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2009 Cloud 9 Composition

Date: Mon, Aug 23, 2010 Wine Tasting

This 2004 Cloud 9 Composition is a proprietary blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Verdot, and Barbera. It's produced from grapes grown in the Sierra Foothills region of California, but has a distinctive Napa Valley winemakers style. The wine is without doubt a "New World" style wine even though the grapes that make up the blend are all native to either France, Italy, or Spain.

On the nose I get lovely aromas of black raspberry, tart cherry, vanilla, oak, dark chocolate, and hints of cedar box. I love the bright cherry aromas as this wine opens up and the impression that this wine is something more than just a regular "Cabernet" type blend.

On the palate those sour cherry notes burst onto the palate and combine with red apple skin, vanilla, toasted oak, black licorice, cassis, cedar, and a touch of cinnamon flavor. The texture is soft and the tannins are well integrated. The finish has a very nice plum and tobacco note that accompanies the red cherry flavors.

This is obviously a very well made bottle of wine that even tastes better the second day of being open. It has a wonderful zip and tartness on the palate and only lacks just a touch of depth to make it a superstar effort. 90+ points

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2007 intelligent design cuvée - by wesley ashley wines

Date: Sun, Aug 22, 2010 Wine Tasting

The 2007 intelligent design cuvée made by wesley ashley wines if a red field blend of 51.5% Carignan, 15% Grenache, 14% Cinsaut, 11% Petite Sirah, 4.5% Mouvedre, and 4% Pinot Noir. The fruit was sourced from California's Central Coast appellation and the wine made by winemaker Stephen Tebb. The wine is a small 500 case production and was aged in 100% French oak for 18 months.

On the nose this wine is very aromatic and shows beautiful red raspberry, cherry pie, spice, oak, and candied cherry aromas. I think the combination of these varieties together makes for a very nicely perfumed wine.

On the palate the wine drinks with a bright intensity and shows a variety of berry fruits. It's almost like a mixed berry pie and even shows a hint of vanilla which reminds me of whip cream. It's not an overly complex wine but does seem to be very well balanced and quite fruit forward. It's a light bodied red that drinks like a bold style Pinot Noir and has a nice long berry finish. 88 points

For more information visit wesley ashley wines here

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2009 intelligent design cuvée blanc - wesley ashley wines

Date: Sun, Aug 22, 2010 Wine Tasting

The "intelligent design"cuvée blanc is made from a composition of Rhone varietals grown in California's Santa Barbara appellation. It comprised of 50% Viognier, 30% Roussanne, and 20% Grenache Blanc. It's a small 250 case production made by winemaker Jason Welch.

On the nose I get fresh and bright citrus aromas that combine with a variety of stone fruits such as white peach and nectarine. There is also a touch of tropical fruit (papaya) and subtle floral notes.

On the palate the first thing that is undeniable about this wine is it's oily texture. It's extremely oily and almost feels a bit waxy too. The flavors I get are lime peel, vanilla, mineral, chalk, and a touch of apricot. The finish is long, but again I have to express the oily nature of this wine.

I definitely can see how this wine might pair well with the right seafood dish. Steer clear of the real fatty and oily type fish or you could be in way over your head! Perhaps some glazed giant prawns?? 85 Points

Visit wesley ashley wines here

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Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard - Dropping Fruit

Date: Wed, Aug 18, 2010 Wine Tasting

Just a little picture I took in Block 12 of the famed Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard. It's amazing how much fruit is dropped these days in order to create a more concentrated crop.

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Veraison - Napa Valley and it's cold 2010 vintage

Date: Tue, Aug 17, 2010 Wine Tasting

Just a little glimpse of what Napa Valley is going through this time of year. Sad part is they're about three weeks behind because of the extremely cool 2010 vintage. Let's just hope that the rains don't come on time either, or the vintage could become a very tricky one.

Most vintners expressed their concerns about the cool whether, but are confident that if they can wait a few weeks longer to harvest that everything will turn out alright.

Still it would be smart to keep a close eye on the development of this situation before buying too heavily into your favorite Napa wines in this vintage.

