Tag Archive | "white wine"

Forgeron Cellars Line-up Review

When I first tried wines from Forgeron a few years ago at a public tasting at Esquin Wine Merchants in Seattle, I knew at the time this was a winery which was on to something good. I can recall how much I especially enjoyed their “Red Table Wine” (now called Walldeaux Smithie Red) and found it to be an exceptional value for around $16 at the time.

Its winemaker, Marie-Eve Gilla, got her eduction at Dijon University in France and brings many of the old-world qualities in her wines. What you’ll find with most of her reds are not wines that’ll have instant appeal to those who are used to new-world fruit bombs. What you typically find are wines which are balanced, focused and tend to be good contenders amongst their peers at each price level.

2006 Chardonnay: W.E.P. Scale Rating: 100%

  • Composition: 98% Chardonnay, 2% Lonesome Springs Orange Muscat
  • Vineyards: Evergreen, Stillwater, Weinbau, Gamache, Den Hoed, Crawford, Underwood, Beckleton
  • Analysis: pH: 3.49
  • Total Acidity: 0.76
  • Alcohol: 14.1%
  • Residual Sugar: <0.2%
  • Bottling Date: May 30, 2007
  • Barrels 100% Burgundian Oak, 1/3 new and 2/3 used
  • Price: $25.00 (750ml)

Smells like: Lemon drop blended with river rock and laced with some toasted vanilla, green apple, wheatgrass and butterfinger bar.

Tastes like: lemon drop honeysuckle, elderberry and grapefruit lightly coated with toasted marshmellows. Very dry on the finish – this is definitely not the new world oak bomb so many folks are (unfortunately) used to. It’s a very refreshing take on Chardonnay and one I’d highly encourage you to seek out and give a whirl. Long butterfinger smashed in with river-rock finish..

2006 Chardonnay Summary: I dig this wine and think it’ll really surprise some folks as to how good Chardonnay can be when it’s not over-oaked. Anyone who’s out there drinking down the Kendall Jackson’s and other California wood-products, needs to try this wine.

Walldeaux Smithie: W.E.P. Scale Rating: 50%

  • Composition: 55% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10.5% Syrah, 7% Zinfandel, 3.5% Cabernet Franc
  • Vineyards: 28% Red Mountain (Klipsun), 33% Walla Walla (Ash Hollow & Pepperbridge), 22% Horse Heaven Hills (Alder Ridge), 17% Yakima Valley (Boushey)
  • Price: $16.00

Smells Like: stong cherry cola component coming through with obvious hints of cherries and blackberries with some shoe-leather to chew on..A new nike shoe smell – that sorta rubbery tennis shoe smell..
I pick up a little bit of cremecicle… forest floor and chocolate…

Tastes Like: This is a wine that would do well to decant for at least an hour – it has super tight tannins if you don’t. Blueberries, chocolate and some Red Man tobacco and black pepper. The finish for me is too short – there are other wines in this price range I’d gravitate towards.

Walldeaux Smithie Summary:
As I mentioned in the tasting notes, there are too many other wines in the $16 price range that simply outclass this wine – a few that come to mind are the Fidelitas m100, Townshend Cellars T3 and the 2005 Chateau Lagaroose. I’ll have to pass on this one for now.

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon: W.E.P. Scale Rating: 100%

  • Composition: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc
  • Vineyards: Pepperbridge, Klipsun and Alder Ridge Vineyards.
  • Harvest Dates: September 13th – October 10th, 2003
  • Barrels: 80% French, 20% American and Eastern European, 50% New, 50% Used
  • Bottling Date: May 14, 2006
  • Price: $30.00

Smells like: dirty sock, leather and cherries and a hint of darker fruits like black raspberry..

Tastes like: cherries for days mixed with some huckleberry, old glove, vanilla and pomagranite. lots of chocolate and tobacco on the end – nice lingering finish with hints of white pepper.

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Summary:
Once again, like the Chardonnay, this Cab comes from the old-world school and is not going to cater to everyone – but screw them – this wine is good stuff and needs to be tried by folks who think that the typical fruit-bombs they pound with wreckless abandon are all there is. Give me the old-world dark fruit all day long combined with the killer tannins and layers of multiple flavors.

