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Types With One Eye Shut

December 27, 2007
Well folks, in addition to the fact that I can't access the internet from my laptop at my parents' house, I, like the WineHiker last year, have been yet again struck with iritis. I'm walking around the house with two pairs of sunglasses and sitting in dark rooms when possible. I'm sure Russ can commiserate with me, it's not fun!

So what hope I had of fixing my laptop and blogging more this week seems to be fading, and I will hope to be back asap with both eyes in order.

I am drinking some good wine, and some okay wine, and some not so good wine, so I do have lots to report on, and am much looking forward to the bottle of 25th Anniversary Roederer Brut Sparkling wine that I have for New Year's Eve. Hopefully you've got something delicious stashed away to celebrate with as well!

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2007

I hope everyone that celebrates Christmas today has a wonderful holiday, with lots of good cheer (wine!)! Be safe, and may you and your families enjoy the season.
And I hope Santa was good to you!

More from the Rockpile

December 21, 2007
Many of the wines that came in my most recent Mauritson club shipment were two things: one, they were single vineyard Zinfandels, and two, they were labeled under the name Rockpile Winery, which is still made by Mauritson. They were also more expensive than previous Mauritson offerings, making me wonder if Mauritson is becoming a
"tiered" winery, offering their "special" selections under one name and keeping the more affordable line under another?

This botttle was a 2005 Rockpile Winery Rockpile Ridge Vineyard Mauritson Zinfandel. It cost $27, had a real cork closure and weighed in at 15.6% alcohol by volume. I served it with beef straganoff, cheddar biscuits, and broccoli. A little too big for the meal, serve it with a steak, bqq, or maybe a marinated pork loin.

On the nose I found vanilla, blackberry, and blueberry. The wine was very dark and the berries jumped out of the glass. In the mouth there were berries, brown sugar, vanilla, pie flavors, and specifically blueberries that showed after some time in the glass. Overall the wine was a bit tannic, it could definitely use a bit more time to settle in the bottle, so I will keep the other bottle of this hanging around for another year or so. As always, I'll report back in then with an update on its condition!

Fire Roaring

December 20, 2007
I don't normally associate Riesling with a wine I would drink while sitting in front of the fireplace, but that is exactly what we did. At least I get a little credit for serving a hearty cheese fondue in front of said fire, which is why we needed a white wine!

Riesling is what started my love affair with wine, but I haven't seen a lot of it coming out of California. I gather the growing conditions aren't exactly ideal and it works better in colder climates. But there are some wineries who dabble with it in CA, and Nelson Family Vineyards is one.

We purchased this bottle of 2005 Nelson Family Vineyards Riesling for around $17 when we were visiting Sonoma in 2006. It started to occur to me the other night that I probably want to clear out the remaining few older white wines that are hanging around in my cellar. It had a real cork closure and clocked in at 12.1% alcohol, with only 184 cases made.

On the nose the wine displayed honey, lemon, and orange blossoms. It smelled sweet. In the mouth I found honey with a bit of a citrus twinge, lemon, and orange blossoms. The wine was quite smooth and I'm glad we decided to haul it out of the basement, I'm not sure how much longer it would have been okay down there. This was a very different Riesling, probably, in my opinion, due to the fact that it was grown in CA. It did have the floral and citrus that I expect from a Riesling, but it wasn't the dry wine that I've come to expect from this grape.

Zin Zin Zin Petite Sirah

December 19, 2007
In this bottle of wine, I found what Petite Sirah is often used for: a blending grape in Zinfandel to add some depth and balance. The bottle was a 2004 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfadel, and it was blended with 18% Petite Sirah. I picked this bottle up at Ridge for $33, it clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure.

On the nose I found vanilla, blackberries, oak, cherry syrup, and cedar. I believe that this bottle was my choice from Ridge, and I remember being really pleased with the nose on it then, as I am now. In the mouth, flavors of blackberry and pie dominated, with a bit of cherry thrown into the mix. Overall the wine was very fruity and fairly smooth, though it could probably hang out for another year or two, or maybe until this summer where it would make an excellent wine to have with bbq ribs.

mmmmm, ribs.......mmmmmmm, wine......

Hip and Young?

December 18, 2007
*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher as a press sample.

Are you between the ages of about 21 (let's keep this legal folks!) and 35, give or take? Are you interested in wine, but find it hard to approach? Are you female? Do more lengthy tomes like the Oxford Companion to Wine appear to be way more information than you are ready to digest? Would you like a quick guide to the basics of wine that's geared toward you? Then this book was written for you.

Hip Tastes: The Fresh Guide to Wine is a newly released book by Courtney Cochran. I fall clearly and squarely into the age group that this book is attempting to reach, mainly younger females. Its pop culture references such as rap stars drinking Cristal (or not so much anymore I guess) and calling parents "rents" flow through the book and its short, snappy titles appeal to those with not lengthy attention spans.

The chapters are brief, offering just a glimpse into each aspect of wine, tasting, hosting a party, shopping, etc. This is definitely a book for the beginner who wants a working knowledge of wine in order to feel comfortable asking a few questions in a restaurant or to confidently pick up a bottle or two at the local wine store. Overall, the 252 pages is a light and breezy easy read, taking me a flight to St. Louis to peruse.

