Sunday, November 29, 2009

2006 Ridge Carmichael Zinfandel

Well, it happens, reportedly, about 5% of the time.  This wine is slightly corked, the musty aroma immediately detectable.  Ridge would certainly take it back, but I don't have time to mess with it.  I tried to get past that to see what a non-tainted bottle might offer.  The grapes come from Carmichael Ranch on the North Coast.  This medium-bodied wine has a pretty ruby color with nice gradation.  There is plenty of fruit on the nose, mostly blackberries, and a slight amount of spice.  In the mouth, there is a nice acid/fruit balance, but I can't get past the corkiness.  The rest goes down the drain.  Too bad, because I'm a big fan of the winery and of its winemaker, Paul Draper.

Update:  I contacted Ridge through their website and within three days they had delivered a new bottle at no charge.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

1999 Kendall Jackson Great Estates Cabernet Sauvignon

This is the last bottle of a case of this wine I bought around 2002.  There is a slightly brown rim in the glass and the color of the wine has lightened slightly, now more translucent than I remember.  On the nose I get cassis, dark cherries and a grapey, slightly off (sulfuric) note.  Initially, the fruit had largely escaped, leaving a soft though prominent acidic taste.  The tannins have dwindled, as well, to the point of being non-existent.  As the wine opened up, the fruit began to come through and the acid subsided to create an enjoyable balance, which complemented the grilled filet mignon we had for dinner.  I've enjoyed this wine over the years and have appreciated the chance to see its development.

2003 A. Rafanelli Merlot

This wine began as a project for Shelly Rafanelli, daughter of David and Patty Rafanelli the winemaker their family winery that specializes in zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon.  A small production wine available only at the winery (their zin and cab are available to mailing list customers, at restaurants or at the winery only) is worth trying and buying.  On the nose one gets sweet cherries, earth tones and mushrooms.  Dark, but not completely opaque, the color is what you'd expect of a big wine.  While there was a lot of fruit on the palate, I got iron on the finish, which was a bit off-putting.  Still, I like the merlot and I respect the family and what they're doing with their wines.  You must call for an appointment to taste at A. Rafanelli, and don't be put off by their phone manner, which can be less than welcoming.  Once you're at the winery, I've never had less than a welcoming, gracious, and pleasant experience.

Monday, November 16, 2009

2001 Unti Petite Sirah

This dense wine comes from a small producer in the Dry Creek Valley.  A friend and I were wine tasting in the area in the summer of '03 and stopped in to see what this winery, unknown to us, was about.  A very friendly frenchman was working the tasting room and we had a good visit.  This bottle was about $20.  A dark purplish-black with bits of sediment, this petite sirah has a nose of blackberry with a bit of brettanomyaces.  In the mouth I'm getting the blackberry and other dark red fruits, acid and, as the wine opens up, the brett becomes more pronounced (not a positive).  The tannins have softened to the point of being barely noticeable, as the fruit and acid dominate throughout the finish.  While this is not the greatest petite sirah, it's nice to have something a bit off the mainstream from time to time.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

2005 Serdonis Cabernet Sauvignon, Ink Grade Vineyard

Serdonis is known for making big Cabs from Howell Mountain Grapes.  After pulling the cork, on which tartrates had formed, there was a good amount of sediment on the neck which needed wiping before pouring the wine.  The color of this wine is true to its vineyard name; completely opaque, dense purplish-black.  On the nose there is abundant cassis, some oak, and a touch of bazooka (yes, the bubble gum).  The wine has a velvety mouthfeel with plenty of acid and dense, intense cassis.  Tannins are present, but they are surprisingly smooth, unlike other wines of this age I've had from Serdonis.  While the wine is well-made and enjoyable, it's not exceedingly complex.  This wine will hold up for another few years, but at this stage in its development I don't think it should celebrate its 10th birthday.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

2005 Woodenhead Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

This wine comes from a small winery in the Russian River Valley (River Road) that's very easy to drive by, but if you stop, you'll most likely have the undivided attention of the tasting room staff.  They have a wide selection of wines, mostly forgettable, but this one caught my attention.  Although it is extremely light in color and body, it has a vibrancy that's enjoyable.  As close to transparent as a red wine can get, the brownish color on this pinot reminds me of a tawny port.  Lots of strawberry and raspberry on the nose, along with alcohol (14.3%), and it has a consistent flavor profile, but with a backbone of acid.  This is not a wine to contemplate, but to enjoy in the moment.  The light bodied wine paired nicely with breaded pork chops and broccoli.  The price was in the low $20's and I might just have to stop back and pay them another visit.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

2008 O'Reilly's Pinot Noir

Rated 89 points from Wine Spectator, this is a great value-priced Pinot Noir from Oregon at just under $15 per bottle.  In the glass, this wine is medium-light in color and body.  On the nose, one gets a lot of dark cherry, a hint of anise and some floral scents.  In the mouth, this Pinot has a good fruit/acid ratio giving the medium-long finish a nice balance throughout.  The alcohol, at 13%, is not domineering, but contributes to a well-balanced wine.  For this wine, grapes are sourced from throughout the Pacific Northwest, with much of the fruit coming from the Willamette Valley.  The '08 O'Reilly's was delightful with broiled salmon and drank well on its own.  This is a great everyday wine if you have enough to drink it everyday.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

2005 Ridge Buchignani Carignane

I've taken some time off from writing about wines I've had. Not intentionally, just got busy. The reason I'm doing the blog in the first place is to force myself to think about and name what I'm getting from the wine. It makes me more a more intentional consumer. This wine is 100% old vine, hillside Carignane from the Buchignani Ranch. These folks also grow a nice zinfandel on this property. This is not a heavy wine --the color is a translucent ruby. The nose is quite closed about 15 minutes after opening. There is some fruit, but so faint that it's hard to identify. Though the wine is 14.6% alcohol, even that isn't apparent in the nose. As I work more on this I'm getting some blackberry in the nose and in the mouth. The acid overpowers the fruit at this early stage and there's a slight sulpheric note in this light to medium bodied wine. The finish is of medium length and pleasant. Perhaps as this opens up it will develop into something more, but at this point it's a fairly simply, slightly funky quaff.