Monday, November 30, 2009

Girard Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Yet another wonderful wine from Girard. I have posted several other Girard wines and for the most part have been very good wines. This Sauvignon Blanc has the fruity nose expected in this varietal including aromas of pineapple, green apples and citrus, yet not as overpowering as some of the New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs. The palate is smooth with lots of apricot, lemon and grapefruit along with a touch of pepper on the back. This is a nice crisp wine that has great acidity and a nice long finish. If you are looking for a dry wine, this is it. We served this with Halibut topped with a lemon and caper sauce served with braised fennel. Was a great match. Robert Parker's Wine Advocate rated this 90 points and the Wine Spectator rated it 89 points. For our tastes, we would be slightly higher than 90. Named one of Robert Parker's "Fifty Super Domestic Wine Values." Great wine that retails for about $18. You just can't go wrong with a Girard wine.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fenicio Alicante 2008

This dark red, medium-bodied wine comes from the Alicante region in south eastern Spain along the Meditteranean Sea. Alicante is a region as well as a grape, although this wine is made from 100% Tempranillo, the same grape used to make wonderful Riojas. The winemaker described this un-oaked wine as earthy with some licorice flavors. Unfortunately, I picked up more old plum and leather with an unusual spice on the backend. The tannins were fairly mild and the finish was short. Overall, we were both disappointed with this wine. As the the wine opened, it actually got worse instead of better. I would pass on this next time. It retails for $11.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Zantho Zweigelt 2007

Last night we made a chicken tikka masala for dinner. The big question was what would you pair with this dish? My first thought would be a white such as a Gewurztraminer, a Viognier or maybe a Torrontes. Then we discussed reds. Would a bigger bodied Syrah be too much with the creaminess or perhaps a medium-bodied Rioja or similar style wine be better. Then the idea of a Rose crossed my mind. After surveying our stock of wines, a medium-bodied Zantho Zweigelt from Andau, Austria was chosen. Zantho was started in 2001 by Joseph Umathum and Wolfgang Peck. You will always recognize the Zantho label by the lizard, which can be found in this region. This ruby-red wine starts with an aroma of juicy red berries, mainly strawberries, cherries and raspberries along with some smokiness. The berries followed through on the palate with some clove and pepper on the back end. The tannins were light as was the acidity. Overall, this is a decent Zweigelt. Although some Zweigelts are drinkable at a young age, I would put this one away for another 1-2 years. The fruity flavors actually complimented the creaminess and spices (turmeric and garam masala) from the dish well. As with the Heinrich Zweigelt, this bottle had a glass stopper. The Zantho Zweigelt retails for $14.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Santa Ana Torrontes Reserve 2007

I previously posted the Malbec from Santa Ana and how good it was. When I saw this Torrontes, I had to give it a try. The Bodegas Santa Ana has been producing wines since 1891 in Mendoza Argentina. The 2007 Torrontes Reserve has a greenish gold hue and is made from 100% Torrontes grapes. It has a nice floral aroma of flowers and citrus, along with some pear and oak. I also thought it had a little too much alcohol coming through on the nose. On the palate, it had the apricot and white peach usually found in Torrontes wines. Additionally, there was some pear and red apple (not tart). Again, there was some mild oakiness along with a rubbing alcohol taste on the back end. I was a little turned off by the alcohol aroma and flavor. My wife liked it a little better than I did. This is not a highly acidic wine but is relatively dry. I would stick to the Luigi Bosca La Linda Torrontes (see prvious post) over the Santa Ana. The Santa Ana Torrontes Reserve 2007 retails for $10.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cantos Rodados Verdejo 2008

Spain just keeps putting out fantastic wines. Cantos Rodados, which means river stones (see label) in English, is made from 25 year old Verdejo vines that are grown on the banks of the Duero River in Northern Spain. This is a dry and cool area where the stones actually heat up during the day and then disperse the heat at night to the vines when the air temperatures have dropped. Wine drinkers sometimes confuse this pale yellow medium-bodied wine to Sauvignon Blanc. It has similar tropical fruit aromas, but is more flowery. The tropical fruit follows on to the palate with some lemon and peach flavors along some herbs. This is a wine that you really pick up the chalky, dusty flavors from the terroir. The true Spanish qualities are brought out in this Verdejo. The acidity was relatively high but was well covered with the tropical flavors. This is a great wine to serve with medium flavored cheeses, fish, seafood and some white meats. It would go really well with a vegetable side dish of asparagus, brussel sprouts or kale. You could serve it with a salad but would need to be careful that the salad dressing acidity and the wine acidity don't combat one another. For $10, this is a real bargain.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Umberto Cesari Sangiovese Riserva 2006

