Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tobin James "Liquid Love" Late Harvest Zinfandel

Tobin James "Liquid Love" Late Harvest Zinfandel 2009
Paso Robles, California

Late Harvest means just that -- grapes that are harvested "late". The fruit has a chance to raisinate a bit on the vine, allowing the sugars and flavors to concentrate. These wines tend to be sweet and luscious -- great in the cold months, the perfect end to a holiday meal (or just because it's Tuesday and you want something sweet and tasty).
Review: This wine has a beautiful dark color, reminiscent of black plums. The nose has notes of (unsurprisingly) raisins, along with cocoa, and prunes. On the palate the fruit is very pronounced, along with a good bit of sweetness and a taste of caramel. Even though the wine is quite sweet, the high acidity keeps the Liquid Love from being cloyingly sweet. It also has a nice boozey zing (17.2%) leading to a great mouth feel.

Food Pairing: The caramel note in the wine makes me want a yummy bread pudding!

Bottom Line: Quite tasty, interesting flavors, fun name. I dig it.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2009
  • PLACE: Paso Robles AVA (American Viticultural Area)
  • GRAPE: Zinfandel
  • BOOZE: 17.2% 
  • CELLAR: Drink now, hold for a few years

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? High Priced, 375 ml bottle

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Beaujolais Nouveau Day 2013

Beaujolais Nouveau Day 2013
Beaujolias, Burgundy, France

Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé! Today is the third Thursday of November -- and that means that it's Beaujolais Nouveau Day. The day is a celebration of the harvest. A fresh grapey party in your mouth! These wines are young, bottled only 7 to 9 weeks after harvest. I don't know about you, but I'm excited to taste this year's lot. So excited, in fact, that I went to three different stores and tracked down five different bottles to try!

Beaujolais is the most Southern region of Burgundy, but has little to no similarities to the rest of Burgundy. Beaujolais is made from 100% Gamay (not Pinot Noir) and vinified in a completely different style. I won't launch into wine nerd speak and tell you about the details of Carbonic Maceration -- suffice it to say that Beaujolais is meant to be light and fruity with virtually no tannin. Nouveau has a beautiful pale to medium purple color -- absolutely festive!

The region of Beaujolais is divided into three quality levels: Beaujolais (broad area, most basic stuff), Beaujolais-Villages (a bit higher quality, hillier area), and Beaujolais Cru (10 special villages on steep granite hills producing the best wines). Nouveau will only come from Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages. In fact, four of the five wines I have are Beaujolais, and only one is Beaujolais-Villages.  All of these wines are mid-priced, coming in between $10 and $14. Serve your Nouveau just a touch chilled, after about 15 minutes in the fridge, and pair with friends! These wines are certainly not meant to age; drink now or next week with Thanksgiving -- Nouveau goes great with Turkey because of it's fresh acidity and fruit flavors.

Wine 1: Georges Duboeuf
Let's start with the most well known produce, Georges Duboeuf. This wine shows aromas and flavors of tart cranberries and cinnamon. It has high acidity and a short finish. Nice and refreshing, easy drinking.
Beaujolais AOC, 12% abv, purchased at World Market

Wine 2: Domaine Descroix
Unlike the big Negociant Dubeouf, Domaine Descroix is a "Propriétaire-Récoltant" -- French for a grower-producer whose wine will be made from their own property. I love the fun bubblegum aromas (think Bazooka Joe). This note is joined by some candied pomegranate on the palate. The wine has a medium finish, where the fruit lingers just a touch.
Beaujolais AOC, 12.5% abv, purchased at Crystal City Wine Shop

Wine 3: Maison Thorin
I adore the packaging on the Thorin. It just shouts "Party Time!" Unfortunately, I'm not digging the Thorin. The aromas are muted and the taste flat. There's just a touch of plum on the palate, but otherwise I'm not getting much of anything. <Sad trombone>
Beaujolais AOC, 11-14% abv (I didn't know it was legal to use a range?), purchased at World Market

Wine 4: Domaine Manoir du Carra
I had this producer's Beaujolais last year. Still nice and easy! This wine is full of boysenberries, spice, and raspberries. It has a nice freshness and short finish.Yummy!
Beaujolais AOC, 12.5% abv, purchased at Crystal City Wine Shop

