What's a WineWonk?

Wine Blogs by Wonk

Footer

Recent Blogs

Footer

Wine Articles by Blog

Footer
Write about Wine. Read about Life. WineWonks, the Wine Blog Community.

Georges III Cabernet Sauvignon

Date: Wed, Mar 24, 2010

DescriptionName:Georges III Cabernet Sauvignon
Color:Red
Grape(s):Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation:Oakville Napa Valley California
Maker:B Cellars
Vintage:2006
Cost:$55.00
Comments: Available only through winery and fine dining restaurants

Food PairingsMeats & Seafood: Poached, grilled, fried, baked or roasted beef, lamb, game and game birds.
Sauce: Au jus, savory, tomato, mustard, peppercorn
Cheese: Soft or hard goat cheese, hard cow and sheep cheese
Other: Chocolate

Taste ProfileNotes:This Cabernet hails from one of Rutherford’s most coveted vineyards; a Rutherford Bench plot originally planted by the well known Georges de Latour III in 1933. Its classic roots offer ample doses of black cherry, cola and the infamous “Rutherford Dust” aromas. Layers abound on the palate including cherry, currants and black fruit jam with a bold, firm structure and age worthy tannins. Unfiltered and unfined.
Quick Classification:Big Red

Private NotesSource:KWWG Tasting 100323
Comments:Bought 3 bottles

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Detecting fake wine vintages: It's an (atomic) blast

Date: Mon, Mar 22, 2010


SAN FRANCISCO, March 21, 2010 -- Two decades of atomic bomb testing in the atmosphere are yielding an unexpected bonus for consumers, scientists reported here today at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). It's a new test to determine whether that Bordeaux or burgundy is from a fine vintage year and commands premium price or actually is a counterfeit vin ordinaire or cheap plonk worth much less.

Graham Jones, Ph.D., who headed the research, said that misrepresenting the vintage -- the year the wine was made -- is an ongoing problem. He is with the University of Adelaide, Australia. Some years bring perfect growing conditions for vineyards in a country or region of a country and the grapes produce exceptional wines that command premium prices. In other years, bad weather, such as heavy late-season rains that bloat grapes with water or long hot, dry spells at harvest, means poor quality wines. Some wine experts estimate that up to 5 percent of the fine wine sold today is fake.

"The problem goes beyond ordinary consumers being overcharged for a bottle of expensive wine of a famous winery with a great year listed on the label," Jones pointed out. "Connoisseurs collect vintage wines and prices have soared with 'investment wines' selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars a case at auction."

Jones said the wine industry is fighting forgeries with special seals and high-tech labels. The method for authentication of a wine's vintage may provide added confidence that the vintage on the label is the vintage in the bottle.

In their leading research, Jones and colleagues found that radioactive carbon dioxide produced from atomic bomb tests in the atmosphere absorbed by grapes can be used to accurately determine wine vintages. The new technique is similar to radio-carbon dating, used for years to estimate the age of prehistoric objects. It works by comparing the amount of carbon-14 (C-14), a less common form of atmospheric carbon, to carbon-12 (C-12), which is more stable and abundant. The ratio of these two carbon forms, or isotopes, has remained constant in the atmosphere for thousands of years.

"Until the late 1940's all carbon-14 in the Earth's biosphere was produced by the interaction between cosmic rays and nitrogen in the upper atmosphere," Jones says. "This changed in the late 1940's up to 1963 when atmospheric atomic explosions significantly increased the amount of C-14 in the atmosphere. When the tests stopped in 1963 a clock was set ticking ? that of the dilution of this "bomb-pulse" C-14 by CO2 formed by the burning of fossil fuels."

He explains that traces of radioactive carbon are captured by the grape plants through the absorption of carbon dioxide and eventually transformed into alcohol and other carbon-based components of the wine. The "bomb-pulse" of the atmosphere is eventually absorbed into the wine.

"The year that the grapes were grown fixes the age or vintage of the wine," Jones says.

"The carbon-14 isotope ratio of the wine alcohol can therefore be used to determine the vintage of a wine."

The scientists used a highly-sensitive analytical device called an accelerator mass spectrometer to determine the C-14 levels in the alcohol components of 20 Australian red wines with vintages from 1958 to 1997 and then compared these measurements to the radioactivity levels of known atmospheric samples. They found that the method could reliably determine the vintage of wines to within the vintage year.

