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Whole Foods Top Ten Summer Wine List - 2008 Pisato Pinot Grigio

Date: Sun, Jun 13, 2010 Wine Tasting


Wine #3 in the Whole Foods Top Ten Summer Wine List - the 2008 Pisato Pinot Grigio.

Doug Bell and crew over at Whole Foods first introduced me to Pisato wines last year in the Whole Foods Top Ten Holiday Wine List and I remember being really impressed. A bit lacking on the finish, but overall good balanced effort for $15.

The Pinot Grigio on the Summer list is also a nice offering from Pisato and, if I had to pick, would be my pick of the two. There's a very interesting nose on this wine - definite citrus base, but with some apple pie, grass and dirt. Shifts a bit on the palate to be more about the apple pie filling, with some orange and lemon zest, cranberry and watermelon notes.

I can't say that this is my favorite Pinot Grigio ever, but it's really quite nice and interesting enough that it could spark up a summer afternoon conversation about wine, which I'm rarely one to avoid as long as I'm with the right people and the barbecue is going.

What Whole Foods has to say about the wine: Made with Organically Grown Grapes. Ninety-year-old vines in Italy's Veneto region bear the fruit to make this balanced White, with lemon zest and green melon notes and a touch of minerality. Poultry, fish or SarVecchio cheese are the perfect pairings for its floral aroma.

What you should do: Buy it! This is a great Pinot Grigio for the price. Well worth trying this producer.

My rating: 88

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Whole Foods Top Ten Summer Wine List - 2008 Malenchini Red Label Chianti

Date: Sat, Jun 12, 2010 Wine Tasting


Wine #2 in the Whole Foods Top Ten Summer Wine List - the 2008 Malenchini Red Label Chianti...

I don't drink much Chianti so I'm not sure exactly what I'm looking for in these wines. I do know, however, that most Chianti's have not been to my taste - maybe a little thin, maybe a little too acidic...I just don't know. This wine, however, is an exception - especially in its price range. Very nice acidity, tart red fruit and a good dose of wood and earth. I paired it with a Turkey Bolognese from Trader Joes and it fit very well, so I think I'll file this under "weeknight wines," especially paired with pasta.

What Whole Foods has to say about the wine: Raise a glass to the inaugural vintage of this rustic, Italian Red. The flavors and aromas of stewed fruit and cherry pie are mouth-watering with summer pastas or hunks of Parmigiano Reggiano.

What you should do: Definite buy. One of the better Chianti's I've tasted in this price range and it matches very well my recent migration to more acidic wines.

My rating: 88

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Whole Foods Top Ten Summer Wine List - Plow & Stars Riesling 2009

Date: Fri, Jun 11, 2010 Wine Tasting


Thought I'd kick off this year's Whole Foods Top Ten Summer Wine List with a Riesling from Washington State. I've been really impressed with the Riesling's coming out of Washington State, with two of the standouts being Long Shadows Poet's Leap and Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling. Both good flavor profiles, nice complexity, not too sweet and great values at under $20.

For the 2009 Plow & Stars Riesling, here are my tasting notes: On the nose, nectarine, apricot and melon - this is a much bigger nose than I thought I would find. On the palate, nectarine, meyer lemon and grapefruit. Not really off-dry, more like semi-sweet. It is smooth as silk, but a little too sweet for my taste. Overall, nicely balanced, mild acidity (would have liked more), with a pretty long finish for a riesling.

What Whole Foods has to say about it: Made with Organically Grown Grapes. This first-release orange blossom and honeysuckle gem leaves us daydreaming about warm, slow afternoons on the farm, or the back porch. Its hint of sweetness and good acidity match up with spicy Thai food and with Humboldt Fog cheese.

What you should do: If you like your Riesling on the sweeter side, not just off-dry, definitely pick up a bottle. Washington is making great Riesling right now and this is a good indicator of what's out there.

