Thursday, June 28, 2007

2004 Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages

I know nothing about this wine. In fact, I don't even know where it came from. Ben suggested it may be the mysterious "Garagiste Bonus Bottle." Wherever it came from, we enjoyed drinking it.

This wine is not like many of the wines I review. It was a light-to-medium bodied wine. Very french; 12.5% alcohol. It had a nice earthy smell when we first opened it, but the taste was very hard to pin down. At times we could taste notes of cherry, at other times much more earthy, legumey, flavors came through. There weren't any noticeable defects; it was smooth and pleasant. Overall, depending on how much it cost, I'd recommend it as a good summer/food wine. Anyone know anything about it?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Yalumba Muscat Museum Reserve

The Australians have become famous for their work with Shiraz, but I have found they make an excellent desert wine as well. I'm not an expert on desert wines (or really any wines) but let me say this: sweet, smooth, good tasting, $14. Well, $14 for a half bottle (375ml) at Whole Foods, the Yalumba Muscat Museum Reserve is well worth the price. Of course the Penfold's Club Port is about $12 for 750ml, but sometimes you have to splurge. :)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

2002 Chateau Moulin-St. Georges

Ah, Bordeaux. More specifically St. Emilion. My favorite french appellation (Pomerol comes in second). Moulin-St. Georges is one of my favorite bottles, and the 2002 Cheateau Moulin-St. Georges is drinking quite nicely. On release Parker rated it 89-91, but I believe it has improved in the bottle.

The wine had lost the intense St. Emilion sent that comes from the bottle when it is young, to be replaced by a lighter, but still earthy smell. The first few minutes were disappointing, but after a good swirl or four it opened up nicely. It had a nice subtle mineral taste. The fruit had a hint of cherry or raspberry. The tannins were completely mellow. It was noticebly thinner feeling, but still rather full bodied. It still has it's dark, inky color.

Monday, June 18, 2007

wine lingo

Slate has an article today titled "why wine writers talk that way," which pretty much describes the content of said article. It's a quick read, and interesting if you don't already know the answer. Even if you do know, there's a bit of history about the terms people used before the food based terms we use now you may find interesting.

I don't have much to add besides my recommendation for a book on the topic: Plain Talk About Fine Wine, by the creator of Silver Oak.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

1999 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003 K Vintners Ovide

This past weekend was graduation weekend in Seattle. Both the UW and SPU had their commencement on Saturday. Sara's cousin, Ashley, and I both received Masters degrees (hers in Education, mine in Computer Science). To celebrate, the whole family went to Seastar for dinner. Sara's uncle brought the 1999 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sara's father brought a bottle of 2003 K Vintners Ovide. The Quilceda was opened, decanted and left to breathe while the Ovide was drank first.

However, before they even got there (they got stuck in UW graduation traffic) Sara and I each had a glass of the 2004 Turley Zinfandel Juvenile. This wine wasn't as good as the Atlas Peak, but it was still a good red zinfandel and had some of the same qualities. I hate ordering serious wines by the glass, since you never know how long it has been open or how it has been stored. I've been some places where they store their by-the-glass wines in the kitchen and they come very warm. I'd be surprised if Seastar didn't take every step to keep theirs fresh, but you never know.

The '03 Ovide was a great wine. It is a Cab/Syrah blend and shipped with a wax coating over the cork, as many of the K wines do. I didn't write down what adjectives I though went with this wine, but it was a very enjoyable wine. I've had two K wines previously (Syrah, The Creator) and both were excellent. Washington wines at their best.

If Cayuse is the ultimate Washington cult wine, then Quilceda Creek is the flagship Washington wine. Their Cabernet Sauvignons are internationally recognized, highly sought after and, generally, expensive. Drinking one, for me at least, is an exciting experience.

