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

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

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.


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 Wits End Cabernet Franc The Procrastinator

2006 Wits End Cabernet Franc The Procrastinator
Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale

Wine Rating: 92

Uncorked: 2008.07.02
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Wednesday, Wine No. 5

This was a BONUS WINE for the evening’s tasting, and what a bonus it was! Excellent wine!

After being sufficiently amused by the name of the vintner (Wit’s End) and the name of the wine (The Procrastinator), the group was introduced to Cabernet Franc. While it’s usually used as a blending wine in Bordeaux, the New World wine makers have discovered its substantial body, subtle texture, and deep flavors make a nice single varietal wine.

The color is deep red. The nose presents wonderful fruit aromas with ripe plum, strawberry, and currants. In the mouth it is beautifully balanced and full. The feel is silky smooth as the flavors wash over the mouth. Tart red berry fruits, cranberries, and even gooseberries are joined by lush ripe plum, chocolate, leather, and toasted oak. The finish is a bit short, but the flavors remain. Tannins are remarkably soft. This is a subtle, rich, balanced wine. This wine was certainly the surprise of the evening.

$20.69 widely available

2005 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz

2005 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz
Australia, South Australia

Wine Rating: 92

Uncorked: 2008.07.02
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Wednesday, Wine No. 3

We didn’t have the luxury of a decanter and that fact really diminished this wine. It is young, brash, and huge. It needed some breathing time and space to be tamed for our glasses, but we were impatient and forged ahead. This might be the strongest and most interesting Bin 389 in several years.

It is a beautiful color. Dark purple, almost like India ink. The aromas didn’t wait for the glass to reach the nose – bold fruit of black currants, blueberries, and ripe blackberries, smoky spices, and cooked fennel or licorice smells. The solid structure of the Cabernet (53%) and the exuberant fruitiness of the Shiraz (47%) meld together to make an enormous mouthful of wine. This is hearty stuff! It opens up in the mouth with spicy dark fruit, tobacco, leather, and hints of chocolate. Nice oak with cedar sweetness. The tannins are firm but not overpowering, and will certainly soften with good bottle aging. This wine will be spectacular in 10-12 years, and is really a bit young to drink for another couple of years.

This would be a great bottle of wine to start a collection with – buy it, hold on to it for a few years, THEN pop the cork and enjoy something really special.

$26.99 widely available

[yellow tail] Throwdown!

[yellow tail]. It’s everywhere. It’s extraordinarily popular. In 2005 this Australian winery produced more than 11 million cases of wine (yes, that’s more than 132,000,000 bottles of wine). There is more of this wine imported into the United States than all of the wines from France combined. More than 2 million glasses of [yellow tail] are consumed in the world every day. With this much wine being sold it simply MUST be good, right?

Wine connoisseurs (aka snobs) refer to [yellow tail] with great disdain. It is the antithesis to good wine. Its chemical aromas and overly sweet, fruity flavors should never grace the inside of a Riedel stem.

But this wine sells! Do we Americans really lack that much discrimination? We don’t really fall for sophisticated marketing, product placement, label design, price point, and market saturation, DO WE??? We would not permit our wine palates to be manipulated by engineered product, WOULD WE??? It is precisely these things as well as the sweet, fruity flavors that have lured consumers that have little or no wine expertise into the uncorking (unscrewing) of countless bottles of [yellow tail]. Did I mention that the makers of this wine add sugar to the wine to make it sweeter?

Ok, so now I’m sounding like a wine snob.

