2008 Kaena Hapa

2008 Kaena Hapa
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley

Wine Rating: 93

Uncorked: 2011.07.02  Shared with friends in celebration of Barry & Mary’s 50th Anniversary and Renewal of Vows

An extraordinary wine for an extraordinary occasion — celebration of friends’ 50 years of marriage and renewal of their vows.  This wine is young and verile with layer upon layer of explosive aromas and flavors.  The Syrah and Grenache lead this wine with potent fruit and solid backbone — dark red cherry, blackberry, and ripe plum with deep earthiness.  The addition of Cabernet Sauvignon to this blend adds dimension and structure — a long finish with solid tanins.  Like a long marriage, this wine will develop, soften, and become more nuanced with time.  It is certainly “rarin’ to go” right out of the bottle and was wothy of the celebration for which it was opened.

$37.00 / $29.60 (club price)   from Mikael Sigouin (winemaker) at Kaena Wine Company

Kaena Wine Company Website

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

2007 Ampelos Pinot Noir Lambda

2007 Ampelos Pinot Noir Lambda Sta Rita Hills
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills

Wine Rating: 92

Uncorked: 2011.06.24  Dinner at home – served with grilled grass-fed tri-tip, grilled artichoke
The wine is clean and vibrant, almost ascetic or austere. It’s a “pure” tasting Pinot Noir that reflects the wine making intentions of Peter and Rebecca Work. Gorgeous fruit and balanced acidity, subtle oak and hints of SRH terroir. While the wine is a medium-bodied Pinot, it went perfectly with food off the Big Green Egg, particularly the grilled artichokes. A lovely wine and a valuable study in the essence of Pinot Noir.

I visited Rebecca Work at Ampelos again a week and a half ago.  She and her husband Peter inspire a fresh look and taste of old world wines made in a sustainable, biodynamic, and organic manner.  Eschewing more popular or market-friendly (i.e. consumer- and market-oriented or “grocery store”) styles of viticulture and wine making, they have made a commitment to gentle technique that does no harm to the wine, the vine, or the world in which we live.  The respect they demonstrate to each environment — the vineyard, the winery, the bottle, as well as the earth — is captured in the wine itself.  The wine compels reflection and respect in return.  But it’s not just an expression or an experiment — this is terrific wine made by people whose mission and vision I am honored to support.

Peter and Rebecca were both very helpful in my doctoral research.  I raise my glass this evening in thanks and with great respect for the wine making passions at Ampelos!

$35.00 / $29.75 (club price)   from the Ampelos Filos Wine Club

Ampelos Cellars and Vineyard Website

2006 Tercero Cuvee Christie

2006 Tercero Cuvee Christie
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County

Wine Rating: 92

Uncorked: 2011.06.19  Dinner at home – served with grilled grass-fed steak
Loved this wine with dinner tonight — it is perfectly mature and opulent. Served with grass fed beef New York strip steaks from the farmer’s market, grilled artichokes, and farm fresh corn on the cob. The food was big flavors with tender elements in each — and the wine was a perfect match. It is big, bold, juicy, peppery, and dark while at the same time elegant, layered, and mysterious. This wine is gorgeous, silky, vibrant, and rich. So glad there are several more bottles in the cellar!

$28.00  purchased from the winery

Tercero Wines Website

2008 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir Clone 667 La Encantada Vineyard


2008 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir Clone 667 La Encantada Vineyard
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills

Wine Rating: 93

Uncorked: 2008.08.18 Chesapeake Bay’s Eastern Shore – Julie’s Birthday Dinner
This wine immediately transports me to the Santa Ynez Valley. New World wines are not noted for their terroir, but this wine demonstrates that the ground from which the grapes grew CAN be captured even in the Santa Rita Hills. My nose was greeted by earthy aromas along with generous fruit and restrained oak. I couldn’t tarry long before sipping this wine — it beckoned to be tasted. The wine teased my mouth. Nothing was overblown or blatent. Everything about this wine is evocative. Cherries and ripe raspberries to be sure, but so much more — layer upon layer of fruit, loamy earth, spice, more fruit, and wet stones. Great balance and solid structure through the whole taste. Supple tannins with a lingering finish. The enchantment of “La Encantada” is evidenced in this bottle of wine.

