2010 Wine by Joe Pinot Noir

This weekend I've been drinking a 2010 Wine by Joe pinot noir that ran me $17.  WBJ is based in Dundee, Oregon, southwest of Portland, a little west of I 5.  (The picture isn't uploading, so imagine what an empty wine bottle looks like.)

Not the best, not the worst pinot I've drunk this fall.  For $17 it could have had a little more subtlety of flavors.  The label says spicy red cherry, and I'd agree with that.  I got the spiciness.  I drank it with BBQ sausage last night and it went well with that.  Also tried it with a piece of sharp cheddar, and the two were good together.

Recommended for a nice dinner or burgers from the grill.

2005 Valsacro Dioro Rioja

Taking a break from my winter's drinking of pinot and petite sirah, I drank a 2005 Valsacro Dioro rioja from the basement that I'd bought last winter.  I don't remember what it ran me, I'm guessing around $10.

It tasted like, well, a rijoa, definitely not a thin-bodied pinot or a slightly sweet petite sirah.  Very full bodied, dark red, tannins, fruity.

The first night that I opened it, it wasn't all that great just for sipping, and I did decant it for a little while first.  When I got back to it on Christmas Eve, I drank it with my attempt at Chinese food for Christmas Eve, pork with oyster sauce, and it really opened up and went well with the pork.  I'm betting that with one of the Iberian specialties like pork and clams it would be great.

A nice rioja.

2010 Irony Monterey County Pinot Noir

The last couple nights I drank the 2010 Irony Monterey County pinot noir, which ran me about $15.

I wanted to like it, especially for $15, but my reaction in general was meh.  Drinkable, ok with food, but nothing that really turned me on.  Just a pretty run-of-the-mill pinot.  The label says notes of cherry (what pinot doesn't?), strawberry (I can maybe say I got that here), and vanilla.

The label recommends this with a sun dried tomato pesto pasta, grilled seafood, or pizza, and it might open up better with one of those.  I'd say buy it when you see it on sale.

2009 Edna Valley Paragon Pinot Noir

This time, a 2009 Edna Valley Paragon pinot noir that ran me about $16.  Finally a pinot noir this fall that I can say I might drink again.

This hails from Edna Valley Vineyard in San Luis Obispo.  It had more body than most of the pinots I've drunk this fall, and seemed a little sweeter and less tannic.  The label says notes of plum, cherry, and pomegranate, which I think sums it up well.

They call it luscious; I'm not sure I'd go quite that far but it's pretty darn good.  I'd guess it would drink nicely with a tenderloin or maybe even something like chicken marsala.

2005 Concannon Petite Sirah

The last couple nights I've been drinking a 2005 Concannon Limited Release petite sirah, from California's Livermore Valley.  This ran me $15.

Petite sirah is this AVO's chief grape and Concannon is its second largest producer of wine, after Wente.  The label claims that Concannon was the first winery in the world to bottle petite sirah.

I like it.  This is one of my favorite petite sirahs thus far.  The label claims notes of cherry, and I got that.  It's a little sweeter perhaps than some.

I liked it for just sipping, which hasn't been the case with most of the petite sirahs and pinot noirs this fall, but it also went down really nicely with some sausages.  The label advises trying it with filet or lamb, and I bet those combinations would work well.

I let it go a couple nights before I finished the bottle and it had gotten a little sharper perhaps, but it still paired well with supper.  A nice wine.

2009 Domaine Poulleau Pere & Fils Burgundy

The last couple nights I tried a 2009 Domaine Poulleau Pere & Fils pinot noir from the Cote de Beaune (for where that is, see my last posting). It ran me $20 from invino.com.

Better than the $30 pinot a couple bottles back but still not my favorite red.  I didn't get particular notes from it, maybe a touch of "iron".  It wasn't particularly great for sipping, but it went down nicely with some food.

An OK pinot noir; I'm betting it would go well will filet or chateaubriand.

2004 Jean-Claude Boisset Pommard 1er Cru Clos de Verger

Rather than try to explain what Pommard 1er Cru Clos de Verger means, I'll quote the very helpful description from wine-searcher.com:  "Clos de Verger is a Premier Cru climat of the Pommard appellation in the Cote de Beaune. Wines made from grapes grown within the climat may claim the Pommard Premier Cru title and also cite the Clos de Verger name on their labels."

And where is the Cote de Beaune?  Also from wine-searcher.com: "The Cote de Beaune is a key wine-producing sub-region of Burgundy in eastern France. The name is also used for the local appellation Cote de Beaune, which covers entry-level wines, generally from the hilltop sites on the western side of the Cote d'Or escarpment. The title means 'Hillside of Beaune' – Beaune being a large market town and the epicenter of the Cote d'Or wine trade."

