Big ‘ol wine.

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample for the PR firm for the winery.

On the same night we tried the Chateau Tanunda Riesling we also tried the 2009 Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Shiraz.  An Australian wine night in our house.  It clocks in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, has a real cork closure, and retails for about $20.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) In keeping with the 2009 growing season in Australia I found this wine to be hot.

2.) The heat and tannins mellowed a bit when I went back to it several hours later, but it was still just a bit too hot for me.

3.) If you’re into big boozy black and blue fruit wines, this is for you.

4.) Definitely decant and aerate this wine for several hours before drinking.

On the nose I found this wine to be sweet and a oaky with blueberry, blackberry, black cherry, and vanilla. I got lots of sweet oak on the nose. I could also smell the heat on the wine. In the mouth I found more black fruit, similar to the nose.  After letting it sit, it opened and I got blueberry pie, nutmeg, spice, cinnamon, chocolate, pepper, and vanilla oak.



Riesling from the Outback

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR company for the winery.

I don’t drink much Australian Riesling.  Actually, I don’t drink much wine from Australia in general. No particular reason, I should really try to do so more often.  Recently we popped open the 2009 Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Riesling. We drank it on its own, but I’m going to recommend this as a Thanksgiving wine as well, especially if you are looking to par down your wine budget a bit. This bottle will fit the bill well. The Chateau Tanunda Riesling clocks in at 12% alcohol by volume, has a screw cap closure, and retails for around $13.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) I liked this Riesling as an alternate style to some of the sweeter Rieslings I’ve been drinking lately.

2.) I intend to serve this as one of my white wine options at Thanksgiving this year.

3.) The wine delivered nicely for the price point.

4.) I usually suggest Riesling as a gateway wine for the “I don’t like wine” folks, but I think this one was a bit too dry to fall into that category.

On the nose I got lemon, stone, pear, apple, flowers, spice, and white pepper. The wine smelled light and lively and dry.  In the mouth I found mostly lemon, some round pear and apple edges. The palate was light and refreshing, simpler than the nose. Overall I found it to be dry with good structure.


Nine Dollar Pinot Noir

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks for Jacob’s Creek.

I honestly don’t expect much from a $9 Pinot Noir. I expect even less from a $9 Pinot Noir from Australia. I tried this wine with some trepidation, having not experiences much Pinot Noir from Australia and thinking about the general Australian style with big red wines and wondering how that might translate to Pinot Noir, a red I tend to think of as lighter. Last night we tried the 2007 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Pinot Noir.  It had a screw cap closure, clocked in at 13% alcohol by volume, and retails online for around $9.

On the nose I found spiced rum, mulling spice, cider spice, hot cider, mulberry, and cinnamon.  I thought it smelled more like a Christmas candle than a wine. Christmas in a glass.  In the mouth I got tart red fruit, raspberry, cherry, mulling spices, and mulberry.  It tasted a bit like Christmas too. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this wine. It didn’t necessarily taste like a classic Pinot Noir to me, and as I said, I haven’t had enough Pinot Noir from Australia to make a call if this is just how Pinot Noir from Australia tastes.



Aussie Riesling

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the importer for Jacob’s Creek.

I’ve been drinking plenty of German Rieslings lately, so I thought it would be interesting to pull a Riesling from a different region from the basement. Just my luck, a box of Rieslings from Jacob’s Creek in Australia arrived recently. I chose one of the Rieslings from Jacob’s Creek’s higher priced line, the 2006 Jacob’s Creek Steingarten Riesling. It clocked in at 12.5% alcohol by volume, had a screw cap closure, and retails for around $28.

On the nose I found lemon, chalk, wet stone, coconut, tropical fruit, lime, and a hint of toast. In the mouth I got tropical fruit, pineapple, lime, citrus, and an orange aftertaste. I found the fruit to be fairly lush in the mid-palate, which transformed to a dry finish by the end.

A Different Kind of Sparkler

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Wyndham’s PR folks.

Normally you expect sparkling wine to be white or Rosé. But coming out of Australia is Sparkling Shiraz. I’ve had a couple over the years of writing this blog. They are interesting, but not truly my thing. I like them more for the interesting factor of a sparkling red wine. It’s always fun to pour one for folks who have never seen them before. In any case, a bottle of the Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Sparkling Shiraz arrived at my door the other day from South Eastern Australia. It had a traditional Champagne closure, clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and I see it retailing for about $16 online.

