Creative Juices Wine Blog

Creative Juices Wine Show: Episode 3 Petite Sirah

Posted in California, Central Coast, Petite Sirah, Video, wine, Wine Reviews, Wine Tasting by CreativeJuicesWine on February 22, 2010

In this episode, Zak & Olena taste a 2006 Petite Sirah from Concannon. Cheers!!

Tasting Group Follow Up

Hello everyone! We hope you had a great weekend. As you know, we had the first meeting for our new tasting group yesterday evening. Our topic: Chardonnay’s.  We tasted everything blind (from right to left), and were especially intrigued when the wine in glass #2 was a red wine. As we said, this was the first meeting…we still need to work out the kinks. That being said, it was an interesting addition to our line up.

We tasted in random order, and had no idea which bottle was our own (save wine #2) which added to the excitement. We had guesses on which wine belonged to whom (especially wine #2), but in the end upon revealing the bottles, we were mostly just pleased that none of us brought a terrible wine.

Without further adieu, the write-up:

Wine #1 was the 2007 Shannon Ridge Chardonnay from Lake County, California. This wine had a toasty, vanilla, green apple, peachy, melon (cantaloupe), slightly mineral nose that oozed out of the glass effortlessly. It drank velvety smooth, and had a very nice creamy, cedary green apple, and buttery mouthfeel. This was definitely a well made wine, and would pair very well with shrimp, or oysters, or even a stick of butter. (If you like that kind of thing.)

This bottle weighed in 14.2% ABV, and was a great way to start the evening. Shannon Ridge carries a $15 price tag, and represents that price point very well. This is a worth-while bottle to pick up if you’re in the market for an oaked, but not over-oaked Chardonnay from Cali that won’t break the piggy bank.

Wine # 2 was the infamous ‘red wine’ that we spoke of earlier. In all fairness, the group member that brought this wine received an invitation to the group less than 24 hours prior during our Bubbly Event at Rulis’ International Kitchen. Furthermore, there is a good chance we didn’t mention what the topic was.

Now that the disclaimer is up, we will talk about the wine. Bottle #2 was the Chapillon Cuveé Harmonie 2006, which ended up being a Petit Verdot/Tannat blend from the Aragon region in Northern Spain. At first the nose was a little tight, but then it opened up some black cherry, leather, cherry cola, slate, flint, wet leaf aromas that really made us want to dive in and take that first sip. Once we did, there was more cherry, pine needles, some wet soil flavors, and a little bit of green apple, and grape candies (think Jolly Rancher’s). This was a cool wine, and we’re glad it squeaked its way into the Chardonnay tasting.  Advocate gave it 90 points, and it scored well amongst the group as well. You can pick it up for $12 all around Texas, and probably ‘in your nape of the woods, neck of the wape; How come you’re here?’ Sorry, there will probably be more Caddyshack quotes before this post is over.

Wine numero tres was the Felino Viña Cobos 2008 Chardonnay from Mendoza, Argentina. This is another Paul Hobbs creation, and you can see his fingerprints all over this wine. Advocate went 90 points on this wine, and may have sold it short. This monster weighed in at 14.8% ABV, and rocked our faces off. This is a thick, creamy Chard, that despite sitting on oak for 8 months, wasn’t offensively oaky. Mr. Hobbs knows what he is doing, and you need to just trust him. The Felino was fully of Vanilla, and citrus flavors, with a bit of spice, and even a sugar cookie aspect to it, which is just awesome! On the palate, it coats every bit of the mouth with a thick, buttery, whipping cream feel that tastes of baked bread, and vanilla, with more of that sugar cookie from before. For all of you vegans out there searching for a wine that works with your lifestyle, this is one to add to your list. This is an unfined, and unfiltered Vegan friendly Chardonnay. At $22, it comes with a perfectly respectable price tag, and drinks at a much higher level of quality. The Felino is just well made. What more can we say. Go out and find this wine. Seriously…the post will still be here when you get back…Go!