$43.00 Alma Rosa Cellar Club

Alma Rosa Winery Website

2009 Tercero Gewürztraminer “The Outlier”

2009 Tercero Gewürztraminer “The Outlier”
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County

Wine Rating: 92

Uncorked: 2010.08.27 Just sipping on the front porch
The Outlier has become one of my favorite summer wines. It is the perfect choice for easy sipping on the back deck or for pairing with a fresh salad or cheese tray. Aromatic on the nose, bountiful in the mouth. Perfectly dry with an amazing amount of ripe fruit flavors — a magical feat of extracting all of the flavors of the grape and leaving nearly no sweetness. Stone fruit, citrus, and pear with lots of minerality. Nothing but enjoyment in this bottle of wine.

$20.00 Tercero Wines

Tercero Wines Website

2006 Evan’s Ranch Pinot Noir Clone 114 Lone Oak Vineyard

Evan's Ranch Pinot Noir

2006 Evan’s Ranch Pinot Noir Clone 114 Lone Oak Vineyard
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills

Wine Rating: 91

Uncorked: 2009.11.26 Thanksgiving Dinner
This was a fine pairing with the Thanksgiving meal of roasted foods. Beautiful ruby color as it cascaded into the decanter. Cherry, cranberry and sawdust on the nose. Plenty of body, complexity and firmness to stand up to the meal. Surprisingly dark flavors in this wine with concentrated black cherry and dark raspberry. Tree bark, cloves and allspice flavors bring a spiciness to the wine. Bigger than I expected with an almost loamy-like soil undertone. Rounded tannins with a long finish. Noteworthy wine.

$52.00 Evan’s Ranch Cellar Club [Gainey Vineyard]

Gainey Vineyard Website

2008 Tercero Grenache Blanc Camp 4 Vineyard

Tercero 2008 Grenache Blanc

2008 Tercero Grenache Blanc Camp 4 Vineyard
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley

Wine Rating: 90

Uncorked: 2009.08.13 Warm afternoon sipper
Delicious and elegant. Pale straw color. When cold the nose was a bit tight with lemon, green apple, minerals, and hints of pepper. Opened up with riper aromas of honeydew and stone fruit. Youthful and vibrant in the mouth. Bright and crisp citrus flavors dominate followed by nice tartness. Finishes with nice acidity. Very well balanced flavors, particularly for a wine this young. It is luscious with depth and texture in the mouth, yet remains refreshingly crisp. I could drink this all summer long. Extraordinary QPR.

$18.00 From Larry Schaffer himself after private tasting

Tercero Wines Website

2005 Fess Parker Syrah “The Big Easy”

Fess Parker 2005 Syrah Big Easy

2005 Fess Parker Syrah “The Big Easy”
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley

Wine Rating: 90

Uncorked: 2009.08.02
Davis family patio – served with grilled tri-tip, sipped into the night

Improved after being open for an hour or so. Very big in the nose with dark fruit aromas, vanilla, and some earthiness. In the mouth it lives up to its name, “The Big Easy.” Big fruit, but not over-extracted. Juicy plum, cherry, and dark berry flavors with a bit of spice. Very well balanced flavors and mouth feel. Finishes with solid tanins, and the alcohol was subdued with some breathing time. I was pleasantly surprised that this came from the Fess Parker Winery — they’re producing some fine wines these days.

$40.00 Fess Parker Winery

Fess Parker Winery Website

2008 Tercero Wines “The Outlier” Santa Barbara County

This is the first of many coming posts from an amazing three days in the Santa Ynez Valley.  I had the privilege to share wine and conversation with several amazing wine makers, including a few of whom I think are THE up-and-coming wine makers of the region.

