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elmoreal wrote:

Lab rat report:

I'm lucky to work in an easy-going office, so I opened up the bottle today at work for anyone who was interested in tasting it. I put out some sharp cheddar and fresco asiago cheese, as well as a barbecue bean salad and some roast beef. I poured the wine through an aerator after letting it sit open for about half an hour.

The wine was well received by the group (some oenophiles and some casual wine drinkers, and some in between). The most common comments were that it's very good and very light bodied and that it paired well with the cheddar but was overwhelmed by the barbecue flavor of the beans. Everyone liked the aroma.

Specific comments: "good legs; good tannin, deep berry; relatively smooth; warm & plummy with autumn notes; sucks all the moisture from the tongue; no aftertaste; fruity; harmonious blend of flavors, sharp finish." A couple people thought the wine tasted "younger" than a 2005, and they were curious about whether the date referred to bottling or pressing.

For comparison, I also opened a bottle of the TLC 2007 Cabernet Shiraz. The Pear Valley was much preferred, even by a couple of fans of Australian wines. The Pear Valley seemed to me to have more character and to be more drinkable. I found it to be less acidic than an old vine zinfandel I tried recently (Chronicle).

I liked the Pear Valley. Enough to purchase? Not sure...there's about a third of a glass left in the bottle, so I want to try it again later, at home.

[STAFF MOD EDIT: 2005 Vintage]

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crabbyman22 wrote:

LABRAT REPORT-2007 Pear Valley Syrah

I have been sipping on a glass of this wine for about 1 1/2 hours.Besides being late to report(and partly why I'm late)is I have had some kind of a cold for the last few days.I can't smell anything.The strong fruit flavor comes through on the taste.The alcohol blew off in about a half hour and the tannins have mellowed somewhat.the color is dark ruby.Even though this wine may age,it's drinking good now.Very big fruit,little sour tang on the end.

This report is very disjointed.Sorry I'm late.Thanks WD,w00t.

I had my wife and her friend taste this.Wife-pepper.Her friend-earthy then fruit.Pear.I don't think she saw the bottle.

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Offer of 2/18/2011 -- Kent Rasmussen Esoterica Petite Sirah - 3 Pack

This offer's pack:
unwoofer (2008)
rnatalie (2008)
cotillion (2007)

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unwoofer wrote:

Giddy Happy First Time Wine Woot Labratier

Well, its Kent Rasmussen Petite Sirah – NO LAB RATS NECESSARY TO SELL THIS WINE! I am thrilled to be a 1st time lab rat for Woot. Shocking! I have zero quality posts so lower your expectations all of youse! After last week’s brouhaha over lab rats, please don’t ask if I spit or swallow. No one should ask a lady that… Even about wine! ;)

What: 2008 Esoterica Petite Sirah, Leeds-Chavez Vineyard. 14.5% AC. Label says Rutherford Napa Valley.

When: Decanting began 5 PM. Bottle had been resting (unlike me who worked worked and then worked worked more) since 1 PM in wine fridge.

Who: Me, my husband, and neighbor Tony.

Reader’s Digest Version: Awesome mesmerizing color, smooth, medium bodied wine. Very pleasant. Hint of pepper, blackberries, and plum – after a few hours, slight vanilla comes through. Recommend it. Would like to get a bottle or two, then try it again after cellaring for a year or three.

Long Version: - (whoa, someone is a Verbose!)

Initial notes: Wonderful garnet red color with hint of purple, inky as expected. Floral aroma, like an old garden from my husband’s boyhood home in Point Loma wooded area. Slight pepper smell to the cork.

Initial taste: (15 minutes) a very small pour: Earthy dry wine, not a fruit bomb or fruit tart. Taste more floral/garden. Woodsy smell. Most precisely, smells like the inside of a pipe organ chest, says HWMBO husband Dennis who knows his pipes (had a 32 rank pipe organ in our house at one time and one wonders why I drink a lot). Remarkably, no hotness or alcohol burns from initial taste. Alcohol content is 14.5% - thought there would be some heat, happy me!

30 minutes: Another small taste: Fruit is coming forward more. Slight plum notes. Blackberries? Still an earthy grass field tone to the wine, surprising not an overwhelming fruit aroma. Subtle and smooth. Slight pepper. Medium body.

60 minutes: Wine has opened up. Moderate aroma but still subdued garden/floral bouquet. Taste more plum; still a bit of blackberries. Pepper is fading. Nice dry, smooth wine. Very faint vanilla coming through at the end.

It was nearing time for dinner: Dennis, is having seared rare ahi tuna, with a balsamic red wine reduction, wild rice. I am trying to preserve my taste-buds, and am pretending mentally (not physically, drats) to be a Victoria Secret model to save my less than educated taste buds (will starve for wine!)

Tony, Italian Labrat (he buys barrels of wine from Paso Robles, stores, bottles and sells down here in San Diego) has a more critical palate than we do. Full body, balanced, overall impression good. Not a prevalent fruit aroma. Gave us more bottles of his wine and said, drink this next. (Enablers, I am surrounded by enablers!)

(90 to 120 minutes) Final Tasting: Blackberries most prevalent for fruit slight herbal (rosemary like) undertones. Flavors linger longer, balance better, and dry finish. Aroma is not forward; I love the smell of most wine and am having troubles catching a strong whiff of much with this one.

Conclusion: Definitely would order this wine if we were out in a restaurant and saw it on their wine list. Nice pleasing smooth taste – Seems like it is a little young, and may come into its own more in a year or two. Love the color – dark and dreamy and luscious, inviting everyone to take a dip. I was looking for Rutherford lusty dusty in the flavors but never had that fully come through.

Wine Preferences: Always red wine. Typically go gaga for full body dry wines, Cabs, Zins, Bordeaux. Favorite wines of past that we bought cases of: 2008 Sequana Sarmento Pinot Noir, 2000 Clos du Bos, 2005 Chateau Potelle Mt Veeder Zinfandel VGS, the wootilicious Scott Harveys (Cathedral is wonderful), Atlas Peak, and of course the woot darling Corison.

Caveat: We tend to appreciate wine more than we critique it. Hopefully we didn’t pooch up too badly being Wine Woot Lab Rat Virgins, but we gave it our best. We really are thrilled to be able to lab rat – and are Uber-Thrilled that it was for Esoterica! Made a less than stellar week pretty awesome! Thanks woot!

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rnatalie wrote:

** I just placed my order and noted that there were two vintages in the deal, these comments apply to the 2008 **

Got the email saying my labrat bottle had been shipped and should be delivered by 3PM. Great, I think, I'm leaving for Key West for the weekend at my folk's condo at 5PM, I can just make it. I get two different FEDEX trucks showing up with WCC boxes from previous woot orders. Finally at 3:01 the express driver shows up and I throw the unopened box into my checked luggage and off we go! TSA confiscates my cork screw (forgot it was in my flight bag) at the security checkpoint because the foil cutter is too much of a knife for them.

Arriving Key West, I open my suitcase to find that the TSA had kindly opened the box and placed it back upside down. The bottle drops on the floor but fortunately the only "bottle shock" is to my toes. We head out into the rental condo for glasses and a cork screw.

In the tasting I'm accompanied by mama rat and papa rat. Papa rat is a knight of the International Brotherhood of the Knights of the Vine (as am I). Sister rat (my wife) is a gentle lady of the KOV and an American Wine Society member.

Pour out four glasses.

The stuff is deep purple and so intense as to be opaque (as a French winemaker told us if you can read your watch through it, it's not good). Papa rat notes not too much in the way of legs which confirms the lower alcohol content. Bright and clean, no signs of any visual defect (rarely fine, but the WSET tells us to check for it in their methodology).

On the nose, I get a first whiff of a little mineral followed by, hmm, what is that.. blueberries. My wife says stone fruit and I say, yes, but brighter ones, maybe red cherries.

No Vinturis or other gadgets in the vacation house, so we're going to drink it straight without any aeration other than a little swirling from out aroma testing. But, this is fair as this is the way I drink 80% of my wines anyhow.

Taste. To me, being prejudiced by my aroma observation, I taste blueberry. There is a little tannin there, but not harsh (certainly none of the really off phenolic stuff that some of our local Petite Sirahs get). The finish is decent and it sort of evolves into a little bit of leathery (again consistent with PS that's got some age on it, I glance at the bottle....2008). My wife says she tastes raspberries which launch the table into discussions of "brambles."

Papa rat decides that this is pretty good stuff. Mama rat brings out some roasted chicken and a spinach and mushroom salad. The wine accompanies that well, so this is going to be pretty versatile stuff for everything from lighter chicken dishes up to standing up to beef.

My opinion is this stuff is great to drink now. I think it would be fine to lay down for just a few years if you wanted, but it's well developed now, so I think this is a definite drink versus hold decision. If I had to venture a price on the thing, I'd figure in the $30's it would be worth buying (and woohoo at $20 it's a great deal.)

No three hour laboratory titration of this thing, with four wino rats tasting, we finished the bottle within an hour but it held it's own throughout but felt the stuff was pretty open right off, so we neither needed to let it sit or go through mechanical devices or Sarah Phillips-style gyrations to move it along further.

Now I've got to order some (including some for mama and papa rat to thank him for hosting us at the condo in Key West).

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cotillion wrote:

Lucky day for me. I was selected as a Labrat for the 2007 KR Esoterica Petite Sirah. First timer!

Opened it up as soon as I got it into the kitchen, and I poured it into a decanter to open up, as I expected it to be a bit tight. The wine is a deep purple that holds up to the edge of a tilted glass. Immediate aromas of blackberries and balanced oak. I would almost use the same term, blackberry cobbler, to describe the bouquet as I (perhaps erroneously) describe a Marietta Angeli Cuvee. While not a booze bomb, I DO feel like it had a little bit of that pungent alcohol aroma, but upon tasting, I can't say I got a really noticeable level of heat.