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2005 Girard Artistry Napa Valley Red Wine

Date: Mon, Aug 16, 2010 Wine Tasting

The 2005 Girard Artistry is a proprietary blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc, 14% Petit Verdot, 9% Malbec, and 1% Merlot. The fruit is primarily sourced from vineyards located in the Oakville and St. Helena appellations of Napa.

The first noticeable character of this wine is it's deep and dark color. Although it's five years old it maintains it's incredible dark ruby color.

On the nose I get intensely ripened black fruits such as black raspberry, black cherry, and black plum. There is also secondary notes of mocha, graphite, licorice, and oak. The nose is very typical of the current Napa style which seems to be switching to a more ripe and more chocolate laden aroma profile.

On the palate the wine continues to demonstrate it's ripe black fruit flavors with beautiful cassis, black licorice, and almost prune-like characteristics. There is some very pure black cherry notes that also combine with subtle hints of toasted oak.

Where this wine thrives is in it's overall balance and harmony. It has a silky smooth texture, is very well made, and finishes with some very nice sour black cherry flavor and soft tannins. Those who enjoy a very balanced meritage-style wine, will love this stuff. 91 points

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2007 R.A. Harrison Family Cellars "Nobility"

Date: Sun, Aug 8, 2010 Wine Tasting

The 2007 R.A. Harrison Family Cellars "Nobility" is a fantastic example of the kind of quality dessert wine that can be made in California. It's a small production (333 cases, 375 ml bottles) late harvest Sauvignon Blanc - Semillon. (78% Sauvignon Blanc - Napa County, 22% Semillon - Sonoma County)

The Nobility fruit was harvested on November 16th and 29th, 2007, with a brix level of 35.5. The juice for this wine was fermented in small French Oak barrels and held to age for 19 months.

As you can tell from the picture I just snapped, I have quite a hard time holding back on these type of wines. When asked what my favorite type of wine is I almost immediately shout out either Sauternes or Champagne.... I love dessert wines made in this style and am intrigued by the use of Botrytis cinerea "Noble Rot" to aid in the effort to bring forth this magical concoction!

Immediately upon opening this bottle I notice the amazing bouquet of intense dried apricot, sweet fig, orange marmalade, vanilla, honey, and a hint of spice and ginger bread. This wine has stunning aromatics with a broad range of complexity and an intoxicating spiciness.

On the palate the wine is thick and slightly oily with a nice spiciness the extends from the mid-palate through the finish. The rich honey and sweet fig flavors combine with layers of apricot marmalade, vanilla, spicy botrytis, toasted oak, and an underlining mineral component. The finish is extremely long.......

There is sufficient acidity to help this wine stay balanced, which I think is key in producing wines of this quality with such a high sugar content. Many California vintners try to emulate the great wines of Sauternes but often fall short of reaching this type of complexity and balanced acidity. With exception of only one other producer in Napa Valley, this wine eclipses every other domestic dessert wine I've tasted in my wine career. 95+ points

For more information about this wine visit R.A Harrison Family Cellars

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CALNATURALE Premium Organic Wines

Date: Thu, Aug 5, 2010 Wine Tasting

I'm always excited to taste the newest wave of organic wines that are increasingly being put out in the market. These wines are unique in that they are the first and only C.C.O.F and Q.A.I. certified organic wines from California that have ever been placed in the "Tetra Pak" packaging. CALNATURALE has actually been around quite awhile (since 1980) and pride themselves on being environmentally responsible, premium wine producers.

They were kind enough to send The Blog Wine Cellar a couple samples for review, in order to help spread the word of the quality of their wines. As usual I will give my honest opinion of the wines, without any bias or pretense.

I have to be honest when I say that the first thing that comes to mind when sampling wines in this sort of packaging is "Where's the spit bucket?"

However, those of you that have been following the quality trail of wines packaged in both box and tetra pak, may not be quite surprised to find great tasting juice in these vessels. The box wine revolution is well under way and if you search the web for articles on the subject, I'm sure you'll find many who agree.

2008 CALNATURALE Cabernet Sauvignon - Paso Robles - French Camp Vineyard

Vineyard designate Cabernet Sauvignon in a Tetra?? Awesome!!

On the nose I get aromas of natural blackberry fruit that combine with black currant, licorice, spice, and hints of graphite. There is also a slight touch of soil and fresh tar if you over-analyze it like I always do!