So there you have it.  This bottle cost me about $38 from invino.com, which I've just discovered and like thus far.  It's about the most I've paid for a bottle of wine.

And I really liked it (for $38, I should), one of the few pinot noirs I can say that about.  Most pinots, to my taste, are too light weight.  This one had more body to it.  There was a note to the first glass that I couldn't put my finger on.  I was thinking oregano, but wine-searcher says some of these wines get an extra oomph from iron in the soil, so maybe that's what it was.  The entry says the iron makes these wines more "masculine"; maybe that's why I enjoyed it more.

A very nice wine, it went well with food but it was also good just being sipped.  Highly recommended.

2010 Albert Bichot Gevrey-Chambertin Burgundy

The last couple nights I drank a 2010 Albert Bichot Gevrey-Chambertin Burgundy, which falls into my pinot noir winter drinking, of course.

I ordered it online from invino.com.  This was my first order from them and I was happy with the service, but for $30 I wish the wine had been better. A lot better.

I can't say I picked up any particular notes from it. It was just a pretty generic red wine.  This pinot did perk up a bit when I drank it with food, but still not enough to justify a $30 price tag.

A note on the source: the label says Albert Bichot was founded in 1831 and has 4 estates over 240 acres across Burgundy with a variety of terroirs. Not my favorite terroirs.

Not a bad wine, but for $30 you can find better pinots.  (OK, how many times in this review have I said the wine wasn't worth $30: un, deux, ... )

2006 Greg Norman Petite Sirah

Back to a better petite sirah, a 2006 Greg Norman petite sirah from Napa that ran me about $15.

The label says notes of violet, raspberry, blackberry, plum, and anise. I definitely got the anise.  But there was another note that I couldn't identify.  Caramel or butterscotch maybe?  It made for interesting drinking.

On the other hand, this had a bit of a sharp edge to it that I didn't find with the Cameron Hughes earlier this fall.  It might be that food with it, like a London broil, would mellow it.

A nice petite sirah for the price; I recommend it.

2010 Bogle Petite Sirah

The bad news first: I didn't like the 2010 Bogle petite sirah, not a bit, didn't finish the bottle.

This ran me about $13; it comes from Clarksburg, south of Sacramento.  My friend at the Liquee Mart recommended it; I didn't care for her recommendation  for a pinot noir either.  The last time I listen to her.

I aerated this.  Many times the second glass is better than the first, but not with this wine.  I tried it with a piece of parmesan (frankly I think cheddars are better with red wine, parmesan with whites) and that didn't perk up the flavors.  Chips and salsa, which went well with my last pinot, didn't help either.

You may like this, Bogle's a big name after all, but it just didn't work for me.

2009 Meiomi Pinot Noir

This weekend I've drunk a 2009 Meiomi pinot noir from California's central coast (Santa Barbara/Monterey/Sonoma).  It ran me about $20.

My friend at the Liquee Mart recommended it, saying it was about the best pinot they carry.  It was nice but it didn't blow me away.  I'd had brussels sprouts with supper, so admittedly those may have been playing not nice with my taste buds.

I aerated it and used my oversized red wine glasses for it, which really accentuate the nose.  I got cherry from it; the label claims generic berry.  It did become more velvety as it got more air in it.

After the 1st glass, which didn't bowl me over, I drank some with chips and salsa (moderately spicy).  It really worked well with those, much better than as sipping wine.  I bet it would be good with burgers.  The food also brought out sweetness in it.  This wine also overnighted well; the rest of the bottle was good the next night, better than the first glass I'd drunk.

In general a nice pinot to go with food, though I'm thinking you can find ones just as good for less than $20.

2008 Haras Estate Carmenere

With the accents missing over the e's.

Carmenere is one of the supposedly 6 original grapes of the Bordeaux region, and it's also known as Grande Vidure.  It's grown more abroad (like this one from Chile) than in France.  I think this is the first time I've ever drunk it.

This bottle hails from the Maipo Valley in Chile, which the Maipo River runs through towards the Pacific.  It ran me around $10.

Carmenere is most often used to add oomph to other grapes, but this bottle is all these little babies.  It's darker and has decidedly more body than the pinot noirs I've drunk lately and even the petite sirahs; it's not like them at all.

I need better glasses for getting the nose of a wine, this one had more nose than most of my pinots.  My tasting notes say I got a chocolate note maybe, also something earthy, perhaps coffee.  

It tasted almost like an Italian wine, with its body.  It wasn't as good with cheese as I thought. I drank some with both some yellow cheddar and some good parmesan, and those didn't bring out the flavor as they do with pinots.  I'm guessing it would be good with grilled meats or BBQ.

