2010 Elizabeth Spencer Pinot Noir Rosé Sonoma Coast

2010 Elizabeth Spencer Pinot Noir Rosé Sonoma CoastI don’t really drink a lot of rosé. It’s only in contact with the skins for a few days so it has virtually no tannin to strengthen it’s flavor. Still, it lacks the crisp bite of a chardonnay or the sweetness of a chenin blanc. In general, this makes most rosé wines bland, with very light and sometimes indistinguishable scents and flavors.

The Elizabeth Spencer Pinot Noir Rosé was a different story.

The scent was light, but only because the predominant fruit I picked up on was the watermelon. Take a sip and another strong whiff and you’ll catch a light trace of strawberry and peach, not far off from the winemaker’s notes.

About mid-palate you can pick up on the grapefruit, and it finished off short and dry, like a lot of Rosé do. It would make a fantastic warm-weather wine and would go great with an antipasto platter, cold cuts or a salad (recommended recipe below). I’d score it at 89 points easily. [Read more...]

Deep Purple Zinfandel 2009

2009 Deep Purple ZinfandelDeep Purple Wines as a company does a very nice job at promoting the pop culture of wine. They’re fun, unique and definitely passionate about what they do. The label is very cool, and their website has some cool features such as their Deep Purple Brownie recipe.

As for the wine itself, it’s okay. It’s not nearly as complex as I expected, but has a strong fruity scent and taste, all the way to the mid-palate. It had a long finish, but was more dusty road than the “dusting of cocoa” from the winemaker’s notes. I haven’t seen any official scores on this vintage, but if I were important enough to score wines and be taken seriously, I’d give it 86 points.

I wouldn’t abandon the wine at the score, though. I find that a lot of under 90 point wines are not stand-alone drinkers, but still pair well enough with certain foods that they taste a heck of a lot better.

Pair it with a meat lovers pizza or spaghetti and meatballs, and you’ve gotten your $10 worth of wine and then some.

Winemaker’s notes:

“Scents of blackberry, black cherry, and plum with a touch of black pepper and clove. Jammy fruit from entry through mid-palate, finishing with wild berries and a dusting of cocoa.”

$10-12, available at Target and Wine.com.

2007 Ghost Block Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa, CA (Oakville – Rock Cairn Vineyard)

According to many reviewers, 2007 may be considered one of the greatest Napa Cabernet vintages of all time.  It was a very long growing season, and two hot spells combined to increase sugars and flavors.  What made it special is that these hot spells were immediately followed but unseasonably cool temps that kept the wines in balance.

Ghost Block is 100% cabernet sauvignon.  And while the wine is relatively young in terms of drinking (it can probably be aged for another 10 years easily).  We opened and decanted the wine for about 30 minutes.  When first opened, it had beautiful aromas of tobacco, dark fruit and hint of flowers.  When I first tasted it, I got blackberry, cherries and a little chocolate.  It was well balanced, and tasted wonderful.

What made the wine so unique is how much it changed in the 30 minutes while it was opening up.  The second taste was still full of dark fruit, but it developed an amazing caramel/chocolate finish.  It was like drinking a wonderful piece of candy.  The finish was long and smooth, and you almost felt you combined the power of a young cabernet with an elegant, delicate dessert.  Our table enjoyed three bottles of this wine

($450 total at the Restaurant).  Every bottle was the same, and they were all spectacular.  It’s pricey for everyday drinking, but was worth the money for entertaining Clients.

2007 Las Rocas Garnacha

2007 Las Rocas Garnacha

2007 Las Rocas Garnacha

Grenache wines are ripe and rich, with a great balance between fruity and acidic. While most people have enjoyed it in blends with Tempranillo, fewer layman spend significant face time with the grape in its stand-alone version.

When a grape makes as great of a wine as the Grenache, it’s almost always a win-win situation when picking up a bottle. But when you can bag a $10 version rated at 90 points by Wine Advocate, it’s hard to imagine passing up on a case full.

Las Rocas’ Garnacha (what they cal Grenache in Spain) is sourced from old Calatayud vineyards ranging in age from 70 to 100 years. It is a dark ruby wine with a scent of spices, cherries and black raspberries.

Even though the wine is rather young, it’s still one I would recommend decanting for at least a half hour before pouring. A fresh glass will taste okay, but after having some room to breath it really opens up with a deep, complex flavor combination with a surprisingly clean and long finish.

Overall, it’s a fun wine, it has just the right alcohol percentage (14.5%) and goes great with a number of dishes. Recommended pairings include Petit Provincal, Sweet Constantine, Banon and of course Sheperd’s Pie. If you want to give it a go, you can purchase it here.
- The Wine Fugitiveicon

2007 Martín Códax Albariño

I enjoy Spanish wines, especially with some of the types of food we cook around here. Oddly enough, I don’t spend as much time hunting down Spanish wines when I’m restocking the cellar. It’s usually an impulse purchase when I do pick them up, and this occasion was no different.

Martín Códax is a co-operative established in 1968. Now boasting over 550 members, the collective has over a thousand acres of vineyards, mostly located in the Salnés Valley in Rias Baixas.