If you are looking for an exhaustive resource for every nuance of the wine world, you aren't going to be happy with this book. However, if you want an easy to read, approachable book stuffed with tidbits about the wines you are most likely to encounter at parties and restaurants as a young female, then this is a book for you.

Dinosaur in a Bottle?

December 17, 2007
I purchased this monster of a wine from WineQ for $19.99 (free shipping!). The wine was a 2003 Deerfield Red Rex. The bottle had a real cork closure and clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume. It's a blend of everything and the kitchen sink, made up of 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Syrah, 22% Merlot, 8% Cab Franc, 4% Sangiovese, and 4% Malbec.

On the nose of the wine I found currants, raisins, spice, and oak. Overall the aroma was smoky, tinged with alcohol. This is a bottle that either needs to air for a bit, so decant, at least an hour before you want to drink or keep this one around for a few more years, I think it could benefit from some bottle aging.

In the mouth there was dark chocolate, blackberries, and spice. The wine was much fruitier than I expected based on the nose, I thought this would mostly be a spicy, leathery type of wine. Instead, after an hour or so, the flavors were fruity and not nearly what I had anticipated.

Next time, I would decant, and then serve it with food. Perhaps a lighter meat dish, a roasted chicken or maybe beef stroganoff. But definitely let this monster breathe before drinking!

Round-up: WBW #40 Que Sirah Sirah

December 14, 2007
Welcome to the round-up of WBW #40-Que Sirah Sirah. I’m very pleased to have been the hostess for this month’s iteration of WBW. I must of course give thanks to Lenn of Lenndevours for his creation of WBW over 3 years ago and for selecting my theme for this month.

I sent you off in search of a bottle of Petite Sirah or Durif, any bottle of your liking, as Petite Sirah is one of my favorite varietals. We had an amazing number of participants, especially given that this is such a busy time of year. I’d like to thank everyone for participating.

We had 54 blogs participate, including at least 14 who participated for the first time. Bloggers joined this WBW from Australia, Canada, England, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United States. Even one blogger whose blog focuses exclusively on Petite Sirah joined us! Overall, 78 bottles were reviewed. Wines came from Israel, Mexico, Australia, Chile, and the US.

Onto the reviews!

Julian of Full Pour was the first participant this month, joining us with a 2000 Morris Durif from Australia. Sadly he wasn't entirely pleased with his choice, finding it to be a bit lacking in balanced flavors, but thought perhaps it might be better with food. His choice wasn't totally without merits though, head on over to Full Pour for Julian's full review.

Over at Enobytes, Pamela participated in WBW for the very first time. She chose the 2005 "39 Degrees" Lake County Petite Sirah from Cecchettti Wine Company. Pamela was also disappointed with her choice, finding it to have a pleasant nose, but no follow through on the palate. Sorry Pamela, wish you had found one you loved! Visit Enobytes for her review.

Another first time participant, Joe of 1 Wine Dude, was our first PS success. Joe found a 2003 Stag's Leap Winery Napa Valley Petite Sirah, and reviewed it for us, despite the fact that he doesn't normally review wines! He tells us to "take the Leap and pair this one with grilled bison." You can find his review over on 1 Wine Dude.

Professor Bainbridge of Professor Bainbridge on Food and Wine found time during finals to review a bottle of PS for this WBW. He chose a 1997 Behrens and Hitchcock Napa Valley Old Vines Petite Sirah. He said that this one could age for at least another ten years but his description makes it sound delicious right now. I only wish my law professors had been cool enough to have wine blogs. His full review is available at Professor Bainbridge on Food and Wine.

We were lucky enough to be joined by El Jefe and the staff of Twisted Oak Winery for WBW, with a review of not only a Twisted Oak 2005 Petite Sirah but also a Lucchesi 2004 Lodi Petite Sirah, and a Pinot Noir (I think someone got a little confused about the theme!). They did an impromptu blind tasting on Tuesday afternoon, where the staff correctly identified the Twisted Oak PS. Head on over to El Bloggo Torcido to read all the details of their tasting.

Next up is another Jeff, from Indiscriminate Ideas. After an exhaustive search (really, he went to 5 shops and even checked up on the options offered to him in CellarTracker before settling on a bottle!) he picked up his first ever bottle of PS, a 2003 Markham Vineyards Napa Valley Petite Sirah. He suggests PS as a perfect cold, snowy day wine, and was pleased with his bottle, even though he doesn't favor "big" reds. You can read his whole review over at Indiscriminate Ideas.

Goofy Girl, of, appropriately enough, the blog Goofy Girl, is another first time WBW participant. She got her husband in on the act and they reviewed the same wine as Pamela of Enobytes, a 2005 "39 Degrees" Petite Sirah. However, she had a totally different opinion of the wine, loving it, and pronouncing it a definite rebuy. Visit Goofy Girl for such descriptors as "a bite of strawberry shortcake while smelling a fine cigar...."