My rating: 87

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Whole Foods Top Ten Summer Wine List

Date: Thu, Jun 10, 2010 Wine Tasting

It's back! It's that time of year again when Whole Foods puts out their Top Ten Summer Wine List. Looks like it's an interesting one again this year, with a few more whites than reds - in prep for the warm summer months ahead - and some wines that I haven't heard of before. On top of that, in trusted fashion, the guys over at Whole Foods have once again included 12 wines in their Top Ten, so no matter where you live, you'll have a good chance of having access to at least 10 of the wines.

I'll be posting reviews of all 12 wines over the course of the next few weeks, but, in the meantime, here's the list of wines that you can find at your local Whole Foods:
  • PRESTO BRUT ROSÉ (Italy)
  • SOKOL BLOSSER EVOLUTION WHITE BLEND (Oregon)
  • OPALA VINHO VERDE (Portugal)
  • PLOW AND STARS RIESLING (Washington)
  • PISATO PINOT GRIGIO (Italy)
  • PAZO DE SERANTELLOS ALBARINO (Spain)
  • GREEN TRUCK CHARDONNAY (California)
  • VALDEMAR TEMPRANILLO (Spain)
  • MALENCHINI RED LABEL CHIANTI (Italy)
  • CONCANNON “CONSERVANCY” PETITE SIRAH (California)
  • BLOCK NO. 45 PINOT NOIR (California)
  • ROSENBLUM ZINFANDEL VINTNER’S CUVEE XXXI (California)
As always, if you've had some of these wines or are tasting the Whole Foods Top Ten Summer Wine List along with me, please feel free to leave a comment and join the conversation.

Cheers!

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Cornerstone Cellars Stepping Stone and others - Wine Samples Week

Date: Tue, May 25, 2010 Wine Tasting

2007 Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Franc Stepping Stone
Interesting nose on this wine - cherry, non-ripe plum (still hanging on the tree), pine
needles and lavender soap. Mostly the same fruit on the palate, with just a touch of cedar. For $30, this is a nice Cab Franc, but I don't think I'd pay much more. My rating: 89

2007 Six Prong Chardonnay
It's very interesting to me that I am the first one to review this wine, as I received it in a samples pack - surely if I received it, others have as well. In any case, here we go - first review on GrapeStories...
The nose is all wood, all oak, all toast and that's really chilled. I imagine as it starts to warm up, the oak will continue to come out more. The fruit is very subdued, or, better said, it's buried by the oak notes. On the palate, it's even worse...I don't think I've ever tasted a white wine with this much oak on it. I can't even taste the fruit on it. Not my style white. If you really, really, really like oak, this one is for you and you can probably find it for under $10. My rating: 80

2008 Mason Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Pomelo
I am completely neutral on this wine. Been intrigued with it ever since it was sent to me, mostly I think because of the label, but it doesn't do much for me. It's decent enough, with all the lemon, grapefruit and grass that I've come to expect from Sauvignon Blanc, but it's very plain. Even served very cold, I think it lacks dimension and complexity. For my tasted, I'll stick with the New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs when the summer heat kicks in (which could be a while in Seattle). My rating: 86

NOTE: all three of these wines were sent to me as free samples. All tasting notes originally published on GrapeStories.

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Ampelos Vineyards Lambda Pinot Noir 2006 - Wine Samples Week

Date: Mon, May 24, 2010 Wine Tasting

Can't remember when I first tried Ampelos Pinot Noir, but I do remember liking it quite a bit. And the guys at the winery, or at least the ones I dealt with, were top notch - great customer service, great follow-up and just nice people. I don't recall having the Lambda as part of that tasting, so let's see how it is...

Very light in color - a bit deceptive, really, given that this is no delicate Pinot. The nose is somewhat subdued, with cherry, lavender, pepper and spice, but the palate is actually quite big, showing off its hearty red fruit, floral notes, lots of pepper and some vanilla towards the end. Quite nice, good long finish, well structured mid-palate, nice balance...I'm impressed. The only thing that's throwing me off is that it's hot, a lot hotter than I expected. I have had some unexpected heartburn today, so that may be flaring up the alcohol some, but, nonetheless, the heat is throwing me off.

