1999 Martinborough Vinyard Pinot Noir

A friend from Wellington, NZ sent a link to an Ebay auction for a half-case of NZ Pinot Noir he has had and highly recommended. I won the bid for $103 shipped, and received it FedX today. Opened a bottle tonight expecting the worst (hey, could have been poorly stored since ’99.)

The first sniff revealed that it was not damaged in any way – in fact even without resting after its travel it was apparant that this is a high quality Pinot. Very much a classic Pinot nose (unlike many recent offerings from CA and OR, where they have gone ‘overboard’ in one way or another) of damp earth with just a hint of Eucalyptus and over-ripe rasberry.

In the mouth it is velvety-soft, still earthy, and finishes with a leathery fruit. Perfectly balanced, I think, with no one trait standing out too much – like the New England Patriots of Pinot Noir. Not a huge wine, this, as many from CA and OR have become, but beautifully balanced and enjoyable. I wouldn’t have expected it to work with our homemade pesto (homegrown basil) tonight, but it may be capable of providing a complimentary taste with many foods. Martinborough Vineyard is proud of their Pinots, and rightly so judging by this ’99. I think it is near its peak now, but additional cellaring should soften it even more.

Expect to pay $35 or so for a more recent vintage (unless you beat me out for more on Ebay.)

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.

Six Cepages South Coast 1999 Cuvee Rouge

Was unfamiliar with this one as it was a gift from a relative. Did some research and found it is from Orfila Vineyards in Escondido, California. What intrigued me was the blend: Mourvedre, Carignane, Syrah, Cinsout, Zinfandel, and Sangiovese. According to their Web site, the price point is/was around $16; no mention of the ’99, but they do say the 2000 is sold out.

Day 1: Not so sure about this one; not much on the nose and weak palate. However, as the glass started to empty, I have to say it started to open a bit. Got some berry and vanilla and a touch of spice on the finish.

Day 2: Have to say this is getting better; opening up well. The nose is a bit more pronounced with berry, plum, and vanilla on both the nose and palate. The finish still comes thru with some spice. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

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.

1999 Penfolds Grange

What can I say, for $240 it ought to taste great, right?

It did!

I started by decanting it, with the candle showing the way of course, an hour or so before consumption.

At the first sip, someone said that it seemed like it took the enamel off of their teeth.

My feelings exactly – this is truly a HUGE wine!

But it is also a sipping wine, to be savored over time with good friends, and good conversation.

As it opened up it smoothed out – a lot!

Andrea Immer says that this is a once in a lifetime wine. It would be a shame to limit it thusly.

I say get some friends together and share the cost. And even though it should sit another five to twenty-five years, I say drink it now. You might die tomorrow!

2001 Linne Colado Slacker

The host asked what we thought we were drinking.

The first guess was that it was a Merlot.

Not in my mouth it wasn’t, as this was an amazing wine, and definitely not a typical Merlot.

So I dissented, and was asked for my thoughts.

I said, I think this is a classic Rhone varietal blend (of the American style of course), I said that it was probably a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre.

Nailed it – of course!

But I have to admit that I was a bit wrong because there is more Syrah than Grenache. But it is very spicy, with tons of dark fruit. Very smooth, very elegant. Got to get me some more.

If I was stuck on a desert island and only could choose one wine to take with me, this might be the one, as I don’t think that I would ever tire of it.

2000 Estancia Meritage

Where the heck did this come from?

I was looking for something to finish my pizza with and this was on the middle shelf, right under the white wines.

In my system that means that I didn’t pay much for it, and I don’t expect much out of it. In other words, a good pizza wine.

But HOLY COW! It is very much ready to drink right now!

If you like your Zinfandels on the hot side, then this Meritage is for you. It says 13.5% on the bottle, but they lied. It has to be pushing 15%. It is a very nice dark purple with nice vicious legs. (Thus my thinking that it is higher than published on the alcohol!)

I say it is ready to drink now, because in another few months, the dark cherry will turn to raisins.

This one is velvety-smooth and elegant.

The label lists the blend as 73% Cabernet Sauvignon and 27% Merlot. From the Alexander Valley. There is just a touch of the Alexander Valley flavor there still, but catch it fast, as it is going to fade on you.

Drink it now with your favorite home-made pizza!

2003 Twenty Rows Cabernet Sauvignon

A good pizza wine, but nothing special.

This is a nice $20 (plus or minus) Cabernet Sauvignon. I would buy it again, but I probably like the Stonestreet Cabernet just a little better.

If you are looking for a nice wine to accompany spaghetti or pizza, you could do a lot worse than this one!