Notes from 10 Wines from a 60th Birthday Bash! All in stock!

This past weekend was my father-in-law’s 60th Birthday. To celebrate, his wife had about 30 people over their new house and had a nice catered meal. My father-in-law loves wine so I knew this would be an opportunity to taste a few different wines. Obviously for a party this size your not going to be opening really expensive bottles but he came down the store the day of and picked out some nice stuff.  I tried to take small pours so I was able to try all the wines open but I still wasn’t able to.  Here is what I tried in the order I remember.

2009 Grayson Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 10 – In stock $10.99

Robert Parker raved about the 2008 so I had it a few times and loved it. We got the 2009 in a month or two ago but last week Parker tweeted Grayson had done it again in 2009 so I made sure I tried this. I must say that that the quality of the 2009 is equal to the 2008.  It has some straight forward, moderately complex fruit that you would not expect for a $10.99 bottle of wine. It got better with some air too. Great for a party or everyday drinking. 88 Points.

2008 Jean-Paul Brun Beaujolais Blanc Chardonnay – In Stock $14.99

This is a Dave favorite and I can see why. This unoaked Chardonnay has some nice citrus fruit flavors with a certain richness to it but also the minerality you would find in a dry Riesling. Although I do like my oaked Chardonnay, I can enjoy the unoaked versions as well. 89 Points

2009 Cupcake Chardonnay Central Coast – In stock $9.99

I have heard a lot about the Cupcake wines for a while but had never tried them. They source grapes from all over the world to produce their wines which certainly is impressive. This Chardonnay had some decent flavors of grapefruit and pear. Just a decent example of a straight forward California Chardonnay. While decent for serving to a large party, not nearly as exciting as the first Chardonnay. 84 Points.

2009 Dona Paula Estate Malbec – In Stock $14.99

We tried this a few weeks ago in the store and I did like it. I didn’t get too much on the nose but it had some pleasant up front fruit of black cherry and blueberry flavors. It ended with a decent finish. Certainly a nice wine and one that will do well for all the Malbec fans at a party. 87 Points.

2007 Castello d’Albola Chianti Classico – In Stock $16.99

This appeared as #47 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2010 and got 90 points so I was excited to try it. I’m not sure if it clashed with the food or needed more time but I found this a tad disappointing.  It had some nice cherry fruit but a ton of earth and a tad bitter. I was expecting more from a Top 100 wine. I’ll have to try it again with pasta. 87 points.

2008 St. Urbans-Hof Riesling Kabinett Mosel Ockfener Bockstein – In Stock $19.99

St. Urbans-Hof is making some of the best reasonably priced Rieslings imported into the USA right now. This Ockfener Bockstein has a nice sweetness to it but it also has that minerality you find in some of the dryer Rieslings. A beautiful nose as well! I really enjoyed this and it went well with the pulled pork. 90 points.

2008 d’Arenberg The Stump Jump G/S/M Red blend – In Stock $9.99

Yet another wine that appeared on this year’s Top 100 Wines of the Year and got 90 points from Wine Spectator. This was very pleasant with some cherry, raspberry and grape flavors. Not an overly complex wine but very well put together for what it is. An outstanding value for $9.99! 89 points.

2007 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – In Stock $28.99

I have had this recently so I knew it benefited from a short decant. So when I got there I poured it into my father-in-law’s decanter to let it get some air. By the time we tried it it was ready to go. It had a wonderful nose of blackberry, smoke and a touch of earth. On the palate, it had flavors of mint, black cherry, and a dusty berry component I find only in Napa Valley wines. The finish was very decent, lasting about 20-25 seconds. A very nice entry level bottling from Mondavi. 91 points.

2009 Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc – In Stock $9.99

Veramonte has done very well for themselves over the last few years. Paul Hobbs, the famous California winemaker, consults for them and their Pinot Noir appeared in the Top 100 Wines of the Year for Wine Spectator. Their Bordeaux blend called Primus has also gotten some acclaim for them. This night we had their Sauvignon Blanc. I only had a little taste because I had never tried it before. This, to me, was a cross between the California and New Zealand style of Sauvignon Blancs. Not overly complex but displayed some nice fruit and is certainly good for the money. 86 Points.

2009 Nik. Weis Selection QbA Mosel Riesling Urban – In Stock $9.99

The last wine I drank of the night and yet another great value. This is also made by St. Urbans-Hof and just a terrific inexpensive Riesling. It has some nice flavors of apple, pear and lime to go with a slate-like minerality on the finish. I think I liked this just as much as the Ockfener Bockstein bottling. 90 points.

And that was it for the Birthday bash. Great food and wine, what more can you want on your Birthday!


