Friday, May 28, 2010

Torre Zambra Winery 2005 Colle Maggio/Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Italy. Everyone knows Chianti (from the Sangiovese grape) and Barolo (from the Nebbiolo grape), but how many know the Montepulciano grape? Well if you don't know about it I have to say the search can definitely be worth it. Here I was able to sample a lovely Italian wine that was a little off the American beaten path that didn't make me sweat when I paid for it. The wine was deeply colored, sill a little purple with a deep core and color bleeding out to the rim. On the nose I was greeted with black almost jammy fruits, dark chocolate, a hint of espresso and what I could best describe as "sweet oak". The wine was medium-full bodied, excellent acidity, smooth, almost sweet tannins and loaded with ripe black fruit all swirling together to give a medium-long finish. A fine companion to any roasted or grilled meat.

Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 70

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Old World vs New World: Red Flight At Jake's On Sixth

What better way to spend time waiting for friends for dinner than to do a flight of wines. Saturday night I was at Jake's On Sixth and decided to try their Old World vs New World red flight, two Pinot Noirs and two Tempranillos with one entrant in each from "Old World" and one in each from the "New World".

For the Pinot Noir wines I sampled (with WSET notes):

Queen of Hearts Pinot Noir 2008 "Santa Barbara"
  • Appearance: Clear, medium (-) intensity ruby with a broad core, defined meniscus.
  • Nose: Clean. Wine was served a tad warm so got a whiff of the 14% alcohol. Got some red fruits, strawberry, oak, a touch of cherry cola.
  • Palate: Definitely dry, medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, tart and tangy, got black cherries, cranberrie, almost a peppery spice. Medium length finish.

    Overall, ok but didn't do anything for me.

    Hob Nob Pinot Noir 2007, France
  • Appearance: Clear, medium intensity ruby/purple Much deeper, darker core than the Queen of Hearts.
  • Nose: Clean. medium intensity cherries, cranberries, touch of violets.
  • Palate: Dry, medium acidity and tannins. more smooth than Queen of Hearts (but to be fair it's also a year older). Medium (-) bodied, balanced fruit, acid, tannin and alcohol with just a touch of spice on the medium length finish.

    Winner: Hob Nob, Old World

    Now on to the Tempranillo...

    Campo Reales Joven Tempranillo, 2009 "La Mancha"
  • Appearance: Clear, deep, almost opaque purple. Deep core almost to the rather thin meniscus.
  • Nose: Clean, meidum (+) intensity of earth, leather, tobacco and darker fruits.
  • Palate: Dry, medium (+) acidity and tannins with very good fruit. Medium bodied, nice flavors of tart cherries, touch of black pepper, medium length finish. Made me want some grilled steak.

    Duende Tempranillo 2007 "Lodi"
  • Appearance: clean, again a deep purple but not quite as deep as the Campo Reales. Color goes to a defined meniscus but lightens up a bit the closer it gets.
  • Nose: Clean, medium (-) intensity in fruit. Similar notes of smokiness, earth, cherries. Either a very dark chocolate or espresso, difficult to tell because some woman thought it a good idea to wear heavy perfume to a wine bar.
  • Palate: OK, here I get the chocolate rather than the espresso. Medium acidity, medium (+) tannin. Medium bodied, nice hints of tobacco, dark chocolate and cherry flavors. Medium length finish.

    This judgment was more difficult than the Pinot Noir but I give a slight edge to the Duende. Have to say, either would be a good choice for an outdoor BBQ.

    Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 69
  • Kenwood Zinfandel 2007 "Sonoma County"

    It's a cool, windy evening so I turned to a fun little wine, Kenwood Zindanfel 2007 "Sonoma County". The wine had a pretty good pedigree so I was looking forward to this younger addition to the line. If you like fruity Zinfandels then this is a wine for you. The wine poured a medium intensity ruby with a tinge of purple into my class. Small deep core but a pretty uniform color out to a well-defined meniscus. The nose was lovely, clean with bright jammy red fruits (cherry and raspberry) with just a hint of spice (coriander and white pepper). in the mouth you get a medium-bodied dry wine with bold fruit, medium acidity and smooth tannins that all come together in a medium length finish. You get just a hint of the 14.5% alcohol but not so much that it throws the wine out of balance. A nice, fruity Zinfandel. Personally I like a little more spice but I can definitely see this being a crowd pleaser.

