Archive for the Tasting Notes Category

SIX SCINTILLATING WINES IN SOUTH PHILLY

Posted in Favorite Wines, Tasting Notes, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , , , on February 6, 2011 by ballymote

 In writing this blog, and in having the opportunity to dine out weekly at many of the wonderful BYOB’s in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area, it also presents an opportunity to taste a lot of different wines. Some dinners there is the surprise of discovering something really good. Once in a while the same dinner will present two wines of note. I must confess that I don’t get too many dinners where SIX of the wines were exceptional. Our dinner at Salt and Pepper in South Philly, which is reviewed elsewhere on this blog, is one such instance where the wines were all top-notch.

Now, it should be noted that one observer’s definition of top-notch may well differ from another’s and my wallet and the wallets of my friends may preclude some of the world’s best wines from our table but, the six we had on this cold January evening were just fine with all of us present. Additionally, there were some other wines on the table that I didn’t sample  for one reason or another. Here is what we enjoyed in no particular order:

 2007 B. R. Cohn, Silver Label, Cabernet Sauvignon

On plenty of other occasions this could have been the best wine at the table. Tonight, despite some nice black cherry and spice nuances, and a pleasant oak treatment this one was slightly lost in the presence of some real heavyweights. Still, at a price point in the $20.00 range, this North Coast cab from the excellent 2007 vintage offers great value.

 The 2005 Shirvington, Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia is one of those wines that is always welcome at any table where I am eating. Once again, none of the recent vintages will ever match Sarah and Sparky’s magnificent 01 and 02 effort and, in fairness, that could well be because they are no longer responsible for Shirvington wines. Still, it always brings intense shiraz flavor and although it isn’t perfect with a lot of foods, it’s still a great wine for sipping and conversing and will work with many heavier meat items.

 2007 Domaine Drouhin, Pinot Noir, Williamette Valley, Oregon. My affection for Pinot Noir isn’t shared by many of my wine-drinking friends. I do try to convert them every once in a while when I have a Pinot that I think is outstanding. This was one that they all seemed to enjoy, especially with the lighter foods on the menu. This 90 pointer exhibits a great nose of spring flowers and raspberries and soft flavors of cherry and spice. It is currently available as a Chairman’s Selection in the PA State stores for $29.99 which is almost $20.00 less that its normal retail price.

 2007 Mauritson,Rockpile Ridge Vineyard, Zinfandel. My wife, Kathy, has become a Zin-lover. She has become a zinfandel lover without being exposed to the really good 40.00+ wines that are available. In fact, this may have been her first. The rich blackberry flavors, the baked-pie with hints of Asian spices and the overall structure and balance of this wine made it, for both of us, our Wine of the Night. Considering the competition this was no small accomplishment. It may have been that I wasn’t expecting it to be so good and I knew the others would be.

2007 Kapcsandy, State Lane Vineyard, Estate Cuvee. I opened my first bottle of this superb wine at the end of the summer and was slightly disappointed because I expected more. In retrospect, it may have been my fault as I didn’t give it enough time to breathe before serving. This time, we had our server decant the wine for about 90 minutes before we could hold out no longer and started sampling the deep purple nectar. Much better this time and reminiscent of our sampling it last October with Lou Kapcsandy at his Tasting Room in Yountville, CA. This red blend which garnered 96 points from Robert Parker consists of 46% Cabernet and 46% Merlot with equal blends of Cab Franc and Petite Verdot. Made in the true Bordeaux fashion this is one terrific wine as evidenced by these remarks on Cellar Tracker

  Tasted by etherscreen on 1/29/2011: With such great Cali Cabernet produced by the likes of Rivers Marie, Lewelling, Karl Lawrence, and Stefania to name a few, available way below a c-note, why should one really look to those priced out of reach for many of us? Ok collectors (read not drinkers) can stockpile screaming eagle, harlan, etc., but those wines are nothing more than a distant dream to the vast majority of us. With this in mind, I am not looking to acquire many Cali Cabs north of $100, save Shafer Hillside Select and a few others. Why should we pay more???

Well my friends, the Kapcsandy 2007 Estate Cuvee State Lane Vineyard is one profound example of why to pay more! This wine exemplifies the perfect marriage of Napa fruit with a Bordeaux sensibility. It’s color is nearly alive in the glass. Nose of cassis, wet earth, pencil lead, cigar box, minerals, and menthol. Powerful, but with restraint on the palate. Well proportioned. Finish captures the wonderful aromas noted on the nose as well a some chocolatey oak that sails a nice distance.