Tasting Notes from 4 Great Wines Over the Weekend

My friend from New Jersey and his wife came up this past weekend for a nice night of dinner and wine. I introduced my friend to fine wine a few years ago and from that point on he caught the wine bug.  It’s nice now when we get together because he now has a great appreciation of wine and it’s fun to open up great bottles with other people. Plus you get to taste a greater variety of things as opposed to just my wife and I splitting a bottle of wine. The last time I was down at his house he really opened up some nice stuff so I figured it was my turn.  We planned out the meal ahead of time and decided to start off with some cheese and crackers plus this appetizer called “Crabbies.” Basically it’s a mixture of Old English cheese, crab meat and butter spread over English muffins. Easy to make, really delicious but can only have them once in a while because it’s not that good for you. The wine I decided on first was the 2002 Wine Spectator Wine of the Year!

2002 Joseph Phelps Insignia Proprietary Red Blend

This was, quite simply, one of the best wines I have ever had! I decanted it about 45 minutes before hand so when my guests arrived it was ready to go. Pouring it into the decanter, I was surprised the wine did not give off any sediment.  We each poured ourselves a glass with a little remaining in the decanter to retaste a little later. Incredible bouquet of cherry, mocha, cedar, smoke  and other dark fruits. On the palate, this was perfectly balanced with well integrated oak. The flavors were intense with plum, cherry, currant, espresso and vanilla.  The finish was long and elegant, lasting nearly a minute. The wine improved with every sip and by the time we retasted it later in the evening it was drinking even better.  Fantastic! 97 points.

1999, 2000 & 2001 In Stock at Oxford Liquor Shoppe

2007 Rudd Edge Hill Mixed Blacks Field Blend

We purchased this wine in Napa Valley back in May and I have been dying to try it. The Edge Hill vineyard is located in St. Helena and was planted by Italian immigrants. The term Field Blend is used because some of the grapes have been identified but some haven’t. When they were planted, varietal designation wasn’t important. The vineyard was purchased several years ago by Leslie Rudd (owner of Rudd Winery and Dean & Deluca) and he restored a lot of the original winery. Robert Parker said this was “meaty and rich, resembling a Michel Chapoutier single vineyard Ermitage.” Quite a compliment! I decanted this the same time we decanted the Insignia and about an hour in it was ready to go. This was very dark in color and brooding. It had some nice aromas of blackberry, blueberry, flowers and smoke. The palate was even better and incredibly smooth with flavors of blueberry, blackberry, plum, spice and a touch of earth. This too had an impressive finish! A nice contrast to the Insignia and led us into our main course. 96 Points.

2006 Dancing Hares Proprietary Red Blend

For the main course, my wife decided to make one of my favorites, Momma Leona’s Pork Chops. To go with this, I thought this recipe for Bobby Flay’s Truffle Mac and Cheese would go perfect. The Dancing Hares is an interesting wine. It’s made by the same winemaker (Andy Erickson) who makes Screaming Eagle. The wine itself is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. I purchased the 2004 and 2005 vintages.  I tried a bottle of the 2004 and must say I did not think the wine justified the high price tag.  After trying the 2006, I must take that back. This was allowed to decant for 1.5-2 hours and by the time we got to it the wine was raring to go! The nose had aromas of chocolate, cherry, plum and smoke. It had a slight tannic edge to it that smoothed out with some additional air. The palate had flavors of licorice, currant, chocolate and black cherry. I had my doubts that this would hold up to the Insignia but it more than did. I preferred the Insignia slightly but this was also excellent! 96 points.

2008 Melville Pinot Noir Terraces

Halfway through the meal we finished the Dancing Hares so I opted to open this Pinot Noir. I have grown to really like Melville’s wines over the last two years. They really go from strength to strength and the quality you get for the prices is excellent. I had the 2008 Estate Pinot Noir back in September and I loved it. It was a very feminine wine but the Terraces was more big and jammy. It had some enticing aromas of raspberry, blueberry and earth. It had a fuller body than the estate and although the alcohol was 14.5%,the wine tasted more over the 15% range. Nevertheless, this was a very nice pinot with flavors of cola, cherry, blackberry and earth. I really enjoyed this and even had a little left over for day 2 and it was just as good. 94 points.

We ended the evening with some 2007 Haut Charmes Sauternes and some warm Apple Pie that my wife baked. A very pleasant evening a a nice way to start the holidays!

In Store Tasting 12/11: 2008 Juniper Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon

Today we are trying the 2008 Juniper Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon. From what we heard, this is another wine where a premium winemaker had too much leftover juice and sold it off to be bottled under a different name. It has a great nose of blackberry, cherry and a touch of earth. The palate reveals flavors of dark fruits, plum, blackberry with an impressive finish for the price point. A steal at $8.99!!