Wednesday, September 30, 2009

WineWise again - Gewürztraminer

Still reading up on my white wines in WineWise, and am feeling a bit overwhelmed with information. Good to be able to summarize it in a format that's easy to reference later.

Gewürztraminer is described on p. 30 as a seductive, perfumed wine with vibrant spices, honeysuckle, rose petals, and lychees. Sounds like I'd like it! The grapes do best in cool weather and in low yield situations.

And according to the book, the Alsace region makes the defining versions of Reisling, Gewürztraminer, and Pino Grigio/Pinot Gris. Interesting - high praise for the Alsace region, which borders France and Germany.

Montevina Terra d'Oro Zinfandel - $16

Yet another wine I used to purchase at Costco but haven't seen lately. I really, really like this Zin - it was the Zin that turned me on to Zins!

Paringa Cabernet Sauvignon - $8

Boy, tonight is a night of memories!

This wine was a mainstay for us for a while, but we haven't seen it anywhere in a few years. We used to buy it at Costco for around $8 a bottle. It's an Australian wine, and I remember thinking that it was quite good for the price. Just a reminder to purchase it again when possible!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Rodney Strong Estate Vineyard 2006 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - $17

This estate CS is really, really lovely! It has aromas of cranberries, celery, and tobacco. It tastes of spice, fruit, tobacco, and has a nice amount of tannins. It's an earthy Cab Sauv, which I really, really like!

Just sipping this wine before dinner, so no food pairing comments right now. Am planning to make a artichoke and olive salad tonight - organic red and green baby romaine, grilled marinated artichokes and olives (same Pinot Noir marinade from last night), herbed goat cheese, fresh brown turkey figs, and balsamic vinaigrette.

This wine was $17 at Costco.

Interesting - just doing some research on this wine, and it turns out that Rodney Strong was a dancer who trained with Graham and Balanchine before getting into wine! See this article for more info!

I love Rodney Strong!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kenwood Jack London Vineyard Sonoma Valley 2006 Zinfandel - $17

I had to purchase this Sonoma Zin because we wanted to visit this vineyard when we were in Sonoma but didn't get a chance to do so. Wine Enthusiast scores this wine at 92. Also, the bottle is just stunning! No paper label at all - the ink is embossed onto the glass, and the image is reminiscent of London's fabulous book, Call of the Wild, which I absolutely loved! And the Jack London quote on the back of the bottle is just... well, let's just say it would be a dream of mine to be able to say "the air is wine." I do, however, "have everything to make me glad I'm alive." True poetry, Mr. London!

We had this wine with dinner, which was a grilled portabella mushroom salad - organic red and green baby romaine, fresh chopped basil from my window garden, herbed goat cheese from the farmer's market, chopped candied pecans, a chopped tomato on the vine, balsamic vinaigrette, grilled portabella mushrooms that were marinated in a Pinot Noir marinade (2 c. pinot noir, 1/4 c. olive oil, 2 t. balsamic vinegar, 1 1 clove garlic, salt, and pepper), and a drizzle of white truffle oil. Recipe listed just in case I want to make it again!

This wine is so smooth. It smells of fruit and mild spice. It tastes of mild pepper, tobacco, and red fruit, with balanced tannins and a little tartness at the back but no real bite at the end. Seems to be quite a long finish.

I purchased this wine today at Costco. I really like it and will definitely buy it again!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Paso Robles, CA - $11

This Paso Robles Cab Sauv is the wine that turned D and I on to wine! One night at Jeffrey's in the late 90's, we were feeling quite adventurous, so we ordered this wine, which was only $25 a bottle on the menu. We loved the rich, buttery mouthfeel and the fruity flavors, and from then on, we began investigating more Paso Robles Cabs. Better yet, we found this wine in the stores for only $13. Nowadays, the wine can be found for only $11 at Costco - excellent!

We had this wine with dinner, which was a salad of organic red and green baby romaine lettuce, turkey bacon, organic red seedless grapes, chopped candied pecans, herbed goat cheese, balsamic vinaigrette, and croutons toasted in bacon drippings. I have to say that the wine was quite good with this salad!

This wine smells hot (as in, there is a lot of alcohol aromas in it). It also has aromas of red fruit and jam. I don't remember it smelling this much of alcohol in the past - can it be because at this moment I'm having it with truffle oil popcorn?

This wine tastes smooth, with medium tannins, and is mostly dry. Fruity taste with a bite at the end. Slightly bitter, which you know I like.