Vinquire jumped into their very first WBW with a bang, tasting the most Petite Sirahs of any blog! They reviewed 9 Petite Sirahs/Durifs, but sadly came to the conclusion that it "doesn't stand on its own as a classic," but they seemed to have a great time anyway! Out of their nine wines, the two favorites were the 2004 McDowell Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountains Durif and the 2004 Storrs Petite Sirah, also from Santa Cruz. Read their reviews of all 9 wines over at Vinquire.

We have another first time participant, Hank of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, who also brought out the big guns for his first WBW and tasted 3 Petite Sirahs! He chose the 2003 Ehrhardt Petite Sirah, the 2004 Earthquake Petite Sirah, and the 2005 Twisted Oak Petite Sirah. His winner was clearly the Twisted Oak, with the Earthquake being the loser. Head on over to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook (wow that's a mouthful) for his full review.

Sean of More is Less is also joining us for his very first WBW! He found a bottle of 2004 Carmen Reserve Petite Sirah from Chile, our first Chilean wine of this WBW. Now this sounds like my kind of PS...violets, dark chocolate, vanilla, dessert in a glass! Sean terms it worthy of a rebuy. You can read his review over on More is Less. I'm happy he could participate as I understand PS is lacking in availability up North in Canada!

And yet another first timer! Loweel, over at The PSychos' Path, a blog devoted entirely to Petite Sirah, joined this very appropriate for his blog, WBW. For this particular event he reviewed the 2004 Concannon Limited Release Petite Sirah, the 1999 Lorca Napa Valley Petite Sirah, and the same 2004 Earthquake Petite Sirah that Hunter Angler Gardener Cook reviewed, though with much different results. See his full reviews over at The PSychos' Path, his coreviewer's review of the 2004 Parducci "True Grit" Petite Sirah, and also make sure to check out his post on Menu for Hope prizes that involve PS!

Sensing a theme here yet, beyond the whole PS thing? Amy of West Coast Wine Country Adventures joins us for her very first WBW as well! It took her several bottles before she could find one she would like to recommend, but she persisted and came up with a most interestingly labeled and named wine. She drank the 2004 Waltzing Bear "Bud" Petite Sirah from French Camp Vineyard in San Luis Obispo County. Head on over to West Coast Wine Country for her review!

I believe Darby is yet another first time WBW participant, or at least, I don't see any evidence on Vinodiversity of past participation...In any case, Darby from Australia chose, appropriately enough, an Australian Durif. The bottle was a 2005 Vale Durif. Darby pronounces it "positively elegant" and "reminiscent of cool-climate Shiarz. Visit Vinodiversity for the full review and some pairing suggestions!

Sue of Sue Courtney's blog of Vinous Ramblings joined WBW after a forced 2 month hiatus due to her inability to find the previous two months' theme wines in New Zealand. She feared she would not be able to participate this month, but fell into a stroke of luck when a fellow blogger visiting NZ brought a Petite Sirah! Sue tasted the 2005 Four Vines "The Heretic" Petite Sirah from Paso Robles and seems to have absolutely loved it. See her full review over at Sue Courtney's blog of Vinous Ramblings.

Next up is David of the Winebaer. David dove into the depths of his own cellar and produced a long hidden bottle. He chose a bottle of the 2001 Eaglepoint Ranch Petite Sirah from Mendocino. Although he liked the wine, PS isn't his style of wine, and he didn't think he could see himself enjoying more than a glass at time, though he thought a large piece of red meat might help its cause! Read his review over at the Winebaer.

Another blogger, Dale of Drinks Are On Me, chose what's shaping up to be the most chosen bottle of this WBW. It must be the name! Dale also went with the 2005 "39 Degrees" Lake County Petite Sirah. Like Pamela of Enobytes, Dale was less than impressed with this PS. He paired it with a hamburger, and enjoyed his hamburger more than the wine, unfortunately. Visit Drinks Are On Me for his full review!

A second time WBW participant, Eddie of OeNo! Not Another Wine Blog...(great name by the way!) picked a bottle of the 2005 Rosenblum Cellars Petite Sirah Heritage Clones. I think I may have found a PS convert in Eddie, after an initial shock at finding pepper on the nose of a wine, he ultimately decided the blackberry and coffee flavors were delicious and the wine was a winner. Head on over to OeNo! Not Another Wine Blog... for his review!

Edward of Wino Sapien jumped in for this month's WBW with an Australian Durif. Edward's wine choices always sound lovely, and I wish I could find more of them here in the US! Although he finds PS too sweet in general, he was able to appreciate the bottle of 2002 Stanton and Killeen Durif he found. I love the description of the wine as a "sledgehammer." Read his full review over on Wino Sapien.

Michael of A Food and Wine Blog joins us for his first WBW! Michael is a rather local blogger to me, hailing from Baltimore, and I'm happy to have found his site through WBW! He chose a 2005 Vinum Cellars PETS Petite Sirah, which he found to be not only a good wine, but a good cause as some of the profits go to local animal shelters. A first in a PS description, he found buttered toast in his wine!. Visit A Food and Wine Blog to read his review.