The label says it has smoky and wooden notes (echoed on wikipedia), so that may be what I was getting.  Wikipedia also describes wine from the grape as having earthy and chocolate notes sometimes, so I'm getting better at this.

A nice wine (with a meal, not on its own).  I'd like to try other wines from this grape from other vineyards.

Cameron Hughes 2009 Lot 266 Pinot Noir

This week I tried a 2009 Cameron Hughes Lot 266 pinot noir, which I got on sale for about $12.  I really liked their petite sirah, and I liked this pinot too.

I'm still not converted to being a pinot fan, but this was fruity, maybe a little chocolaty, very smooth.  I drank some with chili I'd made, and it didn't work at all.  Then I tried some later with a chunk of cheddar, and it really worked.  Really good, and as you frequent readers know, I haven't been a pinot fan..  It also keeps well; I finished it a couple-three days later, and it was still drinkable.  

The label describes it as "silky smooth" with notes of blackberry, lavender, and violet.  If you like pinots, a nice wine at a good price.

2008 Luigi Bosca Reserva Pinot Noir

So finally moving from petite sirahs to a pinot noir, a 2008 Luigi Bosca Reserva from the foothills of the Andes in western Argentina.  I think this cost me in the $13-$15 range.

I wasn't a pinot noir fan last winter, but I liked this.  It was lighter than the pinot noirs.  My notes say fruity and velvety, and I drank a couple glasses with supper.  There was a note in it that I couldn't put my finger on.

Lo and behold, the label also describes this as velvety.  Good guess.  They describe the notes as red fruits, especially cherry, chocolate, ripe strawberries, and violets.  My the strawberry or the chocolate is what I was getting.

A nice lighter red.  It might go well with a beef stew or maybe even chili.

HandCraft 2010 Petite Sirah

This week I tried a HandCraft 2010 petite sirah that ran me $13 or so.  This hails from Manteca, CA

I liked it.  I'd decanted about half the bottle the first night, and with the first glass my reaction was sort of 'meh'. This has a little zinfandel added so it has a little more potency than the other petite sirahs I've drunk.

The second glass I drank with some wine and cheese, and the food (and probably time in the decanter) really opened it up.  Not as great as the Cameron Hughes but still good.

I got black cherry from it and maybe the pepper notes mentioned on the label.  The label also says plum and blackberry; it might have been the plum that I was getting.  

The label recommends this with burgers, grilled pork chops, or--mac and cheese.  I'd never thought of that with a red, but it's a rather brilliant idea, the way that cheese and carbs brings out the flavors in a red.  A nice wine.

Parducci 2007 Petite Sirah

The last couple nights I drank a 2007 Parducci petite sirah that ran me about $11.

Unfortunately, despite its sustainable, carbon neutral, earth-friendly, etc., claims, I didn't like this one at all.  It wasn't nearly up to the last couple I've drunk.  It tasted like generic pizzeria red wine.  I drank some with some crackers and cheddar and that didn't help.  The label claims notes of blackberry and dried cherry, but I didn't get those.

I hate to diss a wine, but just from the 3 or 4 petite sirahs I've drunk already this fall, I know there are a lot better ones out there.

Cameron Hughes Lot 229 and Spellbound Petite Sirahs

The last week I've drunk two 2009 petite sirahs: a Cameron Hughes 229, which the wine store lady described as 'to die for', and a Spellbound, which I describe as 'to die for'.  (Apologies in advance for the poor pictures.)

I didn't note how much the Lot 229 is but I'd guess around $14.  I decanted both of these, and both seem sweeter than the pinot noirs I've had.  The first glass of the Lot 229 I really liked.  It had interesting flavors, definitely dark fruit and maybe licorice?  The wine lady described it as 'inky'; I noted that it seemed a little 'chalky'.  

Now, for some reason, I didn't like the second glass nearly as much.  I drank it only about an hour after the first glass, and I decanted it too, but I didn't like it at all.  I had eaten something in the meantime, so that might have been playing havoc with my taste buds.  The rest of it sat for a bit too long to judge what the subsequent glass tasted like (not great), but the first glass was great.

Second was Spellbound's 2009 petite sirah.  This is made by Robert Mondavi Jr. in Napa.

This wine was the reverse of the Lot 229.  I didn't like the first glass all that much, but the second glass I drank with a piece of cheddar and all of a sudden it opened up.  I got peppery and chocolate notes in addition to the usual dark fruits.  I drank most of the bottle that evening.  The next night I finished it with a little supper, and it wasn't quite as outstanding but still tasty.

I want to try the Lot 229 again with food and give it a second chance, but right now I'd recommend the Spellbound, a really nice petite sirah.

