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Friday, April 23, 2010

2005 Cafaro Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

This goes for $39 through the winery. I know nothing about this winery other than the bottle curiously does not have a barcode and I don't think I've ever seen it in a shop. I acquired this through a silent auction at a charity event.

Plum and blackberry on the nose, but cigar box dominates.

Smooth and nicely balanced - this is just a nice drinking wine. It's fairly big, but also elegant, you won't confuse it with something Old World, but it has none of the downfalls that plague many New World wines. A gentle giant, if you will - the Pete Steele of wine. Cherry and ripe blackberry come through with cedar, mint, and (very mild) anise. Mid palate, oak and/or cedar come through considerably as do some more spicy qualities including a bit of brown spice.

An almost Grand Marnier quality comes through right at the start of the finish, as that fades a cherry, currant, and a vague mint quality linger for some time.

Forty bucks is a tad more than I'd prefer to spend on a bottle of wine, but there's absolutely nothing to complain about here. Nicely done.

Score: 91+

Saturday, April 17, 2010

2007 Seven Deadly Zins Lodi Zinfandel

Seven deadly Zins, seven ways to win, seven holy paths to hell and your trip begins. This is a fifteen dollar bottle, though you can often find it on sale for less. I've wanted to try for some time now.

A very thick nose - black cherry, almost cough syrupy.

Smooth - a bit of smoke, a bit of cherry, a bit of plum, a bit of vanilla, a bit of red licorice, even a tad bit of black licorice. A bit jammy, but not overly so. A bit sweet, but by no means sickeningly so (though enough to knock off a few points). I'd gladly serve this at a BBQ with burgers and I can absolutely see this with ribs.

Vanilla, cedar, and cherry on the finish.

A big wine, tasty, and not terribly simple. I'm digging this. If I found it on sale I could see grabbing another bottle. If you (or someone you love) is a fan of Yellow Tail or that sort of thing, this is a tremendous next step. It's big and slightly sweet, but it's a clear step up in quality.

And now for some Maiden....

Score: 86

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

2007 Shady Lane Cellars Pinot Noir

Aerate aerate aerate. My initial thoughts - and dare I say even my thoughts after 90 minutes - of this wine were negative. It hit me as rather harsh and overwhelmingly tart. What happens on day two, a full 24 hours, after opening? This bottle was comped and sells for $22 through the winery. We tasted it as part of the Tweet and Taste, but these notes are based on the next day where things were a bit more sedate and settled.

Day one brought brown spice. Day two brings out a clear raspberry leaf with a touch of mint - almost a raspberry tea.

At first, this was harsh. Now? Rather smooth. At first, overwhelming acid and tartness. Now? Well integrated acid with fruit and earth coming through. Raspberry dominates with a bit of carob. When I say raspberry, I am talking part fruit, part leaf, part's an earthy, funky, dirty raspberry. As in, don't pick the raspberry, pick the entire plant out of the ground and blend it - that's this. I'm not getting a whole lot in terms of tannin, but acid and earth are more than present. Some people on the Tweet and Taste were discussing an "artificial" quality, which I could see at the time, but as it opens, I think it's really more "essence" and "herbal." Have you ever had those Vitamin Waters that have no calories, no fake sugars, and only "essence"? I haven't seen them around lately, but I do recall them fondly - this reminds me of that.

More of that funky/earthy/dirty raspberry on the finish.

Sit on it for a while or give it 4+ hours in the decanter. When it comes together, you may or may not dig it, but you will respect it. $22? I'm not sure, but it is a Pinot Noir...Michigan has a distinct style of Pinot - it's light, funky, acidic, and spicy. I think this is an excellent representation - not for all palates, but for those who dig it, I couldn't imagine not being a fan.

Let me just say something here - Shady Lane's Pinot Noir and Riesling really came together after multiple hours of air. Some wines completely fall apart after three hours of air, these start getting good at that point - it's a testament to the quality. I'm giving this 87, but I have a feeling in 2012 or so, this wine is going to annihilate. It's a shame the Mayans are going to kill us all by then. Speaking of Mayans, have you seen Apocalypto? Holy crap - what a good movie.

Score: 87* *not blind

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

2008 Shady Lane Cellars Blue Franc (Blaufrankish)

This wine goes for $22 through the winery. We tried this comped bottle as part of the Tweet and Taste Michigan - search #ttmi on Twitter and check out all the tweets! During the Tweet and Taste I was not on my A game due to an array of reasons, so by all means check that out, but you may be better off ignoring the comments from @thewineauxs.

On first pour I got barnyard, but now I think it's more the precursor to barnyard, which is of course, bacon. Bacon, mint, basil, all quite mellow.

Very smooth. Black cherry, blueberry, soft tannins, soft acid, soft everything really. I can see this working with a bit of a chill on it, but it's going nicely at cellar temp. I hate to even suggest bastardizing a good bottle, but this would be perfect for warming up and mulling some spices...don't do it, but I think it would work, but really, don't do it. The balance is almost too good on this...everything falls right into place. The sort of wine I describe as dangerous because it's so easy drinking and so seemingly "simple" that you don't even think about what a pain in the ass it must be to get a wine so perfectly integrated.

