Monday, November 29, 2010

Speculate With The New Hampshire Wine Man

Today "Wine Spectator" came out with its Top 100 wines of 2010.

Perspective is hard to come-by for Newbie wine tasters, but I'm jumping in.
Of the three, just 3 Zinfandel wines mentioned, I have not even seen them in New Hampshire, as is true of most of The 100; availability is part of the scoring used by Wine Spectator, but that does not mean you can find these wines everywhere; the number one (1) wine of the year (Saxum James Berry Vineyard Paso Robles 2007) I have not seen in NH either.

However the few wines I have scored HIGHLY on my blog, the Tensley Syrah (Which I could only find at Bella Vino), Hall, Zaca Mesa Syrah, and though the Two Hands Bella's Garden Shiraz is the 2008 vintage, I did have high marks for the 2006, all these wines made Wine Spectator's Top 100.

When "Top" wines are considered, you can easily pay $300.00 or $400.00 a bottle, but that is not what this blog is about, though I don't have a problem with a $500.00 bottle of wine, there are maybe five people in New Hampshire that will buy one; the wines I've mentioned above are under $60.00, and that is quite high a price (Zaca Mesa was $19.99)
Well, this is a learning experience, but one thing is for sure: we can have a good time on the trek!


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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Polite Petite Palate (No Way Syrah)

One "good" thing is just how impolite one can be when one is new and untethered to customs and rules and money.
Now what does this have to do with wine?
We have already talked about personal palate, finding and enjoying wine that suits you; being driven by price and marketing; that's where I come in: I'm on my own, I am not marketing anything, but sharing my love of wine and what I have "stumbled" upon.
You can make of it what you will. Candidly, there is so much out there, so many wines, so many voices, that I see people throwing-up their hands and just "blindfoldedly" grabbing a bottle of wine, but as I digress into Petite Syrah today, you don't have to be blindfolded.

Petite Syrah is another name for the Durif Grape, and in Australia Durif is the common understanding for Petite Syrah where massive wines with big tannic structure, which allows for or demands long aging, are made, but if you're inclined to know about the Grape rather than the taste (As I Reflect On Some Samples) go to

Concannon Central Coast Limited Release 2006 Petite Syrah, $6.00-$12.00, 85 points, is a simple, yet effective combination of quaff able light flavors of plum, grape, other berries, and spice, with a fair aroma, that for the price is an outstanding value, and would be at twice the price.

Stags' Leap 2006 Petite Syrah, $31.99, 93 points, is blended with other varietals to tone down the massive tannins, but fear not, this is a super wine; beginning with an expansive bouquet that is gently expressive and aromatic, with the shear pleasure of just breathing it in, we can continue with its appealing appearance, its rich silky texture, but the lush early palate pleasure soon welcomes wide with white pepper ascending espresso, chocolate, and restrained berry madness, it is smooth yet complex.
This is a stand alone wine, but if paired with food it should be something on the order of big, red, and juicy; if you wanted to know what I ate with my first glass of this wine, I will not tell of the satisfying "sacrilege", unless you ask.

Fleur 2006 Petite Syrah, $14.00, 86 points,  is a medium bodied wine, fair and typical, though light on the palate Petite Syrah that leaves you with a memorable finish. A good everyday red table wine that compliments red meat dishes.

Zinfandel update: last month I tasted the McManis California 2008 Zinfandel, $9.00, 84 points, and not having a very good report (overtly fruit forward-too syrupy-over-whelming flavor of licorice), but for $9.00 not a bad price if you're having a party and it is appropriate to your cuisine.


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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Morphing Morgon Makes My Heart Turn To France

Okay, I did warn you about exploring French wine, often expensive and fraught with a mine field of confusion, but when visiting my friend Mimi, she steered me, she assisted me, she gave me her experience, and I took a chance. That is what it is all about my friend: "word of mouth".
If you want to try something different, it is great to have a trusted friend or counselor who knows your palate, or shares the same tastes as you, and the more of these counselors you have, that is, if you want to get out of the rut, if you want to save money, and if you want to enjoy the wine you have, all the better.
So, here it is:
That is only part of what you'll read on this bottle, but what you need to know is that BEAUJOLAIS is a wine made mostly from the Gamay grape, is a gentle (low in tannins) higher in acid easy to drink wine that pairs well with almost everything.
My first taste of BEAUJOLAIS was terrible, and without the help of Mimi, I might not have gotten around to tasting another for another ten years.
MORGON 2009 BEAUJOLAIS is NOT a BIG wine, it is NOT overpowering, it is NOT overtly distinctive (Subtle sensuality rules here), it is NOT for those looking for a buzz (Alcohol 13%), it is NOT leathery, wild (You Zin Lovers) or earthy, but what it is, IS Pure Delicious.
I scored this wine a 91 points, and at $14.99, a good buy, but I have seen it listed for $13.00.

