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Great Value Italian Red Wine

April 30, 2008
The wine was a 2005 Siema Rosso Vino da Tavola by Lodali Winery from Piedmont. Sorry, I seem to have not taken a picture of this one. The wine clocked in at 12% alcohol by volume and cost me $8!!!! at The Winery in Old Town Alexandria. It's a blend of 50% Barbera and 50% Dolcetto. I believe I took more notes on this wine than almost any other red wine I've had in recent memory. I'm still shocked at the layers and depth in this little $8 bottle of wine. What I should have done was go buy the rest that The Winery had because this was simply an amazing value.

The nose showed smoke, leather, a little barnyard, red berries, and red currants. It kept opening up as the night progressed and the smell was amazing. In the mouth the wine was red and earthy. I found red berries, red currants, earth, leather, a smoky characteristic, and more red fruit.

This was just an absolutely fabulous deep wine with layers of flavors. Everyone loved this one at our dinner party. I served it with homemade pizza, and in addition to everything else, the wine was wonderful with pizza! The smoky flavors were perfect for the cheese and pepperoni covering the pizza.

We've broken 80 degrees here

April 28, 2008
Which to me means we have shifted almost entirely away from the heavy reds I love so much for the winter and into the Sauvignon Blancs, Roses, Gruner Veltliners, Albarinos, and, oh, who are we kidding, any crisp white wine that will beat the heat and humidity that comes from living in a swamp.

With that in mind, the wine for the evening was a 2007 Ken Forrester Sauvignon Blanc. The wine had a screw cap closure, hailed from Stellenbosch, South Africa, clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and cost me $14.99 at The Winery in Old Town Alexandria.

Dominate on the nose of this one was asparagus. There was no mistaking that one!. Other aromas were grass, gooseberries, lime, and a touch of pepper, the vegetable kind! In the mouth I found lime, gooseberries, citrus, grass, and more of the green pepper.

This was a very tasty and spicy (because of the pepper) Sauvignon Blanc. Perfect for the weather and great with all the lighter cold pasta salads and white fish we'll be eating all summer long!

Blue Stones

April 24, 2008
*Disclaimer: I received this bottle as a sample from Bottlenotes as part of a blogger club trial.

Here's a hint to tell which photos I take and which ones Matt takes: 9 times out of ten I take photos on the table and he takes them on the counter!

The wine for the evening was a 2003 Calvulcura Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Blend. It is composed of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, clocks in at 14.9% alcohol by volume, and can be purchased from Bottlenotes for $49.95. The wine had a real cork closure and hails from Argentina. The word "calvulcura" means "blue stone."

On the nose the wine smelled bitter at first, but that blew off...eventually, though it still left a deep dark wine impression with me. I also found vanilla, spice, cream, very dark fruit and berries. I found the nose very tight and unforgiving, it took forever for me to be able to distinguish any particular aromas. The wine was also bitter in the mouth, it was wound so tightly that I just had to set the bottle aside and left my glass out to air. After hours (I almost considered giving up on this one for the evening and trying again the next night) I found tart berries, spice, and leather. The wine had huge tannis and this overall bitter impression.

After about 4 hours, the wine was much better, but this is not one to be consumed now, it needs age, and lots of it. I think this may be the least approachable wine I've had so far, and at a 2003, it's not exactly a particularly new wine.

Am I seeing double?

April 23, 2008
No! This is the 2004 vintage of a wine that I previously reviewed for the 2003 version! The wine was a 2004 Ceja Vino de Casa. I picked this bottle up in one of my WineQ shipments for $19.99, it had a real cork closure, and was a blend of almost equal portions Syrah and Pinot Noir (I think a bit more Pinot Noir (52%) than Syrah (48%)), and clocked in at 13.6% alcohol by volume.