Cola hits me right away on the finish. As do cherries. Cherry cola? I suppose so.

Recently I was asked for a good red wine that's not sweet, but not too big or harsh. This is it. This is probably the finest red wine of that style I can think of. Exceptionally drinkable, quite mellow, with some nice subtleties.

Though this review was not done blind and the bottle was comped, my opinion has not been consciously swayed.

Score: 90* *not blind

2008 Shady Lane Cellars Dry Riesling

This wine retails for $16.50 through the winery. We tried this comped bottle as part of the Tweet and Taste Michigan - search #ttmi on Twitter and check out all the tweets! During the Tweet and Taste I was not on my A game for an array of reasons we'll avoid here, so by all means check that out, but you may be better off ignoring the comments from @thewineauxs.

Spicy apricot hits me immediately on the nose, with some slightly unripe golden apple, maybe even apple blossom. Apple flavored herbal tea comes to mind.

So, when I read "Dry Riesling" I admit the occasional eyeroll, but I'll be damned, this s.o.b. is dry. Lots of acid, fruit and floral notes, but very little - if any - sugar. The fruit is slightly unripe with pear, apple, maybe even green grape. There's a definite petrol quality - the sort of thing you'd expect in a much pricier Riesling, and a funky kind of asparagus thing. The mouthfeel is slightly viscous, but the acid creates a good pucker that makes it barely noticeable. Everything here comes together nicely.

Lengthy finish - unripe stone fruit, peaches mostly. You know, it's kind of like if you take a peach, squeeze out all the juice and somehow remove the sugar - the way back end of the finish has this pungent dry peach thing that, lame as it sounds, is somewhat exciting.

I am digging this one a lot. My advice - and the consensus of many people on the Twitter feed - is let this one warm up a bit before drinking. This bottle has been out of the fridge for a full two hours and can be be described as "cool" and I think it's at its finest point. I originally gave this one an 88, but after it warmed up it completely elevated to a new level.

Though this review was not done blind and the bottle was comped, my opinion has not been consciously swayed. That being said, I'm not afraid to say a crappy wine is just that - this is solid.

Score: 91* *not blind

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tweet and Taste - APRIL 13, 2010 - 7 pm!

Tuesday, April 12 - 7 pm CST, go onto Twitter, search #ttmi and follow along!

A bunch of people are going to be tasting some wine and talking about it on Twitter. Here's what's on the agenda:

2008 Dry Riesling
2007 Pinot Noir
2008 Blue Franc (Blaufrankish)

If you can't follow along on Twitter, come back around 9 pm and I'll put full notes on each of the wines up.

Friday, April 09, 2010

2004 The Furst Vin d'Alsace Riesling

So I was at a performance of a local theater company which had a silent auction going. They had a few different lots of wine which I bid on, and won. This is one of the wines in question. At a retail cost of $12, this is almost certainly too old to drink.

A slight petrol thing, some floral notes, with an array of unripe tropical fruit - pineapple and papaya.

Not a hint of sugar on this one - dry to the bone. A dried unripe fruit quality - take an unripe pineapple and dehydrate it, it probably tastes like this. Maybe some peach or nectarine, even melon of the cantaloupe variety, even a bit of green grape - once again, all unripe. Some floral qualities too, this may be the first wine (in quite a while, if not ever) that I've gotten very distinct rosewater from. Don't drink this one any colder than "cool," it is far better closer to room temp.

The dry, unripe, dried fruit thing continues on the finish.

Certainly well made, but not quite to my palate. If you have one of these in the cellar, it's probably time to pop it open.

Score: 85

Monday, April 05, 2010

N/V Albero Cava Brut

This is seven to eight bucks depending on where you live and it is a Trader Joe's exclusive.

A bit of white bread - not yeast, more clearly Wonder Bread - on the nose.

Light body, dry and crisp - just a hint of green apple with lemon dominating, if you swish wine around in tasting a slightly unpleasant lemon dust spray thing comes out.

The finish brings lemon, but to be clear it's not sour, almost lemonade, maybe just maybe a bit of an Arnold Palmer thing? I think so.

At seven bucks this isn't bad and is comparable to other cheap cava on the market, but by no means is it any sort or bargain. No flaws, but nothing great either.

Score: 80

Friday, April 02, 2010

2007 Argyle Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

The local wine shop has this $25, but I know it can be found for considerably less if you shop around.

A bit of raspberry on the nose.

Light, very light, for a red wine. Almost a dark pink - I've seen (albeit, unusual) roses darker than this. Cherry and raspberry is it with a bit of green pepper. Great acid, rather tart, and not a hint of sugar.

More cherry and a bit of grape stem on the finish.

This is a nice light bodied wine, thin, tart, but great for food. I liked this one, but it just hit me as being a tad too simple - if found at the $13 range I'd say it's worth a shot, but at $20ish all I can do is say pass.

Score: 85