Wednesday, March 04, 2009

2004 Le Haut-Medoc d'Issan

I splashed decanted, and let it breathe for an hour. It appears this Cab/Merlot blend is the 3rd label from Chateau d'Issan. The nose is predominated by a dusty minerality over traces of earthy sour cherry. The palate is a wonderful juicy black fruit, blackberry leads the attack and there are some floral/forest hints on the finish. Balanced tannins and nice acidity that brings out the fruits. I'm a novice Bordeaux drinker, this wine was not as complex as some I've tried (like the 2003 Chateau Bernadotte Haut-Medoc or 2005 Chateau de La Dauphine Fronsac) but at $15 I'll buy more and do recommend it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

2007 Borie la Vitarèle Les Terres Blanches

This Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah blend is a very nice value from the Languedoc, France. I found for around $15. Dark color, the nose is a wonderful old-world style- dark fruit, spice & forest with a faint but lingering earthy, mushroomy presence. Flavors of dark ripe fruit and spicy hints are complimented by savory tannins and a wonderful mid-palate feel, great balance overall.
From the website
"Respect for the terroirs, respect for the wines : these are the master words of the family Izarn, owner of this domain implanted under the sun of the Languedoc, not far from Saint-Chinian. The cépages Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah which put together this grape harvest are exercised and vinified according to unsprayed agriculture.
Tannish but very balanced, it will satisfy the lovings of the Languedoc, looking for a generous and fattened up with sun red wine."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

2006 Louis Martini Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon

Pop and pour won't do this wine any favors, very tight on opening. My typical approach to everyday wines is to pour into a decanter and sample small pours as it catches some air. The nose is closed at first but 30 minutes in, the predominate cherry emerges. The cherry dominates the palate with an interesting transition from sweet to tart. Nice structure and tannins here and a decent finish. I'm liking this better than other Cabs I'm easily able to get in this range ($9-$12) like the J. Lohr 7 Oaks or the 2006 Colombia Crest Grand Estates (over oaked for me, earlier vintages were a favorite though). If you can get this for under $12 give it a try.

Wine Advocate, Dec 2008, 90 points:
"One of the finest bargains in California Cabernet Sauvignon must be Louis M. Martini's outstanding 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma. The good news is there are 140,000 cases produced. Fabulously sweet aromas of black currants, licorice, and cedar soar from the glass of this medium to full-bodied wine. With silky tannins as well as surprising concentration, depth, and texture, this 2006 should drink well for 8-10 years."

Winemakers notes:
The 2006 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon was crafted from several of Sonoma County’s most prestigious appellations and blended seamlessly to bring together the unique characteristics of each, creating a superbly balanced Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine offers many layers, featuring aromas and flavors of red cherry, blackberry and fresh sage with an underlying dry creek dustiness. Subtle herbal notes are complemented by additional layers of chocolate and vanilla, resulting in a complex, yet easy drinking, wine.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2006 Laetitia Reserve Pinot Noir

Mentioning the velvety Foxen 2007 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir in the previous post reminded me of the Laetitia Pinot Noir (from Arroyo Grande Valley) we had Christmas day.
Wine Enthusiast gave it 95 pts. I don't know about that but it is luscious, delicious and every synonym you can come up with for smooth, silky, soft, velvety...for $20 is this the top price to points deal?
Wine Enthusiast 95pts-
Laetitia’s best reserve ever. In a word, gorgeous. There’s a soft silkiness, a caressingly smooth mouthfeel that just seduces the palate into submission. Then the deliciousness sinks in, all red currants, cherries, mocha, licorice, pepper and smoke, set off with fine acidity and tannins. So compulsively drinkable, you can’t keep your hands off it. Best now through 2010.

