Thursday, July 29, 2010

Update - Durigutti Bonarda 2008, Argentina - $15



See wine's main page for an update to my tasting notes!
Note: this image is borrowed from the 2006 vintage, but the label is still basically the same.

Santa Digna Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2009, Valle Central, Chile - $12.50


Royal Blue tasting - $12.50/bottle.

Aroma - crisp, fresh, citrus
Taste - crisp, fresh, grapefruit

Not the usual tropical fruit that a lot of other SBs have (and I love my tropical fruit!) - but a very nice wine!

Update - May 12, 2011
Tried this Sauvignon Blanc again at Royal Blue with Kelly from Serendipity wine distributors.

Aroma - light tropical fruit
Taste - light green fruits, not super-crisp

This wine is fine - not my favorite Sauvignon Blanc. It was paired with roasted potatoes and bacon, and bruschetta topped with goat cheese and strawberries - it was fine with both.

m3 Monastrell 2006, D. O. Mancha, Spain - $10



This Diego Fernandez Vinos Sin-Ley ("wines without law") 100% Monastrell from Spain was rated 89 points by Stephen Tanzer, and is listed at approximately $10/bottle online. MK brought it over tonight for our SYTYCD viewing (which actually turned into a Project Runway viewing!).

Taste - Black currants, soft to moderate tannins.

This is one of my favorite varietals, and this is a great price point for a good wine.

T-Sanzo Tempranillo 2007, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León, Spain



This 2007 Tempranillo from Valsanzo was rated 90 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. I purchased it at Costco for $9.

Aroma - fruit and spice, a little hot
Taste - fruit, spice, soft to moderate tannins, black tea finish

This is a good wine for the price. I like it almost as much as I like the Hoya de Cadenas Reserva Tempranillo, which is about the same price.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ed's Smooth Red, Texas - $10



This wine was mentioned on the MSN Today Show by a winemaker and restaurateur as one of the best wines made in the US for under $15.

Aroma - sweet cherries, blackberries, a little hot
Taste - sweet red and black fruits, soft tannins

Those who like sweet red wines will like this one a lot - it's easy-drinking and is probably food friendly because of the lack of tannins and fruit-forwardness of the wine. For those who prefer dry big reds with solid tannins, choose a different wine. I'm curious to try this with chocolate!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cameron Hughes Lot 151 Riesling/Chenin Blanc 2009, Columbia Valley, Washington - $9



This Cameron Hughes white blend is 70% Riesling and 30% Chenin Blanc from Columbia Valley, Washington. I purchased it for $9 at Costco. It was just released earlier this month.

Aroma - honeysuckle
Taste - honeysuckle, sweet but not too sweet

I like this wine a lot! In fact, at this price point I love it a lot!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

French Food and Wine Extravaganza - 11 people, 5 courses, and 9 bottles of wine!

Tonight we got together with some good friends for a French food and wine extravaganza! Between 11 people, we experienced 5 courses (8 dishes) and 9 bottles of wine.


First Course - Appetizers
  • Leek, Goat Cheese, and Olive Tapenade Puff Pastry Tart
  • Caviar d'Aubergine (eggplant caviar)
Cocktail Pairing
  • French 75 (gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, Monmousseau Brut Etoile Champagne from France, sugar cube at bottom - stir if you want it sweeter)

Fabulous start to the evening! Both the tart and the eggplant caviar were fantastic! The French 75 was a bit strong for me, but the taste was delightful! We did go through 2 bottles of this Champagne - it was quite good!



Second Course - Salad
  • Artisanal Greens Salad with Figs, French Goat Cheese, and Toasted Walnuts
  • White Wine and Lemon Vinaigrette
Wine Pairing
  • Bieler Père et Fils Rosé 2009, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, France

This French Rosé is 60% Syrah blended with Grenache and Cinsault.

Aroma - floral
Taste - dry, floral, soapy/clean

I loved this salad (full disclosure - I also made it), and the wine went great with it. The figs in the salad were so perfectly ripe and fragile that I had to handle them as gently as possible. The goat cheese, the toasted walnuts, the fantastic artisanal greens (which I've never had before), and the amazing dressing (white wine, fresh lemon juice, stone-ground mustard, organic agave nectar, olive oil, salt, pepper) all went together so nicely! As for the wine pairing, I selected a Rosé because they go great with salads, and because the figs and goat cheese called for something drier and with a little more body than a white wine (which I used in the dressing).