I spoke with Lou for a fair amount of time discussing his wines, his history, and his philosophy. He struck me as an extraordinary guy with a clear vision and purpose in his wine making. While I am not in the business of drinking over priced Cali Cab, I am, from this point forward, in the business of cellaring and drinking Kapcsandy wines. (137 views)

  Tasted by Wine-Strategies on 12/25/2010 & rated 97 points: opened on Thursday, tasted (yikes, this is young!) and re-corked for Saturday’s Christmas dinner. Let me begin by saying this is the finest North American wine I’ve ever had, and I’ve had lots. Shafer, not even close. Araujo, whatever. Abreu, Colgin, etc., nah. This wine is like one of the first dates you ever had, with the girl you just knew was for you; when you knew in your heart that the feelings would run deep, and the experience was one you’d never forget. A medium-weight entry gives way to a full-bodied, sophisticated and regal mouthfeel. It’s as if this wine weighs nothing and is as dense as a star, all in the same moment. The structure and blend (they nailed it) is fit not for kings or gods, but for the purest of the pure. The chosen. Loving, caressing, layered in purity and focus. This is worth every penny, and then some. Highly recommended. Drink thru 2030, approx $135, 14,1% abv (576 views)
  Tasted by hrl on 12/24/2010 & rated 95 points: From 375. This is just stellar. Very classy and complex nose that comes across like classified Bordeaux. The palate is very ethereal as the wine is powerful yet restrained. This is a great meeting of Napa ripeness and restrained French winemaking. As someone who finds many of the Napa cults far too big and ripe, this is ideal. My first bottle from this estate and I plan on buying many more. (635 views).

 

 

 
 

2008 Alpha Omega ERA. We barrel tasted this wine during our October California visit and my friend, Gerry B. decided right there that he had to have this when the folks at A-O finally bottled it. From the monster-size impressive bottle to the equally impressive juice contained therein this is one major red wine endeavor. Certainly this was too early to be opening a wine of such magnitude but one sip and you can already see the lushness and velvet texture of this wine. It will be even better in five or ten years but it delivers much even at this early stage. This is not only a great wine but if you are ever out Napa way, Alpha Omega should be near the top of your “Must Visit” list not just for the great wines but it’s in a beautiful location and the folks, headed by the charming Jean Hoefliger and his entire staff, make you feel totally welcome.

So, there you have them. A great beginning to 2011 and if once a month brings wines of equal quality, it will be a wonderful year.

A TALE OF TWO WINES

Posted in Info on Wine, Tasting Notes with tags , , , , , on January 24, 2011 by ballymote

 They always claim there are two kinds of knowledge, “knowing something, or knowing where to find something.” With the dawn of the computer age the “knowing where to find something” has become even easier. I certainly don’t claim to know everything about wine but I do know places where I can go to look when I have something Id like to learn more about. Two such places are the popular wine “chat boards”, Wine Spectator and Wine Berserker. I make sure I stop by these two fonts of knowledge several times a week. In so doing, I often pick up ideas for new wines to try. A few weeks ago one of the main topics of conversation on Wine Berserker was “your favorite Under $15.00 wines”. There was lively discussion with scores of posters volunteering their personal favorites. One wine that garnered several mentions was the 2008 Altovinum “Evodia” Calatayud Garnacha from Spain. I have seen that wine many times on the shelves of local wine shops but it became just one of many Spanish wines I hoped to try one day. The chatter on the boards though was so favorable that the next day I picked up a bottle for $9.99 at a PA State Store near where I work.

 My wife, Kathy, and I opened the bottle at a local restaurant on New Years Day and were both immensely disappointed. Kathy went so far as to call it “horrible’ and I struggled to find something redeeming about it to no avail. It could have been that the bottle was “corked” but it’s more likely that this wine just didn’t appeal to our palates. Remember, just because the majority may like something it’s no guarantee you will find the same wine equally charming.