Over at A Passionate Foodie, Richard went rummaging in his cellar and came back out with the 2003 Sean Thackrey Sirius Petite Sirah from Mendocino. Richard's pockets are a bit deeper than mine, clearly, the wine ran him $70!! He absolutely loved this bottle of wine and it sounds right up my alley as well. Head on over to A Passionate Foodie to read his review and his review of the 2000 Sean Thackrey Orion.

John of Anything Wine, who just switched his platform and came out with a snazzy new layout, is also a first time WBW participant. John drank a bottle of the 2005 Peltier Station Petite Sirah, that he picked up from a local shop after a tasting. It sounds like I've found yet another PS convert among John, clearly my evil plot is working. He very much enjoyed his PS and you can read his review over on Anything Wine.

Over at the Wine Scamp, Andrea tasted a bottle of the 2005 Peirano Estate Vineyards "Heritage Collection" Petite Sirah. And based on her drool worthy dinner that she paired it with, I certainly wouldn't mind being a guest for dinner at her house! Her wine choice was "all minty blueberry madness" and it seems to me to be a toss up between the wine and dinner for what sounds more delicious. Check out her review over on Wine Scamp.

Then there's me. I reviewed 4 Petite Sirahs/Durifs that I served at a blind tasting for our friends. It was supposed to be 5, but sadly one of the bottles was corked. Our favorites of the evening were the 2003 Connor Park Durif from Australia and the 2004 Twisted Oak Petite Sirah from Lodi. You can read my full post and see pictures of my dining room on my blog, Wannabe Wino.

Carol at Celebrate Wine also brought out the big guns for this WBW. She tasted 4 different Petite Sirahs. Carol chose the 2004 Foppiano Petite Sirah, the 2004 Concannon Limited Release Petite Sirah, the 2002 Barkan Petite Sirah, and the 2005 Huntington Petite Sirah. Phew, quite the line up! Overall her favorite by far was the Huntington, read all about her experience on Celebrate Wine.

Brooklynguy, the host of last month's WBW came out for this month as well, despite the fact that PS is not quite his thing! He chose the 2006 Fleur North Coast Petite Sirah. Although he prefers other wines, he was able to appreciate it, and has grudgingly agreed to try another with soul food! Read his full review over on Brooklynguy's Wine and Food Blog.

Over on McDuff's Food and Wine Trail, David chose a bottle of 2004 Trinitas Cellars "Old Vine" Petite Sirah from Lodi. David is another blogger who is not so big on Petite Sirah, but was willing to try it again for WBW. Sadly, the bottle didn't do anything to change his opinion on Petite Sirah but his bottle sounded pretty good to me! Check out his review over on McDuff's Food and Wine Trail.

Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20 has excellent taste, and chose one of the bottles that I did, a 2004 Twisted Oak Petite Sirah. Dr. Debs and I often tend to like similar wines, I've noticed our Qs over at WineQ tend to be identical. And like me, she loved this wine, describing it as "a palate of plummy richness with notes of fig." Head on over to Good Wine Under $20 to read her full review.

Farley of Behind the Vines and Wine Outlook was delighted with the PS theme and did a blind tasting of two wines from her new gig over at Rosenblum Cellars. She chose the 2006 Rosenblum Cellars Heritage Clone Petite Sirah and a barrel sample of 2006 Rosenblum Cellars Patio Vineyard Petite Sirah. You'll have to read her blog at Behind the Vines to discover the results and learn about Rosenblum PS.

Our next review comes from Jill of Domaine547, where a 2003 Saracina Petite Sirah from Mendocino was her choice. She thought the wine was a bit lacking for the price tag, but definitely wouldn't say no to future vintages and other offerings from Saracina. Head on over to Domaine547 to read her full review.

I think Russ, the Winehiker, just might sweep this WBW for most dramatic, hilarious, and over the top post. Chandler Bing and wine? Who woulda thunk. Russ chose the 2004 EOS Reserve Petite Sirah, and the one tidbit I will share is "Oh. My. Gawd." Check out his highly entertaining review over on Winehiker Witiculture.

Andrew of Rouge and Blanc chose a 1998 Guenoc Petite Sirah from the North Coast. Not quite the oldest bottle making a WBW appearance, but almost! Andrew found this bottle to still be quite youthful, having stood the test of time, and in his analysis, probably not optimal storage conditions. Andrew also presents a nice history of PS. Visit Rouge and Blanc to read his full review.

Serge the Concierge, the French Guy from New Jersey, tasted a bottle of the 2005 Vinum Cellars PETS Petite Sirah, the same bottle as Michael of A Food and Wine Blog. Serge also appreciated the donation made to local shelters for the purchase of this wine. He found it to be a "good, decent wine" for the price. Head on over to Serge the Concierge for his review.

Jim Eastman over at Music & Wine rejoins WBW after a long hiatus and chose what sounds like an absolutely delicious bottle of PS. He picked the 2004 C G diArie Petite Sirah from Lodi. Jim notes that he would have loved to taste the wine after 90 minutes or even 2 or 3 hours, but it sounds like my house where wine simply doesn't last that long! Read his full review over on Music and Wine.