    Number of wines reviewed in 201: 65

    Thursday, May 20, 2010

    Saturday BBQ

    Last Saturday we held a little BBQ at the house and for the event I pulled a few bottles of wine to sample and pair with the food. Here, in WSET format, are my tasting notes:

    Abbaye De Saint Ferme, 2005: A Bordeaux Superieur wine this one was the gamble since I picked it up for $5 but oh what $5 can buy you. Moderately clear appearance, ruby color, dark butr not opaque. Broad core, color almost out to the meniscus. The nose was clean with medicum intensity of black fruits, touch of cherry, rather "jammy", maybe just a hint of cinnamon. This is a dry, medium bodied, medium acid, medium tannin wine that starts smooth but firms up a bit toward the finish. Dark fruits, blackberry and cherry with a medium length finish. The fruit seemed to disappear a little early but still a good experience and a great value!

    Chateau Tour St. Bonnet, 2005: A Bordeaux from the Medoc, this wine was clear with a pretty intensely deep purple color. The nose was clean with medium intensity of black currant and blackberries with just a touch of some kind of sweet spice. The palate was delivered smooth tannins, medium acidity and nice dark fruits lingering quite a while. Good buy for around $15.

    The Stump Jump "McLaren Vale" Shiraz, 2008: If Australian wines are anything they are enjoyable at a very reasonable price point. This $10 bottle of wine had a lovely inky color with a clean nose of intense plum, raspberry and sweet spices. On the tongue I got a fruit-forward experience of raspberries, cherries and licorice that when combined with the good acid and smooth tannins created a medium length finish that was a hit.

    Frei Brothers Zinfandel "Dry Creek Valley" 2008: OK, I know, a two year old Zinfandel, what was I thinking? Well in this case it paid off. The wine poured clean with an intense purple hue. The nose was clean with a pretty intense aroma of red currant, sweet spices and a hint of white pepper. The wine was medium-full bodied with good acidity and tannins and loaded with black cherry and spices creating a medium length finish that was very enjoyable.

    Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 64

    Fess Parker Pinot Noir "Bien Nacido" 2008

    I was ever so happy to get my latest shipment from Fess Parker and it was time to open one of the bottle. I was a little worried that the 2008 was too young (even for a Pinot Noir) but hey, it was from Fess Parker and they have become one producer that I have problems not opening the day the shipment arrives. So after proper chilling off came the foil, out came the cork and into the glass it went. The wine was a lovely medium intensity ruby in color. The nose was clean with the expected aroma of cherry, strawberry, cola and just a little bit of earthiness that I love so much. I think on the back end of the nose I detected just the slightest touch of "game" which went well in the melange of scents. So look, swirl, sniff then taste. Nice. The wine is dry, tannins a little tight because of the youthfulness of the wine (give it another year and it will be fantastic). Wonderful flavors of cherry, red currant and just a touch of sweet spice that all comes together in a medium length finish. Yum. I need to order a second bottle for next year just to test my theory of age on this wine but even in its youth is quite a fine wine.

    Wines reviewed in 2010: 60

    Sunday, May 16, 2010

    Wine Tasting Class 2: Whites

    Below are my notes from my last wine tasting class:

    L'Ecole Number 41 2007 "Columbia Valley": This was a clear wine, somewhat pale with a lemony, slightly gold coloring. The nose was clean with hints of apple pie. The palate was nice, a dry wine, slightly high acidity, medium-light bodied presenting citrus with a touch of minerality providing a medium-long finish.

    Villanova Pinot Grigio 2005 "Fruili": Nice little Italian Pinot Grigio. Clear in appearance with a hint more gold in the color than the L'Ecole. Very pronounced honey on the nose with an undertone of florals. The palate runs just a little to off-dry, decent acidity, medium bodied with flavors of honey and silver. Medium finish with just a touch of bitter rind on the finish.

    Victor Hugo Viognier 2008 "Paso Robles": A nice example of a California Viognier, clear and lemony in appearance with a clean nose loaded with honeysuckle and apricots and some lovely floral notes. The wine presents the palate with a good acid level, medium bodied texture and fantastic apricots and kiwi all coming together for a long finish.

    Hayman & Hill Riesling 2007: An entrant from the Columbia Valley, this wine was clear and pale in the glass and presented the traditional petroleum notes as well as a light green apple to the nose. The wine seemed to be off dry with good acidity, medium-light body and flavors of green apple and peaches and just a hint of slate on a somewhat short finish.

