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2005 Chateau Duhart-Milon

Date: Sun, Mar 14, 2010 Wine Tasting


I must admit that I have a serious issue when it comes to holding off on these young vintages of good Bordeaux. It's by far my favorite region for red wine and I'm addicted to the stuff!

The 2005 Chateau Duhart-Milon is just a continuation of the constantly improving quality of the wine from this estate. Bobby Parker asked the question if it was the "Best Duhart-Milon ever made?" He was no doubt going gaga for the wines of 05' like the rest of us.....

The estate is planted to about 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Franc. The final blend for this vintage contained 71% Cabernet and 29% Merlot. It was aged in French oak barrels (crafted at the cooperage located at Lafite) for around 14-16 months (50-55% new oak).

The wine has a deep ruby red color with a solid dark and almost black core. I have noticed that Bordeaux in general has started to have a deeper color. Perhaps they copied California on this one?? Wait.....they've been copying California on a lot of things in the last decade. Like having their wines be more approachable upon release and producing a more ripe and lush style~~

The nose at first was completely closed down and almost muted, but after about an hour of decanting, the wine has opened up significantly and is showing some really amazing and complex layers. I get aromas that remind me of black currant, spice, black cherry, leather, crushed rocks, graphite, black plum, tea leaf, and soil.

On the palate the wine is rich and full bodied, but also sleek and sexy. I love this about Bordeaux, they produce wines with incredible power and richness while maintaining a wine that is relatively low in alcohol and not viscous or thick in texture. The great Chateaux rarely over-extract the wine making it heavy and/or clumsy. Balanced.

The flavors are based around a core of ripe black cherry, while secondary flavors of cedar, leather, graphite, blackberry, black plum, tobacco, tea leaf, crushed rocks, and cedar all unfold in multiple and interchanging layers. This wine is also accompanied by a dense layer of firm but quite ripe and sweet tannin. The finish is long and extended with some lingering black tea and plum-cherry notes.

This baby Duhart-Milon will last at least a couple decades in the cellar, but is as balanced and ripe as you would expect from any top wine from the 05' Bordeaux vintage. Stellar stuff 93+ Points

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Great article about the "Science of Aging Wine"

Date: Sun, Mar 14, 2010 Wine Tasting


Recently I came across a great article about the science of aging wine. It talks about the history of aging wine and about the general chemistry behind this practice. If you've ever wondered exactly why it is that some wine greatly improves over time (provided it's stored in the right conditions) then this article will break it down for you.

I for one have always enjoyed drinking properly aged wine and often encounter self-loathing when I think of how many bottles I could have saved and enjoyed if I'd had the patience to cellar them for a few years.

As we all know, wine is a living, breathing, and constantly changing elixir. It unfolds in stages and can become extremely complex when it's chemical makeup is just right. Acid, tannin, esters, and other various elements all contribute to this beautifully intricate and scientific evolution.

If you're interested in the nuts & bolts process of aging wine then check out this great article! Science of Aging Wine

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2006 Saviah Cellars "The Jack"

Date: Fri, Mar 12, 2010 Wine Tasting


This Columbia Valley red blend had such a cool label that I thought I would purchase it at my local wine shop. Oh, and if you're not shopping at your local mom & pop wine shop shame on you!

Anyways, this wine is composed of 88% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Syrah. The grapes were sourced from various vineyards throughout Yakima, Walla Walla, and the general Columbia Valley AVA. The wine was aged in 100% American oak (30% New) and is a total production of 3500 cases.

On the nose I get aromas of concord grape jelly, candied blackberry, coco powder, plum, and hints of spicy oak. It's fun to smell a wine aged in all American wood! To me it imparts a lot more aroma into the wine and seems even a bit clumsy.

