Thursday, November 29, 2007

wine tasting: australia

Nabil is tasting some Australians on Saturday, from 1pm -> 5pm. Should be a good tasting.
I'll be there sometime between 3:15 and 3:45pm.

2005 Amon Ra Godolphin
- Ben and I have both liked past vintages.

2005 Kaesler Stonehorse Shriaz
- Kaesler sounds like something I've had, but I can't place it.

2004 Glen Eldon Dry Bore Shriaz
- I think I saw this on Garagiste. I don't remember if I ordered any or not.

2005 Delisio Krystina
- I have previous vintages of Delisio in the fridge, but I haven't actually tasted any. Definitely looking forward to trying this, because I hear nothing but good things.

2006 Catalina Sounds Pinot Noir
- Never heard of it. Maybe I'll like it.

2006 Black Chook VMR "White blend"
- I have no idea, but it sounds cool.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

2005 Des Voigne Solea

For Thanksgiving I pulled out the 2005 Des Voigne Solea because I just couldn't wait any longer. Having drank The Duke recently, it was on my mind. I tasted it back in June and this was my favorite of the line.

In related news I bought the last of the Oregano Salami that Salumi had when I was there last Wednesday. Literally the last one they had. They're not making it anymore (though DeLaurenti may have some still).

I mention the Salami because it was a great pairing for this wine. The hints of Green Pepper were still there, but more mellow than I remember at the tasting. The wine was very enjoyable. The flavors have all really come together and I have new found respect for Des Voigne. I liked this one better than The Duke. It's a Cab / Merlot / Cab Franc blend for $28 that I can really get behind. I would buy more of this. They say it got 90pts from some magazine or other. I'd give it four out of five stars on the Jeffamascale.

By the way, this is my 100th post. If you're wondering what to get me for this milestone, all I ask for is that you share my blog with a friend or two.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

2005 Chateau Toulouze

2005 is the vintage for Bordeaux. When Garagiste started getting lots of the lesser-known Bordeaux, I figured when I'd order some here and there to have on hand. The theory was that since prices had gotten so insane on the high end and that you had to be an idiot to make a bad wine in 2005 in Bordeaux, that lots of underrated wines were to be had in the mid-range and value-range.

Well, that sort of panned out. This wine, the 2005 Chateau Toulouze Grand Vin de Bordeaux--at $13--technically fits the above theory. It's not a bad wine, but it is mediocre. Originally I was planning to leave the following as the only comment on the wine "unremarkable but drinkable" but I thought I'd give a bit more of an explanation.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and I have quite a lot to talk about. However, I'm taking the day off. See you Monday?

Monday, November 19, 2007

2002 L'aventure Optimus

The more perspicacious readers will no doubt correlate the above title with the "My Favorite Wines" sidebar. It is true--Optimus is one of my favorites. The NYT Wine Blog, in a posting titled Greatness Within Reach, discussed Ridge's Monte Bello. I guess if you're a writer for the NY Times, $123 per bottle is "within reach." Those of us with Seattle area mortgages can't reach quite that far. However, the point is well taken.

Indeed, "greatness within reach" is really what I strive for in wine. I spent a few years trying all different sorts of things, ordering randomly from Garagiste, taking advice (good and bad) from wine shop owners, managers, peons and going to tastings. I've pretty much nailed down what I like, and I am at a point in my life when I really don't want to spend money on stuff that I don't like. I'll take recommendations from people I trust. I'll still go to tastings; I'll still accept the offered glass at a dinner party. But when I'm at my house, doing my thing, I only want to drink what I like. Life is to short to drink crap while the good stuff is sitting in the fridge.

So when Mr. Pasceri suggested we go for a "Gentlemen's Evening" (yes; he watches entirely too much television) at Morton's I pulled out my last bottle of 2002 L'aventure Optimus. The wine still has a good 10 years left in it, but it's tasting wonderful right now. It is really a beautiful thing. It's a $50 wine, but can be found as low as $40. Every vintage I've had is a different blend, with varying amounts of syrah and zin. The winemaker doesn't like to be restrained by rules about what varietals you can and can't use and how much. And this is why this wine will always be better than your average bordeaux, rhone or brunello. Coming from Paso Robles instead of Napa, I guess, helps keep the price below ridiculous.

This wine in particular has the following blend: 50% syrah, 46% cab and 4% zinfandel. Now when you name your wine "Optimus" which, as far as my amateur Latin can say, means "the biggest" you have to make a wine that lives up to that. This one certainly did. It has all the rich earthiness and velvety suppleness of a well made cab-shiraz, with the added kick of a mineral spiciness from the zin. I could taste no defects... the wine just made me really happy. And of course, we drank it with some of the best steak in town.

