Archive for the '$31 – 35' Category

2003 Sean Thackrey ‘Aquila’ Sangiovese, Eaglepoint Ranch

I’m currently down in San Francisco for work and haven’t really had much time to shop for wine. So, the other day I visited the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant to see what interesting wines they had in stock. I’m always on the lookout for wines from Sean Thackrey (they’re pretty scarce, so we don’t get them in Canada) so when I saw this bottle sitting there, it called out to me.

What’s it like? Good. Really good. It’s got a really cool nose that has eucalyptus, leather, ripe cherry and tar. The nose really says Cali-Italian Nebbiolo more than Sangiovese from anywhere. The flavors pretty much play that out. It’s a medium to full-bodied wine with a schwack of leather and tar with a floral thing going on as well as the full-on cherry liqueur flavours. It’s delicious and drinking perfectly right now.

If you can find it and are curious about the wines of Sean Thackrey this is the wine for you.

$35 USD at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchants in San Francisco.

4    1/2 stars

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Napa/Sonoma trip – Day 2 in Sonoma Valley

Our second day in California’s wine country got off to a lazy start at my new favourite coffee spot in Santa Rosa, Flying Goat Coffee. After taking a leisurely stroll around Santa Rosa’s historic Railroad Square, we hopped in the car and headed toward our first stop of the day – Mazzocco Winery, near Healdsburg.

I had been emailing back and forth with Mazzocco for a while regarding a sample bottle they wanted to send me. Because of British Columbia’s antiquated and ridiculous liquor laws, it’s next to impossible to receive wine as samples in our province (I know – go figure)… so, while I was down in the area, it made sense to drop by, pick up the sample and taste the rest of the current releases.

Mazzocco Winery
It was Saturday, so that meant that both the parking lot and tasting room were chock full of Mazzocco wine fans. Candace and I made our way in and found a little corner at the tasting bar. I’ve liked pretty much everything I’ve tried from Mazzocco, so I was looking forward to trying their new wines. I’ll give something away here – I wasn’t disappointed. At all.

Here’s what we tasted:

  • 2007 Stuhlmuller Reserve Chardonnay ($36)
    Nice notes of vanilla, butter, caramel and citrus lead to a balanced and crisp finish.
    4 stars
  • 2004 “Inheritance” Cabernet Sauvignon ($40)
    5 years in oak produced a smoothly balanced wine with a lot of vanilla and licorice spice to the dark currant flavours.
    4 – 4.5 stars
  • 2005 Merlot – Dry Creek Valley ($28)
    This had a nice vanilla edge and some cracked pepper and a tonne of dark cherry/berry fruit with a long finish.
    4 stars
  • 2005 Aguilera Petite Sirah ($35)
    This was very firm and tannic, yet approachable with its licorice and black cherry/berry flavours.
    4 – 4.5 stars

The Zinfandels:

  • 2007 Briar Zinfandel ($29)
    This was the first Zin of the tasting and wow – the pure fruit that Mazzocco gets out of their Zins is so good. This had big ripe blackberry syrup with a vanilla bean edge. The finish lasted minutes.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 Stone Zinfandel ($29)
    Big, delicious ripe red berry fruit with a syrupy edge and a long, long finish.
    4 – 4.5 stars
  • 2007 Warm Springs Zinfandel ($32)
    A dose of Petite Sirah added some tannic heft to this full-bodied dark berry bomb. So good.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 Smith Orchard Reserve Zinfandel ($50)
    Wow. I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but… again – this wine has outstanding dark berry with a syrupy edge to its long and pleasantly tannic finish.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 Maple Reserve Zinfandel ($60)
    Mmmmmmm… the Maple Reserve. I really liked this (though I have to say that I really liked all their Zins). This one stayed with me just a little bit more. It had a dusty edge to its dark berry fruit with a touch of brown sugar to the long finish. Outstanding.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 Antoine Philippe Reserve Zinfandel ($120)
    The winemaker’s personal reserve. Ever wonder what an over-$100 Zinfandel tastes like? Like this… or this is what that should taste like. When I reviewed the 2006, I called it “possibly the best Zinfandel I’ve ever tasted.” Well this may have surpassed it. Although the previous wines were great Zins, this was just a step above. Firm, but fine tannins cap the delicious dark fruit. Wow. Just wow.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 Kenneth Carl Reserve Zinfandel ($150)
    This is just about right up there with the Antoine Philippe. This is the personal reserve chosen by the winery’s owner, Ken (Kenneth Carl) Wilson. It’s immense, with blackberry, black pepper and licorice. The finish just keeps on going. Another amazing effort.
    4.5 stars

I’d like to give a shout to Bernie (that’s her with me in the pic above), who despite having a packed tasting room, manged to keep the samples coming and was kind enough to fill me in on every wine we tasted and even showed me pics from the different vineyards.

The Zinfandels that Mazzocco turn out really hit my palate in all the right ways. They’ve got big and balanced fruit flavours with a briary edge to the firm, but not too firm tannins. Candace agreed. She picked these as her favourite wines of the trip.

Mauritson Wines
After leaving Mazzocco, I chose to drop in at nearby Mauritson Wines. Last summer, while in the area for ZAP, I had picked up a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County from them and was curious as to what their other wines might be like.

