Wednesday, April 22, 2009

2005 Waters Crest Campania Rosso

Type Red
Producer Waters Crest
Variety Red Bordeaux Blend (73% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Designation Campania Rosso
Country USA
Region New York
SubRegion Long Island
Appellation North Fork
Disclosure This was received as an unsolicited free sample.



The Little Wooden Guy dances a little jig for a nice surprise from Long Island.

Night One

The nose on this wine is quite pleasant. The opening aromas speak more of Bordeaux than California or Australia, more restrained than jammy, with layers of scent rather than an oak bucket full of jelly dumped on your head. It opens with a bit of tobacco (from the Cab Franc) and unsweetened chocolate, followed by raspberry, some blackberry, then a whole bunch of eucalyptus and a bit of peppermint.

The palate has cherries and raspberries, blackcurrants, tobacco leaf and black pepper. Some red cherry licorice and vanilla are on the mid-palate. Tannins are smooth and quite sweet. The finish is surprisingly long.

Night Two

Interesting. The nose lacks the complexity of Night One. Cherries and some blackcurrant are there, but the tobacco, raspberry, chocolate, and most of all eucalyptus, are all missing. There is, instead of all that, just a bit of vanilla.

On the palate, too, complexity is gone. On Night One this wine sang "Bordeaux" from the glass. On Night Two, though, the song is "Cal-i-fornia Here I Come." Cherries, plum and plum skin lead the attack. Cedar and vanilla, followed by brown sugar, follow on the mid-palate, with the tiniest background echo of tobacco from the Cabernet Franc. Mouth feel remains silky. Tannins are still very sweet. The finish is sweet and long. Drink this one soon. It is ready now, not years from now.

This wine really caught me by surprise. I admit, the Waters Crest wines are the first I ever had from Long Island, and I was not optimistic. Of course, the fact that they sent their wines to The Wooden Guys to review, rather than a site that only posts positive reviews, should have been a hint. On the other hand, wine is more than just juice, and every bottle is the winemaker's baby, and who looks at their own kid and says "she really ain't that cute"? Well let me tell you something, people, she's pretty darned cute. Will anybody confuse this for a 1982 first growth? No, of course not. But line it up blind with a 2001 third growth and darned near anything from Napa in the last ten years, and it will come in, at worst, second. Indeed, I would bet you most people would guess "two from Bordeaux, one from California." I think the mail order retail is under $40, and given the brown sugar and molasses mess you get in so many Cabernets in that price range, this is pretty darned good stuff.



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Sunday, April 19, 2009

2007 Waters Crest Chardonnay Private Reserve

Vintage 2007
Type White
Producer Waters Crest
Variety Chardonnay
Designation Private Reserve
Country USA
Region New York
SubRegion Long Island
Appellation North Fork
Disclosure This was received as an unsolicited free sample.



Night One

I wrestled with the nose for at least thirty minutes before admitting what I was smelling-flat Blue Moon with a lime slice floating atop it, with a toasted toothpick stuck through the lime. But, and this will seem truly weird, in a good way.

The palate is equally odd, and quite similar to the nose. Age flat Blue Moon in heavily toasted French oak (lots of toasty wood, but not vanilla or butter, so not American oak) for 18 months, add a slice of lime, and you will know what this wine tastes like.

Night Two

The nose is not significantly different from Night One. It has the same flat-beer and toasted wood aroma, though the toast is stronger. There is also a little ginger.

The palate is also similar to Night One. The lime is gone, replaced by ginger, but flat beer aged in very heavily toasted oak remains the lead flavor. If you really hunt for it you can find a bit of apple, but not much.

Varietal characteristics show up, not in the flavor, but in the mouth-feel. This is incredibly creamy, mouth-filling, and smooth.

I realize my description does not sound like a great wine, but that would not be fair. Let me tell you what I did. I took this to one my "wine guy," one of the two best palates (IMHO) in Indiana to get his opinion, because this was just so different. On the nose he asked, "Australia?," but no guess on varietal. He picked up chardonnay on the creamy mid-palate, not the flavor. Then he picked up the phone, called the winery, and asked if he could be their exclusive carrier in the State. This is really interesting wine, and you could blind taste-test 100 sommeliers in a row, and if 1 says "Long Island" without cheating, I'll buy you another bottle. The wine guy, by the way, is going to market this as "Cigar Chard," for cigar lovers who prefer white to red, because its mouth-filling toastiness has the body to complement a good smoke.


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Friday, April 17, 2009

2007 Dr. Konstantin Frank Johannisberg Riesling Dry

Type White
Producer Dr. Konstantin Frank
Variety Johannisberg Riesling
Designation Dry
Country USA
Region New York
SubRegion Finger Lakes
Appellation Finger Lakes
Alcohol 12%
Price $19.99



The Bit Wooden Guy does the "Sun Salutation" to welcome a lovely white on the first warm day of the year.

Night One

The color is very pale but the light catches flashes of bright gold.

The nose is very soft and aromatic, starting with pears and honeysuckle, their sweetness tempered by a tiny grating of fresh lemon zest.