Santa Ynez wine tasting- Dec 2008- Foxen and Zaca Mesa

My wife's off of work this week so we made a day trip to the Santa Ynez Valley. Beautiful weather and stunning views in the back country; sunny, 70 degrees, no wind.
We took the scenic route down Foxen Canyon to Zaca Mesa:
As one of the pioneers in the Santa Barbara County, started in 1972 and the first to plant Syrah in the county! Zaca Mesa was a training ground for many. Ken Brown was the first winemaker and later started Byron in Santa Maria Valley. Jim Clendenen and Bob Lindquist worked at Zaca Mesa before venturing out on their own to start Au Bon Climat and Qupé, respectively.
The tasting line up included:
  • 2007 Estate Z-Gris Rose- A Grenache rose with a dab of Mourvedre. Strawberry & citrus with a snap to it.
  • 2006 Z Cuvee- This is a family favorite (Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah) a great daily drinker that pairs with a wide range of food. Easy drinking, berry fruits with spicy tones and soft tannins.
  • 2005 Z-Three- The big brother of the Z Cuvee, this blend (Syrah, Mourvedre, and Grenache) more black fruit and tannins but a great mouthfeel.
  • 2004 Estate Syrah- Very nice; dark berries, cassis, spice.

We moved up the canyon to the venerable Foxen Winery (started in 1985) tasting barn. Crowded as I expected but polite and friendly folks taking turns rotating from the tasting bar to the patio.
As always the wines were outstanding, in particular:
  • 2007 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir- great nose, wonderful fruit- cherry with asian spice notes, creamy and velvety goodness.
  • 2005 Santa Ynez Cabernet Sauvignon- I always find the idea of a Cab from SY a bit odd, but this is quite good and ready to drink now. Very soft style, low tannins, 12% Merlot.
  • 2005 Range 30 West- A Claret style blend this has more structure than the Cab. Merlot(63%), Cabernet Sauvignon(25%), Malbec(8%) and Petit Verdot(4%). Ripe fruits, earth and smoke.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Wine Enthusiast's Top 100 Wines and Best Buys of 2008

Wine Enthusiast's Top 100 Wines of 2008
Wine Enthusiast's Best Buys of 2008

What you will find here are not necessarily the highest-scoring wines. Their numeric scores were just one factor in assembling this list. They also consider price, availability, newsworthiness and the X-factors: excitement, buzz.
You’ll find wines from 11 countries and more than 20 varieties, sparkling and still wines, table,dessert and fortified wines.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wine Spectator's Top 100 wines of 2008

Wine Spectator's Top 100 wines of 2008
Four major criteria used in selection:
* quality (represented by score)
* value (reflected by release price)
* availability (measured by case production or cases imported)
* and an X-factor they call excitement.
* But no equation determines the final selections: These choices reflect the editors' judgment and enthusiasm about the wines tasted.

2006 Ancient Peaks Zinfandel

95% Zinfandel with a touch of Petite Syrah. Ancient Peaks is a family-owned winery specializing in estate-grown wines from Margarita Vineyard, the southernmost vineyard in the Paso Robles AVA.
Big nose of dark fruit, spice and smoke. Let me say right now you will see references to smoke mentioned for the aroma and flavor profiles of this wine in every review you’ll see, well it’s true- it is a predominate characteristic . It is handled well though, and the caramel/maple hints play off the smokiness very nicely.
This wine gained notoriety for its structure and taste, well described by Wine Spectator below. But it is the amazing complexity and long finish of this wine that rocked me, for $12! It’s nice to see a Zin with the alcohol under 14%; I think both the structure and complexity benefit from that.

93 points Wine Spectator: "Supple and well-structured, yet appealingly briary, with smoky, peppery wild berry aromas and ripe, layered flavors of black cherry, sage and licorice that linger nicely. Drink now through 2012. 491 cases made. (Tasting Highlight 09/08) This is the second vintage of this Paso Robles Zin from winemaker Mike Sinor, formerly of Domain Alfred. Only 491 cases produced.
Winery notes: The 2006 Zinfandel offers rich aromas of red fruits with accents of brambleberry and toast. The palate is broad and jammy, unfolding with juicy flavors of boysenberry, raspberry, and blackberry. Hints of white pepper linger on the finish.
Ancient Peaks is the producer of 2006 Trader Joe's Reserve Petit Verdot another great value.