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Rose Rose Everywhere

July 31, 2008

The wine for the night was a 2003 Iridesse Zinfandel Rose. Patrick and Genevieve brought this out to DC for us when they were in town a few months ago. The wine hails from the Russian River Valley, clocks in at 13% alcohol by volume, and the fruit comes from the Rodgers Family Vineyard.

On the nose I found strawberry rhubarb pie, white pepper, orange, spice, red berries, and candied cherries. I loved the nose on this Rose. In the mouth I got flavors of crisp strawberries, raspberries, oranges, cherries, blackberries, and citrus. This was one of the darkest Roses I've seen, most definitely influenced by the Zinfandel grapes.

Overall, the wine was incredibly dry and very refreshing. I served it with my easy bbq ribs and it was perfect. It was a nice complement to the spice of the bbq sauce. The wine retails for $12, which is already a great deal, but Patrick and Genevieve are currently running a summer sale and offering 50% off a case. That's an incredible value and I'd definitely run to scoop that up for the summer months.

Many thanks to Patrick and Genevieve for sharing this wine with us!

Showing off my Harvest

July 30, 2008

I planted a garden this year. From seeds. And nearly every single seed I planted grew. I have 20 green bean plants, 18 tomato plants, 7 pots of basil, 2 pots of mint, and a pot of rosemary. The rosemary actually did the worst, I planted 3 pots and only got one to come up, and even then, only with a few sprigs. I do not have a green thumb, so this delights me. Plus, the squirrels and I are locked in an epic battle for my garden. First, they dug up the seeds I planted, and now that I managed to grow things, they are eating my green tomatoes. Behold, the first harvest from my garden:

To go along with my first harvest and the beautiful Alaskan sockeye salmon I picked up at the store that morning, I served a 2006 Erath Pinot Noir. My dad picked this up at Branford Wine and Spirits, it had a screw cap closure, and I see you can find it online for about $15. Sorry, didn't note the alcohol content before I left for St. Louis.

The first thing I noted about the wine was the color. We sat outside to eat dinner and in the light the color of the wine seemed more like a very dark rose than a Pinot Noir. Though, it could just be that I'm used to a California style Pinot Noir. On the nose I found cherry, smoke, oak, spice, Coke, and raspberry. The nose was quite pleasant and promised good things from the glass. In the mouth I got sweet fruit, raspberry, cherry, strawberry, some spice, and a touch of a tannic feeling on the finish. On its own, the wine was a bit thin/watery, but as we sat outside and it warmed up a touch, it developed a nice body and went quite well with food. As it developed, I found coffee grounds, mocha, and tart cherry flavors in my glass.

Overall, this wine is best with food, and best as it warms up just a touch. For $15 a bottle, it certainly displays the varietal characteristics you would expect from a Pinot Noir, and for that price point, that's not something you can say about many Pinot Noirs. I think you can see my garden in the background! Yes, it's all growing in pots, we haven't had time to build beds in our yard yet, but we will get there....our ground is solid clay and poor little plants do not even have a chance to grow in it, so pots had to suffice for this year. I will soon be rolling in more tomatoes than I know what to do with...each plant has at least 20 tomatoes on it!

PS-These pictures were all taken with my new camera, whadda ya think?

Wine Friends Are Great!

July 29, 2008

Farley, formerly of Behind the Vines and soon to be of....well, yet to be announced, but we all know that whatever she chooses to do next will be a great success, gave me and Matt this bottle of 2005 Thomas Fogarty Gewurztraminer last year as a house warming present! It hails from Monterey, California, had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 14.2% alcohol by volume. I doubt this vintage is widely available any longer since it's now 2008, but if the quality I found in this wine is an indication of future vintages, I can easily recommend it.

On the nose I found vanilla, ginger, floral aromas, honey, and tropical fruit. The nose was quite aromatic...I had to force myself to stop smelling it so I wouldn't lose my share of the bottle to Matt!. In the mouth I got peach, tropical fruit, honey, spice, and minerals. The wine had a very full mouthfeel, and was silky smooth. With the great acidity and structure, I can see how this would be a good match with spicy food as Farley suggested (though, my heartburn can't handle spicy food, so we just drank it on it's own!).

