The approachable 08 Chateauneuf du Papes

Some call the 2008 Chateauneuf du Pape vintage challenging, others call it a return to normalcy or more typical. The later are mostly critics who lament the recent hotter, drier vintages that have produced bigger, higher alcohol wines. “The 2008 vintage appears to represent a distinct turn-around from the recent heatwaves, especially that of the hyped-up (and juiced up) 2007s. Rain through the late winter resulted in a late floraison; rain through the spring saw mildew add to the growers’ problems. July and August ran closer to form, and then a heavy rain storm in September might well have destroyed the harvest if not for the strong Mistral on its heels. Growers had to exercise “severe sorting” to minimize under-ripe fruit, with the result that production was down by 35% and special cuvees were generally put aside for the year. The better producers were able to manage these conditions to make good wine.” (Tony Fletcher)

Having not had some of the other vintages that 2008 is compared to (2004 & 1999) I can only say that 2008 is much more approachable now than either 2006 or 2007 that I have recently tasted. I am a big fan of the 2007 and it is commanding a large section of my cellar (don’t tell Megan), but I don’t plan on starting to drink those bottles for a few more years, at least. At a recent trade tasting I had the opportunity to taste some some very nice 2008s and they were very drinkable.

What I tasted…
2008 Domaine de la Mordoree Chateauneuf du Pape, La Reine des Bois (80% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre, 5% Syrah, 5% Vaccarese, 5% Counoise)(50% oak aging)($135) – beautiful interlacing of dark and red fruit flavors leading to more red fruit of currant and raspberry on the palate. Loads of secondary flavors on the palate including leather, mushroom, espresso bean with some more of those dark fruit flavors coming back towards the finish (blackberry). Structure was full bodied and intense, well integrated for such a young age.

2008 Domaine Grand Veneur Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge ($50) – baking spice and black cherry dominate on the nose in addition to nice notes of anise. Palate is full bodied and surprisingly mature with similar flavors as the nose alluded to, with hints of mocha and suede. Long finish!

I can’t say which is the “correct” vintage, but I can definitely say if you are looking to enjoy some CdP in the near future and can’t find anything on the shelf prior to ’06, look for an ’08.


Categories: $40+, wine review, wine tasting | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Tuesday Quick Sip – 2006 Mongeard-Mugneret Savigny–les–Beaune 1er Cru Les Narbantons

2006 Mongeard-Mugneret Savigny–les–Beaune 1er Cru Les Narbantons

Wine Information:

Country: France

Region: Burgundy

Appellation: Savigny-les-Beaune

Vineyard: Les Narbantons

Cooperage: 35% in new French Oak

Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir

Price: $48

My Tasting Notes:

Nose: mushroom, slight barnyard, raspberry

Taste: black cherry, red clay, leather and black pepper (taste not spicy), wet forest

Mouthfeel: silky and balanced with great acidity and young leathery tannins

Finish: long with dark fruit and slight earthy notes

Beautiful wine, that is drinking well now but shows that it still has a lot of life left in it. Not inexpensive by any means, but definitely a great value for a Premier Cru red Burgundy.


Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Categories: $40+, Burgundy, wine review, wine tasting | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Tuesday Quick Sip – 2006 Papapietro Perry Peter’s Vineyard Pinot Noir

2006 Papapietro Perry Peter’s Vineyard Pinot Noir

Wine Information –

Appellation: Russian River Valley

Grape: 100% Pinot Noir

Oak program: 11 months in 50% new French oak and 50% 1st and 2nd use

Alcohol: 14.25%

Price: $49

Production: 1200 cases

2006PinotNoirPetersVineyardMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: yam, violet, cedar, blackberry

Taste: plum, currant, cedar, violet, peppercorn, rose, eggplant

Mouthfeel: full body, nice acidity – velvety and silky smooth

Finish: long

I wish I had gotten more than one bottle of this when we were at the winery last November. It was one of those wines that you get upset as you drink it, because you know you can’t get another one.


Categories: $40+, Pinot Noir, sonoma, wine review | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Drinking extremely well – 1999 B.R. Cohn Olive Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Once again my job as store manager of a wine shop has provided me the opportunity to taste some fabulous wine. About a week ago, we opened up the 1999 B.R. Cohn Olive Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($96) to see how it was drinking. Well, I am here to say that it is drinking extremely well right now, as it should I guess for almost 100 bones!

B.R. Cohn was founded by Bruce Cohn, who was road manager for the Doobie Brothers and is located in Glen Ellen, California in the heart of Sonoma County. The Olive Hill Estate Cab is their premium released wine and thus their most expensive.

Soils warmed by underground natural hot springs combined with warm days and nights cooled by gentle coastal breezes, work together to create a unique microclimate resulting in ideal growing conditions for Cabernet Sauvignon.