In addition to testing alcohol, measuring the age of other wine components, such as tartaric acid and various phenolic substances, can help improve the reliability of the technique for detecting fraud, Jones notes.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

Author: Unattributed
Web Site: The American Chemical Society
Source: www.scienceblog.com

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Rutherford Ranch Zinfandel

Date: Mon, Mar 22, 2010

DescriptionName:Rutherford Ranch Zinfandel
Color:Red
Grape(s):Zinfandel
Appellation:Napa Valley California
Maker:Rutherford Wine Company
Vintage:2006
Cost:$18.00
Comments:

Food PairingsMeats & Seafood: Poached, grilled, fried, baked or roasted beef, lamb, game and game birds.
Sauce: au jus, savory, tomato, mustard, peppercorn,chil
Cheese: Hard cow and sheep cheese
Other: Spicy foods and cuisines

Taste ProfileNotes:An elegant, complex bouquet of ripe boysenberries, black pepper and French vanilla, blending ripe blackberries with plum and vanilla. A very balanced Zinfandel with rich tannins and a long, lingering fruit finish.
Quick Classification:Dry Red

Private NotesSource:
Comments:

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Sideways

Date: Mon, Mar 22, 2010

Do you recall the movie Sideways that was popular in 2004? For those who didn’t see it, Sideways is the story of two middle-aged friends, Miles and Jack, who set out on a final week of fun before Jack gets married. They drive north from Los Angeles to the wine region around Santa Barbara in Miles’ sporty little convertible. Jack is a less-than-successful actor just looking for a good time, but Miles is all about the wine, fancying himself as something of a connoisseur. They visit a number of wineries where Miles says things like “the estate chardonnay is quaffable but far from transcendent” and “the cab franc is hollow, flabby and overripe”. Later at dinner with some women they’ve managed to meet, Miles, in full snob mode, says "If anyone orders Merlot I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any #@!% merlot." In contrast, Miles frequently waxes poetic about the wonders of Pinot Noir.

So now you’re thinking, great movie review, but what does this have to do with anything? Well, it turns out that this simple little movie has had a profound effect on the wine industry. So much so that its impact has become known as the “Sideways Effect”. People who had never heard of Pinot Noir began drinking it in abundance and people who thought they were chic drinking Merlot suddenly wanted nothing to do with it. The California Highway Patrol reported a jump in highway incidents in Santa Barbara County, saying the movie led to a virtual stampede to the Santa Barbara wine country, causing a rash of drunk driving arrests and crashes. The area has 90 tasting rooms.

Analyzing Pinot Noir and Merlot sales between 1999 and 2008, a recent study showed the "Sideways Effect" has had a
Paul Giamatti portrays Miles Raymond in Sideways
negative impact on the consumption of Merlot, while increasing the consumption of Pinot Noir. However, the effect was not proportional; helping Pinot Noir more than it hurt Merlot. In addition, the price of Merlot has fallen while the price of Pinot Noir has increased. The downward price pressure on Merlot is mostly at the lower price points, while the positive price effect on Pinot Noir have been across all price-points.

Pinot Noir is the grape of red French Burgundy’s and Blanc de Noir sparkling wines. In the United States, northern California, New York and Oregon are known for Pinot Noir. Not surprising these areas share the same latitude as the Burgundy region of France. Generally speaking, Pinot Noir from these latitudes are light in color, low in alcohol, low in tannins and high in acidity. In contrast, Pinot Noir from the sunnier central coast counties of California are dark in color, higher in alcohol, low in tannins and low in acidity. In many cases comparing Pinot Noir from these contrasting regions is like comparing wines made from two different grapes. It is of course personal preference, but I prefer the central coast style of Pinot Noir.

We should also mention that like Mark Twain, the reports of Merlot’s death are premature. In some respects Merlot deserved Sideways, having become a victim of its own success. During this time you could put practically anything in a bottle labeled Merlot and sell it; and some wine makers did just that. The resulting deterioration in the quality of the product contributed to falling price and sales as Jump forward to the present. The quality of Merlot has improved while the price has remained low, creating good value for Merlot drinkers and a proliferation of new labels.

