Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stephen Ross Central Coast Pinot Noir 2007

An, another Tuesday night, another night to meet Sarah and Efrain at temple. For tonight's enjoyment I brought a bottle of Stephen Ross Central Coast Pinot Noir 2007. This wine is produced with grapes sourced primarily from three vineyards: Wolff and Lewis in the Edna Valley and Kick On Vineyard in Santa Barbara County. Lovely maritime climate allowing the growth of some fine Pinot. As Nick unscrewed the top (yes, it comes screw top), I got the first hints of fruit and something else but rather than rushing in I enjoyed conversation before diverting time to the wine, allowing it to breath. The nose opened up with the scents of cherries, a touch of dried fruit, a little spice, and what would best be described as "dirty mushrooms" (like just before you washed them off). The wine was a lovely light garnet in the glass, pretty to watch while one swirled it. The wine is good, very easy to drink, smooth medium bodied with supple tannins and good acidity to blend into a fairly long finish. The wine is meant to be imbibed young (but should keep well another year or two) and comes at a good price point if you're looking for a nice, quality wine.

Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 28

Monday, February 8, 2010

California and Lebanon

Another night of packing for the move and with the hubby out doing grown-up stuff I was left alone for dinner. Since it has been quite a while I walked down to The Vine for a quick bite and sample a few wines. I opened with a comparison of two Pinot Noirs, Handley Cellars 2006 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley and 2006 Talisman Wines Thorn Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (see picture on the left). At the onset they seemed virtually identical in color and nose, hints of strawberry, spice, and a bit of clove. Boy, it going to be hard to differentiate them. But as always, time told the true story. While both wines started out extremely close in terms of nose, body, taste, and finish, time was not so kind to the Handley as it was to the Talisman. After a bout 20 minutes it seems virtually everything was gone from the Handley while the Talisman continued to open up to provide a lovely little Pinot with good acidity, lean but not racy, soft but slightly dry with a medium length finish.

After this comparison I was convinced to try something different. The server poured me a sample of 2002 Chateau Musar Hochar Père & Fils, a wine from Lebanon. This wine is blend of the "three C's", Carignan ,Cinsaut, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose was lovely, like a strawberry wrapped in licorice accented with rose petals. I detected a hint of petroleum and earthiness (which I attribute to the fact that it is unfiltered). The wine is medium bodied but round with a slightly thick texture (again, probably because it isn't filtered) with smooth tannins and just enough acid to support the other components. A surprise what was pleasant!

Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 27

Sunday, February 7, 2010

2007 Frei Brothers "Reserve" Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel

The end of another day of moving and while we talked about heading to Jake's On Sixth or The Vine for a glass of wine we were just too beat and went home. Wanting something from the vine I looked at the wine that had not been stored for the move and selected a bottle of 2007 Frei Brothers "Reserve" Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel . The wine has a good reputation earning a 90 from THE Robert Parker so I was looking forward to something exceptional. Upon popping the cork my nose was greated with an interesting mix of earth, cocoa, cherries and a sweet oakiness that was rather pleasant but surprising. I poured a glass and waited a few minutes for the wine to breath. This Zin was a deep, inky purple in the glass and looked rather nice when swirled with good legs and an incredibly deep color. For me, though, the love ended soon afterward. While not bad, I was underwhelmed. The nose did transform into more blueberry and cherry with a lingering oaky spiciness that was pleasant enough but the first sip was disappointing. The wine seemed to me to be a bit along the line of sour cherries with a hint of the aforementioned blueberry. The tannins were not sharp at all, kinda smooth actually, but while all of the components were there the wine just didn't speak to me. Fruit, check. Acid, check. Soft tannins, check. But in this case the whole was not equal to the sum of the parts. The finish was medium length with a touch more spiciness at the end, but the overall experience just didn't live up to expectations.

Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 24

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Gnarly Head "Old Vine" Zinfandel 2008

If Napa is known for its Cabernet and Merlot and Sonoma for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Lodi is a destination for Zinfandel lovers and Gnarly Head is known for its reasonably priced excellent offerings. While a bit young this 2008 Old Vine Zin shows some real promise. The wine is luscious and dark hinting at what is in store. Fruit and spice are big on the nose with raspberry jam and spicy oak there andjust a hint of licorice. The wine is medium bodied but a touch tight and young giving a not unpleasant taste but one that telegraphs something better in another year or two. Well constructed, I look forward to sampling the second bottle I purchased in 2011. Recommendation, buy but hold for about another year. Pretty good now, will be excellent next year.

Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 23

Sequoia Grove Cabernet 2005

I've been hitting two grapes (hate to say types) lately, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. My friend Sarah and I were at temple on Tuesday night per our habit. For that rendezvous I selected what I hoped would be a fine wine, Sequoia Grove 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. When Nick poured a glass I enjoyed the lovely deep, dark color and immediately my imagination began to put suggestions of what to expect. On first pass under the nose I was, well, disappointed. There was a faint hint of dark fruit and what seemed like a dusting of cocoa, but nothing like what I was prepared for. And the mouth was dry, like dust on a windy day. So slightly crestfallen I put the glass down and engaged in conversation for about 15 minutes. Oh, what a difference that 15 minutes made. I had truly fallen into a rookie mistake and not allowed this great little wine to breathe properly. My bad, because this wine really, really wakes up. I got luscious blackberry, cherry, cocoa, hints of cassis and cedar all rolled up into one olfactory experience. This wine is full bodied, very rich with fruit and supple tannins and just the right amount of acidity making it all come together with a lovely, long finish.

In this case patience really was a virtue!

Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 22