On the nose I found black currants, black plums, and pine. The nose also seemed to have a waxy quality to it…like the smell of birthday candles.  In the mouth, more plums and currants, plus blackberry, and other tart berries…I want to say huckleberries.  The wine was more fizzy than bubbly, more like a soda than a sparkling wine.

Tasting Yangarra Estate Vineyard

This post, like many of my posts from my last CA adventure, is long overdue. This past summer I had to travel to St. Louis for two weeks for work. It just so happened that it coincided with my friend Al (whom I met in Kansas City on another work trip) bringing around a representative from Yangarra Estate Vineyard in Australia, a Kendall Jackson brand.  We met up in the hotel restaurant to taste through some of the current line up and for me to learn a bit about Yangarra.

Yangarra Estate totals 420 acres with 250 planted with primarily Rhone varieties. All wine produced under the label are single vineyard designates from dry farmed vineyards. I thought it was kind of cool that the Grenache they farm was planted in 1946. Total, Yangarra produces 15,000 cases a year.

2007 Un-oaked Chardonnay: Melon, pear, light citrus, peach, white flowers, white pepper, spice, peach, stone fruit, full mid-palate, great structure. Retails for $15-$20.

2007 Viognier: Slight butter oak that is fleeting, pear, stone fruit, spicy, little cream that doesn’t appear in the mouth at all, tropical notes, apple, crisp, acidic.

2007 Roussanne: Light citrus, orange, nice round mouth feel, lemon, tart, something tropical hiding, spicy nose, hint of orange cream, nice long finish, smoke.

2005 Cadenzia: My favorite of the wines. 7 wineries make wines under this name and they must be Grenache heavy to qualify. The Yangarra Cadenzia was 47% Grenache, 41% Syrah, 12% Mourvedre. Blackberry, black plum, chocolate, pepper, raspberry, really tart fruit, black cherry, nice herbal/mint/eucalyptus, red fruit, really bright, dried roses, smokey, cracked black pepper, this had a nose I could get lost in.

2007 Shiraz: Cracked pepper, big black plums, meat->grilled, crushed violets, spicy, dusty dark chocolate, herbs, smoke, concentrated black fruit, black cherry, tannins.

2005 High Sands Grenache: Big nose, perfumey, candied currants, black fruit, chocolate, berries, plums, big fruit, tannic, flowers, some red fruit.

Convicts in the House

My dad gave me a subscription to a wine of the month club several months ago. I think this is the last bottle from that subscription. I have a story to write for Palate Press coming up about my experiences with wine clubs, big box, winery direct, and other, so that’s a story for another day. Suffice it to say that my club shipments from winery direct clubs are much preferred.  Tonight we tried the 2008 Convict’s Reward Cabernet Sauvignon. Yes. You read that right. 2008. It clocked in at 14% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, comes from South Eastern Australia, and I can’t find any information on what it retails for.

On the nose I got cedar, eucalyptus, mint, spice, pepper, blackberry, and black currants. Overall I found the nose to be woody.  In the mouth I got dark black stewed fruit.  I found it to be tannic, acidic, and bitter. NMS.


WBW #60 Round Up: I Have Zinned

A hearty thanks to all who busted out some Zin to participate in the 5th birthday of WBW! As you probably gathered by now, I set the theme for this momentous occasion to I Have Zinned. I asked everyone to grab a bottle of Zin and pair it with their favorite grilled or BBQ food.  Zin and BBQ is one of my favorite pairings and it seems to be wbwlogosome of yours too! Though I did discover this time that Zins that have aged a little don’t seem to have the oopmh to stand up to sweeter BBQ sauce.  I think several others had the same revelation!

Overall, 30 folks joined us for WBW #60, with posts on 29 wine blogs!  Across the board, 46 Zins were reviewed for this WBW.  I’m happy so many joined in for the 5th birthday celebration of WBW!  I know participation lags in the summer as folks tend to be on holiday and such, so I appreciate the effort! Below are snapshots of all the posts, click through to read everyone’s full take on Zin and BBQ (or pizza in John’s case…though I kinda wish he’d grilled up some tofu or something 😉 )

Our first entry came in over a week early from David at Cooking Chat. He picked the 2007 Ridge Paso Robles Zin to pair with his ribeye. Sadly, he found it to be a bit underwhelming for the price point, though I expect it might have needed a little more time…07 is young for a Ridge Zin! Read his whole take here.

