Good Bargain Cabernet

Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery.

As I grow increasingly desperate for the cooler weather to arrive, (hear that Mother Nature? 89 in late September? What’s up with that?) so I can wear sweaters and pick apples, my thoughts continue to turn to bone-warming big red wines. In that vein, we picked the 2006 Martellotto Cabernet  Sauvignon out of the basement to taste the other evening. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for about $18. Reasonable alcohol level, sweet price for a Cabernet Sauvignon, I’m hooked…oh, and the wine was good too!

My first thought was that this wine just jumped out of the glass with lovely aromas.  I got blackberry, black cherry, spice, earth, herbs, baking chocolate, and blackberry pie on the nose. In the mouth I found blackberry, black cherry, spice, pepper, and herbs. The fruit showed quite tart, with the black cherries taking center stage and good acidity holding the body of the wine together.

Every Good Steak

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

Deserves a lovely bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon to complement it. And as we happened to have some perfectly delightful cuts of meat to grill up the other night, I decided to dig into a box sent to me from Jordan Winery, knowing I’d find a Cabernet Sauvignon inside. The 2006 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and retails for between $41-$52 depending on the internet source.  My parents also happened to be in town visiting, always an opportunity to open something fun to try out on my dad who very much enjoys dark red wines.

On the nose I found spice, pepper, blackberry, black cherry, earth, and chocolate. My notes say “loads of fruit and good aroma.” In the mouth I got black pepper, blackberry, black cherry, raspberry, spice, and earth. Overall the wine had well integrated tannins and the flavors melded nicely. The red notes on the edges of the palate added some tartness to the wine and altogether it worked wonderfully with our grilled steak. Mmm. Steak and Cabernet.

He’s Wily, Wily Jack

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks representing the brand.

I tried out the Wily Jack Zinfandel a couple months ago and found myself pretty impressed with the fella. For the around $8 price tag, I thought the wine really delivered for a Tuesday night wine or a party wine. No one would say no to a glass. I’m happy to report that the 2007 Wily Jack Cabernet Sauvignon follows in in the same pattern. It had a real cork, clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for between $5-$12 online.

On the nose I found black currant, dusty chocolate, earth, cocoa powder, blackberry, black plum, pepper, and spice. The nose had a lot going on for this price point. In the mouth the fruit ruled the day. Blackberry, black cherry, and black plum with a touch of earth, spice, and pepper. Juicy, juicy fruit made this easy and fun to drink. A great $8 everyday wine.

Livermore Valley Wine

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample to participate in a Taste Live.

For this Taste Live we tried several wines from Wente Vineyards. Wente Vineyards has been owned and family operated for the last 125 years in the Livermore Valley. I haven’t had many wines from Livermore, so I took the opportunity to participate in Taste Live to get to know these wines a little better. The Livermore Valley boasts over 40 wineries and produces wines from dozens of different grapes. Second up for the night was the 2007 Wente Cabernet Sauvignon, which clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure.

On the nose I found berries, spice, violets, cinnamon, chocolate, plums, and anise. I thought the nose was interesting and I could really see the influence of the Petite Sirah that is blended in. The wine is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon with the remainder made up of Petite Sirah, Merlot, Barbera, and Petite Verdot. In the mouth, more plums. Black plums, spice, chocolate, cranberry, raspberry, black cherry, and blackberries rounded this one out. I thought it had a little heat to it, despite the low alcohol content.

Fee Fi Fo Fum

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

I smell the blood of an Englishman! Ok, not really, but I keep thinking fairy tales and Brothers Grimm when I think about the name of this wine. Sometimes you’re in the mood for a big wine. This one has you covered in that regard. I suggest a big juicy steak or my delicious rack of lamb to help cut through the tannins on this wine. The wine is the 2006 Rodney Strong Brother’s Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon. Retailing for $75, the wine is a single-vineyard Cabernet that is part of Rodney Strong’s Rockaway line. It had a real cork closure and clocked in at 15.4% alcohol by volume.

