Chilean Shiraz

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the pr folks for Wines of Chile.

When I make a promise to drink more Chilean wines, I apparently deliver in a huge way.  Of course, it helps when you get sent a full case of Chilean red wines!  I chose the 2006 Ventisquero Queulat Shiraz this evening.  It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and hails from the Maipo Valley.

My first impression of the wine is that it’s really young.  I found raspberries, brown sugar, chocolate, spice, red plum, cranberry, and pomegrante on the nose.  The fruit smelled fresh.  I liked the nose.  In the mouth, I found the wine to be tannic and young. I got flavors of black fruit, cranberry, and tea.  The fruit seemed tart and darker than what I found on the nose.  The wine was sweet and the mouth didn’t deliver what the nose promised.

`

Drinking More Carmenere

*Dislcaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the pr folks for Wines of Chile

After WBW #52, I decided I really liked wines made with the Carmenere grape.  My opinion of the grape rose even higher on tasting the Estampa Gold a couple weeks ago, that has been my favorite Carmenere yet! Tonight I chose the 2007 Terra Andina Altos, a Carmenere-Carignan blend from the Central Valley of Chile.  It had a real cork closure and retails for about $16.

I first noted the incredibly dark color of the wine, I would describe it as deep violet. On the nose I found black currants, plums, spice, cinnamon, mint, and eucalyptus. So far my observations about the various Chilean red wines is that they have really interesting noses.  In the mouth I got flavors of plums, blackberries, mint, currants, licorice, and other dark fruit.  At first, I found the wine to be a bit thin and bitter with tannins to spare.  As it warmed and sat in my glass over the evening, the fruit tasted fuller and the while the bitter note remained, I found it enticing rather than off-putting.  So I’d say this one needs some time in the bottle or vigorous decanting!

Winemaker, Winemaker, Make Me a Blend!

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the Terlato Wine Group

Matt actually had a request for wine the other evening. Usually he pretty much leaves the wine selection up to me even though I bug him every night as to what he’d like to drink. He requested a Cabernet Sauvignon, seeing as how it was freezing out, a big red seemed like an excellent idea to me.  I picked the 2006 Guardian Peak Frontier.  This is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Shiraz, and 17% Merlot from the Western Cape of South Africa.  The wine clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, had a screw cap closure, and retails for between $10-$14.  The Terlato folks sent me 4 wines in that price range, and so far, they are batting two for two in wines that I would recommend as great to drink and easy on your wallet in this economy.  I’m also excited to try more wine from South Africa. Most of my experience with South African wines is with Sauvignon Blanc.

On the nose I found leather, like a horse saddle, a bit of barnyard, mint, eucalyptus, vanilla, sugar plum, slight dark fruit, campfire smoke, and pencil shavings.  A great expressive nose, though it didn’t give up much fruit.  The mouth, on the other hand, had plenty of fruit to spare! I got red fruit, blackberries, plums, black cherry jello, currants, and tart cherries.  Overall, the wine had some tannins on the back palate but also showed excellent acidity which would make it stand up to food really well.  For the price point, this is an excellent value.  Serve with your favorite steak!

We Have a Winner Folks

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Matthiasson Family Vineyards

First off, I must tell you, that as I drank this wine, all I could think was that this was easily one of the best white wines I’ve had in recent memory. It kicked all sorts of ass and I loved it.  The wine is the 2007 Matthiasson Napa Valley White Wine.  It’s a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Ribolla Gialla, and Semillon.  The wine has a real cork closure, clocks in at 13.3% alcohol by volume, and retails for $35. Matthiasson is a small family winery California, with a very small production of just over 500 cases of wine.  The Napa Valley White had a production of 220 cases.  I intend to visit with the Matthiassons on my next CA trip, so I will have a full report on their operations then.  For now, a review of their most excellent white wine.

I will admit that I didn’t look at the blend for the wine before I started smelling it.  Right away I said to Matt, this smells like lightly oaked Sauvignon Blanc. So then I had to run and look it up, and I was right, it is oaked and Sauvignon Blanc is one of the grapes in the blend!  On the nose I found lemon, cream, vanilla, apple, pineapple, ginger, and figs. A delicious nose, it left me eager to taste the wine in my glass.  In the mouth I got flavors of pineapple, lemon, racy citrus, pear, meyer lemon, fig, spice, and melon.

At this points, my notes turned into “this is really good.” And “just delicious” as well as “YUMMY.” In the mouth, I didn’t get even a hint of the oak I smelled on the nose.  The wine had a great mouthfeel, probably nicely rounded by the addition of the Semillon. I found the wine to be crisp and intriguing in the mouth.  I highly recommend this wine.

