On the Road to Jeriko

I picked the 2003 Jeriko Syrah as the wine for the evening. With cooler weather rolling, I am in the mood for the big red wines that I have ignored for going on 4-5 months now as I live in the hot humid swamp that is the greater DC area. I’m also getting excited to make casseroles and soups again, heavier fare to pair with my heavy reds. I purchased the Jeriko from WineQ for $25.99 (free shipping!), it clocked in at 14.3% alcohol by volume, and had a real cork closure.

On the nose I found aromas of boysenberries, chocolate plums (and yes, I mean that as one entry), blackberries, spice, leather, earth, vanilla, black cherry, and charred meat (As I write some of these descriptors, I realize that some of them might turn people off rom the wine. However, I swear to you that charred meat or grilled meat, or meat in general as an aroma in a Syrah is not uncommon or unwelcome!). The nose showed as quite fruity and perfumed.

In the mouth I got flavors of espresso, black cherry, blackberries, raisins, licorice, raspberries, and plums. The flavors were very fruity. I found the finish to be fairly tannic, so I would say this one has quite a few years left in it to develop. Overall, I loved this bottle of wine. It had so many complex flavors and just got better over the course of the evening. I can easily recommend this bottle!

Thanksgiving Wines, Already

The wine for the evening arrived on my doorstep via a WineQ shipment, coming from a vineyard I’ve now tried a few times with great results, the 2004 Hannah Nicole Fume Blanc. I purchased the bottle for $14.99 (free shipping!) from WineQ, it clocked in at 14.65% alcohol by volume (can’t say I ever remember an alcohol content being brought out to the 2nd decimal place before), and had a real cork closure. The wine hails from Contra Costa County, CA.

On the nose I found cream, peach, apple, pineapple, vanilla, orange blossom, spice, and a touch of oak. In the mouth I got flavors of orange, pineapple, grapefruit, other citrus, and cream. I’m not usually a Fume Blanc fan, to be honest. I tend to find them overoaked, but this version may make me a convert! The fruits showed through as clean and crisp, and overall the wine was dry. It had great balance and acidity, I’d actually consider this as a Thanksgiving wine. (Wow, it’s that time of year already, isn’t it? I’ve already got people arriving to the blog via Thanksgiving search terms….scary.)

Blends Rule!

*Disclaimer: I received this bottle as a sample because I am a member of WineQ’s Beta Club.

The wine for the night was the 2005 Vare Vineyards Bianco. It’s a blend of Ribolla Gialla, Pinot Grigio, Tocai Friulano, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. I love wine blends, I find them to be really interesting and I like to see how the different grapes work together. The wine comes in a 500mL bottle, has a plastic cork, clocks in at 14.5% alochol by volume, and can be purchased from WineQ for $22.49.

On the nose I found toffee, caramel, honey, oak, sandalwood, clove, lemon, tropical fruit. In the mouth the wine was creamy! I got flavors of cream, grapefruit, apple, lemon, pineapple, and tropical fruit. The wine had a medium body, was surprisingly tart, very crisp, and had a long finish. I thought it was quite tasty and totally different form any other wine I’ve ever had. I think I’m digging the Ribolla Gialla grape, this is now the second time I’ve had it from Vare vineyards and I really like it. I also love that the wine comes in a 500mL bottle, it’s perfect for just a couple glasses.

Merlot or Cuvee? Merlot or Cuvee?

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample because I am a member of WineQ’s Beta Club.

The wine for the evening was a 2004 Deerfield Ranch Merlot Cuvee. It’s a blend of 75% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Sangiovese, 5% Malbec, and 3% Cabernet Franc. Being 75% Merlot, the wine qualifies to be labeled as a single varietal Merlot, however, Deerfield has chosen to call it a Cuvee instead. I admit to being confused, but upon reading the label, the winery says it wanted to emphasize the blended nature of the wine rather than it being just a regular old Merlot. The wine had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.2% alcohol, and is available for $26.49 from WineQ.

On the nose I found chocolate, anise, plum, spice, oak, flowers, and red berries. A very nice and captivating nose. In the mouth I got flavors of plums, berries, milk chocolate, anise, and strawberry. Overall the wine was smooth and rounded with a full mouthfeel.

I served the wine with grilled cheeseburgers admist the tomato plant forest in our backyard. We’ve been taking advantage of the gorgeous weather we’ve been having and eating outside these last few days. The wine was very food friendly with nice acid and a good backbone. It went really well with our hamburgers and baked potatoes.

