Two Summer Rosés: Kaena & Tercero

While we didn’t slice any watermelon, we had the chance last evening to enjoy and compare two of my favorite Central Coast Rosés with some discerning friends. It was a warm summer evening here in NE Ohio and the wines were well-chilled. Both wines were a hit and the differences in the two wines was appreciated.  The wines were the perfect excuse to gather some friends and neighbors on our front porch, demonstrating once again the way the wine can help bring people together and generate conversations and experiences that begin with the wine itself and then propel into deeper parts of our lives.  Simple summer wine creating community!  Love it!

 Here are the wines:

Kaena Label 

2010 Kaena Grenache Rosé

USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley

Wine Rating: 92

Uncorked: 2011.07.03   Drank with friends on the front porch

Served well-chilled on a warm summer afternoon on the porch with friends. Gorgeous salmon color with ripe raspberry and watermelon fruit in the nose. Crisp, aromatic, and layers of flavors. Fruit hints in the nose carry through the palate with added complexity of dark, juicy blackberry or ripe plum. The sensation in the mouth is wonderful — fresh fruit flavors with bright, crisp acidity, followed by a surprising plunge into an almost rich flavor and texture sensation. The wine didn’t stay at the top of my palate — it went deeper than I expected with a bright, crisp rose. Everything about this wine is balanced, textured, refreshing, bright, and wonderful. It has risen quickly to be one of my favorite summer rosés!

$18.00  Kaena Wine Company

Kaena Wine Company Website

Tercero Rose 2009

2009 Tercero Grenache|Mourvèdre Rosé

USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County

Wine Rating: 90

Uncorked: 2011.07.03  Drank with friends on the front porch

This wine is consistently one of my favorite warm summer day sippers. It is bright and beautiful in color, aromas, and flavors. Strawberries and watermelon with crisp acidity and brightness. There is subtlety in the flavors of this wine that I almost hate to mute with food pairings — I enjoy drinking this one on its own, though it is a great match with cheeses, salads, and light fish. It remains a top choice for warm summer evenings on the back deck.

$15.00 Tercero Wines

Tercero Wines Website

2005 Château Greysac

2005 Château Greysac
France, Bordeaux, Médoc

Wine Rating: 89

Uncorked: 2009.12.23 Wine to sip through the evening, pizza dinner
Easy drinking Medoc and a steal at $9.89 (after case discount). A bit tight right out of the bottle, but fairly expressive after a few hours. Cherry, plum, tobacco, and cedar in the nose. Ripe fruit in the mouth with dark earthiness. Tannins are a bit thin. Nicely balanced but fiarly simple. Excellent QPR. Glad I bought a case.

$10.99 (case price = $9.89; normally approx. $25.00) Chuck’s Fine Wines

Chuck’s Fine Wines Website

2006 Tercero Grenache/Mourvedre Rose

Tercero Rose 2006

2006 Tercero Grenache/Mourvedre Rose
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County

Wine Rating: 88

Uncorked: 2009.09.11 Dinner on the Deck – served with grilled salmon & shrimp
I’ve been drinking several of the wines I discovered on my visit this summer in the Santa Ynez Valley. Some of the wines won’t find their way into these reviews for several years, but at least a case of the wine that came home with me is intended to be enjoyed in these final days of summer and early fall.

So there have been several notes about Larry Schaffer’s Tercero Wines. I have to say, this is a winemaker to watch out for. He is working magic with the fruit of the Santa Ynez Valley (with is a treasure to begin with), bringing a purity and clarity to wine that is pretty unique. His wines are an extension of the vineyard — good fruit into the process, tending it carefully, and bringing to the glass a wonderful sip of the Valley itself. Seriously — I taste the Santa Ynez Valley in every sip of these wines. But it’s not old musty “terroir” — it is the freshness and life of the vineyards and valley. Combine that purity and place with a luxurious feel in the mouth, and you’ve got Larry’s wines.