I'd love to try making this dressing with Champagne or Sparkling Wine next time!




Third Course - Main Course (à la Barefoot Contessa)
  • Filet of Beef with Roquefort Sauce (à la Barefoot Contessa)
  • Tomatoes à la Provençale (à la Chef Laurent Tourondel)
  • Gratin Dauphinois
Wine Pairing
  • E. Guigal Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2000, France
  • Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Napa Valley, CA
The 2000 Châteauneuf-du-Pape was a real treat! Mel and JS saved it for a very special occasion, and when we popped the cork and took a sniff, we knew it was going to be fantastic! It is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre, and 5% other varietals. It was rated 92 points by both Robert Parker and Stephen Tanzer.

Color - I don't usually list color on my tasting notes although I always do pay attention to it. The color of this mature wine was definitely garnets - gorgeous!
Aroma - cooked red fruit (we learned in Napa that as red wines approach 10 years or so, you'll often find this flavor profile)
Taste - cooked fruit, black tea, soft tannins, very well-rounded, nice finish

This wine paired with the filet was pure brilliance! The filet was unbelievably melt-in-your-mouth tender! The tomatoes and potatoes were also amazing!

The secondary wine for the main course (because we only had one bottle of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape) was the Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from Napa Valley, CA. It is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petite Syrah.

Aroma - blackberries, currants
Taste - blackberries, currants, moderate tannins

Another nice pairing with the main course! I've tasted this wine before - see this wine's main page for the previous tasting notes.



Fourth Course - Cheese
  • Midnight Chèvre - soft goat cheese sprinkled with edible ash to cut the acid and make it smoother
  • Pont l'Evêque - washed rind cow's milk cheese bathed in brine while aging - a little stinky
  • Ossau-Iraty - sheep's milk cheese made with raw milk, firm with a natural rind and nutty flavor
  • Blue d'Auvergne - a blue cheese created by aerating the cheese to allow the mold to grow - also stinky
Wine Pairing
  • Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label NV Champagne

Everyone recognizes the yellow label of Veuve Clicquot Champagne. It's such a food-friendly wine that it would go with just about anything! It rates 92 points with Wine News and 91 points with Wine Spectator.

Aroma - subtle, very light fruit
Taste - subtle, very light fruit, fresh and clean

In short, the Veuve Clicquot was of course spectacular with the cheese! My favorite cheeses (no surprise) were the goat cheese and the Ossau-Iraty. The course also included Marcona almonds and green grapes. We finished 2 bottles of the Champagne!

(Quick French lesson: According to our resident French professor, Mel, "Veuve" means "widow" in French. "Buda" as in Buda, TX, is an alternate pronunciation of "Viuda" which is the Spanish version of "Veuve" - meaning that "Veuve" and "Buda" originate from the same roots and both mean "widow!")



Fifth Course - Dessert
  • Petites Choux au Chocolat
Wine Pairing
  • Domaine des Bernardins Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2007

The Muscat is a blend of 75% white Muscat à petits grains and 25% red Muscat à petits grains.

Aroma - lychees, rose
Taste - lychees, rose, sweet and thick, syrupy

The Muscat was really the perfect compliment to the Petites Choux au Chocolat. I really enjoyed this dessert and wine combination!!!


This was our post-dinner, post-dessert wine (well, some of you have coffee, but I just open another bottle of wine!). It's the Two Hands Bad Impersonator Single Vineyard Shiraz 2006 from the Barossa Valley, Australia, and it was rated 91 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. It is 100% Shiraz.

Aroma - dark fruit, inky, smoky, a little hot when first opened but after breathing a little it seemed to burn off
Taste - fruity, earthy, smoky, soft to moderate tannins

A great way to end the evening!

This really fantastic idea and a really fantastic meal! LOVED every minute of it!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Four Vines Old Vine Cuvee Zinfandel 2007, California - $11.25



The fruit for this California Zinfandel is apparently sourced from many of the top Zinfandel appellations in the state. I purchased it for $11.25 at the Austin Wine Merchant.

