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Friday, September 28, 2012

Wine of Interest: 2010 Daou Reserve Zinfandel


"Writers about wine should, at least on occasion, be troublesome, irritating and critical.” ~ Andrew Jefford

Now I normally have a wine of the week, but seeing this wine really didn't quite fit into my normal headline as the "Wine of the Week", I decided to go with a new title, "Wine of Interest". While the Zinfandel in today's spotlight is a very good bottle, one which I can highly recommend to you. It unfortunately can't make the cut as my wine of the week, because the quality to price ratio is beyond the pale of what I consider reasonable [IMHO].

Now about the wine; 100% free-run juice, no press juice anywhere in sight, so that may explain part of the higher cost. Some subtle, but decidedly spicy undertones put its mark on their 2010 vintage. On the plate, a vibrant display of acidity enhances the play of the usual suspects.

Big briary raspberry and blackberry varietal expression await the thirsty vino-sapien. So do you like it lush? If so this wine will not disappoint, a velvety mouth feel interwoven with fine, integrated tannins which rush to greet each sip, slurp and even a long gulp, if you feel so inclined. Additionally you’ll find this wine full-bodied; it has a juicy mid-palate and is shot through with elegant "balance." While this wine is bit more coin than I’m use to paying for a Zinfandel from Paso Robles, it did give a stellar performance at every angle, I gave this little stunner, 91 points.

Now that said, this winery is located in wonderful Paso Robles, found high a-top one of the areas highest points and the views from the outside tasting area is spectacular. One well worth the drive to the top, it must be especially gorgeous at this time of year, vine covered hills full of fruit, sitting among a green canopy that stretches for what seems like miles. Until next time folks, remember it's the weekend, so sit back and enjoy and never forget to sip long and prosper cheers!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Travel Tuesday: A Visit to DemiJohn in York


It's great to be back, but wow what a fun-tastic whirl-wind visit I just had to the UK. A great place offering so much, I barely had time to even start scratching the surface. But one thing I did learn, is that a bus is not a bus, instead its a coach. If you ever find yourself in York or even in Edinburgh or Glasgow do yourself a favor and step into this great little "deli" for a taste. So don't be shy, step right up, ask for a taste and you'll be surprised at the varied and off-the-beaten path flavors and aromas awaiting the thirsty vino-sapien.

Did I say a "deli" oh yes I did, I stumbled across it walking down the street in York just last week [bragging]. It is a great little place called Demijohn or as it's known the Worlds first Liquid Deli. An idea which was founded in Edinburghs Grassmarket. Demijohn offers a unique collection of handmade products like Whisky, Fruit Wine, Ports, Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegars. Each demi-john jub has a description of what to expect you find in your sample. The shop which I visited is easily found on [11 Museum Street] one of York's main streets, a three to five minute walk from the train station. This shop is divided [pretty much equally] into spirits on the right and non-spirits on the left, which makes their shop easy to navigate, all depending on your interest.

When it comes to being environmentally conscience; it's part of their business plan and in their DNA. Demijohn founder and owner Angus Ferguson has been quoted to say regarding questions about sustainability. "We are incredibly conscious of the impact of retail on the environment and have maximised every effort to be one of the most eco-friendly food and drink retailers.”

There are many choices of package styles to choose from and if need-be they can wrap your choice and make it gift-giving ready. The perfect stocking stuffer [depending on the size] for the spirit-slurping vino-sapien who has everything. Now if you happen to not be in the gift giving mood and slurp down that 21yr old scotch all on your own leaving you with an empty bottle, needing to be re-filled. Then they have a great solution for you, feel free to bring it back to one of their shops for a refill and you'll save a pound or two on the price of the glass bottle.

