Tonight I am cooking a standing rib roast in my Big Green Egg- something I have never done before. I figured it was a good time to crack this Napa Merlot open and give it a try. It’s got a nice purple hue and is about 70% opaque. Thin legs in the glass hint at the 13.4% alcohol. On the nose I get rich plums, perhaps some blackberry and toasty oak. The initial palate is delicious with plum torte, blackberry coulis, some smoked wood, Tobacco and some fruit cake. The mid palate has exceptionally integrated tannins and really nice acidity. The plum and blackberry flavors are very much present but I’m starting to get a dark cola note. The finish is very rounded with the tannins and acidity in perfect balance. I can almost taste the California sunshine in this wine. Merlot is such a supple, rounded varietal that has been unfairly thrashed of late. I really enjoy this particular profile and am going with 92 points. Drink till 2028 with any grilled meat, rich pasta or even by itself. At $33, it gets 5 stars. Salut….
I usually pick a lighter style wine to go early in the Virtual Wine Tasting Company’s lineup, it’s normally a Pinot but this time I selected a Barbera d’Alba. I thought the varietal closely mimicked the lightness and flavor profile of Pinot but I was off the mark with this particular bottle. It was very dark red in the glass with medium opacity and very fine legs that showed off it’s whopping 15% alcohol. On the nose the tasters got black licorice, blackberry, currants, cherry cola and ‘Shrinky Dink’. I could smell the alcohol a mile away and the flavors came forth out of the glass with no coaxing needed. I made a note of ‘intense black fruit flavors’ on my own.
The palate showed black cherry and licorice with light tannins but the flavors were jammy and deep. The finish was slightly dry with caressing tannins and juicy acidity. I really enjoyed this wine and gave it 16 points on my tasting sheet. Technically translated- that would be a 91 point effort for this $33 beauty that gets 5 stars from me. Drink till 2028 with lighter fare. Quote of the night – “Water running over moss covered rocks.” He obviously did not enjoy it as much as I! Salut….
I have sampled Orin Swift’s The Prisoner and am familiar with their full on style. Heady and high in alcohol with great extraction. This wine is no different. It all began with a rich dark purple hue in the glass. Wild flowers, blackberries, earth and plum come across on the nose. Violets and plums with layers of dark fruit compote and an earthy component attack the palate full bore. I loved the very smooth mouthfeel that hides the whopping 15.2% alcohol. Melded tannins and a balanced acidity contribute to the silkiness. This wine is made from Grenache, Syrah and Carignan from the Catalan region. Terroir of the French countryside is evident. Old world in fruit yet New world in extraction and style. It finishes with a touch of cinnamon and blueberry pie. 2014-2020 would be my guess for a drinking window. I give it 92 points and for $33 it deserves 5 stars. Deeeelish. Salut…..
I arrived early at the airport to catch my flight out west. With time to kill I went to the wine tasting bar Vino Volo where I got to try this stunner. A huge nose of Blackcurrants and oak greeted me and prepared me for what was about to happen. A layered attack of black cherry, currant, plums and pencil hit the palate with a gratifying rush. Melded tannins give structure and there is a finish of mint and herbs with tailings of wood. Delicious and balanced, this wine was absolutely gorgeous. Retailing at about $33 it is a 91 point wine worthy of 4 stars in my books. I’m a huge fan of this winery and for good reason, the Santa Cruz mountains are definitely a go-to region for my tastes. Perfect by itself, it would also pair nicely with braised beef, coq-au-vin and a host of other Autumn dishes. Salut….
I have just returned back from a month in Asia, eating at restaurants and not having access to my own cellar. Well, my first meal at home was a huge success. Moxie threw together some Korean Short Ribs, mashed Cauliflower, Carrots and a Kale salad. I needed a rustic, powerful wine to go with the multi-dimensional ribs which had been slow cooking all day. I decided on the Christopher Creek from the Russian River Valley as I remembered it to be rather full bodied and high in alcohol, something I figured might help cut the fattiness of the meat. I was spot on. What I did not realize was that the wine has evolved since I last drank it 18 moths ago. Smoother, more mellow and not visibly showing off it’s 14.3% alcohol any more. The baby fat is gone off this brooding monster. Dark purple and ready to go with black currant, black berries with a touch of cassis. Very smooth with fine grained tannins and a good cutting acidity. This wine keeps getting better and I reckon will further evolve, perhaps drinking well until 2018 at the least. The pairing was awesome and my love of Petite Sirah has been cemented yet again. I believe it used to retail for $33. I am going with 91 points and 4 stars. Salut….