It was a long drive home through LA traffic, but I’m now sitting on my Favorite Mother-in-Law’s back patio overlooking Long Beach and out over the Pacific Ocean.  It is night time, and the city lights twinkle right up to the coastline.  Next to me is my wonderful wife (who lovingly endured my endless conversations and wine passion of the last three days), and in my hand is an amazing glass of wine.  It, my friends, will be the first review from this extraordinary excursion…


Tercero 2008 The Outlier

2008 Tercero Wines “The Outlier” Santa Barbara County (Gewurztraminer)
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County

Wine Rating: 91

Uncorked: 2009.08.01
Sitting on the Davis patio after a great wine tasting adventure

Unusual dry Gewurztraminer. On the nose there is a nice balance of tart fruit, minerals, and floral aromas. It is a surprise in the mouth — very bright and clean, crisp and tart fruit flavors, hints of spice, subtle floral notes, and lots of minerals and earthiness. The flavors open up in the middle of the mouth with a wash of opulence – almost suede-like in the feel. Much more body in the mouth than expected. The finish continues through the bright finish. Excellent acid and clean tanins. Balance and elegance are the words forthis surprisingly delicious wine. I didn’t expect this from a Gewurztraminer. Will easily become a summer favorite.

$18.00 from Larry Schaffer himself

Tercero Wines Website

2002 Kacaba Vineyards Meritage

Kacaba Meritage 2002

 2002 Kacaba Vineyards Meritage
Canada, Niagara Peninsula

Rating: 91

Uncorked: 2009.07.06
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Wine Tastings
Monday, Wine No. 5

Beautiful in the glass – very dark garnet, almost black in color. Big, round nose with lots of spice, ripe cherries, and plum aromas. Gorgeous in the mouth with rich waves of flavors: ripe plum, blackberries, warm spices, and a bit of earth. Round flavors and feel in the mouth with a nice, long finish. Solid tannins. Alcohol is beginning to balance with some bottle age. Perhaps better with another 5 years in the bottle. The group liked this wine very much.

$36.99 purchased at the winery in 2007

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

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 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

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)

2005 Domaine Perilliere Côtes du Rhône Villages

2005 Domaine Perilliere Côtes du Rhône Villages
France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages

Wine Rating: 91

Uncorked: 2008.07.03
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Thursday, Wine No. 3

This has become one of our “table wines” at Casa de P-D. It’s a nice Cotes du Rhone with good depth and earthiness. Harvested from old vine Grenache, Syrah, and Mouvedre, the winemaker exploits the grapes for all of their intensity and flavors. It does well to open up a bit before serving in order to let it stretch and breathe.

Aromas of dark, ripe cherry and berries along with cedar, spice, and mocha. In the mouth its texture is smooth and flavors are dense. Ripe cherry, raspberry, blackberry, and cranberry flavors with spicy, peppery notes. The old world style is apparent with the distinct earthiness and wood flavors. The terroir of the Garde region of the Rhone Valley is subtly present. The finish is moderate with firm tannins.

At $16.99 it is a bit pricey for some people’s everyday wine, but it packs a lot into the bottle and is actually an excellent value. This is wine that, if you can keep your hands off it, can live in the cellar and improve over the next 2 or 3 years.


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 Chateau du Vieux Moulins de Chereau Montagne-Saint Emilion

2005 Chateau du Vieux Moulins de Chereau Montagne-Saint Emilion
France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Montagne-St. Émilion

Wine Rating: 93

Uncorked: 2008.07.02
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Wednesday, Wine No. 4

This wine was lovely, elegant, and refined. We had gone through some New World renditions of Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington, California, and Australia, and then came home to Bordeaux. We were not disappointed by the crafting of this wine.

Delightful deep ruby red color with tinges of lavender. Nice aromatic layers of dark ripe fruits (black currants, blackberries, and plum), figs, cedar, leather, and hummus. In the mouth it created a round, full experience. The dark fruits continued in the flavors and were joined by chocolate, coffee, tobacco, and well-integrated toasty oak. The flavors in the mouth lasted much longer than expected, and seamlessly finished with firm, rounded tannins.

The wine is still a bit young and could have opened up more before we enjoyed it. It will improve over the next 5-7 years. This is an affordable yet exquisite example of 2005 Bordeaux. Extraordinary value.


