Friday, June 27, 2008

2006 Turley Old Vines Zinfandel

I love California Zinfandel, and I love Turley. And, of course, Turley will always have a special place in my heart.

On my trip to Seattle I was lucky enough to come by four bottles of the 2006 Old Vines Zinfandel and so I figured we should open one up for the family to try before I bring them to California and cellar them.

As always, the Turley did not disappoint; indeed, this is the best wine that $35 can buy. The wine is full of peppery spice and complex structured berry fruit flavors. It smells great and is a bit young but eminently drinkable.

We had it with salami, fruit and cheese as we sat on the back porch over looking Puget Sound. It was quite nice.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

2005 Cougar Crest Cabernet Franc

There is nothing like sipping a well made, Washington grown, Cabernet Franc outside on the deck of a not-quite-completed house overlooking the Puget Sound. This 2005 Cougar Crest Cabernet Franc came courtesy of Sara's uncle Chris.

The 2005 did not have as much vanilla as the 2004, which is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on who you ask. I like the vanilla flavor that certain oak barrels will impart. Chris though it had a bit too much oak influence. Either way, we both agreed this was a nice wine to drink. If you like other Washington wines, you will like this one.

Wine Spectator gave this 93pts, and I think that is pretty fair. This pushed the price up a bit into the low to mid $30 range, but everything seems to be getting more expensive. The wine is very fruit-forward and smooth. My personal feeling is that Cougar Crest is one of the better Washington wineries and their entire line bears tasting, but I always seem to like the Cab Franc the best.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

2006 Chateau Montelena Potter Valley Riesling

Sara's father bought this from the winery on our last Napa trip. I think it was around $14.

The wine was very yellow with fruit and floral notes. It was dry for a riesling, but still very nice to drink. Today it is supposed to top 100 degrees again here in the Bay Area, so if you have some in the fridge, now would be the time to pull it out and drink it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

2004 Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon

This was my treat to myself. I had not tasted the 2004 Bin 707 yet, but I had fond memories of the 2002 and I wanted to see how this one was going to turn out.

The 2004 is not as luxuriant as the 2002 was. The 2004 has the dark, full bodied color and the wonderful pungent smell, but the flavor was a bit dull. I think the wine is very young and the various components will integrate better with a bit of time. The wine was short on the palate, with bits of dark fruit. It was smooth and supple, but not mind blowing.

While I was in Seattle I also managed to score a few bottles of the 2005, so I have something to look forward to in this department. I hear it is the best vintage ever.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

birthday smorgasbord

The day of the event we had a pretty good line-up, as you can see for yourself:

Some quick notes on each:

The 2001 Betz Pere de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon is probably the star of this bunch. This is a great wine with fruit and veggie notes, acidity and tannins that are a bit rough but are well structured to create a great drinking wine.

The 2002 Red Diamond Shiraz is very similar to the 2001 which I already reviewed. This is still the best wine I have found for under $10.

Second place goes to the 2005 Portteus Zinfandel, which I can never get enough of.

I do not think we got around to opening the Vina Robles cab.

I am not a huge fan of 2006 the ghost of 413 syrah. The name is clever, and the wine is drinkable enough. But if you are looking for value syrah, you can do a lot better than this for $15. Look to Australia.

Still more wines from the Seattle trip to come. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

2005 Rombauer Zinfandel

Just got back from a road trip to Seattle. Birthdays were involved, so lots of wine was consumed. I will be dealing with them in approximately the order in which they were drank.

The Rombauer Zin will always have a special place in my heart because it is one of the first wines I tried where I actually began to understand the differences between wines, and what makes a really great wine. The 2001 was our house wine when I lived with Raph. But I am not going into that story now.

Anyway, my father-in-law opened this for us the night we got into town to have before and with dinner. It is a great wine and I still think it represents a good value ($27) for your average daily-drinker. It is pleasantly fruity and smooth, and medium bodied. Always good to have a few bottles around for unexpected dinner parties and such. It is a drink-now wine, so no need to be stingy with it or worry about aging it.

Monday, June 9, 2008

2005 Marquis Phillips Shiraz 9

I picked this up from Seattle Wine Co for about $35. Robert Parker gave it 96-98pts, and you just do not find those wines for that price these days. So I snatched some up. I am glad I did.

It was a real deep, rich, shiraz. Lots of blackberry and some toasty oakiness up front. Overall a great wine that I really enjoyed drinking over the course of three days. It held up well in the fridge even, with just the cork pushed back in.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

2003 Stella's Garden Lost Highway Shiraz

So, I was in Vegas at this restaurant. The first thing I noticed is their wine markup is about 4x the normal price of a bottle. Which is ridiculous. But I did not follow my own advice and bring my own bottle, so I was stuck. Luckily we were splitting the tab 8 ways.

The second thing I noticed was they had the 2000 Stella's Garden Lost Highway Shiraz on the menu. The 2004 was stupendous, so I figured lets have a go at one with some age on it. Of course, they brought me a 2003. Another thing I hate is restaurants who do not update their frickin' wine list. But, still, I will take a 2003. So they open it and decant it and add $136 to the bill. Bastards.

Anyway, the wine was very good. It was not that dark, midnight-satin, inky color the 2004 was. It was still a nice, full bodied Shiraz, but much less remarkable than the 2004. The '03 had nice color and was pretty smooth for a 15% wine. Everyone at the table, even non-drinkers and non-wine drinkers all liked the bottle. There was good dark fruit and just a hint of spice.