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2007 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir

Date: Mon, Feb 22, 2010 Wine Tasting

I must admit I have a soft spot when it comes to the 2007 Oregon vintage. Many consider it to be somewhat of a wash because of the austerity of some of the wines. I however, love it's cool weather style and streamlined elegance that reminds me of Burgundy. Although Burgundy comes to mind because of the absence of lush fruit, there is a minerality and terroir that is reflected in these wines that is uniquely Oregon. I love a wine that speaks to it's home and the 07' vintage did just that.

I also visited Oregon Pinot Camp when they were pouring this vintage, so I was able to get a real spectrum of how the wines were showing. Check out my pictures of camp here!

This wine is a relatively large production (only in terms of Willamette though) at around 37,000 cases. It was made with a variety of Pinot Clones such as Dijon 113, 114, 115, 667, 777, Pommard, and Wadenswil.

I would first like to note the color of the wine which is quite light but also very typical of the vintage. When comparing it to the 2006 Pinot's from Willamette it's quite easy to differentiate the vintage simply from the color.

On the nose I get classic Pinot Noir aromas of wild raspberries, red cherry, cola, cocoa, and rhubarb. There is a very pronounced mineral/soil component that reminds me of crushed rocks and chalk. This wine becomes twice as aromatic if it is exposed to the proper amount of oxygen, so get out you Vinturi aerator or a decanter if you have one.

On the palate I get sweet and very tart cherry notes that combine with lots of crushed rock, mineral, rhubarb, white pepper, spice, and hints of toast. The wine is dry and tart and the fruit very delicate. There's just the slightest touch of alcohol on the finish which is not anything too intrusive.

This is a food friendly wine because of it's sharp acidity and delicate fruit flavors. I can see roasted salmon or a very tender and slightly undercooked piece of beef being the perfect pairing for this wine. Or perhaps a cranberry glazed pork tenderloin! 89 Points

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2008 Willamette Valley Vineyards Riesling

Date: Thu, Feb 18, 2010 Wine Tasting

On my not too distant trip to Oregon's Willamette Valley I was really surprised at the quality of the Riesling. Well, I'm never really shocked at quality coming from this type of place or from these type of people, but I was just not expecting the Riesling to be among my favorite whites that they make.

This wine happens to be Oregon's leading Riesling and is a semi-sweet style that is very reminiscent of it's German counterpart. It was fermented in 100% Stainless steel and is a production of around 20,000 cases. I will do a follow up piece on the winery because I have three other offerings from them to taste in the next few days.

On the nose I get aromas of key lime, lychee nut, white peach, multiple stone fruits, red apple, white pepper, wet stone, and subtle hints of petrol.

I should also mention that the wine has just the slightest spritz when you first open the bottle. This of course is very common with Riesling in general and doesn't bother me a bit.

On the palate this wine is semi-sweet (4.3% residual sugar) and displays a brilliant flavor profile of sweet ripened Mexican key lime (only a guy from AZ could tout that descriptor!), lychee, white peach, dried apricot, red apple, wet stone/mineral, and subtle hints of red pepper.

I initially tasted this wine last night and I just poured myself another glass to refresh my memory. To be quite honest the wine is drinking even better today.......If your a fan of white table grapes than you'll really enjoy this wine, because I think it tastes a lot like grabbing a handful of big white table grapes and shoving them into your mouth!

There is a slight phenolic grittiness that sticks to your teeth on the finish. Now whether this is just a byproduct of the high acidity or if it's grape skin tannin, you'd have to ask the winemaker.

Overall this is a very beautiful wine that pairs exceptionally well with lemon pepper chicken (I had a glass last night with my dinner). I can also see it pairing really well with spicy Asian dishes such as Thai..... 88+ points

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2008 Gaetano D'Aquino Soave

Date: Thu, Feb 18, 2010 Wine Tasting

So this is the other wine I purchased at Trader Joe's the other day. It's a Soave and I think it cost me $3.99 if I remember correctly, just part of a little personal on-going experiment I've been conducting. I've been trying to see if there's any real value buys in the lower price tier.