What Ampelos has to say about it: Bountiful red fruit dominates the black cherries and the underlying flavor of cola, accented with hints of exotic spice, gingerbread and warm earthiness. This sumptuous extract is smooth and elegant, like a ballet in rehearsal. A very layered wine that is softly framed by fine tannins, this third harvest from our estate vineyard shows how beautifully the vines are maturing.

Moderately light garnet color. Vivid black cherry aromas with a hint of baking spice and the faintest oak. Very tasty medium-weighted flavors of cherries and raspberries with a touch of spice and citrus. Soft, smooth and clean with minimal ripe tannins and a good grip of acidity in the background. Well-bred and well-crafted. This Pinot Noir is what many aspire to, but most fall short of. Great value as well.

What you should do: If you're regularly in the $30+ range for Pinot, buy it. It's very nice and the structure is definitely there. Just be ready for some heat on the finish.

My rating: 90 (Wine Spectator gave this wine a 92)

NOTE: this wine was sent to me as a free sample.

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Nautilus Estate Pinot Gris 2008 - Wine Samples Week

Date: Sun, May 23, 2010 Wine Tasting

Another wine graciously sent to me by the folks over at Nautilus Estate. The Sauvignon Blanc that I tried earlier today was quite a nice wine and I was surprised by how big both the palate and the nose was on it. Definitely one to keep on my list of whites to have around the house.

Now on to their Marlborough Pinot Gris. This one has a much more subdued nose, even a little sweeter than the Sauvignon Blanc. Meyer lemon, melon, spring rain and a touch of sweet tobacco on the nose - really quite nice, actually. On the palate, another broad wine, with pretty mellow fruit - lemon, melon, cantaloupe - and a very creamy base...not too much oakey flavor, but clearly benefitted from the use of oak. I would have liked a little more acid as it's too rich for my taste for a Pinot Gris, but, nevertheless, it's a nice wine.

What you should do: If you are a big Pinot Gris fan, I would definitely try this one - it's interesting and more complex than most and much more lush wine than I would expect from a Pinot Gris. And, in my opinion, anything is worth trying at least once if you can get it for under $2o.

My rating: 87

NOTE: this wine was sent to me as a free sample.

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Nautilus Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2009 - Wine Samples Week

Date: Sun, May 23, 2010 Wine Tasting

This wine was sent to me as a sample for a TasteLive! Event and, unfortunately, I had to pull out of the event at the last minute, so just getting around to it now. I'd heard some good things about this producer so was excited to try it, especially since the Sauvignon Blanc coming out of New Zealand right now is really good (in my humble opinion), particularly those made by Kim Crawford.

The nose is big on this wine - so much so that I could smell while I was still swirling the glass about a foot and a half from my nose. Lemon, starfruit, melon and creamy vanilla on an incredibly fragrant nose, much bigger than I expected. On the palate, big, broad mouth feel for a Sauvignon Blanc, with a nincredibly long finish. Lemon, lime and grapefruit on the palate, with just a hint of heat, even though the alcohol level is relatively low at 13.5%. Overall, another very nice Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, although if you like your Sauvignon Blanc a little subdued, this is not the one for you.


What their website has to say about it:
Nautilus Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 is pale straw in colour with green tinges and a lifted aroma of gooseberry, blackcurrant bud and dried thyme. The palate introduces passionfruit skin and a hint of red capsicum. The wine has a rich mid palate with good texture and a typical zingy finish. Delicious now, this wine will continue to develop over the next six to eighteen months.

One final note - capsicum? Huh? I guess in our internet-based world, I could look it up, but I'm going to let this one go, since it has such a cool name.

What you should do: Buy it. It's just a touch expensive at around $15, but my guess is you could find it below that and it's always nice to have a few SB's around during the summer.

My rating: 88

NOTE: this wine was sent to me as a free sample.

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Kim Crawford, Almus, Chappellet, Duckhorn and more...