Rose Colored Glasses

The wine for the night was a 2007 Ceja Bella Rose. It’s a blend of Syrah and Pinot Noir, has a real cork closure, clocks in at 12.7% alcohol by volume, and I purchased it through WineQ for $21.99. I’ve enjoyed several of Ceja’s wines from WineQ previously, so I was very excited to see another option added. However, I will say that the price for this bottle struck me as a bit high, even though I really enjoyed the wine. I have trouble wrapping my head around an over $20 bottle of Rose.

The color on the wine was great. It almost looked dark enough to not be a Rose and it certainly wouldn’t win any palest Rose contests! On the nose I found red raspberry, flowers, strawberry, kiwi, and spice. The nose was aromatic and smelled crisp. In the mouth I found red berries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, limes, and cranberries.

Overall the wine was dry as could be (in fact, I wrote down dry in 3 different places in my notes) and had great red fruit laced with citrus flavors. This Rose was refreshing and tart, and would make a great match with my easy BBQ ribs, or just as a wine to enjoy on the porch.

Strange Grapes…Great Wine!

The wine for the evening contained a grape I’ve not had before, nor had I ever heard of it. But then, that’s not surprising given the enormous variety of grapes on the market. I picked the wine to drink that night mainly for the fact that it came in a 500mL bottle and Matt had gone out to dinner with some friends, so I wanted a bottle I could drink on my own in case he didn’t want a glass when he got home!

The wine was a 2005 Vare Ribolla Gialla. I purchased this bottle from WineQ for $24.99 (free shipping because I spent over $35!), it had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume. I gather that Ribolla Gialla grape is grown mostly in Friuli, Italy, and Slovenia and Vare Vineyards is the only US winery producing a Ribolla Gialla wine! Vare Vineyards is a small (less than 500 cases!) production family owned operation in Napa.

On the nose I got spice, lemon, lime, and a touch of oak. The wine smelled like it had great acidity. In the mouth I found sharp citrus at the front of the palate, which translated to lots of lime and lemon. Spice was prevalent throughout the wine, with a creamy mouthfeel in the mid and back palate as it warmed a bit. Overall, the wine was dry, smooth, and delicious. I was happy to add a new grape to my line up, and much look forward to the Bianco I have from Vare waiting for me in the cellar.

I drank this on its own, but I think it would be great with my parmasean encrusted tilapia, or with some of the fresh crab we’ve been feasting on this summer!

WBW #47-Brought to you by the letter "S"

I have to admit, Wine Blogging Wednesday almost slipped my mind this month. With the holiday weekend here in the US and being on vacation last week for it, my thoughts were elsewhere. As we were driving home from work last night I was talking about how I needed to drink a sample wine I had received a few weeks ago and I was making plans for that when it suddenly occurred to me that WBW was here!

This month, our hosts of the nearly 4 year old (wow, congrats Lenn on starting such a wine blog phenomenon) WBW are Erin and Michelle of Grape Juice. They have picked a very different theme, which has pretty much given us free reign on what to drink, so long as it relates to the letter “S.” The theme is “Brought to you by the letter “S.”” That sorta makes me want to start singing “C is for cookie and that’s good enough for me!”

For this one again, yay!, I was able to dive back into my own wine collection (phew, helps with the wine budget) to get a wine that was easily suitable for this theme.

I chose the 2005 Sonoma County Sky Saddle Syrah. Is that enough esses for you? 🙂 I purchased this wine from WineQ for $25.99 (free shipping cause I spent more than $35), it had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 15.2% alcohol by volume. Sky Saddle is a completely organic and/or biodynamic winery and also uses oak barrels from a sustainable forest. I’ve had their Zinfandel before and had nothing but raves for it, so I was very excited to try more of what they had to offer.

My first note on this wine is that it needs to be decanted. On first pour/taste, the wine was tight and it definitely needed some time to aerate. Now, an hour or so later, the wine had opened beautifully.

The nose showed berries, plums, spice, red fruit, earth, oak, cream, violets, and white pepper. It was quite a nose once it was allowed to open up. Full of aroma and layer after layer of different scents. I’m sure if I kept sniffing it I would have gotten more, but as usual when I have my nose buried in a glass, Matt was almost through his 2nd glass and I haven’t even tasted mine yet.

In the mouth I found tart red raspberries, zingy blackberries, plums, other red fruits, earth, vanilla, berries and cream, pepper. The wine was still a bit tight and tannic. This one could definitely hang out for several more years in my cellar, or else, decant for at least 2 hours before you serve it.