The great thing about this place is that you get to try everything and anything before you buy, yes even a 21year old Single Malt Scotch. So of course I had to try all the different choices, but hey I wasn't driving. I love the concept, I'd like to see more of that here in the U.S. but with zoning regulations and other red-tape being what they are here, it would prove a bit more difficult to have shops like this. But the next time you find yourself strolling now the street in York, Edinburgh or Glascow give them a swirl for yourself and see what the fuss is all about, you'll find it's well worth dropping a few pounds. Until next folks remember to sip long and prosper cheers!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Travel Tuesday: Hitting the Orgundian Trail at WillaKenzie Estates


The Gate is Straight, Deep and Wide; Break On Through to the other side ~ Jim Morrison

Break on through is what we did in Oregon, broke through to the other side of Pinot Noir and onto the Orgundian Wine Trail. Here in the picture above you have the aerial view, which of course I sadly didn't take. But I wanted you to have the bird's eye view of this beautiful property. Their winery and the vineyards are easily located at 19143 NE Laughlin Rd. in Yamhill, OR in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. So please do yourself a favor the next time you're in Portland stop by the tasting room, see the property [take a tour], taste the great wines and relax because after-all you're in wine country.

 
My most recent visit came as part of this year's Wine Bloggers Conference that was held in Portland,OR making this my second trip out to visit. I was surprised to find some new changes; they have since moved the main tasting room to some new a new spot, with a wrap around deck and a great view of the vineyards. The new spot is not too far from the old building, which still has a view of the fermentation tanks, but is perched upon the area where Mrs. Cuvee and I took our first picture. Just above you can see the picture from the deck.

Here in the picture above you see the old tasting room, which is still used. And in the picture below you can see the brand-new tasting room, which I think I like quite a bit better. But with such a big space, I was surprised that the new bar was not a lot bigger.

After a quick spin through the new tasting room it was time to take the bloggers out to see what makes the wines so special, it was time to play in the dirt. There was a large hole dug down into the soil so we could see the layers of sediment and complexity that give the grape and wines from this area their distinctiveness.
The next thing we did and thought this was a fun exercise is that we learned to cut-off the wing-man that grow off to side of the main grape bunch, sucking the life out the other grapes. Which you can see in the picture below.
After that fun and informative trip into the vineyard, it was time to go back in side to taste the wine from the many different wineries who call the Yamhill Carlton AVA home.


Wow, this was a great tasting, that they had lined up for us. Each wine on that sheet told its own story. You had everything from freshly cut cigars, florals to an odd unexpected eucalyptus jumping out of one of the glasses. I also found what I would call all the other usual suspects in Oregon Pinot Noir, things like tar, black berries, raspberries, coffee and baking spices. Some more subtle than the others, while still others had an amazingly captivating nose. After this was the an up-hill walk to the Triple Black Slopes, tasting wines and sampling snacks meant to be paired with the wine.


There was a bit of logistical difficulties, but by the time we made it to the top it was all worth it. Taking into account the considerable heat some of the bloggers wilted like a sun-flower on parched soil, it was not a pretty sight. But none-the-less most of persevered and drove-on wine glass in hand.
 

Having arrived at the top many of us, including yours truly were awe-struck by the view from the top, thus commanding most of us to get a picture of the view.
Nothing like a wanna-be wine-writer [aka, blogger] whoo seems to be standing atop of the world, striking the would-be "conquerer" pose. But what to do when faced with a bunch of hungry wine-bloggers and very thirsty vino-sapiens, I know serve up some more fantastic, to this point untried Pinot Noir, served along side a generous plate of vittles.
After a wonderful evening of feasting, chit-chatting with many winemakers sitting at our tables, slurping on some the best Pinot Noir that I've ever had the opportunity to taste. It sadly was time to go home, many of us lamented that it would be great to just stay, continuing to take in the view and what we all knew would be a glorious night sky had we stayed that long. Some of us tromped back down the hill as easily as we strode up, but still others needed to be carried back by a passing vehicle, jumping into the back of pick-up.

All in all, it was a great adventure and I for one learned so much more about Oregon wine that day and look forward to seeing the Orgundian Wine Trail again soon. Until next time folks, sit-back, relax and remember to sip long and prosper cheers!
  

Monday, September 10, 2012

About San Diego: Protocol Wine Studio

"Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work." --Gustave Flaubert


I'm always on the lookout for the next big thing on the wine-scene here in San Diego and this time I've uncorked a great one that you need to check out for yourself. If you are anything like me, you're tired of the ho-hum everyday selections found in many so called wine-stores [more so the average grocery outlet] today. 