On the nose currants, herbs, anise, earth, blackberries, chocolate, milk chocolate, black cherries, forest floor, and wild strawberries all clamored for attention. Oak was quite present, but integrated as the wine breathed. I would certainly suggest holding this wine for some time or at least giving it several good hours in the decanter. In the mouth dark dark fruit, blackberry, black cherry, dark spices, bitter chocolate, earth, and herbs that I want to call cardamom dominated. The tannins on the finish are huge and need time to mellow. Overall this is a baby of a wine.

Wine with Lamb Pie

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

A few years ago I was bored at work and roaming around the 3 pages on the internet I can actually get to. Back in the day, I had a job where no one talked to me for months on end and never gave me any work to do, even when I begged. Needless to say, it makes for a very long day when no one talks to you, you don’t have any work, and you can get to pretty much CNN, the NYT, and Google. Anywho, I was reading an article on the NYT about great classic cookbooks and one struck my fancy so I bought it from a used book store. We’ve been slowly making our way through the recipes in that book and settled on Hunter’s Pie for the other night. It’s a lamb based dish, and I thought a Cab would be a great match. Lucky for me I had a bottle of the 2006 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Cabernet Sauvignon just waiting for me to taste. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for $59 a bottle from the winery.

I first had to note the color on the wine…it’s a beautifully dark and inky purple, impossible to see any light through this one.  On the nose I found earth, cedar, cherry, leather, plum, blackberry, herbs, spice, mint, and powdered chocolate. I often find myself lost in the aromas of the Cornerstone wines. In the mouth I got black cherry, blackberry, black fruit, plum, espresso, milk chocolate, almost a hint of raspberry. Of Cornerstone’s flagship wines, I find the Napa Valley Cab to be more approachable at a younger age, though it has miles to go before it rests.

Let’s Rock!

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

Ah the Rockaway. A mailing list only allocated wine from Rodney Strong. This year Rodney Strong is producing two wines under the Rockaway label, this one and a single vineyard designate that I have yet to taste, but am looking forward to trying soon.  My parents visited the other day to celebrate my dad’s birthday a little early and I decided to open the 2006 Rockaway Cabernet Sauvignon with the herb-crusted rack of lamb I made for the birthday dinner. Heaven. What a match….the melt in your mouth tender lamb chops and the tannins in the Rockaway competing for attention yet melding together…..yum.  The Rockaway had a real cork closure, clocked in at 15.4% alcohol by volume, and retails for $75.

On the nose I got black currants, blackberries, black cherry, espresso, chocolate, pepper, and smoke.  I would have kept smelling this nose but Matt and my dad were quickly downing their glasses and I could see them eying the remainder of the bottle! In the mouth I got crushed flowers, black cherry, coffee, caramel, chocolate, blackberry, cranberry, tart red berries, sour cherry, espresso, and herbs. This is a young wine. Get your bottle and forget about it for 5 years or else give this some serious time (maybe even overnight….) to sit in a decanter. It’s simply a baby.

Built on the Cornerstone

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

Ah Cornerstone, how I love thee. Let me count the ways. One, your wines are delicious. Two, your Cabernets are elegant and refined. Three, your wines are delicious….wait, I already said that…but t deserves to be said again. I do need to write a post about visiting Cornerstone’s new tasting room this past summer, but for the moment you’ll have be content drooling over this lovely wine I drank the other night. After I finally felt better and had given my palate a couple extra days to recover, we popped open the 2005 Cornerstone Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. I don’t think it has been officially released yet, but it will likely retail for $100, clocks in at 14.8% alcohol by volume, and had a real cork closure.

The nose, ah the nose. You know those wines where you want to dive in and go swimming in your glass? This is one of those. Except I don’t really want to swim in it, I want to drink it…and drink it, and drink it. I got chocolate, caramel, more chocolate, chocolate black cherries, dark expensive chocolate, spice, herbs, black currants, earth, and almost a scent of pine needles. My notes say “scrumptious nose.” In the mouth I got chocolate, currants, blackberries, chocolate covered cherries (but fresh cherries, not those gross candied ones), earth, leather, and dark juicy fruit. I found the wine to be silky. I served this with petite fillet mignon right off the grill, and the tannins and structure of this wine thanked me for giving it a nice juicy steak. You should grill a steak and get a bottle of this wine….but hold the wine for 5+ years…I suggest you wait to buy the steak til then too.

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.


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!