I’m becoming convinced that some of the best wine from California is from Alexander Valley. Not to over emphasize the region over the producer….
There’s a story behind how we got this wine, but you’ll have to ask to hear it (comment!)… but we didn’t pay for it (OK, fine, Rika’s boss gave it to her). Basically, all we knew was what was on the bottle, and that it cost around 20 bucks.
The wine has a pretty nice bouquet – certainly not timid. Rika said she smelled a sugary candy. I think it smells of vanilla – a result of the toasted oak. In fact, it is mostly oak, a fairly strong floral component, and noticeable alcohol. When I first smelled it I thought it might be a little hot, but it isn’t. It is 14.5% alcohol, which is slightly high, but it has enough umph else-wize to hide it. (more…)
Wow, what a mouth full the name is! At first glance (referring to color and density) it was a little scary… I’m usually not a big fan of “light” wines. But oh boy, with a sniff I was already imressed, and had instantly become optimisitc. Basically, it smells like a rustic Italian Rosso, (more…)
January 12006 Virgin Vines Shiraz
My experience with wine has made me a disbeliever of labels. Almost like the prettier the bottle the worse the wine. I know that is a gross generalization and should never actually be applied, but…. Anyway, the bottle is one of the best I’ve seen. It looks like its hand painted grape vines and wording. The big turn off for me, like a big red flag,
December 292006 Molly Dooker Blue Eyed Boy
This is a big, big wine! It is like pouring yourself a glass of ink! Forget about seeing through it, but on the edges there’s some beautiful dark violet color. The aroma, to me, reaks too much of alcohol… but beyond that there’s dark fruit, cherry, and rose.
September 22005 Kilikanoon "Testament" Shiraz
What a disappointment. Compared to the Durigutti Bonarda, this was a 180 in style. Don’t get us wrong, we love the fruit bombs. But if it doesn’t have complexity, it will never get more than 90-91 points. This wine was pretty yummy as far as fruit bombs go, but not worth more than 91 points. It is simple and near one dimensional, both in taste and bouquet. Not worth the $24 we paid for it, and certainly not the $40 retail price. Don’t waste your money on this one. There are plenty of similar wines for less money, many of which are listed within this site.
June 112006 The Black Chook
This is an Australian red blend of 94% Shiraz and 6% Viognier. That’s right, a white grape. My take is that the Shiraz alone was thick and dense like tree sap (but probably tasting a lot better) and the only thing they had laying around to thin it out was Viognier. I’m joking, of course. I think they actually were trying to add complexity and aromatics, which they did succeed in doing.
My problem with this wine is that it just doesn’t taste… right. At least not for my tastes (nor Rika’s). I would love to tell you what kind of fruit it tastes like, but I can’t place it. Basically, it is dense (still) in bouquet, color, and flavor. The profile is red fruit, maybe a mix of all of them… but it is too jammy for me. When I opened it the aroma of blackberry jam slapped me in the face. I actually thought "cool!" But after tasting, was pretty disappointed and confused. It never got worked out… sip after sip until the whole bottle was gone. After-taste wasn’t too bad, and lasted a while… mostly the oak, tannin, and black pepper.
If you like a challenge, buy a bottle and try to figure out what it tastes like. Be sure to post it here! But then, for the price, you can get far better wine.
Dark rose colored with an bouquet of forest floor, veggies (bell pepper mostly), and a good amount of fruit, especially plum. Mouth-feel is supple with medium acidity, and mild tannins on the finish. Flavor profile is medium dark fruit with a balanced vegetal component – largely dark plum with asparagus. The plum lingers through the long finish/aftertaste with the mild tannins remaining like a memory. All in all a darn good wine for the money. It is deliciously approachable in its youth, complex enough to satisfy even the toughest critics, and versatile to pair with a wide variety of foods.
April 132006 Layer Cake Shiraz
From the Barossa valley – probably our favorite combination (shiraz). I was pretty pessimistic about the possibility that this wine would actually taste like a layer cake. Much to my surprise, however, it was way layer cake! A delicious one! It is rare that I get exited about a wine, and I have never been exited about a restaurant wine. Well here we are at "Pinot Bistro" in Studio City, and I’m excited about this wine that I bought from the menu for a mere 45 bucks. That would still be a decent price for this wine retail, much less at a french restaurant.
The nose is smokey, oakey, and vegetal. With some sweet red fruit. The mouth-feel is soft with a little acidity. It tastes, aside from layer cake, like blackberries, black plum, and black grapes. Some asparagus and a little oak. Totally delicious! You’d never guess it was 14.9% alcohol.
Price: $17 (BevMo)
April 6Wine, Friends, and Food
Last night we had a couple of good friends over for dinner and shared a few wines that were pretty good. For starters we had the 2005 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot, from the Columbia Valley in Washington. This was the lightest of the three, which we mostly drank before the meal. It wasn’t bad, but not impressive. There was a fairly good balance of oak, red fruit, spice, and acidity. My “problem” with it was that it was a little weak for my tastes (this is strictly a matter of personal preference), and the fruit was a bit too extracted tasting.
Since we were serving a grilled roast, we decided to have a little tasting of two Australian wines since I knew they’d be pretty hearty. To make it fun we used two different wines from the same maker, Marquis Phillips… the 2006 Shiraz and the 2006 “Sarah’s Blend”. As expected, they were big fruity wines, and per our preference, were pretty dense. Sarah’s blend, which is a blend of composed of 60% Shiraz, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the rest Merlot and Cabernet Franc. This was the “smoother” of the two, but less complex, ironically. The Shiraz, while largely a fruit bomb like the blend, was a bit more complex with a more identifiable tannin structure. These were both delicious wines.
Basically, we have to agree with the critics on this one, but with about a point subtraction each. The critics rated them (in order that I listed the wines above) 90, 91, and 92 points. We’ll be giving them 89, 90, and 91. I don’t know if we’re just picky, but it seems we rarely give the same point score as the critics. But then, same with Gary V. on Wine Library TV. I’ve seen him up the point score, but this is a very rare occasion. We probably give the same score as the critics about 3-5% of the time, but typically not that far off otherwise (this is not intentional, we’re just being honest, after all, this blog is for our own “logging” of what we try, for our own purposes). But I digress. Prices paid, $10, $13, and $13.
February 102004 Kirkham Peak McLaren Vale Shiraz
Color was dark ruby with a touch of purple. Aroma was of tar, red and black fruit, woody, and very floral. Mouth-feel is medium to heavy weight, light acid, very little tannins. It tastes of black cherry, plum, and rose petals primarily, and finishes with plum peel and edible flowers. Very drinkable, but nothing really special.