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Hello fellow readers, it’s been over a month and I apologize for not keeping up to date with The Wine Forum. Between work and life, I have been pretty occupied of late. Thus, my wine experiences have been filtered down to just bottles of wine with Family and Friends. I have not bee to a tasting in over 2 months, though that will come to s screeching halt over the next few weeks as the usual Fall tasting events are just around the corner! The cool weather means October is here; October means harvest is in full swing; and harvest time really gets me thinking about drinking some really good wines, especially those reds that have been collecting time over the warm (not this past one) summer! Lots of big, red wines are on the agenda, as well as some great blow out tastings by Zachys, the Wine Spectator, and many other great local shops. So for my this Blog I decided that I had a lot of great tasting notes to share as that is all I have been doing, drinking bottles. Especially from our recent vacation in North Carolina where I raided my cellar to enjoy some excellent wines at the beach! It was cooler at night, great for reds, and warm during the day, great for some beer (Fat Tire anyone?) and crisp whites and my favorite rose from the South of France, Domaine Tempier, AOC Bandol. I also incorporated “stars (*)” into my tasting notes, 5 being the best and 1 or No stars being bad to undrinkable. Though I usually won’t post on anything less than 2 stars.
*****2002 Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon Napa ValleyCalifornia, Napa ValleyRock solid as usual, what more can I say? Paul’s wines fail to ever disappoint me. The ’02 Napa Cabernet was singing after an hour of air. Hobbs makes by far some of my favorite Cabernet Sauvignon based wines from anywhere in the world. This being my last bottle of the ‘02 Napa Cabernet I have to go find some more – and so should you! It’s pricier, but if you are looking for a go to reliable, special occasion wine, this is it. Under $70 is a good price, though closer to $60 is a great price to pull the trigger at. Color: Vibrant dark core and deep red edges, plenty of time left in this baby!Nose: Wonderful complexity of black currants, black cherries, some tobacco and cocoa, a little lead pencil. Palate: The flavors keep you coming back again and again they are so good! Cherry and black currants, some licorice, mocha, silky smooth tannins leap onto the palate and ride it out with a 60 second finish!
****2008 Domaine Tempier RoseFrance, Provence, Bandol Hands down the best Rose in the world and at around $30 some would think it should be. But you should think of it as a “wine” and not just a pink wine where you get this idea in your head no matter how good a wine is, if it’s white or especially pink, anything over $30 is a waste of assets that could be spent on a red wine. Be that as it may, with that mindset you’ll never broaden your palate and knowledge as a drinker. But then again maybe you don’t want to. That’s the great part of wine, the choice is ours and taste is somewhat subjective. Color: Pinkish copper, a little lighter than the normal Tempier rose. Nose: Red and pink fruits, elegant strawberry and sweet grapefruits, citrusPalate: Silky strawberry and red berry fruits, a touch of velvety citrus zest, great mid-palate, standard for this wine, good weight in the texture. I always am amazed at how yin and yang this wines balance is. Complex strong flavors, yet supple and elegant with a super long finish! Amazing!
**** 1999 St. Clement Cabernet SauvignonCalifornia, Napa Valley Awesome and glad I held this back! Still another 2-5 years left, easily 2! I am very impressed with how this wine has evolved and stayed youthful over the last 10 years, even outperforming the top of the line (at the time) Oroppas. A great value, the ’99 Cabernet cost about $23 on release for Napa Valley fruit from the winery’s wine club, current srp is $36 but on wine-searcher.com I saw it for as low as $26.Color: Deep ruby to medium red edges Nose: Earthy and sweet tobacco, currants and spice
Palate: Cassis and black currants, some chocolate and sweet tobacco with a smooth silky finish. Very impressive!