First taste right out of the bottle was quite powerful, with plenty of the blackberry and blackcurrant one would expect, a little bit spicy or herbal (I can't always discern), with balanced oak. The finish is quite long, but upon first taste is overpowered by mouth-drying tannin.

After letting it sit for about an hour, I poured again and gave it a whirl. The nose has backed off on the alcohol a bit, and a hint of blueberry aroma, as well as a somewhat woody character, are coming through. The same can be said for the experience upon second tasting, with a bit more spice and softer berry fruit coming through and the tannin calming down a little. The finish is still exceptionally long, echoing a kind of peppery currant.

This wine is very good as-is and obviously well made to develop heaps of character as it matures, but I firmly believe that this bottle was sacrificed before its time.

If I wasn't flat broke and had a legitimate cellar, I would stock up on this wine and guard it for several years. Still trying to see if I can make some budget allowance for this offering. I fully recommend it, and THANK YOU WINE.WOOT for letting me rat a wine I've dreamed about trying ever since reading these forums. I hope I have done it some justice.

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Offer of 2/25/2011 -- Vino Noceto Sangiovese and Zinfandel - 4 Pack

1 2007 OGP Zinfandel
2 2007 Noceto Riserva Sangiovese
1 2008 Noceto Sangiovese

This offer's pack:
ssoard (2007 Riserva)
morteballante (2008 Sangiovese)
rpm (2007 OGP Zinfandel)

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ssoard wrote:

Okay - first timer here, so please be nice. Firstly, thank you to WineDavid and the wine.woot folks responsible for the decision to give me a shot at prestigious labrattery. I am honored and thrilled!

My precious golden ticket and bottle of wine arrived at my office yesterday by 1pm (which was a good thing as we are getting and icy snow mix all day and I don't want wine-cicles). I opened it (the box) immediately since my biggest fear was that this would be a white wine that I'd have to try and evaluate. I almost never drink white wines. Needless to say, I was relieved to discover that I am the proud reviewer of the 2007 Vino Noceto Sangiovese Riserva. (although now that I see there is a Zin in the offer – I wish I was drinking that)

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not really a huge sangiovese fan. Chianti’s really have never done much for me. I love big, bold wines and more complex wines and I'm willing to give almost anything a shot. But the dryness of these is something I have a hard time appreciating. I can't get enough Wellington (thanks for the case offer, Peter - I guess that's how I got my name in the hat for this job), love the Corrison, Kent Rasmussen, Penfolds Shiraz, etc. So yeah, mainly Zins, pinots, shiraz. Other beverages of choice for me include beers (fat tire, blue moon, vanilla porter, Guinness, etc... - most anything as long as it isn't too hoppy) and Maker's Mark Bourbon. I provide this information in the hopes that knowing my taste preferences helps give value to this review. I certainly don't have all the fancy wine evaluating lingo down, but I'll do my best.

So, once I got home I tossed the bottle in the fridge for a bit to cool down. I only gave it 15-20 minutes in there and popped the cork. Initial smell was definitely alcohol followed by a fruitiness that was so overpowered by the alcohol that it was tough to distinguish anything in particular. I pour a sip direct into the glass. Definitely alcohol very present. Long legs with the swirl test. Initial sip tasted faintly of an over-ripe fruit greatly overshadowed by alcohol burn. Color is very light and clear. A pale red with no brownish tones to speak of.

Realizing that this wine is wound up almost as tight as I am, I ran a decent pour through the vinturi and into my glass. Huge difference. The wine really opened up and the alcohol was not nearly so overpowering. I am now able to taste the tannins that dominate the current flavor profile. And they are nice. Big, huge tannins. Leaves a nice dry lip-smacking aftertaste. Fruits seem along the lines of bing cherries or maybe plums? Hoping that the fruits come out to play a little more.

I tried some food pairings, but not too much success. We had take-out sushi for dinner (definitely NOT a good choice with this wine). Cheese and chocolate also didn't really seem great either. But to be honest, I'm really not much of a "food with my wine" type. However, the dryness/tannins here do cry out for something. I just didn't have much success identifying it. Letting the wine sit around and open up really helps dissipate the alcohol and allow flavors to open. Unfortunately, there just isn't much under there for me. None of the fruity notes are really stepping up. There is still too much heat for me. Maybe the wine is too young and needs more time in the bottle? Maybe it needs more time to aerate/decant? Maybe it’s just to Chianti-like for me to really appreciate.

So here's my plan - I still have half a bottle (husband doesn't drink wine) so I sealed it back up (using a V-gauge vacuum sealed cork) and stuck it in the fridge. I'll try it again this afternoon and post more then. Great news for you all is that I will be at home this afternoon and am certainly not opposed to drinking in the middle of the day. If anyone has suggestions as to things to pair this with or flavors to look for in the profile, let me know. I'll give it my best shot. But since this seems like an auto-buy for most of you posting so far, maybe the lab rats aren’t as essential.

Bottom line is that I am un-decided at this point as to whether or not I would buy this. Unless the taste is dramatically different this afternoon, probably not worth buying for me (who doesn’t care for Chiantis a whole lot and has a whole case of Wellington on the way, not to mention the Saxon Brown). But the Zin that’s included does intrigue me. So I’ll think on it this afternoon and post more then…

ssoard wrote:

okay, so I'm having lunch and drinking my wine...Nothing wrong with that...Right?...Right? C'mon all you enablers - make sure you've got my back here.

So, the wine (07 Sang) spent the night sealed up in the fridge. I poured a glass through the vinturi and left the open bottle on the counter to breathe and warm a bit. I had some leftover indian food (chicken tiki masala - sortof a spicy tomato-based sauce) and I thought that might do the trick.

Best I can say is meh. Its okay. The wine is still cold, and does pair much beter against something with a kick. I think a big fan of sangiovese/chianti would probably really like this wine. I almost like it, but its still got too much bite on that back end for me to really enjoy it as a compliment to food or on its own (my preference for most wines).

As someone suggested, I'll pour a new glass and let it sit out for a few hours to see what develops. Maybe with more air it will mellow out a litte bit more?

ssoard wrote:I'll admit to feeling a little intimidated by all the wonderful extertise in this thread, but by gosh I'm gonna fulfill my rat's duties. I had promised you all that I would return after patiently letting the 07 Riserva Sang rest and breathe and do its thing naturally for a few hours. Well, I have patiently waited 6 hours or so to try this again. And here it goes:

It has changed (but not a lot). The fruit has come forward a little more. It is still really ripe bing cherries or maybe some under-ripe plum flavors. It is complex, I'll give it that. I do still think there is some heat from the alcohol. Not overwhelming anymore, but still there.

My guess is that somone who's into Sangiovese/Chianti style wines would probably love this. I don't usually drink those wines and I'm seriously considering this (which says a lot). The thought of making Sangria out of this over the summer seems like a really good idea. And rpm's evaluation of the Zin makes me really want to try it.

So, if all the experts didn't convince you to buy this wine, I'd say its probalby worth a shot if this style of wine suits you. This is well made stuff.

Hopefully next time I have this opportunity (if there ever is a next time ) I'll be able to really take my time and get some backup for the tasting. But I love everything I'm learning here and am having a great time - and that what its all about, right?!?

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morteballante wrote:

So this is my first LabRat for WineWoot!! I've been using Wine Woot for over 3 years and I'm really excited to talk about this 2008 Noceto Sangiovese. (As a side note I love TyCanton Cabs, Corison Cabs, Esoterica anything and a lot of other wines that are much more complex and subtle -- though I do enjoy a simple tasty wine as well!)

First off I should say that I opened this bottle right after work Thursday night -- Right away I should say that after working 12+ hours I enjoy a glass of something more light like Tempranillo or Sangiovese so right away I was ready to dive in!

I should state that the wine was probably about 62 degrees in temperature when I poured it.

Before I go on with my notes, I thought it was interesting that I had a similar feeling about the Sangiovese as the previous labrat's report, though I did NOT find the alcohol over bearing after letting the bottle breathe for just 2 or 3 minutes -- I also didn't think it had long legs -- so a little bit of a difference, and I have no idea if our pallets are that different or me being in California and the package having less travel time did anything for that.

First glass I poured immediately and did not let the wine air, this first drink was a little sour, though the wine smelled very fruity. The wine was very light colored. After leaving the wine for about 2 minutes I tried another sip, this was really easy going down, light and very tasty. I was glade that I hadn't warmed the wine up to room temperature, the slight chill it had made it even more enjoyable to me.

The taste is fruity at the top, silky in the middle and has a slight warm bite at the end, but I found this slight and not at all overbearing.

The more I drank this wine the more I enjoyed it. There really wasn't any kind of Cherry, Pepper, Black Berry taste- it was simple and exactly what I needed tonight.

If this were a 4 pack of Noceto Sangiovese for $60, I would say Totally Get It!! But I've never had the Zin -- for what it's worth, I really enjoyed the Sangiovese and would buy it again - I'll probably be in for 1 of these woots because I really enjoy Zins, but I really wish it was 1 Zin and 3 Sangioveses.

Hope this helps!

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rpm wrote:

OK. The rolling labrat report begins:

I just opened the 2007 OGP Zinfandel. I haven't tasted it, and won't for an hour, minimum. SWMBO, who does not like hot wines much at all, won't be home for at least 2 hours, and she won't have it until it's had plenty of time to breathe. My experience is that 2007 was a big and excellent year for Zinfandel, and wines like that, especially old vine Zinfandels, need breathing time before drinking.

I did however, take a quick look and sniff. From the cork, and from the glass, immediate strong aroma of ripe (but not overripe) raspberry. Absolutely characteristic of Zinfandel at its best. Following that, some alcohol on the nose, but not nearly as much as I was expecting from the other labrat reports earlier today.

Color: excellent clarity, no opaqueness at all. The wine is a relatively light red for a very old vine Zinfandel. There is an almost 'brickish' quality to the color, but it's not the orange-brick of old wine, more of a redder brick. What I'm trying to convey here is that the red has no purple cast and no cherry cast. I rather like the color.