I liked the 1999 a lot more than the 1997. Might first impression was that it had a better fruitiness and was a smoother and more refined wine. The '99 is 97% Cab, 3% Merlot, compared with the '97 which was 89% Cab, 9% Merlot and 2% Cab Franc. The smaller amount of blending in the '99 indicates a better year for the cab and much more faith on the part of the wine maker in that particular varietal. It was a good dinner and a good way to celebrate graduations.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

2005 Turley Atlas Peak Zinfandel Mead Ranch (and a Champagne)

Friday was a quite a night. We went to Palace Kitchen, a Tom Douglas restaurant and also the site of our first date, for dinner. I've never had a Turley wine before, but I've heard the legends. Raph had an empty Turley bottle that occupied a special place on the mantle. So I finally broke down and ordered the 2005 Turley Atlas Peak Zinfandel Mead Ranch. My god, what a wine. It was powerful when first opened for tasting. Huge in the mouth with all kinds of spice, cassis, and strange chemical and mineral tastes. But 15 minutes in the decanter an it settled down quite a bit. It was very big and bright. It stayed spicy and the pepper became more apparent on the back end. The finish is long; it goes, as Tim put it, "on and on and on." This is Zinfandel as it should be and I enjoyed it completely.

I had earlier surreptitiously instructed the waiter to bring a half bottle of the Veuve Clicquot since I would be giving Sara her ring. Well, they were out of Veuve Clicquot so instead he brought a half bottle of the Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve Champagne. I don't know a lot about Champagnes, but I do know most of them I don't like because they're too sweet or too something. This one was very nice and not offensive in anyway. I would order it again if the occasion called for bubbly.

(And Sara said "yes, of course.")

Friday, June 8, 2007

2004 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Merlot

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a Rispoli Event. The event was the 2006-2007 UW PMP CS Masters Graduates Dinner at the Yarrow Bay Grill. I was a graduate. Mr. Rispoli was the organizer of said event. We all had a great time.

Now, Yarrow Bay Grill is a pretty decent resturaunt. Their wine list is mostly Washington and California, with a few other nations represented in small quantities. Their list is a pretty good indicator of who's who in Washington state. They have plenty of DeLille and one of my favorites, the Sequel Syrah. So I was excited to eat their.

Turns out the catered meal came with our choice of red or white. The red was the 2004 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Merlot. It seems these days Mondavi's name is all over the place in the grocery store. This is a $10 wine and I didn't expect much from it. However, as far as $10 Merlots go, you'd be hard pressed to find I better one I think. I'll open nominations now. The wine was completely inoffensive, with just a slight bit of alcohol burn on the back end. There wasn't especially anything complex or interesting going on, but for free I could drink it all night.

I'm just going to take time out and give props to Mondavi. Everything I've had from them has been a quality drop. I haven't ever been super-wowed, even by Opus One (before you jump on my case, realize I haven't tried every vintage ever made), but I've never been sorely disappointed... or mad.

There, glad I got that out of the way. I can't wait to see what I get to drink tonight.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

2002 Grant Burge The Holy Trinity GSM

If there is an under-represented wine blend in the US, it is the GSM. Yes, grenache, shiraz, mourvedre. Truly, it is a good blend. A great blend. A holy blend? Grant Burge thinks so. Thus after a vigorous round of de-lodging golf balls from sand traps, Ben appeared at my door with the 2002 Grant Burge The Holy Trinity GSM.

It was crap.

(Actually, it was okay. I didn't like it. Ben thought it was okay. I suspect he'll be reviewing it. I think that it was a bit thin and the flavor wasn't really appealing.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

2003 Justin Isosceles

I have my cache of Isosceles and I rarely dip into it. Ben was over, however, and I wanted to drink something of substance, so I grabbed a bottle of the Justin Syrah. However, before opening it, I consulted their Aging Chart. It said to hold on to the Syrah, but that I should drink the 2003 Justin Isosceles right now. So we returned the Syrah to the cellar and brought out the big bottle.

