Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Couple of Dancing Bulls (California)

Went to my brother's house a dinner of beef rib and coleslaw and in the deep bowels of the wine cellar I found a couple of bottles of interesting wine - a set of Dancing Bull wines: Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel both from 2003.  Now how they made it through all these years I'm not sure, but tonight was the night to try them.  Interesting to note that once the capsule was removed one of the wines was under cork the other under a synthetic closure ... weird, as you would suppose they would have the same closure.  The Cabernet was thin with hints of dried fruit, sweet dried-cranberry, and a massive hit of oak, but you really had to look for the fruit - for the most part the wine was lifeless and un-appealing.  The Zinfandel on the other hand was full of spiced vanilla and raspberry, while on the finish there was red fruit and spice mixing interestingly in an appealing combination - the wine still had quite a bit of interest to me as a Zin fan and those assembled as it contained some real umph as it sat in the glass.  I won't tell you which wine was under synthetic and which had natural cork, I'll let you figure that out yourself.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Vina Cobos 2008 Felino Cabernet Sauvignon (Argentina)

It's been a long day ... my feet hurt and I'm tired ... dinner is still an hour away and I pour my wife and myself a glass of Featherstone 2012 Black Sheep Riesling - as I get to pouring my second glass of Riesling my wife suddenly gets very possessive (she's had a hard day too it seems), "Hey," she says loudly form the other room, "get your own wine and leave my Riesling alone."  Gosh darn it she's right, why am I wasting a hard day on a Riesling when what I'm really craving is something with some umph.  I look on the wine rack upstairs (too lazy and tired to go down to the cellar) and find a bottle of Felino 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ... my wife, not knowing what I am up to, pipes in with, "someone on Facebook says it's Cabernet Sauvignon Day" ... that's good enough an excuse for me.  I pull the wine off the rack, pop the cork and take a sniff.  The nose is loaded with cassis, blackberry, spice and cocoa powder ... the palate is white pepper and spice before it brings out the rich fruit flavours of blackberry, black currant and black raspberry, following it up with some cinnamon and a dollop of chocolate.  Now that hits the spot.  Sorry about the Riesling mix-up dear, I don't know what came over me.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

La Crema 2006 Sonoma Pinot and Tarapaca 2006 Carmenere (California / Chile)

Today I attended a BBQ with some fellow wine writers and if you think you have trouble deciding what to bring to a BBQ imagine if where you were going was filled with wine critics ... so instead of looking to impress I went with a couple of bottles I wanted to try myself (which is good advice anytime), and if they turn out to be impressive it's a double bonus.  I started off by popping the cork on a bottle of La Crema 2006 Sonoma Pinot Noir, I had put a bit of a chill on it and wanted to see if 7 years has made the difference.  Last time I had this wine was three years ago duing an American Thanksgiving celebration, and I thought the fruit was beginning to fade even then. This time out I picked up some nice cran-cherry and violets on the nose, definitely an improvement from last opening.  The acidity was pretty good, there was also white pepper and some sour cherry ... not the best version of this wine I have had but it was drinkable.  Some writers thought it a little green.  The other wine was one I enjoyed myself (meaning I did not see anybody else pour themselves a glass) and that was the Tarapaca 2006 Reserva Carmenere.  Say what you want about Carmenere, but well made versions are worth there weight in gold, I found this version to be lively and juicy and still vibrant even at 7 years of age.  I remember buying a bunch of this particular year because it was one of the best I had tasted in quite some time and it still delivers:  minty blackberry and lovely cassis - I think it still has life left in the bottle.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Butternut 2011 Chardonnay and Catena 2007 Malbec (California / Argentina)

Truthfully there were three bottles of Chardonnay and a Malbec opened this evening; alas one of the bottles was atrocious, but thankfully the others were delicious.  One of the Chardonnays has previously been reviewed on my website, thus leaving me with only two wines to report about.  We invited our Chardonnay loving friend over for a little pulled chicken, Chardonnay and a chat about life, the universe and everything - after all it was a summer Saturday one dies for, not to hot, not too cold, and not a cloud in the sky.  We started our mid-afternoon get together with a bottle of Butternut 2001 Chardonnay, a bottle I picked up on my last foray into the States with her specifically in mind, I was told the grapes were "most likely" Dijon clone - but after reading the website I learned that was not the case, my buddy Dave can't be right all the time.  But what he wasn't lying about was that the wine lived up to its name:  butter and nuts were all over this thing along with caramelized banana, grilled pineapple, maple, and double double caramel Kernels popcorn (if you have never had it its a must try) on the nose ... the thrill of this wine was really the sniffer, on the palate it doled out the same kinda stuff, but the nose is where it was its most interesting - hazelnut, pineapple and butter rounded out the mouth.