Swirling a couple of ounces in a large glass, the wine shows a medium viscosity. Aroma is more alcohol when you swirl and stick your nose over the glass, but, if you just let it sit and inhale through the nose with the glass a few inches away, raspberries again become the dominant impression.

I will give the wine an hour or so before I take a sip.

rpm wrote:Several people have asked why I didn't take an immediate sip. Not so much I'm afraid I'd slam my palate, but because I want to be super fair to this wine, and I know big old Zinfandels do not show themselves at their best when first opened. Consider my being abundantly cautious this time.

I also know most people won't wait an hour. Honestly, if people would wait even 1/2 hour for young reds wines, it would be time well spent - sip a simple Macon while the reds breathe if you're among friends, or whatever you like that's clean and straightforward.

OK. Returning to the aroma, it's still got some berries, but also leather, and the alcohol. Interesting.

First sips (swish & spit): berry flavor, something slighly 'prickly' on the entry. Dry middle palate, not unpleasant, the impression of middle weight confirmed. A balanced wine, not a 'huge' wine. There is a pronounced dryness in the finish. Something woody in the finish that's not oak, or cedar (as in an old claret). I'd almost say redwood, but I'm sure this didn't spend any time in redwood at all. The finish seems relatively short when you swallow, but then there is something still there for quite a while. That's a bit unusual.

rpm wrote:SWMBO has arrived, and her first impressions are: lovely nose. berries (she gets blackberries) and something almost cinnamon in the nose. Very nice flavor in the entry, berries predominate, the alcohol is not pronounced. Very dry in the middle palate, a bit odd, almost a chalkiness. Medium body, very well balanced. The finish seems a little short, but then it continues (she said this unprompted - note I had the same impression earlier).

My impressions: raspberries continue, also the other complexity I called leather, but it's something else. Not quite cinnamon to me. The nose has improved significantly between the first sip and now. Entry flavor is very, very nice - a sophisticated Zinfandel, not overly heavy at all. The 'prickliness' is completely gone (good). I agree with SWMBO about the chalkiness in the middle palate - this is the wine's least enjoyable characteristic. The finish has become very nice, but remains this interesting combination of short, but enduring.

The balance of the wine is remarkable.

I won't score it in detail, but I would highly recommend the wine to almost anyone who likes well-made, balanced, European or claret-styled Zinfandel. I would rate it borderline Superior on the Davis scale (16/17 out of 20).

Both SWMBO and I think the wine will continue to improve for several years.

A note SWMBO hates high alcohol, and loves this. She hates grapey wines, and loves this.

I am very happy with it and will buy some.

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Offer of 3/4/2011 -- VJB Vineyards & Cellars Red 2+2 Pack

2 2007 Rosso Family Blend
2 2007 Mendocino Barbera

This offer's pack:
mohicus (Rosso)
diannap (Barbera)
tupawk (Rosso)

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mohicus wrote:

First time Lab Rat reporting. By chance I stopped by the local mail boxes etc. place on the way home and was presented with surprise bottle of the 2007 Rosso.
First of all, I would like to thank WineDavid and the WW Academy for this honor.
A word of warning: Even though I’ve been around since Rinfrescante, I have some very simple tastes when it comes to wine and my vocabulary is even less sophisticated. If I kept tasting notes, it would probably amount to a multiple choice form.... The wine was (A) great, (B) good, (C) OK, (D) bad, (E) toxic waste. I’ll try to do a better job here.
Poured the newly open bottle into the glass and the first thing I noticed that it was - red. It has some clarity…somewhere between a cab and zin I guess.
Aroma test: The toughest part for me to grasp from you experts is detecting the various scents I always read about. To me this smelled “clean” and “refreshing”… maybe a bit fruity or dare I say a hint of citrus?
I took a sip and even though I enjoyed it, I was given an “I’m not ready” signal. Maybe it’s those tannins I’m always hearing about… time to let it sit.
Pre-dinner (~1 hour after opening): Better…the taste has filled out some, less fruity but I get a subtle “berry” hint. Not what I’d call complex but very nice.
Dinner included chicken breasts that have been marinating in a spicy Jamaican jerk sauce. Probably not the best paring choice but this wine is a last minute addition. To my surprise, I really enjoyed the combination. The wine really mellowed out the kick of meal …balance…that’s the word I’m looking for. Quite enjoyable.
In conclusion, though not a WOW wine, I really liked it and will be ordering some.
Thanks for enduring my ramblings and I hope this helps a bit.

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diannap wrote:
My Official Lab Rat Report!

What fun to get this surprise box yesterday. I almost missed it! Earlier in the day, I had asked our babysitter to unpack all my woot boxes that were stacking up from recent arrivals. She took them down to the bar and started unpacking, setting all the bottles out on the counter. When I went to survey the goods, I saw her unpacking a single from a box. Hmmmm, I don’t remember buying a single, but I hit that darn yellow button so often that I guess anything is possible! Then I looked at the bottle and didn’t recognize the label. VJB Barbera? Then it hit me!! I’ve been assigned lab rat duty!! Quick, check the box! Is there a golden ticket in there? YES!!

My excitement then forced me to explain the addictive world that is wine.woot to her so she didn’t think I was totally crazy for being so excited about a bottle of wine! I had to leave for a meeting, so I sadly left my little treasure to settle, but I’d be back later.

11:50 - Pop! Must get this open before the clock strikes 12! Nose – bright rich fruit, hot

11:59 – First sip – alcohol, acidic, lingering tart finish. It definitely needs some time.

12:07 – The heat has really dissipated. Drinking much smoother already.

12:12 – Poured 2 glasses, one through Vinturi. The Vinturi pour is definitely more enjoyable and takes some of the sharp edge off this wine. I can tell I’m going to enjoy it more and more as the night goes on.

First impressions: Its a big red drinkers lighter red? Medium on the tannins, just enough to make you smack your tongue, but not enough to linger for too long. The nose is intriguing…stronger than I would have expected, dark fruit, but young. I can smell the alcohol. There is maybe a hint of earth, but mostly deep fruit, and a distinct acidity, yet not overwhelming.

Its gaining balance - more and more every minute. Pouring it through the Vinturi smooths it out. Less alcohol burn, more dark fruit. I paired it with some pasta with red meat sauce and the partnership was perfect!!!

2:05 – Its now about 2 hours after opening, and the wine has smoothed out considerably. Nice!! The acid hit is gone, and it is velvety, with just the right amount of tannins. This is the kind of wine I can imagine drinking from a street café in Italy. And, not the house wine, but an even nicer bottle off the list. 2 hours seems to be the perfect timing on this wine. Its really, really nice. Perhaps its time to increase my order!

2:15 – Half left. Going to bottle it up and see how it fares on day 2. I’ll be back tonight to report again!

Thanks, WD, for the golden ticket!!

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tupawk wrote:

First time lab rat report here. Also, I am what I would consider a novice at providing wine tasting notes. I'll do my best here.

I had been out of the country and arrived home late last night and noticed this nice box sitting on my counter from wine.woot this morning. Upon opening it up I was excited to find a nice bottle of the 2007 Rosso red wine from VJB Vineyards!

I poured the bottle this afternoon with much anticipation. Here are my thoughts:

Immediately after pouring - nice dark color and fruity aroma. Tasting hints of dark fruits, blackberry and raspberry. A little thin and spicy at this point.

10 minutes later - getting better. The spiciness is almost gone and the aroma has started to settle down.

1 - 2 hours later - Big improvement from first pouring. All of the initial tastes are more rounded and full without the bite.

I am really enjoying this wine. For the price point offered I believe it is a great value and will be ordering some right after I hit submit!

Thank you Wine Woot and WineDavid39 for giving me this opportunity to taste and report on a great solid red!

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Offer of 3/11/2011 -- Hunt Country Vineyards Estate Bottled Finger Lakes - 3 Pack

2 2007 Late Harvest Vignoles - 375ml
1 2007 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine - 375ml

This offer's pack:
tracyjilldoty (Vidal Blanc)
cabernetguy (Vidal Blanc)
MaureenV (Vignoles)

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tracyjilldoty wrote:


Hunt Country 2007 Vidal Blanc Estate Bottled Ice Wine (blue bottle)

First let me set the scene and create the ambiance with a disclaimer. I am a neuroscientist with an extensive knowledge of craft beer. So be prepared for some science diversions and beer connections.

I pull the bottle out and see it is an ice wine and my heart sinks. I am not a sweet taste person. I drink my coffee black and adore overly hopped IPAs. But this will be a good opportunity for me to think outside the box and expand my horizons. I’ve had ice wines at a few vineyards in the US, but I’ve never been able to taste much beyond the cloying sweetness.

The bottle gets chilled for a bit in my freezer. The ice wine pours a beautiful golden color - like an Austrian Pilsner minus the carbonation and head. The bottle and cork smell of pineapples - no hint of booze. While the density is thicker, it is not too thick or syrupy.

The nose is really amazing. I love the tropical fruit smell - like pineapple and dried apricots making love. Okay, maybe that is a bit much - but I’m drawn to it and I appreciate that it is a very natural smell that is not too cloying or boozy.

First sip - I only taste the sweetness. It feels like syrup on my tongue and sliding down my throat. Ick. Just as I had feared! But before I can allow myself to admit another ice wine defeat , I take another sip. This time I get the symphony! There is a fruit “burst” on my tongue. Singing in the taste buds. My taste buds stand up at attention and get excited. It is the tropical fruits with this citric acid-y (in a good way) taste that gives me something akin to a Pavlovian salivary response. It is like having a very good dry wine or a subtly sour beer - it makes your tongue crave more. I’m totally blown away by how different it is from my first sip.

