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.