This wine is one of the first two wines that Larry Schaffer made. If he weren’t so ernest and honest, I wouldn’t believe him. This wine tastes like it was made by an experienced master. Yet it is fresh in style and exudes accessibility. It’s no surprise, then, that this is the third or fourth wine from Tercero that I have written about in the past few weeks. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I REALLY like these wines! The only reason I’d tell you to not go buy every bottle you can find (mostly from the winemaker himself — they’re small production and not yet widely available), it would be because I’m selfish and want to drink it all myself. It’s also an amazing bargain. GO BUY THIS WINE. On with the tasting notes…

Soft in color. texture, and flavors. Not wimpy, but gentle with a good backbone. Very well balanced in the nose and mouth. Citrus, honey, and strawberry on the nose. Cashmere feeling in the mouth with fresh summer fruit flavors and firm acid that make for a wonderfully balanced, easy drinking, summer wine. Wonderful to drink on the deck on a warm afternooon. Went very well with grilled salmon and shrimp.

$12.00 (special pricing right now for like $10) purchased from the winery

Tercero Wines Website

1992 Château Bel-Air (Domaines Henri Martin)

Chateau Bel Air

1992 Château Bel-Air (Domaines Henri Martin)
France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc

Wine Rating: 83

Uncorked: 2009.09.04 Dinner with Neighbors
This poor little bottle had been forgotten in the cellar. I’ve got a couple more down there — an ’88 and a ’94. These are pretty simple, low-end Bordeaux bottlings, but it’s always fun to find forgotten bottles, and interesting to endulge in a bit of mystery since it’s hard to know what’s gone in under the cork over these several years.

We had dinner with some of our neighbors, and this was one of seveal wines we sampled. We opened the bottle and let it decant for about an hour. It was tight and a bit unwieldy. Not a crowd-pleaser, but I had a sense there was more to this little bottle than the turned-up noses as we first tasted the wine. So I drank it over the next three days. This was a good example of “good things come to those who wait.” While the wine never became anything extraordinary, it was fun to see that this little bottle wasn’t just going to roll over and be forgotten.

Obviously beyond prime, but surprising how it balanced out on day 3. Aromas of dark chocolate, elderberries, and smoke. Soft feel in the mouth with skin-on plum, currant, and bell pepper flavors. Softened but ripe tanins endured through a moderate finish. Remarkably easy to drink, even in its twilight.

I encourage even novice wine drinkers to find a couple of bottles that can be hidden away for a few years. It is a treat to see how wines develop over time. This one went beyond its best drinking window, but how fun it was to blow off the dust, wake it up a bit, and let it give the gifts of aromas and flavors that have been bottled up for fifteen or sixteen years.

$8.00 in 1994

2008 Total Depravity Riesling

Total Depravity Riesling 2008

2008 Total Depravity Riesling
Produced and Cellared in Solon, OH – fruit sourced from Washington

Rating: too biased to rate, but it ought to be at least a 90

Uncorked: 2009.07.06
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Wine Tastings
Monday, Wine No. 1

I thought we should start the tastings with something a bit unique… something that’s boutique, difficult to find. So I opened a bottle of Total Depravity Riesling – a wine I made. It was bottled just this past weekend just for this occasion.

There is truly no way for me to offer an objective review of this wine, but it’s pretty darn good! It’s fairly typical of a Washington Riesling, which isn’t so bad. It is off-dry and best served chilled, though the aromas and flavors become more pronounced as it warms up a bit. Slightly floral with a nose full of ripe pear and citrus. Not much minerality. In the mouth it is more soft than crisp, again consistent with the Washington source of the fruit. Lush apples, pears, and apricot flavors with hints of sweet grapefruit. It finishes with a nice acidic bump to leave the mouth with a soft yet balanced finish. A bit sweet, but it was made for my mother-in-law, so what can I say? It’s easy to drink on a warm summer afternoon!

$priceless available only from the winemaker

2007 Clean Slate Riesling

Clean Slate Riesling

2007 Clean Slate Riesling
Mosel, Germany

Rating: 87

Uncorked: 2009.07.06
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Wine Tastings
Monday, Wine No. 2

Provided by Stephen

Excellent QPR for an easy drinking, slightly sweet German Riesling. Very light color – almost clear. Minerals and citrus on the nose with hints of honeysuckle. Plenty of fruit and floral aromas that carry into the flavors of this wine. The mouthfeel is velvety and smooth. Pears, sweet lemon, nectarine, lavender, and mineral/slate flavors with hints of wildflower honey. Nicely acidic to balance the sweet flavors and offer a bit of crisp tartness, particularly on the finish. Nice wine for a summer afternoon.

