Monthly Archives: August 2012

Cabernet Day August 30th 2012 – Celebrating everything Cabernet


Cabernet Day August 30th 2012 – Celebrating everything Cabernet….

In preparation for the 3rd Annual Cabernet Day I decided to review all my earlier Whine and Cheers For Wine posts.  Surprisingly many included Cabernet as a topic; Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Blends etc. and include wines from California, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Australia France and more.

In commemoration and celebration of this special day I have decided to repost my reviews via Twitter throughout the day of August 30th referencing #CabernetDay.  Please join me in revisiting these posts and by sharing your own.  I too will be checking posts on Twitter by searching #CabernetDay throughout the day.  I am looking forward to learning more about the varietal and even more so seeing what everyone will be drinking in celebration.

To join the crowds and or register to follow #CabernetDay events; check out;

For those of you not on Twitter or for those of you just looking for some Cabernet information; I have listed below all the references available on  Whine and Cheers for Wine. If you prefer to do the search yourself just type in Cabernet Day in the Search portion of our site. Please visit, share your thoughts and see what other posts get your attention.  ¡SALUD!

1-Stags Leap Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon

Qué Syrah Shiraz….??


Hogue Cellars Genesis 2009 Syrah and Jacob’s Creek 2009 Shiraz back to back:

English: Clusters of Shiraz, or Syrah grapes. ...

English: Clusters of Shiraz, or Syrah grapes. Note the deep color of the berries. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once again the Wine powers that be brought me two wines to enjoy this week. One from Australia [Jacob’s Creek] the other from our own Washington State [Genesis].  Interestingly both wines are from the same vintage,  are marketed at different price points and are from different continents; therefore the Syrah vs. Shiraz which is actually the same varietal.  First off let’s start with a little background;

Syrah is the primary (sometimes sole) grape variety used to make the famous red Rhône wines of Côte Rotie and Hermitage and also the component that gives backbone and structure to most Rhône blends, including Chateauneuf  du Pape. Although slow to cross the threshold of popular acceptance, syrah became one of California’s most planted varieties around the cusp of the millennial transition. In 1984, there were less than 100 acres, but by 2010, over 19,000 vineyard acres in the state were growing syrah.

Genesis 2009 Syrah – Columbia Valley

Price range: $12-20.00

Winemaker’s notes:

The Hogue family planted its first vineyard over 25 years ago and soon realized that Washington’s climate and soils had the potential to nurture world-class wines. The Hogue Cellars’ mission has always been to make wines that fulfill the promise of the land, using superior viticulture and winemaking techniques. Today, the family’s original vision is celebrated in Genesis wines, which are crafted with the highest quality fruit from acclaimed vineyards throughout Columbia Valley.

Washington Syrah exhibits dark, juicy fruit character, brilliant color, a complex varietal gaminess and a relatively low tannin level.

I luckily found this wine in our Winn-Dixie grocery store clearance rack; marked down from $16.00 to $7.99.  Priced perfectly for experimenting with a varietal I have not often had on its own.  That, plus the fact that I enjoy discovering Washington State wines.

My tasting notes:  Beautiful purple hue as it was decanted with black ripe fruit, violet, plum and casis on the nose.  Sleek slow legs draped themselves on my tasting chalice.  On the palate I noted the addition of cedar, tobacco, cocoa, vanilla and blackberry jam followed by a soft finish.  I had expected a fruit forward jammy tasting wine but this one in particular seemed overwhelmed by its time in wood.  Decanting and breathing never subsided the effect.  Because of this I would describe this wine as too woody for me. Unfortunately the fruitiness of the varietal got lost in the process.

Critical acclaim:

“Well made and muscular, this compact effort brings black fruit, black olive, black licorice and espresso flavors together in a balanced and strikingly complex Syrah. The blend includes small amounts of Cabernet, Lemberger, Sangiovese and Merlot – unusual but it works. Editors’ Choice” 90 Points Wine Enthusiast

Jacob’s Creek 2009 Shiraz

Price range; $5.99-$8.99

Winemaker Notes:

Lifted aroma of fresh Raspberry and Black Cherry, underpinned with a softly spiced background. Refined, mouth filling berry fruit flavours are supported with a soft acidity, leading to a long and flavoursome finish to the wine.