On the palate the wine maintains it's candied, fruit-forward approach and displays flavors of mixed berry, cedar box, and a slight tinge of bitter walnut. It's relatively light for a wine that is built with such varietals and quite honestly finishes a bit awkward and out of focus. It's kind of hodgepodge to be honest.... 83 points

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2006 Chateau Léoville-Barton

Date: Thu, Mar 4, 2010 Wine Tasting


This Chateau has really become one of the best value's in all of Bordeaux and one that's really come on fire quite recently. It's obviously been a Chateau of great esteem that produces quality wine, hence the 2nd growth classification it received in 1855, but I would say that since the 2000 vintage this estate has really started to turn heads. I believe part of the reason is that they offer their wine at a fraction of the price that other estates do within the same classification. I also think they have started to use more modern techniques that help their wines appear more lush and approachable during their youth. These reasons coupled with the fact that their soil and vineyard site is world class, makes this a really extraordinary bottle of wine.

The vineyard in St. Julien is planted to 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 8% Cabernet Franc. The wine typically goes through 20 months in French oak barrels (50% new) and is fined and filtered prior to bottling.

First thing to notice when pouring this wine (other than the freakin' bad ass aromas filling the room!) is the extremely dark color. The wine is almost completely opaque, except for the edges which are a really dark ruby red. The core on a 2oz pour is completely black!

On the nose I get truly scintillating aromas of crushed blackberry, black currant, black plum, and nuances of dark, unsweetened cocoa. There is secondary layers of spicy scorched earth, pencil shavings or graphite, leather, black cherry, and cedar box. The bouquet is also divinely blessed with what I like to refer to as an "elegant terroir" or an earthiness and minerality that most high caliber Chateaux revel in.

On the palate I get very delineated blackberry flavors. This blackberry that I'm referring to is not the candied kind, but more like filling my mouth with real, fresh blackberries out of the carton or directly off the plant. It's a more gritty, earthy, and phenolic experience. I also get secondary flavors of spicy black currant, crushed stone, and extra dark 80% cocoa chocolate. Give this wine and hour in the decanter and you'll begin to get some very nice black cherries on the finish too!

Texture-wise this wine is very sleek and classic of quality Bordeaux in a semi-cool vintage. It's alcohol is completely in check, which I adore and believe lends itself to balanced aging in the long-term. Firm tannins are definitely wrapped around this wine tightly, but they are silky smooth and very ripe. To be honest there's not a thing to criticize about this wine. I suppose it could have a bit more weight in terms of texture, but it's and absolute masterpiece for the 2006 vintage. In layman's terms - It's really awesome shit! 94+ points

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Latest from the Wine Blogosphere.......!

Date: Thu, Mar 4, 2010 Wine Tasting


Here's the latest jive from the wine blogosphere and a few articles and reviews I thought were interesting and thought provoking:


Over at Vinography they did a pretty in-depth post covering Cabernet Sauvignon at the 2010 Premiere at Napa Valley tasting. The reviews cover the 2008 Napa Vintage.....Check it out

Jim White at Napaman.com wrote a very interesting article and wine reviews about Celia Welch and her CORRA label. Celia also consults for Scarecrow, Lindstrom, Keever, ect... Read more

Eric Asimov writer at The Pour (The New York Times) wrote a great article highlighting legendary California winemaker Paul Draper (Ridge Vineyards) and focusing on the "Non'action approach to wine making" Read it here....

Over at Wine Peeps, Kori wrote a really neat post about a 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild that her and her family experienced on the "Open That Bottle Night".....Check it out!!

John Cesano over at John on Wine pretty much posts his detailed resume out there for all Sonoma Country vintners to see! I think you can see by the response section that John is plenty qualified for any special event and marketing position in wine country. Plus I think it's a witty post! Read it here....

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2006 Justin Isosceles Paso Robles

Date: Thu, Mar 4, 2010 Wine Tasting


I decided to dig into my wine closet for a bottle from Paso Robles, and even though I was planning on saving this bottle, I'm going to drink it and review it. It's been over six months since I last reviewed any wine from Paso and I think this wine will be a positive awakening!

This vintage of Justin Isosceles is a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Merlot. It's 100% hand picked fruit and was aged in French oak barrels (65% new) for a total of 24 months.

I generally consider Isosceles to be the most age-worthy and most "exalting" wine that this winery offers. The Justification is a wonderful wine as well, but it's tends to be a touch softer and perhaps a bit more round and unfurled.

