Monday, December 31, 2007

a tale of two chianti's

We had an Italian dinner the other night. Sara's father cooked an excellent pasta dish and we each brought a Chianti Classico to go along with it. We ended up with two wines from the same region that were incredibly different. I brought a 2001 Castello di Fonterutoli and he brought a 2003 Frimaio Riserva.

Here is a really terrible picture taken with my cell phone:

The first thing you will notice is the difference in coloration on the corks. This foreshadowed the differences in the wines themselves very well.

The Fonterutoli was a deep wine with great texture. It had a bit of a floral smell and dark fruit taste. The first taste wasn't shocking and the finish was especially protracted, but it tasted great on the tongue and was my favorite of the night. It is aged perfectly for drinking now, and I found it for $25 at Nabil's.

The Frimaio was a much brighter wine. It was more inline with what you would expect from Chianti Classico. Very approachable and great nose. The wine tasted a bit tart after trying the Fonterutoli (I should have tasted them in the other order, but I went chronological instead of by weight). However, after letting the ol' palette air out, it stood on its own. This was in the $20 range too, I believe.

One Chianti per night is almost always good, but two makes for a great night. The food was awesome too.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

2004 and 2005 chimney rock cabernet sauvignon

I stopped by Nabil's today to try to get some empty boxes off him, pick up a Chianti Classico and see what he was tasting. I will tell you how the Chianti was tomorrow--in the mean time I wanted to jot down a quick note about the Chimney Rock.

Nabil is officially tasting the 2004 Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon. As I got there before the official tasting began, it was just me, Nabil and the distributor unloading the wines. Well, turns out Nabil accidentally pulled the 2005 Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon that the distributor had got as an advance taster. But, since it was already open, what can you do? So I got to taste both the 2005 and the 2004. Talk about being at the right place at the right time. Since I tasted them in that order, I will tell you my thoughts in that order.

The 2005 Chimney Rock Cabernet was tight. Super tight. It is going to be a great wine once it has some time in the bottle. As it stands now you have to aerate it before drinking it. The wine was smooth and classy, full bodied and wonderful fruity Napa-cab taste.

The 2004 Chimney Rock Cabernet was much more approachable and even more obviously well made. It was very similar to the 2005, just more integrated and ready to drink--though I would still decant it first. Nabil was selling this for just under $50 today. He only had two cases, so if you want some, better get over there quick!

Friday, December 28, 2007

2005 Cor Cellars Momentum

Another entry from Washington, this time Horse Heaven Hills. And another Cab/Syrah blend. Only this time, it is a value wine which I picked up for $17. The 2005 Cor Cellars Momentum hits the sweet spot. It is a great, earthy, full bodied drinkin' wine at a reasonable price. It is a screw-cap, which means you can close it up and put it in the fridge easily to drink over a few days. I give it 3.5 out of 5.0.

Short digression: I am in favor of screw caps for the vary reason I mention above. Sometimes I like to have a glass by myself and don't want to have to finish the whole bottle. I like being able to throw it back in the fridge and not worry about pumping or where did I put the damn cork. It will also free up more cork for higher end wines. When I open an expensive wine, I like the way pulling a cork makes it feel like something special. I realize wine is to be drunk, not worshipped, but I enjoy some ritualization.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

napa... it calls to me...

In order to further destroy my liver and life's savings, I'm moving to California. The proximity to Napa, I assure you, is purely coincidentel. Actually I'm changing jobs. The next few weeks will be pretty crazy, so please bear with me as postings may come slower. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

2004 Chester-Kidder Columbia Valley Red Wine

The Longshadows wines really are some of the best you can get from Washington. They are also, in my opinion, generally over priced. However, they are less overpriced then their Napa brethren. So if you can afford them, buy them; they do not disappoint. Many are also collectables, so get them while you can.

