Sunday, September 28, 2008

Nutritious Bargains

I've found a positive bargain - and to boot, the Cline, Syrah, Sonoma County, 2006 must be good for you as it is so fruity it has to be loaded with minerals and vitamins! (ha ha). More realistically, it is so extracted that it at least must be loaded with antioxidants. Nice dense colour. Explosive blueberry/boysenberry nose. Straightforward fruit bomb palate plus some added spiciness (?nutmeg) and pepper. All for $13. This is good wine and a bargain.
Next up - a couple of Chileans. The Santa Alicia, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gran Reserva de los Andes, 2003 is deep in colour with a pure cassis nose and palate (and just about nothing else!). Powerful and rich style. Good. Not disappointing for $20.
The Terra Andina, Altos, Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005 is also from the Maipo valley. This one has a more cherry profile, is not quite as full bodied as the Santa Alicia but the fruit feels (tastes!) slightly more complex. Another good wine worth the money ($19). Cheers!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Soloist

What a way to drown - in such nectar as this! This poor hornet was so tempted by the incredible nose on this wine that it almost drowned. Don't worry, I rescued the poor soul, he dried off his wings and loopily flew off to tell his buddies in the nest about this strange powerful new food source...
The Coriole, The Soloist, single vineyard shiraz, 2004 is from the McLaren Vale in Australia. It is opaque purple in the glass with a very strong blackberry nose (with a floral lift). This is a dense, full bodied effort made in a luscious style, full of fruit (blueberries are the most predominant flavour). Mmmm. Wow. Not cheap at $30 but worth it.
Check out the sediment left in the last glass...this stuff is obviously not filtered before bottling.

Now, for an update. Thanks to a petite sirah lover who commented on my last post, I have learned that DNA testing has confirmed that this grape is indeed an offspring of syrah, although it's history remains quite contorted. Anyway, kudos to Jo Diaz ( for the update....

Monday, September 15, 2008

Little Brother?

You'd think that the grape Petite Sirah is related to Syrah, perhaps a smaller "brother" or offspring. It actually has quite a mysterious heritage. It is uncommonly seen as a varietal bottling, especially in the old world where it has been used for blending. Today it's seen mostly from wineries in the new world, especially California and oddly enough, Brazil and Mexico. Just to add to the name confusion, some wineries spell the grape "Petite Syrah" which may actually be a different species!
Enough rambling, lets taste.
I found 3 bottles of Petite Sirah and one Petite Syrah. The best two by far were from California - the Eos, Reserve Petite Sirah, Paso Robles, 2001 clocks in at 15.5% alcohol. But, like some heavy hitter zinfandels, it hides all this booze in fruit. This has an aromatic cherry-like nose followed by intense cherry and bramble fruit on the palate. Dense and full bodied with very easy going tannins, this is impressive. Wow. $30 and worth it.
Rosenblum, Petite Sirah, Heritage Clones, 2006 is a much younger wine. Surprisingly, the nose is more subtle than the Eos and shows floral notes. On the palate this is another dense, intense wine with blackberries, creamy chocolate and oranges. More tannic than the Eos but still easy going. Wow. Also worth the money at $28.
The other two wines are Australian in origin (Hopwood Petite Syrah 2004 and DeBortoli Petite Sirah 2006) and are not really worth talking about - don't buy them as they are not very good, rated as "OK".
So, if you see bottle of old vine Petite Sirah from a reputable producer, I'd say give your taste buds a interesting alternative to new world fruit bombs made from Zinfandel.
Cheers!! (oh, and this is how I felt the next morning.....)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I smell a rat...aka crap wine. The usually reliable "cheap" wine Torres, Sangre de Toro, 2006 has tumbled to the depths. The bubble gum, candy-like nose warned immediately that this was going to be a painful bottle to drink. Good colour but it's a lightweight, tastes of fake raspberry/cherry melted popsicle. Ugly. Crap, save the $13 and buy some fruit juice instead.
Jacob's Creek is one of Australia's success stories (in a business sense...). They make literally tons of wine, most is pretty pedestrian. However, their Reserve Shiraz sometimes is a winner, as it was in 2004 (90 points, Wine Spectator). Well, take the 2006 edition off that list please. It's dark enough in the glass but it smells like a freshly sanitized bathroom. Medium bodied, generic shiraz, a little earthy-dirty with OK plum fruit showing. This is certainly not your typical aussie fruit bomb reserve shiraz. And it winces when paired with food. An "OK" wine, use the $20 for something tastier.
Now for something a lot better - the small, family owned Hendry winery makes some nice wines. Their Block 7 Napa Valley Zinfandel 2004 so is pungent even the cork itself smells nice. Fresh baked bumbleberry pie... This is a fruit bomb - raspberries and redcurrants, but they stay nice and fresh glass after glass. Solid wine. Not for matching with serious food but I could drink it all night long. "Good", but it's a tad too expensive at $30 (bought in the USA).

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Yup, they make wine in Mexico. I've actually driven by the only place I've seen wine from down there - in Baja, near the Pacific, although I didn't drop in for a tasting at the time. It's quite cool on the Pacific side up in the northern part of the peninsula, with the breeze coming off the ocean, quite the opposite of the hot, desert-like sea of Cortez side. Anyway, this was the most expensive Mexican wine I've had - the L.A. Cetto, Cabernet Sauvignon, Private Reserve, 2004, ringing in at $22. The nose is hiding somewhere (Carlo, did you find it yet?). Light in colour - you can see through it - this is made in an elegant, european style. Redcurrants, elderberries, a little simple at first but feels more complex with time. Not a sipper. It got three "OK's" and one "good", so in summary, not worth the money.
The starter wine was a great sipper - the Perez Cruz, Reserva, Limited Edition, Carmenere 2004. Chile makes richer wines than Mexico! Deep opaque purple with a rich plum compote nose. Full bodied fruit bomb, quite plummy. The koko factor: "a dusting of cocoa appears". Nice chewy finish. Borders on wow...worth the $26.
The "piece de resistance" was another bottle of Depardieu's Confiance (2003) - this remains one of my favourite wines and still rates a wow.
The Peter Lehman, The Futures, Shiraz, 2004 came with big expectations - it has been highly regarded in the wine press. Faint blackberry nose, it is a black wine. Tannic, it is almost harsh. The blackberry fruit is there, though. Closed, tight - needs time. It rates a "good" right now but will get better. $30.