Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chateau Jacquet, Tour de Cazelle

Price: $13.99
Region: France
Year: 2009

No other reason that I am reviewing a bottle of wine as I drink it today then it really wasn't a great day at work. Probably more of an excuse to have a glass of wine or two, but I'm just going to roll with it. I had bought this bottle late in December as I picked out a nice bottle for my birthday dinner. Lots of the wines as I passed through the French aisle at my favorite store indicated that 2009 was a great year for Bordeux blends. This particular wine is 80% Merlot, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. I have a few other wines to get to from the last week or two, but I hate to review one wine as I'm drinking another.

For a wine that is made up primarily of Merlot grapes, this one is a bit darker red then I would have first anticipated. It really has a great look to it. As I take a smell of this wine, I find a really aromatic wine that just oozes fresh berries. It really has a wonderful smell that makes you want to give it one more swirl. By this point I was really looking forward to a taste. Again, maybe the long day at work was an excuse, but it worked for me. The flavor was every bit as berry-filled as the aroma. Really the one that sticks out the most is black cherry. It almost taste like one of those thick Chobani yogurts. Really good flavor and really good balance. I haven't tried any of the other vintages of this wine, but with as good as this one was, not sure there is any reason to.

Rating: 4.25 corks (Top Notch!)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Region: Virgina
Wineries: Jefferson, Blenheim, & Barboursville

A little bit of a departure from the norm this week. I missed last week's review, but for good reason. My wife surprised me for my birthday last month with a long weekend away for two. The plan was to stay in Charlottesville, and visit a few close by wineries. This was actually a trip we had planned to take in 2009, but for one reason or another, it just never happened. I've only had one or two Virginia wines in the past, so really wasn't sure exactly what to expect. Interestingly enough, Wine Enthusiast just came out with an article listing Virginia as one of the top 10 wine travel destinations for 2012.

I decided this week to just write a little about the wineries we visited, with maybe a restaurant or two thrown is as well. We bought plenty of bottles of wines from the places we did visit, so I'm sure they'll be showing up in future reviews, but now I just want to give my view of the winery visits themselves. The first winery we visited was Jefferson Vineyards. We had just taken a tour of Monticello, and ate a down home Southern meal at Michie Tavern. If you are ever in an around Monticello, I think the Michie tavern is a must stop place to eat. After lunch and a very short drive, we pulled into Jefferson Vineyards, which had a nice view of the surrounding mountains. The tasting bar was quite full, so we paid our fee, grabbed our Reidel glasses, and squeezed in at the corner of the bar. We tasted a few whites, and few reds, and decided on the ones we wanted to bring home. While the facilities weren't overly impressive, the staff was nice, and for $10 we got to keep the Reidel glasses, so overall a winery that needs to be on the list of ones to visit if not just for the name.

After a short 5-10 minute drive, the next stop was Blenheim Vineyards. The only thing I knew about this winery was that it is owned by Dave Matthews, and it is right across the street from Trump Winery (former Kluge). We hadn't heard the best things about Trump, so we went straight to Blenheim. The facilities here was much nicer than Jefferson. The rustic looking tasting area with a great view and very friendly staff. I actually think this would be even better come warmer weather with a great deck overlooking the vineyard in the valley. Here they only offered one white, which seems to be the white of choice in Virgina (Viognier). Along with that, it seems Virgina is also known for Cabernet Franc as well as Petit Verdot. Both of these are rather bold red wines, and really right up my alley. Both were rather tasty. Overall, this winery visit was a step up, and I even bought a shirt with the annual painting that Dave Matthews puts on their top bottle of wine. A must visit winery as well.

After Blenheim, we decided to head back to Charlottesville, and stroll around downtown and pick a place out for dinner. We settled on the Orzo Kitchen and Wine bar, which is about halfway between where we were staying and UVA. Service wasn't great, but the food and atmosphere were very good. I also had a Spanish glass of red with my Colorado Lamb to top off a very nice day. The next day we decided to hit one more winery, and this time we went North of Charlottesville to Barboursville. This was another very nice layout, with a nice fire roaring as we walked in out of the cold. The one thing I was surprised about at all of the wineries was how many people were out tasting wine on a weekend in January. The bar here was pretty full as well, and for $5 a piece, we started out tasting a few whites, including the signature Viognier again. The all around experience at this winery was also very good. We tasted 15 different wines, including some very good red wines. We have a few ready to be opened, and a couple that will probably be better with a little age. The one wine I am really looking forward to from here is their Reserve Merlot. A little different character than a California Merlot, but I think in this case, that's a good thing. There was one more winery we wanted to vist called Mountfair, but unfortunately they did not have tastings at this time of year. Based on the bottle of Mountfair Cabernet Franc we bought on our first day in town, it will definitely be on the list next time around.

As I mentioned earlier, I really wasn't sure what to expect from the wine, and after only a couple of stops, I couldn't have been more impressed. Obviously Wine Enthusiast knew what they were talking about when Virginia made their list for 2012 destinations. Given it is only a few hours drive for us, I think we'll definitely plan on heading back some time soon.

Rating: A lot of fun!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chappellet - Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $49.99
Region: Napa
Year: 2008

Quite often I cheat a bit and go outside the original guidelines I set up for this wine blog, and review a wine a few dollars above the $15 limit I try to stay under. Then there are times like these when I just blow it out of the water. Those times are however, few and far between. This past New Year's Eve just happened to be one of those times. New Year's Eve also happens to be my birthday, and on this particular one I turned 40 years old. I had originally set out to spend a few hours browsing the local Total Wine store, and find a bottle of Napa Cabernet in the $75 range. So, when I first got to the store, I found the bottle I intended to buy, and then decided to go find some additional wines for this blog while I thought a bit longer if that was actually the bottle I was going to buy. When I was all set to go back and put it in my cart, I starting getting into an interesting conversation with one of the very helpful individuals at this store. What ended up happening was that he actually talked me down from the original bottle I had (to remain unnamed), which was $70, to this bottle of Chappellet Cabernet at around $50. He almost had me go with a blend from Washington State called Cadence, which he said he would put up against any of the wines I was looking at, but in the end, I decided to go with the pure Napa Cab.

My wife and I ordered a nice sushi spread for dinner, and we sat down really looking forward to tasting this wine. From the get go, this wine had a lot going for it. Even the pour into my glass made this wine look good. It had a very silky look to it, and was a deep, dark red color. The aroma was really nice, with a full berry smell, and hints of chocolate. As good as the look and smell of this wine was, the taste and feel of this wine was off the charts. The word that most comes to mind was consistent. It was velvety smooth from the very first taste, had great length had more hints of chocolate, and maybe even a little coffee, and finished with the same great structure it started with. I knew I had some really good sushi to get to, but I was enjoying the wine so much, I slowly finished that glass before putting any food in my mouth. I sometimes wonder if certain wines are worth the extra money, and I'm not going to get int he habit anytime soon of buying $50 bottles of wine, but as a special occasion, it was more than worth it. I need to take a little off for the price, but this is as close to a 5.0 as I have ever had.

Rating: 4.75 corks (Treat yourself, I did!)