In this episode, Jeff searches for the truth in this Rioja…
What’s your favorite Rioja? Leave a comment, and let us know.
In this episode, Jeff searches for the truth in this Rioja…
What’s your favorite Rioja? Leave a comment, and let us know.
What up, y’all?
It’s a Wednesday.
I got a wine.
Let’s do this!
I’m a big fan of Pinot Noir. I especially love me some Oregon Pinot. So, you’ve gotta know that I was stoked to find this bad boy in the box I got from Gary Vaynerchuk when I sent some toys his way back in September.
Color: This wine is definitely showing some age. Reddish brown to copper at the edges.
Nose: Orange zest, lavender, cocoa powder, mushrooms, and blackberries. Pretty.
Taste: This is an interesting one. Earthy components of soil and mushroom with a minty edge. Cranberry, raspberry, and blackberry fruits are seasoned with some orange zest. The tannins were a bit astringent at first, which gave the wine a bit of an awkward feel. After some time in the glass, the tannins blew off and revealed some cherry cola goodness.
Score: This is a solid wine, but may turn you off if you are not patient. 87 points.
What is your favorite Oregon Pinot Noir? Leave a comment, and let us know what you think.
You may have noticed that I didn’t post anything on Stay Rad last week.
That’s because I was stuck in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico…
I was thinking about tasting the wines on the plane, but I’ve read enough articles (like this one) about the adverse effects of altitude and low humidity to know that it wouldn’t be fair to review them from 35,000 feet above sea level. Instead, I decided to borrow some coffee cups and taste these wines during our layover in Los Angeles.
The 2007 Block 21 Cabernet Sauvignon comes from Trione’s Cloverdale Ranch. It’s got 10% Merlot from the Geyserville Ranch, and 2.5% each of Petit Verdot and Malbec from the Cloverdale Ranch as well. It costs 64 bucks.
Color: Red. It’s tough to tell. It’s in a coffee cup.
Nose: It’s got that good chalkiness on the nose that I love in a good Cabernet Sauvignon. There’s a concentrated plumminess, as well.
Taste: There’s a bright burst of acid on this wine from beginning to end. It’s loaded with cranberry and plum fruits. Good, chalky tannins, and some nice, tobacco leaf flavors on the finish.
Score: This wine is really good. I like it a lot. 91.
The 2007 Red Wine is mostly made of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It costs $48.
Color: Red. Like I said. It was in a coffee cup.
Nose: Pretty tight, but there is a hint of dark plums on this one.
Taste: Bright orange zest and cranberries. It’s got a nice peppery finish.
Score: Although good, it probably would have shown better if tasted before the Cabernet. Not anywhere near as big in style as the previous wine, but still tasty. I’m giving it a solid 89, and telling you to seek out the Block 21 Cabernet Sauvignon instead.
Adios… And Stay Rad,
What’s your go-to airport/airplane beverage? Leave a comment, and let us know.
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Since becoming members at Ridge Vineyards, one event that Kara and I really like taking advantage of is First Friday at Monte Bello. On the first Friday of each month, they present a members-only tasting that usually highlights a new release.
The Friday before last, Kara and I headed up the mountain in Cupertino to taste a 3 vintage vertical of Carmichael Ranch Zinfandel. Let’s take a look at how this Alexander Valley fruit has changed over the last couple of years…
And that was First Friday.
It won’t be the last.
Remember when I asked you to pick which wine I should drink?
Fine then! Go here to refresh your memory.
One of the wines I featured was this guy…
At the end of the post, this guy (the winemaker for Chateau Ballan-Larquette) asked me to let him know what I thought about it.
The other day at BevMo, I was checking out the wines for the 5 Cent Sale (again… a total scam), and I found that they had the 2007 and 2009 vintages of the exact same wine I already had. I decided right then that I had to purchase those other vintages and do a vertical tasting.
The problem is, 3 bottles of wine is just too much for one man to drink alone (1 bottle is too much). So I needed to make an event out of it.