On the nose of the wine I found spiced apples, plum, cherry, spice, clove, and cedar. The fruits (other than the spiced apples) on the nose were really bright and jumped out of the glass. In the mouth I found cherries, spice, clove cigarettes, and maybe it's just the power of suggestion but I certainly got the crab apples El Jefe mentioned in his review, and unlike him, I have indeed been around a crab apple tree more recently than 20 years ago! I also got some hints of violets and rose petals.

For once I took my own suggestion regarding this wine, though clearly with a different vintage. When I drank the 2003 last year I served it with grilled steak, risotto, and raspberry/wine reduction sauce. Then I though that the body of the wine would be better suited for a simple pasta dish, so that is what I served it with this year....and it was a pretty good match! The wine stood up nicely to the acidity of the tomato sauce and wasn't overpowered by any heavy grilled flavors or thick cheesy risotto!

Mary had a little Breggo

April 22, 2008
Okay, not a precise translation given that I'm not Mary and Breggo means "sheep" not "lamb" but please cut me a little slack, it's early, and I've got a rough week at work this week! Plus, it took me almost a half hour to get my internet working this morning to write this post for you!

Our second to last stop in the Anderson Valley on our first day out West was at Breggo Cellars. Now, I had not heard of Breggo Cellars prior to this trip, but our tasting room hosts at Roederer and Toulouse (more on them later) told us we should definitely stop. So in we went. By this point I was tired, given our ticket mishap the day before and a full day of driving and tasting, I simply forgot to take any pictures. The tasting room was on the small size, with a bar that could comfortably fit about 5 people. Breggo is a relatively new winery, and just planted their first wines in the summer of 2007. Currently all their wines are made from grapes sourced from other vineyards at the moment.

2007 Sauvignon Blanc: $25. Crisp, citrus, lime, nice acidity, my kind of Sauvignon Blanc. We took home two bottles.

2006 Chardonnay: $35. Toast, lemon, apple, light oak.

2006 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir: $38. Cherry, cream , cola, spice, fruity.

2006 Donnelly Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir: $55. Blueberry, cream, spice, cherry.

2006 Ferrington Vineyard Pinot Noir: $55. Vanilla cream, raspberries, really nice fresh fruit. This was the star of the show for me and we took home a bottle (I know, Pinot Noir and way over my normal price was a splurge!).

2006 Savoy Vineyards Pinot Noir: $55. Cherry, leather, spice, earth, vanilla.

2006 Anderson Valley Syrah: Blackberry, sweet, maple syrup, cassis, berries.

2007 Rose Syrah: $20. Strawberry, dry, refreshing, we took home two bottles.

Apparently you stick out like a sore thumb in a tasting room when you take notes. Our tasting room host, who was very funny and informative, wanted to know what I was doing, so I told him and he pulled up my blog on the computer right away! So that was pretty cool. All in all, a great stop, and I would definitely recommend swinging by Breggo, I think they are doing some great things at such a young age, and have been getting all sorts of good press from the big wine critics, if you're into that sort of thing.

Barn Blending Results!

April 21, 2008
We drank this bottle of the 2006 Nelson Family Vineyards Barn Blend the other night in honor of the fact that we could not attend the blending party this year, sadly. Last year we did go, as I've talked about before, and this bottle was the product of that party, though sadly we were not the creators of it!

The Barn Blend is a mix that's Cabernet heavy with a bit of Merlot and Zinfandel making up the rest. I believe it costs around $18, clocked in at 14.8% alcohol by volume, and had a real cork closure.

On the nose I found strawberry, leather, raspberry, currants, earth, and spice. In the mouth, again, the flavors were dominated by the strawberries, with raspberry hiding underneath, some spice and a bit of the earthy note.

The wine needs some time to breathe before drinking, I definitely think this one has some time to age left in it! I served it with homemade pepperoni pizza, and it was an okay match, but being so Cab heavy I probably should have served it with the grilled steak we had the next night!

