Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Consensus Blending Party

Really? What, you may ask, is a consensus blending party?

Answer: A whole lot of fun!

Picture this--54 people at 9 tables in the winery with 5 bottles of wine in front of them. The task: using any combination of the five wines--blend the best wine in terms of aroma, taste and finish as determined by those present.

The wines were all 2008 vintage of the vineyard: Cabernet Sauvignon in three very different lots: 1, 2, and 3; Petite Verdot; and Chambourcin.

I was intrigued by three lots of Cabernet Sauvignon--two were aged in American Oak and one in French Oak. Of the two in American Oak--one was very fruity while the other was full of tannins.

Our fellow members at the table all agreed that our blend would focus on probably three of the wines--and we readily agreed that Lot 2 and the Chambourcin would probably be excluded; leaving us to focus on the other three.

We only had two hour to com up with this blend--and please remember science class as we were working with pipettes, and graduated cylinders to pull the wines together.

Well our team did not wine the day--but our wine--which was 55% lot 1, 41% lot 3 and 4% Petite Verdot came in a close second.

This was a two day event with different people showing up for the Sunday version of the event and with the winning wine from the two days being chosen to be blended by the winery and released as the Consensus Blend. The team that beat us, was the two-day winner. So I don't feel too bad.

Most of all it was fun, dealt with wine, and was educational--I learned a lot more about blending wines.

The vineyard wine maker ran the event and he provided a lot of help and commentary as we did the blending.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Anakena Carmenere 2008 Rapel Valley - Review

I looked forward to uncorking and tasting this usually great, moderately priced wine. Previous vintages have been a favorite to serve to friends and family.

I was disappointed. This is a very young wine and it failed to meet my expectations.

The bouquet was bland --it did not provide the enticing odors to get the palatte ready for the wine.

The wine was very peppery with hints of tobacco, lacking the usual deep fruitiness of the South American varietals of this wine. There were dark berry hints in the flavor, but the peppery spicy flavors over powered them. And I like peppery, spicy wine--but this just didn't come together for me.

The color, however, was magnificient. Deep purple and enticing.

Recommendation: Even at less than $10 per bottle, I have to give an AVOID to this wine. There are better examples of carmenere out there--Concha Y Toro being one.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

2008 Norton - Wine Review

The 2008 Norton from Keswick Vineyards is a pleasure to drink. I especially enjoy the strong tannins of this young wine--but truly wish I had bought more so I could enjoy it as it ages. This is a Virginia wine and if you thought only really good wines come from places other than Virginia (as I did once) then you need to spend some time visiting wineries in Virginia. These winemakers know how to make wines which are spectacular for the region.

I opened a bottle the other night and remembered why I bought this wine.

It has magnificent color--a rich, dark, full purple which makes the mouth water even before bringing the glass to the nose to enjoy the fragrant bouquet. Understand--this is not a light wine--but a full body wine for people who like a wine that can stand on its own.

The bouquet is inviting especially with the eucalyptus which draws you deeper into the wine. The taste has hints of raspberry and coffee and spices--but the wines youth, right now, is really in the tannins which will really improve the wines complexity as it ages.

I am going to take one of the other bottles I bought and put a note on it--do not uncork until 2014! I loved it the other evening--I can only imagine what it will be in a few years.

Recommendation: Buy this wine, cellar it and enjoy now and enjoy it more in a few years. At $21 per bottle it has the makings of a great wine for the future!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Napa Cellars Zinfandel 2006 - Review

Let me start by saying this is a great middle of the road Zinfandel!

I was looking for a fruity and spicy wine which was versatile and I believe this wine is it. The wine was the hit of our wine group last Friday evening. Everyone raved about it and we really enjoyed this wine a lot.

Here is what actually makes this wine: it is 86% Zinfandel and 14% petit sirah.

The tasting notes for the wine are:

The wine is dark purple and opaque in the glass. The nose is luscious and reveals intense, ripe berries, candied strawberry preserves and cinnamon spice. The palate follows with juicy, rounded fruit flavors that mingle with layers of warm, supple tannins leading to a long, plush finish.

Great on its own and perfect with barbeque, try pairing the wine with Baby Back Ribs or Gourmet Pulled-Pork Sandwiches garnished with sweet and spicy coleslaw.

