Posts filed under ‘Varietals’

April 2010: Syrah vs. Shiraz

Wow – what a diverse lineup!  The countries/regions represented cover the spectrum: Australia, South Africa, France, Washington & California with 3 Shiraz (Australia & South Africa) and 6 Syrah, but the question is … can you tell and what do people prefer?  Here’s the blind tasting tally: 3 Syrah & 2 Shiraz all tied for the top spot with 90 points. The tasting notes are great:

Animale 2007 Syrah Reserve (90 points)
Region: Yakima Valley, WA; Varietals: Syrah; Retail $55
Tasting Notes:  So dark in color, looks almost black. Some green tea and almonds on the palate, great long finish. Very different. I like this. (Fernando, 90 pts)

Cooralook 2007 Shiraz (90 points)                      
Region: Heathcote, Australia; Varietals: Shiraz; Retail $17.50
Tasting Notes:  Tar, toasted seaweed, blueberries on the nose. Plums and blackberries on the palate, fine grained tannins, nice minerality. (Chris, 92 pts)

Jim Berry 2007 The Lodge Hill Shiraz (90 points)
Region: Clare Valley, Australia; Varietals: Shiraz; Retail $22
Tasting Notes: Dark ruby color. Subtle aromas – cherry fruit, fresh-cut radish, hints of citrus & minerals (earth/steel). Full-bodied and balanced acidity & tannins. (Matt, 95 pts)
Jones of Washington 2007 Syrah (90 points)
Region: Wahluke Slope, WA; Varietals: Syrah; Retail $17.50
Tasting Notes:  Whoh Nellie, this color is like blood.  Nose has tart cherry – fresh red fruits – & cedar.  Yum is this lovely – light acidity with dried cherry flavors.  Not over blown, but still interesting … delicate, smoky & flavors of cassis and almond (toasted). (Gina, 93 pts)

Novy 2006 Syrah (90 points)
Region: Sonoma Valley, CA; Varietals: Syrah; Retail $23
Tasting Notes:  Nose is intoxicating … fresh rain followed by sexy baked fruit … the kind you know you will eat the whole pie just by smelling it.  On the mouth – bittersweet chocolate, big round ripe blackberry & black licorice. Finish is spicy but not peppery. What would I eat this with? BBQ ribs? Grilled lamb chops? Or a creamy stinky blue! (Gina, 94 pts)

Saint Cosme 2008 Côtes du Rhône (89 points)
Region: Southern Rhône, France; Varietals: Syrah; Retail $19.50
Tasting Notes:  Dark, dark ruby color – wonderful, deep aromas of dark berries, garrique, violets with some spice.  Tastes lighter than it smells, but still very pleasant – beautiful flavors of dark berries, cassis, olives and tar.  Builds up to a great finish – again barrique and black pepper notes.  Could be Rhône or Languedoc. (Jens, 95 pts)

Spice Route 2005 Shiraz (88 points)
Region: Swartland, South Africa; Varietals: Syrah; Retail $19.50
Tasting Notes:  Dark cherry color. Game aromas and eucalyptus. Somehow smells like South African wine. Some sweet touch. This one must be something from the Cape. (Fernando, 89 pts)

Clos du Mont-Olivet “Verene” 2007 Côtes du Rhône (87 points)
Region: Southern Rhône, France; Varietals: Syrah; Retail $87
Tasting Notes:  Bit cloudy red.  Sulfur like qualities. Strong mature aromas of dried fruit and black cocktail olives, though extremely pleasant on the palate. Good! (Giuseppe, 87 pts)

Milbrandt Vineyards 2006 The Estates Syrah (87 points)
Region: Wahluke Slope, WA; Varietals: Syrah; Retail $23
Tasting Notes:  Deep dark appearance. Herbaceous nose with aromas of honey and baked red fruits and burnt butter. Round silky body & butter & pepper in finish. Eucalyptus, heavy butter. Drinkable now. (Karli, 89 pts)

All wines available at Portalis Wine Shop.

