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Old Chardonnay

June 30, 2008
When we did our basement re-org back in March, it came to light that we had quite a few old white wines hanging around. I have no idea how I forgot about them, or why they weren't in CellarTracker, but there you have it. We've been trying to drink through them before they get too old.

With that in mind, the wine for the evening was a 2004 Fritz Chardonnay. It hails from the Russian River Valley, clocked in at 14.2% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and since it wasn't recorded, I have no idea what it cost, though I'd venture a guess in the mid $20s. I believe it probably came in a club shipment back when we were members.

I first noticed the strong aroma and dark yellow color of the wine. It was easy to tell this was an older white. The nose smelled of citrus, lemon, apple, pineapple, oak, caramel, and spice. In the mouth I found pineapple, green apple, oak, and citrus. The wine was heavy in the mouth, and it was well structured.

Overall, I'd say if you managed to hang onto this one all these years, drink it up. It was starting to lose the flavors in the mouth.

Ta da!

June 29, 2008
Welcome to the new Wannabe Wino!

It took me all day, and I'm partially bald from tearing my hair out, but here is the new version of the site to go along with my new address!

I hope you like the changes, and I will still be tweaking things in the next few weeks as I play with the new template, but this is it. I welcome any comments or thoughts, as always!

Petanque? Who?

June 27, 2008
I gather from the wine label that Petanque is a game of sorts, perhaps slightly bocce like. The wine was a 2007 Michel Schlumberger Viognier. It came in my last club shipment, and since Michel Schlumberger keeps their wine club shipment to $50 no matter what wine is in there, I have no idea what this bottle would retail for. Otherwise, it had a real cork closure and clocked in at 13.4% alcohol by volume.

I've never had a Viognier from Michel Schlumberger before, but boy have I been missing out because this one was a fabulous example of all that can be right about this grape.

On the nose I found pear, honey, peach, honeysuckle, flowers, and lemon. The nose was delightful, very aromatic, making my think of walking by the honeysuckle that used to grow at the top of the road I grew up on.

The mouth was like biting into a fresh, sweet, juicy, just ready to eat pear. Have you had the pears from Harry and David? The flavors were reminiscent of those pears, which to me are the best pears I've ever eaten. I also found some melon, honey, and citrus.

The wine was crisp, but had a nice rounded finish. I don't think this juice saw any oak, which really let the flavors of the grape shine through. I could see how this would be a great wine to sip while playing an outdoor summer game, even if I don't know what that game is!

Budo Kun Says: Wannabe Wino Blogger Pack is Here!

June 26, 2008
And it's only available now through Domaine547! Many moons ago, Jill of Domaine547 approached me with the idea that I would create a bloggerpack of wines that she would sell with my stamp of approval through her wine shop. (Please note, I am not in any way financially involved in Domaine547 and the benefits I received for doing this are not monetary, but instead it was for the experience. In other words, I have no financial stake in you buying this bloggerpack.)

I alluded to this project in an earlier post on Breggo Rose, mentioning how it would be part of an upcoming project. I've been working with Jill for several months now to come up with wines that I really like and that Jill could get. We tossed back and forth a bunch of ideas and I finally settled on a selection of summer sippers from California. All of the wines come from wineries that Matt and I have visited in our travels, and I am very happy to be able to present them all in one place through Domaine547.

In my humble opinion, these wines are perfect for the summer weather we've been experiencing here in the DC area, and I would easily recommend them to sweep away the summer heat. Without further ado, the wines are:

2006 Mauritson Sauvignon Blanc

2007 Michel Schlumberger Pinot Blanc

2007 Breggo Rose of Syrah

The total cost of the pack is $55 plus shipping and handling, which represents a really great deal for these 3 wines. So if you are so inclined, head on over to Domaine547 and buy one! Make sure to let me know what you think of the wines!

Many thanks to Jill for the opportunity and for letting me borrow Budo Kun for the announcement!

Beautiful Bella

June 25, 2008
On our last trip to Sonoma, one of my absolute must visits was to Bella Vineyards. I fell in love with Bella on our honeymoon and we joined their club at that time. However, when we bought our house, we had to make some sacrifices and I had to give up my membership. It was a difficult choice, and I was determined to rejoin as soon as we could.

