Sunday, March 28, 2010

It's time . . .

I worked all weekend and my house looks like an elephant took a dump in it. In other words, it's Sunday night. This calls for another of my own personal private wine tastings. Maybe then I can focus on the fact that my kids are in bed and there's all kinds of peace and quiet to be appreciating until 7 a.m.

Tonight it's the Jacob's Creek Reserve Shiraz, Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Rex-Goliath Pinot Noir, Layer Cake Primitivo, and a boxed Cab. (It's Franzia, in case you wanted to know, but does it really matter?) Since you probably don't feel like going back and reading those posts (heck, I don't even want to), I'll give you the short version of what I thought of each previously.

The Jacob's Creek was smoky, spicy and nice. The Alexander Valley was a little dry, and mild but complex. (I'm expecting this one to be the winner tonight, by the way.) The Rex-Goliath was fruity but unremarkable (and my favorite in the last tasting flight). The Layer Cake was acidic, green, and smoky--good but not great. The boxed Cab was green and tart.

Ok, so first I'm giving them each the sniff test. They each have a distinct smell. The Jacob's Creek, well, it just smells like wine to me. The Alexander Valley still has that flowery smell. The Rex Goliath smells beer-y (though back when I opened it, it smelled fruity. Maybe it's gone bad . . . after all, it's been more than two months since I opened it). The Layer Cake smells sweet. The boxed Cab smells kind of bad. Like cheese. Or feet. I wonder if I would have had a more favorable opinion if this had been a blind test.

I think I actually like the Jacob's Creek Shiraz the best, although the Alexander Valley (definitely the unique one of the bunch) is nearly as good; it's just different, and I find the Shiraz more pleasant. I'm afraid the Rex-Goliath just isn't right anymore. It is definitely my least favorite of the five, but it would be nice to be able to compare a freshly-opened bottle of it to the others. The Layer Cake is a little bit too sweet, and I'm sure it has changed since I first opened it a month ago, because my previous call (acidic, green, smoky) does not match up at all anymore. The boxed Cab was the most boring one, but it is a decent backup, and it actually tasted the best with the crackers and cheese I tried with each wine.

I know what I need to start doing: I should do my taste tests on freshly-opened bottles. Guess that means I need to get me some more unopened bottles.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Healdsburg, California

I suppose I have been saving this bottle for a semi-special occasion, and what better occasion than Friday night, herald of the weekend? My reason for waiting to try this wine is because my expectations are so high and I have been postponing the inevitable disappointment. The wine guy at the Party Factory assured me that any Alexander Valley wine has excellent flavor, no matter the varietal. (Apparently they have more than one wine guy; I don't think I've seen the same one twice, but I wish I could find the one who sold me the Mark West Pinot Noir, because so far he's the only one who has convinced me he knows what he's talking about) Funny that this is the second bottle in a row I've had that could have been cellared; the label claims it will "continue to develop in the bottle for a decade or more." Suffice it to say that won't be happening with this bottle.

The label isn't very descriptive. It's one of those that is more about the history of the vintner. That's OK, though, (if not as fun), because most times it seems like the creative label descriptions I often come across are just completely made up. It's like they just throw together an interesting combination of fruits, spices, and other odoriferous compounds to see if you'll fall for it and buy the bottle. Anyway, the most this label says about the wine is that it is "rich in color with concentrated fruit and moderate tannins." It also mentions that the blend was achieved with small amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. (And yeah, I know I'm a wine dummy, but I thought Cabernet Sauvignon was a varietal all to itself. I would have thought if it was mixed with other kinds, they would have called it something else. But what do I know. I'm good at drinking it, and that's about it.)

I boogered up the cork when I was opening this bottle. It's not like I haven't done this a time or two. But rather than complain, I will just appreciate the fact that it didn't have a screw-cap.

The label was certainly correct about the rich color. It's very opaque, and a deep reddish purple. The wine smells excellent--an almost flowery smell; also maybe a little bit nutty . . . not almond . . . not cashew . . . not peanut . . . I don't know, maybe it's not a nut at all. Maybe it's a sunflower seed. Seriously, I'm thinking sunflower seeds and roses. It makes me think of my garden. Even though I don't grow roses. I would like to, but they intimidate me.

The wine is somewhat dry, and has a mild but distinct flavor. There is a faint pineapple-like tartness and a comforting sense of white rice, but the main flavor is a warm and cozy caramel. It took me a long time to figure that out. A long, enjoyable time. I think this might be what they call a complex wine.

Gosh, they should hire me to make stuff up for their label. Roses, sunflower seeds, pineapple, rice, and caramel. Who wouldn't buy that?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Jacob's Creek Reserve Shiraz 2006 South Australia

It's been a while since I've opened a new bottle of wine, even though I've had two waiting on me for weeks. This is mainly because one of the other things I learned from Mark Phillips' book is that drinking wine makes you fat. So while I still don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with drinking one glass of wine each evening, I have cut back to one glass once or twice a week.

Well, it's Friday night, the kids are in bed, one of my stupid dogs ate one of my stupider chickens this afternoon, and I have a whole mess of laundry to fold, so I'd say the situation calls not only for a glass of wine, but for something new instead of my old standby out of the box. I'm going with the Shiraz I picked up two trips-to-the-Party-Factory ago, which was the first time I was looking for a bottle of Layer Cake and chickened out because it was too expensive. (Don't laugh. Remember, I'm cheap. I mean thrifty.)

The description on the back of the bottle, as always, sounds great: "This premium, full-bodied wine . . . displays intense ripe plum flavors with pepper spice, balanced by soft tannins and leading to a lingering smooth finish." Of course it also adds that this is "a wine that will develop further with cellaring," but I just don't do cellaring since I lack the resources and the patience.

So. The wine is nice. I liked it a lot. Didn't really notice any plumminess. (Is that a word? Even if it's not, I'm sure you get the idea.) A little smoky (or is this from the Chick-fil-a sandwich my son set on fire in the microwave earlier this evening?), nicely spicy, but in need of a comparison for me to decide if I like it more or less than other wines I've tried. After I open the last bottle I have waiting on me I'll have to do another tasting flight. Wait, did I say "have to"? I meant "get to"!