Wine #4 was the Acre Chardonnay from the Central Coast in California. This bottle retails for about $20, and has a light alcohol percentage of 13.5%. Acre has great straw-green color, and has a very fresh, clean nose. Kind of like a fruit salad. This was the one wine that we (Zak & Olena) scored the same, so we’ll include that we gave it 85 points. Realistically, it’s probably a few points higher, but either way, it’s a pretty good wine. No disrespect to this wine, but it did have a very tough act to follow in the Felino. That being said, it’s a well made wine that for $20 isn’t asking for too much, and delivers delicious fruit aromas and flavors. Despite being oaked, we could barely detect it on the first go around. Once we revisited this wine, it was slightly more prevalent, but well placed.

Our final Vino came from William Fevre. You can’t have a Chardonnay tasting without a white Burg. You just can’t. This wine was the William Fevre Champs Royaux Chablis 2005. From what we read about the bottle, it can lay down or be drunk from now until 2017. Based on its performance during our tasting, we think it could use a little more time. One interesting note that came out of this wine was a crisp lettuce flavor on the palate. Other than that, it was pretty straightforward, and needed to be accompanied by food, which after the tasting we ended up doing with the final 3 wines. The Chablis pulled it’s big-boy/girl pants up and did what it was meant to do. The Acre showed what a $20 Chard from Cali can do, and the Felino (as if it wasn’t already the star of the show) picked up even more steam. It dominated with Chef Rulis’ seafood concoction that had great heat to it, and was full of flavor.

So that’s it kids. 5 wines.  The New World showed well, granted we only had one Old World white representing in the tasting. The Red Blend was a bonus wine. If you have tasted any of these wines, or just feel like commenting, we would love to hear from you. Thanks for reading. Cheers!!!

Zak & Olena

Video Blog is up!

Posted in Alicante Bouschet, California, Video by CreativeJuicesWine on February 19, 2010

We are excited to announce the official launch of our Creative Juices Video Blog! We will be tasting wine, smelling wine, talking about wine, thinking about wine out loud, and videotaping everything wine in our lives. Considering we are still new in this whole video thing, please understand that minor issues with the quality as well footage will continue to be improved on.

Please please please comment on the videos, tell us how we are doing! We are very excited about this new feature of our blog, and we can’t wait to make it better.

Cheers!

Zak and Olena

Two Cabernet Francs

Posted in Cabernet Franc, California, Chinon, France, Loire, Napa Valley, wine, Wine Reviews by CreativeJuicesWine on February 16, 2010

Yesterday we ended up grabbing two Cabernet Francs and comparing them side by side… on video. Until we post that, here is a quick rundown on our experience.

Wine: Moulin des Sablons, Chinon

Varietal: Cabernet Franc

Vintage: 1999

Alcohol: 12%

Our Score: 86 points

Price: $12

The color was brick-orange, with light color going out to the rim. The cork itself showed a lot of tartrates, and you can definitely see that on the picture to the right.

The palate was well integrated, with notes of vanilla, limestone, red cherry and chalk. It had healthy acidity, and showed a lot of fruit character. Overall, we thought the wine was pleasant, but it has probably peaked a couple years back, and we caught it on the way down. We’d recommend enjoying a wine like that quickly, before its gentle aroma gets lost in the surrounding air. We awarded the wine well deserved 86 points, which is a great score considering its price.

Wine: Beaucanon Estate L Cuvee

Varietal: Cabernet Franc

Vintage: 2003

Alcohol: 14.1%

Our Score: 88 points

Price: $25

This one was deeper in color, had a nose you can detect from feet away, and a palate to die for. It had notes of pepper, currants and cassis on the nose, while the palate also added a generous dash of vanilla and sour cherry. The acidity yet again was tying the wine together. We awarded the wine 88 points and enjoyed it with pizza.

Voilà, we had a blast tasting these wines and we hope to post the video certifying so online shortly.

