Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Joseph Drouhin Bourgogne Véro 2005

12.5% alcohol

The little wooden guy is not pleased with this wine. Read on to find out why.

The color is very light clear red. The nose opens tart and fruity, sour cherry and strawberries. The fruit sweetens after the initial tartness, smelling candied with brown sugar or maple. There is also just enough of a whiff of earth to tell you it is likely French.

The palate opens all sour fruit, sour cherries and sour strawberries. That sweetns a little on the finish, adding a sense of red licorice. Tannins were slightly drying but smooth.

Will this close down on night two, or will it soften and open up, revealing something other than red fruit? Let us find out together.


Sour cherries and strawberries still lead the nose, but there is also some caramel and some sage. It actually seems, on the nose, to have closed a bit from night one. The palate is still sour cherries, but deeper, a bit richer, with blackberries throw in instead of the sweeter strawberries of the night before. A little Dr. Pepper followed, then a hint of spice. Overwhelmingly, though the sour cherries and blackberries deominated from start to finish, without significant transition to midpalate or finish.

This is a disappointingly one-dimensional wine. Yes, I know, at $19.99 it is practically free by the standards of 2005 Burgundy, but why bother? There are far more intersting wines from other regions for the same amount of scratch.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Domaine de l'Oratoire St Martin Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne Réserve des Seigneurs 2004

Cotes du Rhone Villages
14% alcohol

The little wooden guy is pleased to make a new friend.

The nose opens with definite minerality, red fruit cooled on a bed of cold crushed rocks. The fruit smells are light, cranberry and strawberry, the flowers and tobacco. It is a little closed immediately after opening.

"Oh my that's interesting!" That was my immediate thought when I tasted this wine. First, it was absolutely nothing like the nose. Strawberries and cola, licorice and tobacco, all meet on the attack. Mid-palate is dark cherries, pastry and vanilla, then it ends with sea salt and olives. This is really interesting. Tannins are clearly present but not drying, and fine. Finish is very long, and the after-taste continues to evolve just like the wine in your mouth.

Two hours later- The nose is still fairly closed, giving up mostly strawberry and mineral. If I smelled it blind I would guess pinot noir. Tannins are far more dominant now. Strawberries and cola are there, but more concentrated, darker, and black pepper has joined the band. Tobacco is more dominant on the midpalate and the licorice has entirely disappeared, with black pepper flowing throughout the wine's narrative. The end, also, is more tannic, a taste of strong black tea washing over the olives. I was wondering after the first try whether this would be too flabby, lacking in tannins, to last for any length of time. Now, though, a tannic backbone is not just making an appearance, but dominating. It should really be interesting to see what it does on night two.

Two more hours later- Now, for the first time, this smells like a southern Rhone wine. It has that barnyard bouquet I have come to expect, along with smoked meat, pepper and dark fruits. Dark fruit, pepper, orange peel, and meat make a mouth-filling palate. The tannins are smoother, silkier, but still firmly making themselves known, providing a strong foundation. Tobacco shows up on the midpalate, and the finish is still long.


Barnyard, licorice, and meat open the nose, but it quickly settles down into sweet caramel, vanilla and flowers. The nose is entirely different than NIGHT ONE. Blackberries and blackcurrants, then smoked meat and tobacco, finishing with firm tannins and unsweetened cranberries. The finish lingers, with a memory of cranberry and tobacco.

This is a very interesting wine, rapidly evolving and showing terrific complexity and depth, particularly for the price point, $27.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Norton Reserva Malbec 2004

Lujan de Cayo

The little wooden guy shrugs- not great, not bad, and a pretty good price. What's not to like?

From the bottle notes:

Bodega Norton was founded in 1895 at the highest point of the Mendoza River Valley. The estate winery is located in the foothills of the Andes, at altitudes ranging begtwen 850 and 1100 meters above sea level.

"Reserva" is made from carefully selected grapes from vineyards more than 30 years old. The wine is aged 12 months in rench oak barels and then additionally in botles before release.

Our people's passion, together with the harmonious coexistence of fruit and wood over time, have made this a great wine, characterized by elegance and complexity.

The nose of this wine is very powerful, baking bread, black plums and meat, then espresso and cocoa.

Chocolate covered cherries open the palate, folowed by leather and sour cherries. Mouth feel is a little thin, tannins are dusty, and it just feels a bit out of balance. Fruit is not overpowering. Tanins are not overpowering. Alcohol is not overpowering. Nothing stands out as too much or too little, so I have a hard time saying exactly what does not work, but it feels like a jigsaw puzzle that makes a nice picture, but none of the pieces quite fit together. On the other hand, this is an $8 bottle of wine, and at that price point getting a nice picture is a frickin' miracle.