$9.99 widely available

2007 Total Depravity Pinot Noir

Total Depravity Pinot Noir 2007

2007 Total Depravity Pinot Noir
Produced and Cellared in Solon, OH – juice sourced from California

Rating: too biased to rate

Uncorked: 2009.07.06
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Wine Tastings
Monday, Wine No. 3

I can’t say a whole lot about this wine since I made it myself. It was part of the 2007 vintage – my first. Not particularly good wine, but it was fun to make and certainly fun to share with friends. But I can honestly say, it’s much better than the wine that can be purchased commercially for around two dollars! But in honor of Jean Calvin’s 500th birthday later this week, we simply had to uncork a few bottles of Total Depravity this week.

$priceless available only from the winemaker

CTS Wine Ministry 2009 – Overview

Wine Ministry

It was a great week at CTS with a community of friends, some good theological thoughts, and plenty of wine flowing. Thanks to all who participated in the fellowship of the overflowing chalice!

I will post a bit more information and reviews of each of the wines we tasted, but for now here is a listing of the four tastings we shared. Leave a note on this or the other postings to let me know your favorite wines as well as your memories of the week we shared. Check back soon for the wine notes…

Monday, July 6, 2009
Theme: Warming Up the Palates

1 – 2008 Total Depravity Riesling [Ohio/Washington] $priceless
2 – 2007 Clean Slate Riesling Shared by Stephen [Germany] $9.99
3 – 2007 Total Depravity Pinot Noir [Ohio/California] $priceless
4 – 2002 Pillitteri Estates Gamay Noir Family Reserve [Canada] $32.99
5 – 2002 Kacaba Vineyards Meritage [Canada] $36.99

Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Theme: Vertical Tasting of California Rhone Varietals

1 – 2005 Zaca Mesa Syrah [California] $23.00
2 – 2004 Zaca Mesa Syrah [California] $23.00
3 – 2006 Gainey Vineyard Syrah [California] $24.00
4 – 2005 Gainey Vineyard Syrah [California] $24.00
5 – 2004 Gainey Vineyard Syrah Limited Selection [California] $38.00
6 – 2002 Gainey Vineyard Syrah [California] $22.00

Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Theme: The Variety of White Wines – Find One for Your Palate

1 – 2008 Black Mountain Pinot Grigio Shared by Stephen [California] $5.99
2 – 2008 Greenhough Sauvignon Blanc [New Zealand] $15.99
3 – 2007 Shoo Fly Buzz Cut (white blend) Shared by Lisa [Australia] $10.99
4 – 2006 Sonoma Vineyards Chardonnay (unoaked) [California] $14.99
5 – 2007 Newton Chardonnay Napa/Sonoma Counties [California] $18.99
6 – 2007 Domaine Pichot Vouvray Domaine Le Peu de la Moriette [France] $14.99
7 – NV Botter Prosecco Vino Spumante [Italy] $14.99
8 – 2008 Ceretto I Vignaioli Santo Stefano Moscato d’Asti [Italy] $24.99

Bonus Wine:
9 – 2008 Project Happiness Chardonnay Shared by Bryan [California] $5.99

Preview of Thursday’s blending seminar:
10 – 2003 Clos du Bois Marlstone (Bordeaux style blend) [California] $39.99

Thursday, July 9, 2009
Theme: Bordeaux-Style Blending Seminar

1 – 2008 Total Depravity Riesling [Ohio/Washington] $priceless
2 – 2008 Muga Rioja Rose [Spain] $12.99
3 – 2005 Celler de Capçanes Montsant Mas Donis Barrica Shared by ??? [Spain] $12.99
4 – 2006 Domaine “la Garrigue” Côtes du Rhône [France] $15.99
5 – 2007 Layer Cake Primitivo Zinfandel Shared by Lisa [Italy] $13.99
6 – 2006 Santa Rita Merlot Reserva Shared by ??? [Chile] $9.99