We twisted Russ' arm to come to Bella with us on our last day in Sonoma (trust me, it didn't take too much convincing!) and off we went, to meet him as soon as the place opened. We expected it to be a slow day, since we were there first thing, and it was a weekday morning, but alas, that was not the case. The cave was packed! I think Bella gets specific accolades from Russ though, as it was the only winery we visited where Russ bought wine!

Somehow, we carved out a tiny spot for ourselves at the tasting bar, and eagerly jumped into the current line up of wines.

2006 Dry Creek Zinfandel: $25. Peppery smoke, blackberries, dark berries, smoky fruit, toast.

2005 Big River Ranch Zinfandel: $36. Bark berry, blueberry, peppery, vanilla, fruity, oak, cinnamon. Very good.

2006 Belle Canyon Zinfandel: Sweeter nose, floral, chocolate, chili pepper, tannic.

2005 Hillside Cuvee: $28. 50% Cabernet Sauvigon, 50% Zinfandel, some Petite Sirah, some Petite Verdot. Big fruit, dark, plum, bold fruit, currants, earth, tannic, a little red fruit. We took home 2 bottles.

2007 Late Harvest Zinfandel: $24. 375 mL. Chocolate milk, earth, plum, blackberry, very nice.

After a lovely visit, I am very happy to be a member of the Bella Wine Club again. We received our first shipment about a month ago and I look forward to many more in the future. If you haven't had a chance to taste Bella's wines, you should seek them or stop by the vineyard if you have a chance!

WBW News! And the WBC NA!

June 24, 2008
I've been remiss in letting you know that Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20 has posted her round up of White Wine Varietals from WBW #46. You can check out all the details here, but the quick breakdown was that 43 bloggers participated and nearly everyone liked their wine. So get out there and try some Rhone whites for the summer!

Second, the next WBW has been announced! Our hosts this month are Erin and Michelle of Grape Juice and they have chose the theme "Brought to you by the letter "S."" By that they want you to choose any wine in the world directly associated with the letter "S." So choose a South African Sauvignon Blanc, or a Seghesio Sonoma Sangiovese, or whatever your heart desires so long as the appellation or the grape or the producer, or something else directly related to the wine starts with "S." Find all the details here.

And finally, the current biggest event in the wine blog world is the Wine Bloggers Conference! Hosted by Open Wine Consortium and Zephyr Wine Adventures, this promises to be the event to meet and greet and learn with all your fellow wine bloggers. The event will occur in October in Sonoma County, lots of good wine will be poured and I for one am very excited to meet the folks that I've been interacting with for almost 2 years now! (Crossing my fingers, it looks about 90% odds that I will be there!)

New Address!

June 23, 2008
Hi there. Wannabe Wino has graduated to its very own domain name and is now located at I'm still redirecting from Blogger, so you can reach me from all old links, but I'd certainly appreciate it if you updated how you get here. And if you link to me, I'd very very much appreciate it if you could update your links to me!

I might be trying some other new format changes around here, so please stay tuned.

Feeling Inspired

*Disclaimer: I received this bottle of wine as part of a Blogger trial of Bottlenotes.

The wine for the evening was a 2005 Inspiration Vineyards Zinfandel. It hails from the Alexander Valley, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, had a plastic cork closure, and can be purchased from Bottlenotes for $22.

On the nose I found currants, cedar, oak, earth, spice, cigars, pipe tobacco, red berries, and pepper. Very aromatic and layered nose for a Zinfandel. Color me impressed. In the mouth I found black cherry, blackberry, white pepper, and spice.

The wine was full of fresh fruit, especially the black cherry flavors. However, this was not by any stretch of the imagination a fruit bomb. The flavors were not all up in your face, instead, it was a really well integrated, very balanced Zinfandel. It could actually be a dangerous one, as I didn't feel like the alcohol content was even noticeable while I was drinking it. Overall, a smooth, balanced, delicious Zinfandel. I can easily recommend this one at this price point.

