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Week of 7/28 -- Clif Bar Winery - Three Pack

2004 The Climber (2)
2003 Gary's Improv (1)

This week's pack:
todd999430 (2003 Gary's Improv)
docpw (2003 Gary's Improv)

PsychoRNGD (2004 The Climber)
yanktex (2004 The Climber)

labROUS (2004 The Climber)

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labROUS wrote:Early labROUS report. I'm out of here in a few minutes, so I have to post this a bit early. Have a great week everyone.

LabROUS report 2004 Clif The Climber

Color: medium depth, quite purple. I noticed this was a blend of several varieties when WD gave it to me last week, but I intend not to look at the makeup until after I have smelled and tasted the wine. Initial aromas are dominated somewhat by oak, along with ripe berry-cherry fruit, brown sugar and hints of tar and leather. Swirling brings out the cherry and raspberry aromas along with a spicy, licorice-like component and a slight whiff of alcohol. The oak is not as obvious, and there are notes of black pepper, olive, cassis, tobacco and leather. The aromas don't change a lot with more time and aeration – I still get raspberry and cherry with a bit of watermelon, licorice, brown sugar, slight hints of tar, leather and soy. In summation ; there's a lot going on aromatically; this wine is fruity, but not simple. Don't let the references to tar, leather and soy bother you – these are minor nuances, not dominant characters.

The entry is medium full, with a supple texture. There is enough acid to keep the fruit bright, with cherry and raspberry flavors. The tannins are moderate with some astringency and a little bit of drying chalkiness on the otherwise sweet (fruit and alcohol, not RS) and long finish. There also is a slight touch of heat on the finish. This wine definitely has enough fruit and suppleness to enjoy by itself, but I think the bit of tannin and decent acid level make it a good candidate for matching with rich food. This has the stuff to last at least another 2-4 years, but it certainly is very ready to drink now, and I'd be inclined to drink it sooner than later.

Now comes the fun, and hard part – guessing the composition. Raspberry (and watermelon), brown sugar and black pepper say Zin. The cherry suggests Merlot. Certainly some Cab, with the olive, tobacco and cassis. Maybe some Syrah, but I don't really pick up the smoky, bacony, gamy trademark Syrah aromas. The purplish color and slight tannic edge might be from Durif (PS) or Petite Verdot, but I don't get excessive tannins, so I don't think either of these is a significant component. What else is possible? Pinot noir – no, maybe Carignan, Malbec, or Cab. Franc (licorice).
On looking at the back label, I'm surprised there's more Syrah than Merlot or Cabernet sauvignon. These three (and the Durif/PS) certainly give structure and complexity to the Zin.

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todd999430 wrote:I am a Lab Rat. I just got by bottle 30 minutes ago and have just now poured my glass with a quick first sip. I will add in more information later, but it's a tasty wine.

Note: I received the Meritage 2003 Clif bottle.

So I've let the wine sit for a little while. I've taken a few sips and am surprised at how smooth the wine feels. A comment from the wife says "wow, smooth... no bite at the end, tastes nice." The description of super-soft tannins is not a lie.

There are strong hints of Merlot (it's 87.5% merlot, 12.5% cab) but it has a different feel than most Merlots. If I didn't know the percentage, I would assume the Meritage was at least 33% Cab. There is a strong, delightful berry-ish full flavor at the beginning. I definitely sense the Coca and Cinnamon. I suspect this wine is going to taste quite good with the salt and pepper steaks I've got on the grill now. I'll update in a bit.

Perhaps the best recommendation of this wine is that I'm going to order another batch. I like this Meritage a lot. I'm a Meritage fan to begin with (how did Woot know?) but this is a treat to drink.

More to come...

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docpw wrote:Funny, as I was ordering this woot yesterday, I thought “It’s not often lately that I order in time to even qualify as a LaBrat, maybe this will be my week.” Of course, I promptly forgot about that thought in the whirlwind that was Monday of a work week. Today, I noticed that there was a FedEx package on the floor of the office (we’re a small office for whom wine.woot deliveries are a none-too-infrequent event, so nobody thought twice about this being the wrong day and the wrong carrier…) from the right return address! Yes, a golden ticket and accompanying bottle of 2003 Gary’s Improv meritage. In order to ensure the broadest taste sampling, the four of us in the office of legal drinking age agreed to sample this promptly at the close of business. I’ll offer you a gamisch of everyone’s comments:
The bottle: 2003 Clif Bar Family Winery Gary’s Improv Meritage
Color: Deep garnet red, brick tones at the edges. Certainly darker than I would have expected from a wine only 5 years old.
Nose: predominantly Cab, black fruits with a hint of raspberry and one taster smelled licorice or allspice.
The tasting: medium full body, nice balance of fruit, but not a fruit bomb to us. More black fruits and spiciness, maybe some cinnamon? Integrated tannins that don’t parch the roof of the mouth, nice brightness in the mid palate. Nicely balanced. A long, lingering, smooth finish. Less technically slanted comments: “yum”, “this is really nice”, “I’ve got to tell my son about this wine.”
An additional glass after arriving home (about 90 minutes after opening) showed the tannins there, but moving into the front of the tougue, not objectionable at all. And a faint almost cotton-candy element late in the finish. Still nicely balanced and smooth. I like this wine!
I’m tempted to buy another 6 from the winery site, and regrettably only was in for 2 woots this week. If there’s a discount offer with the regular shipment, I’m sunk.
I hope those amateurish notes are helpful, as a multitude of ‘Rat reports have been to me. Thanks to WD and wine.woot for the chance to participate.

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PsychoRNGD wrote:Wahoo I got to be a LabRat!! I recived a bottle of the "Climber"

I was very excited to see that this was a "CLIF" WINE. I'm a outdoorsy person and I live on CLIF bars, so I was in for this trio just for the name.

I'm not a BIG wine drinker but I like cabs and zins. Here is what I (and some family) thought of it.

The Reveiwers:
T: Fav is Cabs (probably the most experanced taster)
K: Fav is Pinot Grigio (doesn't mind wine in a box one bit)
Me: Fav Zins (Prefers beer but likes dry kinda sweet wines)
Mc: Just 21!

T: "LET IT BREATH!!!" (He yells this from the other room)
K: Sweet pulpy smell
Me: Very strong harsh smell at first but pleasent, I liked it.
M: Stinging smell, very tart smell.