Samples of Bordeaux-Style Blends from Around the World
7 – 2001 Rosemount Traditional [Australia] $29.99
8 – 2001 Creekside Laura’s Blend Meritage [Canada] $18.99
9 – 2002 Chateau Peyre-Lebade (Rothchild) Bordeaux Haut-Medoc [France] $24.99
10 – 2006 Steltzner Claret [California] $16.99

Blending Wines (components of Bordeaux/Meritage):
11 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (barrel sample) [California] $23.00 (prerelease)
12 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Merlot (barrel sample) [California] $19.00 (prerelease)
13 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Cabernet Franc (barrel sample) [California] not sold retail
14 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Malbec (barrel sample) [California] not sold retail
15 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Petit Verdot (barrel sample) [California] not sold retail

Prize Wine & Finale Tasting:
16 – 2001 Le Sillage de Malartic Bordeaux Pessac-Léognan [France] $29.99

Extra – Just for Fun
17 – NV Riondo Prosecco (with a sliced strawberry in the glass!) [Italy] $12.99

2006 Henry’s Drive Pillar Box Red

2006 Henry’s Drive Pillar Box Red
Australia, South Australia, Limestone Coast, Padthaway

Wine Rating: 91

Uncorked: 2008.07.06
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Sunday, Wine No. 4

This was actually a rerun – our second bottle of Pillar Box Red. We still like this wine a lot! Read the review here: Pillar Box Red.

$10.79 widely available

2005 Greg Norman California Estates Petite Sirah

2005 Greg Norman California Estates Petite Sirah
California, Central Coast, Paso Robles

Wine Rating: 85

Uncorked: 2008.07.06
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Sunday, Wine No. 3
Shared by Barbara

The Grape & Its Wine
Petit Sirah should not be confused with Syrah – they are completely different grapes and wines. Originally created by crossing a little-known Rhone grape, Peloursin, with Rhone’s noble Syrah, the resulting grape is known as Durif – from which Petit Sirah is made. The grapes are “petit” – that is, they are smaller than the average vinifera grape. This results in a greater skin-to-juice ratio and leads to more tannin in the juice. Carefully made Petit Sirahs therefore have the potential for deep flavors and long shelf life.

The Wine Maker
Greg Norman’s wine industry extends beyond his native Australia. This Petit Sirah is made in Napa Valley from vineyards Norman owns in California’s Central Coast. Consider the geography of the wine – Australian roots, Central Coast grapes, Napa winemaking. The result is both multivalent and, one could surmise, somewhat generic. Enough prologue…

The Wine
This wine is medium-bodied and presents with sweet cherry and pepper in the nose. After the initial alcohol heat in the back of the mouth, flavors of red fruits (sweet cherry, raspberry), blueberry, and plum give way to a very mild, almost flat mid-palate. The flavors reemerge with toast, spice, vanilla, and cedar. The tannins are a bit overpowering on the medium-length finish. The wine is a decent value, but there are so many Petit Sirahs with more character and balance. This wine is easily accessible and would serve well with food off the grill.

$11.99 widely available

2004 Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Crianza

2004 Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Crianza
Spain, La Rioja, Rioja

Wine Rating: 87

Uncorked: 2008.07.06
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Sunday, Wine No. 2
Shared by Lisa R.

Rioja is probably Spain’s signature wine. Rioja is characterized by its long aging in oak barrels. The Crianzas are the youngest of the Riojas, reflecting the flavors and style of their bigger reserve and gran reserve siblings, but without the structure and depth of the long barrel aging. What results is a vibrant and easy-drinking wine with plenty of fruit, spice, and earthiness.

The Montecillo is typical of Crianzas. Its color is bright garnet with an effusive bouquet of ripe berries and sweet oak. In the mouth there is lots of flavor – cherries, cranberries, and roasted peppers. The oak flavors are somewhat muted and it finishes with soft tannins that are almost musty. Nice layers of flavor and lots of wine for the money. Will go well with pizza, roasted meats, and grilled veggies.