Derrick from An Obsession with Food found himself in the unusual position of getting in on a WBW this month before it was over. He chose a bottle of the 2004 Parducci "True Grit" Petite Sirah from Mendocino. Derrick found the wine to be lightweight and subtle, unusual for a Petite Sirah, but an excellent sounding bottle nonetheless. You can find his review over on An Obsession with Food.

Jack and Joanne of Fork and Bottle, who will host WBW next month, took this month's theme as an opportunity to test their interest in 2 bottles of PS. They chose the 2002 Switchback Ridge Peterson Family Vineyard Petite Sirah and the 2002 Carver Sutro Palisades Vineyard Petite Sirah. Both seemed more impressed with the Switchback, but Jack wasn't blown away by either bottle. Read their full review over on Fork and Bottle, and make sure to watch for the January WBW announcement!

Andrew of Spittoon joined us from England, but sadly his first choice of an Australian Durif was not delivered on time. Luckily, he found another PS in a pinch, the 2005 L A Cetto Petite Sirah from Baja, Mexico. It rated fairly well on his site, and seems like an excellent value, looks to be just over $10 US? Head on over to Spittoon to read the full write-up.

Next up is Tim of Winecast. Tim is a fellow fan of PS and was pleased with this month's theme. He chose two bottles to review, the 2004 Foppiano Vineyards Petite Sirah from the Russian River Valley and the 2005 Peltier Station Winery Petite Sirah. Tim was a big fan of the Peltier and after reading several reviews now, I think I will have to pick some of it up myself. Check out his review of both wines over on Winecast.

Joe of Joe's Wine is another PS skeptic, having never tasted a bottle he liked. This WBW allowed him quite a few firsts, an Aussie Durif and a wine from Mexico, the second bottle of Mexican wine so far (and the same bottle as Andrew from Spittoon)! He chose the 2004 L.A. Cetto Petite Sirah from Baja, Mexico and the 2005 Deen de Bortoli Vat 1 Durif from Australia. I don't think I've made a total PS convert out of Joe, but both bottles scored well on his scale! Read his full review over on Joe's Wine.

Over on Vinewords, Cass chose the 2003 Beringer Single Vineyard Tuttle Ranch Petite Sirah that she received in her latest club shipment. Cass is another first time WBW participant and was not very familiar with PS, but very much enjoyed her choice. Head on over to Vinewords for her review.

Another first timer, Shea of Just Grapes (who is a law student, like I used to be, and I don't envy her!) joined us in her first month of blogging. Shea chose the 2003 Earthquake Petite Sirah from Lodi. She fell in love with PS on a trip to Napa and seems to have hunted all over Vancouver, BC for every available bottle (a city I love that we visited on our honeymoon!). Shea enjoyed this bottle, but found it a bit overpriced. Check our her full review on Just Grapes.

Diane over at Wine Lover's Journal chose a bottle of 2005 Courtney Benham Petite Sirah from Paso Robles. Her description makes me want to run out and buy this wine that she terms "BERRYLICIOUS." However, she does suggest serving it with something other than pork casserole. Visit Wine Lover's Journal for her review.

Well, Jeff over at Good Grape may win for strangest post title with "Even a Blind Squirrel....Wine Blogging Wednesday." In addition to his title, he reviewed two bottles for this WBW, the 2006 McManis Family Vineyards Petite Sirah and the 2005 Jewel Petite Sirah, both from Lodi. For a good review of wine shopping and squirrels, visit Jeff at Good Grape.

(Yes, I'm starting to get punchy at about 40 some odd reviews in!)

Over on Wine Blogging Wednesday, Susan, posting as Sonoma33, shared a review of the 2004 Carver Sutro Petitie Sirah. Susan pronounces the bottle one of the best Petite Sirahs she has ever had and she can't wait to share a bottle with family and friends over Christmas. Head on over to Wine Blogging Wednesday for her full review.

Mike of Wicker Parker (love his slogan by the way, "Points on wine, without the points") chose a bottle of the 2005 Elizabeth Spencer Special Cuvee Petite Sirah from the North Coast. Mike also came out of his comfort zone to participate in WBW, and recommends this bottle to those of us who love PS, but it's just not for him. Read his thoughtful review over on Wicker Parker.

The Corkdork picked a bottle of the 2001 Lolonis "Orpheus" Petite Sirah that he received as a gift. Unfortunately, it did not live up to his expectations based on previous experiences with Lolonis Zinfandels and he can't recommend it to us. You can read his full review over on the Corkdork.

Tim over at Cheap Wine Ratings also chose the 2006 McManis Petite Sirah and loved it, giving it 90 points on his scale. Oddly enough, he's drawn a connection between WOW (World of Warcraft for those who aren't up on their massively multiplayer virtual worlds) and Petite Sirah, a first for me, I must admit! Head on over to Cheap Wine Ratings to find out what that connection is.

Alder from Vinography joined us this month with a review of the 2005 Storrs Winery Petite Sirah from the Santa Cruz Mountains. He gives a detailed description of the Santa Cruz AVA, an area I'm not that familiar with, so I was happy for the lesson. The wine earned between an 8.5 and a 9 on Alder's scale, visit Vinography to find out why.

