Monday, February 27, 2006

Not Crazy for Bellevue

Chateau de Bellevue 2001
Lussac, St Emilion
Shane’s Notes

This was another blind taste test for Jen.

My notes: Aroma – muted, earthy, red berry. Palate – tangy, almost sour, kind of herbal and leathery, medium finish.

Jen’s notes – Deep, opaque red – almost purple. Nose is tart fruit and a bit of an inky funk. Probably French. Palate – needs to open. Definitely tart fruit with herbs and leather and roasted notes.

Jen’s Guess - $12-$15, Northern Rhone

We were both disappointed in this one. I agree with Jen’s price guess – this wine is not worth more than $15.

Burgundian Sparkling Wine

Louis Bouillot, Cremant de Bourgogne
Perle d'Aurore Rose
Jen’s Notes

Champage is not France's only bubbly. Some, like this one, are also made in Burgundy. This one showed a gorgeous light pink color, and sweet rosy scents with a hint of apples. On the palate, the wine was slightly toasty, with zesty fruit underneath. It was a touch steely, with a slight fennel taste on the finish. It was quite nice, but I tend to prefer something fruitier (like the Chateau Ste. Michelle) or with more pronounced minerality (like the Dom Perignon).

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Blinded by Bob

2003 Robert Mondavi Winery
Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
25.00/16.00 on sale
Jen’s Notes

This was the second blind tasting for Shane, once again, chosen by me on a whim.

Shane's notes:
Very dark red in color, sweet red fruit aromas. Definitely new world. On the palate, the wine seemed very sweet and oaky. It was medium-bodied. Maybe hints of spice? Not very complex, but well-structured. Juicy and perfumey.

Not one of the Big Three (Cabernet, Merlot or Pinot) – it’s too sweet up front; did not seem to be recognizable as any varietal in particular.

Shane's assessment: new world Syrah, $25.00.

My notes:
Bright red, not much on the nose - seemed to be more of a sweet generic berry flavor, and somewhat muted. On the palate, the wine was quite spicy, not especially fruity, although there seemed to be some blueberry underneath; slight chocolate taste on the palate entry; warm, cedary notes. Good astringency on the finish, chewy in the mouth.

I thought the wine was pretty well-made, but not what I am looking for in my Cabs. It had some restraint to it, which I liked, but would have preferred some funkiness underneath and maybe less oak.

House Pinot

2004 Pinot Noir
Clos du Bois, Sonoma County
15.00/11.99 on sale
Jen’s Notes

A great choice for your house Pinot, especially if you can get it on sale!

The wine is a light, clear red, with a slight pinkish tinge at the meniscus. It boasts bold fruit scents on the nose, with a hint of smoke. The palate is packed with tangy, juicy fruit (very plummy, slightly raspberry), also with a smokey accent. The flavors linger nicely on the palate.

Another Tablas Creek

Tablas Creek
Esprit de Beaucastel 2003
Shane’s Notes

The aroma is graphitic, intensely plummy, smoky, and gives off a hint of licorice. The palate is silky, a bit oaky, and displays licorice and sweet berry fruit, probably blackberries. It is sweet and juicy with a long finish. It is really good, but we were a touch disappointed. Our expectations are high for Tablas Creek, and we didn’t think this was any better than their 2002 Cotes de Tablas, which is about ten bucks cheaper.

Decent SB

Kathryn Kennedy
2004 Sauvignon Blanc, California
Shane’s Notes

The aroma shows light pears and is citrussy. The palate has muted, pear and lemon flavors. It has good acidity and a tangy finish. There is a bit of minerality on the end. It’s okay but not very exciting.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Va-va-va Vouvray!

2003 Vouvray Moelleux
Domaine du Clos Naudins
Jen’s Notes

This wine exhibits a light straw color, and bright, zesty, tropical scents. The palate is concentrated and rich, with honeyed guava flavors. Although it seems quite sweet at first, this is balanced by a defined lemony acidity. The subtle minerality underneath lends a serious bass note.