Last night was Italian night. The only thing missing was sitting in Italy overlooking the vineyards. My wife made her incredible lasagna (no ricotta cheese!!!) that is actually better than you will find in a restaurant. She lived and worked in Italy for two years and picked up the Italian cooking. Additionally, we had a wild baby arugla salad with our Felsina Raggiolo olive oil dressing that we picked up in Tuscany at the Felsina winery. This was paired with the Umberto Cesari Sangiovese Riserva 2006 from the Cesari family winery located in Emilia-Romagna in Northern Italy. This garnet-colored wine made of a blend of Sangiovese (85%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (15%). It has a nice medium-body that has wonderful cherry aromas along with some spring flowers. The sweetness from the cherries was combined with some black currant and some dusty/earthy Tuscan flavors. The wine was aged for 24 months in Slovenian oak which was integrated well. This Riserva was a little higher in acidity but was well balanced. The tannins were soft even with the Cabernet blend. This is a rather dry wine but had an enjoyable finish. With great food, nice wine and a wonderful family, it just doesn't get any better. I can't wait for our next Italian night. The Umberto Ceasri Sangiovese Riserva 2006 retails for about $19. Give this a try. This is a young Sangiovese that should age well, if you can hold off for a few years.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Marques de Caceres Rioja Crianza 2005

I previously posted the 2003 Crianza and was hoping for similar results. Although it was the same blend (85% Tempranillo and 15% Granacha Tinta and Graciano), it unfortunately didn't live up to the 2003. It had some subtle black and red berry aromas but on the palate the berries were not very exciting. It was very light bodied with some cherry and cranberry flavors. Although it was aged in both French and American oak, there was little oakiness to be smelled or tasted. The body and spiciness found in the 2003 did not exist in the 2005. The finish was very limited and left a bitter after-taste. The tannins were soft. We were both down on the 2005. There are much better Rioja's on the market.   Wine Spectator rated this 87.  This is a very generous rating.  The 2005 Crianza retails for about $14.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tierra De Luna Torrontes - Chardonnay 2008

My wife picked up this wine this past weekend to serve with a tray of appetizers. It was INCREDIBLE. This wine comes from Bodega Lurton in Mendoza Argentina. Twin brothers Francois and Jacques Lurton came to Mendoza in 1992 after having worked with their father and other wine and Champagne producers. Their father is renowned Bordeaux maker Andre Lurton. In 1996, they purchased their first plot of land and started growing vines. This particular 2008 wine is a blend of 80% Torrontes and 20% Chardonnay. If tasted blindly, you would probably not pick up on the Chardonnay. In fact I thought it reminded me of a Viognier and my wife thought Chenin Blanc. The coloring is almost as clear as water but the nose had incredible aromas of peaches and apricots along with some oranges and citrus. There were wonderful floral notes on top. The palate was full of fruits and mineral tastes from the terroir. Tierra de Luna, which translates into Land of the Moon, is a rocky region in the foothills of the Andes Mountains with almost volcanic looking ground. This is one of the nicest white wines we have had this year. And for $7, it is a STEAL!!!! It certainly does well with appetizers but the next time you serve a spicy dish, open a bottle of the Tierra de Luna Torrontes - Chardonnay 2008. For my next pot of chili, this will be the wine of choice.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Jacob's Creek

Recently, we were asked by a PR firm to taste and rate 3 red wines and 3 white wines from the South Australian winery Jacob's Creek. Previously, I posted a story about another South Australian winery, Henry's Drive, that incorporated the region's history into the winery's name and into the name of each wine produced. Well, Jacob's Creek has it's own fascinating history. In 1837, a Bavarian immigrant by the name of Johann Gramp arrived in South Australia after 4 months at sea and travelling nearly 12,000 miles. In 1847, he purchased land and planted his first vines which came from cuttings from Germany and in 1850 made his first wine. This was the very first commercial winery in the Barossa Valley. The small winery where he made his first wine still exists today at a site known as the Jacob's Creek Heritage Vineyard. The current day Jacob's Creek winery planted its first vines in 1973 and produced it's first vintage in 1976.

We started with the 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir. This ruby red colored wine started off with a tight nose with a small amount of cherries peeking through. Had I tasted this blindly, I would have thought it was strawberry Kool-Aid. It was very light with a sweetness of strawberries and some cherries. There was no structure to the body and had no signs of any tannins or oak from the aging process. I don't think any additional aging will save this wine. We were both very disappointed in this Reserve. It cannot compete with the Oregon or California Pinot Noirs. The 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir retails for $14.