Cellar Notes

To be fair, here are both a Pinot Noir and a Merlot you might like. The Pinot Noir is unusual in that it is under $20; hard to find since Sideways. It is from Monterey County, reflecting my bias for central coast Pinot Noir. The Merlot is also unusual in that it is a blend. Merlot is commonly a component of Cabernet Sauvignon blends, but rarely is it the predominant variety in a blend, at least among new world wines. I’ve classified both of these wines as soft, so even white wine drinkers shouldn’t be afraid to give them a try.

Monterey County Pinot Noir from Chalone
Sonoma Reserve Merlot from Blackstone

A note about vintage – If you are unable to locate a vintage shown in Cellar Notes, with some significant exceptions, you may find the next vintage year very similar. Modern viticulture and production methods have reduced, although not eliminated, dramatic year-to-year variation.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Zinfandel from Navarro

Date: Fri, Mar 19, 2010

DescriptionName:Zinfandel
Color:Red
Grape(s):Zinfandel
Appellation:Mendocino California
Maker:Navarro Vineyards
Vintage:2007
Cost:$19.00
Comments:

Food PairingsMeats & Seafood: Poached, grilled, fried, baked or roasted beef, lamb, game and game birds.
Sauce: au jus, savory, tomato, mustard, peppercorn,chil
Cheese: Hard cow and sheep cheese
Other: Spicy foods and cuisines

Taste ProfileNotes:An elegant style, with a complex array of raspberry, wild berry and strawberry fruit that’s delicate and refreshing. Supple in texture, ending with a burst of berry and pepper flavors and ripe, fine-grained tannins.
Quick Classification:Dry Red

Private NotesSource:Howard Pittman - Dinner at Alexanders 100318
Comments:

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Pinot Noir from Navarro

Date: Fri, Mar 19, 2010

DescriptionName:Pinot Noir
Color:Red
Grape(s):Pinot Noir
Appellation:Anderson Valley, Mendocino California
Maker:Navarro Vineyards
Vintage:2006
Cost:$30.00
Comments:

Food PairingsMeats & Seafood:Poached, grilled, fried, baked or roasted fish, crustacean shell fish, beef, pork or fowl.
Sauce:Au jus, white, savory, herb
Cheese:Soft or hard goat cheese, medium cow and sheep cheese
Other:Mushrooms

Taste ProfileNotes:Classic Old World style featuring earthy hints of ripe plum, strawberry, blueberry, mineral, forest floor, and toasted nuts. Over¬all, it's a nicely balanced wine with plenty of fruit flavors, purity and concentration.
Quick Classification:Soft Red

Private NotesSource:Howard Pittman - Dinner at Alexanders 100318
Comments:

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Chardonnay from Blackstone

Date: Fri, Mar 19, 2010

DescriptionName:Chardonnay
Color:White
Grape(s):95% Chardonnay 3% Gewürztraminer 2% Semillon
Appellation:Monterey California
Maker:Blackstone Winery
Vintage:2008
Cost:$9.00
Comments:

Food PairingsMeats & Seafood: Poached, raw, grilled, fried, baked or roasted fish, crustacean shell fish and fowl.
Sauce: Au jus, white, chili, herb
Cheese: Hard cow and sheep cheese
Other: Sushi

Taste ProfileNotes:This Chardonnay shows aromas of pineapple, peach and lemon citrus with a touch of mineral notes and pleasing oak and tropical fruit flavors with a touch of toasted vanilla on the palate The wine is well-balanced wine with a long, lingering finish.
Quick Classification:Drier White

Private NotesSource:Constellation tasting at Sam Houston Race Park 100319
Comments:

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Chardonnay from Clos du Bois

Date: Fri, Mar 19, 2010

DescriptionName:Chardonnay
Color:White
Grape(s):Chardonnay
Appellation:North Coast Chardonnay
Maker:Clos du Bois
Vintage:2008
Cost:$9.00
Comments:

Food PairingsMeats & Seafood: Poached, raw, grilled, fried, baked or roasted fish, crustacean shell fish and fowl.
Sauce: Au jus, white, chili, herb
Cheese: Hard cow and sheep cheese
Other: Sushi

Taste ProfileNotes:Full-bodied with layered aromas of red and green apple, pear, vanilla bean, blossoms and lemon meringue. The palate delivers balanced structure and a palate-cleansing acidity alongside bright fruit flavors backed by intense notes of caramel, toffee, spice and toasty oak. The smooth, rich finish is lintering and wraps up with hints of butter and toast.
Quick Classification:Drier White

