Saturday, December 30, 2006

2001 Red Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon

This just might be my new house wine.

As far as daily drinkers go, I have a few staples. You can't go wrong with the 7 Deadly Zins ($15), or the Maramonte Syrage ($11). Raphael and I used to keep about a half case of each on hand for when random people stopped by for dinner. Setting the dial on the way-back machine even further, we would keep Penfold's Bin 128 around, but it's gotten too expensive to keep as a daily drinker.

Now I've found a new wine, the Red Diamond Cab. A very unpretentious Washington cab that costs a whopping $9 at the Safeway near my house. It has good color, good legs, good smell. I'd cook with it, and I'd drink it. My one complaint is it's not the smoothest wine in the world; you can feel a little burn while it's going down.

I heard this was the house red at a very upscale Seattle steakhouse, but I haven't verified this. I could believe it--it's a great by-the-glass wine if you see it on a menu somewhere.

Follow-up: The Whole Foods in Bellevue has The Ball Buster for $17 if you're looking for some.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

2003 Cayuse Syrah

Almost everyone has heard of Screaming Eagle. Cayuse is sort of like the Screaming Eagle of Washington, with two exceptions. (1) I've actually drank several Cayuse wines. (2) The prices tend to be between $30 and $60 per bottle instead of $500 and up.

You've never heard of Cayuse because it's not sold in stores and very few restaurants can get it. I heard a rumor that the Wolfgang Puck in Hawaii once had a few bottles, but I've not been there to verify.

The other night we had the '03 Cayuse Syrah which was excellent as always. The wine is saturated with the mineral taste of the Red Mountain soil. The wine is well-made and consistent. I'm not sure what the long-term aging prospects are, but the man is French so I suspect it will last a good amount of time in the bottle and only get better with age.

If you want some, get on their list now and in two years or so you might get some.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

2002 Penfolds Magill Estate Shiraz

Once again, back to Barossa. The Magill Estate was awesome. Every bit what we expected. Like the St. Henri, but more so. Like the '99 Grange, but less so. Very similar to the 2001 RWT that I once had. A dark, serious wine that was obviously meant to be bottle-aged for a fair amount of time. We decanted it for a few hours and it was very drinkable. The price point is a bit high ($45 at Seattle Wine Co), but where are you going to find '02s these days? And Ben was buying. :)

Monday, December 25, 2006

1998 Chateau Beychevelle - St. Julien

I'm making it a Christmas tradition--Bordeaux. I have two favorites: Cheateau Beychevelle and Chateau Moulin-St. Georges.

I have now had both the 1998 and 2000 version of the Beychevelle. Both Bordeaux-blends (of course), the 1998 was almost as good as the 2000. At the time, the 2000 was the rock star year for Bordeaux, but as global warming continues, the vintages just keep getting better and better. This wine, still tasted like it could sit in the bottle for at least another ten years, but at 9 years old, the '98 was definitely drinkable.

Both of these wines are less than $40--I picked up the '98 Beychevelle at an undisclosed location in St. Louis in June for $35.

An excellent wine.

A Tale of Three Brunellos

On Thanksgiving we drank a 1997 Brunello di Montealcino that broke everyones heart. It had been properly cellared, lovingly cared-for, gently de-corked and decanted, and given plenty of time to breath surrounded by beautiful crystal. It turned out to be crap. After we all had a taste, we sinked it. Unfortunately I didn't remember to write down the name.

On Saturday, the same owner of the above brought over another 1997 Brunello, this one from Mastroianni. It was okay. I liked it well enough, though it felt a bit weak sitting next to two Aussies and and the Cougar Crest Cab Franc. The owner was clearly disappointed and began to question if he even knew what the big deal about Brunello was. My Aussie friend merely tasted it, said, "tastes Italian" and poured himself another glass of The Ball Buster.

Then, for Christmas, he gave me a bottle of the 2001 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova. This was the Wine Spectator Wine of the Year. Its a 98pt Brunello. It is now safely in my cellar and in about 10-15 years, we shall see what the peak example of Brunello really is. Until then, I reserve judgement.

Cougar Crest Tasting

On Friday I tasted three new Cougar Crest wines.

Dedication (Non-vintage) - Interesting. The finish was incredibly long, but it was kind of a nasty taste so that wasn't necessarily a good thing. For $18, if you find the right food to match it with, this might be a good wine. But for those who just want something to drink, save your money.

2004 Cab Franc - Excellent. Lots of vanilla and just an amazing example of this varietal. I bought a couple of bottles and they were a hit at a recent birthday party. ($28)

2003 Reserve Cab - Very good. But for $38 you might be able to find something better.

Overall I've always been impressed with everything these guys make and I can't sing their praises enough. The wines are consistant and reasonably priced, and they're made by some Washington locals. If you can find any of the Aniversery Cuvee, I highly recommend picking that up at any price ($25).

2005 Tait "The Ball Buster" Barossa Shiraz

I'm only going to say this once: 92pt (RP) Barossa Shiraz, $16. Get thee to Seattle Wine Co. and buy some.

A very earthy wine, everything I expect from a Barossa Shiraz. Great by itself or with food
(beef, lamb, etc). If you want to have something good to drink that's affordable, this is it. Don't think, just buy The Ball Buster.

2000 Hamlin Bay Margaret River Shiraz

Ben and I drank this after the disaster of the '75 CDP. Of course he's been carefully aging it in his wine cellar and he judged 7 years was long enough. It's an excellent wine, a great example of Australian Shiraz. I don't remember what he paid for it, but it's definitely one to pick up when you can.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

1975 Comte de Lauze CDP - A Cautionary Tale

Welcome to my Wine Blog. Several of my friends have requested that I keep track of my drinking an a public forum so they can reap the benefits of my liver. So, with no further ado, I'll just proceed.

Last night my esteemed colleague Ben and his wife Kim brought over a 1975 CDP that one of Kim's relatives had given her. I was excited but my excitement quickly dissipated when I was informed of its "less than stellar provenance." Basically whatever relative Kim had gotten it from had left it standing upright in a cupboard in their kitchen for twenty years. Oh, the Humanity!

Looking through the glass, the wine was a brown, port-like consistency; this is not necessarily bad, but probably not a good sign. I still had hope the wine might be drinkable or at least sippable. I was very interested in how it would taste.

When I took the foil off, the top was covered in calcium deposits and rust. Not a good sign. I used my Dremel with a soft brush attachment to gently clean the sediment away from the top of the cork and the surrounding glass. Then I used a non-cork-damaging opener to remove the cork. The stench that came out was overpowering.

The stuff was undrinkable. We poured it down the drain, cursing those who buy french wines and then fail to store them properly.