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Thursday, May 28, 2009

2007 Mollydooker Two Left Feet

Perhaps the most polarizing wines on the planet - at least in the under $30 range - the Mollydooker offerings are gigantic, explosive, some may say stupid, fruit bombs from down under. They generally get good marks from Parker, but it's not uncommon for others to rate them in the 70s.

A powerful nose with super ripe plums and less heat than I expected.

Plum - perhaps more prune - blackberry, ultra ripe blueberry, a bit of maple syrup even, all with vanilla extract - almost like some sort of vanilla liqueur, and eve n some of those farmer's market strawberries that are just on the edge of going bad, they're a tad dark, a bit squishy, and you're not sure whether or not you should eat them, but they weren't cheap and you don't feel like you're going to throw up after eating a couple, so you keep eating them.

It's a style for a certain palate. We own a fair amount of Mollydooker and to be honest, if I'm not in the mood for this style, I feel a tad nauseous even thinking about it. Every few months we'll pop open a bottle, dig it, but finish the bottle more than happy to not open another bottle until six months have passed.

That being said, when I am in the mood, and drinking this with something like ribs, steak with some sort of huge sauce, perhaps even a pasta dish with six types of cheese and three types of sausage, it holds it own and doesn't really overpower.

Wine: 8.5
Value: I think so, but proceed with caution

2007 Alma de Blanco Godello

This is around six bones at Trader Joe's.

Floral notes on the nose.

A bit fuzzy, sorta like an oaked Sauvignon Blanc – floral, lavender like notes on the palate. I'm getting some spiced unripe apricot, a little bit of vanilla, honey, lemon rind, and some orange blossom.

The orange blossom comes through firmly on the finish

Another one where the style does not work for me, but I think it's a well crafted wine that's a fine bargain if it's your sort of thing.

Wine: 6
Value: Qualified yes

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fox Valley Winery - Oswego, IL - May 23, 2009

We were more or less in the area and popped in to try some wine. We have not been to this winery for about three years now it seemed like it was time for a revisit. Oswego is a bit south of Aurora, which is a western suburb of Chicago. Here's their site.

When we arrived it was pretty dead, but by the time we left it was hopping. The woman working - sadly I didn't get her name - was extremely friendly and helpful. This is a family run winery and I feel it shows (whether she's in the family or not, I don't know, but she clearly cares about the place).

The deal is they let you try three wines for free. If you want more than three, each pour is fifty cents after that. They also have a few different options for flights, which we did, and tasted a total of twelve wines.

Here's the notes:

2005 Traminette - Dry with nice minerality and notes of unripe stone fruit. There's a touch of honey which is interesting since it's a dry sort of honey. A better description defies me.

Riesling - Light peachy nose. If you dig Auselese style German Rieslings this may work for you. Fran felt it was a bit lacking in acid, I think it was fine. Notes of citrus and stone fruit.

2005 Vignoles - the dominant fruit in this one was cantaloupe but I also got some honeydew and muskmelon and just a pinch of pear. If you dig melon, this would be a good one to try.

Niagara - Niagara, in wine anyway, is basically the white Concord grape. This one, I have to say, really elevates the varietal. Yes, it's sweet and basically simple, but there's a crisp backbone, some nice acidic fuzz that makes the only Niagra (that I can recall) ever being worthy of a recommendation.

Deux Blanc - Not much going on here other than some floral and even petrol notes on the palate. It's a very light wine that could probably work with food that you don't want your wine to interfere too much with, but it's not doing much for me.

White Sangria - I'm sure it's good since it seems to sell well, but it's not my style.

George's Red - Basically a decent (native) Midwestern red wine. Funky, a punch of acid, earth, carob, and raspberry. If you've never had a Midwestern red, this may not be a bad one to try as it's easily on par with a lot of reds that other IL wineries sell for double the price.

2005 Heritage Collection - I'd just call this one a bit thin. Blackberry and cherry notes, but nothing struck me as remarkable.