First Taste:
T: "Very hard to break down, flavor wise."
K: "Warm Rich Taste"
Me: Very smooth and then a slight bite at the end.
Mc: Dont' like it...

Other Thoughts:
Me: Quite Fruity, berry to be more specific.
Mc had her own thing going:
"First Taste: watered down Middle-Taste: enjoyable Aftertaste: strong tartness"

Final Thoughts:
T: "Very confused"
K: "Rich, full and smooth."
Mc: (Didn't finsih the glass)
Me: If your bored with your wine or feel like a challange go for it! Eveyone had a hard time discribing this wine. You will have fun trying to taste all the flavors. If you have more then enough wine that your happy with then this is nothing special.

I look forward to tasting the Improv!

Thanks WineDave!!

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yanktex wrote:I opened the bottle shortly after arriving home, and poured a couple ounces into my glass and was immediately hit with the fruit. I decanted about half of the rest of the bottle for later tasting.

After sitting for just a couple minutes in the glass the strong fruits have abated a bit but there is a definite hot bite (to my nose at least) to it. That heat, however, is a bit deceiving as I get very little of it when I took the first sip. I was very excited to get the Climber, and likewise excited about Zinfandel being a big component of this blend. I am a big Zin fan, and absolutely love the big fruit bombs typical of Paso Zins. This is not like that. Do not get me wrong, there is definite fruit here, but it is not over-powering and it is certainly not the dominant characteristic. Overall, first impressions are very nice...good, deep color and a nice balance of fruit and acids, a little dry on the finish, but a great red blend. For those who are not big red fans, I would definitely put this into the “easy and approachable” category.

After decanting and breathing a little more, it is even more balanced. The heat and tannins have moved even further to the back and the fruit is more pronounced. Again, the fruit is not overpowering, or even over done. It is there, in good balance with everything else and I am really enjoying it. I have a relatively good palate, but my wine-tasting vocabulary is perhaps not as evolved. Therefore, I will not go into detail about any specific berries I am tasting (they are definitely there, however), and I do sense some licorice and perhaps leather there.

My conclusion is I like it, and I am thrilled I was in for 3. With 25 wine woots since February, I was thrilled to finally be endowed with the privilege to be a LabRat. I apologize for its delay, however, it was out of my control. I hope my brief review is helpful, and if it comes back before the next offer at midnight my recommendation is BUY BUY BUY.


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Offering of 8/4 -- Laura Zahtila Vineyards Napa Cab - Three Pack

This offering's pack:
andyduncan (corked bottle) (redemption bottle)

Partners in Crime:


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andyduncan wrote:Preview, tasting notes forthcoming.

andyduncan wrote:Unfortunately our bottle was badly corked. We had about five people in the office taste it. I brought it over to a friends house for dinner to decant it and see if it just needed to open up, but no dice.

I'm trying to track down a replacement bottle, but so far no luck. If anyone knows where I can find this on the west side of LA, let me know. So far I've only been able to find the Beckstoffer vineyard. Winex has it in orange, but I won't be able to get down there till Thursday.

If my shipment gets here tomorrow, I'll open one and continue my La Brat duties (though they usually arrive on thursday or friday).

I apologize for failing miserably.
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andyduncan wrote:Ok, so here's the thing about wine.woot:

Last night and this morning I've been going back and forth with Laura in PMs trying to figure out a way to get a bottle of this to replace the corked Lab Rat bottle. Javadrinker pipes in and says he can pick up a bottle in Orange and bring it about half way, not to drink it, mind you, but to courier it to me. Unfortunately I'm not going to be able to go down to get it (I'm going to see Eddie Izzard tonight, yay).

Meanwhile Laura's tracking down distributors, and we're trying to find a place that has it that I can get to during the day.

I just got a call from Laura and she put a bottle at will call at a shipping house more or less near my office. I'm going to go pick it up at lunch. The race is now on to see if I can swish and spit before this thing sells out.

Where else would this kind of thing even happen?

I'm floored. Really. Hats off to Laura, WD, Java and all the wine.woot fanatics that make this place about way more than just cheap wine.

EDIT: And she did all this, knowing damn well the thing was going to sell out anyway.

andyduncan wrote:Ok, screw lunch. Went and got the bottle from Laura's Logistics/Shipper/Whatever.

Quick impressions: Yeah, our other bottle was badly corked. Much bigger, fuller, fruitier wine, even right out of the bottle.

It's a great deal for $22. Buy what's left. Pencilthief and I will post more detailed notes in a couple minutes.

andyduncan wrote:Round Two:

This is still pretty quick out of the bottle.

The nose is a little strange, kind of metallic, in a weird way, with some soil. Like dirty metal berries. With some vanilla. There's a tiny bit of heat, but it's not overpowering at all.

The taste is dominated by blackberry. With more vanilla. There's oak here, but it's all vanilla and spice, not that acrid nasty over-oaked ridiculousness of some wines.

Finish is yet more blackberries, pepper and tannins, a little warm, but pleasantly, lingeringly warm, not hot. Long finish.

This is a big wine. Lots of fruit, lots of flavor, medium tannins. But it's not overoaked and it hides the alcohol pretty well. I tend to be more of an old-world earthy fan than a big Cali Cab fan, but I like this wine, it's still nicely balanced and it's not all fruit. The nose is interesting, but I don't mean that in an RPM "Interesting = bad" way, I mean interesting, it's different and complex.

If it hasn't sold out while I was typing this, I'd recommend it.

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pencilthief wrote:It's noon here on the west coast and I've been handed a glass of wine from AndyDuncan (no space). Apparently I've been added to the lab rat duties that Andy has been jumping through hoops to complete.

First. Smell. Dry to slightly moist tinder sticks. A punch of green bell pepper. Hints of mixed berries (nothing to distinct). A decent amount of soil. And a random band-aide sneaks in here and there.

Taste. The Berries jump for me here. Still nothing to distinct. However, it is certainly a dark rich berry. Very well balanced. Not to tannic. The earthy soil is gently blended with the fruit. The pepper makes its way to the end with a slight bit of heat.

A non complex finish. I think with time this wine may provide a bit more length.

I'm not sure what I would pair this up with yet, food wise. Although it is lunch time. So maybe a burger???

Overall. I think this is a steal at this price. I guess I should finish up now so I can purchase before the sell out.

