Tuesday, February 12, 2008

2005 Rosenblum Monterosso Reserve Zinfandel

This was from one of our wine club shipments. It's marked as a "Reserve" which at Rosenblum means that one would normally have a tasting fee associated with this wine.

The presentation is OK. It comes in a Bordeaux bottle, with a foil capsule and a fake cork.

It was a beautiful ruby colour. Before i could even sniff my glass, My mother-in-law had taken a sip and pronounced it sweet. Now, Helen is not a big wine drinker, and what she interprets as sweet is the fruit forward nature of this wine. It tastes like Jam, and Jam (in a jar) is sweet, therefore to Helen this wine is sweet.
The fruitful nose confirms this to be the case.

A swirl gives a thin sheen on the interior of my glass that devolves into legs down the near side of the glass. It also dirtied up the colour somewhat, and added some rubber to the nose.

The taste starts with cherries and ends up with cranberries. I anticipate that more dirt flavours would emerge as the wine oxidized; but it was so good right now that it never got a chance to.

The Verdict:

Appellation/Terrior:Monte Rosso Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, California
Alcohol:15.2% by Volume

Monday, February 11, 2008

Battle of the Rhône's

So I wanted to see how close one of the prominent "Rhône Rangers" of California could come to an honest-to-god French Rhône wine, so I hopped on down to Nob Hill and bought a Rosenblum Château La Paws Côte Du Bone Roan and the only Appellation Côtes du Rhône Contrôlée that they stocked - a Cellier des Dauphins Prestige Côtes du Rhône.



Dauphins: The plastic capsule encased a synthetic cork that left no tattoo.
Rosenblum: The foil capsule enclosed a synthetic cork that also left no tattoo.


Dauphins: Squat, lightweight, puntless pale green bottle. Not in the Rhône shape, but with an embossment that is typical of Rhône bottles.
Rosenblum: Traditional y shaped Rhône bottle in a heavy, dark green glass and a deep punt.


Dauphins: Typical French labeling; no indication of what varietals are in the wine, only what varietals might be in the wine, and then only if you memorized the AOC rule list.
Rosenblum: Rear label gives varietals, but not ratios. Some tasting notes provided.


Dauphins:Their English language version of the site for this wine is targeted at the UK market, and it's not clear if the wine is the same in both markets. The UK info is good - even giving pounds of fruit used in fermentation.
Rosenblum: Detailed PDF that expands upon what is on the rear label

The Tasting

Initially, both wines smell very similar, after a swirl the Dauphins came out on top with more earthy smells in the aroma. The Rosenblum had a richer colour. The Rosenblum had a classic syrah burnt rubber on the tongue, but over all the Dauphins was better balanced (this is supposed to be a blend, not a Syrah dominated wine), and improved over the hours sitting in my glass. After leaving both wines overnight, the Dauphins was still better than the Rosenblum which got a little sour.

The Verdict:

While neither is great; The French wine wins.
Vintner:Cellier des Dauphins
Varietals:Grenache, Syrah, Cinsaut, Carignane, Counoise, Mourvèdre
Appellation/Terrior:Appellation Côtes du Rhône Contrôlée, France
Alcohol:13% by Volume

Varietals:Carignane, Syrah, Zinfandel, Mourvèdre
Alcohol:14.9% by Volume

Sunday, February 10, 2008

2001 Jessie's Grove Carignane

This wine was one of the ones that I bought at The Grocery Outlet. It is the only one that i bought that day where I had any previous knowledge the winery - I had Jessie's Grove's "Earth, Zin, and Fire" before.

The presentation was OK. It's a Rhône varietal, yet they chose to package it in a Bordeaux bottle. The labeling gives some good history. Good history is important in selecting a wine that you know nothing about, because if they have been making wine long enough to have a history, then presumably they are not screwing it up too badly. The bottle is encased in sediment around the shoulder, which is god, given the age of this wine - the sediment is in the correct place making it reasonable to believe that it has been stored properly.

The real cork was enclosed in foil and on one side, it had about 5/8 inch of penetration. Doug bought the same wine and had much more penetration on his. Oddly enough given the amount of sediment on the shoulder and the penetrated cork, it did not leave a prominent tattoo.

It had a deep, old colour and raisons on the nose. I usually associate the raison smell with Botrytis, but if that were the case here I am positive that the label would have mentioned it.
After the swirl, red fruit emerged on the nose, along with caramelized onions. Yumm. For all of that, it was light and airy, with a hint of salt and pepper.
Searching Jerssie's Grove's website for Carignane (it isn't all that common a varietal after all) shows only an old vine Lodi Carignane being bottled today. I wonder if this is the same wine, just re-labled now that Old Vine is in vogue?

The Verdict:

Good value. If The Grocery Outlet still has it in stock, I'll be sure to acquire some more.
Appellation/Terrior:Lodi, California
Vintner:Jessie's Grove
Alcohol:13.0% by Volume
Price:$3.99 from a liquidator

Saturday, February 9, 2008

2003 Coyoteville Howling Red

This wine was one of the ones that I bought at The Grocery Outlet. I did not know anything about this winery when I bought it; selecting it based soley upon the (albeit limited) data available from the label. It turns out that Coyoteville is the label that Burch Hall uses for blends. I selected it because I'm a bit of a Rhône junkie and the classic Châteauneuf-du-Pape blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre makes me salivate.