Goose on the Loose

April 18, 2008
The wine for the night was a 2007 Toulouse Pinot Gris. We picked this bottle up on our recent trip to California at the winery. It cost us $22 (minus a discount, though I can't recall what that was now), had a real cork closure and clocked in at 14.3% alcohol by volume. I owe you a post on our visit to Toulouse (where they have the most adorable little new puppy, though a solid white fluffy dog on a winery seems like it will get really dirty!) so watch out on that soon. Also, since our visit to Toulouse I noticed in the most recent Food & Wine magazine that they chose Toulouse's Pinot Noir as on of the best Pinots!

The wine showed peach, pear, tropical fruit, and honey on the nose. Overall I got a very tropical feeling from the nose, though I couldn't pin point the exact kind of fruit. In the mouth I got pear all the way through the mouth, though a touch of honey and some citrus showed on the back of the palate.

Overall, the wine was crisp, refreshing, and had great acidity. I really like this bottle of wine, and I'm glad we've got another one for porch sipping when it gets just a bit warmer here!

Orange Creamsicles

April 17, 2008
The wine for the evening was a 2006 De La Montanya Viognier. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.1% alcohol by volume, and cost $20.80 in a club shipment. I love the De La Montanya wines and am much looking forward to my next shipment, which I think should be arriving soon as I haven't gotten anything from them since January.

I was struck immediately upon sticking my nose in this glass by the aroma of melted orange creamsicles. I haven't had an orange creamsicle in probably a good 20 years, but that was what dominated the nose for me. Otherwise, I found, oak, honey, cream, pear, apple, and peach on the nose of the wine. It was very aromatic. In the mouth I found pear, peach, oak, and cream. The wine was more tart on the front of the palate, but gave way to a creamy texture and then the heavier slightly oily characteristic I expect from Viognier towards the back of the palate.

We drank this on its own last Friday after work, and it made a great sipping wine to start the evening.

Sauvignon Blanc Now With Yeast

April 16, 2008
The wine for the night was a 2006 Quivira Sauvignon Blanc Complete. I believe they call it complete because it was left on it's native yeast lees for 7 months. Quivira is a Biodynamic certified winery, as of a couple of years ago, and I believe all of their wines are now Biodynamic.

The wine had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.2% alcohol by volume (a little high for a Sauvignon Blanc), and arrived in a club shipment. I don't know what it cost because the mailing didn't break it down and I haven't seen the bottle available on the website. I would really appreciate it if the wineries would include a breakdown of the cost of each bottle in the shipment (especially for reordering purposes). I know I've ranted about this before, but is it that hard to shove in a card that says: Sauvignon Blanc, $xx.xx?

Anywho, on the nose of the wine I found lemon, pineapple, cream, slight cedar with a bit of oak, and star fruit. In the mouth the wine was full of tropical fruit, lemon, star fruit, and pineapple. The wine was very full bodied for a Sauvignon Blanc, which I'll attribute to the process in which is was aged. I was a little afraid the wine would be too oaky and ruin the fruit flavors I love in Sauvignon Blanc, but I was pleasantly surprised by the bottle, and liked it. It was tasty in a different sort of way for Sauvignon Blanc.

I served it with grilled pork chops, broccoli, and twice baked potatoes. The wine actually did really well with the meal, because it was more full bodied, it worked well with the smoky grilled quality of the meat, but still had the crisp refreshing character to cut through the cheesy potato and stand up to a green vegetable!

Main Reason We Went to the Anderson Valley

April 15, 2008
Don't get me wrong-we tasted a lot of great wine while there for the day, but the impetus behind driving up there to spend the day was to return to Roederer Estates for some fantastic sparkling wine. We first visited Roederer on our honeymoon almost two years ago and fell in love with the 99 L'Ermitage Brut. We only bought two bottles that time, so I had to have more! Thus, our first day in the area found us making the trek up a very windy road to discover more of what the Anderson Valley had to offer.

