Thursday, October 30, 2008

2005 Fess Parker Melange Blanc

It's been hot lately so I'm switching from my beloved reds to whites today. It was a tough decision but I pulled a bottle of Fess Parker Melange Blanc 2005 from my cooler. As I have stated before I find ol' Dan'l... er, Fess, a place that improves with virtually every bottle I open. This wine is a white Rhone blend of Rousanne, Marsanne and Grenache Blanc. This cool wine is a pretty bright straw color that looks good in crystal. The aroma and flavors remind me of a melon-based fruit salad garnished with honeysuckle and wild flowers (ok, when I was kid I did taste honeysuckle but I didn't eat wild flowers... bear with me on the mental imagery folks). The wine brings along with the fruit a touch of flinty "minerality" in the mouth (and no, I never licked flint either) and a little sweetness in finish. My one complaint is that it could use a touch more acid in its structure to lend it some crispness that would make it an even better compliment on a hot "Indian summer" day.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Torremoron Tempranillo 2006 (And A Little Education To Boot)

It's been stressful lately so tonight after laundry and grocery shopping, since I was not with my beau, I decided to open a bottle from the collection. Since I just passed my certification exam on the wines from Spain and Portugal I thought something from Spain.

If you like red wine and you don't know much about the wines of Spain there are three names you should remember: Tempranillo (a grape), Rioja (a wine region), and Ribera del Duero (another wine region). Tempranillo is the red wine grape of Spain and tends to be low both in overall acidity and sugar, but relatively high in tannin, making wines that are moderate in alcohol and are quite long-lived. Wines made from the Tempranillo grape tend to have aromas and flavors of berries, "earthiness", very aromatic with good acid balance.

OK, now I have in mind a red wine from Spain meaning one made from Tempranillo, but what region. Rioja is the better known (it holds the highest Spanish viticultural designation) while Ribera del Duero is the up-and-coming challenger. I tend to like to back the "new kid" so I bypass the couple of Rioja wines and select the 2006 Torremoron Tempranillo.

After decanting and letting it breath a bit I pour my glass. The wine is a beautiful, bright violet/garnet color. The nose is a little red currant, cherry and mint with a good touch of old-world earthiness that I enjoy in my wines. The wine is medium bodied, good tannins and acidity delivering juicy raspberries and producing an "Ahhhh" of pleasure.

This is a pleasure and for its price (about $13 at Bevmo) a good introduction to Spanish wines.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Two Traditional Wines

News has been a bit depressing both in terms of media as well as familial. Last night before the cut-off time of fasting before my yearly physical I went to The Vine. Nice crowd, not so loud I couldn't think. While contemplating the universe and my place in it I decided it would be a "red night" and selected the following:

2004 White Oak Merlot, 25th Anniversary. At 89% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Sauvignon this was a delightful wine from Napa. Ruby red, rich in color as well as aroma and taste that hinted of cherries, chocolate and just a hint of blackberry. Beautifully balanced fruit, alcohol and tannins hitting all areas of the tongue and mouth like a good wine should. The soft tannins gave a long finish that was quite enjoyable.

2005 Seven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine made my "good choices" a two-for-two. This is what a Cab should be... medium bodied, deep color, balanced alcohol and tannins and delivering black currants, berries, a little peppery spice and a hint of vanilla all blending together to make me go "yum".

After a couple of glasses and some fun wine-related conversation with Brian I went home, a little lighter in the heart.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Another One Bites The Dust

Just passed my fourth wine certification exam on the wines of Spain and Portugal! Only four more to go.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Judgment of Ocean Beach...

OK, perhaps that was a bit pretentious but the results were quite interesting and probably unexpected except by "true believers". What am I talking about? Saturday I invited my beau and a few of friends over for a semi-blind tasting of Cabernet Franc wines. What I didn't tell them was that one of those wines was from my home state of Missouri. So along with a couple of hearty cheeses, a baguette, and a little grilled beef off we went. In the line up (and in the order tasted) we had the following:

2005 Ironstone Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Franc
2007 Westphalia Vineyards Cabernet Franc
2005 Corsentino "Franc"
2005 Hahn Cabernet Franc

Everyone was given a write up about Cabernet Franc wines which included a tasting profile and a couple of reviews of wines (different from the ones in the line up) as examples. The instructions given were simple:

We’ll taste Cabernet Franc from four different wineries and roughly same vintage in a semi-blind tasting (since we know the varietal it can’t be a blind tasting). Unlike a tasting in a professional setting we will not be judging the wines on how close they come to a baseline Cabernet Franc wine but more on simple “drinkability”. Try to pick out some of the commonly-occurring aromas and tastes but focus more on things like balance (do the tannins overpower any fruit? too much alcohol? too little acid?) and just an overall impression (this I like, that not so much). After you have tasted all four wine use the accompanying index card to rank the wines from the one you like most to the one you like least. Include a brief comment on why you picked the “best” wine and why you assigned the “worst” wine the positions you did. Don’t confer with anyone else, I am just looking for your individual assignments of the wines.

