Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Grooner Gruner Veltliner 2009

Now this is an eye catching label.  "Perfect for Parties, Great with Food, and Picnics Too" is shown in three boxes on the label.  And the young woman on the label "grooning" is actually the label designer, Toni Silver.  This wine was produced by Meinhard Forstreiter from the Kremstal region in northern Austria along with Monika Caha who was looking to create a wine that could be marketed specifically to the US wine drinkers.  I think she got our attention.  This wonderful crisp and refreshing 100% Gruner Veltliner starts off with a very fruity aroma of pears, apples, lemon zest and a peppery mango.  The flavors were just as robust as the nose with sour green apples that I used to eat from my grandparents trees, pineapple, citrus and a flowery honey along with a hint of pepper.  The acidity was a little overwhelming but still a nice crisp summer wine.  There was a small amount of bitterness on the back end.  I would probably not take this to a picnic unless you could leave it in the ice box with the beer.  This needs to stay cold.  We served it with marinated mahi-mahi tonight and it was a good pairing.  With the tartness, give this a try with an Asian / Thai inspired dish.  The incredible sauces from these dishes would be a great match for this wine. Would, of course, go well with other seafood or shellfish dishes.  The 2009 Grooner Gruner Veltliner retails for about $12. Give this a try.  I want to thank Constance (Brand Action Team) for sending me this to taste and review.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ruffino Il Ducale Toscana 2006

I have had my share of Ruffio Chianti wines over the years, but have never had this blend. Ruffino winery in Tuscany has been producing wines for over 130 years.  The Il Ducale is a wonderful blend of 60% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot and 20% Syrah.  This burgundy colored medium-bodied wine has a nice bouquet of fresh blackberries, black currants, plums and plenty of earthiness that I look for in Italian wines.  Every sip you take, you get a nose that only Italian wines can give.  If you love Italian wines like we do, you know the aroma.  The blackberry and currant flavors carry over onto the palate along with lots of raisins, cherries, and some notes of pepper and chococolate with a little toasted oak on the back.  The flavors stay with this wine for a nice finish and has relatively soft tannins.  The Syrah certainly brings some nice spiciness to it.  We served this with a skirt steak grilled over a wood fire.  As you know, skirt steak is a thin cut of beef and is very tender and juicy if cooked properly.  A full bodied wine would be too much for this meat.  This would also go well with pork, veal or chicken.  Even if you are not a Chianti drinker, give this blend a try.  You could hold onto this a little longer, but it is certainly ready to be enjoyed now.  The 2006 Ruffino Il Ducale retails for about $14.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Last week's 92 degrees got me thinking about some new summer wines. What would be a nice light-bodied, crisp, refreshing white wine that could be enjoyed as an aperitif on the patio or served with dinner? I have had other wines by the Chilean Vina Los Vascos-Peralillo winery, but never the Sauvignon Blanc. A more recognizable name on the label is Domaines Barons De Rothschild (Lafite) who manages this property and supervises in the winemaking. Just like their great French wines, this is the perfect summer wine. The color is very clear and brilliant with just a hint of green. The pineapple, lime, grapefruit and lemon aromas just explode from the bottle when the cork is popped. The fruits don't stop there as they hit the palate along with some mango and granny smith apple on the mid palate and green herbs and a small amount of stone on the back end. The Central Valley is one of the largest grape regions in Chile which is nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains. This would be the perfect wine for relaxing along the Ocean, or on the patio. It has a well balance acidity and crisp refreshing flavors that last longer than the wine. I highly recommend this wine. BUT, be sure to keep it cold. The 2008 Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc was given a 90 point rating by Wine & Spirits. This is a steal at $10.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ballentine Vineyards Petite Sirah 2006

Another very nice Petite Sirah that was provided by Ballentine Vineyards for review.  The Ballantine Vineyard dates back more than 100 years between the Pocai family and the Ballentine's.  Today, Betty and Van Ballentine run the winery.  In 1992, they reopened the winery and released their first vintage.  Previously, the family had sold grapes to major wineries including Mondavi, Rombauer, Caymus, Rosenblum and Ravenswood.  The 2006 Petite Sirah was harvested from the Fig Tree Vineyard in St. Helena which took its name from two old fig trees located on the eastern edge of the vineyard.  This big and bold wine has a dark red color with aromas of blackberries and blueberries, along with some black pepper and a subtle hint of oak.  On the palate, there were lots of dark jammy fruits of black cherries, blackberries, mullberries and plums.  Then in the mid palate, a sweetness kicked in of raspberry and bing cherries.  The end was finished off with some pepper and spices from the rack, along with a minimal amount of oak.  The wine was barrelled for 16 months in French oak barrels, of which 15% was new French oak.  The tannins were pretty firm and, although the alcohol content is 14.7%, it did not overpower the wine.  Overall, a nice petite sirah that needs some more time in the cellar.  A great wine for the upcoming grilling season. Would also pair nicely with a beef stew or goulash. Only 300 cases of the 2006 Petite Sirah Fig Tree Vineyard was produced.  It retails for $35, which in my opinion is a little too high for this wine.  Wine Enthusiast gave the 2006 vintage a 91 point rating.  We enjoyed this wine and would recommend you picking it up too.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Rancho Zabaco Zinfandel 2006

Recently while stocking up at BevMax, the distributor for Rancho Zabaco's Sonoma Heritage Zinfandel was pouring samples.  I picked up a few bottles for an upcoming get together with some of our friends.  This wine is a full-bodied zinfandel with big blackberry aroma along with some spices from the spice rack.  The flavors were very fruit forward with juicy cherries and blueberry. On the mid-palate is some earthy spices along with a hint of chocolate and just the right amount of oakiness on the back end. The tannins were relatively smooth and the flavors were long lasting but with a few extra years this should evolve into a really nice wine.  Like many of the CA Zins, it has a 15% alcohol content.  Our friends were not Zinfandel drinkers previously so I was concerned how it would go over.  It received nothing but good reviews.  It really hit the spot with the chocolate dessert.  This would pair nicely with grilled meats or stews, and a nice chocolate dessert.  Be sure to decant this wine for 1-2 hours. Overall a nice Zinfandel for $12. Wine Enthusiast rates this 89 points, and I would have to agree.