That’s where the Thevegetarians come in.
Dave Thevegetarian has been my best friend ever since we were in third grade. Third grade, man! If you want to figure out how long we’ve been friends, take the age that you are supposed to be when you’re in third grade (I’m too lazy to ask my Kara. She teaches third grade.) and subtract that from 33. That’s about how many years we’ve known each other, or something.
Dave and his wife, Kara Thevegetarian, both happen to be vegetarians, coincidentally. They love throwing dinner parties. I would invite the Thevegetarians over for dinner at my house more often, but I doubt they would eat my Blue Cheese Burgers. They had us over for dinner last Friday.
“You bring the wine,” Dave told me, “and I’ll make some dope food for you, home boy.” In spite of Dave Thevegetarian’s odd choice of words, I pulled my three bottles from the old wine fridge along with a little bubbly, grabbed Kara by the hand, and headed over to the House of Thevegetarian.
“It’s on!” I shouted.
“Oh brother!” Kara responded.
We arrived at 6:30 pm to a table loaded with vegetarian hors d’oeuvres and a cork screw. I opened up the three bottles of Chateau Ballan-Larquette and arranged them thusly…
While waiting for the wine to breathe a little, Kara Thevegetarian poured us each a glass of this…
I’ve always been a fan of Clos La Chance. So much so, that KaraIsRad and I were married there.
The Clos La Chance 2009 Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc is a grassy lemon/lime machine. The perfect aperitif on a hot summer day. I’m not giving you a score for this one, ’cause I didn’t take any notes on it. Let me just say that I recommend it.
On to the vertical tasting…
The Cateau Ballan-Larquette is a “value” Bordeaux. The list price for this one is $19.99. At BevMo, you will pay that much for it during the 5 Cent Sale, but when it’s not on “sale” you should be able to get it for about 15 bucks. This wine is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc. It spends 12 to 18 months in steel and cement tanks.
Color: Ruby red with a little rust.
Nose: Chalk (I love chalk), Cola, Green Bell Pepper.
Taste: This wine is GREEN! Bell peppers for days! There is also a spicy black pepper component. Good acidity. There is a little bit of bacon fat in this one which really brings the whole thing together.
Score: A solid 88. Solid!
How about some food?
Color: Same ruby color as the first. Maybe a little darker.
Nose: Bright Cherry. A little wood shop action too (Strange, since to my knowledge this wine is not oaked).
Taste: Very green with some SHARP tannins. Sour Cherry. Acid. A little rubbery bike tire thing.
Score: I originally gave this one an 87, but after the tasting was completed I gave it a retaste. It just doesn’t hold up to the other two wines. I now give it an 86-.
Note: I bought this wine two weeks ago at the 5 Cent Sale. All of the vintages at Bev Mo were 2009, but I found this one tucked in the bin. At Bev Mo, they display their wines upright at room temperature. There is a strong possibility that this bottle was sitting around the store for two years before I bought it. Not being stored properly, this bottle may not represent the 2007 vintage properly. Two questions: A) Have any of you tried the 2007 Ch. Ballan-Larquette and have notes to share? B) Would any of you ever buy an odd-vintaged wine that was not stored properly?
What? You want more food? Okay…
Alright. More wine…
Color: Same as the rest.
Nose: Blueberry. Cocoa. Chalk (I love chalk). I’m looking at my notes from Friday. It says “DOPE!”
Taste: Bell Pepper. There is this sweet lacquered wood taste to it. See that table in the picture above. Imagine taking a bite out of that, but in a good way. There is also a cranberry and white pepper component.
Score: The 09 was my favorite. It edged out the 06 because it was a little more complex. Give it an 89+.
For fun, I also had the other folks rank the wines before I revealed my scores. Here’s what they said…
KaraIsRad: She liked the 07 the best. It was followed closely by the 09 which barely edged out the 06.
Kara Thevegetarian: She also thought the 07 was the best, but she liked the 06 better than the 09.
