Archive for May, 2010


a follow up on the Hess Select

I didn’t find the oakiness on the Hess Select to be that overt the first time round but after finishing the bottle off last night it was a totally different wine; it was smoother and silkier and the oakiness was only apparent in its obvious absence. The finish was a lot longer as well, with more pronounced layers of chocolate, (or was it mocha?) and plum notes. The wine really opened up and now I just wish I let it decant for an hour or so the first time; I’ll remember to do that the next time.


everything you wanted in a Cab and Hess!

Trying out a new notes format….(tell me what you think)

2007, Hess Select, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendocino, Lake, Napa

Region(s): 47% Mendocino County, 37% Lake County, 16% Napa County
ABV: 13.5%
Retail Price: $17.99 (Whole Foods in Oak Park, Il)

Back Label: “Sourced from family owned and sustainably farmed vineyards in three appellations: Mendocino, Lake and Napa counties. By narrowing the appellations to these three areas that specialize in Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, we feel this wine has reached a new level of richness and intensity. Mendocino contributes spice and mid-palate. Lake adds the classic red fruit profile of Bing cherry, while Napa maintains our signature style of a structured wine with black fruit and Cassis flavours.”

My Notes:

See: Deep ruby-red with tints of garnet.

Sniff: Red fruits and eucalyptus, white pepper, cedar, cigar leaf tobacco

Sip: Full-bodied, rich, supple, textured. Concentrated dark fruit flavours, blackberry, cherry. Dark chocolate. Silky smooth tannins. Finish is long and luscious with hints of toasty oak and black cherry acidity.

Impressions: My first impression is that this is a ready to drink cali red with rich fruit flavours and supple textures but with balance and finesse. It’s a wine that is not ashamed to say that it’s Californian. I like the blend of the three AVAs allowing each to compliment and contrast each other to create a wine that won’t overwhelm or fall flat or weigh too heavy on the palate. I had this with my usual “picnic fare” of Drunken Goat cheese, some smoked gouda, Genoa Salami and prosciutto di Parma. My favourite combo was with the smoked gouda and salami with a bit of prosciutto. The texture of the wine really complimented that of the cheese and salami and the tannins helped to cut through the oiliness. I really want to try this with a nice rib eye as well. Afterall my first encounter with Hess was their single vineyard Cab with a nice piece of 21 day aged rib eye at Mustards in Napa.

My overall assessment of the Hess Select Cab is that, for the money it’s a darn good value, offering up wonderful fruit flavours with great balance and rich textures. I will buy again!

Cheers and keep tasting!


revisiting an old friend from Spain

I’m no Parker. I cannot remember every detail of every wine I’ve ever tasted. Perhaps this says that I don’t have as sophisticated a palate, or perhaps it just means that I can remain more objective when I try a new vintage of a wine I’ve had before. Either way, I love to try new vintages of my favourites and a lot of times I prefer the newer one. I also love to go back and compare notes to see how consistent the wine and my palate are, or how divergent. So, I bought a bottle of the 2008, La Cartuja, Priorat, which I absolutely fell in love with when I first had the 2007 (Parker gave that one a 91). And I love this one as well. The 08 is a blend of 50% Garnacha, 30% Mazuelo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Syrah. It is oak-aged for 8 months in French oak barrels and is subtle and elegant with a nose evocative of wet river rocks and just picked raspberries. It’s expressive without being overwhelming with whiffs of oak emerging with spicy notes of fine black pepper and dark cherries. The full-bodied palate is lush and supple without being too heavy. The fruit flavours caress rather than coat the mouth. Rich flavours of black berry and dark cherry are balanced with toasty notes of oak and underlying hints of loamy minerality, which really give this wine a definite sense of place. The tannins are silky and almost sweet and provide a perfect structure that leads into a long smooth finish laced with just a touch of cherry acidity. This Priorat drinks wonderfully on its own but loves food as well with the guts and body to stand up to roasted or grilled meat dishes and the poise and elegance to work with lighter dishes with a little spice to the and for $16.99 you can’t go wrong either way; an absolute bargain for a Priorat!

And under the twinkling lights of my patio

Cheers and Keep Tasting!

a chile wine from a chilly clime

Well, the pinot wasn’t showing very well last night. It was certainly on it’s way out but there was still nice elements of spicy red berry and leather aromoas and a silky smooth palate. This is a fine example of Chile’s move to cooler climate vineyards for their Pinots and I’m excited to try more from the Casablanca Valley as well as Bio Bio, which has be producing some very nice old world style chards. This will just serve as a lesson that if you are not going to kill a bottle then you need to preserve the bottle


a wine and food affair with a latin flair

So here’s the line up from my birthday party on Saturday. I chose these to go with the variety of Argentinian fare being served. We had six different empanadas, Argentine Chorizo, Sandwiches de miga and Chicken burgers. Plus a cold risotto salad and a wasabi and potato/green bean salad. For desert we had homemade alfajores and tiramisu. Along with the vino there was standard beer and mojitos. I drank the vino. The upside to that is I still have a ton of vino left.