Graciano? WineQ to the Rescue!

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample because I am a member of WineQ‘s Beta Club.

I chose the 2005 Bokisch Graciano for the evening. I hadn’t yet checked Graciano off my Wine Centiry Club application, so I was happy to receive this wine in the mail from WineQ!  It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for $25.99.

The nose (which by the way, I spelled “noze” in my quickly typed notes….too much LOL Cats for me I think) on this wine really opened up over the course of the evening.  At first I found sour cherry, tomato vine, earth, spice, licorice, red currants, and some funky mint.  After an hour or so the nose opened up with fabulous dusty chocolate and brown sugar.  In the mouth I got flavors of sour cherry, leather, blacker fruit than on the nose, earth, mostly black cherry, and other dark tart fresh fruit.

Sparkling Beauty

We got some good news in the Wannabe Wino household the other day and decided to celebrate with some much deserved bubbly.  I just so happened to have a bottle from the half case of Cameron Hughes Wine that I won at the Wine Blogger Conference that fit the bill perfectly.  I chose the Cameron Hughes Napa Valley Carneros Lot 25 1998 Sparkling wine to commemorate the occasion.  This bargain sparkler retails for $21, clocks in at 12% alcohol by volume, and had a traditional sparkling wine closure.  The story behind this bottling is that a small Napa producer intended to go into the sparkling wine business but at the last minute decided to keep the focus on still wine, so Cameron Hughes got their hands on some great sparkling wine that was meant to be part of a $50 offering!

On the nose I found honey, pear, yeast, peach, golden delicious apple, lemon curd, and bread.  I thought the nose was gorgeous, but it seemed as if the wine in the glass might be slightly sweet.  In the mouth I got honey, apple, lemon, and an aftertaste of yeast and fresh baked sourdough bread.  I found the wine to be a lot crisper in the mouth than I expected. It had nice bubbles and I found it to be very refreshing.  Who says bubbly isn’t for Wednesday nights!

Fabulous Malbec

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

Quite a while ago, the folks from Bottlenotes contacted me about trying their wine club service. I did, and I wrote up the bottles at various times.  Along the way, I wrote a review of one of the wines that I didn’t particularly like and the folks contacted me again and wanted me to try a different Malbec instead. I readily agreed, and this bottle of 2003 Enrique Foster Limited Edition Malbec arrived.  It hails from Mendoza, Argentina, had a real cork closure, and retails for around $53. Quite frankly, this was an amazing wine and easily the best Malbec I’ve ever had.

On the nose I found red currants, vanilla, clove, baking spice, cinnamon, mulled cider, cherry, plum, and pencil shavings. I found the nose to be incredibly enticing and I wanted to go swimming in my glass.  This definitely turned into one of those ocassions where I still had my nose stuck in my glass while Matt had already moved on his second glass of wine.  in the mouth I got red currants, cherries, licorice, plum, spice, and earth.  The fruit showed as big and red and red. The best was to describe this wine is as a big, bold, knock you down red that has enough going on to keep anyone interested.  The layers of flavors and aromas kept coming and after just 20 minutes in my glass the wine was smooth and fantastic.

Drinking More Chilean Wine

*Disclaimer: I received this wine from the PR folks for Wines of Chile

Continuing down the road of tasting wines from Chile in 2009, I chose the 2007 Cono Sur 20 Barrels Pinot Noir for the evening. The story of the 20 Barrels is that the winery designates 20 barrels of Pinot Noir as the best of the year and sets them aside for a special barreling. Hence the name! The wine hails from the Casablanca Valley in Chile, clocks in at 14% alcohol by volume, has a real cork closure, and can be purchased for around $22-$25.

On the nose I found strawberry, tobacco, cherry, spice, herbs, brown sugar, and bright fruit. the nose displayed fairly classic varietal characteristics which made me happy…Pinot Noir that does that under the $30 markseems increasing hard to find!  In the mouth, the fruit seemed darker than what I found on the nose.  I got black cherry, raspberries, plums, a little earth, and cinnamon.

The wine had some tannins, it is very young afterall, and appeared to me as if it could use a bit more time to mellow…maybe decant this one!  While we drank it on its own, it would have been great with all the salmon we ate this summer, or with an herbed roast chicken dish.

All the News that’s Fit to….

Blog?

Some exciting happenings around wino-land these days.  First!