    Georges Duboeuf Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise 2001: Now for the sweets. This wine is a little dull in the glass with a somewhat intense golden hue. The nose reminded me of orange syrup with raisins and slight perfumy undertone. The wine is sweet, low acid but not cloyingly so. Medium bodied, made me think of apricot brandy and gave a not bad medium finish.

    Number of wines reviewed in 201: 59

    Saturday, May 8, 2010

    Wine Class Tastings

    To help further my wine knowledge I enrolled in a local class for professionals in the wine trade. We meet weekly for about three hours refining our tasting skills as well as overall wine knowledge. This week we tasted the following wine to get into practice of paying attention to the wine:

    Red Diamond Zinfandel, NV: A cheap Zinfandel that isn't a bad value (hey, what do you expect for something that typically runs less than $7 a bottle?). Somewhat lighter in color than I expected, the color bleeds out to the meniscus to a very, very faint rosewookd. Slightly dull garnet in color. The nose is clean, light/medium fruit and spice (sweet spices, touch of clove perhaps). The wine is dry with medium acidity and tannins, flavors of sour cherry, red currant and touch of peppery cedar providing a medium finish. Didn't knock me out but a good wine for the price.

    Martin Fierro Malbec "San Juan", 2007: An Argentinian Malbec. Clear, medium intensity purple with a larger core and very clear meniscus (indicative of a younger wine). The nose is clean, a pretty blend of floral and cherry with just a touch of chocolate. The palate comes off dry with medium acidity and tannins but runs a little hot (alcohol) with an interesting undercurrent of burnt caramel. Somewhat short finish.

    BV Georges de Latour Private Reserve 2004: A lovely Cabernet Sauvignon with a fantastic heritage. This is THE classic, original "Reserve" California wine. The appearance is clear, deep, opaque, strong color all the way out to the meniscus. On the nose a lovely complex layering of cassis, licorice, cedar, smoke, chocolate and just at touch of green pepper. The full-bodied wine has a great balance of acid, tannin, black fruits, spice, mocha that all comes together to give a medium-long finish. Lovely.

    Argiolas Costera 2007: Interesting, a wine from Sardinia made from 100% Cannonau grown. The appearance is slightly dull with a deep, deep color at the core. The nose is clean with a medium intensity of black cherries, pepper, and a hint of clove, quite nice. The palate is dry, pretty good balance of acid and tannins with nice ripe fruit and spice. I would definitely see this as a good pairing with grilled steak or even a nice tomato and sausage pasta.

    Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 54

    Sunday, May 2, 2010

    Wine Tasting: May 1, 2010

    Yesterday the hubby took me out for wine tasting at San Diego Wine Company. Always a great value in a relaxed environment as usual I found nothing bad but a few that were so nice I brought them home. Here are the wines we tasted with my notes for each wine:

    Morgan 2009 "Santa Lucia Highlands" Pinot Gris: Clear, light wheat tinted wine. Hints of orange blossom and caramel. Good balance, light, just a touch of a bite but a good finish.

    Laetitia 2008 "Arroyo Grande" Chardonnay: Pear, melon, and a hint of buttered popcorn. Lovely color. Fruit a bit light. Decent balance but finish comes up a bit short.

    Core 2007 "Santa Barbara County" Grenache: Nice, big red fruit bomb with just a hint of spice. Slightly sweet, juicy.

    Tamarack 2007 "Columbia Valley" Firehouse Red: Tasty little blend of blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Sangiovese, Carmenere and Petite Verdot from Washington's Tamarack Cellars. Good fruit/acid/tannin balance. medium finish.

    Tarrica 2008 "Monterey" Pinot Noir: Pretty garnet, hints of cherries, cranberries, vanilla, and "earth". Nice palate but slightly tannic to me, could age another year but promises to be a fine wine at some point.

    Gozzo 2008 "Mendoza" Cabernet Sauvignon: Dark and rich, loaded with cassis and chocolate. A touch "flabby" but a decent drink.

    Amancaya 2008 "Mendoza" Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon: Deep purple, fruit driven, dark fruits, hints of chocolate and vanilla, juicy! Slightly leaner than expected, excellent fruit/tannin/acid balance, long finish. Brought this one home, great find for less than $15.

    St. Francis 2006 "Sonoma" Old Vine Zinfandel: Yum. Garnet with lovely dried cherries, plum, and spice (hints of white pepper). Lively palate, good balance makes for a medium-long finish. Since the Amancaya would be lonely brought this one home as well ($12 a bottle, nice).

    Number of wines reviewed in 2010: 50