 Less than 24 hours later we were at my brother Tom’s house for a delayed family Christmas celebration. Tom has a very nice wine cellar and we can always count on him having something good in his wine fridge. This day was no exception and one of the wines we popped was a 2000 Justin, Isosceles, a Cabernet based blend from Paso Robles, CA. I have had other vintages of this same wine and it has always been enjoyable but this 2000 was absolutely stellar. A decade in the bottle had brought out all of the highlights of this delicious nectar. Bright strawberry, subdued blackberry, hints of caramel and some cotton candy, all perfectly balanced and topped off with a long, smooth finish. This was really a wine that had reached its apex of flavor.

That’s the amazing thing about wine. The Justin Isosceles sells for about $50.00. This one was worth it. Often times you can find a $15.00 bottle that drinks like a $50 bottle. It’s the experimentation and thrill of discovery that makes drinking wine such a unique pleasure.

2010 WINE AND FOOD CLASSIC AT THE MANSION, VOORHEES, NJ

Posted in Info on Wine, Tasting Notes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2010 by ballymote

 Several weeks ago, on a wine-buying visit to Canal’s BottleStop in Marlton, Charlie Beatty, who has built the best selection of wines in any store in South Jersey, mentioned that Canal’s would be hosting a wine tasting at The Mansion in Voorhees, NJ on Friday evening November 5th, to benefit the Burlington County YMCA. It sounded good but we usually go out for dinner on Friday nights so I didn’t think it would be likely I’d be in attendance. As fate would have it, our friends had prior commitments for that evening, my wife, Kathy, wasn’t interested, so I e-mailed my wine drinking buddy, Gerry B. and next thing I knew we were both buying our tickets online and heading up for a Friday night of hopefully, great wines and terrific food.

The Mansion is a beautiful complex and a favorite site for weddings and special functions in South Jersey. It made the perfect setting for a wine tasting. The second and third floors were packed with over 700 wines spread among a dozen rooms with other rooms set aside for food servings. We looked over the program that were available in the lobby and circled the wines we wanted to make sure and try as we began our assault on the gathered distributors tables. Rather than list the scores of different wines we sampled I will focus on the ones that appealed to us the most.

 The only white wine that really struck the right notes with me was the 2008 Rombauer Chardonnay , soft and creamy with pear, pineapple and vanilla this is one of the most popular chardonnays on the market and it’s easy to see why. It was one of my Top Three wines of the evening.

 The 2008 Gary Farrell, Russian River Valley, Pinot Noir was subtle and smooth with candied red fruits with a hint of cinnamon and had great structure and balance and would go perfectly with a roast pork or a nicely done halibut filet.

  I was very happy to see that the good folks at Winebow Distributors had brought with them one of my favorite wines, the 2008 Caymus “Special Selection” Cabernet Sauvignon. This, in my estimation, is what fine cabernet should taste like, and year after year this one performs like a Napa champion. Smooth and elegant the fruits flow over the tongue like velvet and that soft hint of chocolate on the long and lingering finish makes this wine well worth its loft price tag.

Gerry B. had broken his favorites down into two groups. His “A” group were wines that he knew about and expected to be good while his “B” group were wines that he was not familiar with and pleasantly surprised at the taste and quality of them. His top three in the “A” group were:

2007 Beaulieu Vineyards, Georges de Latour

2006 Rubicon Estate “Rubicon”

2007 Beringer Private Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon

In the “B” Group his Top Three were:

2007 Tenuta San Guido Sassacaia

2008 Faust, Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Hess “Allomi” Cabernet Sauvignon

Here were the overall winners in his estimation:

 Here is how the Wine Advocate felt about this offering: 95 points Antonio Galloni (Wine Advocate): “The 2007 Sassicaia (Cabernet Sauvignon) explodes onto the palate with masses of rich, opulent fruit that caress the palate with gorgeous length and a seamless beauty that is hard to fully capture. Dark wild cherries, plums, spices, minerals and herbs develop in the glass. This is an especially bold, perhaps slightly uncharacteristic Sassicaia in its extroverted personality, but it is beautiful all the same. The inner perfume and sweetness carries through the long finish, where the sheer weight and glycerol of the fruit leaves a lasting impression. The 2007 is more than a worthy follow-up to the profound 2006. While it may lack that wine’s freshness, structure and potential longevity, the 2007 is immensely appealing today, and should drink beautifully pretty much out of the gate. That said, Sassicaia is always the most restrained of Bolgheri’s heavy hitters. This is a superb effort from Tenuta San Guido. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2037.

