Great Value Italian Red Wine

The wine was a 2005 Siema Rosso Vino da Tavola by Lodali Winery from Piedmont. Sorry, I seem to have not taken a picture of this one. The wine clocked in at 12% alcohol by volume and cost me $8!!!! at The Winery in Old Town Alexandria. It’s a blend of 50% Barbera and 50% Dolcetto. I believe I took more notes on this wine than almost any other red wine I’ve had in recent memory. I’m still shocked at the layers and depth in this little $8 bottle of wine. What I should have done was go buy the rest that The Winery had because this was simply an amazing value.

The nose showed smoke, leather, a little barnyard, red berries, and red currants. It kept opening up as the night progressed and the smell was amazing. In the mouth the wine was red and earthy. I found red berries, red currants, earth, leather, a smoky characteristic, and more red fruit.

This was just an absolutely fabulous deep wine with layers of flavors. Everyone loved this one at our dinner party. I served it with homemade pizza, and in addition to everything else, the wine was wonderful with pizza! The smoky flavors were perfect for the cheese and pepperoni covering the pizza.


We’ve broken 80 degrees here

Which to me means we have shifted almost entirely away from the heavy reds I love so much for the winter and into the Sauvignon Blancs, Roses, Gruner Veltliners, Albarinos, and, oh, who are we kidding, any crisp white wine that will beat the heat and humidity that comes from living in a swamp.

With that in mind, the wine for the evening was a 2007 Ken Forrester Sauvignon Blanc. The wine had a screw cap closure, hailed from Stellenbosch, South Africa, clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and cost me $14.99 at The Winery in Old Town Alexandria.

Dominate on the nose of this one was asparagus. There was no mistaking that one!. Other aromas were grass, gooseberries, lime, and a touch of pepper, the vegetable kind! In the mouth I found lime, gooseberries, citrus, grass, and more of the green pepper.

This was a very tasty and spicy (because of the pepper) Sauvignon Blanc. Perfect for the weather and great with all the lighter cold pasta salads and white fish we’ll be eating all summer long!

Blue Stones

*Disclaimer: I received this bottle as a sample from Bottlenotes as part of a blogger club trial.

Here’s a hint to tell which photos I take and which ones Matt takes: 9 times out of ten I take photos on the table and he takes them on the counter!

The wine for the evening was a 2003 Calvulcura Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Blend. It is composed of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, clocks in at 14.9% alcohol by volume, and can be purchased from Bottlenotes for $49.95. The wine had a real cork closure and hails from Argentina. The word “calvulcura” means “blue stone.”

On the nose the wine smelled bitter at first, but that blew off…eventually, though it still left a deep dark wine impression with me. I also found vanilla, spice, cream, very dark fruit and berries. I found the nose very tight and unforgiving, it took forever for me to be able to distinguish any particular aromas. The wine was also bitter in the mouth, it was wound so tightly that I just had to set the bottle aside and left my glass out to air. After hours (I almost considered giving up on this one for the evening and trying again the next night) I found tart berries, spice, and leather. The wine had huge tannis and this overall bitter impression.

After about 4 hours, the wine was much better, but this is not one to be consumed now, it needs age, and lots of it. I think this may be the least approachable wine I’ve had so far, and at a 2003, it’s not exactly a particularly new wine.

Am I seeing double?

No! This is the 2004 vintage of a wine that I previously reviewed for the 2003 version! The wine was a 2004 Ceja Vino de Casa. I picked this bottle up in one of my WineQ shipments for $19.99, it had a real cork closure, and was a blend of almost equal portions Syrah and Pinot Noir (I think a bit more Pinot Noir (52%) than Syrah (48%)), and clocked in at 13.6% alcohol by volume.

On the nose of the wine I found spiced apples, plum, cherry, spice, clove, and cedar. The fruits (other than the spiced apples) on the nose were really bright and jumped out of the glass. In the mouth I found cherries, spice, clove cigarettes, and maybe it’s just the power of suggestion but I certainly got the crab apples El Jefe mentioned in his review, and unlike him, I have indeed been around a crab apple tree more recently than 20 years ago! I also got some hints of violets and rose petals.

For once I took my own suggestion regarding this wine, though clearly with a different vintage. When I drank the 2003 last year I served it with grilled steak, risotto, and raspberry/wine reduction sauce. Then I though that the body of the wine would be better suited for a simple pasta dish, so that is what I served it with this year….and it was a pretty good match! The wine stood up nicely to the acidity of the tomato sauce and wasn’t overpowered by any heavy grilled flavors or thick cheesy risotto!

