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Saturday, January 1, 2011

2008 d'Arenberg Shiraz The Stump Jump

Blackberry, cinnamon, blueberry and tons of spice. Settles down a bit after sitting in the glass. Great juicy jammy stuff. Another great selection from my favorite Aussies and a great value at around $10 per bottle!

Score: 90

2001 JJ Hahn Shiraz Nineteen Fourteen

Great plum flavor and dark fruit nose with some damp earth and tons of mocha and chocolate layered in. Some might find the mocha overwhelming but I thought it was a nice change of pace and not a pepper bomb as some Shiraz can be. This Shiraz has a wonderful finish and is drinking beautifully and will for another 5 years or more.

Score: 91

2006 Continuum Proprietary Red

Tight as heck, but great plum and fig on the nose at pop and pour. After a 90 minute decant, the fruit flavors came through with a bit of leather. Firm tannis, as expected, and will be simply fantastic in another couple of years. They have another blockbuster on their hands here. This is my kind of wine - rich but not over the top.

This was the second vintage from Tim Mondavi and Company. The 2006 vintage was comprised of: 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc and 16% Petit Verdot. This wine is sold out at Continuum but you can still find it at select retailers and at wine auction.  Cellar this one easily for 15 years or more.  A classic wine.

Score: 93

N.V. Cristalino Cava Brut

GREAT stuff for the price! Sweet but not a ton of life left most likely. Pear, yellow apple and a touch of strawberry in the throat. Quite tasty. I've tasted this from 375ml and 750ml bottles and it is always equally very very good.

Score:  86

2003 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey

Initially a strong nose of Sauvignon Blanc which threw me. Gorgeous golden color - I mean very very golden. Pineapple, mango and some tropical notes with a sugary thick syrup. Finish was long and delicious. Drank from a 375ml bottle. Will be anxious to try this one again in a few years and see if there is more integration. The great thing about this wine is that it should be good to drink at least another decade.

Score: 94

2007 Clos La Coutale Cahors

Color of pickled beets in the glass. Very fragrant nose of raspberry, candied apple and slate. The palate was a middle-of-the-road uneventful dark fruity wine with a bitter but long finish. Good, but not particularly memorable.

2002 Yalumba The Signature

Gorgeous deep ruby red color and an initial nose of tomatoes, light pepper and plum. After an hour of decanting, this wonderfully entertaining wine turned to dark cherries, smoked pipe tobacco, and a trace of tanned leather. On the palate this wine danced around and the tastes intertwined like a well played symphony. There is nothing thin or weak about this wine, and the finish is as smooth as glass. I'm absolutely thrilled with this wine and equally thrilled that I bought half a case. Can't wait to see how this develops in the next 2 years - one of the closest things I've had to a perfect wine. I have never had a disappointing bottle of wine from Yalumba. Ever!

Score: 94

1996 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon The Montelena Estate

I love the plum skinned color of this wine in the decanter and glass. Decanted this 375ml bottle for 1 hour. Very subdued nose of damp earth and steak sauce. The palate was not like a powerful Napa Cabernet. Reminded me more of a french wine, which is not my favorite. However, this wine was very structured and slick, with the wet earth blending well with the dark unripened berry, leather and ever so slight kiss of mint flavors. As before, I think the 375ml bottles have reach their peak by the short finish this wine presented, but time will tell. Medium tannin. Bottle is throwing a moderate amount of sediment, so decanting is a must. Very enjoyable.

Score: 91

1970 Château Haut-Brion

Decanted properly by candle into a Riedel duck decanter. The cork was saturated with no capsule compromise and it came out mostly in two large pieces. Wonderful nose right after the pop of rich red fruits, cedar and damp earth. The color had become a medium red with some fading on the edge, but much more pleasant than I actually expected. The sediment was minimal for a 40 year old bottle and with swirling and time this wine is gaining in complexity. Lots of mineral and dark fruit on the palate with a touch of menthol and leather mixed in. A tinge thin, but overall a wonderful wine to celebrate a mutual 40th birthday with. Short finish but very smooth. Unless you know without a doubt that a bottle has been stored properly for the past several decades, I would advise to drink this one soon. If the wine has been stored properly and has not been compromised, this wine should easily drink until at least 2020 or beyond. This is probably my favorite French producer of wines.