 This is another wine that can be counted on year after year to deliver the goods. This one also received 95 points from the Wine Advocate. Here is Parker’s review:

95 points Robert Parker: “The phenomenal 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve Georges de Latour is the greatest BV Private Reserve made since the 1970 and 1968. The good news is 11,000 cases were produced. The return of this superb Napa classic is fabulous news, and the brilliance of this wine is evidenced by its opaque purple color and its big, sweet, blackberry, cassis, subtle smoke, graphite, and spicy oak-scented nose. Dense and full-bodied with sweet but substantial tannins, thrilling levels of concentration, texture, and richness, and a heady finish, this wine will benefit from 4-5 years of bottle age, and last three decades or more. It’s time to once again fill your cellars with the BV Private Reserve, one of the historic names in California wine folklore.

Here’s what The Wine Enthusiast offered on the 2006 Rubicon:

“The new Rubicon, which is almost all Cabernet Sauvignon, brings to mind the 2003 and 2004. It doesn’t have the sheer force of 2002 or 2005, but it’s certainly a classic Rutherford wine, and has a good future. Bone dry, it shows herb-infused flavors of blackberries, cocoa, spices and smoky sandalwood, and yes, the tannins are dusty. Drinkable now, with a good decant, and should develop in the bottle over the next 6–8 years.”94 Points Wine Enthusiast.

We both awarded the 2007 Girard Zinfandel an Honorable Mention. In addition to all the great wines we enjoyed some good food compliments of Flemings Prime Steakhouse. It was a fun evening and we were both glad we made the effort to attend.

THE FIVE TOP WINES OF THE PAST YEAR

Posted in Favorite Wines, Food and Wine Lists, Info on Wine, Tasting Notes, Wine Lists with tags , , , , , , , on July 27, 2010 by ballymote

When it comes to choosing my Top Five wines of the past year a couple come quickly to mind. A few others take some thought. After giving it that needed amount of thought I have reduced a year of joyous wine consumption down to a quintet of memorable elixirs. The first three I mention were all extremely enjoyable and helped make either a dinner or get together a special event.

Coming in at #5 of my best wines was the 2007 AUTEUR, Sonoma, Pinot Noir. I had this during a great meal at Blackbird in Collingswood, NJ back in March. Here is what I wrote in my post at that time “2007 Auteur, Sonoma, Pinot Noir. Everything I had heard about Auteur wines said they needed lots of time open to reflect their true flavors. I uncorked this bottle on Friday morning and left it in the fridge until it was time to go to dinner. The wine was a dark ruby color, much darker than most Pinots and actually drank more like a cabernet. Great, intense flavors that gave a rich mouthfeel and a lingering finish. It’s the kind of wine that you wish you had a case of in reserve.”

Checking in at #4 on my best wines list was the 2005 Larkmead, Oakville Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon. This one was enjoyed up in New York at the Marriott Hotel with Jerry and JoAnne B. prior to dinner at Tribeca Grill back in November. This is what I posted at that time “The Larkmead showed much better and although Parker gave it a 92, I think all of us thought it deserved higher. I’d give this one a 94. It’s not quite as full-bodied as the O’Shaughnessy but it felt more balanced and the flavors were crisp and precise with undertones of rich spices and blackberries. 

Numero 3 was another classic that helped make dinner at Gilmore’s in West Chester a Top 5 Dining Experience. The 2000 Phelps INSIGNIA was a first glass drinking treat that evening and prompted these words in that late March post “The  Insignia seemed to me to be underrated by the experts (94 WS, 91 Parker). It displayed class and strength and loads of smooth plum and blackberry flavors that could stand up to any steak or lamb dish. I’d compare this to any other Cabernet blend in the $100 price range.”

It was a tough decision on these next two wines because both of them were true highlights. After much soul-searching, my number 2 wine was the 2006 Mollydooker, VELVET GLOVE. This wine was so special I devoted an entire post to singing it’s praises. Here is what I wrote at that time. 

The Wine Advocate scored the 2006 Mollydooker Velvet Glove 99 points and Wine Spectator bestowed it with 97. Yesterday afternoon, with my wife Kathy and our friends Jerry B. and his wife, Joann,  we popped and poured this Aussie powerhouse. They had often teased me that I had a phobia about opening my “good stuff” and that one day, when I was gone, they would be toasting me with all of the bottles that I had never opened through the years. Well, the Velvet Glove will no longer be one of those wines.

