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Saturday, February 17, 2007

2002 X Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

We received this bottle as a gift for Christmas. I was happy to see it as we’ve enjoyed some of X’s wines before. I haven’t looked this one up, but I’m sure it’s priced somewhere in the mid-teens.

I opened this one figuring it wouldn’t need much time to since it’s 2002, and while it steadily improved after a few hours, after a mere twenty minutes I found it to be quite enjoyable.

Oak, blackberry, and sweet tobacco on the nose.

Lots of black cherry on the palate with smooth oak. Tobacco, plum, currant, chocolate, solid acidity, and medium-low tannins. Very nice complexity for the price and enjoyable all around.

The finish starts with nice cherry flavors and fades to chocolate and tobacco.

X is a consistent producer and I wouldn’t hesitate buying or recommending any of their wine, this one is no exception.

2005 Bald Knobb Owl Creek Vineyard

I was at a wine shop and this one caught my eye. We visited this winery about two years ago on a little Midwest wine weekend trip.

Owl Creek is part of the Shawnee Valley Wine Trail and it was one of the best in the region, which is why I jumped on this. If you’re in the mood for a weekend trip, that particular area isn’t bad (I’m assuming you’re within a few hours from Southern Illinois) but don’t expect much in terms of good quality red wine...lots of sweeter white dominates the area.

I think that’s why we liked Owl Creek–they had two excellent dry red wines. This particular one was not available when we visited. It’s made from Chambourcin and ran us about $15 (though it’s cheaper from the winery direct). I was hesitant because the label says “semi dry” but I figured it was worth a shot.

I typically find Chambourcin to be a strange wine and this one is no exception. The nose: big and weird. I can’t really place it...I’ll settle for raspberry jam and there’s also some spice.

The palate is more strangeness: almost effervescent with acid, big plum, peach, blueberry fruit, maybe some honey, and a touch of black pepper. I’m not sure if this has seen oak, I don’t really taste any, but there’s a lot going on here if it hasn’t. I think “semi dry” is an accurate description as it’s not dry, but it’s not terribly sweet either. No tannins, but the acidity which is interesting at first gets to be a bit overbearing after a while. I think this could benefit from a slight chill, so throw it in the fridge for fifteen minutes or so before drinking.

The finish fades quickly and leaves nothing discernable with perhaps a little bit of black pepper residue.

I’d compare it to a Beaujolais, but I’ve never had a Beaujolais this interesting. If you’ve never had Chambourcin and want to try one, I’d put this one as one of my top recommendations.

2003 Red Flyer Red Table Wine

Looking at this winery’s site, they apparently have an exclusive distribution deal with Trader Joe’s...however, we bought this one at a small wine shop in the area.

Blackberry and oak on the nose.

Plums, blackberry, and blueberry for fruit on the palate with plenty of oak and firm, though smooth tannins. A fair amount of spice–anise, cinnamon, even some basil

The finish has some plums and fades away with a hint of anise remaining.

Fruit and oak give it a nice balance, but there’s not a lot of depth–which isn’t necessarily a bad thing and is to be expected at a $9 range wine. If this really is a Trader Joe’s exclusive, it's one of the better ones we've had.

N.V Domaine de Martinolles Le Berceau Blanquette de Limoux

This is a sparkling wine from France, though not a Champagne. The next time you’re at a cocktail party you can share this tidbit: sparkling wine was being produced in Limoux over a century before the Bendedictine monks began producing it in Champagne. This ran us around $13.

Apple and pear on the nose.

Apples, pear, and peach on the palate with some yeast. No toast or citrus that I frequently find in sparkling wine. A very nice constant stream of bubbles that last for a long time in the glass and kept on fizzing in the bottle even after well over an hour.

A light, crisp stone fruit finish fades slowly.

On the one hand the palate isn’t all that complex, on the other hand the bubbles are superb and the flavors are bold and long lasting. Immensely quaffable, this is a wine you can drink an entire bottle of in one sitting and enjoy thoroughly yet not think all that much about because everything is just so right.

2003 Girard Petite Sirah

This has been sitting on the ol’ rack for some time. We tried this at a tasting and didn’t hesitate with a $20 pricetag. I gave this one about three hours in the decanter. The very bottom of the bottle did begin to throw sediment so be careful with this one.

A bit of oak and plenty of earth on the nose along with some deep, ripe raspberry.

The palate is big–lots of black fruit, lots of oak, big chewy tannins. Blackberry, plums, and some spice as well–mint, cinnamon, and black pepper. Everything it big, but it’s all nicely’re assaulted equally by everything.