Score: 92

2007 Paul Florian Vin de Pays de l'Île de Beauté Scarlet of Paris

Forgot I had this after a tasting a year ago. Purchased on a whim, but was pretty impressed from the initial nose and forward fruit as I recall. Popped and poured and found lots of forward fruit still, mainly raspberry and some strawberry, which totally throws me for a Pinot Noir. I'd say this is a "good" wine and I wouldn't have any problem serving this to guests. Should be consumed in the next 12 months.

Score: 84

2005 Arger-Martucci Petite Syrah

Medium color bricking to the rim. Strong nose of bold dark red fruit. Wonderful integration of raspberry, soy sauce, tobacco, wet earth and spice. A lot of tannin on the tongue and pretty tight but finishes beautifully. A fantastic wine!

I had the pleasure of visting this wonderful boutique winery in Napa in 2010 and had a private poolside tasting of several of their wines. If you get to Napa, contact them and taste their wines. This winery was started by a cariologist and a banker - great story and equally tasty wines!

Score: 93

2008 Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese

Very sweet with brown sugar, pear and apricot. If you have a sweet tooth this is your wine. The low alcohol content easily makes this a solo drinker. The nose seems closed down right now but this one should drink well for another 5 - 7 years. Very refreshing and not over complex. Very tasty when served at the right temperature.

Score: 88

2004 Burley Fox Shiraz

The only wine club bottle of wine I've ever enjoyed. Much better than the previous bottles by a long shot. Forward fruit of cranberry and raspberry. Mocha, smoke and pepper jump on board and a medium smooth finish completes this. I really enjoy this stuff, especially for the $6.99 price tag. Very good indeed and strong enough to stick around until late 2015.

Score: 87

2002 Sterling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Red Carpet Reserve

This bottle in particular was pretty bold up front. Lots of spice, mocha and black cherry on top of a lovely boquet. My only complaint would be a little too oaky, but not lousy by any means. I like them bold, but the finish fell a little short. Still very solid and neat in the fact that this wine went to Hollywood!

Score: 88

2004 Château Ollieux Romanis Corbières Cuvée Alice

Plum, dark berry and wet stone. This would be a great daily drinker. Nothing wrong with this one. This $10 wine should be consumed by the end of 2011.

2008 Gemtree Vineyards Shiraz Tadpole

Very good daily drinker. Absolutely fantastic value and a steal for under $4 a bottle! Initially a little too fruity and sweet, but after some time in the glass this mellowed out. Smooth, bright red fruit but in check with some mocha and a pleasant finish.

Score: 86

2006 Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post Pinot Noir Cork Dancer 6.1 Santa Barbara County

A tinge thin in appearance but a pleasant nose on this one - cranberry, sour cherry and lead primarily. On the tongue was more of the same and a brightness that came through to the end. Very good stuff.

The Hitching Post wines were boosted in popularity from the 2004 blockbuster movie "Sideways". I enjoy their juice.

Score: 87

2005 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Artemis

Quite tasty and very earthy. Thinner than anticipated but well balanced fruit (cherry and blackberry) with dusty barn and drinking well right now. Anxious to see what a few more years does for this one.

Score: 88

2005 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon

Stunning and smooth as silk. Oak, charcoal and currant come together beautifully in this wine. Previous tastes were not as delicious but this bottle was just exceptional and lingered in the mouth for moments. Wow! This winery consistently makes fantastic wines!

Score: 94

Thursday, December 30, 2010

1996 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

It was about 15 months in between tastings of this vintage, and what a difference it has made. Before the wine seemed a bit sleepy, but over the Christmas weekend this wine was a winner! It wasn't decanted and this is an unfiltered wine, but the sediment was nil and I was anxious to re-try this one. There is a lot of finesse in this wine and she's as sooth as glass right now. The ripe fruits are matched almost equally with leather, damp dirt road, cedar and black cherry. This wine has a wonderful nose and a smooth lingering finish. I'm confident this is in the optimum drinking window right now!

Score: 94

2005 Robert Foley Claret

This stuff looks like India ink - so dark, almost like black paint but beautiful. Wonderful mixture of dark coffee, blackberry, smoke and a floral aroma, which was not distracting. This wine is a flavor explosion on many layers in your mouth. About the third sip and you can tell what this wine is all about. It is concentrated on giving you a mouthful of goodness with these big tanins that keep you wanting more. I'm actually craving this right now!

Score: 94

This is a pricier wine, but one worth getting. And this feels like it will drink well for another 8 - 10 years, so you don't have to rush and drink it now. Put it back for a nice dinner or company you haven't seen in awhile.

