Offer of 8/12/2011 -- C.G. Di Arie 2006 Zinfandel Shenandoah Valley - 4 Pack
This offer's pack:
I was a lab rat for this Zin - I enjoyed drinking it with my wife along with some grilled fillets and sweet potatoes. They went very well together (maybe not like GG Allin and Marilyn Manson - but more like Snoopy and Woodstock). The first sip is juicy goodness. As the wine has time to breathe, it developed some more character. The label talks about Blackberries, Black Cherry, mocha finish and hints of black pepper. I can't say that I am sophisticated enough to taste all of that. I just tasted a really good Zin. It is a nice bottle to share over a relaxing meal together. The Oak blended in well (I am not normally big on heavy oak and did not taste the oak here). I think that it is priced very well.
I got this bottle by being selected as a labrat. I am normally a big fan of Zins but this one was not my cup of tea. When I first opened the bottle it had a turpentine nose and an unpleasant taste. It improved dramatically after letting it breath for a while but I did not get the Berry aromas and dark fruit aromas described on the bottle. Perhaps this bottle was subject to too much heat during shipping. I have had several good Woot wines in the past so I will pass on purchasing this one and wait for the next great offering.
Well I was fortunate enough to be chosen as a Closet-Lab Rat-Nerd......All I really want to say is: BUY IT!
I was afraid of some of the descriptions as I am not a big OAK or PEPPER fan. I was VERY surprised at how smooth and gorgeous it was after just a few minutes of breathing time. Decanted the bottle and it simply got better and better......as I am a fine wine connoisseur I had a pizza with pepperoni, olives, and an antipasto salad with my selection and it paired quite well.
Bottom line is I am in for a four pack and suggest you do the same if you are on the fence!! Oh, and the 2 girls trying it with me love it as well.......gotta go!!
Hi there I just got a bottle today with a golden ticket? I invited my sister, an avid wine taster, to open it and tell you all about it. At first glance it was corked and depressed. I was thinking the worst. I remembered the box was quite warm due to the 90 degree weather around here. Luckily after opening I enjoyed it. The wine was enjoyably smooth, with a fruity body, and not too dry not too sweet. All in all it was great! It was very surprising to receive this in the mail today. Thank you wine.woot!
Offer of 8/19/2011 -- Old World Winery 2009 Bon Temps Sauvignon Blanc - 4 Pack
This offer's pack:
My friendly FedEx man delivered the golden ticket around noon. Bottle went in to the fridge and I went about my day.
10:00 I pull the wine out of the fridge and head to the store for some snacks--ended up with goat (an herbed chevre with fennel dust and lavender and a cablanca) and sheep’s (manchego and castellano) milk cheeses, figgy spread and loaf of fresh French bread-- then on to a friends house for consumption.
10:30 We pull the cork. At first sniff the nose gives us sour apple and pear. First sip is soft. We taste the pear at the top with a lovely and lasting finish of tart apple and maybe a hint of spice (pepper, perhaps?). Right out of the bottle, this wine is very drinkable, almost chuggable. Matches remarkably well with our cheesy feast.
20 minutes in and it has softened even more. Lovely, round mouthfeel. The BFF says it has “umami”. We are all pretty surprised that the green apple remains the dominant flavor. I’m sure this gem would have opened up and given us more, but we were unable to restrain ourselves from draining the bottle fairly quickly.
End result: though this wine is complex enough to be consumed on its own, it is a perfect compliment to mild and savory appetizers. I would imagine it would make a terrific meal companion (we will certainly find out, as we are likely going to order a fair amount of this particular juice).
We are all wishing we had a second bottle to tear in to...Bon Temps, indeed! Thanks, Woot!
So, rattage at long last! I decided to do a comparative tasting of the Old World 09 Sauvignon Blanc with Kent Rasmussen's Esoterica Sauvignon Blanc 2010. I might open the Wellington SB later just for devilment, but I'm entirely satisfied with these two at the moment.
A pale greeny-clear is the Rasmussen, though this might be the decor. Very clear.
The Old World is definitely a deeper yellow, almost browny yellow, in a mid-light kind of way.
Wow, these are different:
Rasmussen has that cclear, classic New Zeaand kind of gooseberry nose, with a hint of grass and butter. Refined, promises layers if strong on the fruit.
The OWW (see he cork..) is entirely different. Smells of, hmm, an old house? The glue you find in grandma's cupboard? Burned sugar, perhaps! I can't describe it. Definitely charred! caramel, in the purest, best sense!
Palate: probably 15-20 mins opened in glass, out of fridge. Definitely drink these medium-cool: not too warm, but let them rest 10-20 mins out off the fridge.
Rasmussen: Mmm, not as sharp as I expected! soft-edged SB, not concentrated, but the acid slowly builds up over time in the glass, say 10 seconds, to fill your mouth with yummy acid-style minerality. Soft, mouthwatering, with gentle gooseberry hints, notes of grapefruit, a little gentle soft buttery feel, but only a little, but very subtle ones, and lively lively acidity on the palate which at no point is too sharp, or too malic-sour, or too fruity. Just tastes like clean-style Sauvignon Blanc as it really should. Pehaps a little oak, or was it jsut warming too much, .Definitely keep this one on the down side of 55 degrees. I could drink this all day and it will go with smoked salmon quite nicely I think. Ooh, later on it has a little grape tannin in the end too, I feel. Or it's opening up more. And at no point does it get sour. A masterpiecem and manifestly a SB!
OWW is an entirely different beast. Yet it's also very very good! It tastes aged or something. I wouldn't spot this as a Sauvignon Blanc if you served it after doing the Haka and trouncing me at rugby. Nor if you called it Chateau le Bordeaux-Varietal-Typique. It certainly tastes fumé. Perhaps Ruisseau Sec Fumé, or Couloir Sec Fumé. It is quite malic underneath, but not oppressively so: firm without being overpowering, providing quite a nice backbone, but doucement. A touch of grapefruit, just a hint, to make me think of Sauvignon Blanc at last. And, yes, some butter, but not too much, round or nasty as in the dodgy end of California Chards. Just a little to balance out the malic and brighter acids. Definitely nicely balanced: not austere, so not one for ageing, but also not all butter, and not all grapefruit. Delightful.
It's not as "fresh" as the Rasmussen: it has darker tones, as if it lives in an orange post-apocalyptic world, as a little bright-green-stemmed flower, showing lively ochre petals among the decay and conflagration.
You can drink this on its own. I'd not cellar this, as it's not super high in acidity and lose its freshness, but at this moment now, it's a unique SB the sort of which I've never tasted. Less acidic than the 04 Pouilly Fumé from Michel Redde I had last Sunday, and won't last half as long, but for a young drinker, this is remarkably complex, unusual, and both approachable and interesting! It has enough acid, and plenty of flavour. Neither of these wines relies too heavily on fruit: it's there, lively and present, but not the single-minded track of most Sauvignons Blanc. The Rasmussen is definitely grapefruitier, especially as they warm up, but not too much so: it's just less oaked.
