More Mystery Wine

The wine for the night was a 2005 “La Colombaia” Valpolicella Ripasso. I’m scratching my head to figure out where this one came from. Apparently I paid $18.99 for it, which leads me to believe that perhaps it came from the Winery in Old Town Alexandria. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14% alcohol by volume, hails from Italy, and is made from Merlot.

The nose of the wine showed raisins, currants, spices, plums, earth, and cherries. In the mouth I found tart cherries, raisins, earth, and spice. After a little while a touch of plum showed through. The wine continued to open up in the glass, showing a lot of depth. This was an easy drinking wine, very yum, and incredibly food friendly. A quick search reveals you can find it online for about $15.99.

WBW #45-Old World Riesling


Our host for this month’s edition of the virtual tasting known as Wine Blogging Wednesday is Tim of Winecast. Tim has chosen a fabulous theme, one of my absolute favorite white wines, Riesling. However, his stipulation is that the wine must come from the “Old World.” So choose a Riesling from Germany, Austria, or the Alsace region of France. He’ll give you a little leniency if you want to go with Northern Italy, the Czech Republic, or Slovenia too. You can read all the details here.

This month’s WBW deadline is May 7. Get shopping and tasting and post your review on May 7 or if you don’t have a blog and want to participate send your notes to Tim at “winecast at gmail dot com” with WBW 45 in the subject line.

Pinot Blanc. From Connecticut!

We picked up this bottle of 2006 Chamard Pinot Blanc while visiting the winery in Connecticut. It cost us $17.99, clocked in at 12.5% alcohol by volume, and had a real cork closure.

On the nose I found pineapple, tropical fruit, lemon, and minerals. In the mouth, apple showed through the most (odd because I didn’t get it on the nose at all!), then some lemon and other citrus with underlying tropical fruit.

Overall the wine was lively and acidic with good structure. We actually didn’t get to taste this one while at the winery as they weren’t pouring it that day, but I was really curious to try a Pinot Blanc from Connecticut so we took a few bottles home with us. Since the overall quality level of the wines were tried while there was very good, we didn’t think it would be that big of a risk to take home something untried. A good gamble in my opinion, this wine was very well done.

Seven Year Old Sangiovese

And boy does it taste good! I purchased this bottle of 2001 Deerfield Ranch Sangiovese from WineQ in one of my recent club shipments. It costs $21.99 through WineQ (free shipping if you spend $35!), had a real cork closure, and clocks in at 13.6% alcohol by volume. It hails from the Clear Lake area, specifically from the Roumiguiere Vineyard. The winery made 645 cases of this bottling and it has swept up a ton of awards!

Cherry, strawberry, flowers, leather, spice, and earth jumped out of the glass. The wine was very fruit forward and the nose was definitely dominated by the cherry and strawberry. In the mouth the wine was also full of fruit. The cherry was the prominent flavor, with roses and strawberry also showing up.

The wine had just a little tannin, it’s drinking perfectly right now and was incredibly smooth after very little time in the glass. I really enjoyed this bottle of wine, and were it not for the fact that I can only get a few more WineQ shipments before it gets too hot here and there are lots of other WineQ wines I want to try, I would certainly be adding more of this to my Q!

Farrah Olivia+ The Next Iron Chef

We first visited Farrah Olivia in Old Town Alexandria with my dad. We didn’t know anything about the place, but it was late, we were hungry, and it looked open. So we walked in around 9 at night and were seated immediately. I can say that such an occurrence is no longer a possibility since after we had been there, the owner and chef, Chef Morou, appeared on the Food Network show: The Next Iron Chef. It has been impossible to get reservations there ever since it aired, though I must admit, we were strangely excited when we saw that he was a contestant because we could actually say we had been to his restaurant. Though ultimately he did not win, his restaurant is still top notch in our book!

We started the evening with one of the cheese course, this time the Vermont Cheese selection which came with bread crisps, several blue cheeses, honey, and popcorn. Our first wine for the night was a 2006 Stellenbosch Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa that had a screw cap, clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and was on the wine list for $30. It was light and crisp with lemons, green apples, and apricot. The cheese course really enhanced the tart lemon in the Sauvignon Blanc. I was impressed the wine list had a bottle on it for $30.

Next we were served the amuse bouche for the evening which was a carrot flan with a fig balsamic vinegar reduction. Now, I’m not a carrot person, not am I a balsamic vinegar person, but this was excellent! Also served before our meal was a selection of breads accompanied by a quartet of spreads: an olive tapendade, honey butter, sundried tomato, and bok choy. The bread was excellent and the honey butter was fabulous.

For my entree I chose the domestic pork loin with orange sauce, my dad had the grilled halibut, and Matt had the duck breast. Everyone was thrilled with their entrees, and highly recommended them. The presentation was excellent, and the pork loin was perfectly cooked. I loved the orange sauce.