Dave Thevegetarian: He was very much in my camp, scoring the 09 as the top wine (followed by the 06 and 07).
The takeaway for me was that this is a wine that can be consumed young. If you are going to hold it for a while (I had mine for 3 years), make sure that you store it properly. Put it in a cool place if you do not have a wine fridge, and keep them on their sides. Decanting for 15 minutes to a half and hour is a good idea. The 07 did start tasting off after a few hours, but again… I think it was doomed from the start. I am looking forward to tasting more wines from Ch. Ballan-Larquette.
What? MORE FOOD?!?!?
After the business of the night was done with, we had a really fun time hanging out. We even had a dance off.
Here is what my camera saw…
Good times, but now I’m hungry…
There are a few advantages to having summers off. One such advantage is having a ridiculous amount of time to kill.
The other day, I spent almost two hours at the Gilroy BevMo just looking at wine. Scoping the labels. Reading the blurbs. Scouting for deals.
A “deal” is NOT the same as a “sale”.
They are having their 5 cent sale right now. It’s a scam that will be discussed on another day.
By deal, I’m talking about value. A Rad wine at an equally Rad (if not Radder) price. With so much time on my hands, I found that the best deals (on paper) were in the Spain, Chile, and Argentina sections. I came across hella wines that were highly rated by the Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (Not Wilfred Wong! Again… will discuss on another day) that were in the 10 to 20 dollar range.
From that BevMo adventure, I ended up buying 3 bottles of wine. Of the bottles, the one that I am the most excited to taste is this bad boy…
The Mas Que Vinos 2007 Ercavio Tempranillo Roble cost me $10.99 and was given a 90+ rating by Robert Parker. Now, Gary Vaynerchuk would tell me to trust my own palate, but I must say that my palate usually agrees with that of Robert Parker. For 11 bucks, why not try it?
Now, it’s time to taste…
Color: This wine is a DARK ruby. There is a not quite rusty rose color along the outer edge of the glass.
Nose: One sniff of this tempranillo filled my mouth with cocoa powder. You know how you’ll be opening a packet of instant cocoa and a cloud of powder wafts up to your nose? THAT kind of cocoa powder. The chalkiness of the nose also reminds me of opening the box for a new bicycle tube. There is a green component to this wine as well. Slightly minty. A little like fresh lettuce from the garden. There is a deep note of plum.
Taste: I don’t want this to throw you off. My first thought in drinking this wine was of a grapefruit. Imagine that tart citrus component of a grapefruit. Now take away the mouth-puckering sour aspect. I guess I’d call it essence of grapefruit.
Now, take that grapefruit and dip it in chocolate. Delicious!
There is a lingering acidity. A little lime. There are some nice soft tannins that tell me this is as good as this wine is going to get.
This wine is a solid, confident, beast…
This wine makes me want food… Now! I want tacos. I want burgers. Bruschetta. Cheese. It is extremely versatile.
After my initial taste, I jumped up to raid the fridge. My initial thought was to grab some cheese. Since I was thinking about tacos, I grabbed some hard cotija cheese from Mexico (Literally! I flew down to Mexico just now to get this cheese).
While I was cutting the cheese (Childish joke. Though not intended… appreciated!) My mouth began to water with this flavor of caramel and chocolate (Rollos anyone?), so I grabbed some strawberries.
The saltiness of the cotija paired very well with the acidity of the wine. The strawberries did a great job of stepping up those chocolate notes.
This wine is a solid, food friendly, mo fo.
Considering that this is my first official review for this blog, I had a tough time scoring this wine. I must tell you that I loved it. You must also know that I doubt it has the structure to last another two years in the cellar. All I’m thinking right now, however, is that I want to go buy a whole case right now. I want to drink this wine with as many different food pairings as I can. It is THAT good. But… I’ve had better. But… It’s only 11 bucks.
I’ve got to tell you, I could not have asked for a better wine to score first for you. This is THE threshold for me. I’m giving it 90 points, and I’m telling you that you MUST try this.