Oak? Can't really taste it: Hmm, that must be the burned flavours! So, not huge fruits, but god acidity, and yes, a little soft tannin on the back end, even a hint of sweetness from it, but only to contrast with the present, gently sharp acidity.It has enough acid to balance the subtle oak: indeed it took me a long time to identify any oak.. it's not unsubtle like most oaked whites you'll try. In fact it's a great white for anyone who likes unoaked whites but always hankers after a bit more complexity!
Congratulations: this is a superlative white wine, and to make it like this so young, is truly wonderful! I drank it on its own, but you could probalby pair it with gentle white fish. It's not strong enough to take the sharpest foods, as it might then lose its focus. Probably best on its own, or with amuses-bouches!
These are wines for connoisseurs, AND for new wine-drinkers. They will be amazed. This is the most original SB I've ever tried, and while there may be deeper, more concentrated, more cuttingly acidic or even more complex whites, this has depth, layers, and balance at this age, and with freshness without astringent acidity. Approachable, yet a wine which shows us some of the nuances and deeper pleasures that drinking good wine can bring. This is a most unusually interesting experience!
Buy this and serve it to all your friends, for as with the Rasmussen SB, they will love it and wonder what one-dimensional rubbish they might normally associate with this grape!
richardhod wrote:Goes well with steamed clams in garlic and butter too. Meatballs next.
EDIT: Hmm, meatballs are honeyed Teriyaki sort from Costco. A bit sweet for this and makes it tarter and a bit too malic. Brings out some pear and even maybe apricot aromatics in the wine, and definitely clears the palate to make the next meatball more unguently succulent, but I'd stick to classic white wine foods, dry and fresh, with this SB.
Rat Report as Promised:
Ok, so I actually have 3 opinions on this one instead of 5 (my mother and Brother who don't consume much anyway bowed out)
The three opinions are from:
Myself: A mainly red wine drinker with a propensity for Bordeaux varietals. When I go for a white, I tend toward a Sauvignon Blanc with stone-fruit flavors (as opposed to grassy). I am not a fan of Big oaked chards in general.
My Gal: A novice drinker who is learning wines from across the spectrum and can handle/enjoy Reds and whites. She very much enjoys fruity wines and is sensitive to excessive oak. When talking of whites, Unoaked chardonnays get her top ratings.
My Father: A mainly red drinker who occasionally enjoys a white. His preferences in whites tend toward oaky chardonnays.
Color - The wine is a light gold in color but has a slight grey-ish/tan-ish hint. Not a pure gold or greenish gold that I expect.
Nose - Green Apple as others have noted is the most prominent scent I get. A touch of lemongrass brings a bit more brightness to the nose but it is still far rounder and less astringent to whiff than many Sauvignon Blancs I have known.
Taste - Upfront I was greeted by bright apple flavors and some backing acidity. This flavor persisted through the middle of the palate without much else interesting happening. As the flavor faded, I got a creamy, somewhat nutty finish. I likened the finish to some darker beers I have had without the hoppy, bitter finish. (I don't drink much beer and was told I was crazy by the other two tasters so take this comment with a grain of salt.)
Feel – I actually noticed the feel before anything else. The wine is fairly thick and mouth filling / coating. There is a creaminess to it. It is bigger in feel than most whites but lighter than the heaviest chards.
Overall take – I liked it at first because the combination was novel and interesting. Unfortunately after a glass of it I grew weary of it and it just tasted creamy and a bit oaky to me. If I had it to give at a party, I would recommend everyone try some but more for the novelty than the lengthy enjoyment.
Color – See comments by both guys.
Nose – Light (not a whole lot to it). Green apple is the primary fruit, with a hint of citrus behind it. There is an interesting part of the nose that is almost a hint of popcorn, with a sweetness/maple quality somewhat like a popcorn jelly bean.
Taste – A lot of oak throughout; a light maple syrup flavor (without the sweetness), which is strongest at the finish. Strong overall flavor up front and at the finish, but light in the middle. Fruit flavors: apple, citrus without the stringency associated with orange/lemon/grapefruit (possibly starfruit or kumquat?). Fairly dry flavor overall.
Feel – Very smooth throughout, not missing feel/viscosity in the middle even as it lacks flavor.
Overall Take – Not too much complexity, but nice overall. Good wine for a party or dinner where the aim is not to sit and contemplate what you’re drinking, yet still have a decent & certainly palatable drink. I wish there was more solid fruit in it (especially in the middle) to back up the maple-oak flavor.
Color – Odd grey – brown tune to the normal amber color of a white wine. (found this slightly off-putting)
Nose – Light fruit and oak
Flavor – Solid oak with undertones of fruit
Feel – heavier mouthfeel than expected from a SB
Overall take – This wine feels like it is trying to be both chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc at the same time and is failing at both. It is a Sauvignon Blanc, made in a Chardonnay style, starting with an inferior grape. Less than plesant.
Group overall – Curious. An acceptable value at $14 per bottle but not a screaming deal.
See part II here
Lab Rat Report:
Upon receiving the email telling me I'd been chosen as a lab rat and that the wine was white, I thought "Uh oh." I'm not a big white drinker and was worried that I would get a Chardonnay, my least favorite. Well, I opened the box and thought "Crap, it's a Chard." Then I saw the label and my interest was piqued...a Sau Blanc that looks like a Chard? Intriguing!
I got home last night from a very long day, excited to sip a crisp, refreshing, fruity SB. I poured a glass, took a big sniff and was struck with...oak! Agh!!! I took a sip...and again, got oak. I figured I would let the wine open up a bit, warm up a bit (admittedly, it was a bit overchilled) and give it a shot again. After two glasses, I just couldn't get into this wine. Too similar to a Chardonnay for me!
I think that this wine could benefit from pairing with a smooth, rich cheese or similar creamy accompaniment. Unfortunately, I just got back into town last night from a week's vacation, so the fridge was rather bare.
Offer of 8/24/2011 -- Hawley Winery Dry Creek Valley Red - 3 Pack (One Autographed bottle)
2 2004 Hawley Merlot, Dry Creek Valley (One bottle signed by John Hawley)
1 2004 Hawley Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley
This offer's pack:
richardhod wrote:The Merlot is exceedingly scrumptious, and lovely now, or I reckon for 5 or 10 years more. Full report to come wh. en I get home. Quality stuff, with true balance.
OK, so rattage again! Due to a 50% wrong guess as to which wine was coming first, I drank this starting last Thursday night! What an early treat... and due to its length and to save your poor eyes I shall post the next night's follow up rattage in the morning!
Hawley Merlot 04
As of the end fo writing this I'm definitely a little squiffy. nice wine, you see...
I'm not going to do a long report here, (EDIT: this may not be accurate, in hindsight) because my new (old) Jeep crapped out on me on the 5 this evening, in between the first sniff of the 2004 Hawley Merlot, and being able to try it again.
