Random Tastings

Some wines I tasted at dinner/the Grand Sonoma tasting at the Wine Blogger Conference this summer.  I thought it worth telling you about them since I took the time to take notes and many are worth your time to hunt down!

Sadly, I didn’t get to taste very many wines at the Sonoma Grand Tasting. The location (chosen I think to pre-empt our poolside party) was not large enough for anywhere near 100 people, let alone 275. I only tasted 5 wines throughout the whole event before I ran for cover from the jostling crowd which wasn’t conducive to talking, tasting, taking notes, or really, moving around!

2007 Paul Hobbs Russian River Valley Chardonnay: French Oak. Oak, butter, maloactic, apple, spice, white pepper, nice acidity, good fruit.

2007 Paul Hobbs Russian River Valley Pinot Noir: Strawberry, cherry, raspberry, spice, pepper, tarragon, red fruit, nice structure, tart fruit.

2008 Lancaster Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blanc: Grapefruit, melon, lemon, spice, crisp, nice mouthfeel, tart citrus. Saw 10% oak.

2006 Roth Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Vanilla, strawberry, currants, blackberry, black cherry, nice structure, reserved.

2005 Roth Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: Big red nose, herbs, leather, earth, black cherry, blackberry, pepper, peppery, smooth, well integrated.

2008 Titus Sauvignon Blanc: Melon, grass, hay, tart, dry, lemon , citrus. Nice.

2007 Titus Zinfandel: Bramble fruit, blackberry tart, vanilla crea, black fruit, violets, tart, nice ripe fruit.

2007 Sojourn Gaps Crown Pinot Noir: Bright red fruit nose, brown sugar, tart, raspberry, nice mouthfeel, spice, cinnamon.

2004 Michel Schlumberger Deux Terres: Leather, bramble, blackberry, dark fruit, fresh blackberry, spice, tannic.

2008 Cline Marsanne Roussane: Pear, orange blossom, spice, honey suckle, spice, orange zest, honey, crisp.

2007 Eric Ross Russian River Valley Marsanne Roussanne: Toasted spice, tinned pear, flowers, grapefruit, really nice acidity, pineapple, caramel finish. One of my top wines of the weekend.

2006 Tytanium Ty Caton: 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Petite Sirah, 20% Syrah, 5% Merlot. Vanilla cream, blue fruit, violets, pepper, chocolate syrup, tight, blueberries, coffee, espresso. Huge wine. I really wanted to see what this would be like the next day, but it was dark in the dinner room and I accidentally grabbed the wrong bottle on my way out!

2007 Teresina Sonoma Valley Zinfandel: Raspberry, cranberry, pomegrante, spice, smooth, cherry, hard candy, pepper.

2006 Kopriva Cassidy Ranch Carneros Chardonnay: Spice apple, pear, spice, cinnamon, overripe peach, nice round mouthfeel, with clean acidity, baked apple pice, green apple.

2006 Titus Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: Vanilla cream, black, tannic, blackberry pie, dusty milk chocolate, raspberry, tart fruit, anise.

2006 Titus Cabernet Franc: Pepper, herbs, leather, raspberry, tannic, dark, spice, anise, strawberry.

Obviously, I was hanging out just a bit with Christophe from Titus, given how many wines from them I tasted and reviewed. Always a good time, Christophe was sporting a ‘hawk at this year’s WBC, taking the place of Ward from last year!

Red Red Rosé

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Artisan Family of Wines

“Red red wine you make me feel so fine….You keep me rocking all of the time…” I don’t know why that popped into my head as I wrote this post, but it did.  Now it can be stuck in your head too!  Maybe it’s the fabulous color on this Rosé. Rosé is mostly the only wine where the color actually strikes me and makes me sit up and take notice on a routine basis.  They come in such a spectrum of pretty colors!  I chose the 2008 Red Cote Rose from Suisun Valley tonight. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 12.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for $13.

This was a great Rosé. Easily my favorite I’ve had in recent memory. I loved everything about it, from the color, to the nose, to the flavors. On the nose I found very aromatic strawberries, raspberries, limey lemony aromas, Sprite, and raspberry jello. I can smell this wine from 2+ feet away.  In the mouth I got cranberry, strawberry, raspberry, jello, hard candy, cranberry cocktail, nice lime on the edges, and raspberry jolly ranchers.  This isn’t totally dry, but I loved it and found it to be very refreshing with excellent fruit.