Finally, we finished with another cheese course for dessert, the semi soft cow’s milk cheese, Thomasville Tomme from Georgia. My dad, being a Port man, chose a Tawny Port from the dessert wine menu, while both Matt and I went with Ice Wein. We chose the 2003 Meinklang Soleil Pinot Blanc from Austria. It was priced at $7 a glass (cordial size). The wine smelled of candied honey and apricots, will in the mouth it tasted like honeyed nectar. It was viscous in the glass, and sweet, but still balanced.

I would highly recommend Farrah Olivia, but be prepared to drop $25+ per entree for dinner. Though I will say, the wine list was really quite reasonable. This is definitely a restaurant I would (and have tried!) to return to.

Purchasing Futures

On our 3rd and last day tasting on our recent CA trip, we met up with Russ the Winehiker at Bella first thing in the morning (more on Bella later.) We enticed Russ (well, really, it didn’t take much arm twisting….) to come out with us for a few stops on Wednesday before he had to head back home by dangling Bella and David Coffaro as stops in front of him!

Our second stop of the day was at David Coffaro. Three other people were at the tasting bar when we sidled up and I whipped out my notebook and started writing. Steve, who was pouring our tasting, took a look and decided I looked serious, so grabbed a wine thief and offered us a barrel tasting. Apparently this was to be the trip of barrel tasting! We tasted everything David Coffaro had in barrels and purchased a case of futures which will be bottled later this year and shipped to us when we decide the weather is good enough!

David Coffaro sells the vast majority of his wines through his futures program, so you pretty much have to go to the winery to get your hands on any of them. However, I promise you, it is worth your time to stop. I’ve found the wines to be excellent values over the years, especially if you purchase in futures as the prices go up the closer he gets to releasing the wines! Also note, all the wines are bottled under screw caps, but as I can attest to, having a couple of 2003s still hanging out in the basement, the screw caps work just fine.

The following were all barrel tastings. Picture above is Steve posing for me between barrels….I warned him it would appear here!

2007 Zinfandel: Price now: $17. Price on release: $26. 83% Zinfandel, 17% Spicy Cabernet. 590 cases. Vanilla, blackberry, dark fruit.

2007 My Zin: Price now: $17. Price on release: $26. 75% Zinfandel, 14% Tannic Cabernet, 11% Petite Sirah. 610 Cases. Blackberry, black cherry, vanilla, tart, slight red fruit.

2007 Estate Cuvee: Price now: $17. Price on release: $26. 465 cases. 33% Zinfandel, 33% Spicy Cabernet, 25% Carignan, 9% Peloursin. Dark oak, berries, red fruit. We loved this one and put 3 bottles in our futures case.

2007 Terre Melange: Price now: $17. Price on release: $25. 365 cases. 49% Peloursin, 29% Mourvedre, 17$ Syrah, 5% Grenache. Leather, a little earth, red berries, still prickly from fermenting!

2007 Carignan: Price now: $17. Price on release: $25. 270 cases. 100% Carignan. Blueberries, vanilla, a touch of red fruit.

2007 Escuro: Price now: $17. Price on release: $25. 500 cases. 35% Petite Verdot, 33% Petite Sirah, 32% Cabernet. Chocolate, pepper, dark berries, spice, tannic, a dark wine.

2007 Block 4: Price now: $19. Price on release: $32. 765 cases. Field blend: 50% Zinfandel, 25% Petite Sirah, 5% Peloursin, 5% Syrah, 5% Carignan, 10% other. Chocolate, cherries, blueberries, pepper. 3 bottles made it into out case.

2007 Aca Modot: Price now: $19. Price on release: $32. 525 cases. 38% Cabernet, 21% Petite Verdot, 18% Malbec, 16% Cab Franc, 7% Merlot. Barny, leather, saddle, red berries, very Bordeaux-like.

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon: Price now: $18. Price on release: $28. 185 cases. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Smells very good, red strawberry, red berries, still a bit prickly, but great. 3 bottles made our case.

2007 Petite Sirah: Price now: $17. Price on release: $26. 335 cases. 100% Petite Sirah. Blueberry pie, vanilla, pepper, earth, very good. 3 bottles went into our case.

The whole case ran us $213. If we had been able to pull off a second case of futures (which I really really wanted to do) we could have had the whole case for $201 as the deal at David Coffaro is that if you buy 2 cases of futures you are in the Circle and get $2 off on all futures and 30% off on bottled wine, which applies to the next two vintages after you by your first two cases. Maybe on the next trip! This was our second visit to David Coffaro and I will certainly be stopping by again. The wine are consistently excellent and I highly recommend them.

Already in bottles we tasted:

2005 Zinfandel: $26. Old vines (really old, planted in the 1890s!). Smoky, chocolate, blackberries, a bit of reddish fruit, tart. Took home two bottles, one for us and one for our neighbors who kindly took in our mail for us while we were gone.

2005 Escuro: $26. Strawberry, herby leather, blueberries.

2006 Fresco: 22% Alvarelhao, 21% Tempranillo, 21% Tinto Cao, 20% Peloursin, 16% Carignan. Cedar, big berries, red fruit, mint.

