Poet’s Row Meritage 2013, Napa Valley, California

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This Bordeaux blend is quite deceiving- not very opaque at all considering it should be a blend of Merlot, Cab Sav and perhaps Cab Franc.  Definitely Cab Franc as I get perfume and violets on the nose, plus some cassis, blackcurrants, toasty oak and eucalyptus.  The palate is very smooth and well endowed with rich black fruits, well integrated tannins and juicy acidity.  The mid palate has some pencil shavings and a metallic tinge, kinda interesting.  The rich blackberry and blackcurrant flavors carry through to the long finish where some black tea notes are found alongside vanilla.  This wine has good complexity, a nice full body and plenty of fruit and structure to reward patient cellaring but it drinks beautifully right now at 8 years of age.  I am really digging the mouthfeel and think this wine gets 93 points.  It would normally run around the $25 mark making it a 5 star effort for sure.  Serve it up with some grilled sausages and steak.  Salut….

Boedecker Cellars Hirschy Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Yamhill-Carlton District, Oregon

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This Pinot Noir is deep purple and semi opaque in the glass.  On the nose it is quite intense with red and black cherry, raspberry, oak and strawberry bubble gum.  The palate is gorgeous- smooth with lithe tannins, gentle acidity and a ton of fruit flavor.  Layers or cherry, raspberry and mocha notes intertwine, some strawberry is present but the complexity of this wine is awesome.  I love restrained Pinots, wines that are seductive and not overpowering.  This one is definitely a more fruit forward version, New Worldish yet it has such purity of fruit and is not over-the-top extracted.  The finish is long.  The fact that it is only 13.3% ABV makes it a refreshing change from the monsters I have been drinking lately.  Drink till 2026 with lean cuts of beef, maybe a hearty Salmon on the grill or some well seasoned Cornish hens.  92 points from me for this $58 treat.  I love this winery and have enjoyed several of their previous wines.  5 stars.  Salut….

Boeckel Zotzenberg Gewurztraminer 2017, Alsace Grand Cru, France

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I’ve been cooking Sous Vide Pork Belly steaks in a fiery Sambal Oelek sauce for the past 18 hours, it’s going on a fried rice dish.  The spice of this dish needs an aromatic white I do believe, so this Grand Cru Alsatian is getting the nod.

It is deep lemon in the glass and has pronounced aromas of lychee, rosewater, strawberry, blossom and some nuttiness.  On the palate it is semi-dry with medium acidity, medium (+) body, medium alcohol and medium (+) intensity flavors of lychee, rose, strawberry, honeysuckle and blossom.  The nutty note comes on the back end, where the finish is medium in length.  It’s a flavorful, yummy wine that has a touch of residual sugar to help offset the chilies in the marinade.  The floral and tropical fruit will meld well with the white meat and veggies.  This wine seems like it will develop some more in the bottle, so there’s no rush to pop’n’pour.  I’m really enjoying it and think it is a 91 pointer.  At $40 it’s a serious player that gets 5 stars.  Salut….

Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz 2018, South Australia

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For the finale at our Virtual Wine tasting #20 I selected an oldie but goodie.  It’s been a few years since I drank any Mollydooker wines.  They are a treat but buyer beware- they pack a punch.  It all starts with the obligatory Mollydooker Shake, which is an important part of tasting this wine correctly.  I had all the participants open the screw cap and pour off a half cup of wine into another wine glass.  After re-sealing the bottle we shook vigorously to help release the Nitrogen that these wines are bottled under.  Once done I had them pour regular glasses and we compared the smell of the original wine versus the shaken version- a stunning difference in aroma.

The wine is bright purple, opaque and menacing in the glass once you read the label and realize it has 16% ABV.  On the nose it is jammy with blackberry, raisin, plum, pepper, coffee, black tea and vanilla.  Our group got flavors of coffee, blackberry jam, cinnamon, and someone mentioned ‘grape’.  Lithe tannins and medium (-) acidity make for an easy mouthfeel once you clear the alcohol hurdle.  A decent finish was enjoyed as I reflected on the length and depth of fruit flavor coming out of this bottle. The body is most def full, the grapes being extracted to the max.  This is not a lightweight.  I am a little stumped as to what I would pair it with- the richness will overpower most foods- oh well…drink it all by itself.  91 points from me make this $30 wine a 5 star effort that needs to be on your short list.  Drink till 2028.  Salut….