Going, Going, Gone!

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

I imagine this wine will pretty much sell out in the blink of an eye.  As well it should, it’s a fantastic little summer Rosé.  The 2008 Macari Rosé is a blend of 45% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Pinot Noir, and 4% Malbec.  It hails from the North Fork of Long Island where I had no idea Malbec was being grown!  The wine retails for $14.99, had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 12.8% alcohol by volume.  With those stats, and what I enjoyed in this bottle, I’d suggest scooping some up for the hot days ahead!

On the nose I found strawberries, raspberries, spice, white pepper, slight cream, white flowers, and cranberry.  I forgot to mention how I loved the color of this wine in the glass, it poured out as an extremely pale salmon pink color that looked great!  In the mouth I got cranberry, strawberry, raspberry, spice, slight lemon, white pepper, and lime.  Overall, the cranberry really dominated in the mouth, making this a crisp, tart Rosé, with just a hint of a citrus edge that I love in a good Rosé.  Yum!

And It’s Chile Again!

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks for Wines of Chile so that I could participate in the webcast tasting of Chilean wines.

Yes, in case you haven’t noticed, there’s been a rash of Chilean wine postings in the last two weeks here on the ‘ol wine blog. Normally I wouldn’t have so many posts, but since we had the web tasting, I have 8 wines to write about, and it took us several days to polish them off, so we didn’t get around to tasting other wines in the meantime!  This is wine number seven of the tasting, so I only have one more after this!  Up seventh for the evening: the 2006 Haras Character Cabernet Sauvignon-Caermenere.  This one has a real cork closure, is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Carmenere, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Syrah, and retails for $21.

This one showed a lot of green pepper on the nose, and it took a while to blow off. I had to go back to it after the presentation to re-sniff as I didn’t want to judge it solely on the green pepper aromas.  After the webcast was over, I re-tasted/smelled and found chocolate, plums, black currants, spice, anise, pepper, black fruit, mint, and a dusty earthy quality.  In the mouth, I found the wine to be really peppery and spicy.  I also got flavors of black fruit–black cherries and black berries mostly, and it had a meaty quality that I’ve found in some of the wines with Carmenere that I’ve tried.  I’m not really sure what the Cabernet Franc added to the wine…I couldn’t really find a trace of it.  On night one, this was huge and tannic…it was a bit more approachable on night two.

Long Lost Review

I thought I had lost this review, but it turns out my notes had accidentally merged into another draft post I had scheduled. No idea how I managed to do that, but I’ve learned over the last 2.5+ years of blogging that if it can go wrong it does….I once managed to delete my entire blog…just shy of 2 years in, I nearly cried…but somehow managed to resurrect it…not sure if I could repeat that if I needed to!

I drank this wine way back in January, but I thought it well worth mentioning for a couple reasons, even though it’s been so long.  I had traveled to Kansas City, MO for work and on the recommendation of Al I headed to JJ’s for lunch where I dined on a delicious Wild Boar Ragu over house made Papardelle.  I wanted a bottle of wine for later, so figured I’d see what the policy in MO is on taking opened bottles out of the restaurant.  Thankfully, this is legal in MO! By the way, JJ’s wine list is huge and impressive and has something for everyone at every price point. Plus, the mark up is more than fair.  I chose the 2006 Marc Bredif Chinon which I paid $24 at the restaurant….it retails for around $18-$20, so that is just an awesome deal.  It had a real cork and clocked in at 13% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I found cranberry, strawberry, candy, mint, banana, spice, and some earth.  In the mouth I got raspberry, cherry, cranberry, and a touch of spice.  Te Marc Bredif is 100% Cabernet Franc, another reason I wanted to mention it…I’m usually not a huge Cab Franc fan, but I loved this wine.  It smelled fresh and tart, and the fruit in the mouth showed as clean and, delicate, and quite fresh.  I drank this over the course of 3 days and had nowhere to store it but with the cork shoved back in on the desk in my hotel room. It didn’t degrade at all over that period, making it even more impressive in my opinion!