Vanilla, blackberries and cocoa open the nose, which is far lighter than the night before. The wine is warmer than the night before, because I did not store it in the cellar overnight. That may also explain why it was so much hotter, the alcohol making its presence far more obtrusive.

Vanilla and blueberry pie with pepper open the palate. There is a midpalate to this $9 wine, which adds cocoa and leather. Tannins are a bit dusty. The finish is suprisingly long but turns sour at the very end.

This is not a great wine, but it is a great bargain. It is better balanced than the first night. It is also a very good example of a reasoanbly priced malbec. If you have tried it, or you want to introduce a friend to the grape, this is a good way to go.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Raymond Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2005

Napa Valley, California
14.4% alcohol

From the bottle notes:

Raymond Napa Valley Reserve wines reflect a family dedication to excelllence and five generations of Napa Valley winemaking. Viticulture and winemaking experience, along with premium fruit from vineyards selected for climate and soil type, are combined to produce consistently superb wines.

Did you notice upon what the little wooden guy was standing? Yeah, this is pretty obviously cabernet, with the classic blackcurrant signature.


The nose opens with blackcurrant jelly, a lot of blackcurrant jelly, plus a bit of plum. After a few minutes some cigar box and a hint of mint come through the fruit.

The initial attack was black fruit and sour unripe plums. Alcohol was a little hot, the wine a little thinner than expected, medium rather than full bodied. The tannins were puckeringly dry. Finish was medium length.

Based on the sharpness and the super-dry tannins, I expect big changes from day one to day two.


What a difference a day makes.

The nose was still blackcurrant jelly, but now the sharpness and heat were down and some vanilla made an appearance. Secondary smells followed, cedar and lavendar, and even here for a sceond and gone again roses. Nobody would smell this and think anything other than "Napa Cab."

The firs tastes in this were, you guessed it, blackcurrant jelly, but instead of being joined by unripe plums like on night one, black cherries were the dance partner. Vanilla didn't actually cut in, just danced gently in the background, and vanilla and rose waltzed onto the floor for the second verse of the song. Tannins were soft and smooth. Wine was dry, but not puckering. Instead they just made a firm backbone, offering promise of cellar growth. Throughout night two the wine softened, getting a better more full-bodied mouth feel.


This was a good, not great but good, classic Napa Cab, all blackcurrants and vanilla. Raymond Vineyards avoided the temptation to over-oak this under-$30 wine, something I truly appreciate. Based upon the two day tasting, I think it will improve for a few years. Nobody will ever mistake it for a First Growth Bordeaux, but they will also not guess it came from the middle shelf at the grocery store. If you ever hold a wine tasting for your wine-neophyte friends, a "let me show you what a typical cabernet should be" sort of event, thiswould be a great candidate.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Crios de Susana Balbo Rose of Malbec 2007

Mendoza, Argentina
13.8% alcohol

As the little wooden guy is pointing out, this came with a screw-top. He didn't mind. he really liked this wine.

From the bottlenotes:

Wines under my Crios (offspring) label display ripe fruit flavors, excellent balance, and are meant to be enjoyed in their vibrant youth. This rose is produced using the traditional "saignee" method, a blending of the lightly - colored juice from the skins of my fermenting old-vine Malbec grapes at just the right time to generate a brilliant red color. Old-vine Malbec grapes create a richer, spicier wine than most other roses from around the world, which gives the wine memorable flexibility to pair with a wide range of foods. And like my own crios, this Rose of Malbec is extremely lovable and fun to be around.

The color was bright translucent pink, the color of cranapple juice.

The nose was sweet, strawberry, candied cherries and some spice, maybe cloves and ginger. It was full-bodied, a true child of the juice and the skins, rather than just the juice, with the skins in the role of a distant uncle. The palate opened with sweet fruit, strawberry and cherries, but a firm midpalate of smoke, cloves and ginger said this was a serious wine. Then it got playful again, ending in candied fruit and ginger, like a fresh holiday fruit cake.


Close your eyes and take a sniff- is that a glass of wine or am I in a room full of strawberries? Nope, not just strawberries, there are some Ruby Red grapefruit here, too, and cinnamon.

Sip it. Strawberries first, just like the nose, a touch of cocoa powder that reminds you it comes from malbec grapes, then the same Ruby Red grapefruit and cinammon from the nose. Some of the cherries from night one join for the finish.