It smelled like Viognier

June 20, 2008

The wine was a 2006 Quivira "Hommage A Ampuis" Syrah. The wine hails from the Dry Creek Valley (please go see Dr. Deb's excellent rant on the value of multiple varietals from the DCV), clocked in at 14.4% alcohol by volume, and cost me $36 minus a club discount in my club shipment. The notable part about the winemaking technique of this bottle is that the Syrah juice was fermented on Viognier skins (this also makes me wonder if Quivira has a Viognier they've been holding out on!).

And the oddest part was the it smelled like Viognier. If I were doing a blind tasting and hasn't yet actually tasted this wine, I would have said "Viognier!" and been very confident in that proclamation (except for maybe the slightest hint of dark berries, that would have thrown me for a minutes, but I still would have said "Viognier"). The nose was floral, with pears, violets, honeysuckle, and just a suggestion of dark berries. My notes helpfully say "How very odd."

The color of the wine was dark purple, like any other Syrah. So I was expecting it to be big and chewy like a Syrah despite its time spent playing with Viognier skins. Instead, this was a much lighter and delicate red wine on the front of the palate. It showed blackberries, blueberries, spice, cinnamon, and black cherry.

My first glass was tannic on the back of the palate. The wine needed air or time or both to loosen up. I have a second bottle of this in the basement and I will hold it for another year or so to see if the time in the bottle will help the wine integrate a bit more. This is the first Syrah I've had that involves Viognier, though I've seen/read about some that contain upwards of 5% Viognier juice. I think I'd like to get my hands on one of those and see how it compares to this one that simply fermented on the Viognier skins.

I Spier with My Little Eye

June 19, 2008
The wine for the dreadfully hot afternoon was a 2007 Spier Sauvignon Blanc. I picked this bottle up at Total Wine and More in Alexandria as part of a mixed case of under $10 Sauvignon Blancs. I was hoping that would get us through a bit of the summer, but alas, it's only June 19 and the case is gone. Another Total Wine trip may have to work its way into my weekend plans.

The wine hails from South Africa and is made by Spier Stellenbosch. More specifically it is from the Western Cape, had a plastic cork closure, and clocked in at 13% alcohol by volume.

Figs, tropical fruit, tart grass (yes, I realize that sounds strange and it would probably be me aptly described as freshly mowed grass, but tart was the first adjective that popped into my head), asparagus, and citrus. In the mouth, I got a fruit salad. Peach, fig, pineapple, citrus, melon, it was the drinkable equivalent of a refreshing hot afternoon snack.

The wine was crisp, but not mouth puckeringly so like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and exceedingly refreshing. Matt gave this one some high praise, proclaiming it "very drinkable." For an inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc, this is definitely a great value.

The Goose is Loose!

June 18, 2008
We stopped at Toulouse Vineyards in the Anderson Valley on the first day of our latest California trip. The tasting room staff at Roederer highly recommended the place, so we thought we'd give it a shot. I hadn't previously heard of Toulouse, they are fairly new with their first vintage being made in 2002. Total, the winery produces about 2600 cases a year.

Upon entering, we were greeted by owner Vern and the winery dog Tess who directed us into the barn for a tasting. We picked the right day to come, they were just wrapping up harvesting olives, so Matt got to sample the wares!

Everyone was very friendly and seemed genuinely happy that we had stopped by. Including a tiny new bundle of white fur that was joining the winery dog staff. The new puppy didn't seem to want us to leave and kept following us to our car!

2007 Rose of Pinot Noir: $22. Roses, watermelon, strawberry, dry. I really liked this one and we took home 2 bottles.

2007 Estate Riesling: $22. Floral peach, honey, light.

2007 Gewuartraminer: $22. Spicy, floral, fruity, honey, acidic, good structure.

2007 Pinot Gris: $22. Pear, peach, citrus, very nice fruit. 3 bottles came back to VA with us.

2006 Pinot Noir: $39. Cherry, leather, spice, earth, very light, tannic. Good, needs time.

2005 Estate Pinot Noir: $39. Fruitier then the 2006. Plum, cherry, bright fruit, vanilla, berries, maple syrup on the finish. We bought one bottle.

