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Saturday, January 8, 2011

2007 Harmony Cellars Diamond Reserve Petite Sirah

Ripe berries, spice and pepper on the nose of this medium red wine. Some clove, violet and rose petal also present themselves in this long lingering bargain-priced wine. Production was very limited, so your best bet is to visit their web site to order. I love finding gems from wineries that aren't in every store in America!

Score: 88

2007 Castoro Cellars Chardonnay Reserve

Well balanced golden color in the glass. Wet stone and ripe citrus fruits on the nose. The palate gives us lemon peal, pear, golden apple, toast and smoke. The finish doesn't linger very long, but the taste of this wine and the light oakiness it is presented with makes it a real crowd pleaser!

Score: 88

2007 Barrel 27 Wine Company Rock And A Hard Place Grenache

First of all, I love the names of Barrel 27 Wine Company's wines. They bring you Head Honcho Syrah, High on the Hog White, and Sittin' Pretty Viognier just to name a few. The 2007 Rock and A Hard Place Grenache is a wine you better be prepared for. This nearly black in color wine throws so many different flavors at you while tasting, that you will probably miss something the first time around. I know I did, and I was perfectly pleased to drink the entire glass to experience everything this wine had to offer. Grenache is on the lower production end of California wines, so when you find a good one - grab it and be very protective of it. This wine is pleasantly floral, with burnt wood, lots of blueberry and raspberry, hot tar and some chocolate. But on the third or fourth sip you may pick up some tea or cranberry or a hint of honey. This is a wonderfully expressive wine. If I had one distraction (and only one) about this's the label. Come on guys! Put a little pizazz in that label. The labels should match your unique names!

Score: 92

2006 Carina Cellars Syrah 7 Percent

Very ripe red fruit, but not over powering against the licorice, pepper and herbs. While there is a lot of pepper and spice up front, this finish settles with a mellow lingering smooth leather feel and smoke in the mouth. A little earthy but not in a distracting way. Love the label too. Sadly, this is nearly impossible to find as the production was very limited and the winery has been sold out for some time. But this is very tasty wine. I think I'll try to see what the newer vintages are doing!

Score: 92

NV Sokol Blosser Evolution, Lucky Edition

I was introduced to this wine a few years ago while dining at the Melting Pot fondue restaurant. There was a sommelier there from a wine bar and he said we should try this. Fast forward a few years.......this is my wife's favorite wine of all time (she is strictly a white drinker) and one of my favorites too. This unique blend of 9 grapes has a mass appeal to every white drinker, whether you're a Muscat, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Riesling lover. Very tropical on the nose, and if served at the right temperature and not directly out of the refrigerator, those tropical fruits also come alive with brown sugar and a floral essence. This wine pairs well with about every food, and it certainly does with a four course fondue meal.

I used to not be able to find this here locally in central Indiana, and would have to find a retailer online to buy it by the case. But I'm excited to say that I have since seen this at Whole Foods Market and Target of all places! I hope they continue to carry it, as we always need to have a few bottles on hand. For the average $17 retail price tag you can't go wrong. Try it. It's a perfect sitting-on-the-back-deck summertime wine too!

Score: 90

2005 Rutherford Hill Merlot

I received an email the other day asking me if I had something against Merlot. Nope, not at all. I just don't generally purchase much in the way of Merlot or have much of it in my cellar. But I did pull out this Rutherford Hill 2005 Merlot that I purchased while in Napa, so this should keep the naysayers at bay for a little bit. This Merlot is actually blended with other varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Franc and it comes through on the palate. Great looking fire engine red color. Lots of blackberry, spice and vanilla in the mouth. The nose presents with blackberry, cherry, soy sauce, and smoke. Should continue to drink well for a few more years. Tasty stuff.

Score: 91

2009 Alpha Omega Unoaked Chardonnay

The people at Alpha Omega really take their time with their wines, each a handcrafted beauty. The 2009 Unoaked Chardonnay is something different that I was really pleased with. I normally like a Chardonnay in oak, but not heavily oaked but i was anxious to taste this, as I've really enjoyed their red wines in the past. Found a very subtle blend of pear, honey, banana, pink grapefruit and creamy mozzarella cheese on the nose. The palate presented some stark contrasts to the nose, including lemon zest, melon, wet rock and pear. Wonderfully made and a beautiful golden straw color.

Score: 92

2007 Francis Coppola Winery Director's Cut Cabernet Sauvignon

Whenever a winery makes a true 100% Cabernet Sauvignon varietal, it gets my heart pumping. No, I'm not a wine snob. But I truly love a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Without blending other grapes, you get the fully exposed raw wine from this outstanding and bold grape. That's what I like. The 2007 Francis Coppola Winery Director's Cut is a fantastic bargain at around $25 - $30 for a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine. There is lots of raspberry and plum upfront with some clove, spice and cedar smoke following closely. Great integration of flavor and balanced very nicely. Open this one up and let it sit for about 45 minutes or decant it. The aromas will reach deep into you. Yum!

