2004 Rosenblum Rockpile Zinfandel

This is an awesome $25 wine. Unfortunately, they are charging $40 for the thing. I blame the big wine magazine for rating last year’s vintage so high. Talk about ruining a good thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Kent Rosunblum’s wine. I just hate paying more than they are worth.

This wine has an awesome deep purple color.

The aromas are dark cherry, black pepper, mocha and a little vanilla.

Tastes include dark chocolate, dark cherry, blackberry, vanilla, charcoal. Lots of fruit and leather on the finish.

This is a great zinfandel but you are going to pay…go ahead and get one bottle, you’ll not be disappointed…

2001 Delheim Vera Cruz Estate Stellenbosch Shiraz

I think that I bought this one last Christmas time in Wyoming of all places. It was wrapped in a very attractive tissue paper thus assuring that I wouldn’t feel bad paying for it.

Appearance – very dark purple, I figure that there is no way that a wine that looks like this can be anything but outstanding.

Nose – intensely sweet blackberry, a ton of smoke and a little black pepper.

In the mouth – a lot of oak, probably American oak, but not as intense as most wines stored in American oak. This wine probably needs another 5 to 10 years on the shelf, but looking at the cork, I’m not sure it would last that long. The stains on the cork were between 1/3 and 1/2 the length. It might make it another 5 years. I’m not sure that I want to push it that long though.

Anyway, the flavors include tobacco, blackberry, cigar box, dark chocolate and a little black pepper.

The finish is nice and smooth but not as powerful as I had hoped. Don’t get me wrong on that last comment; it does not wimp out on the finish.

I think I paid $40 for this one. If you can get it for $35 or less, it is a bargain. If it costs $45 or more, skip it.

2004 Kaesler Avignon

So I haven’t had a GSM in a while. This one is 50% Grenache, 30% Shiraz and 20% Mourvedre.

It is quite interesting as it has the typical earthy/musty finish of a French Rhone blend, but it also has that HUGE fruit-spice bomb of a Barossa Valley Shiraz.

First off, it is very dark purple – a good sign in my book!

The aroma is very hot with dark berries with a subtle hint of cedar.

In the mouth, it is powerful. There is a lot of dark fruit and a nice bit of spice.

The finish keeps building and building long after you swallow it. There is a little leather and a bit of cigar box to wake you up and say “what was that?”

2004 Penny’s Hill Red Dot Shiraz

This Shiraz is worthy (for the price)!

I paid about $16 for it. It was recommended by the wine shop clerk, who shares my likes and dislikes in wine. When I come in, he will greet me with news of any new arrivals that I might like. He was correct with this one.

I believe this is the second brand of wine that I’ve tried which used the “Zork” closure. I love corks and I hate screw-tops, but I think that for young wines meant to be consumed in a short time period from bottling – the Zork is great. They have a nice web site to explain it at http://www.zork.com.au/

It is a nice dark purple, the aroma is hot with a bit of licorice and cigar box behind blackberries. It has a nice taste curve, fruity at the beginning, peppery in the middle and finish. There is a lot of blackberry with a bit of tar.

This could just be my new pizza wine.

2003 Weingut Schuberth Gruener Veltliner Riede Spiegel

This is a great wine from Austria in the $18 to $20 price range.

In my tasting notes, I wrote “Get some!”

This is very good. It is huge for a white wine. There is a nice spiciness, which I love in white wine. I’m not sure of the fruit that I tasted, perhaps a touch of pear or honeydew melon. It has a crisp, spicy finish.

My thoughts while tasting this is that it would be great with oysters on the half-shell. I didn’t have any handy, but if I get the opportunity to ever try it I will do so.

2004 Mitolo G.A.M. McLaren Vale Shiraz

This wine has a beautiful dark purple color. It is bright and very young in appearance. The aromas are leather, intense blackberry and ripe dark fruit. The flavors are intense and peppery with lots of dark fruit. The taste curve is nicely balanced and finishes up with a nice hint of leather.

If I was stuck somewhere with only this wine to drink, I wouldn’t complain. I have to figure out where I can acquire some more…

2003 The Lucky Country Barossa Valley

This is a blend of 55% Shiraz and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia. It claims that the alcohol content is 14.5%. I’m not quite buying that as I drank the whole bottle and barely felt it. But this is a decent wine, although I thought it would go well with a nice broiled steak, I say don’t bother, as the wine and steak didn’t complement each other as well as I thought they would. Now if I could just find some chocolate, I think that would do okay.