For more detailed information on the Olive Hill Estate Vineyard check out this excellent PDF – http://www.brcohn.com/trade/presskit/BR_Cohn_Vineyards.pdf

Also B.R. Cohn has a great PR video on their website and YouTube, check it out below.

Not a whole lot of production information on the wine other than that it spent 18 months in French Oak barrels and that it is 13% alcohol.

1999bRCohnOliveHillMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: mocha, smoke, brown sugar, blackberry and black cherry

Taste: cedar, hints of menthol, cassis, black currant, tobacco and oak

Mouthfeel: full and leathery mid-palate, leathery yet fine grained tannins

Finish: long and long, with hints of dark fruit and leather notes

This wine was killing it, and kept getting better and better revealing more and more flavor notes. I feel it is at it’s prime, but with the structure and fruit that the wine exhibited it will still be going for another few years. Of course I always have a hard time paying $100 for a wine, but this wine is extremely well balanced, structured, elegant yet powerful and already aged for ya. If you can find a bottle and want a great wine for a special occasion, pick it up.


Categories: $40+, cabernet, sonoma, wine review | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Tuesday Quick Sip – 2006 Domaine Tempier Bandol

2006 Domaine Tempier Bandol

Wine Info –

Region: Southern France, Le Plan du Castellet

Appellation: Bandol AOC

Grapes: 75% Mourvedre, 22% Grenache and Cinsault, 3% Carignan

Oak Aging: 18 months (minimum AOC requirements for Bandol)

Price: $45

2006DomaineTempierBandolMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: funky (not “bretty”), wet earth, red cherry

Taste: eucalyptus, cedar, blackberry, leather, herbs, cherry and black pepper

Mouthfeel: medium to full bodied, round and polished with leathery tannins

Finish: long!

This was GREAT! I got to sample this at work the other day and I wish I could have had a whole glass of it. The Bandol was a bit tight on the nose, as it was popped and poured, but the palate was super expressive and lively. The mouthfeel was extremely polished with enough tannic grip to pull the reigns and give some structure to the everlasting finish. MMM!


Categories: $40+, wine review | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Tasting the 2004 Stonewell Shiraz with winemaker Ian Hongell

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to have lunch and taste wines with Ian Hongell, the Senior Winemaker from Peter Lehmann. It was a great opportunity, to taste and also have the guided tour of each of his wines while pairing it with food is as always a wonderful experience. We tasted a total of 7 wines:

  • 2008 Layers White Blend

  • 2008 Eden Valley Riesling

  • 2006 Barossa Semillon

  • 2006 Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon

  • 2006 Barossa Shiraz

  • 2004 Mentor Cabernet Sauvignon

  • 2004 Stonewell Shiraz

My favorite of the bunch and one of the wines that I had never tried before was the 2004 Stonewell Shiraz ($90). Hailed by Peter Lehmann as their “best wine of each vintage”, it is a power house Shiraz. They select grapes from a dozen or so of their oldest vineyards, some dating back to 1885, and yielding less than 1.5 tons per acre. The vineyards come from 4 different districts within the Barossa Valley, the Kabiningie, Greenock, Vine Vale and the Nuriootpa. The 2004 spent 18 months in a combination of 90% French and 10% American Oak before being bottled.

PLW_Stonewell_BtlMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: blackberry, olive, bacon

Taste: black currant, leather, tobacco, cassis, toast

Mouthfeel: rich and full bodied with big leathery tannins

Finish: weeks later I think I’m still tasting this – loads of dark fruit and bacon flavors lingered on

This is a big, in your face Shiraz that is definitely over the top but in all the right ways. It wasn’t an all fruit show, olive, bacon and leather notes joined the cast of characters to give this New World explosion layers of “goodness”. At $90 it compares with other Shiraz’ like Ben Glaetzers “Amon Ra” or “Annaperenna”. And although this was fabulous and definitely a collectible like Glaetzer’s Shiraz’ or Penfolds Grange, I have a hard time paying this amount of money for Shiraz when there are great ones out there from $20 – $50. If you have the opportunity to taste it or can afford the price tag I definitely recommend it.


Categories: $40+, barossa, shiraz, wine review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Tuesday Quick Sip – with Robert Foley

john_bobfoleyWorking in a wine shop has its perks! One of them being I get to meet wine makers on a more regular basis than I normally would, for instance next Tuesday I get to have lunch with Ian Hongell, wine maker for Peter Lehman. A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to taste with Bob Foley and taste the wines from his “Robert Foley Vineyards” brand.

