My mother-in-law discovered this wine while cleaning. Apparently, she bought it awhile ago planning on giving it as a gift to her mother. Thinking it to be perhaps too old she was planning on throwing it out, but my wife convinced her to let us have it instead. Clearly a good save … this is the first aged late harvest vidal I’ve been able to taste.
Williamsburg Winery Dominion Cellars of Virginia 1996 Late Harvest Vidal
This wine was made in Virginia from Vidal Blanc grapes (27 brix, 9.3% residual sugar). The bottle indicates that this was a limited edition wine. I’m not sure how many cases were produced, but it can safely be assumed that this wine would be quite difficult to find today. It’s interesting to consider that this might be one of the last bottles of this wine in existence.
It is darker in color than most late harvest vidals, perhaps due to aging. This thick wine has copper tones complimented by shades of light red and orange. It reminds me of wet fallen leaves in autumn. On the nose I’m picking up rich brown sugar, apple cider and preserves. It’s almost a popurri smell. Lush and intensely flavorful on the palate this wine is tremendously tasty and has clearly aged well. Sugar covered fruit with hints of caramel and spice. It’s as if I’m eating a candied apple. The candy flavors cannot be denied, for as serious as this wine looks it tastes like I’m drinking melted jolly ranchers. That’s it … it’s melted jolly ranchers and I completely love it.
This wine caught my eye because of the brilliant marketing of it as being “elevated” … as if this some big deal. To be honest, I don’t have much experience with Malbecs. If I had to guess, I’d say I’ve tried less than a dozen Malbecs in the last two years.
High Note 2007 Elevated Malbec, $12
Pitch black in color, it reminds me of Guinness, but with a purple hue instead of brown. The nose is not terribly expressive, I pick up on some dark ripe fruit and licorice. There is also a floral scent that I can’t pinpoint. This is a good wine with an incredibly smooth mouth feel, it’s crazy soft. Although slightly reserved on the attack it transitions nicely to reveal deep red fruit. On the finish it has a slight tartness that seems slightly sugarified and jammy. The tannins are light on the finish. Overall it’s mostly shocking how smooth and drinkable this wine is for being so young. The smoothness is quite appealing and it’s a wine that is easy to drink and hard to complain about.
When I first got into wine, I was obsessed with finding a good bargain. I knew there were plenty of complex and interesting wines in the $50+ price range, but I’ve always wanted to find a good wine at $8 that tastes like a $50 bottle. Last summer I stumbled across the 2005 vintage of Vina Alarba Grenache for $9 and I was really impressed by how good it was especially for the price. I found this 2006 at my local grocery store for $7.
Viña Alarba 2006 Old Vines Grenache
In the picture the wine looks really dark, but it’s actually medium red that is typical of most grenache wines I’ve tasted. On the nose this wine is really spicy; ash, dried pepper and smoke are the predominant scents. I get a hint of eucalyptus as well. The smell reminds me of a summer barbeque actually with it’s expression of charcoal and light smoke. Wow, I really like this wine. I get a wave of cherries and strawberries that transitions into a spicy, but extremely smooth mid-palate. Balanced and bulging with generous fruit on the finish this wine is very good, especially for $7.
Looking back, I think the 2005 vintage might have been slightly lighter and fruiter, but the 2006 is not far off. It’s a medium-bodied wine that I think most people would like because it’s not overbearing and tannic. However, it’s still complex and the finish is long and interesting. It’s rare that a wine this drinkable and delicious is so affordable.
I’m going to pair this wine with some chocolate (because grenache and chocolate are an amazing combination).
Scharffen Berger 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate
By itself, the Berger 70% is VERY interesting. Most people I know think of chocolate as chocolate and when they think of dark chocolate they think of Lindt or Ghirardelli. The Scharffen Berger is far more unusual and nuanced. It’s dark, but extremely smooth and far from bitter despite the high cacao content. When the chocolate starts to melt in my mouth I taste burnt blueberries (I have no idea what they taste like, but that’s the first thing that came to mind). Luscious citrus and espresso flavors follow with a distinctive caramel aftertaste.
