2007 Marqués de Cáceres White Rioja

February 11th, 2009

This white wine from the Rioja region of Spain is made from 100% Viura (or Macabeo) grapes. This is a grape known for its dryness, medium acidity and floral notes (even though I found it to be a little tight on the nose). This is my first white Rioja, and I am at least mildly impressed. I normally don't like white wine. I normally love wines from Rioja. You can see my conundrum. This wine was certainly dry, which is how I prefer my whites, if I must have it. On a dryness scale I would put this between Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, but much closer to Pinot Grigio. I consider white Rioja, at least ones made from Viura grapes if I can find them, to be a viable option when the occasion calls for white wine.

2000 Campo Viejo Rioja Gran Reserva

February 2nd, 2009

From the wine merchants I frequent, I believe it to be a rarity to find any Rioja left from 2000. Since I am new to Rioja, and new to wine in general, it was with great curiosity that I approached this bottle. If you happen to come across a bottle of the 2000 Campo Viejo Rioja Gran Reserva, which should be for less than $20, curiosity should be your biggest motivating factor. The wine was good, but not great. It was bigger than some other Riojas I have tried in the past. This actually encouraged me, but not enough to rush out and buy the remaining inventory (maybe if it goes on sale). Most Riojas I have had come in between $20-30 and I think there is better value than this. It was nice to see the Gran Reserva has the complexity to withstand time. It makes me feel better about some 2001 Rioja I have on the rack.

Wine of the Month - February, 2009

January 29th, 2009
2003 Avila Syrah
2003 Avila Syrah

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1999 Peirano Estate Old Vine Zinfandel

January 27th, 2009

Believe it or not, the 1999 Zinfandel is actually the current release from Peirano Estates. This is another Lodi zinfandel that I have enjoyed and I am beginning to think I need to pack up my things and move to Lodi, CA. The region makes some great wines and I enjoy trying new ones. This particular wine, if you can find it, is less than $15. I feel like I might need to get my hands on a second bottle before I can fully decide, but this might seriously compete with the Bogle Old Vine Zin for my attention. Though I do not know how long this vintage will be on shelves.

2005 Starry Night Tom Feeney Ranch Old Vine Zinfandel

January 23rd, 2009

The Starry Night Winery currently makes six Zins. One of them, the Old Vine is...old vine, so in Zinfandel terms it is a more premium product. I was hoping that I would find this wine to be too complex -- I was hoping that I wouldn't like it so I wouldn't be tempted to buy more. Instead, this was a tremendously smooth wine and I really liked it. I don't recommend this wine as an everyday wine, but if you feel like spending more than $20 for a bottle you can be proud of, this certainly meets the requirements. This is a pretty big wine that can stand up to a lot of foods.

For what it is worth, I only had one complaint and it is easily remedied. This wine is a little hot. The downfall of Zinfandel is the alcohol content can be quite high, like it is here. Don't be scared, just plan ahead. This wine needs to mellow. Either decant it or maybe throw it in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving. Both options will relax the high alcohol content and make it more drinkable.

2006 Terrazas de los Andes Malbec

January 13th, 2009

I've had the pleasure to taste (and buy two bottles of) the 2005 Malbec Reserva from Terrazas de los Andes, which I really liked. That wine runs $25-30, so I was excited to see this 2006 (non-Reserva) for less than $15. The wine has a brilliant dark color that you expect from a malbec. It has a fuller flavor, like a cabernet, but without the tannic dryness. This was less complex than the Reserva, but that was expected. I still enjoyed this wine and would buy it again. I think this now means that I will keep an eye out for the other Terrazas de los Andes varietals and vintages.

The difference between Tawny and Ruby Port

January 7th, 2009

Port is a fortified wine made with Brandy, which stops the fermentation process. This process allows the port to keep the residual sugars and increases the alcohol content.

So you see the after-dinner drink menu and some ports are listed as Ruby and others Tawny. Or you visit your local wine seller and you see the bottles labeled Ruby or Tawny. And you wonder what the difference is, naturally. To the casual observer, there isn't much difference. Both wines are aged in barrels, but Ruby is aged for less time than the Tawny. This creates the differences between them.

Ruby Port is aged for a few years in concrete or stainless steel barrels. It will retain its dark red color and generally is sweet and fruity.

Tawny Port will age much longer, sometimes 20 years or more in typically wooden barrels. During that period it will begin to lose it's red color as it turns brown. It will lose some of the sweetness as the flavors gain other complexities. Note: The number of years of aging on the label is only an average.

(References: OregonWines - WineTrail - Wikipedia)

2006 Red Truck Merlot

December 30th, 2008

I had originally seen this listed on some "notable wines under $15" list. I was pleased to find this bottle at my local Kroger for $9.99. I am not normally a big fan of Merlot, but unfortunately I have had a few Merlots that I adored, so I find myself going back from time to time. This wine was not one that I adored. It was a little light on the color, for a Merlot. And it lacked the BIG BOLD flavor you want from a Merlot. It has good fruit on the nose and when it hits your lips it hints at being fruit-forward and then falls apart. I hate to perpetuate the stereotype, but this is very much a "grocery store" wine*. It is under $10 and is drinkable, but not something I would buy again. And it is certainly not something I would suggest to someone who likes Merlot.

*There is often a general bias against the mass-produced wines that are available in almost every grocery/convenience store. The producers opt for quantity over quality which helps keep the prices low.

Wine of the Month - January, 2009

December 29th, 2008
2006 Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon
2006 Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon

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Bogle Old Vine 2006 Zinfandel

December 9th, 2008

If you have spent a fair amount of time around wine, Bogle is a name you probably recognize. It's a name even I knew before I bought this wine, but this was the first I've tasted. This wine is very easy to sum up: This wine is my everyday wine. The 2006 Zinfandel from Bogle doesn't rewrite the book on Zinfandel, but it is a very affordable wine that tastes good. You should be able to find this Old Vine Zin for around $10. I'm sorry, that should read like this, "You should be able to find this Old Vine Zin for around $10!!" Don't misunderstand my enthusiasm; this is not the best wine I have ever had. I am excited to have found something that I enjoy at such a great price.

I will admit I am probably still in the honeymoon phase with Zinfandel, a wine varietal that I met on vacation a few months ago and have had a wonderful affair with ever since (I hope Rioja doesn't mind). I have found Zinfandel to be a flavorful, medium-bodied wine.