Starting the Fall with Pinot Noir and Petite Sirah

Now that fall is here, for the cool and cold seasons (hopefully) over the next 6 months I'm going to drink pinot noirs and petite sirahs.  Now, I'm not sure I've ever drunk petite sirah in my life so this will be entirely new territory.  I'm excited.

I started with pinot noir last fall but didn't get very far, just a half dozen bottles or so before my blog petered out for a while.  I just didn't like it.  But since it's so popular I decided I should give it a second chance.  I'm guessing that one issue last year was I should have been spending a little more for better pinots, so this year I'm setting a lower price bound of about $15.

I started with a Cloudline 2007 pinot noir hailing from Oregon that ran me roughly $15.  I don't think it's fair to review it since it was my first pinot of the season and I have to get my taste buds readjusted from drinking rieslings all spring and summer.

I will say that I didn't like the first glass at all, I almost poured it out.  However, despite the fact that I'd aerated it, I think I just needed to give it more time to open up.  The second glass was a little better.  The rest of the bottle has sat here for 2 or 3 days and I haven't gotten back to it, so it's going towards cooking; no fair commenting on how it tastes now.  The second glass wasn't bad, not my favorite red, but someone with more pinot experience would probably like it.

OK, I know, not much of a review, except to say that I've learnt I need to give these more time to breathe before I drink them.

Next up in a few days: my first petite sirah.

2010 Chateau Ste Michelle-Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling

My last riesling for the year is a 2010 Chateau Ste Michelle-Dr. Loosen Eroica riesling from Washington's Columbia Valley.  It ran me almost $20.  I've reviewed Ste Michelle and Dr. Loosen rieslings earlier this year.

This is one of my favorite rieslings that I've drunk this year.  Lots of body.  Medium dry with the acidity on your tongue rather than the back of your throat.  Fruity:  both grapefruit and apple-pear.

The label describes it as "aromatic, fresh and crisp with mineral notes and intense citrus and stone fruit." A very nice riesling, even for people who don't think they like riesling, and I can see it pairing well with lots of fine dining as well as party foods.

I looked back through my reviews the last 6 months or so, and these were my favorite rieslings:

  • 2010 Milbrandt
  • 2009 Carmel Road
  • 2007 Vertikal Kabinett
  • 2010 Konstantin Frank

If I had to pick a favorite, I'd probably say the Konstantin Frank.  I'm not sure I'd drink riesling as my go-to wine, but I've certainly grown to like it, especially those on the drier end of the spectrum.

3 Rieslings

I got caught up with an illness of my mom's the last 3 weeks (and my sister going crazy) (crazier) so I got behind again.  Here are summaries of 3 rieslings, no pictures so I'll get this whipped off.

First is a 2009 Hogue Late Harvest riesling that ran me $11.50.  The label says these are late-season grapes and claims the wine tastes of orange peel, honeyed lemon (first time I've seen this), and apricot.

This wine has more acidity; I felt it at the back of my throat.  I got spice and a fruitiness, pear maybe.  This is on the sweet end of the riesling spectrum.  OK, but not my favorite riesling, though you, faithful reader, will know I'm not crazy about sweet wines.

(Note: I just noticed I drank this riesling back in April.  Couldn't prove it by me.  I liked that bottle better than this one.)

Second is a 2008 Brandborg riesling, which set me back $14.  Brandborg is located in Oregon's Umpqua Valley.  And where is that?  Entirely within Douglas County in southern Oregon.

The wine growers describe this riesling as "nearly dry" and tasting like "green apple, honeysuckle, lime blossom, apricots and toasted almonds."  I wish my palate was that sophisticated.  And knew what a lime blossom tastes like.

I jotted down that this one is sweet, not "nearly dry"  though more back of the throat acidity.  I wrote down that it doesn't have much subtlety of flavor, not the label's laundry list.  It would be good with cheese or dessert, but not a main meal.

Last, and best, is a 2007 Trinchero from Monterey County costing about $10.  I like this more than most of the other recent rieslings.  It didn't jump out of the glass and slap me in the face like a couple of the rieslings earlier this summer, but it had a good balance to it and wasn't too sweet or too dry.

The label is simplicity: "floral and citrus aromas," a "crisp palate and a hint of sweetness."  I agree 100%, plus their suggested pairing with seafood or spicy food.  A nice riesling.

Snoqualmie 2010 Naked Riesling

This week I tried a 2010 Snoqualmie 'Naked' Riesling made around Paterson, WA, which is in the Columbia River valley in the middle of the state on the border with Oregon.  It ran me under $10.

(The picture is blurry because it's naked.)