Date: Sun, May 16, 2010 Wine Tasting

2005 Dunham Cellars Trutina

The Trutina is always a deal at around $20. I first tried this many years ago and loved it, but I was surprised last night by how big the fruit was and how hot it was on the finish. Still, a good wine for a good price and Dunham is definitely worth having on your list of go-to Washington wines. My rating: 88

2002 Almus Seven Cuvée Kemiji & Portay Caldwell
When I first had this wine back in 2006, it was big and burly and a little bit pissed off. Huge tannins, very little acidity, great big dark fruit and chewy as any California wine can get. But, now, 4 years later, this pissed off juvie realized the error of his ways and has smoothed out to be a very silky smooth aged California Bordeaux. Still dark fruits, with a little cedar, tobacco, leather and meat notes. Very smooth and well balanced, with a good finish, but not as long and full as I remember. I have three bottles of this wine and I wanted to see how they were aging - I think I'll hold on to the two I still have, see what it's like in a year and two. My rating: 92

2008 Owen Roe Sinister Hand
I have been a fan of Owen Roe wines for a long time now, but I'm finding that the lower end wines are starting to taste diluted to me. Not sure if there's a specific reason or if my palate is starting to move away from wines like these, but the '08 Sinister Hand just isn't what I expected or wanted it to be. Bummer. I guess I'll stick to the higher-end Owen Roe wines. My rating: 87

2005 Robert Sinskey Vineyards Pinot Noir
Nice Pinot from Sinskey, but I remember liking it better a few years back. Not sure if it passed its prime or not, but just felt a little flatter than I remember. If you have a bottle(s), probably best to start drinking this one - won't last much longer. My rating: 89

2008 Botromagno Gravina
Citrus, melon and mineral. Very nice. Nothing exciting, but a decent wine and a very interesting blend of 60% Greco / 40% Malvasia Bianca. My rating: 87

2003 Robert Sinskey Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon RSV Vineyard SLD Estate
Not the same wine that I remember from the first tasting, but still a nice wine. Blackberry, cherry, meat and leather - full bodied, well balanced, long, lingering finish. My rating: 90

2008 Chariot Gypsy
Even at $5, this wine is not worth the money. I can't believe how hyped this wine is - it's sweet, unbalanced and diluted. Don't believe the hype. My rating: 75 (wines to avoid)

2009 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc
When I think of Sauvignon Blanc right now, I think "we'll always have Kim Crawford." I really think this is setting the standard right now for value priced, exceptional SB. Grapefruit, peach and citrus on a huge nose, with more of the same on the palate. Just the right amount of pith for me - and I like pith, especially the bitterness and acidity (I often wonder if I'm describing this right, so, let me know if you think of grapefruit pith as something else that I'm not thinking of). If you like SB, a good cold crisp glass of white wine in the summer and want a quality bottle under $20, this is your wine. Great stuff. My rating: 89

2007 Girard Artistry
I think SPO is exactly right in his tasting note - "Young, primary, and raw Black fruit that is jammy with caramel, cedar and mint...", especially on the nose. The mint is definitely there on the nose. The acidity is really nice on this wine and would pair well with a rich meal, almost a little Barbera feel to it - like a Viette d'Asti combined with a Groth Cab. Very nice combo. Writing this on the second night and it's a little hotter than I remember last night, but the flavor profile is there and I can see this aging nicely over the next 5 - 7 years. Decant it for about an hour to two hours before drinking - this one will pay you back. And, at $40, that's still a good price for a CA cab. My rating: 90

2007 Chappellet Vineyard Mountain Cuvée
I had this wine about 4 months ago and was really underwhelmed - flat, one dimensional, oakey...if I remember correctly. But, we bought another bottle this week, mostly because it was one of the least expensive reds available to us on our vacation in Hawaii (prices vary in Hawaii, but most of the wine is more expensive than on the mainland). And, this time, I really liked it. Rich, multi-dimensional, dark fruit, with just a touch of oak, but plenty of tannins and life. Really enjoyed this wine - to the point that it's definitely back on my radar. In retrospect, I wonder if the last bottle we bought had someone gone wrong. My rating: 89

2009 Duckhorn Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Decoy
Less impressed with this than the other tasting notes. To me, this wine is very flat - some good crispness and acidity, but just a little boring, without much dimension. And, at $29 a bottle, I expect something more from an SB. My rating: 85

All tasting notes originally published on GrapeStories.

