Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Christian Moueix Pomerol 2005 - 2006

Christian Moueix Pomerol 2005 - 2006

Image from 2005 Vintage
An evening with Edouard Moueix -  We had the honor of meeting Edouard Moueix at a fabulous Dominus Vertical Tasting hosted by Binny's in Chicago Lakeview that featured vintages selections from 1996-2002.  

March 29, 2010 - Christian Moueix Pomerol 2005
- I figured if world famous Christian Moueix put his name on the bottle it must be respectable and I was not disappointed. Great value in this simple fundamentally sound merlot with a highlight of 5% cabernet franc Bordeaux blend from a classic vintage. Nice well rounded smooth silky dark berry fruits with a moderate structure and slight leathery soft tannin finish. Great compliment to grilled steaks w/ Scott E at Ray's Steak in Arlington Clarendon. RM 88 points. 
Christian Moueix Pomerol 2006 -
My experience with this wine was more fulfilling that than reported by the majority of readers on Cellartracker. Medium bodied, dark garnet color. Pleasant easy drinking (nice way of saying not complex!) black berry fruits predominate with a hint of mocha and truffle on a moderate nicely integrated soft tannin finish. The winemaker's notes sum it up perfectly.  
Winemaker's notes:
Deep ruby color. Soft bouquet with black fruit and a touch of truffle. The natural sweetness of the Merlot is balanced by a good tannic structure.
RM 88 points.Wine Spectator and Wine & Spirits, 88 points each. 
Tasted w/ JK, James S and Danny A at Idywild Grill in McLean, VA. 
Other Bordeaux properties and labels owned and operated by Christian Moueix: Château Magdelaine, a Premier Grand Cru Classé of Saint-Emilion. Next were acquired Châteaux La Fleur Pétrus and Trotanoy in Pomerol, to mention only the most famous. The Jean-Pierre Moueix enterprise owns or controls twelve properties with a total area of over 250 acres.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Domaine Serene Evensted Reserve and Two Hands Lily's Garden Shiraz

Domaine Serene Evensted Reserve and Two Hands Lily's Garden Shiraz 

Wine flight of selected favorites for dinner outing at our favorite Italian trattoria, Angelis Italian in Naperville, enjoyed with L and dear friends Mark and Gayle B.

Two very different wines with contrasting styles, but perfect complements to varied entrees of grilled sea scallops and Italian sausage pasta in vodka cream sauce. As usual, Angelis food and service were spectacular providing the perfect setting to showcase and enjoy our favorite wines.

Domaine Serene Evensted Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2007

One of our perennial favorites although if you read this blog you'll know we don't a lot of Pinot Noir compared to other varietals. The 2007 vintage is fairly typical of this label although seemingly slightly lighter and more subdued fruit than some years;  ruby color, medium bodied, raspberry, hint of black berry, strawberry, rhubarb, dusty rose with a touch of cinnamon spice.  

RM90 points. 

Two Hands Lily's Garden McLaren Vale Shiraz 2003

The Two Hands represent the two producers, Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz. The Two Hands 'Garden Series' represents their six ultra premium select bottling Shiraz's from the six key South Australia regions and appellations; Bella's Garden in Barossa Valley,  Harry & Max's Garden in Langhorne Creek, Max's Garden in Heathcote, Samantha's Garden in Clare Valley, Sophie's Garden in Padthaway, and Lily's Garden in McLaren Vale.

The Lily label is name for Michael's daughter, born in 2001. You can see a number of tempting variations of horizontal and vertical tasting in the making here!

Despite its massive 15.5% alcohol content, this wine is very approachable and easy pleasant drinking, if one is accustomed to the big bold fruit forward select Shiraz's. Typical distinctive dark inky black purple colour and big full body with concentrated forward fruits. This vintage is a bit more subdued and moderate than many yet still has complex concentrated dark berry and ripe plum fruits, with tones of blue fruit, spice, dark chocolate and smooth well integrated oak. finishing with supple fine tannins on a lingering persistent finish

RM 90 points.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Venge Scouts Honor and Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel Blends

Ribs and Zinfandel March Madness Wine Tasting - Venge Scouts Honor and Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel Blends Against HazyBlur Shiraz

What to drink when watching March Madness b-ball? Not a dilemma here - Zinfandel with bar-b-que ribs, of course, a favorite combination. For a gourmand approach, try Zinfandel blends, a more complex wine for a more enriching wine tasting experience. The other wine that fits here is our usual favorite, South Australian Shiraz, so we compared a Hazyblur Kangaroo Island Shiraz 2004, a perfect match to the flight, brought by Bill and Beth for the occasion.
For our bracket busting dinner and tasting we opened two Venge Vineyards Scout's Honor Napa Valley Family Reserve Zinfandels - 1998 and 2001. We matched against the Venge's Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs Zinfandel 2009

Before dinner, we paired the hearty Zins with a selection of artisan cheeses, (shown left). The cheese selection included Aged cheddar, Assiago, Blue, Manchego, a Carr Valley Winter Solstice Wisconsin Cheddar and a Parmigiana.