Cheers!

Zak and Olena

Another Wine Review (This time, Cab)

Hey there-

You guessed it, we tasted more wine today. After one of the longest weekends in recent memory, it was time to fire up a steak and drink. If you know one thing about the taller half of this relationship, it’s that he loves red meat. If you know two things about him, it’s that he loves red meat, and can definitely hook a steak up.

All of that being said, we went and grabbed a giant rib-eye to grill, and a California Cab to pair with. After all was said and done, we have this to report to you: The Cab and the steak went great together (Like Lamb and Tunafish) what? No good? Ok, how about like this couple? Yeah, like that.

So here’s the deal. While at the store, we grabbed said Cab. It seemed like a really good idea, because we like buying wine that doesn’t break the bank. Since we drink wine every single day, we know you understand.

Wine: Main Street Winery

Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon

Vintage: 2006

Alcohol: 13.5% ABV

Our Score: 80 points

Price: $12

This bottle cost us $12 and as we said, paired wonderfully with the steak, but left a little to be desired when consumed alone. Correction…a lot to be desired. After a pretty promising nose that was full of leather, black pepper, cherry, cedar, tobacco, wet gravel, and a little limestone, it died a painful death as it hit the palate. Its mouthfeel was kind of blah, and threw a dash of pepper, some unripe cherry (thanks) and gun metal. No offense but we wish we were spitting, not drinking this wine.

To review, it tasted like we were eating a gun barrel (as fun as that sounds…) and wanting to sneeze from ingesting too much pepper, while dealing with the devastation of buying (or picking) fruit before it is ready. Can you taste the excitement?!?

In closing, we gave this wine 80 points, and will recommend it to our neighborhood cats, and possibly Sarah Palin. Cheers!

Zak & Olena

Pinot Noir Tasting

What better way to start a week than with a Pinot Noir tasting? You nailed it…there is no better way to start a week!
Last night we went out to Billy Crews’ for his weekly Monday night tasting. They were tasting 12 different Pinots, which they had arranged by price. Maybe not the best tasting order, but it worked nevertheless.

These are the tasting notes from our Pinot Tasting at Billy Crews Monday evening. Sorry for the delay, but without further adieu, here we go. For your sake, we’ve kept our notes to a minimum. Cheers!

First up was Wild Rock Cupid’s Arrow Pinot Noir 2008 from Central Otago, New Zealand. This wine had solid acidity, and a nice distribution of cherry, mineral, vanilla, pepper, and currants. It was lacking on a finish, and left us high and dry overall. This was not the best representation from Central Otago in our opinion, and we gave it 84 points. At $16.45, this was a disappointment, and a pass.

Pinot #2 was Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir 2007 from Oregon. This wine was a bit over-oaked, and had a big vanilla nose, but then fizzled out, and was rather thin in the end. This was another 84 point wine. $$18.81 price tag, and a pass.

Pinot #3 was the 2007Acacia Pinot Noir from Carneros. This wine had a little bit more going on, and exhibited nice strawberry aromas and flavors in combination with a well-distributed balance of oak, and smokiness. At $19.99, this wasn’t a terrible wine. We gave it 87 points, but it didn’t overly impress us.

Pinot #4 was the 2005 Galante Almond Felt Pinot Noir From California. This was pretty acidic, and had a bit of fruit, though none of it really stood out. As the price stands, this wine is not worth it. Galante is a miss at $22.34. This wine was kind of meh, and we waived 83 points at it, and moved on.

Pinot #5 was the Willamette Valley Vineyards Founders Pinot Noir from 2007 (Oregon). This wine felt a little bit more put together, and represented Oregon Pinot fairly well. The one thing that stood out most about this wine was a peculiar pickled peppers aspect that we couldn’t quite get passed. If not peppers, it was definitely something pickled. That being said, we enjoyed this wine enough to score it 88 points. At $24.69, this fits a price point that a lot of people can be happy with. There may be better Oregon Pinot Noirs out there, but this one isn’t stinking up the joint, and is probably worth a quarter Benjamin.