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Wine Spectator Grand Tour tasting in New York

Date: Wed, May 5, 2010 Wine Tasting


Last night, I attended the Wine Spectator Grand Tour tasting in New York city - my first tasting in New York. Having come from mostly west coast tasting experiences in California, Oregon and Washington, it definitely felt more stuffy in New York, with far more ties than I will ever own in a lifetime. And, when I tried to get the attention of my friends by bellowing across the tasting floor, turns out James Suckling (of Wine Spectator) didn't appear to like the approach I took. I've never met James, but, in the off chance he reads this, yes, I was that guy. I only did it once, but my apologies.

The cruel justice of it all was that it didn't even work and I was left to huff it across the tasting floor to meet them at the food area, which, to me, is a waste of time at a large tasting. In any case, the tasting went well. A lot of good wines that I haven't had the chance to try before, even though the price of admission was a bit high at $200 (although, if I do the math on the high quality wines they had, I definitely got my money's worth).

All in all, glad I went, but not sure I need to go to this tasting event again.

And, on to the tasting notes from the night:

2007 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Coastlands Vineyard
Delicate and light in color with a red fruit nose and a hint of pepper, vanilla and spice. Still tight and way too young to drink now, so hang on to it if you have a bottle or two. For me, this wine drinks just too light. My rating: 89

2005 Vietti Barolo Castiglione
On the nose - cherry, strawberry, straw and anise. Great tannins and acidity and as well balanced as I remember from the last time I tasted this wine. Still young, but a beautiful wine hiding away, just waiting for some special event years down the road. My rating: 94
2006 Château Pontet-Canet
Great fruit. Great acidity. Great earth. Great barnyard (just enough, but not too much). Great tannins. Short finish. My rating: 93

2006 Joseph Phelps Insignia
Hadn't tasted this California legend before tonight and I was surprised that it wasn't as big as I expected - much more subdued and supple. Loses a little structure on the mid-palate, but good dark fruit, butterscotch and cedar, with great acidity and finish. My rating: 93

2001 Château Palmer
Big, bold Bordeaux that I was looking for after tasting the Haut-Brion and Margaux. Big, bold, dark fruit, earth, cedar and leather. Full bodies and broad mouthfeel. Exceptional tannin structure from start to finish, with a long, lingering, deep finish. Outstanding wine. My rating: 96

2003 Château Mouton Rothschild
My second favorite wine from the night's tasting. Extraordinary balance - earthy, dark fruit, just enough barnyard. Big, broad, lush mouthfeel. Strong, structured tannins with an incredibly long finish. Literally, shot through my body when I took the first sip. Definitely an experience to taste this one. My rating: 96

1999 Château La Mission Haut-Brion
Still very young, even for being a '99. Surprising levels of acidity. Cherry, pomegranate - BIG fruit, but not heavy, with a phenomenal finish. My rating: 93

2007 Merry Edwards Pinot Noir Klopp Ranch
Beautiful Pinot Noir. Supple, rich fruit and floral nose...big and warm and thick. On the palate, strawberry, cherry, floral notes and peppery spice. This is an amazing Pinot and one of my favorites of the night. Considering how young this wine is, it's sure to get even better with time. My rating: 95

2001 Château Margaux
I really like this wine. Huge nose - woodsy, cedar and just a touch of barnyard. Very complex with tart fruit, warm richness, massive mouthfeel and a long lingering finish. Delicious. My rating: 95

2008 Luca Malbec
Diluted and incredibly unbalanced. My rating: 84

2004 Château Lafite Rothschild
This one and the Mouton Rothschild were worth the price of admission at the Wine Spectator Grand Tour tasting. Unbelievable wine. Intense, complex wine and so well balanced. Different flavors and textures come in waves every sip and the finish lasts for a good long time. This was my first Chateau Lafite and it exceeded all my expectations. My rating: 97