This is still one of our go-to wines, although Sebastiani Cab Sauv is overtaking LS as our most favorite Cabernet. I also have favorite reasonably-priced Zins and Tempranillos. I love having options!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County 2006 - $13

I loved last year's Sebastian Sonoma County Cab Sauv, and it's no surprise that I like this one, too! It's creamy, fruity, spicy, and intense. I still smell and taste tobacco (see my notes on the 2005 vintage), but not as heavily as I think I did before (of course it would help if I actually tasted them side by side).

I still love this wine - it's definitely a staple of my wines for everyday!

Les Hérétiques Vin de Pays de l'Hérault Red Table Wine 2007 - $10

Aroma - red fruit, pepper
Taste - tart red fruit with a bite on the back end

Dinner - organic vegetarian stir fry - striped zucchini, green peppers, carrots, tofu, red onion, garlic, Jasmine rice

Notes - I like this Chateau D'oupia wine only so-so. I've bought it before and I may buy it again at some point. But, it's not one of my favorites. It's a blend of Carignan and Syrah.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wine Library TV recommendations - Cabernet Sauvignon

Was watching a few WLTV episodes, and during the Cameron Hughes Wine Show episode #696, Gary V. mentioned really liking this 2006 Cameron Hughes Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 100, which was priced at approximately $20. I didn't realize that Cab Sauv from the Stag's Leap region could be priced so reasonably, so I'm going to look for this wine!

He also mentioned that Napa Cabs 2007 are really coming out strong.

He also talked about Rodney Strong making some nice Cabs, which we already knew about.

Kurtz Family Vineyards Seven Sleepers Siebenschlafer Barossa Valley Shiraz Blend - $12

This Australian blend consists of of 40% Shiraz, 25% Petit Verdot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Grenache, and 5% Malbec. Wine Advocate score was 89, Wine Spectator score was 90, International Wine Cellar score was 90, and we bought it at Costco for $12.

I had chilled it for about 20 minutes prior to opening. It had a really tight aroma and took a bit of swirling for it to open up. D said that at first taste this wine reminded him of homemade bread. I didn't think so - it reminded me of bitter cherries.

I let the wine breathe for a bit, then sniffed and tasted again. Aroma was of red fruit and smoke. Taste was of tart black cherries (almost sour) with a bitter finish (mid-palate and back).

We also tried it with some dark chocolate, which we had for dessert. The didn't clash, but they didn't enhance each other either.

I'm not crazy about this wine, and probably won't purchase it again.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Delas Saint Esprit 2007 Côtes-du-Rhône - $9

This French Côtes-du-Rhône is quite a deal at $9/bottle (Costco). It is a mellow, easy-drinking wine that Robert Parker rated at 90 - excellent! The blend includes Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Carignan grapes.

Since tonight was Girls' Night In, all of us contributed to these tasting notes - huge thanks to Mel and MK!

Aroma - savory and herbal, like oregano
Taste - mellow, slight tannins, black tea

I'll definitely get this one again - fabulous! Oh, and it comes in a really beautiful Rhône-shaped bottle with an embossed glass shield - so gorgeous!

Update - Terra Andina 2008 Carmenère, Chile - $8 to $10

See this wine's main post for the update - suffice it to say that I LOVE this wine!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Terra Andina Carmenère 2008, Chile - $8 to $10

This Chilean Carmenère was simply wonderful! MS and SD poured me a glass when I went over to wish them a great trip! I think they said it was purchased at Whole Foods - awesome!

I'll have to make more tasting notes tomorrow as I didn't have my notebook with me when I was tasting it, but it was smooth with balanced tannins and a very, very pleasant taste and finish. All I know is that this is a great sipping wine, and that it's one that I would love to have again!

Update - September 17, 2009
Wow, I love this wine the more I taste it!
Aroma - smoky, with dark fruit, dark chocolate, dark spice, and tobacco
Taste - dark fruit, dark chocolate, tobacco, cloves, smooth mouthfeel
Can I be more in love right now?! I HAVE to get another bottle of this wine!

Update - November 8, 2009
Tried this wine with the Ribollita!
Aroma - dark fruit, chocolate
Taste - slightly tannic, tobacco
Still loved it - will get it again! Bought a Cabernet Sauvignon by the same vineyard, and I can't wait to try it!

Update - March 20, 2010
This was the first of three wines we had last night after our SXSW New York Export: Opus Jazz viewing. JH bought it at Royal Blue. It costs around $9 at Whole Foods.