We tasted five of his wines but for the quick sip today I chose to write about the 2006 Muscle Man Petite Sirah

Wine Information –

Appellation: Napa, Calistoga

Grape: 100% Petite Sirah

Price: $60 – $70

(sorry I don’t have more facts on the wine, cooperage, vineyard site, etc.. I have sent out a couple of emails to gather some more facts and will update the post if I get some)

My Tasting Notes –

Nose: bacon fat, blackberry, cassis

Taste: boysenberry, blackberry, fig

Mouthfeel: spicy, bit hot, FULL bodied with lip lockin’ Velcro tannins

Finish: long and strong as the name “Muscle Man” would imply

This is a big boy of a wine that is young and in for the long haul. Tons of palate rockin’ structure is complimented by the abundance of deep rich dark fruit flavors and the nice bacon fat component I often find in a lot of California Petite Sirahs as well as Sryah. Not inexpensive to say the least, but if you want a good age worthy Petite Sirah, give this one a go.


Tomorow I continue with a review of our 3rd and final day in Virginia Wine Country last weekend

Categories: $40+, petite sirah, wine review | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

2006 Domaine La Barroche Chateauneuf-Du-Pape Grenache Blend

At $65 this is a bit out of my price range for everyday drinking but I had the opportunity to sample the 2006 Domaine La Barroche Chateauneuf-Du-Pape at a trade tasting the other day. I have a few Chateauneuf-Du-Papes resting in my cellar, and tasting this wine made me want to open every last one of them. The blend is predominately Grenache (64%) with Mourvedre (17%), Syrah (11%) and Cinsault (8%) making up the rest of the blend. With the help of 4 weeks of skin contact, the Barroche has an amazing richness and intensity. The cooperage for this was done separately for each of the components: the Mourvedre was aged in 2 and 3 year old Burgundy barrels sur lees, 60% of the Grenache in old oak casks, 40% of the Grenache in Stainless Steel tanks, and both the Syrah and Cinsault were aged in old oak caks. All aging was for approximately 18 months before being bottled, unfiltered, in spring of 2008.

My Tasting Notes –

Nose: cherry, cooked tomato, olive oil, earth and eucalyptus

Taste: brown spice, “good funk”, cassis and red currant

Mouthfeel: full bodied and “meaty” with mouth drying leathery tannins, well balanced but present acidity

Finish: long and slightly spicy, hint of black pepper

If you couldn’t tell already I was enamored with this wine, and if it wasn’t for the price I would drink it once a week. The 2006 is still a baby though, the tannic structure could use some smoothing out, but for being so young it is drinking quite well now.


Categories: $40+, Rhone Wines, wine review | 3 Comments

Tuesday Quick Sip – Krupp Brothers 2003 Veraison Cabernet Sauvignon

2003 Krupp Brothers Veraison Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine Info –

Appellation: Napa, Oakville

Vineyard: Stage Coach, Southside of Pritchard Hill

Grapes: 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, 1% Cabernet


Cooperage: 18 months in Taransaud French Oak barrels

Price: ~$65

2003veraisonMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: chocolate, blackberry, cassis, leather

Taste: huge juicy fruit, lots of chocolate, blackberry, toasty oak, brown spice and toasty oak

Mouthfeel: full body with big well developed velvety tannins

Finish: very long with concentrated dark fruit flavors

This is a big boy California Cab. The fruit is right up front on the aromatics as well as on the palate, but is very rich and not “juicy juice”. The chocolate overtones compliment the black fruit flavors and the splash of toasty oak very nicely and the years have been kind to the tannins that are rounded out nicely. Not cheap in the slightest but would be a nice treat for a Saturday night!


Categories: $40+, cabernet, wine review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Monday Quick Sip – 2006 d’ Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz


Wine Info –

Grape: 100% Shiraz

Appellation: McLaren Vale

Harvest Date: February 28th to April 16th

Oak Aging: 21 months in new & aged French and American oak barriques

My Tasting Notes –

Nose: Raspberry, blackberry, vanilla, oak, green olive

Taste: Bacon, black currant, touch of cranberry and leather, shitake mushroom

Mouthfeel: big full body, huge leathery tannins

Finish: Long with dark fruit and black pepper

The 2006 d’ Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz  ($60)is still a baby, another 2-3 years and this guy will really open up and smooth out. That being said, it is still drinking well now, just be ready for some mouth grabbing tannins.

Categories: $40+, shiraz, wine review | Leave a comment

Wine Blogging Wednesday #55 – North vs South

For wine blogging Wednesday this month our host is Remy Charest of the blog Wine Case. Remy asks us to pit North against South in a battle of terroir and and to see, if any differences lattitude plays on varietal expression. I chose the fickle, thin skinned Pinot Noir grape for this experiment, and needless to say Mr. PN was nervous. Although this may be a predictable battle royal, I chose a Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon and one from the island of Tasmania. The reason I say that this may be a predictable battle is that not only is the Pinot Noir fickle, with an estimated 1000 clones and a tendency to suck up the terrior with a slurpee size straw, you would probably see differences if I planted PN on either side of my back yard. All that aside, let the battle begin.

