Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Week in Wines – Labor Day – August 25-September 2

This week included a nice variety of wines this week from Napa, Oz, France and Sonoma.


Le Paradou Viognier 2007 VDP, Provence $11

This is a young, crisp, leaner styled Viognier. Nice citrus fruits mingle with stony, mineral laced stone fruit flavors to complete this acid driven fresh tasting wine. I would pair this with leaner white fish and light shellfish dishes, even lighter poultry dishes.

Color – Bright yellow

Nose – Stony minerals, lemons and limes

Palate/Finish – The entry is light and laser like with lemons and limes. By mid-palate this Viognier gains some weight from the peachy stone fruit and sweeter lemon flavors that peak through. The finish is clean and crisp, typical “rocks and fruit” from this Provencal wine.

This wine paired well with sushi one night and cheese the next night!

Stony Hill Napa Valley Chardonnay 2005 - $36

Another light white wine – must be the theme of the week, though this is probably to balance out the really big reds we’ve had so far this week. Elegant and well made, this is an ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) drinker’s Chardonnay – very reminiscent of a Chablis from the northern reaches of Burgundy or a very complex Poilly Fuisse from the southern reaches of Burgundy. Stony Hill happens to be the longest running commercial winery in the Napa Valley since they are the first new winery after prohibition. The McCrea family were true visionaries - way ahead of their time in planting Burgundy varietals in the Napa Valley. Even today the McCrea’s vision remains ahead of its time as their style of wine is fast becoming the preference for wine drinkers the world round that are tired of the flabby, over-oaked, sweet butter bomb Chardonnays. But if you drink White Burgundy now and always have, you know exactly what style I am talking about.

Color - Light gold, green flecks on the edges

Nose - Slate, minerals, crispy granny smith apples and warm pear.

Palate/Finish - I almost feel like we opened it too soon and should have let it age and mellow some more. This wine was UBER complex, yet super light on its feet. Like a riverbed of slate and pebbly rocks, the palate was mineral driven, with very crisp lemon and fresh, yet gripping granny smith apples. The finish was crisp, dry and razor like in its bracing acidity!
We had this wine with the wrong food, grilled thick pork chops with grilled peaches, blue cheese, balsamic vinegar, pine nuts and red onion. The wine was too elegant and was screaming for a Sole Meunière. It was still enjoyable, but I saved more of the wine for after dinner.


Mollydooker “The Boxer” Shiraz 2006, McClaren Vale, South Australia $20

This is the third time I have had this wine and it was showing its best this time around. Big and powerful, yet so well balanced it was not heavy nor cloying in the way that very ripe wines with lots of oak can unfortunately seem when they are not well balanced or as well made as this Mollydooker. One simple word describes the Mollydooker line of wines: “Yummy”

Color - Dark purple with dark ruby red edges

Nose - Lilacs, Ripe and jammy Blackberry and blueberry fruits, sweet oak and chocolate aromas
Palate - The texture was light for a wine with such rich and strong flavors. This wine was not too complex - it was all there and easy to pick out for the palate to savor and enjoy: ripe fruits of black raspberry and black cherry, milk chocolate and savory spice notes highlighted the long tasty finish! Some acidity on the back end helped clean up the palate for the next bite of lamb chops!

Worthy “Sophia’s Cuvee” 2003 Napa Valley, California $32

This is my last bottle of the 2003 vintage, and probably the last from this and all future vintages without further tasting. The 2001 was a stunning wine of which I still have about 3 bottles from a case I bought of few years back. The 2002 was great, but not even close to the 2001 in overall quality. The 2003 was great up front on the attack but fell flat on its face on the mid-palate and the balsamic and pencil like finish. The gritty tannins did not help matters here either. My last bottle of the 2003 was similar, but with more fruit up front and a more subtle finish, not as flat and disjointed as this wine. If you have ANY 2003 drink them up now or sell them at auction if you can! I rarely rate wines with a number but this is barely an 83! Worthy is officially coming off of the $50 and under Napa Valley Cabernet recommendations.

Color - Dark red, almost black purple, ruby red edges

Nose - Graphite, Black Cherry and spicy Cedar notes

Palate - Big cassis and cherry fruit up front on the attack, with a mid-palate of mocha that loses grip and turn balsamic and pencil like on the finish. Gritty tannins. Great start, but a weak finish. This wine is past its peak. The Wagyu skirt steaks we had with it were however excellent!

Williams Selyem Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2005 $42

If only more California Pinot Noir could be so Burgundian with a slight Californian twist. I thought this wine was elegantly styled, complex, and Burgundian even with its Northern California roots. William Selyem have been making great California Pinot way before the Sideways Pinot effect gave way to Merlot’s demise. William Selyem are inspired by Burgundy and it shows in the depth and restraint in their wines.

