Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wilson Vineyards Chenin Blanc-Viognier, Clarksburg 2006

I have enjoyed this wine for a number of years but this is the first time I will be reviewing it. Wilson Vineyards has been reviewed a couple of time on my blog, mainly their Petite Sirah (I am a sucker for a good Petite). This blend of Chenin blanc and Viognier is quite nice and reminds me of the Pine Ridge Chenin-Viognier which also comes from the Wilson vineyards. This wine has a nice bright and vibrant color to it and shows tropical fruit and honeysuckle on the nose with tart green apple aroma peaking through. The palate switches things up a bit giving some sweeter peach and pear flavors with a cream component and finishes slightly off-dry but with a good balance of acidity. I see this wine as a great fall season food wine. I am thinking of Thanksgiving turkey and ham already.

Overall, I like this new vintage and at $10 it's a great value.
I give it a B+.

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Bordeaux Results at Last!!!

We had our taste-off for our wining wines in the Bordeaux series and what an exciting tasting it was! As a recap, we had four tastings with each tasting representing an appellation in Bordeaux the winning wines for each appellation went through a final taste-off and we now have a favorite Bordeaux in our tasting group.

First lets meet the final contestants; From St. Emilion and our first tasting in the Bordeaux series we had Chateau Faugeres, 2004, for $24. From the 2nd tasting of Pulliac we had Carruades de Lafite, 2002 for $40. And from our Lalande de Pomerol/Pomerol tasting we have Chateau de Bel-Air, Les Pensees, 2003, Lalande de Pomerol for $20. And last but not Least from our Pessac-Leognan tasting we had Chateau Cruzeau, 2003 bought for a steal at $14!

And the winner is.................

1st: Chateau Cruzeau, Pessac-Leognan, 2003 for $14!!!!!
2nd: Carruades de Lafite, Pulliac, 2002, $45
3rd: Chateau Faugeres, St. Emilion, 2004, $24
4th: Chateau Bel-Air, Les Pensees, Lalande de Pomerol, 2003, $20

Stay tuned for our next series of tastings where we will be focusing on Pinot Noir from Oregon, California, Burgundy, and New Zealand!

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bordeaux Series Part IV: Pessac-Leognan

This is the last region we visit for the Bordeaux Series. In the next tasting we will be comparing the winners from each region. So check back to see who wins, St. Emillion, Pauillac, Pomerol, or Pessac-Leognan.
Pessac Leognan is in the Graves region, south of Bordeaux city. Graves is named for its soil which is very gravelly. The soils also have distinctive tiny white quartz pebbles that are found in all the best vineyards. It is also the only part of Bordeaux where red and white wines are made in almost all its chateaux and the vineyards of this region were the first of Bordeaux to be known internationally. The earliest records show casks of wine from Graves shipped to England in the early 12th century. By the 16th century one Chateau became the leader in quality and prestige in the region; Chateau Haut Brion. Haut Brion was so great that it is the only Graves wine to be included in the 1855 Classification. The red wines are typicall of the left bank being dominated by Cabernet although they do use more Merlot here than other left bank appellations.
Pessac Leognan is considered the best region in the Graves and is home to Haut Brion. It lies on the edge of the city of Bordeaux which has swallowed all but the best vineyards up for its suburbs. The appellation was only named in 1987, and used to be called "Hautes Graves". Pessac-Legonan encompasses 10 small communes, the biggest being Pessac and Leognan. Classification of Chateaux was last done in 1959 with a simple "yes" or "no" mark given. 16 Chateaux were included. A new classification has been expected for a number of years.

All wines were tasted blind and rated. The lowest score wins. In this tasting we had 7 wines with 8 judges.

1st with 20pts: Cht. de Cruzeau, 2003. $25
This wine started out with a strong malo-lactic buttery character but gradually became more fruit driven give strawberry creamsicle and jam. On the palate it was very nice and full bodied. Silky smooth with a long finish, good firm body covering the whole palate but a silkiness that set it a part from the other wines. Very nice value.