The finish fades with lingering earth, black pepper, anise, oak, and vanilla....not much in terms of fruit....and it lasts for quite some time with the black pepper lasting for close to a minute.

At hour seven, this wine really began to change a fruit began coming through—strawberry and cherry, the tannins are still firm but much smoother. Personally, I think it’s better now than it was earlier, so either drink this one over a long evening or open it as early as possible.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a Petite Sirah and I have to admit I was hesitant to open this bottle since I felt strongly about it at the tasting and feared it wouldn’t hold up–well, it has. This is an excellent wine and one that I’d recommend if you don’t mind having your teeth stained purple.

N/V Jacquesson Cuvee No. 730 Champagne

It’s bottles like this that make me almost giddy. It ran me $40, but mah boy, it was worth it.

The palate brings a nice mix of blueberry, red apple, vanilla, and toast. I don’t recall ever getting a berry in a Champagne before but it’s certainly here---it’s not quite pure fruit, almost like blueberry waffle–yeast, dough, and a bit of strong, perhaps reconstituted berry...which may sound odd, but trust me–it’s a good thing.

After well over an hour this still has a steady stream of bubbles that aren’t going anywhere.

The finish lingers with some yeast and apple for a fair amount of time.

To me, $40 is special occasion level (we drank this on Valentine’s Day) and this surely won’t disappoint. Nice complexity, smooth all around, strong bubbles...really, this has everything I’m looking for a Champagne and then some. Strongly recommended.

2004 L’hiver Shiraz

This has been sitting on the rack for quite a while, but I recall it costing around $18. We had this at a tasting and enjoyed it quite a bit. I decided to give this one about three hours to open since it seemed a bit tight on first pour.

Lots of fruit, but a bit of spice and earth on the nose.

The palate has lots of plum and cherry, perhaps raspberry and is accompanied by a bit of black pepper and oak. Nice medium tannins give this some great structure and prevent it from being too jammy.

Certainly worth the $18 pricetag. Recommended.

2003 Vinum Cellars Red Dirt Red

This blend is 53% Syrah, 32% Mouvedre, and 15% Grenache. This is a Rhone blend, but you may hear it referred to as a GSM if it’s from the New World.

The nose has strawberry and some earth in it.

Black fruit, ripe black and raspberries, anise, oak, earth, tar, and spice all with medium tannins.

The finish starts with some strawberry and fades away to oak.

I enjoy this one, it’s an interesting blend that we don’t normally drink a lot of and I think it works well. A solid wine and an interesting label would probably make this a reasonable gift to the wine fan in your life.

N/V Chambers Rosewood Vineyards Rutherglen Muscadelle

This half bottle was $13. It’s a dessert wine and the label claims it won’t deteriorate once opened so it can be stored for a long time after opening...I’ve been drinking this over the past three weeks or so.

When I asked if this wine was like Port, I was told it’s really more like a Sherry....unfortunately, I don’t know anything about Sherry so I can’t tell you if that’s true. I do know that this has changed very little, as far as my palate can tell anyway, from day one to day twenty.

Honey and raisins on the nose...plenty of sugar.

The palate hits me with fermented orange. Lots of honey, some raisins, a slight hint of nuttiness, but overall I get citrus.

The finish lingers with more of an orange zest and raisin taste than anything else.

It’s lighter than a Port, but still is in that family, so if you hate Port you probably won’t be into this, but it’s certainly worth a shot if you do. This is a nice after dinner wine and drinks very nicely as I sit one wall away from negative 35 degree windchills.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

2005 Lily Pinot Noir

My advice is you need to give this one at least thirty minutes of air time for it to be drinkable, and could use a few hours to really come to life. I was thoroughly disappointed at first, but it’s opened to a rather delightful wine. This one ran me about $20.

Earth, funk, and tar on the nose.

The palate has raspberry and lots of earth and oak. A touch of cola, maybe some plum, perhaps blackberry, all with an herbal background.

The finish lingers with anise and earth.

Not bad at all. At $20, you certainly won’t do better.

N/V Castillo Perelada Brut Reserva Cava

This ran us about $10 and was bought on a whim due to a craving for sparkling wine.

The nose reminds me of white bread.

Some grapes and yeast, but not much else except perhaps maybe some lemon. Very little fruit really and not a lot going on.

A somewhat toasty finish fades slowly.

I wouldn’t call it great, but I have nothing against it. There are plenty of solid sparkling wines at this price point and this one is merely passable. My advice is to find something more interesting.