2002 Pillitteri Estates Gamay Noir Family Reserve

Pillitteri Estates Gamay Noir

2002 Pillitteri Estates Gamay Noir Family Reserve
Canada, Niagara Peninsula

Rating: 89

Uncorked: 2009.07.06
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Wine Tastings
Monday, Wine No. 4

This is a generous wine in every way – lots of fruit, good aromas, full body, and a joy to drink. The color is dark ruby – it is very jewel-toned, including a bit of sparkle in the light. Spicy nose with black pepper, dark fruits, cocoa, and toasty oak. Lots of fruit at the front of the palate with black cherries, black currants, and dark stone fruit. It is almost juicy with the amount of ripe fruit flavors. The fruit is balanced by rich, toasty oak in both the nose and mouth that leaves hints of spice, tobacco, and campfire. The terroir of the Niagara Peninsula and its dark soil certainly comes through. Nice lingering finish with soft tannins. This one was a hit with the tasting group.

$32.99 purchased at the winery in 2007

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

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

2008 Vintage – Let the Adventure Begin!

The cellar is alive again!  27 gallons of California juice is now starting its magical journey toward becoming the “2008 vintage.”  It joins last year’s wine that is awaiting bottling as it ages with French oak (using these really cool infusion spirals made by a wine barrel maker).

27 gallons will make about 10 cases (120 bottles) of finished wine.  Vintage 2007 started with 22 gallons and, after multiple “rackings” is down to about 19 gallons of finished wine.  I decided to increase the cellar’s output this year because, well, the 2007 tastes pretty good!  Since I learned a lot along the way, I’m hopeful that 2008 will be even better.

While I have no illusions of creating world-class wine to compete with the Pegau Chateneuf du Pape or Saxum Broken Stones and James Berry laying in the cellar racks, I expect that it will be pretty good “table wine.”  I’ll probably be able to convince friends to give it a taste, too!

Currently undergoing primary fermentation are:

  • 8 gallons Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 7 gallons Merlot
  • 6 gallons Cabernet Franc
  • 6 gallons Pinot Noir

The Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc will eventually become both single varietal wines AND be blended into my own custom “Bordeaux style” wine.  That will be a fun experiment!  I’m hoping that by following the blending traditions of Old World winemakers I will create a finished wine that is better than its individual components.  An “artist’s palate” approach.

The Pinot Noir will fly solo in the end.

So here we go again!  The cellar (and whole basement) is starting to smell a bit like a winery.  I prefer “yeasty” to describe the aroma rather than “stinky.”  My spouse my disagree.  But it does take me back to the fermentation tanks and barrel rooms of Zaca Mesa and Firestone Vineyards that I first visited as a teenager.  My love of wine that started so many years ago is tied to these smells.  It’s a fun adventure to recreate some of that in my own home!

Wish me luck and make your plans now to come to the 2008 release party in about two years!

Wine Blog Paralysis & Wine as Sabbath Enactment

I love to write.  I’m in a profession that writes a lot.  I write for work, I write for leisure, I write for introspection, I write to stay connected wtih people, I write to provoke thought and conversation.  I like a good computer keyboard and excellent fountain pens — tools for this practice of writing.  So blogging is a natural thing.

But sometimes I get paralyzed by the backlog of things I need to blog about and I end up not writing at all.  I’ve got a bunch of wine reviews from my Wine Ministry tastings at CTS that still need to get posted.  It takes a while to do those — reviewing my notes, carefully writing the review, formatting the entry, finding the label or bottle image, etc.  Sometimes it just doesn’t feel right to write other things with the task list undone.

So I was thinking…  I don’t drink wine everyday, but usually at least two or three nights a week I’ll enjoy a glass — with a meal or just sipping while unwinding from the day.  The “to do list” certainly isn’t done, but the glass of wine is almost an enactment of sabbath.  There is always work to be done, but sabbath is an intentional break from work and opportunity for attentiveness to things other than work.  For some of us the enjoyment and experience of wine is both a symbol and practice of sabbath.