Private NotesSource:Constellation tasting at Sam Houston Race Park 100319
Comments:

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Sauvignon Blanc from Honig

Date: Fri, Mar 19, 2010

DescriptionName:Sauvignon Blanc
Color:White
Grape(s):99% Sauvignon Blanc 1% Semillon
Appellation:Napa Valley California
Maker:Honig
Vintage:2008
Cost:$15.00
Comments:

Food PairingsMeats & Seafood: Poached, raw, grilled, fried, baked or roasted fish, shell fish, fowl and game birds.
Sauce: Au jus, white, herb
Cheese: Soft goat cheese
Other: Most salad dressings, especially vinegar and citrus dressings.

Taste ProfileNotes:Balanced grapefruit and melon aromas and flavors are accented by lime and mango. A round mid-palate is followed by a vibrant, crisp, lingering finish.
Quick Classification:Crisp White

Private NotesSource:
Comments:

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Monte Bello Bordeaux-Style Blend from Ridge

Date: Wed, Mar 17, 2010

DescriptionName:Monte Bello Bordeaux-Style Blend
Color:Red
Grape(s):70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 6% petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc
Appellation:Santa Cruz Mountains California
Maker:Ridge Vineyards
Vintage:2005
Cost:$175.00
Comments:

Food PairingsMeats & Seafood: Poached, grilled, fried, baked or roasted beef, lamb, game and game birds.
Sauce: Au jus, savory, tomato, mustard, peppercorn
Cheese: Soft or hard goat cheese, hard cow and sheep cheese
Other: Chocolate

Taste ProfileNotes:One of our most concentrated vintages ever. Intense black fruit, a pronounced mineral component, and subtle floral notes, combined with rich tannins, give the 2005 potential for greatness. Though it is difficult to identify another vintage of similar characteristics this early on, the exceptional 1996 might come closest.
Quick Classification:Big Red

Private NotesSource:
Comments:Drank for Eileen's birthday 100316

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz from Penfolds

Date: Tue, Mar 16, 2010

DescriptionName:Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz
Color:Red
Grape(s):Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz
Appellation:South Australia
Maker:Penfolds
Vintage:2007
Cost:$33.00
Comments:

Food PairingsMeats & Seafood: Poached, grilled, fried, baked or roasted beef, lamb, game and game birds.
Sauce: Au jus, savory, tomato, mustard, peppercorn
Cheese: Soft or hard goat cheese, hard cow and sheep cheese
Other: Chocolate

Taste ProfileNotes:Combining the structure of Cabernet with the richness of Shiraz, Bin 389 has well balanced fruit and oak. The ripe tannins and impressive mid-palate are traditional Bin 389. Tight, focussed, compact, the 2007 needs time to unfold.
Quick Classification:Dry Red

Private NotesSource:Birthday gift from Jill & Christopher 2010
Comments:

Read Full Wine Blog Post

California premium wines may be overdoing the new oak

Date: Mon, Mar 15, 2010


There is no doubt that I have developed a Northwest palate over the years. On a recent road trip through Sonoma and Napa, I came to an interesting conclusion. Just as my preferences have been shaped by Washington and Oregon wines, California winemakers have comparable preconceptions about what wines should taste like, and therefore, what is the "right" way to make wine.

I've chatted with consulting winemakers at tiny, family-owned wineries such as Rocca, Pfendler, Ridgeway, Wind Gap and Hidden Ridge, as well as full-time winemakers at Frank Family and Bennett Lane (both family owned, but somewhat larger). With just a single exception, I found that they think new oak barrels make better wine, whether the wine is chardonnay, pinot noir, syrah, zinfandel or cabernet sauvignon.

From the least expensive blends (such as Rocca's 2006 Bad Boy Red, which sells for $32), to the rare, pricey, single-vineyard offering (Frank Family's 2006 Winston Hill Red, priced at $150), the standard regimen is oak-driven.

There is no disagreement that the quality of the fruit is the foundation for all good wines. Yet more than one winemaker flatly stated that without ample exposure to new oak barrels (70 percent minimum, 100 percent common, some go as far as 200 percent) that wonderful fruit would somehow not live up to its full potential.

No question — expensive barrels can deliver some pretty fine flavors. Chocolate, mocha, toasted nuts, coconut, espresso, vanilla — the list goes on. You can order your barrel with flavor-driven options, and winemakers love to have the full array of oak "seasonings" available to them.