2003 Merlot: W.E.P. Scale Rating: 60%

  • Composition: 100% Merlot
  • Vineyards: Klipsun, Boushey, Clifton and Alder Ridge Vineyards.
  • Harvest Dates: September 10th – September 27th, 2003
  • Barrels: 35% New French Oak, 41% Used French Oak, 24% New Eastern European & American Oak,
  • Bottling Date: June 1, 2005
  • Price: $27.00

Smells Like: Blackberries, blueberry with plums- hints of tar, tobacco and wilted asparagus. I also picked up some clove nutmeg and some stinky mud.

Taste: Good mouth-feel, a bit spicey – good plum and dark fruit component, but the finish is a bit hot for me.

2003 Merlot Summary:
Here’s a wine that had a great opportunity to make friends with my palate – it served up many of the great components it longs for in a well-made red wine, however, it just simply finished too hot on the back-end which destroyed the pleasure I had from the front to the mid palate. For $27, there are other wines which capture my eye.

2003 Syrah: W.E.P. Scale Rating: 100%

  • Composition: 100% Syrah
  • Vineyards: Les Collines, Boushey, Milbrandt, Stonetree, Den Hoed
  • Harvest Dates: September 19th – October 3th, 2003
  • Barrels: 49% new oak, 51% one and two years old
  • Bottling Date: May 31, 2005
  • Price: $30.00

Smells like: Mud-riddled Cherry cola, tobacco, chocolate, blackberry and pie crust.

Tastes like: This is a rather non-jammyesque syrah which is rather typical of the variety. It has a healthy amount of fruit forward components like blackberries and black cherries etc, but really picks up the cola aspect across the mid-palate for me. The finish lingers very nicely – perhaps longer than other syrah’s I’ve had of late. The finish lingers with a nice, long plum and blueberry component.

2003 Syrah Summary:
This is one of my favorite reds out of the bunch in this round – it really does an exceptional job of capturing the essence of Syrah and brings with it some great mout-feel, good old-world flavors balanced with the fruit so many folks love as well.

2005 Zinfandel: W.E.P. Scale Rating: 50%

  • Composition: 100% Zinfandel
  • Vineyards: Alder Ridge, Clifton and Les Collines Vineyards.
  • Harvest Dates: September 15th – October 6th, 2005
  • Barrels:90% American oak, 10% French
  • Bottling Date: May 30, 2007
  • Price: $30.00

Smells like: Tobasco, celery stock, asparagus, vanilla, sour cherries with some blackberry and Fennel bulb.

Taste: Explosive tobasco-laden black-cherry jam – excellent on the mid-palalate with a finish that lingers just okay but tapers off way to quickly for a wine of this price.

2005 Zinfandel Summary:
Here’s a wine which is priced in an area where is poised to compete against the likes of the Maryhill Reserve Zin, Montevina Terra Doro and other great Zinfandels (primarily from California) but doesn’t hold up. There are far too many Zins in this price-range which have a better finish and more jammy mouth-feel (which I appreciate in my Zins).

Conclusion:
Okay, so we did a 50/50 split here but that’s about what I expected – can’t win em’ all but the wines here that won me over are ones you all should seek out and try.

All in all this overall round-up of Forgeron wines helped cement the idea to me that it’s a winery which folks really need to pay more attention to. It’s obvious that Marie-Eve’s passion for the old-world carries a major influence in the varrying styles of wines she produces. I really appreciate how they hold their wines and don’t quickly release them before their ready. To be drinking 2003 reds in 2008 is great and I only wish more wineries would envoke this practice of holding wines.

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Reviews, Syrah, Washington Wines, ZinfandelComments (1)

2004 Terra Blanca Estate Chardonnay

There was a time not too many years ago when I (like many of you) had a slogan of “A.B.C.” – anything but chard – and we can largely thank the state of California and its parade of over-oaked fanboys for that. chardonnay is a gorgeous grape which has been a staple around the world for centuries. There are many reasons for this, however, I think it’s because chardonnay one of the more approachable white grape varieties available by an overwhelming majority of both wine drinks and folks new to wine.

