Thursday, April 1, 2010

Riva Ranch

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample in order to participate in a Taste Live Event. Content originally published on Wannabe Wino.

I liked this Chardonnay the best of the wines from the Wente Taste Live Event. I know, it's saying something when Chard is my favorite, as I tend to drift away from Chardonnay many times. However, I really enjoyed this wine. Apparently I'm not alone as it got an 89 from the Wine Spectator back in July, so I'll be cross-posting this entry over on The 89 Project....does anyone post there anymore? The wine is the 2008 Wente Riva Ranch Chardonnay, clocking in at 13.5% alcohol by volume with a real cork closure and retailing for around $17.

On the nose I got pear, apple, apple cider, spice, lots oh pear, a bit of cream, and white flowers. In the mouth a little oak and butter popped up, but I thought it was well integrated and found the oak to be on the toasty side. I also got more cream notes, round apples, pears, spice, white flowers, and tropical notes. I thought the Chard had some nice acidity on the finish to round out the hints of oak and butter. Overall, I really enjoyed this wine.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mourvedre My Darling, Mourvedre

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks for Quivira Winery

Content Originally Posted on my blog, Wannabe Wino.

I feel like that commercial for hair club for men...I'm not only the founder, I'm a client too...I've been a member of the Quivira Wine Club for going on 4 years now. I have tons of their wines in my basement. I usually tend to sit on the reds for a bit though, so I'm happy to have a chance to taste them earlier through sampling so I can decide what more to order for myself and how long to hold my own bottles. Now, I also LOVE LOVE LOVE Mouredre, Monastrell, Mataro, whatever you want to call it. One of my favorite "obscure" grapes. Tonight I pulled the 2006 Quivira Mourvedre from the basement, thinking it might work well with a pot roast I had made. I'm guessing this retails for around $30....I know I paid $27 for the one I got in a club shipment, it had a real cork closure and clocked in at 14.8% alcohol by volume. It appears this vintage received a score of 89 from Wine Enthusiast, so I'm going to go ahead and cross post this blog over on the 89 Project.

On the nose I found campfire smoke...I love that smell in wine, black fruit, blackberry, boysenberry, cedar, vanilla, chocolate, spice, and herbs. It had that dark brooding nose I love in wine. In the mouth, more black fruit with black cherry thrown in, blackberry, herbs, chocolate and pepper, also some tart raspberries lurking in the background. The wine had nice tannins that will see it through a few years, though we really enjoyed it now with our pot roast!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Patrick Lesec's "Bouquet" is One Fine Value Wine

There are plenty of choices from France's Cotes du Rhone area in your local wine shop. You will find the Grenache- and Syrah-based wines plentiful in any good shop worthy of your business.

There are so many wines to choose from, most quite tasty, it's hard to remember anything truly outstanding. Or at least outstanding enough to remember the name or write it down. That might be true until you sample the wines of Patrick Lesec.

A 2005 bottle of Lesec's Cotes Du Rhone Bouquet was nothing short of remarkable for the price point. For $12.99 you're going to have a great bottle of wine that will hold up to most dinner dishes.

It's a terrific wine with herbal notes, a big ripe and rich flavor, but still medium bodied and smooth on the finish. And for the real wine geeks, the first taste of this wine screamed "DIRT!" If you want to taste the "terroir" the soil and environment where the wine is made, or better understand the concept, find a bottle of Patrick Lesec's Bouquet.

Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, gave this juice an 89 rating. I thought it was every bit that good. Most of us are influenced by the price point though more than Parker. If you buy your wine on a budget,try this wine.

It's a cliche' but this is far better wine than the price point!

This is also posted at my blog Grape Sense - A Glass Half Full.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I Spy...

This is a cross post from my blog Wannabe Wino. This wine received an 89 from the Wine Spectator.

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Spy Valley Winery.

With my little eye a wine that's an excellent buy! (Oh, and I rhyme too!) I first came across Spy Valley wines at the 2008 Wine Blogger Conference (woohoo, only 18 days until I meet up with my wine blog friends again!) and then had a chance to try them again at the New Zealand Winemakers' Tasting in Dc. Folks from the winery contacted me and offered to send along a more complete sampling of their offerings, so I will have 5 wines to bring you over the next weeks! We first tried the 2008 Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc. It clocked in at 13% alcohol by volume, had a screw cap closure, and retails for as low as $12 on the internet.