For my father-in-law's birthday, we opened the 2004 Chester-Kidder. It's a $50 wine. It is a well-made and reasonably complex Bordeaux blend with the addition of syrah into the mix as well. It is not some ridiculous tannin-bomb--it is well balanced with good acidity and supple tannins. It is not a fruit-bomb either--in fact, I give it a few marks off for not having much of a flavor at all. This wine seems much more European in its make than most Washington and California wines. It was a deep purple, but the kind that you can see right through. Medium-bodied they call it. It had a fairly good finish and was pleasant enough to drink. However, I would not consider it a showcase wine. This is a food wine. Drink it by itself and you will not remember it much. Drink it with the right food, and I think it will be spectacular. Furthermore, I am going to let it sit in the bottle for another year before opening one again. There is so much going on with the blend, I hope another year will give it a chance to find itself.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

2003 Cayuse Bionic Frog

Let me just say this now: jumpin' Jehoshaphat, what a wine!

In celebration of Sara's Father's birthday, Sara's Uncle was kind enough to open this bottle for us. Someday, maybe I will get an allocation of this wine from Cayuse (I did make their list for 2008 futures, but all I got was En Chamberlin). Until then, I'll take it where I can get it. This wine was really insane. Here is what Wine Spectator said:

Has amazing density, a wine of immense depth, wrapping silky tannins around plum, mineral, blackberry, prune and meat flavors, hinting at dark chocolate and walnut as the finish rolls on and on. Drink now through 2015. 208 cases made.

Also, it's a Syrah. I didn't quite catch all those flavors, nor could I really describe what I was tasting with the standard wine-taster's arsenal of words. I do agree, however, that this is a wine of "amazing density" and "immense depth." The initial taste smacks you in the face, but it mellows out very quickly into a barrage of different flavors and the finish just goes on and on and on. Not a wine for the casual drinker--this is a wine to be appreciated and marveled at.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

on hiatus

Just a quick note to let you know I'll not be posting until next week. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

2003 Chateau Beaulieu

You want to drink Bordeaux but you don't want to pay $80 a bottle to do it? This one got 89pts from Robert Parker and you should be able to pick it up for about $16. However, you'll need to buy two. About 60% of the bottles I've had have been great and the rest have been stinkers (one went right down the kitchen sink after a taste).

Sunday, December 2, 2007

australian tasting notes

The tasting at Nabil's was a lot of fun. Before I get to the notes, I wanted to mention the Distributor. The distributor doing the pouring was a good guy to talk with. He was not pretentious or stuffy in any way, and you could tell he had genuine love for the wines he was pouring. Ben and I were among the first people there at 1pm (sorry for the time change--it was snowing and all my plans were thrown off), and at one point I suggested he change the order of which he was tasting the wines. Some people doing tastings would have scoffed or been snooty about this. Having a friendly and approachable person doing the tastings is a big plus in my book. I wish I remembered his name so I could give a proper shout-out.

Anyway, on to what I thought:

2006 Black Chook VMR "White blend" - I didn't look too closely at the blend, but this is a decent white if you have to drink one. The price point was just right at about $12. Chook is Australian for Chicken, in case you were wondering.

2006 Catalina Sounds Pinot Noir - Ben refused to taste this one on principle. I tasted it solely on principle ("never turn down free wine"); it was fine. It was a pinot. If you like pinot, you'll probably like this. Not my thing. Also note, this one is from NZ, not AU.

2005 Kaesler Stonehorse Shriaz - A smooth and well-made wine. At about $20, this is a great wine to have and to drink. This isn't you classic ginormous, jammy, earthy, Aussie Shiraz. This is, as Ben said, "more like a French wine." It's incredibly approachable and anyone could enjoy this wine. I'd give it 3.5 / 5.

2004 Glen Eldon Dry Bore Shriaz - This is you classic Aussie Shiraz. This wine is dry as hell and gritty. I loved the dark, full-bodied taste. Again, at $20 you can't go wrong. For fun, get one of these and one of the Kaesler's and treat your guests. This is the wine that I suggested the order change for--he was originally tasting this before the Kaesler.

2005 Delisio Krystina - A classy wine. This is more like the Kaesler than the Glen Eldon: smooth and approachable. It's the best $30 Aussie I can think of right now. It's at least as good as some wines that are much more expensive (such as certain wines made by Sarah and Sparky). It actually reminded me of some Delille wines. I'm not sure I could pick this as an Aussie wine in a blind tasting.

2005 Amon Ra Godolphin - This is what brings the kids out to the tasting. This is, perhaps, a canonical example of a Shiraz. A great wine, but still young. If I was going to drink now, I'd pick any of the above three over this one.

Overall, a great tasting.