2005 Petite Sirah: Blueberry cream, pie, tasty, one of my favorites. I wanted to take more home, of this in particular, but Matt was giving me the: it’s only noon and you’ve already bought enough wine look…

2007 Sauvignon Blanc: Only tasted this briefly before we were whisked away for a barrel tasting, but this was my kind of Sauvignon Blanc. Green pepper, grapefruit, tart, crisp, lip smacking acidity.

We walked away from David Coffaro with purple lips and stained teeth, but having tasted some great wine. I am very much looking forward to my futures case arriving in the mail and I will of course post reviews of those bottles as we consume them. It’ll be fun to see how the bottled wine compares to my (brief) barrel notes!

On a Domaine547 kick

I recently got around to finishing up all but one of the last 6 wines I purchased from Domaine547 in my quest to search out some new and interesting grapes from countries I tend not to turn to frequently. This wine fell squarely in both categories, I rarely drink wine from Portugal (mainly because not much is carried in my local stores) and I had never even heard of the grape!

The wine was a 2006 Quinta do Alqueve Fernao Pires, from the Ribatejo DOC in Portugal. It’s a white wine that clocks in at 13% alcohol by volume, has a real cork closure, and cost me $9.99 from Domaine547 (apparently I’m also on a bargain wine kick!).

The best way that I can think of to describe this grape, the Fernao Pires grape, is that it seems like a cross between Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. It’s crisp and refreshing like the Sauvignon Blanc, but has the aromatics and slightly heavier oily characteristic of a Viognier.

On the nose I found citrus, lemon, pineapple, and peach. In the mouth, the wine was heaver than I expected from the nose, and slightly oily, like the mouthfeel I expect from Viognier. Crisp citrus showed up front with heavier ripe peaches dominating the finish. I mostly found lemon and lime.

Overall the wine was dry with good structure. I served it with crab legs, the first we’ve had in a while, and it was a great match. I do love a good Sauvignon Blanc with my crab legs, and since this wine reminded me a bit of Sauvignon Blanc, it makes sense as a pairing for me. This is definitely not one to be missed at this price point, especially if you are into trying out new types of wine!

Homage to Pinotage


*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Bottlenotes.

Or rather, to a Pinotage/Shiraz blend. I received this wine quite a while ago as a part of a blogger trial of Bottlenotes. For the trial, I was given a credit at Bottlenotes which I could use to try out any of their wineclubs. I chose the Dinner Party club, and received this Pinotage/Shiraz in a shipment along with a bottle of Petite Sirah Port that I have yet to try.

The wine was a 2006 Seven Sisters “Dawn” Pinotage/Shiraz from South Africa. It can be purchased from Bottlenotes for $14.99. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and was a blend of 60% Pinotage/40% Shiraz.

This wine was honestly fabulous. It’s been a few months since I drank it, but I can still remember what it tasted like, and what an incredible value it was. I’d never had a Pinotage before and I was happy to try one and was delighted to find a new grape to love. I will certainly seek out Pinotage again.

The nose of the wine was plummy and spicy. Dark black fruit shone through, with pepper and earth. Vanilla cream emerged after some time in the glass. The wine was very fruity on the nose, while being dark with smoke and earth at the same time. In the mouth I found plums, dark fruit, blackberries, and earth. The wine was tannic, it needed some time to air, but after an hour was completely smoothed out and kept evolving.

An excellent value for the price.

Tempranillo (Tem prawn eee yo)

I purchased this wine a few months ago in a 6 pack of interesting wines I ordered from Domaine547 in my search for different things to review. The wine was a 2006 Dehesa Gago Tempranillo from Toro, Spain. The wine cost me $12.99 (a steal), had a real cork closure and clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume. I also want to try the Tinto de Toro that Domaine547 has available from the same producer!

The nose of the wine showed currants, dark cherries, and pepper. The nose was slightly sweet smelling and very fruity. In the mouth I found blueberry, currants, dark fruit, and spices.

Overall the wine was smooth and dark and very yum. We drank this by itself, but it seemed to lend itself well to being food friendly and could easily match with lots of different things. Especially at the price, this is a great every day wine for dinner!

Local Vino

A quick review this morning (have to go to work super early today!) of a local wine from Rappahannock Cellars. I owe you a review on our tasting experience at Rappahannock, which I will get around to eventually, along with a million reviews from Sonoma and the DC Wine and Food Festival!

The wine for the evening was a 2006 Rappahannock Cellars Vidal Blanc. We see quite a bit of Vidal Blanc and Seyval Blanc here in Virginia, both grapes grow fairly well in our climate. I’m pleased to notice that the quality has grown in leaps and bounds in the 5 years I’ve lived here and been drinking VA wines.

The wine had a nose of pear, honey, apricot, and tart tropical fruit. In the mouth, apricot and spiced pears dominated the flavors. The wine was tart, with good structure and solid acidity to keep the sweetness that this grape can demonstrate in check.

Oddly enough, I can only find information about the dessert variety of this wine on their website, and the bottle appears to have disappeared from my house. I believe we paid around $14 for this, it had a real cork closure, and was about 12.5% alcohol by volume.