2003 Estate Pinot Noir: Raisins, sweet, almost port like, smooth cherry, very nice.

Overall, I thought all of the wines were solid and well done. I can easily recommend a stop at Toulouse, both for the wines and for the hospitality. And not to mention the dogs :)

Sheepy Sauvignon Blanc

June 17, 2008
The wine for the afternoon was the 2007 Breggo Sauvignon Blanc. I picked this bottle up on our last California trip at the winery. The bottle cost me $25, had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 14% alcohol by volume. Grapes for the wine hail from Ferrington Vineyard in the Anderson Valley.

On the nose I found melon, lime, citrus, and tropical fruit. In the mouth the wine showed citrus, lime, grapefruit, and melon. The wine was light and crisp in the mouth with great acidity. Overall I'd describe it as yummy, very tart and refreshing.

We drank this on it's own one hot Saturday afternoon after a long day of yard work. It certainly hit the spot for that! I'd serve it with some of the crab and fish dishes I intend to make this summer!

Twisted Tempranillo

June 16, 2008
Twisted Oak wines seem to be pouring into my basement from all directions! Not only am I a Twisted Few member, but these sneaky wines seem to make it into my WineQ Q almost every shipment! This particular bottle, the 2004 Twisted Oak Tempranillo came to us via WineQ. I purchased it for $23.99 (free shipping), it clocked in at 13.9% alcohol by volume, and had a real cork closure.

On the nose I found cedar, dark fruit, blackberry, smoke, leather, vanilla, fireplace, raspberry, cherry, and anise. The nose was beautifully aromatic and I kept finding more aromas as I dipped my nose back into my glass. Per usual, Matt was done with this first glass before I even took a sip of mine!

In the mouth I got flavors of raspberry, cherry, spice, and anise. I was a bit surprised by all the red fruit in the mouth, after the nose I expected the wine to be darker and brooding! The fruit in the mouth was a bit sweet, but not in a bad way.

Overall, a good wine, and I look forward to trying the 2005 that arrived in my latest Twisted Few shipment!

Revisiting the Valley

June 13, 2008
Matua Valley that is! I first purchased this wine last year while out in California. That was the 2006 vintage and we really enjoyed it for its crisp refreshing nature. So when I saw the 2007 at Total Wine and More, I grabbed a bottle. The wine was a 2007 Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. It cost me $9.99, had a screw-cap, and clocked in at 13% alcohol by volume.

On the nose the peppers jumped out at me! After they blew off, I found grapefruit, citrus, asparagus, and lemon. In the mouth, the fruit was grapefruit all the way, with lemon, and an odd bit of pear. The wine was crisp and tart and perfect for our hot hot hot weather!

PS: Happy Friday the 13th! I'm off for the weekend to my college reunion, see you all on Monday!

WBW #46-White Rhone Varietals

June 11, 2008
That's right folks, it's that time of the month again, WBW! This month, our gracious host is the wonderful Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20. She has set us to the task of picking a wine made from any White Rhone Varietal from anywhere in the world. This left the field wide open for wine from almost anywhere since Rhone varietals are being planted in lots of different places, and it gave a choice of many different grape varieties, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Rousanne...

With the task in mind, I went straight to my basement, where many CA Viogniers live. If I had not been traveling for work all last week, I would have been a little more ambitious and tried to compare one of the CA examples to one from the actual Rhone, but alas, it was not to be. Instead, in keeping with the regular theme of Dr. Deb's blog, I decided to shoot for a wine that under $20!

I chose the 2006 Hannah Nicole Viognier. I purchased this wine from WineQ, it cost me $15.99 (free shipping!), and clocked in at a hefty 15% alcohol by volume. I was a bit thrown off by this high of an alcohol level in a white wine, but in general I don't have problem with high alcohol in wine so long as the wine remains balanced, as this one did.

On first sniff, I had to laugh. We had a Syrah that had been fermented on Viognier grape skins (complicated, huh?) the other night, and the Hannah Nicole smelled exactly like the Syrah. My nose was all confused having a white wine that smelled exactly like the red we had consumed the night before!

After my initial confusion passed, I found the wine to be very floral. It showed great strong aromas of honeysuckle, pears, and peaches, topped off with a creamy vanilla note. In the mouth the wine was crisp, which I didn't really expect since it had been aged in new and old oak. The flavors I found were grapefruit, peach, pears, and some other citrus.