Soave is a small town located east of Verona and is known for it's simple white wines made from Garganega and Trebbiano. This wine is 70% Garganega and 30% Trebbiano.

This very light in color white shows aromas of citrus peel, wet concrete, raw peanut, banana chips, and maybe even a bit of tropical fruit like coconut. I honestly wasn't expecting the nose to be so complex and interesting! A very pleasant surprise....

On the palate I get really interesting flavors of fresh tangerine, yellow apple, concrete/mineral, apple skin, and a slight hint of nuttiness. There is nice crisp acidity and just the slightest hint of alcohol on the finish.

Well folks, I did it.....I found a great little wine for under five bones that delivers great quality and would pair tremendously with light seafood and salad dishes. 85 points

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Spectator says Oregon's 2008 vintage "Best ever Produced"

Date: Wed, Feb 17, 2010 Wine Tasting

You got to love these joker's in the main stream wine press! I love it when they say "Best Ever" and they put these labels on vintages and certain wines. Take a look:

"In the 2008's, you've got the best vintage Oregon has ever produced, the kind of vintage Oregon winemakers always hoped they could produce." Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator.

Now, I know that a lot of these journalists know more about wine than I do. Heck, they've probably tasted 10,000 + wines in their careers! I don't pretend to be a wine visionary or the next big name in wine reviews or wine commentary. In fact, I assure you that you shouldn't trust me on anything pertaining to my wine opinions or "gustos". My palate is completely unique to yours and what I say is merely my initial impressions that are always subject to change.

If there's one universal truth that I have discovered in the wine world, it's that there's no such thing as "Best" or "Better". These words are far too encompassing and general, and people in relatively powerful positions should avoid such tags at all costs.

What if the 2008 Oregon vintage tastes amazing right now but turns out to be a total wash in five years because the wines ultimately didn't have the structure and acidity that they were initially praised for??

Wine is a living thing.....It changes in the bottle and is completely volatile. Placing tags such as "Best"on volatile objects is a sure pathway to eventual ruin.

He could have avoided the risk and said:

"This is in my opinion, the best Oregon vintage I have come across in my career."


"My initial impression after tasting these wines is that they are among the best ever produced in the history of Oregon winemaking"

These statements show a humility towards the rest of the vintages that have been previously produced. These statements give you a chance to change your mind if the wine doesn't become as special as you had thought it would.

I may have used these labels in the past in some of my reviews, but I have always said that the wine was the best I had ever tasted. I would never be so pretentious as to state that it was the best wine ever made, giving my audience the idea that I was the definitive authority on wine.

Just a Rant! Cheers~

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2007 Roar Garys' Vineyard Pinot Noir

Date: Wed, Feb 17, 2010 Wine Tasting

I have been tasting quite a lot of Pinot Noir as of late and I guess you could say it's become my varietal of choice over the last year or so. I used to be such a Cabernet hog but slowly my palate has taking a liking to the subtleties of Pinot Noir and especially to single vineyard wines such as this, where you can really experience the terroir of each vineyard site. Single vineyard anything is fun, but with Pinot I think it's the most translucent.

This wine comes from the quasi famous Garys' Vineyard of the Santa Lucia Highlands. Garys' Vineyard is co-owned by both Gary's (Gary Franscioni or Roar and Gary Pisoni of Pisoni Vineyards). The wine was aged for 11 months in 100% French oak - 75% new.

The first thing I notice after pouring this wine is the deep and dark ruby color. On the nose I get aromas of ripe black cherry, plum, spicy oak, wild flower, and a touch of anise seed. This wine is extremely aromatic and as I'm writing the room is being filled with it's fragrance.