I described the wine as "yummy" and "very yummy" in my notes, so I guess that's a good vote about what I thought of it! Many thanks to Farley for sharing this with me!

Barrel Oak Winery: Visiting VA Vineyards

July 28, 2008

Several months ago, Brian Roeder, the owner of Barrel Oak Winery, contacted me, and invited me to come visit his brand new winery in Virginia. After some back and forth, given that I am traveling for work a lot these days, we finally came up with a good weekend and Matt and I ventured forth to Virginia Wine Country.

Barrel Oak is one of the newest of Virginia's ever-growing winery population. About 3 and a half years ago, Brian and his wife decided to go ahead with purchasing land to start a vineyard, an idea they had been tossing around in a casual/semi-serious manner for a few years.

Right now, as you can imagine, Barrel Oak is in its infancy. They are currently producing wines with fruit sourced from various Virginia vineyards and they used the facilities of Pearmund and La Grange for their first vintage. They intend to have their first estate harvest in 2009 and will crush and make the wine at Barrel Oak this coming season. Brian's wife is the head winemaker, having trained at many VA vineyards, she is assisted by the former assistant winemaker from Pearmund. Brian designed Barrel Oak with the future in mind: they have the capacity to produce 10,000 cases within 10 years, with 9000 square feet of production space. They also intend to boast 3 full tasting bars on the premises.

We tasted through the current line up and reserve line up:

Bow Haus White 2007: $18. 70% Vidal Blanc, 30% Sauvignon Blanc, it recently won gold at the VA State fair. Citrus, grapefruit, touch of honey, light good texture, pineapple, great summer white. We bought 2.

2007 Seyval Blanc: $19. Includes 10% Sauvignon Blanc. Minerals, wet stone, lemon, grass, crisp, dry. We took home 2.

2007 Chardonnay: $24. Stainless steel fermented, no maloactic, aged in neutral French oahk. Oak, apple, spice, lemon, green apple, light in the mouth.

2007 Viognier: $20. Maloactic fermentation and oak aged. Honey, peach, pear, honey suckle, creamy, nice mouthfeel.

2005 Bowhaus Red: $18. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Tourig, 11% Malbec, 6% Merlot, 6% Petite Verdot, some Norton in there too. Chocolate, earth, sweet, light, strawberries, berries. Would be good slightly chilled.

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon: $20. Very light in color, 12% Petite Verdot. Light, berries, strawberry, raspberry, nice finish.

2005 Merlot: $20. 100% Merlot. Earth, leather, berries, wood, oak, nice body, tannins, cherry, plums, very well done.

2005 Norton: $18. 10% Cabernet Franc. Perfumey, violets, fruity, grapey, berries.

2005 Tour Ga Franc: $26. 40% Cabernet Franc, 60% Touriga. $2 from each bottle are donated to Lance Armstong's Foundation. Spice, red fruit, herbs, pepper, red berries.

2006 Cabernet Franc: $26. 10% Chambourcin. Herbal, leather, tobacco, red fruit, very light, peppery finish.

2005 Petite Verdot: $26. 12% Merlot. Chocolate, plum, red fruit, very aromatic, nice fruit, good structure. One of my favorites of the day, we took home one bottle.

2006 Late Harvest Viognier: $25. Picked late October. Honey, citrus, spice, pineapple, sweet, thick.

2006 Chocolate Lab: $26. Muscadine, Merlot, Viognier. Cocoa nibs are added along with neutral grape spirits. Chocolate, slight berry, port-like.

Barrel Oak has a beautiful facility. Their porch looked so inviting, and had it been a little later in the day, we definitely would have parked ourselves out there with a glass of wine to enjoy the view (well, and also, if the sprinklers weren't on drenching the porch!). The tasting bar of Barrel Oak is huge, and that's just the first one! They also have a space in the loft for a 2nd bar, and space downstairs for a 3rd bar. Though I think we'll have to avoid the 2nd floor as Matt was a bit too tall.

