Tag Archives: Rhône wine

HARK – The Holidays Approacheth!!


Happy Holidays

With that statement from a friendly customer a few days ago I knew it was here. As it quickly approaches the holiday season is once again sneaking up on us. From dead of summer to Halloween POW! it’s time for; Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day and New Years Eve just to name a few.

Recently I was asked to act as Interim Store Director for our Winn Dixie liquor store; thus begins my first holiday season in retail. Fortunately sales of wine and spirits are through the roof with daily sales increases in the high double and even triple digits compared to last year. Thank you wine buyers!

With the holidays upon us and family parties to help plan and take part in I have given a lot of thought to what wines to bring, gift, recommend and most importantly partake of. Luckily 2012 has exposed me to many good wines,  most of them affordable and easily accessible.  So upon much review I hereby offer what I hope will be a list of good value very drinkable wines that I have discovered throughout the year. Wines  meant to be shared with family and friends.  My official:   2012  Whine and Cheers for Wine Holiday List. For additional information on each just click on the links provided below.

Old Vine Zinfandel– After many tastings this year of this varietal, and I might add not really a stinker in the bunch, I ended up with an almost tie between Project Paso and Four Vines. The winner, FourVines which I have now had about three times in the last month. For the value it cannot be beat. Usually priced in the $12.00 range it can be found on sale now for $7-10.00.

Pinot Noir– Again it came down to two: Chile’s The Show and California’s Concannon. The winner is the Concannon 2010 Selected Vineyards Pinot Noir. Price range: $8-12.00.

Red Blend I lucked out with blends this year and the two that automatically come to mind would be; Argentina’s Amado Sur [$11-13.00] by Trivento and the Dream Tree Crush by rocker Dave Matthews and Steve Reeder [$15-18.00].  If you are looking for a bolder taste I’d choose the Malbec, Bonarda, Syrah blended Amado Sur. For smooth and light I’d suggest the Dream Tree Crush.

Côtes-du-Rhône-   LES HALOS DE JUPITER 2009.  A mostly Grenache Rhone that yes even goes excellently with corned beef. Price range; under $15.00.

White Bordeaux/Sauvignon Blanc- Chateau Montet at $8.99 vs. Chateau Tour de Bonnet Blanc $14.99. Both very good wines and values. That said if I were having a holiday party serving a large group; my “go to” wine would be the Chateau Montet. Everyone will be pleased.

Champagne/Sparkling Wine  One choice automatically jumps to the forefront: Champagne De Magerie A Bouzy Grand Cru [$35-40.00].  At this price, for me at least, it is not an everyday wine but a great special occasion choice.  Domaine Ste. Michelle [$15.00] has been our house sparkler for years but since I am writing about 2012 discoveries Piper Sonoma Sparkling Brut at $12.99 gets my vote.

Riesling- Chateau Ste. Michelle out of Washington State can do no wrong by me with their many worthy wines. Their Riesling and Sweet Harvest Riesling [$10.00] are affordable, dependable good wines. An easy choice. A new discovery for me this year was the Dr Loosen “Dr. L” Riesling. At $11.99 also delicious and dependable.

Merlot Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards from Washington State’s Columbia Valley is my clear winner. Their 2007 vintage was so memorable that 8 months later I am still thinking about it.  Priced in the $18-22.00 range it is worthy of the investment.

Malbec- For me all roads lead to Argentina’s LAMADRID. From their baseline Malbec [$10.00] to the RESERVE [$18.00] to their GRAN RESERVE [$28-35.00], which I recently finally tried after sitting on the bottle for 2 years, all are worthy.  Beautiful wines of which I wholeheartedly approve for vintages; 2008, 2009, 2010.

Chardonnay Over the summer I discovered a delicious Chardonnay; Hess Select from California’s Monterey region [$8-15.00]. More recently we have enjoyed Sonoma County’s Sebastiani [$8-12.00]. Both are rich and very well-balanced. For a non-California style Chardonnay [i.e. little or no wood] I suggest Fat Bastard  [$7-12.00] out of France.  Sourced from all over the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Those accustomed to oaky California Chardonnay’s may think they are drinking a completely different varietal. It is smooth yet  dry.

Cabernet Sauvignon- This category for me turned out to be the most varied in pricing. We lucked out; great Cab’s ranging from $10.00 to over $50.00. In the lower priced range Cycles Gladiator was a great find. One that our store now easily goes through a case a week.  In the mid-$20.00 range Sonoma’s  Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve was a wonderful treat, also one I’d like to revisit.  And at the higher end of the spectrum the delicious and exciting Stag’s Leap Artemis comes to mind; complex, full-bodied and powerful.

Sauternes- To complete our holiday meal or any special occasion I always think of Sauternes,  although you can also enjoy this sweet french wine at the start of your evening as an apéritif.  Our 2012 discovery was the 2008 Chateau Doisy-Védrines. Not inexpensive at $30.00 for a 375ml [half] bottle, but it is always worthy of a special occasion shared with worthy family and friends.

Here we are at the end of our first ever 2012  Whine and Cheers for Wine Holiday List. As 2012 starts to wind down I’d like to take this opportunity to be thankful. Very thankful to all my supporters and followers, some that I have had the honor of communicating with and getting to know throughout the year.  All your visits and comments have meant the world to me. Thanks to all of you,  2012 will always be my year of  Whine and Cheers for Wine! 

Thank you!

Happy Holidays

and  ¡SALUD!


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