2007 Zonnebloem Shiraz & 2006 Straccali Chianti

Since last week I've drunk two wines, a 2007 Zonnebloem shiraz from South Africa and a 2006 Straccali chianti.  I think the shiraz ran me in the low teens, and the chianti was $17.  I'll start with the chianti.

The Straccali comes from the Chianti Classico region of Italy.  The label is vague on notes, just "red ripe fruits," and says it's good as an accompaniment to "grilled meats, flavorful pastas, and a variety of cheeses."  That covers a lot.

This chianti was drinkable, but another chianti that tasted like pizzaria-quality red wine to my taste buds.  I didn't get any outstanding notes from it, and for $17, I think a wine should taste at least a little better than average.

Next was the Zonnebloem shiraz.  I haven't had good luck since my first South African shiraz, the Sincerely a couple weeks ago, that was pretty interesting with its smoky notes.  The first glass of this one had an off-flavor to it, and I'd let it sit for about 15 minutes after I opened it.  I didn't finish the first glass.

I tried a second glass last night with some brie; I thought sitting for 24 hours might help.  This time it was drinkable, but just barely and not outstanding.  My notes say it was "kinda thin, no nose to it, no complexity". The label says this wine has a 5 to 8 years maturation potential, so maybe I drank it too soon.

So I'm still looking for the perfect shiraz.syrah and chianti, with 3 months or so to go on this red wine saga.

2 South African Shirazes

I'm still not keeping up on writing these reviews, but maybe in 2011.  I've never seen a December that was this busy.

The first South African shiraz I've drunk lately was a 2004 Sincerely produced by Neil Ellis Wines in the western Cape.  It ran me $17.

This shiraz has very distinctive smokey notes in it--almost too much so.  After the first glass my mouth tasted like I'd smoked a cigarette with my wine (though it's been a while since I've done that).  After a day, though, the smokeyness wasn't nearly as pronounced.

It was also less intense than the primarily U.S. syrahs I've been drinking thus far this fall.  It's more delicate, more towards a chianti-like body.  I liked this wine, though it might be an acquired taste for many people.

The second one was a 2004 Guardian Peak, also from the Western Cape.  I think this one ran me in the low teens.

This shiraz wasn't nearly as distinctive as the Sincerely bottle.  It was closer to U.S. syrahs, a little sweeter maybe, not particularly outstanding but OK as a wine to serve with dinner.  I have a little left that I'll probably use for cooking.

Finally, a syrah that I like

Last week I hit the jackpot.  I finally drank a syrah that I liked--and finished the bottle--and I picked up a viognier in a clearance bin that I also thought was better than average, especially for under $7.

The syrah is a 2005 Bridlewood from the central California coast (Healdsburg, north of San Francisco and almost directly west of Sacramento). I didn't jot down how much I paid for it, but I think it was in the $10 range.

I think I liked this one better because it was slightly sweeter than other syrahs I've drunk this fall.  I don't tend to prefer sweet wines, but this was just sweet enough without being too sweet, and I didn't get the overbearing tannin that I've gotten from other syrahs.  The label says the wine has blueberry notes, which I didn't notice but which might be one reason I liked it because blueberries are one of my favorite fruits.

This would be a good wine to go with just about any nice meal:  a roast, steak, or even hamburgers.

The viognier is a no date Pepperwood bottled in Napa with the grapes from various vineyards.  It started out at a little over $11, and I found it in a clearance bin for $6.99.

This wine has an attractive dark amber color, and its flavor is about the most fruity of any white wine I've drunk.  I got pear from it, but the label says apricot, which may have been what I was tasting.  The label also says clove, which I didn't get at all, and honey, which I'll agree with.

I've tried to think what kind of meal this viognier would be best with, and the only thing I can come up with is a cheese and fruit spread.  Or maybe some good bread and cheese and fruit, perhaps chicken breast in an orange sauce.  I'll have to get back to that clearance bin and see if they have any more.