Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

Jocelyn Lonen – 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon

February 28th, 2009

Tom, Dan, and Birthday GirlWe recently celebrated Lisa‘s 35th birthday at the Barrel RoomArlene had them prepare a special menu listing and wine flight.  Tom, Sue, Dan, Adam and Joey were all in attendance.  We had a great time celebrating.  We also drank some wine. 

As you can tell if you have read any of my wine “reviews,” they are not very professional or have much personal opinion.  Although I have taken a trip to Napa Valley, and have sampled many outstanding wines in my life, I often have no idea what I am drinking other than wine.  I am still developing tastes and likes etc.  I think documentation is a great place to start learning what you like and what you don’t like.  Anyway, on this night, we drank a 2005 bottle of Jocelyn Lonen Cabernet.  We paid $41 for the bottle but it retails for about $37.

It was a night of celebration, so I didnt take out my notepad to jot down thoughts.  But we all agreed, that we liked this wine.  Thats the review I have for you:  we liked it.

Jocelyn Lonen 2005 CabHere is what the winery thinks:

Two stellar new grape sources round out our 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon nicely.  Bennett Ranch Vineyard in Coombsville provides dense, intense fruit and vivid coloring.  Temple from north Napa is an organic, sustainable vineyard producing pristine, well balanced fruit.  Blended together with our Stagecoach/Krupp fruit, the result is a lush, highly concentrated wine with vibrant flavors of mocha, current, wild berry, and plum. 

Production: 2700 cases
Blend: 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec
Grape Source: Stagecoach, Krupp, Bennett Ranch, Temple Vineyards
Price: $35 per 750ml bottle

Castle Rock – 2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

February 18th, 2009

Castle RockOne of my favorite restraunts in San Diego, the world for that matter is Cafe Luna in Carmel Mountain Ranch.  On a recent trip there, Lisa and I ordered the 2006 Castle Rock Cabernet Reserve .  The bottle sells for $42 but you can purchase it retail for $16.

I have eaten at Cafe Luna many times, and this has turned into the wine I order every time.  It is very smooth to drink.  As usual, I smell mostly pepper and spice.  You can really taste the pepper too.  it is a rich and easy wine.  Lisa gave the wine a 8.5 saying “I like this wine.”  I gave it a 7.5 and we obviously would order it again.

Winery thoughts:
For sale by the case. We carefully handcrafted only 2,800 cases of the 2006 Castle Rock Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes were harvested from vines grown in the Napa Valley, one of California’s most prestigious grape growing appellations. The wine was fermented and then aged for eighteen months in mainly new French oak barrels which were coopered by Transaud, Vicard and Demptos. Our Castle RockReserve Cabernet Sauvignon is a deliciously full wine loaded with nuance and flavor. It is a deep garnet in color, and has aromas of dark cherry and molasses. On the palate it gives dark fruit flavors with a hint of cedar. The tannins are mellow, and it finishes harmoniously with long-lasting fruit flavors. It is perfect for drinking now, or it can be allowed to age and improve through 2011.

Barrel Monkeys – 2005 Shiraz

February 18th, 2009

Another wine from the barrel room.  This time we ordered Barrel Monkeys, which is a 2005 Austrailian Shiraz.  The wine comes from Redheads Studio, a Mclaren Vale Studio Winery.  We purchased this wine for $35 and it retails online for $16.

Barrel MonkeysAs you have noticed, my wine reviews are really elementary.  I am a novice.  I figure that the best way to learn tho, is to try and to document.  I one time took a trip to Napa, and learned a couple things that are my “go to” commentary.  Who knows how accurate I am.

So with this wine, we thought it tasted light and fruity.  I thought it had a spicy/peppery smell.  When I mentioned that to LAL, she said “it always just smells like alcohol to me.”

Another item of note, this bottle had a twist off cap.

