Monthly Archives: February 2012

My first time….warm and cozy with Drakenskloof 2009 Reserve Pinotage

Standard

Drakenskloof

RESERVE PINOTAGE 2009 DRAKENSKLOOF SOUTH AFRICA

My first time with Pinotage, South Africa’s signature grape. I think I discovered a favorite varietal to add to the list. Better yet my first favorable discovery of 2012! This cross between French grapes Cinsault and Pinot Noir may be the perfect solution to those who may find todays popular Zinfandel too much of a sweet fruit bomb.  Its reserved power is impressive.

I think this wine had me at decanting….Is it possible a wine can make you feel warm and cozy? In 80 degree weather? A little bizarre I realize but that was my first reaction and note on this wine as I decanted and took in the aromas. “Warm and cozy” not fruit, oak, terroir, acidity but comfort. Never having had a Pinotage before this can almost only be described as attraction at first sight. I was not attracted to the bottle or the label   The name was somewhat exotic, its newness drew me but what was inside had me at first sniff.

Attained through the Wall Street Journals Wine Club but available through other sources on-line, this wine retails for $16.99.  Deep dark garnet red, light in viscosity,  dark fruit and the distant scent of wood move forward at decanting. This wine has incredible legs that just dangle artfully on your glass.  At 30+ minutes post decanting the taste and nose expands to become more peppery and woody with tobacco, leather, plum and yes, even ripening banana on the palate.

I am looking forward to the continuation of this relationship. Hopefully my future experiences with Pinotage will be as exciting as my first. As my wine loving friend of almost 30 years just happened to mention to me “it’s the romantic and passionate side of wine tasting that is the most important part”. Like a good friendship; this is one varietal I look forward to revisiting over and over.

SALUD!

Chateau de Macard Bordeaux Superieur 2009

Standard

Chateau de Macard Bordeaux Superieur 2009

Chateau de Macard Bordeaux Superieur 2009

Impressed by what I keep hearing about the 2009 Bordeaux vintage and the reputation of the winemaker,  renowned Alain Aubert of Saint-Emilion estate Chateau Haut-Gravet, I purchased this through WTSO, Wines til Sold Out.  At a price of $9.99 a bottle I thought it was a great deal and value.  The way it works is that with a minimum order [4 in this example] you get free shipping, the regular or original retail price listed was $18.00.

This particular wine received a 90 pt rating from Wine Spectator along with its Smart Buy designation.  It  was also featured on the Today Show during a segment; Tips For Choosing the Perfect Holiday Wine.

Deep dark burgundy and purple in color this blend includes; Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Upon decanting I detected dark fruit notes, a distant oak aroma and what I would describe as terroir or minerality.  Tasting after decanting 1+ hours this wine added; tobacco and  black cherry to the palate.  Showing a good acidic balance this medium bodied Bordeaux value did not taste like a $10.00 bottle of wine. I am glad I have 3 additional bottles in my cellar [the guest room :)] because it will be interesting to see how the flavors develop over time. Or if they do.  This is where willpower comes in handy…..

Salud!

Tips For Choosing The Perfect Holiday Wines As Featured on NBC’s Today Show Aired Fri Dec 09 2011
Wine To Bring To The Party [A Gift For The Host] Chateau de Macard 2009 Bordeaux Superieur AOC   $20 “One of the great wines of the year” “Shows your good taste” Sommelier Joe Bastianich
By Wine Spectator CHATEAU DE MACARD Bordeaux Superieur 2009 Score: 90 Country: France Region: Bordeaux Issue: Dec 31, 2010 Designation: Smart Buys Ripe and dense, but fresh, with silky-textured plum, blackberry and blueberry fruit carried by sweet spice and  tobacco notes. The fleshy finish shows nice drive. Should open up more with brief cellaring. Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Winking Owl Vineyards Shiraz – $2.99!!!

Standard

Sunset on Devils Ridge

Winking Owl Vineyards Shiraz – $2.99!!!

It is 62 degrees on the deck as I watch the sun set behind Hogback and Melrose mountain tonight. In the background a local college radio station is playing and birds are serenading me.  Hard to believe it was 33 degrees this morning,  70 degrees at noon, we’ve almost had a summer day today.  Now my favorite mountain getaway tradition: happy hour!  Not quite so happy when you are alone.  I would rather be here with my better half, but after a day of vacation home projects this is quite the nice reward to myself, even if it includes wine I found today for only $2.99!!!

I discovered this wine today at a local branch of an ALDI grocery store. This low-end or I should probably describe it as low price retailer from Germany is expanding throughout the U.S. Some compare it to Trader Joe’s because they sell their own brand name products or product names you would not recognize. Like their european counterpart grocery stores there is a 25 cent [refundable] fee to rent carts and you are expected to bring your own bags for the merchandise you buy or pay for the plastic/paper bags needed at checkout.  It is a concept I wish we had closer to home.

