Saturday, November 27, 2010

Glen Ellen - Petite Syrah (Magnum)

Price: ~$10
Region: California
Year: 2007

If I said this review was a departure from my normal process, that would be a rather large understatement. I have been writing this blog for close to three years now, and for anyone who has run across my reviews in that time, you will know that the original intent of this blog was twofold. First, it was really hard to find any reviews that I could really relate to. The exotic flavors and smells that were described in the reviews I would read, just didn't coincide with what I experienced when drinking wine. Second, I wanted to focus on wines that were in a reasonable price range. That is primarily because those are the wines I buy, but also because I know there are some good bargains to be found out there. Interestingly enough, I have been pleasantly surprised with the number of views that my blog has received over the pas three years. Nothing spectacular, but enough to keep me interested in writing each week (my goal anyway). So, as I posted a new review a few week back, I received an inquiry as to whether I would be interested in receiving a few "media samples" of wine to taste and review. While I was completely caught off guard, I wasn't about to say no. A few days later a couple of bottles of Glen Ellen wine showed up on my doorstep, and luck would have it, I had not tried any of them, so they are a perfect fit for me to review. I decided that if I ever receive samples of wine for my blog again, I will review that wine along with my weekly review. So, here I am writing my 2nd review this week.

Now, since this is a bit of a departure from the norm, I am completely aware that my integrity is coming into play, but here goes. As I sat down on Friday evening with a hamburger from my kid's favorite Friday night takeout place, I poured a glass of Glen Ellen Petit Syrah. I would say it was was a touch light for this grape, but good color nonetheless. When I gave the glass a swirl, the aroma was much more in line with the Petite Syrah wines I have had in this price range. While for me, the wine I always go back to is the Bogle Petite Syrah, this wine was not noticeably lacking in this area. Now, it was time to give it a taste. One thing I noticed right away was that it was actually quite smooth, and although it was more in line with the color, meaning it was a little light for a Petite Syrah, it has a pretty good overall flavor. Considering this bottle was a magnum (1.5L), the value was even better. I would say this is a solid choice if you are having some friends over for a party, and need to find a good tasting wine at a reasonable price.

Rating: 3.0 corks (Good taste, even better value)

Terra Alta Ludovicus - Red Blend

Price: $12
Region: Spain
Year: 2009

This wine came courtesy of my wife again, who really tries to make sure she picks a bottle that I have not tried before, so that I can write about it here. One of the advantages she has, is that she usually has a good idea what's for dinner on Sunday night when we get together with her parents. This particular Friday, there was a small wine tasting, and she mentioned to the person giving out samples, that she was looking for something to go with a chicken and sweet potato stew. He recommended this bottle from Spain, that is actually a blend of Garnacha, Tempranillo, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. There was been few Spanish wine that I really did not care for, so I was looking forward to dinner on Sunday.

I opened the bottle a bit before dinner, as I usually do, and I sat down with my wine journal to make some notes. Given the grapes that are blended to make up this wine, I was hardly surprised to find a very dark wine. It definitely had a grape jam look about it. Part of what I am definitely trying to get away from is making any assumptions about a wine just by sight. I'm getting better for sure, but I slipped a little with this wine, as I was expecting something along the lines of a Cab or Syrah. It had a very pleasant aroma, but I thought it was a bit tart. I'm not quite sure the percentage of each wine, at least i didn't write it down, but if it is based on the order they were listed, it makes sense that it would lean toward the Garnacha or Tempranillo, both of which I'm a little less familiar with. As I tasted this wine, the tartness that I came across in the aroma, was nowhere to be found. This wine was very smooth, with a good flavor from start to finish. I would say it fell on the side of being a bit lighter than I expected, but again, this where I need to try and experience what the wine is, instead of thinking what it should be. I will say, it went well with the delicious chicken and sweet potato stew. Not a bad way end the weekend.

Rating: 3.25 corks (Something a little different, and worth a try)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Alexander Valley - Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $17
Region: California
Year: 2007

This has probably been the longest streak of not reviewing a wine online since I started writing my blog back in 2008. Definitely not a habit I want to get into. A few different things happened recently that made me carve out some time for a new entry. First, while reading one of my wine-a-day calendar entries, I was reminded why I started writing this blog to begin with. It was one of those reviews that I just don't get. This one happened to point out the subtle taste of pencil shavings in a particular Cabernet. I'll be the first to admit that I have a limited array of flavors I usually pick up on when tasting a wine, but pencil shavings has never been one of them. To be honest, if I ever do taste pencil shavings in a wine, it will be time to move on to some other topic. The second thing that happened was the change of seasons. I'm not quite sure where late Summer or even early Fall disappeared to, but not much motivates me more to enjoy a glass of wine then a cracking fire on a brisk fall even, especially as it gets close to the holidays. Lastly, as my wife picked up my son from school, she stopped by the store to pick me up a bottle one Friday afternoon, as I was running late. Being the considerate person he seems to be turning into, he insisted on using allowance to by me a special bottle of wine so that I could write about it in my blog. So, this so happens to be that bottle. While I tried my best to remain open to either enjoying this wine, or not, I can't help but think my final verdict was a bit tainted, but I did my best nonetheless.

I had this wine the weekend before last, and I believe it was with an Italian dish my wife had made for Sunday dinner. As I poured a glass to have before dinner started, I noticed a wine with a soft grape color. It was a little different than a typical Cab, but sometimes something a little different is welcome. As I gave the glass a swirl, and took in the aroma, I wasn't at all surprised to find a very pleasant, fruity smell, that I would again have to describe as soft, and not over-powering. I then went to take a sip, and the taste that immediately came to mind was blackberries. Again, the flavor wasn't bold, but subtle. It also had very good length with a smooth finish. This wasn't a cab that would stand up and command attention, but not one that you would easily forget either. My goal is to not buy a $17 bottle of wine each week, but for a few extra dollars, it it definitely worth a try.

Rating: 3.75 corks (Good choice)