$9.99 widely available

2006 Marquis Philips Shiraz

2006 Marquis Philips Shiraz
Australia, South Eastern

Wine Rating: 88

Uncorked: 2008.07.06
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Sunday, Wine No. 1

This is another fairly typical Aussie Shiraz with ripe fruit in the nose and on the palate. I am aware that other tasters of this wine rate it much higher, but it is too ordinary for me to give it 90+ points. Still, it is an excellent QPR (Quality Price Ratio) wine that makes a very nice “ordinary” wine for the table.

Aromas of very ripe fruit –black cherry, strawberries, and plum along with pencil lead and well-worn leather. In the mouth the jammy fruit is predominant – dark cherry, plum, and blackberry. Lots of mocha flavors and hints of chocolate. Some earthiness and wet wood in mid-palate. The finish is long and brash with bright tannins and lingering flavors of pepper and spice.

$9.99 widely available

2007 Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec Alamos

2007 Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec Alamos
Argentina, Mendoza

Wine Rating: 89

Uncorked: 2008.07.05
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Saturday, Wine No. 6
Shared by Paul C.

This was the favorite wine of this evening’s tasting, and was nearly the unanimous #1 pick of the flight. It is an outstanding value, as many of the Argentine Malbecs have become. I highly recommend this wine with its excellent QPR (Quality Price Ratio).

The color is very purple and dark. The nose is full of ripe fruit, spice, toast, and earth. The mouth is where the youthfulness of the wine is apparent. It is bold and brash with vibrant fruit and almost rustic flavors. Chewy mouth-feel with ripe blackberry, juicy cherry, and dark plum followed by hints of chocolate and espresso. There is definite earthiness in the flavors of this wine with wet wood and rich, loamy soil. Long finish with nice spice and velvety tannins.

$9.99 widely available

2004 Celler de Capçanes Montsant Mas Donís Barrica

2004 Celler de Capçanes Montsant Mas Donís Barrica
Spain, Catalunya, Tarragona, Montsant

Wine Rating: 90

Uncorked: 2008.07.05
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Saturday, Wine No. 4
Shared by Paul C.

This is a wine we simply did not have the time to appreciate. It should have been decanted for at least a couple of hours, but we drank it right from the bottle. My goodness this is a spectacular wine.

The nose is a bit spicy with dark fruit aromas – ripe plums and blackberries. It had a bit of earthiness, almost portabella mushrooms. The mouth is huge and silky. Big berry flavors and dark fruit. It has a big flavor bump in the middle of the palate with emerging minerality and soil. The finish is long and dry with moderate tannins. The wine is almost chewy, and would certainly have opened up even more flavors had we decanted. It’s a great value for this much flavor.

$11.99 widely available

2005 Boutinot Côtes du Ventoux Chat-en-Oeuf

2005 Boutinot Côtes du Ventoux Chat-en-Oeuf
France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Ventoux

Wine Rating: 88

Uncorked: 2008.07.05
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Saturday, Wine No. 3

I am always cautious of cutely named wines – and this one certainly is clever (Chat-en-Oeuf translates “Cat-in-Egg” or “Cat-on-Egg” as the label illustration shows), and is a nod to its style namesake Chateneuf du Pape. While this is no premium CdP, it is a very tasty and affordable table wine.

The color is a bright ruby red. Aromas of red cherries, raspberries and pepper. It is fairly light in the mouth, but not thin. Flavors of cherry, blackberry, and strawberry with some spice and leather. The finish is medium and the tannins are mild. The flavors opened up and balanced with a bit of breathing out of the bottle.

It’s a wine to be consumed young. Excellent value and easy to recommend as an everyday table wine.

$8.99 widely available

2005 Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti

2005 Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti
Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Barbera d’Asti

Wine Rating: 87

Uncorked: 2008.07.05
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Saturday, Wine No. 2

This is a nice “pizza wine” or “pasta wine” with excellent QPR (Quality Price Ratio). It is smooth and simple with a medium body. Lots of fruit on the nose with muted steminess and soil. Tart cherry is the first flavor in the mouth, but quickly opens up with strawberry, plum, and cranberry. Hints of tobacco and licorice follow with a fairly short, tart finish.

