Archive for the '$46 – 50' Category

2005 Rosenblum Paso Robles Zinfandel, Appellation Series

05192007.jpgEven if the weather wasn’t perfect tonight, I was in BBQ state of mind. I went into Kits Wine Cellars with my plan of Buffalo burgers in mind when I started thinking about wine. I was thinking a Zinfandel would be great with the burgers… and man, I was right.

While I was looking around in the shop, Jason came up and mentioned that he read the blog, which is always fantastic to hear. We started talking wine… and he’s a great guy. If you’re in the shop and he’s there, grab him. He’s a wine geek – and I mean that as a compliment. He clearly likes the juice and is in the right place to share his love of wine.

We chatted about a few whites, Cavas (mmm… Spanish bubbly) and moved onto the reds. I had been eyeing up their Zin selection and chose this one.

I’ve been a huge fan of Rosenblum Cellars’ wines for years… not the generic “California Cuvee” Zinfandel we get up here, but their real stuff. The Appellation series and single vineyard Zins are some of the best out there. I had a bottle of their Rockpile Zin a few years ago that still stands as possibly the best Zin I’ve ever had.

I got home and opened it up to let some air at it… and poured myself a glass. In the glass, it has a rich dark cherry red colour. A big sniff showed a juicy mix of brambly dark berries, cherry and licorice spice. It instantly took me back to the ZAP tasting in January and all the great noses on the wines being poured there – it smelled like a Paso Robles Zin.

My first sip showed a concentrated bunch of the dark berries, dark cherry, bittersweet chocolate and a hint of black licorice. Tasty stuff.

How did the wine go with the burgers (made up of ground buffalo, rosemary, garlic and a splash of Dijon mustard served on a whole wheat bun with a freshly grilled slice of red pepper)? Fantastically. This is a great summer BBQ wine.

The only knock I have against the wine? The price. It sells for $18 from the winery, but we’re getting nailed for $46 up here in BC. Are our booze laws nuts here? Yep. Jesus.

Normally this would easily be a 4.5 star wine, but I’m knocking it down 0.5 stars just because of the crazy pricing.

$45.99 in BC at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 stars


Wine – 1996 Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz

02112007.jpgOnce in a while I have a wine that is completely unlike anything I’ve previosuly tasted. My buddy, David MacMillan brought this over a few weeks ago for a boys’ night in (lots of wine). When we opened it and I took a big sniff, my first (strong) impression was that I was suddenly sitting on a beach smelling the salt air and that the tide had gone out, exposing the seaweed… with an edge of dill pickle (yes, I said “pickle”). It had that briny, kinda’ stinky thing going on. “Uh-oh”, I thought.

Thankfully, my fears were short-lived. With 2 hours (or so) in the decanter, it started to open up. It had left the seaside and was now in a dark leather bar – it was sultry and smoky with black cherry and an edge of leather and even tar. It had so many layers of flavour and a finish that seemed like it would last a week. This, folks, was an eye-opening and very good bottle of wine.

The folks at Penfolds select the grapes for the St. Henri for their elegance instead of intensity and they mature the wine in old, rather than new oak casks. They definitely do something different with this, and it works. Phenomenal.

This vintage is unavailable unless you can hunt one down somewhere – new vintages sell for $50 here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

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Wine – 1999 Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Costasera

01072007a.jpgOK, back to the wine…

I’m a big fan of the style of Italian wine made from bamboo rack-dried grapes (in this case semi-dried for 3-4 months) called Amarone, so when my buddy Mike showed up with this the other day, I gleefully grabbed my decanter and began to drool.

Amarone is a wine from the Veneto region of Italy and is usually made from a blend of Corvina (70%), Rondinella (25%) and Molinara (5%) varieties. This produces a dry, full-bodied and boozy wine full of complexity with a sexy rasin-y edge to the flavours.

