Archive for the 'Syrah/Shiraz' Category


saturday at martinelli winery

So, it’s Saturday we got up early to partake in the free breakfast fare at our hotel before heading off to Sonoma for our visit to Martinelli Winery. I had my route all mapped out and so off we went. After our first encounter with Mayacamas mountain roads last year it was decided that we’d head down and around and then up the 12, however my GPS had other ideas and continued to force me over to the 101 via 116. Now, this was our first time venturing into Sonoma beyond Sonoma Square, so in the end I let my GPS be the guide. But soon enough the large red barn of Martinelli revealed itself from behind the trees and we knew we had arrived.We were scheduled for their VIP tour at 11:00am and we eventually arrived at just about 20 past! We were warmly greeted and taken to the tour already in progress. The day was beautiful, warm and sunny with some morning clouds still hanging around, but no rain in sight! The tour started at the foot of the Giuseppe and Luisa vineyard. We were then taken over towards the crush pad where they talked about their process of harvesting, processing, and making of the wines, interlaced with wonderful family stories.

We tasted a lot of fantastic wines, 8 or 9 in total if a recall but our favorites were the 2009 “Vigneto di Evo” Zinfandel, which was a big bold and juicy zin, with tones of black fruit flavours and just the right amount of sweet tobacco spice. The tannins are really quite smooth and help to round this juice out. It’s a great entry-level bottle (only $30 and 627 cases produced) for those who love a darn good Martinelli zin!

We enjoyed our’s back at the hotel!

Our other favorite was the 2008 “Zio Tony Ranch” Pinot Noir. This pinot brings both power and grace to the table. The nose is warm and welcoming with notes of baking spice mingling with aromas of red cherries and plum. The palate is treated to a full-bodied array of ripe raspberry and black cherries. Once this one opens up the tannins really integrate into the whole structure and are smooth and silky. The finish reveals the hints of vanilla-oak from a year of sitting in 75% new French Oak barrels with it’s gross lees and lasts forever! We saved our bottle for Easter Diner and had it with a traditionally prepared Spiral cut ham that was marinated overnight with pineapple and 7up and then slow roasted with a brown sugar glaze. The pairing, in my opinion, was divine!

All of the wines were fantastic but then again with Helen Turley and Bryan Kvamme behind the winemaking you really can’t go wrong! If you’re ever out that way you really need to pay them a visit!


an evening with chris ringland

Ok, I apologize in advance as this is a somewhat image heavy post. But, it was, after all, Chris Ringland!

First the line-up:

L to R:
2009, Diddley Bow Riesling, Western Australia

2008, Darby and Joan Chardonnay, South Australia

2007 Chris Ringland “CR” Shiraz, Barossa Valley

2007 First Class Shiraz, McLaren Vale

2007 Chateau Chateau Triumphal Arch Grenache, Mader Vineyard, Light Pass, Barossa Valley

Sorry I drank this one before I thought to get a shot of its colour but it’s very similar in hue and colour to the Chateau Chateau Chateau Grenache below but despite the colour the nose was big and bold and spicy, robust even with spicy rose and floral notes. The palate was sherry-esque with rich dried fruits flavours and a strong finish.

2007 Chateau Chateau Chateau Grenache, Barossa Valley

The beautiful strawberry/ruby colour really foretold of what was to come: a fleshy palate filled with red currant, anise and dried berry flavours.

2007 Chateau Chateau Leaf Turner Mataro (65%) Grenache (35%), Barossa Valley

This one was by far my favourite of the Grenaches. It was rich, smooth and supple with lovely spice and oak notes with silky tannins that still managed to have good grip.

2007 Chateau Chateau Island Ebeneezer Grenache, Hoffman Vineyard, Barossa Valley

This was a big boy; weighing in at 18.6% and you could tell as it had a bit of a bourbon bite to it that wasn’t all together unpleasant. The nose carried notes of Creme Brule with hints of Indian Spices. It has an intense finish that reveals the alcohol levels but balanced with ripe fruit flavours.

As for the event,it was a nice intimate turnout of 18 people and Chris talked about his background and his philosophy on winemaking and was really quite entertaining.

And the parting shot…a pic with a rock star:

It certainly was a great night and Chris was a great guy, who just happens to make some awesome wines.


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 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!