Where the Bridgman Viognier was preferred by the women in the tasting, this Barbera d’Asti was the wine they liked least of all. The guys liked its bright, tart flavors, though clearly not the most preferred wine of this tasting.

$13.99 widely available

2006 W. B. Bridgman Cellars Viognier Yakima Valley

2006 W. B. Bridgman Cellars Viognier Yakima Valley
Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley

Wine Rating: 87

Uncorked: 2008.07.05
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Saturday, Wine No. 1
Shared by Lisa R.

Crisp aromas and flavors made this a nice wine to begin our tasting this evening. The nose has nice peach and apricot with floral and mineral overtones. More peach, flowers, and wet stone flavors in the mouth. Crisp acidity along with the typical Viognier flavors give this wine some good interest. More popular among the women in the tasting group, it is a nice wine to serve slightly chilled on a warm summer afternoon with fruit and light cheese.

$12.99 widely available

2005 Château Pesquié Côtes du Ventoux Les Terrasses

2005 Château Pesquié Côtes du Ventoux Les Terrasses
France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Ventoux

Wine Rating: 92

Uncorked: 2008.07.04
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Thursday, Wine No. 3
Shared b y Paul C.

This wine is, of course, a fixture at Casa de P-D. We love this wine. It has all the flavors of some of the best Cotes du Rhone at a fraction of the price. Being just south in the Ventoux region gives this wine the disadvantage of not being a “true” Cotes du Rhone, but it makes it an extremely good value.

The 2005 gets a one-point rating increase over the 2004. There is just more flavor in the bottle. It is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah, all picked from old vine growth.

Deep ruby color. Had to open up a bit, but soon the nose exploded with cherries, plum, cedar and leather. Concentrated flavors of ripe cherry, strawberry, and blackberry with a smooth, round mouthfeel. Notes of licorice, spice, and white pepper. The tannins are soft and well integrated. There are hints of some stems and earth on the finish. The wine has lots of layers, plenty of flavors, a real treat for the palate.

It should probably be drunk young as the tannins are pretty soft now. Perhaps 2 or 3 years in the bottle at the most. But it is so drinkable now, I’m not sure that it will improve much. Excellent value.

$12.99 widely available

2004 Marquis Philips Roogle Red

2004 Marquis Philips Roogle Red
South Eastern Australia

Wine Rating: 75 biased rating – see later review

Uncorked: 2008.07.04
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Thursday, Wine No. 2

At this point in the week, and with only a handful of us tasting on this Fourth of July, I think we have become snobs. We sipped this fairly well-rated wine, turned up our noses, and actually poured it out. We all agreed that it was the first real “dud” of this series of wine tastings.

Stay tuned on this wine, however. I resealed the bottle and we tried it again, blind, later in the week. The results were certainly interesting! We rated it significantly higher… So perhaps ignore this particular rating for this wine.

$9.99 widely available

2006 Water Wheel Memsie

2006 Water Wheel Memsie
Australia, Victoria, Central Victoria, Bendigo

Wine Rating: 88

Uncorked: 2008.07.04
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Friday, Wine No. 1

An interesting blend of Shiraz (87%), Cabernet Sauvignon (7%), and Malbec (6%). It still has the typical Aussie “fruit bomb” flavors, but the wine opened up to some much more subtle flavors after some breathing time. I’d like to try this one again giving it the benefit of an hour or two in a decanter.

Lots of dark, ripe fruit in the nose with some hints of pepper and toast. Soft feel in the mouth, with juicy berries and dark plum exploding on the palate. Nice toasted oak flavors mid-palate followed by tobacco, tree bark, and spice. Finishes with firm tannins and a bit of heat. It didn’t hold together as well as I had hoped, but each of the varietal elements contributed to the flavors of the wine.


2006 Pascual Toso Malbec

2006 Pascual Toso Malbec
Argentina, Mendoza, Maipú

Wine Rating: 90

Uncorked: 2008.07.03
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Thursday, Wine No. 6

This Malbec is another standard at Casa de P-D. It is full of flavor and serves extremely well with lots of different foods. It’s one I love to sip will grilling and serve with meat and grilled veggies off the Big Green Egg. It is an extraordinary value and often sells out quickly. When you find it, buy several bottles. You’ll be glad you did.