Spier 21 Gables Pinotage 2017, Stellenbosch, South Africa

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My wine tasting group has not tried Pinotage yet, so I though it would be appropriate to introduce this unique South African varietal to them.  Spier is well known and produces several different cuvees, ranging from the lighter everyday wines to blockbuster collectables.  This one is middle of the road and offers a glimpse into the style of wine that can be enjoyed over time.  Quite brooding and inky it has a funky nose with forest floor, tar, licorice, fresh cut wood, plantain, creamy coffee, Sel Gris and blackberry.  On the palate it exhibited textbook flavors of coffee, blackberry, Rooibos tea, baked raspberry, blueberry, acetate and raisin.  The word jammy was used.  Tannins were medium as was the acidity.  This cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault is much darker and intense than either of its parents, which surprised many in the group.  Overall it was well received and got 91 points from me.  We paid $36 per bottle making it a 5 star effort that can be drunk now or cellared till 2026.  Salut….

Domaine Drouhin Pin ot Noir 2018, Dundee Hills, Oregon

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Virtual tasting #20 started off on a high gear with the Reserve Pinot Gris, only to have it overshadowed by this stunner.  Once people started sniffing all I could hear were Oooh, Aaah…  On the nose the group noted aromas of licorice, forest floor, pepper, white chocolate, cardamom, black cherry, raspberry and rosewater.  How’s that for complexity?

The palate was absolutely delicious- I was so excited to drink this wine.  Super smooth with silky tannins and gentle acidity- we got flavors of raspberry, black cherry, Rooibos tea but it lost the pepper component.  The depth of this wine was beguiling.  On our tasting sheet I gave it a near perfect 19/20.  Technically speaking, this $35 wine gets 93 points and 5 stars from me.  You could cellar some, but why wait?  Damn that was good.  Might end up on the best-of list.  Salut….

 

F E Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve 2014, Alsace, France

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My little group of virtual wine tasters insisted on a mid-summer gathering so I picked some real beauties, starting with this Pinot Gris which we tasted at room temp and chilled.  Being a Reserve, it offered depth and complexity that many were not expecting- it was a hit.  In the glass it showed pale gold to light yellow, depending on who was commenting!  Aromas of pear, pineapple, blossom, honey, ginger, elderflower and nectarine were noted.  On the palate, flavors of honeysuckle, lime, and orange blossom coupled with a vegetal aftertaste.  I noted that it had good acidity, getting 92 points from yours truly.

The chilled version was more precise with some minerality on the nose coupled with cotton candy, marzipan, passion fruit, honey, ginger and peach- a whole different animal!  On the palate we got a fuller bodied wine with flavors of pronounced orange, less lime this time but lemon drops, ginger and Welch’s white grape juice.  Medium (+) finish btw.  I was consistent with the 92 points and for $25 it is a great intro to a higher quality Pinot Gris.  5 stars, pair it with shellfish and perhaps cellar for a few years.  Salut….

Domaine Bourillon Dorleans Vouvray La Coulee d’Argent Vieilles Vignes 2019, Loire, France

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Bright yellow in the glass.  Nose of floral and tropical fruits with some elderflower.  It almost smells sweet….

On the palate it is dry, crisp and full flavored.  Stone fruit, flower blossoms and pineapple.  There’s a green almond hint on the mid palate and medium acidity on the jaw.  I picked this wine to pair with Sous Vide chicken confit- the crispy skin is going to go beautifully with this rich, full bodied Chenin Blanc that gets 89 points and for $ 20- 4 stars.  Drink till 2024.  Salut….

 

 

Amalthea Cellars Tour 2021

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Back in 2018 my cousin Sharma brought over two bottles of local New Jersey wine.  I was a touch skeptical but once I tried the Amalthea Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, I was convinced that the state could produce great wine.  This past weekend we took a trip over the river and went tasting.  All in all there were 17 wines to sample- 5 white wines, 5 reds, 6 Off-dry and one draft wine meant for early consumption.  We thoroughly enjoyed our tasting and then sat on the patio with two of our favorite offerings, a Chardonnay that has been aged Sur Lie, and a Cabernet Sauvignon.