2008 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Russian River Valley
I'll admit it up-front...I'm an unabashed fan of Kosta Browne wines. And, this one is no different. Big rich nose I expect from Kosta Browne - raspberry, strawberry and spice. HUGE mouthfeel from this California Pinot, with raspberry, vanilla, spice and white pepper. All in all, a great Pinot. And, I'm always thankful when I can taste great wines at a tasting so I don't have to open my own. My rating: 95

1999 Château Haut-Brion
Wow, this wine is still drinking very young, even though it's closed out its first decade. Tight, but still drinkable. A bit on the lighter side of Bordeaux, but with great complexity and perfectly balanced. My rating: 94

2007 Chalk Hill Chardonnay Estate Bottled
I really liked the nose on this wine - like apricot/peach s'mores, with marshmallow and sweet toast. But, the mouth exploded in a wave of oak, covering up all the rich fruit and marshmallow. Too much toasted oak for my taste. My rating: 86

2005 Pio Cesare Barolo
Pomegranate, red fruit, woodsy and tobacco. A little hot, but well rounded with a very full and broad mouth feel. Shorter finish than I expected. My rating: 93

2007 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection
Always a good wine, but just a little too sweet for my taste. My rating: 90

2006 Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva Grandi Annate
The nose on this wine is very interesting - like the steam from a just finished dishwasher, spritzed with lavender water and starfruit juice. Not my favorite. But, the flavor profile is very different - chocolate, dark cherry and citrus notes, with medium body and great acidity. An amazing and complex blend of flavors. My rating: 94

2004 Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
Absolutely huge nose on this wine - licorice, fig and plum mostly. Similar on the palate, with a huge broad mouthfeel and long finish. It's not as angry as some of the other Amarone I've tried, which makes me think that this is ready to drink. Although, the downside to that is that it feels like it's getting a little flat. My rating: 90

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Delille Cellars

Date: Tue, Apr 6, 2010 Wine Tasting

Seldom do I walk into a tasting at any winery and have such a good run as I did at Delille Cellars this weekend - with 5 of the 6 wines well deserving of 90+ ratings. I've always been a fan of their D2, but hadn't ventured much past that, until recently when I drank one of the Doyenne Syrah's as part of a TasteLive event. Needless to say, I am now a huge fan and Delille will be on my list for a long time to come.

2007 DeLille Cellars Doyenne Aix
Great flavor profile on this wine with lots of black fruit, earth and spice notes. This is a big wine, but not in an aggressive sense - it still has enough elegance to win most people over (at least everyone at our table). Doyenne may be one of my new go-to Washington wines. 61% Syrah, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Mourvèdre. My rating: 90

2006 DeLille Cellars Syrah Doyenne
Just recently had the '06 of the Doyenne Syrah and thought it was great (gave it a 90). In comparison to the AIX, this one is just a touch more drinkable, mostly because of the increased acidity. Again, a big Syrah from Doyenne, with broad mouthfeel and long, lingering finish. Well worth a try if you haven't had it already. 35% Ciel du Cheval Syrah, 32% Grand Ciel Vineyard Syrah, 28% Boushey Syrah, 3% Kiona End of the Road Ranch Syrah, 2% Ciel du Cheval Viognier. 2% Red Mountain AVA My rating: 91

2008 DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate Blanc

My wife and I were both blown away by this wine - HUGE nose for a blanc, with all kinds of great elements - grapefruit, lemon, honey, fig and minerals. It's buttery, but not oakey, allowing the wine to completely cover the palate, quickly, but not set off any oak alarms. Picked up a few bottles of this at the winery and debating whether or not I should pick up more. This will be a mainstay white in our house, no question. 62% Sauvignon Blanc, 38% Semillon.My rating: 91

2007 DeLille Cellars Harrison Hill
The Harrison Hill was the top of the heap for me (with the Doyenne and Chaleur Blanc close behind). Big and dark and tannic and complex, with a finish that lasted well into each next taste. A bit pricey at $75 a bottle, but this one I think is worth it. 65% Harrison Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Harrison Hill Merlot, 9% Harrison Hill Cabernet Franc, 1% Ciel du Cheval Petit Verdot. My rating: 92

2007 DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate
Like the 2007 Harrison Hill, the tannins are huge on this wine. Black fruit, herb and vanilla notes, it's definitely a mouthful, but still incredibly well balanced. The finish on this thing goes on forever. I would suggest decanting for 1 - 2 hours before drinking. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. My rating: 91

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Mark Ryan, Long Shadows, K Vintners and more...