I thought this Vouvray was quite satisfying and delicious. Shane preferred the complexity of the other Foreau Vouvray that we had a few weeks ago. I liked them both about equally, albeit for different reasons.

Blindly Sailing on a Cloudy Bay

Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2001
Shane’s Notes

When I came across this bottle of wine, I almost fell on the floor laughing. We recently drank a bottle of Cloudy Bay’s Sauvignon Blanc, and I thought it was one of the best SB’s I had ever tasted while Jen didn’t like it. When I mentioned that Andrea Immer mentioned that New Zealand might one day produce excellent Pinot Noirs, Jen laughed. I couldn’t wait to have a blind tasting for her with this New Zealand Pinot!

Jen’s Notes: Light, tart cherry fruit aroma and color is transparent red. Sweetness on palate entry and finishes tangy. Pretty good mid-palate juiciness. Light, tart cherry flavor and light cola flavor, tingly on the palate, slightly smoky. I like it.

Jen’s Guesses: Definitely Pinot Noir, possibly French, costs around $30.

Shane’s Notes: Intensely fruity aroma, classic pinot aromas, a touch funky. Palate is a bit closed and watery. As it opened, nice light fruit flavors. Good mid-palate concentration. Quick, rough (possibly tannic?) finish. Light cherry and cranberry flavors.

Not a huge Pinot fan but it’s fairly well done. Almost great but not quite there. I would have guessed between $25 - $30 and wouldn’t have been able to tell New World vs. Old. Not fruity enough for New, but not quite funky enough for Old. Missing complexity.

When I revealed the bottle to Jen, she stared at it for a minute and then good naturedly (I think) presented an upraised middle finger to me. We laughed and discussed the wine. We both agreed that it was a good effort for the price but that it didn’t quite rise to the level of greatness. We also agreed that New Zealand Pinots just might be worth exploring in the future.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Orange Muscat

Quady Essencia
California Orange Muscat 2002
Shane’s Notes

Jen said the taste was reminiscent of Grand Marnier. The palate displayed tangy, orange marmelade and that’s about it. It was a little syrupy. It’s okay but too tangy for me.

Kudos to Kunde

2001 Kunde Merlot
Sonoma County
Jen’s Notes

After bearing witness to an overoaked Carmenere, and the absence of tannins in the 2004 version of our house red, Kunde renewed our spirits with its subtle and well-made Merlot. I'd also like to smugly note that we liked it way-hay-hay-hay more than the Duckhorn, which was twice the price.

On the nose, the Kunde boasts intense cassis and cedar scents. The palate is silky-smooth, with sweet blueberry fruit over a whisper of tannins. We detected spicy/herbal notes, suggesting a flirtation with oak, but certainly not too much. Just enough to highlight the other flavors and lend a warm, slightly woody accent.

Chile, Say It Ain’t So!

Concha y Toro
Block 17, Peuno Vineyard
2003 Carmenere

Santa Ema
2004 Cabernet Sauvignon
Shane's Notes

Concha y Toro brags on the label that the grapes for the Terrunyo come from one block in a particular vineyard. Thus, the wine is an experiment in terroir. Unfortunately, the wine was overoaked which negates any effects of the terroir. The aroma is jammy and spicy with a hint of vanilla. The palate is too generic – there just isn’t much taste underneath the vanilla. It is a bit woody on the finish. This one was very disappointing.

The 2004 version of our house red was also disappointing. This Santa Ema is not as tannic and not as flavorful as the 2003. We suspect that the flavor was sacrificed on the altar of tannin management.

We are becoming a bit wary of Chilean wines. We have now had about as many bad ones as good ones. We don’t have a new house red yet, but for our inexpensive wines, we are having good luck with Spanish wines.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Sailing on a Cloudy Bay

2004 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc
Marlborough, New Zealand
Jen’s Notes

This wine is quite hard to find outside your local swanky restaurant's wine list. We picked it up at Draeger's in San Mateo, after reading that it is one of Andrea Immer's (author of Great Wine Made Simple) favorite Sauvignon Blancs.

