Friday, August 31, 2007

More from the Last Two Weeks

Domaine Girard Sancerre La Garenne 2006
This is definitely Sancerre. Nice pretty floral, spicy grass, citrus aromas with a very clean pure palate of apple, citrus, and melon flavors. This is very soft and non-aggressive for a Sancerre. Polite and correct. Serve as an aperitif or with hors d’hoeuvres. 88 Points

Cascina degli Ulivi Gavi 2006
(Biodynamic estate since 1985; grown on red limestone and clay soils) This is a unique one! Say what you will, but this wine is certainly not boring. Odd aromas of baby diapers, watermelon, star anise, and exotic spices. It is a little cleaner on the palate with pleasant lime citrus, apple cider and yeast notes. This reminds me of a flat Gueze. Very much like an unfruited Lambic. Serve with an open mind. 88 Points

Artazuri Garnacha Navarra 2006
I almost always go gaga for this wine. The 2004 might have been a bit too floral, but other than that—delicious. The 2006 is super duper fresh and fruity with aromas of strawberry, cherry fruit and a touch of licorice and spice. On the palate it is ripe, fruity and soft with explosive berry and cherry notes. Delicious, pure fruit! Yummy! 89 Points

Wyatt Pinot Noir 2006
Douglass Polaner knows something about wine. He has fashioned a very varietally correct Pinot Noir from purchased fruit in the Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, and Central Coast. Bright strawberry, cherry, medicinal herb, leather, and spice aromas with a good weight and concentration on the palate, buoyant acidity and a nice, zesty mineral pop. 88 Points

Spy Valley Wines from New Zealand

Spy Valley Riesling 2005
A very bright floral nose with citrus, peach, chamomile, and apple notes. On the palate there are nice, slightly ripe flavors of apples and peaches. Nice. It reminds me of a cross between Washington State Riesling and a Cheap German Riesling. Refreshing. 86 Points

Spy Valley Pinot Gris 2006
(All estate fruit. Spends up to 12 months on the lees) Nice rich nose with a noticeable yeasty note that is reminiscent of some Alsace Pinot Gris, however with much riper fruit aromas. Round and creamy on the palate with apple and nectarine notes. 87 Points

Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2006
(50% is estate fruit, and 50% is sourced from locations both up the river valley and down. Spends 4 months on the lees) A very vibrant, grassy and spicy nose. However, on the palate the wine shows much riper passion fruit, tropical fruit, and grapefruit notes. Racy and delicious. 90 Points

Spy Valley Pinot Noir 2005
(Estate grown, 12 months in French oak) The Spy Valley winery benefits from having vineyards farther up the Wairau Valley. While this does force them to purchase Sauvignon grapes from other parts of the valley in order to make a complex Sauvignon Blanc, it greatly benefits their Pinot Noir vines. Very good aromas of blackberry, spice, medicinal herbs, smoke, and earthy autumn notes(?). Very soft on the palate with great acidity and good concentration. It displays notes of black cherry, berry fruit, and spice with nice tannins. This is still a little tight, but it is an undeniably great Pinot Noir, and definitely the best this group. 92 Points

Thursday, August 30, 2007

And Some More from the Last Two Weeks

Stephen Ross Chardonnay Bien Nacido 2005
A light green-gold color with nice, pretty floral green citrus aromas. On the palate the wine has bolder pear, apple, and butterscotch flavors with a racy acidity and vibrancy that might erupt even more at a later date. This is very good and strikes a pleasant balance between the syrupy, buttered popcorn California Chards and the more vibrant and pure expressions from the Cote Chalonnaise. Very good. 89 Points

Adelsheim Pinot Gris 2006 (Willamette Valley)
Slightly yeasty, nutty aromas that are reminiscent of a Pinot Gris from Alsace. Pleasant citrus, pear and yeasty notes on the palate. Perfectly pleasant, but incredibly boring. 85 Points

Ceretto Blange Arneis 2005
A light gold/straw color with slightly smoky, yeasty aromas. On the palate there are notes of green apple, mineral, and lemony citrus flavors. The CO2 gives this wine a bright, refreshing and quaffable quality. On the second day the CO2 had dissipated and aromas and flavors of dry butterscotch dominated the wine revealing glimpses of the heritage of Arneis as a grape vinified to make sweet wine? 83 Points

Robert Sinskey Vineyards Pinot Noir 2005
A light burgundy red color with purple highlights. A very interesting nose, almost reminiscent of a Barolo, with grilled herb, licorice, and spice aromas. On the palate the wine displays slightly rustic, earthy tannins, light berry fruit and leather notes. 89 Points

