We had the 2009 on our trip to Willamette Valley earlier this year and it is, if you'll permit me to channel Jimmie "J. J." Walker, Dy-No-Mite! We have been asking around for it since we got back. Turns out that wine shop managers are familiar with it and love it, but never have it in stock; Penner-Ash just means Pinot Noir to too many people. I am not a fan of Penner-Ash Pinot, but the Syrah has my attention. And did I mention it is more affordable (than the Pinot)? We finally got our hands on the 2007, which is still good, but it might not be as good as the 2009. This bottle is a beautiful, inky purple and has well-structured, dark fruit. It's a little musty when you pop the cork, but it opens up wonderfully. This wine is good. Period.
Petite Syrah is a wine that has become synonymous with Stags’ Leap. The 30-year old Petite Syrah vineyards located in front of the Manor House on the estate’s deep, rocky soils form the backbone of this blend, to which we incorporate fruit from our established grower-partners throughout the Napa Valley.
-Stags' Leap Winery
This wine is awesome. Great thick and velvety texture; it is nearly a meal by itself. There is a big, punchy flavor without too much heat, spice or tannins. This is a well-crafted wine that you should find retailing around $38, so it is more affordable to maybe take to a dinner party (or buy for your favorite reviewer...ahem).
And here I thought that the Elyse Winery Petite Sirah would reign unopposed as my favorite Petite Sirah. Please don't make me choose.
Artemis. The name has some impressive social capital in the wine community. It belongs to a wine that I've always heard to be a good wine. No, that's not right. I'd always heard that this was a very good wine. And at $50+ per bottle, I'm not really one to buy a bottle to disprove anything I'd heard. And now that I've finally had it I will only confirm. This wine is very good. I got enough of a hint of some sour fruit to not go nuts for it, but it was just a hint and that is not a problem with the wine, I just don't like sour/bitter. Give me a $50 gift certificate to my local wine shop and there is certainly a chance Artemis and I go home together.
I went to some amazing places on my trip to Napa Valley and Elyse Winery was a particular delight. I remember the puzzled look on the young man's face when we showed up at about 10:30am for a tasting...but hey, he was open, right? I believe we sampled all of the wines they offer and each was better than the last. Since then I have stared at this bottle of Petite Sirah at the wine shop, daring myself to spend the money (about $40) to relive that morning, even a little bit. I finally broke down. This was quickly noted to be far and away my favorite Petite Sirah. I like the varietal for its boldness and the Elyse is that boldness with a level of class I've not seen matched. I am thirsty for any challengers.
On a rare personal note, we went to Elyse Winery on the recommendation of a friend. I did not have any way to keep in touch with her and her husband after she and the company where we worked went different ways. I think she would be thrilled to know how much I still enjoy Elyse and will continue to enjoy Elyse (when I can afford it). So, thank you, Sally. I hope you and Don are well, wherever you are.
Grenache is in danger of really becoming a pet project for me -- one where I seemingly forego other wines and buy (and obviously drink) as much Grenache as I can find. I have only had a few different Grenache/Garnachas but they all have captured my attention, even at different price points. So I went out on a limb, slightly, to order this wine at dinner recently. I had hopes, but I wasn't sure how I would like it, how my guests would like it or how it would hold up with our food. It was a success across the board. I have found Grenache to be smooth and complex. This Veraton was both and more, adding some nice spice notes. Unfortunately, this is too expensive to be an everyday wine as my search suggests a wide range of $25-$40 per bottle. But look to this wine with confidence if you are in need of a tantalizing wine that is both beautiful in color and delicious across your palate.
This wine sort of dispells two of my theories on Pinot Noir, well the one that Pinot Noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley is super, super overpriced is not necessarilly my theory. The one that is mine is a little strange. I normally think that the worse a Pinot smells, the better it will taste. I cannot explain it, but there you have it. Admittedly I am unable to decipher many different aromas, but I typically find Pinot to be quite pungent on "the nose." This particular bottle was more subdued. But I think this wine is very drinkable. Most Willamette Pinots will run you north of $30 and you're paying for the reputation of the Valley. This wine is $16-17 (and is even available at Whole Foods).
This is not a great wine, but it is the most moderately priced Oregon Pinot I have stumbled upon that I consider to be worth drinking.
This is a Malbec from the Mendoza region of Argentina. In Huarpe, the language indigenous to Mendoza, Tamarí means "to do everything with passion." The name is as much poetic as it is indicative of the quality of this wine. Much to my chagrin, in most markets Tamarí Malbec is a restaurant-only wine. I will have to accept that this a very tasty, deep purple wine with its soft tannins will only be mine on a night out. And I am lucky to have a place locally that serves it. I find this wine drinkable right away, but it may benefit from any time you can let it breathe. I'll just come out and say it, This is the best Malbec I've had.
A bottle of the 2007 Tamarí Malbec would run you $10-12 retail, and I would probably have a case in my
closet cellar right now if I could get my hands on one.
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.