2004 Chambourcin - Many, dare I say most, Chambourcin have a harsh and funky thing going on that make them quite unpleasant. This one seems a bit lighter on the acid that makes it more palatable. Raspberry, earth, mint, carob - all the trademarks, but in a nicer form. I will say both on the nose and mid palate there's a very peculiar bacon component that is kind of intriguing.

2004 R.A. Faltz Vintner Reserve - This is a tough wine to discuss. It tastes like a very well made wine of hybrid varietals - meaning it's better than many of its peers but it's still just not to my palate. It's smooth, nicely balanced, and raspberries dominate.

2004 Petite Sirah - An almost motor oil quality comes through on the nose. The palate is quite big with black pepper and black fruit.

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon - Cedar/cigar on the nose. More formal notes coming soon.

I'm going to make a bold declaration here which I'm making only after I've consulted my notes from other winery visits and from other local wines and cracking open the box of Cab and pondering through a glass.

The Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon are easily the two best red wines made in Illinois that we have had. The grapes are imported from California, so purists may not count it, but Fox Valley is by no means the only winery in the Midwest to get grapes brought in, and we've tried many of them. Both wines go for $20 and both earn unqualified recommendations. The Cab is available in a box - yes, a three liter box - for $39 (and yes, I bought one).

In terms of their wines that are made from locally grown grapes, not one of those nine (the sangria doesn't count) were bad. The whites were uniformly solid and the reds all were worthy of what I call asterisked praise (*good for Midwestern hybrid grapes).

If you're near Chicago, this place is definitely worth the drive on a day off of work.

Fox Valley Winery
5600 Route 34
Oswego, Illinois 60543

Saturday, May 23, 2009

2005 Guenoc Claret

You know, I know nothing about this wine. It's been on the rack for a long time now, but I have no clue where I bought it or why. I see one shop has the 2006 for nine bucks, so let's pretend this was the same.

A bit of earth and some dark raspberry on the nose with something I haven't hit on in a while - asphalt. Well played.

Plum mostly, cherry, a bit of eucalyptus, some sweet oak, and a nice dash of tobacco.

A slight bit of menthol, mint, and residual plum on the finish.

For under ten bucks, there's absolutely nothing to complain about. There's a nice amount of structure and balance here.

Wine: 7.5
Value: Yep

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

2005 Chateau Saint Paul Bordeaux

I don't recall the price, but all the 2005 Bordeauxs I snagged were under $12. We'll pretend this was at the high end.

A very nice nose with mostly smooth cedar and tobacco - like smelling a cigar box. It's not complex, but it's just "right."

A fair amount of tobacco and leather, nicely balanced tannins, good acid, a bit of cherry, all with some nice spicy notes - clove, dried Italian spices. It's not a terribly deep wine, but it's very easy drinking.

More leather on the finish - like biting a shoe - with those brown spices coming through as it fades and lingers for some time.

The word I keep thinking when I drink this is "nice." That can come off as condescending, but it's not my intent. There's a lot to like here, everything is just right - if I find more of this I'll be buying several bottles. It's the type of wine that you can pop open and sit on the patio on a cool evening. Well played.

Wine: 7
Values: Yes indeed.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

1995 Charles Heidsieck Millesime Brut

This was a stupidly priced bottle we bought to celebrate five years of marriage.

Some green apple as well as some interesting raspberry notes on the nose.

Apples dominate but there's plenty going on below the surface. Tangerine, orange zest, and a bit of toast. The thing about vintage Champagne, and remember this, is it should not be consumed as cold as cheaper stuff. The first few sips of this, when it was too cold, struck me as dull and uninteresting. After letting it warm up a bit, to more of a "cool" temperature, a lot of interesting things come through - gooseberry, blueberry, rye toast (so, caraway), and even a bit of mint.

Mostly berry and toast on the finish - rye toast with blueberry jam?