Stephen Ross Pinot Noir Bien Nacido 2005
Nice black cherry, medicinal notes with earthy blackberry, leather and roasted meat. On the palate the wine is smooth and supple, displaying black cherry, blackberry fruit, and melted licorice. This is very good with a nice mineral pop on the finish. I guess some people in California actually do know how to make nice Pinot! It has a pleasant weight and formidable concentration. 91 Points

Tamarack Cellars Firehouse Red 2005 (Columbia Valley)
This is a bit of a field blend, though it comes from a multitude of locations. It is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot with some Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Carmenere, and Malbec. It is a deep ruby/purple color with a smoky nose of grilled herb, graphite, and smoked meat with a full/rich palate feel bursting with muddled meaty flavors of berry and cherry fruit. 80 Points

Gargiulo Vineyards Money Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
A red cola color with aromas of stewed plum, herb (incredibly herbaceous)—dill, tobacco, rosemary, thyme. Stewed plum, cherry medicine, sweet American oak, and a surprising amount of mineral. This is drinkable, but a bit overpriced at $70+ a bottle. 85 Points

It is Impossible to Keep Up; But Here Are Some Tasting Notes from the Last Two Weeks

Alfred Gratien Brut Classique NV (Epernay)
(Similar to Krug, cellar master Jean Pierre Jaeger ferments the wines in wooden casks. This cuvee is 45% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Meunier, and 10% Pinot Noir) It has a nice biscuity, mineral nose with a fine persistent mousse. The nose is expressive with great apple, lime citrus, and stone fruit aromas. On the palate there are more red cherry and berry notes wrapped up in an electric citrus and mineral frame. This would work well as an aperitif or with shellfish. Electric bubbles! 91 Points

Anne Amie Cuvee Amrita 2006
(A blend of Pinot Blanc, Riesling, and Muller Thurgau from the Willamette Valley) If I didn’t know better, I’d say someone at Anne Amie knows what Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Muller Thurgau are supposed to taste and smell like. That’s pretty unlike an American winery. It is easy to identify each varietal; however they work together in this absolutely charming cuvee almost seamlessly. It has a yeasty, floral aroma similar to an Alsace Pinot Blanc, red apple aromas and soft melon flavors (like some German Muller Thurgau) and ripe peach, apricot aromas and flavors similar to an American Pac NW Riesling. There are about 10 grams of residual sugar that keep the wine soft and pleasant, while the Riesling provides enough acidity to keep the flavors buoyant. If you ever wanted to know what Liebfraumilch should taste like (but definitely does not), you should try this wine. Easy does it, this is a gulper. 87 Points

Mirabile Viognier 2005 (Sicily)
(This is fermented ½ in stainless steel and ½ in oak) A nice light golden color with incredibly enticing aromas of jasmine, peach, and apricot. The palate is quite light, considering that it comes from Sicily, and has a credible amount of lithe acidity as well. This is quite nice, if you are looking for a Viognier a bit on the lighter side. 88 Points

Lambert Bridge Zinfandel 2003 (Sonoma)
Displays a ruddy red/brown color that is pretty unappealing in such a young wine. It has lush aromas of brown sugar, briary blackberry and coffee. It is very soft, lacks great structure, but is not bad. Decent. 83 Points

Pretty Sally Shiraz 2004 (Victoria)
(20 months in French and American Oak) The 2004 Pretty Sally Shiraz has a deep, dark purple color with a very ripe and rich nose of allspice, cinnamon, and baked plum with hints of walnuts and blackberries. It is almost liqueur-like in aroma. Incredibly soft on the palate with rich flavors of raspberry preserves, but not syrupy. It is incredibly supple and delicious. This would be a magical winter warmer and should work quite well with Moroccan cuisine. 91 Points

Mount Langhi Blue Label Shiraz (Victoria) 2000
(from 80 year old vines) Very mature aromas of briary blackberry, earth, plum, berry, and spice. It holds together quite well, and it is impressive to have an Australian Shiraz taste so well after seven years. Good stuff. 87 Points

Sonnenmulde Eiswein (Burgenland) 2003
(made from Samling or Scheurebe) This displays a nice honeyed orange color with rich aromas of peach, apricot, and honey. Yet it is not overtly cloying on the palate (strange amount of acidity for a Scheurebe) with yellow raisin and yellow plum fruit on the palate. Not a bad deal at all for under $30. 90 Points

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Clos Del Rey 2002; Domaine Lafond Tavel 2006; and Cairnbrae Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Clos del Rey 2002
The end of the cork exposed to the wine was coal black. The color of the wine is coal black spreading out to a dark inky ruby/purple. Aromas of tar, melted licorice, black cherry, blueberry, cassis, alcohol and sweet tobacco. Running through the wine is a vein of intense slatey minerality not unlike a Priorat. On the palate burnt garrigue, dried blueberry, blackberry, and mounds of chewy licorice pastilles with intense and chewy, yet slightly drying, tannins on a long finish of more tannin and burnt garrigue. Despite the size and chewiness of the wine, there is acidity. However, the wine seems slightly off balance at the moment – and the oak influence is rather obnoxious. The dry tannins are becoming even more pronounced on the finish. I am going to let this collect its brutish self.

