Monday, April 26, 2010

Finnegan's Lake Chardonnay 2007

It's warm outside so I'm looking for something a little lighter to sip after dinner. Wanting something a little different I opted for a wine from a vintner I hadn't encountered before and chose this Chardonnay from Finnegan's Lake whose philosophy is "to make an everyday Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon that are fresh, lively, and complex while at the same time bringing to the market wines that are keeping with the environmental sustainability of the community in which they are grown." Well having tried their Chardonnay I would definitely like to taste their Cabernet Sauvignon. The Chardonnay is rather French in style, possibly Chablis or maybe Macon. It's a lighter Chardonnay and while oaked it doesn't overwhelm you with what can often be the California style of heavy-handedness with the oak. The wine is bright, nice notes of citrus (lemon) with traces of green apple and spice on the nose. The palate gets what the nose promises with just the slightest trace of creaminess. Add to this a solid acid structure and you get a pleasant, light but lingering finish that made this a happy surprise I picked up for $10. Now the hard part, finding their Cab!

Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 42

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fess Parker "American Tradition Reserve" Chardonnay 2006

Tuesday night found me yet again at MA4 with my friend Sarah. She was running late having had to do an emergency "bead stop" to replenish her supply for some fantastic faire garb so I was already well into my first glass of this lovely Chardonnay from Fess Parker. The wine had a beautiful straw tint to it that I find pleasing in Chardonnay. The nose was pretty, hints of orange blossom, a little pear, some honey, with the promise of a light creamy experience to come... and boy did it deliver. I have to say, I'm not a huge fan of Chardonnay except from a few places and Fess Parker has become one of those places. This wine had a hint of body perfect (to me) for a Chardonnay with good acid structure and alcohol without the usual heat or sharpness you can get from an unbalanced wine. The flavors delivered what was expected, pears, very light citrus and a slight buttery creaminess that was delicious. Not as elegant as the Ashley's Vineyard but another solid Chardonnay performance. This wine went quite well with the cheese and fruit plate I had as well as the calamari.

Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 41

Friday, April 16, 2010

Castello di Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva 2005

A pasta night, a little home cooking for me and the hubby. Wanting to go the traditional route with the pairing I pulled a bottle of Querceto Chianti Classico. Let's take a minute to do a quick review of Italian wines using this lovely wine as an example.

First off, Chianti is a wine region in Tuscany and not the name of a grape. In fact for both Chianti and Chianti Classico the main grape is Sangiovese. What makes Chianti Classico a "classico" is where in the region it is produced. Chianti Classico comes from the original core region of the Chianti region situated between the cities of Florence and Siena ("Classico" is used to indicate a "classical" or "traditional" region). There are different laws regarding the production of Chianti Classico including region, amount of Sangiovese required (80% for the Classico designation vs. 75% for "regular" Chianti), minimum alcohol levels, harvest yields, etc.

Like other Chianti Classico wines this one is designated Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, DOCG for short. DOCG labelled wines are analyzed and tasted by government licensed personnel before being bottled (hence the G - "guaranteed"). To prevent later manipulation, DOCG wine bottles then are sealed with a numbered governmental seal across the cap or cork.

This wine is also a "riserva", telling us that this wine was aged at least two years longer than normal, usually resulting in more depth and layering of experience for the taster.

OK, now that we're up to speed on some of the rules about Italian wines we get to this particular one. It is, in a word, lovely. In the glass the wine showed a deep ruby red with fine legs on the glass. The bouquet was big and full, loaded with black cherries, blackberry, hints of violet and currants with just a hint of oak. This wine is medium-to-full bodied loaded with fruit, good acid and excellent tannins and a touch of minerality creating a long, lovely finish that went wonderfully with the pasta. I can see it going well with grilled meats as well, making it a fantastic wine to have at the BBQ grill. You should be able to find this for around $20 and it's and experience far above the price.

Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 40

Monday, April 12, 2010

Edna Valley 'Paragon Vineyard' Pinot Noir 2007

Tonight is a night to relax, a simple dinner of roasted chicken, green salad, a slice of garlic bread... easy, simple. To drink I decided to open a bottle of Edna Valley 'Paragon Vineyard' Pinot Noir 2007, a wine from an SLO vineyard that showed itself to be a good choice. A beautiful garnet color in the glass the nose was delightful showing cherries, cola all lightly tinged with rose petal... think of a sniffing a cherry cola in a rose garden and you get the idea. The wine is light bodied, good acidity without being racy, smooth supple tannins and jammy fruit all coming together to create a lingering finish that brought out wonderful flavor in an already juicy roasted chicken. A great little wine to drink now that you can easily find for about $15 a bottle.

Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 39

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fort Ross Pinot Noir "Sea Cliff Cuvee" 2006

After a long Saturday spent working what better way to relax that with a nice glass of wine. Tonight that glass was filled with Sonoma's Fort Ross "Sea Cliff Cuvee". I was looking forward to this for several reasons. When it comes to California wines a good general rule of thumb is Sonoma = Burgundy, Napa = Bordeaux, which means for Pinot (and Chardonnay) look to Sonoma while Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are generally best from Napa (no religious wars here, just speaking in broad terms). This being a Pinot Noir I was on the right track going with one from Sonoma. Also, Fort Ross has a good track record with their wines, known for their "Burgundian" styles and I love that traditional Burgundian "funkiness" on the nose. Luckily this wine didn't disappoint. The wine was a clear garnet that created lovely legs in the glass when swirled. After letting it breath I got my desired funkiness, a combination of earthiness with dried herbs and mushrooms that was taking me back to wine tasting in Burgundy. Mingled with the earthiness were hints of cherries and strawberries, delicious! In the mouth the wine displayed decent fruit with more strawberries, good acidity, soft tannins and a touch of "Old World" minerality that all come together to provide a lingering, mouthwatering finish.

Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 38

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Veramonte Cabernet Sauvignon (Reserve) 2006

It's been a stressful week... hints of illness, the loss of my long time pet (Romeo), working 76 hours. Finally time to unwind and relax. Searching through the wine vault I decided to try something familiar with a twist so I chose a Chilean wine, Veramonte Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006. The wine poured beautifully into the glass, a lovely rich deep garnet and some nice legs on the swirl. The nose is interesting, lovely blackberry with hints of cherry and just a touch of smoke and earthiness. The taste is quite good, dark fruits, smooth tannins, nice acidity with just a touch of "dustiness" reminiscent of the earthiness I got on the nose. The finish is medium-long and leaves the taste buds watering. Would be fantastic with a burger.

Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 37