The wine immediately stood out in color from the other wines at the local cellar because of it’s bright, straw-yellow color. After cooling it down to the right temperature, I was pretty impressed with the intense green apple, aromas. It’s not a dull smelling wine, nor is it overwhelming.

It was more smooth than crisp, which was perfect for pairing it with the asparagus and prosciutto risotto we had as an appetizer. Overall, it was a medium bodied wine that we carried through dinner and into the gathering room for conversation.

I could easily see myself keeping it around in the summer time for a lot of the light foods we eat when it’s hot outside. I don’t think we could pair it with many of the heavier winter time dishes we eat, and it really didn’t strike me as a seafood wine even though the winemaker suggests it on the label.

Oh, and did I mention it sell for under $15 a bottle? I couldn’t find a rating for the 2007 vintage, but I would easily give it an 89 points (if I were an important someone whose opinion was valued by magazines and Master Sommeliers the world over).

- The Wine Fugitive

2009 Finca La Linda Chardonnay

Chardonnay "Unoaked"

I’m not really a Chardonnay fan, and for a good reason… It upsets my stomach.

It is the oaky taste that makes consuming more than a glass or two disagree with my senses. Overall, Chardonnays are a beautiful, delicate wine, but aging them in oak just doesn’t sit well with me.

While I don’t recall the specific wine, my first “unoaked” Chardonnay wine was in the British Virgin Islands after my wedding. I loved the wine for all the reasons people love Chards, and I didn’t feel like I was going to get sick after my 3rd glass.

I have looked around for a few others since then with varying degrees of success. Tonight, while looking for a pairing for my risotto, I stumbled across this in the Argentina section.

Bottled by Luigi Bosaca, the Finca La Linda is smooth, but still has a nice bite if served at the right temperature. My first glass was a little to cold, and the wine was a bit understated. After letting the bottle warm up, I was really impressed.

It was fruity and crisp, with scents of pear, white peach and green apple. It was a great wine to pair with the tangy risotto, but just as good as a stand alone wine on the final two glasses. I would recommend it for any vegetable appetizer, but I really want to try it again with an asparagus and prosciutto risotto or maybe some grilled fish.

Overall, for under ten bucks, I would keep a case around for casual drinking. Which is pretty much all I do anyways….

Australia Is The Often Forgotten Land of Wine

Australia may not be a region that comes to mind when thinking of great wine, but the land from down under is the world’s fourth largest exporter of wine, ahead of the United States, and for good reason as this country continues to build on the success it showed in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Australians have also become very knowledgeable about wine as the country consumes twice as much wine per capita as the U.S. A wide variety of grapes are grown in this country, but Grange is often considered the best. Produced by the Penfolds winery, Grange first came onto the scene in 1952. However, Grange production does not meet its world-wide demand, so the wine is often expensive and at times hard to get. Recently, a bottle of the pre-release 1951 Grange sold at auction for $50,000, according to the New York Times. [Read more...]

Spain’s Albarino Is A Delight When Paired With Seafood

Spain is known for its red wines but this summer you might want to become acquainted with one of the country’s best white wines: Albarino.

Albarino is also grown in parts of Portugal and California but the Rias Baixas region of Spain is perhaps the best producer of this aromatic wine that provides notes of peaches, apples and lemons. High in acidity, the Albarino has been a favorite in Spain for many years and the country long ago discovered its beautiful pairing with seafood. [Read more...]

Portugal Is A Traditional Region Known For Complexity

Portugal has long been known for its dry reds but this ancient growing region also offers strong white wines making it one of the most wholistic wine producing countries and sometimes the most unknown.

Portugal is home to two different wine regions.  The northern regions of Bairrada and Douro tend to focus on top-end wines.  In the south, the Estremadura and Alentejo regions are also high in quality but produce more full flavored wines at more affordable prices.

The 2009 Luis Pato Maria Gomes Vinho ($10) hails from the Bairrada region of Portugal and is one of the best value wines to come from this country.  This wine offers a high acidity but also floral and pear-like tastes to give this wine a great complexity.

The 2008 Niepoort Redoma Douri Branco ($25) is a bit more expensive but worth the price.  A combination of varieties come together to delight the pallet with spices of marjoram and yuzu, but fruit and citrus are also present to give a nice acidity behind the spices.

The 2001 Quinta dos Roques Encruzado Dão offers a complex nutty taste followed by a limey finish.  This white wine will also offer a herb-like aroma.

The 2001 Niepoort Redoma Branco Douro is another white wine that has a nutty taste, but bright lemon and a hint of vanilla give it an added intensity.  Some have described this wine as having an oak-like finish with a slightly toasted edge.

These reds and whites are great examples of the complexity that Portugal offers.  Many of this country’s wines go great with meals because they offer something for everyone and are great to serve at a tasting party because they can give even the newest wine drinker a distinct taste to grab onto.

Price Is Right For Trying Chenin Blanc

The recession has cut prices on goods and services in nearly every industry, including wine, but the drop in wine prices has finally caught up to the Chenin Blanc.

Chenin Blanc offerings have recently become one of the most inexpensive, high-quality wines that offer a great value when out for a night on the town or looking for a bottle to compliment that special home-cooked meal.  This white wine has always been popular with wine professionals but is beginning to catch on with budget-minded wine lovers. [Read more...]