 

Thankfully, there are wineries out there who’ve heard the cries of us who’ve been stung by the over-oaked, over-saturated chardonnay’s and have aimed to put their grapes on less oak. This 2004 Estate-grown chardonnay from Terra Blanca is an excellent wine for well under $12 which means it’s very price-competitive to the over-oaked, “grocery brands” so many folks are buying.

TECHNICAL DATA
Harvest: Sugar – 22.3º Brix
Titratable Acidity – 0.75g/100ml
pH – 3.34
Bottle: Titratable Acidity – 0.72g/100ml
pH – 3.39
alcohol – 13.5% by volume
2004 Chardonnay
Red Mountain Estate Vineyard
100% CHARDONNAY

I emailed Terra Blanca’s Owner/Winemaker, Keith Pilgrim, about this chardonnay because I wasn’t picking up much oak at all and here was his reply:

Chardonnay is probably the varietal that the styles produced on the west coast from Washington to California have changed or evolved more than any other wine.  When we made our first estate Chardonnay in 1997 from grapes planted on the only slightly cooler spot on our Red Mountain site (it slopes slightly to the east and north rather than south and west as the rest of the property does) the wine was 100% barrel fermented in all French oak with about 40% of the barrels being new and the remainder 1 to 3 years old and the wine was 100% ML. 

At the time the market was hung up on 200% new oak Chardonnays that you needed a chainsaw rather than a glass to get through.  Ever since that first vintage we have been slowly reducing the oak profile of the wines, first through selection of French coopers that imparted less vanilla and butter flavors and selection of ML bugs that produced very little of the butter flavor.  By 2000 we were starting to ferment part of our Chardonnay in stainless then blending the stainless and barrel fermented fractions to complete the wine.  We have continued to lessen the oak impact on our estate Chardonnay and the 2004 vintage represents 50% stainless fermentation with no ML blended with 50% barrel fermented in all French oak barrels from 5 different coopers (down from about a dozen) with 100% ML, of which 1/3 of the barrels were new. 

But that’s not the whole story, we have also sorted the coopers for the barrels to those that produce more mineral, flint and toasty flavors, eliminating those that were more dominate vanilla and butter flavors, the result is wine that shows more of the red apple and tropical flavors supported by mineral and and slight toasty notes.  Our estate Chardonnay has continued down the same trend and is now 65% tank fermented with no ML and 35% barrel fermented with 100% ML and about 30% new French Oak from 2 coopers (the majority of the barrels are Latour).  We also have continued to make a small lot of Chardonnay from the same fruit that is called Block 5 Chardonnay and uses 100% new oak (all Latour barrels) that produces an almost Chablis like mineral flavor with some toasty notes on the finish.  Prior to the 2004 Chardonnay releases, most guests would assume that the estate Chardonnay with at the time almost half stainless and the remainder less than 50% new oak to show more oak than the Block 5 Chardonnay which has always been 100% new oak, but all the more minerally Latour French Oak barrels (aka Chateau Latour, they make there own barrels and sell a small number on allocation).

If you’re one of those Kendall Jackson-type folk – I do beleive there is professional help available now to help get that oak-plank off your tongue.

Nose: Grapefruit skin, apple, pear, toasted marshmellow, elderberry, fresh pea gravel.

Taste: A slight toasted nuts component, hint if kiwi, pistachio, lemons, slight butter with obvious tropical fruits and light spice on the finish.

Summary:
Keith nailed this wine – it’s an excellent bridge-wine for those who need to stop with the Kendall Jackson B.S. and get with the program. It’ll still have some of the toastiness those folks think they like yet introduce them to much more of the gorgeous fruit flavors of the chardonnay grape.

If you love chardonnay, buy more of the budgeted wines and want to taste some excellent fruit from Red Mountain, then go out today and snag a bottle or two of this wine.

This is my opinion, however, you really need to try this wine and form your own – remember, it’s all about embracing your own palate, not mine.