Overall, I was very impressed with the quality of wine being produced by Barrel Oak. It honestly surprised me for such a young winery as I have certainly tasted many established VA wines that don't come anywhere close to the quality being produced here. I thought the reds were very well done, and would have taken home more if it weren't so hot here now that red wine doesn't really enter my mind. Also good to note, Barrel Oak is extremely dog friendly. You are more than welcome to bring your pooch with you to enjoy the day in VA Wine Country.

My one pet peeve, and I say this about all wineries: I hate tasting fees that aren't returned if you buy bottles. I realize that many folks say that people will buy the cheapest bottle to get the fee back, blah blah blah. I have no problem if you put a "Buy 3 bottles get your fee refunded, or buy $50 worth and get your fee refunded." And maybe I missed the sign or notation on the menu where it told you the cost, but I don't think so. I must admit, I was thus a bit surprised to find a tasting fee charge on my tab.

I will certainly return to Barrel Oak in the future to see how their wines develop as they move toward harvesting their own fruit.

Michel Schlumberger Jumps In!

July 27, 2008

Into the blogging pool that is. I'd like to extend a warm welcome to the newest winery blog, coming from one of my favorite Sonoma area wineries, Michel Schlumberger. They just started blogging 4 days ago, so they are new to the scene. A big congrats for taking the leap into the blogging world. You can check out their new blog, Benchland Blog, which I've also added to my winery blogroll.

To me, it's a great thing for wineries to blog. Personal communication, on a routine basis, allows me to feel like I'm a part of what is going on at that winery, even when I'm 3000 miles away. Reading about events, and what's happening to the grapes, and all the jazz makes me feel connected to the process and more vested in that winery's products. I'm happy to see more wineries joining the blogging community. (Especially a winery I really enjoy!)

Welcome Michel Schlumberger!

PS-If you are attending the Wine Bloggers' Conference this fall, Michel Schlumberger is one of the options on Zephyr Adventures' vineyard hikes. I'd suggest joining that one if you haven't yet had the pleasure of visiting Michel Schlumberger and tasting the wines. You can also pick up the 2007 Pinot Blanc as it's included in the bloggerpack I created for Domaine547!

PPS-Picture taken on my visit to Michel Schlumberger in April 2007. I returned for another taste of their wines this past March.

Shameless Plug

July 26, 2008
I mentioned about a month ago that I moved Wannabe Wino to its own domain, I've since discovered that I've totally lost my page rank on Google for the blog, sad, and my technorati authority has declined to nothing.

I would really, really, really, truly appreciate it if you could update your links on your blogs to me to reflect the new address.

Many thanks for you time and help in getting some recognition for my new address.



My Twisted Chicken

Bob, my Twisted Oak chicken, roosts in the chandelier in my kitchen. Despite the dazzling array of culinary delights prepared on the table below and the scintillating dinner conversation, Bob gets bored. Apparently Twisted Oak was far more entertaining than my house! He did get to go on an excursion earlier this year, for Take Your Chicken to Work Day, but ever since, he's been stuck up in the chandelier. Although he was a finalist in Take Your Chicken to Work Day, he did not win. He's been depressed ever since.

Until the other day when he overheard me mention the Wine Blogger's Conference, coming up this October. I was telling Matt that I might head up to Twisted Oak and spend two days before the WBC visiting El Jefe and Company and the other Murphy's area wineries. Since then, Bob won't stop squawking! He wants to come to CA and accompany me to the WBC.

So what do you think, dear readers? Should Bob get to leave his roost and come to CA?

Wino Wordle

I first read about Wordle over on Good Grape, then saw it again this afternoon on Wino Sapien and decided I had to check it out for myself. Wordle will take the feed from any RSS site and create a word image aggregation of the terms used frequently on your blog.