It should be noted that they make two different labelled wines- one from out-of-state fruit, the other sourced locally which carries the namesake.  I made brief comments on the tasting sheet but was really there to enjoy the moment and not get too technical.  Some of the offerings were from varietals that I had never tried before, like Rayon d’Or.  Other, more regular varietals were on tap and showed a wide range of winemaking style and expertise to produce some really delicious wines, some of whom could cellar quite nicely.

If you’re ever in the South/mid New Jersey area and are looking for a fun afternoon of wine tasting, seek them out.  We had a blast and brought home some goodies!  Salut….

Mil Pesetas Sherry tasting

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My wine course is winding up and we are studying Sherry this week- not my favorite.  I wrote a post about the differences in biological versus oxidative maturation and then I tasted one of each, the notes are below.

Sherry is matured and basically ‘blended’ in a cascading system that uses large oak barrels known as Butts to supply steadily older wines to the bottom rung of the cascade, known as the Solera.  In the Solera System, at least three levels and up to 14 can be used to introduce fresh wine that is being held at the ready in a Sobretabla.  Once the winemaker has drained off some of the ready-to-blend-and-bottle wines from the Solera, he taps off wine from the next level up, called the 1st Criadera to refill what he removed.  The same process happens to this Criadera when the 2nd level Criadera is used to refill it, etc.  The winemaker will never empty a Criadera or the Solera, only taking enough to keep the process going, replenishing the 600 gallon Butts up to about 500 gallons maximum, allowing for extra contact with oxygen which is vital for this aging process.

There are many styles of Sherry, ranging from dry to sweet, made in different manners- oxidatively, biologically or a combination of the two.

Oxidative aging uses the ample volume of air in the partially filled Butts to allow the wine to contact oxygen.  Potentially this can happen over long periods of time as it passes through the various levels of the Solera System.  If it is made from the Palomino grape the resultant wine will show as brown in color and be full bodied with tertiary aromas and flavors of toffee, leather, spice and walnut.  Other styles include Pedro Jimenez (PX), which uses raisined, sweet grapes for the base wine, resulting in a much sweeter product.  Cream Sherry is a blend of Oloroso and the sweet PX.

Biologically aged wines start off at a lower initial alcohol fortification that allows a yeast cap called Flor to develop on the top of the wine which does several things.  Flor prevents oxygen from reaching the wine and adds certain flavors like citrus, almonds and herbs while showing a pale lemon in the glass.  Not made for extended aging, they are served chilled with tapas and should be drunk soon.

Combining some biological aging with oxidative aging gives you Amontillado, which is the first sherry I poured.  I was taken aback by what appeared to be quite a dark and aged wine that had bright flavors of Christmas pudding with brandy butter. Raisins, cooked cherries, walnuts and bitter almond. The palate was not at all what I expected- thin, very little depth of flavor but a touch of acid.  Green un-ripe almonds, bitter citrus and yeast are what I ended up with on the palate. The finish was a touch better with some refreshing bitter lemon notes. This is not my style by any stretch, but I am here to expand my palate, even if I don’t like something!

Mil Pesetas Fino Sherry, Spain 15%ABV. Biologically aged

  • Appearance- Medium lemon, watery legs
  • Nose- medium(+) intensity nose of lemon, blossom, biscuit, bread and cheese. Youthful.
  • Palate- Dry, medium acidity, low alcohol, medium (-) body, medium (+) flavor intensity of lemon peel, bread, bread dough and blossom. Medium (+) finish.
  • Conclusion- Good quality wine to drink now: not suitable for aging or further aging.

Mil Pesetas Oloroso Sherry, Spain 19.5% ABV. Oxidatively aged

  • Appearance- Pale amber with thin legs.
  • Nose- Medium (-) intensity nose of walnut, caramel, toffee, coffee (?) and cooked lemon (?).  Fully developed.
  • Palate- Dry, low acidity, high alcohol, medium (+) body, medium intensity flavors of toffee, caramel, walnut and cooked lemon.  Medium (+) finish.
  • Quality level- very good quality wine that can be drunk now; not suitable for aging or further aging.