The 2001 Venge is another wine we purchased during our Venge Winery visit and lunch tasting with winemaker Nils Venge as part of our Napa Valley Wine Experience 2002.

Venge Vineyards Scout's Honor Napa Valley Family Reserve Zinfandel 1998

This vintage selection was showing its age - from the brownish-orange rust hue rimming the glass to the earthy leather bramble taste that may have taken over for some of the fruit. Never-the-less the medium body was full of black raspberry and black cherry fruits accented by smoke and hints of creosote. This resembles my recollection of the 1996 vintage more than the 2001 as shown below.

85% Zinfandel, 15% Charbono

RM 87 points, but Bill C preferred this over the 2001!

Charbono? It is a grape variety with origins in the Savoie region of France where it is also known as Corbeau, Douce Noire, or Charbonneau. It is the second most commonly grown variety in Argentina, where it is known as Bonarda, which is not the same as the Bonarda Piemontese varietal, and is probably not related to Dolcetto of the Piedmont. Some believe that this variety is actually the Dolcetto Nero grape of Italy, or the minor French variety Charbonneau, because an Italian synonym for Dolcetto is "Dolce Nero" which translates to "sweet black," as does the French name "Douce Noire" for Charbono.

It is produced in small acreage on California’s North Coast, mainly in the Napa Valley. This grape produces very dark, acidic, red wines, with high tannin levels and wild berry aromas. Charbono rarely receives much attention, but some producers continue to grow the grape once produced by the storied Inglenook. Currently, producers such as Turley, Pacific Star, Villa Helena, August Briggs, Robert Foley, OnThEdge and Randall Grahm's Bonny Doon have extended the life of this grape. Venge uses the grape to add structure, backbone, color, complexity and character to its Zinfandel, which while big and bold might otherwise be less interesting. 
Venge Vineyards Scout's Honor Napa Valley Family Reserve Zinfandel 2001 

The surprise of the evening, this was a bold sweet fruit bomb. Medium to full bodied, dark ruby red color, bright full aromas and flavors of full rich ripe sweet black raspberry and ripe spicy plum with a hint of bramble, leather and smoke. It was amazingly sweet with bright forward fruit - its hard to imagine this not being at its prime right now. Surprisingly soft, smooth and easy drinking given its high 15%alcohol content. This shows Scout's Honor Zinfandel Blend at its finest, and shows reason to go get more and try other vintage releases! May be too sweet for many folks but that's why it makes a perfect complement to the bar-b-que ribs and the white cheeses.

Zinfandel 79%, Petit Syrah 14%, Charbono 7%

Alcohol 15%

RM 92 points.

Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs Dry Creek Sonoma Valley Zinfandel 2009

By far the biggest and most structured of the tasting. Firm and still a bit tight, with forward black fruits, plum, a layer of tar, licorice, smoke and notes of pepper. This needs a couple more years to unwind and open and probably has a long life ahead. We knew that going in but wanted to try it as a benchmark against the vintage selections above and also to determine if we should buy more since its currently available. While Parker loves this wine and gives it a 95 rating, I would favor the Scout's Honor if I were buying more.

The blend is 71% Zinfandel, 23% Petite Sirah and 6% Carignane.
14.5% Alcohol

Carignane? It's origin is a Spanish varietal of grape from Cariñena, Aragon. It was later transplanted to Sardinia, where it is still made into varietal wine, Carignano, and elsewhere in Italy, France, Algeria, and much of the New World. Italian immigrants to the US brought the vine to California in the late 1890's. Through the early and mid-20th century, Carignane was one of the most widely planted grape varietal in California. Acreage has diminished from a high of 27000 acres to about 3500 today. The grape is not often used to make varietal wines but a few producers such as Ravenswood, Cline and Mayo Family Winery still make notable varietals from old vines.

Carignane was generally associated with jug wines, it is appropriately used for blending into wines to add body, color, and character however it tends to have a characteristic harshness and astringency that diminishes with age. It is one of the 22 approved Rhône varietals and can be found in the notable Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It is often blended with Cinsaut, Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Mourvèdre, Merlot, and/or other grapes, especially in the Languedoc region of France. Ridge uses it as its best suited to add complexity, depth and character to a bold varietal such Zinfandel, which otherwise might be someone one dimensional, albeit big and flavorful.