This is a good rose. It is bright, acidic, fresh, and even just slightly tannic. This is a rose that reminds you it really does come from a red grape, not just a tinted white.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Groom Shiraz 2004

Barossa Valley, South Australia
$34.98 in Indianapolis
13.03% alcohol
Maturation: 15 months, 100% American oak hogsheads
(25% new, 60% 1-year old, 15% 2-year old)

The little guy in the picture just loved this wine.

From the winemaker:

Overall, the 2004 vintage in Australia proved to be quite a challenge for winemakers and viticulturists. A roller-coaster ride, in fact. After the drought conditions of 2003 the high winter rainfall that followed was most welcome. We were off to a great start, and our hopes soared. In contrast, December, mid-season for vine growth, was the hottest we had seen in 10 years. January brought mild, windy weather but was followed by searing heat in February. Thankfully toward the end of the month the heat wave broke, and the rest of the vintage saw cool, sunny days that allowed the fruit to ripen slowly under much more gentle conditions. Harvest itself was late, well into April.

The 2004 Shiraz typifies our desire to allow the vineyard and the climatic conditions of the year to be expressed in the resultant wine. This wine is deep and rich in color, interestingly exhibiting characters of white and black peppercorn, classic characteristics of Shiraz grown in cooler climates. This is representative, along with slightly lower p/h and alcohol content, of the mild, cool finish to the season. The wine is earthy with plum undertones and has beautiful, natural acidity evident on the finish. This is a delicious food friendly wine that will age for many years. Enjoy!


The color was deep garnet. The nose gave up dark cherries and plums, pepper and nutmeg. It was wonderfully promising, offering a suggestion of a well-balanced wine. it kept that promise, too, opening with cherries, plums, vanilla and white pepper, then caramel and blackberry. It was fruity, but a strong backbone of smooth tannins and good acidity gave it great balance.


I did not put the bottle back in the cellar between night one and night two, so the second night was tasted at room temperature. The nose on night two was plums and raspberries. The palate opened with blueberry, plums and vanilla, with a midpalate of black fruit and a bit of oak. Tannins were even softer than the night before, even silky, and the backbone was still firm enough to balance the sweetness.

This wine was not cheap, at $34 a bottle, but I would put this up against any $50-$75 big name Australian shiraz, and have another bottle left to drink later. Maybe the key was a mere 25% new oak, rather than the 100% new oak of the big blowsy fruit bombs floating over from the land down under these days.

Yalumba Shiraz & Viognier 2004

Barossa, South Australia
95% Shiraz, 5% Viognier

This is a blend I usually like, but this one was too sweet. The second night showed big improvement, but still not something I would run out and buy again.


The first aromas out of the glass were brown sugar and maple. Several minutes later some red berries showed up and, curiously, a bit of cucumber. The palate started with black fruit and plum skins, then the brown sugar and vanilla took over in an overly-sweet midpalate. The finish was short and too much like a Sweet Tart for my personal tastes.


The nose was better balanced on night two, showing cherry and vanilla, but not overpoweringly sweet. Strawberry and black cherry were up front on the palate, vanilla and pepper joined on the midpalate. That was the first hint of spice, or balance. The finish was mid-length with obvious alcohol. It was far better than the first night, so if you have some of this hang on to it for a while or decant it. But, unless you like big sweet vanilla fruit, don't run out now to get your wine store's last bottle.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Steltzner Vineyards Claret 2005

Napa Valley
14.2 alcohol

Are you puzzled about the difference from one vintage to another? Have you read the advice 'in France buy vintage, in America buy maker'? Try the 2004 and this 2005 together and you will reach a different conclusion. You will react like the little guy in the picture, pushing the '05 away.

Blackberries and vegetation, plus a touch of vanilla, were the only aromas a faint nose would surrender. The palate was not quite as stingy, opening with chocolate-covered cherries, some strawberry, then raspberry and vanilla. This was fruit and little else, lacking balance. The tannins were gritty and the finish a bit sour. The 2005 lacked the elegance or balance of the 2004.

Maybe it will be better tomorrow night.

Another second-night turn-around, and a good one.

The nose was far more open, happily sending up waves of fresh aromas, starting with strong prune just as the Vacuu-Vin was opened, plus some pine. Soon the stronger prune gave way to blackcurrant and a background of menthol and mint. What a difference from the night before, just huge.

The palate, too, was completely different. It opened with a big mouthfull of fruit- prune, blackcurrant and blackberries, then the menthol and pine from the nose appeared. The finish was smooth, tart with black fruit. The gritty tannins from the night before had simply disappeared, leaving smooth slightly drying tannins to offer a supporting backbone.

