did my best to narrow it down to my favorites. I grouped the Eloge in here because I really had no where else to put it

Top Merlots from the Trip

  1. 2007 Pride
  2. 2007 Anderson’s Conn Valley Right Bank
  3. 2006 Bucculla
  4. 2007 Shafer
  5. 2006 Hall Napa River Ranch

The Bucculla we had for dinner on our last night and wasn’t in the Day 5 report.  The first three were clearly ahead of the last two in my mind. I put the Anderson’s Conn Valley Right Bank in here because I felt this was the closest category it fit in even though it’s not a perfect fit.

Top Pinot Noirs from the Trip

  1. 2008 Dumol Ryan
  2. 2007 Martinelli Bondi Home Ranch
  3. 2007 Williams Selyem Sonoma Coast
  4. 2008 Rochioli Estate
  5. 2007 Ketcham Russian River Valley

Very excited about the 2008 Dumol Ryan as well as the Martinelli. Wish I had more time to explore the Sonoma Coast but there is only so much wine tasting you can do in 5 days. The Ketchum was a nice surprise I tasted at Napa Valley Wine and Cigar (Thanks Carrie).

Top Chardonnays from the Trip

1. 2007 Alpha Omega

1. 2007 Rudd Bacigalupi

1. 2004 Chateau Montelena

4. 2008 Dumol Clare

5. 2006 Martinelli Zio Tony Ranch

Besides the Cabs, I was surprised how many excellent Chardonnays we had on the trip. I tried to rank the first three but I finally gave up and called it a tie.  The Dumol and Martinelli were really just below the top three plus a lot of people might have even liked them better. There was actually a few wines that hurt to leave off the list, the 2008 Anderson’s Conn Valley and 2008 Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch come to mind.

Top Sauvignon Blancs from the Trip

  1. 2008 Rudd Mount Veeder
  2. 2009 Alpha Omega
  3. 2009 Spottswoode
  4. 2009 Hall
  5. 2007 Honig Rutherford

The Alpha Omega and Rudd were very similar in style, both using oak, which I am a big fan of in Sauvignon Blancs.

Top Zin/Blends from the Trip

  1. 2006 Rudd Edge Hill Mixed Blacks
  2. 2007 Martinelli Guiseppe and Luisa
  3. 2006 Louis Martini Gnarly Vine
  4. 2007 Chateau Montelena
  5. 2008 Buehler

The Rudd was by far my favorite of this group but it was also by far the most expensive. You can get 5 Buehler’s for the price of one Rudd.

Top 5 Value Wines from the Trip

2006 Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon

2009 Buehler Chardonnay

2009 Honig Sauvignon Blanc

2007 Buehler Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Ridge Runner Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast

These wines were too hard to rank so I didn’t number them. The two cabs are just great values for the quality your getting. The Honig was simply delicious and perfect for everyday Summer sipping. The Ridge Runner I had at dinner one night and was surprised the high quality for the bargain price of $12 a bottle.  All of these are worth seeking out.

I hope everyone enjoyed the commentary. Until the next trip!