On the nose I get aromas of blackberry jam, black plum, mocha, graphite, and hints of leather, smoke, and vanilla. It's has a very youthful purple color and all the pizazz and exotic aromas that you would expect from a beautifully ripe and lush Paso Robles red wine.

On the palate I get intense and mouth coating flavors of blackberry, cassis, plum, coffee bean/mocha, cherry liquor, and subtle hints of vanilla and cedar box. It has intensity, weight, power, and striking fruit to oak balance. I can see this wine being amazing in ten years! Makes me want to search for an older bottling and see how this wine evolves over time..... 93 points

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Launching a New Napa Valley Blog

Date: Wed, Mar 3, 2010 Wine Tasting


I've been working on a new project and I finally have it up and running. I've launched a new Napa Valley wine blog focused strictly on providing information about California's most famous wine region.

I have yet to fully integrate every widget and column I want to be placed on the template, but if you visit the site you can perhaps offer up a few suggestions........hint...hint.....

Also for those of you who have wine or food websites that have related content and would like to exchange a link right now on this new blog, please let me know by either commenting here or on Napa-wine.net.

Cheers~

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A dose of reality to wineries ala Vay-ner-Chuk

Date: Tue, Mar 2, 2010 Wine Tasting




I thought this was an interesting video. Gary seems to say what everyone has wanted to say for years. That's why the guy rocks!

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2003 Chateau Haut-Bailly Pessac-Léognan

Date: Tue, Mar 2, 2010 Wine Tasting


I truly wish I could be locked away in utter seclusion and have the chance to taste every vintage of wine from estates such as this. The history of the vineyard site alone is practically enough to write a thesis on the development of terroir, the perfection of clonal selection, and vineyard management.

I often wonder what it would be like to taste the wines of centuries ago. It's obvious that modern techniques have done wonders to insure quality standards across the board, but the vineyard is the ultimate source of energy and significance.

The 2003 Chateau Haut-Bailly has an amazingly exotic bouquet that boasts beautifully ripe cherry notes, black currant, graphite, toast, cedar, and mineral. It's a rich and truffle-like bouquet that expresses the warmth and ripeness of the vintage.

On the palate this wine is packed with dense black fruit flavors, hints of toasted oak, and an earthy-crushed stone minerality. There is firm tannin here and significant room for extended cellaring, I get the distinct feeling that this wine is only in it's mere youth at the moment. This is very well made and balanced wine that will improve over time. 91-92 points

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Uncorked Ventures - New and Exciting wine club

Date: Tue, Mar 2, 2010 Wine Tasting


Recently I had the opportunity to interview and brand new wine club owner and talk to him about what defines his club and how he plans to make it a successful venture.

The wine club is called "Uncorked Ventures" and is a newly formed, family run outfit, that focuses on bringing high quality, small production, and hard to find selections to their patrons.

Here is a run down of the short interview I had with founder and co-owner of Uncorked Ventures, Matt Krause:


Is this your first venture into the wine business?

Yes, prior to this I was a human resources professional for 14+ years working primarily within biotech companies. The last position I held was a Head of HR position at a 200+ employee biotech company.

My brother-in-law, Mark, worked in real estate development in San Diego prior to starting Uncorked Ventures.

What types of wine do your club memberships offer?

Wine Exploration Club members receive a bottle of red and white with each of their shipments. We source wines for this club both locally (West Coast) and from across the globe. Participating in this club is like going on a wine adventure. Whether a shipment includes a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley or a Cabernet from Napa, members are treated to exciting and interesting wines that they will enjoy.

Special Selection Club members typically receive two bottles of red with each shipment. From time to time we will include a great bottle of white wine. Occasionally, a shipment may include a third bottle of wine to ensure our customers are receiving good value. Wines for this club are limited in production and are exclusively sourced from top quality and emerging wineries in California, Oregon, and Washington.