The project at this evening’s wine tasting was a [yellow tail] THROWDOWN. Since it’s the most popular wine in America, let’s see if people really like it when it is compared side by side with other wines. We did a semi-blind tasting. People knew that [yellow tail] was going to be served, they just didn’t know which wine it would be. So there were four wines each served without disclosing what it was. One was [yellow tail] Cabernet Sauvignon. As a control in the experiment, we also served a decent California Cabernet Sauvignon just to show what a Cabernet “should” taste like (which, admittedly, is very subjective). The final two wines were chosen because of their price and wide availability. They are approximately the same price as [yellow tail], but the wine snobs (me) actually drink these bargains, claiming that they are actually really good wines. So here’s the lineup in the order they were actually served:

    2007 [yellow tail] Cabernet Sauvignon
    2005 Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
    2006 Perrin & Fils Cotes du Rhone Reserve
    2006 d’Arenberg The Stump Jump Grenache – Shiraz – Mourvedre

And the winner is? In this order of preference by the esteemed panel of tasters:

    #1 – Avalon Cabernet
    #2 – The Stump Jump
    #3 – Perrin Cotes du Rhone
    #4 – [yellow tail] Cabernet

It is very important to point out, however, that [yellow tail] was the number one choice of three of our tasters. I haven’t decided whether or not they are invited back tomorrow evening. Two others preferred it over the Perrin Cotes du Rhone. It was a close race to first between the Avalon and the Stump Jump. Both were well-liked.

We had four other wines after the blind tasting, also in the under-$10 category. There were some really enjoyable wines, including one in that new eco-friendly cartons with milk carton-like spout. I’ll write reviews of all of the wines from this evening, but to round out this posting the other wines were:

    2006 Bandit Cabernet Sauvignon (the one in the box – Thank you, Stephen!)
    2005 Poliziano Rosse di Montepulciano (yummy!!! Thanks, Cory!)
    2005 Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel Sonoma County (Pepper! Thanks, Barbara!)
    2006 Marquis Philips Shiraz (we liked it tonight!)

    With a great deal of thanks to our esteemed panel of judges, we must officially dethrone the [yellow tail] from its place of prominence (at least in terms of appeal as a wine). To be sure, some folks really like this wine. Drink it! I hope you’ll discover what you like and truly enjoy it. For those who didn’t care for the [yellow tail], we’ve given literally dozens of alternatives in the under $10 wines that are more than just drinkable – they are actually excellent wines.

    I’m working hard at getting all of the reviews done. There is a lot of wine to review… I promise I’ll get them all posted! I raise my glass to each of you – those who shared these wines tonight, and those who share with us vicariously through this blog…

2004 Yalumba Shiraz-Viognier Barossa

2004 Yalumba Shiraz-Viognier Barossa
Australia, South Australia, Barossa

Wine Rating: 90

Uncorked: 2008.06.30
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Monday, Wine No. 2

95% Shiraz – 5% Viognier

Deep, dark purple color in the glass. The nose was surprising given the wine’s dark color, but it burst with floral aromas (that’s a big contribution of the Viognier to this wine). Along with flowers there are potent dark fruits, a bit of spice, and oak in the nose. The wine is pretty big in the mouth with bursts of ripe fruit – blackberry, plum, and blueberries. The mouth feel is round and pleasing. It’s a fruit-forward, bold, mouthful of wine. Slightly over oaked for my taste. The finish was long and well layered with substantial enough tannins for this to lie down and mellow a bit in the bottle over the next 3-5 years.

$14.99 widely available

2006 Pillar Box Red

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

Wine Rating:  91

Uncorked: 2008.06.30
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Monday, Wine No. 1

50% Shiraz – 42% Cabernet Sauvignon – 8% Merlot

A bit surprisingly this wine was a crowd pleaser.  It’s big and assertive, and “in your face” kind of wine.  There is no mistaking this for a Shiraz (in spite of its Cabernet and Merlot components) and it’s made in a bold and sassy style.  The wine is really dark — an inky purple color.  It’s beautiful in the light.  On the nose there is lots of fruit — red raspberries, strawberry, and ripe plum.  There’s almost a candy store licorice small, but it’s definitely not off-putting.  in the mouth it bursts with flavor.  It’s explosive with red fruits, ripe plum, cola, and pepper.  For all the assertiveness, though, it is remarkably balanced.  The tannins are bold but not overpowering, the alcohol (15%!) burns a bit but balances the ripeness of the fruit, and the finish lingers with appropriate oak and humus (yes, there is a definite terroir in this one).  It’s a mouthful, and it’s a joy to drink.  Next time I’ll leave it in the bottle for another year or two, and decant it for at least an hour.  Extraordinary value.