So, throws a sediment. Decant, but not too much of a sediment, and stuck to the bottom, so when you decant just don't pour the last few ml. not necessary to stand up for 24 hours as you might an older Cab.
So, I decanted it, and first sniff, mmm, dusty. Indeed one of my friends K, said "a bit like an old attic". Tried it after abot 10 mins of decanting, with unsalted pistachios. Good, sharp, clean red fruit. A clean attack on the palate. Some spiciness, and a decent mouthwatering acidity. Nice length too. small taste, as I'm about to go driving. Some legs, but not too much. Not amaing, but then it's only been open 15 mins.
So, pour it back into the bottle, and an hour and a 10-20mph freeway journey later, I open and decant again it in comparison with a simultaneously-opened-and-decanted Pine Ridge Napa Valley Merlot 06, from a 2010 woot. Still the fine nose on the Hawley. Eating it with cold roast chicken. K, who doesn't like Merlot says it does have that Merlot taste, the spice, and then it goes away. I disagree a bit, as I taste the red fruit and nice sharp acid (not very malic, fresher). Also, it tastes like a proper Merlot, not that bland crap you usually get in California. This is a proper wine, with good acidity, but good fruit, that the frogs would like, as long as you didn't tell them it was made by les Américains!
The Pine Ridge opens up after an hour. It's too harsh at first, and you can taste the oak in it, both fresh hard oak, and softened integrated sweet oak tannins later. A decent amount of red fruits, and a heavy aspect: not a subtle Merlot, but big and fun, a bit like a medium-aged Rioja. Very Very long finish, of the sweet aged oak sort. I actually quite like that as it reminds me of aged heavily-oaked Tempranillo, Spanish style.
The Hawley is definitely lighter, and more subtle, and my friends - none of them connoisseurs, but who like "nice wine" - UNANIMOUSLY preferred it! The fruit reminds me of Wellington Zin fruit (wish I'd decided to get that Wellington Merlot out of storae this afternoon, but we'll have to make do with Pine Ridge! Anyway, I think the Wellington 06 needs a couple of more years cellaring: the Hawley and the Wellington are probably quite similar.) So, Love the fruit, great acid baklbone, definite oak, but integrated and not as overpowering as the Pine Ridge. Very good indeed. Indeed, given the structure, this is a Merlot which might actually last longer and benefit from ageing to secondary flavours, like a good old St Emilion. I wonder if this is 100% Merlot. It certainly tastes of Merlot, but it's delightfully-made. Light, and no deep Cabernet, but it has fruit, acid, present, but refined oak. Ah, I see from the label it's 8% Cab. Neat.. probably helped with it soft but structured nature.
It has the ability to pair with decent meats. Tried with salami also, and that brings out the deep dark red fruits in it. Cold deli-counter beef: also brings out the fresh vibrant redness and acidity and fruit. Yum. Then the beef tastes better afterwards, which is a hallmark of good, natural acidity. Chicken, works perfectly. Tannins are a little more present, fruits always deep red and singing loudly, and the acid keeps it lively. Ok let's try some cheese, Gromit. Fancy some Brie? Mmm, goes with cheese too. Let's take it to the moon.
I think this may age well for another 10 years and be rather wonderful, if the still-vibrant fruit softens to secondary aged flavours. It has spice, but it doesn't seem to be the alcohol spice of some wines, but rather from the subtle, integrated oak tannins the acid and still open, fresh present fruit.
Highly-recommended. Tastes of Merlot, but that's not a bad thing. Open red fruit. Light-claret, as it were, not reliant on high alcohol, balanced, and you can drink it now, as the tannins integrate, or hold it and see if it ends up like a classic Bordeaux. Tastes as if it might be slightly higher in alcohol than a true classic (% is not on the bottle so at writing time I don't know) , but that may not matter. It's a lot more complex on the palate than the Pine Ridge, which is fun, sassy, full of fruit but a little oaky to be truly poised. By prefernce I kept on gong back to the Hawley. More poise, not bigger red fruit, but more poised.
Buy, and drink, and cellar some.
Tomorrow I'll try it, 12 or 24-hours after opening. And probably try to clean up this rather tipsy prose.
Rattage, DAY 2
(or Part Deux)
24 hours later, Friday night. On a dry mouth, it's sharp, with red fruit. Hmm, too acid, needs food. Aha, pistachios!
crack, munch munch. crack munch. oops, no Withnail, you can't eat that, it's a shell. I'll feed you later.
So, let's hav a sip. Wait... that divine, lovely dusty nose again. Reminds me of that 09 Wellington Merlot we blended for the Victory on the rpm 2010 tour. Sniff sniff. Munch munch. Mmmmm. Holding off on sipping for the pure pleasure of the nose. And pistachios of course (Thanks, Mr Joe the Trader).
Ok, time for a si... mmmmm, dusty nose with hints of red loveliness. Mmmm. Ahhhhh. Don't really want to start dirnking, as I lose my nose after a bit, and this has just so much olfactory omnipotence. A nasal nirvana, a wonder of whiffs, a perfect pong.
on the palate, mmm, sharp, red, acid! Perhaps thinner than yesterday, but still decent length, and this deep red cranberry and tart strawberry thing, with some toher nice red things like loganberry. And dust.. I taste the dust! That lingers along with the red sharpness. Almost mineral, almost! Sweet softened tannins comign in the mid-late palate, sweetening the end, counterpointing the sharp entrance! medoim long redness fading to dust.
Second sip-set (refill) Mmmm, still depth to the fruit abov the acid and dust. Zings the tongue with nice acidity, so fresh! medium length, yes, ending as I said.
OK, time to try it after a TJ's chicken quesadilla. Yes, mild j-pepper spice! Nice herbs, gnetle cheese and a little tongue zing. Wow, it brings out some spiciness in the MErlot, or perhaps the acid just piques my jalapeno-primed tastebuds. Still the fruit, brings it out more heavily, more rounded. Although the drink now seems less subtle, I think you get more round fruit, and taste the alcohol a little more also. Or that's just the jalapeno perhaps!
Works, though not perhaps the best use of the wine! I'l keep some for later and some other funny foods.
EDIT: never got round to more funny foods. It was too good. I did try he last half-glass it on the fourth day, and it was still very good! As I thought, and it bodes well for further ageing.
Not bad this wine, at all, epecially for a 7-year-old Merlot opened a day. Translation for you lot: In England that's praise indeed! I just bought some.
Lab Rat Reporting in!
Bonus Lab Rat Bottle: 2004 Hawley Merlot
Forward: My Preferences - I most enjoy Bordeaux varietals (Merlot included). I also enjoy Tempranillos, Zins, and Rhones (in that order). I tend to be a fan of wines that are a bit fruitier than spicy. I like tannins but prefer them to be fine grained. I do not have a terribly sensitive palate to either oak or alcohol.