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hld1970 wrote:Well, I am home and tasting the Zahtila cab and come on here to post my labrat notes and its...sold out!

I opened it about an hour ago and let it air out. My first glass, after letting it sit in the glass for about 20 mintues:

Nose: Dry with a scent of raisins, earth and pencil lead.

Taste: Definitely a lot of red fruit mixed with hint of pepper spice. Very moist with a short finish. I think it will be better served with a little more time laying down, IMHO.

While this may be meaningless since it has sold out, I think it is a very very good value in a region where most cabs are overpriced generally. Thanks to WD and Laura!

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afranke wrote:After reading through my contract (golden ticket) it appears that I *must* open this bottle and have a glass.

Very well. Here 'goes.

Sniffing the cork: I think we're ok, here. No wet dog.

Color: very, very deep, almost inky burgundy. Held up to the light and tilted towards the rim, there's only a half-inch that's translucent at all.

First sniff of the bouquet: earthy, a bit of smoke, very ripe.

Really getting my nose in there: Something fuller, more like fruit but I can't put my finger on it. A bit of heat from the 15%, but nothing nostril-shattering. Coffee?

First taste: Bing cherries, blackcurrant. Dark chocolate? The tannins don't hit until well after the finish, but it's not so overwhelming as more like I just bit into a hand-full of blackberries.

Second sips, making that funny "aerating" noise: A bit more vegetal, almost like a bit of red apple where it's all the skin. Same flavors as before. I really love the finish on this: it's simple, but flavorful and lingering.

Summary: I really, really like this wine. Having been sort of raised on cali cabs, this brought back memories of much pricier bottles that my parents let me try when I was younger. I'm wishing I had gotten two. I think giving this wine a bit of time might tone down the heat a bit, but that might be a give-and-take with the lower tannins. While my initials aren't RP, I'd rate this an 88. Very good, great quality, but still a little hot/young.

Again, I'm sorry this comes with only a few minutes left (well, many hours after it sold out). I'll try to sweet-talk the secretary in the department office to let me know if any packages arrive on Tuesdays or Fridays in the future.

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Offering of 8/7 -- Laura Zahtila Vineyards Napa Valley Chardonnay - Three Pack

This offering's pack:
NoVA/DC #5 Attendees
nallie (blaming Mailboxes, etc for late entry! Oops!)


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olabner I promised a quasi-LabRat report on this wine. Here you go.

Enjoyed this wine with a blackened chicken mozzarella dish my wife makes quite well. Laura, thanks for the tips no dishes, but I'm allergic to shrimp (I know, the horror...), and we didn't have everything on hand for the chicken dish we recommended. That said, the blackened chicken was a nice alternative. On to the wine...

Everything about this wine reminds me more of a Sauvignon Blanc than a Chardonnay.

The color is quite light; the look is very crisp and clean.

Nose: It is a bold nose, but again, not your typical Chardonnay. I was thinking Savignon Blanc right away (and really throughout this wine drinking experience). It's quite fruity. Notes of green apple, and, to me, loads of citrus. Perhaps grapefruit? Way, way, way (and I mean WAY) in the back, I almost caught a hint of pineapple, and then it was gone.

Taste: Lots of sharp citrus here, and again with the green apple. A bit of vanilla here, but not a hint of butter or oak (and maybe I'm odd, but I like butter and oak in my Chardonnay). The only thing about this wine that seemed more in the Chardonnay vein than the Sauvignon Blanc style was the mouth feel. This Chardonnay coats your mouth nicely and lingers. It definitely has a staying power that lighter Saugnon Blancs often seem to lack.

My conclusion: Not a typical Chardonnay. Chardonnay is my favorite white varietal (though I am red man), but I prefer my Chardonnay with a bit more butter and oak. This, however, is a very nice wine. Pairs well with food. You could, however, drink this wine and alone and it would perform admirably that way as well.

The only word of caution here is this: I found this wine very easy to drink. Maybe it's the heat, but I could easily have guzzled this wine before the alcohol caught up to me.

Final word: At about $15 per bottle shipped to your door, this wine is a steal. Don't walk, RUN to the big yellow button.


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kkv123 wrote:I was one of the lucky ones who had the opportunity to preview this wine at the recent DC/VA rose tasting. I can state with enthusiasm that this is no stiff butter bomb, but a lithe, crisp little number. I also recall some nice spiciness, but perhaps these nuances were magnified as a result of the rest of the wines we were tasting at the time.

The greatest surprise for me was the fact that this wine was, indeed, a chardonnay. I would never had guessed it. I am always pleased to find a wine that shakes up my preconceptions of a particular varietal, and this wine did that quite nicely.

Thanks Laura and WineDavid. I'm in!

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cheron98 wrote:

cheron - thanks for cross-posting my unofficial labrat report on this wine. i was wondering if i should, since i wasn't selected and all. anyway, good stuff. thanks.


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Late entry rattage for the Laura Zahtila Cab:

jbohonow wrote:Hi All,
This is my first post to WW. I was a "labrat" for the Cabernet offering (my first time!) and was also surprised to see it had sold out when I went to post last night. We opened our bottle with a steak dinner. We found this wine to be enjoyable but not particularly memorable. I usually like my reds to have more body and a longer finish. However, since this wine isn't "overpowering" in any way (fruit, tannin, alcohol, etc...) it would be a great choice for gatherings or dinners with people who have varied preferences.

Again, I am sorry the offering was over before my post and hope that this doesn't disqualify me from future opportunities

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Late entry volunteer for the Laura Zahtila CS:

clayfu wrote:Aight tasting from tonight.

I drank 1 oz at 3pm and let it sit open till 7pm. Poured in a glass...
Nose: heat, with light oak, wood shavings, stewed dark fruits with a bit of bright fruit trying to burst through.
taste: hot alcohol, i honestly can't believe this is 14.3%, it drinks far more like a 15+% cab. A bit of pepper and green pepper and some fruit, it's all masked under the alcohol and oak. Light tannins in the back.
Finish: short.

I had one glass of this during dinner that I thought was fine, the alcohol seemed to have toned down and a dark fruit taste came out mixed with light oak. But then it just disappeared. No one else at the table tasted it.

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docpw wrote:{Runs into room, panting} Sorry I’m late!