On the palate the wine shows big bold flavors of blackberry, licorice, currant, pencil shavings, dark chocolate, and oak. It's quite a bold effort with a significant tannin structure and a medium length finish.

The wine actually improves quite a bit in the glass and the tannin that was once quite chunky and harsh right when I opened the wine, smooths out and becomes quite pleasant on the finish. I can see this wine pairing excellently with a seasoned flank steak and all sorts of grilled meats. In fact, if your having an outdoor BBQ this fall and need a good tasting wine, packaged in a fool-proof bottle, then this is perfect! 86 points

2009 CALNATURALE Chardonnay - Mendecino

This Chardonnay is really a fabulous representation of the varietal and exactly what a person would look for in a Chardonnay void of over-manipulation or too much spice. It's well balanced, has nice acidity, and is packed with crisp fruit flavors.

On the nose I get aromas of poached pear, yellow apple, vanilla, and citrus blossom. I would suggest pouring this wine into a "high dollar" bottle like a Far Niente or something of the like, and tasting your wine friends on it! Then reveal the true nature afterwords and I guarantee you'll have people changing their minds on how they perceive the wine world.

On the palate I get very intense pear flavors that combine with apple, citrus, and hints of toasted oak and vanilla. I enjoy the sleek and refreshing style this wine displays and the nice crisp acidity. 86+ points

To wrap it up I guess you could say I'm actually really impressed by the quality of this product. If your interested in learning more about these wines and where to pick them up locally then visit their website here: CALNATURALE

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2009 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages

Date: Tue, Aug 3, 2010 Wine Tasting

Summer time is the perfect time to break out the Beaujolais and put a nice chill on it. It's fruity, refreshing, and even holds enough complexity to help you stay interested. Beaujolais-Village of course takes it's name from a number of wine making villages (38 to be exact) in the Beaujolais production area.

Georges Duboeuf is very well known to those familiar with these fruit wines made from the Gamay Noir grape. In fact, many of you probably have seen his "nouveau" bottling every November with the flashy and flowery labels.

When I first poured this wine I immediately was impressed by the deep purple and almost punch-like color. The bouquet is packed full of fresh raspberry and candy-like aromas. There is also a hint of soil or a rustic metal aroma that keeps the wine from appearing too much like a popsickle.

On the palate the wine is very fresh and vibrant, and if you serve it during this time of year (summer) I would definitely suggest chilling it down a bit before consuming. I do get fresh raspberry and cherry flavors but they come across as almost candied or with hint of bubble gum. Many of you who have tried Beaujolais before are nodding your heads and remembering these same descriptors......

Over all the wine is a perfect summer red and goes down very smooth. It's also a wine that would do very well with poultry and pork dishes. 85 points

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2007 Magnificent Wine Co. Cabernet Sauvignon

Date: Mon, Jul 5, 2010 Wine Tasting

The Magnificent Wine Co. "CAB" is a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington Stat's Columbia Valley. The winemaker Charles Smith has been making noise in the last few years for making some really high quality wines at great prices. Magnificent Wine Co. has two lines of wines "The Standard" and The "Originals". The "CAB" is part of the "Originals" category as well as a Pinot noir, Syrah, and Riesling. The famous a well-known "House Wines" are part of the "Standard" series. For more info. and tech data check them out here.

The bouquet of this wine displays a classic Washington state Cabernet Sauvignon aroma of blackberry, coco, licorice, and spicy hints of oak. As I let the wine open up the aromas continue to unfold and intensify.

On the palate the wine has a sleek texture that reminds me slightly of Bordeaux, meaning it's not overly viscous or thick. Flavors of luscious blackberry, cassis, chocolate-raspberry sticks, a touch of oak/spice lead into a medium length finish that displays only the slightest note of tannin.

This wine is a fantastic buy if you can find it at the price I paid for it ($14.99). It was on closeout at my neighborhood grocery. However, for $24 retail I would suggest searching for something from Italy or Spain that can deliver equal and perhaps superior complexity. 88 points

Click here to find out more about this wine

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Barefoot Wine Tasting - Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon

Date: Sat, Jul 3, 2010 Wine Tasting

Ok, so I know that these wines are considered to be what love to refer to as "swill" but I thought I would give them a go. I've held down a part-time job at a local hotel for a few years,and I work a weekend here and there for the extra spending money and the great room-rate benefits. It just so happens that these two beauties are the wines they serve during their happy hour.