Score: 90

2005 St Clement Cabernet Sauvignon Steinhauer Ranch Howell Mountain

If you're looking for an intensely powerful, multi-layered and beautifully structured wine then consider this. I love that this bottle looks so austere and intimidating, like a large army soldier holding back the rest of the world for what lies inside. This wine has some big tannins in it that are just now starting to mellow a bit. The stunning nearly opaque wine throws color to the edge of the glass and has legs that go on and on and on. You get tons of berry and cherry on the nose and with additional time in the glass and swirling, you can pick up some damp earth, wildflowers and dusty leather. The palate is much of the same, but throws some dark chocolate and mocha at you as well. This is just an exquisite example of what a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon should be. To be honest with you, I'm a bit miffed at myself for drinking this so young. If you want to get the most out of this wine, hold off drinking it for a couple more years. It will cellar beautifully for the next 12 - 15 years with no problem.
Score: 94

2008 Kangarilla Road Shiraz

I can't begin to stress to you enough how much I have grown to love Shiraz in the past few years. I love the spice and dark fruit of this firm wine, and the drought in Australia in 2008 may have attibuted to this concentrated wine of blackberry and cherry flavors. It is well balanced and should drink very well for the next 5+ years. These folks make consistently good wines at a price you'll smile about.

Score: 91

2007 Luna Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Not your typical "fruit bomb" Cabernet Sauvignon as many are today. Don't get me wrong, I love a fruit forward wine. I just don't like it all of the time, especially if I'm tasting a dozen or so wines. Great dark color in this wine that is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon (yeah!). Even as young as this wine is, there is a lushness that falls across the tongue against layered dark fruit, dark chocolate, and dusty cedar. This wine is going to be a killer in a few years. It should drink very well for the next decade or more.

Score: 93

2008 Artesa Pinot Noir Block 91D Vineyard

What I love about this wine is the fruit. I generally like a lot of fruit in my Pinot Noir, and this one delivers. Lots of black cherry and berry in this one with some floral undertones. Smooth as glass and very filling in the mouth. This Northern California Pinot Noir is expertly made and well worth seeking out. Artesa has some great wine clubs, including one that offers this single block vineyard wine!

Score: 92

2006 Kathryn Kennedy Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

First of all, I decided to not use the winery label for this review, as for the past few years I've been very awed behind the story of Kathryn Kennedy. This picture appeared in the NY Times when she passed away. Although she passed away in August 2009, her legacy lives on in these wines that can be summed up in one word - fantastic. I was lucky enough to get this bottle (900 cases made) from a friend, as the only Kathryn Kennedy I had tasted up until now was their Lateral, which is also very good.

This wine will blow your mind. It is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and made from 35 year old estate vines at KK. This wine is young, but already showing long-term cellar aging potential. It is bold and juicy and deep deep dark red in color. The tannins are tight right now, but this will be a near-perfect wine in about 3 years. Don't rush to drink it now - save it and this one will knock your socks off.

Score: 95

2009 Hogue Columbia Valley Chardonnay

This review may surprise you a bit, but I think you'll be running out to buy this very soon. Five years ago, Hogue Cellars switched most of their production to screw caps instead of corks. Back then it was a big deal, but a decision that they made and stuck by - and they've never looked back. Don't let a screw cap deceive you! I have tasted hundreds of screw cap wines, many of them big dollar wines, and the only thing you're missing out on is the distinctive "pop" of the cork. With that said, this wine is 13.8% ABV and 96% Chardonnay. The nose is a potpourri of warm baked apple, cinnamon, nutmeg and butterscotch candy. The balanced flavors are the previously mentioned apple, buttered toast and spices. Great juice and a fantastic bargain for around $10 a bottle. I actually just found this for $8.99 a bottle online this morning. This wine is widely available and one worth seeking. Great!

Score: 88

2007 Concha y Toro Terrunyo Vineyard Selection Block 27 Carmenere

Consistently, these people make very good wines. And one of the reasons you'll like them (besides the flavor) is the price. You get a great wine at a very friendly price. This deep dark wine is full bodied and fills your mouth with everything black - blackberry, black current, a touch of asphalt and black olive. The finish is smooth and this wine should drink well for the next 2 - 3 years. You can find this for around $30+ plus retail and you won't be disappointed. I also like the classy looking label with the vineyards on it.

Score: 91

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2003 Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon

This lovely wine is from the Peter Mondavi family owned Charles Krug. This winery has a rich hertitage and history and I've always been impressed by the "soft spoken" but bold wines they've successfully produced for decades. The 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon is another fine example of classic winemaking by winemaker David Galzignato. This red violet colored wine presents a wonderful nose of blackberry, plum, a touch of pepper and some damp oak. The palate is delicious and bold, but layered wonderfully with a touch of allspice, cherry and again plum. Stunning color and the tannins have mellowed to a softness you will appreciate. I must get some more. If you're looking for a classic Napa Cabernet, check out the wines of Charles Krug.

Score: 91

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2007 Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Highliner Pinot Noir

This Pinot Noir is a top shelf made for this now famous restaurant in Buellton, CA, made famous by the 2004 movie "Sideways". This wine is drinking supremely right now and will easily for the next few years. Cherry, raspberry on the note with a bit of toffee and green tea. Just a touch of mushroom funk adds to the delight of this delicious wine. The palate presents much of the same and the silkiness of the finish tells you that you are drinking a well crafted and beautiful wine. The color is a lovely medium red and this is one you shouldn't pass up. Great stuff!

Score: 91