I guess this is an example of why I shouldn't buy inexpensive wine.  I aerated it, but the first glass or two tasted a bit chemically, not a fully developed wine.  Now, I will say that after a couple days in the fridge it was more drinkable, if not a great or even a good riesling.  Maybe it just needed time to open up.  The label description is generic: spice, pear, and apricot.  That describes most middle of the dryness range rieslings.

I wouldn't buy it again, but if you something to take to a house warming or somewhere and see this, give it a try.

Mibrandt 2010 Riesling

This week I drank a 2010 Milbrandt Riesling hailing from the Columbia Valley around Mattawa, WA.  It ran me $13.

I aerated this and all the flavors came out.  The label lists apricots (ok, I didn't get this), peaches (definitely), grapefruit (yup), and spice.  It didn't have the apple/pear notes that I've found in a lot of Rieslings this summer.  Acidity is just enough and not overly sweet.  A nice Riesling for a light meal.

2009 Carmel Road Riesling

The last few days I've been drinking a 2009 Carmel Road Riesling from Monterey; it cost me a little under $14.

This is one of my favorite Rieslings of the summer.  Mildly sweet, some acidity but it doesn't hit the back of the tongue, and more body than most of the ones I've tried.  It was almost like a Sauvignon Blanc.

The label says notes of grapefruit and peach (which I'll agree with) as well as lime peel and guava (no expert here on what guava tastes like).  They recommend it for the usual Riesling pairings as well as spicy food, which I agree with.  They say sushi too; not so sure about that, but I'd be willing to try it.

A very nice Riesling at a good price.

2007 Pierre Sparr Alsace One

This last week I drank a 2007 Pierre Sparr Alsace One that ran me a little over $10, I think.

This isn't a true Riesling.  It's a blend of Sylvaner, muscat, riesling, pinot blanc, and Klevener de Heiligenstein.

So what's Klevener de Whatever?  According to wikipedia, it's "a designation used on Alsace wine made from pink-skinned Savagnin Rose grapes, a variety in the Traminer family, but which is less aromatic than Gewürztraminer."  This is the only grape that's restricted to a geographic area of Alsace.

The little dry to sweet chart on the back of the bottle has this at the far dry end.  I'll agree with that.  I tend to prefer dry to sweet wines.  This wasn't bad and didn't taste like grapefruit juice like some dry Rieslings, but at the same time it didn't have a lot of subtlety of flavor.

This wasn't bad; it would probably be good with grilled fish.  Just not the wine for me.

2009 Gustav Lorentz Pinot Blanc & 2010 Lehmann Layers White Wine

I've fallen behind again yet still, so a short joint review today to get back up to speed.

First off is my last pinot blanc, a 2009 Gustav Lorentz.  My tasting notes on these 2 wines disappeared, so I'll be running on memory today.  

This one hails from Alsace, like most pinot blancs.  It didn't have the funkiness that the last PB had.  Fruity, but not overly so like some Rieslings that taste almost like apple juice.  Not much subtlety of flavors either, but a nice enough white.

Second is a 2010 Peter Lehmann Layers white made from semillon, muscat, Gewürtzraminer, pinot gris, and chardonnay.  Why they didn't they throw in some sauvignon blanc while they were at it?

This is a nice summer drinking wine; it would go well with chicken on the grill or pasta salad.  Again, fruity but not overly so; maybe some notes of vanilla.  I got mainly the semillon and maybe the sweetness of the muscat.  And probably a good get you want to go wine too.

2011 Acrobat Pinot Noir Rosé & 2008 Domaine Zind Humbrech Pinot Blanc

I've fallen behind on my drinking and my write-ups again.  So no pictures today getting caught up.

First up is a 2011 Acrobat Pinot Noir rosé from around Eugene Oregon.  I've tried several rosés the last couple summers and haven't really developed a taste for them yet.

This one was fruity, nice acidity, good balance.  I drank the entire bottle, so that's a recommendation.  I wouldn't recommend it to be drunk by itself or with cheese and crackers, but with a light summer meal, maybe chicken breast or seafood, it should provide a good pairing.

Second up is a pinot blanc, a 2008 Domaine Zind Humbrecht from Alsace.  Funny story with this bottle:  I was thinking the whole while I was drinking it that it was a  Gewürztraminer, and it wasn't till I was pouring out the last glass that I noticed it's actually a pinot noir.  So I
guess that wasn't the whole while, but I digress.

This pinot blanc is very fruity, apple and pear notes, but it had a bit of an off-note to my
 palate, almost as if it was getting a little skunky or something.  It was still drinkable and 
not awful, but it just wasn't my favorite wine.