While Shane and I both agreed that it was a particularly well-crafted SB, and totally unique at that, one of us actually did not like it. Now, usually, this is something that happens when I bring home a particularly funky old Burgundy, redolent of the wine maker's socks and a dash of soy sauce. Shane might agree that it is a well made wine; but he probably does not like it. This time, I was the one who was less than thrilled.

The wine showed the palest straw color, very nearly clear. Its aromas were grassy, compost-y, nearly rotting. On the palate, the wine was intensely grassy and full of juicy lime flavors, almost reminiscent of Shasta Lemon-lime. Despite all this citrus, the flavors were not unpleasantly puckery at all. The Kim Crawford SB, by contrast, was quite puckery.

We had never tasted anything quite like this. And, although I normally embrace the funkier wines, I tend to prefer that funky SBs err on the side of minerality (wet rocks, flintiness and the like). The grassiness and intense lime flavors bugged me a bit, and I prefer the rotting/barnyard flavors in a red wine. On the other hand, Shane loved the grassiness and massive lime flavor and thought it was one of the best SBs he has ever tasted.

Another Blind Tasting for Jen

2003 Duckhorn Merlot
Shane’s Notes

This was a very interesting tasting. In our relationship, Jen usually buys the expensive wines, and I usually buy the inexpensive to moderate priced wines. I decided to throw Jen a curveball by purchasing something relatively expensive. I specifically picked the Duckhorn because I think their Cabs are overpriced. I figured the Merlot would not be worth $44.95 and that it would be fun to watch Jen give it a bad review.

Jen’s Notes – Purple-red in color. Aroma - Sweet fruit and spices with a hint of tobacco on the nose. Palate – wood (oaked?), spices some tangy/sweet berry fruit. Concentrates for a bit and then finishes. It’s pretty good but not a whole lot going on. After it opened, fruit flavors were sweeter and more succulent. Woody and oak notes are more pronounced but don’t obscure other flavors.

Jen’s guesses – It’s a New World Syrah and costs around $15.

Shane’s Notes – Beautiful nose – vanilla, sweet and fruity. Palate – chocolate, berry flavor (cherry?), touch of vanilla, some bitter flavor I don’t like, not as much fruit as I expected. As it opened, nice, smooth texture but still more subtle than I expected. Just not complex enough. Not worth more than $25.

When I showed Jen the bottle, she just stared at it in silent amazement. She couldn’t believe that it was a $45 Merlot. We compared out notes and discussed them. Jen disagreed with my chocolate descriptor but I stand by it. The bitter flavor I couldn’t place was the oak. I’m just learning to identify oakiness and not confuse it with tannins. Otherwise, our notes were fairly similar. We both wrote that it lacked complexity. However, we each identified at least three or four flavor descriptors which would seem to qualify as at least moderate complexity.

I am not surprised that Jen guessed incorrectly on the varietal. We hardly ever drink Merlot. In fact, we drink such a wide variety of varietals and blends that it will be difficult for us to correctly identify wines. For example, we had a stretch where our wines included a white Rioja, a 1996 Dom Perignon, A French white blend which included Ugni Blanc and Columbard, A Grenache-based Rhone, a Portugese LBV, a Zinfandel and a Spanish Tempranillo. If our wine drinking were limited to the big six (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling), then we would quickly become familiar with their characteristics. We would also know that a blind tasting would only have one of three varietals (since a quick look would eliminate either the three reds or the three whites), which would make the varietal identification about 100 times easier. In the future, we will have to do some blind tastings limited to the big six and see how we do.