James over at Second Leaf chose the 2005 Mount Aukum Winery Petite Sirah, in part based on a description of the previous vintage written by his local wine merchant. James has an excellent photo of his wine posted, I'd visit just for that, but the review will also draw you in. Find out James' opinion of the wine on Second Leaf.

Well then. I can't say tofurky and wine, um, sorry Petite Sirah, is ever a pairing I would make, but that's what Kathleen Lisson of Wine and Stories from the Vinyarrd chose with her Petite Sirah, a 2005 Bogle Vineyards Petite Sirah. She tells us it was an excellent match. You'll have to visit Wine and Stories from the Vineyard for the whole non-meaty scoop!

Erika of StrumErika chose the 2005 David Bruce Petite Sirah, the same wine we tried to drink. However, her's was great AND she managed to work her WBW participation into a first date. According to her, all was cool, which is great...maybe her first date will turn into a second! Head on over to StrumErika to read her account of the evening.

The Mad Wino, excellent pen name!, of My Wine Information, reviewed the 2003 Westend Estate 3 Bridges Durif. His descriptors include plums, blackberries, and vegemite? I can't say I know what vegemite is, so I make no judgment on whether that's a good or bad thing. Visit My Wine Information for the full scoop!

Grazza from the blog Tales of a Sommelier chose a bottle from deep in his cellar that he came across many moons ago. He chose the 1995 Ridge York Creek Petite Sirah, which is officially the oldest bottle consumed for this WBW. And how did this bottle taste after 12 years? You will have to visit Tales of a Sommelier to find out!

Our founder, Lenn of Lenndevours has joined us! Better late than never, and good thing blog posts are super easy to edit! Lenn chose the 2006 Fleur Petite Sirah from the North Coast. Apparently wine shops in his area don't really carry much PS (shame on them!) so he had to order this, and found it to be a fairly decent bottle, but won't be ordering any more. Check out his full review over on Lenndevours.

And finally I heard from the folks over at Classic Wines, more first time participants for this WBW! They reviewed the 2005 Rosenblum Heritage Clones Petite Sirah, the earlier vintage of the wine Farley from Behind the Vines chose. Sadly they weren't so thrilled with the bottle, expecting more given their experiences with Rosenblum's other offerings. Head on over to Classic Wines to see their review.

Whew. That was quite an experience as the hostess of WBW! I cannot believe the level of participation this month, and I am overwhelmed by the contributions! Thank you all for your reviews, I've very much enjoyed visiting old friends and checking out a great number of new blogs!

If I've missed you, please email me at and I will be happy to add your review. If you did not get an email response from me, I did not get your review.

WBW #40 Que Sirah Sirah

December 12, 2007
As the hostess of this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday, I decided it was high time I pulled out all the stops for a WBW. With that in mind, Matt and I decided to host a blind tasting of Petite Sirah in honor of WBW. We invited several of our friends over for the evening promising a wine tasting and heavy appetizers, though I am pretty sure no one quite expected that tasting I had set up!

I dug about in our cabinets for wine glasses to do the tasting. With 8 people coming and 5 wines to taste, I needed 45 wine glasses, a tall order. After routing out every wine glass we owned, I was short 4 glasses, alas, and Matt was forced to drink out of our brandy snifters. (To be honest, I was quite surprised I owned 41 wine glasses, that seems like a ton of glasses!!)

The whole table.

Next, I printed out glass placement sheets and tasting note sheets for blind tastings from Wine Country Getaways to assist everyone in ranking the wines. Guests were to score each wine on scale from 1-5 on appearance, aroma, body, taste, and finish. I gave a quick mini-lesson before we started as we had a wide range of wine experience in our group, and off we went. Before everyone arrived, Matt and I had opened the wines, and I brown-bagged them, then left the room while Matt came back and rotated the bottles, so it would be blind for us as well.

The set-up.

The contenders for the evening were 5 bottles of wine: A Mount's Family Winery 2005 Petite Sirah from Dry Creek Valley, a Twisted Oak 2004 Petite Sirah from Lodi, a Mauritson Rockpile Winery 2005 Petite Sirah, a Connor Park 2003 Durif from Central Victoria Australia, and a David Bruce 2005 Petite Sirah from the Central Coast.

The Contenders.

Sadly, we were moving through our tasting when one of our guests reached Wine C and said it smelled funny, like tuna fish. I quickly moved to that one, and the sulfur and yes, tuna fish smell was unmistakable, leading me to believe the bottle was corked, my first ever corked bottle and of course it happened when we had guests! I told people not to bother with that one as I took one for the team and tasted it, it was just awful. We were down to 4 bottles to score then.

Our friends seemed to have a lot of fun with the tasting, no one had been to a blind tasting before, so it was a new experience for all, and there were lots of questions about Petite Sirah, wine in general, and things they were tasting in the wine. I had a great time playing wine geek and sharing what I knew with everyone!

And, drumroll please.......after all the addition, we discovered that 4 people chose Wine D as their favorite, 3 people chose Wine E, and 2 chose Wine B. One of our friends and I both tied D and E as our favorites.