Ryan over at Oe-no-phile also joined with an early entry. He went off the beaten Zin path and picked a 2006 Old Vine Zin from Sineann, a winery with a Zin vineyard that straddles Oregon and Washington…so technically it’s a Washington State Zin. In short, he loved loved loved it.  Check out his fully review here.

Another early entry, Jason of This Blog and 20 Bucks Can Definitely Get You a Great Bottle of Wine (wow, that’s a mouthful!) picked a Zin I am very familiar with the 2006 Camellia Cellars Leconi Vineyard Dry Creek Zinfandel.  He paired it with an Heirloom tomato salad and grilled Moroccan chicken. You can read his review and check out his dinner here.

Randy, The Wine Whore, joins us for the WBW, and chose a Zin that I also have hanging around waiting for me to taste it!  He picked the 2006 J. Keverson Old Vine Dry Creek Zinfandel and presents us with a fun pictorial review of his experience tasting it.  Visit The Wine Whore for his review.

Bill from Wine for Newbies brought out the big guns for this WBW, tasting through 6 Zins! Though he admits he only tasted one of them with his BBQ! All 6 hail from Lodi and he picked the 2007 m2 “Old Vine” Soucie Vineyard, the 2007 Bargetto Zinfandel Old Vine, the 2007 Macchia Zinfandel “Oblivious”, the 2006 Mettler Vineyards Zinfandel “Epicenter”, the 2006 Harney Lane Zinfandel “Lizzie James” Vineyard, and the 2006 Michael David Gluttony “Old Vines”. Head on over to Wine for Newbies to read all about them.

Richard, who writes Silene’s Cellar, told us a lovely story of his first eye-opening Zin experience with a 1977 Monteviña Special Selection Zin.  He follows up that tale with a a blind tasting of 3 Zins (great minds think alike!).  Richard picked that 2005 Hendry Block 7 Napa Zin, the 2005 Dendor Patton Wisdom Mendocino Old Vine Zin, and the 2005 Sequum Riverwash Dry Creek Zin. Which won? You’ll have to visit Silene’s Cellar to find out!

Next up, Shea of Just Grapes. Shea chose to write up his visit to Mazzocco Winery after the Wine Blogger Conference where they make many Zins (I’ve visited before, but not in years). He tells us about the 6 Zins he tasted, with his favorite being the mighty pricey $120 2006 Antoine Phillipe Reserve. Read about them all here.

My roomie from WBC, Catie, aka the Walla Walla Wine Woman, brings us, what else? Zin from Walla Walla, Washington! I was actually surprised by the number of Washington Zins that popped up for this WBW, though I would expect nothing less from Catie!  She picked the 2005 Forgeron Cellars Zinfandel and paired it with Bulgogi, which sounds delish! Head on over for her recipe and wine review.

Our first Zin mishap comes from Rob over at Wine Post. (Who, by the way, recognizes how multi-talented I am at smiling and talking at the same time.) He picked up one of my favorites, a 2006 Titus Zinfandel. Sadly, he found it cooked. What a shame, it’s a great wine!

Then there’s me. I also did a blind tasting of 3 Zins! I chose the 2003 Sky Saddle, the 2004 Ridge Lytton Springs, and the 2005 Mauritson Rockpile Cemtery Vineyard.  I tasted mine with BBQ and found my BBQ sauce seemed to overwhelm the Zins, but of course, I didn’t let that get in my way! Read about my Zins here.

Kevin over at Under the Grape Tree joined us with a Zin from afar.  Now, I don’t see too many Zins coming out of Australia, so I was thrilled with this obscurish pick.  He chose the 2006 Groom Bush Vine Zin from Barossa. Over two days, he paired the wine with a grilled steak and BBQ ribs, and thankfully had better luck than I did with the BBQ sauce pairing! His review is here.

The Brix Chicks went all out for this WBW! Brix Chick Janesta reviewed the 2006 Gluttony Old Vine Zinfandel one of many Zins the Brix Chicks tasted that evening! They also smoked some meat and Janesta posts a photo of Sean Connery as 007…how does that connect with the wine? You’ll have to read to find out!

Jim from VineGeek submitted the post on Zin he did last month, seeing as how he had just written about the exact topic at hand, I decided to let him slide 😉 He chose the 2006 Cline Bridgehead Contra Costa County Zin, and sadly found it a bit lacking for the price point.  His full write up is here.