If there is anywhere or anyplace I want to encounter true diversity, it's in the aisles of my favorite [and even my not so favorite] wine shop. Sadly though, finding places like this are the exception and not the rule. But a word of caution, this not your ordinary wine-on-the-shelf experience, you may be accustom to, they operate a bit differently.

Sometimes when I see folks tweeting about or throwing up a FB posts about seemingly generic mass produced [commodity] wines, like Chateau Two-by-Four [insert mass market label here] Chardonnay for example, I cringe. 

When asked to accept a sample of ordinary run-of-the-mill wines like that and review them; I feel like I've not done my job properly as a wine-writer. I've not shook enough trees, to let folks know they have alternatives, outside of California. 

Let me go a step further in regards to commodity wines; to me those "kind" of wines are all too similar of a choice between two widely different options. It's more like the choice to either buy farm-raised salmon [blech] or instead going for the [pricier] "wild-caught" Sockeye there's no comparison [I don't mind paying extra].

That said, I'm happy to introduce you to the Protocol Wine Studio, a new start-up here in San Diego. One poised to captivate your palate with unique and surprising wines at every twist and turn. I was invited over to swirl and slurp a small sampling of types of wines one could expect to be offered, and I was pleasantly surprised by the wildly different styles and flavors presented that evening.  

If you'd like this dynamic wine-duo to help you fill up an empty cellar or if you're simply looking certain types or styles wine, that you just can't seem to find anywhere else, chances are that Tina and Guy can help. Further I would have to say; if should you decide to partner with them on a voyage of wine discovery, you won't be looking back. 

Tina and Guy have a simple yet straightforward mission statement:
"Our philosophy centers around a wine culture aesthetic where wine gently glitters from the background and becomes part of a complete social experience, distinct for each individual." 
Let these True Wine Culture Consultants help you as they say "taste it, share it, live it!" and to that I say viva exploration!

One of the surprises of the evening was a great little wine called Fie Gris, [Éric Chevalier] a wine which to me is the poster boy for "esoteric". And for me to be crazy about most Sauvignon Blanc it has to be French. Now enter Fie Gris, I really dig this description below.
"Long before there was Sancerre and/or Pouilly-Fumé, certainly before Marlborough or perhaps even Sauternes. And long, long before there was even Sauvignon Blanc, storytellers and wine historians say, there was Fie Gris." ~ North Berkeley Imports.
The nose on this wine grabbed my attention immediately; very smoky [gunflint], bell-pepper, loads of wet-stone, infused with just a twist of lemon peel and not fully ripe plums. On the palate, vivid acid, but still a lush mouth feel, smoke from a distant fire, herbaceous, wet-stone fruit, a wonderfully terroir-driven wine. 

I've not sure ever tasted a wine similar to it, but there's something familiar about it. I found it to be a very exotic wine to be sure, but nonetheless captivating, inviting sips at first, then slurps and finally even a big gulp [oh-my].

One of the more surprising elements was how it paired ever so nicely with the back-yard camp-fire toasted marshmallows which we all chowed-down on toward the end of the night; like a pack of wolves experiencing their first kill in weeks [okay, maybe that was just me]. 

It was a fun evening, Mrs. Cuvee and I sitting in the VIP area [don't ya know] helped to close down the evening, lighting a few gars and telling tales till the wee-hours of the morning. Until next time folks, sit back, relax and please remember to sip long and prosper cheers!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lunch-Time with Chandon Brut Rosé

Picking the rich, ripe summer tomatoes from the backyard this morning, posting a picture of it to my FB wall, I was inspired to write this post in anticipation about what I would have for lunch today. It was my good friend, Shawn of Wandering-Wino fame who helped me with this quick and impromptu brain storm.
 