They were right about drinking it now. I don't think it will get any better with age. It was good, but not as good as the '02s that I have had. It was a very earthy wine, with the smell of vanilla and the taste of fruit, dirt and a bit of smoke. I love this wine, and it made me very happy, despite not being one of the stronger vintages.

I think you can pick this up from Internet sellers for around $50 (I believe it was $60 on release, retail). Other vintages, ('02 or '04) would be a better use of money, but if you already have some, drink it before it is too late.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

2006 Rochioli Sauvignon Blanc and the Wild Ginger Wine Celler

I took Sara to Wild Ginger last Friday, since she had never been. Finding a good red wine to go with Thai and other Asian food is hard. Experience has show it's better to just go with a nice white. So I asked Nabil to help me find a decent white. I asked for something that wasn't sweet, was a bit crisp and had some fruit to it. He brought me the 2006 Rochioli Sauvignon Blanc. At $30, I was a bit skeptical, but he assured me it would be wonderful.

It is always a good sign when the Sommelier looks at the bottle and says, "Ah, yes, we just got our allocation up in the cellar and I've been eyeing it in anticipation." It wasn't on the wine list yet, but it turns out they had cases of the stuff. I generally bring my own bottle when going out to the higher end restaurants, because I would rather pay the corkage fee than the markup. I sometimes feel bad if the wine I bring is actually on the list, though. Sometimes.

The wine itself was everything I asked for. It was very crisp, slightly dry wine with hints of apple and pear, and just a touch of oak. There was no alcohol burn. It was obviously a white wine made well. Usually I don't like Sauvignon Blancs at all.

Throughout the meal, the Sommelier kept returning to top off our glasses. After dinner, we still had close to half a bottle left, however (we're light weights). So I invited him to have a taste with us. He poured himself a glass and we spent about 10 minutes chatting about the various wines we like, and he told us about some of the rare one-off bottles they had upstairs. Then he offered to take us up to the cellar to have a look around. Of course we accepted.

Their cellar was certainly well-stocked. The front room consisted of boxes of wines on their main list. The next room consisted of wines on the full, expanded list which comes in a binder if you ask for it. The back room also contained the really old or rare bottles. He explained the acquire many through estate auctions or people selling their entire cellars. He let me hold a 1945 Haut-Brion. He also showed us some Latour bottles from the 50's and 60's. They had Grange going back to, oh, around the beginning of time as well as many other Aussie wines of all vintages.

Another interesting feature was the extensive collection of "send-backs." These are the bottles that are, ostensibly, corked and rejected by the consumer. It was an eclectic collection. He said they save them and return them to the distributor.

It was great experience and Wild Ginger now moves up my list of great Seattle restaurants quite a bit.

2005 Des Voigne Cellars

Friday I had the pleasure of tasting the complete 2005 line of wines from Des Voigne. It was a fun tasting too; the wine maker was a very enthusiastic and knowledgable guy. Des Voigne itself is a small, boutique winery based in Woodinville, WA and using grapes from Yakima and Walla Walla. Here are my notes:

2005 Sauvignon Blanc - Red Mountin Grapes, 13.2%. It was a smooth, easy drinking wine with just a hint of Butter. I'm not really into Sauv Blanc, so lets move on.

2005 San Remo - 100% Sangiovese, 14.5%, it had hints of vanilla and really struck me as a big, bold wine.

2005 The Duke - 14.5%, an eclectic mix of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cab Franc, this wine was a bit spicy and very different from your average Zin. I liked it very much.

2005 The Emcee - Merlot with 4% cab, 14.5%. My notes say: "Well made, some burn." Enough said.

2005 Solea - 14.3%, this is the Cab blend with Melot and Cab Franc. It had definite notes of Cassis and Green Peppers, which I think is a pretty bold move for a Cab. I liked this one best of all.

Overall, this was an excellent line of wines. The price point of mid to high twenty dollar range might scare off some consumers, but if you can afford it and are interested in some truely unique Washington wines, go pick some up.