I am not sure if this extended review will help anyone, but here are the notes about this wine as time progressed:

Two Minutes after opening

After opening it smelled of black cherry and alcohol and then turned to more blackberry fruit, then turned a little jammy and then became like cassis. After several moments, notes of blueberry appeared. The wine has plenty of volume and zealous swirling is only bringing up additional notes of alcohol.

Five minutes later

The nose is improving and becoming sweeter. Hopefully this occurs for the tannins too. It is beginning to get notes of allspice on the finish.

Fifty minutes later

The tannins are starting to soften on this incredibly youthful and closed monster of a wine. Replacing the drying tannins on the finish are long lingering notes of black olive, espresso, and chocolate. However, the nose is becoming less fruity and showing more brambly blackberry with heaps of grilled herbs. The garrigue element of the wine is becoming much more pronounced both in the aromatics and on the palate—lavender, rosemary, and thyme.

Over an hour open

The wine is coming together very nicely now with ripe, fruity aromas of cassis liqueur and plum but the alcohol and grilled tannins are still noticeable throughout. The finish is becoming almost port-like, yet the wine remains quite dry.

After two hours open

The wine is beginning to show the licorice element. Lots of chewy licorice both in the nose and on the palate. The finish is showing more licorice as well.

Certainly the wood and the fruit are disjointed in this wine.

After three hours open

The alcohol is taking over the nose. However, the palate is becoming much softer and delicious with sweet cassis and chocolate liqueur notes that are exciting when paired with the fat of my steak or the peppercorn sauce.

This is certainly a case where the wine was better focused in its early years. This wine was incredible and highly memorable two years ago. However, now it is simply interesting—not mind-expanding, but still has impressive concentration for an ‘02. I am going to re-cork the remainder of the bottle and leave it for tomorrow night or the next. I am beginning to wonder if the excessive oak-treatment has harmed this wine in the long-haul. 89 Points (but 93 points in 2005).

After 30 hours open

Yeah here it is! Massive heaps of burnt garrigue, chocolate, licorice, cassis, and roasted coffee with monstrous flavors of sweet plum, chocolate, blueberry, and chewy licorice with a spicy finish of allspice and gritty, and somewhat earthy, tannins. This is the wine I remember. Fantastic! 92 Points!

Serve with hearty dishes such as barbequed steak, an herbed roast, or a rich stew. Open early, like the day before you intend to drink it, and decant. Could use a few more years even. Quite stunning.

Domaine Lafond Roc Epine Tavel Rose 2006
A deep strawberry colored wine with aromas of melted butter and strawberry jam! Hello breakfast! On the palate the wine is fruity with lots of ripe berry flavors, a good vein of acidity and a fun finish of lime, blueberry, cherry, watermelon, and subtle spice. Dry, but very fruity and round. A very good bargain that is easy to drink before, after, or during dinner. Perfect with brunch I imagine! 87 Points

Cairnbrae Sauvignon Blanc ‘The Stones’ 2006
I have been a fan of this wine for a few years, and this vintage is no exception (located next door to Cloudy Bay and across the street from Allan Scott—There is a nice map of Marlborough here.) A very light straw colored wine with vibrant aromas of sweet pea, spicy cut grass, gooseberry, mineral, dragonfruit and soft melon. On the palate the racy frame of lime citrus, grass, gooseberry, mustard greens, and green apple is very non-abrasive and pleasant—even showing some wonderful gravel notes that can evoke nostalgia in anyone who grew up on a gravel road in the country with their brother chasing them barefoot out the front door and down the sharp gravel driveway with moist granitic rocks wizzing by their head. The wine is definitely dry and avoids the overtly fruity/sweet pea quality that plagues many New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs. Very good and well priced (plus the winemaker is cute see here). 89 Points at least (and I am not even a big New Zealand fan)

Tasting Notes, Rants, and Ruminations about the Barley and Grape

The title of this entry just about says it all. I am young, thirty-something wine salesman and I was looking for a place to collect my tasting notes, rants, and ruminations on the barley and grape. I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to leave any comments or criticisms. Cheers!