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.



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.

Bargain Shiraz

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

I’m feeling very non-committal about my wine selections these days.  One day I’m craving the crisp whites I love, the net I want a huge red wine. Must be the weather which will not make up its mind as to weather we are still in winter or have moved onto spring.  My poor bulbs that are popping up, I hope they survive this cold snap. With that in mind, I chose the 2006 Guardian Peak Shiraz from South Africa to drink the other night.  It had a screw cap closure, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for around $11.  I know you can get the Wallaby wine for around $7 a bottle, but seriously, do yourself a favor and spend the extra $4 and get this instead.

I loved the nose on this wine.  It smelled of smoke, anise, cedar, earth, chocolate, funk in a good way, and the slightest hint of dark berries.  It reminded me just a bit of some kind of pipe tobacco.  I found the wine to be very smoky in the mouth as well.  I also got flavors of blackberries, black cherries, some  strawberry, earth, and plums.  The fruit showed as quite tart, the wine had nice tannins, and good acidity.  Serve with your favorite BBQ.

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.


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!

Simple Quaffer

The wine for the evening was the 2004 Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Shiraz. This was a bottle my dad bought and left with us on his last visit. It had a screw-cap, clocked in at 14% alcohol by volume, and I see it’s available online for about $7.99.

The nose showed cherry, blackberry, boysenberry, chocolate, and plum. A very fruity nose. In the mouth, raspberry, cherry, spice, and chocolate showed. The mouth was much lighter and smoother than I expected.

For the price, a simple wine, but that’s about what I’d expect from this price point from an Australian Shiraz.

Homage to Pinotage

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

Or rather, to a Pinotage/Shiraz blend. I received this wine quite a while ago as a part of a blogger trial of Bottlenotes. For the trial, I was given a credit at Bottlenotes which I could use to try out any of their wineclubs. I chose the Dinner Party club, and received this Pinotage/Shiraz in a shipment along with a bottle of Petite Sirah Port that I have yet to try.

The wine was a 2006 Seven Sisters “Dawn” Pinotage/Shiraz from South Africa. It can be purchased from Bottlenotes for $14.99. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and was a blend of 60% Pinotage/40% Shiraz.

This wine was honestly fabulous. It’s been a few months since I drank it, but I can still remember what it tasted like, and what an incredible value it was. I’d never had a Pinotage before and I was happy to try one and was delighted to find a new grape to love. I will certainly seek out Pinotage again.

The nose of the wine was plummy and spicy. Dark black fruit shone through, with pepper and earth. Vanilla cream emerged after some time in the glass. The wine was very fruity on the nose, while being dark with smoke and earth at the same time. In the mouth I found plums, dark fruit, blackberries, and earth. The wine was tannic, it needed some time to air, but after an hour was completely smoothed out and kept evolving.

An excellent value for the price.

Memories…..WBW #31

I have to admit that I am scared of boxed wines. Really, quite terrified. It simply resurrects the image of pink Franzia, or Dr. Franz as we used to call it. Sickeningly sweet, disgusting plonk. So it was with great trepidation that I opened my box for the theme of WBW #31, Wines in Alternative Packaging.

My local wine shop didn’t have any boxed wines at all. So I turned to our discount supermarket, Shopper’s, which had about 15 different varieties of boxed wine. Now, I’m trying to be budget conscious these days, but I also wanted to get something that wasn’t reminiscent of sugar water with cough syrup mixed in.

With that in mind, I chose a 2005 Delicato Shiraz. On its package it proclaimed that it had won gold medals in the early 2000s, so I figured I’d give it a shot. The 3L (so 4 bottles or about 20 glasses) box cost $17.89 and is 13.5% alcohol. It has a little tap as you can see where the wine comes out, which is actually pretty sturdily constructed. And I have to say, that it’s much harder to judge how much you are drinking out of a box than it is out of a bottle.

On the nose, I get an overwhelming sweet, dark fruit scent. So blackberries, but more in their candied forms. And sugar plums, rather than fresh plums. My first impression is that this is going to be a sweet wine. As it sits in my glass I get an underlying chocolate aroma. In the mouth, there is dark fruit and a little bit of spice. It’s not as sweet as I expected it to be, which is a relief. I can’t seem to distinguish which dark fruits are coming through. It’s smooth and easy to drink and I have to keep in mind that averaging it out, it costs less than $5 a bottle. The wine is not complex, but I wouldn’t really expect that at the price point.