Very little of this applies to Geroge Dubceuf's other Gamay production of Beaujolais; (2009 Saint-Amour) though having a sweet-spice mid-palate the wine is just too floral for me, it is almost eucalyptus, though that's mostly an Australian trait (See Ravenswood 2003 Dickerson Zinfandel) . There are those who like that trait, at least to a certain level, but for me it sometimes leaves an odd, unnatural aftertaste, but that just means there is something for everyone. Let me know if you try both of these and what you think.

GEORGE DUBCEUF 2009 Saint Amour Beaujolais Scored 84 from the New Hampshire Wineman and at $14.99 not a buy for me, and seen elsewhere for $11.99


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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Philosophy Of Wine (Price, Alcohol, and Quality) And Be Thankful

Quality to Price Ratio is foremost in the minds of Newbie, uninformed, or even intimidated wine shoppers; they intuitively know this, but don't have a clue how to utilize the concept, so marketing is key as it is in almost everything else.
There was a women looking for a bottle of wine to serve with her Thanksgiving feast, and she asked one of the market's employees what was what with wine, and as I am not bashful, I entered the fray. After the market employee and I got finished with our thoughts and recommendations, she turned around and bought one of the worst, but cheapest wines for her guests.
What was a chance for her to shine at her feast, became a disgraceful pandering to price and marketing, even after two, supposedly knowledgeable people spent fifteen minutes advising her to buy several quite comparably priced, but ever so slightly more expensive alternatives (Hers $7.99 a bottle to ours $9.99 a bottle), she blithely picked one of the wines neither of us had advised was WORTH the money. So she saved $2.00. A meal she would spend at least $100.00 for, she accented with a disgrace of a wine to save $2.00 that would only spoil her effort to please her guests.

A friend of mine wanted a Chardonnay and just blindly picked-up a 1.5L el-cheap o and there it sat for months, one glass poured. So I say: how was so and so Chardonnay? "Okay", is the reply..

I pondered these things for some time, but failed to understand their logic, so please, if anyone out there can help me to understand, chime-in.
New Hampshire Wine Man

Philosophy of wine must also have a PSYCHOLOGY of wine that deals with the interaction of the senses with the mental interpretation of what is sensed, and what that means, but that's for the experts.
For you and Newbie me, our want is to find a good wine at a good price that fits our circumstances.
Maybe I can help as I slosh through the slough of my own path

Here is some last minute wine recommendations for Thanksgiving in New Hampshire:

Bearboat Russian River 2006 Pinot Noir, $14.99, 91 points, is smooth and flavorful, a great wine at a great price.

Acacia Vineyard Carneros 2007 Pinot Noir, $23.99, 90 points, palate pleasant in every way,
and a great wine at still a reasonable price.

Duckpond cellars Willamette Valley 2008 Pinot Noir, $18.99, 90 points, is light, yet robust, complex, yet approachable,
Another great wine at a great price.

A good Pinot Noir can cost upwards of $40.00 or more, but these can be very good wines that will pair well with most Thanksgiving cuisine.

White wine is the usual fare with Turkey, so let me recommend some Sauvignon Blanc wines to pair with your Holiday meal:

1: Hall Napa Valley 2008 Sauvignon Blanc$13.59, 89 points, is crisp and light.
2: Honig Rutherford Vineyard 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, $16.0088 points, is
gentle and tropical.
3. Robert Mondavi Napa Valley 2007 (Fume Blanc), $14.00, 88, points is creamy peach and lively.
4: Covey Run Columbia Valley 2007 (Fume Blanc), $3.99, 87 points, is a "I can't believe" Best Buy;
balanced and pair-able with a very good QPR.

So, if you haven't gotten that wine for Thanksgiving, and you intend to do so, try one of these and let me know; I think your guests will be Thankful.
Serve whites at about 40-50 degrees, and the Pinot Noirs at about 55- 60 degrees.