My subsequent sips make me forget the original syrupy sweet transgression and my tongue continues to stay enchanted. It is almost refreshing like cold apple juice - I think it is something akin to citric acid. It calls me to drink more. But what about food pairings?!? Often with high residual sugar beers, people pair them with sweet things - this is also how I’ve had ice wines in the past. But the idea of something sweet now sounds like sacrilege! Instead I pick up some Wheat Thins and some Parmesan (just the store brand shredded in a pouch - nothing fancy but def better than the powdered mess from a can). The saltiness is like the conductor to the symphony on my tongue (yes, I realize how cheesy that sounds). The counter point is amazing to me - and it just further enhances the pineapple and the juiciness of the wine. I could imagine this served with any good salty, hard cheese - maybe an aged Manchego or some Parmesan not sold in a pouch? With high quality cheese, I can imagine nothing short of the Overture of 1812 complete with fireworks. It would be a great end of meal nibble or an afternoon reprieve. Then I try the wine with a dense Ghirardelli chocolate brownie- just to make sure I’m not missing anything. The combination makes me sick in my stomach and takes away the symphony and replaces it with syrup. Definitely not a pairing for my tongue - although I can imagine others might have a different experience if their tongues are more tuned to the sweetness chord.

After 20 minutes in the glass, no further enhancements were made in the wine that were perceptible to me. But while it warmed up I liked it no less - I was still under its spell.

Bottom line: Ice wines are certainly not my favorite beverage, but this one enchanted me when I was expecting something more like drinking flavored simple syrup.

Thanks be to the wine woot gods for gifting me this extraordinary opportunity! And thanks also to those who have made it through my intense diatribe - I hope you find it helpful, if not amusing.

PS I’m having some friends over tonight (Friday) and I will try to solicit a few more opinions to share. I want to see if anyone else gets a symphony or if their tongues only hear sad 80s ballads.....

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cabernetguy wrote:

As a newbie labrat, I was glad to see the 2007 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine delivered to my doorstep. Immediately opened the bottle and gazed at the honey colored wine. The aroma was of honey and pears. The taste reinforced the aroma but also had a hint of pineapple. The sweetness reminded me that it would be a great wine for dessert. I paired the wine with some cherry pie and ice cream, the flavors went together perfectly. Must say, I was impressed.

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MaureenV wrote:


Once I received the email alerting me that I was a lab rat, a great anticipation developed. Would I get one of my favorite full-bodied cabernets or would I get some insipid weak-kneed chardonnay? After the FedEx man drove up I couldn't wait to open the box and find 2007 Vignoles, Late Harvest from Hunt Country. A dessert wine and I virtually never drink dessert wines. I was somewhat dismayed!

Then I had a second thought. I might be the perfect person to judge this wine. I have had a deep interest in wine for over 40 years, lived in Germany for six years and have traveled around the world many times. I generally drink red wines, particularly love California cabs, petite sirahs and zins. My whites are generally very dry and often European. While I do remember having beerenauslese at least once, I have never had a Vignoles in my life. I also don't think I have ever purchased a New York wine. I was somewhat prepared to be disappointed.

After a preplanned dinner accompanied by a bottle of AVV Redemption (one of my favorites),I started looking around for a dessert to accompany the wine. I didn't have any pie or cheesecake but did manage to find a partial bag of Pepperidge Farm's Milano cookies. I was prepared to have one glass and maybe spread the rest of the bottle over the weekend.

Wow, I was more than surprised. I found a crisp, fresh wine with a nice taste of peach, kiwi fruit and lilikoi. Not as sweet as I anticipated and having a surprisingly light body. No heavy, syrupy taste. Before I knew it, I had a second glass and soon after, the bottle was finished. Unfortunately, the cookies were also gone!

Bottom line: A big surprise, definitely a very good wine. I can see springing this on one of those people who say they don't like wine since I can't imagine anyone disliking this wine. It would be great after a big dinner party or with dessert at Thanksgiving. It would be equally at home with a sliced Michigan honeycrisp apple or a bit of Jarlsberg cheese. After seeing the Woot offer this morning I think it is a great buy. A good chance for anyone to expand his or her wine knowledge and dessert wine fans will be doubly rewarded.

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LAB RAT REPORT: 2007 Mendocino County Zinfandel

Castle Rock Review for LabRattery

Wow, where to begin? It’s coming up on 10 PM and as promised (implicitly) by being chosen as a labrat, I need to do a timely and honest review of a bonus wine that was sent to me—even though it was soooooo good that I drank most of the bottle with dinner. Still, one must make sacrifices in the name of duty, so here it is…

Super Short Review:
Just buy this. It’s an awesome Cali Zin. I wrote this after not even having Googled it or read a review; I wanted to come to it unbiased. Having said that, when I post this Friday AM, unless it’s over $40/bottle I am inclined to get it. Bottom line: It's a perfect companion for rich, complex food.

Slightly Longer Review:
This wine is a very good mirror for food, especially food that is oily/rich/creamy OR fruity/nutty, or has some funk/fermentation aspect to it. In fact, this may be a red that goes amazingly well with not-spicy-hot vegan or vegetarian food. Not for vinegary things or things that are too spicy hot (ie don’t waste this one on vindaloo or a course with a pickle plate) but great for funky cheeses served with fresh fruit, or prosciutto with melon, leg of mutton or good lamb, organ meats, quiche, etc. If you just scored some amazing sheep or goat cheese wherever, you want to serve this with it along with fresh fruit and substantial, flavorful nuts.

Even Longer Review:
Well, I made sure that I got out of work in time, nevermind St. Patrick’s Day festivities (passed a tourist in Midtown Manhattan with green paint smeared on one side of his face and a black eye, which sums up what it’s like to work in Midtown on St. Paddy’s Day), in order to make sure that I could pick up my Labrat Wine from my local Mailboxes/UPS/Etc guy. My birthday is this coming Monday, and I saw this as a sort of early birthday gift. Unlike last St. Paddy’s Day, I had absolutely no desire to drink green beer or eat semi-free corned beef and cabbage buffets that had been out at room temperature since noon at one of the 8,000 local pubs near me.
Once I got home, the first thing I did was take the wine out of the box (kind of hard to drink otherwise unless it’s box wine, which this most definitely is NOT). I was overjoyed when I saw a Cali Zin. California Zin is one of my most favoritest wines of all time in the whole universe. On top of that, it LOOKS like an EXPENSIVE one—doublewoot! Black Tie Pour maybe?

This wine was NOT green for St. Patrick’s Day, but a little green out of the bottle. As soon as I got it out of the box, I opened it and took an initial sip. It was as any good “breathing” red wine would be—total TnT, Tannins and Tart. I tasted great promise though, and poured a little more to let it breathe.
I would most definitely allow this one to breathe for at least 20 minutes before drinking. If you have a proper aerator (which I don’t) then use it.

First impressions: As mentioned, T&T, thin legs, deep maroon/purple/”hi I’m a California Zin” purple. Cork was in good shape, but fresh out of the bottle, the wine did not have a lot going on RE aroma otherwise. What aroma I did get initially was berry and leather, not a lot in the midzone range.
While I waited for it to breathe, I assembled a cheese-plate dinner and fired up Pandora on my Chumby (shameless plug—grok my stations. UserID Threemoons). I have easy access to Murray’s Cheese in Times Square, so many nights I just have cheese, fruit, and bread by way of dinner. Given my insane work hours, this makes for a great light supper. I had roasted chicken quarters—very spicy, oven-fried with hot sauce, panko crumbs, and bbq rub—in the fridge, but thought that they would overwhelm the wine.

One phone call to a friend who’d left a message later, the wine had opened up a bit—aromawise I was starting to get fresh berry notes.

Being that I was starving, I had a few cashew nuts at this point. Then had a sip of the wine. It was incredible—the wine picked up all of the butteryness of the cashews while the fat in the cashews calmed down some of the right angles on the wine down. Encouraged, I continued to put out a dinner of small nibbles.

I took another brief phone call again and made it back to the wine. By now, the aromas had started to open up—black pepper, cloves, fresh berries, and leather were starting. It was still thin RE mouthfeel—think clarinet vs. saxophone on the palette.

The label on the back of the bottle says to serve with pasta or chicken, but I disagree—this is a fantastic wine for a cheese plate or rich, creamy, cheesey, or meaty pasta dish (or a cheesy one with substantial veggies in it).

While setting out dinner, I had a nibble of a Spanish dried fig, and it made the spices in the wine explode, as well as the sweetness of the dried fig. Ditto for a blueberry-the experience was very yin/yang and I saw a real relationship developing here; it’s like the wine was professionally-applied makeup for food. It’s as if every flavor of what you ate came back magnified x10.

Then I had to call home to the folks to thank them for birthday cards; let the wine breathe while I did this. Then it was time to cut some cheese (no juvenile fart jokes please). The menu, as a series of small bites:

Whole multigrain bread
Dried Figs
An Anjou pear
A few cashew nuts
Some jarred artichoke hearts in vinegar and oil that I forgot I had.

Assorted nibbles of cheese as follows, mostly goat/sheep:

Small goat crotini
Monte Enebro
El Trigal Young Machengo
Sparkenhoe Red Leicester (I actually know a guy who lives a 5-minute walk from the creamery where they make it, but I digress)
Vacherin Friborgeous Alpage

The machengo, paired with the wine, tasted nuttier than I ever expected. The pear also blended perfectly.

The one pairing that wasn’t made of win was (initially) the Red Leicster, which is otherwise on my Top 5 Cheese List and one of my all time faves, either room-temp or melted. It gave the wine a coppery taste; the very “ideal Cheddary/grassy” notes didn’t strike a perfect note with the wine.
OTOH the other cheeses exploded in the mouth after a sip of wine; think like a sort of Cheese Amplifier. This one goes up to 11! It made the Monte Enebro more mushroomy/goaty, and the Vacherin—normally very pungent—even stinkier in a GOOD way.

The only other “near miss” was the jarred artichoke hearts-this wine just does NOT like vinegar, even though artichokes and red wine are usually BFF. So, don’t use this one for your “Cheddarlike cheese” and pickle sandwiches.