5:30 PM - Looking at the Bottle and opening it up:
Bottle fill: Mid neck, maybe a bit low, but still decent purveyance.
Upon opening: Some sediment in the neck.
Color: Rich red-garnet
Nose: Vibrant Cherry and plum, hint of aged undertones (cedar/leather)
Palate: WOW closed! SOUR CHERRY with Gripping tannins! Behind the tannins I got glimpses of aged leather and spice as well as more fruit.
THIS WINE NEEDS DECANTING!
8:15 - Almost 3 hours later when Klezman and I sat down and tasted just before dinner, the wine had started opening up.
Color - same
Nose - More muted than before. Notes of plum, ripe cherry, and very ripe blueberry possibly. These are backed by a vanilla or caramel note (must be the oak).
Palate - Plum up front with an acidity that builds into the mid palate and then gives way into aged flavors of dusty leather that then submits to the still quite large and grippy tannins.
My take - This wine does not have as much fruit as I like for a straight sipper. It has definite aged nuances which are tasty and not extreme, this wine is NOT past its prime. The tannins even at almost 3 hours in the decanter are still distractingly large.
8:30 - With Food
Mmmmmm I like this much better with food.
Greek Vegetable Salad (care of Klez) - Tomatoes, Cucumber, Red Bell pepper, Red onion, Feta, Herbs and a vinaigrette.
Pasta - Rotini Pasta with Pancetta, Sun-dried tomato, basil, Sweet Potato, Basil, and green onion in a garlic-cream sauce
French bread with Olive oil and tasty Woot Balsamic
With food (an a bit more time through our hour of dinner) This wine showed itself to be a truly fine specimen. The palate cleared up to a lovely continuum as follows:
The Flavor started with plums (just barely ripe so they still have significant acidity), continued into a wonderful dustiness, resolved through italian herbs and finished with softening but still significant tannins.
Now THAT is what I call a good wine!
Don't be turned off by the bottle saying "Merlot" This wine drinks like a Cab.
This wine needs time
This wine likes food
But it is undeniable that this is QUALITY wine that is a steal for this price if you enjoy a slightly more austere styling to your reds.
I'll be on for any questions throughout the day and I hope to get back to the last bit of this in the bottle before time runs out on this deal tonight.
Assistant Lab Rat reporting as promised!
After getting his bonus second bottle with his Golden Ticket, cmaldoon invited me to join in dissecting tonight's bottle of 2004 Hawley Merlot. As you can tell, I liked it enough to be annoyed at not getting first sucker
I want this to be as helpful to as many people as possible, so I'll start out with my own preferences. First off, my tastes vary widely and I enjoy wines from most of the spectrum so long as they are well made. In my cellar you will find Corison, Wellington, Ty Caton, and Twisted Oak as the dominant names, along with a good bit of Scott Harvey. I mainly look for two things in wine: enough acid to balance out anything else and give the flavours a whole lot of life, and a level of complexity that warrants the asking price for a given bottle. To make that a little more concrete, my favourite woot-related wines have been: Corison, Twisted Oak Parcel 17 and PS, Wellington Victory, Scott Harvey 1869 Zin and Reserve Barbera, Buttonwood Cab Franc, Iron Horse Chard and Pinot, Keating Malbec, and VJB Barbera. Two non-woots that I also think are excellent and relevant: Woodside Vineyards King's Mountain Cabernet and Ridge Monte Bello. Hope that helps.
Now on to the wine! I arrived in time for dinner, but not for the pop and pour - my first taste of the wine was around 7:45pm after it had been open for approximately 2 hours. My only real warning for what to expect was that on pop/pour it was a tannin monster. I gave it a quick swirl and a sniff and I immediately know this is the sort of wine I am going to enjoy. Notes from the first round of deliberate evaluation:
Colour: blue-ish purple throughout, crystal clear (the decanting did a great job of trapping sediment), and bled to red and then colourless at the edge.
Swirling revealed a viscous wine, with legs taking almost 10 seconds to develop at all.
Nose: Initially subtle, the first aromas I got were of earth and spice all wrapped up in an unidentifiable robe of sweetish fruit. I immediately know it's a wine with such depth that I would happily sniff it all night. Further investigation and thought and lots of sniffing later (who knew sniffing all that glue would come in handy?) I was able to pick out cherry and vanilla - almost like cherry vanilla sauce for duck or yogurt. Then I thought, maybe, just maybe, the sweet robe of fruit was very ripe blueberry tending to maybe even overripe. Also got the notion that the sweet smell might be caramel, and therefore a byproduct of the oaking. A little more swirling and sniffing and I finally get one of the other components - mint! Normally I get eucalyptus in a wine long before I get mint, but this is one of the rare ones where I just thought it was mint - pleasantly so.
First taste: Finally! On to the tasting part of the tasting! By now it's probably 2h15 since decanting. My first impression on entry was a bit of fruit and a lot of earthy, leathery goodness. Then the tannins started to coat my tongue and for a 2+ hour decant I was shocked at their power and graininess. My notes actually say they "coated my tongue in a no-nonsense sort of way". The finish evolved from a general herbaceous sense to herbs and then to spice. And it did this over the span of at least 30 seconds. Surprisingly, for a wine of this depth and tannin level it was quite light in body.
First set of tastes with food, around 8:20pm, 2h35 post decant. Dinner was Greek salad and pasta with a cream sauce, pancetta, sweet potato, sundried tomatoes, and basil. Without thinking about flavour combinations I just ate some food and then tried the wine. Initially all I get is the acid. I wonder why, so I go about this a little more purposefully. The Greek salad seems to bring out more green bell pepper sorts of flavours to me while the pasta tends to leave this wine more chameleon-like, although it did reveal some plum to me at this point. The sweet potato seemed to mute most of the fruit flavours, leaving only the acid and not terribly pleasant.
I was wishing for a steak around then, but who'd have guessed for a 7 year old Merlot that it would still stand up to something like that? I was expecting a wine at/near the brink of exhaustion. A wine that would come with a warning to drink within 6 months or you'd just be disappointed. Not so! I think this wine has 5 years left in it, easy. Maybe even more.
Another set of notes from 9:10pm, nearly 3.5 hours post-decant. At this point I find the fruit is fading somewhat, but nowhere near as fast as the tannins are polymerizing and getting smoother. I think the wine just keeps on getting better - or certainly not getting any worse. The herb characters are front and centre at this point, and at some point I recall mentioning rosemary as a flavour component.
Overall, I was delighted to have the chance to taste this, and I thank cmaldoon for sharing his Golden Ticket with me and WD/Ali/PowersThatBe for sending this particular bottle his way. Without having tasted it, I would almost certainly not have gone in. I was second sucker this time
The other strange thing about this wine was that if it had been presented to me blind, I probably would have first guessed it was a classically-styled Rutherford Cab, say from the Kronos Vineyard and it's environs. The dusty/earthy flavour in this wine made me think of 14 year old Burgess or Heitz Cab or the bottle of 1989 Corison I opened for my birthday this year. Not so similar that I'd think it was one of those, but similar enough to make me do a double take. Certainly not your average Dry Creek Merlot/Bdx blend.