Vintage Conditions:
A cool and dry winter preceded the 2009 growing season. Dry conditions prevailed into spring and early summer requiring the implementation of  supplementary irrigation to maintain healthy and protective grapevine canopies. Early February temperatures were slightly cooler than average  in most regions, ideal for the gradual accumulation of essential grape sugars and flavours. Harvesting of Shiraz occurred in earlier than usual,
which was advantageous as March saw a record breaking heat wave strike most of South Eastern Australia.

My Tasting notes: 

On the nose; jammy, herbaceous [grass, bell pepper], fruity [ripe blackberry, fig, currant, raisin], eucalyptus, dried tobacco, licorice, oak and leather as it opened.  On the palate; powerful yet tight, not as fruity as I expected, needing to open but not really doing so as time passed. I noted some softening of the tannins at about 10 minutes but no difference at 30 minutes.

In conclusion I would have to say the Jacob’s Creek is a smoother, easier wine to drink. It offers a greater variety of tasting points for the drinker to enjoy compared to the Genesis where it is difficult to get beyond the strong wood scent and taste.  The fact that I paid $5.99 for the Jacob’s Creek is also a great selling point. I look forward to comparing it to others in the same price range [such as Yellowtail] and also look forward to trying Syrah’s from other areas of the world. Que Syrah, Shiraz!  ¡SALUD!

Varietal Aromas/Flavors: Processing Bouquets/Flavors:
FRUIT: black currant, blackberry TERROIR: musk, civet, truffle, earth
FLORAL: grass OAK (light): vanilla, coconut, sweet wood
SPICE: black pepper, licorice, clove, thyme, bay leaf OAK (heavy): oak, smoke, toast, tar
HERBAL: sandalwood, cedar BOTTLE AGE: cedar, cigar box, earth, leather

Olympics Closing Ceremony with Piper Sonoma Brut Sparkling Wine


Piper Sonoma Brut Sparkling Wine

It is hard to believe that two weeks have gone by since I wrote about the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony and our wine filled weekend.  Suffice it to say my DVR and wine cellar [yes, still the guest room] have seen a lot of action since then.  The events in London have kept the world enthralled so what better way to celebrate than with a sparkling wine.

This is my first time drinking this sparkler from Piper’s main house: Piper Heidsieck Produced in California’s Sonoma County; it cannot be called Champagne.  Usually priced at under $20.00 and sometimes even under $15.00 this bubbly would compare in price to California’s Chandon and Washington State’s Domaine Ste. MichelleI paid $13.99 reduced from $19.00 at a Winn-Dixie grocery store.

The Brut blend is; 60% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier.  The aging is done on lees for a minimum of 18 months.  As per Wine SpectatorThis sparkling wine is made from hand-picked Champagne grapes grown in the Northern reaches of Sonoma County and the wine is aged on the yeast for a minimum 2½ year period of time. This gives the wine a complex bread-yeast aroma and lightly yeasty flavor. The wine is aged in large, French oak barrels (1625 gallon barrel foudres), before bottling and secondary fermentation. By aging this wine in oak, there is imparted to the wine a toasty/vanilla character in addition to the light apple and lemon flavors that the wine ordinarily possesses.

I found it interesting that this NV (Non-Vintage) Cuvée is produced by blending reserve wines from various years to produce a wine that has consistent flavor.  Pale gold straw in color, its yeasty aroma on the nose was most noticeable at first.  As the wine expanded and warmed scents such as green apple, vanilla and peach and even plum were also detected. The same was noted on the palate.  The plum [dark fruit] flavor I at least attribute to the Pinot’s in the blend.

