Thursday, June 28, 2012

Eden Road Shiraz 2010

Last week-end was a wash out because of the rain.   We were planning on grilling up a few steaks and opening a few bottles of Australian Shiraz from Eden Road Wines.  Instead, dinner was moved indoors and Shirley found a frozen container of her spaghetti sauce in the freezer, so pasta and sauce would have to do.  This always meant a Tuscan wine like Chianti, an inexpensive Brunello or a Super Tuscan with the pasta, but this time we decided to change things up a little and stick with the Shiraz.
I received these wines about a month ago and had been looking forward to trying them ever since.  There were three 2010 vinatages.  All three were opened and I was hoping to choose one for a review.  Although, one clearly stood out as best, all three should be mentioned.
The first was the Eden Road Hilltops Shiraz ($40).
The Hilltops Shiraz was sourced from a single vineyard in a sub region of the Hilltops called Kingsvale.
The fruit was hand picked, de-stemmed and went through a cold soak for 5 days prior to fermentation. The fruit was fermented in an open 5 tonne fermenter for 14 days. The fruit was then pressed off directly to old French oak barriques for 16 months of maturation. During this maturation the wine was racked once off gross lees. Following maturation the wine was then racked, lightly fltered and bottled.
Aromas were dominated by stone and lead hiding much of the fruit aromas.  There was some black currant and a little blackberry.  Spicy in the mouth with some blackberry and blueberry with a very long peppery finish.  I found this one a bit disappointing, especially at it's price.
Second one tasted was the Eden Road The Long Road Shiraz ($23)
The Long Road Shiraz is carefully selected from sites in the Gundagai region which has both basalt rich soils that deliver highly perfumed aromatic wines, and ironstone rich soils that provide a mineral, crushed rock and gravely tannin structure.
This Shiraz was matured in 3-4 year old French oak puncheons (500 liters) for 14 months prior to bottling. In addition, a small component (30%) was matured in stainless steel for 14 months.
The color was identical to the Hilltops, a deep garnet red.  Lots of blackberry aromas with a little lead pencil and some black cherry.  In the mouth I got blackberry, some currant and hint of vanilla.  The wine finished long with a little spice and vanilla.  A very nice Shiraz and a great value at $23.
The last one tried turned out to be my favorite.  The Eden Road Gundagai ($45)
The Eden Road Gundagai shiraz vineyard is on a red, ‘terra rossa’ style soil. Oxidised dirt. This shiraz is destemmed, but there are no pump overs or traditional plunging – Eden Road uses a home-made air compression technique that sends a bubble of air up through the ferment to turn it over. Gentle. Old oak barriques used.
Nice Shiraz color of deep purple was so much different than the first two.  This wine was filled with aromas of blackberry, black cherry, plum, hints of some red berries and some lead or mineral.  A very nice mix of flavors in the mouth with lots of dark fruit, some wood and spice with a little herbal, some licorice and vanilla.  The finish was very long with herbal and light spices. Very nice wine, but a little pricey.  Still, it was a great meal and the wine paired pretty darn well for being non-Italian.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wente Vineyards Morning Fog Chardonnay 2010

I would like to introduce all my readers to my good friend and co-worker, Mark.  Mark usually accompanies Shirley and I to local wine fest and wine tours.  He also appreciates fine wine and some not so fine.  I have been urging him for the past two years to write me a review for the blog.  He is a fan of Chardonnays and Pinot Noir, two wines that are not near the top of my favorites.  Well, this week he finally broke down, bought a Chardonnay that he really liked and wrote out a review.  With a little bit of editing....here is Mark's first published wine review.

Wente Vineyards Morning Fog Chardonnay 2010 ($14)
submitted by:  Mark Connell

As I sit at the picnic table on a gorgeous Central New York evening, watching the grill, I opened a bottle of Chardonnay from Wente Vineyards, Livermore Valley San Francisco Bay.
This wine was a recommendation from one of the wine shops I frequent.
On the grill were chicken thighs, burgers, coney's and fresh corn on the cob.  The aromas coming off the grill were very enticing and choosing a Chardonnay to pair with this meal left me a bit apprehensive.
To the nose there was an oaky, buttery aroma with suggestion of vanilla and citrus.  The palate was silky smooth with some citrus and vanilla and some of the creamy buttery flavors.  The finish was medium to long and smooth.
This wine will do well with grilled chicken and turkey, shellfish and some soft cheeses like brie.  The oak stands up well with the burger, especially after warming up a little.
Nice, nice wine.   