After two more openings we served dinner, and with it a bottle of Catena 2007 Malbec ... aged to perfection, if I do say so myself: cassis and raspberry with good acidity to cut through the rich fruit, there was also some cranberry and sour cherry that appeared near the finish along with a touch of white pepper.  This wine delivered the goods and was a lovely match to the chicken.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Lyeth 2011 Fleur de Lyeth (California)

I went to visit my friend Dave in Michigan today and we shared a wonderful bottle of Zinfandel earlier in the day ... but when I got to my brother-in-law's place it was child's birthday party time (my nephew was turning nine), so the idea of pulling out a bottle of something nice with plenty of kids running around shooting off Nerf guns seemed a bit to much.  Party wrapped up around 6 and by 7:00 we were in front of the TV watching some pre-season football.  I know that football screams for beer but instead I asked one of my niece's boyfriend (the one who is into wine) if he wanted to share a little something ... and here we have it.  This was recommend to me by Dave who said it was great value in an under ten dollar bottle and punched well above it price tag ... and I am now in total agreement.  This Fleur de Lyeth is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec and gives the best of these three worlds.  Plenty of dark fruit right off the hop and it dominated throughout with plum and blackberry leading the charge, there was also a hint of white pepper that came along at the end, but it was the smooth and silky dark fruit that made this one a real winner.  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ninquén Mountain Vineyard 2010 Antu Syrah (Chile)

It was a long drive to Michigan (not really longer than usual, but when it is done later in the day it feels longer), and when I got to my in-laws I allowed myself to unwind with a big red.  I've had this Antu Syrah before, and in fact have a number of bottles in my cellar, and for good reason - it's really good and it's getting better.  The nose was so full of raspberry it seemed to almost take over the glass, there was other stuff there too but the raspberry was the most noticeable and very welcome.  As it sat in the glass the raspberry mellowed, but it was what was on the palate that made this wine:  mocha, pepper, smoked meat, and of course, raspberry.  A beauty of a bottle to unwind with.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cline 2006 Syrah - Sonoma County (California)

It's been a long day, amongst the things I've accomplished are the household finances and the recording of 23 new videos for my YouTube Channel ... so I feel I need a drink.  I decided to dig through a box of "hold 'em" wines and found this bottle of 2006 Cline Syrah.  Now if memory serves I paid $12.95 for this bottle back when I bought it, and it's always interesting to find out how those bargain bottles are aging.  Nose is initially smoky with raspberry notes ... so far pretty impressive.  As it opens there's a peppery-ness that creeps into the aromas and maybe a touch of smoked meat ... then again maybe I'm just hungry.  On the palate there's a oaky-spiciness and also some fruit coming out as dried and peppered-raspberry ... all in all it's quite smooth and that bite from the spice and pepper doesn't get in the way of a pleasant drinking wine ... now if that oak will just hold off getting in the way it'll be a good wine to continue drinking.  Half and hour in and it looks like it is dissipating ... nice bottle of under-$13 ... my patience on this one has turned into a virtue.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Two Big Reds: Zinfandel (California) and Shiraz (Australia)

The night started with a lovely bottle of Chateau des Charmes 2012 Cuvee d'Andree Rose and ended with a big Aussie Shiraz, a bond fire that did not quite get going and a morning after with wax on the ground and burnt holes in chairs (you know it's a good party when ...). We had some new friends come over for dinner, something simple really, a little pulled pork (so you have to know what wine is coming), beans, slaw, and my wife's famous pea salad.  We started with a light welcome wine (the Rose, listed and linked above) ... we then moved to a Gamay from Malivoire (full review coming to the website) and then dinner was served.  With pulled pork or ribs you just know I'm pulling out a Zinfandel and so tonight's gamble was with a 2006 L de Lyeth Sonoma County Zin:  this one was good, not great, but passable for all the right reasons, yes it is 7 years old but I have tried some amazing older Zins ... this one stood up, but seemed a little muted, even after an hour of being open.  Dried plum (but not prune-y) with a hint of pepper and subtle vanilla, silky yet drying, it was a good match to the pork.  One of our guests was driving so he was out for the next round (in fact he does not drink red, so he partook in a little white wine with my wife); but his wife expressed an interest for Shiraz, so down to the cellar I went for a bottle of Sister's Run 2011 Epiphany Shiraz - smooth and supple with lots of dark fruit, hints of cocoa and not too much spice on the finish, but with some pepper to make you know it's still Shiraz, a perfect wine for in front of the fire.  Which is where we enjoyed it; to steal from an old phrase:  We drank while wood burned.  Let's hope we can all get together to do it again very soon (minus the holes in the chairs of course).

Friday, August 2, 2013

Vina Cobos 2008 Felino Malbec (Argentina)

After an array of Chardonnay, starting with a Closson Chase 2011 Loyalist, then two from Lailey Vineyard, I thought it about time in the evening to get something a little heavier and something with a little deeper colour, namely a red.  I had picked out a Malbec as an after dinner sipper, unbeknownst to me that our friend was a huge Malbec fan.  This Vina Cobos version I have had in the cellar for quite some time and was enthralled with it when I bought it - though I can't seem to find any previous notes on it.  The fruit and the oak have melded really well together here so they seem almost seamless.  Cassis and spice dominate with oak carrying them and not trying to over-shadow them - the fruit and spice rest delicately on the wood - heck I don't know how many more ways I can say it ... this wine drink real fine right now.