<In my boxing announcer voice> In this corner, all the way from Tasmania, coming in at 13.1% ABV comprised of 100% Pinot Noir is the 2007 42 Degrees South Pinot Noir. ($20)

42degrees_south_pinot_42 Degrees “training” regimen 48-hour pre-ferment soak. Inoculated ferment in 1/2 and 1 tonne open fermenters, hand plunged 3-times daily. Pressed off skins into stainless steel tanks at 2-3 °Bé for completion of primary fermentation. Transfer into oak for inoculated MLF before racking off lees and further barrel maturation.
10 months in 20% new and 80% seasoned French oak barriques.

My Tasting Notes –

Nose – black currant, plum, black cherry, clove

Taste – black cherry, Smuckers rapsberry jam, cooked green bean

Mouthfeel – medium to full body, velvety full tannins and moderate acidity

Finish – decent length, fruity and lean

<In my boxing announcer voice> …and in this corner all the way from the Willamette Valley (Yamhill-Carlton AVA) in Oregon, coming in at 14.1% ABV comprised of 100% Pinot Noir is the 2006 Et Fille “Kalita” Pinot Noir. ($43)

et-fille-logoEt Fille “training” program – the vineyard is situated on Willakenzie soil at an altitude that varies between 400 and 800. Half of our blocks run to the top of the vineyard. The clones of the grapes harvested for us are exclusively pommard and a small amount of wadensvil.

Oak: 10 months, 50% new

My Tasting Notes

Nose – earth, cedar and smoke and boysenberry

Taste – spicy vanilla, leather and cherry

Mouthfeel – elegant and soft, supple tannins and nice acidity

Finish – long and clean with light red fruit flavors lingering with a tinge of earthiness

I think these two were great contenders and both are great in their own respect. Besides the fact that they come in at different price points, they offer the dramatic differences that the Pinot Noir grape has to offer. While the 42 Degrees was more dark fruit and full bodied, the Et Fille was lean and elegant with more red fruit and earth driven components.

Thanks to Remy for this interesting idea for Wine Blogging Wednesday, it was a blast.


Categories: $10-$20, $40+, Wine Blogging Wednesday, wine review | Tags: , | 4 Comments

A good wine, but a bit of a let down.

The 2004 Longview Block 11 Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the high end wines from Longview winery. For the most part, Longview wines stay under the $20 mark and offer some good value from Australia. The Block 11 Cabernet from 2004 however was $45 and when I tasted it a year and half ago, was happy to buy 2 bottles from the tiny allocation that came to the local wine shop. After drinking one of the two bottles the other night, I was rethinking spending that much money on the aforementioned wine. Now don’t get me wrong this was still a kicking Cab, but I am sorry to say it may be on the back side of it’s peak. Or I could be totally wrong, or it could be in a slightly “dumb” stage as “they” say, but it definitely wasn’t the power house it was almost 2 years ago. Now what it was was a super polished, elegant Cab with upfront rich fruit flavors layered with leather and brown spice but the tannins just sort of gave up in the end. I would hate to think that this bottle was past it’s prime being that it was only bottled in 2006 and for the fact that I have another bottle that I wanted to see develop for another 2 years’ish.

About the wine (from the winemaker)

Each year before vintage we carefully assess the vineyard with Christian Canute and select the best fruit and in 2004 this was the BLOCK 11 Cabernet Sauvignon. When these grapes have achieved optimum physical ripeness, they are hand picked and bunch selected before traditional vinification. Bunches are gently de-stemmed into small open vats allowing fermentation of whole berries, thus avoiding overextraction of the fruit. The wine spends a week on skins before gently basket pressing to complete fermentation in wood. This wine has been matured for 24 months. The pressings in puncheons and the free run in one large French oak vat – the revisiting of a great Australian tradition. The wine is unfined and unfiltered to ensure that all the flavours we have gone out of our way to preserve are there in each precious bottle.”

longviewblock11My Tasting Notes –

Nose – raisin, plum, brambly blackberry and leather

Taste – brown spice, boysenberry and raspberry

Mouthfeel – full bodied with polished velvety tannins

Finish – smooth with a hint of spiciness and flavors of cherry and tomato

I guess part of my disappointment with the wine is that I had had such high hopes after tasting it and laying down 2 bottles, but as I said and as you can see from notes, this was still a good Cabernet. Not that you could find a bottle on shelves anywhere but I am curious if any of you in the wine blogosphere have had a bottle of this recently and have tasted it in the past. If so, shoot me your thoughts, I would love to hear them. Additionally, do you think I should open the other bottle soon, or hang on and hope it continues to improve? I am leaning towards the open it soon, only for the fact that if the tannins are already fading away, they aren’t going to regenerate in the bottle.


Categories: $40+, cabernet, wine review | Leave a comment