Keep this one for stinky cheese courses, served with a hearty cracker/bread and fresh, mellow fruit and nuts. I think this would also pair brilliantly with plain duck or mutton. Ditto for anything mellow and/or smoked—think smoked poultry, game, funky cheeses, pea soup made with smoked ham hocks, etc.

Last Licks—tried a very –well-aired-out sip of the wine with the Red Leicester again, and it was a slightly better pairing. Still, I would stick to the smoky/funky/deep/creamy end of the pool RE pairings.

PS—FWIW it also goes great with chocolate.
THANK YOU wine.woot for the priv of LabRatting, please call me back!


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Offer of 3/18/2011 -- Castle Rock Winery Mixed Red Case

6 2008 Carneros Pinot Noir
6 2007 Mendocino County Zinfandel

This offer's pack:
threemoons (Zinfandel)
ucdcheeng (Pinot Noir)
mvalranc (Zinfandel)
iceeblue7 (Pinot Noir)
dfstineh (Zinfandel)
chipgreen (Pinot Noir)

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ucdcheeng wrote:

Got chosen to be a lab rat. Tasted the 2008 Pinot Noir with my girlfriend.

She's wonderfully experienced at wine tasting and was able to taste vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and black cherry. I could identify grape.

I found this wine to be really smooth with a nice rise up to the middle. I really enjoyed it and am in for one (the case being $100+ just makes me financially able to buy only one), but that means more for the rest of you, right?

My girlfriend says: rock on

Definitely recommend the wine - a good deal for the money and an excellent wine at the price. Hell, even should be more expensive for how good it is. But hopefully Wine.Woot won't read this.


Yay for being a first time Lab Rat!

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mvalranc wrote:

LabRat Review: 2007 Mendocino County Zinfandel

This was my first time being a LabRat (not that it should be my last, hint, hint), and I hope I do the job justice. That being said, I think some info about me is in order - mainly that I am NOT a sophisticated wine connoisseur. I am more a 9-5, try anything once, and drink it however you darn well please kind of person.

I loved this wine. Period. Had I not just sent a stupidly large check to Uncle Sam for my taxes, I'd be in for 1 for sure.

I opened it and left it on the counter to air while I did dishes & had a shower, so about 25 minutes. My initial fragrance impression was "SPICE" - cinnamon, cloves, pepper - with a fruity undertone. Very nice!

As for my taste impressions: spice again. But not overpowering zingy spice, just a nice tart tangy spice. It was smooth and easy to drink, and didn't hang around on my palate long after drinking.

With subsequent sips, I got more of the fruit, both in the nose and in the taste. But, overall, this wine was all about the excellent smooth spiciness for me.

This is probably the best zin I've ever had - it's the first Cali zin, which might be the reason for that, I don't know. But, I can unreservedly say that if you don't pick this up, you're missing out!

EDIT: I meant to put this in earlier, but forgot. In the "drink it any way you darn well please" vein, I'm also not afraid of chilling a wine to see if I like it better that way. I chilled a glass of this, and the fruit definitely popped more when it was cool as opposed to room temp. But, for me, the smooth spiciness of the room temp beat the fruitiness of the chilled. Just $0.02 more to throw in the discussion

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iceeblue7 wrote:

Lab Rat Reporting for Duty

Castlerock Wine 2008 Carneros Pinot Noir

Usual humble I am not a wine expert could not tell a Burgundy from a Pinot Noir preamble. I like wine, I enjoy pretending I know what I am talking about, but I am a rank amateur.

Color and Appearance: Very attractive light, or dare I say, delicate burgundy with a touch of purple. Can barely see fingers through the glass a little more intensity than other Noir’s I have had.

Nose: Straight after pooping the cork very bright sweet cherry hints of strawberry and whiff of herbs, very inviting. A little hot with alcohol. After sitting in the glass for 30 minutes things have calmed down no alcohol the brightness fades to a strong pleasing cherry with a touch of strawberry.

Taste: Straight after popping the cork, sour cherry some herbs with a hint of earth. Has a distinct strong finish which both wife and I had problem identifying perhaps wet stone. Very distinct made me want to try this with food such as a light pasta. After letting it sit the glass for 30 minutes taste had evolved into black cherry with overtones of tea and a faint trace of cinnamon. The finish is still their and distinctive, but still something I am finding hard to describe. The mouth feel was silky light to medium body with mild tannins

Verdict: Very interesting Pinot Noir for the price point. Good defined nose good fruit. In my opinion the distinct finish makes this a wine I would have with food and not one just to sip in front of the TV or with a book. A great wine to take as a dinner guest to an evening with casual wine drinkers everyone will be able to taste the cherry.Good wine at a great pricing, not a great wine.

Thanks WD. Enjoyed my first chance to be a rat.

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dfstineh wrote:

LAB RAT REPORT: 2007 Mendocino County Zinfandel

First time lab rat, reporting for duty.

What a nice St. Patrick's Day surprise! I restrained myself from Googling the bottle until much later in the evening so that I would not be biased by it's pricing. My wife Rachel joined me in this endeavor, and had the cork popped when I arrived home from work. We are both wine amateurs, but have each lived up to rpm's advice, at least the first part anyway - "pull lots of corks" - predominantly red wine. She was excited by the Zinfandel, which was her favorite variety until the past few years - feeling that either their quality or her taste buds have changed since then, but ready to give 'em another shot.

After opening, we both agreed that the wine smelled great. Initials sips - Rachel described the flavor as fruity, but not jammy. I detected a light jamminess with notes of cherry. After finishing our small pours, we experimented with running through the Vinturi - not as much of a change as I'm accustomed to, but it did smooth out a bit. I thought it had a bit of an off-note aftertaste, but couldn't really describe it - Rachel didn't notice anything.

Moving on to dinner - Irish soda bread, corned beef and cabbage, potatoes. This may be the first time I've ever tried to pair any red wine with corned beef, but they complemented each other fairly well. I'd say this is a very suitable wine for dinner, not too bold, but a nice medium bodied slightly fruity wine.

Overall this wine goes well with food (and March Madness viewing) - making it an attractive everyday dinner wine at this price point. Nothing spectacular, but very good.

Thanks for the lab rat privilege, and I'd say for $10 a bottle this is a good deal. But as others have pointed out it's not a Woot-tastic deal, and I don't think my credit card balance can handle another case at this time.


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chipgreen wrote:

LAB RAT REPORT: 2008 Carneros Pinot Noir

Chilled this for an hour then opened it and let it sit out for a half hour before pouring. The color was somewhere between plum and garnet, closer to plum.

Nose upon opening was a tart cherry/cranberry - the cherry definitely pops out at you but not in a bad way. Nose upon pouring was a little less tart with a hint of berries and spice.

At first taste the cherry boldly announced it's presence once again but was kind enough to allow raspberry/blackberry/cranberry/strawberry to join the party along with some nice earthy tannins and spices that tagged along for the finish.

Allowing the wine to sit on the back part of my tongue for awhile really brought out the alcohol and spices - cinnamon, clove, vanilla, nutmeg, pepper.

As the wine warmed to room temperature it gained complexity and also became more balanced and less fruit forward.

I would like to have planned a meal around the tasting but had previous plans to attend a Lenten fish fry, however I brought home a pierogi and tried that with the wine. I was impressed at how well they paired and it really smoothed out the bite at the finish. Based on that minute sample I would say that this would make a very nice dinner wine.

My girlfriend drinks whites almost exclusively but still found this wine to be enjoyable. She appreciated the smoothness and the prominence of the cherry. The fact that she liked this wine makes me think that it probably has a broad appeal and would be great for dinner parties and gifting.

I really liked the contrasting qualities of the wine, especially the level of complexity given it's overall smoothness.

If the Woot! deal was for a case of the Pinot Noir I would definitely be in for 1 but I am still on the fence about the Zin so I'm going to sleep on it.

I'll probably go in for one as there are no BevMos in OH and I feel that the Pinot Noir is easily worth $15 a bottle to me which makes the Zin nearly free! How's that for justification?

Thanks again to Woot!, WineDavid and Castle Rock Winery for this opportunity and additional thanks to Heather, Chris and Greg for their participation in the forum!

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Offer of 3/25/2011 -- Hangtime Cellars 2008 Chardonnay, Central Coast - 6 Pack

This offer's pack:
senpai71 (corked)

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hgitchell wrote:I am new to posting comments, but not new to wine woot or wine - I received a golden ticket yesterday and was put to work as a lab rat. It was most exciting receiving a package knowing that there could be the best bottle of wine I have ever tasted inside! I am definitely a fan of reds - pinot noir, syrah, zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon...if I am going to drink a white, it is typically a fruitier varietal in the summer. When I pulled out a chardonnay from the box, my heart sank and I immediately starting coming up with key phrases I could use for my review to try to make it sound objective and well thought out as to why it wasn't for me. Fortunately, I didn't have to use any of them.

I was very pleasantly surprised with the aroma and the first sip - it was not too dry or oaky, which is usually the first turn off for me. I read the reviews from the winery and I personally couldn't identify toast flavors, but I did find it to be a complex, fruit forward and very drinkable wine. I usually don't even look at the chardonnay offerings, but I actually would (and did) purchase this 6-pack and have already recommended it to family and friends. This is far better than a cooking wine and far better than $3 chuck chardonnay. 130 days of hangtime seems to have done the trick for this wine - I think it is a very good value for a very good chardonnay. It would pair very well with many foods but doesn't need the flavors of food to make it enjoyable. I know I will enjoy 6 more bottles of it coming into summer!

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senpai71 wrote:

Long time Wine Wooter, first time Lab Ratter... Yes, I too got a golden ticket

After getting myself ready, with a rather nice apple tart my wife and daughter had made, as well as a selection of cheeses from the finest stores (well, our nearby real Foods, anyway), I took upon myself the awesome task of reporting back to my fellow Wooters on this wine.

It was corked. Bugger, bugger, bugger. It wasn't disgustingly vile (I've had bottles with slime on the cork (eww!), but this one was just...a little off.

