Saturday, September 19, 2009
This lovely Pinot from the Santa Rita Hills has a medium garnet color and an incredibly aromatic character. This is a rich wine that is very satisfying to inhale, as it has layers of aromas, all pleasant, that are inviting and enticing. The nose is slightly jammy, with aromas of lilac, clove and molasses and vanilla. The sensation in the mouth equals the aroma's allure. Intense flavors of fruit include hints of strawberry jam and blackberry with a complex floral and spice essence. The bottle has now been opening up for a few hours and the aroma deepens and the finish lengthens as it spends more time in the glass. This wine is a real treat which, as enjoyable as it is now, can easily withstand a few more years in the bottle.
Some friends and I had a wonderful experience when we visited Don Hagge at Vidon Vineyard. He's a guy who loves wine and loves what he's doing, and that is evident as he welcomes guests to his winery and tasting room. This small production wine (100 cases) exhibits the character of its terroir with elements of mushroom and earth on the nose, with a background of raspberry vinegar. Its light garnet color belies the depth of aromas and flavors which include well-integrated tannins, acid and fruit. The medium finish is a pleasant amalgam of the light red fruit and bright acid that makes this wine so pleasing. It's ready to drink now and may develop more with a couple years in the bottle, but why wait?
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Ok, I've never been a big fan of inexpensive Australian wines. I've had a couple of really nice Shiraz wines from the McLaren Vale that friends who have lived in Australia bought, but otherwise, my attempts to find Shiraz wines that I've liked have met with disappointment. In general, I have found Aussie wines to be rather one-dimensional, sometimes with off aromas or flavors. And, so it is with this wine. On the nose I get stewed fruit and brett (barnyard smell) and though I grew up in Wisconsin, I'm not a fan of the barnyard smell, especially in my wine. The wine is light ruby in color and if I try to block out the barnyard effect, I can pick up hints of black fruit and chocolate. In the mouth the flavors are dominated by acid on the front end and brett on the back end, but fruit does come through on the medium-length finish. This was a gift and I wouldn't recommend it. Time will do this wine no favors.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards is one of my favorite winemakers and a really nice guy. The Oltranti, like many of Ridge's recent zinfandels, has an intense aroma of fruit and ample alcohol (15.1%). Dark cherry, black raspberry and floral notes fill the nose and, thankfully, help mask the alcohol. In the mouth, there is a lot of fruit which lasts all the way through the long finish, but also an almost burning sensation from the alcohol. There's a nice acid that helps the balance. This is almost all zinfandel with a bit of carignane and petite sirah blended in. I had this with lasagna and a caesar salad and it stood up nicely to those bold flavors, but I could also imagine drinking this in front of a fire on a cold and rainy night with a selection of medium to strong flavored cheeses. I wouldn't give this more than a couple more years of aging time. While the acid and fruit will become more integrated, I believe the alcohol will become too dominant when the fruit begins to fade. Still, it's lovely now; but share it with friends or find a designated driver if you're away from home.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
From one of the venerable zinfandel makers in Sonoma County, this 2005 from Dry Creek Valley is an opaque purple-black with dark, sweet cherries, black licorice, vanilla and toast, and alcohol on the nose. After decanting for a couple hours the wine is highly aromatic - just get your nose close to the glass and the aromas come wafting toward you. There is a sweetness on the attack, followed by black currant, raspberry and tar. The long finish is dominated by fruit and acid. This is a somewhat rustic zinfandel; chewy, with tannins that are developing nicely. This will easily go another three to five years, but it's enjoyable now.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Stepping out of the Rhone Valley for a bit, I thought I'd try a wine I've had several times to see how it's developing. This '03 Zin from Cline sold for $10 at Costco several years ago. Always, in my opinion, superior to the '04, the wine is holding up well and developing nicely. Having a translucent purple-black color, still with a clear rim, this hearty zinfandel has plenty of fruit on the nose and in the mouth. Along with the bright acid which helps the wine to remain fresh and vibrant, plum and sweet cherries run all the way from the attack through the lengthy finish. This California designate zinfandel does not have the spicy character that I enjoy and which is typical of many Dry Creek Valley zins, but for an "everyday" wine, this does quite nicely. The alcohol is given at 15%, which is high, but certainly not atypical of this varietal which has crept up in alcohol content over the last several years. I'm glad I have a couple bottles left, because I'm really enjoying this right out of the bottle.