Friday, August 29, 2008

An Italian Cheapie

Villa Cerrina
2007 Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio
Jen’s Notes

It is light and crisp with a lovely richness on the palate. The finish is long and there is a salty minerality underneath. This blend combines the best qualities of both varietals and it is a great value.

An Oakless Red

Celler El Masroig
2007 Sola Fred, Mont Sant
Shane’s Notes

The Sola Fred is blend of 90% Carignan and 10% Grenache. According to the shelf talker, it sees no oak. As one would expect from an oakless red, it is a very subtle wine. The palate shows tart cranberry and raspberry with a hint of mint. It is juicy with a medium finish. This is a great deal for ten bucks.

Heavy Perfume

2006 Erath Estate Selection, Dundee Hills
Pinot Noir

Erath is simply another heavy, monolithic Pinot. It is like drinking a bottle of heavy perfume.

The Diva

2005 Gunderloch “Diva” Spatlese
Shane’s Notes

Many pundits opine that German Rieslings would be more popular if only their label were easier to understand. Gunderloch seems to be responding to this complaint by simply calling this Spatlese “Diva” and by having a fancy drawing of a torso of the woman on the front. The label even contains the corny phrase “There are many Rieslings but only one Diva.”

All of this is fine with me as long as the wine in the bottle is up to Gunderloch’s high standards. Alas, it is not. This wine is borderline insipid. It is very sweet with a simplistic palate. There is a hint of a peach/apricot flavor but it quickly disappears. The curtain should fall on this Diva.

Oaked Burgundy

2002 Domaine de la Bongran
Cuvee Tradition Thevenet
E.J. Thevenet, Grand vin de Bourgogne
Shane’s Notes

Not normally the style I like – this one has obviously seen a lot of oak. It was slightly honeyed with a nice fruit flavor that we couldn’t quite identify (apple?). I have to admit that I actually enjoyed it. If you like them oaked, this one is pretty good, but probably not worth $30.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Delicate Florals

2006 Pinot Noir
Williams-Selyem, Sonoma Coast
Jen’s Notes
Around $40

Aromas of smoke and tea rose. On the palate: lighter in body with zesty acidity. Perhaps oddly, I thought the wine was more interesting when first poured. I tasted pleasant woody/cedar notes, earth and delicate florals. The last sips, however, seemed less dimensional.

Anyway, a nice wine, though probably too young yet.

Another PX

2004 Alvear Pedro Ximenez Sherry
$12.99/375 ml
Shane’s Notes

We love Pedro Ximenez Sherries. The best are as thick and rich as motor oil and almost too sweet for your taste buds to handle. This Alvear is just a half a notch below the best (The Y’quem of PX’s is the Sanchez Romate Cardenal Cisneros). The palate was massively rich and showed molasses, brown sugar, raisins and smoke. The finish was very short.

A Gruner

2006 Kies Gruner Veltliner, Austria
Kurt Angerer
Jen’s Notes

Very herbal, key lime/grapefruit. Quite minerally. Very dry. Not as funky as some of the others and perhaps a little riper. Short finish with slightly salty note

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

IRS Rebate Dinner

Shane’s Notes

We decided to blow some of our rebate money at the Sundance Steakhouse in Palo Alto. We enjoy the Sundance – the ambience is nice, the service is quick and friendly and the food is really good. However, the wine list leaves a little to be desired. The wine list consists primarily of American wines and especially, expensive Napa cabs. Every good wine list should have a variety of choices under $60 for the cost conscious (best candidates are basic CDR’s and a few inexpensive Italian wines like Montepulciano, Dolcetto or Barbera).

The wine list had only two Southern Rhones, the Guigal Chateauneuf and the Chapoutier Chateauneuf. We had the Guigal the last time we ate here so we went with the 2005 Chapoutier “La Bernadine” Chateauneuf ($49.99 in the store, I think we paid over $100 at the restaurant) and had it decanted. The aroma boasted cigar box scents with some funk underneath. The palate showed sweet strawberry, compote and herbs. The texture was silky and the palate was subtle yet focused. It was also brambly and smoky. This was a magnificent wine and one of the best Chateauneufs we have tasted.