On the palate this wine is very fleshy, full, and round, and expresses flavors reminiscent of wild berry, smoke, plum, and hints of leather and soil. This is a big chewy wine with plenty of youthful tannin and stunning opulence. I would suggest paring the wine with heartier grilled meat dishes or even Ossobuco. 91+ points

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The Latest from the Foodie Blogosphere!

Date: Tue, Feb 16, 2010 Wine Tasting

I absolutely love to surf all the foodie blogs and see what's the latest rave on all the stellar eats! The last couple of days I found some amazing posts around the "Foodie Blogosphere" that I thought you all should check out.......

Over at Ingredients of a Woman, Alba posted a really cool article called "The 14 days of Aphrodisiac Dishes". In the article she highlights all sorts of interesting foods that will provide a little extra boost in the bedroom!! Read it here......

Corrine Rossi of Keep You Diet Real throws down a savvy little review of the bast and worst snack bars. Those of us who are constantly on the go need to read this and find out what to look for in the Snack Bar isle. Check it out here.....

Over at one of my new favorite food blogs SHIZUOKA GOURMET Robert Martineau posts an in depth look at the "The Vegetable of the Oceans" or as I like to call it Seaweed! He highlights all different kinds of seaweed used in various authentic Japanese dishes. Read about it here....

And last but not least Krissy and Daniel of The Food Addicts posted an amazing looking recipe with some gorgeous photos of a Flatbread Pizza with Prosciutto and Gouda Cheese. Bring on the wine with this yummy creation! Check it......

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2007 Williams Selyem Russian River Pinot Noir

Date: Tue, Feb 16, 2010 Wine Tasting

Williams Selyem is and has for some time been one of my favorite wine producers. I remember tasting a flight of their wines about six years ago that blew me away. I was somewhat new to the wine business in terms of tasting a wide variety of wines from around the world, and when I tasted this very wine (the Russian River Pinot Noir) I knew I had to get on their mailing list.

This wine was sourced from several great Russian River Vineyards including the Drake Estate Vineyard, the Allen Vineyard, the Flax Vineyard, the Rochioli Riverblock Vineyard, the Bucher Vineyard, and the Litton Estate Vineyard. It was barrel aged in French oak for 11 months (40% new, 30% 1-year-old, 30% 2-year-old)

On the nose I get a plentiful bouquet of ripe bing cherries, wild raspberry, cranberry, violet, vanilla, and spice. I love the purity and delineation of these wines and how they really speak the varietal character. Every time I smell the Selyem Pinot's I find myself saying, "Wow, this smells like Pinot Noir should smell".

On the palate this wine is full and fleshy and shows notes of ripe cherry, raspberry sauce, roasted vanilla bean, spice, hints of cherry cola, and a touch of anise. The acidity is razor sharp and the balance of fruit to oak is perfect. There is also a real concentration and backbone to the structure of this wine, hinting that it will only get better with a few more years in the cellar. This is very nice wine if you can get your hands on a bottle! 93 points

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Watch Mondovino on your Netflix instant watch

Date: Mon, Feb 15, 2010 Wine Tasting

For those of you who haven't seen the total cork dork wine documentary called "Mondovino". I suggest watching it on Netflix were they have it on their instant watch or you can just get it sent to you.

Mondovino takes a look at the wine world from several different angles and with several of the wine world's stars..........Mondavi, Robert Parker jr. , Michel Rolland, ect.......

Here's a glance at the trailer:

This is a wine geek movie but if you're into stuff like this then you'll love this movie!

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Pulling the trigger on your wine allocations in 2010

Date: Mon, Feb 15, 2010 Wine Tasting

It's that time of year again where the spring wine allocations are coming through. I received my Williams Selyem, Kosta Browne, and BOND allocation letters all inside a weeks time. With the current economic climate one has to sincerely ask himself if he/she can muster up the stones to pull the trigger this time around.

Trust me the feeling of uneasiness doesn't really hit you until you look at your bank statement! But I , like many have decided to take a pass from my previous indulgent allocations and only pick the few that I think will 1# Be profitable to me.... or 2# Be absolutely impossible to find equivalents in a lower price point.

