Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I was rummaging through the cooler for something to sip tonight to help relax after a mentally taxing day when what did my eyes spy but a hidden bottle of Alex's Red Barn 2005 Viognier. Since I had two bottles of the 2007 stored it was quite a fun little find and after the momentary debate of holding my own private vertical tasting I decided to not waste any more time and opened up my find. In the glass this white Rhone varietal is nothing but pretty, clean, clean looking with just the slightest touch of golden sun in color. Now I know that it is not uncommon for a Viognier to lose a large part of it's nose after a few years but as I brought the glass up after a few healthy swirl I was greeted with the heavenly scent of honeysuckle and apricots with a slight floral underpinning. The wine smelled like a warm summer evening just as a cool breeze was working through (OK, that was kind of muddled but I hope you get the idea). In the mouth this wine shows a little body with bold fruits that might make you think sweet but you really get fruit more than sugar. There is some acid, moderate alcohol and fruitiness that leaves a little spiciness lingering on the finish. Even after a few years this wine can hold its own with much of what is out on the market.

Number of wines reviewed in 2009: 201

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Revisiting Baily 2004 Cabernet Franc

Well, our flying trip through Temecula didn't allow for time to taste at Baily Winery so tonight, after working out and having dinner with the hubby we settled down with a glass of a fine product of our nearby AVA. Baily's 2004 Cabernet Franc is a lovely wine in the glass, an almost translucent cherry color that just invites you to sip. After a couple of swirls the nose that greats you is just as enticing, offering up lovely spicy dark fruit that makes the mouth water before a drop enters it. The wine is lean, very good acidity and solid tannins supporting dark cherries and hints of cassis that slowly fade to a slightly peppery finish. Very nice! Wish I had more than one bottle left, I'd share it with you. ;-)

Number of wines reviewed in 2009: 200

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Alex's Red Barn's New Grenache 2008

Today after doing the Father's Day stuff my partner and I went to Temecula to pick up my wine shipments from Leonesse and Baily's. On the way home we stopped by Alex's Red Barn Winery where some of the cleanest, least manipulated hand-crafted wines in Temecula, if not SoCal, can be found. The whole reason for the detour (other than I have enjoyed their wines since I first tasted them nearly a decade ago) was I had been told of a new offering, a Grenache! I love a well-made Grenache which can range from light and fruity to some of the heavier Rhone productions. The moment I inhaled from the glass I knew I would enjoy it. The experience put it somewhere in the middle of Grenache spectrum. The nose was fruity with hints of spice and vanilla and just the slightest touch of green pepper. On the tongue I experienced cherries and blackberries exploding, supported by mouthwatering acid and smooth tannins with a little spice kicking in on the finish to carry it one a bit longer. This medium-light bodied wine makes a fine summer red, an excellent companion for grilled meat as well as a hearty stew or roasted lamb. The wine is a winner, enough to make me sign up for the wine club.

Wines reviewed in 2009: 199

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Brander 2007 Uno Mas

With the arrival of my shipment as part of Brander Vineyard wine club I decided to celebrate by opening a bottle of their interesting Uno Mas 2007. This lovely little wine is blend of Grenache Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc (70% - 30%). The nose on this wine is extremely pretty, slightly floral with undertones of grapefruit, orange peel, and something hinting at a touch of minerality. The wine presents a touch more body than one would expect with a lovely flash of fruit, nice acidity (though to make it "perfect" I would like a touch more), and a fine medium-length finish where I got my touch of minerality again. A wonderful wine with which to finish a warm day.

Number of wines reviewed in 2009: 198

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pinot Noir Tasting At San Diego Wine Company

Saturday my beau and I went to the weekly tasting at San Diego Wine Company. On deck for this tasting was a nice selection of Pinot Noirs. None were from Burgundy, in fact all were from either California or Oregon with two of them awarded 90+ points from Wine Spectator. The wines were, in order of presentation:

  • Willakenzie 2006 Pinot Noir: From the Willamette Valley comes a nice little Pinot, a good opener showing traditional nose of earth, red cherries, just a hint of coffee and plum. Slightly thin, good fruit and nice acidity with a balanced, fruity slighly short finish.

  • Kali Hart 2007 Pinot Noir: A California wine from Monterey County, part of the Talbott Vineyards family of wines, we have a Pinot Noir that was a little darker than the Willakenzie (and a year younger). Strawberries on the nose, sour fruits (cherry and strawberry) in the mouth with an almost strawberry jam finish. Very fruity compared to the Willakenzie.

  • Au Bon Climat 2007 "Santa Barbara": This is Jim McClendenen's entry-level Pinot. Pretty nose, hints of chocolate and red fruits but I have to say while a decent wine I expected a little more. Lighter bodied than I had expected, good acidity but short on fruit delivery.

  • O'Reilly's 2007 "Oregon" Pinot Noir: Sadly, I got almost nothing off of this wine. not very deep in color, a little fruit on the nose but it was very faint. Not much delivery, a brief flash of taste rapidly evaporating away

  • Daedalus 2006 "Willamette Valley": Dark chocolate and coffee are heavy on the nose and almost overpower the fruit. A bit more body the most of the others, this wine delivers some sour cherry and cranberry with tight tannins and some good acidity.