I present the Wannabe Wino Wordle:

Drylands Sauvignon Blanc

July 24, 2008

And on a recurring theme here at Wannabe Wino, the wine for the night was both a Sauvignon Blanc and part of one of my mixed cases for under $10 a bottle from Total Wine and More. Hey, gas is outrageous, food prices are increasing, something's gotta give, so I'm trying to stretch those wine dollars further! This particular bottle was a 2007 Drylands Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, it clocked in at 13% alcohol and had a screw cap closure.

On the nose I found cantaloupe, honeydew, green apple, gooseberries, and lime. In the mouth I got grapefruit, green apple, gooseberries, and almost a hint of green pepper. The wine was tart, crisp and delicious. It also had the racing acidity I look for in these wines. I drank it and thought, wow! This is the first Sauvignon Blanc this year that really hit the mark with me. Perfect for the horribly hot and humid weather and a great deal for the price.

Long Name Good Wine

July 23, 2008

We stopped at Zina Hyde Cunningham on our first day in California. Several of the other wineries recommended them, so we made it our last stop on our way back to town. I didn't take any pictures for some reason, or if I did, I can't find them, so the image is from the winery's website. The tasting room was great inside, it had a huge tasting bar, plenty of room to meander about, and we were the only people there, so it was great to have the place all to ourselves!

2005 Russian River Sauvignon Blanc: $18. Melon, pineapple, tart, acidic, good.

2005 Pinot Noir: $40. Syrupy, cherry, plum, spice, light flavors.

2004 Redwood Valley "Old Wine" Zinfandel: $28. Made from 100 year old vines. Berries, peppery, raspberry, tasty.

2004 Lake County Petite Sirah: $24. Chocolate, blueberry, spice, lots of berries. We took home 2 bottles.

2004 Redwood Valley Zinfandel Reserve: Brown sugar, less fruit, berries.

2004 Lake County 'Cepage': $34. 44% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc, 9% Malbec, 3% Petite Verdot. Caramelized sugar, dark fruit, very tannic.

I wanted to take home the Sauvignon Blanc and the Old Vine Zin as well as the Petite Sirah, but since it was the end of the day and I had already way blown the budget for the day, I had to settle for just the Petite Sirah, which was actually my favorite Petite Sirah from the whole trip!

A Pinot Grigio I like

July 22, 2008

The wine for the evening was a 2007 Albino Armani Pinot Grigio. I picked this wine up at Total Wine and More, even though it was more than my $10 limit when I'm there. However, I tasted it while there and figured I'd bring a bottle home. The bottle clocked in at 12.5% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and cost me $18.

On the nose I found vanilla bean, lemon, pineapple, starfruit, and citrus. In the mouth I got citrus, lemon, and peach. There was also a hint a cream. The wine was light, lively, and had great structure.

I'm not normally a Pinot Grigio fan, I tend to find on the lower end of the price structure that they are fairly flabby and uninspiring. So I was thrilled to find this one, which, with an $18 price tag is still in the budget and delivers a lot of bang for the buck. I'd definitely get this one again.

WBW #48-Back to Your Roots

July 21, 2008

Our founder and fearless WBW leader will be hosting WBW on this, the 4th birthday of WBW. Lenn started what can only be described as a phenomenon in the wine blogging world.

This month, Lenn has chosen the theme "Back to Your Roots." He's asking us to choose a wine from the beginning of our wine journey and taste it again. Perhaps even your first bottle of wine. You can read all the details here, and make sure to send Lenn your entry by August 13.

My first bottle of wine? No thanks. I drank junk in college. Stuff that came in a box, and not an even remotely ok wine in a box, gross wine in a box. Or giant bottles of whatever was the absolute rock-bottomed priced wine. However, the first wine that ever made me sit up and take notice was a 1999 Schmitt Sohne Riesling Auslese. At the time, I thought it was great and an excellent value...I could afford it on a college student budget. I drank it by the case for years. And then they seemed to stop making it and I was left with the Kabinett, which, truth be told, is not great. I don't want to go back and drink that, although it was fine until about the 2002 vintage.

So I'm going to have to put a little more thought into this assignment.

