Tuesday, July 29, 2008

B.R. Cohn Roadster Red Non-Vintage – California

Bruce Cohn is the long-time manager of the Doobie Brothers, and his winery tasting room is filled with musical memorabilia. His wines aren’t too bad, either. The tasting room was bright and lively, and the server knowledgeable. We generally shy away from inexpensive red blends, but enjoyed this a lot. It opens with a nose of blackberry, cherry, and spice. The tastes are smooth, with nice acidity and mild tannins. The primary flavors are roasted plum and dark blackberry. Cohn is into restoring old automobiles, thus the wine’s name. Yes. $15

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Kestrel Lady In Red Non Vintage – Washington

Friends brought this over for dinner, having picked it up at Costco (which has been known to have some nice wines). To us, it’s just another red wine. Better than the “standard” of cheap reds (Trader Joe’s Two-Buck Chuck - aka “2 Buck Junk”), but still just a red wine nonetheless. This has been well-rated by Wine Spectator, but for us, it’s a Maybe at best. (We originally didn’t know what our friends paid, but having found out it’s $21 retail, we’d really not bother.)

This is a good time for a digression about personal tastes. We read the popular wine press, and often agree with many of the writers – especially Matt Kramer in Wine Spectator and John Brecher & Dorothy Gaiter of the Wall St. Journal. All writers have personal favorites, and despite trying to be impartial in their reviews, their own upbringing and taste preferences can (and do) color their recommendations. Remember that applies to us, too. Another Wine Spectator writer, James Suckling, seems to be on a mission to deify all Italian wines, while we seldom find anything beyond ordinary in almost all Italian wines, no matter the price. Our suggestion, of course, is to taste a lot of wines, and read a lot of wine writers and their reviews. Once you can say, as we did above, that you agree with a taster’s tastes, then you can begin to rely more on their recommendations.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Red Bicyclette Pinot Noir 2005 – France

Dry, French, and minerally. A little rustic. (You know, we just used that word – one we’ve seen in respected wine magazines – for the first time. We actually don’t have the faintest idea what it really means, but it somehow seems right for this wine. We think of maybe barnwood and hayfields.) A bit of plum on the nose. Similar to the Redwood Creek French/California Pinot we previously reviewed, but with a bit less fruitiness. Yes/Maybe. $10 on sale, about $13 retail.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sauvignon Blanc & Steamed Salmon

A friend mentioned recently that we haven’t been discussing food and cooking as much as we should. So... we’ve been playing with a new bamboo steamer. Food comes out crisp and moist (is that a contradiction?). The other night we put salmon (with a little mild teriyaki sauce) on one tray of the steamer, and some sliced parsnips on the other. The salmon was incredibly moist and tender, and the vegetables retained their flavor and texture and went well with the teriyaki. Japanese rice with green onions on the side.

Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc 2006 – New Zealand
If you’ve ever had a “typical” New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, you know the wine’s basic profile – this Nobilo could be the prototypical one. The nose is zingy, citrusy, with some grass and dried flowers. Somewhere underneath there is a hint of more depth with olive oil and herbs. (We make it sound like the nose is more dynamic than the taste. Remember that our sense of smell has a huge impact on our taste buds.) Drinking the wine, it has a clean grassiness and tastes of grapefruit and lemon, with bright acids and a tart finish. This and Brancott are our two favorite inexpensive New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs. House. About $12.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A-Z Pinot Gris 2006 – Oregon

This is a “halfway” Pinot Grigio. It’s not the Junior Chardonnay style, but neither is it dry and crisp. Floral and pear on the nose. Tastes more toward the crisp style (our preference), with notes of dried pears and ripe apples. Yes. $10

[Update: As previously mentioned, if we find a wine rated elsewhere, we will note those ratings but only after we write our reviews. This received an 89 from Wine Spectator.]

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Grgich Hills Fume Blanc 2006 – California

We were rather unimpressed with Grgich – a winery we’d heard so many positive reviews about, and whose Zinfandels we were just dying to try. The tasting room experience was unimpressive, and the Zins were just rather common (especially given our stated love of big, fruity Zins such as Turley or Ridge). When we visited, we liked this Sauvignon Blanc enough to buy a bottle, but when we tried it at home we were overwhelmed. We’ve said before that the tasting-room experience can color your impression of a wine, and this is a perfect example. This Grgich Sauvignon Blanc is near perfect. Nose of pineapple, wet grass, and straw. The tastes are a smooth grassiness (rather than the bright, tight grass of a typical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc), with good acid and fruit balance. There’s a tiny bit of oak/spice, and tastes of pineapple and melon. This wine could be an aperitif or a dinner wine equally well. Truly exceptional. House/Yes (not a full House only because of the price). $28

[Update: As previously mentioned, if we find a wine rated elsewhere, we will note those ratings – but only after we write our reviews. This received a 90 from Wine Spectator.]

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Rayun Syrah 2006 – Chile

Nice. A good touch of cedar on the nose. Tastes of cedar, pepper, and mint; dark but not too dark. Dry and just the right amount of tannins. Very smooth and well integrated for an inexpensive Syrah. House/Yes. $13