Of course this can happen to the best of wines, so it doesn't really mean anything, but I was pretty bummed. Y'know - free wine and all that.

The label is very nice.

Actually, I generally rather like these longer-hanging Chardonnays (not a huge fan of the ultra-oaked, ultra-buttery), so if the reviews are good, I'll probably get a 6-pack, given the decent price.

One very nice thing - I emailed David at Wine Country Connect about this misfortune and I got an apologetic email within 5 minutes - sounds like even with this bad luck, I'll get another chance to drink and report back in the future.

So keep postng coments and let me know if I should get the 6-pack (or more!).

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vagent wrote:

Belated Lab rat report...the bottle just got here at 3:25pm EST! The following is based on just the first glass, pretty much poured before the Fed Ex truck was out of the driveway. I admit this is a very fast report, and my views may change after I try it with some food, but wanted to get SOMETHING out there!

I was sooo excited to finally be chosen to do the Lab rat thing..You cannot imagine my disappointment when I logged in this morning and saw it would be Cali Chardonnay. No hate for those who like the stuff, but neither me or my wife can stand the stuff. That said...

The freshly delivered bottle was about outside temperature, maybe around 50 degrees, so I figured to go ahead and try it.

Aroma, not bad, I smell pears more than anything. Clear light golden color. First taste, buttery and just a little oaky (go figure..). After a few sips, all I can taste is bitterness, and maybe a hint of the butter flavor. No real aftertaste at all to note, other than a bit of dryness in the mouth. Best thing I can say about this, is that it doesn't taste like a mouthful of wood. My wife actually made a face and refused the glass I gave her when she tried it.

While I am definitely not a fan of this type wine, I know what I do like, and this isn't it. Tastes to me exactly like every other cheap California Chardonnay I have tried. I suspect if I drink more than two glasses I will get an immediate headache. Have to pass on this deal myself.

Sorry for the late and negative report, but thanks for giving me a chance anyhow. Keep me in mind next time some Merlot or CS are on the docket! I will check back in if my opinion changes after we try it with some appropriate food.


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gwg66 wrote:

Rat #4 (the most belated) checking in - Long time Wine Wooter, first time Lab Ratter as well... Thank your WD and all at Wine.Woot! for this opportunity to tell all what I think about this wine.

I had finally pulled a Golden Ticket - wow! - how great was this to receive an email on Thursday evening stating there would be a bottle of mystery wine arriving at my door on Friday AM, even though my business travel didn't return me home until Friday Evening.

As soon as I arrived home last night, we fired up - grilled chicken with wild rice & sugar snap peas.

I was also building myself up for an amazing Red (until I saw the wine to be ratted on Friday AM) and was worried that I might come across only as a negative reviewer (hater) as typically chards are not my favourite wines (exceptions being HDV and a few other steel tank chards I have had). In my experience, I prefer most any other white varietal to Chards - Rieslings, SBs, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris, Albarino, etc... I did my best to remain objective, but I will not be buying this offer based on my tests.

Upon opening and trying the wine, I too thought about the possibility that the wine might have been corked as Rat #2 had stated, but then dismissed that idea.

...BTW - here is one for the RPM-Caliber Crew - can a wine with a plastic cork (which this wine has) be corked? I am NOT sure of the answer to this question.

To be totally honest and my apologies to the vintner - I do taste some oak, some butter, a little flabbieness, a little fruit and maybe some grassiness - the fact is I taste all kinds of things that make me wonder where this wine was going and did it ever arrive there.?

As Rat #3 stated - there is no mouthful of wood here. Also my wife turned her nose up at this as well after about 3/4 of a glass.

As much as I would like to say this wine was intriguing, or up my alley...I cannot. Maybe I have a bad bottle, or maybe I just don't get this wine?

Thanks to all for listening & thanks again to WD for the opportunity.

Kind regards,


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cheron98 wrote:

I am a rat!

Unfortunately, I had a prior engagement this evening preventing me from popping this lovely-looking bottle to be able to have a report ready for you now, but I promise I will be gathering the troops tomorrow night to do the deed. In the meanwhile - I give you ...

Front Label:

Back Label:

Text on Back Label:
Truely, one truth holds true for every transcendent achievement. From scaling the highest peaks, to bestowing new life with an organ transplant, to eating a raw oyster: someone had to have the vision, the audacity, the persistence to get there first.

And then someone else had to get there second.

In remembrance of those near-pioneers, whose daring and imagination stand second only to the actual pioneers, Woot Cellars humbly offers Monkey Second Prize. The rich, balanced profile of this Cabernet blend pays apt tribute to the silver medalists in the human race. When its time to raise a glass to those who proved that the first guy wasn't just a fluke, its raspberry, cherry, plum, and toasted oak flavors ensure that Monkey Second Prize will be the bottle you reach for.

Or the second bottle. Whatever.


But I'm buying NOW because I fear it will be sold out before I can even get around to trying it.

cheron98 wrote:

Okay - here's the raw notes - do with them what you will:

Pecorino Romano
Fresh mozzarella
Beehive Barely Buzzed
Beehive Butter Bound

Good clarity, light plum/garnet color - almost seems a little too pale for a cabernet, good clarity

7:40pm From the bottle:

Nose: lots of alcohol,
little bit of woodsiness, opening up to cedar (E)
starting to get fruit after heavy swirling, faint plum

M - fruity, fruit punch, darker hawaiian punch, licorice
C - still pretty tight, fruit trying to come out, starting to get cassis
E - getting some berry

C - Tart
Still quite alcoholy.

Wondering where's my tannins.

Beehive Barely Buzzed works very nicely with this.
Fresh mozzarella smooths out the alcohol tang.

Pecorino romano
E - wine complements as an enhancement to the cheese (not the other way around), really brings out the flavor in the cheese

8:00pm Vinturi

Much better, more berry, nowhere near as astringent as before, no woodsy/cedar
starting to pick up the oaky notes. berry in the forefront, oak to follow.

(M) "Getting a funny sensation on the sides of my tongue" "It's the acid"
Definitely getting the acid, tannins are attempting to be there. kind of in an in-between place. nothing exciting about it, fairly light. not bad per se, just nothing to distinguish it.
(M) Right now - if you gave this to absolutely anyone, they would like it. It's right there in the middle.
very nice with the butter bound (C)
(M) thinks too sour with pecorino
(E) Light berry.

hotter on finish (M)
less tart, more oak

8:30pm Decanter
(E) Pecans
(M) Nothing distinct, alcohol is back

(M) Took a sip and made a face, which made (E) uncomfortable. He says "Not a terrible flavor face, just an unexpected flavor face."
(C) This reminds me of a pinot noir - the kind with the twigginess. Which is not what you want in a cab. And certainly never what I want in my glass. BUT, with a touch of mozzarella, the wine is better.
(M) It has that "coating" quality of PN. An inkiness. I dunno what he means. He likes it with the barely buzzed.
(M) w/barely buzzed - with the rind and the wine, it's like I'm eating a Christmas Tree. That woodsy, pine smell, like when you're in a Christmas tree farm. Which is odd.
(C) Def. better with cheese. Esp. brie.

(M) Not really a fan of this one.
(C) Not a super fan, but willing to see what it will be in a year.
(E) Definitely a food wine because it enhances the flavor of the food.

Absolutely needs more time to mature. Sit on it for another year and see what happens to it.

20 minutes later, it's still opening up and getting to be a little better, somewhat less PN characteristics. We'll see. We're all disappointed. (M) & (E) will not be buying. I already bought, not regretting the purchase, but definitely won't be in any rush to try to drink it. Hoping some time sitting will help.

I saw HitAnyKey42 on wine.woot! and clicked "I want one!"


quality posts: 123 Private Messages cheron98
hogfatt wrote:

Pictures will follow sometime this weekend. Not sure how my wife's Jatravartid camera works lol.

I got the email last night that I was selected to Labrat this wine. I was stoked, it didn't say the wine, but everyone thought it pretty obvious that it would be Monkey 2nd Prize. Confirmed once I plugged the tracking number in and saw the description. I had the delivery routed to the Fedex facility I pick all my deliveries up from. I picked it up at lunch today at about 12:50pm. It sat in my semi-warm truck until I left work at 5pm, today's high was 76 degrees, but a bit warmer in my truck. I put the box under a sweater so that the sun wouldn't hit it and warm it up faster. This seemed to work as the bottle was still slightly cooler than room temperature when I took it out of the box.

The following are my tasting notes. My palate is pretty simple. For the most part, I LOVE old world wines, I have just recently gained respect for California wines. My favorite wines to date have been Willamette Valley PN, I don't think I've made that a secret. California Cabs if done right are probably the best out there (disclaimer, haven't tasted $100+ French wines, so I can't make an a to b comparison).

So I opened the box up, found out that it was a Cabernet Sauvignon blend with some fairly standard varietals (Cab Franc, malbec). I new it was going to be red, so I had my wife prepare some lean (chewy) steaks. We're on a diet, so we have to keep it lean.

I begun the process by opening the bottle at 6:22pm. I put my nose to the bottle, it smelled primarily of dust.

I poured a small amount into one glass, not aerated in any fashion. Then I poured a slight amount into my Vinturi into a second glass. After that, I immediately poured the remainder of the bottle into my decanter.

@6:26pm - No Aeration/decanting.
Nose - Dusty, Leather mit, tight tannins and I could tell there was some fruit in there somewhere, but it seemed so young still and a difficult task to pull any specific fruit from it at this point.
Taste - The fruit is very subtle, at this point it certainly hasn't opened up yet, very tight. Very strong tannins and fairly hot. It was a bit on the dry side which I appreciate.

@6:30pm - Vinturi
Nose - The dust turned into more of a gravel smell, it is beginning to develop something at this point. I can now pull raspberries, rose petals and chocolate from it. Still a bit tight and rustic.
Taste - Fruit opened like on the nose, this helped balance the wine out, it wasn't nearly as harsh as before. There is still a fair amount of heat and tannins as well as dry soil.