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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Two Trusted Truchard Estate Vineyard Syrahs

Truchard Carneros Napa Valley 2005 Syrah, $24.99, 92 points, is a fine wine that I tasted over a year ago. A complex wine, smooth and flavorful, packed with subtle black pepper, with blackberry, having a slightly creamy Bourbon Vanilla wash, and finely paired with almost any hearty cuisine.

Truchard Carneros Napa Valley 2007 Syrah, $24.99, 90 points. I found a new tasting note, at least for me, and that was a gentle finish of red pepper. still a great wine, maybe needing a couple of years resting in the bottle, but wonderful plum and blackberry notes, maybe not quite as full-bodied as the 2005, but great with Mexican sausage and spiced tomato pasta.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

What's The Ballyhoo Bout Baileyana Zin & When Is A Zin Not A Zin?

When Baileyana is a Firepeak Vineyard Syrah. It does have many qualities of a luscious Russian River Zinfandel with full-bodied richness, a bit of Dry Creek liveliness, and Napa Valley complexity and pepper finish.

Baileyana Edna Valley Firepeak Vineyard 2006 Syrah, $23 99, 91 points, ( is an exciting wine that got better three days after opening (True to its Rhone Pedigree). Grapes grown in this appellation have the longest growing season of just about anywhere, with exceptional soils and weather resulting in a unique Syrah.

Rockblock Reserve 2006 Syrah, $34.99, 92 points, is another wonderful find, robust, well structured, distinctly balanced and big, smoothly quaff-able; this is a great Walla Walla Valley wine ( ) with a fine finish and pleasant flavors of plum and grape, but I'm sure you'll find some other slightly sweet berries locked deep inside this treasure. The alcohol is listed at 14.5%, but it seemed a bit higher and quite potent, but that maybe the result of its easy drink-ability.


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Monday, November 15, 2010

A Tale Of Two Zins

It was nearly the worst of Zins and nearly the best of Zins, a tale of opposites; two wines so different, so opposite, one drinkable with almost anything and by itself, the other almost not drinkable at all.

Frey 2008 Mendocino Zinfandel, $11.04, 75 points, might be labeled Medicine County California. The label says, in part, it is delicious, jammy, dry fruit, and ripe berries, but when it mentions cherry, it should mean one of the Luden's cherry cough drops with a 13.9% alcohol splash.

Frey advertises its wine as organic, but if that was my reason for drinking wine, I would quit.

Maybe the problem for my negative experience with their 2008 Zin was I had just finished a bottle of Four Vines Biker Paso Robles 2008 Zinfandel and the comparison was too much for the Frey.

FourVines Biker 2008 Paso Robles Zinfandel, $24.99, 90 points, now this is a Zinfandel, deep red, and cooking spice on the nose, luscious drink-ability with gobs of gamy fruit, having a somewhat wild early palate flavors; tames as it goes down in an easy and fair spice finish.

Again, Paso Robles sports a Dry Creek-type wine having plenty of spice. I can't wait until this Zin goes on sale, but being that Four Vine's web says that it is sold out, I just might not get that chance. So, if you haven't tried this Zin, get to it.


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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Zigzagging The Zin Zephyrs

Lists, don't you hate them?
Well, today I have an ascending list (in quality) of Zinfandels for you, and you can make of it what you will, but I will end with a very good Zinfandel.
Sadly, I'm just giving you a quantitative score which was my cursory impression of most of these wines, and though some will require color, aroma, body, acidity, degree of tannin, flavors, and finish, I just didn't have time. So, make of it what you will.

1. Renwood 2005 old Vine Zinfandel  $18.00, 74 points.

2. Artezin  mendocino County 2007 Zinfandel, $14.99, 79 points

3. Ravenswood Vintner's Blend 2007 Zinfandel, $7.64, 79 points.

The above three wine I don't recommend, but if price is your major concern, I would go with the Ravenswood.

4. Joel Gott 2008 California Zinfandel, $12.74, 81 points.

5. Rancho Zabaco Sonoma 2007 Zinfandel ,$13.99, 81 points.

6. A.Mano 2007 Primativo (Italian Zin), $8.99, 81 points.

Concerning the above three Zinfandels, I remain neutral, but having tasted once I will probably not try again, but if price is your issue, A.Mano would be my choice.

7.Rancho Zabaco Reserve Dry Creek 2007 Zinfandel, $17.99, 87 points is complex and well structured.