Up a Hill

My dad picked up this bottle of 2007 Round Hill Chardonnay at Branford Wine and Spirits in Branford, CT. It clocked in at 13% alcohol by volume, had a plastic cork, and proudly states across the front label that it is "Oak free." From a quick search, I see that you can purchase it for about $8, making this a very good deal.

On the nose I found pineapple, lemon, apple, sweet tropical fruit, and a sense that the wine would be crisp. In the mouth the fruit from the nose followed through. The wine was light and very freshing, and indeed crisp. A great simple summer porch wine.

And this is why I needed a new camera

July 17, 2008
I swear I am not this bad at taking pictures. In fact, people used to frequently ask me to take pictures at various family events because my camera just took great photos. Then it died, about 2 weeks after I started Wannabe Wino. Stupidly, I guess, I just bought the newest model of that camera, thinking it would be great, just like the one I had. Sadly, no dice. So now I am the proud owner of a brand new Canon SD 1100. I hope that the pictures from it will be much crisper and cleaner than these images. For example, the terrible picture of a very tasty bottle of wine.

When home in CT over July 4th weekend, my dad and I went to Branford Wine and Spirits in Branford, CT to pick up some bottles for the long weekend. One of my first picks was the bottle of 2006 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc. I believe it retailed for about $8, hails from New Zealand, clocked in at 13% alcohol by volume, and had a screw cap closure.

This bottle is one of those bargain New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs I love. The nose gave up gooseberries, limes, citrus, melon, and tropical fruit. I could smell the acidity and new it was going to be one I liked. And the nose followed through to the mouth! Grapefruit, lime, gooseberries! The wine was crisp, acidic, tart, and very refreshing. Definitely a great easy drinker for a hot summer day, and it was perfect for the picnic we were having on July 4.

A Trip to Teldeschi

July 16, 2008

On our 3rd and final day in California this spring, Matt and I parted ways with Russ after a stop for sustenance at the Dry Creek General Store. Sadly, Russ had to go home and needed to get on the road before rush hour became an issue for him. After he departed, we sat around for a bit, pondering what our next stop would be, and decided it was obvious, since Teldeschi Vineyards sits right behind (and up the hill a bit) the General Store.

Teldeschi's tasting room is small, but the guy running it was extremely friendly. Like many others, he asked where we had been that day, and we told him Bella and barrel tasting at David Coffaro. He immediately said he couldn't be outdone by a barrel tasting there and whisked us into the back to taste from his barrels! There, we tasted what is arguable my favorite wine from the entire trip. I signed up for the Teldeschi email list just so I could know when it comes out and scoop it up.

2007 Grenache: (Barrel sample). Very aromatic, bananas, berries, plums, blueberries, fabulous wine, I can't wait to buy it.

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon: (Barrel sample). Nice red fruit, berries, spice, tannic.

1996 Zinfandel: Dark berry fruit, spice, cherry, smooth.

1998 Terranena: $22. Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignane, Valdigue blend. Peppery, black fruit, floral.

1999 Petite Sirah: $32. Blueberry, cassis, vanilla, licorice, yum.

2004 Syrah: $32. Dark, rich fruit, velvety, blackberry. Yum. We took home 2 bottles.

We also took home a bottle of the 2000 Petite Sirah, which we did not taste, but our host told us I would like it even more than the 1999, so I took his word for it. One of the more unique things about Teldeschi's tasting room is the way they store their sample bottles. Each time wine is gone from the bottle, they transfer it to a smaller bottle, all the way down to a tiny itty bitty glass medicine bottle. I've never seen anything like it! I very much look forward to the release of the Grenache and will definitely return to Teldeschi.

The picture at the top is me squinting into the sun in front of some vines at Teldeschi.

Drinking with Patrick, Genevieve, and Russ

July 15, 2008
As I've mentioned before, Patrick was kind enough to escort Matt, Russ, and me around his stomping ground of Healdsburg one of the days we were out in California this spring. Not only did he play tour guide, but he also chauffeured us around, acted as the local restaurant critic, and provided Russ with accommodations!