The three chafers in the background were eventually filled with the delectable delights!

The vino lineup

From L to R:
2009 Botani Dry Muscat, Sierras de Malaga, Spain
2004 La Curio Reserve, Bush Vine Grenache, McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia
2008 R Wines “Southern Belle” Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia
2007 Wine Guerrilla Goat Trek Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California
2008 Decero, “Remolinos Vineyard” Malbec, Mendoza , Argentina
2008 Bodegas La Cartuja, Priorat, Spain

As gifts I received the 2007 Decero, a Pinot from Chile and 2007 Llama Malbec.

The wines that were opened were the Botani, the 08 Decero, the Southern Belle Shiraz and the Pinot Noir from Chile, all of which will be reviewed soon, and four Vineyard Bordeaux glasses from Crate & Barrel, which I freaking love!!!

The party was great fun and though the weather wasn’t perfect, it didn’t rain and the grill kept the patio a warm place to hang out. The food was fantastic and went great with all the wines opened. The Botani was a great opener with its light floral and white peach aromas with hints of baking spice and crisp yet round and expressive fruity palate. It really went well with the jamon y choclo and jamon y queso empanadas, but also drank well on its own. It is 100% Muscatel de Alejandria and aged 70% in stainless steel and 30% in French oak, which gave it a wonderful straw-yellow colour and that wonderful mouthfeel.

Another favourite of the night for me was the 2007 “Southern Belle” Shiraz! Now don’t let the name fool you this was no dainty little wine! It was aged in seasoned oak including some ex-bourbon barrels, which gave this wine a huge dark and spicy nose with lots of plump and dried fruit aromas. The palate was just as huge but silky smooth and chewy tannins provided perfect structure to carry the dark and spicy mid-palate into a long and luxurious finish. After tasting this wonderful Shiraz you’d be quite surprised to find out that she weighs in at 17.6% abv!!! I loved this wine with the grilled Argentine Chorizo topped with homemade chimichurri!

Well, that’ll do it for now. I still have some of the Pinot left and I really want to have a chance to sit down with it tonight and get to know it a bit better. But first impressions is that it’s a very well-balanced Pinot with red fruits and some earthy, leathery spice and silky body…I’ll confirm tomorrow!

Cheers! and Keep tasting!


and it’s Iron Horse bdx-3 by a mile!

So, I left work early yesterday and headed into Just Grapes for a bottle of vino to have with the steaks I was going to grill up. We had a few wines open from the 1st Wednesday tasting that I wanted to taste but none really stuck out; at least for what I was going to pair them with. Besides, I had my mind, and heart, set on the bottle I did bring home! I’ve been tasting it every time I was in the store since we brought it in and just had to bring it home. If I could, I would have purchased a few bottles, but due to the low nature of my cost, I was restricted to but a single bottle of the 2005, Iron Horse, BDX-3, T bar T Vineyards, Alexander Valley:
 It’s a Bordeaux blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 8% Petit Verdot! It’s a lovely deep ruby and garnet colour with lots of depth. The nose is lush, full of dark fruit aromas accented with notes of cedar spice box and mint! The palate is equally lush, with supple plum and blackberry flavours with just the right hints of oaky spice. The tannic structure was near perfect to me, supple and silky, but with just enough grip to handle the rich steaks! The finish seemed to last forever and was so smooth, with added hints of chocolate and plum. This wine exhibited an almost perfect balance of earth and fruit that I think it would appeal to both new and old world lovers alike! I so wish I could buy a case of this wine!

The steaks on the flame:

And ready to eat:

Salud my friends!!!

Keep Tasting!


this zin’s notes were too sharp

Well, I very rarely meet a wine that I really don’t like but last night’s bottle, sadly, was one of those rare moments. It was a gift and I had some hopes for it upon first opening it. It had a big nose of rich dried fruits with hints of spice but hopes ended there. Upon first sip I got hit with the heat of cheap alcohol tainted with artificial fruit flavours and bitter acidity and the finish was almost too harsh to actually handle after a while. I tried to give it a second chance with some food, some Mexican Pan Fried Porkchops with some red beans and potatoes with rice, but again to no avail. In the end, I wound up pouring it down the drain as it wasn’t even fit to cook with. I’m wondering if it might have been oxidized but the taste was less acetone/nail polish remover than just blatant alcohol, that one trait that had kept me away from zins for so long until I was introduced to Dry Creek zins. All I can say about this one is to avoid it. It’s undrinkable!