The presentation was OK. It comes in a Rhône shaped bottle of a sick light green colour. The artwork on the front label is appealing.

The foil capsule enclosed a real cork that had some classy embossing upon it. SG thoght the cork was fake because of it's glossiness from the embossing. It left the faintest tattoo.

SGK swilled her taste immediately and declared it a "Table Wine". I examined it more closely. It had the colour of the Buffalo Grove Syrah that we opened earlier in the evening. As I contemplated the slight oily film on the surface of the wine, SGK declared "It smells like Ass" I look up and she's holding the bottle up to her nose. I stick my nose in my glass and determine that ass must smell like burnt rubber because that's what I'm getting. Despite her likening it to the odour of an equine beast of burden, SGK declares "It's nice" I say fine.

I put some through the Vinturi and get more fruit on the nose. SG felt it was more smooth after the Vinturi, but that she had more pepper beforehand. She said she would get more. She asked me to go buy a case.

It went well with the Mexican Heirloom tomatoes and lavender smoked beef loin that we had for dinner. The Buffalo Syrah that we started the evening with was bigger.

The Verdict:

Easy drinking. SG wants another case
Varietals:Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache,
Vintner:Burch Hall
Alcohol:14.3% by Volume
Price:$3.99 from a liquidator

Friday, February 8, 2008

2004 Buffalo Grove Syrah

This wine was one of the ones that I bought at The Grocery Outlet

The presentation was OK. It comes in a Rhône shaped bottle of a sick light green colour.

The foil capsule enclosed an artificial cork.

The wine was a rich dried blood colour that smelled - well like wine. After a swirl some fruit came out - apricots perhaps. It tasted rich and sweet.

I thought it was great. reminiscent of what Rosenblum would make. SGK wanted it to open up more, and liked it better through the Vinturi.

Some legs finally showed up at the end of the first glass, and then some more classic Syrah aromas emerged: Smoke and rubber yet full of fruit. There was some burn at the finish.

I found it yummy and great. Too bad the winery does not seem to be making it any more.

The Verdict:

Yummy. I am planning on another case.
Vintner:Adler Fels
Alcohol:12.5% by Volume
Price:$3.99 from a liquidator

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Grocery Outlet

The Grocery Outlet

James is this guy that I work with who's pretty darn wine knowledgeable, and has good taste in wines. His family is involved in the wine industry in the Finger Lakes AVA and he grew up with it.

We have these semi-monthly wine tastings at work where everyone brings something in and we all taste. Quite fun. If you ask James where he makes his acquisitions, they are usually at some winery function or other, usually when the winemaker is disposing of excess library wines. The other big place James makes acquisitions at is The Grocery Outlet.

Just what is the Grocery Outlet? It's a store that acquires it's inventory from defunct businesses or product lines and then sells them off cheap. Usually it's associated with almost past the sell by caned goods, but they also acquire quite a bit of wine. And sell it off for about $2.99 a bottle. Now, they never have consistent inventory, and you have no idea how the wines have been stored. So James usually shows up, drops a $20 and goes home with half a mixed case, pops them all open, tastes them, and then returns to buy a case or 2 of the ones he liked.

I decided that it was high time I popped in to the Grocery Outlet myself and give it a try, so I loaded my friend Doug into the SUV and we headed off to Berkeley at lunch to check the place out.

They had about the same size selection that you would find at Nob Hill or Albertsons. Not too many labels that I had seen before (at least that I would drink; Ernest & Julio were present in the selection as was Joe Franzia) were present, although there was one wine from Jessie's Grove.

I bought 7 wines for $19.78. None of which I had ever tried before, and only 1 of which I had even heard of (The afore mentioned Jessie's Grove). I have so far opened 3 of them, and found all 3 to be very good, and I'm heading back tomorrow to buy more. At less than $3 a bottle you can afford to experiment (like the 2 bottles of Algerian Shiraz I picked up on a whim)

If you consider the $20.00 a "Tasting fee" then you won't mind throwing out (or making sauce out of) all 7 bottles then it's worth shopping there on the chance that even one of the wines turns out to be a keeper, as you can load up on a case for the price of a single bottle of Rosenblum.

Give it a try.

2004 Big White House Sangiovese

This wine was one that SGK bought futures of and we opened it shortly after getting it home.

The presentation is OK. It comes in a Rhône bottle - but nowadays it's rare to find a good sangiovese in the traditional, basket wrapped fiasco.

the foil capsule enclosed a real cork that came out of the bottle encrusted with bitartrate crystals - an awesome sign!!!

The wine itself was pale and cloudy - this coupled with the aforementioned bitartrate crystals leads me to believe that John forewent a cold stabilization period.

After a no-leg swirl, it tasted full and dry on the teeth. You know the feeling I'm describing - like your teeth are made of chalk and the wine is soaking into it. This is followed with the stomach grip of a classic chianti.

It's good. I liked it.

I had it accompanying a pasta fazool.

The following day, I had it at lunch with some black forest ham (posing as prosciutto), almonds, and chocolate. It went well. Slightly acidic, but most Italian wines are. because of this, I would say it works best with food.

The Verdict:

Appellation/Terrior:Ripkin Vineyard, Lodi, California
Vintner:Big White House
Alcohol:13.5% by Volume