Date: Fri, Apr 2, 2010 Wine Tasting

2007 Mark Ryan Cabernet Sauvignon Lonely Heart
Tasted this at McCarthy & Schiering in Seattle. The first thing to note is that this wine is very, very young and isn't ready to be drunk yet. To be fair, they were pouring straight from the bottle, with no decanting, so decanting for a minimum of two hours would really help this wine. That said, if you can fight through the tannins and tight structure, there is a very nice wine under it all. It's Mark Ryan's most expensive offering to date, at around $75, but given time - at least 5 years, I would say, the investment's probably worth it. My rating: 91

2006 Long Shadows Wineries Cabernet Sauvignon Feather
I'm a big Long Shadows fan, especially the Pedestal, Poet's Leap and Chester- Kidder. But, I'm underwhelmed by the Feather - sweet, thin and oakey, I'm not sure I get the other ratings in the low 90's, especially given that this is a $50+ wine. At that price level, there are too many better alternatives / competitors. For me, this wine competes better in the $20 - $30 range. My rating: 87

SECOND NIGHT NOTE: To be fair, Feather opened up considerably on the second night. Much warmer, rounder and lush than the night before. On night 2, I'd give this wine an 89-90. Still not my favorite Long Shadows wine and at $50+ a bottle, I'll probably stick to Pedestal, Chester-Kidder and Poet's Leap Riesling.

2007 K Vintners Syrah Phil Lane
Can't believe I'm the first to post a tasting note on this one [on GrapeStories]. Very small production wine at 141 cases and, of course, already completely sold out. Blackberry, ripe cherry, lavender, a touch of butterscotch and vanilla. This is a fantastic wine and deserves the praise it gets. Charles Smith is quite the craftsman when it comes to working with WA grapes. My rating: 92 [note: this wine was sent to me as a sample]

2006 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco
Bought this wine as a pairing for Osso Buco (along with an '07 Ripassa - see last tasting note) and it just didn't pair as well. First, it is a good wine especially at the price, so don't get me wrong - I would probably buy this again. But, in my search for a good pairing, I think I over-indexed on the acidity, so this wine didn't quite cut it for me as either a stand-alone or a pairing. My rating: 88


2007 Zenato Valpolicella Superiore Ripassa
Bought this one to pair with Osso Buco, like I did with the 2006 a few weeks back, but this one was a better wine and better pair for the meal than the '06. Warm, rich, good dark fruit, some smoke and spice, but enough acidity this time around that it really helped cut through the richness of the Osso Buco (it was served over mascarpone polenta, so you can imagine, I'm still feeling full the morning after). I have one more bottle of this, but seriously contemplating buying a few more - good to drink on its own or paired. My rating: 90


These tasting notes were originally published on GrapeStories.

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Williams Selyem, Gramercy Cellars, DeLille Cellars and more...

Date: Thu, Apr 1, 2010 Wine Tasting

2006 Columbia Winery Syrah

I really wanted to like this wine, but I just couldn't get there. The fruit and the oak are battling so much, that I think the actual wine is lost in the scuffle. Too bad - it was the 4th tasted wine of a string of fantastic WA Syrah's. My rating : 84 [note: this wine was sent to me as a sample]

2007 DeLille Cellars Syrah Doyenne
Not sure I'd go as far as a 95 on this one, as JACK does, but this is a very nice wine. Well balanced, with not yet ripe dark fruit, tobacco and a little spice, from a well trusted WA wine producer in DeLille Cellars. I did not know about this label until I tried it as part of a TasteLive event hosted by Hospice du Rhone, but is definitely on my radar now. My rating: 90 [note: this wine was sent to me as a sample]