I'm pretty sure I've never tasted anything made by "Barefoot" even though I've seen huge stacks of the stuffblocking the way of my grocery cart when I'm doing my weekly food shopping. The wines are non-vintage and I think they are blended a bit, but the label doesn't divulge that precious information!

Ok, lets start with the Merlot......

On the nose I get aromas of sweet mixed berry, boysenberry syrup, and perhaps a hint of bark and dark chocolate. The bouquet reminds me a lot of cheap Aussie fruit-bomb type wines....Kind of like Yellow Tail Shiraz!

On the palate the wine shows some nice fruity berry notes and a touch of wood/bark. It also has a pretty insipid metallic note that is common with many inexpensive reds. The finish is dis-jointed with a bit of intruding alcohol.

All in all I'd say the Merlot is a hell of a lot better than I imagined it would be. No, it's not a good wine, but I imagine that with a big plate of spaghetti and a few glasses it would go down easy enough. 75 points

Now for the Cabernet Sauvignon......

On the nose I get a hodge-podge mixture of dark-berry aromas and hints of herb and spice. This also has the hi-c type effect that many Aussie wines display regularly.

On the palate the wine is surprisingly more round and textured than the Merlot and even shows a touch of varietal character. Wow, not bad! Flavors of blackberry and dark chocolate seem to be wrapped around a nice big stave of oak.....The wine finishes with a slight herbal note and a touch of tannin.

To be completely honest, I have had much worse wines than the Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon. Once again, it's by no means "fine wine" but it could definitely be a useful enough table wine and well within the budget. 80 points

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More good news about Resveratrol.....

Date: Thu, Jul 1, 2010 Wine Tasting

A new study conducted by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis say that resveratrol - a compound found in the skin of red grapes and blueberries - may prove useful in preventing the vision loss associated with diabetes and old age.

This new study was reported by CBS News and can be found here.

The study, conducted on mice, also showed that resveratrol helps block the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye, such as that associated with macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people over 50.

Just another reason to make sure you always have a glass of red wine with your dinner.

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Choosing a professional wine cellar cooling system

Date: Sat, Jun 19, 2010 Wine Tasting

I have mentioned many times the desire I have to build a reasonable sized wine cellar in my house. Living in Arizona it's not as if I can just stick a few cases of wine in my garage and expect them to keep for more than a few minutes during our hot and dry summers.

I have been investigating a few cooling options for my future cellar and have come across many different cooling system units. One that seems to be among the top of the line options is called WhisperKOOL. As we have discussed in previous posts, temperature and humidity control areessential to the proper aging of your wine, and WhisperKOOL has a reputation among professionals for a high level of accuracy and control.

WhisperKOOL offers several different options and ranges that include self-contained units, split systems, and fully ducted systems.

If your thinking of searching for a cooling unit for your home cellar, it's vital to contact a professional that can help you make the right decision as to which size and type unit will work best for your space. Remember, maintaining the proper temperature and humidity is key to aging your wines properly.

Click on the link in the second paragraph for a in-depth look at the different units available. There's also a really educational video contained on the webpage as well. Cheers~

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The Crushpad vs. City Winery

Date: Wed, Jun 16, 2010 Wine Tasting

I got this invite today in my inbox. I think it will be an amazing tasting event! Here's what the e-mail said:

"It started with an off-hand comment and quickly turned into an all-out vinous shouting match. Insults about respective mothers drinkingWhite Zinfandel. Glasses of rosédumped on one another. Frankly, it was a very pathetic showing of mutual outrage. But after watchingRockyIVa few weeks ago (only the best movie ever), we had an inspiration for how to resolve our differences. What am I talking about?
The Crushpad vs. City Winery head to head tasting on June 30th at City Winery in NYC.
We're going to each pour 7 wines, tasted blind by the audience, who will have a say in who takes thechampion belt.Ali vs. Frazier;Drago vs. Balboa. Pick your all-time favorite bout, but my guess is that it will pale into insignificance compared to this battle.
Please note that there are only 80 tickets available and they are only $55 through Thursday (then they go to $75).
Get tickets here.

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