RECOMMENDATION: Get this wine. At about $22 a bottle it is not inexpensive, but it is well worth the price.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hart & McGarry 2005 Merlot - Review

This Napa Valley wine was recommended to me by my favorite wine person at the ABC Liquor Store in Jupiter, Florida because I was looking for a good Merlot.

I know--merlot's are passe, right? Not true.

This merlot is well worth seeking out. It is very smooth and has a very inviting bouquet which immediately invites you deep into the rich color of the wine for a special experience. The smells of dark berries begins the experience. Once in the mouth there is the pleasing taste of black current and cherries which start forward and then continue across the palette for a smooth and lingering finish.

This is a complete smooth and pleasing wine. I highly recommend it--especially if you are looking for a red that is different from the usual run cabernet sauvingnion or shiraz that are so popular. I know merlot is unpopular right now--but try this one.

Recommendation: Try it. At $15 per bottle it is a great wine for the value.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bells & Whistles 2003: Review

St Marys winery in Penola, Australia, has fashioned a good blend of cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, and cabernet franc in its 2003 Bells & Whistles.

The wine is a fine blend and a good table wine. It bristles with fruitiness and warm flavors on the dry side of life. The wine has very good color and the nose is excellent right from the bottle.

The wine is a good middle of the road wine. It is very good by itself with cheese and crackers and also stands well on its own with a meaty dish.

Recommendation: A solid wine for something different. At $17 it probably isn't worthy of a standard house table wine---but its versatility bodes well for being in the wine rack for occasions.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvingnon 2006

I am a big fan of the Smoking Loon wines--but I have to say I was disappointed by this wine. Unlike most of the others that I have had the pleasure to sample, this wine was lifeless. The nose was flat, the palette unremarkable, and the finish non-existent.

The tasting can be described as: This wine is dark deep plum in color with a nose of cherry pie and dark ripe berries and tree bark spice. Flavors of dark berries again fill the palate with a rich fruitiness and tingling acidity while ending with a smokey finish.

While the cost of this wine is definitely less than $8.00, I believe you can do better.

RECOMMENDATION: Not a first choice. In desperate times following two or three other bottles--it will hold up.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Wine Tasting Saturday

Saturday, the last day of February we had a very enjoyable experience in attending a wine tasting. We made our second ever visit to the Iron Bridge Wine Company to taste some wines and enjoy some food with friends.

We actually started with the reds since we really prefer reds. The tasting was excellent and we were able to taste a wide variety of wines and even bought a few.

Attending these is a lot of fun and allows the tasting of wines we otherwise might not get to enjoy. There were a number of gems in the wines we tasted and I will be reviewing a couple of them in the near future.

Two that both Chris and I enjoyed were:
Possum's Vineyard Shiraz, 2004, McLaren Vale, Australia and
Mas des Aveylans "Cuvee Prestige" Syrah, 2004 Rhone Valley, France.

Bottom line though--a great Saturday afternoon activity.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Stuhlmuller Vineyards Estate Zinfandel 2005

A great wine--Stuhlmuller Vineyards Estate Zinfandel 2005 with a fabulous bouquet, a deep inviting color and a smooth finish which lingers. The wine is a blend of Zinfandel (88%) and Petite Sirah (12%).

The vintner describes the wine as follows: Displaying a beautiful dark ruby color with purple hues, this Zinfandel overflows with aromas of earthy red berry, raspberry and sweet candied strawberry. On the palate, this medium-weight wine is loaded with red fruit and floral flavors, while possessing a natural acidity that translates to a long, spicy finish.

I found this to be accurate. I have always enjoyed Zinfandel's for their spicy flavors and long finish. And this wine did not disappoint.

RECOMMENDATION: A solid wine for a special occasion--at about $24 per bottle--probably not to be used as a table wine, but one that should be on the table for a special dinner.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Terra Barossa 2006 Shiraz - A Review

I had the pleasure of having a glass of this special wine the other night and was very impressed. Available for under $15 this wine has a nose which is complex and inviting. There were hints of blackberry, vanilla, oak and plum. The color is a dark and seductive purple--which is also very inviting. The palate is also complex and seductive as it invites you into its structure. The tannins are not over powering but the mouth fills with berries and a hint of chocolate as this wine journeys through the mouth. The finish lingers and demands another sample of the wine.

The wine is Terra Barossa 2006 Shiraz Estate Grown by Thorne Clarke Wines Barossa, Australia.

RECOMMENDATION: This is a very special wine that will do well on its own with a strong cheese or with a red meat dish. It is a must have.