The planets seemed to alternately align and misalign for this labrat to get his report up in a timely fashion. We were travelling out of town this weekend, and having been labratted fairly recently, I never anticipated the possibility that my name would come up again. Work duties called much later than anticipated Friday morning, meaning I couldn’t get out of the office until noon. As I was opening the door to leave, there was the building manager who told me she had to “sign for some wine” and wanted to make sure it got into the office instead of the front waiting room. I was expecting my Clif Bar Winery woot to arrive Friday, so wasn’t terribly surprised… but wait, that’s a FedEx label - that’s not right.

Yes, through some curious twist of fate, or more likely some fortuitous computer glitch, I was a labrat again! But how to taste, with the 4 hour drive from Vermont to Cape Cod on the agenda? My wife was more than happy to agree that we’d taste upon our arrival at the hotel before we went out for a dinner reservation; we’d have 2 hours or so, plenty of time to sample and post. Unfortunately, that didn’t account for summer vacation spot traffic which turned the 4 hour drive into a 6 hour one, eliminating check-in to the hotel before dinner.

Being creative people, we thought “No problem, we’ll just have the wine with dinner at the restaurant and pay a corkage fee, then post the comments when we get back to the room.” We arrived at the restaurant and explained that it was a long story, but we had a bottle of wine that had to be drunk tonight, would the let us have it with dinner. Response: no, we don’t do that, even with a corkage charge. Harrumph. Dinner was lovely, but accompanied by a martini and a lovely bottle of Meursault resulting in two “tasters” whose comments about the wine wouldn’t have been terribly insightful or useful by the time the tipsy couple returned to the room at 10:30. Time to move to “plan D”…

We finally got to sample the 2006 Laura Zahtila Vineyards Chardonnay at lunchtime today. The tasting panel consisted of me, my wife and my parents. My folks tend to be less picky about wine but were enthused about participating. A smattering of impressions follows:

Appearance: pale straw-gold with faint greenish tinge.

Nose: Fairly subtle chardonnay fruit at first, opens up to a fuller expression with time. One of the accompaniments to the tasting was pizza (yes, I know, hardly typical chardonnay fare) which brought out come subtle clove in the nose, but that might have been more the food than the wine.

Tasting: medium body, bright acidity, a silky creaminess in the mid-palate. Minimal to no malo-lactic butteriness. Slight oak that was there, but as a background player rather than in your face that was nicely balanced and definitely didn’t detract from the fruit. Medium long, pleasant finish. Oh, and a hint of vanilla.

One of the tasters who’s not as familiar with wine terminology liked it because it wasn’t “vinegary”. 

Overall, the tasters felt this closer to Chablis style than the typical California chard butter-oak bomb. All agreed that this was a very good thing! This is chardonnay for those who don’t typically like chardonnay. At the price point (or even a bit higher!), especially in this season, it was strong “buy” all around the table.

Once again, thanks to WD and to whatever planetary alignment, code monkey fluke or act of God allowed me a repeat labrat performance. And my apologies again for my tardiness…
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Offering of 8/11 -- Wellington Three-Pack Plus Mystery Wine Challenge

Should be seeing a LOT of rats this week...

2004 Cabernet Sauvignon
2004 Zinfandel
2004 Merlot
Mystery Wine

This offering's pack:
duckduckgoose (Merlot)
sanity (Cabernet Sauvignon)
kriegster (Zinfandel)

MaskedMarvel (2002 - 2004 Merlot Vertical)
cheron98 (2003 Merlot)

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MaskedMarvel wrote:Wellington Merlot (Sonoma Valley) Vertical Tasting Notes - 2002, 2003 (Estate), 2004 (Estate)

All bottles open for 1 hour at room temperature.

2002 -

Tartrate crystals on the cork.

Ruby to garnet with light but pleasant oaky smoke in the nose. Plum and fresh cut grass bouquet.

We noted moderate flavour intensity in an elegant style. Red cherry, raspberry, plum, and less so tobacco and spice. Slightly off-dry with low acidity. Medium complexity that is perfectly balanced. The finish is quick but solid with mild acids showing through.

We felt this wine would be paired well with an unimposing dish, perhaps seared beef tenderloin on a crostini. As a vegetarian option, we'd serve SB this with a goat-cheese stuffed and grilled portabello.

2003 -

Nothing notable about the cork.

A ruby wine with pleasant aromas of earth, oaky smoke, and well balanced spice. We got tons of Marachino Cherry in the bouquet, which was one of those "ah-ha" moments where we were surprised but certain.

In an elegant style, the bountiful flavours showed red cherries, raisin, oak, and slight coffee and tobacco over terroir. We noted round, subtle tannins. A medium dry/sweet, we found middle of the road acids with a perfect complex balance. The finish lingered well.

The recommended food for this wine was agreed to be sharp cheeses. Perfect as a starter for your meat dishes.

2004 -

There are heavy lees on the cork and in the neck.

A ruby wine with some interesting aromas - alcohol, smoke, earth, currant, mild anise, and asparagus. These changed over the course of the tasting, but were notable upon initial sampling.

Flavours start unoffensive and silky. Elegant wine that stains the glass a little more than what I'd expect from a Merlot. Dark fruit all over this one - blackberry, Cassis, blueberry, and plum, with oaky cedar complimented by a hint of chocolate tobacco. Very mild candied licorice in there as well. The initial reaction to the first taste was noted - "Lovely."

It's off-dry with firm medium acidity. Complex and medium bodied that integrated well with mild tannins to bring the balance around. A solid finish to this wine.

Noted that we felt this wine NEEDED food. Not a real stand alone drinker for us. Almost as if the wine WANTS to be there, but needs another year of rest to truly shine.

Food pairing was agreed as moderately spicy foods. Grills. Pizza.

I'm tempted not to post my scoring, since that's pretty subjective and, frankly, one of these wines ... ah screw it...

We gave the 2002 - 83 points.
2003 - 96 points.
2004 - 88 points.

No typo there. The 2003 was drinking perfectly. I'd be extremely disappointed if the 2004 wouldn't mature into this level for me. Don't ask how I score - I have a system and it's totally flawed. But it's mine..

Good juice SB - Thanks for reading.

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cheron98 wrote:and now, on to the promised tasting notes for the 2003 Wellington merlot. Poured into a decanter to remove sediment, then served in a Reidel merlot glass. Has been aerating for about 15 minutes now. I'd tell you the temp of it but the cat is sleeping on my foot and disallowing me from getting my thermometer.