Much too intense for even the heartiest of red meats we sipped this delicious wine with some cheese and crackers prior to going to dinner. There may not be another wine anywhere that is so appropriately named. The nose virtually filled the room with a sweet bouquet of berries and lavender before it even hit the glass. The first sip grabs you like, like…ok, I’ll say it, like a velvet glove!.  We all thought it reminded us of those 2001 and 2002 Shirvingtons which were also the handiwork of Sarah and Sparky Marquis. It should be mentioned this blockbuster wine checks in at 16.5% alcohol so be prepared.

Sweet, dark berries of all types, coated in vanilla cream and spice, fill the palate  with a liquid smorgasbord of flavors. The inky purple juice entices with a rich, smooth texture that is totally in balance and devoid of tannins. The finish lingers while you swirl and again breathe in the garden of intense scents that echo from the glass.  All  too soon the last of the magic elixir flows from the bottle and a special moment comes to an end. Mollydooker makes a great variety of wines but the Velvet Glove is their crowning jewel.

It was a great start to a wonderful evening of food and wine and very fitting that when I finally did open some of my “good stuff” that it was in the company of good friends who appreciate good wine.”

My number #1 wine of the past year, edging out the Velvet Glove only because I did not have the lofty expectations on this one, and at $75.00 a bottle it is only one-third the cost of the Velvet Glove is the 2005 Lillian, White Hawk Vineyard, Syrah. Created by winemaker, Maggie Harrison, former assistant to the legendary Manfred Krankl of cult wine SINE QUE NON, this was to me the ultimate in drinkability for the past year. Purchased from the wine list at Tribeca Grill in lower Manhattan, this wine made not only the dinner but the weekend. Here is what I posted at that time. ”  I had always wanted to try this wine having read so many rave reviews on the various wine boards. The fact that winemaker, Maggie Harrison, was the former assistant winemaker at Sine Que Non, which I have also never experienced, added to my excitement. The first taste was magical. Very seldom to you get a wine that delivers everything you are looking for in the beverage you are so passionate about. The Lillian Syrah delivers on so many different levels. It’s dark and brooding and packs so much flavor that you grasp for the right words. If Sarah and Sparky Marquis didn’t already capture the name “Velvet Glove” for their ultra-premium Mollydooker Wine, it would be perfect for the Lillian. It’s like getting hit with a velvet glove. The wine has smoothness down to a science and drinking it with my duck breast entree was like a meal designed in heaven. I’d give this one a 98 and place it #2 on my all-time list of wines. It was, as the sommelier mentioned when pouring at our table, “like drinking Sine Qua Non for one-third the price”.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to finding five more gems like these in the coming year and when I do, all of you will be the first to know.

2006 MOLLYDOOKER, “VELVET GLOVE”, SHIRAZ, MCLAREN VALE, AUSTRALIA

Posted in Favorite Wines, Info on Wine, Tasting Notes with tags , , , on March 28, 2010 by ballymote

The Wine Advocate scored the 2006 Mollydooker Velvet Glove 99 points and Wine Spectator bestowed it with 97. Yesterday afternoon, with my wife Kathy and our friends Jerry B. and his wife, Joann,  we popped and poured this Aussie powerhouse. They had often teased me that I had a phobia about opening my “good stuff” and that one day, when I was gone, they would be toasting me with all of the bottles that I had never opened through the years. Well, the Velvet Glove will no longer be one of those wines.

Much too intense for even the heartiest of red meats we sipped this delicious wine with some cheese and crackers prior to going to dinner. There may not be another wine anywhere that is so appropriately named. The nose virtually filled the room with a sweet bouquet of berries and lavender before it even hit the glass. The first sip grabs you like, like…ok, I’ll say it, like a velvet glove!.  We all thought it reminded us of those 2001 and 2002 Shirvingtons which were also the handiwork of Sarah and Sparky Marquis. It should be mentioned this blockbuster wine checks in at 16.5% alcohol so be prepared.

Sweet, dark berries of all types, coated in vanilla cream and spice, fill the palate  with a liquid smorgasbord of flavors. The inky purple juice entices with a rich, smooth texture that is totally in balance and devoid of tannins. The finish lingers while you swirl and again breathe in the garden of intense scents that echo from the glass.  All  too soon the last of the magic elixir flows from the bottle and a special moment comes to an end. Mollydooker makes a great variety of wines but the Velvet Glove is their crowning jewel.