After about 3 hours of decanting, I had my first whiff… and man, oh man, it was a seductive bouquet – all sexy, slinky and swirling raisin, dark fruit with a cinnamon and leather edge. It’s the liquid equivalent of spicy raisin cookie eaten while in leather bondage gear. Jesus, it was good.

The flavours pretty accurately mirrored the nose. The structure was full and long… the finish lasted minutes. You’d be right if you were thinking I loved this wine. So good! This is an early cinch to make my top 10 list for 2007.

Thanks Mike!

No longer available here in BC, but the new vintage (2003) is $49 in private wine shops.

4 1/2 stars


Wine – 2004 Matetic Syrah San Antonio EQ

01072007.jpgThis is one I’ve been meaning to try for a while… I loved their Pinot Noir and both Wine Spectator and Decanter gave it a rousing thumbs-up (it made Dictator’s Top 100 for 2006 at #99).

The colour was great – deep, dark red. After a couple of hours in the decanter, it was still pretty tight – a lot of the “Oak MonsterGary loves to mention over at Wine Library TV – and there was a lot of heat on the nose (it has 14% booze). That did seem to subside over the next hour.

What emerged was outstanding. It was like a bacon-wrapped, peppered steak in a cherry/plum reduction sauce. It was all there – the bacon, the beef, the pepper and certainly the fruit (cherry, plum & black currant). The nose and flavours of the wine were really in synch and very complex.

There were enough tannins backing it up to show this is a wine that could really use some time in the cellar (or closet, or wherever you try to hide bottles away). Fantastic stuff!

$45 – 50 here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

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Wine – 2005 Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

09262006.jpgThe 2004 vintage of this wine was one of the highlights of my wine year. I loved it I drank it back in September. So, last night when I decided with a friend of mine to have a “Pinot Noir night”, the 2005 Belle Glos was an easy choice to accompany the DePonte Cellars Pinot Noir.

Man, oh man, this is good stuff. It was darker than the DePonte Pinot, with a decidedly “meatier” texture. There was a darker look and nose to the wine along with a bit more of a tannic bite to round it out.

OK, so what was it like? The nose was full of dark and syrupy berry and plum fruit with a touch of cinnamon spice and leather. The flavours? Lots of the intense dark berry and plum fruit with a great lingering, toasty finish. It was just as good as I’d hoped it would be.

The single vineyard sits at the intersection of Clark Road and Telephone Road in the Santa Maria Valley – hence the name. The old vines (1972) produce the intense flavours I associate with the wine: Old vines + good winemaking = tasty, tasty stuff.

A wine like this makes it tough to go back to the value wines. 🙂

$50 here in BC.

4 1/2 stars


Wine – 2004 DePonte Cellars Dundee Hills Pinot Noir

12102006.jpgMan, some of the Pinot Noirs I’ve had recently have me loving the grape. For years, aside from some high-end Burgundies I tasted, I saw it as a slightly bitter, lightweight, disappointing grape for “Burgundy sipping pantywaists“.

Not now… Wines like this are as enjoyable as any I’ve had in the past year. Its ripe and juicy berry and cherry fruit is intense, which came as a bit of a surprise – When I decanted the wine and saw the light colour, my first thought was, “Oh oh…”… but it meant nothing. The 14.5% booze and sexy fruit fill the wine’s body out and make for a silky texture… and did I mention all the luscious fruit?? It’s a smooth and slightly slutty sipper – Gorgeous stuff.

The winery is located in the Dundee Hills area of Oregon with nearby neighbours such as Archery Summit, Domaine Drouhin and Domaine Sereneheady company. The Pinot is made from old vine grapes of up to 30 years old and it shows. The intense flavours wouldn’t be possible from young vines. Man, it’s time I take a trip down there.

$50 here in BC.

4 1/2 stars


Wine – 2004 Belle Glos Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

09262006.jpgLast weekend, I had my 20th high school reunion… it was ODD, so odd – surreal really. Lots of faces I remembered and many I should have, but didn’t along with others I never really wanted to see again. My buddy Graham and I have known each other since those days, so we decided we’d go and use it as an excuse to get a few bottles of really good wine, hang out and drink them in the midst of all the suburban mingling and maybe run into a few people we both liked back in school.