Color: deep, deep garnet. The wine is clear but you really can't see through it. Clears out about 1/8" from the edge at a pale pink color.

Nose: super saturated plum, cassis, leather, slight hint of oak, and a little bit of freshly-made semolina pasta. Or maybe it's kind of an aromatic basmati rice... Concentrating on that ricey scent (since it's kind of different) it reminds me of a dish I made of sauteed red and yellow bell peppers, onions, and celery mixed in with basmati. Smells exactly like that. But mixed with plum, cassis, leather and oak. Maybe I'm just weird.

Taste: black pepper, plum, black cherries. vanilla and oak on the mid-palate. Just a touch of tannins, definitely not overpowering by any means. And just a touch of heat from the 14.8% ABV.

Finish: Oh man, there's that bell pepper and onion again... maybe I just have a craving for it, but this sure is reminding me of that dish. Just little hints of it. The oak comes back for a second kick on the finish. Lasts for about 30 seconds with potency, fades away completely after about 45.

Texture: smoooooth. This is one well-balanced wine.

I'm having some leftover chicken and mac n cheese for dinner tonight, haven't hit that, so let's do that now, even though it's not a "traditional" pairing for a merlot.

Ok that really brings out the plum and black pepper. The ricey thing is totally gone after having this. Smooths out the tannins completely... they were mild before, gone now.

This is some delicious juice, and I'm sure Peter sticks true with the 04 vintage. Super glad I'm in for 3, especially since this is my last merlot of his

If I had to put a number to it, I'd say it's at least an 89, possibly higher. Enjoy!

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LabRat 2004 Wellington Cabernet Sauvignon
I'm not a cab lover, so maybe I was a good choice to review this wine.

olives, cheese, seeded crackers
Broccoli with brown butter bread crumbs mixed with fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Baked potatoes
Grilled rib eye steaks lightly coated with a rosemary rub

Opened wine 1 hour before dinner.
The color was a brighter red than I imagined it would be; a very pretty red color.

Initial aroma was of a traditional Cabernet Sauvignon. I smelled fruit, oak, pepper, and a very earthy almost dirt aroma, which for me was very pleasant. The legs were a bit thin, but kept their shape down the side of the glass.

The initial taste upon opening was earthy and peppery. I knew it needed to breath and would be enjoyable with dinner. The initial mouth feel was chalky and peppery.

1 hour later with dinner: What a transformation! The taste was a bit fruitier, still very earthy, a sweet black pepper taste, some oak, other spices, maybe cinnamon, much more smooth. Very pleasant wine with dinner, and I think the rosemary rub was a nice accompaniment with the earthy flavors. The chalky mouth feel was gone, the tannins smoothed, though not completely. Not knowing much about aging, I would guess this would age well for 3-5 years or so. I could just taste a hint of things to come.

Since mr sanity was away from home, I invited my neighbors to join me for dinner and tasting. They only drink whites. Their initial response upon opening was, "what's that feeling on my tongue? chalk?", but with the meal, they enjoyed the wine very much. On their own, they noticed how much smoother the wine tasted after time and with the food. We gathered around the pond in the garden enjoying the cooler evening air and the remnants of the wine. Fisticuffs ensued over the last glass in the bottle. I would not want to sleep at their house tonight!

I'm sorry about the late post; I had to finally kick out the neighbors. Besides, they were wanting to get in the wine fridge, and see what other Wellington wines were hiding in there. They kept saying, "but we don't usually like reds, why do we like this?" and I was secretly hoping they would not discern the label on the Cuvee R.

This wine was a revelation with the food, and just a hint of what the future holds. Well done, SB, and thanks WD.


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Link to Duckduckgoose's labrat report on main thread.

duckduckgoose wrote:Labrat report for 2004 Merlot

Quick review: What are you waitng for?? Buy this before they sell out!


More detailed review: This wine is a very good example of why merlot is so popular across the world...smooth, very easy to drink, feels great in the mouth, moderate complexity. A great wine to share with new and old wine lovers.

First glance: Beautiful deep ruby color. Clear.

First sniff: Nothing over-powering--blackberry, plum with a touch of cherry licorice. Later on, noticed a little leather and more pronounced blackberry.

First taste: mmmmm smooth, soft tannins, fairly well balanced---really like the way it feels in my mouth. Nice finish, no sudden drop-off. Palate feels like it is smiling.

This wine is fine on it's own...hard to imagine not finishing what you started with this bottle.

It also pairs well with moderately spicey food (tortellini with meat sauce tonight)...and would probably pair well with a wide range of food.

Can't wait to try Wellington's other wines in this three (four?)some.

Thanks woot!


Good review! Thanks!

Someone has to put WD's kids thru college, but why does it have to be me!
*This post is for purposes of enabling only, and does not constitute any promise of helping pay for said enabling. It does indicate willingness to assist in drinking said wine.


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kriegster wrote:And receiving a free taster bottle is even better!!

Had a nice preview of the Zinfindel show up at my door. What a perfect accompaniment to rotissery Jerk Chicken I was having that night. I decided to also make a Arugala salad with Bulgarian feta with a rasberry vinagrette since a nice strong red balances the flavors in the salad. Upon first drink the nose was a nice and full. It beconed for a taste. I was not dissapointed. Zins are my favorite. This one had the edges taken off with the other smaller percent varietals that made the wine completely drinkable. It definately was young and could use some aging or decanting to open up the flavors, but it was delicious.

Thanx for the freebee and can't wait for the real shipment.

Yours truely stuck in the bottle of wine,
Charlie Bucket

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Offering of 8/14 -- Wellington Select - Three Pack

2006 Noir de Noirs, Old Vines
2006 Syrah, Sonoma Valley Estate
2006 Grenache, Estate Sonoma Valley

This offering's pack:
oppsie (Grenache)
jkwest (Syrah)
nematic (Noir de Noirs) (held hostage)

JOATMON (Noir de Noirs)
jwhite6114 (Noir de Noirs)

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oppsie wrote:Labrat of 2006 Wellington Grenache report. Sorry, not much funny stuff this time. There's only so funny you can be when you're at grandma's for dinner.