2nd with 24pts: Cht. Les Hauts de Smith, 2002. $28
Ripe, jammy cherry, with cracked pepper and mineral quality on the nose. Also showed some floral aromas after some time in the glass. The palate was full and soft. Velvety on the finish with some soft tannins. A very nice wine, and good value.
3rd with 27pts: Domaine de Chevalier, 2002. $36
Showing a lot of pepper, spiciness, BBQed sweet bell peppers and damp earth and smokey oak show as well. After being opened for an hour the wine showed much more fruit but continued with a pepperiness that the other wines did not keep. The palate was nice and big with a long soft finish. The pepper and spice stuck around on the palate accentuated by alcohol. A big fat wine.
4th with 29pts: Cht. Tour Leognan, 2002. $22
5th with 33pts: Cht. La Manieu, Graves, 2005. $12
6/7th with 45pts: Cht. La Louvier, 2001. $35
6/7th with 45pts: Cht. Carbonnieux, 1996. $30

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bordeaux Series Part III: Pomerol

Sorry it took so long for me to get this one out. The Pomerol tasting went awesome, we had a bunch of great wines and it was very difficult to pick our favorites. Pomerol is a typical right bank region with its wines being dominated by Merlot. Merlot is suited to the gravel and clay soils as well as the cooler temperatures compared to the left bank. Cabernet is rarely used in Pomerol so they tend to be softer wines and do not have to age for 20 years just to make them palatable. So if you are in a restaurant and can't find an older vintage Bordeaux on the menu, go for a Pomerol.
Pomerol is the only Bordeaux appellation that does not have and official classification system. It is a region with small family "farmhouse" Chateaux compared to the Medoc. History has pegged Pomerol as a lower class wine region and it was left out of the 1855 Classification but are now producing some of the best wines in all of Bordeaux. Pomerol sits on a slight slope next to St. Emilion with varying soil types. The Southwest part of the region has more sand and the Northeast has more gravel. Mid-way up the slope is considered the best growing area having a combination of soils. The most famous, most expensive, and most sought-after wine from Pomerol is Petrus, unfortunately it did not show up in our tasting.

When we got to buying wines I realized that Pomerols were a bit more pricey that our group was accustomed to so I told everyone that if they could not find a Pomerol in their price range to go ahead and buy a Lalande de Pomerol which is a similar appellation right next to Pomerol the main difference being that it has sandier soil and less gravel. The outcome was interesting.
The wines we taste are tasted blind and ranked, the lowest score wins. In this tasting we had 9 people scoring and 6 wines.

1st with 22 points: Cht. de Bel Air, 2003, Les Pensees, Lalande de Pomerol. $21
Aromas of cherry, cream and molasses, with some wet cedar. On the palate it is soft with a good acidity. The alcohol shows itself, warming things up with a nice long finish. Other people wrote that they liked the because it was more subtle and balanced.

2nd with 25 points: Cht. Pomeaux, 1998, $50
100% Merlot, this wine ended up being my favorite. On the nose it started out with lots of Chocolate, licorice, vanilla, coconut, put all together in a nice Almond Joy package. As it opened up the fruit became more prevalent with ripe cherry being in the forefront. The palate started off a bit weak but got better and fuller bodied with some bread and triple cream brie. A very nice wine that may have been better if opened a couple years ago.

3rd with 29 points: Cht. Tournefeuille, 2003, Lalande de Pomerol. $26
70% Merlot, 30% Cab Franc. We had two people bring this wine so I tossed both of them in to see how the group would rate them and they came in 3rd and 4th. The nose of this wine showed more strawberry and other red fruits, with some sweet perfume. It got more floral as it opened up. On the palate we all found it a bit tannic and astringent but a good long finish and big body helped to give a couple of high rankings.

4th with 32 points: Cht. Tournefeuille, 2003, Lalande de Pomerol. $26
5th with 37 points: Cht. Gazin, 2001. $60, 85% Merlot, 10% Cab, 5% Cab Franc.
6th with 40 points: Cht. De Sales, 1996. $25 on special

Monday, August 06, 2007

Lyeth Meritage, 2004 Sonoma County

I had this Meritage a while ago and just recently found my notes on it. It wasn't bad and I have not had a Meritage wine on the blog for a long time. A Meritage is a Bordeaux blend from the States, so mainly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are used but the other varieties allowed are Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot and Malbec or for whites, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Sauvignon Vert (a.k.a. Muscadelle). The Meritage Association was started in 1988 and Lyeth was one of the founding members. This Meritage is 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 10% Malbec, and 2% Cabernet Franc.
Color: Deep red, very red, almost like a red juiced grape of the Teinturier varieties. Probably not used though.
Nose: Lots of red fruits, ripe, cherry liqueur, hint of cocoa and orange. Sweet cedar aromas come too with some slight bell pepper.
Palate: Clean tart finish, a bit flabby on the mid palate though. The flavor finishes a bit quick but that acidity is good and lingers reminding me that my glass is not yet empty. So I go back for more.
Overall: The nose is a bit deceiving, it made me think I was going to have a bigger wine on the palate, but I still enjoyed the wine. I bought it for $10 and at that price I would definitely buy it again but I see it more often around $15, I don't know if I would pay the extra fiver for round two. I give the wine a B-.

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