Notes on 4 Wines from a BBQ

Every year we have a BBQ in May to kick off the warm weather season.  Sometimes this coincides with Mother’s Day but this year we did it the week after.  My wife and I have a small dog that several people help us take care of so we like to do this as a thank you to them and we really like to go all out. This year we picked some nice wines to go along with the treats on the grill.

We kicked things off with a bottle of 2009 Melville Viognier Estate Verna’s.  I had this at a retail tasting last Fall and just loved it. Perfect for warm weather drinking. Unfortunately this day was not very warm, with rain coming in and out much of the day. We served this as an aperitif. I liked this but not as much as the first time I had it. A nice nose of pear, mineral and spring flowers lead to crisp flavors of honey, citrus fruit and apricot. It was a little tangy on the palate (in a good way) and led to a decent finish.  Perhaps a I served it too cold? Still a very nice wine and I gave it 91 points.

Available in Connecticut

We started off the food with a veggie platter and chips & salsa. At this point we opened a 2006 Rudd Crossroads Sauvignon Blanc.  Rudd’s Crossroads label is something like a second label for all of their wines. I have had their Cabernet and Chardonnay under this label as well but I have been dying to try a Crossroads wine and one of their regular bottlings because I have a suspicion that this is really the same wine.  I have had the regular Sauvignon Blanc on release but this had some age on it and was interesting. Didn’t have the fresh vibrant fruit that you get on release but it still had some citrus flavors with stone and slate.  Interesting to try this at this stage in the game but I must say I prefer them younger, at least from Rudd and California, until proven otherwise. I gave this 88 points.

In stock $14.99

Next up for food was grilled pizza. I started doing this a few years ago with mixed results. Sometimes it turns out great but other times not so hot.  I made some adjustments this year, the biggest was reducing the size of the pizza to a single serving so it was more manageable on the grill.  This allowed me to break out different topping for people like pepperoni and mushroom. With the pizza we served a 2007 Carlisle Dry Creek Zinfandel.  Carlisle is my favorite producer for Zins and this wine is a great example. Wine Spectator gave this 95 points and it is well deserving. Get a lot of red fruits on the nose with a hint of smoke. The wine had flavors of black raspberry, licorice, plum and a touch of spice.  Very well-balanced and a pleasing finish. I prefer the Montafi Ranch bottling but this is certainly great for the money. I gave this 94 points.

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After taking a little break to enjoy the Carlisle, I jumped right back on the grill.  Had some great grilled chicken, London broil and lamb chops to go with bean salad, roasted garlic & rosemary potatoes and cole slaw. To top the meal off we opened a 2007 Round Pond Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford. I was very excited to try this wine because Thomas Rivers Brown is the consulting winemaker and I have never had one of his Cabernets before. In case you don’t know him, he’s the winemaker at Schrader, who have just turned out a slew of 100 point wines and are one of the hottest wineries in California.  The Round Pond is not nearly as expensive as the Schrader wines but this bottling got a solid 94 points from Wine Spectator. I decanted it 4 hours before serving. Nose was pleasant but seemed a little muted.  The wine had the classic Napa characteristics with the dusty berry flavor to go with flavors of blackberry, smoke and black cherry.  This led to a nice finish of about 25 seconds. I gave this 92 points.

Not available in Connecticut.

In Store Tasting 5/14: 2007 Louis Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Today we are trying the 2007 Louis Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Robert Parker gave this 91 points and said it has “a stunning perfume of black currants, loamy soil, blackberries and smoke.” I would have to agree with his assessment. On the palate, this is simply mouthwatering with flavors of blackberry, black cherry, with some mineral and touch of earth of the finish. A screaming deal for the quality!

In stock $22.99

Notes from 4 Easter Wines

Went over my father-in-law’s house for Easter at his new house and he likes his wines. He cooked up a great meal of ham and lamb, with some delicious sides that included roast potatoes, brandied carrots and several other things. The most important part of the meal for me is always the wine of course! I was able to try four wines before moving on to Easter at my parents house. I started things off with a nice white recommended by Dave.

2005 Domaine Bouchard Pere & Fils Beaune du Chateau White Burgundy Premier Cru – In Stock $22.99

Dave said this had a great nutty character to it. It started off a little too cold from being in the fridge. The wine was very light, almost like a Sauvignon Blanc or a Chablis. As it warmed, I got some great nuttiness and some mineral flavors but I really did not get a lot of fruit, which kind of surprised me. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the bottle but was just expecting a little something on that end. It could have been an off bottle because Dave said he  got some fruit when he had it. With that being said it would go great with fish and perfect for warm weather drinking. I gave it 88 points.

2008 Archstone Pinot Noir Carneros – In Stock $11.99

After the White Burgundy, I moved onto a Pinot Noir. The story with Archstone is the same as the Atticus John.  Some big producer had too much inventory and decided to bottle it or sell it off to someone under this label. I can’t verify if the story is true or not but what I can tell you is the Archstone is a high quality Pinot Noir. With some classic pinot aromas of clove, cinnamon, and cherry, the Archstone has a lot of structure for a wine at this price. It then has some silky flavors of black cherry, licorice and other red fruits that lead to a medium long finish.  An outstanding value a $11.99 and tastes like a $25 bottle. I gave this 90 points.

2008 Schild Estate Shiraz Barossa – In Stock $21.99

For the main course I bought something special. The 2008 Schild Shriaz that recently was #7 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2010 and they gave it 94 points. I wanted to give this wine a nice hour decant but the Archstone was in the decanter so I had to pop and pour. The wine had a decent nose but it wasn’t really jumping out of the glass. Upon trying the wine, it definitely wasn’t an Aussie fruit bomb, which isn’t a bad thing, but did not have a lush mouth feel to it. It had a little tartness in the fruit. Although a good wine, I found this lacking in complexity, especially for a 94 point wine that was #7 Wine of the Year.  The wine went very fast because people were filling their glasses for dinner so I’ll have to try this again. Curious to see what a long decant would do to it. I gave this 89 points.

St. Urbans-Hof Riesling Spatlese Ockfen Bockstein – In Stock $22.99

Lew picked this up from Dave and we drank it after dinner.  Wine Spectator gave this 94 points and unlike the Schild I could see why.  Wine Spectator said it needed a few years to come together and after drinking it I can also see why they said that.  The nose had some aromas of honey although the nose was not overwhelming. The real treat was on the palate with flavors of apple, peach and mineral that just swam across your mouth.  It had a wonderful acidity that really balanced out the sweetness but I believe this will get even better within a few years. Nice in 5, great in 10 years. I gave this 93 points.