It certainly is better than Dr. Franz. And it’s probably equivalent to an $7-$8 a bottle Shiraz. I’m glad I tried a box wine, and many thanks to Box Wines for hosting and getting me to step out of the box (or, I guess into it in this case). I don’t know that this is something I would seek out again. Maybe if I could get it in a smaller box and I really did only drink a glass a night. But 4 bottles is a lot of one wine. I know it will last for many weeks, but at the same time, I open a new and different bottle of wine almost every night. I wouldn’t wrinkle up my nose if I saw this at a party and I could definitely see how the concept of boxed wines would be economical and efficient for a party situation.

I served the wine with homemade pepperoni pizza with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. It worked fairly well, though was a little sweet to be a pizza wine in my opinion.

WBW #30 Announced (Already!)

And it’s soon, so get cracking on this assignment! Though I think it will be much easier this month to find a wine that fits!

WBW will be hosted by Tim of Wine Cast this month. You can find all the details over on Wine Cast in this post. The date is February 7th. That’s soon! Our assignment is to drink and review a bottle of New World Syrah/Shiraz….so really, from anywhere in the United States, Australia, South America, etc……there are definetly a lot of bottles to choose from. But still, only about 2 weeks to get on this one. Same deal as always, drink your wine and send your review to Tim on February 7th.

I’m pretty sure we have a few (cough, cough, I have a very loose definition of “a few”) bottles of Syrah hanging around from our trip. In fact, we drank a fabulous one from Quivira just the other night. It was the star of the wines of our dinner party and I’ll be happy to try one of our other Syrahs for this WBW. Thanks to Tim for hosting!

Butterfield 9 Food and Wine

First, some general comments about the restaurant. It was a little tough to find as the signs sort of fade into the windows! There was a nice bar area to wait in until your tabel is ready with plenty of places to sit. I liked where we were seated in the restaurant, at a comfy corner table in an off the main path room. I would not have liked to be seated at some of the tables as they were so close to the enterance. Overall, the wine list was fairly impressive. They had well over a hundred wines to choose from, all arranged by country of origin. Also, I noticed a selection of about 30 different wines by the glass plus about 10 half bottles of wine. However, the least expensive bottle was $30. Two final observations before we get to the food and wine. The servers did not bring the wine promptly. We ordered the wine pairing and we had our first course easily five or more minutes before we got the first wine, same with the following courses. And, they fed us too fast. We had barely had our first course dishes removed and we certainly hadn’t finished the first wine before the next course was on the table (without the next wine). It felt really rushed.

Both of us chose the soup of the day, a clam and lobster bisque for our first course. It came nicely presented, with 2 clames in the center and lighter color soup swirling out from them. Excellent texture and flavor, this was very thin bisque with a hint of chili pepper. The wine pairing was a 2005 Brancott Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. It’s available online for $9.99 and is 13% alcohol by volume. I was struck by the tropical fruits on the nose, especially pineapple. In the mouth there was pineapple and I think guava. I wrote that it had a perfect structure and acidity. It was an okay match with the soup, but was a little overpowering. I really liked the wine though.

For the second course, Matt had the roasted pork tenderloin with creamed barley and mustard greens. I had the boneless braised beef short ribs with cheese grits, mixed veggies and truffle oil. Both entrees were excellent, though I didn’t try Matt’s. My beef was a little fattier than I normally like it but worked well with the bbq sauce. With this course the wine was a 2005 Shoo Fly Aussie Salute Grenache Shiraz from Australia. I got chocolate, spices ad raisins on the nose of this one. In the mouth, I got pepper to start. I could tell this wine hadn’t been opened in advance. It was thin in the mouth to start, but opened up over the course of dinner opened up with a nice spice, cedar and berry mix. This really would have benefitted from being decanted and will probably get better with age. A decent pairing, Matt really liked this one.

Finally, dessert. I had the Vanilla Creme Brulee and Matt had the Chocolate Almond Mocha Cheesecake. The brulee was fabulous. Easily the lightest, fluffiest brulee I have every had (usually I’m not a fan because it’s too much of a thick custard for me, the texture weirds me out) so I was pleasantly surprised by this. Paired with dessert was a Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato D’Asti from Italy. This was the smallest pour of wine I have every seen, ever. It came in a cordial glass and wasn’t even a mouthful of wine! However, I thought this was the best wine of the night and the best pairing. But correct me if I’m wrong, Moscato D’Asti is supposed to be frizzante, right? This had no bubbles. It had a very aromatic bouquet. Floral and light on the nose. In the mouth I got mandarin orange and apricots. Overall, a delicious little wine and very afforable, online for $11.99! It had good structure and great acidity and was served at a perfect temperature.