The DH and I had already scheduled dinner at grandma's and knew the menu in advance: veal chops, pesto pasta, melon soup (mostly cantaloupe). We arrived and I popped the bottle and decanted it, but there was no time to chill it down at all so it was room temp at probably 72F. Sat in the decanter for 10-15 minutes while we had the melon soup and waited for the chops to broil (half sat in the decanter for only about 5 minutes when I suddenly remembered that I didn't want to drink the whole bottle tonight and quickly poured it back into the bottle and vac'd with my cheap BBB suction vac). I swirled it a bit and tried to get a whiff of the nose. Not much (plus the whole place smelled like veal chops at this point -- mmm, meat!), but no alcohol either, which is impressive given a 14.8% abv.

Dinner server, wine poured. I tried it before taking a bite of anything (the melon soup had cleared from my tongue) -- great! Smooth out of the bottle. Pretty light on the tannins, which became even lighter when coupled with fatty chops, pesto pasta, and slightly buttered green beans. I probably could have consumed the entire bottle myself without a problem but a) I had to drive and b) gotta save some for tomorrow. I felt there was a pleasant tartness to the wine, not too sharp but good, and the texture was rich and again smooth. Couldn't really nail the nose at all, and I'll try to blame that on grandma's not-nose-friendly glasses. On the other hand, again no alcohol detectable to blow off. Grandma identified the taste as raspberry and I think that's very accurate. Tart raspberry. Really nice, long finish that increased in tartness and burn as time elapsed from swallow.

The DH "deemed it palpable" (tense corrected for writeup).

As an experiment I also took a swallow (okay it was more like a swig) while eating dessert, which was the Detroit Jewish bakery delight known as Seven Layer Cake (and a hearty shabbat shalom to all those who celebrate). If you ever come here, I only recommend Diamond Bakery's seven layer cake. It is the best. Anyway, it's a very very sweet cake that I think originates from somewhere in the Bavaria region but I'm too lazy right now to look up. Don't drink this with sweets, kids, mkay?

(This would have been posted 15 minutes ago except I kept getting interrupted by the puppy's favorite new toy, a tennis ball, which she keeps managing to roll under the couch, the kitchen appliance cart, and any other two-inches-off-the-ground items around for a ball to roll under.)

In summation, I don't like giving points because I don't feel capable, but I loved this wine. Excellent pop and pour. Grenache is a big component of my el cheapo fave (Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap) for the past two vintages so I'm not surprised that I immediately experience extreme happiness while consuming. I am very glad that I went in for three on this one.

Peter, as always, another excellent effort. Thanks to WD for making my night even better (I was stumped on what wine to bring to grandma's!) and I look forward to seeing how this evolves tomorrow.

A couple of pictures here. Sorry, totally blew the focus on the picture of the bottle.

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jkwest wrote:2006 Syrah, Sonoma Valley Estate Labrat report:

First thing to get out of the this offer now!!

Hands down, this is one of the best Syrah's I have tasted from California.

My dinner plans of Mahi-mahi and spinach tortellini did not pan out like planned. Dinner ended up being a Large Round Table Pizza half combo/half Maui Wowie with some garlic twists...

I popped the cork..the cork has a wonderful deep red at the end. No sediment, and not too light. I poured a glass and the color was a wonderful deep ruby...swirling created a stable amount of could tell the Alcohol content was over 14%...but not too heavy...

Sniffy-sniff gave the subtle aroma of oak, cherries and blackberries..with a tad amount of spiciness.

Big swig......Oh God yes, this is a great Syrah....the spice bites, but, lets go before becoming overwhelming...followed by a lingering amount of oak, mixed with dirt and blueberries...enough tannins to cat tongue the top of your mouth and fades away with hardly any wife and I had an easy time finishing the whole bottle....this is a "to drink now" needs absolutely no shelf opened up beautifully...I could see it blossoming a bit after opening, but, the wife and I like the tannin attack of reds, so, it is a great dinner drink.

SB, I will be seeing you next Saturday as we are going to be in Sonoma...I plan on buying a few more of these for my rack...well played, sir...well played. I look forward to the other varitals that are coming.

jkwest wrote:One thing to add to my review...

I showed my wife the notes I typed up and asked if she wanted to add anything....

She said, "I don't know how to put wine flavores into words, but, that was really good...if we had a case, we would easily drink it all."

So, there's the low down right there....from my wine-guzzling better half.

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JOATMON wrote:Oh, good, I’m not too late...

This is an unofficial labrat report on the Noir de Noir.

First, some background. I’ve never signed up for the labrat program. As we established in the pub this week, I travel a lot on business, taking me away from my home, and sometimes out of the country. I felt that it would be unfair for the rest of yopu if I was ratted a week when I was away. When I mentioned this to WD, he suggested that they could Fed-Ex to the hotel where I was staying, but that would require that I keep WD appraised of my whereabouts at all times, so that the week I was ratted they would know where to send the bottle; plus I really wouldn’t have the time to taste anyway. So, I never felt that I could carry out the responsibility.

Second, it turns out that of all the wines offered this week, the Noir de Noir was the only one I picked up during the RPM tour. So, I thought I’d sacrifice it to the greater good; I’ll never have this chance again to labrat, even if I had to sneak in unofficially.

When the bottle was opened, there were crystals on the cork, which I suspect is typical. No decanting; I decided to do this the SB way.

Color is ruby shading slightly to garnet, and almost opaque. Really a nice color; reminds me of dark red grapes.

First sniff on the first glass out of the bottle: hot. Whow. Swirl a bit more, and the hotness fades, to be replaced with a certain earthiness, but with fruit involved as well. I’m not great with picking out smells; you should have seen the horrified look on Cathy Corason’s face when I pulled pepperoni pizza out of one of her wines. Turns out it was sort of a baked spicy meaty odor I was smelling.

Taste: a little heat, but not anywhere as much as you would think given the initial sniff. Taste some fruit, some pepper, some earthiness, and not much astringency. No one flavor predominated, the mix seemed to be quite equitable. The mouth feel wasn’t buttery or really viscous, but it wasn’t water either. Finish: a second or so. On a scale of a whisper to a drill sergeant shout on the flavor, this was just a touch above a normal conversation volume; definitely “indoor voice”, but not “museum”.

Aftermath: black tongue and gums. Oh, and stuff at the bottom; don’t go for the last drop.

Because of the lack of heavy tannins, this is not an age-able wine; drink now. Pleasant right out of the bottle; we didn’t pair it with anything.

My companion liked it a lot, and would drink it again.