First up was the 2004 Belle Glos Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir. The Belle Glos label is owned by the Wagner family of Caymus Vineyards fame. Caymus acquired a portion of the historic Santa Maria Hills Vineyard in the 1990’s. The vines there had been planted to Pinot Noir in 1972-1974, makin’ them OLD by California Pinot standards.

I had really wanted to try this wine for a while… It’ a gorgeous package – from the great minimal label with script font to the somewhat phallic wax-dipped top. It looks like an expensive wine.

Inside the bottle, the age of the vines really showed. It was inky dark with a sweet cherry, blackberry, tar, cinammon and brown sugar nose. This is a big wine. The palate fulfilled the promise of the nose with some good tannic backbone, which stood up fantastically to the pizzas we had picked up – I know… I know. You’re thinking “Pizza with Pinot???“, but this actually stood up in my test sips. I did save the majority of the wine for after I had eaten. Each sip had a great medium-length finish with dark berries and maple sugar lingering on my happy tongue.

Both Graham and I were blown away by this wine. It almost earns the 5-star rating. It’s on the cusp, but I reserve that for wines that offer just a bit more… something magical. This one’s close to that, but it rates a solid 4.5.

If the price was less than the $49 CDN it is, I’d buy this all the time. Damn good.

Now if reunions were only as much fun as the wines. 🙂

4 1/2 stars


Wine – 2003 Seghesio Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel

2003 Seghesio Sonoma County Old Vine ZinfandelYesterday was my birthday and a friend of mine, Mike, brought over this bottle as a b-day treat.

You know I’m a Zin guy and this one is a good one… very good. It took a while to open up and show its true self, but once it did, my mouth was filled with full-on blackberry with a touch of cedar and plum on the finish along with silky tannins. On the nose, the fruit shows though with a bit of licorice.

Happy Birthday to me! 🙂

$46.90 here in BC.

4 stars


Wine & stuff – Happy Freakin’ New Year!

Pol Roger NV Extra Cuvée de RéserveMmmmm…. seriously, the best thing about New Years is the Champagne. I have nothing against ‘Sparkling wine’, but c’mon Champagne is the REAL thing. It’s the Disneyland of booze – it’s the happiest drink on Earth.

Tonight, I had a great one: the current release of the Pol Roger NV Extra Cuvée de Réserve. So good… strong pear and honey with a bit of a toasty edge, and a finish that lasts for a minute or more. To quote my buddy, Mr. Watkin, it’s “a good drop”. Yum. Wine Enthusiast picked it as their #4 wine of the year. Pretty fantastic for $49 (CDN).

For 2006 remember – “Once a day, every day give yourself a treat.” This is a good start.

All the best to you in the coming year. Cheers.

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Wine – Explosions on the buds

2 tasty bottles came into my life this weekend… A 2003 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel and a 2003 Cline Live Oak Zinfandel. Each of these are mouth-watering wines from great California producers… I made a basil-based pasta sauce to serve as the base for the enjoyment of these wines, but as always with Zins, prefer to do most of the tasting sans food.

The Lytton Springs was definitely from the private school of Sonoma wines… it’s slightly more austere than the typical Zin. You have to wait a bit and buy it a drink before it’ll be all open with you. Nonetheless, it’s bloody good. It eventually opens up with impessive dark berry and briar notes.

The 2003 Live Oaks is another level of fruit-forward entirely. It’s dark, open and downright sexy… almost port-like. At 16% booze the grapes were on the verge of overripe when picked. Having said that, I really like this style of Zin. It doesn’t pair well with many foods, but on its own it strutted its way all over my happy taste buds.

OK, I’m going to quit going on about these wines… wine = good. ‘Nuff said. Of the two, I’d give the nod to the Cline… Having said that… if you get the chance to try either of them go for it.

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