The color is gorgeous – dark inky red/purple. The nose is opulent with dark aromas – black fruit, pepper, tobacco, mocha, smoke. The initial flavors in the mouth are deep, rich fruits – plum, blackberries, black currants, and blueberries. Spice, leather, and cola flavors emerge mid-palate along with a vegetal hint (bell peppers?). The medium finish is solid with ample tannins and a layered taper of flavors. There is a lot going on with this wine and an excellent QPR (Quality-Price Ratio).

I am tempted to try to keep my hands off a few of the bottles in the cellar to see how this would do over time. I am guessing it will become rounder and more subtle in its layers of flavors. The problem, though, is I love this wine even in its youth and am not sure I can leave it alone!

$15.99 Sherlock’s Wine Merchant, Dekalb Farmers Market
(can be found for $10-$12)

N.V. Riondo Prosecco Veneto IGT

N.V. Riondo Prosecco Veneto IGT
Italy, Veneto, Veneto IGT

Wine Rating: 89

Uncorked: 2008.07.03
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Thursday, Wine No. 4

Previously reviewed, reposted here and edited for the current tasting

This wine is always a crowd-pleaser at tastings. It is just fun to drink.

Simple nose with honeysuckle, apple, and baked pear, each of which continued in the mouth. Nice small bubbles. The mouthfeel is lucious for a wine of this price. The fruit is balanced with plenty of minerality and toast on the finish. Very nice on its own, and a “party for your mouth” with the addition of a strawberry slice! This wine is an excellent value and quite accessible for less experienced wine drinkers and makes a nice alternative for non-Champagne drinkers.

I don’t think the typical wine drinker can ever go wrong serving this to friends. And for around $10 it is an excellent value.

$10.69 widely available

2005 Nine Stones Shiraz Barossa Valley

2005 Nine Stones Shiraz Barossa Valley
Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley

Wine Rating: 88

Uncorked: 2008.07.03
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Thursday, Wine No. 2

This is a pretty typical Australian Shiraz from the Barossa Valley. The nose is huge with dark berries and plum with a bit of worn leather. In the mouth it is big, bold, and brash. It’s not refined. Rather, there are gobs of fruit flavors and big spices. Lots of ripe plum, dark strawberry, and grape jam flavors. Pepper and spicebox flavors emerge mid-palate. The finish is fairly tart and a bit hot. Big aromas and flavors, big alcohol, big tannins. We were looking for the textbook Aussie Shiraz and this provided a good sampling for us. It’s certainly a mouthful for $10!

$9.99 widely available

2006 J. Vidal-Fleury Côtes du Rhône

2006 J. Vidal-Fleury Côtes du Rhône
France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône

Wine Rating: 84

Uncorked: 2008.07.03
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Thursday, Wine No. 1
Shared by Paul C.

Light and fruity with distinct Syrah flavors. Young and a bit tight, opened up a bit in the glass. Lots of fruit in the nose, and almost a fruit bomb in the mouth. Nothing extraordinary, but for $6.99 from Trader Joe’s (and other markets) it’s a very good value and a decent table wine. Unfortunately, Paul paid a premium for this one at the Dekalb Farmers Market that sells it for $14.49. Good wine for $6.99, I’d pass on it for more than $10.

$6.99 Trader Joes, widely available

(Paul paid $14.49 at the Dekalb Farmers Market)

2006 McManis Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

2006 McManis Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine Rating: 86

Uncorked: 2008.07.02
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Wednesday, Wine No. 2

Nothing extraordinary about this wine, but it’s easy to drink and doesn’t demand much. Very dark purple in the glass – almost inky. The nose had some dark fruit and a very memorable smell of pencil shavings. It’s a fairly soft wine in the mouth with plenty of fruit – red currants, cherries, a bit of raspberry. It’s a little sweet in the mid-palate followed by a grand appearance of oak. The wine shows some steminess, minerality, and even some vegetal overtones – bell pepper perhaps. Fairly well balanced with smooth tannins on the finish.

$9.99 widely available