April Tasting Panel:  Jens Strecker, Gina Gregory, Giuseppe Caraturro, Matt Gubitosa, Fernando Martinez, Chris Nishiwaki and guest taster: Karli Pickett

May 11, 2010 at 8:59 pm Leave a comment

March 2010: Oregon Pinot Noir

Most Seattleites know and love a well-made Oregon Pinot.  Oregon’s new world style Pinot is known for its baked cherry pie accompanied by earthy, campfire smoky flavors.  The lineup is strong, and the winners are … 

Alloro 2007 Pinot Noir (91 points)
Region:  Willamette Valley; Varietals: Pinot Noir; Retail $22
Tasting Notes:  Now that’s the nose of pinot – roses & mushroom.  Please let the mouth be good too … oh yes! Juicy – nice acidity, even citrus … it’s feminine (the kind of pinot I enjoy … sshh).  Something tells me it will become more elegant with time.  Very balanced & nicely done. (Gina)  Tasting Notes: N: roasted meat aromas (duck, pheasant?), plums, plump nose, black cherry, sage. P: cherry vanilla cola, summer herbs coming through, plum sauce, more cooked flavors, wet dog!  I love it! (Ken)  Tasting Notes:  Some gamey notes on the nose, some black truffle notes. Some strawberries & green grass on the palate, very soft finish. (Fernando)

Domaine Serene 2007 Yamhill Cuvée (91 points) 
Region:  Willamette Valley; Varietals: Pinot Noir; Retail $45
Tasting Notes:  Wonderful aromas of wild flowers and black cherries. Elegant, complex, with lots of depth. Excellent integrated acidity.  Full of flavors in the middle. Lots of dark cherries and raspberries. Fantastic aftertaste. (Jens)  Tasting Notes:  This is pretty sexy. It has beautiful notes of dark berries, with well-balanced tannins and body. Extremely well-balanced, long lasting finish. Yummy.  A good Oregon Pinot Noir. (Giuseppe) Tasting Notes:  Darker fruit on the nose – brambleberries with vines intact – very nice complement of herbs and woodsy notes.  Much higher toned fruit on the palate balanced by a beautiful expression of terroir. Brown earth, tobacco, leaf with grippy tannins and acidity. (Theresa)

The Four Graces 2007 Pinot Noir (90 points)
Region:  Willamette Valley; Varietals: Pinot Noir; Retail $
Tasting Notes:  Very expressive nose, what I was looking for, concentrated berries, grained with spicy tannins, a glamorous Pinot. (Catherine)  Tasting Notes: Dark red, very distinct. Tight aromas of bright wild fruits. Just like “fruiti di Bosco.” This is a powerful Pinot Noir. The flavors are very intense! Beautiful finish blends well tobacco, leather & fruit. (Giuseppe) Tasting Notes:  Nose – Pinot on steroids with a touch of fatty meat. Also modern, with a fair amount of leather & cedar on finish. Fruit has layers of cherry and raspberry with a hint of cocoa. Not my style but delightful. (Gina)

Coeur de Terre Vineyard 2007 Pinot Noir (89 points)
Region:  Willamette Valley; Varietals: Pinot Noir; Retail $ 24
Tasting Notes:  Oh, beautiful aromas of black cherries, raspberries and cocoa. Smooth, elegant and complex.  Good acidity all the way through. Great flavors of mainly black cherries and raspberries. Flavored with some spicy, toasty notes. Nice tasty finish. (Jens) Tasting Notes:  Sweet Jolly Rancher balck cherry candy on the nose – with a dusting of brown earth and spice. Balck cherry cola flavors with baking spices – leaning towards the savory – big tannin & acid. This is a red meat Pinot! (Theresa) Tasting Notes: Nice raspberry color. Some tobacco notes and sweet chocolate. Nice and sweet on the palate, not much to say. Some berries at the end. (Fernando) Tasting Notes: N: smells like classic Oregon Pinot, charred twigs, pepper, thyme rhubarb & cherry, espresso roast. P: slight Campari bitters flavor, pomegranate molasses, plums & mocha. (Ken)