We discussed this wine extensively. We agree that the wine was not well constructed. It was like a disharmonious symphony: the whole never exceeded the sum of the parts. The flavors just seemed disconnected. When we had the Fonseca LBV, a wine we both agree achieved a magical synthesis, the flavors felt completely integrated and the effect was magnificent. On the palate, the flavors melted into one another instead of appearing disparately. This sounds rather vague, but when you have tasted one of these special wines, you will know what we mean. When we pay over $30, this is what we expect to find, and it is why neither of us think the Duckhorn is worth the price.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

We Prefer Red

Fonseca Siroco
Dry White Port
Shane’s Notes

We couldn’t pass up an opportunity to try another white port. The color is golden yellow. This port does have a rich texture but it lacks flavor. It was syrupy and medicinal. It was also a bit hot going down. We know the label said that it was dry but it never occurred to us that a port could be so dry. We wish it were sweeter and more flavorful.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Another Bargain Rosé

Cortijo III
Rioja, 2004
Shane’s Notes

This Rosé had a strawberry aroma and a tangy raspberry flavor. Jen also detected a bit of graphite on the palate. We have been really happy with most of our under $10 Grenache Rosés (French and Spanish). They are excellent, quaffable bargain wines.

A Not So Speciale Reserve

2001 Reserve Speciale
Barons de Rothschild (Lafite)
Medoc, Bordeaux
Jen’s Notes

Bet you didn't know that the folks behind Chateau Lafite, that great first-growth, also made a table wine. Unfortunately, they do. Having experienced with great success their top-shelf from 1964 (pre-blog), I can personally recommend that they stick with the good stuff, and leave the plonk where it belongs.

The nose was promising, suggesting cassis and leather. Unfortunately, the palate did not stand up to it: just tart fruit that seemed to concentrate just for a second before disappearing. Other than that, it seemed watery and a touch vegetal. This wine wasn't even close to cabs we've found at lower prices, such as the Chateau Ste. Michelle, or even the Santa Ema.

Bad and Pfalz

2003 Fitz-Ritter
Durkheimer Abtsfronthof
Riesling Spatlese
Bad Durkheim, Pfalz, Germany
Jen’s Notes

This wine lured us in with fresh, sweet-smelling nectarine and florals on the nose. While still cold, the palate included tangy, juicy pear, and tasted more like a sauvignon blanc. Unfortunately everything fell apart shortly after that. The palate entry was almost cloyingly sweet and there was no complexity or balancing acidity behind it. Tasted blind, we couldn't have said what varietal this was, and it certainly didn't match our fond memories of the other rieslings we have had.

Cream of the Crop

Sanchez Romate
"Iberia" Cream Sherry Reservas Especiales
Jen's Notes

This ain't your Harvey's Bristol Cream! Although I do have a soft spot for Harvey's, I have to say, this cream sherry is in a class by itself. The addition of Pedro Ximenex grapes makes it absolutely luxurious, in both taste and texture.

The flavors include hazelnut, smoke and raisins. It is sweet, dense, concentrated and wrapped in a smooth texture. It is balanced and harmonious, with a decadently long finish.

Zinfandel Festival

Zinfandel Festival
Shane’s Notes

We attended ZAP’s Zinfandel Festival at Fort Mason a few weekends ago. Zinfandel is a rather playful varietal, and the varietal name lends itself to some interesting brand names. There is a Sin Zin, a Cardinal Zin, The Seven Deadly Zins, and one of my favorite Zins of the tasting, a Temptation Zin. At the Bonny Doon table (Cardinal Zin), there was even a confession machine and the reps were dressed as devils.

Obviously, a great Zin is not on the same level as a first growth Bordeaux. At their best, Zins are juicy, spicy and fun to drink. At their worst, as we found out at this festival, they are undrinkable, flabby vanilla bombs. We have never been to a wine festival with more bad wine, and we have never poured out more wine in our entire lives.

Looking back over my notes, the four best we tasted were the Alexander Valley Vineyards 2004 Temptation Zin, Kunde’s 2003 Century Vines, T-Vine’s 2003 Frediani Vineyard and Louis Martini’s 2001 Monte Rosso.