  • Stephen Ross 2007 "Central Coast": My partner really liked this one and it was an excellent value. Darkest wine thus far in the line up, fuller bodied than the others. Nice strawberries and hints of chocolate good acidity and soft tannins with a medium-length finish. A fine Pinot Noir for the price (offered at $15.95).

  • Bogle 2007 "Russian River": Bogle is a good producer, offering drinkable wines at an excellent price and this is no exception. The nose was almost floral with hints of cherry and a little cocoa (my partner swore caramel but I'll hold with cocoa). Good body, nice fruit delivery with balanced acidity and tannin with a touch of spice on the finish. This with the Ross make two very fine affordable Pinots.

  • Elke 2006 "Anderson Valley" Donnelly Creek Vineyard: Earthy nose (which I tend to like, reminds me of Burgundy) with underlying ripe red fruits. Medium bodied, soft tannins, decent acidity with just a touch of spice on the finish. At over 14$ alcohol seemed to run a little hot compared to the rest of the contenders (they should check with Fess Parker on how to do it a little better though this was not a bad wine at all).

  • Roessler 2007 "Sonoma Coast" La Brisa: This wine was rewarded 92 points from Wine Spectator. Good depth of color, pretty nice with solid red fruits (red currant and cranberry) and a hit of chocolate. The taste is very fruit driven with tight tannins leading to a medium-long finish.

  • Laird 2007 "Carneros" Ghost Ranch: My favorite and a 93 point Wine Spectator wine, this wine is the first Pinot Noir from the Laird family property at Ghost Ranch and what an offering. The nose is toasty spice, strawberry and chocolate. Excellent combination of fruit, acid and tannins ending in a long, delicious finish.

  • So for nice wines that won't break the bank go for the Bogle or Stephen Ross. If you want an excellent Pinot Noir splurge an extra $10 and get the Laird.

    Number of wines reviewed in 2009: 197.

    Thursday, June 11, 2009

    Alex's Red Barn Syrah 2005

    I didn't know what to drink last night while reading. I wasn't in the mood for a lighter summer wine because when you live a few blocks from the ocean in San Diego you typically do not have hot evenings (in fact, it was pretty overcast most of the day). I was hunting through my red wines and came across a bottle of Alex's Red Barn Syrah, 2005. As regular readers know I really enjoy the wines from Alex's Red Barn. They have a nice, minimal-touch style that really lets the wine speak without a lot of prodding and twisting from the winemaker. How this little gem escaped me I don't know but I eagerly popped the cork to be greeted with the lovely nose of cassis, plum, a touch of smoke, and an undertone of spice to come. The wine was pretty lean for what is often known as a big red. Good acidity and just enough tannin to make you appreciate it without overwhelming the taste buds. The flavors were a blend of spice (hints of white pepper) and black fruit blending with the lightish tannins and a touch of heat from the alcohol to provide a lovely medium-length finish.

    Wines reviewed in 2009: 187

    Sunday, June 7, 2009

    Weingut Josef Leitz Rüdesheimer Klosterlay Riesling Kabinett 2007

    It's the end of a warm (nearly) summer day and after a lot of activity with my beau it's time to wind down by watching American Psycho (you know, Christian Bale is wearing far too much make up, terribly prominent when you watch it on Blu-Ray). I'd had a bottle of Weingut Josef Leitz Rüdesheimer Klosterlay Riesling Kabinett in the cooler for a couple of months and for some reason this seemed the perfect time to open it. Lightly golden and slightly frizzante this wine looks light and friendly in the glass. This wine has a pretty nose, full of honeysuckle and nectarine and promises to be loaded with fruit. On the palate you get a full mouth of lovely fruit balanced with zippy acidity and just a hint of minerality. There appears to be some sweetness but I chalk it up to fruit rather than simple sugar, something I like within the Kabinett style of wines. A near perfect wine for a warm summer day.

    Number of wines reviewed in 2009:186

    Monday, June 1, 2009

    Philosophy and Wine - Aquinas 2007 Pinot Noir

    While in my local Von's I spotted this black labeled little wine on the bottom shelf of the Pinot Noir section and was taken immediately by the name. After all, something that combines three of my favorite interests (Christianity, Philosophy, and Wine) must have something going for it, so into the basket it went. What a happy bit of serendipity (after all, I wasn't there looking for wine but on my way to the bakery section). This lovely little wine made for a pleasant tasting experience. First the color, a pretty rose petal red, light (I could read the page on the journal I had under it). The nose was extremely pleasing, full of cherries and rose petals (to match the color) and just a hint of plum and a little tiny "gaminess" coming through. Nice, medium-light bodied with plenty of raspberries, hints of clove and cinnamon (with just a touch of cedar on the finish), good acid, soft tannins all coming together for a medium-length finish that made the mouth want a second sip. A fine job by this Napa producer at an excellent price. I'm going to pick up a couple of bottles to hold for Thanksgiving.

    Wines reviewed in 2009: 185