Friday, July 27, 2007

Strike Two?

Okay, decided to give the folks at Santa Carolina another chance as they have been kind to me in the past. So, pulled the cork on their Syrah, Barrica Selection, 2005 tonight.
This was immediately more promising than their Carmenere, a quick sniff yielding intense minty plums. On the palate the fruit is much cleaner and pleasant. A chunky wine with a leathery backbone and quite tannic mouthfeel, it would make a good BBQ meat match.
I give this one a passing grade, much more enjoyable than the Carmenere, but not good enought to be a "weekend wine."
Value: fair at $16.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Shame on them!! a gold medal for this?? The Santa Carolina, Barrica Selection series is usually dependable, but this one escaped from the zoo. The 2004 Carmenere has an unassuming light berry nose but a ho-hum palate - it was actually initially unpleasant (and no, it was not "corked"). Dirty plums. Some of the unpleasantness blows off in a while, but this is a "crap to OK" wine, don't waste your $15.

Meanwhile, have been poring over the 2006 Bordeaux futures - what's with the prices??? this was not a stellar year guys, come on!!


Monday, July 23, 2007

Chapel Hill

Time for a different wine, different continent. That's one of the great things about wine - you couldn't sample all the different wines out there even if you were a pro working for a magazine scoring them. And the wines are so different, it's fun to hop around trying them.
I've had wines from Chapel Hill in Australia before, they are hit and miss but usually pretty dense, chunky efforts. The 2003, Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale/Coonawarra fits the bill. Nice deep opaque colour. Initially very closed - thick, tannic, not very pleasant. Leave it for a few hours (or overnight!) and it comes back with dark chocolate and blackberries mixed with a little sweet red licorice. The tannins soften with time leaving a rich mouth coating.
A little unbalanced, but not bad - a good wine. OK value at $18.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Old and New

Ever had difficulty choosing between two very different things? Well, that's kind of how I feel about this round of mid-week wines. On one hand the Rutini, Trumpeter, Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 from Mendoza, Argentina whacks you with the new world style fruit and on the other hand the Raimat, Abadia, Crianza 2003 from Costers del Segre in Spain seduces you with that earthy old world style.
The Trumpeter has an attractive berry nose, is medium bodied with a medium finish that is slightly hot. But it's basically all about bright blackberry fruit. Not complex, but a good midweek wine and good value for only $14.
The Raimat has a deep plummy nose to go with the medium plum colour. It is also medium bodied but very smooth with a dirty, minty, tobacco palate that tastes better than it sounds.
Well done for $15, a good wine.
So, choose away - I appreciate both styles of wine so can cannot call a winner between the two.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Mystery Night

I had 6 bottles of wine from the same producer - two each of 3 varietals, different vintages. So, I thought it would be fun to brown bag the wines and taste them blindly, trying to see if we could pick out the correct varietal pairings. And, to confuse people and keep them "honest", I added a completely different wine as a "mystery wine" (different producer, varietal and continent).
Boy was it tough to pick the right pairings. It was however, very easy to pick the mystery wine and even it's origin and grape type. The Sophenia, Malbec 2005 from Tupungato, Mendoza, Argentina was so distinctive - it was the most aromatic of the lot, bright mulberries and spice on the nose. It was also the only purplish wine, was medium bodied on the palate with some rough tannins but very bright fruit. A "Good" wine, OK for $17.
The main event featured six wines from KWV's Cathedral Cellars. KWV is a huge South African winery and these wines are supposedly well crafted and see new oak. There were 2 Merlots (1999, 2002) that were thought to be the weakest wines of the bunch - beefy, meaty and tannic, but they opened up nicely the next day so definitely need decanting. The two cabs were quite different - the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon I picked as a cab no problem but the 2002 Cab I thought was a spicy shiraz! So, obviously, I mis-picked one of the shiraz's as a cab (the 2002 Shiraz - an elegant, smooth, silky effort). The last wine was a 2000 Shiraz.
The best wine? It was a tie between the 2002 shiraz and do I know? those bottles were drained the fastest.
By the way, I rate them all "good".


And thanks to all the tasters!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tannic Toro

Today's wine is from the Toro region in Spain. It is made from a grape called Tinto de Toro, which is apparently a relative of that workhorse Spanish grape, Tempranillo.
This wine was aged in both very large oak barrels ("foudres") and the smaller 225l barrique bordelais ("crianza" literally means "aged" in Spanish, and wines with this moniker must be aged at least 2 years before being sold, with a minimum of 6 months in oak). I don't think any of this oak was anywhere near new on tasting the Bajoz, Tinta de Toro, Crianza, 2003. I'd say it was aromatically challenged (no distinct aromas), and on the palate it felt structured but on the tannic side, quite austere with no discernible fruit showing. I thought it would be a good food wine, would probably do well matched to BBQ fare.
So, a well made wine, just not very enjoyable as a sipper. OK for value at $16.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Philips On Vacation

Sampled two cheap but enjoyable California twins from the R.H.Philips family of wines in the sunny climes of Barbados last week. These wines are from the Dunnigan Hills region and are quite different - definitely not identical twins.
First up was the Syrah, 2004, rolling in with faint blackberries on the nose and a warm, smooth, meaty, boiled-beetroot-meets-blueberries palate. A little leather in there too, just like a good syrah should have. A good sipping wine. Yeah, it's commercial, but this means they'll sell loads for the price - I paid 10 bones duty-free for it.
Next up was their Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003. A hint of green peppers on the nose, this is a medium bodied, light blackberry, spicy wine. More elegant and refined than the beefy syrah. Quite pleasant - also good and worth the 10 bucks.