Gwendolyn, aka the Art Predator, (gee, what’s with all these bloggers with several aliases, lol), joins us with yet another Ridge Zinfandel.  Folks love Ridge Zins, one of the kings of Zin in my mind! She picked the 2006 Ridge Lytton Springs to go with her marinated tri tip and it blew her out of the water! Check out her review here.

We got another Brix Chick post out of the event too! Liza wrote up several of the other wines that they enjoyed with their brisket.  To round out the tasting, they enjoyed the 2006 Harney Lane Lizzie James Vineyard Old Vine Zin, the 2007 m2 Wines Soucie Vineyard 1916 Block Lodi Old Vine Zin, and the 2007 Newsome Harlow Big John’s Vineyard Calaveras Zinfandel. Quite the tasting. Head on over to the Brix Chicks for the details!.

Over at Drink What You Like, Frank brings us yet another Washington State Zinfandel! That’s three so far! I had no idea so much Zin was coming out of Washington, but that makes my mission clear: I must have some.  Frank searched through 5 wine shops in Seattle before finding the 2006 Maryhill Zinfandel.  He find it to be a decent QPR wine and hopes to taste more Washington Zin in the future. His review is here.

Joe, the Suburban Wino, has a great sildeshow/video up of the tantalizing ribs he made to go with his Zin. It’s worth a visit just for the drool worthy BBQ, as well as his review! He chose the 2006 Cartlidge and Browne Amador Zinfandel. It appears he preferred his ribs to the Zin, but thought it was fine for the price point. Visit Suburban Wino for the full review!

Our 4th Washington State Zinfandel comes from Kori over at Wine Peeps! She tasted 2 Zins blind (clearly another great mind!), the 2005 Forgeron Zin (same as Catie!) and the 2006 Columbia Crest Reserve Zin.  The meal she had with it made me want to hop on a plane and beg her mother to make BBQ for me too!  Find out which Zin prevailed by heading over to Wine Peeps.

Not a traditional WBW post, but Hello Vino participated by bringing us some info about Zin!  They write about the history of Zin, talk about how alcohol levels affect the fruit, and offer suggested grilled and BBQ foods to pair with it! Head on over to Hello Vino to read all about Zinfandel.

A fairly new wine blogger, Dee Wineo loses his WBW virginity on the Zin and BBQ theme!  He BBQ’d up some pork steak (which I just learned about last week when friends of mine made it for dinner while I was out in St. Louis!) and pulled out a value Zin to pair with it, the 2007 Foxglove Zinfandel.  Read about how his pairing turned out here.

My favorite Lush, Thea, aka Winebratsf, of course joined us for this WBW as she has a similar affection for Zinfandel like me! Raising it up yet another notch, Thea attended the ZAP summer outing and visited 3 wineries and tasted a plethora of Zins. She chose to focus on Rockwall Wine Company and D-Cubed Cellars in her post, highlighting 2 of their Zins along with the BBQ at the event. Visit Luscious Lushes for the full report.

Debbie, the Hudson Valley Wine Goddess, had a mishap with her post too: her dog ate her tasting notes! Now there’s a new twist on the old “the dog ate my homework” excuse!  Not to fear, being a trooper, Debbie sacrificed and opened another Zin in time for WBW! She chose the 2006 Truett Hurst Red Rooster Old Vine Dry Creek Zinfanel.  Read her review here.

My friend John over at Anything Wine joined in on the fun, though being a vegetarian he skipped the toss some meat on the grill part….I think he should do a follow up on how Zin pairs with grilled tofu or veggie burgers! John picked the 2006 Seghesio San Lorenzo Block 8 Zinfandel.  A sure winner, head on over for his take on the wine.

Now, I hope the link for this participant will work. Grace, the CellarMistress, posted her WBW on FaceBook. I’m not sure if you have to be her friend to read it, if so, let me know and I’ll reproduce the whole thing here. Grace chose the 2006 Seghesio Family Vineyards Della Costa Alexander Valley Zin.  You can (hopefully) read her review here!

Michelle from My Wine Education had to do a local twist on the theme, being loyal to her beloved Cincinnati (and also started Wine Blogging Thursday)! She picked the 2006 Zincinnati Zinfandel from Mendocino. The story on this wine is that a local distributor teamed up with a CA Zin producer to create this wine! Swing by My Wine Education for the full story!