We tasted through the menu they were pouring that day, which sadly did not include the '99. However, they still had some for sale, and while they warned us that it had aged and was perhaps toastier now than what we had purchased in '06, we went for 2 bottles anyway. I would have liked to have gotten more, but the price had soared to around $60 a bottle. But for nostalgia purposes, it was worth it this time.

Brut MV: $21. Crisp, apple, citrus, lively.

Brut Magnum: $43. Creamy, toasty, green apple, very different from the regular bottle size.

Brut Rose MV: $28. Not very pink, in fact almost clear unless you put it up against the white wall, very dry, crisp, slight fruit.

2000 L'Ermitage Brut: $45. Toasted almonds, apples.

Extra Dry: $23. Sweeter than the Brut, but still dry. Showed mostly apples and a little honey. Originally created for the White House.

Pinot Noir: $23. Cherry, currants, spice, peppery, red fruit, earth, leather.

Chardonnay: $19. Mineral, crisp, tropical, citrus, creamier in the mouth, vanilla.

We took home 2 '99 L'Ermitage Bruts, 2 Extra Drys, and 1 Brut Rose. I've been told it's time to drink the '99, so we will likely haul one out in a few months for our second anniversary. As usual, Roederer's sparkling offerings were excellent, and I wish we could have taken home more. I also love the setting and tasting room at Roederer, the tasting bar looks out across the small front lawn where a family of Quail live. On our first visit the Quail had a very small family, but this time it looked like they were nesting and getting ready for a new family. The tasting room staff was very friendly and pointed us in the direction of a few of their favorite, not to miss vineyards. More on those later.

More Mystery Wine

April 14, 2008
The wine for the night was a 2005 "La Colombaia" Valpolicella Ripasso. I'm scratching my head to figure out where this one came from. Apparently I paid $18.99 for it, which leads me to believe that perhaps it came from the Winery in Old Town Alexandria. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14% alcohol by volume, hails from Italy, and is made from Merlot.

The nose of the wine showed raisins, currants, spices, plums, earth, and cherries. In the mouth I found tart cherries, raisins, earth, and spice. After a little while a touch of plum showed through. The wine continued to open up in the glass, showing a lot of depth. This was an easy drinking wine, very yum, and incredibly food friendly. A quick search reveals you can find it online for about $15.99.

WBW #45-Old World Riesling

April 12, 2008

Our host for this month's edition of the virtual tasting known as Wine Blogging Wednesday is Tim of Winecast. Tim has chosen a fabulous theme, one of my absolute favorite white wines, Riesling. However, his stipulation is that the wine must come from the "Old World." So choose a Riesling from Germany, Austria, or the Alsace region of France. He'll give you a little leniency if you want to go with Northern Italy, the Czech Republic, or Slovenia too. You can read all the details here.

This month's WBW deadline is May 7. Get shopping and tasting and post your review on May 7 or if you don't have a blog and want to participate send your notes to Tim at "winecast at gmail dot com" with WBW 45 in the subject line.

Pinot Blanc. From Connecticut!

April 11, 2008
We picked up this bottle of 2006 Chamard Pinot Blanc while visiting the winery in Connecticut. It cost us $17.99, clocked in at 12.5% alcohol by volume, and had a real cork closure.

On the nose I found pineapple, tropical fruit, lemon, and minerals. In the mouth, apple showed through the most (odd because I didn't get it on the nose at all!), then some lemon and other citrus with underlying tropical fruit.

Overall the wine was lively and acidic with good structure. We actually didn't get to taste this one while at the winery as they weren't pouring it that day, but I was really curious to try a Pinot Blanc from Connecticut so we took a few bottles home with us. Since the overall quality level of the wines were tried while there was very good, we didn't think it would be that big of a risk to take home something untried. A good gamble in my opinion, this wine was very well done.

Seven Year Old Sangiovese

April 10, 2008
And boy does it taste good! I purchased this bottle of 2001 Deerfield Ranch Sangiovese from WineQ in one of my recent club shipments. It costs $21.99 through WineQ (free shipping if you spend $35!), had a real cork closure, and clocks in at 13.6% alcohol by volume. It hails from the Clear Lake area, specifically from the Roumiguiere Vineyard. The winery made 645 cases of this bottling and it has swept up a ton of awards!