Wine 5: Domaine Manoir du Carra Beaujolais Villages
This is the same producer as Wine 4, but the fruit is sourced from a higher quality vineyard. Like the Domaine Descroix, this wine is designated as "Propriétaire-Récoltant". There primary difference between the two Domaine Manoir wines is the body -- the Beaujolais Villages is a bit fuller, along with a hint more spice, particularly some anise. Very Yummy!
Beaujolais-Villages AOC, 12.5% abv, purchased at Planet Wine

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Martin Ray Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Martin Ray Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2012

Santa Rosa, California

When it comes to California Pinot, wine from the Russian River Valley AVA is probably my top pick. Centrally located within Sonoma County, the Russian River Valley experiences a relatively cool climate making it just perfect for Pinot!

Review: The Martin Ray Pinot is fairly fruit forward wine -- lots of red berried and cranberries on the nose, and then more luscious, juicy fruits on the palate. There is also a nice spice to the wine -- just a touch of nutmeg and mace -- along with a very subtle nutty caramel. Even with these secondary characteristics, the fruit in the wine is definitely the star. The red berries linger for a surprisingly long finish.

Food Pairing: Definitely a nontraditional pairing choice, but I had this with some leftover Chinese take out (sesame chicken). The sweet sauce really paired nicely with that hint of caramel in the wine! 

Bottom Line: Very nice Pinot for a very nice price (the low side of "High"). I dig it.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2012
  • PLACE: Russian River Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area)
  • GRAPE: Pinot Noir
  • BOOZE: 14.2%
  • CELLAR: Drink now

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? High Priced

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fuentes Solluna Priorat 2006

Fuentes Solluna Priorat 2006
Priorat, Spain

I'm a huge fan of wines from Priorat. It's a region in the Northeast of Spain, inside Catalonia most known for its terrior, specifically the dense slate "llicorella" soils. Wines from Priorat are known for their richness, full flavor, and finesse.

This wine is a "second label" of the renowned Priorat producer Gran Clos. It's a blend of three grapes: Garnacha (aka, Grenache), Carignan, and Merlot. It is truly delicious.

Review: This red wine is dark and unctuous. On the nose it shows dried blackberries and plums with a strong woody barrel note. On the palate it displays soft tannins and more dried fruits, along with the addition of coffee, earth, and just a touch of herbal mint and spicy pepper. The finish is long and lingering.

Given the age on this wine (2006) I chose to decant it to allow it to breathe. It was also an opportunity to try to leave some of the sediment in the bottle.

Food Pairing: Perfect with rustic Spanish or French foods!

Bottom Line: Completely delicious. Great depth of flavor and soft texture. I dig it.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2006
  • PLACE: Priorat DOQ (Denominació d'Origen Qualificada)
  • GRAPES: 50% Garnacha, 25% Carignan, 25% Merlot
  • AGEING: 12 months French oak
  • BOOZE: 15%
  • CELLAR: Drink now. I think it's done ageing.

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? High Priced

Thursday, November 7, 2013

New Brew Thursday: The Bruery Tart of Darkness

The Bruery Tart of Darkness

Placentia, California

Oh where, oh where have I been? Between post government shutdown craziness at work and my Unit 2 WSET Diploma exam things have been beyond hectic. I have quite a few beverages in reserve to review, though, because I can assure you that I have not been abstaining.

I adore sour beers. The sourer the better. I find them refreshing, interesting, and superbly food friendly. I also adore most everything out of The Bruery. The beers are refined, compelling, and just plain yummy. This Tart of Darkness is a home run for me on all fronts. I've been saving it for cooler weather -- the 2013 vintage was released this summer, but I personally prefer it for the fall!

Review: Darkness is right -- this stout pours nearly black with only little bubbles. The nose shows a bit of sour funkiness, but isn't terribly aromatic. On the palate, however, it explodes! Cherries, slightly candied lemons, soft maltiness, and just a hint of super sour vinegar. I love the finish -- the puckering sourness lingers and cleans your palate, especially if you're pairing with something fatty and delicious. So refreshing.

Bottom Line: I wish it were available year round! Also, can we take a moment to talk about the name? I dig it.

Beer Geekery:
  • BREWER: The Bruery
  • STYLE: Sour Stout
  • PLACE: Placentia, California
  • BOOZE: 7%
Where did I get it?  Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage?  High Priced