Blogging, wine, and sabbath.  Here’s the connection:  the “need to do” things will always be there.  For most of us, particularly if we have slightest bit of compulsivity in our personalities, those things will get done.  But allowing for the gift of sabbath, a break from the routine of work, will nurture our souls, our minds, our bodies.  So I’ll get the reviews posted, but I’ll also take time to write other ideas, reflections, and musings.  I’ll open that “special occasion” wine just because it’s sabbath.  I’ll also extend the invitation to you to consider sabbath practices in the midst of your worlds of work, tasks, and things needing to get done.  Cheers!

CTS Wine Ministry – Week 1, Day 7

Sunday at the seminary. For most of us it was a day of church, reading, and writing for our doctoral seminars. It wasn’t bad, then, to gather in the early evening for a fairly light wine tasting. A smaller group still, so we only opened four bottles. The evening was rich with both wine and conversation as our friendships deepen… Friendships with the wine and with each other!

Sunday, July 6, 2008 (week 1, day 7)

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

CTS Wine Ministry – Week 1, Day 6

The “faithful remnant” that remained at the seminary over the Fourth of July weekend were treated to some pretty nice wines on this Saturday evening tasting. The hospitality and generosity were overflowing as both Paul and Lisa provided extra wines for the tasting.

In addition to our colleagues from the DMin seminar, we were joined by several family members for this tasting. Our community was enriched with spouses and offspring – though the youngest members were there for the event and conversation rather than the wine! It was a true expression of the community that forms around wine, though, as it was as much about the “community” as it was about the wine on this evening. What a gift.

Having said that, the wines were really good, too! Click the links below, or simply scroll through the blog to read about the wines in this tasting.

Saturday, July 6, 2008 (week 1, day 5)

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

2006 Francis Coppola Pinot Noir Diamond Series Silver Label

2006 Francis Coppola Pinot Noir Diamond Series Silver Label
USA, California, Central Coast, Monterey County

Wine Rating: 87

Uncorked: 2008.07.05
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Saturday, Wine No. 5

This wine was introduced in the tasting to introduce a fairly typical affordable California Pinot Noir. To be sure, this is not representative of the best of California Pinot Noir, but Coppola is making decent juice for a good price.

Plenty of fruit on the nose with strawberries, light cherries, and raspberries. There were hints of wood, but not oak – more like the smells of a forest floor. The medium bodied wine presents the mouth with a bit of an alcohol punch, but quickly moves to round flavors of berries and plums. The forest floor aromas continue on the palate along with some cinnamon and light smoke. The tannins are a bit uncontained on the finish leaving a somewhat bitter taste after the fairly well balanced flavors.

It’s a very affordable and drinkable California Pinot Noir.

$19.99 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

CTS Wine Ministry – Week 1, Day 5

We truly became wine snobs today. We poured what we would later give an 87 rating down the drain. We were either arrogant about the wine, or very fatigued. I’ll stick with us just being picky on this Fourth of July!

There are just a handful of us tasting these wines as most folks are away from the seminary campus for the weekend. Their loss – there were a couple of pretty fine wines poured in our glasses this evening.

To read the wine reviews, either scroll through the blog, or click on the name of one of the wines below.

Friday, July 4, 2008 (week 1, day 5)

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.


CTS Wine Ministry: Week 1, Day 4

Day four of our Wine Ministry wine tasting events. The practice of The Joyful Feast of Wine has really caught on and the community is enjoying the Wine Ministry. This was a good evening to be at the wine tasting!

To read the wine reviews, either scroll down through the blog, or click on the name of the wine to go to that particular wine’s tasting notes.

Thursday, July 3, 2008 (week 1, day 4)

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 Cline Cellars Cashmere

2005 Cline Cellars Cashmere
California, Sonoma

Wine Rating: 89

Uncorked: 2008.07.03
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Thursday, Wine No. 5

Cline’s Cashmere is a pretty straightforward GSM (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre) blend, very similar to a Cotes du Rhone in style and taste. Dark color and dark flavors. Lots of ripe cherry in the nose with a bit of soil aromas. In the mouth it is soft with a few layers of flavors — dark fruit, raspberries, a bit of plum, some mushroom or loam, and a bit of light toast. The tannins were confident enough to balance the fruit, but fairly soft. It’s a very easy wine to drink.

$15.99 widely available

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