We would order this again, but we did not give it a rating (out of forgetfulness, not out of “off the charts”)

The winery’s website was underconstruction when I went there, but here is a collection of tidbits found out there on the internet:

From The Wine Buyer:
Englishman Tony Laithwaite (you could call him the British equivalent of Dan Philips) bought an old bar called Red Heads in McLaren Vale, Australia and renamed it Red Heads Studio. He outfitted it with winemaking equipment and invited young, fresh out of college winemakers to try their hand at making small batches of wine with grapes that are usually very ripe from various sources in the region. The attraction is that these new winemakers usual starting jobs are working in wineries as “Barrel Monkeys” whose job is to move hoses and barrels around in a winery. The Studio gives them the opportunity to make wine which is what they really went to school for! This is one of those wines, which also has a completely irreverent label sort of explaining the whole Barrel Monkey job. We can only say that these Barrel Monkeys produced a wine that fans of in your face fruit bombs will enjoy!

This dark, almost opaque colored wine has nice aromas of blackberry and licorice. The juicy, full-throttle flavors hold true to the nose with blackberry, espresso, licorice and a hint of alcohol heat and pepper on the medium length finish. Wine Buyer 90 Points

Sub-Region: FLEURIEU
Appellation: MCLAREN VALE
Grape Varietal: SYRAH
Type: Still wine

From The Wine Spectator:
Raw-edged, with grippy tannins against ripe, red berry and plum flavors, lingering on the firm finish. Needs time to flesh out. Best after 2009. 5,000 cases made. 87 points

Acacia Pinot Noir 2006

January 26th, 2009

Hexagone GroupArlene, Lisa, Joey, Adrian and I ate dinner recently at a great new restraunt.  We had a splendid evening of laughter and food, and of course, wine.  We had a bottle of the Acacia Pinot Noir 2006 from Napa.  We thought it had a really pretty color.  Arelene thought she sensed scents of apple, while Joey was accosted with the smell of snails.  I think they were just smelling their food.  The wine smelled a bit musky, was very fragrant, and had a bit of a peppery or spice to the taste.  Arlene enjoyed the pretty gams.  I gave it a 7 and a yes that I would order this wine again.  Joey gave it a 9 and a yes.  Adrian and Arlene both gave it a 7 and a yes.  Lisa gave it an 8 and a yes.  This wine at Hexagone cost $46, and it retails for acacia1approximately $25.

Winery Thoughts
2006acaciapinotnoircarnerosThe myriad of dark fruit and floral notes in this Pinot Noir come from the cool, windy Los Carneros American Viticultural Area (AVA) in the southern reaches of Napa Valley. Satsuma plum, blackberry, red rose and violet notes weave through the enticing aromas, mingled with warm nuances of vanilla and toasted oak from barrel aging. Silky, elegant flavors echo the aromas, adding blueberry and plum to the rich fruit complexity. You’ll find this wine’s lush flavors, bright acidity and fine tannins are perfectly balanced to complement a broad range of foods.

Sebastiani Pinot Noir 2006

January 26th, 2009
Sonoma County

Sonoma County

sebastianiJoey recently ventured over to my house to a potluck of sorts.  With him he toted a bottle of 2006 Sebastiani Pinot Noir from the Sebastiani Winery in Sonoma County.  We enjoyed the wine with some steak and some salad.    We tossed around thoughts that the wine had a scent that reminded us of camamille and lavendar and upon sipping conjured up tastes consisting of pepper and fruit.  I thought it was merely a pretty bottle.  Adam gave it an 8.5 and said he would order it again.  Juan gave it a 5 on the scale of 10 and said he might order it again.  Joey gave it an 8.5 and a yes, while Lisa gave it a 9 and a yes.  I gave it a 7.5 and would definetly be up to drinking this wine again.  The wine prices retail for about $16.

Winery Thoughts

Sonoma Winery Map

Winery Map

The Vintage:
The 2006 vintage started off with cool, wet weather in May. Set was dry and stable in late May ensuring a good crop size. Summer continued mild with veraison starting in late July. August was cool, with considerable fog, resulting in long hang time for the grapes and substantial flavor development. We harvested the grapes beginning the third week of September through the second week of October, unusually late for Pinot Noir. The extended hang time allowed us to bring in the fruit at an average 25.5 degrees brix, with average pH at 3.51.