Reserve Selection Club members are treated to the best wines our partner wineries have to offer. While these wines are approachable now, they also offer good cellaring potential. Most members consider these wines to be the prized bottles in their collections. Typical shipments include two to three bottles, but from time to time we may ship large format bottles. These wonderful and rarer bottles are sourced from California, Oregon, and Washington wineries.

What makes Uncorked Ventures a unique wine club?

We ship what we want to drink, not what makes us the most money.

Our focus is on identifying and sourcing top quality wines for our club members and customers. To do this, we personally spend a significant amount of time visiting wineries, tasting their offerings, and speaking with winemakers. By building personal relations we are able to track down the limited quantity, high quality wines that aren't available at every local wine store.

What is your idea of great wine and do you make the decisions about what wines go into the clubs by what will sell best or by what you enjoy?

My definition of great wine is fairly straight forward. It should be delicious and memorable. That being said, there is such a thing as "great for the price". Not everyone can or should spend $100 or more on a bottle of wine. In my house, we drink wine most nights of the week. Therefore, I focus on the meal and what would go well with it. I probably spend more money on wine than needed, but hey, why not?

With regards to the wines in our club shipments, both Mark and I work together to choose which wines go out. Fortunately, we have found that our tastes have broad appeal. I have been picking out wines for my friends for 10+ years and their feedback has been universally positive. In fact, the positive feedback is probably what gave me the confidence to even consider starting Uncorked Ventures.

What will ultimately define success for you with this project?

Success has three components for me.

First, Uncorked Ventures builds solid partnerships with the best and most exciting wineries and winemakers. Second, by developing a loyal base of customers Uncorked Ventures acts as a bridge connecting wine consumers with incredible wines that are often not available in their community or which they might not have even heard of. And finally third, that along the journey I meet some good people whom I become friends with.

Do you have a personal wine collection? If so what are some of your gems?

Yes, I have been collecting for about 16 years now. I keep my wines stored at an offsite wine storage facility. One day I would like to build a small cellar in my home.

There are a number of wines I look forward to consuming in the future. Some of these bottles include 1994 Ridge Monte Bello, 1998 Chateau Pavie Macquin, 2007 Saxum James Berry Proprietary Red, and several Roar pinots.

For more information on the club, visit their website: http://www.uncorkedventures.com

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Chilean Wineries Sustain Damages

Date: Mon, Mar 1, 2010 Wine Tasting


By now we've all heard the reports about Chile's devastating 8.8-magnitude earthquake. It was somewhat of a shock to me that another natural disaster would follow so closely after what had happened in Haiti. Hopefully the world will respond in a similar fashion and help in the aid and recovery of Chile. (Although I doubt it because now it's not the dog and pony show)

This time the damage sustained in this earthquake strikes home to a lot more of us wine consumers. Chile as we know has come leaps in bounds in producing high quality and beautifully crafted wines. Just a couple years ago one of their prized wines "Clos Apalta" was the winner of the prestigious Wine Spectator award "The Wine of the Year".

Reports are now surfacing that some of Chile's wineries have undergone serious damages. On winebusiness.com I read a report that said this:

"A magnitude-8.8 quake — one of the biggest in centuries — has reportedly killed at least 708 people and destroyed or badly damaged 500,000 homes.

It has been reported that Eduardo Chadwick of Errázuriz said all people were accounted for and no problems at his Aconcagua winery but the Curicó and Colchagua cellars were affected. Unofficially Viu Manent lost 1.6 million liters of its wine also Casa Silva and Los Vascos around 80 percent each. This is unconfirmed.

But Casa Lapostelle’s Cunaco winery sustained a lot of damage and loss. Hopefully their Apalta facility is safe as it is built into rock, but there have been rumors of damage in Aplata as well.

Arnaud Frennet of Casa Silva emailed, “We are all safe and fine. Material damage is very large. This country is devastated. There is a serious challenge ahead of us.”
- Winebusiness.com

My family's thoughts and prayers will be with the magnificent and beautiful people of Chile

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2006 Londer Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir

Date: Fri, Feb 26, 2010 Wine Tasting


I remember tasting a Londer Pinot Noir several years ago and really enjoying it, although I'm not sure if it was the Estate Pinot or not. Anyways, I'm excited to taste this wine because it's been a little while since I've tasted anything from the Anderson Valley.

