Monday, December 31, 2007

2003 Mountain River Pinotage/Shiraz Reserve

SaraGrace bought this bottle over the summer when we first discovered the joys of Pinotage.

The presentation is good. The rear label gives some decent info. It comes in a Zin bottle.

I didn't get to see the cork as SGK popped it open before I came home and disposed of it.

It had a bright lively colour.

Lots of earth and brandy on the nose.

After a completely and utterly legless swirl, I got berries and leather.

It tasted dirty and full bodied. I liked it. The body reminded me of a Rhône blend.

I put it through the Vinturi and it brought purple and blood to the colour and more berries on the nose. It also removed the dirt from the flavour and replaced it with prunes. I prefer the dirt, so even though it improved the colour, the rest of the bottle got swilled sans vinturi. SG didn't like it because she thought it tasted tart.

The Verdict:

I liked it
Style: Afrikaner
Varietals: Pinotage, Sirah
Appellation/Terrior: WO Western Cape, South Africa
Vintage: 2004
Vintner: Mountain River
Alcohol: 14% by Volume

Sunday, December 30, 2007

2004 Schramsberg Blanc De Noir Brut

SaraGrace bought this bottle for the holidays. With the yumminess of the Malvasia Bianca in mind she wanted to try something new.

The presentation is great. The tasting notes are excellent. It comes in a clear Champagne bottle. The label gives more than the legal minimum with details on production (Méthode Champenoise, barrel fermented, etc.) and grape mixture. There is appellation listed as this cuvée comes from several appellations. It is distressing though that they did not at least list California - leads one to believe that more than 15% of the grapes come from elsewhere.

It had an composite cork typical of sparkling wines. The cork showed 1/8 inch penetration.

It had a colour reminiscent of a Chardonay with a like nose. Teensey bubbles.

It had a crisp slightly sweet anise flavour. After pouring a full flute, I got an almost cheesy taste on inhaling the CO2; but that could have been the pizza in the oven.

The Verdict:

OK, but I'm not a bubbly fan
Style: Champagne
Varietals: Pinot Noir, Chardonay
Appellation/Terrior: None
Vintage: 2004
Vintner: Schramsberg
Alcohol: 15% by Volume

Saturday, December 29, 2007

NV Stony Ridge California Malvasia Bianca

We bought this bottle of bubbly at the Crooked Vine tasting room which is co-located with Stony Ridge. It was an unusual purchase as we don't usually buy bubblies, but it was unusual in that the grape Malvasia Bianca is not a normal component in a sparkling wine, and it tasted wonderful.

The presentation is OK. It comes in a Champagne bottle. The label gives the legal minimum. There is no indication anywhere on the bottle of when either the grapes were grown or when it was put bottled. With a non-vintage wine you typically will see the range of years "hidden" on the label somewhere indicating when the grapes were grown to differentiate it from the non-vintage bottlings of other years. This is not so with his particular wine. The only way to tell is to see the tasting notes. The cherub on the label is nice, but doesn't do the original (carved in a giant cask in their tasting room) justice.

It had an composite cork typical of sparkling wines.

It had a golden colour and cinnamon on the nose.

The Verdict:

My favorite sparkling wine.
Style: Champagne
Varietals: Malvasia Bianca
Appellation/Terrior: California
Vintage: NV (2005)
Vintner: Stony Ridge
Alcohol: 12% by Volume

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

1993 Stag's Leap Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

I bought this bottle in 1998 as a gift to my mother. She decided to crack it open Christmas eve.

The presentation is good. It comes in a Bordeaux bottle. The label gives the legal minimum and an explanation of Stag's leaps different Cabernets. The atypical rack on the eponymous stag shown on the label is quite attractive.

It had a real cork with ¼ inch penetration. The wet end of the cork was black and it broke with the pressure from the corkscrew. It left a shit brown tattoo. The condition of the cork is indicative of the storage conditions for this bottle. It was only last year that my mother got a proper cellar, so it's not surprising that this bottle is showing more than its 14 years. The ullage (fill level; indicative of air exchange through the cork) was still at a respectable base neck level, so I was not too worried that the wine had spoiled.