Mary had a little Breggo

Okay, not a precise translation given that I’m not Mary and Breggo means “sheep” not “lamb” but please cut me a little slack, it’s early, and I’ve got a rough week at work this week! Plus, it took me almost a half hour to get my internet working this morning to write this post for you!

Our second to last stop in the Anderson Valley on our first day out West was at Breggo Cellars. Now, I had not heard of Breggo Cellars prior to this trip, but our tasting room hosts at Roederer and Toulouse (more on them later) told us we should definitely stop. So in we went. By this point I was tired, given our ticket mishap the day before and a full day of driving and tasting, I simply forgot to take any pictures. The tasting room was on the small size, with a bar that could comfortably fit about 5 people. Breggo is a relatively new winery, and just planted their first wines in the summer of 2007. Currently all their wines are made from grapes sourced from other vineyards at the moment.

2007 Sauvignon Blanc: $25. Crisp, citrus, lime, nice acidity, my kind of Sauvignon Blanc. We took home two bottles.

2006 Chardonnay: $35. Toast, lemon, apple, light oak.

2006 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir: $38. Cherry, cream , cola, spice, fruity.

2006 Donnelly Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir: $55. Blueberry, cream, spice, cherry.

2006 Ferrington Vineyard Pinot Noir: $55. Vanilla cream, raspberries, really nice fresh fruit. This was the star of the show for me and we took home a bottle (I know, Pinot Noir and way over my normal price range….it was a splurge!).

2006 Savoy Vineyards Pinot Noir: $55. Cherry, leather, spice, earth, vanilla.

2006 Anderson Valley Syrah: Blackberry, sweet, maple syrup, cassis, berries.

2007 Rose Syrah: $20. Strawberry, dry, refreshing, we took home two bottles.

Apparently you stick out like a sore thumb in a tasting room when you take notes. Our tasting room host, who was very funny and informative, wanted to know what I was doing, so I told him and he pulled up my blog on the computer right away! So that was pretty cool. All in all, a great stop, and I would definitely recommend swinging by Breggo, I think they are doing some great things at such a young age, and have been getting all sorts of good press from the big wine critics, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Barn Blending Results!

We drank this bottle of the 2006 Nelson Family Vineyards Barn Blend the other night in honor of the fact that we could not attend the blending party this year, sadly. Last year we did go, as I’ve talked about before, and this bottle was the product of that party, though sadly we were not the creators of it!

The Barn Blend is a mix that’s Cabernet heavy with a bit of Merlot and Zinfandel making up the rest. I believe it costs around $18, clocked in at 14.8% alcohol by volume, and had a real cork closure.

On the nose I found strawberry, leather, raspberry, currants, earth, and spice. In the mouth, again, the flavors were dominated by the strawberries, with raspberry hiding underneath, some spice and a bit of the earthy note.

The wine needs some time to breathe before drinking, I definitely think this one has some time to age left in it! I served it with homemade pepperoni pizza, and it was an okay match, but being so Cab heavy I probably should have served it with the grilled steak we had the next night!

Goose on the Loose

The wine for the night was a 2007 Toulouse Pinot Gris. We picked this bottle up on our recent trip to California at the winery. It cost us $22 (minus a discount, though I can’t recall what that was now), had a real cork closure and clocked in at 14.3% alcohol by volume. I owe you a post on our visit to Toulouse (where they have the most adorable little new puppy, though a solid white fluffy dog on a winery seems like it will get really dirty!) so watch out on that soon. Also, since our visit to Toulouse I noticed in the most recent Food & Wine magazine that they chose Toulouse’s Pinot Noir as on of the best Pinots!

The wine showed peach, pear, tropical fruit, and honey on the nose. Overall I got a very tropical feeling from the nose, though I couldn’t pin point the exact kind of fruit. In the mouth I got pear all the way through the mouth, though a touch of honey and some citrus showed on the back of the palate.

Overall, the wine was crisp, refreshing, and had great acidity. I really like this bottle of wine, and I’m glad we’ve got another one for porch sipping when it gets just a bit warmer here!