I enjoyed Piper’s NV Cuvée would buy it again and would whole heartedly recommend it to others.  I would be interested in trying it along side the other sparkling wines I mentioned such as Chandon and Domaine Ste. Michelle. Even more so with a true French version. There are a lot of sparklers and even Champagne’s out there in the under $20.00 range to taste and I would be glad to volunteer my services 🙂  In fact I think I may have just thought of our next post 2012 Olympics “theme” for a night in with friends…..  ¡SALUD!

Winemaker information:

Winemaker full text

Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon Lodi 2010


Ad poster for Cycles Gladiator; Lithograph

Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon Lodi 2010

I have wanted to try this wine ever since I began my job as a Wine Steward a few months ago. Yes, the label is attractive but what got my attention was that it is part of the well-regarded Hahn Family Wines collection. Also included in this group are; Acacia, Huntington, Lucienne plus Smith & Hook.

Now I have to admit that I am not a fan of the somewhat historical story on the back label of this bottle of wine. To me it comes across as pure marketing strategy and one that really tells you nothing about the wine. That said, I guess it could appeal to others and I’ll let the readers decide.

Back label;

Cycles Gladiator symbolizes a celebration of the freedom and happiness that pervaded Europe in the late 19th century—an era known as the Belle Epoque. This era marked many notable inventions and improvements to daily life, not the least of which was the modern bicycle or Le Bicycle Velocipede.
Started in Paris in 1891 by Alexandre Darracq (an eccentric, who would later become famous for manufacturing automobiles), Gladiator was one of the dozens of bicycle companies that saturated the market when the cycling craze boomed. The Golden Age of cycling reached its pinnacle in 1895—and that same year printer G. Massias unveiled one of the great Parisian advertising posters. Only four of these original posters exist today.
The famed artwork that once showcased the stylish Cycles Gladiator now graces the bottles of our classic wines from California’s renowned Lodi appellation. The mythological image of the nymph riding her winged bicycle captures the grace and uninhibited beauty of our hillside vineyards.

Luckily I did not hold the flowery story against the wine. It did not disappoint.  From its dark red purple color upon decanting to the aromas of dark fruit, raisin, casis and slight oak on the nose.  It’s earthiness expanded on the palate with low to medium tannins smoothing as the wine opened. This is one easy drinking medium bodied wine that I could see being an easy choice for an everyday wine. It’s smoothness for a Cab was very noticeable and may have something to do with the fact that it is blended with 13% Petite Sirah.  Also, when I noted “raisin” I also wrote down “sugar’d” not proper spelling I realize but as I review my notes I could see where this wine would appeal to those who prefer their wines a tad sweeter than dry. I say tad because this is not a sweet red wine similar to those being marketed now.  I would describe it as a very good red well priced for the masses. And sometimes there is nothing wrong with that 🙂  ¡SALUD!

Pricing; I found quite the range when researching. I paid $9.00 at a grocery store for my bottle but I also saw it as low as $8.00 and as high as $14.99 in other establishments and on the web.  I think I would cap my future investment for this wine at the $10.00 range.

Vineyard information:

Along the Sacramento River Delta sits the rich farmlands of the Lodi appellation and the new home to Cycles Gladiator Winery. A grape-growing region since the 1850’s, Lodi is now home to more than 80,000 acres of premium varietals and more than 50 wineries, and is quickly becoming recognized as one of California’s most exciting wine appellations.
Noted for its classic Mediterranean climate and its deep, fertile sandy loam soils, it is the perfect environment for the production of world class wines. The high daytime temperatures are moderated by cooling Delta breezes which flow through the area in the evenings, creating ideal growing conditions.
This emerging appellation is home to the vineyards that produce many Cycles Gladiator wines including Cabernet, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel, and the fruit is sustainably grown under the “Lodi Rules” certification .
The new Cycles Gladiator Winery and Visitor Center is located in one of the oldest continuously operating wineries in Lodi, a nod to the colorful history of both the region and the Cycles Gladiator story.