When paired with the wine the flavor profile changes dramatically. Chocolate covered strawberries and cake-like qualities are released. The bitterness of the chocolate melts away and makes the wine seem sweeter and somehow smoother. This is a tremendous combination and if you run across this wine I highly recommend it (as well as the chocolate).
About a month ago I found this wine at the Mustard Seed grocery store. Despite the wide selection of beers, I found their wine selection to be rather small. Certainly the Mustard Seed’s selection was more varied than your standard neighborhood grocery store, but very little shelf-space was dedicated to wine. At the time I was still recovering from a cold and wasn’t too excited about the wines I was seeing. I knew I wasn’t going to drink whatever I bought right away and I thought why not buy something new? Therefore I picked up this unassuming bottle of petite sirah from Paso Robles.
EOS 2005 Reserve Petite Sirah
Inky black in color, this 05 petite sirah is monstrously dark. It reminds me of Guinness in that I can’t see through it. Held up against the light it’s a dark garnet color. On the nose I’m picking up a smokey almost rubbery scent. Hints of jam and tabbacco are also noticable. My first sip of this wine reminds me of the Clos du Prieur wine that I reviewed awhile ago in that it’s crazy dry. I’m amazed at how fast this wine seems to erase any moisture in my mouth. The flavors of the wine are practically overpowered by this and I’m not picking up any interesting secondary flavors. It’s straight up sour cherries and blackberry jam. The finish is strange, the sensation of tannins sticks around and the flavor sort disappears. The tasting notes for this wine mention coffee, which I am definitely not picking up on, perhaps because it is just so dry. Although I like dry ones, this one doesn’t bring much else to the table. ~$23 /bottle
Turkey Flat 2005 Butchers Block GSM
Butchers Block comes from the Barossa Valley in Australia. This is a red blend of Shiraz (41%), Grenache (40%) and Mourvèdre (19%). This is an Australian take on the popular GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) blend which is a popular style in Côtes du Rhône. I’ve tried a number of GSM wines from the south of France and while there were a few that were bad, most were really good, especially for the price ($8-12 bottle).
Dark brick red color, almost muddy, but not exactly cloudy … this wine actually has some minor shades of brown. The nose is very expressive; strong scents of black olives, mushrooms and earth. The dominant smell is definitely black olives, I’m detecting no fruit on the nose at all. It has a very smooth mouth feel. I’m tasting strong vegetal tones. There is a short mid-palate where I’m not noticing any secondary flavors and then the wine just kinda drops off with a smooth finish with light tannins. All of that said, I really don’t care for this wine much. I get the sense that it was well made, but the flavor profile is not one I care for. I just tried it with some pizza and it seems it doesn’t really pair well with that either. Fail
I’ve been really into petite sirah wines as of late. Many of the ones I’ve had from California are good and they aren’t super expensive. I’ve seen the Bogle petite sirah many times at my local grocery store, but I’ve never bothered to try it out, well, until now …
Bogle Vineyards 2006 Petite Sirah - Granton, California
The Bogle has a good garnet-purple color. This appears to be somewhat standard for the petite sirahs I’ve had recently. I get hints of flowers on the nose, lavender and lilacs. Overall the nose is very balanced, I also get hints of coffee cake. That sounds strange, but it definitely reminds me of the topping on coffee cake. It has a good mouth feel, medium-bodied. The taste is subtle, but after a few sips I’m sure I’ve got the flavor figured out. Blueberries and tobacco, I’m not kidding. The finish is lengthy and polished by soft tannins. This is a great wine, especially for the price (<$14). I will definitely buy this again.
I picked up this bottle of petite sirah down in South Carolina while I was visiting with family over the holidays. I believe there was some kind of tag attached to the wine saying it was “Doug’s Pick of the Week” or something like that. Trinitas is latin for trinity, the writing on the back of the bottle describes this as being the principal of Christianity (trinity that is, not the wine, but I digress …)
Trinitas 2005 Old Vine Petite Sirah
This wine comes Lodi California, which is to the east of Napa Valley. It has a beautiful dark purple color and appears almost viscous. On the nose it carries a very distinct oak smell. There is also a sharpness, almost a rubbing alcohol smell. After swirling it around in my glass for several moments I’m realizing that there is a really cool hint of rose as well. Clearly the oak is dominating the nose. This wine will dispel any myth of petite sirah wines being light and wimpy, this is a serious wine. Medium to full-bodied and moderately tannic on the finish. The wine has excellent mouth feel and a very very lengthy mid-palate transition that is full of dark berries and oak. It ends with an almost equally lengthy finish that is tannic and slightly disjointed. I would have expected a bit more polish due to pervasive oak smell, but it seems a bit rough and a bit too hot (14.5% alcohol!). Yeah, I think this is just a bit too over-oaked for me.