I have one last bottle of pinot blanc to try, so I'll see if that has the mysterious skunkiness. 
In general I can see  why pinot blancs aren't huge favorites in the U.S.

Casa Silva 2007 Viognier

Somehow I've managed to drink a bottle of this Chilean viognier every summer for the last 3 years and didn't realize until last week that I've tried it before.  I guess the name 'viognier' always catches my eye.

In the summer of 2010 I wrote "They describe this wine as 'complex, elegant and unique', which sums up this bottle pretty well.  It certainly doesn't have the grassiness of so many SBs.  I haven't drunk a pinot gris in a while so I can't compare it to those, but this seemed like a pleasant middle-of-the-road white, not too acidic, not too sweet, not overloaded with different notes."

Last year I said "This is a light viognier but it has more substantial nose than the California Kunde I drank last week. It has more subtlety of flavor than a lot of the whites I've drunk this summer. I couldn't identify the notes but I think I got oak.  A nice wine, good for a dinner party or friends over."

Maybe this vintage (2007) is getting a little long in the tooth, but I was less impressed with it this summer.  I'll agree that it's a pleasant middle-of-the-road white, not too acidic, not too sweet.  I wouldn't agree with the subtlety of flavor assessment.

Not a bad wine if you can find it on sale.  It would still go great with pasta or seafood.

2007 Vertikal Riesling Kabinett

I'm not taking a picture of this one as this posting is a little story about how sometimes you can be surprised by a discount wine.

This Mosel riesling comes in the traditional blue bottle, and the price label under it said $7 or $8.  When I checked out, it rang up at $3.  I thought, Why so cheap?  It was at that point I noticed that it's a 2007. 2007 is getting long in the tooth for rieslings and so I didn't expect it to be very drinkable.

I was pleasantly surprised.  It wasn't a great wine by any means, but it was perfectly acceptable for sipping in the evening with a snack, and it held on well for a couple nights in the fridge.  The label says notes of Granny Smith apples, and I'd agree with that.

This is the first riesling I've had labeled Kabinett, which I though I knew what it meant, but I looked it up to be sure.  Wikipedia says Kabinett ["cabinet" in German] "is a German language wine term for a wine which is made from fully ripened grapes of the main harvest, typically picked in September, and are usually made in a light style. In the German wine classification system, Kabinett is the lowest level of Prädikatswein, lower in ripeness than Spätlese. A German Kabinett is semi-sweet (lieblich) by default, but may be dry (trocken) or off-dry (halbtrocken) if designated so."

2010 Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling

Before you say I've reviewed this one before, that was Chateau Ste Michelle's *dry* riesling.  This is their *regular* one.  I know--I was confused for a minute when I got this home and saw the name on my list (same year too).  So many wines, so hard to keep them straight.

Their dry one had grapefruit notes.  This one is anonymously fruity.  The label says peach and pear: I didn't get pear but peach may be right.  Vanilla as well maybe.  The label also claims it has "racy acidity".  So what's that when not referring to a tart-tongued stripper?

I like this one: sweet but not overly so; fruity, but not like you're drinking a glass of Mott's. I drank the entire bottle in 2 outings, which is the first time in a few weeks for rieslings.  A good summer wine.

2011 Chateau de Campuget Rose

For something different, I drank a 2011 Chateau de Campuget Rose, 30% grenache and 70% syrah. It ran me in the low teens.

Just a quick review.  I wasn't a huge rose fan when I drank a few last summer, but this one was nice:  fruity, mild acidity.  The label says it's a good picnic or BBQ wine, and I can see that (depending on what you're grilling; no heavy steaks).

One caveat: it didn't do well after a couple days in the fridge, it was already vinegary.  But if you've got several people to share this, it's a nice wine.

2010 Pacific Rim Riesling

Back (finally) to a riesling I like.  This 2010 Pacific Rim riesling from around Richland, WA, in the Columbia Valley ran me around $14.

This was sweeter and less acidic than the last few rieslings I've drunk.  As you know if you've read my posts for a while, I'm not big on sweet wines, but this isn't overly sweet.  The little chart on the label places it at Medium Dry, but I would say it's more Medium Sweet.

It has just a shot of acidity, the back of the throat kind.  The nose is good, and the notes are definitely very fruity in the pear and apple part of the orchard.  The label also says jasmine, which, after the fact, I think I agree with.

The label also says this would be good with spicy food, like Thai and Mexican.  Thai I agree with, Mexican not so much, though it would depend on the region.  It also says heavier stuff like French or German, which I don't agree with so much unless it's like Provencal or seafood.  Some smellier cheeses might go well with this as well.  A nice wine.

2010 North by Northwest Horse Heaven Hills Riesling

This 2010 North by Northwest riesling hails from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, southeast of Seattle and a little northwest of Walla Walla.  It ran me about $15.