Anderson Valley produces some really powerful wines and I find it most similar to the Russian River style (meaning relatively full bodied.....for Pinot Noir). This wine is a small 490 case production and was aged in French oak (30% new).

On the nose I get beautiful floral aromas mixed with generous cherry and wild berry notes. There is secondary aromas of roasted meat, leather, and spice. A very classic cool weather, hearty, and rich style bouquet.

On the palate I generous bing cherry notes that combine with raspberry, cranberry, vanilla, herbs, and a touch of orange peel. There is great spice here too, my guess is they use quality French oak with their barrel regimen. The finish is medium-long in length and has a generous amount of tannin. Very nicely made wine - 91 points

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2007 Willamette Valley Vineyards Dijon Clone Chardonnay

Date: Wed, Feb 24, 2010 Wine Tasting


I've always been interested in Oregon Chardonnay because I feel that it's a variety that should be better represented in this part of the world. After all, the Willamette Valley grows scintillating and world class Pinot Noir and usually these two variety's grow pretty well in similar climates.

This wine is termed "Dijon Clone" which of course refers to the type of Chardonnay clones that are planted in the vineyards where they source the fruit for this wine. The tech data states that they used (Dijon 76, 96, and Espiguette 352 clones). This is mere mumbo jumbo for the every day wine drinker, but if any of you cork dorks get into clones and the technical stuff then there it is!

The wine was aged 10 months in French oak and underwent malolactic fermentation. It was aged surlee and stirred twice monthly until the fermentation was complete. More mumbo jumbo!!! - but this info. explains why the wine is rich and creamy.

On the nose I get aromas of caramel apple, butter, oak, pineapple, bread yeast, and a touch of coconut. It's actually a bit tropical on the nose which I wouldn't have expected. There's also a hint of wet pavement and soil if you let the wine warm up to room temp.

On the palate I get yellow apple, butter, caramel, pineapple, and perhaps a touch of toasted graham cracker. It has a very round and viscous texture and even seems a bit oily. I like this style of wine and I think a lot of you California Chard lovers will too. It's got a lot of "spice" and a very heavy texture that is typical of many new world Chardonnays.

It's a well balanced wine but is definitely on the rich and round side of the spectrum. Grilled fish, lobster tail, and light-medium cheeses are all pairings I would suggest! 90 Points

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2007 Willamette Valley Vineyards Tualatin Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir

Date: Tue, Feb 23, 2010 Wine Tasting


The Tualatin Estate Vineyard is a 145 acre vineyard located in the foothills of Oregon's coastal mountain range. It was established in 1973 and is among the oldest and most widely respected vineyard sites in Willamette Valley. The soils are mostly Laurelwood which is unique to Oregon and was formed over thousands of years ago by glacial silt called "loess".

This vintage was aged for 14 months in French oak and is a total production of only 340 cases.

The first thing I want to mention is the color of this wine which is darker then the standard Pinot Noir bottling from this winery that I previously reviewed. It's still relatively transparent which is indicative of the vintage, but it is a tad darker in shade.

On the nose I immediately noticed an intense bouquet of chalk and mineral. However, as the wine continues to open up I'm noticing a pronounced black licorice and graham cracker type aroma, along with delineated fruit notes of ripe cherry and mixed berry preserves.

If you're into the chameleon effect when it comes to your wines like I am, then let this wine breathe for awhile and it will change every time you smell it!

On the palate this wine is an absolute stunner! Although at first it appeared that it could be a terroir driven, mineral-type play, this Pinot absolutely sings fruit purity. I get beautiful cherry fruit, but also red plum, cranberry, and tart red raspberry.

The finish is extremely long, penetrating, mouthwatering, and is laced with some really nice toasted oak and spice notes.

This is a gorgeous Pinot Noir with perfect balance and purity. It's packed with powerful fruit flavors but is in no way over-extracted or intruded by oak. It's really Oregon at it's finest, especially in a slightly unpredictable and difficult vintage such as 07'. 94 points

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