Without further ado:
Wine D (the winner): 2003 Connor Park Durif from Australia
Wine E (2nd place, by a hair): 2004 Twisted Oak Petite Sirah
Wine B (3rd place): 2005 Mounts Family Petite Sirah
Wine A (4th place): 2005 Mauritson Rockpile Petite Sirah

And the corked wine turned out to be the 2005 David Bruce Petite Sirah.

Noe my notes on the wines:

Wine A: 2005 Mauritson Rockpile Winery Petite Sirah: Came in a club shipment, cost $28, had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 14.9% alcohol by volume. On the nose, I smelled alcohol and heat. In the mouth, more alcohol and heat, very tannic. I got to give a lesson on what tannins are and what it tastes like when a wine is tannic. This bottle was not ready to drink at all. A few hours later I went back and there were spices and blueberries on the nose, more berries in the mouth. Hold onto it if you've got it, even hours out didn't really help this one.

Wine B: 2005 Mounts Family Winery 2005 Petite Sirah: We picked this bottle up at the winery last April when visiting Sonoma. It had a real cork closure, weighed in at 15.2% alcohol by volume and cost us $28. The nose was much fruitier than the Mauritson, spice, vanilla, blueberries. Very smooth in the mouth, berries, spicy, some blueberry. Same year as the Mauritson, but infinitely more ready to drink.

Wine C: 2005 David Bruce Petite Sirah. Corked. I purchased this just on Friday at my local wine shop for $21.99 -a 10% case discount. I'm returning the bottle with most of the wine still in it.

Wine D: 2003 Connor Park Durif: From Victoria, Australia. I picked this up for $19.99 at UnWined in Alexandria, VA, about 2 months ago. It had a real cork closure and clocked in at 15.5% alcohol by volume. On the nose, cinnamon, currants, spicy, baking spices. In the mouth, plummy red fruit, chocolate, berries, spices, pie. Very smoothed out, very much ready to drink.

Wine E: 2004 Twisted Oak Petite Sirah. I purchased this bottle from WineQ in my last club shipment for $23.99. It had a real cork closure and weighed in at 13.5% alcohol by volume. Spice, blueberry pie, vanilla, cedar and leather on the nose. In the mouth, blueberries, blackberries and spice. I thought this bottle had the freshest tasting fruit of the evening, and I tied it for first with the Connor Park.

All in all, an excellent evening, and I can't wait to host another blind tasting. A great way to celebrate being the host of WBW this month and to educate our friends a bit on wine in general on on Petite Sirah.

I can't wait to see what you all found for your PS, looking forward to your entries!

Drinking Some Pinot Noir

December 11, 2007

Now, Pinot Noir is not a varietal you see a lot of over here at Wannabe Wino. It's not that I don't like it, it's just that it normally falls way outside the price range I like to spend on a bottle of wine. However, our club membership to Michel Schlumberger sends us two bottle of wine every other month for a fixed cost, no matter what's in the box. One month we got a bottle that retails for around $100! So with that in mind, club shipments are about the only way Pinot Noir lands on my doorstep.

The bottle was a 2005 Michel Schlumberger Dry Creek Valley Pinot Noir. It clocked in at 14.3% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and can be purchased from the winery for $32. My first bit of advice is to let this one breathe, it had a lot of alcohol on the nose and needed to air out. It took until after dinner for the wine to be ready to drink.

On the nose I found cedar, raspberry, roses, and cherry. After the alcohol dissipated, it was a very pretty nose. In the mouth I got flavors of cherry, raspberry, and flowers. I took a note that said the wine had a nice bite, a bit tangy on the palate. A good bottle of wine after it aired, and next time I'd pair it with some cedar planked salmon after letting it air for a while.

Last Reminder! WBW #40 Tomorrow!

Hope you've found your Petite Sirah!

Send me your link or your review if you don't have a blog tomorrow at! And I'm shocked by the early reviews, way to be on the ball wine bloggers!

Pretty Darn Tasty

December 10, 2007
*Disclaimer: I received this bottle from WineQ because I am a member of their Beta Club.

This bottle of 2005 Barreto Cellars Verdelho came several shipments ago from WineQ and I have been very delinquent in reviewing it. It hails from the Lodi appellation on the Central Coast of California. It had a real cork closure, clocks in at 14.7% alcohol by volume, and can be purchased from WineQ for $14.99.

On the nose I found citrus, tropical fruits, honeysuckle, and minerals. The nose was quite aromatic, you didn't have to get too close to your glass to smell this one (hence, I didn't end up with a nose full of wine this time!). In the mouth there were flavors of grapefruit, other citrus, peach, and tropical notes.

Overall the wine was tangy, very very crisp, acidic and a bit different than anything else I've had. I believe this is only my second Verdelho, so I'm still not sure quite what to expect from them, but I really like them. I think this would be a great choice for appetizers at all those upcoming holiday parties as the grapefruit flavors are quite strong and palate cleansing and would do well up against creamy dips and cheeses.