Aroma - dark fruit
Taste - earthy, black tea

One of my favorite inexpensive Carmenères - always rich and tasty! We drank it while snacking on truffle oil popcorn, crackers, pistachios, and dark chocolate-covered pomegranate.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wine Library TV Recommendation - The Flying Winemaker

Gary V at Wine Library TV reviewed this label, which is actually the creation of Cameron Hughes. Hughes is famous for the Lot Series, which can be found at Costco. This label, The Flying Winemaker, allows Hughes to branch out internationally to include wines from Chile (CS) and Spain (Tempranillo).

GV didn't score these extremely high (mid-to high 80s), but he liked all of the reds (the CS, the Tempranillo, and the Zin). At about $12 to $15 a bottle, I'm willing to try them sometime.

Volteo Tempranillo 2007, Spain - $10

This Spanish wine is a very far cry from my favorite $10 Tempranillo, Vincente Gandia Hoya de Cadenas Reserva Tempranillo 2004.

At first, this wine smelled and tasted like a very pale beer - not kidding! I really hated it! It was also slightly effervescent, which was very off-putting.

After swirling it a TON, I was rewarded with aromas of black fruit and peppery spice, and spicy flavors with nice tannins and a long, dark chocolate finish.

It was fine with my Berkley soy cheese pizza, perhaps because it tasted like beer. Yuck. I won't be buying this again, Whole Foods.

Update - Wednesday September 16, 2009
Okay, I have to admit that this wine tasted better tonight. Of course, the food was entirely different, but I still feel that the wine tasted different even before we started eating dinner. It tasted more like wine instead of beer, but still doesn't compel me to purchase it again. I have to admit that dinner was an experiment - tofu steak, corn on the cob, and whole grain dinner bread.

A few hours later, I can really smell the fruit coming through, and it tastes okay with my truffle oil popcorn. In fact, it's behaving a lot like red wine now - fruity aroma and taste with a dry finish. Wow, oxygen can really improve a tight, weird bottle of wine!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wine Library TV Recommendation - Clark-Claudon 2004 Cab Sauv

Just a quick note - Gary V gave this wine 91 points on his video podcast, and his dad Sasha gave it 95-96 points.

It's considered a cult Cab - Clark-Claudon 2004 Estate Cab (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) - $50/bottle if you can find it. I just checked online and the last few cases are being sold for $936/case, with 50% donated to a charity in your name. The 2005 Estate Cab price looks to be around $75/bottle.

Gary and Sasha's tasting notes for the 2004 Estate Cab: balanced, great tannins and finish, red cranberries up front and dark chocolate on the back end.

Sounds like a wine I'd love!

WineWise again - Riesling

I've never enjoyed Rieslings that I've tried, but perhaps I just didn't choose them wisely. WineWise says that they can be the perfect match to spicy, Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese food (p. 27), all of which I like immensely. In fact the authors feel that this wine is a "superhero wine" - that it works magic with food! Another note is that the grapes need a cold climate to excel.

Apparently, the Finger Lakes region in NY produces good value and good quality Reislings at $12 and up (p. 29).

Australian Rieslings are crisp, refreshing, and lighter on the palate with lime, ripe peaches, tropical fruit, and spice (nutmeg, ginger) flavors. They are food-friendly and reasonable, with most priced between $10 and $20. (p. 29)

That this wine is suggested as a compliment to many Asian-based cuisines means that I should probably try one soon!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Red Truck Organic Zinfandel 2006, Mendocino County, CA - $11

Picked up this fun Zin on sale at Whole Foods ($10 on sale, regularly around $11). It's good a good quality wine (85 points Wine Enthusiast) at a really wonderful price for everyday drinking.

The Red Truck brand was founded by the Clines of Cline Cellars. Seeing as Cline makes fabulous Zins in all price ranges, it's no wonder that Red Truck would produce a Zin that I enjoy drinking on a regular basis!

The bouquet is peppery and bright. The taste is fruity but dry, with a nice balance of tannins and a good finish. Tonight we're having veggie burgers, and I think this wine will taste perfect with our meal!

Just a note - I've discovered that I really enjoy a nice Zin with pizza. It's sort of my go-to wine for pizza.

Update - December 19, 2009
At a Whole Foods wine tasting...
Taste - medium-bodied, strong tannins

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Argiolas Costera Isola Dei Nuraghi 2006 Cannonau - $14

I've never heard of this grape before - Cannonau. Turns out that it's what Grenache is called in Sardinia. It's also been labeled as a "rustic" wine, which I guess means that it's a bit rough around the edges. I found that to be true, as I didn't really like the wine when I first opened it, smelled, and sipped it.