I always prefer to drink my dessert and certainly couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a glass of Graham’s 1983 Vintage Port. This wine is definitely peaking right now. The palate is smooth and the finish is endless. The palate shows strong anise and black cherry with undertones of brown sugar. This is a very rich port and one of the better vintage ports I’ve tasted.

A Rare Burgundy

2005 Joseph Faiveley
Bourgogne Rouge
Shane’s Notes

Jen loves Burgundy so I occasionally have to drink this swill. Every once in while, we even find one that is not completely revolting. Not only does this one fall into that category but it was actually good. This Burgundy seemed much riper than most Burgundies we have drunk. The palate was dominated by an orange flavor with a light, tangy, berry flavor reverberating underneath. It was mouth filling and complex with a long finish. I let my last glass sit for about 45 minutes and it was even better. It could probably use about an hour of decanting.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Magnificent Marlborough

2007 Sauvignon Republic, Marlborough
Shane’s Notes

This is one of the best SB’s we have tasted. We love our Marlborough SB’s and this effort from the Sauvignon Republic includes all the best that Marlborough SB has to offer (albeit without the grassiness). The massive palate displays tons of tropical flavors, gooseberry and salt. I wrote “it is an unstable explosion of flavor.” You absolutely must buy this wine. If their other efforts are as good as the Russian River version and this version, then we are ready to move to the Sauvignon Republic.

Finally, a Winner from Alsace

2005 Zind Humbrecht Pinot d’Alsace
Shane’s Notes
We had tried several Alsatian wines and to put it mildly, we were not impressed. However, I did sense some potential so I occasionally bought an Alsatian wine. I began to feel like the optimist digging through a pile of horse manure looking for the horse. Anyway, we finally found the horse. This was an unusual wine but also excellent. It had bright flavors of apple and lemon with a short finish. A unique wine that went great with the pork roast we prepared. It is definitely a food wine and definitely worth trying.

Sweet and Simplistic

Domaine du Viking 2004 Vouvray Tendre
Shane’s Notes

A bit simplistic but fun to drink. It shows sweet Crenshaw melon with some graphite. I wouldn’t take it seriously but it wasn’t a waste of money either. Very sweet – definitely at the demi sec level.

Superannuated Merlot

2003 Chateau St. Michelle Indian Wells Merlot
Shane’s Notes

This would have been great in its prime. Unfortunately, its prime was probably several years ago. The palate was faded but showed cinnamon, raspberry and coffee. I’d love to try a more recent incarnation of this wine.

Decent Doisy

2005 Sauternes
Ch. Doisy-Vedrines
Jen’s Notes

Distinct aroma of graphite. Palate includes almond, orange peel, toast and jasmine. Certainly very well made and nice to drink, but I'd keep it in the back of the cellar for a few more years.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Fourth of July

Shane’s and Jen’s Notes

We thought we should have a few American wines to celebrate the fourth. We decided to try a few Napa wines from the mountain appellations. We were not disappointed. These mountain wines had very interesting flavor profiles and were more distinctive than many of the valley floor wines that we have tried.

2003 Howell Mountain Vineyards
Cabernet Sauvignon

Velvety texture surrounds a subtle and complex array of flavors, including herbal/spice notes, deep (but not too sweet) cassis, olive, and espresso. There's a touch of funk/earth underneath. The tannins are smooth and integrated with a touch of astringency on a long finish. The wine is mouth filling and absolutely gorgeous. Quite unique.

2004 Merlot

Pronounced blueberry flavor with hints of espresso and herb. Smooth, silky texture completed by a long, luxurious finish. We worried that it might be a bit oaky at first, but when fully open, the wine was well balanced and delicious.

Two Rotten Rhones

Shane’s Notes

St. Cosme Gigondas Valdabelle 2005

This was simply an awful wine. I think two buck Chuck would have given this a run for its money. It was so oaked that it tasted like Vanilla ice cream. After a few sips, we simply poured it down the sink. Did I say how awful it was?

2006 Dame Victoria Rasteau

After disposing of the St. Cosme, we opened this up and were greeted by aromas of horse manure – a sure sign of Brett contamination. We have had this wine before so we know that the flavors were muted and the finish was shortened. We drank it but it was definitely a ruined bottle.