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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

WBW 34: Washington Cabernets

posted by snekse

2002 Hurricane Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon

It's time for another Wine Blogging Wednesday. It's been a couple of months since I've participated in a WBW event, but with this month's theme, Washington Cabs, how could I resist. Our host for this month is Through The Walla Walla Grape Vine™.

I really wanted to like this wine more because I thought it had great potential when I bought it. Granted I drank it about 5 years before I was expecting to. When I first tried this upon release, it had lots of acid and massive tannins, so I thought it would be an ideal bottle to lay down. There was a good amount of sediment adhered to the bottle and I needed a Washington Cab to drink for WBW #34. So I opened it.

Now on with the wine!

2002 Hurricane Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon
750ml ~ $21.99 (wineaccess.com)

Vintage: 2002
Type: Red
Producer: Hurricane Ridge
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Designation: n/a
Vineyard: n/a
Country: USA
Region: Washington
SubRegion: n/a
Appellation: Washington


Tasting Notes
Currently it still has lots of acid and tannin, though the acid seems to be more prevalent than the tannin. You get a brief attack of tannin up front, but the middle and finish are dominated by the acid. Definitely need food with this. Luckily I had an 8oz. ribeye steak to stand up to it. Tried straight out of the bottle, through a Vinturi speed decanter and a regular decanter. None of them produced the results I was hoping for. It was difficult to find the fruit in this wine. As such, my notes are a little vague.

Gorgeous blackberry juice color. Very oaked with a charred vanilla bouquet. Darker type nose of chocolate, dusty leather with a touch of barn. Taste profiles of raisin-y fruit, blackberry, black cherry.

Rating: 85

I'm still pretty new to aging wine, so I'm not sure if this was aged too long, not long enough, if it was going through a "dumb" phase or what. Anyone have any insights?

***UPDATE***
If you'd like to see then entire WBW round-up, you can find it on the Through The Walla Walla Grape Vine ™ website.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

WBW 31: Box Wines

posted by snekse
It's time for another Wine Blogging Wednesday. This month's theme is Box Wines & Non-Traditional Packaging hosted by Box Wines.

Unfortunately I was unable to locate a box of DTOUR Macon-Villages, the first boxed wine I've wanted to drink. The "D" in DTOUR is for it's creators: Dominique Lafon (vigneron), Daniel Johnnes (sommelier) and Daniel Boulud (chef). If Daniel Boulud is willing to put his name on it, I'm willing to pay $36+ to try it... if I could find it.

So I set out to find the most expensive box wine I could find, or at least the one that sounded the most interesting. I was a bit surprised to see how wide the selection of box wines was, but didn't find anything that I wanted to try. Then I remembered I had snapped up a 4-pack of Sofia Blanc de Blanc cans on sale a couple of months earlier. This would be the perfect time to crack open a cold one :-)

Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs Can
For those of you who haven't seen the shiny pink cans, it's a clever marketing gimmick to grab some of that younger, hip, trendy money. Single serving cans of champagne each with their own straw for drinking. As a confessed sucker for marketing, how could I not buy some?

Now on with the wine!

N.V. Francis Coppola Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs
Glass of Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs
187ml ~ $6.00 $3.00 On Sale (The Tasting Room)

Vintage: N.V.
Type: White - Sparkling
Producer: Francis Coppola
Varietal: Pinot Blanc Blend
Designation: Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs
Vineyard: N/A
Country: USA
Region: California
SubRegion: Central Coast
Appellation: Monterey County


Tasting Notes
A pale straw in color. Not much of a nose, or at least nothing really out of the ordinary for a blanc de blancs sparkling wine. Lots of acidity in the form for green apple, balanced with a slight sweetness and a dry grassy yeast flavor. The effervescence was almost startling, accentuated by the straw. The bubbles actually added some complexity to this wine as what you tasted bounced back and forth between the flavor profiles listed about. The finish skewed a little more towards the sweet end with a kind of peach/apricot taste. Not a top of the line wine, but if I could find it for $3 a can again, I'd consider buying it. It would be a fun summer wine in a perfect container for picnics. I did not detect a strong metallic taste as some have complained about. If this is a concern, they do sell this in bottles as well.

Rating: 87

So not a bad wine. I think it hits the target market very well. It's about as far away from a brut as you can get without being cloying. A very easy drinking summer sparkler.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

WBW 30: New World Syrah

posted by snekse
It's time for another Wine Blogging Wednesday. This month's theme is New World Syrah hosted by Winecast.