I’d easily pair this with the following foods:- Shrimp scampi
– Classic Ceasar salad
– Dried fruits with stinky cheeses and nuts
– Chicken parmesan
– Fetucinni Alfredo

Posted in Chardonnay, Reviews, Washington WinesComments (0)

Riesling Duel – Milbrandt vs. Pacific Rim

I’m not sure if it’s quite yet achieved cult-like status, but there’s little doubting riesling’s recent come-back as a serious white-grape contender for your dollars. I’m personally glad to see wineries making good, dry stuff and forgoing the ultra-cheap-tasting, over-the-top-sugar crap we see all to often in your local grocery store.

Mildbrandt Vineyards 2006 Traditions Riesling
Mildbrandt Vineyards, based in Mattawa Washington, is owned and operated by Butch Milbrandt and he’s done a great deal for the industry at large up here by selling his fine grapes to many other wineries in the region and being an overall good guy for us to have in our backyard.

He hired former Chateau Ste. Michelle winemaker, Gordon Hill to come make wines under the Milbrandt label and they’ve enjoyed a pretty good success rate so far. Milbrandt prides itself on offering excellent quality juice for fair prices.

Smell: A bit awkward, very one-dimensional for me – there are very slight hints of grapefruit, melon rine and spice – but you really have to get yer nose into it bigtime to pick anything out of it.

Taste: orange peel, granny smith apple, pineapple, very high acidity which leaves your tongue in shambles after it’s done. I appreciate the bite in my whites, but this one is beyond the pale.

Milbrant Riesling impressions: At the $11 price I paid, i’d give this wine a pass as there are far to many other wines in its same pricerange which I think are more appealing.

Pacific Rim 2006 Dry Riesling:
This is a winery which has been spread all over the west coast – in fact this wine was originally bottled in Santa Cruz CA (Hippie-town-USA). Since that time, the business side of Pacific Rim has undergone some changes but its unadulterated love and passion for riesling still remains faithful.

I sampled this wine at the Taste (the 2007 version) and really appreciated the approach Nicolas (their winemaker) takes. He uses 80% fruit from Washington State and 20% from Mosel in Germany. The final product is one that does an admirable job of blending old and new-world elements.

Nose: Fresh apricots, pineapple, green apple, hint of orange peel, sour lemon drop candy
– whip cream.

Taste: Good fruit, great acidity which cuts thru like a razor blade… good, lingering finish.. Granny smith apple peel..

Pacific Rim impressions: This is a wine which has stayed pure to the essence of the fruit – no oak here folks – and in doing so represents a tremendous wine value which will shove all sorts of bright fruits up into your palate. I enjoy it and for $11, I’d hit it all day long. If you gave me this wine on a sunny day with a plate of either raw oysters or oysters rockefeller – it’d be pure bliss.

Conclusion:
At the two identical price-points, there’s absolutely no reason for me to look at the Milbrandt – it’s very disjointed and simply lacks the backbone and complexity of the Pacific Rim effort. Great job Nicolas, you and your team have put together an excellent bottle of vino for under the $12 price barrier.

Foods to go with these wines:
– Raw oysters
– Clam linguini with a lemon-caper cream-sauce
– Fresh trout roasted with fresh dill and lemon
– Shrimp cocktail

Posted in Reviews, Riesling, Washington WinesComments (1)

2003 Saintpaulina Vintners Sauvignon Blanc

There was a time when I was telling people “life’s too short to drink white wine – when there’s so much red wine around”. To many wine drinkers, the thought of going back to whites sounds awfully newbish in the sense that most of us started out on whites before “graduating” to reds.

I’m well aware of the fact that all to many white wines don’t have the tannin structure we really enjoy with red wine, however, a properly made white can offer its own – somewhat unique – experience.

One recent white one which I acquired was from Saintpaulina Vintners, based out of Woodinville WA. They are a very small winery whose ambition and passion – like so many other wineries its size – lies in producing the best wines of each varietal they can.