Hazyblur South Australia Kangaroo Island Shiraz 2004

Typical dark purple color, medium to full bodied with full forward black and blue berry fruits accented by predominate black pepper and a layer of clove spice.

RM 89 points. .

Bill's notes: Garnet in color, fruit on the nose. Delicious, huge mouthfeel, lots of spice with predominant pepper notes. Also some cherry and a touch of clove. This has rounded out and become a bit more complex since my last bottle 2 years ago. A wonderful complement to summery barbecue rib and coleslaw dinner with Rick and Linda. 

WCC 88 points.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Arrowood Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Arrowood Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 

Arrowood Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

We've been fans of this Arrowood cab for a long time and have selections in our cellar dating back to the 1991 vintage. We've enjoyed visiting the Arrowood Vineyards & Winery sitting in the rolling hills overlooking the serene valley on several of our Sonoma Valley visits. Its one of the highlights of the valley. 

Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon is produced from fruits from the vineyards neighboring the winery from a mix of mountain and hillside vineyard sites. The Sonoma Valley hillside vineyards give structure to the intense and concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium-full bodied, dark black purple color, this Cabernet its very expressive with full forward rich aromas and flavors of layers of spicy fruits - black berry, black currant, and black cherries with a layer of cassis, hints of toasty oak and dark chocolate in the background with a lingering firm tannin finish. It has a bit of heat that should soften with some time. This represents a great value Cal Cab at $27.

RM 91 points. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

D'Arenberg The Dead Arm McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002

D'Arenberg The Dead Arm McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002

Interesting name dating back almost a hundred years to the results of a phenomenon of affliction that took half of the growth of the vines, hence a dead arm. Most producers churned them under and replanted but d'Arenberg descendants kept this vineyard whose now aged vines produced rich, complex, extracted fruits from the remaining one-sided vines.  

One of our longstanding favorites going back to our discovery of the 1994 vintage. Always a big fruit forward complex wine, this was much more expressive than as documented in my earlier 2004 and 2009 tasting journal posts. Its bigger and still boasts a forwardness but what was an off-tone of minerality now is more natural ripe raisin-fig with a layer of cedar predominating over complex black and blue berry fruits with tones of pepper, spice, and cassis and hint of vanilla with a big long bold finish that has a slight tone of tangy cherry. Linda likes this ripe boldness but its a bit too much to my liking. We tasted with fruits and artisan cheeses - it needs a bigger accompaniment like beef steak or even perhaps bar-b-que ribs!

RM 89 points.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Monastrell Red Blend Leads Red Wine Flight at Grand Celebration Dinner

Sensational Monastrell Red Blend Leads Red Wine Flight at Grand Celebration Dinner

Gala family birthday celebration dinner - our son Ryan and daughter-in-law Michelle prepared a super make your own sandwich featuring grilled beef tenderloin, roast pork loin and roasted chicken with all the accoutrements featuring carmelized onions, pickled onions, avocado, tomato, fresh celantro selection of cheeses, herb balsamic vinagrette dressing and selection of fresh breads, twice baked potatoes and salad.

I brought a vintage 1983 Cabernet Sauvignon from Michelle's birthyear to celebrate the occasion along with a a slightly eclectic pair of outliers which I thought would highlight lamb which ended up not being served. What a pleasant surprise when they turned out to be a sensational eye-popping wines fit for the occasion and spectacular complements to the great food!

Dessert featured chocolate cake and fresh berries and key lime cupcakes.

The wines:

Bodegas El Nido Jumilla Clio 2004 

Dark inky color, full bodied, huge forward black and blue berry fruit flavors with layers of caramel, vanilla, anise, vanilla and sweet oak that go on and on. Nice structure and complexity but not firm, tight or tannic resulting in a tasty, pleasant easy drinking wine yet sophisticated and polished. Wow, this was an eye-opener and changed my perspective on Spanish wines - by far the most expressive and tasteful I have ever experienced. This wine vastly exceeded my expectations. We're huge fans of big fruit filled Syrahs and this stood with the best of them, with none of that metallic, mineral or creosote that I expected. 70% Monastrell (and 30% cabernet sauvignon) which I now know is aka Mouvedre which is the M in GSM - Genache, Mouvedre and Syrah, a popular blend in the Rhone River Valley as well as South Central Australia. This wine was sensational - bursting with flavor in the glass - immediately apparent to everyone.

RM 93 points.