Interesting side note: cmaldoon also opened a bottle of Rosemount Balmoral Syrah, also from 2004. The wines could not have been more different. Where the Hawley was subtle and full of flavours and aromas to decipher, the Rosemount was big and in your face with fruit and oak. The comment that won was that the wines are polar opposites. So if you're a big fan of the fruit/oak-bomb or mega-fruit style (Kyle, I'm looking at you here) this may not be for you. If you are a fan of the more restrained, complex, beverage that will go with food (almost demands it) then this is your wine.
Hawley 2004 Cab
As I was not around last night to taste, we will be day drinking! Lunch consists of brown rice pasta with spicy garlic marinara with artichoke hearts, criminis and wilted arugula.
Cork the bottle. Corking left a fair amount of sediment in the neck. Wipe away and pour....
My tasting companion likens the color to True Blood- , blue- red, super dark but not inky.
First sips brings lots of plummy blackberry with a hint of chocolate and a spicy finish. A bit hot for me from the get go- hoping the sharpness will ease with a little time. Pairs well with the red sauce, though I must admit the sauce turned out a lot spicier than intended. Wishing I had made steak tacos instead, as this wine almost begs for a meaty companion. Gonna wolf down lunch, let the bottle breathe and BRB with round 2.
The bottle has been open about an hour (and my mouth has recovered). Detecting raspberries now on the nose, still lots of spice. Mouthfeel is round and full, almost chewy. Earthy, almost herbal finish.
I think I am going to let this bottle open up a bit more and will post again in a coupe of hours...
Offer of 8/26/2011 -- Sextant Wines Central Coast 2008 Zinfandel - 6 Pack
This offer's pack:
Let me start with the disclaimer that I've been looking forward to and dreading this day for 18 months. I took a wine tasting course in college, but that was long ago and far far away. These days I fall more into the "I know what I like and I know when I like it category", without a lot of analysis of how or why. I do some home brewing on the side (beer, not wine) and I'd say that my palette tends to prefer bitter and savory, though my nose likes hops and some floral notes. I like big bold reds, and I like dry whites in the summer, sometimes (gasp) with seltzer after working in the yard for a couple of hours.
Ok, that's out of the way and you should have some idea of where I am coming from. I got my ticket, and the wine, this morning. Temps are reasonable and the wine was able to rest all day. Things were hectic with the wife and kids so I decided to make grilled pizza. Wheat dough with mini pepperoni and olives for the kids, basil, roasted red peppers, olives, and mini pepperoni bits for the missus and myself. To accompany, a spinach salad with orange bell pepper, tomato, and canned beets.
dark ruby red, nice legs
Light tannins and low astringency, a hint of sweetness, or maybe it is the berry nose. The wine fills the mouth but swallows clean with little aftertaste and an alcoholic tingle. It is hard to identify individual tasting notes. Definitely berry, but It's easier to say what it isn't. No tobacco, no pepper (black or bell), no oak.
My wife says: oaky, raspberry flavor, maybe strawberry as well. She liked it,"it was tasty". My son said to say that he liked it (though he did not try it, he's 7!)
After about 30 minutes the food was ready, and the wine had opened up. To me it was now too sweet. The berry aroma was strong and made the wine a little cloying, though I felt that it was as much in my head as in my mouth (because of the nose). I suspect that it needed a stronger pairing: more spice and more bold flavor. I tried red pepper flakes on the pizza and then hot sauce on my crust, to no avail. Chips and salsa did not balance It either.
For dessert we had Pepperidge farm dark chocolate chip cookies with brownie bits. The bitter chocolate flavor was a much better match for the Zin and balanced out the berry taste.
Final thoughts: a good wine, one that I liked for technical reasons, but did not enjoy much because it is not my preferred style. Food plays a big part. Drink it with food that is strong and/or spicy. My wife, who prefers a lighter red, liked it a lot.
I have a glass or so left and will try to update tomorrow with additional impressions.
Allowed to stand 30 minutes, opened and poured. In glasses 30 minutes before tasting. First impression is that this is an elegant, well-made wine. Smooth mouth feel with a slightly bitter taste on the front of the palate. Full mouth feel but short finish. Soft, integrated tanins.
Soft nose. There are fruits there but not a wild, brambly fruit nose as one might expect from classic zin. Missing are wild cherries, blackberries and blueberries.
Overall a very pleasant, well-made wine but definitely not a classic zin flavor profile. If you’re looking for wild, crazy fruity flavors this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a well-made, balanced wine that drinks more like a merlot, it’s a solid choice. Drink it sooner than later.
Yet Another LabRat report...in which in am honored to receive the famed Golden Ticket.
1. Poured into glass immediately after opening and notice it does have a very nice, clear ruby color that is very inviting. the nose is pleasant as well. soft fruity bouquet with the unmistakable hint of pepper.
2. First sip was fruity- but hot. not overpowering but definitely there. after letting it sit for a couple of minutes the vanilla (mixed with a nice hint of oak) is starting to come through, it blends with the fruit nicely and begins to balance itself out.
3. After ten minutes or so the focus of the zin is starting show itself. I am beginning to like this wine very much. I really notice the fruit on the mid palate while the vanilla shines through for the finish. I'm not getting so much pepper anymore. Very nice!
4. Glass number 2,3 and so on--
Having lived in the Dry Creek region of Sonoma County for quite some time time now I can say that I've had my share of Zin's. This is a decent bottle of wine. I m enjoying it without food and it suits me fine. A nice summer sipper if you will. It has a nice price point and if you wish can be a good everyday wine yet you could bring this to a gathering and not feel like a chump.
I hope this helps out...If I didn't cover enough please comment and i will try to answer any questions.
.... and one more lab rat report...
My taste in zin is all over the place. From more restrained (think Ridge) all the way up to Carlisle. The most important thing for me is that it doesn't taste hot - as long as it hides its alcohol well I am happy even if it is a 15+% monster.
Opened as soon as I got home. Popped and poured a glass.
Initial thought was that this was nice. Varietally correct (tastes like a zin). Some brambles, mostly dark fruit but with a nice edge of acidity.
Drank this with a beef stew and it paired very nicely. It held up well to the rich stew and wasn't overwhelmed at all.
Once the stew was finished and we were drinking the wine on its own (and it had been open 30 mins) the wine showed a little heat on the finish. It was also a little simplistic.
Now - 3 1/2 hours later, having another glass, it has dumbed down more. It has lost some of the fruit and become a little bit more monolithic.
Overall - as a sub $20 bottle of wine this is ok. Not overly complex but very drinkable with some very pleasant qualities. IMO it is much better with food than on its own.
Offer of 8/30/2011 -- Old World Winery 2010 Pinot Gris - 3 Pack
This offer's pack:
A late night LabRat post:
I received my golden ticket on Friday for a bottle of the Old World Pinot Gris. Although I am ecstatic I am also slightly nervous due the fact that I am a "reds only" kind of guy. I will do my best to give a report that is worthy of you all. As always, if I left something out please ask and I will do my best to respond.
The fist thing one notices is the color. The wine is a beautiful peach and gold and looks quite nice . the bouquet has a very definitive apricot that is mixed with honey. also it has a slight mineral quality that blends with the fruit perfectly. I am surprised that with such a high alcohol content the fruit really comes through.
I noticed right away the taste is much different that the nose would indicate. A strong apricot is what comes through. i can taste pear in there. the finish almost has a soapy (for lack of a better word) like taste that is very nice.I can also taste the thyme as well. So far I am liking this very much! That apricot just hangs on and on. I believe at 13.8% this seems to be super well balanced and focused.
The wine has warmed slightly and that allows the bouquet to stand out even more. The integrity has stayed the same and this tastes wonderful to me. If any of my friends were to ask if i would recommend a white, this will be my choice. This wine would be nice just hanging around the house or at the beach shucking fresh oysters. Two thumbs up!
Thanks woot for the golden ticket...
LAB RAT Report
3 tasters who are comfortable with white or red. Bottle chilled slightly, opened and poured immediately. Distinctive blush color of wine is immediately obvious – classic Pinot Gris is pale and yellow.
Strong honey notes on the nose. Nose seems reduced and yeasty. Full mouth feel. Flavor seems sweet but not overly so. Strong honey/peach - almost cidery flavor both on the nose and palate.
Overall, this wine lacks the clean nose and flavor profile of a classic Pinot Gris. In reading the label this wine appears to have been somewhat of an experiment. With this in mind, the group poured a new glass and approached the wine anew as though it were an experiment and not a typical Pinot Gris. In both cases we find this wine unappealing. Those that buy it as a Pinot Gris will be disappointed; it's not even in the ballpark. Those adventurous souls who buy it as an experiment will not be happy with the results either. I really hate to say this but we would avoid this wine.
Guess this will be my last rattage...;)
Another Labrat report
I'm really not sure what to make of this. I love white wines and drink from both ends of the spectrum (super dry) to sweet (spätlese/auslese etc). The important thing is the balance.
On opening the bottle the color is striking. I have drunk rosés which have about the same level of pinkness.
There are certainly a lot of apricots and honey on the nose - but it isn't really sweet on the palette. There is a hint of sweetness but the finish is dry. It has a very rich, almost thick, mouthfeel. I didn't get any sense that the alcohol overwhelmed the fruit. The wine seemed in balance.
If I had to compare this to other white wines I have tried, the closest in flavor profile would be an aged Vouvray demi-sec, where the sweetness has mostly disappeared.
Overall I appreciated trying this wine - but I'm not sure I'll be buying more as the flavor profile is not something I have can easily find an occasion to drink.
Offer of 9/2/2011 -- Hahn Estates 2007 Cabernet Franc - 6 Pack
This offer's pack:
Very pleased to report for labrat duty on this wine. Received the package Thursday afternoon, let it rest and had it with dinner tonight.
The wine is a nice deep reddish color. I would say a little more than a ruby red. Nose is pretty tight upon opening, just some fruit and alcohol. First sip- fruity with some heat and a bit of acidity. This really needs some air.
After a little while I can pick out more on the nose. Some red and dark berries, possibly a little smoke, something bitter (dark chocolate?), and fair amount of alcohol showing. No oak.
It tastes pretty smooth, very low tannin, quite a bit of acidity, red berry fruit, and a lot of alcohol, but overall kind of light. It looks and smells bigger than it is and if it wasn't for the 14.5 alcohol I suspect it would have even less body. The low level of oak also contributes to this. Finish is not bad, medium to long. A little acidic bite at the end.
Definitely more of a food wine due to the high acidity and relatively low body. Not a typical CA Cab Franc but for the price it's a solid wine. Reminds me of many other central coast wines...kind of that non-descript fruity low tannin high alcohol wine, except this one tastes less "mass produced".
If you are looking for an inexpensive, easy to drink, food-friendly wine this is it. You could do much worse for under $10 at the store.
Lab Rat report
At first I was a little confused because the overnight package from Sonoma arrived an hour or more before the explanatory email and there was nothing in the box indicating that this was a “Lab Rat” sample, although it was always clear to me that I was to taste and then share what I thought. Wine.woot might want to include the words Lab Rat somewhere with the package.
So, I opened the Hahn Estates Cabernet Franc about a half hour or so before we started drinking. My wife and I poured a couple of glasses and checked out the color, consistency and aromas. My wife’s first impression was that it quite dark and a little “musty” smelling. I liked the deep ruby color and the rich smell. With the first sip my wife said it was “smooth and a little spicy and delicious.” I agreed and remarked that it was heartier than what I anticipated for a Cabernet Franc, and very pleasant.
We had already planned a somewhat spicy dinner of shrimp sautéed with fresh chopped tomatoes and eggplant and dashed with a bit of feta and Romano over pasta and we stayed with this plan. The food and the wine mixed quite well, although I think a meat dish might go even better with this wine than the savory seafood dish.
We enjoyed the bottle to the end. Eventually the initial musty/spicy taste settled down to a simpler, but nice tasting wine. We both decided that it was a very good wine (and I think I will put in for six of them), but it doesn’t rise to the level of something really special, nor does it claim to, and that’s OK. I was thrilled to be a Lab Rat for the first time and very happy to have been able to review a nice wine.
Lab Rat report
Sorry for my late post. Just got home and popped the cork. Started on it right away.
Color is a deep red.
Nose is smokey with an overwhelming smell of alcohol and berries.
First taste is slightly peppery, smokey with a berry taste but not overly ripe or fruity.
Finish is dry.
Initial impression, needs some time to open. Going to give it an hour and try again with food (wife is making duck) and will save a bit for after dinner. Stay tuned i will keep posting as we drink oh I mean taste.
Offer of 9/6/2011 -- Summerland Winery Red Sampler - 4 Pack
1 2007 Summerland Trio Rhone Blend (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre)
1 2007 Summerland Paso Robles Grenache
1 2008 Summerland Paso Robles Zinfandel
1 2007 Summerland French Camp Vineyard Zinfandel Paso Robles
This offer's pack:
Labrat report on the French Camp Zin:
Very light red-purplish color. Almost pinot noir light. On the nose, stewed dark fruit, lots of alcohol, and some other chemical note mixed in. Something like acetone or some other similar compound. No oak or any oak associated notes.
This tastes light and hot. Light bodied and hot from alcohol. (14.5 on the label, 14.2 on the main page, 15.2 on the winery website!?) I also get a slight sparkling feel but you can't actually see it in the glass. Also lots of acid. Oh yeah and some fruit, I would say past raisin and more like prune. Not jammy and not a fruit-bomb. Can't really pick out much more than that. Short finish.
This "reminds me" of a zin, at least it starts off that way when you smell it but the taste is not really what you expect. It's an ok wine, not undrinkable, just not great. Three of us finished the bottle and it was decent with the grilled chicken we had but I wouldn't pair it with anything bigger than that. An ok summer drinker I guess. Maybe chilled? Compared to the Hahn cab franc (not a fair comparison but it was the last wine I had) the Hahn was much better. Also, I wouldn't hold this too long.
Curious to see what the other rats think of the other wines.
Paso Robles Zinfandel
Right out of the bottle
Screw top, it does not bother me one bit. In fact I like screw tops for wine that is ready to drink now.
Color is light, not rose light but more sangiovese/pinot color. Wife said if she didn’t know what it was she would have guessed sangiovese based on the color
Nose- FRUTY, distinctively raspberry and cherry. Making me nervous this is going to be a fruit bomb.
First taste- totally not what I expect. There is a quick hit of spice then the red fruits linger after the swallow. Going to let it open up a bit and come back.
Had it with pasta and a peppery mushroom sauce. It did not pair well. This wine is too light for the pepper. Pizza or pasta with a light sauce would be much better.
The wine has been open for 2 hours. Getting a distinct black licorice with the red fruit. The spice has decreased.
This is not a big red meat zin. It is a zin perfect for a light casual dinner on a nice summer night.
Lab Rat Report
2007 Summerland – Trio
First a quick note about the condition of the bottle. Although it arrived here in New Hampshire in seasonably cool and wonderful weather at the end of last week, the weekend was very warm and humid and by the time I actually uncorked the bottle on Monday evening, the cork was kind of spongy. I can’t say if it was like this upon arrival, or if the mid/upper-80s temp, super humid conditions and the fact that it traveled several different places over the weekend had anything to do with it, but wanted to note that going forward there might have been a storage issue. No indication of any air infiltration with this bottle, however.
We opened the bottle Labor Day evening at a neighborhood dinner party with six enthusiastic volunteer tasters. I think it is a bit problematic trying to taste a wine at an event with more than 2, 3 or at most 4 people, but the hectic life of a Lab Rat sometimes just doesn’t offer any alternatives!
First impressions (and for that matter all impressions from then on) were universally positive. Color is very dark to the point of almost being opaque. Strong legs and while from the start the aroma hinted to the wine’s complexity, it didn’t give a lot away early on. Some of the specific comments included:
- really nice, warm, taste really stays with you;
- very full, Syrah fullness comes through, full and deep, dry and rich and nice after taste;
- very, very smooth and really complements the smoked Gouda appetizer.
We started tasting this wine too soon and that was clear as it just got better and better as it settled and breathed and by the time it was probably most ready to drink, we didn’t have much left to go around! The aroma from the glass and the complexity of the taste kept getting richer. Several of us still had some in our glasses when the pizza and salads were served and given how well this wine complemented a slice of pepperoni/sausage pizza with a good sprinkling of red pepper flakes, it’s clear that it would be really good with a slower paced, better balanced meal.
When we switched over to the everyday pinot noir the difference was immediate and noticeable. The subtle strength of the Trio contrasted with the much more jarring taste of the less complicated wine. A very nice wine. Thanks, wine.woot!
Offer of 9/7/2011 -- Bodegas Pimenteiro - 3 Pack
This offer's pack:
The last of my lab rat duties and I could not be more surprised by this wine.
I loved the deep red color at the start. Unfortunately that is all I liked in the first glass. Immediately, I wished I could open this bottle in a year or 5. I let it sit for an hour and half and came back to a totally different wine. Fruit combined with the leather nose. The harsh tannins on the finish were gone and replaced by deep red fruit and pepper. I can’t believe this was the same wine.
This is a wine that could be had on its own but would be great with a steak or bbq ribs. I think since it is a 3 pack drink one now, one in two years and one in 5 plus years to see it mature. Of the 3 wines I have ratted this has been my favorite.
In for 1
Yes, another labrat report. Last one I promise! :}
Nice dark garnet red color. Touch of purple around the edges. Looks kind of light, maybe lighter than I expected. Smells pretty good right upon opening. I thought it might be tight being a 2008 but it wasn't bad. Noticeable alcohol, good fruit.. black plum and black cherry, green pepper, light oak, maybe some tobacco or cigar box even (cedar/tobacco), black pepper in the background. Very interesting! As this opens up more it gets better and better. Getting a lot of those different pepper notes and even some barnyard type smell hidden in there.
Wow this tastes good. Thankfully it smells hotter than it tastes. Also not as fruity as it smells either. Just some dark fruit mixed in with a lot of spice, pepper, oak, some green notes, and general earthiness. Some tannin present but not bad, not bitter. Light to medium bodied, pretty balanced, nice acid level, good mouthfeel, good medium finish.
Great food wine. Surprisingly good with salmon, really happy about that. Wish I had some cheese around to try this with.
Solid wine. Buy it if you want to try something different.
Edit: After being open a while now this has settled down a bit and yet revealed itself more. Definitely getting the pepper pot nose and some more funk as well. Smells more like red candy now. Maybe twizzlers. On the palate also changing to red fruit, lush and long finish. Everything is integrating nicely now, I can pick out less than before but it is also different than before. A chameleon!
Lab Rat Report
2008 Bodegas Paso Robles Pimenteiro
So, this was another less-than-perfect wine tasting scenario, but a LabRat has to do what a LabRat has to do, given the constraints of getting things done by press time!
It was my wife’s birthday party and there were 16 of us celebrating at the summer camp on a lovely island in Lake Winnipesaukee. A total of ten in the party really wanted to taste, so it was clear from the start that this was not going to be a long, dragged-out-over-dinner, sharing and exchanging experiences of how this wine interacted with foods and time over the extent of a full evening. Some of the tasters like and know their red wines, while others prefer whites, and still others are somewhere in between or elsewhere. We opened the bottle and pretty much poured it all out among the proffered glasses.
I don’t think anyone disliked the wine, but I also think that there wasn’t much enthusiasm among the tasters to go out of their way or to pay a lot to get this wine again. I think part of the issue might have been that people might have been expecting a big, rich red wine since they were part of this important, nationwide wine testing and then they were underwhelmed by a lighter, more subtle wine, but then I also think they were pretty accurate in their overall conclusions.
Here are a few select comments:
- hint of cherry, slow start, but somewhat stronger finish;
- watery, yet still a bit zingy, and not chocolaty;
- a hint of oak;
- ordinary, yet pleasant;
- lighter that I like;
- starts like a Yugo, finishes like a Fiat (not sure where that one was going);
- light, but kind of zingy;
- tastes like an under $15 dinner wine.
I’m not sure what to conclude from all the input except that this isn’t a big, robust red dinner wine ready to take on whatever you put it up against. I personally liked it more, I think, than most of my co-tasters, but I agree that it is not particularly a “stand out” in terms of color, aroma or taste. We had some nice appetizers such as goat cheese with basil in olive oil and another herb and cream cheese dip while tasting, however, and I do think the wine held up to these strong flavors. I know that I will remember this wine and if I see it at a reasonable price in a store I will not hesitate to purchase it. Thanks once more wine.woot!
Offer of 9/9/2011 -- Ramsay by Kent Rasmussen 2008 Pinot Noir, North Coast - 6 Pack
This offer's pack:
First off, thank you wine.woot for this opportunity. We hope we make you proud. First time reporter, so be gentle . .
We were very excited for this to arrive and was even happier when we opened the box and saw that it was a Pinot Noir. They are by far our favorites
On opening the bottle, it smelled funky. Kinda pungent - never noticed that in a Pinot before. The wine is very light in color and taste. Not very dry, not a lot of body and a bit bitter.
We decided to have a little fun, so we paired anything we could find with it:
Homemade Asiago cheese bread - paired ok
Cold BBQ Chicken - tasted very alcoholly
Dark Chocolate (54% Cocoa) - YUMMY
Cold Mac-n-Cheese - meh
Freshly made tomato sauce - bitter
We let it sit for an hour. The aroma and taste was significantly better. The fruitiness is coming out. Starting to stand on it's own. As it opened up, none of the above "pairings" seem to add anything.
We continued drinking it by itself and that's where we were the happiest. Didn't have enough tannins for our tastes. Thought I tasted some smoke but the wife couldn't back me up on it.
Overall, it seems like a good, basic wine. Nothing too complex or challenging to the palate. Perfect for those obligatory bottles of booze one may bring as a guest to a party.
After 2 years of wondering, "Hey, how come they haven't asked me to lab rat?!?" I finally get my chance. Of course, it happens on my busiest day in months. First, I had a follow-up visit with my internist; I'm at that age when the blood test results aren't always good. Last time my sugar was too high, as was my LDL. Also tested my thyroid — I'm hypo and recently had my Synthroid script raised to 100 mcg a day. But I digress!
My bottle arrived about 3:20 PM, a 2008 Ramsay North Coast Pinot Noir, and I had to leave the house at 3:45. Good timing, Fedex! I put it in my bag and went to my 4:15 appointment with my massage therapist. We didn't discuss wine. I had to work from 6 to 9, then some friends who play in a bluegrass band, the NYCitySlickers, had their first CD release party at Rodeo Bar in Manhattan. "Perfect!" I thought, "I'll be a Stealth Lab Rat! I'll smuggle the bottle in" meaning if I'm going to smuggle a bottle of wine into a bar to taste with my meal, I'll have to be like Paul Giamatti in Sideways ("If she orders merlot, I'm leaving!"), no not that part, the part where he drinks the special pinot he's been saving for a special occasion, with the hamburger he orders in a greasy spoon diner.
I arrive at Rodeo Bar about 9:40 PM, the Slickers are playing (great, great band!) and my reservation was for 10. I ask one of the waitresses where my table is for 10 PM, but she can't find my name, seats me anyway at a table for 4 in the back of the music room. Decent sound, but I can't see the band unless I crane way up in my seat. My table mates, now my best friends, Paolo and Svetlana, he from Brazil, she from Russia, (Vladivostok of all places!) tell me the Rodeo steak is good as are the baby back ribs, special tonight. Paolo & Svetlana are regulars at Rodeo Bar. They don't know much about who's playing, but they know what they like. They like the Slickers…
Partner Claudio arrives shortly before 10. I'm drinking a Makers Mark, he orders a vodka tonic and a buffalo burger. I order the tonight's rib special. "Don't take that wine out of your bag, " Claudio warns, "the sound mixers are right next to our table!", and of course, I ignore him. I order a glass of the house pinot noir (undistinguished) to go with my ribs, but really, I'm planning to drink the Ramsay. I quickly down my wine, then I lean over like I'm fishing in my bag (and I am) and grab hold of the Ramsay. Screw top! Perfect. I pour some into my empty house pinot glass and sniff.
The nose is earthy: hints of dirt, moss, mushrooms. Claudio thinks so, too. In fact, the nose portends a very fine wine indeed. Unfortunately, the Ramsay doesn't quite live up to expectations. The color is a beautiful ruby. The first sip is a little sweet and fruit forward, but leaves a nothing burger of an aftertaste. Perhaps a hint of grape juice flavor. Claudio thinks it's bitter, but I don't taste bitterness; though we're very compatible, our palates aren't. I screwed the top back on and put the bottle back in my bag. 15 minutes later, another try. Drinkable, and a bit better, but not great. A decent accompaniment for the ribs, however, the strong, sweet taste of barbecue sauce, sort of renders the Ramsay a bland accompaniment.
It's now after 11 and we're heading home. We pay the bill, and we flag a taxi outside.
Back home in Brooklyn, I unscrew the bottle cap and pour a couple of fingers. No significant change in taste and aroma, though the wine has mellowed a bit. Nose still earthy, color is fine, but again, that taste. Is it fruity? Bitter, as Claudio thinks? Or just not distinguished.
Then I pour the wine through a Vinturi. Again, the wine mellows a notch, but just a notch. Flavor's still a bit raw, but overall, it's still an undistinguished wine.
So here's my verdict. If you are able to cellar your vino for 3 or 4 years, I think the Ramsay Pinot is quite possibly a wine with potential. Great nose & color; taste will likely improve with cellaring, even after 1 year.
Hey everyone.. First time Lab Rat, long time Wooter..
So, the shipment arrives yesterday afternoon and "Yes!" a Pinot greets my eyes when I open the box. Love me some Pinot Noir, and although I've had other wines from the Rasmussen stable, this is the first Ramsay, so double bonus.
Up front - On the nose: Light cherry, some raspberry, a bit of an earthy tone, and a very light hint of smoke.
Initial sips: Without a lot of aeration or time in glass it's pretty tight with light fruit, somewhat "hot" due to it's youth with a robust even slightly spicy character, and decent mouthfeel.
Although pretty hot up front, this continued to diminish and smooth out after about 15 minutes in the glass, and 45 minutes in the bottle.
20 minutes later, after an additional pour:
More fruit is showing with stronger cherry, red raspberry, and currant notes. Good full mouthfeel, not much smoke, so no Mendo hangover.
Dinner ended up being a variety of flat breads and romaine salad with tomatoes and toasted almonds. The Ramsay performed well with all flavors including kalamata and liguria olives, basil pesto, goat cheese, and artichokes, but truly shone in it's support of the ripe tomatoes and toasted almonds.
Two hours in: The "heat" and spiciness has reduced dramatically, leaving behind a still robust yet quieter pinot that still maintains a full mouthfeel. Excellent time for some 80% dark chocolate, and the Ramsay doesn't disappoint.
Overall, an excellent base Pinot which has flexibility as both a simple "sipper" with cheese and such, yet can still stand up and support much more complex pairings.