Aroma - at first a little earth (mushroom?), then fruit and spice, a little hot
Taste - tangy fruit, tobacco, a little spice, soft tannins, a nice finish

A pretty good wine! It's quite high in alcohol content (14.8%), so while it smelled a little hot it didn't overwhelm me with the taste of alcohol.

I also decided to try this wine aerated with my new fun toy!

Aroma aerated - fruit and spice (not hot at all)
Taste aerated - fruit, spice, soft tobacco, soft tannins, nice finish

It seemed to taste a little rounder with the aeration, but that could all be the power of suggestion. I'm going to have to ask D to help me with a blind tasting at some point - aerated vs. non-aerated.

In any case, this is a nice wine for the price, and you know I love my Zins! It does have a screw cap, and until everyone is educated about the advantages of screw caps, probably best not to give this one as a gift or bring it to dinner unless you know the recipient and you know they won't mind. I like this wine!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Austin Hope Grenache 2005, Hope Family Vineyard, Paso Robles, CA - $36


For my birthday we celebrated at Jeffrey's, which is where we purchased our very first bottle of wine - Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 (I think), Paso Robles. After tasting this wine, we took a trip to Paso Robles - our very first wine-tasting trip. In honor of this first bottle of wine we ever purchased together, we opted for the Austin Hope Grenache 2005 from the Hope Family Vineyard in Paso Robles. Not only is this wine from the same region, it is made by the same winemaker (the Liberty School label is part of the Austin Hope Winery). I forgot to write down how much the wine cost, but I found the 2006 vintage online for $36/bottle.

Apparently this was the first release of this particular wine, and it did quite well with the critics: 87 points Robert Parker, 89 points International Wine Cellar, 88 points Wine Spectator, and 84 points Wine Enthusiast.

Aroma - black fruit, a little floral, blueberries
Taste - black fruit, tobacco, soft tannins

The taste mellowed with the food, which included yellow tomato soup, scallops, and crispy oysters. Yum!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Napa Valley, CA - $65


After returning to MO's place, we opened a bottle of Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. Caymus is such a consistently good winery and it's always a pleasure to enjoy their wine! This vintage was rated 92 points by Wine Spectator, 90 points by Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine, and 90 points by Stephen Tanzer. It retails for $65/bottle online.

Aroma - fruit and cocoa
Taste - fruit, chocolate, soft to moderate tannins

Drinking Caymus always reminds me of indulging in rich dark chocolate! Yum!

Domaine des Escaravailles Les Sablieres Côtes du Rhône 2008, France - $9/$35


We purchased a bottle of this Côtes du Rhône at the Cavallo Point Lodge's Farley Bar in Sausalito, CA. It's a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Carignan, and it cost $9/glass or $35/bottle at the bar, although I found it online for about $14/bottle. The word "escaravaille" means "beetle" in Occitan - hence the inspiration for the illustration on the bottle.

Aroma - fruit, smoky, peppery
Taste - fruit, tobacco, soft tannins

The wine went well with all of the snacks that we ordered, which included oysters on the half shell and crab croquettes.



If you've never been to the Cavallo Point Lodge, you need to go! This was a highlight of our trip - it was absolutely stunningly beautiful, and I can't wait to go back! The bar was cozy and had tons of heavy wool blankets so even though we were dressed for weather 30 degrees warmer, we were just fine. Fantastic place!

Rutherford Hill Winery, Rutherford, CA - red wine tasting


This winery has a gorgeous view and provides picnic tables for its guests. They have an outdoor and indoor tasting bar. We were hosted by Marilyn, who took great care of us. Tastings are $15 to $30 depending on which tasting you choose (regular or reserve).



Rutherford Hill Sangiovese 2006, Napa Valley, CA - $32
This wine is a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Aroma - cherries, floral
Taste - tart cherries, tobacco, soft tannins



Rutherford Hill Sangiovese 2007, Napa Valley, CA - $32
This wine is a blend of 86% Sangiovese, 8% Merlot, and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Aroma - bright cherries
Taste - bright cherries, red fruit, black tea, tobacco, soft tannins


Rutherford Hill Cabernet Franc 2006, Napa Valley, CA - $36
This wine is only sold at the winery and is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Aroma - dark, inky, smoky
Taste - fruit, ink, moderate tannins


Rutherford Hill Syrah 2005, Napa Valley, CA - $32
This wine is a blend of Syrah and Merlot.