However, after allowing it to breathe and making my one-pot spaghetti for dinner, I tried the wine again with a bite of my meal, and it was really nice! Now this wine smells like licorice and fruit. It has lots of tannins and tastes quite spicy with some fruity flavors.

Robert Parker gave this wine a 90. I can't wait to try it tomorrow after it has some time to breathe!

Update - Friday September 11, 2009
This wine's had about a day to breathe, and it's opened up quite a bit. I like it MUCH BETTER than when I first opened it - at that point it was so tight that I just couldn't smell or taste much of anything!

Update - Saturday September 12, 2009
So I just have a little left in this bottle, and I think it's drinking perfectly for me tonight. I really love the amount of tannins in this wine - it leaves my tongue feeling a little cottony, which I really like! And the flavors are really nice with my truffle oil popcorn - my late-night snack after a long day at work!

Thursday wine tasting at Royal Blue - Dolium 2006 Malbec blend and 2007 Sauvignon Blanc

Another fun tasting at Royal Blue! This time we tried 2 wines from Dolium, a 2006 Malbec blend ($23.50), and a 2007 Sauvignon Blanc ($13.50).

We started with the SB - it was light and fresh, smelled tropical like pineapples, and tasted tangy and light.

According to the distributor, this wine is 40% Malbec, 35% Tempranillo, and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, some of my very favorite varietals. This wine had a fruity aroma and a long finish. I didn't taste enough of it to really decide whether I liked it a ton or not.

Both wines are from Mendoza, Argentina.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Navarro Lopez Old Vines Gran Reserva Tempranillo 2001

I am in love, love, love with this Spanish Old Vines Tempranillo! It is beautiful and subtle, and it goes down so smoothly! I could drink this all night and be so happy!

The bouquet was spicy. The taste was slightly fruity, smooth, dry, balanced, and very elegant.

Wine Advocate gave this wine 90 points. What a deal for $11 at Costco!

Update - February 21, 2010
Had this wine again tonight - MS really liked it!

Aroma - cassis, pepper
Taste - so smooth, fruit at end, low tannins

So easy-drinking, with layers of subtle tastes. I think this is a wine that most red wine drinkers will love!

Hoya de Cadenas Reserva Tempranillo 2004 - $10

This Spanish Tempranillo by Vicente Gandia is absolutely one of my favorite wines! Whole Foods often has it on sale for $10, which is another huge bonus!

This wine is great - spicy, yet light and refreshing enough for summer and vegetarian dishes. MS, who was over for dinner tonight (with SD, of course), thought he smelled chili peppers. I thought it smelled spicy and tasted spicy and fruity at the same time.

Next, the second Tempranillo of the evening.

Update - September 18, 2009
This is my self-professed favorite Tempranillo for around $10, and I love it because it is very food friendly, especially when we're eating light. Tonight I made a tofu broccoli shitake udon, and it was splendid with the wine!

This isn't my photo, but it gives you a good idea of what we ate for dinner! Just omit the carrots and green onions, and pretty much this looks like what I cooked!

Update - Thanksgiving, November 26, 2009
We had this wine with our organic Thanksgiving meal, which consisted of a Whole Foods smoked turkey breast, sage and thyme Portobello mushroom, sweet potato fries with ketchup, smashed potatoes with Shitake mushroom gravy, green bean and baby bella stir fry, and cranberry stuffing. Yum - perfect!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Château de Camarsac Bordeaux Supérieur 2003 - $13

The final wine we tasted last night - a French Bordeaux. The nose was tight and smelled of, well, rubbing alcohol, so we had to swirl it and let it breathe for a bit before we could actually smell or taste anything other than that.

When it did open up, it still smelled a bit hot, but it did have flavors of bitter tobacco and was quite tannic. We wondered if we should have decanted it a bit, or if we should have chosen a different wine to follow the Rodney Strong Meritage.

Rodney Strong 2002 Meritage Red Wine, Alexander Valley - $55

The second wine we tasted tonight with EG and AG was a Rodney Strong Meritage from the Alexander Valley. This wine was mostly Cabernet Sauvignon (68%), with a little Merlot (28%) and a smidge of Cabernet Franc (4%). EG has been saving this wine for a few years, and lucky for us he decided to break it out last night. It was AMAZING!!!