The little guy in the picture was wrong. He should not have pushed it away. He should just have given it a year or two in the cellar.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Pedroncelli Petite Sirah 2004

Sonomoa County
Dry Creek Vineyards
14.8% alcohol

The Bottlenotes:

Only hand picked grape from the Dry Creek Vineyards are used for this wine. Our Petite Sirah offers aromas and flavors of spicy black pepper, ripe blackberry and black cherry. This is a full-bodied wine with firm tannins. Our family has lived and tended vins in Dry Creek Valley, northern Sonoma County, since 1927. We're proud of our heritage and proudly offer this Petite Sirah as a complement to your favorite meal.

The Pedroncelli Family

Deep inky black color with purple edges.

Vanilla, black pepper and toasted coconut open the aroma, soon followed by cinammon and tobacco. Blackberry and vanilla, pepper, and bitter hash tannins. The midpalate is bitter, cocoa made an appearance for a moment, but was overpowered by the bitterness, which extended through the finish.


What a difference a day makes. This is why I started "2 Days per Bottle." I promise, this is the same wine I tried last night.

The nose now shows fruit first, blackberries and black cherries, plus a bit of brown sugar. The first sip is a mouthfull of blackberries, then ripe cherries, some plums, brown sugar and a touch of pepper. It ends with vanilla topping on a blackberry pie. Tannins are far finer and softer than the night before. the finish is still dry, but the bitterness is all gone. This softened into a very nice wine.

Ravenswood Zinfandel Vintners Blend 2003

13.5% Alcohol

Full, dark, spicy, fruity and -more than anything- fun, Zinfandel is Calfornia's ...

screw the bottlenotes. Go straight to my first video review.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Chateau Pichon-Longueville 1997

Cru Classe Pauillac
Second Growth
13% alcohol

Clear brickish red, just turning orange around the edges.

Plums and violets, a very floral nose. Spicebox and tobacco, and a bit of herbaceousness.

Plum skins, blackberries and violets, then some bacon fat, then more florals, all on a rapidly shifting, multi-layer palate. The finish is long, the tannins are smooth. This is a very nice bottle of wine, only an hour after uncorking. Tomorrow should be very interesting.


Blackcurrant, a touch of clove, lavender, and tobacco aromas on the second night.

Blackcurrant and cigar box, followed by plum skins, lavender and mint on the midpalate. The tannins are very smooth, and the wine still a bit dry. The finish is long and floral. There is more life left in this bottle, even though 1997 was not considered a great year, only a good "drink now" year.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Forefathers McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004

McLaren Vale
14.4% alcohol

From the bottle notes:

Forefathers is a collection of single vineyard, single varietal wines produced in the most renown appellations of the New Wrold. The exceptional combination of exposure, soil and climate in these apellations stamp their signature on the classic varietals. In turn, these new World appellations have become the "forefather" or new benchmark for these wines.

In your hand is a wine created by winemaker Nick Goldschmidt from shiraz grapes grown on a prime 15-acre vineyard on Coppermine Road in the McLaren Vale. This wine is rich with notes of plum, spice and sweet vanilla.

This was a dark shiny new purple, just what you would expect from a new shiraz.

It is from Australia. Between that and the bottle notes of "plum, spice and sweet vanilla" I expect an oaky fruit-bomb. That is not, however, what shows up first on the nose. The first whiff is barnyard and earth, more Rhone than Australia. Plums, blackberries and pepper follow, but this does not scream "AUSTRALIA!!!," at least not on the nose. On the palate, a bit more so, though not completely spoofulated. Blackberry and vanilla are there for sure, but there is also spice and cedar and, to my surprise, some tobacco. On night one, this was a fairly well balanced wine.


Cedar and spice, then vanilla and blueberries, are the second-night nose. Plums, spice, and a touch of tobacco open the palate and is then sweetened by brown sugar and vanilla on the midpalate, followed by blackberries and vanilla. The feel is rich, mouth-filling.vvThe finish is long, the tanins smooth and sweet.

This is good wine. It is not great wine, for it lacks any delicacy, but it is certainly good, well balanced, and quite reasonably priced at about $20. I have about half a glass left. Perhaps we can see how it fares on night three.