Turley Wine Cellars, 2004 barrel sample, Hayne Vineyard, Napa Valley, $75
We practically ran over to Turley as soon as we entered the pavilion. We absolutely could not wait to try a famous Turley Zin. We were stunned and very, very disappointed to see that they were only offering barrel samples. Why in the world would a winery pour barrel samples at a tasting for the general public? Barrel samples typically have a heavy, vanilla flavor pasted on to the wine, and only an expert could even hazard a guess as to the quality. If you’ve never had a barrel sample, it’s fun to do once but that’s about it. We tried it anyway and possibly detected some leather and raspberry underneath the massive vanilla flavor. Maybe it will be good but we really aren’t certain.

T-Vine Cellars, 2003 Napa, Frediani Vineyard, Calistoga, $28
T-Vine is one of our favorite wineries and the Frediani does not disappoint. It was plummy, very spicy and had a velvety texture. The finish was very long. It is a prototypical Zin.

Alexander Valley Vineyards, 2004 Temptation Zin, California, $15
The Alexander Valley Zins are all very tasty. Going against their advice, I tried the Redemption Zin, then the Temptation Zin and skipped the Sin Zin altogether. It just seemed like the right thing to do, and I’m sure that Freudians will have a field day analyzing me. The Temptation Zin is a new offering from Alexander Valley and is available only at CostPlus. At $14, we recommend that you run to CostPlus and buy it. It is very jammy and has a peppery flavor running throughout the entire palate. It is super spicy. We’ve never had a zin quite like it. Jen just kept saying, “Wow!”

Ridge Vineyards
2003 Geyserville, Alexander Valley, $33
2003 (4)? Paso Robles, $26
We were very disappointed with the Ridge Zins. The Geyserville offered almost no aroma and just had too much vanilla on the palate. Other than that and a little spice, there was not much to it. The Paso Robles was even worse: flat and flabby and very overripe.

2004 Richard Saurette
2004 Rockpile Road Vineyard, Rockpile, barrel sample, $30
Rosenblum provided us with our next extremely disappointing tasting. The Saurette did have a fruity aroma, but we could barely detect any flavor on the palate. The Rockpile was another barrel sample, but we were able to discern some tobacco, cedar and pepper. It might be good, but once again, we were very disappointed to be offered a barrel sample.

Rombauer, 2003 El Dorado, $25
The Rombauer Zin has been one of our favorites. However, we found it a bit flabby this time. It is juicy but not spicy and with zins, the spice seems to provide the balance against the juiciness. I’m not sure if they have changed their zin or if our tastes have changed.

Napa Wine Company, Pelissa Vineyard, Oakville, $20
Kudos to Napa Wine Company. We really enjoyed this one. It has a fruity aroma and the palate is very juicy with a long finish. There is just a hint of spice on the finish.

Murphy Goode, 2003 Liar’s Dice, Sonoma County, $20
This was another huge disappointment. A heavy vanilla flavor completely ruins it.

Seghesio Family vineyards
2004 Cortina, Dry Creek Valley, $36
2004 Home Ranch, Alexander Valley, $36
2004 Old Vine, Sonoma County, $36
The Alexander Valley and the Sonoma were both disappointing. Both were a bit juicy with not much else happening. However, we really enjoyed the Cortina. It had some mild, spicy cherry flavor and a really nice finish.

Sobon Estate
2004 Rocky Top Vineyard, Amador County, $16
2004 Lubenko Vineyard, Fiddletown, $18
The Rocky Top was one of the worst Zins I have ever tasted. I had to quickly eat some bread to get the massive vanilla flavor out of my mouth. The Fiddletown was at least drinkable but a bit overripe.