@6:45 - Poured a small amount out to consume with dinner. (Steak grilled on BBQ w/ a simple rub, baked potato, mixed vegetables steamed).
Nose - Very musty, like a humid day in wine country. Spiciness still dominated the smell, but there was some hint of cherries and chewy ones that made me want to dip in!
Taste - Although it tasted nice with the potato and maybe a little less so with the steak, it seemed to over power them as opposed to compliment, I would attribute this to the wines youth.

@7:00pm we had a piece of Rain Republic Cocao.
We felt this was when the wine was at it's best, mixed with some good chocolate. The fruits and tannins in the wine complimented the cocao nicely.

@7:40pm I poured some more out from the decanter.
Nose - Still overly spicy on the nose, I could pull out cherry for sure now, chocolate, mocha coffee and red apples were now discernible.
Taste - Much softer at this point and more balanced. The fruit played a better role in keeping the structure in tact throughout the taste.

@8:40pm I poured the remainder from the decanter. (my wife is a lush! I'll blame it on her! )
Nose - Not much change in the hour, the soil took more of a back seat role and allowed some mushroom, cedar and more rose come out. The cherry was still there.
Taste - Not a whole lot of change, I could taste some chocolate and basil at this point, but it was still spicy and hot on the back end, still semi-dry.

I went in for 1 in hopes that eventually over a few years, this opens up to be a beauty. It seemed VERY tight and young, I almost felt bad for drinking it this early. I feel it has characteristics that will make it great, it certainly was NOT a fruit bomb. My wife didn't appreciate it, but she has less knowledge about wines than I (if possible).

Thank you WD for choosing me to rat this wine. I hope I provided enough information to help people make their decisions. I'll post the pictures sometime this weekend.

I saw HitAnyKey42 on wine.woot! and clicked "I want one!"


quality posts: 123 Private Messages cheron98
redwinefan wrote:Feel free to browse my photo gallery of my labratting. I'll post a full review later when the message board is acting normal.

redwinefan wrote:

Sorry for the delayed ratting. I tried to post this the first night, but the servers were crazy, and I've been away from my computer since then. Hopefully I can still help with the buying decisions.

The bottom line:

A mellow fruit, mild tannin, $10 Cabernet with a bit of Cab Franc funk thrown in for fun that makes a decent QPR and begs for some dark chocolate to consume alongside it. You can pop some of this wine now and some later, but I wouldn't hold it for more than a couple of years since IMHO this sort of structure doesn't beg for long term storage. This is in a similar wheelhouse to the Wellington Sonoma Cabernet from the mixed-pack woot although with less tart fruit in comparison.

Tasting detail:

One sip poured into the glass, and I've got the tasting wheel ready...

in 'like' at first sip
I got a nose of light cherry, a little pepper, leather, and herb. The first taste was plummy mixed with a bit or herbaciousness funk and mild pepper, this was actually my favorite sip. Surprisingly, the alcohol isn't overwhelming out of the bottle. The tannins are very subtle at this point. The Cab Franc in this blend really stuck with me on the finish.

Absolutely no gunk on the cork:

The remainder of the bottle went through my aerating decanter with the filter in place. As you can see from the pic, this wine left no sediment in the filter:

I didn't invent the rainy day, man. I just own the best umbrella.

This wine was popped post-dinner, so instead of pairing with food, it got paired with one of the best movies ever: "Almost Famous" - the Director's Cut. As we started the movie, we let the Monkey mellow for a bit:

Listen to Tommy with a candle burning, and you'll see your entire future.

Decanting didn't seem to bring out much more in this wine besides mellow out an already mellow wine a bit more. I wasn't able to coax any more fruit out of this one. Still getting some Cab Franc funk out of this which stuck out more to me the more I drank it.

It's all happening!

The more I drank it, the more I wanted some chocolate cake or food to complement the flavors in the wine since the wine by itself got a little dull after a glass.

Time to bust out the Wellington

In preparation for my rattage, I tried to find the most similar bottle to this wine from my cellar and chose the Wellington 2007 Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon from the Woot mixed case. It's a different vintage than the Monkey's Second Prize, but the blend and price point are somewhat comparable.

The Wellington was treated as a pop and pour, and I'd say these wines are definitely in the same class of wine. The Wellington has a bit more a tart fruit punch with more noticeable fruit in general and the Cab Franc is more subtle. The Monkey's Second Prize is more mellow, less fruit, and a little funky.

My friend who's not much of a wine drinker had a definite preference for the Monkey's Second Prize where I was torn more between the two. Neither would be a favorite, but both are good QPR at near $10.


The Monkey's Second Prize is a nice $10 bottle to open at a Tuesday night dinner or bring over to your neighbors house for a casual get together paired with something to munch on. Hopefully a little bottle age will help blend the flavors a bit more, but I wouldn't be too concerned with hoping for a lot of improvement here.

Is it that hard to make us look cool?

I'd like to thank the Academy, the Woot monkeys, Pedroncelli, and WD for this great ratting honor. I suppose I should also throw a thank you to the new Chief Monkey, Jeff Bezos (now that he owns Woot, he has a 98% stranglehold on my wallet)

Check out my full labratting picture gallery.

I saw HitAnyKey42 on wine.woot! and clicked "I want one!"


quality posts: 123 Private Messages cheron98
rpm wrote:

Monkey Prize, 2nd Ed. 2008 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc/Malbec put together by our friends, the Pedroncellis.

Fun bottle. Lots of other rats have posted pictures, so no need to here.

Unfortunately, I was batching it last night, as SWMBO is enjoying herself in sunny South Florida while I toil away in the fields here in Connecticut.

OK, enough of this. About the wine:

First, let's understand what we're working with: a $10 Cab from a serviceable year, put together by people who know what they're doing and have long experience working with decent (but not absolutely top class) fruit and coaxing something that's better than you'd expect out of it. It helps to have reasonable expectations. I expect this kind of a wine to be true to varietal type, to have some flaws, but no really disqualifying ones, to be enjoyable with food, and to represent good value for money. Remember, the fruit going into this (or the component bulk wine) was available on the market for a negociant wine because someone didn't have it on his or her list as the best available to go into a flagship wine.

I opened the bottle, took a sniff, and poured a little into a nice big Bordeaux glass. Last time I 'ratted, I was excoriated by some for not tasting straightaway, so this time I did to accommodate popular demand (and to simulate the conditions of 'pop and pour' under which 8 out of 10 wineaux are likely first taste a wine).

The color was good: more bright red than purple (suggesting not overly long on the skins) and the wine had good clarity.

The first sniff impression of the nose was of berries. At this point, it was 'generic' berry, not distinguishable by variety, just ripe. Sort of 'yes, they're not so tart I might want to put sugar on them, but they're not pushing 'sell by' either' ripe. Swirled a bit in the glass: same thing, now with some oak coming through. Pleasant for a very young Cab, but not, to my taste, particularly complex or subtle at this point. I would describe it as rather closed right after opening.

With the first sip, the entry was consistent with the nose - generic berry, medium body, young Cab-y - I had the sense I'd been there a few thousand times over the past 50 years. In the middle palate, though, the oak that was noticeable in the nose really came out, overwhelming the fruit flavors. That did not thrill me, and the finish was short, not particularly berry-like or tannic, but acidic almost acetic. Time to wait a bit...

A half-an hour later (it was late, and I really needed to have dinner), I had another sip. Now, sniffing I got more alcohol and a little less fruit, but the nose was still very pleasant. Again, not noticeably complex or subtle.

The entry had not changed - nice, berry-like and fresh tasting, the middle palate was still oaky, though with more fruit flavor noticeable. The finish was sill short and more acidic and acetic than tannic. Note by acetic, I'm referring to a quality of astringency often found in Italian wines that doesn't come from tannin, and doesn't mean the wine tastes like vinegar.

At this point, I had to interrupt more formal tasting to eat dinner. Rather than have a glass of something nonalcoholic, or some other wine, I decided to have part of a glass of the Monkey Prize. I don't normally do this: all of the prior tasting was done 'swish and spit' with no more than enough down the gullet (as it were) to evaluate the finish. I was having an excellent hearty and meaty minestrone made by SWMBO. I had perhaps 3-4 oz with dinner. Just enough to determine it paired reasonably well. Drinking it with food reinforced my initial sense that the wine had not fully knit and would need some time in the bottle. For some reason, at this point (though not earlier and not later) there was a hint of something chemical in the nose. I would have said 'varnish', but the Wine Aroma Wheel suggested ethyl acetate (nail polish remover). It wasn't so negative as that - I have more positive association with varnish (think brightwork) than with nail polish remover (think taking lacquer off of brass, or a gaggle of daughters changing polish colors).

I would emphasize that the aromas and flavors were very 'clean' - there were no hints of funkiness, nothing microbiological or herbaceous.

Then, I had some more by itself a little over an hour later. The berry fruit had opened up, resolved more into young raspberries, without the sense of alcohol. Very 'fresh wine' now. The entry was still nice, better in fact, but recognizably the same wine.

Where the wine had really improved was in the middle palate and in the finish. The middle palate was much more pleasant than it had been - more wine and, while the oak was still there, it didn't overwhelm the other flavors, and it no longer bordered on acetic in the middle. The finish was now a little longer, and seemed more tannic than acidic or acetic -- which is exactly what I want and expect in young Cabernet.

Others may find more complexity here, but I find the wine very straightforward.

Conclusions: Assuming your expectations are realistic and you're looking for a good QPR wine you can drink with pleasure this summer and over the next couple of years, and assuming you don't dislike Cabernet generally, I think you might be very happy with Monkey Prize 2d.