The wines from these family-owned California wineries are miles apart from the cheap, generic, corporate stuff you find in supermarkets, and you pay a premium for them. Focused on estate-grown fruit, they are supple and flavorful, bursting with ripe fruit wrapped in those seductive barrel flavors. Though the alcohol levels may be up around 14.5 or 15 percent, they are not out of line with many similar offerings from Washington. What's different is the reliance on those new oak barrels.

Many, if not most, of the wines I tasted would have been just fine with less new oak. The trend I see here in the Northwest is to move away from 70 or 80 or 100 percent new-oak programs, to 50 percent or less — in the case of pinot noir and syrah, much less. It only makes sense. As vineyards mature and the fruit they grow offers nuances and complexity that young vines cannot, backing off on the new-oak barrels gives the fruit more head room. No one ever disagrees with the statement that wines are made in the vineyards. The quality of the fruit determines the wine's potential for greatness.

The disagreement comes later. Can good fruit be compromised if it is not given the big oak treatment? Or does too much oak itself do the compromising? My own feelings are clear. As good as oak flavors are, I prefer them to be used very sparingly. Winemaker Rob Hunter (at Bennett Lane) was the only one who spoke to this same idea. "Our goal is to highlight varietal fruit flavor," he explained, while pouring the winery's white Maximus (all stainless), reserve chardonnay (30 percent new oak), red Maximus (20 percent new oak), cabernet (20 percent new oak) and reserve cabernet (33 percent new oak). "These wines don't need a lot of oak impact," Hunter continued. "I'm focused on fruit character. Toast and coffee and chocolate are not what cabernet is all about."

Granted, unoaked chardonnay can be thin and flavorless. But it doesn't have to be, as this week's Pick proves. And as for red wines — especially pinot noir and syrah — many Oregon and Washington winemakers are showing off the fruit rather than the barrels these days. Why shouldn't they do that in California as well?

Author: Paul Gregutt
Web Site: seattletimes.nwsource.com
Source: seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/wineadviser/2011248210_pacificpadviser14.html

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Vintner's Cuvée Zinfandel from Rosenblum

Date: Mon, Mar 15, 2010

DescriptionName:Vintner's Cuvée Zinfandel (XXXI)
Color:Red
Grape(s):Zinfandel
Appellation:California
Maker:Rosenblum Cellars
Vintage:NV
Cost:$10.00
Comments: This is a non-vintage wine blended from Zinfandel from various areas of California. This is the 31st (XXXI) edition of the cuvee.

Food PairingsMeats & Seafood: Poached, grilled, fried, baked or roasted beef, lamb, game and game birds.
Sauce: au jus, savory, tomato, mustard, peppercorn,chil
Cheese: Hard cow and sheep cheese
Other: Spicy foods and cuisines

Taste ProfileNotes:The Cuvée XXXI features aromas of black cherry, blackberry and raspberry, as well as spice and vanilla overtones. Medium-bodied and replete with acidity.
Quick Classification:Dry Red

Private NotesSource:On Raffa's by-the-glass list 2010
Comments:

Read Full Wine Blog Post

The Mayonnaise Jar and Two Glasses of Wine

Date: Sat, Mar 13, 2010

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous yes. The professor then produced two glasses of wine from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

Now, said the professor, as the laughter subsided, I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things; your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions; things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else; the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first, he continued, there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.

The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Take care of the golf balls first; the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the wine represented. The professor smiled. I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of glasses of wine with a friend.

~Author Unknown


Read Full Wine Blog Post


Friends of Winewonks



Wine Spectator Online

#1 Online Wine Store

Manage Your Cellar

PokerStars Bonus Code

PokerStars Marketing Code


Check out some More Wonks Blog Communities!

Whether you like Baseball Blogs, Basketball Blogs, Beer Blogs, Car Blogs, Football Blogs, Poker Blogs, Wine Blogs....there is a Wonks Community you will enjoy!

WineWonks.com is owned and operated by Dimat Enterprises.


More about Dimat
"Dimat" is a major Poker Book publisher, with a popular Poker Forum, which originated from the book Internet Texas Holdem, by Matthew Hilger. Internet Poker Rankings tracks the top online poker players. Poker Bonos Gratis was designed to bring Free Poker Gifts to the Spanish Speaking Market.