This has a decent appearance, though not as dark as some American blends. The Aroma has a nice dark cherry aroma but after that, not much else. Some suggest raspberry – okay if you insist, although I think it is closer to dark cherry.

The flavor is nice dark fruit, a bit of peppery spice, perhaps a touch of clove and blueberry. This is very nice, as I said; I drank the whole bottle in one setting. Reason enough in my mind to give it a second chance. I think rather than beef, that I might want to try it with barbequed chicken or perhaps even a spicy dish such as tacos or enchiladas.

If you can find it, pick up a couple of bottles. You’ll not regret it.

2004 Garretson Grenache Paso Robles “The Spainnéach”

The color is a very nice dark purple, with nice legs indicating a high alcohol content. It says 16.2% on the label.

At first whiff, I smell only yeast. I think that comes from the screw top, as I’ve noticed that in the last few screw top wines that I’ve tasted right after opening them up.

I let it sit in the glass for a few minutes, and then I smelled intense and ripe dark fruit.

The flavor is a tart but also ripe. I taste blackberry, blueberry and a little strawberry. The taste curve is nicely balanced, especially the finish. There is a nice spiciness from the alcohol, which I also like. I think that the tartness indicates that I opened this one a couple of years before it was intended. That’s okay with me, because this is quite nice as it is.

2003 Hentley Farm Barossa Valley Shiraz

$22 and a screw cap warning!

I guess I better write something about this one before it is gone.

It is very dark purple and looks nice!

Smells like ripe dark fruit. They say “with plum pudding aromas” like we’d know what the heck they are talking about. Come on guys, I’m not sure that I would ever want to even think about tasting something called plum pudding. I’ll stick to banana, chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch pudding thank you very much.

Okay, so I’m not quite sure which dark fruit I smell. I don’t think it is dark cherry, perhaps a jammy blackberry and I want to say that it has a touch of gardenia in there, but that is very subtle.

It is very smooth in the mouth, almost elegant. It might store for a bit, but I don’t know that it would improve. Let’s just say drink it as soon as you get it home along with your favorite pizza, pork loin or southwestern meal.

It tastes great and I’d buy it again.

Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red Lot Number Thirty-seven

Still the best $10 that you can spend on a bottle of wine!

I made an entry about lot number 34 last year. I like lot 37 too. It is quite a bit different than the previous versions that I’ve tasted.

This one has a lot of stuff that I like: beautiful dark purple color, dark fruit aroma, spicy-heat, earthy and well-balanced flavors, and a nice smooth finish which comes with a little heat of its own.

I don’t know exactly which grapes are in the blend, but most of the previous blends were Zinfandel, Carignane and Petite Sirah. This time they say there is a bit of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon in there.

This is like a Rhone blend on steroids.

2003 Forefathers McLaren Vale Shiraz

It has a nice dark purple color. There are aromas of dark chocolate, dark fruit such as blackberry, heavy alcohol and perhaps a touch of licorice. In the mouth, it is slightly acidic, there is a lot of fruit, but it is hard to distinguish which. I think that there is a bit of dark cherry or blackberry. There is a bit of heat on the finish from the alcohol. Overall it is a decent wine. I think it will hold until about 2007. Price was about $24.

Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vertical Tasting

Who would be so crazy as to pass up the opportunity to sample these great wines at one sitting? Well not me!

Last night, a group of us got together to taste the following:

2000 and 1998 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape

1989 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée des Cadettes

As a group, we were most impressed with the 1998 version, followed by the 1989 and then the 2000. At first we did not feel that the 2000 was anywhere near the quality of the other two, but after sitting open for about an hour, it really opened up and smoothed out. It is indeed worthy.

Here are the comments from the group on each of the wines:

2000 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Light purple in color, a slight barnyard aroma at first but that burns off after a bit. There is a touch of eucalyptus. After sitting, this turns vegetative with a touch of bell pepper. The flavors are hot, earthy, mushroom, plum with a eucalyptus aftertaste. It has a spicy finish. We were trying to find a way to describe an almost clove flavor, but couldn’t come up with a better word. There is some pomegranate or perhaps current flavor there also.

The above description fit the wine after it set for a half an hour. But after sitting open for an hour, it really changed for the better. Our notes state that it becomes much smoother after opening up. The aroma contains raspberry and dark fruit. The flavors include cherry and black pepper. The finish has nice pepper and is now very elegant.