Are the days of allocated wine coming to an end? Will wineries such and Harlan, Bryant Family, Colgin, and the much celebrated Screaming Eagle become regulars on the retail floor? Will their price points drop because they can't sell their grape juice in tough economic times?

I guess only time will tell if the cult wine market will adjust itself to these crazy times.

Will you be pulling the trigger on your allocations this time around??

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2007 Chiusa Grande Tommolo Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

Date: Mon, Feb 15, 2010 Wine Tasting

I purchased this little bugger at Trader Joe's the other day and thought I would test it out and see if a few bucks at Joe's could get me something drinkable. I found it a bit hard to get any tech data about the making of the wine or where exactly the grapes were sourced from, so all you'll get are the tasting notes.

It does state on the label that the wine was made from organic grapes and that it is "Certified Organic" by the ICEA.

When I chopped off the cheaply made plastic foil I immediately noticed that the cork looked really odd. It was exceptionally small and had a really weird shape to it. I tried to get a picture of it but it didn't exactly capture how bad of a cork it really is. Check it:

Anyways, my experience so far with this wine is kind of strange but we'll just see how it tastes!

On the nose I get pretty nice aromas of mixed berry, concord jelly, dark chocolate, and a touch of cranberry. There are some dirty type notes as well like rusty metal, cracked peppercorn, and hints of chemical. It sort of reminds me of a lot of inexpensive Italian wines I've experienced.....rustic, metallic, and somewhat cheap smelling.

On the palate I get flavors of sour cherry, stewy tomato, cranberry sauce, and grape jelly on the finish. This is a very thin and easy to chug type red wine. It's by no means meant to be over analyzed or scrutinized for that matter. I can see myself enjoying it with a simple Spaghetti dinner or with a pizza or burger.

Even though it's not a wine that has notable depth or complexity, I guess you could say it delivers value for the price ($5.99). It is drinkable and isn't particularly bitter. 78 points

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p.s. as with most wines this little guy got better with some time exposed to our pal oxygen! Would have to say it's probably an 81 pointer after all!

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2007 Michael David Petite Petit

Date: Fri, Feb 12, 2010 Wine Tasting

I don't frequent too many wine bars but when I do I almost always ask the bar tender what on the list is drinking good. I like to think that these guys have probably guzzled the juice on the list a few times and know what's ripping at the moment.

Needed to get out of my office and decided to make a stop by de la Cruz Bistro here in downtown Mesa, Az where my office is located. They had a list of reds and whites of which I was familiar with the majority of the wines but decided to give the choice to the bar tender. He of course recommended the 2007 Michael David Petite Petit.

Now, I know the Michael David wines and have tasted this wine before but decided to give it a whirl because it came so highly recommended. Those of us who are familiar with the Michael David wines (Seven Deadly Zins, 6th Sense Syrah, 7 heavenly Chard) know that these wines tend to be fruit forward quaffers more than anything else.

The color of the wine was as expected and had an over extracted, dark-purple, and quite opaque appearance. The wine is composed of 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petite Verdot (thus Petite Petit).

On the nose the wine had a bouquet of black licorice, creme de cassis liquor, and black fruit syrups. On the palate the wine continued in this form showing big jammy black currant, melted licorice flavors, and hints of dark chocolate raspberry sticks. This wine is of course very fruit driven and has a round and generous texture, with little or no acidity.

You know, kuddos to the bar tender because the wine was drinking pretty damn good for a fruit bomb. The wine did lack a sense of place and was a little awkward on the finish because of the alcohol, but overall it tasted good and helped me get out of my office writing funk. 84 points

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The disgorgement debate.....