****2003 Castello di Ama Chianti ClassicoItaly, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico Exactly what I want out of Chianti, with a touch more ripeness from the 2003 vintage. Classic aromas, flavors, mouth feel and acidity all with touch more fruit! I am currently doing a search for a few more bottles from this well regarded and high quality producer as the 2003 vintage was panned but this example fro this vintage has scored and by my accounts is a great wine for around $22. The excellent 2004 can’t be found for under $45 so at $22 this is a great deal.Color: Medium dark garnet core, ruby edges. Nose: Classic! Cherry, earth, leather, clove, and flowers (rose?). A meaty component came through after an hour.Palate: Deep cherry and red fruits, some cocoa and earthy terroir, a touch meaty. Fine grained tannins fan out on the back and sides of the palate and the acidity brings at all back in to focus.A beauty! I want to try in a less ripe vintage!
**** 2006 Williams Selyem Zinfandel Forchini VineyardUSA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley Absolutely delicious! My favorite Zin this year next to the Carlisle and a notch or two ahead of the Seghesio Sonoma County bottling. Not heavy, yet nicely extracted. Wonderful aromas and flavors of ripe fruit and spice, earth, mingle and comprise a great and rare for Zinfandel, deep experience. It can be found is some retail shops, but in miniscule quantities. In fact I am only ever offered 2 bottles each year from the winery at $48.Color: Velvety red with garnet edges. Nose: Strawberries, raspberries and cream. Some cedar and pepper.Palate: Black raspberry and cream, some cedar, sweet oak, luscious sweet tannins and a long, delicious finish.
***1/2 2007 Herman Story Syrah Nuts and Bolts California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County Great Cali Syrah! Full throttle, yet has traces of Northern Rhone pepper, meat and spice mingling with ripe California dark fruits. Robert Parker recently described winemaker Russell From’s wines as being “Balls to the Wall” – probably the first time this phrase has been used to describe wine by the world renowned wine critic. And at prices that are very affordable at around $28 from the Herman Story wine club.Color: Dark core with dark red edgesNose: Meaty and peppery, dimensions of blueberry and blackberry with a hint of earthy minerality. Palate: Full bodied, more like a raven haired movie star from the 50’s than the waify 2000’s. A super sexy texture, blackberry, cassis, and subtle but spicy oak flavors fan out on the palate.
***1/2 2004 Sea Smoke Pinot Noir Southing California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills – Sta. Rita Hills Squeaky clean as usual! At first you notice and can taste the oak and the tannin level is a tad higher than I like in Pinot Noir. After an hour the tannins mellowed out as the wine fleshed together nicely. Here are the notes after the hour open. Drink now and for another 2 years max. The fruit may stay in balance for a few years, but in time the tannins will outlast the fruit so drink up and keep an eye on this wine balance going forward. Price? Let’s just say you better sign up for the winery’s mailing list. Retail is small as this is mostly sold to wine dorks like me and then restaurants. Winery: $45 Color: Deep burgundy to ruby colors Nose: Cherries, cocoa, sweet oak, deep earthy notes….nice perfume
Palate: Great entry, pure and concise. Cherries, cocoa, sweet cinnamon; tannins are a tad high but it works well with the amped up flavors.