Nope, I need to pull back on this one a bit. By the time I was halfway through a glass it had become cloying, all brown sugar and vanilla. I was fooled up front, but as the glass went on it just seemed to get sweeter and sweeter.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

WBW #47- Paul Jaboulet Aîné Cornas 1996

Appellation Cornas Controlee
Northern Rhone
13% Alcohol
$39.98 in Indianapolis, IN

Wine Blogging Wednesday is brought to you this month by the letter "S," as is "Syrah." Today's wine is made with 100% Syrah grapes. Today's very clever subject was hosted by Erin and Michelle of grape Juice. This Syrah, known as "Shiraz" in Australia, may surprise (another "S") you if you expected a big jammy fruit bomb. This older Cornas is about as far as you could get from a Parkerized jelly jar.

The first thing I noticed about this wine was the length of the cork. Here is a picture of it next to an average-sized cork:

The age showed in the color. It was brick red, but with no hint yet of brown, or even orange at the rim.

A bottle of mixed olives greet your nose, even before it gets all the way to the glass. There is some spice, too, but not sweet spices. There is salt, a lot of salt, then pepper and the tarragon sneaks through. Keep digging, get past the olives, because there is a flower hiding under there somewhere. It is an old flower past its prime, but strong, perhaps magnolia.

Olives also greet you on the palate, salty olives. Then the midpalate starts to develop and roses, fresh fragrant roses, join the show, with a side of extra peppery bacon and the tarragon from the nose. Tannins are silky mouth feel is full and rich. The finish is long, with leather, roses and salt.

Will fruit show tomorrow? Will the salt mellow? Join me and we will find out.


Nope, no better. Get a bottle of green olives, remover the olives, put one old rose petal in it, and drink. Or don't. I vote "don't."

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Steltzner Vineyards Claret 2004

Napa Valley
14.5% Aclohol
$16.99 in Indianapolis, IN

From the bottle notes:

Since 1965 our Family has been dedicated to producing wines of exceptional quality in the heart of the Stags Leap District. Napa Valley Claret is a blend of tranditional Bordeaux varietals. Our blend is based on the appeal of age-old Bordeaux red wines, but crafted today to reveal fleshy berry flavors.

Lift a glass of Stltzner Vineyards Clare in toast to friends and family in lesure and good cheer!

The nose explodes with fruit, blackcurrants and blackberries, with a touch of clove and a hint of lavendar, followed by plums. The perfume of this nose is delicious.

Blackberry and blackcurrant are sweetened on the palate with blueberries. There is vanilla, but not huge oak, and velvety sweet tannins like silk. The finish is long and brings in some mint and eucalyptus along with berry pie.

This is fruity but not overblown or overoaked. I do not know the exact blend, but would guess it is merlot-heavy based on the up front fruit, with a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon, based on the currants.


The nose is still wondefully sweet with fruit, a bit of cherry now joins the black fruit, with cedar and some florals.

Blackcurrants and blackberries, plus some tart cherries open the palate, joined by a hint of olive before turning to spice. The midpalate is a blackberry, cherry, and clove pie, and it ends with slightly drying smooth tannins and yes, still a touch of eucalyptus.

This is a good wine with a fantastic QPR. It is good now and seems to have a good bit of life left in it. You don't have to drink it now, but if you can find some you should buy it now.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Monte das Ânforas 2006

Vinho Regional Alentejano
Vino Tinto
Aragonez 60%
Trincadeira 30%
Alfrocheiro 10%
13.5% alcohol

This is such a bright ruby red it sparkles and dances with the light.

Big black cherry, nutmeg and cinammon blast out of the glass straight into the nose, followed by cranberry and orange peel. This is fantastic, like fresh-made cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. Now sprinkle some unsweetened cocoa over the top, as the nose makes its third big change.

Bummer. The palate doesn't meet the promises made by the nose. It is good, even great for a $12 wine (some people on Cellar Tracker got it as cheaply as $8), but it is then and far more one-dimensional than the nose. Blackberries and raspberries are followed by leather and tar. The finish is medium-length, tannic and tart (have you ever had wild strawberries? Like that).

Will the palate meet the nose's promise tomorrow? Or will the nose flatten down to the palate? Stay tuned, and we will find out together.

Are you back? Welcome back.

Pinecones and pepper, blackcurrant and raspberry, followed by last night's cinammon and orange peel. This nose is still terrific. Let us see if the palate is any better.

Definite blackberry and blackcurrant, cigar box and leather up front. Now, though, there is a distinct petroleum chemical taste and some menthol.

Another hour and a bit warmer (it sent the night in the cellar) and the chemical smell is gone but the menthol stuck around. Black fruit and cigar box remained, plus some plums and spice on the midpalate.

The verdict? This is a very good wine for the money, but quite young. Will it ever be great? I don't think so. Will it get better and be good for quite a while? Yes, I think so, and at a price from $8-$12, it is certainly worth putting up a few bottles based just on its early promise.