What could be better than a simple lunch with simple ingredients and fab bottle of wine to compliment that effort, one with bubbles no less. The wine is a sample I received earlier this summer in a three pack from the great folks at Domaine Chandon just north of me [a few hundred miles] in the Napa Valley. A great place to visit, easily found on the famous route 29 corridor in Yountville. This folks is one tasty bottle of bubbly, it's simply a party waiting to be uncorked and inexpensive to boot. Boat loads of fresh summer strawberries, resting on a flaky croissant crust await the first slurp of the thirsty vino-sapien, you’ll find it very easy drinking and plush. There is nothing to not like about this great lunch time partner, a wine which I scored 90 points, a sparkling wine you can find most places for a SRP of $20

If you want to make this simple yet delicious lunch for yourself, then run off to the store, farmers market or even your basic grocery outlet, grab some [if you don't have these items already] basil, tomatoes, a couple baguettes, EVOO, fresh garlic, and a block of Parmesan cheese. Now it's time to put together some Italian style bruschetta (pronounced "brusketta"). There are many variations on this recipe, so feel free to adjust as needed.

Honestly there is no need to turn the oven on to make this easy-breezy lunch time delight, you'll just need a skillet. Dice the tomatoes to the size you're going to be comfortable with and set aside. Cut the entire baguette in half and then cut into pan-size pieces. Add butter to skillet and melt over high-heat, then add the bread, cook until golden brown, pressing down as needed. The bread cooks quickly and leaves it crispy on the outside, but soft inside

Now using the same skillet [one pan operation], add some cooking olive oil, then toss in the tomatoes, again cooking on medium-high heat. You'll know they are ready when you see them start to soften. Now throw in the spices, garlic too and add the basil at the very end. Now it's ready to be plated unto the baguette, sprinkle some freshly shaved Parmesan Cheese over the top, pop the cork on the Chandon and enjoy. Until next time folks remember to, sit back, relax, slurp long and prosper cheers!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Wine and Food Pairing of the Week: 2011 Castello di Amorosa Late Harvest Gewurztraminer


"Much of what passes for wisdom in food-and-wine pairing has always struck me as fishy." ~ Beppi Crosariol

Another warm and sultry summer day here in sun-baked San Diego, even though there's abundant sunshine, my tomatoes are still taking their sweet-time getting ripe. But I do have some gems that I've pulled from this monster tomato plant which surprisingly grew from my recently integrated composted soil.

It's funny to see it growing amidst the desert plants which populate a small corner of the back-yard. I'd have to say this tomato plant is about as organic as organic gets; no fertilizers, no sprays, hell neither the birds nor the insects are hardly interested in the mammoth fruit growing among the elephant-ear and the yucca, a curious fact indeed.

Now leaving my so-called gardening aside for the moment, I've heard it said that some folks find it difficult to pair fruit covered tarts as in the one pictured above or even a fresh fruit strudel like the ones I get from my favorite bakery here in San Diego, Hans and Harry's that are topped with raspberry spread, Bavarian cream and assorted fresh summer fruit.

But when I'm faced with this challenge, I typically go with a late harvest style of wine, typically my go-to standard in this case is a Beerenauslese [literal meaning: "selected harvest of berries"]. But this time around, I went for the 2010 LH Anderson Valley Gewurtzraminer from the great folks at Castello di Amorosa, who sent me a few samples just last month. Seeing I don't have a dessert like the one described and pictured above everyday, I had to find the right occasion to pop the cork on this very tasty bottle of dessert wine. The bottle comes in the typical 375ml size and is perfect for four people to share or if just two folks you'll most likely have a bit left over, which is best consumed in 2 days even if you vacu-vin.

I'm always a bit hesitant about Gewurztraminer; I taste so many that seem to have a bit of "soapy" thing going on right about mid-palate. But that said, this bottle was nothing short of stellar and really amplified the experience. The wine itself, aside from the dessert had a plush palate pulsating swagger, with a refreshing blend of honey, wet-stone, and lychee juice, an effort which is harmoniously supported by [plumbed] its bright acidity, which really carries the sweetness of this wine. I'd would say further that this wine is in a word, "hedonistic" but in a really good way and I never found it cloying. My score for this wine 91 points.