It's good, great in fact, but I'm not floored by it. If you can afford such things on a daily basis, then whatever, but for a special occasion? I'm looking for a 10.

Wine: 9
Value: Irrelevant

Thursday, May 14, 2009

2007 KungFu Girl Riesling

I snagged this for around ten bucks because the label amused me, but now I'm wondering if I'm racist.

I can't say I get much of anything on the nose.

I'm thinking this is mostly white grapefruit - I'm detecting some red apple and maybe some pear, but the citrus thing is dominating. Sweet, but balanced reasonably well. I don't mind simple Rieslings, though simple with this profile doesn't work for me.

Some more orangey notes come through as well as an interesting sort of blueberry component on the finish.

The finish wins an extra half point with me since it's interesting, but I still can't say I'd recommend this unless you know Riesling and this sort of thing is your style.

Wine: 6.5
Value: No for me, but based on what you like perhaps...

Monday, May 11, 2009

2007 Two Lads Cabernet Franc

Here we have the debut red from Two Lads – Cab Franc, their inaugural red. The first sniff and sip of this was very tight, so I gave this one - that goes for $25 - three hours in the decanter.

As it opens I get cherry, oak, menthol, and cinnamon on the nose.

Chocolate and cherry with some distinct strawberry notes coming through on the back palate. Great acid with a blend of spices coming to dominate – clove, cinnamon, dried basil and oregano, with a dash of eucalyptus. Dare I say, this is Old World in its sensibility – a solid balance of fruit and earth with a good punch of acid.

A whole lot of earth on the finish, with just a little bit of brineyness, in an olive sort of way.

Cab Franc is a tough grape to hit the wow factor - in fact, it may very well be impossible to hit, but this is pretty close. I look forward to trying out another bottle after a few months (or years) and sampling their Reserve to see how this develops. For now, I say give it a go, but maybe sit on it for a while.

Wine: 7.5
Value: Yes

Saturday, May 09, 2009

2004 Juvé y Camps Cava Brut Nature Grand Reserva

I just did the ol' stab n' grab with this – I wanted a sparkler at around $15 and pulled this one.

Quite dry and fairly toasty – one of the first sparklers where I'm definitely getting a distinct oak quality. There's a turpentine thing going on on the back palate into the finish. I can't say there's all that much fruit here – some unripe apple or pear. There is some perfumey and floral qualities, maybe lavender or even a slightly turned bad chamomile quality.

Nothing by dryness on the finish.

It ain't bad, but it also ain't worth fifteen bucks.

Wine: 6
Value: No

N/V Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut Champagne

We had this one around two and half a years ago and dug it – a lot of wine snobs go out of their way to talk trash this bottle, so I was curious to see how our palates changed. I snagged a bottle when I saw it on sale for $35 which is a pretty good price for this particular label.

Orange and honey on the nose.

Some nice toasty notes, orange marmalade, a bit of yeast, and quite a bit of a peachy things going on. While this is sweeter than I care for (and I have no clue how this qualifies as Brut), there's something to be said about the balance – lots of acid brings it together.

Some toasty notes come through on the finish.

This is pretty damn good, but is it $35 (or $50 as some places charge) good? There's great balance and nice toasty qualities that you really only see in real Champagnes, but overall somewhat simple. It's not bad – not in the least – but I can't recommend it for more than, I don't know - $25.

Wine: 7.5
Value: No

Sunday, May 03, 2009

2007 La Ferme Julien Cotes du Luberon

The quest for the wine century continues with this blend of Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc, Ugni Blanc, and Roussane – not bad. Another Trader Joe's acquisition that ran around six bones.

Pineapple on the nose.

At first I got vanilla and pineapple, but as it opens lemon seems to dominate....I'm guessing this has spent some time in oak.

Lemons linger on the finish as well as some generic tropical notes as well as a bit of white pepper.

Not my style at all, but for this sort of white my palate is somewhat limited. The price is certainly right for experimentation.

Wine: 5
Value: Nah