The wine itself had a rich tawney colour and brandy like aromas. I smelled tea. A legless swirl brings sweetness to the nose, not unlike a port.

It tasted like a rich beef stew. There was some sediment in my glass, and around the neck of the bottle were small flecks of tannin. Phyliss smelled chocolate.

The Verdict:

Given the storage conditions we should have opened this wine a few years ago, but it was still very drinkable.
Style: Bordeaux
Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation/Terrior: Napa Valley, California
Vintage: 2004
Vintner: Stag's Leap
Alcohol: 13.8% by Volume
Price: Don't remember

Monday, December 24, 2007

2004 Bridlewood Syrah Port

We bought this wine on our annual pilgrimage to the Santa Barbara wine country. We went into the beautiful winery with high expectations, but this single bottle was our only purchase.

Since Kristin was over, it was a double dessert wine night; we Drank this wine to follow the Van Halen Concert (after the Mole dinner of the previous post.)

The presentation is poor. It comes in a Rhône style split bottle. The label gives only the legal minimum and the meaningless words "Winner's Circle Selection". Given that the winery has an equestrian theme, the "Winner's Circle" is the name of their wine club. (Note that the grammatically incorrect use of apostrophes is that of the winery and not this author's). The Tasting notes are OK, but both the notes and the label itself show that the wine marketer did not pay attention in class. This is an estate wine - yet the label does not show that. It is also incorrectly labeled a "Port" - which it cannot be because it is made from an inappropriate grape for a "Port". In reality it is Fortified Dessert wine made from Syrah grapes.

It had a real cork with no penetration, and it left only a wet tattoo.

It did have a thick red port colour with the aroma of Blackberries and chocolate. The legs were slow to form.

It was a thick, full wine that left a burning alcohol taste on the pallate.

The Verdict:

Style: Dessert
Varietals: Syrah
Appellation/Terrior: Santa Ynez Valley, California
Vintage: 2004
Vintner: Bridlewood
Alcohol: 18.1% by Volume
Price: Don't remember

Sunday, December 23, 2007

2003 Barón Balché Dulché

We bought this wine on our annual pilgrimage to the Valle de Guadeloupe. Balché is one of the few wineries in this region that you do not have to make an appointment to taste. We had great hopes when our host led us 10Mts underground to thiner cask aging cellar where we tasted their purveyance. We selected several wines, and were led back upstairs where our hopes were dashed when the bottles we wished to purchaced were pulled out of a tin shed on the desert floor where it was currently 100ºf.

We Drank this wine to follow the Mole dinner of the previous post.

The presentation is OK. It comes in a clear split bottle. The label is printed on clear plastic and is all in Spanish. The real cork was penetrated about ¼ inch, left the faintest tattoo and smelled of vinegar. Really shows the poor storage of the vintner.

It was a pale blush brandy colour, with lots of sugar on the nose and the faintest scent of Botrytis. I would expect a desert wine to be as leggy as Marilyn Monroe, but it took 2 swirls to get 4 faint legs to show. All of that swirling rewarded us with sweet raisins on the nose.

Drinking it was like drinking liquid sultanas. Brilliant. Our friend Kris who is very partial to Ports got a hint of walnut.

The Verdict:

I loved it, but do to the poor storage techniques of the vintner, I would be careful to inspect closely any bottles I purchased in the future.
Style: Dessert
Varietals: Syrah, Ruby Red
Appellation/Terrior: Valle De Guapeloupe, Baja California
Vintage: 2003
Vintner: Balché
Alcohol: 13.5% by Volume
Price: Pricey for a Mexican wine

Saturday, December 22, 2007

2006 Shooting Star Blue Franc

This wine came in my Steelehead wine club shipment. Shooting Star is Jed Steele's "Bargain" label.