Next, we tasted the 2008 Pinot Grigio. This light to medium bodied straw yellow wine started with fresh aromas of green apples, pear, honey (I eat every day!) and some citrus. On the palate, the fruit flavors of pear and lemon were crisp and refreshing. It is a semi-dry wine with not alot of acidity but well balanced for a nice finish. The 2008 Pinot Grigio was an enjoyable wine and would be a good choice if you are looking to pair with seafood, light cheeses, even some white meats. You might want to try this for Thanksgiving with the turkey. The 2008 Pinot Grigio is a great value wine that retails for $8. This was one of our favorites from this 6 bottle tasting. I am generally not a Pinot Grigio fan but this is a must try.

Third, we tasted the 2007 Reserve Chardonnay. This bright golden colored wine opened with overbearing nutty oak and buttery aromas. There was some lemon trying to escape. Reminded me of a butter cream cookie. On the palate, it was dry with gentle sweetness of melon, peach and a hint of pineapple. However, there was no finish to it and it left a bad after taste. Again, we were disappointed with this Chardonnay. For $14, we would pass on this next time.

The fourth of six wines we tasted was the 2006 Reserve Shiraz. This deep purple wine started off with a full black fruit aroma with some oakiness and spices. On the palate, this full-bodied wine was jammy with lots of plums, blackberries, and raisins along with some licorice and pepper. This opened up as the evening went on. The tannins were pretty smooth. It would pair nicely with the typical grilled meats, stews, or blue cheeses. I would also serve this with spicy Mexican (or New Mexico) foods or with some southern cajun dishes. A few more years of aging and this should really be nice. The 2006 Reserve Shiraz retails for $14.

Next to last was the 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This garnet colored full-bodied wine was a bit overpowering of oak. There was some cassis, blackberry and cedar on the nose. The taste was full of black fruit as well as some chocolate and a hint of vegetables on the back. Once again, there was a little too much oak for my preference and the tannins were a bit chewy. It was aged with French and American oak for 18-20 months. You might want to cellar this reserve as well. We probably used more for cooking than drinking. You could pair this with a rich steak, BBQ sauces, goulash, and possibly some spicy Italian red sauces. This was aged for nearly two years before bottling. We would rate this in the low to maybe mid 80 point range. The 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon retails for $14.

And finally, the 2008 Reserve Riesling. This greenish-yellow Riesling was the other favorite in our house. The citrus and flowery aromas were perfectly balanced along with fresh citrus flavors following through on the palate. There was some minerality and a little green apple flavors to finish it off. It had good acidity with a wonderful finish. Not the sweet Rieslings you might think about for a dessert wine. It could pair with the usual suspects of a white wine but I would definitely pair this with Asian or Thai dishes. My wife makes a great Morrocan chili that I will pair this with next time. The 2008 Reserve Riesling retails for $14. Another must try. Since this posting, the 2008 was given a 90 point rating by Wine Spectator and also ranked #73 in the Top Wines of 2009.

Overall, there were some disappointments and some unexpected winners. These were our first bottles from Jacob's Creek and we will likely go back and try some older vintages to see how they have aged. The next time you are out buying wine and not sure what to try, pick up some Jacob's Creek. Would love to hear your feedback.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Silverado Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

We were introduced to this wine by our neighbors this past weekend. The Silverado Winery was started by Ron and Diane Miller in 1981 in the Stags Leap region of Napa, CA. The Bordeaux style blend for this Cabernet Sauvignon is 83% Cabernet, 8% Merlot, 3% Petite Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc, and all of the grapes for this wine were harvested from the family-owned estate vineyards. This dark purple wine has explosive aromas of jammy fruit including plum, cherry and currant followed by some hints of tobacco and smokey oak. On the palate, this full-bodied cabernet opens with wonderful black fruit flavors of blackberries and black cherries with some black tea and pepper in the middle and some licorice (just happened to have a Twizzler out of my sons Halloween bag) on the back. The oak was subtle and the tannins were rather soft for such a big and young Cabernet. The grapes were aged mostly in French oak (86%), along with American oak (14%), for 17 months. It is an extremely dry wine and has a nice long finish. We did not decant this, but I strongly recommend opening this wine an hour before serving. As the evening went open, it did open up to an enjoyable wine. I look forward to trying this wine again. However, I would probably cellar this wine for another 5 years if possible. This will pair nicely with your grilled steaks. The one drawback is that it retails for $46, which is too high for this wine compared to other top Cabernets. Give the Silverado Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 a try if you can find it cheaper. Robert Parker's Wine Advocate rated this 89 point and I would agree.
Cabernet Sauvignon on Foodista