2004 Spencer Roloson Syrah La Herradura

Very dark in the glass. Juicy berry and toasty treat with incredible mocha flavor. This wine finishes with a medium finish despite the lack of hard tanin. Although delicious, I would limit myself (personally) to two glasses with a dinner. The mocha really sets this apart from other Syrahs. Very nice and drinking well for a couple more years.

Score: 93

2005 Bracebridge Cellars Sauvignon Blanc

I actually received this wine from someone who got it in a wine club. Normally that's a big "no no" for me, as I've had bad luck with wine clubs that aren't sponsored by wineries. But, surprisingly, this wine was able to hang around. Typical Sauvignon Blanc color. Nice fresh nose of grapefruit, melon and an earthy wetness. Palate was a refreshing citrus and mild lavender combination with a nice acidic finish. Not as crisp as some other similar wines, but a great effort and a sure crowd pleaser that wouldn't break the bank. Drink now through the end of 2010.

Score: 87

You have to drink this now!

2004 Angoves Shiraz Red Belly Black

Thin appearance and not a strong nose. Predominantly ripe berry flavor, but not very fruity taste. Some spice and minimal pepper also on board. WAIT ON THIS ONE, as this wine seems a bit closed up at the moment. It should have much more to offer in about 6 months. Mild tannins and a medium finish.SECOND night: Much more open with blueberry and pepper really coming through. I like this family winery. They provide exceptional value for the price. Sometimes you can even find this wine at Sam's Club.

Score: 89

Great value at around $10.00.

2003 Francis Coppola / Niebaum-Coppola Merlot Diamond Collection Blue Label

Good nose of dark fruit and mocha. A bit on the thin side in appearance. The palate presented with lots of fruit, casis, and vanilla with a hint of clove. Originally tasted as a pop and pour, but this mellowed in the glass after an hour or more, which it needed. Medium finish and a great QPR, especially for the incredible bargain I got on this wine.

Score: 85

This score puts this in an "every day drinker" category. But this vintage should be consumed in the next 12 months.

2006 Henry's Drive Pillar Box Red

Thought I would pop and pour, or un-screw and pour. However, the alcohol fumes from this wine were so severe that I needed to decant for nearly 2 hours. Dark tar, blackberry and pepper on the nose. Color was a pleasant garnet tetering towards royal purple. On the palate..........once the decanting helped this baby out...........strong jammy fruit flavors and overwhelming pepper, which is new compared to other Henry's Drive wines I've drank. A bit of tar and a kiss of clove on the lingering finish. I still prefer the 2005 over the 2006 vintage.

Score: 86

Drink it now.

2000 Indigo Hills Cabernet Sauvignon

This was the wine that got me interested in red wine, all by mistake. To me, this wine is like a dying friend that I hate to let go. I'm sure the next two (last two) bottles of this once powerful and excellent wine will be unremarkable. There is still plenty of fruit flavor in this wine, after 90 minutes of decanting. But, alas, the tanins are gone and the finish lingers very little. Looking a little thin in the glass. Drink now or forever hold your peace.

1998 Quinta do Vesuvio Porto Vintage

Decanted for two hours. Extremely hot up front and a bit thinner than I like. Combination of fig, asphalt, sweet corn, and light brown sugar, but nothing stood out predominantly. Color was great, and the finish was a medium long. Very good bargain for the price. This port should probably be kept in the cellar until 2011 to see how it develops.

2003 Elyse Cabernet Sauvignon Morisoli Vineyard

Deep, dark purple color and mild nose of raspberry and chocolate. The palate was a bit one dimensional with chalky dark chocolate tones. Medium tannins and about 2 years from becoming a great wine. Very good juice now, but hold onto it if you can. This will mellow out more in 2012 and will be worth the wait. It may just blow your mind

Score: 89

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2009 Chateau Thomas Winery Chardonnay Yakima Valley

I think it tends to be a midwest thing, but I found myself guilty of it. I put this wine in the kitchen fridge and had it well chilled before I drank it. Paired with lightly breaded baked chicken and new potatoes with seasalt, this wine was a hit! Apple and pineapple were dominant on the nose at first, but some wonderful ginger came through as well as some pear. The wine was smooth and not over-oaky as many winemakers try to push with Chardonnay. This is a Yakima Valley grape which, as I understand, had a wonderful growing year in 2009. This wine is a great daily drinker, but honestly, you better buy two bottles because the price tag is low and you'll want to have some around for company. Well done Chateau Thomas!