This bottle has all the information you'd ever want to know about the wine on the label:  type of grape (Wallula Benches riesling), type of loam (Ritzville and Shano Silt), clones (that's nice), and process (pressed, cold settled, racked, slow fermented, cross-flowed, cold stabilized).

All that aside, I've got to say this had the most complex flavors of any riesling I've drunk this summer.  It wasn't overtly fruity tending towards apple or pear juice, but a well-balanced blend.  It's dry but has a slight sweetness to it, and the acidity is the back of your throat variety.  That being said, it didn't hold up well in the fridge.  After about a day it wasn't drinkable.

A nice wine, sure to be good with seafood or some types of cheeses.

2009 Joel Gott Riesling

This 2009 Joel Gott riesling hails from the Columbia Valley, but Joel Gott is based in St Helena in Napa.  OK ...  It ran me $10 at Sam's.

I'm on a trend lately of rieslings that aren't my favorites.  This one is definitely fruity, maybe pear, and it has a little more acidity than some.  I didn't aerate it.  On the first sip I wasn't crazy about it.  After it sat in the glass a few minutes it opened up a little.

I thought it might be better with food, but I didn't taste much improvement with brie.  After a nite in the fridge, the flavor hadn't opened up significantly either.  I didn't drink all of the bottle, it's just not the riesling for me.

2007 Alsace One Riesling Blend

This 2007 Alsace One Riesling blend didn't merit my taking time to take a picture of the bottle (or finishing the bottle), so that should tip you off how I feel about it.

The bottle ran me about $14.  It's a blend of Sylvaner, Muscat, Riesling, Pinot blanc, and Klevener de Heiligenstein.

OK, I'll admit it, I don't have a clue what Klevener de whatever is.  The wikipedia entry is a little complicated, but here's the gist of it: "Klevener de Heiligenstein is a designation used on Alsace wine made from pink-skinned Savagnin Rose grapes, a variety in the Traminer family, but which is less aromatic than Gewürztraminer, which is widely planted in Alsace."

To cut to the chase: I didn't like this wine at all.  It was fruity with an on-your-tongue acidity and some spiciness. But there was an off-note or two to it.  The bottle label shows that it's on the extreme dry end of wines, so maybe I just didn't like the Saharaness of it.

I thought maybe it would open up over night (though I had aerated it), but no such luck.  I liked it even less the next day.  The entry for Klevener de etc. says its notes can start to decline after 3 or 4 years, so maybe this bottle was just past its prime and a more recent bottling would be better.

2009 Indian Springs Pinot Blanc

This second pinot blanc hails from Kelseyville, CA, a little NE of Cloverdale.  It ran me about $20.

I wasn't particularly crazy about this pinot. My tasting notes from the first glass say it wasn't too far from white vinegar, and I'd aerated it.  It did have more nose than the first pinot blanc.

The second glass I drank with some smoked gouda.  This time it had a little more sweetness, but the flavors did not change drastically with food as some wines do.

After a day in the fridge it was a little sweeter but still without huge subtlety of flavor.  The bottle label apparently is talking about a different wine from what I drank: "Ripe peach, pear and pineapple rise from the glass leading to a sweet melon and vanilla-nutmeg spiciness."  Didn't get *any* of that!

2008 Foley Pinot Blanc

I've decided my alternate white this summer will be pinot blanc.  Since there isn't a huge selection of that [and/or, I don't want to spend a lot of time tracking different vintages down], I'll probably move on to gewürztraminer toward the end of summer.

(Not a great picture, but it works.)

My first pinot blanc is a Robert Foley 2008.  They're based in Napa just NE of Santa Rosa.  This bottle ran me about $12.

The wikipedia entry for pinot blanc says "In the United States, many of the vines called Pinot blanc are actually a different variety, Melon de Bourgogne/Muscadet, that resembles Chardonnay when on the vine."  This didn't taste like a chardonnay, so I'm trusting the nice folks at Foley to know what they're growing.

I would describe this as dry but without much subtlety of flavor.  Maybe 2008 is getting a little old in the bottle?  Rieslings of that age tend to be on clearance.  Pinot blancs are supposed to be known for their floral and fruity notes, but I didn't get that at all with this bottle.  The acidity of this one is the kind that coats your tongue, not the back of the throat acidity you get with many wines.

Since this is my first stab at this varietal, I don't have much to compare it to yet.  It's not in the top 50% of my favorite wines, but I'm guessing it would work better with a meal (seafood, spicy food) than by itself.

2010 Loosen Bros. Riesling

Today my first Riesling from the old country, specifically the Mosel Valley.  This bottle ran me $12 at the local Liquee Mart.