Nose: Redolent of Spices, bright red fruits, Sandalwood and Minerality

Palate/Finish: Fresh tasting, very bright, slight mineral streak on the finish. Great acidity. Red berry flavors of raspberry and dried cranberry. A touch of earthy truffle and some orange zest. Great wine! Atypical of California Pinot of late! Glad I bought two of these!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Wines of the Week August 11th-17th

1) Clos De Rochegres, Moulin-A-Vent, Chateau Des Jacques, Louis Jadot 2003 $12 (Auction Price – Retails is about $40)

What a surprise, the best Beaujolais I have ever had, hands down. If it were tasted blind I would have thought it to be a Pinot Noir. I got this at auction for a steal, as I looked it up and saw that it was retailing for $40+! Then I researched it more and it is a “Cru” Beaujolais of great pedigree!

Color: Deep ruby red, light ruby on the edges
Nose: Gushing aromas of cherry, raspberries and vanilla. As soon as I uncorked the bottle, red heady fruit smells jumped from the bottle!
Palate: Bursts of red fruit! Cherry, raspberry, sweet oak and an edge of minerality make up this wine’s palate of flavors.
Finish: Super long and tasty! Clean and refreshing tannin and acid structure.

2) Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 $12 ($30 at Ox)
We had a cheapo bottle with dinner last night before going to see the new Batman movie and were quite happy with this value wine. Made from Cabernet grapes from the Central Coast region of Paso Robles, Liberty School is the value line of wines from the Treana Winery. Dark in color, the wine had a nice blackberry and oak vanillin nose, with a slight herbal whiff. In the mouth the wine was full of tasty dark fruits, a slight tinge of green pepper making it clear it was a cabernet sauvignon, and a nice fruit driven herbal finish with supple tannins framing out the finish.

3) Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Fay Vineyard Block 5C Merlot Estate Napa Valley 2000 $60

I dug this one out from the “back of the cellar” yesterday as I was preparing a few wines for auctions ending this evening that I was selling. I had not had this wine in a few years and had a few left so I figured I would give it a try. This is the best of these Single Vineyard Fay Merlots that I remember having. Of late the SLWC wines have been getting bashed by the wine press for being old and tired in style. Well, for me, I like to try many different wines and tasting new styles. The SLWC style is one that I like and now will do better to go back to.

Color: Dark Red, very Claret-like, light purple/red edges
Nose: Ripe Plum, Leather, Cedar and Anise – like eating a ripe plum in an old country club oak lounge.
Palate: Primary Plum and cherry fruit give way to more subtle stewed fruits with fine herbal notes. Some iron and mineral notes linger slightly on the finish. Very subtle oak notes frame in all those herbs and fruit.
Finish: A hint of acidity and plush, classic, Stag’s Leap velvety tannins finish the wine.

That’s all for this past week!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Vina Cobos 2005 Bramare "Lujan de Cuyo" Malbec, Argentina - $30-40
Vina Cobos is a winery in the heart of the famed Mendoza in western Argentina near the Chilean border and nestled in the foothills of the Andes mountain range. Vina Cobos is lead by 3 different enologists; Andrea Marchiori, Luis Barraud, and the most famous and a personal favorite of mine, Californian Paul Hobbs.
The Vina Cobos winery makes quite a few wines, though they are mostly known for their Malbec, the king grape of Argentina, and to a lesser degree Cabernet Sauvignon. This Malbec wine is from the Vina Cobos lower middle tier, the Bramare Lujan du Cuyo set of wines. It cost me about $32 and this is the second time I have had this wine. The first time we had this Malbec it was good but not nearly as great as this time around. Lisa also agreed this time around was by far superior to the last time we had the wine – maybe it was bottle shock?

Either way, here we go on the 2005:
Color: Dark Purple with dark edges. Nose: Spice, some toasty mocha oak, rich black fruits

Palate: Rich and meaty flavors mingle together. Classic oak, black earthy soil, blackberry and blueberry mesh well with supple tannins and great acidity. Lots of deep flavors going on here.

Finish: Well measured acid and tannins give structure and freshen the palate without getting in the way!
The wine had a great balance of aromatics, flavors, tannin and acidity at this time.

This is the best Malbec I have ever had for the money (including special Achaval and Catena wines)! Yes, I am sure there are better but at least I do not taste massive amounts of iron and iodine, way too prevalent in many under $20 wines from Argentina. This gives me reason to explore further.


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