Only 80 cases of this wine were made, so I highly doubt you’ll be able to find it at any store – Paul Shinoda – the winery’s owner and winemaker, did tell me they’re selling it for $8 bux a bottle. The wine isn’t listed on their website, however, be sure to ask Paul about getting some.

Alcohol: 13.2%
Oak: Neutral Oak

Color: Golden – light apple juice color

Smell:
Hint of toasted Ivory soap, lemongrass, hay, green apple, lemon zest, nutmeg, honeycomb

Taste:
Take some crisp green apples, roll them in a bit of straw hay, put a slightly toasted marshmallow on top and that’s what you have for a starting taste. Follow that up with a hint of flint stone, roasted cantaloupe, lemongrass, bosch pear and candied lemon drops – then you have the flavor of this wine.

Mouth-feel:
Feels very “wet” in the truest sense of the word with a good viscosity on the front and mid palate. A decent finish in a very thirst-quenching sort of way.

Foods:
This wine would easily tear-up some clam with lemongrass linguini in a mild yellow curry sauce. I’d have no problems pairing it with any sort of shellfish, sea bass, catfish or even pan-seared trout with a saffron sauce.

Overall:
For only $8-bux, this is an incredible QPR wine that should highly be saught-out by those who think they don’t like white wines and those who want a good white wine experience. I’d hit this wine all day long.

Don’t take my word for it, however, as you really need to seek this wine out, coddle it, love it and ultimately embrace your own palate.

W.E.P. Scale Rating: 150%

Posted in Reviews, Sauvignon Blanc, Washington WinesComments (0)

Maryhill Round-up

One of Washington State’s premier wineries is Maryhill Winery, located in Goldendale WA, just north of the Columbia River. It’s built on a hillside which yields incredible vistas of the gorge and surrounding areas and even features its own outdoor amphitheater. At near 70,000 case of wine each year, Maryhill isn’t exactly a small winery yet it encapsulates many of the finer “boutique” winery hallmarks in its wine-making philosophy.

Maryhill is one of the state’s few producers of Zinfandel and so far has done a pretty good job with this grape – it’s available in both a “regular” type and a “Proprietor’s Reserve” – a label Maryhill regards as its best wine-making efforts.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with three of their wines and here are my thoughts:
(Keep in mind, these are only my opinions and you should always, at all cost, trust your own palate!)


Click in Image to Enlarge

2006 Proprietor’s Reserve Chardonnay – 14.3% Alcohol
Price: $20
W.E.P. Scale Rating: 100%

Color: The color of this Chardonnay is completely on-point with a good light-goldenness which does a great job of presenting itself in a very inviting way.

Smell: When I first started sniffing this wine I was really worried that it was over-oaked and would come off like all too many of the California Chardonnay’s do – to be honest, I was a bit scared it’d taste like I had a piece of oak furniture in the glass. I suppose some folks like that, but I’m not at all a huge fan of over-oaked wines (white or red).

Taste: Fortunately, the taste was far tamer than the smell! This wine has very nice flavor layering going on. It starts off with those nice vanilla accents from the oak on the front-end and quickly goes to fruit across the mid-palate, leaving a nice long finish of honey, pear, apricot and a hint of apple. I also get a hint of toasted marshmallow which I really like. Craig Larson (the winemaker) did a great job of keeping the oak at bay and bringing out the great fruity flavors of this grape.

Mouth-feel: This is one of the few whites I’ve had recently which have an incredible mouth-feel and texture. It’s very smooth and a bit silky – I like it.

Food: I’d easily pair this with the following:
– Classic Caesar Salad with fresh Parmigianino Reggiano cheese and real bacon chunks
– Shrimp Scampi
– Fettuccini Alfredo
– Brie Cheese

2004 Sangiovese – 14.2% Alcohol W.E.P. Scale Rating:80%
Color: Like the Chardonnay, the color of this Sangiovese is beautiful – a luscious deep red with good viscosity and vigor.

Smell: A huge nose here folks – almost a bit like Chris Farley doing the Motivational Speaker – it’s right there in your nose and I enjoy every minute of it. I get deep cherry flavor, a touch of cinnamon and plum notes and of course the toastiness from the oak barrels it was aged in.