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

2006 Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha Calatayud

2006 Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha Calatayud
Spain, Aragón, Calatayud

Rating: 92

Uncorked: 2008.07.01
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Tuesday, Wine No. 4

Provided by Paul C.

We finished off this second evening of wine tasting with a winner. All of the wines have been good tonight, but this is a great closer. Like the relief pitcher at the end of an exciting game, this wine comes on strong and focused.

Interestingly, Garnacha is the Spanish version of the Rhone varietal Granache. But the Spanish embolden the soft and fruity grape and make something very different from the subtle, textured Rhones.

The grapes for this wine are from 70-100 year old vines grown at high altitude in the rocky mountains of Aragon. This imparts particularly concentrated flavors in the wine. It’s as though you can smell the mountains and the earthy soil along with dark, ripe berries and spice. In the mouth it is enormous. It is thick, peppery, and tight at the initial taste, then opens up with explosive bursts of ripe black cherries, plum, and currants. The fruit flavors are followed by undertones of cedar, spice, and mushroomy soil. For some, the hefty tannins and alcohol heat (14.5%) at the finish might be too much. Decanting the wine for at least an hour will help, as will letting it live in the bottle for the next 3-5 years.

This wine is an excellent value at less than $10.

$9.99 widely available

2006 Torremoron Tempranillo Ribera del Duero

2006 Torremoron Tempranillo Ribera del Duero
Spain, Castilla y León, Ribera del Duero

Rating: 91

Uncorked: 2008.07.01
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Tuesday, Wine No. 3

It has been said that Tempranillo, the big and bold Spanish wine, could make a bullfighter out of you with its daring flavors. Whether or not we will be waving a red flag while wearing colorful tights, I can say that this is a bargain wine with an enormous mouthful of flavor for a very small investment. And drinking it is safer than dodging an angry bovine.

The nose is pretty big with wild berries, cherries, and spice. The mouth is awash with vibrant, concentrated flavors of cherry, plum, and berries. There are subtle loamy and leather flavors near the long, soft finish. I like the structure of this wine, it’s ripe flavors, and it’s youthful exuberance. This would go great with grilled meat, burgers, or even beef stew. It will soften and improve a bit with 3-5 years in the bottle.

$10.79 widely available

A Note About Ratings

Rating wines is absolutely subjective. The points (and even the tasting notes) ascribed to a particular wine are the opinions of the reviewer and reflect the rater’s own tastes, biases, and preferences. I make no claim to be able to give wines an objective tasting, review, or rating. If your palate and tastes are similar to mine then you’ll probably agree with my reviews. If, however, you prefer a different style of wine, you’ll most likely wonder which planet I have visited in order to give a particular score.

I’m good with this diversity of experiences of wine. In fact, I cherish it. But that’s the subject of a different blog post. For now, I want to give a brief summary of what the numbers mean to me. Here is the scale I use when rating wines. It reflects the scale used by most wine reviewers and what you’ll see on store shelves. I think it’s really funny that the scale really begins at 50. But as one who has continued academic study for most of my life, I’m familiar with odd grading/scoring scales… Here it is:

Extraordinary (96-100 points)
Outstanding (90-95)
Very Good to Excellent (85-89)
Good (80-84)
Average (75-79)
Below average (70-74)
Avoid (50-70)

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

1997 Silverado Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley


















1997 Silverado Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
United States, California, Napa Valley

Wine Rating:  90

Uncorked: 2008.04.06 – Brigid & Morgan Richardson visit to NE Ohio

Nicely bottle aged. Pretty ruby jewel color with no bronzing. Soft nose with dark berries, soft smokiness and toasted oak. In the mouth it was very smooth and richly balanced. Ripe cherry, plum, and blackberry. Some earthiness, tobacco, and smoky oak flavors. The fruit was integrated with the other flavors for good balance. The finish was a bit weak with velvety tannins.  This one benefited from nearly 9 years laying in the bottle.  A bit on the light side, but this is what a California Cab should taste like.

$30.00  (in 2000)