Mouth feel is lightly oily and smooth, a full mouth-feel. The initial attack is a bit more tart than suggested by the nose, leading with fresh-cut tangy-sweet pineapple. The mid-palate is softer and sweeter, with pears and honey. At the very end, just as it goes down, there is some nutmeg and a quick flash of Reisling-true petrol. The finish is mid-length.

Night Two

The nose opens softer than on night one, think sliced pears on a thin layer of smashed banana. Put a Ginger Snap three plates over, and you will know the smell of this wine. It is quite pleasant, actually.

The palate opens with tart half-baked apples and some starfruit. The ginger snap from a few plates down pops up on the mid-palate. A flash of petrol quickly appears and disappears at the finish, which then lingers with citrusy starfruit.

This is la lovely bottle of wine. It has just enough sweetnes to line up perfectly against spicy food, and is sunny and smooth enough to sip outside on a sunny afternoon.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

2006 Bradford Mountain Syrah Grist Vineyard

Type Red
Producer Bradford Mountain
Variety Syrah
Vineyard Grist Vineyard
Cases produced 525
French oak, 50% new
Country USA
Region California
SubRegion Sonoma County
Appellation Dry Creek Valley
Disclosure This was received as an unsolicited free sample.





The Wooden Guys "high-five" a really good bottle of wine. This was the sixth out of six of two verticals, and there is no question Bradford Mountain is stepping up its game.

Night One

On Night One this was tasted as part of a multi-bottle vertical tasting.

This wine, just like the '06 Grist Valley Zinfandel, comes in a much heavier bottle than the '04 and '05, an obvious play toward "premiere" recognition.

"A fruit explosion!" Those were the first words out of the mouth of one guest as she got her first whiff of this Syrah. And she was right. It was all blueberry and black cherry.

The palate had blueberry, black cherry, and some dry cranberry in the background. Mace showed up on the mid-palate. Half-way through the mid-palate, quite suddenly there and almost as suddenly gone, but for a lingering echo of the taste, was what can only be described as a "butter hammer." Pure sweet fresh butter, too, not any imitation spread.

Night Two

It remains a big sweet "fruit explosion," blueberries and black cherries, plus some brown sugar.

There is very little left from Night One - it was pretty popular among people who "needed another taste" to get their brains wrapped around the wine. That, or they just wanted some more. The tiny taste that was left, though, promises a darned good wine. The fruit is still there, but it is joined by a double blast of coffee and dark chocolate.

Of the six wines tasted in one night, '04, '05, and '06 Grist Valley Zinfandel, and the '04, '05, and '06 Syrah, this is by far the most complex and interesting. It was also the most popular amongst the group. This is good wine. I wish I had more to give a solid Night Two review, for the few drops that were left showed much more than any of the other wines on any Night.


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Sunday, April 5, 2009

2006 Pierre Morey Bourgogne-Aligoté

Type White
Producer Pierre Morey
Variety Aligoté
Country France
Region Burgundy
Appellation Bourgogne-Aligoté

video

The Little Wooden Guy presents a really interesting wine, one well worth finding and trying for yourself.

Night One

Wow! The nose darned near knocks you out of your seat. What the heck is that? Hang on a minute. Let me think about this one. There are certainly apples, but that is not all. Tons of crushed stone are mixed with white grapefruit pith (not juicy fruit or pungent peel, but lightly-grapefruit-scented pith). There are also some green aromas I can not quite put my finger on, including a tiny speck of fresh crisp asparagus.

The palate is equally startling, and equally challenging. I will start by saying this is clearly a food wine, bursting with strong flavors that would complement many different choices. Okay, on with the review (we'll return to food recommendations later). The primary flavors are still white grapefruit pith and green apple. There is also some stone and, curiously a bit of brass. Apple sneaks out from behind the pith from mid-palate to finish. There is also a little lemon zest on the mid-palate.

Night Two

The nose is far milder on Night Two. It does not blow your nose away from the glass with the same wall of aromas it presented on Night One. That might just be because it was colder, coming from the refrigerator on Night Two, and the cellar on Night One. We will give it some time to see if that is the difference. The aromas are similar to Night One, just more muted. It presents green apple, crushed stone, and citrus pith. On Night Two, the pith is more reminiscent of lime than white grapefruit, with a bit of lime zest mixed into the blend.

The palate, too, is similar to Night One, though softer. Green apple is stronger, and citrus pith is now secondary, but both flavors are still there. The real difference comes at the end of the mid-palate, when a little butter makes an appearance.

This is a fascinating wine, a food wine. I would not select it with anything heavily spiced, as that would be competition, not enjoyment. But pair it with something simple but firmly-flavored, fresh clams or oysters without any sauce, and I think you would have a match made in, well, Burgundy.




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Saturday, April 4, 2009

2005 Bradford Mountain Syrah Grist Vineyard


Type Red
Producer Bradford Mountain
Variety Syrah
Vineyard Grist Vineyard
Cases produced 500
American, French and European oak, 50% new
Country USA
Region California
SubRegion Sonoma County
Appellation Dry Creek Valley
Disclosure This was received as an unsolicited free sample.



Night One

On Night One this was tasted as part of a multi-bottle vertical tasting.