Upon opening and decanting the first aroma to hit me was vinegar, not a good sign :).  Like magic and within seconds I started to detect mild notes of leather and oak opening to fruit: raspberry and strawberry.  This austere wine accompanied my garlic ziti dinner for one and I must say I rather enjoyed it at the time. Unfortunately I must report that soon afterwards I developed sinus congestion that drove me batty for hours and even worse a harsh headache overnight.  Both conditions not ones I usually suffer from when drinking wine. May just be a coincidence and I must admit I would give it another chance mostly because of the price but………

Internet research although not verified points to the fact that this California wine is produced by E&J Gallo for Aldi grocery stores.  This producer is obviously well-known and has been around for decades.  That said, they seem to be a high quantity low price producer with that as their niche market. I love my deals and finding great value wines but unfortunately after having another E&J wine last year, at least for me,  I am starting to detect a low priced E&J pattern.  Note to self; I am not becoming a wine snob, I am not becoming a wine snob…….

SALUD!

Battle of the Carmenere’s, Don Manuel 2009 vs. Anakena 2010

Standard
Carménère grapes. Cropped from Image:Blue grap...

Image via Wikipedia

Battle of the Carmenere’s, Don Manuel 2009 vs. Anakena 2010

As you may have read in previous blogs, Carmenere was one of my favorite discoveries last year. I have since been spreading the gospel of this signature Chilean, albeit originally Bordeaux, varietal ever since.

Luckily for my friends, okay only the friends that actually listen to the ravings of this wine lover, they have discovered and become enamored by this grape too.

This leads us to last weeks Sunday supper. On the menu was homemade tomato basil soup. Researching what wine to serve I repeatedly came across Merlot as one of the options. This reminded me of the fact that Carmenere, thought to be extinct for years, was discovered in Chile during the 1990’s inadvertently being grown as Merlot. Dilemma solved! If experts thought Chile’s Carmenere was Merlot I sure could exchange them at our wine novice dinner. So the BATTLE OF THE CARMENERE’s came to be. The 2009 Don Manuel was received from the Wall Street Journal Wine Club priced at about $16.00 and the 2010 Anakena was purchased through our local Total Wines & More for only $7.99 after having read two favorable articles from two different sources coincidentally about the same wine.

Winemakers comments:

2010 Anakena: This single vineyard Carmenere is busting with black fruit, black pepper and tobacco. Intense flavours and velvety tannins make this an exceptional wine. Delicious with lamb and white meats, filled pasta and cheeses.

2009 Don Manuel: Few do this juicy red justice like top estate Viña La Rosa, where star Gonzalo Carcamo is chief winemaker. His rich, single-vineyard selection pays tribute to long-time local hero, winery founder Don Manuel. Part civil engineer, part winemaker, Don Manuel helped build roads, bridges and other infrastructure in Chile. He started Viña La Rosa in the early 1800s, and today it’s one of the country’s oldest, greatest estates.

I have to admit that I found having two samples of the same grape varietal side by side to be very educational. It made me realize that in our wine classes we are usually tasting different varietals from the same region and not comparing apples with apples or better said grapes with grapes. It was very interesting to note how similar yet different each one was. They basically both had the same base per se but the delicate features of the wine was different for each.

Don Manuel; strong, deep dark fruit tastes, enjoyably rich with strong tight flavors even after decanting for over an hour. Anakema; was softer and more gentle on the palette. We noted different levels of the following on both: raw peppers, grass, earthy, coffee, medium to soft tannins, and leather.

Both of these wines were a hit. The general consensus developed was that the DON MANUEL was more of a lets sit a spell and sip wine where the ANAKENA would go down smoothly and quickly, what I would call a Guzzler. This distinction between the two may have something to do with the difference in vintages.  All said and done, our verdict since there should be one, is that in today’s economy $7.99 sounds a lot better than $16.00!
¡SALUD!

Related articles

I’ve been taken prisoner! Orin Swift’s The Prisoner 2008

Standard

Orin Swift 2008 The Prisoner Napa Valley Red Wine

After many years of hearing about this wine and its fabulousness I finally had the chance to partake thanks to having received the 2008 vintage, a 92 pointer per Wine Spectator,  as a birthday gift this past year.   I now know what all the hoopla is about and can see why The Prisoner has and continues to develop a following selling out year after year. To think I was able to cellar mine for 6 months before finally letting myself be imprisoned. Unbeknownst to me the 2008 has been sold out for a while now, along with the 2009. For the most part only the 2010 is now available, running approximately $28-38.00.

This Orin Swift Proprietary Blend contains mostly Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon with smaller amounts of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Charbono and Grenache also, coming across as very well-integrated.

Opaque and ruby garnet in color I detected; leather, black pepper, cedar, raw green pepper and dark ripe fruits in the nose. Peppery on the tongue I detected flavors of; blackberry, vanilla, spice, cherry, the acidity of plum. Fig, raisin & prune as it opened and even more so in the long finish.

