I have a few quick reviews jotted down at wine shop tastings and other such events where I didn’t exactly take the time to mull over the details. I tasted these wines probably over the last 6 months or so. I present them here in an unedited format for your enjoyment:
The following are from a Coturri Winery Tasting:
Rose’ – Great acidity w/ grapefruit and pear. 89 pts.
06′ Pinot Jewell Vineyards – Dark and jammy. Doesn’t taste like a Pinot but good. 88 pts.
Merlot – Drinkable. 85 pts.
Sandocino – Pretty awesome, blueberries and smoke. Great balance but tannins need time to resolve. 90 pts.
Petit Sirah – Licorice, black cherry, and Swedish Fish. Oaky, delicious. 89 pts.
Primitivo – Stinky and smoky. Cola and black raspberries. (no score given)
Other odds and ends from various tastings:
08′ Sineann Pinot, $38 – Smells jammy, little lake water with oak on top. Some cherries, alcohol apparent. Overdone. 86+ pts.
07′ Federalist Zinfandel, $29 – Aromatically challenged. Some zin character comes through with a punch of fruit. Slightly muddled. 87+ pts.
03′ Ridge Del Carlo – Big earthy nose. Slightly browning at the edge of the glass. Smells incredible and you can tell it has some age. Big mouthfeel, very elegant and well-balanced in its bigness. Still a little cloying. Truckloads of fruit and complexity in the mid-palate. Some pepper and mint. (no score given)
07′ Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet, $70 – Aroma is very big and concentrated with an oak blanket. Currants and blueberries with an herbal quality. Bright acidity, very well-balanced. Lots of tannin, but has lots of everything. Will be fantastic. 92+ pts.
Hope you enjoyed the uncut, unrated wine reviews. I apologize for any grammatical atrocities. Cheers!
So on this wonderful Saturday morning I’m sitting here browsing the web and I came up with the idea for a “safe bet” list of wineries that I feel could be very helpful to my readers in a more broadly ranging and general sense than my otherwise very specific wine reviews. This list comprises wineries with which I feel I am very familiar and is limited to those who I feel offer very consistent quality and value at their respective price points. My goal here is to put these wineries’ names somewhere back in your mind so that the next time you are at the grocery store or wine shop, you might just recognize a few of these labels and be confident that the wine in the bottle will be well made and enjoyable for whatever occasion might call for it. I took the extra step of pairing this list down to wineries from which I have never had a disappointing wine. Please also feel free to add your comments on any additional wineries you might be fond of and be sure to include the price range of their offerings:
Price Range: $5-$25
Mumm Napa (primarily sparklers) Mumm Napa Website
Casillero Del Diablo (division of Concha Y Toro, Chilean reds and whites) Casillero Del Diablo Website
Price Range: $20-$40
Coturri (very rustic wines, “sulfite free”, and various varietal wines) Coturrio Website
Mollydooker (readily available fruit bombs from Australia) Mollydooker Website
Michael David (famous for 7 Deadly Zins and Petit Petit ‘petit sirah’) Michael David Website
Gundlach Bunschu (‘gun-lock bun-shoe’, good red blends and cabs from Sonoma) GunBun Website jjj
Alexander Valley Vineyards (their cabernets taste more expensive than their price, a good thing) AVV Website
Price Range: $40+ (I could list a ton in this category, but have stayed with those that are readily available)
Silverado Vineyards (cabernets and super-tuscan blends from Napa) Silverado Website
I may augment this list in the future, but I feel this is a good starting point. Let me know if you have had or do have any of these wines, and give me an earful if you think they were junk (you won’t ).
Petite Sirah is a grape that I feel is largely underappreciated, and I count myself among those complicit in the act. Until tonight, my experience with the grape was somewhat limited, but what I have had sparked my interest enough to go full-bore and take an opportunity to taste 6 (that right, six) different interpretations of this dark and juicy beauty.
-2008 Crane Lake Petite Sirah: This is the Petite Sirah that literally fits into any budget. At a whopping $5 a bottle, anything on the improved side of vomit inducing would prove this wine a relative value. The aroma of this wine reminded me of Welch’s grape juice and Gamay wine with just a touch of sweetness. Soft, round fruit comes through on the palate with a little tartness and little tannin. All things considered, not too shabby: 83 points.
-2007 Bogle Vineyards Petite Sirah: Still inexpensive ($12), this wine comes across as much more complex when you swirl and sniff with BBQ, brown sugar, and pure juice. When tasted, this wine come across first with a slight touch of oak and decent tannins. I would describe the mouthfeel of ths wine as luscious and chewy. Overall it is very well-balanced. Concentrated enough to keep my interest but not complex. The finish disappoints and falls off early. 85 points.
-2006 Bogle ’Phantom’ (Petite Sirah, Zin, and Mourvedre): At $20, this wine has grape jelly and spice on the nose with cherries and blackberries coming through. After swirling, a slight earth stink (not a bad thing) becomes evident leading me to believe this one is going to be interesting and complex. Black cherries are the most prominent flavor with some pleasant spice notes in the middle and a firm grip of tannins on the finish. 85 points.
-2006 Parducci ’True Grit’ Petite Sirah: The is one of the mid-level ($23) Petite Sirah bottlings from Parducci Winery who specializes in this grape with several bottlings at varying price points. This particular winery prides themselves in sustainable, organic farming and wine making and was recently given the designation of “America’s Greenest Winery” by the Governator. I had high hopes going into this one and I have to say that this was my least favorite wine of the evening. With an extremely dark purple color, this wine smelled of smoke and purple jelly beans (classic style) with dark fruit and a little cranberry. The smoke came through in the flavor as well with leather and a medicinal edge that led to the wines biggest downfall, the rough finish. It may just need a few years or even just decanting, but for now I would hold on it. 84 points.
-2008 Four Vines Heretic Petite Sirah: This was the most expensive ($40) wine tasted. On the nose it is clear that this wine has the most oak, but the nose of this wine is so concentrated, it may be justified. In addition to the oak I smell an earthiness along with caramel apples, blackberries, and incense. On the palate it became clear that this wine is very complex, more so than any other tasted, with cedar, blackberries, and cherries in addition to the oak and other earthy flavors. Tannins are apparent but not overbearing. 88 points.
-2006 Wild Hog Vineyards Petite Sirah: Backing it down to a modest and reasonable $20, this wine is a welcome odd duck that does a good job in exemplifying the range of styles possible from a single grape. The aroma hints at lotion, baby powder, and uncooked pie crust (this assessment took a while, but once you place it, it becomes obvious). When tasted, this wine had an unmistakable character not dissimilar to a nice Pinot Noir but with the cherries and dark fruit notes in keeping with Petit Sirah. Very enjoyable, this wine is the weird kid at school that everyone likes but can’t pinpoint why. 89 points.
Take my advice and take a chance on a Petit Sirah.