Buy It? Yes, buy it by the case if you're a Chardonnay drinker!

2005 Elderton Cabernet Sauvignon Ashmead Single Vineyard

Beautiful deep garnet color and impressive legs. The nose was blackberry, leather and pipe tobacco. The palate brought out dark berries, ripe strawberries, and toasted oak. Incredibly smooth and drinking wonderfully now and should for the next 15 years.

For those who don't know, single vineyard wines tend to cost a bit more as there is no blending involved. But when a winemaker has a fantastic vineyard, they're on to something. Elderton definitely has a top quality wine in this single vineyard bottling. Just fantastic!

Score: 95

2003 Elderton Shiraz Single Vineyard Command

Great color and wonderful nose of fresh ripe fruit with vanilla extract. An explosive palate of berry and melon, with a basket of citrus fruits on the end. Very smooth and delicious; not over the top. Incredibly good and will drink well easily for the next 8 years. I like the COMMAND label on this, because this wine definitely commands attention!

Score: 96

If you want to spend a few bucks on a wine that all of your party will enjoy, this one is about $70 at auction and possibly more at retail, but it is worth every penny.

2003 Paradigm Cabernet Sauvignon

Very little on the nose compared to the other Cabs of the evening. Sour fruit, possibly cherry, but so faint it was almost nil. The palate was a bit boring, but the smoky tar flavor came through on the finish. Very light tanins after 45 minutes of decanting. Maybe this wine was in hybernation, but I cannot imagine this will get much better.

2000 Fontanabianca Barbaresco Sori Burdin

Burnt orange color and nose of blueberry, blackberry and dark chocolate. This wine presented with very light berry and toast on the palate. There seems to be a lot going on here, but the integration wasn't there and took away from the overall enjoyment of this wine. Short/medium finish. Drinking better now than 12 months ago.

2003 Chateau Thomas Winery Family Reserve

Dark inky purple in the glass. The nose showed ripe juicy dark fruit, a bit of tobacco and there were several layers of this incredible wine. Silky smooth with a lingering finish. Perfect amount of oak. Wonderful stuff and by far the best Indiana made wine I've ever had. These folks ship the grapes in from all over the world and use careand skill second to none when crafting a wine like this.

Score: 97

2000 Grgich Hills Cellar Chardonnay

Drank from a 375ml bottle. Very little pear on the nose. Swirled and breathed several times, but the aroma was nil. Pineapple and pear are predominant with a little butter and tangerine in the background. Had I not waited as long or had a larger bottle the wine may have integrated better. Crisp, pleasant finish and still very flavorable despite the almost non-existant nose. Drink up now! This note was from about 2 years ago. If you're saving this one, you should probably go ahead and try it. There surely isn't much life left in this one.

2002 Taz Syrah Santa Barbara County

Very dark purple color, but a tinge thin on the edges. Dark red fruits, pepper and rubber on the nose. The palate expressed too much oak for my liking, but a quality blend of the fruit and wet earth. After decanting for about 2 hours the tannins were practically non-existant, and that diminishes the overall drink a bit.

2005 Oliverhill Winery Shiraz Jimmy Section

Did not decant! Wish I would have, but can hardly imagine this getting any better. Incredibly thick dark purple inky color and I wanted to climb right in the bottle when I opened the top. Lots of red ripe fruit and tobacco on the nose. On the palate this is plenty fruity, but not overdone or a "fruit bomb" like many Aussies that try too hard. Well balanced and a medium tanic structure that helps balance this incredible wine. I just picked up another half of a case tonight online after drinking the first two sips. This wine will surely top out at the top of the chart in 4-5 years. WONDERFUL and the price was about $30 when this case was purchased. Get it now while you can find it, but you'll pay about $45 - $50 retail.

Score: 97

N.V. Sonoma Valley Portworks Deco

Bought these bottles as I thought they were a fun gimmick. I was surprised at the pleasant taste, although there was virtually no nose. The wine is clouded, most likely due to the natural chocolate essence added to it. Cocoa and fig on the palate, but leaves you with a slight mineral after taste. Not sorry that I tried this. That's what makes us diverse!

About what I expected for the price. I like Chateau Ste Michelle wines overall and this one does not disappoint, but don't look for big things. The color was a medium plum with little depth, which was equally evident in the mild nose. Mineral overtones were prominent with a splash of blueberry. Medium finish. If you're accustomed to strong California Cabernet, this wine isn't for you. Washington wines are a stark contrast to Napa.