The wine was tingly and tart on the front of the palate, while the oak seemed to have given it a creamy feel mid-palate. Overall, I thought this wine was very refreshing, which is not a characteristic I usually associate with an oaked white wine, but I was pleasantly surprised. This was definitely a good value for the $15.99 price I paid for it.

Now, I know Dr. Debs was trying to get us to see the wonderful qualities of White Rhone Varietals for the summer, but I'm already a convert! One of my favorite pairings last years was a Roussanne with fresh crab legs. Though I will highly recommend that you follow her lead and toss a few White Rhone grapes into your drinking line up for the summer!

Many thanks to Dr. Debs for hosting this month, and as usual, I will let you know when the round-up is posted and what next month's theme is!

More Merlot Please!

June 9, 2008
I unabashedly love a good California Merlot. The problem is, it's often hard to find a good one given Merlot's bad rap and tendency towards flabby overoaked plonk. So when I find a good one I feel like shouting from the rooftops. This is one such Merlot.

The bottle was a 2003 Raymond Reserve Merlot from Napa. It clocked in at 14.3% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and was a gift from my Dad. My first thought on the wine was that it needed time to air, but after that it opened up into a really beautiful bottle of wine.

On the nose I found plum, blackberries, black pepper, chocolate, red cherry, and raspberries. It was a gorgeous combination of red and black fruit topped with chocolate. In the mouth I got more red fruit, cherries, raspberries, and then some plums and blackberries. The cherry was quite tart, like a fresh cherry pie.

The wine had plenty of structure and backbone to spare, I could easily see it holding up for many more years if you want to stash it away. It's a wonderful wine, especially at a price of what looks to be around $20.

Ooh, Raisins!

June 6, 2008
That was my first thought on opening tonight's wine. The wine was a Burger Family 2006 Rietvallei Red Muscadel. It hails from South Africa, cost me $16.99 at Tinderbox in Atlanta, and clocked in at a hefty 16% alcohol by volume. It had one of those half cork with a plastic top closures. Sorry no pictures, I'm traveling and don't have my camera.

The color was that of a very dark rose. I've never had a Red Muscadel, or a white one for that matter. The nose was sweet, very sweet, like candied raisins. Honey also dominated, which I thought strange for a red wine. The taste and smell were almost port-like. I realize this is a dessert wine, but the high alcohol, raisin scent and flavor all scream port to me. As did the firey way it went down my throat.

I really do think someone who enjoys Port would love this wine. It doesn't quite have the nuances of a Port, but I could see if being very good with dessert, particularly a vanilla ice cream with this drizzled over it, or a chocolate tort.

Two Contests and a Reminder

June 5, 2008
I've been getting some email lately about contests that I think might interest my readers.

The first comes from the blog Wine for Newbies. Andre is hosting a quiz on his blog with several prizes, including a food and wine pairing kit, and some cool coasters. All you need to do is pop on over and answer his questions about wine and send him your response before June 8! Here's the link to the quiz. Best of luck!

I also heard from Emily of Marx Foods yesterday. She contacted me because of my post about not having any salmon for a wine I was drinking! Her company is holding a summer salmon recipe contest and the prize is 15 pounds of wild caught salmon(shipped to you in 3 5lb shipments throughout the summer)! You can head on over to Marx Foods to submit your recipe by June 20.

And finally, a reminder. WBW #46 is next Wednesday! I failed to mention it earlier, but the good Dr. Debs over at Good Wine Under $20 is our host this month and she has chosen White Rhone Varietals as our theme. The twist is that the wine can come from anywhere in the world so long as it is made with a traditional Rhone white your Marsanne, Roussane, Viognier, etc. can read all the details over at her WBW post. I'm excited for this one, as it's the first WBW since I hosted where I can just head on down to my basement and pluck a bottle from my shelves!

I've been a bad blogger

June 4, 2008
And I apologize profusely. I just now realized that I have not responded to comments since March 31. I could offer you every excuse in the book, but the truth is simply that I got busy and have of recent found it very hard to find the time to blog, let alone do anything else. I believe things have calmed down (at least I hope, as I sit here in Atlanta for work yet again, staring down the barrel of another potential few weeks here, then two weeks in St. Louis....) though I can't make any promises.