8. Quivira Dry Creek 2006 Zinfandel, $18.99, 86 points, is fruit-forward, having a nice aroma, and a fair spice finish.

9. Ridge Three Valleys 2006 Zinfandel Red Wine by definition , $22.99 86 points, has a nice aroma, and a fair finish, and is palate pleasant, but a bit pricey. 74% Zinfandel makes this just shy of being labeled Zinfandel, and more properly a "Red wine."

10. Charles Krug St Helena Napa Valley 2007 Zinfandel, $18.69  89 points is a good value wine, with a sweet aroma, textually dense and rich, and having a long finish; there seemed to be an odd flavor, an imbalance that held me back from awarding this an exceptional rating.

These last four Zinfandels are all good wines, but for my money I tend toward the Rancho Zabaco Reserve.

Now for the hands-down best Zinfandel of this report, it is the cousin of the #9 on my list.

11. Ridge Paso Robles 2007 Zinfandel , $27.99, 92 points, is the stand-out Zinfandel: deep red color, beautiful aroma, wild bramble berries, and unlike the typical (Is there any typical Zin?) Paso Robles, this Ridge doesn't know anything about being smooth or mellow. This briary Zin has the longest black peppery spice finish of any wine I've tried. This wine pairs well with peppered lamb, Tacos, or barbecue cuisine. I sipped on my first glass of this 100% Zinfandel for an hour an enjoyed every sip and every taste.
Nicholas Ponomareff, described the Ridge (Paso Robles “Pass of Oaks”) as "very appealing. . . very highly recommended." 


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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

White Wine Wins My Heart

Banfi 2009 San Angelo Pinot Grigio works well with white meat or just to sip, and for a red-wine drinker, that says a lot. I'm going to let others describe this wine.

However, the photograph is mine.

Watch this You-Tube as Kris Chislett explains!

" offers not only satisfaction but real varietal character; it also offers renewed respect for an otherwise abused vino."
Quarterly Review of Wines. September, 2010

Very highly oaked, full bodied, and crisp; a wine with green apple, lemon peel, and toast aromas/flavors. Has evident depth and complexity. Medium long aftertaste. 4 Stars. Excellent. Highly recommended.
Restaurant Wine 2010

"A round, lightly floral wine with a fullness and spice that bring lots of appeal. The fruit flavors are completely ripe, edging into tropical, and the ripeness makes you want to take another sip.""
-Wine and Spirits

"The San Angelo was quite a pleasant surprise. It didn't have the turpentine-like aroma and flavor that so many less expensive Italian pinot grigios have. It also had more--and better--fruit than the turpentine wines; fresher and almost pear-like, and was quite nicely done. Serve this chilled with almost any pinic food."

My own opinion is simply this: a crisp, long flavorful white wine that is pleasing no matter what your doing with it.
I score this wine 93, and at $12.74 what a deal, not much more than apple juice.

I haven't abandoned my zest for Zin, but just needed to advocate this as an alternative to my natural order of wine stuffs.

Don't drink and Drive!


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Monday, November 1, 2010

Come Now Nigh To Neyers, But I'm Big On Buehler

Zinfandel has come back for me, and in a big way.

Yes, I've gone "Sideways" and tried the very luscious 2006 NorthStar Merlot (92) as a diversion ($25.30 at Hannafords); a great and VERY drinkable wine that goes well with friends, fun, and food.

I've opened a Hall Napa Valley 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, $32.99, 94 points, and discovered one of the most complex wines I know of, deep purple red, aromatic, fruit-forward with spice and a long finish. This is a wine to sip and muse-over (cerebral) with a good book or movie, a wine to contemplate by, but there is no end to the flavors neatly, furtively woven throughout this fine wine, and that's not to say that there isn't dramatic boldness, but this wine is a symphony.
However, Zinfandel is becoming more and more my wine theme, at least until I can't find any more.

So, lets draw nigh to
Neyers  Pato Vineyard 2008 Zinfandel, $29.99, 91 points, is an elegant well structured wine, from the aroma, fruit, lush texture, alcohol, tannin, right to the dense red color and smooth finish reminiscent of Frog's Leap. I found no trade-mark quality other than its balance. It paired well with a spicy Rib eye steak and spinach and fries.

Buehler Napa Valley 2007 Zinfandel, $17.99, 91 points, is as wild as the Neyers is tame. With a fairly pleasant aroma, dense ruby color, brambly richness, with tannin a bit tight, the bite of which is okay to me, having a long sweet-tart spice-espresso finish that marks this an exciting "draught"to have at barbecues or with pizza, but definitely with friends. This is a very good wine.


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