Less Old Chardonnay

We are currently cleaning out some of the older whites that are hanging around in the basement. Our basement is a pretty good storage place, it stays fairly constant at about 62 degrees, but I don’t believe it to be ideal for long term storage conditions. Not to mention it’s hot here in DC so we have switched almost entirely to white wine for the summer and don’t really have the largest selection of whites in the world!

So the wine for the night was a 2005 Hop Kiln Generations Chardonnay. It hails from the Russian River Valley, clocked in at 14.1% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and cost us $25.60 in a club shipment back when we were members. I do not think this wine saw any oak, as there didn’t appear to be a hint of it in the flavors.

On the nose I found green apple, lemon, lime zest, and a sharp tropical fruit aroma. In the mouth the flavors were lime, pineapple, green apple, and a hint of a sweet honey note. The wine was crisp in the mouth, but it seemed that the alcohol content wasn’t in balance with the relatively delicate flavors of an unoaked Chardonnay. It tasted a bit alcoholic to me.


7 months later

I’m starting to go back now and taste some wines that I tried 7-8 months ago and have more of in my collection to see how they are coming along. The bottle we drank this time was a 2004 Hop Kiln Old Windmill Zinfandel, weighing in at 14.2% alcohol by volume, having a real cork closure and costing us $20 at the winery.

We last tasted Dec. 7, 2006, so it’s been 7 + months for this one to sit in my cellar and age. Last time I said let it hang around for a while longer to let the alcohol dissipate.

While the heavy alcohol scent was not nearly as apparent this time, the flavors in the glass were still wound tight and needs to sit out before they unwind to be distinguishable beyond “dark fruit.”

After a bit, I found currants, raisins, dark cherry, spices, cloves, and leather on the nose. In the mouth I was getting
cherries, black currants, and spices. The wine is still slightly tannic, but a lot smoother than the last time. I think I have another bottle or 2 left, I’ll definitely set those aside for at least another 6 months.

I served this with oven-baked chicken, broccoli and 3 cheese risotto, but again I am of the opinion that it would be better with a steak. I just didn’t have any steak hanging around! Also, the wine didn’t show the big blackberry and raspberry flavors I have come to expect from many California Zinfandels. Instead, it reminded me a bit more of a blend with Cabernet Sauvignon. Maybe my taste buds are going wacky.

Valdiguie? Valdiwhat?

A new grape for us! We picked this bottle of 1995 Hop Kiln Valdiguie up on our honeymoon while at Hop Kiln. They had taken a few cases out of their library to release the day we were there and we thought we’d take home a bottle. Overall, only 400 cases of this wine were produced and we had never heard of the varietal, so we were sold.

On the nose I found spicy raspberries, with the fruit being oddly fresh for a 12 year old wine. I expected the fruit to be duller and more muted given the age, but no, it was as if the raspberries were fresh off the bush. I also found fresh black cracked pepper which was where the kicking spice of this wine really seemed to come from.

I decanted because I read on CellarTracker that it was spicy, but I think that was a characteristic of the wine, not an aging thing. We also drank this outside the window suggested by CellarTracker…it said through 2006….we’re not that far off, right?

In the mouth there were fresh strawberries and fresh raspberries (can you tell yet that I am impressed by the fresh flavors in this wine?) And more spice, mostly the black pepper, but something else I can’t put my finger on. We had a weird thought on this wine. The fruit was really fresh on the front of the palate, but then it dropped off in the middle and finish, as if someone had poured water into it in the middle of the sip. I realize that sounds incredibly strange, but I can’t really think of a better way to describe it.

The verdict? Certainly not worth the $50 price tag. It lacked depth and complexity for a wine at that price point. Not sure we actually paid that much, as I think we got a 20% club discount, but even at $40, too much money for too little wine.

Big Red

Drank this bottle of NV Hop Kiln Big Red while just hanging around the other night. The wine cost $12 and came in a club shipment, with a real cork closure. Matt pitched the bottle before I managed to write down the alcohol content, but I imagine it was close to 15%. The wine itself is a Zinfandel blend, so has a lot of Zinfandel characteristics.

I found the nose of this wine to be fairly complicated and layered. At first it was all vanilla and blackberry, which gave way to oak and black currants and finally showed a spice that I cannot place. In the mouth I got flavors of blueberries, blackberries and plums.

Overall I would describe this wine as very full of flavors and with a big feeling in the mouth, almost as if it were heavy. At the end, the wine is tannic, drying the back of your tongue a bit. I imagine that this would be fine if you’ve left it on your shelves for a few years. I thought that for only $12 this was a fairly complex and well done wine.