And the winner was...

The way the wines were scored was very coarse... a wine picked at first by someone got 4 points, second got 3 points, third got 2 points and fourth got 1 point. No wine was rated first by everyone tasting though Westphalia did get a first ranking by half of the tasters and Hahn was not ranked first by any taster. No one wine was ranked last by all tasters. All of the wines were kept at 58 degrees Fahrenheit and decanted before tasting. After the cards were filled out and the final scores tallied the results were as follows:

First Place: Westphalia
Second Place: Consentino "Franc"
Third Place: Ironstone Reserve
Fourth Place: Hahn

One interesting note was we all said that the Ironstone was a bit different than the other three, more "quiet" than the others. Westphalia was described as "rich", "juicy", "big fruit", "a little too rich" for one taster. Most people felt that the Hahn held out a promise but in the end failed to deliver when compared to the others.

So... congratulations to Westphalia

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dinner At Kous Kous

Well, last night I just didn't want to sit home so after feeding Romeo I went out by myself to have a light dinner at Kous Kous Moroccan Bistro in Hillcrest. As I got there at 6pm I was immediately offered any place I wanted to sit so rather than a table I chose a big, comfy chair in the lounge. Not wanted a lot to eat I ordered from the tapas menu, choosing the chicken brochette, a grilled chicken skewer with ginger, garlic and fresh herb
marinade, and the traditional B’stila (smaller than I remember from last time... this time looking more like a cannoli rather than a "pie"). To accompany the meal I choose 2006 Wild Horse Viognier. The food was excellent (though I have to say a couple of pieces of pita had a little bit of a charred taste) and I relaxed sipping the lovely wine.

2006 Wild Horse Viognier is a nice little wine. Clean and greenish-yellow in tint it delivered notes of honeysuckle and apricot with a touch of nectarine. Good acidity, not thin at all (some rest in a neutral oak perhaps?) with a flinty, mineral finish that I found very agreeable with both the meal and a bit of a palate cleanser.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Saturday Night At Wine Steals

Last night before the rain (and my subsequent congestion) I met my friends Cory and Elbert at Wine Steals in Hillcrest. Truth be told, it's not my favorite place for tasting wines yet almost paradoxically it was the place I chose to meet them. Between the two I have visited I prefer the one in Point Loma, seems less noisy, less congested, fewer "wine posers" and has a much better outdoor dining area. But it was where we met. Before they got there I had sampled the following wines:

2006 Cortijo Rioja. Since I am studying Spanish wines for my certification I wanted to take advantage of their offering it as a special for the night and had the cute server pour a glass. I was a little taken aback by the rather large number of cork particles floating around but since cork can't hurt you I let it pass. After taking it back to the table I took my first sip and was a bit let down. The second sip was no better. While it had some of the expected aromas and flavors (strawberry, spice, hint of tobacco) it was sour, far more than should be expected. The mouthfeel was all off and there was an odd character to the taste. As I looked at I noticed a couple of little white clumps on the inside of the glass... not cork, almost like soap particles. I would have thought I was seeing things but I noticed the guy next to meet was looking at his white wine and rubbing the inside of his glass with a finger trying to remove something. At this point I took the wine back and politely requested something else. I won't review the wine, it wouldn't be fair and I didn't order the same thing for fear of the first bad experience tainting the second glass and that's not fair to the wine.

2004 Tenuta di Arceno Prima Voce. In a fresh glass this little wine didn't disappoint. A Super Tuscan blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Sangiovese (heavy use of the first two), it showed abundant amounts of chocolate, cherries, raspberries, and a hint of earthiness with good acidity and tanin balance with a medium-long finish. The bottle was freshly opened and I could tell that this wine would serve well from being allowed to breath or at least decanted before serving (note to self on this fact) given how it unfolded in the glass over time. I think this wine fits quite well with the "Italian wines are made to go with food" concept I've heard so much about.

Just a note... do you find wine bars often serve their wines too warm? All of the wines on the tasting menu were on a shelf and being served at room temperature. Since we are not in northern Europe, room temperature is not in the 60-ish degree range that I find optimal for red wines.