I would caution against trying to just open the bottle and pouring Monkey Prize at this stage in its life: I would allow at least an hour or more. I don't often use the Vinturi I own, but I think I just might for this wine now. In fact, if I were serving this, I'd put the bottle through the Vinturi and give it another hour before pouring it 'round. I'd serve it with meat, preferably grilled: sausages, beef, lamb (might be very nice with some spring lamb kabobs) or hearty pastas (the acidic/acetic hint will work very nicely here and enhance both the wine and pasta).

I think the wine will benefit greatly from another year or two in the bottle, though based on the year and the wine, I wouldn't put cases away and expect something great in ten or fifteen years. This is definitely a mostly drink before it's 6 Cab.

Well done, wine.woot; well done Jim and John.

I saw HitAnyKey42 on wine.woot! and clicked "I want one!"


quality posts: 123 Private Messages cheron98
kylemittskus wrote:
I am a proxy rat. Richardhod received a rat bottle but he's galavanting around the UK. I shall do my best British immitation and give a full, multi-part rat report starting tonight around 8 PM PST time. Until then, I will refrain from reading any reports that precede mine and the description page so that my tasting notes are not influenced by anything someone else has said.

kylemittskus wrote:
I aoologize for late report. Birthdays and then moving into my new place. and in true Richard fashion, I am posting on my phone, errors and all.

This is pop and pour.
Friend: I love this nose. very cab without being told what it was.

Me: leather, and not much else.

SWMBO: loves the smell.

none of us got fruit. all of us got some funk.

Friend: not a fruit bomb. likes it. nice tannins. taste like a cab. a litter green.

me: a little green. mild to moderate tannins. short finish. this is not the style of cab I personally enjoy but I think at $11 shipped, it is good for the style it is. I could see this being a $15 bdx easily.

SWMBO: likes it a lot. taste old world. notice my comment about bdx. I didnt prompted SWMBO at all.

I am not going to buy because this isn't my style. however, at $11, I think it is a good buy and will probably get better in a year or two.

again my friends, I apologize for the late, misspelled, and short rattage

if you like more classical styled cabs, this is a buy,.IMO.

I saw HitAnyKey42 on wine.woot! and clicked "I want one!"


quality posts: 123 Private Messages cheron98
senpai71 wrote:

Another labrat report...

The FedEx guy couldn't bothered to ring the bell yesterday, so it showed up today. Since my last labrat bottle was corked, I figured I should do my best to jump in and report on it straightaway. Therefore I opened the bottle at 2.15, when I should have been working (from home). But it's my birthday, so I cut myself a break...

Others have given a complex, nuanced report of the wine. Mine will not be one of those.

1. It's a Pedroncelli wine. That, alone, is a good reason to buy it.

2. The label is very pretty. So much so, that I'm tempted to try to remove mine and stick it up on the fridge.

3. It's a young Cab. On first opening, it's VERY fruity and a tad on the sweet side. Interestingly, a sniff straight from the bottle had some dark earthiness to it. However, the first glass didn't have that at all. An up-front fruitiness, with lots of berry and a little oak. Certainly on the upper end of alcohol content (14.1%), so pretty typical of a California cab - frankly, I'd love to try some 11-12% cabs and see how they compare, but at least it's not trying for a record-breaking 16%+. Surprisingly light-colored.

4. It goes GREAT with chocolate. I tried with some extra-dark 70% cocoa fancy stuff from Real Foods and it was good. I then tried it with some English Cadbury's Fruit & Nut and it was EVEN BETTER. I didn't try it with a Hershey's Kiss because that stuff sucks.

5. Food-wise (aside form the chocolate), I ate it with some barbecued chicken (not your typical Cab meal, but the wife was cooking, and I'm not going to turn it down) and some home-made tiramisu. Very good on both counts, although nicer with the dessert.

6. I initially tried it without first checking the relative grape make-up, and one of my first impressions was 'It tastes like a Malbec'. Whether this was a lucky guess or not, I don't know, but it does indeed have some Malbec in there (admittedly only 1%), but if you like Malbec, I think you're in for a good time.

Overall, at this price, it's a definite buy.

I saw HitAnyKey42 on wine.woot! and clicked "I want one!"


quality posts: 123 Private Messages cheron98
MarkDaSpark wrote:Hey WineDavid, do labrats get hazard pay??

Went to my locker to grab (i.e. try to find) the original Monkey Prize. Something fell. The door to the locker fell off (screws came out) on to me. On the bright side, I now have a larger 48 case locker instead of the 32 case one. And found the MP box while they moved my wine from one to the other.

Dueling scar ... yeah, that's it! It'll be a dueling scar from Heidelberg.

Tasting will commence in approximately 1 hour. Assuming TimB doesn't hit too much traffic on his way home.

Original Monkey Prize box (Came with Red Cape Monkey):

MarkDaSpark wrote:

Labrat report for 2008 Monkey 2nd Prize:

A call went out from WD for a gathering of Great Red Wine Hunters … “Avengers Assemble!” um, err, Bwanas’ Assemble!

MarkDaSpark (Allan Quatermain – King Solomon’s Mines), zTimothyBz (Frank Buck – Bring Them Back Alive), JavaDrinker (Sean Mercer – Hatari!), Java’s +1 (Anna Maria 'Dallas' D'Allesandro – Hatari!) were joined by 1st time bearer boy Merbill (Ali – Bring Them Back Alive).

Synopsis: Not quite ready to drink now, but should be fine in 8 months to a year. Plus the labels are cool! Drinking window estimated 2012 to 2015/2016. And Java decided he has to buy some. However, the Woot Monkeys decided to hog both wines!

As you can see, we also opened an original Monkey Prize (2004), along with one of Tim’s 1987 Corison and a 2003 Ty Caton Napa Valley. Java, his +1, and Merbill had all eaten before arriving, Tim had a shepard’s pie, and I brought some takeout (14 oz Ribeye – booyah!). Tim also had some scrumptious appetizers, including some crackers with Dubliner Cheese and Apricot Preserves.

All of the labrats have done an excellent job, so I’ll just go over some of our impressions.

Monkey 2nd Prize …. Oops, sorry, wrong link. ;)

But seriously, Merbill thought it was dry, with some tannins on the back of the finish, fruit in the background, but “Pretty good for $10”. Java thought it was mellow on the fruit right now, but he has to buy some. Tim thought it was young. I’m glad I grabbed 3 sets, because I can use them for Xmas gifts (no Cortot20, that doesn’t mean you! Well, maybe.)

The original Monkey Prize and Ty Cab were both a nice deep red, while the Monkey 2nd Prize was still a medium ruby color.

And we all agreed that it was young and needs to sit 8 to 12 months. But great QPR.


As to the rest of the wines …. Yum!

The Corison was good, but starting to go. The original Monkey Prize was very good and both Merbill and I are not worried about needing to finish the rest of our bottles this year. (Some had been saying this was the year to drink them up, but seems like it’s still good thru next year). Conflicting reports on the fruit …. Someone said the fruit seemed almost gone, but someone else said bright fruit. Sorry, forgot who said what then. Busy enjoying my Ribeye.

The 2003 Ty Caton Napa Valley CS was in a nice place right now, and was Merbill favorite of the evening. Followed by original MP, then a tie by the Corison & Monkey 2nd Prize. I think I agree with that assessment.

The original Monkey Prize was around the same alcohol level (14,2 vs. 14.1 for MP2), but with 75% Lake County Cab and 25% Sonoma County Sangiovese. So slightly different fruit-wise. I enjoyed both with my steak, but I am not planning on opening another bottle until Xmas.

Hope this helps everyone.

Edit: Forgot to add that I brought my 2 Vinturi's and their towers, but we didn't use them, just WD's decanter.

I saw HitAnyKey42 on wine.woot! and clicked "I want one!"


quality posts: 123 Private Messages cheron98
rugrats2001 wrote:

OK, time for another LabRat to surface!

First, I have to say that the bottle that I and Mrs. Rugrats shared was a clone of the bottle that RPM reviewed, and nothing like the dusty, leathery bottle described by hogfatt. I can only imagine there must be quite a bit of variation bottle to bottle, which to me can add an extra dimension of interest.

My pop-&-pour method of this very young wine produced a berry aroma tending toward black raspberry, soon joined by mocha and vanilla scents. In the glass, it exhibited average legs upon swirling.

Before going further, I want to explain that currently my favorite California varietals are ancient vine zins, Napa and Sonoma cabs, and petite sirahs. My wife tends towards full bodied merlots in addition to the zins and cabs.

For objective, detailed flavor profiles, please see RPM's inspired review on page 2. Given 45 more years of wine experience, I would hope to be able to describe my experiences as he did. My wife and I experienced the flavors, scents, and general feel of the wine just as he describes, down to the fleeting 'varnish' odor.

Approximately 1/2 hour after opening the bottle, I tried to pair the wine with several common "wine foods". I found no synergy between it and three different high-cocao dark chocolates (75%+), but felt it went fairly well with sharp cheddar cheese. Where it shined was when drank with dinner. We had a (nearly) vegetarian stir-fry, composed of asparagus, baby-bella mushrooms, green & red bell peppers, bok choy, brocolli flourettes, and baby carrots in a soy & olive oil sauce with a touch of chicken broth, served over whole-grain rice. The wine really brought out the fresh flavors in the meal.

This medium-bodied wine drank like many wines we have tasted in the $15 to $18 range, just as its Pedroncelli heritage would suggest. I agree that given another 6 - 12 months in the bottle, the Monkey 2nd Prize wine will reward its purchasers with a very good wine for both food and general drinking purposes with excellent QPR.

In addition, the general character seemed influenced more by the Cab Franc than the 15% addition would let on, and also reminded both my wife and I of some young Petite Sirahs about an hour after opening.

We are in for a case, and will probably wait six months before drinking the next bottle, and open bottles every couple of months to experience its evolution.

Thank you, WD & Woot, for giving us the chance to try this wine, and RPM for writing the review that I wish I could!

I saw HitAnyKey42 on wine.woot! and clicked "I want one!"


quality posts: 123 Private Messages cheron98

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I saw HitAnyKey42 on wine.woot! and clicked "I want one!"