Wine Blogger Conference 2009! We’re headed back to Sonoma again this year, though we will also spend a day in Napa! Dates are July 24-26.  I’m going to make it by the skin of my teeth, but I’ll be there with bells wine charms on.  If you are a wine blogger and you missed this last year, I highly suggest you run to sign up before the 250 slots are filled. Besides being an awesome party, meeting all the other bloggers I’ve been talking to for going on 3 years now and getting to hear about their blogging trial and tibulations and tasting wine with them in person just couldn’t be beat.  All the details can be found here: Wine Blogger Conference.  Go forth and register and I’ll see you in Sonoma in 6 months!

And, Take Your Rubber Chicken to Work Week! El Jefe and the folks at Twisted Oak are once again hosting TYRCTWW!  Last year, as you may recall, my chicken Bob made it to the finalist round.  This year TYRCTWW had a theme: photograph your chicken actually learning how to do your job. I have to put some thought into that one as um…I read and write pretty much all day. However, my dad got a rubber chicken for Christmas, and he’s a plumber, so I’m sure he can find lots of things to teach his chicken! Start taking your photos January 25. All details here and here.

Bob's almost winning photo from last year. Addressing government minions.

Bob's almost winning photo from last year. Addressing government minions.

ETA: More news!

How could I forget to tell you that El Jefe posted the round up from WBW #53 Breakfast Wines?  About 30 folks jumped in and braved wine with their breakfast, or in our case, wine with their breakfast for dinner. Many thanks to Jeff for hosting. You can read the full round up here.

Also, if you are lucky enough to live in the Sanfrancisco Area, I would highly recommend that you check out ZAP 2009 from January 28-31. ZAP is the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers annual homage to Zinfandel. Tickets are still on sale and it’s your chance to taste Zinfandel from almost 300 different wineries. I love Zin, I so wish I could go. Details and tickets available here.

Sparkling Wine Tasting!

My mom really wanted to host a wine party for our friends and family while Matt and I were home visiting this holiday season.  I quickly agreed and the idea of a sparkling wine tasting emerged as perfect for just before the New Year.  I picked 10 bottles in an attempt to represent the breadth of sparkling wine choices available and to compare and contrast similar styles from different regions.  Following are the wines and the order in which I served them. We had 24 people, so this was as much an exercise in my pouring skills as anything else!

Matt catches me mid-talk with his wonderful photography!

Matt catches me mid-talk with his wonderful photography!

1. Botter Verduzzo Prosecco
Ran about $12, had several folks who chose this as their favorite.

2. Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava
About $12. Not my favorite Cava ever, but a decent example.

3. Iron Horse 2005 Wedding Cuvée Blanc de Noirs
One of the top picks for everyone for the evening. I personally loved this one, and even at a cost of $42, I would get it again in a heartbeat.

Dads friend Dave diligently takes notes on the tasting sheets I made.

Dad's friend Dave diligently takes notes on the tasting sheets I made.

4. Roederer Estate Sparkling Brut
Always a crowd pleaser, many folks chose this one as their favorite. About $20.

5. Bernard Brémont Grand Cru Brut Champagne
I liked this one. Ran me about $30.

6. Jean Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Reserve
About $18. I since had several sparklers made by his father Lucien, which I really enjoyed.

Dad waits to fetch another bottle while Unlce Frank hams for the camera.

Dad waits to fetch another bottle while Unlce Frank hams for the camera.

7. Louis Bouillot Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Rose
About $12. It was a toss up for me between this Rose and the latter.

8. Schramsberg “Mirabelle” Brut Rose
About $22. Lots of folks loved this one.

9. Shingleback Sparkling Shiraz “Black Bubbles”

About $10. This was a love it or hate it wine. About half the folks loved and about half the folks couldn’t stand it. I’m still “meh” about sparkling Shiraz, but I wanted to show the range of sparkling wine options.

The Aftermath.

The Aftermath.

10. Casa Sant’Orsola 2007 Moscato d’Asti
About $12.  Here’s where I made a mistake. I should have served this one first. Everyone loved it because it was so sweet, and although I really enjoy Moscato d’Asti, as the 10th wine of the night, the sweetness really stood out among the other sparklers and I think threw people’s perception of it.

Matt and my cousins husband Scott had a conference call on what to wear.

Matt and my cousin's husband Scott had a conference call on what to wear and how tall men marrying into the family should be.

Overall, I think everyone had a really great time, and I got to geek out a bit while hopefully imparting some valuable wine knowledge.  Theme of the evening–all sparkling wine is not Champagne!