Orange Creamsicles

The wine for the evening was a 2006 De La Montanya Viognier. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.1% alcohol by volume, and cost $20.80 in a club shipment. I love the De La Montanya wines and am much looking forward to my next shipment, which I think should be arriving soon as I haven’t gotten anything from them since January.

I was struck immediately upon sticking my nose in this glass by the aroma of melted orange creamsicles. I haven’t had an orange creamsicle in probably a good 20 years, but that was what dominated the nose for me. Otherwise, I found, oak, honey, cream, pear, apple, and peach on the nose of the wine. It was very aromatic. In the mouth I found pear, peach, oak, and cream. The wine was more tart on the front of the palate, but gave way to a creamy texture and then the heavier slightly oily characteristic I expect from Viognier towards the back of the palate.

We drank this on its own last Friday after work, and it made a great sipping wine to start the evening.

Sauvignon Blanc Now With Yeast

The wine for the night was a 2006 Quivira Sauvignon Blanc Complete. I believe they call it complete because it was left on it’s native yeast lees for 7 months. Quivira is a Biodynamic certified winery, as of a couple of years ago, and I believe all of their wines are now Biodynamic.

The wine had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.2% alcohol by volume (a little high for a Sauvignon Blanc), and arrived in a club shipment. I don’t know what it cost because the mailing didn’t break it down and I haven’t seen the bottle available on the website. I would really appreciate it if the wineries would include a breakdown of the cost of each bottle in the shipment (especially for reordering purposes). I know I’ve ranted about this before, but is it that hard to shove in a card that says: Sauvignon Blanc, $xx.xx?

Anywho, on the nose of the wine I found lemon, pineapple, cream, slight cedar with a bit of oak, and star fruit. In the mouth the wine was full of tropical fruit, lemon, star fruit, and pineapple. The wine was very full bodied for a Sauvignon Blanc, which I’ll attribute to the process in which is was aged. I was a little afraid the wine would be too oaky and ruin the fruit flavors I love in Sauvignon Blanc, but I was pleasantly surprised by the bottle, and liked it. It was tasty in a different sort of way for Sauvignon Blanc.

I served it with grilled pork chops, broccoli, and twice baked potatoes. The wine actually did really well with the meal, because it was more full bodied, it worked well with the smoky grilled quality of the meat, but still had the crisp refreshing character to cut through the cheesy potato and stand up to a green vegetable!

Main Reason We Went to the Anderson Valley

Don’t get me wrong-we tasted a lot of great wine while there for the day, but the impetus behind driving up there to spend the day was to return to Roederer Estates for some fantastic sparkling wine. We first visited Roederer on our honeymoon almost two years ago and fell in love with the 99 L’Ermitage Brut. We only bought two bottles that time, so I had to have more! Thus, our first day in the area found us making the trek up a very windy road to discover more of what the Anderson Valley had to offer.

We tasted through the menu they were pouring that day, which sadly did not include the ’99. However, they still had some for sale, and while they warned us that it had aged and was perhaps toastier now than what we had purchased in ’06, we went for 2 bottles anyway. I would have liked to have gotten more, but the price had soared to around $60 a bottle. But for nostalgia purposes, it was worth it this time.

Brut MV: $21. Crisp, apple, citrus, lively.

Brut Magnum: $43. Creamy, toasty, green apple, very different from the regular bottle size.

Brut Rose MV: $28. Not very pink, in fact almost clear unless you put it up against the white wall, very dry, crisp, slight fruit.

2000 L’Ermitage Brut: $45. Toasted almonds, apples.

Extra Dry: $23. Sweeter than the Brut, but still dry. Showed mostly apples and a little honey. Originally created for the White House.

Pinot Noir: $23. Cherry, currants, spice, peppery, red fruit, earth, leather.

Chardonnay: $19. Mineral, crisp, tropical, citrus, creamier in the mouth, vanilla.

We took home 2 ’99 L’Ermitage Bruts, 2 Extra Drys, and 1 Brut Rose. I’ve been told it’s time to drink the ’99, so we will likely haul one out in a few months for our second anniversary. As usual, Roederer’s sparkling offerings were excellent, and I wish we could have taken home more. I also love the setting and tasting room at Roederer, the tasting bar looks out across the small front lawn where a family of Quail live. On our first visit the Quail had a very small family, but this time it looked like they were nesting and getting ready for a new family. The tasting room staff was very friendly and pointed us in the direction of a few of their favorite, not to miss vineyards. More on those later.