I already was in for one Thursday, and I’ll keep it there; I’ve got too much wine to handle as it is, and more to come from future offerings. Yes, people talk about having two in case you really like it, but I look on a good wine as a great experience, but there are other potential great experiences in my cellar just waiting to be discovered.

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jwhite6114 wrote:So, several months after ordering the first Corison 2000/2001 Cab Suav with some neighbors, we finally opened them tonight. As has seemingly become SOP, WD (with no little help from WF) sent an extra bottle for the tasting: 2006 Wellington Noir de Noirs, Old Vines.

Without going into too much detail on the Corison, the 2000 was better liked by most, though I and one other liked the 2001 a bit better. Both were pretty well liked, even by my wife, who is not a fan of wine, red wine in particular.

We saved the Wellington NdN for after the cabs (but before the Cab Sauv Port one of my neighbors brought), but everyone tried it. As this was a neighborhood tasting, I did not have to drive home, so I took notes for everyone (good thing, too, cuz I am still drinking that NdN and without notes I would not have much to type here).

Before I get into the notes, know that not everyone involved in the tasting is a wine drinker (my wife), and Wellington (as well as Corison) are not wines locally available so were new to most at the tasting.

On the Noir de Noirs:

- did not like
- the type I would play with my glass and dump out as soon as I can
- liked the Corisons
- normally likes smooth, mouthful flavors; does not like a lot of bite or "narrow' wines (as in they hit a certain spot in the mouth)

- makes me shudder
- did not like (does not like most wines, especially red)
- slight burning on the lips

- liked it, but would not seek it out
- smells like patchouli (the spice worn at Grateful Dead concerts) / sandlewood
- burning on the finish
- very interesting aroma

- liked it, maybe would buy it
- piney, earthy, "what flower is it?"
- smoother when swished in my mouth
- love to color and aroma
- like it more as I drink it -- very complex

- oaky (butter on the nose and flavor -- good butter; I like butter)
- tannic, but balanced
- fruity and smooth
- liked it -- again (liked it in the tasting room, too)
- seriously looking at how I can get in on this offer

I have not been a big fan of PS (sorry to all you PSadwans out there) -- though I discovered with the right cheese (extra sharp cheddar in my case) I found they can be incredible -- so I have figured for a while that the NdN would not be for me. This is not the case, however; I like the NdN, both on its own and with some good cheese (even cold roast beef). It has fruit, tannins, and complexity. It is balanced, and flavorful. It stands up with strong flavored food, but also works perfectly well on its own (which I am still drinking now).

Thanks SB for finally making this available on w.w. While I did not in any way expect my wife to enjoy this one as she is not a wine drinker (though she almost enjoyed the 2000 Corison Cab Sauv), two out of the other three enjoyed it. I am still enjoying it.

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Offering of 8/18 -- V Sattui Winery Riesling - Four Pack

2007 Dry Riesling
2007 Off-Dry Riesling

This offering's pack:
alansz (Off-Dry)
cole103 (Dry)
notfromtexas (Dry)

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cross posted from main thread

Well, blame it on Rio or the rain or the bellboy or midnight or even me, but I swear it was all Mailboxes, etc. fault.

After having just mentioned at the SoCal tasting that I hadn't been a lab rat since that very first week so long ago, turns out I was la bratted on the Zahtila chard. Perhaps at this point never is better than late, but I took the lab rat oath and so post I shall in the hopes that future generations will profit somehow.

Were it not for the finish - which I love! - and the judicious application of some oak, I might confuse this with a sauvignon blanc or chablis. There is certainly minerally slate, fresh green apple and citrus on the front and mid palate. Very crisp, very clean. Lovely.

But the finish is where this wine earns its keep and then some. You know that moment when the wine's flavors all blow back up into your sinuses after the swallow? That moment is golden. Vanilla, but just in accent, not overwhelming, proportions. Oak that draws attention to the contrasting fruit the way chocolate makes a strawberry taste more strawberryish. And this wine lingers on the finish. I am finding myself waiting longer between sips than I typically do with whites. I am not in a hurry to taste it again only because I'm still tasting the last sip! This is more normal for me with syrahs than chardonnays.

Overall, I am delighted. I am in the minority, I suppose, in that I do think there is a time and a place for buttery, oakey chards (can I get an amen, cj?). But when you are looking for a chardonnay that reveals and revels in its fruit, that offers balance and a lingering finish that tastes of more than just one or two dimensions, this should be your go to wine. It will be mine.

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alansz wrote:So my wife and I invited a couple friends over, and we tasted the off-dry riesling. I had chilled it in the refrigerator during the day, and took it out about 20 minutes before we opened it.

We initially tasted it on its own, without food, and then tried it with cheese and roasted garlic hummus. I later had the final glass with a Thai massuman curry.

In the glass (I think it's a Reidel Vinum Chablis or Sauvignon Blanc, for those who find such things interesting), the wine was the color of pale straw. I though mine was slightly hazy, but the others considered theirs to be clear.

Here I have a confession - I love wine, but I don't smell (anything) as well as most people. For me, the predominant aroma was grapefruit; my wife noted apple and banana notes. One of the other tasters went with "fresh fruit", which would seem to be a safe descriptor of the bouquet; another referred to "tart pineapple".

The first sip included some well-balanced acidity, and a hint of a flavor I think of as mandarin orange -- clearly not a dry wine. Off-dry is a very good description. There is little to no heat, and a medium mouth feel. My wife waxed a bit poetic: "Like a parched valley after the first rain. Reminiscent of young, bitter jackfruit." One of the other tasters described it as "sweet but light and slightly tart with no bitter aftertaste." The finish is quite short.

Overall, the wine was appealing, pleasant, and not particularly complex. In many ways, it's an "in-between" wine. I liked it, but I'll probably enjoy the dry more than the off-dry. My wife prefers sweeter rieslings, and found this barely within her tastes; one of the other tasters dislikes rieslings in general for their sweetness and found this better than average for her because it wasn't that sweet. It's well-balanced, approachable, tasty. I wouldn't kick it out of bed. But it's not an overwhelming bottle of wine either, unless you specifically like the level of sweetness or you want a wine with very little taste of alcohol.

The wine didn't pair that well with smoked gouda, but worked great with the roasted garlic hummus and the curry. It seems to be in good form as a counterpart to sharper, spicier food. It won't be a star, but it will be a very creditable supporting player. I'm quite looking forward to the dry ones.