Taste: This is a very good wine and the taste is completely in agreement with the smell of the wine. The Cherries, the cinnamon and plum action are all here, sitting in the glass. I do get a bit of a garden herb component which I’m really liking and the overall finish is pretty good but a touch hot. (Note: I did chill the wine a tad to see if the “hotness” was affected and while it was a bit better, it was still there) – I know some folks won’t dig that action.

Mouth-feel: Very clean and for the most part, smooth.

Food: The following foods would be fantastic with this Sangiovese:
– Spaghetti and Meatballs
– Lasagna
– Any creamy-tomato sauce-based pasta
– Certain pizza’s
– Crusted Veal Chop in a marinara sauce
– Beef stroganoff

2005 Proprietor’s Reserve Zinfandel – 15.4% Alcohol –
Price: $38
W.E.P. Scale Rating: 90%
Color: Deep purple, very deep in fact. A gorgeous purple that reminds me of a very rich-colored Malbec or Syrah.

Smell: All you Zin-lovers out there will need to really seek this wine out – even if to just sit and smell it awhile – classic Zin components are laser-focused on the nose. It’s as if your grandma took a jar of her homemade blackberry/plum/dark cherry preserves, added white pepper, bitter (extra dark) chocolate and dumped it into a bottle. I even get a nice hint of fire-roasted pepper – always nice to have a little vegetal action going on.

Taste: If you like the feeling of having Evander Holyfield in your mouth, using your tongue as a practice bag (like I do), then you will LOVE this wine. This is one of the biggest, baddest Zinfandel’s I’ve had this side of California. Yeah I know that Zin is California’s “golden child” but Maryhill is easily on target to beat them at their own game.

We’re talking huge amounts of jammy-goodness here folks – tons of spiced, dark cherries, plums, extra-ripe blackberries and hints of white-pepper hit your palate with a knockout punch only Zinfandel can deliver.

What impresses me most about this Zin is how long the finish lingers – it’s as long as the Grand Canyon is deep – it keeps coming back with lots of enjoyment on the palette. Tasting it again, I do pick up a very slight sugar-daddy caramel-candy action too.

Mouth-Feel: Very explosive – like a case of dynamite exploding all at once – a very nice break from the typical Cab or Merlot feel.

Food: This really is the quintessential BBQ/grilled foods wine folks. I know that sounds cliché for Zin, but this is the real deal. It easily goes stellar with:
– Homemade Fajita’s and guacamole
– Smoked ribs
– Grilled chicken with homemade bbq sauce (leave that store-bought stuff alone)
– Bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin
– Cedar plank Salmon with red-pepper flake and butter-sauce
– ANYTHING Grilled, BBQ’d or Smoked!

The only caveat I’d have at all on this Zinfandel is it’s price and that will greatly depend on where you get it from. I don’t feel it’s worth the $40 dollar price tag we see on Maryhill’s website, however, their club members get it for a much more reasonable $28 bux or so. I believe it also retails in the stores for under $30. Wine lovers should really seek this wine out – especially you California Zin snobs; you know who you are.

Again, this is my opinion – you should really try this wine for yourself and as always – embrace your own palate.

If you’re interested in any of these wines, shoot an email to our friends at Hellam’s Vineyard Wine Shop: wine@hellamsvineyard.com

Posted in Chardonnay, Reviews, Sangiovese, Washington Wines, ZinfandelComments (0)

$10 and under Wine Recommendations

So I’ve been trying a lot of different wines lately and purposely trying to step away from my comfort zone of Washington Wines and have really started taking a more serious look at other countries for some alternatives and to taste the various regions in what they have to offer.

For awhile I was caught up into the whole price thing – as if somehow the price of a wine will make it taste better. Sure there are great wines at prices well above $25 dollars but who can afford to drink those on a daily or weekly basis? That really got me started on this path I’m on now to find some of the best wines possible for $10 dollars or under. Yes, they do exist and I’m trying my best to help weed out the crappy ones on both yours and my own behalf.