Since I have a lot of wine piling up in my basement, I figured I'd force myself to pull something from my cellar rather than shopping around for something. So I pulled up my trusty Cellertracker list and picked the first Syrah on my Drinkability list. I excluded all Shiraz and blends in the spirit of the event. The winner (in a loose sense of the term) was something I received through one of those mail order grab bag things. This review is as much about the wine as it is about ordering no name wines from heavily marketed sources.

Now on with the wine!

2003 Thornhill Vineyards Syrah
750ml ~ $10.00 (Some crappy mail order service that I won't mention)

Vintage: 2003
Type: Red
Producer: Thornhill Vineyards
(Vinted and Bottled by
Viviers Wine Cellars
A.K.A. San Antonio Winery
Los Angeles, CA)
Varietal: Syrah
Designation: N/A
Vineyard: N/A
Country: USA
Region: California
SubRegion: Central Coast
Appellation: Monterey County


Tasting Notes
Typical new world syrah in color - though a little thin. Great nose of chocolate, cassis, leather, soil (though nothing like one can expect in an old world syrah). Smells like a wine cave. Taste doesn't live up to the invite. Watery, a lot of acidity, not well integrated, flabby, completely unbalance. The next day it improved only slightly in flavor, but not in balance. Flavor started to remind me of panna cotta with cherries.

Rating: 78

So without dragging on the agony any longer, the moral of this review is that California wines that cost under $10 and are not on every supermarket shelf in the US are probably not on every supermarket shelf in the US for a reason.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

WBW 28: Festive Sparkling Wines

posted by snekse
It's always fun to try deciding what wines you're going to review for Wine Blogging Wednesdays. This month's theme, Festive Sparkling Wines (hosted by Culinary Fool), features sparkling wines which includes anything that is not from the Champagne region of France.

Immediately about 4 or 5 options jumped into my head. I could profile the N.V. Schramsberg Vineyard Blanc de Blancs - one of the only American sparkling wines served at The French Laundry. Then there's the always fun N.V. Vigne Regali (Banfi) Brachetto d'Acqui Rosa Regale - it's like a wine cooler, only better. For novelty we could contemplate the aspects of serving sparkling wines in a can with a straw ala N.V. Francis Coppola / Niebaum-Coppola Sofia Blanc de Blancs. Or play to a lesser known wine and oft snubbed varietal by picking the N.V. Luccío Moscato d'Asti, another one of my favorites.

Well as crunch time came and I had to make a decision, I actually had it made for me (and in this case, 4 for me). I received an email from Vino100 stating that they were going to be having a tasting on Tuesday featuring sparkling wines! Sweet! So you get not one, but four reviews today.


N.V. Korbel Chardonnay "Champagne"
750ml ~ $9.99 (Beverages and More)

Vintage: N.V.
Type: White - Sparkling
Producer: Korbel
Varietal: Chardonnay
Designation: n/a
Vineyard: n/a
Country: USA
Region: California


Tasting Notes
Sauvignon blanc in color. No nose at all that I could detect. Super fizzy. Good balance of sweetness and acidity. Not very yeasty. Fruit forward flavors of green apple and grapefruit.

Rating: 87


N.V. Le Brun No 1 Family Estate Chardonnay No. 1 Cuvée
750ml ~ $UNKNOWN

Type: White - Sparkling
Producer: Le Brun No 1 Family Estate
Varietal: Chardonnay
Designation: No. 1 Cuvée
Vineyard: n/a
Country: New Zealand
Region: South Island
SubRegion: Marlborough


Tasting Notes
Colored like a light Chardonnay. Nose of yeast and a bit of green apple. Too sour - not enough sweetness to balance the acidity and not dry enough to be pleasantly dry. Finish was a bit yeasty. Not what I'd expect from an award winner.

Rating: 82


Korbel Natural Méthode Champenoise
750ml ~ $10.99 (Beverages and More)

Vintage: 2003?
Type: White - Sparkling
Producer: Korbel
Varietal: Champagne Blend
Designation: Natural Méthode Champenoise
Vineyard: n/a
Country: USA
Region: California
SubRegion: Sonoma County


Tasting Notes
A bit darker than the Blanc de Blanc - the Pinot Noir grapes must lend a bit of color - more honeyed. Smells like sweet carbonation, as if you added some honeysuckle syrup to tonic water. Very traditional in flavors. Dry, but not brut. Very enjoyable finish.

