Friday, April 30, 2010

Ravenswood - Petit Shiraz

Price: $9.99
Region: California
Year: 2007

Ok, doing something a little different this week. I have two reviews from last week that I just didn't get around to writing up this week, and I really want to get to them, but I think I'll try to get them done one night next week. Since today is Friday, and I didn't get around to my review last night, I have a new bottle for this weekend that I am going to review as I try it out. I think I've done this once before, but it definitely isn't my normal routine. I just had a little free time tonight, so I thought I'd give it a try.

I left work a bit early and caught the last half of my son's baseball game today. Since it wasn't my normal route home, I stopped by a store I rarely buy from. It was already a little late, and I didn't want to spend a whole bunch of time, so I headed for the Shiraz aisle. It is always good to have a fallback wine, and this is definitely mine. While I didn't get a regular Shiraz, I did see a sign for a Petit Shiraz from Ravenswood at a good price, so I thought I'd give it a try. I only spent about 5 minutes in the store, so mission accomplished on that front. I didn't have this wine with dinner, which was a delicious tortellini soup, but instead decided to wait until a bit later to sit down and relax with a glass of wine. And of course, that time is right now. As I take a look at this wine, I can tell you this is one dark red wine. I know I've said this before, but it is nearly black. As I give the glass a swirl, and take a sniff, I can tell you the aroma is very intense. Almost a bit too much, but for my liking I would prefer this to one that has a very faint smell. As I take my first sip, my initial impression is kind of middle of the road. The taste is not as intense as the smell, but I'm not so sure that is a bad thing. It is not quite as smooth as the other Petit Shiraz that I lean towards in this price range. It isn't a bad change of pace from the Bogle, that I really enjoy, but it isn't quite at the same level either. While the wine has good length, it is just a tad bitter for my liking. I think it will definitely do the trick for tonight, but not at the top of my list of Petit Shiraz.

Rating: 2.75 (Acceptable)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Unti - Petit Frere

Price: $28
Region: Healdsburg, California
Year: 2006

First, a bit of background on this one. This is a wine I usually buy a couple of bottles of around Christmas each year because it is my wife's absolutely favorite red wine. I would buy it more often, but there is only one store in our local market that carries it, and I just don't get out that way very often. It is a great little specialty wine store, that carries much more wine from Europe than the US, but this one that they do carry is usually a winner. The one thing I noticed this year that I hadn't noticed before, is that while the grapes used in this wine are the same, the percentages of them from vintage to vintage vary significantly. This wine is a Cotes-du-Rhone style wine made from Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. The blend in the 2006 vintage that I tasted was 86% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 4% Mourvedre. A significant difference, for instance, from the 2007 vintage which is almost 50% Syrah and 40% Grenache. This wine sat in our cellar for a couple of months, until recently when we had a quiet Saturday evening home preparing for our trip to Florida, and it seemed like a good time to break out a bottle.

This is obviously a bit more than we would spend for a weekly bottle of wine, but it is always nice to have an upgrade every now and then. When I poured my first glass, I noticed the wine had excellent clarity, and a very rich looking color. It was definitely pleasant to look at. I then gave my glass a quick swirl, and took a sniff. This wine had an excellent floral bouquet. So much so, that I went back for more before giving the wine a taste. At this point, the wine was everything I was expecting it to be. I then took a sip, and instantly noticed that this wine was very smooth. It had a wonderful flavor, with great length, and a definite European flare. Maybe it was the heavy percentage of Grenache, which is a grape I don't purposely seek out, and don't usually come across in California wines I buy. This one is definitely unique, and well worth the almost $30 as something to save as a treat.

Rating: 4.25 (A yearly treat)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hess - Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $15.99
Region: California
Year: 2006

Still have a bit of a backlog of reviews to get to for a couple of different reasons, and was hoping to get at least two done today, but don't think that is going to happen. I decided to review this wine, just because it was one of the ones I enjoyed over this past holiday weekend (Easter), and it is fresh in my mind. In picking this wine out, I took a bit of a different approach. Before O left work on Friday, I had a quick conversation with one of my friends. We both get the same wine of the day calendar, hers being online, and mine being one of those little square desk calendars. I usually save a wine if it looks like one I want to try, and she usually saves a link for the same reason. So, we went through our saved wine of the day selections, and this is what we came up with. It definitely made the trip to the wine store that much easier. While sometimes I enjoy browsing the local wine store, the way home on a Friday evening isn't usually one of those times. For this blog, this is a couple of dollars more than I usually spend on a weekly wine, but I'm sure you can find it somewhere for under $15.

When I first poured a glass, I was a bit intrigued by the color. It wasn't a big bold looking red, but did have really nice clarity, and an almost ruby hue to it. So, if I thought that the appearance wasn't typical Cabernet, I certainly can't say that about the smell. I gave my glass a few swirls, and tried my new sniffing routine again, and very much enjoyed a full-bodied red wine smell. I would say it have a hint of blackberry, which is what usually comes to my mind for me when I smell a typical Cab. At this point, I was pretty impressed, but the taste is always most important to me. With my first sip, I immediately noticed how smooth this wine was, and also the great tannins. This wine had a great upfront taste, that continued all the way to the back of the throat. Really great length. That smell of blackberries was again evident int he taste. Overall, a really good wine, and held up well against wines that I've paid twice as much for. Go give it a try for sure.

Rating: 4.25 (A Cab for the Top 5)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Oracle of the Sun - Shiraz

Price: $8.99
Region: South Africa
Year: 2008

Well, March was not a such great month for keeping up with my reviews. That's not to say I didn't have my fair share of good (and not so good) wines. Between being away for a week for Spring Break with my family, and a crazy work schedule, I just haven't made the time to sit down and write a review. I try to keep those periods to a minimum for sure, but sometimes it can't be helped. The good news is, I have a whole lot of reviews to catch-up on, so no time like the present to get started. I bought this wine on my way home from work one Friday evening in early March. Didn't really have a particular wine in mind, but also didn't have a lot of time to walk up and down the aisle. This usually means I head to the Shiraz aisle first, as I can almost always rely on the fact something will grab my attention. The interesting thing about this particular wine is that sometimes I am in the mood for a South African wine, but they are usually in a different section of the store. At my previous job, I became friends with a couple of colleagues from South Africa, and met up with one of them on a business trip, and the wines he brought over from South Africa that we shared were excellent. Every once in a while I try to find something as good as those wines were, but haven't had much luck. So, when I was in the Shiraz aisle, and saw this wine, I was hoping my luck had changed.

I can't recall what we were having for dinner that night, but if I had to guess it was probably pizza, which seems to becoming a Friday night staple. When I was ready to sit down, I poured a glass, and was a bit surprised at the color. It was much more shallow then I was expecting for a Shiraz. Not the end of the world, but wasn't impressed. Not sure if I said this in one of my other recent postings, but I read recently that when you smell wine, you should take multiple short sniffs, as opposed to one long one. I really can tell the difference when you do this, so I would recommend it. The comment said to think of a hound dog following a scent. Anyway, this isn't a wine I went back to sniff again. It wasn't horrible, but definitely a bit off. Just not overly pleasant. This was going to have to finish with a phenomenal taste to win me over for sure. I took my first sip, and my impression was average. It didn't have those good chewy tannins that I love to find in a Shiraz, and it definitely wasn't a big bold wine, but it wasn't horrible. I paid $9 for this wine, which is too much. I just saw online while looking for the picture that it can be had for $6. It might be worth a try at that price, but I just have to say there are much better wines out there for the price.

Rating: 2.5 (I'd skip it)