2007 Gramercy Cellars Syrah "Lagniappe"
Also drinking this one as part of a TasteLive event put on by Hospice du Rhone. Really pleasantly surprised by this wine, particularly the acidity in the blend - did not expect that. I'm not pairing it with anything at the moment, but lamb chops or another rich meat would go very nicely with this wine...even a nice grilled burger. My rating: 92 [note: this wine was sent to me as a sample]

2002 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Russian River Valley
I agree with BLAINE on the fact that this wine may have reached its peak. If you have any, probably worth opening now and enjoying. That said, it's showing very well. Good spice, floral notes and ripe red fruit, with all the components working together quite nicely. Bigger-bodied Pinot typical of California, so if you prefer light, floral pinots, this is probably going to be too big for you. My rating: 91

2008 LeSalette Valpolicella
Most of this was used for an Osso Buco recipe, but I held a small amount out to taste. Very little fruit, meat, cedar and a remarkable amount of indoor swimming pool on a hot summer day, where the windows of the facility are steamed and the last league practice of the day is just wrapping up. On the palate, much different - cherry, rhubarb, pepper, vanilla, spice and licorice...much better in the mouth than on the nose. Still a little young, being a 2008, but you shouldn't wait more than a few years to drink this one. It's quite good and a nice QPR of around $15. My rating: 88

All tasting notes were originally published on GrapeStories.

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Kathryn Kennedy, Woodward Canyon and more...

Date: Tue, Mar 30, 2010 Wine Tasting

2006 Kathryn Kennedy Lateral
Wow - this is a good wine. Great black fruit, cedar and espresso notes, but not as heavy or rich as I expected, with a very nice level of acidity. Great balance, strong lingering finish and definitely a red that you could drink all night, without it getting too overbearing or rich. If I can find this one again, I will most definitely buy it (although I heard the 2006 is very hard to find at this point). If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. My rating: 91

2006 Miller Wine Works The Works, Kimberly's Selection
Very interesting blend. On the one hand, shows some of the overripe plums and oak that I'm not that keen on, but, on the other hand, also brings with it some dark, rich, overripe black fruit, licorice and minerals. This is an incredibly unbalanced wine, but it's also the kind of wine that makes me not care. My rating: 88

2006 Fidelitas Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley

Black cherry, plum and oak, oak, oak...with a disappearing finish - not much of a payoff in my book. My rating: 84

2007 Woodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon Nelms Road

Ripe plum juice and alcohol. Not sure what else to say. My rating: 81

2003 Rutherford Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
Ripe plum, licorice liqueur / aspic and very mild, sweet pipe tobacco. Not sure what to make of this wine - there's nothing offensive or off-putting, and it's a nice wine that I would probably drink again, but it's just not memorable. In fact, I can feel myself forgetting it now, which, under the circumstances, I guess, is okay. My rating: 85

2008 J. Hofstätter Pinot Nero Alto Adige - Südtirol Meczan
Not sure what to say on this one - unbalanced, oakey vanilla and toast and that mysterious red wine component that instantly makes my light-headed and gives me a mild headache what is that - anyone know?). Not okay. I saw this described as "wild berried and forest floor," but I think that this is mostly forest floor and a combination of several different forest floors around the world, each with its own fiercely independent characteristics / flaws. My rating: 81

2008 Jackson Estate Pinot Noir Green Lip
Not sure what to do with the nose on this Pinot - my first reaction was that I had just opened the kitchen cabinet that holds the cleaning supplies - bleachy, citrusy detergent, even burned my nose a bit. But, on the palate, this wine is completely different. Rich, creamy cherry soda, strawberry, floral and vanilla spice. Not my favorite Pinot, but quite nice, once you get past the nose...like a stinky foot cheese that melts in your mouth when you taste it. My rating: 88

All tasting notes first published on GrapeStories.

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