On the nose I found lime, grapefruit, citrus, crushed stone, lemon, and tropical undertones. The nose smelled like a wine that would be tart and crisp, and the mouth did not disappoint! In the mouth I got grapefruit, lime, almost a hint of green apple, tart citrus, passion fruit, and an herbal quality. I found the wine to be really tart, extremely refreshing, and with great acidity and structure. We drank it with grilled pork chops and corn on the cob, sitting on our back patio enjoying a lovely evening.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A French Cotes-du-Rhone Past Its Prime?

I always make a big batch of pasta sauce, meat, etc. on Sunday nights. Then I eat it a time or two again during the week.

I did just that recently and went to look for a bottle of wine. I didn't have any Italian wines or a Garnacha, both of which I like with Italian.

I grabbed a bottle of French wine I bought on recommendation and popped it open. The wine was a 2003 Chateau Pesquie Les Terrasses. It had a smooth flavor but nothing interesting on the front of the palate. It had a lively Grenache (French) or Garnacha (Spanish) spice flavor on the finish. But, I thought the wine was a little flat initially.

I popped open the Internet to see what I could learn. I learned it was 70 percent Grenache and 30 percent Syrah - therefore, the nice finish. Robert Parker liked this wine and gave it an 89! But then something colored my opinion. Parker said the wine would be best in 2007.

I wish I had thought of that, and it makes sense. That being said, it was a okay glass of wine - not great. I wish I had tasted it in its prime.

The winery is a storied wine-making estate in Provence. New owners took the winery over in the 80s and have made a name for themselves with these French wines. You can find this wine in the $11-$12 range.

The point of this post is that some times the Internet can teach you things. I'm not sure I always agree with Robert Parker or Wine Spectator's ratings, but it's useful information to educate your palate. The glass of wine I tasted didn't warrant an 89, but maybe Parker was right - perhaps it was a tad past its best days.

Send comment or questions to: hewitthoward@gmail.com

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Nothing wrong with a little bubbly

*This wine was rated 89 by Antonio Galloni in the Wine Advocate December 2008


There has been plenty to celebrate lately. I started a new job (and finished the first two weeks without being shown the door!), Leah graduated from Cornell Medical School, my friends are all reasonably happy and healthy, and it is almost summer.

So Friday night, after a nice dinner of appetizers at Land, I decided it was time to pop some bubbly. I had a bottle of J. Lassalle Premier Cru Champagne NV in the cooler and decided it was well time to open it up and see what was inside.

Leah and I found ourselves very relaxed, with some music playing, bubbly in flutes in our hands, and in good company.

The wine was fantastic. For me there were really pleasant olive notes, some doughy overtones, and just a slight bitterness at the end which I found was very enjoyable. Made me want to go in for another sip, and another. Before long, we had finished the bottle, and the first sip was just as enjoyable as the last. The bubbles were very nice and small and plentiful to the last drop in the bottle.

This bottle was a gift (not a sample) and I very much thank the person who gave it to me. The intention was to expand my wine education and it certainly did that. Before this bottle I had not had many good experiences with sparkling wines. This was an eye opener, and definitely made me want to go out in search of more grower-producer labels.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

1997 Les Cailloux (Lucien et André Brunel) Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Cross-posted from 2 Days per Bottle, based on an 89-point review from Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, January/February 2000, Issue #88.

Type Red
Producer Les Cailloux (Lucien et André Brunel)
Variety Red Rhone Blend
Designation n/a
Vineyard n/a
Country France
Region Rhône
SubRegion Southern Rhône
Appellation Châteauneuf-du-Pape



This wine has the Big Wooden Guy scratching his head a bit.

Night One

The color clearly says this is an older wine. It is translucent and brick-red with orange edges. The nose is interesting, tarragon, thyme, cherry, and a little crushed limestone. The palate is complex. It starts with dried cherries then loads tarragon, thyme, sage and leather on top. On the mid-palate the cherries go from dried to tart and add some strawberries, while carrying the spices along from the attack. Lavender also shows up on the mid-palate. The finish is long.

Night Two

Most of the fruit is gone from the nose on Night Two. Instead, it is redolent with leafy spices and dried flowers. There are still a few cherries on the palate but they are resting on a deep bed of violets, lavender, tarragon, thyme and sage.

Conclusion

This is an interesting, even curious, wine. It is not fantastic, or particularly special, but it very pleasantly shows what happens when good wine spends some time in the cellar, long enough to let the fruit fade and the spices and flowers come forward.



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