It was a great start to a wonderful evening of food and wine and very fitting that when I finally did open some of my “good stuff” that it was in the company of good friends who appreciate good wine.

A WEALTH OF WINNING WINES ON A WINTER WEEKEND

Posted in Info on Wine, Tasting Notes, Uncategorized, Wine Ratings with tags , , , , , on January 14, 2010 by ballymote

This past weekend was our 2nd Annual Avalon Winter Weekend. Nine of us gathered at my brother’s beach house for 48 hours of good food, good wines and great conversation. The participants are the women that my wife has known since her high school days and their husbands. If nine people sounds like it doesn’t divide quite right into an equal number of husbands give yourself bonus points for being a math whiz. One of the women, Kathie M. is not burdened with a member of the brighter sex . The coupled group in  attendance for the decadent weekend included, Gerry and JoAnn B, John and Caryl G. John and Cathy B. and my wife, Kathy and I.

I began with a wine from France and slowly made my way through Napa and Sonoma in California, New Zealand, Spain, Australia and almost the Niagara Peninsula in Canada (a dessert wine that ended up coming back home with me). Instead of notes on each of the wines I will, in the interest of brevity, simply mention a few that stood out for me on their own and as accompaniment to the two BYOB meals we enjoyed on successive nights.

Most of the guests had already arrived when I pulled up to the Avalon house. They were well into the wine and quickly poured me a glass of 2007 Domaine de Soleiades, Vacqueyras. This is a nice, inexpensive Cote du Rhone wine that has a wonderful nose and a pleasant texture that would be very food-friendly. It is an 89-90 point wine.

 There was just time enough to sample Kathie M’s 2006 Annabella Cabernet. It was far from my favorite wine of the week but it was certainly drinkable.I’d give this a respectable 87 points. Just to show you how taste buds differ. Here are two different notes on this same wine.

 Perfect California Cabernet

By Umansky11382490, October 28, 2008
A great midpriced California Cabernet that is both complex and smooth. Loved it!

And on the other hand…

Absolutely Terrible

By bloom2022, March 29, 2008
Extremely vegetal and pretty acidic. So bad not even the new oak can cover it up. Really awful stuff. If you oaked the water from the flower-vase, this is what it would taste like.

 At dinner we went with a line-up of wines that included the 2006 Tudor, Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands. This was a very nice Pinot that went well with my chicken entrée. I’d give it 91 points. We also had the very drinkable 2004 Whitehall Lane Napa Cabernet. The one thing I have found with Whitehall Lane cabs from any vintage is that they are dependable. They may not be the absolute best but for the price they always deliver true cab flavors and in some years prove themselves to be excellent wines. This one deserved a 91. My personal contribution was the 2004 Elderton, “Ashmeade Single Vineyard “ Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa, Australia. Quite honestly, I didn’t realize this was $65.00 cab as I chose it from a table of wines when my brother offered me to “go pick what you want” over the Christmas holidays. I don’t often think of Australia when I think of cabernet so I was, as were others, pleasantly surprised. This one hit all the right notes from a powerful bouquet of ripe dark fruits to a smooth and lingering finish. I’d have to give it a solid 93. Also present at the Friday evening dinner was a 2004 Capafons – Osso, Sirsell, Priorat a blend of Garnache, Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah and Carinane from Spain. It was deserving of more attention and although I know I tried it I can not accurately reflect on it’s drinkability. Later that evening, as the cigar smokers bundled themselves against the bitter cold and ocean winds to smoke their cigars on the back deck, a 2006 Hesketh, McLaren Vale, “The Usual Suspects”, Shiraz was popped. This was a typical fruit-driven Aussie shiraz and I mean that in a good way as McLaren vale is a shiraz region that we have come to depend on for yummy flavors. It’s a wine you could proudly serve to Kaiser Soze!! Score this one 91 points. I don’t smoke cigars and it was way too cold to join them so I relaxed and read some before bed.

We went to the Avalon Liquor Store on Saturday while the women enjoyed a movie in Wildwood. Gerry B. bought a couple of bottles of Napa cab and we had a nice lunch at Harbor’s Bizarre (don’t ask me why, but I LOVE that name) in Stone Harbor.