Getting to know you


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

Getting to know all about you. Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me! (With all apologies to Hammerstein…) I promised in 2009 to make getting to know Chilean wines one of my wine goals. And I am quickly on my way to making it there.  I’ve already had 3 red wines from Chile and I have 9 more waiting to be tasted. This one has been my favorite so far, and confirms my suspicion that I really like the Carmenere grape, a grape I first tasted for WBW 52.


I chose the 2005 Estampa Gold from the Colchagua Valley in Chile for the evening.  It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for around $18, making this a fabulous value. (You listening Dr. Debs? This is definitely a Good Wine Under $20!) 🙂  It’s a blend of 55% Carmenere, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petite Verdot.

The color on the wine is a deep dark gorgeous purple.  On the nose I found cinnamon, plum, spice, black fruit, chocolate, pepper, black cherry, mocha, and licorice.  In the mouth, tart black cherries dominated, with plums, spice, earth, and anise rounding out the flavors.  This one had nice spicy fruit, it tasted as if each of the fruits were rolled in fresh cracked black pepper.  The wine got a hearty two thumbs up from both Matt and I.  A great value for what it delivered.

WBW #44 French Cabernet Franc

Our host for this edition of WBW, the brain-child of Lenn of Lenndevous, is Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV. He chose French Cabernet Franc as theme for this month (ostensibly as a result of his recent trip tasting in France!). You can watch his vlog about the event here, but the jist is pick a French Cabernet Franc and post your link by April 2, 2008 in the comments to the entry on his website.

I’ll admit straight up that I sorta cheated on this one. Having been in travel mode since before Gary’s theme announcement, I really didn’t have much of a chance to pick up a bottle for this month or shop around. I popped into my favorite local shop, The Winery in Old Town Alexandria, and sadly could not come up with a full on Cabernet Franc. So I went with a 25% Cabernet Franc, 70% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon Bordeaux style blend.

The wine is a 2004 Chateau Quercy Saint-Emilion Grand Cru. It clocked in at 13% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and cost me $25.99. This is out of the price range I’m usually willing to spend on unknown wines, but the shop owner highly recommended it, and desperate times call for desperate measures.

On the nose of the wine I found cocoa powder, espresso, strawberry, herbs, and an overall smoky quality. In the mouth the fruit was dusty and smoky. I almost felt like I was drinking cedar grilled cherries and strawberries, but with fresh raspberries and a slightly biting herb bouquet dipped in espresso.

The wine was tannic on the first night, but smoothed considerably on the second. On the second night the wine took on an even smokier quality with more oak and cedar coming through, and the fruit being less dusty or smoky. I believe this one has quite a few years of age left on it.

Many thanks to Gary for hosting WBW this month. I’ll be particularly interested to see what form the round-up will take! And as always, barring another other internetless interludes, I will let you know when the round-up is posted and when the May WBW theme is announced!

A VA Cab Franc I Like

I do not care for Cab Franc much, at least the ones I’ve had produced here in the states. They are often thin, acidic, vegetal, and just not good. So it took me by great surprise that I liked this wine, and liked it enough to take a bottle home!

The wine was a 2006 Rappahannock Cellars Cabernet Franc. It clocked in at 13.4% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and cost us $22 at the winery minus a 10% discount.

On the nose the wine was peppery, with vanilla, currants, and spice. It was just a little bit vegetal, but not in a bad way at all. In the mouth I found spice, earth, and currants. The wine was tannic, but as it opened up, I got flavors of tart blackberries in the wine.

A VA Cab Franc I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend!

Wine Upon Wine….

One evening at my parents’ house, a lot of wine was consumed in one evening. We had around 10 people at the house and the wine was flowing all evening.

I believe this was the second bottle of the evening. We started with a Sauvignon Blanc, but my Aunt didn’t like it and requested a Merlot. I just happened to have a Merlot blend on hand!

The wine was a Chateau Rocher Corbin 2002 Montagne Saint Emillion. I purchased it for $18.99 minus a 10% case discount at The Winery in Old Town Alexandria, it had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume. The wine was a blend of 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

On the nose I found dark fruit, blackberries, oak, and black currants. In the mouth the flavors were of black currants, plums, and other dark fruit. The wine was tannic and a bit chewy in the mouth, this was definitely a wine that would benefit from being consumed with food. We finished the bottle up over a roast turkey and all the fixings, but I think it would be better with a pork roast.