For dinner that night, we were joined by Patrick's wife and partner in crime, Genevieve at Zins in Healdsburg. An excellent choice, I'm still enamored by the Zinfandel glazed duck breast I had there, and I hope to return on my upcoming CA trip this October. While at the restaurant, Patrick put on yet another hat and played sommelier and wine provider!

We tasted through some of his and Genevieve's current offerings from Iridesse wines, as well as through some of the wines Genevieve made while at Chateau Felice:

Iridesse 2005 Lodi Albarino: 13% alcohol, $18. From Sueno Vineyard. Floral, lemon, tropical fruit, crisp, almost a hint of cream.

Iridesse 2003 Russian River Valley Rose: 13% alcohol, $9. From Rodgers Family Vineyard. Berries, candy, spice, white pepper, very aromatic, really dry and refreshing.

Chateau Felice 2002 Tall Woman Likes Red: 13.8% alcohol, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel blend. Baking spice, white pepper, blackberry, plum, peppery, spicy, blueberry.

Chateau Felice 1999 Cabernet Franc Reserve: 14.5% alcohol. Dark, layered spice, strawberry preserves, full, fruity, earth.

Libe Lula 1999 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir: 14.1% alcohol. Strawberry, cherry, earty, smooth, spicy, red fruit, very nice.

Many thanks again to Patrick and Genevieve, and to Russ for the company! Looking forward to seeing you all again in October!

Simple Quaffer

July 14, 2008

The wine for the evening was the 2004 Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Shiraz. This was a bottle my dad bought and left with us on his last visit. It had a screw-cap, clocked in at 14% alcohol by volume, and I see it's available online for about $7.99.

The nose showed cherry, blackberry, boysenberry, chocolate, and plum. A very fruity nose. In the mouth, raspberry, cherry, spice, and chocolate showed. The mouth was much lighter and smoother than I expected.

For the price, a simple wine, but that's about what I'd expect from this price point from an Australian Shiraz.

Visiting Brutocao Cellars

July 11, 2008

As we drove through the Anderson Valley on our first day in CA, I noticed we passed Brutocao Cellars on the way to Roederer Estates. I thought to myself that we should stop on our way back if we had time, since Brutocao holds a special place for us. On our first wine country trip, we had dinner at the Lion's Den Bistro which is run by Brutocao Cellars. We were the only people there, it was our honeymoon, and it was a very memorable time. Made even more so by the fact that our kind server had offered to let us take home our favorite open bottle that had been poured during the pairing dinner, but when we got back to the bed and breakfast, we discovered he had given us a brand new bottle! We gleefully took it home and stashed it away, and drank it last summer on our first anniversary.

We did wind up with some time on our way back out of the Anderson Valley, so we made a stop at Brutocao. Brutocao is house in a large barn type structure. Inside, there's a huge tasting bar and the tasting room is large, open, and very well lit from skylights. Sadly, the tasting room attendants didn't seem too interested in us, one lady was selling some headbands she makes to other customers, and the other lady didn't seem to know much, as I asked her about the Lion's Den and she had no idea what I was talking about.

2006 Sangiovese: $14. Strawberries, not very dry.

2006 Pinot Noir: $26. Strawberries, cherries, earth, spice, good fruit.

2004 Reserve Merlot: Dark fruit, berries, cherries, a fun wine.

2005 Merlot: $20. Funkier, smoky, dark cherries.

2005 Primitivo: Plummy, musty fruit, cherry, spice pepper.

2005 Zinfandel: Deep nose, red fruit, licorice, smooth, really integrated, good fruit.

2005 Uber Tuscan: Cherry, currants, red fruit.

2005 Quadriga: Vanilla, cream, berries, great nose, nice finish, good fruit. Our favorite, we took home two.

2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: Funky berries, wood, leather, saddle.

Oddly enough, we also took home two Sauvigon Blancs, and one 2006 Zinfandel, but I can't find my notes for those. Perhaps I wrote them on the tasting menu, I have that somewhere, but can't locate it at the moment. In all, a mix of wines here, with some I really liked. I think I mostly just annoyed at the tasting room.