I received this wine as a gift from my radio station buddy Drew on Christmas night. As a matter of habit I typically start typing up these posts before I try the wine. Thank you Drew for the opportunity to try this wine, and if I don’t like it, please know that I’m very appreciative of your gift as it’s a new wine experience (see my previous post for a full explanation). I’m not sure how hard it is to find this wine in local stores, but I saw it online averaging at less than $20. If it’s awesome, this will be a tremendous value as it seems like any bottle that says “Napa” and “Cabernet Sauvignon” seems to demand top dollar these days. Now, on with it…
Arnold Palmer 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
It has a pretty garnet color that’s deep red, but not super dark. It’s definitely more of a red than a purple. What I notice mostly is the strong nose on this wine. Very expressive, it reminds me of cherries, but with an almost sour smell of something, almost cranberry sauce. In general, I’m really liking the smell, it’s almost a perfume smell because of it’s strength. I have no idea why I think this, but it smells like an expensive cabernet, very powerful. (Tasting) …
It’s taken me several sips to figure this wine out … it’s sorta unusual. I was expecting cherries and they are there, dark cherries, but they aren’t really the dominant flavor. I’m getting a bit of a cran-raspberry flavor as well. The mouth feel is moderately smooth, but not incredible. The mid-palate is what saves this wine. Bright fruit shines through and it transitions into a short and somewhat awkward finish. It’s not overly tannic, but it tastes almost dusty and a bit oaky. It’s a good wine, but the nose is what left the biggest impression.
Urano comes from the Eral Bravo winery in Mendoza, Argentina. I received this as a gift this holiday season and I believe it was purchased at Heinen’s and was recommended by their wine steward. As I’m writing this post the wine is decanting in a large Bordeaux glass. It’s possible that I won’t like this wine and the person who bought this for me will likely read this post. Allow me to express my appreciation beforehand. In many ways it’s more exciting to receive a new bottle of wine, one that I’ve never tasted, than to receive something I’ve already experienced. Think of this if you are ever considering buying a bottle of wine for someone you know is a wine lover. They will likely enjoy the prospect of a new bottle of wine they’ve never had more than a tried-and-true bottle they rave about.
Bodega Eral Bravo Urano 2006 Syrah
The Urano Syrah has a reddish purple color that reminds me of canned cranberry sauce. It has a smoky smell that has hints of sun-dried tomatoes and ash. It has a very smooth mouth feel; it coats your mouth, but it’s not overly thick. The flavors are somewhat light at first, but it transitions into a strange combination of flavors. I’m getting some faint chocolate and coffee flavors. There is some vanilla as well. The finish has some firm, yet balanced tannins and is fairly lengthy. Erica tried this as well and she picked up on some black cherry flavors, which are obvious now that she has mentioned it. I just tried this with some swiss cheese and it brings out the smoke and vanilla.
Tonight I attempted to make a vegan recipe from Sarah’s new cookbook Veganomicon. I started by preparing the curry roux sauce, which consists of a mixture of flour, curry, and peanut oil. I didn’t have peanut oil so I used a combination of crushed peanuts and olive oil. This tangent from the recipe was probably not the greatest idea, but it worked.
The curried udon stir-fry was moderately spicy, not necessarily hot. I should have added raw curry paste to the curry roux while it was cooking. However, we paired this meal with the extremely affordable 14 Hands 2007 Washington State Riesling. Here is the final product …
The meal was delicious and the 14 Hands Riesling paired perfectly. It had a very nice crisp acidity and pear flavor on the palate. With the meal it was refreshing and worked especially well with the sushi.