With nice weather springing up, we have refocused on house projects at the WannabeWino Casa, not to mention that spring brings weddings, reunions, bbqs, and other events that have seen me traveling frequently and not attending to my duties as a wine blogger.

Again, my apologies, and I will attempt to step up both the posting, responding to comments, and commenting on other blogs. Though, as usual, I am always reading, the darn firewall just prevents me from actually using my lunch time or breaks to visit and comment!

Thanks as always for reading and sticking with me.


Our First Stop in Sonoma

As you may know by now, we took our annual spring time pilgrimage to Sonoma this March and spent out first day tasting in the Anderson Valley. The main purpose of heading up that way was to stop at Roederer Estates, a vineyard we visited 2 years ago on our first trip to Sonoma. However, we had some time to kill before they opened (I'm a little eager when it comes to visiting wineries, and since I was doing the driving, I had us up and ready to taste well before most places opened) so we popped into Navarro Vineyards. I had previously heard of Navarro from many other bloggers but had never tasted any of their wines myself.

Kind of needless to say, but we were the first people to sidle up to the tasting bar that morning, so we had the full attention of the tasting room attendants. Navarro has an enormous selection of wines, Matt and I each tasted 8. Even though I was spitting and intended to all day, I didn't want to taste through the whole line-up that early in the morning. I remember another occasion where the first tasting of the day consisted of around 24 wines, and even though I was spitting, it sorta killed me early on in the day. We had a full day planned and I wasn't getting waylaid by my first stop this time!

Navarro's tasting room is of modest size, though it had a gorgeous porch overlooking the vineyards. I'm sure on a busy day it gets crowded inside, though they did have a second, smaller tasting bar right off to the right when you first walked in.

2006 Pinot Gris: $18. Citrus, dry, orange, crisp, tart, very refreshing. We took home one.

2006 Sauvignon Blanc: $17. Light floral, melon, tart, acidic.

2006 Gewurztraminer: $19. Spicy, floral, orange blossoms, dry, mineral. One came home with us.

2006 Edelzwicker: $12. Blend of Gewurzt and Riesling. Spice, dry, but sweet than the Gewurzt alone, a cinnamon essence. One made it into our purchase.

2005 Pinot Noir: $28. Vanilla, cherry, tar.

$2005 Zinfandel Old Vines Cuvee: $29. New release at the time. Berries, dark, juicy, peppery. One came home with us.

$2005 Mouvedre: Not listed on the menu, so no price. Reserved, very good, not overwhelming. Understated fruit. I liked this one a lot, one made it into our box.

2005 Syrah: Dark currants, cherry, pepper.

2004 Petite Sirah: $27. Blueberries, pepper, spices, berries, nice fruit. We bought one bottle.

And finally, we also took home a bottle of the 2006 Riesling Cluster Select Late Harvest. I didn't actually taste this one, Matt did. He's the dessert wine guy in our house, but I took his word for it and one of the little bottles came home with us at a cost of $29.

All in all, a nice first stop, though you can see that I was eager and itching to buy some wine....6 bottles on the first stop of the day!! That pace didn't slow too much the whole time, and I think we amassed just shy of 7 new cases of wine (if you count the futures case that we'll get in the fall....).

Cheap and Cheerful Sauvignon Blanc

June 3, 2008
The time of year has come where humidity has descended on the District and we have retreated into the air conditioning. When we do venture out, it's rarely without a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Thus I made one of my trips to Total Wine to scoop up a couple cases of cheap Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, New Zealand, and South Africa.

One of those bottles (all of which came in under $9 a bottle) was a 2007 Arakena Sauvignon Blanc from Chile. It clocked in at 13% alcohol by volume and had a plastic closure.

On the nose I found lemon grass, grass, citrus, and lychee. I swear I almost thought I found the cat pee that you see in some Sancerre, but it disappeared so quickly that I think perhaps I imagined it. In the mouth I got peach, lemon, and grass. The wine was tart and a little bitter on the back of the palate. The wine was tasty, but not as refreshing as others I've had.