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Judgement On My Patio

The last holiday weekend, a good friend and I indulged ourselves in a few bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon, along with a couple of grilled steaks.  We actually opened four Cab/Sauvs.  Two were from South America and two were from the Calistoga region in the Napa Valley.  We both agreed that the South American wines were completely out classed by the Napa Valley wines.   We also had to note that the CA wines sold for an average price of $90 and $50 while the S.A. wines were both under $20.  This kinda gives credence to those that will tell you, "price does mean a lot when comparing wines."  Yes, you can find very good and highly rated inexpensive wine and occasionally some expensive ones that are a disaster.  Odds are though,  you will be very seldom disappointed when you are willing to pay the price.
While tasting, we did share notes and both of us agreed on what we believed to be the best wine that day, but I would like to say a little about the other three.
First, was a Maipe Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($10) from the Mendoza region of Argentina.  A very dark purple color with aromas of black currant and dark plum.  Lot of plum and blackberry taste and a nice finish.  This was definitely the best value.
The other South American wine, from the Maipo Valley of Chile was a 2006 Morande Gran Reserve ($15). The color was not as dark as the Maipe, more of a ruby red, but still had aromas of plum and currant with chocolate. Dark berries with some vanilla and a medium finish.  This is still a nice wine at a nice price
The first California wine opened was a Lewis Cellars 2009 ($90).  No, I did not pay that price, the wife would kill me.  This wine was received for review.  Aromas were nice and sweet with plum, black cherry and currants with a lot of spice. In the mouth I got smoke, leather, some currant and spice.  My friend Mark and I both agreed that this wine was not quite ready.  A little too much oak and spice, but should cellar well, although it may have to go a long way to beat out what we picked as the day's best.

About two years ago, I tasted my first wine from Chateau Montelena.  The wine was an '07 Cabernet Sauvignon.  I remember having that wine with a pork roast and savoring every sip, so I was very excited to receive their newly released 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ($50)
Nice dark red color with aromas of black cherry and plum right off the bat.  Then came some strawberry and black raspberry with hints of vanilla and smoke.  There was also very light aromas of leather.  Nice and smooth in the mouth.  While one of us was getting hints of caramel and the other was getting some chocolate taste, we both agreed here, this is one outstanding wine. Finish was long and almost silky smooth with a touch of vanilla and some spice.  One mistake we made was finishing this wine before the steaks were done. Although a little out of my price range (for now)  this is a Cabernet that I would have no problem stocking up on.  Very nice now and will cellar for a long time to come.

In 1976 Chateau Montelena helped put California at the forefront of the wine world by winning a blind tasting competition outside of Paris.  Known as the "Judgement of Paris"  the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay beat out some of the best Chardonnay's of France.  The story of that event can be found with the movie "Bottle Shock" or the book "Judgement of Paris" by George Taber.  Mr. Taber who wrote for Time magazine was the only reporter to attend the tasting.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What to do? What to do??

Sorry that is has been almost a month since my last post.  Things have be happening pretty fast around here since mid May.  I haven't really stopped drinking wine, but I have be putting more time into getting ready for my upcoming retirement.   Yes, I decided to retire from my day job and start enjoying life. 
One big question that has be hashed over and over, is what do I do with Why Wine Blog.  I do have several options.
The first option that came to mind was retiring the blog.   I don't know if I want to spend the time needed to do justice to the blog or to spend that time pursuing other interest.  This would be the easiest option.
Second would be to let the blog alone for a few months and feel out what I want to do once I am retired and maybe having too much time on my hands.  I am sure Shirley would see that any free time could be put to better use around the house, but I am master of the house (sometimes. Well I like to think so).   That may work, but I am afraid that if I let the blog rest for a few months (last day of work is August 31), I may not want to even take a chance at reviving it,  and I don't want my blog to sit for years without any updates.  I could never understand why this happens so often.  Just delete the blog if one is not going to post new articles.
The last option is to put the blog on my priority list of things to do in retirement and that means possibly going 'pro.'  I thought about this a few years ago, but then I was getting away from the reasons I blog.  I would love to remain a wine novice with no writing skills and keep doing the blog that way, but I have to admit, over the last four years, I have learned an awful lot about all things wine, thanks mostly to the many fine bloggers I follow.
With all this going through the head, I have found it very difficult to sit down and do anything with the blog.  So, tonight I made a decision (stop the presses).  I hope this works out for me.
That may sound a little arrogant, but I do not want this blog to run my life, I want to see what I can do with the blog.
For the next four months I will post my wine reviews on a regular basis.  The reviews will be short with out any of the fluff I usually added in the past and may just also be copy and paste winemaker notes. Some will be from notes taken over the past weeks. This is being done for the sole purpose of keeping the blog active.  I have a very busy October, so sometime around November, I will decide on which direction I will take Why Wine Blog.  If this means hiring a Marketing and/or SEO pro, then so be it.
I am very excited about retirement and getting back to many of the fun things I was able to do in my youth and with my kids when they were growing up.  I am also getting excited about what can be done with my blog.  Let's Go!