If you're ever at Morton's in Seattle, try to sit in Lisa's section. She is the best waitress by far. Tomorrow I'll tell you about the other bottle of wine we had.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

2004 Pitchfork Margaret River CSM

This is, quite simply, the best CSM I have had in its price range (sub-$15). It's a great wine, frequently beating out much pricier wines in head-to-head tastings. I was lucky enough to pick up half a case at the low, low price of $5/each. But even at normal prices, it's a good wine. And it has an awesome drawing on the label.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

2005 Madcap Pastor Fritz Shiraz

Ben brought this over for a night of grilling and drinking. It was a sub-$20 wine, which means I file this with the value keyword. The wine is a standard big, jammy, Australian affair. It comes with a screw cap, which is the trend in Australia; and normally I wouldn't mention it except I'm about to explain something and mentioning the screw cap plays into that. Most people would have just mentioned the screw cap and then said what they need to say and trust the reader to remember that they had mentioned the screw cap. Not me; this is just how I roll. And I've got lots of white space to fill.

Ben likes the screw cap because he can put it in the fridge after drinking half a bottle and it is still good the next day. So when he got to my house with it, half of it was gone and it had been open half a day. We set it on the counter to allow it to trend upward toward room temperature. In the mean time, we set about preparing dinner.

Seven Flavor Pork Tenderloin was the dish for the night. Step one: remove all the white, fatty bits with a sharp, non-serrated, 3" knife. Step two: coat evenly with just enough olive oil to cover everything. Step the third: go through the spice drawer and find seven different little bottles. Actually, we only found six because the cilantro was fresh. Step the fourth: chop cilantro into little, bitty, bits. E) apply bits of cilantro to pork. F) apply six remaining spices in descending order of size (1) oregano, (2) thyme, (3) dried red pepper flakes, (4) smoked salt spice mix, (5) spicy salt spice mix, (6) cayenne pepper, (7) chili powder. Hmm... I guess it was Eight Flavor Pork Tenderloin. Well, under promise, over deliver. Penultimate step: cook at ridiculous temperature for 10 minutes. Last step: eat with 2005 Madcap Pastor Fritz Shiraz.

Getting to the point, finally: the crazy spicy pork, combined with the fact the wine had been open for 24hrs or so prevent me from really adequately reviewing. So take with a grain of salt the following: I didn't like it, but I would drink it again.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

2004 Plumpjack Merlot

My friend Ben is always going on and on about how terrible Merlot is, how nobody knows how to grow it or make wine from it, and how, in general, he thinks it is all a bunch of worthless, tannic piss. He might have a point, in the general case. However, I felt duty-bound to show him that at least one California wine maker knows what they are doing.

One of the best wines I have ever had is the Plumpjack Merlot. When it was young and just bottled it had intense notes of vanilla and was just a great, big, rich, earthy wine. Now that it has had a year in the bottle the vanilla has mellowed out quite a bit. It has become quite drinkable and classy. It's a damn good wine with a great taste and smell. Smooth, earthy, dark fruit. Mellow, supple tannins. There are few wines I would rather have than this one at this price point ($50).

Monday, November 12, 2007

2001 Sagramoso Amarone Della Valpolicella Pasqua

Most of my readers have probably never heard of, much less tasted an Amarone. So, quickly, Amarone della Valpolicella is a unique style of Italian wine. It's really rich, lots of flavors, but very dry at the same time.

This particular Amarone, the Pasqua, was $36 from Nabil. I've never had one before, so I can't really rate it relative to it's peers, but I can say I really enjoyed the wine. Not enough to buy it again for $36, but certainly enough to consider drinking some if I happen across it. There are those, Sara among them, who could probably love this wine enough to pay big prices for it. It's that kind of wine. I don't love it, but I respect it. It was really earth, dry and rich. If you weren't from Earth, you might not realize it was made out of grapes.

We drank it with home-made Gnocchi that Sara made, with a red sauce. The wine went perfectly. What can I say; it was meant to go with Italian foods.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

in blindness veritas? and other goings-on...

Slate has an article today on Blind Tastings, the merits thereof and the author's personal experience with one event. Interesting reading for those of you who care about such things.

The tasting I spoke of last week was great fun. I was a bit disappointed by the Sineann Pinot. The Zanzibar was pretty good, but still too young for me to tell if I'll like it better than the previous vintage or not. Parker gave it 93pts, which is pretty good for only the third vintage. The Creator from K was awesome and the clear winner of the bunch. Snap some up now, because it'll disappear fast.

I've got three wines to post about this week: an Amarone, an Aussie and a Merlot. Two out of three fairly uncommon on this blog. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Wine Tasting, Saturday Nov 3rd

Nabil at Seattle Wine Co. is doing a tasting of Northwest Wines on Saturday. The lineup looks pretty good:

2005 K Vintners The Creator
2006 Syncline Subduction Red
2005 Zanzibar Sandra
2006 Sineann Oregon Pinot Noir
2006 Daedalus Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2005 Ransom Gewurztraminer

I'm looking forward to tasting the new vintages of The Creator, Sandra and the Sineann Pinot. All three have been amazing in past vintages.

It's a free tasting and I think its from 2pm to 5pm, but I might be off a little. Show up around 3pm. I'll see you there.