At dinner on Saturday evening we had some really nice wines.  John G brought a 2006 Wither Hills, Pinot Noir from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. I enjoyed this with my chicken entree and feel it’s worth a solid 90 points. . Gerry B. had a 2004 Atlas Peak, Howell Mountain Cabernet which we had enjoyed at a previous BYOB dinner during the summer. I know Gerry will score this higher but I’d say it checks in at a 91. Another wine that I seem to enjoy more than some others and that is not immune from being maligned (unfairly, I would say) is the 2003 Chateau St. Jean, “Cinq Cepages” which is one of the few wines that seems to be dropping in price every year since claiming the Wine of the Year Award by Wine Spectator Magazine back around the turn of the century. I’m gonna give this a solid 93. We also sipped a wine we all like the 2005 Thumbprint Cellars “Climax” from Sonoma County. The description of this meritage wine on the back label borders on pornographic! I’d have to say 92 for this “Climax”.

There were other wines present that never got opened. Hey, we only had about 38 hours! We did our best. Actually, there were a few sipping wines floating around that I neglected to note. I think one was a Hogue Cabernet. At any rate, it was a lot of fun to enjoy so many wines in the company of good friends. We are all looking forward to a continued downward spiral in the South Jersey real estate market which might make a Third Annual Avalon Winter Weekend a possibility next year!

2007 VAYNIAC CABERNET SAUVIGNON, NAPA VALLEY

Posted in Favorite Wines, Info on Wine, Tasting Notes, Wine Ratings with tags , , , on December 19, 2009 by ballymote

The 2007 Vayniac Cabernet Sauvignon finally arrived at my house almost 2 years after purchase. It isn’t that Gary Vaynerchuk and the shipping department at the Wine Library in Springfield, NJ are dropping the ball, it’s because the wine was a “futures” purchase back in 2007. That means you buy the wine prior to it being ready for shipment. In this case, the wine was purchased prior to the grapes even being harvested.

This was the original announcement from 2 years ago:

As he announced in the special 305th episode of Wine Library TV (watch the video here), Gary V is offering all Vayniacs a unique opportunity to be a part of the wine making process! In collaboration with Crushpad, YOU can be involved with the crush and barrel tasting of the yet to be made 2007 Vayniac Napa Cabernet!

The production will be overseen by Kian Tavakoli (formerly of such California mainstays as Clos du Val and Opus One!) and Camille Benitah (assistant winemaker at cult winery Merus), with the fruit being sourced from such legendary Napa sites as Oakville, Mount Veeder, Coombsville and Howell Mountain. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many to be involved in the winemaking process and enjoy the wine for many years to come! Here is the final blend:

The Final Blend: 83% Cabernet Sauvignon from Suscol Bench (24.9%), Young Inglewood (24.9%), Godspeed (16.6%), and Carrefour (16.6%) Vineyards. 10% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc.

So, after years of anticipation, my wine arrives on my doorstep, I check all the boards and blogs for a review and find nothing. It’s hard to believe that with all the “Vayniac’s” out there, I can’t find a review on the 2007 Vayniac Cabernet. Anyway, here is mine. Uncorked last night at a restaurant in Cherry Hill, NJ (full review will appear on this blog shortly) while awaiting a nice filet mignon in a peppercorn sauce. Unfortunately, the wine didn’t last until the entree arrived. It was a VERY leisurely paced dinner.  The Vayniac was a very dark ruby bordering on black in the glass. The nose was magnificent. Black fruits and dark berries flooding the senses. Hints of dark chocolate and a floral bouquet in the background. Possibly as good as any nose as I have experienced in quite some  time. My own nose kept returning to the bowl of the glass at least 50 times. On the palate the wine was soft yet textured with many of the same fruits. The finish was smooth and close to 50 seconds. If I had one possible negative it would be that I felt it closed up in the second hour just a bit whereas many wines grow better with time in the glass. My wife, Kathy disagreed with my “closed up” verdict. She thought it stayed very good throughout.

The 2007 Vayniac Cabernet certainly drinks like a wine that could cost more than the $37.99 “futures” price. It now retails at the Wine Library for $44.99. I saw while looking for a review that someone had it for a short time on Craig’s List for $500.00, The ad was removed, most likely after the seller received hilarious responses to his offer. I’d rate this wine 93 points. I could have gone a point higher had it not appeared to fade in the end for me.

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