1998 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape
A bit deeper in color than the 2000. At first there is a pleasant yeasty aroma which turns to strawberry with a touch of wintergreen. In the mouth, it is very nice, very smooth. There an almost maple syrup or brown sugar sweetness which caries through the velvety, elegant finish.

1989 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée des Cadettes
Darker purple than the 1998, starting to show its age just a bit. The aroma is earthy, creamy mocha and black pepper. We tasted black pepper with a distant hint of blueberry. The finish is beautiful. This wine is ready to drink now.

2000 Stags’ Leap Napa Valley Petite Syrah

When I poured this one, I could tell just by looking at it that it was going to be a great wine. It is a very clear, but dark purple in color.

The initial aroma has a touch of blueberry, which burns off to reveal a touch of earthiness, and leather under the fruit, which also includes dark cherry and black current.

In the mouth, it has a nice smooth texture; dark fruit is complemented quite nicely with black pepper. I think this will pair nicely with Mexican food.

The pepper builds on the finish, reaching a peak then falling off quite elegantly.

2000 Chateau Larose-Trintaudon, Haut-Medoc

Nice ruby-red color, aromas include red currents, a touch of blueberry and a touch of leather.

In tasting it I can say that you can drink it now or let it sit another year or two. It is quite nice right now, so I say drink it!

It has a nice balance from start to finish, but it has a bit of sour cherry. It would pair well with a grilled steak dusted with freshly ground pepper, as the wine finishes with a bit of heat.

1998 Louis Bernard Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Nice purple color, not as deep in color as I expected, but quite nice. There is a hint of the age when held over a white background. This is better than I expected.

I opened it while it was fresh from the 55° F cellar. I think that I should have let it come to room temperature before opening it, as the aroma was not as pleasant as I had hoped for. It was in the arena of dirty socks. So I let it sit in the glass for about thirty minutes then came back to it. There was still a touch of mustiness, but under that, there was a touch of chocolate, a touch of red cherry, a lot of alcohol, a touch of tobacco, and a little blueberry.

I was disappointed with the flavors. There is no fruit left; it is all wood, alcohol, a lot of tannins. Perhaps I need to decant the thing and let it sit for a while longer. I’ll do that and resume tasting after a bit…

One interesting note on the decanting of this wine – there was no residue in the bottle. Not even a little bit.

Okay, so after being open an hour, I was ready to dump this down the drain, but I think that I read in a Perl manual something about laziness being a virtue. How true!

About an hour later, I decided to make beef tacos. I had the decanter sitting on the kitchen counter top, and as the ground beef was getting close to being ready, I decided that I needed to move the decanter out of the way. I caught a whiff, and said “Wait a minute, what was that?”

There was a lovely aroma cutting through the smell of the cooked meat, and I must say the combination was quite pleasing.

The funky, musty, okay, I’ll say it, the cat-piss aroma was long gone. In its stead is a nice floral, dark cherry, tobacco, chocolate, a touch of blueberry, and an ever so slight presence of pepper. Quite nice I would say.

In the mouth, it has smoothed out to be quite elegant and smooth. The tannin is still there, but it is well balanced. The flavors are chocolate, tobacco, or perhaps it is better described as “cigar box” a touch of smoke, and a bit of earth and minerals.

The finish is nice, with a lot of tobacco right at the end.

This wine is ready to drink now, and as I think back to about mid-2001, when I bought it, I remember these flavors in a much too young wine, but even then worthy of purchase, and I think that storing it until now has really paid off.

Odds & sodds

2001 Witch Creek Le Mirage

Let this one sit open a bit. It will open nicely.

1998 Chateau Le Calilio Pomerol

Very nice, very smokey.

If you let it open up for a while, you will be rewarded with an elegant, beautiful wine.

2002 Ross Estate Barossa Valley Reserve Shiraz

This one is not quite ready to drink yet. If you open it now, you will find it is a little harsh on the finish, but I think in a couple of years, this will be awesome!

2000 Per Sempre Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Nice, but nothing to write home about.

This is currently running at about $15 and at that price it is a steal. Get it fast, as I think the brand is about to disappear.

2003 Rosenblum Rockpile Road Vineyard Zinfandel

What can I say that the big-time wine magazine has not?

If you have this one in your cellar, consider yourself lucky, if not, too bad – you’ll probably never see it again on the shelf.

A&D’s mystery wine

Yeah, not quite a 100% Zinfandel says me!

Right, it has a little Petite Syrah to tame that high alcohol!

The majority agree that this is nothing less than a future Gold medal winner.