Cherry, strawberry, flowers, leather, spice, and earth jumped out of the glass. The wine was very fruit forward and the nose was definitely dominated by the cherry and strawberry. In the mouth the wine was also full of fruit. The cherry was the prominent flavor, with roses and strawberry also showing up.

The wine had just a little tannin, it's drinking perfectly right now and was incredibly smooth after very little time in the glass. I really enjoyed this bottle of wine, and were it not for the fact that I can only get a few more WineQ shipments before it gets too hot here and there are lots of other WineQ wines I want to try, I would certainly be adding more of this to my Q!

Farrah Olivia+ The Next Iron Chef

April 9, 2008
We first visited Farrah Olivia in Old Town Alexandria with my dad. We didn't know anything about the place, but it was late, we were hungry, and it looked open. So we walked in around 9 at night and were seated immediately. I can say that such an occurrence is no longer a possibility since after we had been there, the owner and chef, Chef Morou, appeared on the Food Network show: The Next Iron Chef. It has been impossible to get reservations there ever since it aired, though I must admit, we were strangely excited when we saw that he was a contestant because we could actually say we had been to his restaurant. Though ultimately he did not win, his restaurant is still top notch in our book!

We started the evening with one of the cheese course, this time the Vermont Cheese selection which came with bread crisps, several blue cheeses, honey, and popcorn. Our first wine for the night was a 2006 Stellenbosch Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa that had a screw cap, clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and was on the wine list for $30. It was light and crisp with lemons, green apples, and apricot. The cheese course really enhanced the tart lemon in the Sauvignon Blanc. I was impressed the wine list had a bottle on it for $30.

Next we were served the amuse bouche for the evening which was a carrot flan with a fig balsamic vinegar reduction. Now, I'm not a carrot person, not am I a balsamic vinegar person, but this was excellent! Also served before our meal was a selection of breads accompanied by a quartet of spreads: an olive tapendade, honey butter, sundried tomato, and bok choy. The bread was excellent and the honey butter was fabulous.

For my entree I chose the domestic pork loin with orange sauce, my dad had the grilled halibut, and Matt had the duck breast. Everyone was thrilled with their entrees, and highly recommended them. The presentation was excellent, and the pork loin was perfectly cooked. I loved the orange sauce.

Finally, we finished with another cheese course for dessert, the semi soft cow's milk cheese, Thomasville Tomme from Georgia. My dad, being a Port man, chose a Tawny Port from the dessert wine menu, while both Matt and I went with Ice Wein. We chose the 2003 Meinklang Soleil Pinot Blanc from Austria. It was priced at $7 a glass (cordial size). The wine smelled of candied honey and apricots, will in the mouth it tasted like honeyed nectar. It was viscous in the glass, and sweet, but still balanced.

I would highly recommend Farrah Olivia, but be prepared to drop $25+ per entree for dinner. Though I will say, the wine list was really quite reasonable. This is definitely a restaurant I would (and have tried!) to return to.

Purchasing Futures

April 8, 2008
On our 3rd and last day tasting on our recent CA trip, we met up with Russ the Winehiker at Bella first thing in the morning (more on Bella later.) We enticed Russ (well, really, it didn't take much arm twisting....) to come out with us for a few stops on Wednesday before he had to head back home by dangling Bella and David Coffaro as stops in front of him!

Our second stop of the day was at David Coffaro. Three other people were at the tasting bar when we sidled up and I whipped out my notebook and started writing. Steve, who was pouring our tasting, took a look and decided I looked serious, so grabbed a wine thief and offered us a barrel tasting. Apparently this was to be the trip of barrel tasting! We tasted everything David Coffaro had in barrels and purchased a case of futures which will be bottled later this year and shipped to us when we decide the weather is good enough!