We didn’t crush the fruit before cold-soaking so as to minimize shearing or tearing, which can impart aggressive tannins in the finished wine. The whole berries were held at a chilly 40F to promote early color extraction. After 3 to 5 days, the must is slowly warmed and fermentation is induced by yeast inoculation. During this time, the wine is pumped over its skins 2-3 times a day at the peak of fermentation, then we chill down to prevent excessive tannin extraction. Once the right amount of color and flavor extraction is complete, the wine is gently pressed by an air bladder and only the free run and light press portions are used. The wine is racked off of heavy lees and re-racked with light lees into French and Hungarian oak barrels. The Pinot is allowed to go through malolactic fermentation in barrels and resides on lees for the duration of the barrel aging process. We stirred the wine occasionally to release proteins that help round out the flavor. 
Winemaker’s Notes:
This wine has a beautiful medium to dark garnet color with dried cherry, strawberry compote, vanilla and mocha aromatics. The flavor is balanced between juicy, cherry like fruit and toasted oak. This Pinot has finesse and finishes with lively acidity, firm tannins and well-integrated oak. It is the most Burgundian Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir we have made to date, with excellent aging potential.  

Silver Medal from Sonoma County Harvest Fair 2007
Wilfred Wong Rating: 90
Connoiseur Guide Rating: 89
GOOD VALUE, Connoisseurs’ Guide, 2/08
SILVER, 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Comp

Technical Data
Appellation: Sonoma Coast Composition: 100% Pinot Noir
Cooperage: Aged 3 months in French and Hungarian oak barrels Alcohol: 13.85% by volume
pH: 3.45 TA 0.60 g/100ml
Production: 39,000 cases    

Layer Cake Cabernet

January 21st, 2009

logoI attended with Lisa the 2 year anniversary of the Barrell Room this week.  Can you believe that place has been around for 2 years already?  If I had to wager a guess, I would have said barely over 1 year.  I’m really happy that place is doing well.  They could make some improvements (desert, main dishes), but their variety is great.  They offer the always safe cheese and meat plate, great wine selection, and you can never go wrong with a build your own <panini>.  I am either on a brie kick, or I love their brie there as well.

On to the wine.  We had a bottle of the 2007 Layer Cake wich is a Cabernet Savignon from the True Vine winery in Napa.  We paid $36 for the bottle.  It retails for $24.99  The wine bottle had an endearing story behind its name.  It said:

“My old grandfather made and enjoyed wine for 80 years. He told me the soils in which the vines lived were a layer cake. If properly made, the wine from these vines was like a delicious cake layerd with fruit, mocha, chocolate and hints of spice …and rich, always rich. ‘Never pass up a good Layer Cake’, he would say. I have always loved those words.” -A. Orlando Tribute, Jayson Woodbridge

Lisa enjoyed this wine more than I did.  I was first set off by the coloring.  I wasn’t sure if it was due to the brown marble bar that we sat at, but the wine gave off a brownish tint–similar to how wine looks when it is going bad. 
We tried to ascertain what smells the wine had, but surprisingly we couldn’t pick up a scent. Lisa stated “I couldn’t figure the scent out.” To which I replied, “Me neither, usually i just guess either peppery, oaky, or fruity.”
It wasn’t a super dry wine.  It had a light finish.  Lisa thought it was easy to drink and held a medium complex finish.  I felt that the finish was weak.  It kind of drained off and had a watery finish.
Lisa gave it a solid 6 while I gave it a weak 6 out of 10.  She would order it again, but I would not choose to. Though, I would drink it if I had to.

The winery is currently facing charges of making wine without a license.

The wine maker recently spoke at the Culinary Institute Of America (C.I.A) for its recent graduation.  If you are ever in Napa Valley, I reccomend that you visit the C.I.A.  It’s really a beautiful campus and offers cooking demonstrations practically daily.

Winery Thoughts:

Vintage: 2007
Wine Type: Bold Red Wine
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Napa Valley
Bottling Date: July 2007
Alcohol %: 14.2

Tasting Notes:
Beautiful deep garnet color. Aromas of blackberry, cassis, violets, cedar, tobacco, and hints of minerals and graphite. Sweet, densely packed and creamy in the mouth, but with firm, underlying structure that gives lift to the dark berry, chocolate, and coffee flavors. This is a very lush, soft, complex wine that coats the palate and spreads out on the long, lingering finish.