Pinot #6 was from a familiar label, Roessler. This was the Roessler Laurelwood Pinot Noir 2007 out of Willamette Valley. Almost sweet on the attack, this Pinot leads into a smoked meat and red fruit collision on the palate. Very interesting stuff. We scored this wine 89 points, and would probably pick this up at $27. Oregon Pinots are just worth a little bit of extra jingle.

Pinot #7 was the 2007 Craggy Range Pinot Noir from Central Otago, New Zealand. This was a nice spicy, peppery pinot with plenty of fruit, and wood backing it up. This pinot has been on our to taste list for a while now, and we weren’t disappointed upon finally getting around to it. This is a pretty solid pinot, and we rated it 90 points. There are probably better $34 pinots out there, but the Craggy Range is worth giving a try if you’re in the market for a big Central Otago Pinot.

Pinot #8 was from Caymus in Santa Barbara, CA. It was the Caymus Belle Gloss 2007 Clark & Telephone Vineyard Pinot Noir, and really represented the brand well. This wine had a lot of fruit, and exploded with strawberry and cherry flavors that lasted for days. This wine is very tasty, and worth every penny at $39 per 750ml. We rated this pinot 92 points, and would love to revisit this wine in the future. We settled for a second taste, which we definitely didn’t spit.

Pinot #9 Was the 2007 Cakebread Pinot Noir. There’s not much to say about this wine. The Caymus was a tough act to follow, but come on! The Cakebread didn’t even make a showing on this one. This wine has a very confused, awkward palate, and a $50 price tag that makes it an easy pass. This wine, although not having anything going for it, caused the biggest separation in scoring of the evening. So much so that we will give you both scores from Olena (87 points) and Zak (81-83 points). No thanks.

Pinot #10 had the coolest name of the night: Hartford Court Fog Dance Pinot Noir 2006 from Russian River Valley. It had rugged tannins (which we didn’t see coming), a lot of pepper, and strawberry on the nose (which were also evident on the palate). We liked this wine, but didn’t love it. This was an 88 point wine, but at $50, is a pass. There are better bottles out there for $25-40.

Pinot #11 was the Ponzi RSV 2007 Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley. This has well integrated vanilla flavors, but then picks up a sour, pickled aspect–which was unexpected, but not unwelcomed. It was a kind of watery on the palate, and overall left us hanging. Once again, the big price tag ($53) hurts the value of the wine. We gave this pinot 86 points, and obviously, a pass. It’s just not worth that kind of dough.

Pinot #12 was La Crema 9 Barrel Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley. We’ve had La Crema before, but not the 9 Barrel, so this was a bottle we were looking forward to at the beginning of the tasting. We were not impressed. It was over-oaked, and lacked in complexity. You won’t find us spending $59 on an 87 point bottle that should be wrapped in a $18 package. Cool label though.

So that’s it. 12 Pinot Noirs. This wasn’t the best showing of Pinot we’ve seen, but there were definitely some highlights. We wouldn’t mind seeing a couple of them again. Thank for reading. Cheers!!!

Thanks for reading. Cheers!!!
Zak & Olena

Gamba Cellars Russian River Zinfandel 2005

Posted in California, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, Wine Reviews, Zinfandel by CreativeJuicesWine on December 2, 2009

Wow. Ok…

This bottle was given to us by our friend, and wine maker, Vic Poulos of Zin Valle Vineyards in Canutillo,TX. He asked us to let him know what we think of wine, and here we go.

Let us begin by saying that this wine has 15.9% alcohol. That’s freakishly high for most wines, even Zinfandel, which is synonymous with staggering alcohol contents. That being said, one would not know it.

Gamba Cellars has created a monster. Taken from old vines in the Russian River Valley of California, these Zinfandel grapes have been developed into amazing juice that we are clearly pretty excited about.