***1/2 2002 Sherwin Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Cellar ScrapsUSA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain DistrictWell, we did not exactly want to drink this wine on this night. But as fate had it we had no choice. Just like fate brought us to the winery and to one of our favorite memories on a day trip to the Napa Valley when Lisa lived in San Francisco. I was shuffling around bottles to make room for some new arrivals when this bottle slipped out and cracked when it hit the floor. I triple filtered it through our super-fine wire mesh filter incase any pieces happened to be in the wine and enjoyed the half bottle or so that was left. We originally stumbled into Sherwin as we were early for an appointment at an adjacent winery. Steve Sherwin, the owner and proprietor, greeted us as we knocked on their door to see “what’s happening” and if the could offer us a tour or the chance to buy some wine. I had not heard of Sherwin Family Vineyards before, but quickly liked Steve and was impressed with his hospitality and his wines. He had some guests over that day, but was gracious enough to spend about 30-45 minutes with us showing us the fermentation room and the team assembling the most recent 2003 wines being waxed on the neck of the bottle (instead of foil). We ended up leaving with a memory we’ll never forget and a half a case of wine! At the time, Steve had no idea what to call this wine, but we liked it and purchased a few bottles of this and their estate Cabernet. Price? Priceless! It was never up for retail sale from what I have seen. Color: Opaque center, vibrant maroon edges. Nose: Chocolate, cherry, black berry, vanilla and oak.Palate: Lots of milk chocolate covered cherries, a touch of balsam and coffee. Sweet ripe tannins finished up this rich wines finale.*** 2006 Château Pipeau France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru This baby is coming together nicely. I may try another out in a few months as it could use some time, it is Bordeaux after all! If decanted a few hours its good to go. The nose is ready from the get go so feel free to sniff away, but give it some time! Before the market went bust last year, this wine at release in a good year would go for about $35 or so. I was able to pick this up for $17 and change as the 2008 wines have started to overshadow the 2006 wines creating a glut and forcing suppliers and retailers to cut prices. Keep an eye on this trend. I like the 2006 Bordeaux wines to drink now and for the next 10 years or so on average while the 2000, 2003 and 2005 age. Also be careful not to buy in to much into the 2008 wines. The Bordeaux marketing machine has used revised scores and reviews from Parker to create buzz on the wines. The actual amount of wine for sale in futures is something like only 20% of the wine available. The strategy is to create buzz combined with low prices at first with small quantities of wines that immediately sell out. Then, as demand is stoked from the “sold out” status, the wine shop just so happens to get some more inventory but creep up prices quickly as the demand is there and people do not want to “miss out”. This is why I have yet to pull the trigger on the 2008 vintage as I am not willing to lay out money on wine I won’t see for 2 years when prices then may be the same or less than what they are today. It worked. Most 2008 futures were released at the lowest rock bottom prices in many years, but quickly climbed in the month after Parker’s review by 20-25% as supply was scant and the new higher scores fueled demand. Color: Darker claret, garnet edgesNose: Smoky toasty oak, tobacco, subtle black and red fruit. Great classic Bordeaux nose!Palate: Smooth and balanced. Nice concentrated fruit, tannin and acidity fan out over the palate.
*** 2004 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Reserva Ygay Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, RiojaWhat a value at under $20! Rioja does not get that much better than this at this price. Muga is another $5 or so dollars, and I prefer this wine to the more modern styled Muga. The top of the line Murrieta Gran Reserva only goes for $50 but is one of the most traditional and highly touted Tempranillo based wines in the world. The little brother is not too shabby either! Color: Dark red core and velvety red edges, very invitingNose: Black Currant, cherries, minerality and a floral touch. Palate: Mature but still fresh currants and ripe cherries, earthy minerality undertones, fine grained tannins and laser like acidity.
*** 2007 StellaGrey Napa Valley Red USA, California, Napa Valley The Stella is a great standard red wine from the Napa Valley. Lots of currant, mocha, and cherry. At $20 it is a great value for a Napa based red composed of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon. Color: Dark red hues, medium red edgesNose: Currants and cocoa with a hint of spice Palate: Cherry, currant and mochas flavors deliver a complete experience. Smooth tannins frame the finish nicely.
**1/2 2007 Mouton Noir Wines Montgomery Place USA, California, Napa Valley A nice wine, though it left me feeling it needs more time or in need of some more depth. Then I did some research and found that it is mostly Cabernet Franc, explains a lot. Cabernet Franc grown in the US is a tough grape to spotlight as the primary grape in a wine. Many try, but few achieve great heights with Cabernet Franc in the US. I have to say this is in line with Lang & Reed – a fun wine that does not disappoint, yet does not make you think about it – uncomplicated. Nice aromatics, some sweet oak and a very smooth finish. It was great with the steak we paired it with. Price: $25 retailColor: Dark purple to redNose: Black currants, chocolates and dark raspberries, some sweet oak whiffs. Palate: The attack was great, more of the black currants, sweet oak, finishing nice with some fruit echo and smooth tannins. My only problem was the mid-palate was a little weak and dropped off, but the finish reclaimed some of the fruit.

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