Winemaker Notes:
We fermented this Napa Valley Cabernet using hand punch downs and gentle pumpovers; then transferring some to French oak for aging. The most structured, most powerful lots were put into new French oak for aging to balance the tannins and extract the rich flavors from the barrique. Some lots that would benefit from the softening effect of time in oak were put into French barrels that were used to age Hunderd Acre. By carefully blending the differnet lots – varying oak types and different vineyard lots – we created a balanced and compklex wine.

Alexander Valley Cabernet

January 21st, 2009

alexandervalley1I ate dinner at Vincent’s in Escondido recently, and ordered a bottle of Alexander Valley Cabernet ’06.  It was an ok wine.  It was dry and had a oaky and peppery smell.  It was a pinkish purple color.  It was tasty and drinkable, but scored low scores.  Around the table it was given a 6, a 6.5 and a 7.  I would order it again, but it would not be at the top of my list.

The bottle retails for $12.99 at bevmo.

Others’ Thoughts:
90 PTS WILFRED WONG. Unusually fragrant and quite fine, the well-balanced ’06 Alexander Valley Vyds serves up pretty, red fruit flavors; firm and lasting on the palate; smooth in the finish.

St. Jakobi – Shiraz

December 19th, 2008

Lisa and I visited Capri Blue this past week for a dinner and a glass of wine.  When we arrived we found out that it was half price wine bottle night.  We ordered a 2003 Shiraz from the Barossa Valley of Austraila named St. Jakobi.  This wine hailed from the Dutschke winery.  The wine retailed at the restraunt for approx $64, we paid $32.  You can purchase it online currently for $27.

Our Thoughts:
I thought it had a pepper and oaky smell to it.  It appeared to have a some legs.  I asked lisa what it tasted like and she said “it tastes like good wine.”  She also thought it had a hint of honey in the taste.  It held a strong yet not complex finish.  The wine was a nice purple/lavendar hue.  There was a taste of some sort of berry that we could not recognize–a btbnl (berry to be named later).  We gave this wine an 8 out of 10, and we would definetly order it again.

Winery Thoughts:
In 1934 my Grandfather, Oscar Semmler purchased the vineyard and grazing property across the road from where he and his brothers grew up. The property is located at Lyndoch in the Barossa Valley, along side of the “St. Jakobi” Lutheran church and school. It is in the St Jakobi Church where my great grandparents, grandparents, parents and now Brenda and myself have all been married.

The Shiraz grapes for “St. Jakobi” come from this family vineyard, from vines planted in 1975 by Oscar’s son Ken Semmler (my uncle).

We’ve been blessed by having “great dirt”, and a vineyard that consistently produces fruit each year that shows elegance, richness in spice, plum and chocolate like characters.

This 2003 “St Jakobi” Shiraz is made using the same techniques I started with back in 1998.

We harvest the vineyard on 2 or sometimes 3 occasions, picking across the flavour spectrum, ferment in open fermenters and age the wine in a combination of both French and American oak hogsheads, purchased from 9 different coopers. This allows me to combine the wines from those better barrels to make a more interesting wine showing the full potential of the Shiraz fruit.

Winemaker: Wayne Dutschke
Vineyard: Ken Semmler’s Lyndoch Vineyard
Region: Lyndoch, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Harvest Date: 27th February and 7th March 2003
Alcohol: 14.5%
Oak Maturaton: 24 months in New and Older French and American Hogsheads
Cellaring potential: 5-8 years

91 pts, WineSpectator, December 05
88 pts., WineFront Monthly May 2005
92 pts, Tyson Stelzer “Wine Press”
94 pts, James Halliday Australian Wine Companion 2007

Educated Guess – Cabernet

November 25th, 2008

Yesterday afternoon, Lisa and I enjoyed an early dinner at the Barrel Room.  We ordered a bottle of a 2005 cabernet called Educated Guess from the Roots Run Deep Winery in Napa Valley.  The restaurant charges $26 for this bottle, but you can purchase it online for about $17.