Hop Kiln 2004 Generations Pinot Noir

I am blogging from the in-laws house for a few days, so my posts will be minus pictures as they are all loaded into my laptop and while I have it with me, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to make it work on a non-wireless network, having initially used a wizard to set it up that way. (Remember how long it took me to get features added in the side-bar here? Yeah, so computers are not really my thing!) Anyway, we will be heading to Sonoma soon and I am sure I will have plenty of material to write about from there!

Before we left I created a dinner out of all the things in our fridge that were not going to keep until we got back. That consisted of cherry tomatoes, gorganzola, fresh mozzarella and milk. So I decided to make a sauce with the gorganzola and the milk, cook up some pasta and throw in chopped tomatoes and mozzarella at the end. Worked fairly well. And with it I paired a Hop Kiln 2004 Generations Pinot Noir.

The bottle cost us $36, came in a club shipment and had a real cork closure. Actually, it probably cost less than $36, since that is what it is going for without a club discount, but who knows. Again, Matt tossed the bottle before I wrote down the alcohol content.

On the nose of this wine I found mint, eucalyptus, leather, raspberry and, if this makes any sense, morning forest. It had a very pleasant and aromatic nose and really only needed a minute or so for the alcohol to blow off. In the mouth there were cloves, raspberries, cherries, and almost a medicinal cherry taste. The wine was tannic, but smoothed out well over the course of the evening, however, I think it could definitely benefit from being cellared for a bit longer.

PS-Please excuse my typos for the next few days, I can’t find the feature on my mother in-law’s computer for spell-check on the internet.

A Thousand Flowers

Tonight found us drinking a bottle of 2005 Hop Kiln A Thousand Flowers. The wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Muscat Canelli. You can find it on the Hop Kiln website for $14, though I think ours’ cost a little less because it came in a club shipment. It has a real cork closure and is 14.1% alcohol by volume.

I thought this blend might work well with our dinner, which was Chicken Roll-ups (a recipe I found at the age of 8 in the Mini-Page consisting of chicken and sharp cheddar cheese rolled up in Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and topped with a cheddar cream sauce), green beans and white rice, because the flavors are really creamy and the wine said it worked well with chicken on the label. I was wrong. The flavors didn’t work at all and the creamy nature of the sauce made the wine taste bitter. So instead, we drank it after dinner.

The nose of this wine is very aromatic, and you don’t even have to stick your nose in the glass to smell the flowers jumping out. Honey, honeydew melon, white flowers and spice; an intensely sweet aroma. In the mouth, it’s not nearly as sweet as I expected, given the nose. I find apples, but not crisp apples, more like slightly past their prime apples. It’s light at first, but mid-palate it gets heavy and the melon flavors are more pronounced than the apple.

Overall, I think this perhaps does better as a stand-alone wine than it does with food, though perhaps a light white fish with very minimal sauce or flavoring would be an okay match. Or possibly with a spicy dish. I would serve it very chilled and drink it on the porch this summer if I had any more.

I’m going Bananas!

The other night we drank a bottle of 2005 un-oaked Hop Kiln Chardonnay. It cost us $16, is 14.5% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure. I paired it with some leftover Zuppa Toscano, just trying to get a feel for what goes well with it. This did not go well at all.

The wine smells like bananas and tropical fruits.
There are some tropical fruits in the mouth, but not nearly what I would expect based on the nose. At the end, just a tiny bit of peach could be detected. But overall, kind of flat. I wasn’t impressed with the flavor of this wine. The taste is a little off for a Chardonnay, even for an un-oaked Chardonnay, which I usually like a lot. I can’t really put a finger on what’s off, exactly, but it just didn’t work for me. Ordinarily, I would say it’s the banana scent that put me off, since I can’t stand bananas, but Matt also commented that he didn’t really care for this bottle.

I’ve had a string recently of wines I’ve not been pleased with. Perhaps I need to take a drinking break for a few days…..well, that would just be punishing myself though! Thankfully, the bottle we drank last night was excellent and I can’t wait to review it!

Hop Kiln 2004 Old Windmill Zinfandel

Served this with homemade tomato sauce and pasta. A bit of a last minute dinner (thankfully sauce defrosts well in a pan) as my plans to make meatloaf were dashed when I arrived home to find the ground beef was still quite frozen.

A lot of alcohol upon opening this bottle. I almost didn’t have a sip through the whole meal as I needed to let my glass just sit there. After dinner, it had mellowed considerably. I got a lot of dark fruit on the nose, a little pepper. The finish was a little strong on the first glass, but by the end of the bottle was very nice and full of fruit. The wine was not a good match for the plain pasta sauce. We still have another bottle of this left and I will probably use it with a meaty stew or a nice grilled steak. I would also recommend keeping this around for a bit longer to help the tannins mellow in the bottle rather than letting it sit out for a few hours. But if you must drink it now, decant!

Cork closure, picked it up for $20 at Hop Kiln.