Rating: 86


N.V. Korbel Brut Rosé
750ml ~ $9.99 (Beverages and More)

Vintage: N.V.
Type: Rosé - Sparkling
Producer: Korbel
Varietal: Rosé Blend
Designation: Brut Rosé
Vineyard: n/a
Country: USA
Region: California


Tasting Notes
Color of water with some spilled food coloring. Just a very slight tinge of pink that was very translucent. The smell of berries was almost undetectable on the nose. Not much to talk about on the attack, the finish was a little more evident of slightly unripe strawberries. Might be nice with certain desserts. Not a lot of sweetness in this wine, so it won't compete with the pairing.

Rating: 84


So there you have it. I don't think any of these wines could compete with the sophistication of the Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, but with the Schramsberg running $26+, I don't really expect them to. For the money, I think the Korbel Chardonnay "Champagne" and the Korbel Natural are good values. If you're looking for a sweeter wine, the Chardonnay is the obvious choice, just as the Natural is the obvious choice for a drier style wine. If you are looking to keep something on hand, I'd lean towards the Natural as I think it could improve with some age.

WINE REVIEWS:
WBW 19: When in Rhone
WBW 20: Anything But Chardonnay...
WBW 27: Icy Desserts (Ice Wine)
WBW 28: Festive Sparkling Wines
WBW 30: New World Syrah
WBW 31: Box Wines
WBW 34: Washington Cabernets
WBW 45: Old World Rieslings


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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

WBW 27: Icy Desserts (Ice Wine)

posted by snekse
Mmmmm, Ice Wine. Is there anything better?

It's been a while since I participated in a Wine Blogging Wednesday, but when I found out the theme was ice wine (chosen and hosted by Kitchen Chick), it was a given that I would be participating. The only question that arose was; do I pick one of the bottles in my collection or do I go shopping? Shopping won.

We stopped into BevMo to see what was available and found two bottles that peeked our interest. The first was the La Face Cachee de la Pomme Neige Cidre de Glace, but we had to disqualify it since it's actually an ice cider made with apples, not grapes. The second was the 2003 Covey Run Semillon Reserve Ice Wine from Yakima Valley.

Now on with the wine!

2003 Covey Run Semillon Reserve Ice Wine
375ml ~ $21.99 (Beverages and More)

Vintage: 2003
Type: White - Sweet/Dessert
Producer: Covey Run
Varietal: Semillon
Designation: Reserve Ice Wine
Vineyard: N/A
Country: USA
Region: Washington
SubRegion: Columbia Valley
Appellation: Yakima Valley



Tasting Notes
Blend: 100% Semillon (11% Alc. Vol.)
Vineyard: 100% Phil Church
Cases Produced: 2,625

Color was a very light golden honey with a translucent rim. A little more nose than most ice wines I've had in the past. Hard to descibe the smell as anything other than a sauternes without the earthy smell from the Botrytis.

The taste was very good. Initially green apple, apricots and honey with occasional glimpses of spice and maybe a medicinal note, but in a good way. The finish is really two parts. The flavor disapates after about 7 seconds, but that mouth watering feeling carries a bit longer. As the wine warms, the apple becomes more pronounced and the apricot gives way to pineapple. Unfortuantely, the tartness and acidic finish also start to overpower the sugars a bit.

Wine Maker's Notes

Rating: 88

Beyond my tasting notes, I think it's hard to give a recommendation on this wine one way or another. It has a much different profile than the Jackson-Triggs I'm use to, yet this wine could easily find a place in my cellar. It really just depends on what purpose you need it to serve. I might actually serve this with Foie Gras before the JT because of the added acidity and tartness. It's also cheaper than JT. The cost is about the same per bottle, but the JT bottle is only 175ml. Given the price and relatively high score of this wine, it's not a bad bottle to have on hand for those every day occasions when you just want some ice wine.

WINE REVIEWS:
WBW 19: When in Rhone
WBW 20: Anything But Chardonnay...
WBW 27: Icy Desserts (Ice Wine)
WBW 28: Festive Sparkling Wines
WBW 30: New World Syrah
WBW 31: Box Wines
WBW 34: Washington Cabernets
WBW 45: Old World Rieslings

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

WBW 20: Anything But Chardonnay...

posted by snekse
...or Sauvignon Blanc, or Riesling. Or Pinot Grigio, Gewurtztraminer, or Chenin Blanc for that matter.

That was the theme of this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday(WBW) event hosted by Wine For Newbies.

OK, so I went a little extreme here by restricting the first 6 to 10 most common white varietals I knew of, but where's the challenge in finding a Gewurtz? So the first thing I did was to research varietals that had a flavor profile that was similar to wine we already enjoyed. This meant finding something similar to a Chardonnay, Riesling or Gewurtz. Neither my wife or I really care for minerally whites, such as sauvignon blanc, so I also had to keep that in mind while reading the tasting notes of various wines. After a bit of research, I settled on two grape varietals of interest - the Albariño and the Scheurebe.