Our Thoughts:

It had a pretty label/bottle.  It was a dark cherry red in color and had a strong oaky bouquet.  It was a very strong and complex finish.  The wine had long legs.  It wasn’t the best of wines and we were not very pleased.  However, it was a drinkable wine–if we had to.  We ranked it 4 out of 10, and we would not order it again if given a choice.

Winery Details:

Oh, and everyone wants to know about our unique label. Our label was designed to tell the story of how you can make an educated guess in winemaking, not to give you nightmares about your high school chemistry class. It shows you actual winemaking formulas that are either induced or naturally occur during a specific winemaking process. For those of you who aren’t chemists and want to know more about what the 5 formula strings on the label mean, please email us and we will happily send you more information. For the rest of you, drink up and enjoy!!!

2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
100% Napa Valley
85% Rutherford, 15% Yountville/Oakville
Cases Produced
Napa Valley Varietals

85% Cabernet Sauvignon 12% Merlot
2% Petite Verdot 1% Malbec
Rich, ripe and focused with juicy blackberry and
boysenberry fruit, all tied together with a creamy
french vanilla middle and a lingering finish.
12 months in French and American Oak
Suggested Retail Price

2480 Cabernet Sauvignon

November 19th, 2008

Last night I went to the Barrel Room in Rancho Bernardo with Lisa and enjoyed a bottle of wine.  We had a 2005 Cab from the Hollywood and Vine Cellars of Napa Valley.  The BR price was $94, though it retails for $75.  We had the bottle decanted.  The wine is made by 2008 wine maker of the year, Celia Masyczek.

Our thoughts on this wine:

The color was a deep, opaque red.  The wine was very easy to drink and held a very smooth finish.  Our waitress put it well when she said that it was one of her favorites because “It is very fruity tasting for a cabernet.  And depsite its fruity jam like tastes, it is complex and really holds its cabernet muscles that you would expect from a cab.”

We ranked this wine as an 8 out of 10, yet the best review something can get, is that yes, we would order this wine again.

The Wine Spectator gave this vintage of wine a 92 point score and wrote:  “A big, rich, hearty mouthful of Cabernet, but not without its measure of elegance and refinement, offering ripe, plump, sumptuous layers of blackberry, black cherry, currant, sage and spice. Keeps a tight focus through the long, persistent finish.”

Below is the makers review of this wine:

We are privileged, once again, to be harvesting fruit from some of the finest vineyards in the Napa Valley; both hillside and mid-valley benchland fruit. Our winemaker, Celia Masyczek, has performed magic in blending this powerhouse of a wine.

2480 – 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Tasting Notes
             100% Cabernet Sauvignon

VINEYARDS: The Hollywood & Vine 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested from five very unique growing regions, all within Napa Valley. The fruit comes from the highest reaches of Mount Veeder, the exceptional terroirs of the Oakville and Rutherford Bench, and from the steepest Spring Mountain slopes.  Harvested in separate small lots between October 3 and October 31, 2005, the vineyards were kept entirely separate in barrels for the first 6 months, then judiciously blended and allowed to “marry” for several additional months of aging before being lightly filtered for clarity, previous to bottling in May of 2007.

BARREL AGING: Fermented on skins for approximately three weeks, then transferred to barrels (60% new French oak). The wine was aged in small oak for approximately 20 months.

ANALYSIS: Alcohol: 14.9% by volume

CASES PRODUCED: 1380 – 12 x.750ml cases, 119 cases – 12 x 375 ml , 50 cases – 6 x 1.5lt., 24 – 3lt.

RELEASE DATE: April 2008

WINEMAKER: Celia Masyczek

WINEMAKER NOTES: This ultra-ripe Cabernet shows the complexity of its multi-faceted origins.  Juicy black cherry and raspberry notes from Oakville and Rutherford dominate the aromas, as Spring Mountain’s trademark purple plum, mocha, and sweet black olive notes add complexity.  Structurally, while the wine shows the density of hillside fruit from Mt. Veeder and Spring Mountain, part of the identity of the 2005 vintage seems to be a slightly more elegant and approachable tannin profile, supplemented by the silky qualities of the Rutherford and Oakville benchland vineyards.


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