The label of this Loosen Bros. Riesling says it's "fruity, with a refreshingly crisp taste that cools the palate, making it an excellent wine for spicy foods."

I'd agree with that.  I'd also add that I caught a minerality to it.  I aerated the wine, and right out of the bottle it was sweet but not as apple juice sweet as some Rieslings I've drunk recently, with pear maybe?, and an acidity that hits you in the back of the throat.

Not my favorite wine of all time, but a nice Riesling, and I bet it would go well with Indian or Southeast Asian cuisine.

2010 Hogue, 2009 Clos du Bois, & 2010 14 Hands Rieslings

I'll start this time with the Riesling I liked least.  The 2009 Clos du Bois is a drier Riesling, but it doesn't have the grapefruit notes of the two I reviewed a couple weeks ago. This hails from Geyersville, CA, which is just up the road from Santa Rosa, and it ran me $12.

The label describes the Riesling as having a 'crisp acidity,' but I found it a little on the funky side, not entirely attractive.  After the wine had sat in the glass for a few minutes, it did open up a bit and become a little sweeter.  I'd say it has some minerality to it, like some wines made from the sauvignon blanc, but in general it was bland.  My least favorite Riesling that I've tried.  

Next up is a 2010 14 Hands Riesling from Paterson, WA, in the Columbia Valley, down on the border with Oregon.  It ran me $9.50

I didn't jot down notes for this wine, just that it's a sweet Riesling.  The label describes it as having apple and pear, and I'd agree with that.  Not a bad Riesling if you like the sweeter varieties.

Last, the 2010 Hogue from Prosser, WA, which is down in the central southern part of the state.  It ran me $11.  

I agree 100% with the label on this one:  honey, orange peel, apricots.  Maybe not the apricot; I got a lot more apple than apricot, but that mellowed out somewhat so it was less like very nice apple juice after it had aerated.

I got the honey, and the bite of orange, almost a bitter orange, added a nice note to it.  I'm not big on sweet wines, but this was quite good and would go well with fruit or cheese.

2010 Chateau St Michelle & 2010 Dr Konstantin Frank Rieslings

Today 2 Rieslings that I've been drinking in the last couple weeks: a 2010 Chateau St Michelle and a 2010 Dr Konstantin Frank.

The first (on the left in the picture) is from Woodinville in the Columbia Valley, a little northeast of Seattle.  Definitely a dry Riesling, although not pucker dry.  I got grapefruit from it, though the bottle label says mandarin orange, which may be what I was tasting.  A nice bottle of wine for about $10.

The Frank is from New York's Finger Lakes region.  I didn't know who Dr. Frank was till I looked him up, but he was a very interesting fellow.  A Russian from Odessa, he taught American wine makers how to grow the classic European varieties in cold weather climates.

This ran me $18, but it was worth it.  I got grapefruit again, though the label says citrus, apple blossoms [what does an apple blossom taste like?], and honey.  I didn't get honey, but it definitely opened up and turned a little sweeter.  I really liked this wine; the label says it's good with seafood [I can see that[, mild cheeses [ditto], and chicken [that would depend on the dish].

2010 Lot 259 Riesling Blend

So, starting off my spring and summer with a Riesling.  This first bottle is a 70-30 Riesling-Chenin Blanc blend from Cameron Hughes made from grapes in Washington's Columbia Valley.

The label on this 2010 blend is a good example of, umm, what's the term, "exuberant marketing":  "Lot 259 is layered with racy citrus and stone-fruit facets. [So it's a diamond in the rough?]  Sultry nectarine and white floral notes abound. [sounds like you get a lap dance] ... Stunning."

It's a nice enough wine but it's not this over the top, let alone "stunning."  A tad sweet for my taste, but I prefer Saharan wines.  I got a little acidity in the back of my throat but not huge subtlety of flavor.

At $10.75 or so it's drinkable, good for sipping on the patio this spring with smores.

Spring and Summer Drinking: Rieslings

I knew it had been a month or so since I posted here last, but I was surprised to see it's been since the end of December.

My fall-winter choice of pinot noirs just didn't work very well for me.  I didn't like any of the pinots, cheap or higher end, very much and I lost interest in them, I'm afraid.

So, now, for something new for the spring and summer, I'm going to try Rieslings.  Riesling are terra incognita for me.  I've had one or two in my life but if you asked me what one tastes like, I wouldn't have a clue.

Since I like to have a second varietal in each of these seasons for an occasional change of pace, my backup wine this summer is going to be either moscato or rose.  I'll decide in a couple weeks.

I have 2 Rieslings at hand and will start reviewing again next week.