David Coffaro sells the vast majority of his wines through his futures program, so you pretty much have to go to the winery to get your hands on any of them. However, I promise you, it is worth your time to stop. I've found the wines to be excellent values over the years, especially if you purchase in futures as the prices go up the closer he gets to releasing the wines! Also note, all the wines are bottled under screw caps, but as I can attest to, having a couple of 2003s still hanging out in the basement, the screw caps work just fine.

The following were all barrel tastings. Picture above is Steve posing for me between barrels....I warned him it would appear here!

2007 Zinfandel: Price now: $17. Price on release: $26. 83% Zinfandel, 17% Spicy Cabernet. 590 cases. Vanilla, blackberry, dark fruit.

2007 My Zin: Price now: $17. Price on release: $26. 75% Zinfandel, 14% Tannic Cabernet, 11% Petite Sirah. 610 Cases. Blackberry, black cherry, vanilla, tart, slight red fruit.

2007 Estate Cuvee: Price now: $17. Price on release: $26. 465 cases. 33% Zinfandel, 33% Spicy Cabernet, 25% Carignan, 9% Peloursin. Dark oak, berries, red fruit. We loved this one and put 3 bottles in our futures case.

2007 Terre Melange: Price now: $17. Price on release: $25. 365 cases. 49% Peloursin, 29% Mourvedre, 17$ Syrah, 5% Grenache. Leather, a little earth, red berries, still prickly from fermenting!

2007 Carignan: Price now: $17. Price on release: $25. 270 cases. 100% Carignan. Blueberries, vanilla, a touch of red fruit.

2007 Escuro: Price now: $17. Price on release: $25. 500 cases. 35% Petite Verdot, 33% Petite Sirah, 32% Cabernet. Chocolate, pepper, dark berries, spice, tannic, a dark wine.

2007 Block 4: Price now: $19. Price on release: $32. 765 cases. Field blend: 50% Zinfandel, 25% Petite Sirah, 5% Peloursin, 5% Syrah, 5% Carignan, 10% other. Chocolate, cherries, blueberries, pepper. 3 bottles made it into out case.

2007 Aca Modot: Price now: $19. Price on release: $32. 525 cases. 38% Cabernet, 21% Petite Verdot, 18% Malbec, 16% Cab Franc, 7% Merlot. Barny, leather, saddle, red berries, very Bordeaux-like.

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon: Price now: $18. Price on release: $28. 185 cases. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Smells very good, red strawberry, red berries, still a bit prickly, but great. 3 bottles made our case.

2007 Petite Sirah: Price now: $17. Price on release: $26. 335 cases. 100% Petite Sirah. Blueberry pie, vanilla, pepper, earth, very good. 3 bottles went into our case.

The whole case ran us $213. If we had been able to pull off a second case of futures (which I really really wanted to do) we could have had the whole case for $201 as the deal at David Coffaro is that if you buy 2 cases of futures you are in the Circle and get $2 off on all futures and 30% off on bottled wine, which applies to the next two vintages after you by your first two cases. Maybe on the next trip! This was our second visit to David Coffaro and I will certainly be stopping by again. The wine are consistently excellent and I highly recommend them.

Already in bottles we tasted:

2005 Zinfandel: $26. Old vines (really old, planted in the 1890s!). Smoky, chocolate, blackberries, a bit of reddish fruit, tart. Took home two bottles, one for us and one for our neighbors who kindly took in our mail for us while we were gone.

2005 Escuro: $26. Strawberry, herby leather, blueberries.

2006 Fresco: 22% Alvarelhao, 21% Tempranillo, 21% Tinto Cao, 20% Peloursin, 16% Carignan. Cedar, big berries, red fruit, mint.

2005 Petite Sirah: Blueberry cream, pie, tasty, one of my favorites. I wanted to take more home, of this in particular, but Matt was giving me the: it's only noon and you've already bought enough wine look...