From the Village

December 7, 2007
Village Winery in VA, that is. I picked this bottle up at Village Winery on our tour this summer, it cost $17, clocked in at 12% alcohol by volume, had a fake cork, and I believe it is NV, or at least I can't find any vintage info on the bottle.

On the nose I found spice, smoke, leather, and raspberries. Oddly enough, I also smelled what I can only describe as fireworks after you've shot them off. In the mouth the wine was fruit, light and pleasant, showing raspberries and a bitter chocolate essence. Overall, a little tannic and a little too sweet to go with the pasta and fresh tomato sauce.

Lava Flows

December 6, 2007
The bottle for the evening was a 2003 Lava Cap American River Red. We purchased this bottle from WineQ for $11.99 with free shipping! It clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure. The wine is a blend of 46% Syrah, 20% Zinfandel, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Sangiovese, and 7% Merlot, and hails from El Dorado County.

On the nose I found oak, spice, cedar, blackberries, and dark fruit. In the mouth there were black fruits, black currants, and a slight hint of blackberry. The wine was spicy and had an alcohol kick, but was great after it aired a bit.

My overall impressions were "woah" and this still needs a bit of time or to be decanted for a while before serving. We drank this on it's own, but I would suggest serving it with pasta or meatloaf!

Reminder: WBW #40 in 1 Week!

December 5, 2007

So get out there and find your Petite Sirah! You can find lots of resources over at PS I Love You as to who produces Petite Sirah.

Happy hunting of your beast, as Alder has named Petite Sirah!

Report back to me at on December 12 with the link to your entry or your tasting note if you don't have a blog.

Mauritson Again!

December 4, 2007
The bottle for the night was a 2005 Mauritson Westphal Vineyard Rockpile Zinfandel. I think we drink a lot of Zinfandel. This bottle came in my latest shipment from Mauritson, which we are working through at fairly quick pace, which is alarming, given that we won't see another shipment from them until next October. It had a real cork closure, cost us $27.60, and Matt tossed the bottle again before I could write down the alcohol content...perhaps that's why he looks a little sheepish in my picture!

On the nose I found vanilla, blackberries, dark fruit, and oak. The wine had a sort of sweet perfume about it, which is different from what I'm used to with Zinfandels, I sort of expect an overall spicy aroma. In the mouth the wine showed blackberries, black cherry, and a bit of oak. Overall, is was smooth and balanced in the mouth.

I served it with what is known around our house as "Liz's Mom's Chicken Casserole," a recipe I got in 2nd grade from a friend at the time whose name is Liz. By this point, the recipe has been passed around to many people now, all with that title on the recipe card. It's a yummy, fattening concoction of sour cream, cream of chicken soup, chicken breasts, Ritz Crackers, and butter....clearly not healthy, but so good on a cold winter night. I will be the first to admit that the wine choice was not great with this casserole. So we drank most of it after dinner. I'd pick a Viognier or a fuller bodied Chardonnay with this next time.

Overall, this was a tasty Zinfandel, but I though it was a bit simple for the price tag. I have another bottle in the basement that I will hang onto for a bit to see how it tastes down the road. I understand that single vineyard Zins tend to be more expensive, but I really prefer the Mauritson Grower's Reserve we had the other night that was significantly less expensive.
yummy, but $$ for a zin...even a single vineyard.

Spaniard Invades!

December 3, 2007
*Disclaimer: I received this bottle as a sample from WineQ because I am a Beta Club member.

This hefty bottle arrived at my doorstep via a WineQ delivery. Little was I to know what lay inside that box.....

....a giant red from Twisted Oak Winery in the form of a bottle of the 2005 Spaniard. A close up picture of the label and excellent depiction of the Twisted Oak for you:

The bottle clocked in at 14.6% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and can be purchased from WineQ for $44.99. It's a red blend of 64% Tempranillo, 21% Graciano, and 15% Garnacha. This is one not to miss for the lively PrincessBride-esq description on the label.

On the nose the wine showed blackberries, black currants, spice, your favorite leather couch, cloves, and something really dark and almost earthy that I can't quite place, kind of like walking through a cedar grove. In the mouth, there are very fresh blueberries, currants, blackberries, and baking spices. Overall, the wine was very smooth with a big mouthfeel. This is a very big wine. It goes down easy and is delicious.

I served the wine with ravioli and homemade tomato sauce and this was a pretty good match, though I am sure the lamb suggested on the label would be even more fabulous!

A Sight to See

December 2, 2007
I know this isn't a food blog, but sometimes I can't resist sharing what goes on in the Wannabe Wino kitchen. I think Matt wanted to compete, or at least show that he can do cool things too, with my delicious Thanksgiving meal...

so on the morning after Thanksgiving, he pulled out this.

And his drill (new drill bit that we sterilized for those who are concerned about that sort of thing!).

And he made a spectacle in the kitchen to impress our guests, serving them Ostrich Egg! He was inspired by "Battle Egg" on the Iron Chef and decided this was something we had to try. So he opened it and I cooked up a huge batch of scrambled eggs for our guests!

I suggest serving at your next brunch with Mimosas or perhaps a nice Moscato d'Asti.