Date: Fri, Feb 12, 2010 Wine Tasting

In the new issue of Wine Spectator dated (Jan.31-Feb.28) I noticed a small tidbit in the "Letters" section that seemed to catch my interest. It's something I've wondered about for some time and totally agree with the writer about. It's the argument that all non-vintage Champagne's should disclose the disgorgement date on the bottle for the consumer.

To me this only makes sense that the consumer know exactly how old their NV Champagne really is. What if a person buys a bottle of Veuve or Moet at the Cost co. that has been sitting around for a few years??

Is an aged bottle of non-vintage cuvée going to taste consistent to the house-style if it is several years old?

Who really knows how long those wines have been warehoused and what conditions they have been stored in. To me it would only make sense for the producer to supply the disgorgement date on the bottle for quality control issues as a courtesy to the consumer.

Can you imagine if all perishable products didn't carry expiration dates on them?

Here is a list of Champagne producers who print the disgorgement date on the bottle for their NV wines. Courtesy of Bruce Sanderson of Wine Spectator:

Charles Heidsieck
Bruno Paillard

Grower Champagnes: Jean Lallement, L. Aubry, Gaston Chiquet, Pierre Gimonnet, Rene Geoffroy, Mark Hebrart, Chartonge-Taillet, Varnier-Fanniere, Margaine, Henri Goutorbe, Jean Milan, Henri Billiot, and Vilmart.

Click here to search out more about these producers

photo courtesy of Project Gutenberg

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2007 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Date: Fri, Feb 12, 2010 Wine Tasting

This Napa Cabernet Saugivnon is a small 400 case production from a winery that really focuses on Sonoma County Pinot noir but does make an excellent Cab. It was aged in 75% new French oak and the grapes were sourced from "several small vineyards throughout the valley".

On the nose a get the classic Napa valley forward fruit aromas of raspberry, mixed berry, cassis, chocolate, and a good amount of spice from the oak. It's very extracted and dark in color and you can almost smell the richness!

Everyone who drinks big Cab should be able to understand the comment "smelling the richness". Even though it's a statement that doesn't make a whole lot of sense in literal speak, there is some wine where I swear I can almost smell the extraction, richness, and power therein.

On the palate the wine shows extreme power and intensity, lots of extracted black fruits such as black raspberry and crushed currants. There is a spiciness imparted from the oak aging and some really nice dark chocolate notes. The finish is quite extended, dry, and gripping.......very young wine with plenty of bold tannin.

This is really an exceptional effort and a wine that a serious collector should keep a close watch on. Right now it's in the stage were the wine is still relatively affordable ($50-60), but if they keep making wine of this caliber, I believe there's only one place the price will go. 93+ Points

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2000 Paolo Scavino Barolo Bric dël Fiasc

Date: Thu, Feb 11, 2010 Wine Tasting

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a wonderful wine dinner at a close friends house. Among the thirty or so wines present and the dinner/wine tasting was this Barolo.

Now, I know that this producer is quite well known in the world of Italian wines and Barolo in specific, but there was something quite humble about this wine even though it's world class stuff.

You see, at this wine dinner there were several better known or perhaps fancy "cultish" like bottles being passed around. The ooohs and the ahhss were like leaky faucet drops

The funny thing is while this wine wasn't at first the talk of the table, by the end of the night it was considered to be the best wine of the event. Perhaps it was because of the drab "old world" looking label, or the fact that half of the participants probably hadn't ever experienced aged world class Barolo before. I just thought is was an ironic situation and maybe a gesture to the over publicized and sometimes over rated California cult scene.

Anyways, here are my tasting notes:

On the nose I get intense and complex layers of tea berry, sweet tobacco, prune, chocolate, cherry, leather, and tar. The bouquet continues to develop and change like a chameleon as the wine opens up throughout the night.

On the palate this wine is completely classic Nebbiolo with intense cherry notes that combine with tea leaf, prune, sarsparilla, leather, and cranberry flavors. This wine although a decade old is showing like a baby with huge but extremely round tannins. The finish lasted at least a minute or two. Excellent wine.... 95 points

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