Friday, August 15, 2008

Great late summer sipper

Yesterday I stopped in to Liquor Direct to see friends and check out what was new. Among other things, I picked up a bottle of Torri Mor Pinot Blanc 2005 that had been on release over $20 and is being closed out at Liquor Direct for 12.98. This is a fantastic white. It has lush floral notes with notes of fresh peach and melon. This is a wine with lots of life left in it and should easily last several more years before it begins to drop off. Torri Mor is a neat winery in the Willamette Valley region of Oregon. They specialise in Pinot Noirs, but they also make a chardonnay, pinot gris and viogner as well as the Pinot blanc I tasted. Give it a try while it lasts.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

where is the beef

Last night my wife and I had dinner at my brother and his wife's house and they served a traditional Pot Roast with carrots, potatoes and onions and brown gravy. It was great! I brought a bottle of St Francis McCoy vineyard Sonoma Malbec 2002. I figured that even though this was a cCalifornia Malbec, that if the Argentines found Malbec to be good with beef then I would try it. The wine was great on its own before we sat down at the dinner table, but it really paired well with the roast. There was rich black and red raspberry notes to the wine. The finish was strong and lasting. This was not super expensive ($26), but can only be had through the winery. There are many good Malbecs from Argentina available locally that range from $5 to $20 and up. Try one this fall with a hearty stew or roast.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bench Mark Pinot Noir

The last couple of nights, my wife and I shared a bottle of Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir, Russian River. I have been enjoying Papapietro Pinots for several years now and the 05 is no exception. These are beasts, with loads of sophisticated red fruit and subtle notes of baking spices such as nutmeg and Cinnamon. These pinots beautifully bridge the gap between California and Burgundy. They have a pride of place as do the Burgundies and still have bright fruit flavors like their California brethren. These folks do six or seven Pinot Noirs and a couple of Zinfandels. All of their wines benefit from several years in the bottle for best showing and though I have not yet tried any with more than a couple of years of aging, I suspect that they will hold up for four to eight years at the low end. The Papapietros and the Perrys started out about ten years ago as hobby wine makers and then decided that they could make it as full time wine makers and in my opinion they are among the best in their price bracket ($45 - 50). They are somewhat allocated, but still generally available at least part of the year. Give it a try if you like good pinot and don't mind splurging occasionally.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A couple of revelations

I opened a bottle of Hiedler Gruner Veltliner a couple of nights ago and was surprised at the zesty lemon peel and clove. It was perfect with a spicy burger concoction my wife had come up with, while still very refreshing on a hot evening. These wines are the Riesling of Austria and will often age in a similar fashion. Like Riesling they are usually dry and crisp and pair well with a wide variety of foods.
That was revelation number one. Number two occurred by mistake and involved a bottle of Wall Cellars Cabernet, which is a second label for 20 Rows. This is a wine I had tried before and not been overly impressed with, I had gotten this bottle by default and not intended to open, however it was opened without my knowledge. I ignored it for about 24 hours until my wife tried it and pronounced it very good. So I grudgingly sampled it and was really surprised. It was good, particularly for the price around $15. Now I must point out two things that might have lead to my change of opinion on this wine, besides the fickle nature of ones taste buds. First the bottle has a screw cap, which as I have previously pointed out means the wine needs to breath more than most wines. Secondly the wine was last years vintage and thus had an extra year in the bottle. Often more time in a bottle develops more flavors in red wines. It also moves it past the dreaded bottle shock, which often hurts wines taste in the period after bottling and shipping. So I had a new wine with great versatility and revisited a wine I had tried, but not liked before and saw it with new taste buds.
Just keep and open mind. If a wine is not expensive give it more than one chance to shine if it comes highly recommended!

Friday, August 1, 2008


The other night a group of us got together and shared five bottles of Zinfandel with a picnic of gourmet burgers, baked beans, and corn on the cob. The wines; Seghesio Cortina, Renwood Grandmere, Imagery Taylor vineyard and a blend from Linna Calodo Problem Child and Magito Panorama another blend. All of the wines were good, but of course some were better than others. The Renwood was a little past its prime ( 2002 ), however with it's dried plum and dusty notes it may well have appeal to some. The Magito, which was a kitchen sink blend anchored by 75% Zin, was a nice wine and would have shown better in less sophisticated company. It had good fruit and was not to jammy, a good Zin for the summer heat since it was a little lighter than the others. The Imagery is from a project that Benzinger started about ten years ago. It started as a boutique label within Benzinger and has evolved into its own winery with several labels of its own. This was a very nice wine that evolved as it got air, the wine was a 2003. It had a nice richness with ripe plum and a little black raspberry and spice. The Seghesio, what can I say, This is a wine from a producer that knows what to do with the grape. My wife and I have never had a bad Zin from Seghesio. The Cortina is one of their single vineyard products and was rich with fruit, while not being jammy. It had some restrained black pepper and the flavors coated your tongue like Greater's ice cream. The finished lingered and it complemented the spicy burgers beautifully. Finally the Linne Calodo, this was a Zin dominated blend with syrah and mourvedre which added lushness to the wine. I have been wanting to try this wine for over a year, but the right time just never presented itself. I am glad to have finally had the opportunity, it is a very nice wine with a complex blend of Red and Blue fruit and the same lushness that I associate with southern Rhone wines. Calodo actually has another Zin blend which I imagine is also very good and will now have to try. All of these wines went very well with our picnic fair. The Magito was over powered by the other wines, but this was not unexpected, as it is priced at less than half of the other four. I think the Seghesio for the money is worth the splurge, however for those of you on a budget, they also make a Sonoma label, which is in the mid teen price point and a very good wine. Finally, I have to mention alcohol levels, the Imagery at 14.5% was the lowest and the renwood at 15.5% the highest. People have gotten used to high levels of alcohol in wines, but it was only 12 to 15 years ago that Zins used to top out around 13.5%. While none of these wines were "hot" ( having noticeable alcohol flavor), I would just as soon see the levels drop some, as lower levels allow for safer enjoyment of this wonderful wine.