Aroma - red fruit
Taste - fruit, soft tannins, not very much body


Rutherford Hill Merlot 2005, Napa Valley, CA - $25
This is the winery's flagship wine. It is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Syrah.

Aroma - red fruit, cocoa
Taste - red fruit, cocoa, moderate tannins


Rutherford Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Napa Valley, CA - $32
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.

Aroma - red fruit
Taste - red fruit, moderate tannins


Rutherford Hill Petit Verdot 2006, Napa Valley, CA - $36
This wine is a blend of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Aroma - black fruit, ink
Taste - red fruit, soft tannins


Rutherford Hill Malbec 2007, Napa Valley, CA - $36
This wine is a blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Aroma - dark fruit
Taste - dark fruit, strong tannins, long finish

I love this wine!



Rutherford Hill Zinfandel Port 2001, Napa Valley,CA - $33
This port is 100% Zinfandel.

Smelled and tasted currants and spice. After a little dessert (chocolate-covered blueberry), it was much smoother.


Terlato Family Vineyards' Peak Series is the Winery's tribute to Bordeaux style wines. We tasted three of them with Marilyn.



Terlato Family Vineyards Angels' Peak 2006, Rutherford, CA - $48
This red wine is 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc.

Aroma - currants
Taste - fruit, soft tannins



Terlato Family Vineyards Devils' Peak 2006, Rutherford, CA - $48
This wine is 66% Cabernet Franc, 23% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Malbec.

Aroma - black plum
Taste - fruit and cocoa, moderate tannins



Terlato Family Vineyards Cardinals' Peak 2006, Rutherford, CA - $48
This wine is a blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 8% Petit Verdot.

Aroma - red and dark fruit
Taste - red and dark fruit, moderate to strong tannins, long finish


We also tasted two wines from the reserve menu.



Rutherford Hill Luke Donald Claret 2006, Rutherford, CA - $39.99
This wine is 44% Merlot, 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 11% Petit Verdot.

Aroma - red fruit
Taste - red fruit, moderate tannins



Terlato Family Vineyards EPISODE 2006, Rutherford, CA - $150
This wine is a blend of 65% Cab Sauv, 28% Merlot, and 7% Petit Verdot.

Aroma - dark fruit, licorice
Taste - dark fruit, licorice, tobacco, strong tannins

This was D's favorite of this tasting!

Miner Family Winery, Oakville, CA - wine tasting


The concierge at Opus 1 referred us to this winery. We found out from our host Carol that the man is actually her husband!



Miner Family Winery Simpson Vineyard Viognier 2008, Madera, CA - $20 This wine is 100% single vineyard Viognier. Aroma - citrus, a little honeydew
Taste - apricot, a little salty

I like this wine.


Miner Family Winery Wild Yeast Chardonnay 2007, CA - $50
This wine is 100% Chardonnay. Its alcohol content is high at 14.4%.

Aroma - fruit, vanilla
Taste - buttery, tart end

Different than what I usually like.



Miner Family Winery Malbec 2007, Napa Valley - $50
This wine is 100% Malbec from the Stagecoach Vineyard.

Aroma - red fruit
Taste - tart fruit, soft tannins, long finish

I like this wine a lot.



Miner Family Winery Stagecoach Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Napa Valley, CA - $65
This wine is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Merlot
Aroma - black fruit
Taste - black fruit, tobacco, moderate tannins

I like this wine a lot, too.



Miner Family Winery Oracle Red Wine 2006, Napa Valley, CA - $90
This wine is also a single vineyard wine from the Stagecoach Vineyard. It is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Cabernet Franc, 17% Merlot, 5% Malbec, and 5% Petit Verdot, and contains 14.4% alcohol.

Aroma - red and black fruit
Taste - red and black fruit, black tea, strong tannins

Both D and I like this wine.