We took a shot at doing ratings as well. My wife gave it an 86. I gave it 90. Another taster gave it 92.

(So that's my first ever written wine review. How'd I do?)

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cole103 wrote:Lab Rat reporting on the V. Sattui Reisling 2007 Dry

This was difficult because the wine seemed to have a Jeckyl/Hyde reaction to temperature, so I will break it into 2 sections:

45 Degrees
Color: Pale yellow with a slight greenish cast, sparkling clear
Aroma: Delicate, low intensity: apples, pears, maybe lychees
Flavor: Off dry, crisp with excellent balance, light body, flavor started with apples and developed to peaches, medium finish
Overall: Wonderful off-dry aperitif, almost a shame to have with a meal.

55 Degrees
Color: Pale yellow with a slight greenish cast, sparkling clear
Aroma: Wonderful soft pear/peach/pineapple, much stronger than the cooler glass
Flavor: Soft pear/peach with a tart jolt on the finish, not nearly as pleasant as the cooler glass
Overall: Incredible nose, flavor got flabby, out of balance

IMHO I would chill a bottle, open, pour a glass to sit out and warm, then have a glass of the cold for the taste while passing and smelling the warmer stuff. I arrived at this conclusion after my GF accused me of switching wines on her---she let hers sit and warm---it tasted completely different than my freshly refilled glass ;-)

Foods: Needs something delicate--Brie was great, Red Flame grapes great, smoked salmon was super, Boiled shrimp OK, Hunan Shrimp was a poor match, I would beware of spicy food.

Overall, this is a wonderful, delicate, complex wine, off-dry imho, great balance, good alone or with a pretty good range of hor douvres. I would keep it cold (40-45) for drinking, but when warmed (55) it has an incredible nose. The best Reisling I've ever had and well worth this price and more.

Thanks again WD and all the winewoot staff for this labrat opportunity.

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Offering of 8/21 -- World Wine Challenge CD-ROM Game

This offering's pack:


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INTLGerard wrote:Labrat Volunteer
I have the cd so f.w.i.w. here’s my take...

The online demo clearly demonstrates the game for what it is. A straight forward trivia game in a user friendly multiple choice format that explains the answers. I found the questions to be fairly designed to challenge noobs as well as those educated on an advanced level. The game provides an entertaining and challenging approach to improving your knowledge of wine globally and you will be challenged especially at the master level. If you are enrolled in wine education this can serve as a helpful tool to help you key on areas you may be weak in and need to focus on. If not, the game will enlighten you on how much there is to learn on the subject. The two person play maximum is limited but that can be worked around. The use of percentage scoring is somewhat vague for competitive scoring but again is an easy work around. To sum it up, if trivia challenges entertain you and you are passionate about learning more about wine globally, you can’t beat the price for the entertaining education you’ll get. Nice little gift idea for the oenophiliacs in your life. IMHO!

BTW…I definitely recommend the Oxford Companion to Wine (make sure it’s the 3rd ed.) as an excellent accompaniment for this game. The questions will have you researching your answers which will only broaden your wine knowledge!

Bring the game to the next w.w. group tasting and make a fun wine competition out of it!

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buckysf wrote:From Charlie Bucky-et:
I received a golden ticket on this item. I played with it this evening. My thoughts are as follows:
1. Very simple "multiple-choice" type game.
2. Only allows 1 or 2 players. However, if you had a party a leader would read the questions and use 1 player mode and let everyone scream out the answers at the same time... after a few glasses of wine no one will care who wins, it will just be fun spilling wine on the carpet as you scream out the wrong answer.
3. The questions are good. Some very simple, some more difficult, some obscure.
4. The whole game seems pretty much like an advertisement for Trinchero wines as their logo appears on the screen at all times and the "help" option takes you to a website owned by them. This doesn't affect the game play.

Summary: Could be fun in a group environment. Will be a good host gift for a wine party or casual wine tasting group. Will likely improve some people's general (and obscure) knowledge of wine. Probably should really be a marketing "giveaway" rather than a retail game.

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V. Sattui, A little late, error on my part for not checking properly...

notfromtexas wrote:Report from Vandolay industries:
Well I awake at 7 and waited patiently at the front door for my wine today, to the point of opening it a crack and stationing my furry doorbells (a lab x and a beagle) so that Fed Ex would not get away again. It came 1/2 hour before I was due to leave for work, so it had a quick 30 minutes in the fridge before I opened it (hey, if you can't go to work with wine on your breath...). Now, after work, I'm finishing my second glass, trying to rush to get my lab rat report up before it's too late. I got the dry variey. In a word: a wonderful wine. I caught the aroma of pears and as it warms up, a little peach. Tha aroma carries through to the taste, a rich, soft pear. Extremely smooth but not without a tart finish...almost a "tingle" on my tongue. I'm having it with a mildy spicy crawfish etoufee, which it pairs well with, although I think that anything spicier might overwhelm it. I would agree that it is a good wine to drink on it's own, to get the full benefit. Really, really enjoyable. i know it's late but if you are sitting on the fence I'd go for it. My experience with reislings has been with a sweeter kind in general as that's the only kind my in laws will drink, so I'm not sure that I will share this with them after all. Anyway-thank you woot for the lab rat opportunity and I'm sorry it took an extra day to report!

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Offering of 8/25 -- Scott Harvey InZINerator - Three Pack

This offering's pack:


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ddeuddeg wrote:The promised unofficial La Brat report:
2004 InZINerator, opened at 5:45 PM, nice aromas of ripe dark fruits. Tried just a sip and decided it didn't need decanting, besides, Auntie doesn't have one.
This is a nice, easy-drinking wine with no noticeable heat, just as we expected at only 13.5% ABV. My first taste impression was plums, but bahwm noted dark cherries. There is certainly a lot of fruit here, and a great balance. We liked it a lot on its own, but it was also a really good complement to the selection of cheeses offered before dinner.
Auntie, who usually buys CS when she's in the store, liked it so much that she asked me to order her a set, and Cali cousin, who prefers white Zin (gasp!) to almost anything else, actually asked for more! We've only had a few days to try to educate her palate, and we haven't gotten far, but this one is a real winner. Now to keep SWMBO from ordering more. We're definitely out of room, and there may be another SH offering we won't be able to resist.

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