Liparita Napa Valley Cabernet Franc 2002

Like a left bank Bordeaux that features Cabernet Franc to add flavor and structure, this full bodied Cab Franc was all-in with huge floral bouquet and full forward flavors of black berry and black raspberry fruits, a layer of clove spice, leather and a hint of cedar on a long lingering finish. Its slightly flabby awkwardness can be forgiven for its big forward tasty floral and fruit. We've been long time fans of Liparita Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots - this is our first Cabernet Franc and what a hit - a nice achievement exceeding expectations indeed - better than their other endeavors from this era. 

RM 91 points.

Conn Creek Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1983

Vintage selection of the evening commemorating daughter-in-law Michelle's birth-year and birthday celebration - one of such selections in our cellar for each of our kids' years. This one was of a lesser producer and as such hadn't held up as well as some of the others - clearly beyond its prime and certainly reaching its end of life. The black cherry and black berry fruits were diminished, giving way to more leather and an earthy mustiness with hint of smoke and anise on a moderate finish. The color was tinged with a rim of rust color on the edges. It was still drinkable and a notable and worthy selection for the occasion but am glad I didn't hold it any longer.  

RM 85 points.

Eagle Eye Rutherford Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

Medium to full bodied - well balanced nose of black berry, black currants, dark cherries with a layer of vanilla, hint of spice, smoke, anise and oak on a moderate tannin finish.

RM 88 points.

More to follow.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sonoma Wine Flight Features Syrah and Vintage Cabernets with Steak Diane Dinner

Sonoma Wine Flight Features Syrah and Vintage Cabernets with Steak Diane Dinner

Tasted w/ L at Bill and Beth C's over dinner - Beth prepared a delicious Steak Diane with roasted potatoes with shallots and onions that was a perfect complement to showcase the Sonoma Valley Cabernet flight, as was the selection of chocolate and assorted petit-forts deserts. A selection of artisan cheeses inlcuding my favorite Bellavitano were perfect with the bold forward Constant Syrah and the opener Pinot Noir. 

Bill decanting the Sonoma Cabs
Beth preparing the Steak Diane
The wines:

 Constant Diamond Mountain Vineyards - Queen of Diamonds Estate - Northern Sonoma Syrah 2006

We picked up this wine during our winery visit to the spectacular Constant Vineyards property at the very top of Diamond Mountain during our 2011 Diamond Mountain Experience. Sitting at the summit at 2100 feet elevation it is the only Sonoma vineyard on Diamond Mountain.

Dark purple color - medium-full bodied. Bright vibrant lively full forward flavors of blue and black fruits with a layer of ripe plum and sweet clove, hints of tea and cedar on the lingering finish. While this is tasty now, it lacks backbone and structure for longevity.

RM 91 points. 

Gundlach Bundschu Rheinfarm Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1997

In a blind tasting one might mistake this for a Margaux Bordeaux! Dark inky purple color, medium-full bodied; big floral perfume scents and flavors of violets and rose petals gives way to dark black berry and raspberry fruit flavors with complex layer of leather and tea with hint of earth and herbs on a moderate tannin finish. Amazing life left in this fifteen year old.

RM 89 points.

We met and had an enjoyable visit with producer Jeff Bundschu back in February 2005 in Chicago at the Silicon Valley Bank hosted wine producer wine tasting and networking event held at the One North Wacker restaurant.We stopped in at the winery and vineyard during following Sonoma Valley visits. We need to schedule a tour and tasting on our next Sonoma trip. 

Gundlach Bundschu Rheinfarm Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2000

Dark inky purple color - medium bodied. Not as polished or complex as the 1997 perhaps reflecting a more modest vintage. Dark berry fruit flavors are more subdued giving way to a layer of mineral and tea and hint of leather on the moderate finish.. 

RM 87 points.

Hanna Bismark Mountain Vineyard Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2000

Dark inky purple color - medium-full bodied; a bit tight but slightly bigger and more complex than the other cabs perhaps indicative of the mountain fruit; somewhat subdued black berry and black raspberry fruits give way to a layer of tea and mineral, hint of smoke and a slight vegetable herbal tone that detracts from the fruit.

RM 88 points.

Belle Pente Murto Vineyard Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir 2008

Bill C's Cellartracker Wine Tasting Notes posting -

"Nicely balanced Pinot. Medium red in the glass. Long legs imply more glycerine than I think is really there. Nose is light and a bit on the earthy, herbal side. Maybe a bit of cherry also. Cherry also reveals itself on the palate with a touch of strawberry. Nice overall, well balanced but at $40, a bit pricey for what it is."

I found it nicely balanced and as noted in Bill's post but bit austere with a slight cherry tartness note.

WCC and RM 88 points. 

See Bill's WineBlog - .