Louis M. Martini Winery
2001 Monte Rosso Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, $22
2002 Gnarly Vines, Monte Rosso Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, $40
We really enjoyed both of these. The Gnarly Vines was cedary and leathery with a clean finish. It had good tannins and a subtle flavor palate. The Monte Rosso was absolutely outstanding – it was juicy with cherry and tobacco and was very chewy and mouth filling. I got so excited that I wrote down “long finish” twice.

Dry Creek Vineyard
2003 Old Vine, Sonoma County, $25
2003 Somers Ranch, Dry Creek Valley, $30
I noticed that I liked a lot of Zins from the Dry Creek Valley region, so we detoured over to this tasting. The Old Vine was a vanilla bomb. The Somers Ranch was better with a bit of juice and spice but it never really took off.

Trentadue Zinfandel Port, $25
We laughed when we saw the Trentadue table. We had stopped at the winery on one of our tasting trips, and it was one of the worst tastings we have experienced. The “Champagne” they poured was so lousy we practically spit it out Exorcist style. We walked out on the tasting and did not even taste the wines we had gone there to taste – their “ports.” Anyway, I decided to try the Trentadue “port” and was pleasantly surprised. It was mild-bodied with a pleasant sweetness to it. It is a least a mediocre dessert wine.

Kunde, 2003 Century Vines, Estate, Sonoma, $25
This one is succulent and super spicy. This is a zin to be taken seriously. I have some more notes written on this one, but it was near the end of our marathon tasting and I can’t quite read them. I can only make out “unique.” Anyway, this is a good opportunity to push Kunde wines. We love their wines and find it amazing that they can put out such a wide variety of quality wines in the medium price range. They are one of the best kept secrets of Sonoma Valley.

Monday, February 06, 2006

A Winner from Languedoc

2003 Cotes du Roussillon
Domaine du Roc des Anges “Vielles Vignes”
Shane’s Notes
The aroma displays tart cherry and herbal (sage) notes. The palate is very concentrated and plummy. It is also smoky with a hint of violet and perhaps some candied orange peel. The finish is very, very long. Another great deal for the price, but it was just a little dry for my palate. I figured it was predominantly Syrah, and Jen guessed that Mourvedre provided the backbone. We didn’t do so well – it is 40% Carignan, 40% Grenache and 20% Syrah. I don’t feel too badly – after all, who can identify Carignan???

Friday, February 03, 2006

Blogiversary - The Bottom Twelve

Here is a list of the twelve worst wines we have blogged over the year (we have included the title of the original review and the date the review was posted). We tried to limit our choices to wines with serious flaws. We practically spit out an Oloroso Sherry that we tasted but left it off the list because we just don’t like Olorosos. We also left a few bad wines off the list because we think the bottles were ruined.

We were initially stunned to discover that eleven of the twelve wines are from California. Is California crafting the worst wines in the world? Absolutely not. Because we live in California, we are exposed to all California wines. Most of the plonk produced in other countries never reaches our markets. Additionally, we take frequent tasting trips to Napa and Sonoma and try a lot wines just for fun. Half of the wines on this list come from those tasting trips. Normally, we research our purchases very carefully.

Five of the wines (Rosenblum, J. Lohr, Freemark, Miner and Darioush) had the same problem: absolutely no flavor. These wines had bland, generic palates – you wouldn’t even be able to guess the varietal in a blind taste. I was really disappointed with the Freemark, because I usually like their wines. The Prager wines were all very vegetal (underripe grapes) while the Goldeneye was massively overripe. The Taylor Fladgate tasted like cough syrup and words can’t even begin to describe how bad the Trentadue and the Wattle Creek wines were – the flaws must be numerous. Bonny Doon’s Ruche tasted like gasoline mixed with kerosene and never should have been released. I can’t remember too much about the Diamond Series Pinot except that it was horrible – I tasted it at a wine festival and was a little tipsy, but I stand by my opinion.

$7.98, Rosenblum Vintners Cuvee XXVII Zinfandel
The Giants get Pummelled (16-4), 7/26/05

$11.99, 2002 J. Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon
Blinders On, 3/29/05

$12.00 Trentadue Grand Cuvee Sparkling Wine
Four Wineries and a Detour, 9/20/05

$15.00, 2004 Sauvignon Blanc Wattle creek
Subplonk, 10/11/05

$17.00, 2003 Diamond Series Pinot Noir, Niebaum Coppola Winery
Monterey Wine Festival 5/9/05

$19.99, 2001 Ruche
Tasting at Bonny Doon, 5/25/05

$21.99, 2001 Aia, Napa Valley (Miner Family Vineyards)
The Goddess of Plonk?, 1/13/06

$21.99, 1999 Taylor Fladgate LBVFebruary 19 and 20, 2005

$35.00, Freemark Abbey 2001 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Lake Tahoe, 8/20/05

$49.99, 2002 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot NoirA Pinot and a Rhone, 3/14/05

$50 - $65, Prager Port Works – This is from our first blog entry so we didn’t take down the names of the wines. However, their so called ports are made from non port varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and all were atrocious.

$68 – Darioush, 2002 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon
Another Napa Trip, 11/22/05

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Vivacious Vouvray

Domaine du Clos Naudin
Appellation Vouvray Controlle
Demi Sec, Foreau, 2003
Shane’s Notes

It is light yellow in color, and the aroma is minerally and yeasty. This was a truly amazing wine – we have never encountered a wine quite like it and were fumbling around for apt flavor descriptors. Initially, we detected a subtle, sweet lemon flavor. As the wine warmed a little, tropical fruit flavors like banana crème pie and mango just exploded on the palate. It was medium-bodied, creamy in the middle, tangy, very sweet and very acidic with a solid, mineral underpinning. It displayed moderate complexity and had a very long finish. This was a stunning wine.

Blogiversary - Two Top Twelve Lists

Our first blog entry was posted on February 1, 2005 which means that we have been blogging wine reviews for an entire year. To celebrate our blogiversary, Jen and I each compiled a top twelve list chosen from all the wines that we have blogged. Our bottom twelve list is soon to follow.

Shane’s Top Twelve

I decided to stick with our quarterly top twelve format and pick 4 wines from each price category (under $15, $15 - $30, and over $30). If I ignored price, probably at least 9 of my picks would fall into the $30 and above price range. Many inexpensive wines are good but few rise to the level of greatness. I also stuck with our rule of only allowing one wine from each winery. Without that rule, Nickel and Nickel and Tablas Creek would each have several entries on this list.

The first two on the list don’t have much complexity but they are easy drinkers and great deals for the price. I especially liked the concentrated flavor of the Charamba. The Bollig Lehnert and the Finca Sobreno both show moderate complexity and are stunning values for this price range. In the next price range, the T-Vine had an incredibly concentrated flavor palate and the Fonseca LBV simply had all the classic port flavors. The Cote de Tablas, with its complexity and concentration, is one of my favorite wines, and the Chateau Montelena is the best Chardonnay I have ever tasted. My four picks in the over $30 category are all complex, extremely well-structured and truly unique.

$3.52, (2 for 1 sale) Concha y Toro Xplorador Cabernet Sauvignon
Tannin Management - October 25, 2005

$7.99, 2002 Charamba, Douro, Portugal
Ay, Charamba!, 12/22/05

$14.99, Bollig-Lennert, Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling-Spatlese
Our First Foray into German Rieslings – 5/12/05

$14.99, 2000 Finca Sobreno, Seleccion Especial
Estupendo Vino - November 8, 2005

$19.99, Fonseca 1999 LBV
The Prototypical, Non-Vintage Port - January 9, 2006

$23.00, 2002 Cotes de Tablas, Tablas Creek
Wine and the Bard – 6/30/05

$27.99, 2002 T-Vine Merlot
Another Birthday Dinner, July 28, 2005

$29.99, 2003 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay
Another Napa Trip, 11/22/05

