Sunday, January 23, 2011

d'Arenberg "Laughing Magpie" 2007

If you're looking for a good Shiraz you can't go wrong with db'Arenberg at any price point. From their $10 a bottle Stump Jump to their $50 The Dead Arm they deliver. Tonight's offering comes at a price-point in the middle, about $20 a bottle and it's well worth the price! The Laughing Magpie is a blend of 90% Shiraz (a red grape) and 10% Viognier (a white grape), something you are finding more of from Australia.

This wine is quite lovely in the glass, a deep, virtually opaque purple color. The nose is full of blueberries, dark cherries, violets, earthiness, smoke, and just a hint of jasmine. Medium/(+) in body, you get a taste full of blue fruit with hints of spice and minerality delivered via a solid acid backbone and smooth tannins that turn just a little dusty in the medium/(+) length finish. An excellent wine now I would expect it to continue to evolve through 2011 and be a solid choice through at least 2014.

Number of wines reviewed in 2011: 6

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Yalumba "Bush Vine" Grenache 2008

Ah Aussies, they do so many things right and for this American wine making falls into that category. I know many of those "serious" wine critics like to bash much of what is called New World Wine that is something I won't do. Rather I will simply recognize differences between Old World and New World and appreciate each for what it is. Here we definitely have a New World Wine, coming to us from "Australia's most famous wine region", the Barossa Valley in southern Australia. This Rhone varietal appears red with a touch of blue, medium/(+) intensity in the glass. The nose is lovely, big raspberry and cherry with supporting notes of licorice and just a touch of oaky spice. Medium bodied, the wine delivers what the nose detects. Red fruit, smooth tannins, and good acid come together to deliver quite a nice quaff that has just a touch of pepper in its medium length finish. Nice value at less than $15 a bottle, should hold solidly through 2013 and into 2014.

Number of wines reviewed in 2011: 5

Alta Maria Chardonnay 2008

Ah, the Santa Maria Valley AVA, located in the northern part of Santa Barbara County and parts of San Luis Obispo County. For years this AVA has been known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and is home to some of California's best including Au Bon Climat, Foxen, and Byron. Well this lovely wine definitely belongs on the list. Lovely nose of honeysuckle, tropical fruit with hints of lychee and citrus zest. The wine is full bodied with good acid structure, nice fruit (citrus and pear) and just a touch of minerality on the med/(+) length finish. Quite good now, should hold through 2013. Good value at around $20 per bottle.

Number of wines reviewed in 2011: 4

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Luigi Bosca Malbec 2005

Ah the Malbec, the most misplaced grape of the popular wine grapes. Everyone seems to think you started in Argentina when you're a Bordeaux native, once very popular in Cahors. Well after trying this lovely example of what Argentina can do with you one does begin to understand why the confusion. What a lovely wine. Deep, dark purple in the glass this wine presents a bouquet of ripe raspberries, hints of cherry, mocha, and just the tiniest bit of spices. In the mouth you get a medium/(+) bodied wine, smooth tannins that turn just a touch dusty in the finish, nice acid backbone and red fruit (primarily cherries) that all come together in a delightful med/(+) length finish. This is a lovely wine that is probably peaking in maturity but should hold through 2012. I had it with a bacon wrapped filet mignon and it was perfect, but could pair just as well with a nice hamburger.

Number of wines reviewed in 2011: 3

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Keenan "Mailbox Vineyard" Merlot 2005

OK, enough time has passed since Sideways that we can stop making disparaging remarks about Merlot. If you don't believe me this wine will definitely change your mind. This is a fantastic wine that in the glass displays power yet will surprise you with elegance. Deep, virtually opaque in the glass. The nose is greeted with beautiful black currant, black cherry, mocha, hints of smoke and herbs with just a touch of spice. Even after five years the wine is a touch tight showing it hasn't even hit its peak. This full bodied wine displays solid dark juicy fruits, smooth sweet tannins, a fine acid backbone all coming together in a well rounded long finish. Will definitely drinkable now this wine will continue to develop over at least a couple more years and deliver a high quality product at least through 2018. At around $50 a bottle not something most of us can have on a daily or weekly basis but if you're looking for a "special occasion" wine you should definitely check this out.

Number of wines reviewed in 2011: 2

Au Bon Climat 2008

Jim Clendenen has been a force in the California Pinot Noir world for about a quarter of a century and year after year produces quality wine all price points. The Au Bon Climat "Santa Barbara County" Pinot Noir is a good example. This Au Bon Climat (affectionately called ABC) offering for the "everyday" wine lover is a fine California Pinot Noir you can pick up at a price that won't break the bank. The wine is clean, medium intensity almost cherry red in the glass. The nose does display some complexity giving up juicy red fruits (primarily cherry and strawberry for me), a little hint of plum, spice, and just the slightest nuanced touches of earthiness. The wine is medium/(-) bodied, balanced with good acidity, juicy red fruits, and smooth tannins that come up with a hint of grip at the end of a medium length finish. This wine is very good now and should continue to hold up well through 2014, hard to beat for less than $20 a bottle.

Number of wines reviewed in 2011: 1