Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Recent Tasting Notes

I know this is the time of year when a lot of wine gets opened. It's probably a good time to review how some of our previous vintages are coming along now.

One of the best sources is Cellartracker:

Here are thoughts on some things we've opened in the last month:

2007 Haut Tubee - California

Really spicy and rich. Think this would go really well right now with stews or roasted meats. I think this wine will actually keep for a bit and if you don't get to it this winter, it will hold fine for a few years.

2006 Eaglepoint Ranch Syrah - Mendocino County

Getting an 'old world' nose. I've seen it in a few tasting notes online that people mistake this wine for something from the Northern Rhone in blind tastings. Makes me think serving it with mushrooms is a good idea. Still floral and fruity but with a great 'funk'.

2007 Eaglepoint Ranch Syrah - Mendocino County

This has been slow to develop the floral nose of the 05 and 06, but it's coming out now. Richer textured than the 06 I think this will age longer. I'm putting ours aside until spring and lamb season.

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon - Santa Cruz Mountains

Still very plush and complex I think this wine should do well and continue to develop for many years. We continue to get notes from people on this wine and how much they enjoy it.

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Uvas Creek Vineyard - Santa Clara Valley

A real crowd pleaser. I think we knew from the moment we processed the grapes this would be a 'showy' wine. It's bigger and darker than the 05 and 06. Stefania got a note this week from someone who told us this went up against a line up of much more expensive Cabernet's and finished second overall to a Shafer Hillside Select ($225). This is a pretty powerful wine, I like to have it with beef.

2008 Chardonnay Chaine d'Or Vineyard - Santa Cruz Mountains

I agree this is still coming together. We really wanted to get it out for crab season and we probably rushed it. Next year we may hold it until the Spring for release. Lots of people enjoying this with rich seafood dishes and Stefania has a recipe that was sent to us she keeps promising to post up. I think serving this with food really brings out its best.

We haven't had a Pinot Noir in a long time, or any of the 05's. Next time we check on those I'll update here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hiatus Endus

We haven't really been on hiatus or taking vacation, but this time of year the vineyards need no work, and the wine just needs a little gentle care. It's a time to rest and catch up on paperwork and bills, and all the other things we put aside for two months of harvest.

The first week of January the moon will be in the right phase, and we'll be back at work pruning vines. Until then we'll still be laying low, visiting with friends and family and avoiding shopping malls at all costs.

I thought a good way to get back into write would be to post some thoughts on a few wines we've had over the last few days.

Monday night we went to Holly and Noelle's to watch the Sharks and Monday Night Football. It could have been a little battle over what to watch, but football was a blow out and the hockey game won out.

We started with a 2001 Ridge Monte Bello that Millie brought with her. This was a big rich Cabernet, still dark and showing no signs of being 8 years old. The nose was rich with berry fruit, and strong notes of new oak. The wine was rich, dense and packed with flavor. The tannins were a bit gritty, almost over ripe, but were not falling apart in anyway. I find that in a lot of Napa Cabs these days, the tannins are so ripe that they just don't hold together on the finish as the wine ages. This wasn't the case at all, just an angular feel on the finish. I know Monte Bello fans would say it's too soon to drink this wine but it was very enjoyable. 93 points now, but I think a future of 95+.

The next wine up was a 2001 Chateau Rol Valentin St Emilion , Bordeaux. I really like the 2001 vintage in Bordeaux. It was good, but overlooked and the prices have stayed low. It was hard to find at retail, and is even harder now at auction to find. Most of the wine stayed in Europe. The French feel that Americans will only buy the 'super' vintages like 2000 , 2003 and 2005 so they don't import, 'useful' vintages like 2001.

Why is it 'useful'? The wines are very good, but not super concentrated. They won't take 15-20 years to be enjoyable. They will be wines you can enjoy while you wait on the super vintages. In that way they are 'useful'. With the exuberance of the Bush/Paris Hilton years, Americans wanted huge and flashy, not enjoyable and good value. Bummer, we missed out on some really good wines in 2001. I bought what I could then and still pick them up now when I see them.

The wine was starting to show some mature colors, a limpid red. The nose was expressive and complex, with tons of mature fruit and spice. Very well balanced, not heavy and the tannins were enjoyable. Lots of complex red and black fruit with a super long finish. 92 points for me, and I bought this for $30. Still pops up at auctions for $35- $40. A really nice wine.

Tuesday night Stefania and I opened two bottles and made pasta with a bison-tomato sauce and fresh bread Stef had made that day.

First up was a 2001 Yann Chave Hermitage. We bought this wine before the big critics discovered Yann Chave. Now we don't even see it offered for sale, much less available for the $35 we paid for this bottle. The wine was dark and the nose was wild. Feral, furry, animal, iron, and a bit of corral at Grandma's ranch, not for the weak of knees. I've had a fair amount of ageing Hermitage, and it will get these wild animal smells. The palate was deep and rich and the dark berry fruit came out from the wild game notes. Perfectly balanced tannin and acid kept everything together. After about 45 minutes the wild nose tamed and tons of dark rich plum and berry fruit dominated. The finish on the wine went on and on. I'd say this is 94 points, and will be best from 2015-2025. We have about 20 more bottles.

Next we went to a 2001 Antinori Brunello di Montalcino Pain delle Vigne. This is one of Stef's favorite wines, but I pulled this bottle from my side. Brunello's can be monolithic when they are young, so this was a bit of a gamble. The wine smelled fantastic though in the decanter, with red fruit and flowers. In the mouth it was silky and perfectly balanced with more red fruit, plum and spice. Still 'young' and not fully mature, but passed the bratty stage it was very enjoyable and one of the best 2001's I've opened. 93 points now, sure to go up in the future.

No idea what we'll drink tonight, but it will be hard to keep up with Monday and Tuesday.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Worst Present

Tis the season for the stories of gift giving.

Best gift, worst gift, etc.

I'm only going to admit this once, so pay attention.

I did once give the very worst gift - only I didn't really know it at the time that it would end up to be so ironic.

First the excuses; I was young (22ish?). I was making $8.25/hour. It was a gift to a co-worker.

And some background; One of my all time favorite places to shop was and still is Cost Plus.
The Co-worker was very much into wine and fine wines. This is going to end badly.

The finale;

I gifted two bottles of wine to said co-worker; A Reindeer White and Reindeer Red.

So, Gary, if you have found me online after all these years. I am sorry. I really am a weenie for gifting you two bottles of cheap wine.

Is there a moral to the story? Yeah, there is - no matter how much you like or dislike the people you work with, never, ever, ever, buy them cheap wine. One day you might end up being a winemaker and regret the gift you gave.