Related articles

Argentina’s LAMADRID Estate Wines – Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Standard

LAMADRID Estate Wines 

I consider this vineyard to be one of my best discoveries of 2011. Their 2008 production is highly regarded, often hard to find at this point. The good news is that the 2009’s now appearing on store shelves have been rated just as high. Guillermo García Lamadrid and Hector Durigutti, master winemaker and general manager are truly masters at what they do. Durigutti considered to be today’s wine maker with the midas touch in Argentina. He also has own name-sake line of Durigutti wines, although hard to find in the states I recently found some in Aventura FL and in Tryon NC of all places. Kudos to Tryon’s wine store La Bouteille [http://www.labouteille.net/]. Durigutti’s Bonarda wine [approx. $12.00] is worth trying and I’ll be posting about it in the near future along with other LaMadrid wines.

Guillermo García Lamadrid originally caught my attention in wine class because he originated from Cuba [my people!] and became a successful winemaker when he migrated to Argentina via Puerto Rico. I am sure there is a very interesting story there. I have been lucky enough to have tasted quite of few of their wines; Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon [$14.00], RESERVE Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda, Cab. Franc [$18.00] and the GRAN RESERVE Malbec  [$35.00]. My personal favorite is the RESERVA Malbec 2008 and I hope to be writing about and drinking more of all of them in the near future.

http://www.lamadridwines.com/nosotros

Lamadrid Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

LaMadrid’s regular line of non-reserve wines run in the $12-14.00 range and I am seeing them more and more in different wine stores.  My first choice would be their RESERVA line of wines which are aged longer etc. That said these lesser priced wines are very good and stand on their own.  Robert Parker rated this one at 90 points.

My notes:

Needs to be decanted, peppery nose as it opens with hints of wet earth and leather. A high sweet dark fruit flavor with leafy grass and green pepper taste thrown in. I also detected a toast and salty flavor which I have not detected in wine before. I would describe this wine as a CAB-LITE and Grenache like. Salud!

Is my wine glass half empty or half full? The Return of the Wine Diary

Standard
A glass being full of rosé wine

Image via Wikipedia

The Return of the Wine Diary

As most reading this may know from previous blogs one of my goals for 2012 was to be the analyzation of my infamous 2011 wine diary.  Somehow, the more I reviewed the 138 [!] entries the more confused I became as to how to proceed. After much thought and rereading of said infamous :) diary I was able to narrow the scope by breaking down most if not all into categories. Of course there is always the chance of too many categories but I think I was able to thin down the playing field without affecting the integrity of my year-long project. For example; I noticed that the entries filed under DEPENDABLE were actually also well priced. Therefore I have combined these into the category GOOD VALUE. My final categories:

-SURPRISES; 4

-EXCELLENT/WORTHY OF A REPEAT; 40

-GOOD VALUE; 16

-MISCELLANEOUS RAVES; 7

-BAD; 6

-CONFUSED; 1

Is my wine glass half empty or half full?

Well I am happy to report that my wine glass seems to be half full. After savoring 138 wines  luckily only 6 made it into the BAD category! That’s a great statistic. I will be blogging about each category in the near future. That said let’s get the BAD out-of-the-way and hopefully save a few possible victims or who knows find a few lovers of these examples out there. Here’s hoping your glass is always half full!

HOB NOB Chardonnay 2006 $5,00

VIEUX PAPES Red Table Wine $6.99 – The only entry to be called swill!

LISABELLA Pinot Grigio 2007, received as a gift.

YARUNGA FIELD BLACK LABEL Barosa 2010 $15.00

BRIAREO REDI 2005 $30.00, disappointing.

PATRIOT Merlot 2010 $15.00

Related articles

Discovering a new wine grape; PARRALETA / Pico de Aneto 2010

Standard

Discovering a new wine grape; PARRALETA / Pico de Aneto 2010

Pico del Aneto, the highest mountain of the Py...

Image via Wikipedia

The Parraleta grape is exclusive to one winery in a small region of northeastern Spain; Somontano, in the foothills of the Pyrenees. It is also exclusive to the Bodegas Pirineo winery and although I partook of the 2010 the 2009 was a big hit at the New Wave Spanish Wine Awards. The owners are a family originally from Jerez.

The  late ripening Parraleta is combined here with the early ripening Tempranillo famous for Spain’s Riojas. Together they produce a fruity and robust wine.

Pico de Aneto Tempranillo Parraleta 2010

Color; Purple/Bright red.

Lite viscosity.

High fruit forward; black cherry, plum, strawberry on the finish.

Price; approx. $12.00

We had ours with pan grilled chicken breast and brown rice with lentils. It was a good combination of flavors. I enjoyed this wine and my better half maybe even more so. It was also exciting to try this new to us varietal and it has a great price point too. Would I seek it out? Probably not but I would not refuse it either.  Salud!