2005 Merlot Mistelle: $24. Super sweet, chocolate/cherry syrup.

Crossing Over

July 10, 2008

The wine for the evening was a 2007 The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc. I picked this bottle up at Total Wine and More in one of the 3 mixed cases of around $10ish wine I've bought so far this summer (wow, and it's only July 10...), it had a screw cap closure, and clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume. As many of my summer Sauvignon Blancs do, this one hails from Marlborough, New Zealand.

On the nose I found grapefruit, tropical fruit, star fruit, melons, grass, and peppers. A fairly typical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc nose, with the promise of all the flavors and acidity that make me love this type of wine. In the mouth, peach and grapefruit dominated, with a little lemon, grass, and other citrus.

While the wine was tart, it didn't have that racing acidity and mouth-puckering citrus that I expect from these wines. Instead, the flavor was quite full rather than light and refreshing. For me, something was a little off with this wine.

WBW #47-Brought to you by the letter "S"

July 9, 2008

I have to admit, Wine Blogging Wednesday almost slipped my mind this month. With the holiday weekend here in the US and being on vacation last week for it, my thoughts were elsewhere. As we were driving home from work last night I was talking about how I needed to drink a sample wine I had received a few weeks ago and I was making plans for that when it suddenly occurred to me that WBW was here!

This month, our hosts of the nearly 4 year old (wow, congrats Lenn on starting such a wine blog phenomenon) WBW are Erin and Michelle of Grape Juice. They have picked a very different theme, which has pretty much given us free reign on what to drink, so long as it relates to the letter "S." The theme is "Brought to you by the letter "S."" That sorta makes me want to start singing "C is for cookie and that's good enough for me!"

For this one again, yay!, I was able to dive back into my own wine collection (phew, helps with the wine budget) to get a wine that was easily suitable for this theme.

I chose the 2005 Sonoma County Sky Saddle Syrah. Is that enough esses for you? :) I purchased this wine from WineQ for $25.99 (free shipping cause I spent more than $35), it had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 15.2% alcohol by volume. Sky Saddle is a completely organic and/or biodynamic winery and also uses oak barrels from a sustainable forest. I've had their Zinfandel before and had nothing but raves for it, so I was very excited to try more of what they had to offer.

My first note on this wine is that it needs to be decanted. On first pour/taste, the wine was tight and it definitely needed some time to aerate. Now, an hour or so later, the wine had opened beautifully.

The nose showed berries, plums, spice, red fruit, earth, oak, cream, violets, and white pepper. It was quite a nose once it was allowed to open up. Full of aroma and layer after layer of different scents. I'm sure if I kept sniffing it I would have gotten more, but as usual when I have my nose buried in a glass, Matt was almost through his 2nd glass and I haven't even tasted mine yet.

In the mouth I found tart red raspberries, zingy blackberries, plums, other red fruits, earth, vanilla, berries and cream, pepper. The wine was still a bit tight and tannic. This one could definitely hang out for several more years in my cellar, or else, decant for at least 2 hours before you serve it.

Overall, another great offering from Sky Saddle. I look forward to trying the Cabernet Sauvignon I have hanging around!

Many thanks to Michelle and Erin for the theme and for hosting this month!

Wise One

July 8, 2008

*Disclaimer: I received this wine from Domaine547 as a sample.

The wine for the evening was a 2005 Wise Semillon Sauvignon Blanc Classic White from Australia. In case it wasn't obvious, it's a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. It clocked in at 13% alcohol by volume, had a screw cap closure, and it could, at one time be purchased from Domaine547 for $16.99, but I am incredibly tardy in my review and they are sold out. Not that I get too many samples or anything, but I think I made a mistake in putting them in the wine racks where they would belong if they were wines I purchases. From now on I will clear a rack and designate it for sample so I will be much more timely in my reviews. Sorry Jill!. But I figured I'd review this one anyway in case Jill gets the 2006 in stock and to show you again how great Jill's selection of wine is.