Though I really wanted to try the Scheurebe, it just couldn't be found anywhere I looked, so I went with the backup and picked up two bottles of Albariño. Albariño is the predominent white wine of Spain, so locating a bottle didn't prove difficult at all. The two I ended up with are the 2004 Morgadío Albariño Rías Baixas($26) and the 2004 Pazo Serantellos Albariño Rías Baixas($8). This review will only cover the first one listed since we didn't open the second bottle.

Now on with the wine!

2004 Morgadío Albariño Rías Baixas
750ml ~ $26.00 (The Omaha Wine Co.)

Vintage: 2004
Type: White
Producer: Morgadío
Varietal: Albariño
Designation: N/A
Vineyard: N/A
Country: Spain
Region: Galicia
SubRegion: N/A
Appellation: Rías Baixas



Tasting Notes
Blend: 100% Albariño (12.5% Alc. Vol.)
Estate Bottled

Almost pale yellow water like in color when held against a white backdrop. Bubbles in the Riesling glass! Very, very small bubbles up the side of the glass. None in the chardonnay glass.

Smells of a typical white wine. Nothing really special or unexpected on the nose.

But the taste...Zingy, Zesty, Effervescent!? Beautiful acidity. Nectarine? Plum maybe!? Honeysuckle. Lots of green apple when chilled. Just a gracefully small touch of butter. Taste started off like a sauvignon blanc/pinot grigio, but finished like a dry riesling, with a little chardonnay butteriness thrown in the middle for good measure! More green apple and other fruitiness apparent from the Riesling glass which is probably the proper glass for this wine.

Short finish, but on the longer end of short.

Rating: 90

I wasn't disappointed at all by this wine. It was just a fascinating experience on my tongue because it's so unlike the whites that were restricted for this event. Actually, the odd thing is it tasted like all of the whites that were restricted for this event, just at different points of time from the initial attack through the finish. I won't go as far as calling it a complex wine, but it is certainly playful. The only downside I might see to this wine might be the price. If I was going to range my score, I would give it an 88-90. For that range, I'd like to see a price a little closer to $20, even if it's only $22. We'll see how the $8 bottle holds up and reserve judgment on the price until then.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

WBW 19: When in Rhone

posted by snekse
Welcome to my first Wine Blogging Wednesday(WBW) post!

This month's theme was "When in Rhône" hosted by winexpression.com. To start our WBW participation off with a bang, we selected TWO wines from the Rhône region of southern France. For those who are unfamiliar with the region, it is most famous for producing red wines using the Syrah grape varietal, whites from the Viognier, and the historic Chateauneuf-du-Pape appellation (which approximately translates to "the new castle of the pope"). Note that the Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape.

Not knowing a lot about the wine makers of the region, we consulted the wine ouija board at Whole Foods. Asking the powers that be for a Rhône wine of 80+ points, it answered "Guigal". It turns out that Guigal is one of the powerhouse producers of the Rhône region.

Now on with the wine!

2001 Guigal Gigondas
750ml ~ $29.99 (Whole Foods Market)

Vintage: 2001
Type: Red
Producer: E. Guigal
Varietal: Red Rhône Blend
Designation: Gigondas
Vineyard: N/A
Country: France
Region: Rhône
SubRegion: Southern Rhône



Tasting Notes
Blend: 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 25% Mourvèdre.

A earthy/woody nose bordering between barnyard and cedar. Subtle notes of tobacco. Tastes lightly of cherry, plum and cassis. Improved greatly the next day, but still just average.

Rating: 77

2003 Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc
750ml ~ $13.99 (Whole Foods Market)

Vintage: 2003
Type: White
Producer: E. Guigal
Varietal: White Rhône Blend
Designation: Blanc
Vineyard: n/a
Country: France
Region: Rhône
SubRegion: Southern Rhône
Appellation: Côtes du Rhône
UPC Code: 790559801004


Tasting Notes
Blend: 50% Viognier, 20% Roussane, 12% Marsanne, 8% Clairette, 8% Bourboulenc, 2% Grenache blanc

A very subdued bouquet. Tastes of honey, stone fruit and well, not sure what else. Barely any flavor. Oddly buttery, not what I was expecting. By the second day, more notes of flowers and lots of mineral on the nose, but still undrinkable. Granted I'm not a viognier drinker, so this isn't my favorite wine profile to being with. My wife, who enjoys whites much more than I, thought it was pretty bad as well.

Rating: 74

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