Saturday, May 31, 2008

Wine Country Traveling

We’re off on a short trip to the wine regions of Yakima, Washington; Hood River, Oregon; Napa/Sonoma, California; and the Sierra Foothills of California. We should have some fun new wines to review when we return (and will try to find time to post a bit along the way on our trip).

Masciarelli Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo 2004 – Italy

This starts with a nose of deep, black cherry. The flavors aren’t very fruity, but rather of briar and bramble, almost “woody,” but not in an oaky sense. There’s also a hint of mint. Puckery tannins, and some nice acids. Yes for Ken, Maybe for Francesca. $11

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Columbia Winery Syrah 2004 – Washington

Nose of dark cherry and blackberry. This is one of the darker, smoky, peppery, and spicy Syrahs. We like both this style, and the fruiter style such as seen in the Columbia Crest and Red Diamond Syrahs we've previously reviewed. There is, still, some blackberry notes in this, as well as nice tannins and acidity. A Yes for Ken; Maybe for Francesca. $10 on sale, regularly about $17.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Columbia Winery Pinot Gris 2006 – Washington

Pinot Gris is the name more frequently used in Washington and (especially) Oregon than Pinot Grigio. Still, it’s the same grape, just like Syrah (California or France) and Shiraz (Australia) are the same. This has a buttery and citrus nose. It tastes rather “thick,” with grapefruit and some butter, and a tiny bit of nutmeg spice, with a smooth finish. Yes for Francesca, Maybe for Ken. $10 on sale.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Beringer Founders Estate Shiraz 2004 – California

Following our own advice, we began sampling other wines from a winery where we liked one particular wine. We really enjoy the Beringer Founders’ Estate Pinot Noir (California) – in fact, it’s one of our House wines. Yet we were disappointed with both this, and a Cabernet Sauvignon we reviewed previously. This does have some bold, zingy acids, and some green pepper and black pepper spice. It’s just not special enough, and not too well integrated. Maybe. $8 on sale, retail $13.
(Note: The Beringer Pinot has changed, to several different wines. It's now made from French or Italian grapes. We've sampled the French wine, and were ambivalent - good but not great. We haven't yet tried the Italian.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Columbia Winery Cellarmaster’s Riesling 2006 – Washington

Just as there are two Stag’s Leaps in California, there are two Columbias in Washington. Columbia Winery is less well-known than Columbia Crest, but produces some very nice wines. This Riesling has a wonderful honey and mildly floral nose, and the tastes are honey, pear, and melon. This is frankly sweet (not overly so), yet without quite enough acidity to balance the sweetness. It’s almost more of a dessert wine. Still, a Yes wine. Probably about $15.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Vin du Lac of Chelan “Les Amis” Riesling/Muskat 2005 – Washington

This is a 67% Riesling and 33% Muskat blend. It has a wonderful floral nose of honeysuckle and tangerine. The tastes are soft and creamy (not in an “oaky” sense), but with just enough acid for balance. We’re tasting pansies, honeysuckle, honey, lemon (that little acidity), and a hint of melon. A new House wine for us. This goes to show that you can’t judge a winery by one wine – we didn’t much care for the Vin du Lac Chelan “Grisant” Pinot Gris (we gave that wine a Maybe/No), but this Riesling/Muskat is great. And cheaper. $11 on sale, usually about $17-18

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Francois Pinon Vouvray 2006 Cuvee Tradition – France

This is a "bigger" French Loire Vouvray. It offers sharp, distinctive Chenin flavors, and some weight and substance. As with the B&G Vouvray (which is one of our house wines), this is not one of those sometimes soft, limp American Chenins. Nor is it the minerally type often found from South Africa. It’s different from the B&G, but both are what we think a good French Chenin should be like. Yes. $18

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Vin du Lac of Chelan “Grisant” Pinot Gris 2006 – Washington

This was a challenging one for us. Fresh from the fridge, this tasted like the bastard love child of a Riesling and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. While we like both Rieslings and Sauvignon Blancs, this wasn’t a spectacular combo. As the wine warmed a bit, it developed flavors of grapefruit and a “creamy” citrus. The nose is floral, citrus, and buttery. Francesca liked it more as it opened up in the glass, while for Ken this went more toward the Pinot Grigio style he doesn’t much care for – sort of like a Junior Chardonnay. If your tastes run toward this style, worth sampling. Despite our tastebuds, this is still a well-made wine. Maybe/No for us. $15 on sale, usually $22.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Jason (Pahlmeyer) Pinot Noir 2005 – California

Pahlmeyer is known for its “industrial strength” reds (Cabernet, Merlot, and red blends) and Chardonnay. We understand this is only the second vintage for the Pinot Noir, and it’s a stunner, yet different from many other Pahlmeyer reds. This opens with a big nose of cherry fruit, and the tastes continue with more of a fruit-bomb of cherry flavors. This is surprisingly high in alcohol for a Pinot (yet not so for a Pahlmeyer), yet has nicely balanced tannins and acids – very smooth and integrated. About $65. Yes.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Artichokes, Shrimp Cocktail & Chenin Blanc

Covey Run Chenin Blanc 2005 – Washington
This is one of those wines that are two-wines-in-one. The first is when the wine is cold from the refrigerator – the nose is mild, just a hint of apple. The tastes are a little too much like many inexpensive, ethereal (typically California) Chenins. Yet once this wine warms and opens in the glass, it becomes almost like a Vouvray – tastes of honey and melon. And the tangy zingy-ness it has when cold disappears and becomes a mild natural sweetness with a nice, mild acid balance. It definitely smoothes out as it warms. Yes (bordering on House). $8

Steamed Artichokes & Southwest Shrimp Cocktail

  • Pan braise fresh peeled and deveined shrimp in tequila, chili oil, rosemary, and garlic. Chill.
  • Mix ketchup, mayonnaise, crushed garlic, finely chopped onion, finely chopped chipotle chili. Chill.
  • Serve warm artichokes and cold shrimp. Dip artichokes in either melted butter or cocktail sauce.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Turley Dogtown Zinfandel 2002 – California

This opens with strong cherry on the nose, as well as a little blackberry. The tastes are incredibly smooth and integrated, with black cherry, a hint of spice, and a wonderful transition to a long, lingering finish. Francesca called this a “whoomkph” wine. Lots of power and balance. Oh my, Yes. Probably around $50 if you can find it.