On the nose I found lemon, melon, and white pepper. The nose was reserved a bit, but the melon definitely came out as the glass warmed up a touch. In the mouth I got tropical fruit, pineapple, peach, lime, and lemon.

The wine was acidic, crisp, and tart. I expected the Semillon to weigh it down a bit, but that was not the case at all. I'd describe the flavors in this wine as tongue-tingling...your taste buds felt a little prickly as you drank it. This was certainly a different blend for me and very tasty. Another great choice from Jill.

Rose for the Summer

July 7, 2008
Last summer I was in love with the 2006 Grande Cassagne Rose. It was lovely and delightful for a price tag of about $9. Sadly, I have tried the 2007 and wasn't that impressed. However, I happened upon this 2007 Bougrier Loire Valley Rose D' Anjou and I have found a new love.

I picked this bottle up as part of my 12 under $10 case from Total Wine and More in Alexandria. It clocked in at 10.5% alcohol by volume and had a plastic cork closure.

On the nose I found banana, strawberry, lime, and something almost stony. The nose smelled crisp, it made me want to jump into my glass. In the mouth I got strawberry, raspberry, and slight citrus lacing the entire flavor.

Overall, the wine was extremely dry and the color, although it looks darker here in the picture was one of the palest Roses I have ever seen. It reminded me of the book I just read, Extremely Pale Rose! Crisp and acidic with quite a long finish, this was a very intriguing under $10 bottle of wine and a great bottle. I believe this will be my go-to wine for the summer, if I can find any more....Total Wine seems to not carry it now!

Happy 4th of July!

July 4, 2008

At least, to all my American readers :)

I hope you have a great one!

Stephen & Walker Winery

July 2, 2008
On our second day in Sonoma, we were graciously toured around by a local, Patrick of Iridesse Wines. We couldn't have asked for a better host, it's great to be able to see what's wonderful about a town from the eyes of someone who lives there and knows all the good places to go. I can almost still taste the duck we had at Zin, a place I probably wouldn't have known about/stopped at if Patrick hadn't suggested it.

A new stop for everyone was our last winery of the day. Stephen & Walker Winery just opened as a tasting room in May of 2007 in downtown Healdsburg. They sell all of their wine through the tasting room and produce about 4000 cases.

(Image from the winery website)

We tasted through their line up, though sadly they didn't have any Petite Sirah around since it was limited to club members only.

2005 Monterey Pinot Noir: $36. Cherry, earth, smoky, spice, reserved, strawberry, leather. We took home 2 bottles.

2005 Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley: $36. Smoky, oak, berries, blackberries, thick fruit.

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon: $65. Little funky, saddle room, black fruit, very dark stormy Cab.

2005 Portentous Mendocino: $65. 62% Petite Sirah, 36% Zinfandel, 2% Syrah. Chocolate, berries, blueberry, sweet.

Always fun to check out a new place, and the tasting room was gorgeous. Very nice selection of wines, I only wish I could have tried the Petite Sirah!

Less Old Chardonnay

July 1, 2008
We are currently cleaning out some of the older whites that are hanging around in the basement. Our basement is a pretty good storage place, it stays fairly constant at about 62 degrees, but I don't believe it to be ideal for long term storage conditions. Not to mention it's hot here in DC so we have switched almost entirely to white wine for the summer and don't really have the largest selection of whites in the world!

So the wine for the night was a 2005 Hop Kiln Generations Chardonnay. It hails from the Russian River Valley, clocked in at 14.1% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and cost us $25.60 in a club shipment back when we were members. I do not think this wine saw any oak, as there didn't appear to be a hint of it in the flavors.

On the nose I found green apple, lemon, lime zest, and a sharp tropical fruit aroma. In the mouth the flavors were lime, pineapple, green apple, and a hint of a sweet honey note. The wine was crisp in the mouth, but it seemed that the alcohol content wasn't in balance with the relatively delicate flavors of an unoaked Chardonnay. It tasted a bit alcoholic to me.