2007 Sauvignon Blanc: Only tasted this briefly before we were whisked away for a barrel tasting, but this was my kind of Sauvignon Blanc. Green pepper, grapefruit, tart, crisp, lip smacking acidity.

We walked away from David Coffaro with purple lips and stained teeth, but having tasted some great wine. I am very much looking forward to my futures case arriving in the mail and I will of course post reviews of those bottles as we consume them. It'll be fun to see how the bottled wine compares to my (brief) barrel notes!

On a Domaine547 kick

April 7, 2008
I recently got around to finishing up all but one of the last 6 wines I purchased from Domaine547 in my quest to search out some new and interesting grapes from countries I tend not to turn to frequently. This wine fell squarely in both categories, I rarely drink wine from Portugal (mainly because not much is carried in my local stores) and I had never even heard of the grape!

The wine was a
2006 Quinta do Alqueve Fernao Pires, from the Ribatejo DOC in Portugal. It's a white wine that clocks in at 13% alcohol by volume, has a real cork closure, and cost me $9.99 from Domaine547 (apparently I'm also on a bargain wine kick!).

The best way that I can think of to describe this grape, the Fernao Pires grape, is that it seems like a cross between Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. It's crisp and refreshing like the Sauvignon Blanc, but has the aromatics and slightly heavier oily characteristic of a Viognier.

On the nose I found citrus, lemon, pineapple, and peach. In the mouth, the wine was heaver than I expected from the nose, and slightly oily, like the mouthfeel I expect from Viognier. Crisp citrus showed up front with heavier ripe peaches dominating the finish. I mostly found lemon and lime.

Overall the wine was dry with good structure. I served it with crab legs, the first we've had in a while, and it was a great match. I do love a good Sauvignon Blanc with my crab legs, and since this wine reminded me a bit of Sauvignon Blanc, it makes sense as a pairing for me. This is definitely not one to be missed at this price point, especially if you are into trying out new types of wine!

Homage to Pinotage

April 6, 2008

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Bottlenotes.

Or rather, to a Pinotage/Shiraz blend. I received this wine quite a while ago as a part of a blogger trial of Bottlenotes. For the trial, I was given a credit at Bottlenotes which I could use to try out any of their wineclubs. I chose the Dinner Party club, and received this Pinotage/Shiraz in a shipment along with a bottle of Petite Sirah Port that I have yet to try.

The wine was a 2006 Seven Sisters "Dawn" Pinotage/Shiraz from South Africa. It can be purchased from Bottlenotes for $14.99. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and was a blend of 60% Pinotage/40% Shiraz.

This wine was honestly fabulous. It's been a few months since I drank it, but I can still remember what it tasted like, and what an incredible value it was. I'd never had a Pinotage before and I was happy to try one and was delighted to find a new grape to love. I will certainly seek out Pinotage again.

The nose of the wine was plummy and spicy. Dark black fruit shone through, with pepper and earth. Vanilla cream emerged after some time in the glass. The wine was very fruity on the nose, while being dark with smoke and earth at the same time. In the mouth I found plums, dark fruit, blackberries, and earth. The wine was tannic, it needed some time to air, but after an hour was completely smoothed out and kept evolving.

An excellent value for the price.

Tempranillo (Tem prawn eee yo)

April 4, 2008
I purchased this wine a few months ago in a 6 pack of interesting wines I ordered from Domaine547 in my search for different things to review. The wine was a 2006 Dehesa Gago Tempranillo from Toro, Spain. The wine cost me $12.99 (a steal), had a real cork closure and clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume. I also want to try the Tinto de Toro that Domaine547 has available from the same producer!

The nose of the wine showed currants, dark cherries, and pepper. The nose was slightly sweet smelling and very fruity. In the mouth I found blueberry, currants, dark fruit, and spices.

Overall the wine was smooth and dark and very yum. We drank this by itself, but it seemed to lend itself well to being food friendly and could easily match with lots of different things. Especially at the price, this is a great every day wine for dinner!

