Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Merlot And A Shiraz

This weekend I was able to try a couple of nice, straightforward wines that are pleasant but won't break the bank.

  • Sycamore Lane Cellars 2006 Merlot: This is a decent little Merlot from Napa. Ruby hued, hints of floral and fruit on the nose. Not a bad delivery of fruit combined with smooth tannins, ok acidity and a good level of alcohol. Bit of a short finish but not bad. A decent introductory Merlot.

  • Shoo-Fly 2006 Shiraz: Another nice Aussie offering. Big and bold, nice spices and pepper with berries, plums, and just a touch of mint with a great acid/tannin structure that makes the mouth water. I had this with a pulled pork BBQ sandwich and loved the synergy between the wine and the BBQ.

  • Wines reviewed in 2009: 184

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009

    Memorial Day BBQ

    My honey and I has a few friends over Sunday for a Memorial Day weekend BBQ. Last minute improvisation wrecked havoc with the menu but the food and drinks flowed for several hours and I don't think anyone went away hungry. While margaritas, beer, and mojitos were the mainstays several bottles of wine were opened. Strangely, people avoided the whites (since they kept their corks on they will live to serve another day). For the red drinkers (your author included) we had a lively little offering:

  • Beckman Estate Grenache 2006: I tell ya, every time I taste a Beckman wine I am happy and this time was no exception. Aged in 100% neutral barrels you get the full head-on expression of the fruit. The bouquet is lively with wonderful red fruits (especially strawberries) and just a hint of vanilla set the mouth to water. The medium-bodied wine delivers fantastic fruit and soft tannins with good acidity to swirl around the mouth and ending in a nice lingering finish. The alcohol runs a little on the high side but you don't really notice it (at least not in the first glass). Brilliant job and I loved it as a summer BBQ wine.

  • Francis Coppola 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Collection Ivory Label: What a mouthful that is... and so is the wine. Big, bold, expressive, rich. Beautiful nose of red currant, plum, and a hint of vanilla this wine was delicious delivery just the right mix of blackberries, mellow tannins (surprising in a pretty young wine) and alcohol in a concentration that produced a lingering finish well received buy the assembled company.

  • Fess Parker 2005 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard: Believing you should always share your good stuff with friends I broke open a bottle of one of Fess' great Pinots. I gotta tell you, I love Fess Parker wines more and more and I think I am winning converts. This is a GREAT wine for any New World Pinot Noir lover. The nose is a wonderful blend of plumb, currants, and I swear a hint of smoky meat linger in there (which of course could have been the ribs on the grill but since I liked the hint of smoke I'll keep it in the review). This wine was bold with the structure behind it to make it more than just a flash in the pan (or mouth in this case). The blend of red fruits, solid but not harsh tannin, fantastic acid, and alcohol was a near perfect blend for me on this day delivering a lip-smacking joy that lingered for a long, long time.

  • Leonesse 2006 White Merlot: From the best reds on the Central Coast (Beckman, Fess Parker) I decided to throw in something from probably the best wine maker in our own Temecula, Leonesse. Wanting something that looked like a summer wine but was unusual I chose the Leonesse White Merlot. I confess, I like this wine for a warm-weather, spicy food companion. This fruity wine bursts with strawberries and cherries both on the nose and palate without being a "sweet" wine. The folks at Leonesse have been dabbling in this area (fruity wines that aren't cloyingly sweet) with some good success and the White Merlot is just one more example of this.

  • Wines reviewed in 2009: 182

    Friday, May 8, 2009

    Charity Tasting At San Diego Wine Company

    I was happy to attend a charity tasting for Southern Caregiver Resource Center, a local charity that helps families and caregivers by providing services that are inclusive of all issues related to caring for adults with chronic and/or disabling conditions held at San Diego Wine Company. The theme for the tasting was "Big Gun" and offered several higher-end wines from the store's inventory. There were 9 wines of which I sampled all 9 (naturally) and hors d'oeuvres provided by Metro Gourmet. The wines tasted in order poured an my hastily scribbled notes were:

  • Cakebread 2007 Sauvignon Blanc: Traditional Sauv Blanc, tart with bright citrus and light minerality delivering a nice finish. Good apèritif.

  • Shafer 2006 Chardonnay: Crisp, green apple and apricot. No malolactic fermentation so you don't get any buttery weight, this is a summer Chardonnay. Nice acid with a good finish that paired nicely with many of the food offerings.

  • Radio Coteau 2007 "La Neblina": A Pinot Noir from the Sonoma area that earned a 93 from Robert Parker. Smoke, red fruit, a little hint of choclate on the nose delivering big fruit with some fine acid and smooth tannins blending to a delicious finish.

  • Celani 2006 "Tenacious Red": An offering from nearby Napa that is a Cab Frac/Merlot blend. The nose promised big fruit and spice but I wasn't terribly impressed. Might have been the bottle but this one just didn't speak to me.

  • Don Melchor 2006 "Maipo": A well-regarded Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile's Concha y Toro. I was expecting wow and the nose indicated I would get that will big fruits, tar and tobacco. On the tasting, great opening but something happened on the finish that just wasn't agreeable. It seemed that the the hints of tobacco turned into ash and just turned me off. I definitely want to try it again but this night I wasn't happy.

  • Silver Oak 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon: OK, now we're talkin' again. Dark ruby red color, blackberries and cassis, licorice and hints of spice combine with mouthwatering acidity and smooth tannins makes for a fine experience.

  • Ghost Block 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon: Nice! Black Cherry, blackberry, cassis, hints of chocolate and toasty oak. Great mouthfeel, good acid/tannin/fruit balance with a lovely lingering finish.

  • Duckhorn 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon: Pleasant Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and just a touch of Cab Franc. Rich color, nose promises big fruit (Currant, black cherries, hint of plum). Good acidity, smooth tannins and nice fruit delivery. Big, will be better next year but fine right now.

  • Caymus 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon: A wine with a LONG distinguished pedigree. DEEP! Nose indicates power in its delivery of dark fruits and a hint of rose petal and hints of Old Worldliness to it. Full bodied, powerful yet balanced in its acid/tannin/fruit combo resulting in a long finish.

  • Wines reviewed in 2009: 178

    Wednesday, May 6, 2009

    Cinq de Mayo?

    Well, didn't hit any of the typical Mexican places for Cinco de Mayo but instead hit one of the local OB joints, The Vine. One recent update, they serve wines in half-glass portions now, allowing for you to taste more without paying more. The food, as always, was great (I tried to get a little "South of the Border" by having Empanadas for dinner). The wines I enjoyed were:

  • Molitor Riesling 2007: A lovely little Kabinett from the Mosel region in Germany, all peaches and spice with good acidity. Refreshing and a lovely opener with the cheese board.

  • Vincent Girardin, Rully 1er Cru, 2004: From Germany to France, a nice Burgundy (Chardonnay for those who want the varietal and don't know the AOC rules). Medium to full bodied, good acidity, hints of green apple tartness and yeast, nice finish.

  • Ca de Rocchi Valpolicella Montere Ripasso: Let's just make it all European with this little Italian. Lovely wine to go with dinner.Bright ruby red in color, hints of prunes and sour cherries with a touch of earthiness. Bright acidity, smooth tannins and a medium finish made this an excellent choice.

  • Wines reviewed in 2009: 169