SaraGrace really wanted a wine with dinner, but she had prepared chicken mole; makes it hard to pull a red out of the cellar to accompany it, so I was looking for something unusual. The Lemberger (Known as Blaufränkisch in it's native Austria) that Steele sent us was right up that alley.

The presentation is OK. It comes in a Bordeaux bottle. 2005's rear label had all sorts of great information, but that was lacking on the 2006. The Tasting notes on Steele's website are less informative about this instance of Lemberger but interesting on Lemberger as a whole. I love the cinc franc note for a label.

It had a capped agglomerated cork. There was no penetration to the cork, and no tattoo. It's colour was like a dark tea, and had no nose to speak of.
After the swirl we did get some berry aromas, and no legs.

This wine was a smooth, easy drinker with a Pinot like body. Given that it is a rather young vintage, we ran it through the Vinturi - which gave it a fresh berry aroma and believe it or not improved the colour as well.

The Verdict:

Smooth Easy Drinker. Serviced the Mole sauce.
Style: Germanic
Varietals: Lemberger
Appellation/Terrior: Washington State
Vintage: 2006
Vintner: Steele
Alcohol: 13.5% by Volume
Price: Came in a wine shipment with 3 other bottles

Friday, December 21, 2007

2004 Mayo Alexander Valley Stone Ranch Carignane

This wine was bought on Easter Sunday 2007 at one of the few open tasting rooms in Glenn Ellen.

I opened it after returning from a Rosenblum tasting; I had my mind set on a Rhône for dinner. SGK had cooked up some Shrimp; a Syrah just would not do, but a much lighter Carignane just might. It took some searching through the cellar, but I turned up just the bottle I was looking for.

The presentation is OK. It comes in a Zin bottle (Why???) But the rear label gives lots of info on this not so common varietal. By not so common, I mean as a single varietal; Carignane is a common wine in Rhône style blends as well as a minor (less than 15%) in Napa Zins; but you don't find it too often bottled on it's own. It had an Amalgamated cork capped by true cork.

There was no penetration to the cork, but it left a good tattoo. It had a light, almost Pinot colour. There was a sweet nose, and faint late legs.
After the swirl it had an almost Balsamic aroma, and a faint light chocolate taste.

After an hour, more earth was added to the flavour, but the wine was still slightly too acidic. It would be a good summer wine.

The Verdict:

It does not look like Mayo is still bottling this grape; but it might make a good summer wine if you can find it.
Style: Rhône
Varietals: Carignane
Appellation/Terrior: Stone Ranch Vineyard, Alexander Valley AVA, California
Vintage: 2004
Vintner: Mayo
Alcohol: 14.8% by Volume
Price: I don't remember

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

2003 Windsor California Merlot

This bottle of wine was given to us last year by our realtor, Deborah Lopez as a thank you for her business. It's a vanity label from Windsor Vineyards.

I opened this bottle at 7:00am to add to a beef stew as a cooking wine, and then saved the last glass to accompany it.

The presentation was OK. It came in a traditional Bordeaux style bottle. The label has the minimum required information.

It had an amalgamated cork tipped with real cork. There was penetration only through the real cork, and it left no tattoo.

The wine was deeper that I would expect from a Merlot; more like a Cab.

It had a very light nose, but alot of the aroma could have dissipated since I didn't get around to evaluating it until it had been open almost 12 hours.

I had to over-swirl it to get any legs at all, and the post-swirl nose was still lame.

It has a slight wet sponge to the taste, but not enough to make me pour it down the drain.

Stew is about the only meal that I prefer a Bordeaux to accompany, and this Merlot worked fine with it.

The Verdict:

On a par with a Charles Shaw or Gato Negro. (this is not a bad thing)
Style: Bordeaux
Varietals: Merlot
Appellation/Terrior: California
Vintage: 2003
Vintner: Windsor Vineyards
Alcohol: 15.3% by Volume
Price: Gift