As far as the dessert is concerned I really prefer the Hans and Harry's very light and flaky strudel over the heavier crust of the tart pictured above. That dessert pairing is just fantastic and trust me once you try it, you'll never be able to go back to the ordinary. This pairing just sings summer, the fresh inviting fruit, the bright colors, the light flaky crust, the Bavarian cream and this wine the perfect match, it compliments each and every bite.

As you can see from the photo montage above, Mrs. Cuvee and my son took a road trip to Castello di Amorosa earlier this summer. We took the tour, which I'd recommend doing, the castle really is a full-size and functioning castle, complete with a moat. It's hard to see from the road, but once you make it up the drive-way you are immediately greeted by its medieval charm and instantly transported back to the middle ages in Tuscany. We encountered many good wines that day, but the review of their other mainly Italian varietals will have to wait until next time. So until then folks remember sip long and prosper cheers!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Navarra Uncorked: A visit to Bodega Del Señorío De Otazu


"Wine to me is passion. It's family and friends. It's warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It's culture. It's the essence of civilization and the art of living." ~ Robert Mondavi

This sentiment expressed for me so wonderfully by Mr. Mondavi in his Autobiography,"Harvests of Joy" really sums up so much of my recent experiences in the Kingdom of Navarra, Spain. Many of those same experiences and impressions expressed by Mr. Mondavi in the quote above really  resonated for me in a recent visit to this wonderful wine region known as Navarra. If you've not been to this region, you owe to yourself to make the trip.

The reason I say that's because where ever I went on this trip, I experienced a real warmth of the heart and a generous spirit with the many various producers, winemakers and just ordinary every-day "folks" who I met while I was there. I was really made to feel at home and I don't mind saying this either; this place, its people, the food and of course the wine really scratched my soul.

Perhaps you're wondering what does that mean? Honestly, I'm still digesting what that means for me personallt. But a few things I do know is that I came away with a new appreciation for the things that really matter in life. To sum it up, I just see things a little differently than I have before and I'm richer for the experience.

Pondering further; perhaps it's because I ran smack-dab into the middle of a place, that had a great culture long before the Roman Empire. I say that, because if you listen closely you can still hear the echo of history rumbling through the streets, you feel its vibe and sense the passion for life in this place, it just moves you.

I still don't know the full answer, but I like the sense of satisfaction, as the pulse of exploration rushed through me and really made me think about life a little more circumspectly. So yes while I found the wine, the food and people there to be generous and vibrant, I also found the soul of a great people, visiting the Kingdom of Navarra and look forward to returning again someday and please forgive me for waxing-on philosophically.

Now enter our experience, just last September and that of the Navarra Five. Where at Señorío de Otazu, we meet their lively ambassador and General Manager, Javier Banales Vanes for the first time. You immediately sense the passion for his vineyards and the wines they produce. I and the rest of the Navarra Five may have been caught off-guard by his vigorous enthusiasm, but nonetheless intrigued by his exclamations of "welcome to your home" I think we all immediately felt at home in this Temple of Wine. 

He also said regarding winemaking; "give not only muscle or bone, only blood" and that "acidity and balance is the blood of wine" and finally "recover and respect the terroir". Everything he said, was amply reflected in the dedication of imparting those qualities to the wine, the winery, the terroir and mightily abundant in the vineyards. He went on to say further regarding Señorío de Otazu, that their business is Wine, Wine, Wine. After tasting through the wines presented that day, all I can say, "yes it is!".

2009 Otazu Chardonnay: A brilliant unoaked Chardonnay chock full of vibrant mouthwatering acidity, beautiful stone fruit, citrus and minerality shining through every sip and slurp. This is my third or fourth time encountering this wine and it's a winner for me every-time and I'm typically NOT a fan of the un-oaked movement .You can read more of my review here.

2010 Otazu Rosado: This wine is absolutely brilliant, bright and vivid, displaying cherry and strawberry colored hues. On the nose this 100% Merlot flashes the smell of sweet rose petals. On the first splash, vivid acidity, great structure and almost creamy strawberry and cherry on the super-clean finish [SRP $15 USD]. I gave this wine a score of 90 points, this is the kind of Rose wine I would filling my pantry, really well done.