This wine exhibits nice peppery notes, with a bit of currant, smooth vanilla, and a touch of dirt or clay on the nose. It has a very pleasant bouquet that invites one into the first sip like the sly seductress it is.

Gamba Zin is a well-rounded, full-bodied wine that has rich tannins, and generous alcohol. In the mouth, powerful flavors of vanilla, rose pedal, cotton candy, plum, a pleasant dirtiness or earthiness, that rounds off with subtle cocoa and blueberry flavors as it finishes. We were also very impressed that we got as much sediment from this wine as we did given its age.

This is a very good wine, and if you see it anywhere, pick it up. It was a gift to us, so we aren’t going to disclose a price, however, it’s worth it. This is a 92 point wine. Delicious.

Thank you, Vic. This was a truly amazing gift, and we enjoyed it thoroughly. Cheers!

Dashe Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2007

Posted in California, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, Wine Reviews, Zinfandel by CreativeJuicesWine on November 28, 2009

This surprisingly low-alcohol Zinfandel from California was one of the bottles we opened on Thanksgiving, and are just now getting to finish up.

This 2007 vintage of Dashe Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel is a straightforward wine that exhibits a respectable amount of character in its youth. Dashe Zin exhibits a clear ruby coloration that leads through a few variations in color before it fades out towards the edge.

There isn’t a lot on the nose of this wine, but there is enough complexity on the palate to make this medium-full bodied wine worth talking about. With notes of black pepper, prune, blackberry, leather and oak, Dashe came through with this Zin. Overall, it’s rather pleasant, and finishes at a medium length.

At $25 retail, Dashe offers a reasonably priced option to take home, and drink with barbeque pork, or maybe even a pizza. We rate this wine 88 points, and recommend it. Cheers!

DeLoach Russian River Pinot Noir 2007

Posted in California, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, Wine Reviews by CreativeJuicesWine on October 26, 2009

This evening we enjoyed a bottle of DeLoach Russian River Valley Pinot Noir with our meals at Mesa Street Grill here in El Paso. This was most likely an effort to make up for last night’s debacle. In the end, it proved worth it.

The following is a description directly from the DeLoach website:
The cool, foggy Russian River Valley climate allows for slow ripening, enabling grapes to develop full flavor maturation over an extended time. The fruit for our 2007 blend was hand-harvested from select vineyards around the valley and crafted using traditional Burgundian techniques: fermentation in small, wooden, open-top vats; hand punch-downs; basket-pressing; and French oak barrel aging.
Ripe raspberries lift from the glass and mingle with tempting aromas of strawberry-rhubarb tart and cola.  Delicate notes of anise, cardamom and gingerbread spice lace the fruit to unfold a rich palate of black cherries supported by medium-fine-grained tannins. The finish lingers with attractive, subtle, toasty undertones, fine acid and excellent balance.  Pairs beautifully with barbecued leg of lamb or braised pork tenderloin.

We ordered the bottle, and our waiter Marc, decanted it for us. By this point, we had ordered our meals, and as per usual, there was a distance between them.
Olena’s Order: An unorthodox one that included Salmon, Chilean Sea Bass, Big Eyed Tuna, Shrimp and Scallops. She’s more adventurous in her pairings.
Zak’s Order: Rack of Lamb served over mashed potatoes with asparagus (An obviously more traditional order).
Although neither of the pairings were perfect, Zak’s was the safe choice that proved to be a friendlier match.
The only thing that really stood out about this wine was that it was spicier than most Pinot Noirs from the Russian River Valley in California. This can’t be said of all domestic Pinots, but in this case, it was definitely a factor. By no means does this insinuate the wine that was substandard, or varietally inaccurate. This was an excellent pinot that we ranked a 91.
We highly recommend this bottle that we bought at a restaurant for $40. At retail, you should be able to find it for around $19. Go out, and try this wine. Cheers!

Zak & Olena