Overall, another great offering from Sky Saddle. I look forward to trying the Cabernet Sauvignon I have hanging around!

Many thanks to Michelle and Erin for the theme and for hosting this month!

Twisted Tempranillo

Twisted Oak wines seem to be pouring into my basement from all directions! Not only am I a Twisted Few member, but these sneaky wines seem to make it into my WineQ Q almost every shipment! This particular bottle, the 2004 Twisted Oak Tempranillo came to us via WineQ. I purchased it for $23.99 (free shipping), it clocked in at 13.9% alcohol by volume, and had a real cork closure.

On the nose I found cedar, dark fruit, blackberry, smoke, leather, vanilla, fireplace, raspberry, cherry, and anise. The nose was beautifully aromatic and I kept finding more aromas as I dipped my nose back into my glass. Per usual, Matt was done with this first glass before I even took a sip of mine!

In the mouth I got flavors of raspberry, cherry, spice, and anise. I was a bit surprised by all the red fruit in the mouth, after the nose I expected the wine to be darker and brooding! The fruit in the mouth was a bit sweet, but not in a bad way.

Overall, a good wine, and I look forward to trying the 2005 that arrived in my latest Twisted Few shipment!

WBW #46-White Rhone Varietals

That’s right folks, it’s that time of the month again, WBW! This month, our gracious host is the wonderful Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20. She has set us to the task of picking a wine made from any White Rhone Varietal from anywhere in the world. This left the field wide open for wine from almost anywhere since Rhone varietals are being planted in lots of different places, and it gave a choice of many different grape varieties, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Rousanne…

With the task in mind, I went straight to my basement, where many CA Viogniers live. If I had not been traveling for work all last week, I would have been a little more ambitious and tried to compare one of the CA examples to one from the actual Rhone, but alas, it was not to be. Instead, in keeping with the regular theme of Dr. Deb’s blog, I decided to shoot for a wine that under $20!

I chose the 2006 Hannah Nicole Viognier. I purchased this wine from WineQ, it cost me $15.99 (free shipping!), and clocked in at a hefty 15% alcohol by volume. I was a bit thrown off by this high of an alcohol level in a white wine, but in general I don’t have problem with high alcohol in wine so long as the wine remains balanced, as this one did.

On first sniff, I had to laugh. We had a Syrah that had been fermented on Viognier grape skins (complicated, huh?) the other night, and the Hannah Nicole smelled exactly like the Syrah. My nose was all confused having a white wine that smelled exactly like the red we had consumed the night before!

After my initial confusion passed, I found the wine to be very floral. It showed great strong aromas of honeysuckle, pears, and peaches, topped off with a creamy vanilla note. In the mouth the wine was crisp, which I didn’t really expect since it had been aged in new and old oak. The flavors I found were grapefruit, peach, pears, and some other citrus.

The wine was tingly and tart on the front of the palate, while the oak seemed to have given it a creamy feel mid-palate. Overall, I thought this wine was very refreshing, which is not a characteristic I usually associate with an oaked white wine, but I was pleasantly surprised. This was definitely a good value for the $15.99 price I paid for it.

Now, I know Dr. Debs was trying to get us to see the wonderful qualities of White Rhone Varietals for the summer, but I’m already a convert! One of my favorite pairings last years was a Roussanne with fresh crab legs. Though I will highly recommend that you follow her lead and toss a few White Rhone grapes into your drinking line up for the summer!

Many thanks to Dr. Debs for hosting this month, and as usual, I will let you know when the round-up is posted and what next month’s theme is!


The wine for the night was a 2004 Esca Syrah that I purchased in one of my WineQ shipments. It cost me $22.99 (free shipping because I spent over $35 on my order!), had a screw cap closure, and clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume. Esca is in Napa, and I’ve reviewed their Pinot Grigio previously.

On the nose I found vanilla, chocolate, anise, plums, blackberries and spice. I should really sit around smelling my spice rack as I’m not so great at picking out exactly what spice I find in a wine. I can usually get cloves, cinnamon, and a few others, but the rest I just describe as “spice.” In the mouth the wine was full of plums, with fresh blackberries, very dark cherries, and anise rounding out the flavors.

The wine is very smooth and fruity up front with a slightly spice and some tannins in the back of the palate, but it’s drinking beautifully now. So serve some up now, before your weather gets dreadfully hot and you run for the white wines!