2006 Bodega Otazu Crianza: This wine is a blend of 35% Tempranillo, 35% Merlot and 30% Cab. Sauv. In the glass you'll find a deep, black ruby core. On the nose an apparent use of new oak, toasty, leathery aroma with ripe black fruit notes. On the palate I found this wine to be soft, rich, complex compote of lovely ripe [but not jammy] red fruit flavors, beautifully balanced acidity, a discernible terroir minerality and firm tannins. A definite tip of the cap to food-friendliness as this wine paired effortlessly with the grilled squid and boiled octopus. For the score keepers in the audience I scored this wine 89 points and its SRP is $15 USD. In Spanish wine shops this wine sells for about 7-8 euros.

2006 Altar: One of two big-boys in the room. The Altar a wonderful blend of 90% Cab. Sauv and 10% Tempranillo which spent 18 months on French Oak. In the glass a nearly opaque ruby colored core. Wonderful aromas immediately escaping from the glass, tobacco, dried tea leaves, licorice, blackberry and meaty worn leather. On the palate a dense coating of blackberry, plum unsweetened black licorice and a dusting of bakers cocoa. All hanging together on the stoop of long finish and fitting nicely on a canvas of great structure and acidity. Decant first, to maximize the flavors and aromas at least two hours.[$60 USD] I gave this wine a score of 92 points. Well worth the price of admission.

2005 Vitral: Wow, this was some fantastic juice and with only 700 bottles produced this the kind of wine many collectors would love to put their hands on this blend of 95% Cab Sauv and just 5% Tempranillo. Dark, dark ruby core gives way to brilliant aromas ripe with black currant, unsweetened licorice and leather. On the palate nothing but layers of ripe spiced cherry, berry fruit and mocha stretched over a canvas of well-integrated new oak and dusty tannins. The finish is long and caressing. This bottle appears to be quite pricey with a quick look on wine-searcher, but the SRP is $105 and worth the price of admission. I gave it a score of 94 points, it could age longer but is drinking very nicely at the moment.

"This wine is too good for toast-drinking, my dear. You don't want to mix emotions up with a wine like that. You lose the taste. ~Hemingway A quote from his book, "The Sun also Rises" reminds us all of one thing when it comes to wine from Spain and Navarra in particular; it's not about power, it's about finesse. This is the beauty, the allure of Spanish wines which as Mr. Hemingway deftly points out that these wines are too good for mere toasting, they are made to be enjoyed with family, friends and great food. I hope you will join me in seeking out more wines from the Navarra region, so you to can taste the passion. Until next time, sip long and prosper, cheers!






Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Summer Time in San Diego: White Bordeaux Blanc

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summers day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time". — John Lubbock

Taking a bit of inspiration from my friend Susan, who lives just a stones-throw from the beach and who took that picture. I started to think about what many call the end of summer. Yes, yes on our collective calendars, they all tell us that summer is reaching its end.

The kids are heading back to school, while parents breath in a sigh of relief and football is back on TV. The shops are busily preparing for the coming fall fashions; where god-forbid a parade of ugly sweaters will rush to greet us at every turn [ugh].

But here in San Diego, we have had and always will have an extended summer, one which goes well into the depths of the fall. The water might have started turning a little cooler, but the sun still beams warmly upon our faces, giving us all the year around color so many folks around the country can only hope for, outside of the tanning beds.

So what to drink is the question many thirsty vino-sapiens wish to know, especially those who don't want to spend a fortune on a bottle of wine; they'd just like it taste like it does [this wine pictured above sells for $6.99]. To have a wine that transports them for just a moment to another place and time, a wine that says, "yes, summer is still here" so enjoy its warmth while it lasts, but embrace my gentle and easy spirit.

Can a wine say all of that? That's a good question, one for whom only the person holding the glass and drinking in that alluring elixir can answer. Draw your own conclusions, make your own judgements, but a great glass of wine at the right time and with the right people can be for some a transformative moment, even if that moment is just fleeting at best, still I say lean into it for all you can.
 