$42.99, Sanchez Romate Pedro Ximenez “Cardenal Cisneros” Sherry
Why you should try Sherry – 4/27/05

$55.00, Weingut Grans-Kassian, 1997 Piersporter Goldtropfchen, Riesling Auslese,
Two Rieslings - September 16, 2005

$118.95, 1996 Dom Perignon
A Belated New Year’s Celebration, January 4, 2006

$80/375 ml, 2000 Dolce
Tasting Trip No. 3.0 (with some engaging news) – 4/21/05

Jen’s Top Twelve

I decided to compile my Top 12 sans rules. We all know what that means (hint: they are all expensive). Here goes:

$29.99, 2003 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay
Another Napa Trip, 11/22/05

$34.99, 1994 Baron de Pichon-Longueville Bordeaux, Pauillac
Gravel, Leather and Chocolate – It Must be a Bordeaux! – August 16, 2005

$42.99, Sanchez Romate Pedro Ximenez “Cardenal Cisneros” Sherry
Why you should try Sherry – 4/27/05

$45.00, 2002 Newton Chardonnay
Structural Perfection - October 11, 2005

$46.00, 2003 Sea Smoke Pinot Noir, Southing, Santa Rita Hills
Up in Smoke - October 19, 2005

$49.95, 1998 Chateau Cantelauze, Pomerol, Bordeaux
A Pomerol Powerhouse - August 31, 2005

$50.00, 2000 Cyrus
Four Wineries and a Detour/Tasting Trip no. 5.0, September 20, 2005

$55.00, Weingut Grans-Kassian, 1997 Piersporter Goldtropfchen, Riesling Auslese,
Two Rieslings - September 16, 2005

$118.95, 1996 Dom Perignon
A Belated New Year’s Celebration, January 4, 2006

$125, Krug Grande Cuvee,
Are You Krug Worthy – July 6, 2005

$139.99, 1986 Cos d'Estournel, Bordeaux, St. Estephe
A Grand Crus Celebration, 12/12/05

$80/375 ml, 2000 Dolce
Tasting Trip No. 3.0 (with some engaging news) – 4/21/05

Our Fourth Top Twelve

Here is a list of twelve wines that we highly recommend. Think of it as a mixed case that will see you through most occasions, from your usual weekday dinner to something more special for a Saturday evening. Just to keep things interesting, we have given ourselves a few ground rules: (1) we will attempt to always list four wines that cost under $15.00, four wines that cost between $15.00 to $30.00 and four wines that cost over $30.00; (2) we will also try to list a variety of types of wines (we’ll even throw in some whites!); (3) no winery can have more than one wine on the list at a time; and (4) we will only list wines that we have reviewed on this site (the title and date of the review are directly underneath the wine).

$4.99, 2004 Marques de Caceres Rioja
A Peppery White - 1/4/06

$7.99, 2002 Charamba, Douro, Portugal
Ay, Charamba!, 12/22/05

$10.99, Chateau St. Michelle 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon
Holiday Quaffers, 12/29/05

$12.99, Prazo de Rouriz
Another Douro Table Wine, 1/27/06

$16.99, Casa Lapostolle, Cuvee Alexandre, Apalta Vineyard, Merlot
Our First Lapostolle, 1/23/06

$19.99, Fonseca 1999 LBV
The Prototypical, Non-Vintage Port – 1/9/06

$25.00, 2004 Tablas Creek Rose, Paso Robles
Rosé with a Screw Cap, 12/12/05

$29.99, 2003 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay
Another Napa Trip, 11/22/05

$64.00, 2003 Condrieu "Clos Chanson" Andre Perret
Vertex of Viognier, 1/20/06

$65.00, Billecart-Salmon, Brut Rose
A Bubbly Celebration, 12/1/05

$118.95, 1996 Dom Perignon
A Belated New Year’s Celebration, 1/4/06

$139.99, 1986 Cos d'Estournel, Bordeaux, St. Estephe
A Grand Crus Celebration, 12/12/05