When you get time, you should read this article that talks about how the price of wine can influence people into thinking a wine is good or bad:

I’ve been on a virtual world-tour lately of wine which branches from Italy to France to New Zealand to Argentina and have found there are some really great values out there which deserve your attention.

Here are my tops picks right now:

- 2005 Naiara Malbec – Argentina – $9
From the country of Argentina which is currently selling for about $9 bux here at the local Fred Meyer who recently got it in. If your favorite store doesn’t have it, you should see if they can order it or seek a store out which has a wine steward in it and I’m sure they can order it.Malbec is a grape varietal from the Bordeaux region of France which unfortunately is mainly used for blending purposes and is rarely made as a straight-up bottle of wine. It has a thicker skin than cabernet or merlot grapes and does extremely well in the growing conditions of Argentina. In fact, you could say that this varietal alone is really putting Argentina on the map of the wine world and they’re doing some tremendous things with it.

As these wines catch on we’ll see the prices start to slowly climb with demand so make sure to get in early on the wave of excellent Malbec wines from this region.

There’s some tobacco components coming through on the nose along with dark plum, a slight hint of vanilla, soil, cinnamon and smoked paprika. Mix that up with a very slight hint of sweaty arm-pit and you have an intense aroma that is very pleasant.

This wine will pair VERY well with any hearty pasta and red sauce dish or veal. I’d also have no problems having it with Meatballs and fresh parmesan cheese. It has an incredibly rich purple color to it and is very pleasant on the nose. I would even drink this wine with a spice-rubbed, grilled flank steak using Cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, paprika, cinnamon and garlic powder.

- 2006 Cavatappi Sangiovese – Mattawa WA – $10
Forget any pre-conceived ideas you may have about affordable Sangiovese wine because the flavor of this scrumptious wine tosses out the rule book (and burns it to be never found again) on what we’ve come to expect from so many of the Italian-style Sangiovese wines. Rather than having the bright fruit on the palate like so many wines of this heritage have, this one tastes like an old sock left out in the mud for two weeks, filled with wet cedar chips. I like it!

Dark, earthy notes of this wine make it an obvious choice for fall stews and hearty soups. I’d have no problems pairing it with beef stew, pot roast and rosemary, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and even braised lamb shank. If you want to stick with the pasta, I’d go for ricotta-cheese and veal-stuffed ravioli with and herbal-infused red sauce and grated truffles. (you could substitute any good, “earthy” mushroom here if you’re on a budget such as cramini (baby Portobello).

- 2005 Robertson Winery Chenin Blanc– South Africa
If you’re interested in tasting other parts of the world then you owe it to yourself to seek this wine out. Here’s a white wine that has some really good structure, balance and acidity that make it a shoe-in for shellfish or fresh-water trout.

Unlike most American-made Chenin Blanc I’ve had, this one has a ton of mineral deposit flavors in it, almost like sucking on a rock from a crystal-clear river in the Mountains. Balance that with some good fruit on the mid-palate, floral fragrance on the nose and you have the makings for a great wine that will surely delight those who enjoy seafood.

- 2001 Bosco “R” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Italian Red Wine – Italy – $9
Okay, so here’s a wine that completely blind-sided me and it’s from Costco of all places – No I can’t pronounce the name very well but who cares? You could call it anything but late to dinner. If you want a bold wine with TONS of flavor of dark plums, deep red, soiled cherries with a slight hint of oak, than this is your wine. It has a scrumptious mouth-feel – very velvety – and the finish is quite long.

I would easily pair this with any kind of meats which have been stewed or braised in red wine and of course any red-sauced pasta dish. This wine will hold up VERY well to incredibly rich dishes as well and on top of that, it’ll also compliment all sorts of grilled, hearty meats. Grilled corn on the cob with a bit of charring on it, dirty rice, roasted potatoes with Rosemary, oregano and Extra Virgin Olive Oil would make great sides.

Again, this is my opinion – you should really try this wine for yourself and as always – embrace your own palate.

Posted in Chenin Blanc, Italian Wines, Reviews, Sangiovese, South Africa Wines, Washington WinesComments (0)