That bit of esoteric thought stated, the wine pictured above is a very nice summer time delight. It's light and refreshing wine, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle and is often simply referred to as white Bordeaux blanc. What you find in wines like that is that modern producers have taken a new approach by increasing skin contact, ageing on the yeast and have fermentation in barrel has been added in some cases as well to give a fatter and rounder mouth-feel. These styles of wine are made in a drink now and drink often style, so please plan accordingly. What you'll find in each slurp and big gulp are subtle pineapple skin, lemon curd, a bit of honey, they're full and lively and plumbed with vibrant acidity which brings the whole package together nicely.

I'm not even going to score this wine from Château Petit-Freylon, but trust me, as Susan did, this a great bottle of wine to unwind with on a warm summer evening, whether it's here in San Diego or elsewhere. I'm going to go out on a bit of limb here, I of course am no weather-man, but as a long time resident of the city, I want to make a bit of a prediction. I sorry to say this, but I see an Indian Summer on tap for San Diego, it's going to be hot-hot-hot. It's my hope for everyone reading this; that even though official summer is about to be packed away until next year, that you will all continue to sip long and prosper cheers!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

WBC12 Highlight: The 2002 Napa "Big-Guns" Tasting


All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

There was definitely a bit of experimenting going on that weekend in Portland, OR. I and the many other thirsty vino-sapiens were treated to some fantastically generous tastings, including the one you see above. I say generous, because if you look at the wines in the picture above you'll see a collection of wine that could amount to far more than most folks weekly wages. Yep, no kidding the bottles on that table are what I call some of Napa's intermediate "big-guns". Think about it this way, if they were going to re-make the movie the Magnificent Seven, I believe you'd see some of those producers as head-liners in the new movie.
 
Luckily, I did have a chance to give them all a swirl, and was impressed with most of them to one degree or the other, save the one bottle from Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon [I'm sorry to report]. For some reason it just didn't show that well, especially when compared against its counterparts on the table in my opinion.The wine felt a bit muddled, little texture, very lean red or dark fruits and short finish. Oddly, it had a graphite, tobacco and leather feel from beginning to end, plus some green olive note thing going on, unfortunately this wine a far cry different than their much heralded 2001 vintage.

The 2002 Elivette Proprietary Red. A thick and viscous blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, with just drop Cabernet Franc balancing out this superb wine at 7%. You know how I often say that just because you pay more, you don’t always get more, well in this case I’m wrong. Because in this wine, which typically retails for about $90 most places the price more than matches the quality. If you're wondering about this wines long term aging possibility, I'd say another five to ten is easily possible.

 

What you will find after uncorking the bottle and decanting for an hour or so is a saturated, deep ruby-red, opaque core in the glass. This wine will wow you with quintessential and classic Spring Mountain Cabernet aromas and flavors; like blackcurrant, black cherry, dark chocolate, and licorice, a slice of black olive, herbs and rich earth. All this nicely sweetened by some roasted oak tones that give way to a dense, supple and a long seamless finish, a wine which is so much more concentrated than other basic Napa Valley Cabs you may have encountered in the past, viva Spring Mountain. This is the kind of wine that demands fat rib-eye,I scored this wine 94 points, very nicely done. I have to admit, I actually had more than one glass, my apologies to anyone else who may have missed out.

As for the rest of the wines on the table, yes they were very good, but were they $80 to $90 good? Well that is the question isn't? But if you're anything like me, you'd be better off buying some of the other Cabs, I've reviewed here for far less coin. Honestly at my house; because wines in that price range are for me, what I call "occasion-wines", great wines to uncork when having old friends over or going out to dinner with Mrs. Cuvee for a special evening, you get the idea. 

But it’s definitely not the kind of vino I'll be popping the cork on the average Sunday night while I watch the Packers kick-off another great winning season. But hey, it's your money and if it makes you feel better having wines like that in your in decanter and swirling about in your glass everyday of the week, then by all means have at it. Until next time folks, remember sip long and prosper cheers!


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