Here’s what we tasted:

  • 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Dry Creek Valley ($17)
    This had crisp citrus fruit and a nice mineral edge to the finish. Very refreshing.
    3.5 – 4 stars
  • 2007 Chardonnay Alexander Valley Valley ($25)
    I really liked this. It had a crisp citrus edge to its tropical fruit that led to a long finish. A very nice effort – only 457 cases were produced.
    4 – 4.5 stars
  • 2008 Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley ($27)
    There was an almost meaty edge to the pepper and dark berry/cherry fruit. Very tasty.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County ($35)
    This had refined and tasty black currant fruit with a vanilla edge. The tannins were fine, but firm and the finish lasted minutes. This could definitely benefit from some time in your cellar.
    4.5 stars

The Rockpile Zinfandels:
These are the wines for which Mauritson is best-known. I hadn’t really tried them before and have to say that I was very impressed. They were very well-balanced with loads of spice and dark fruit.

  • 2007 Rockpile Ridge Vineyard Zinfandel ($35)
    Tasty jammy ripe red berry fruit with black pepper and really nice mineral-edged tannins on the finish. Really good stuff.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 Rockpile Jack’s Cabin Vineyard Zinfandel ($37)
    This really grabbed me. I picked up flavours of black pepper, licorice, dark chocolate and juicy dark berries.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 Rockpile Westphall Ridge Vineyard Zinfandel ($37)
    I got a bit of a meaty edge to the nose of this wine… but the flavours were all about the dark berry fruit along with licorice. Wow – a very tasty Zin.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 Rockpile Cemetary Vineyard Zinfandel ($39)
    This is a bit of a monster – it’s got all the beautiful dark Zinfandel fruit, but with layers of complexity and a load of tannins on the finish. This is the one I tasted that could sit in your cellar for a while. Very, very good.
    4.5 stars

There were a few other wineries I would have liked to have visited on Saturday, but quality should always win out over quantity. I would whole-heartedly recommend visits to both wineries. The folks manning the tasting rooms were unbelievably friendly and the wines… well, there wasn’t a dud in the bunch. Check them out. Your taste buds will thank you.

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2006 Belle Pente Pinot Noir, Murto Vineyard, Dundee Hills

12212009I just can’t understand why some folks out there don’t give Oregon Pinot its due… The stuff really rocks when it’s done right. Like this bottle – it’s done in a way that if you say you don’t like it, I’m going to shoot right back with, “You just don’t like good Pinot Noir.” ‘Nuff said.

The grapes for this bottle came from Belle Pente’s own Murto vineyard, which was planted back in 1978. It results in a wine that some have apparently called “sublimely Burgundian”, but for me it shows a clarity of brairy red fruit shown in the better Pinots from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. It made my taste buds cheer.

The nose is all about the bright and ripe red cherry and strawberry fruit along with rhubarb, spice and a bit of earth. The flavours? The first word that comes to mind is “burst”. There’s a burst of fresh and briary ripe red cherries and strawberry fruit that widens the eyes and makes you want to say to the person next to you, “Wow.” That’s followed up by floral, mineral and even light orange citrus flavours that set up shop in your mouth and hang out for a while. The finish has tannins that are smooth, but firm enough to let you know that they’re there.

For what it’s worth, Stephen Tanzer gave this wine a 92 rating and I’d pretty much agree with him on the ballpark. I loved it.

Yep, I’d happily drink it again. If you find some, give it a try.

Bought for $34.95 USD at my favourite wine shop in Portland – Vinopolis Wine Shop.

4 1/2 stars

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2002 Mystic Wine Cabernet Sauvignon

02182008.jpgIt’s been a busy week here at Vinifico. We received our press passes to the upcoming Vancouver International Wine Festival, I received a schwack of side work and there was finally some sun in Vancouver, which meant less time inside in front of a computer. There was wine though. Oh yes, there was wine.

This is yet another bottle I picked up at Kitsilano Wine Cellars. I had tried the Pinot from these folks a while back and had liked it… but not loved it though. Well, for a wine I almost left on the shelf, this is quite the find. It actually reminds me a lot of the much more expensive Abeja Cabernet Rachel and I had last year in Walla Walla. This one I do love.

The nose has a beautiful brown sugar edge to the coffee, blackcurrant, blackberry and licorice mix. A juicy sip gives up licorice-edged blackberry, currant and tea leading into a long and sexy finish with firm tannins.

There’s a lot going on in this one. It’s a beautiful wine from the Columbia Valley… Let’s face it, a wine from Napa with this much going on would cost at least $20 more. This is quite a deal. There were only 150 cases made!

$35 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 1/2 stars

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2004 Château de Montfaucon Côtes du Rhône Baron Louis

01092008.jpgSilky, fragrant and sexy… those are three words I would choose to describe this wine. This blend of 40% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Cinsault, 10% Mourvèdre, 10% Carignan & 10% Counoise adds up to what is a classic Old World blend that has some New World appeal.

I always mention the colour, so I’ll tell ya’ that the wine is a medium-dark red. The nose is a bunch of distinctly earthy dark red cherry, fig, vanilla (hello oak), violets and cracked black pepper. A slurp gives up a wallop of dark cherry and plum fruit. Ahem, yep… I love this wine.

Go grab some lamb sausages, fire up the BBQ and pop this open. Yummy stuff.

$34.95 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars (they may be on to the 2005).

4 1/2 stars

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