Funk. This opened with Rhone Syrah funk. Beneath that funk was red fruit, cranberries mostly.

The palate began with creme de cassis and fennel. The fruit stayed strong throughout. Spice was clear on the mid-palate, allspice and cinnamon.

Night Two

The funk is mostly gone from Night One, though it remains hovering in the background. Blackcurrant and redcurrant, along with a bit of vanilla, make up the nose.

Blackcurrant and black cherry poured over vanilla ice cream make the initial attack. The mid-palate has some spice, and some dryer red fruit like cranberry, but it is all overshadowed by the vanilla. The vanilla takes over the mid-palate and lingers on the finish.

This opened with more promise, some real earthy funk offering something other than a fruit bomb. Hoever, too much oak robs the fruit of its fine flavors.


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Friday, April 3, 2009

2004 Bradford Mountain Syrah Grist Vineyard

Type Red
Producer Bradford Mountain
Variety Syrah
Vineyard Grist Vineyard
Cases produced 700
French and American oak, 30% new
Country USA
Region California
SubRegion Sonoma County
Appellation Dry Creek Valley
Disclosure This was received as an unsolicited free sample.



The Big Wooden Guy is impressed - Bradford Mountain clearly has a nice hand with Syrah.

Night One

On Night One this was tasted as part of a multi-bottle vertical tasting.

Blackberry and sage made up the nose of this wine.

On the palate, fresh blackcurrant and creme de cassis, together make up the fruit. The sage from the nose is there, too. Redder fruit, including strawberry, showed up on the mid-palate. The mouth-feel was velvety, the tannins extremely smooth. The finish was mid-length. The first impression everybody had was that this first of three Syrahs was superior to the Grist Valley Zinfandels.

Night Two

The Night Two nose is really interesting. There are several different aromas, but the unique one is the sweet woody smokey smell, not of a fire, but of the smoldering of a woodburning iron. It also has blackberry and creme de cassis.

The palate has blackcurrant, fresh and liquor, some sage, and, as it shifts to the mid-palate, applewood-smoked bacon. Throughout the entire palate, way off in the background, is a undercurrent of toasted wood. Tannins are fine, smooth, and mouth-coating.

This is good, but I suspect it will continue to improve with several more years in the cellar. Right now, the fruit is still jammy and dominating, but there are enough interesting possibilities beneath it that some years allowing it to calm down, might pay off brilliantly.


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Thursday, April 2, 2009

2006 Bradford Mountain Zinfandel Grist Vineyard

Type Red
Producer Bradford Mountain
Variety Zinfandel
Vineyard Grist Vineyard
Cases produced 500
French Oak, 40% New
Country USA
Region California
SubRegion Sonoma County
Appellation Dry Creek Valley
Disclosure This was received as an unsolicited free sample.



The Big Wooden Guy is rather fond of this, a significant improvement over the '04 and the '05. At the end, though, the wood still overpowered the fruit.

Night One

On Night One this was tasted as part of a multi-bottle vertical tasting.

The most obvious change from the 2004 and 2005 is the bottle weight- it must weigh 50% more than the earlier bottles.

The nose was classic Zinfandel, blackberries and black pepper.

Blackberries and black pepper were part of the inital attack, but were joined by some red fruit, raspberry. The mid-palate had fennel. This had far less vanilla and cedar than the 2004 or 2005, and that was welcome. The finish was smooth and long.

Night Two

The nose on Night Two was far different than the nose on Night One. Fruit was more red, cranberries and raspberries, rather than blackberries. It still had black pepper.

Raspberry and cranberry opened the attack. There is vanilla on the mid-palate, with a touch of cinnamon. The finish is long and smooth. Tannins are smooth, but not quite silky.

The efforts to make this an upscale wine are obvious beyond the bottle weight- this is more complex, with more layers and depth than the earlier years. I sill find the vanilla too strong, the oak over-powering the fruit.


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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

2004 Bradford Mountain Zinfandel Grist Vineyard

Type Red
Producer Bradford Mountain
Variety Zinfandel
Vineyard Grist Vineyard
Country USA
Region California
SubRegion Sonoma County
Appellation Dry Creek Valley
Disclosure This was received as an unsolicited free sample.



The Little Wooden Guy is torn, because the fruit is very good, but it is ultimately overwhelmed by oak, and he is not a fan of the gratuitous use of wood.

Night One

On Night One this was tasted as part of a multi-bottle vertical tasting.

The nose was full and sweet, with a kick of black pepper. Fruit on the nose was blackberry and black cherry.

The opening attack on the palate was true to the nose, with blackberries, black cherry and black pepper. Licorice appeared on the mid-palate, but was soon overwhelmed by vanilla and cedar. Tannins were mild and smooth. Based upon the vanilla, it seemed like more than 40% new oak.

Night Two

The cherry was more dominating on the nose, and a bit tarter than on Night One. Black pepper was there, too.

Vanilla and cherry were more apparent on the palate, the wood continuing to take a major role in the wine.

This was good, but not great, wine. I was a bit put off by the oak, because the vanilla overwhelmed what seemed like terrific fruit.


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