Wednesday, December 23, 2009

San Benito county has some high octane stuff

Out near Hollister in San Benito county there are some wineries out in them thar hills . These wineries are not well known for the most part and the style of winemaking there is unique to the climate, very very hot in the summer. The wines are intense,flavorful and alcoholic....maybe a taste to much for the European pallet but folks here are usually pretty knocked out with how good the wines are, particularly the Zin and Syrah.Pietra Santa makes both and the Zin pictured here is consistanly powerful both in flavor and complexity. At over 15% alcohol it is also not far from and apertif but it really is a wine that you can have with certain foods. As far as Zin goes, it is tough to find one more intense and expressive in the Sierra Foothills style-even if it is made many miles from there. I give it 8 1/2 swiggs....definitely a weekend quality wine for $ 15.95.

I say, that's a fine claret, old chum.

Guenoc has created a red blend along the lines of a Bordeaux red called " Victorian Claret". This is a marketing name that is supposed to conjure up in the customers mind images of ye olde Englishe clubbe house with stuffed leather chairs, cigar smoke and crystal decanters. At first I was a little put off by this as I would rather have some sort of meaningful name on the bottle such as "Merlot" or even "Meritage" indicating what the hell is inside the bottle. Guenoc figures that you do not need to know, just put on your best fake Oxford accent and sip this stuff and pretend that you are in Castle Howard tying one on with the Flytes . I will say, though that this wine really does have a Bordeaux dry taste, quite authentic for a new world wine. If dry is what you like, you will not have a problem with this one. The nose is probably more interesting than the taste but the taste is actually good enough for 6 1/2 swiggs. At $ 9.95 that is a pretty good score.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hope you like jammin' too.

A lot of Australian wines are gigantic jammy fruit weapons of mass destruction. This Mclaren Vale Grenache/shiraz is no exception...over the top fruitiness of the first order but there is a difference: This one is really good ! Valletta is one I had never heard of but I'll be looking for it in the future. It has a very similar style to Yangarra , my current favorite non-Barrossa red. A look at the glass shows a good amount of sediment, not a bad thing in my opinion as it shows that the wine has not been filtered to death. I'll give this one 8 1/2 might be a bit much for some folks but nobody can deny the quality and abundant and delicious flavors contained in this wine. Put some marinara on the barbie and douse yourself with this one.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Weekday wine that delivers for $ 5.99

Yes, it really is a great wine for $ 5.99 . So your friends are saying " I ain't drinking any f$%^& merlot !"......this wine would make them change their minds about the oft maligned varietal. Sure, the world is inundated with crap merlot.....I'll admit that. There are exceptions.......Chateau Petrus comes to mind along with many other greats from Pomerol. Napa Valley produces some really fine merlots as well but I am finding that the Yakima valley in Washington is a great source of merlot, syrah and cabernet as well. This Roza Ridge 2003 Yakima valley merlot is what you would expect from central Washington.....a nice dense earthy drink that stands up to just about any meal. It even goes good with dessert. There is still some of this at Trader Joes so get it before it is gone. 7 swiggs.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More weekend wine

Buy local......that's not always the way to go depending on where you live but in Santa Cruz ther's Storrs winery. Storrs makes full throttle ( sorry, I know this is sterotypical wine magazine bullshitspeak ) seriously concentrated stuff. Over 14% alcohol and flavor to match, you had better be in the mood for something that isn't subtle or elegant.....just powerfully good. Once in awhile it is nice to have a wine that doesn't hold back anything, at least as long as it is good. This is definitely good and well worth the $ 22. Storrs 2005 Mann Vinyard .9 swiggs.

Hooray, weekend wine !

My wife Holly and I don't really make a ton of money so for the most part bargain wine is what we can afford most of the time. The exception is the weekends where we will open something that might be in the $ 15-20 range, occasionally more when the bills have been paid and a bit of cash remains. This wine was a real winner...Sonoma Cabernet from Kunde , a 2005. One thing that stood out was that it was smooth, easy to drink but still very flavorful. There wasn't the sledghammer to the skull alcohol level, either-I was able to walk around the house without knocking anything over, a real treat. I'm not sure what this one costs as I got it in a trade with a customer. You'll have to do the research yourself. I'll save you the flowery tasting's just a really good wine to have with dinner. 8 swiggs.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The wine swiggtator rating scale

As with every wine related site, blog or magazine one will encounter a rating system designed to make the process of evaluating a wine less confusing-or as I would like to put it , dumb it down to the lowest common denominator. My rating system is designed for folks who don't want to know about the 'notes of tobacco and tar with a bit of wet stones on the finish' or any of that strange wine-speak that only wine writers seem to have a handle on. My scale of merit is the swigg. Ten swiggs will indicate a real amazing bottle -conversely , one swigg will indicate that perhaps a particular wine could be a vomit-inducing beverage of the lowest order. I'll spell it out: One swigg: Not many wines will garner this low assesment. One swigg will signal that the maker of this wine is either misguided, unlucky , a total idiot or just careless....pour it down the drain. Two swiggs signal that while the wine may still be terrible, it isn't the absolute bottom of the barrel. Three swiggs is a wine you can drink...but only if you have to. At least you aren't totally repulsed by it.Four swiggs is a wine that you can serve at a large gathering , as long as nobody knows that it was you who brought this mediocre swill, the kind you'll find flying coach. Five swiggs is now an average wine, not all that bad, accessable but not all that interesting. Six swiggs will get you something I call " average plus" , essentially an average bottle that has some complexity and makes it possible for you to not stop at one glass. Seven swiggs will indicate a wine that might be an inexpesive but tasty wine you'll want to have on hand for mid-week dinners. Eight you are getting into something you can serve for guests that they will enjoy , maybe even talk about. Nine swiggs will make the guests at your table definitely happy and will ask where you got such a great bottle. Ten swiggs will be a wine that you'll remember for a long time, one that makes an indellable impression in your mental catalogue of best things in life. When I shop for wine I'm hoping for at least a six swigg wine. If the wine is less than that, I'll most likely avoid it in the future. My quest will be to find good under $ 10 bottles for weekdays, maybe go to the $ 15-25 for the weekend. Enjoy, and if not.......pour the crap down the drain !

Castle Rock 2007 cabernet Columbia valley

During the week I try out wines in the below $ 10 range. Lately the magic number has been $ 5.99 . It seems at around $ 6 one can find a wine that really tastes good and does a good job of coming close to the quality of much pricier offerings . The Castle Rock Columbia Valley cab '07 promised to have that nice Washington state earthiness and full body that I have come to like in the last 5-6 years. The lable stated " Aged 18 months in oak barrels", usually a sign of a good red. What I got was a really fruity red with a touch of that "Radiator flush " quality in the background.......not a heavy dose of it, just enough to dissapoint me a little. I still had a second glass but it was a job to finish it. This may be a good value and it really isn't bad at all, but there are others that outshine it at $ 5.99 and even $ 4.99. I'll be discussing those in upcoming posts. I'll rate this one six out if ten swiggs.