John of Brim to the Dregs came out of WBW hiding to join in on the BBQ and Zin theme on Wine Blogging Thursday as well. He had a little trouble with the grilling part…first it rained and then his cooking skills failed him and his steaks were a bit more well done than intended. Good thing he had an excellent bottle of Zin to make things right! John chose the 2005 Fritz Dry Creek Zinfandel (one I’ve had many times!) and you can read his review here.

Our founding father Lenn also came in for Wine Blogging Thursday 😉 with a Zin he had trouble finding.  He picked the 2000 (oldest Zin for this WBW!) Neyer’s Pato Vineyards Zinfandel. Unfortunately, he thought it seemed tired and speculated that perhaps it hadn’t been stored properly for the time it lived in the store. Head on over to Lenndevours for his review.

Another Wine Blogging Thursday participant, Jill of Domaine 547 came out of blog, Zinfandel, and WBW hiding to join in the fun! Jill doesn’t drink a lot of Zin, so I appreciate her stepping out of her wine zone and trying a Zin! She picked the 2007 Homefire Homecoming Dry Creek Zin. It made her reconsider stocking some Zins in her soon to be open brick and mortar store! Read her review here.

For a Wine Blogging Sunday entry, we have Andrew of Spittoon, our first international participant for this WBW!  He had a bit of trouble finding a Zin, his stores only had two options.  With little in the way of choices, he ended up with the 2007 Bonterra Vineyards. Sadly, he didn’t find it very food friendly.  Read his full review here.

And finally, joining us for Wine Blogging Monday is Erika of StrumErika.  Erika plucked the 2007 Merryvale Jan Vineyard Napa Zinfandel from the share pile at work to pair with her sister’s famous hot wings.  While the wine didn’t live up to expectations, the hot wings sound mighty fine to me! Visit StrumErika for her full review and wing recipe!

Thanks again to everyone for breaking out the Zin in honor of WBW’s 5th Birthday and Zinning with me. And as always, a nod of the hat to Lenn for founding such a lasting event and for having me host this month! If I missed your post, please let me know and I will happily add it in!

Richie Rich

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Gallo Family Wines.

I felt like a Syrah the other night. So I rummaged around in one of the sample boxes and came up with the 2005 Clarendon Hills Liandra Syrah.  I didn’t even look at the associated information until I had already pulled the cork.  Then I saw: Suggested Retail Price $85 and my eyes bugged out of my head.  First, it was a weeknight and second, I don’t think I’ve ever had an $85 Syrah. Ever.  I’m sure the price has something to do with the huge scores this one received from various traditional media sources.  I see you can find it on the internet for about $66. But still, WOAH!.  The wine had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, hails from Austrailia, and only 500 cases were made.

The nose on the wine jumped out of the glass and smacked me across the face. I could smell the fruit from across the room. Literally….Matt had the bottle near him, about 6 feet from where I sit and I could smell berries and plums wafting across the divide.  On the nose I found berries, plums, pepper, blueberry, violets, chocolate syrup, and other dark fruit.  It smelled juicy, if that’s possible.  In the mouth I got blueberry, blackberry, dark fruit, licorice, chocolate syrup, red berries, spice, pepper, raspberries, black currants, black plums, and blueberry pie.  The finish on the wine went on and on and on, carry the creamy lush fruit along with it and ending with just a hint of tart red fruit.  Matt loved this wine.  I was still pondering my first glass and sips and he had already come back for seconds.  In terms of the price though….a little too rich for my blood!

Eating Spoonfuls of Pepper

I’m still on a Syrah kick. I love it.  So I pulled one of the last bottles from the half case of Cameron Hughes wine I won at the Wine Blogger Conference to attempt to satisfy the craving.  I picked the 2006 Cameron Hughes Lot 77 Barossa Shiraz.  It had a diam closure and clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume.

Nope. Too spicy for me. It felt like I was sniffing my pepper grinder.  Once I got past that I noted some chocolate, campfire smoke, more pepper, and something earthy and herbal.  But it was really dominated and overwhelmed by the pepper.  In the mouth I found the wine to be tannic and peppery.  I found a bit of fruit juice with some herbs on the edges, but I just couldn’t get past the pepper.  So if peppery wines are your thing, this is perfect….but they aren’t mine (at least not to this extent) so this one is NMS.