Aromas of licorice. Hints of licorice and fruit (EG specifies plum) on the tongue. A dry finish with LOTS of tannins (love it!) - amazing!

EG asked me to look this up online because he couldn't remember how much it cost. It's currently listed at $55, and it was worth every penny in my opinion - a really wonderful wine that I absolutely enjoyed and loved!

One more wine from last night - read on!

Luzon Red Blend 2007, Jumilla, Spain 2007 - $7

Another fun evening with friends EG and AG. They served an amazing spread of gourmet cheeses, crackers, Italian honey, grapes and walnuts, and this great wine along with it.

The Spanish Monastrell (65%) and Syrah (35%) blend is a nice and easy red wine, and can usually be found at around $7 (Costco). And it went great with the above selection of fabulous munchies! And this was just the first of 3 wines we tasted tonight - read on!

This wine was rated 90 points by Wine Enthusiast, and was named #1 in their list of top value wines of 2008.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Yali 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Rapel Valley, Chile - $7

Another Texas summer day, another refreshingly chilled wine! This Chilean Sauvignon Blanc was bargain-priced at $7 at Whole Foods and came highly recommended by one of their staff, so of course I snapped up a bottle! This is the sales price - it's probably around $10 regularly.

This is an easy-drinking, light white wine. We had it chilled with yet another salad I whipped up from my imagination - organic spring mix, organic red grapes, turkey bacon, candied pecans, homemade balsamic vinaigrette, and a drizzle of truffle oil. This time my dinner partner was MK, a neighbor from upstairs. She has a lot more experience with white wines than I do, so it was fun to get her take on this wine.

This SB has faint aromas of pineapple. It is food friendly and fruity without being sweet, has a very clean taste and mouthfeel, and has a nice dry finish. Another positive review for SB!

Update - Wednesday September 9, 2009
I don't know whether I've just had this wine open too long (since Saturday night, but I did vacuum-seal it and keep it in the fridge), or if I just drank it with the wrong food (buckwheat crepes with smoked salmon and red onions), but it didn't taste as good as I remember it tasting on Saturday. In fact, its aftertaste was reminiscent of a really, really, really light beer. Hmmm... I'm puzzled...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Nine Stones McLaren Vale Shiraz 2007, Australia - $10

I purchased this Shiraz for Mel (because her favorite red wine is Syrah) for our SYTYCD viewing last night. While I like Shiraz/Syrah, I tend to like the ones that are blended with CS instead of those that are 100% Shiraz/Syrah.

Here are Mel's tasting notes - she thought it tasted good but smelled better (that the aroma was clean and kind of honeyed). I think she said that she just wanted to crawl into the glass with it when she smelled it - is that right, Mel?

Here are my tasting notes - I thought it had aromas of smoke, and tasted like tobacco with a green bite and a short finish. It was only slightly tannic to my palate.

Not sure I'd get this Shiraz again even though it was rated 90 points on Wine Spectator, which is why I purchased it. I also LOVED the label - one of my favorites! This wine was $10 at Costco, and I think it goes for around $12 to $15 elsewhere.

Goats do Roam Rosé 2008, South Africa - $9

Mel brought over this South African Rosé yesterday - thanks Mel! The wine was chilled and quite refreshing on a summer evening. It smelled of fruit (Mel thought cassis/currant), and tasted fruity and light. How much more can you say about a light, fun, easily drinkable chilled summer wine?!

This wine went GREAT with our viewing of the last 2 episodes of SYTYCD - fabulous! Oh, and we did munch on veggie chips, pistachios, rice crackers, and wasabi peas - went great with everything!

Guess I'll have to try more Rosé!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Riva Rey Tempranillo 2006, Spain - $9

I've been sipping this wine for a couple of hours now as I've been typing up my tasting notes and adding them to this blog. I picked this up on sale at Whole Foods last night after we returned from Sonoma and found nothing to eat in the fridge. I think the regular price is between $10 and $12.

I love Tempranillo! I find that it's light but not too light, with enough flavor to hold its own with lots of my favorite foods. My sniffy-sniff reveals spices galore. A little taste delivers fruit with a bite that stays on my tongue for quite a while, moving from the back of my mouth to the center of it.

The Tempranillo was fabulous with dinner (organic spring mix, organic black mission figs, turkey bacon, candied pecans, herbed goat cheese, and homemade balsamic vinaigrette). I would have this combo again (wine and salad) in a heartbeat!