Local Vino

April 3, 2008
A quick review this morning (have to go to work super early today!) of a local wine from Rappahannock Cellars. I owe you a review on our tasting experience at Rappahannock, which I will get around to eventually, along with a million reviews from Sonoma and the DC Wine and Food Festival!

The wine for the evening was a 2006 Rappahannock Cellars Vidal Blanc. We see quite a bit of Vidal Blanc and Seyval Blanc here in Virginia, both grapes grow fairly well in our climate. I'm pleased to notice that the quality has grown in leaps and bounds in the 5 years I've lived here and been drinking VA wines.

The wine had a nose of pear, honey, apricot, and tart tropical fruit. In the mouth, apricot and spiced pears dominated the flavors. The wine was tart, with good structure and solid acidity to keep the sweetness that this grape can demonstrate in check.

Oddly enough, I can only find information about the dessert variety of this wine on their website, and the bottle appears to have disappeared from my house. I believe we paid around $14 for this, it had a real cork closure, and was about 12.5% alcohol by volume.

WBW #44 French Cabernet Franc

April 2, 2008
Our host for this edition of WBW, the brain-child of Lenn of Lenndevous, is Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV. He chose French Cabernet Franc as theme for this month (ostensibly as a result of his recent trip tasting in France!). You can watch his vlog about the event here, but the jist is pick a French Cabernet Franc and post your link by April 2, 2008 in the comments to the entry on his website.

I'll admit straight up that I sorta cheated on this one. Having been in travel mode since before Gary's theme announcement, I really didn't have much of a chance to pick up a bottle for this month or shop around. I popped into my favorite local shop, The Winery in Old Town Alexandria, and sadly could not come up with a full on Cabernet Franc. So I went with a 25% Cabernet Franc, 70% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon Bordeaux style blend.

The wine is a 2004 Chateau Quercy Saint-Emilion Grand Cru. It clocked in at 13% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and cost me $25.99. This is out of the price range I'm usually willing to spend on unknown wines, but the shop owner highly recommended it, and desperate times call for desperate measures.

On the nose of the wine I found cocoa powder, espresso, strawberry, herbs, and an overall smoky quality. In the mouth the fruit was dusty and smoky. I almost felt like I was drinking cedar grilled cherries and strawberries, but with fresh raspberries and a slightly biting herb bouquet dipped in espresso.

The wine was tannic on the first night, but smoothed considerably on the second. On the second night the wine took on an even smokier quality with more oak and cedar coming through, and the fruit being less dusty or smoky. I believe this one has quite a few years of age left on it.

Many thanks to Gary for hosting WBW this month. I'll be particularly interested to see what form the round-up will take! And as always, barring another other internetless interludes, I will let you know when the round-up is posted and when the May WBW theme is announced!

Playing with Schmancy Glass Things

April 1, 2008
I broke out both the fancy Riedel stemless glasses and this decanting/aerating contraption called the Soiree to drink this bottle of 2005 Mauritson Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley. Mostly because I wanted to play with them, as decanting a Zin is definitely not something I do on a regular basis (if at all.) I'll tell you more about the Soiree another day, but I picked it up for $20 at the DC International Wine and Food Festival and the idea is that the unique shape will perform the same task as decanting your wine!

The Zinfandel clocked in at 15.1% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and cost us around $25 in a club shipment.

On the nose of the wine I found blackberry, spice, boysenberry, and cedar. The fruit was very fresh and just jumped out of the glass (perhaps due to the Soiree? I have another bottle of this, perhaps I'll taste it sans Soiree and compare my notes!). In the mouth, juicy blackberries, dark fruit, and pepper. The wine was spicy and a bit tannic on the back of the palate, but very juicy fruit up front.

Another great Zinfandel from Mauritson, and much fun and amusement was had in the Wannabe Wino house playing with the new wine toys.

(PS-Yes, I do know it's April Fool's Day, but no joke post here today!)