Suburban Wino 2: The Wordpress Experiment

Found my notes…

February 24, 2009
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…and away we go. Sorry for the delay.

2006 Courtney Benham Sonoma/Mendocino County Pinot Noir

Aroma: Fruit. Cherries, Strawberries mostly

Taste: To me, California PN is often heavier than it’s European (or New Zealand) counterparts. Big fruit flavors, darker color, etc. This one, however, seemed lighter than most Cali Pinot. Unlike an old world Pinot Noir, the flavors were more fruity than earthy, but the body was lighter (to me, despite containing 14% Merlot), and there was a good bit of acidity to it. Heavier than Oregon’s finest, but lighter than California. I liked this wine and look forward to drinking it with a piece of freshly-caught salmon. Or canned salmon. The catfish ate all the fresh salmon in my neighborhood pond. Ooh…a pork chop would be good. Remember that guy who played for Mississippi St. whose name was “Pork Chop Womack“? I hope to someday name a child “Pork Chop”. That name commands respect.
2005 Screw Kappa Napa Merlot

Aroma: Off-putting at first, but after a few swirls, I got sniffs of berries, little bit of leather, and herbs, particularly oregano (or that could have been my friends out behind the shed).

Taste: Soft tannins, like many Cali Merlots, with flavors of ripe cherries, berries, and even some charcoal. I thought this was a perfectly serviceable Merlot. I was wary of the gimmicky name at first, but was not disappointed by the true wine beneath. Nothing special, but not a bad buy for $10-12. Also, don’t let the screw cap scare you off: this is becoming far more popular these days, as cork can allow air into the wine and oxidize/ruin it. Real cork is also subject to “cork taint”, which can ruin a wine as well. So don’t fear the screw cap…it never stopped you from drinking that 40 oz. of King Cobra, did it?

2007 Cline “Ancient Vines” California Zinfandel

Funny thing. I didn’t take any notes on this wine, but I specifically recall it tasting different than the last time I had it. Why didn’t I take notes? Because my notes say “see previous notes,” referring to when we tasted this wine in a previous post (A Zinfandel Tasting).

But, I’m a dumbass. I recall this one tasting less chocolate and cherries, and more berries and pepper. I still liked it, but it was more, uh, “punchy”, I guess. Probably more acidic.

So, let this be a lesson: even self-proclaimed “wine enthusiasts,” who act like they know what they’re doing, are not immune to stupifying effects of boozin’.
2005 Dynamite Vineyards Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon
Aroma: Okay. I wrote “Barrel Room”. That’s a smell a lot of people may not know, unless you are a shameless winery tourist, a rat, or perhaps Sloth from The Goonies.

Anyway, “Barrel Room” is the smell of where the wine is aging in oak barrels. This tells me that this wine smelled like vanilla, oak, toast, and some classic Cab smells, like dark fruit, leather, and cocoa.

Taste: Blueberries, Vanilla, Black Cherry, Herbs. Despite the described aroma, the oak was not completely overpowering the fruit flavors. I thought it was pretty decent for a $17.99 bottle of Cali cab, until I saw it at another store for $9.97….friggin’ Fresh Market. Anyway, for $9.97, this is a good deal.

2005 Novelty Hill Columbia Valley Syrah

Okay. If you don’t know where the Columbia Valley is, it’s not in California. It actually runs from Washington down and runs along the Washington-Oregon border. So, this wine didn’t fit with the “rules”, but at this point, we didn’t care. Furthermore, we weren’t spitting throughout the night, so my notes REALLY suck here. I wrote, “classic syrah…can’t pick out the scent.” Wow. That’s knowledge. From my experience, I can gather that this was a powerful wine with peppery aromas and flavors, laced with dark fruit, mint, leather, tar, and some nice structured tannins. I wouldn’t think of Washington State as an adequate producer of a warmer-weather grape like Syrah, but it did seem similar to a more northern-Rhone wine, like Cote-Rotie. Not necessary a wine for the beginner, and a far cry from jammy Australian Shiraz, but worth a try if you’re looking to get into Syrah (which is a good idea, in my opinion).

California Love

February 19, 2009

Got together at pal Lindsay’s place last Friday to taste some wines and tell some stories. The rules were simple: everyone bring 2 bottles of a particular varietal wine, all from California. The suspects were Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Donned in my “Awesome Possum” t-shirt, the coup-de-gras of sommelier gear, I proceded to try to pontificate on the sanctity of the vine to a bunch of drunk college buddies. Sure enough, this was neither the time nor the place, so we just started popping corks and tucking in. I must say: I don’t consider myself a pretentious wine snob, but I sure look like a li’l stinker in this particular photo (right). Oh well. It reminds me of Mike Myers talking about Colonel Sanders in So I Married an Axe Murderer, with that “smug look on his face. Oh, you’re gonna buy my chicken…ooooohhh.” See the bottom of this post if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
So, with Kenny (pictured, left, to the right) half-in-the-bag, on the cusp of performing his famous Mick Jagger strut, we tucked into some very decent wines within the $12-15 range (though many were $17-20, and I bet those people couldn’t afford Taco Bell later that night. Suckers!). As in most tastings we started with the lightest body in Pinot Noir, then went to the Merlot, the Zinfandel, the Cab, and finished with the Syrah.
Behold the lineup, from left to right:
-2006 Courtney Benham Sonoma/Mendocino County Pinot Noir
-2005 Screw Kappa Napa Napa Valley Merlot
-2007 Cline “Ancient Vines” California Zinfandel
-2005 Dynamite Vineyards Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon
-2005 Novelty Hill Columbia Valley Syrah (not California, but more on that later)
-2007 Dacu Ribera Del Guadiana (Tempranillo)…not part of the tasting, but worth noting
With our motley crew of selections lined up, we set out to find the best. What wines took the cake? Well, that will have to wait for the next post, because I have to go to sleep and dream about not going to work tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy this previously-mentioned movie clip: