Saturday, January 28, 2006

Zaca Mesa

2002 Zaca Mesa Z Cuvee ($10) -- Santa Barbara. A couple visited the shop today and among one of the wines they mentioned in their travels in California was Zaca Mesa. Two hours after they left I found a case of the Z Cuvee. (I know, I know, I need to work on my inventory system! Hey, come back, I finally found it!!).

Zaca is a small cutting edge producer of Rhone varietals in California and one of the first wineries in Santa Barbara since Prohibition. The first vineyard was planted in 1973.

The Z Cuvee is a Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Cinsault blend (45,30,16,9%) aged 13 months in 100% French oak (20% new) with a case production of 2,900.

Medium red color, muted aroma and tight fruit flavors. Seemed out of balance due to high acidity. Might fare better with food. I had tasted this wine prior to buying a case and had enjoyed it, but today the wine did not please me. If it improves over the next hour I will comment.

Friday, January 27, 2006

This is Some Camel!

Remember the joke about a camel being a horse that is designed by a "committee"? Well, they have been busy in Indiana lately designing a "horse"! The full story is here. Here is an excerpt:

House members on Thursday approved a tentative compromise dealing with the ability of in-state wineries to ship directly to consumers – but no one was exactly happy.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Howe, chairman of the House Public Policy and Veterans Affairs Committee, said the amended House Bill 1190 is a work in progress and the result of initial dialogue between all the players. The committee passed the bill unanimously, sending it to the entire House.

Indiana wineries want permission to ship directly to in-state customers – a business practice taken away by the Alcohol Tobacco Commission last year after a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

But the matter is complicated because both retailers and wholesalers – two components of a three-tier alcohol delivery system – don’t want to be left out of the loop.

Under the bill, a consumer would order and pay for wine from an in-state winery, which would then call its local wholesaler. That wholesaler would be required to pick up the wine within two days from the winery. The winery would pay the wholesaler a fee not exceeding $2 per bottle or $4 per case, which would be built into the customer’s cost.

Then the wholesaler would deliver the wine to a local package liquor store within five days where the consumer would pick up the wine. The consumer also must pay a fee not exceeding $2 per bottle or $4 per case to the store.

I can't wait to see how this gets worked out!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

AWS Cincinnati Wine Tasting

Dean Mitchell was very kind in his write-up of last Saturday's wine tasting for the American Wine Society Cincinnati Chapter. The theme was Washington Reds. My favorites were the 2002 L'Ecole No. 41 Perigee (Overall), the 2002 Columbia Crest Grand Estate Merlot (Best Value), and the 2002 Hedges Red Mountain Two Vineyards Reserve (the Best Wine I Would Like to Revisit in Five Years). That last category I just made up.

What was also very interesting for me was tasting the 2000 Columbia Winery Syrah. When first opened I thought it was flawed and would have dumped it out as a "bad" bottle. Thirty minutes later it was quite good! Who knew! I guess patience does pay sometimes.

The last bottle of the night was the 1970 Chateau Giscours Margaux which was given to me by a friend who found it in the cellar when he bought his house. The story is that the previous owner had abandoned a bunch of his Bordeaux's when the furnace went out and the wines were "ruined". Despite the rough treatment and 35 years of age, there was some life in this bottle, albeit faint. It was a treat for all to taste. There are a few more survivors which I look forward to sampling.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Kalin Cellars

1996 Kalin Cellars, Sauvignon Blanc Potter Valley ($26) -- Mendocino County. This is the most interesting white wine I have ever tasted. Period. I am not well versed in French whites, although I have enjoyed a few White Chateauneuf-du-Pape's, but for California Whites this is the best as far as complexity, character and finish. I have tasted a few of the high-end Chardonnays (Hanzell, Hansel, Kistler) but I love the fruit here. One of the bottles I just tasted was actually starting to oxidize and get that raisan-like/almond flavor of a Sherry, but it was delightful. I liked it even better than the first bottle.

What is amazing is that this is the current release. What winery business model tells you to hold your wines in bottle for 5 to 10 years before releasing them to the public?

Web info is sparse (and the Kalin site is weak), but Beau at Basic Juice did rave about some of the other wines from Kalin Cellars last summer in August. I was out of town and missed his write-up.

For $26, run to the store to get a few bottles. I was told that this 9 year-old wine could age for 5 to 7 more years and I don't doubt it but watch the corks. The case I just got had some pretty saturated corks that were very soft when pulled.

Enzo Boglietti Dolcetto D'Alba

2004 Enzo Boglietti Dolcetto D'Alba ($17) -- La Morra, Italy. Upon first opening I thought the wine was tight and somewhat acidic,but after 30 minutes the flavors softened up and I enjoyed this wine with dinner (a simple roast with onions, celery and potatoes). I would recommend that you decant this wine for 30 minutes before enjoying. The local distributor mentioned that the 2004 was better than the 2003, and was recently applauded in a "Wall Street Journal" weekly reviews of Dolcetto's which declared the Enzo to be the best wine and best value. I would link there but chances are you can't get in without a paid registration.

"" and "Di'WineTaste" both have good reviews of this producer but did not taste this particular wine. The label shot is from a different vintage but is identical to the 2004.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Gum Bear

2004 Gum Bear, Limestone Coast Cabernet Shiraz Merlot ($10 -$12) -- Australia between Adelaide and Melbourne which includes Coonawarra. A 50%/25%/25% blend. The bottle shot is the 2005 Sauvignon Blanc but you can see the gum bear. I have it on good authority that this wine has nothing to do with "gummy bears" or "gummy worms".

Right off I do not like cute animals on the label so this sample sat for a few weeks before I tasted it. But when I opened tonight I was impressed with the full fruit flavors, balance and medium finish. Damn, I hate to admit that I like this wine. Lose the label and I am all over it. The website production notes for Australia don't include the cute animal on the label so I am guessing that they must have been embarrassed also. After the [yellow tail] success I guess that Australian wineries think the US market requires cute animals. Note to Australia, stop with the cute animals. We like your wine but we are getting tired of the animals!

On a side note I read that there is an ocean of more good wine on the way due to the 2005 bumper crop in Australia. Can't wait!

For map lovers here is a map of the Coonawarra region.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Razor's Edge

2004 Razor's Edge Shiraz ($12) -- 100% McLaren Vale, Australia. This is the inaugural vintage of a second label from the producers of Two Hands I was told. I haven't been able to confirm this yet in a web search (but I did learn much about Bill Muray's forgettable 1984 film!), but the story makes sense as the two wines are imported by Joshua Tree Imports.

This wine is a great value with soft fruit flavors and a medium finish without any of the pepper nuances I get with some Australian Shiraz wines. This should be a very good wine with food and is pleasant enough to quaff. Yes, it is very quaffable and soft. Sorry, I am stuck on that adjective for this wine. This wine has structure and balance with the tannins well hidden. Probably will not age long, so drink up. I couldn't find much in the way of production notes, just some cute story about the origin of the wine's name. At least they didn't put a cute animal on the label!

Well, I am off to root for the Denver Broncos in the AFC game. Sorry Lenn, it was a cheap shot! And if the Steelers do win at least I have half a bottle of Razor's Edge left, so I could slit my wrists.