$10.79  widely available

2001 Mount Horrocks Riesling Cordon Cut
















2001 Mount Horrocks Riesling Cordon Cut
Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Clare Valley

Wine Rating:  92

Uncorked: 2008.04.18 – Joyce Davis 80th Birthday Dinner

Nice dessert wine experience. Beautiful bright gold color, almost orange. In the nose there is lots of honey, melon, citrus, and slight minerality. The flavors wash over the mouth with luscious peach, sweet pear, and deep honey flavors. Nice acidic finish to balance the sweetness.

$18.99 375ml  Mustard Seed Market, Solon, Ohio

2004 Greg Norman Shiraz Limestone Coast

Greg Norman Shiraz

2004 Greg Norman Shiraz Limestone Coast
Australia, South Australia, Limestone Coast

Wine Rating:  87     Wine Spectator Rating: 88

Uncorked: 2007.08.28

Bright color of a young wine — medium ruby tone. Very pretty. The nose is all fruit — juicy blackberry, ripe plum with very faint spicy hints. In the mouth it’s surprisingly silky with only a moderate tannin bump near the finish. Fruit again prevails with rich, deep cherry, blackberry, and dark plum. Just a little spice/pepper. Finish is a little hot. Very drinkable and a good value.


2002 Peter Lehmann Clancy’s Red

Clancy’s Red

2002 Peter Lehmann Clancy’s Red
Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley

Wine Rating:  90

Uncorked: 2007.08.22  Jeff’s Birthday Dinner – served with cheese course
I like this blend — 54% Shiraz, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. It’s nose is less than expected for this big blend — aromas of dark berries and cedar. But in the mouth it explodes with fruit and texture. The dark berries continue in the taste along with ripe cherries, cranberry, plum, and spice. There is definitely deep wood in the flavor along with a slight earthiness — a bit surprising in a more new world style wine. Very soft in the mouth and a medium finish. Many levels in the taste of this wine. Good value for this level of complexity.

$14.99  Costco

2005 Kilikanoon Shiraz The Lackey

The Lackey

2005 Kilikanoon Shiraz The Lackey – Australia, South Australia

Wine Rating:  90     wine advocate 90

2007.06.19 – CTS DMin Happy Hour

Richly colored with huge nose. Berry fruit on the nose with hints of leather and cedar. In the mouth very big and chewy. Classic South Australian Shiraz with cherries, blackberries, chocolate and smokey wood in the mouth. Very nicely done.

$12.49  DeKalb Farmers Market, Decatur, GA

2003 Howard Park Shiraz Madfish

2003 Madfish Shiraz

2003 Howard Park Shiraz Madfish – Australia, Western Australia

Wine Rating:  89

2007.06.19 – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Dark and dense ruby color. Gentle nose with aromas of blackberry and wood. Berries, licorice, pepper, and mushroomy earth on the palate. Fruit-forward but solid finish. Surprisingly concentrated and supple.

$13.49  DeKalb Farmers Market, Decatur, GA

2005 d’Arenberg The Stump Jump GSM

The Stump Jump GSM

2005 d’Arenberg The Stump Jump Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvèdre – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale

Wine Rating:  88     wine advocate 88

2007.06.20 – CTS DMin Happy Hour
This wine just does not disappoint.  While new world in style, definitely Rhone in character.  The nose is light with fresh berries and herbs.  Fruit-forward with dark cherries and berries.  Round enough for a young wine, and needs to be enjoyed early.  Not enough in the back end to live in the bottle too long.

$9.99  Sherlocks Wine Merchant, Atlanta, GA