2005 Penfolds Shiraz Thomas Hyland

Gorgeous dark purple color and a pleasant earthy nose. Straightforward dark fruits and oak - not a fruit bomb like so many Shiraz are nowadays. Surprised (pleasantly) at how little pepper came through on the nose and palate. Not a Shiraz I would serve to someone just getting into Aussie wines, but a definite pleaser for those who are accustomed to Shiraz. Great! You get Penfolds quality here without paying the top shelf Penfolds wine prices.

This wine is a great daily drinker for the Shiraz lover.

1986 Graham Porto Vintage Quinta dos Malvedos

Served this port slightly cooled and it presented with a layers of plum, candy corn, slight maple syrup and ripe juicy berries. The nose wasn't as fragrant as I had anticipated, but overall a very good port. It is EXTREMELY important to decant these ports, as there is generally an incredible amount of sediment in the bottle. Done properly, you can enjoy over 95% of the bottle.
This port should be consumed in the next 12 months if you really want to catch the flavors.

2003 Tom Eddy Cabernet Sauvignon Elodian

This last bottle is a stark contrast in fullness compared to the previous. The nose was almost an overwhelming fruit explosion, but it checked in about an hour after opening. Strong cherry and blackberry flavor and again, smoke and leather at the finish. The finish was still short, but the taste of the juice was quite good. This Napa producer makes some find juice and this wine will drink well for a couple of more years.

2004 Tintara Shiraz

Incredibly deep purple color and lots of licorice and pepper on the nose. The palate brought forth licorice, a hint of pepper, casis and tons of juicy-ripe strawberries. Mildly tanic and a medium finish. Great wine! Shiraz generally pairs well with dark stews, wild game and pizza with strong cheeses. This one is no exception. Drink it within the next 12 months for best enjoyment.

1977 Graham Porto Vintage

I was very skeptical about the quality of this bottle at first, as there was evidence of some capsule seapage. I have been drinking this over a 2 week period and at first, after decanting, the alcohol was fuming from the bottle and made it untouchable. After 3 days (yes, 3 DAYS) this bottle was more approachable and was quite smooth. The palate was a dark berry, brown honey with deep concentration of stewed apples and a touch of nutmeg. While I enjoyed this bottle I don't believe it was at its full potential due to the previous seapage. The cork came out in 2 pieces. Still, nonetheless, a very good port!

Score: 91

You can still find this readily available and it will cost you about $90.00 or more retail. This port should drink well easily for another 7 or 8 years.

1996 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon The Montelena Estate

Beautiful deep red color. Decanted for over 60 minutes. Moderate amount of sediment in the 375ml bottle. Very soft body initially, but a great balance of crispness and mellow flavors which stayed in check. Initially this was a deep bloody piece of prime rib, gushing wonderful flavors of cooked game, dark berry, and a drop of Japanese soy sauce. I don't know if this wine will continue to develop as predicted, as it seems that this half bottle was near its peak. Ill be interested to see how these do in the coming years. Medium lingering finish. Very pleased. What put this amazing winery on the map was the 1976 Paris wine tasting competition. Chateau Montelena won for their amazing Chardonnay!

Score: 94

This is just a great great wine. For someone starting a wine collection, Chateau Montelena would be a best bet. You'll get great wine without spending hundreds of dollars per bottle.

2005 Firestone Vineyard Riesling

Paired with mini quiche and cheese-stuffed bread. Quite fruity with a medium acidity and crispness. I'm not big into talking about acidity, but I will tell you that this had a great mouth feel and it was served probably a bit too chilled. For the $7 price tag it is a pleaser!

2005 Bodegas Gormaz Ribera del Duero Viña Gormaz

Fruity and trace of vanilla on the nose. This one dimensional wine is primarily blueberry on the palate with some very light herb and floral traces. The tanins are kept in check, providing a pleasant, medium finish.

So why the above avergage score for a one dimensional wine? Because it tastes great and I think you'll like it if you drink it in the next 12 months.

2005 Heron Pinot Noir Vin de Pays d'Oc

Pungent soured fruit on the nose and extremely mineral taste - remided me of river rock, red brick and dirt. Nothing good to say about this one. Maybe I drank this too early, maybe the bottle was flawed. I will reserve giving this a score, as I've heard good thing about this wine. If I had a bad bottle (corked/oxidized) then a score wouldn't be fair.

Historically this has been a very good wine for the price.