The Pines 1852 2006 Pinot Noir (88 points)
Region:  Columbia Gorge; Varietals: Pinot Noir; Retail $27
Tasting Notes:  Nose… suspiciously doesn’t smell like Pinot … maybe it was fertilized by an ox or garlic? Or was formerly a field of blackberries. OK – if I were to judge this as a pinot I would say it has big, ripe jammy black fruit with a touch of cinnamon or I would say it would double as a smooth syrah. (Gina) Tasting Notes: Dark red color. But no classic Pinot Noir aromatics noticeable. Instead notes of dried cherries and faint hints of aldeuyes due to oxidation. Decidedly fruity flavors and soft finish. How much Syrah did they put in this? More than they’ll admit. * This is good but if it purports to be Pinot Noir it is in trouble for illicit blending. (Matt) Tasting Notes: N: smalls hefty, dark, spicy, currents, hot bricks, summer savory + thyme. P: Big, jammy style Pinot, Syrah-like-fruit-blackberries, Masata spice, blackberry compote. (Ken)

Westrey 2007 Abbey Ridge Vineyard (88 points)
Region:  Willamette Valley/Dundee Hills; Varietals: Pinot Noir; Retail $30
Tasting Notes:  Color somewhat alarming. Light orangey-red. Authentic Burgundian aromas of damp earth, mushroom, roasted root vegetables. Full-bodied, tannic finish and zesty acidity with smokey wood notable but not dominant. (Matt) Tasting Notes: Clear in color. Shows some brick color on the edge but yet elegant. Aromas of red meat and sandal wood. Green olives on the palate and some dark chocolate. Very delicate but not a long finish. (Fernando) Tasting Notes:  Good barnyard smell, but I find a bit too much sulfur on the nose. Still well-balanced, good, sweet finish! Drink it with crostini with chevre cheese & sun-dried tomato.  Good! (Giuseppe)

Raptor Ridge 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir (88 points)
Region:  Raptor Ridge; Varietals: Pinot Noir; Retail $33
Tasting Notes:  Pretty nose, rose petals & raspberries, streamlined anise spice, favorite so far [3rd of 8], layered, fresh but multi-dimensional, silky. (Catherine) Tasting Notes: Nose has spice & dark fruit … more plum & black cherry. A more modern style … luscious cherry jolly rancher, yes cherry. Bold in the mid-palate. Finish lacks a little, mostly get fruit. (Gina)

Winter Hill Vineyards 2006 Pinot Noir (87 points)
Region:  Willamette Valley; Varietals: Pinot Noir; Retail $
Tasting Notes:  Nice aromas of red cherries and mushrooms – mainly fruit flavors of red and black cherries. Good acidity but a little bit too hot. Fine tannins, but short finish. (Jens) Tasting Notes:  Color clear, transparent ruby. Aromas of mixed freshly crushed peppercorns, cherry and hints on mushroom & menthol. Palate alas is ruined by dominant flavors of wood and alcohol, along with cherry candy. (Matt)

March Tasting Panel:  Jens Strecker, Gina Gregory, Theresa Slechta, Catherine Reynolds, Ken O’Hara, Matt Gubitosa, Fernando Martinez, Giuseppe Caraturro

The following wines are in-stock or can be ordered at:
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
phone: 206-783-2007

April 21, 2010 at 4:32 pm Leave a comment

September 2009: Wines of Rioja (Spain)

TC_Rioja_Sep 09
Rioja is an old, traditional appellation as well as one of Spain’s most famous wine regions. It’s located in north-central Spain and is noted for its mountainous landscape with four solid seasons as opposed to a long, scorching summer. Reds from Rioja are made primarily from Tempranillo, which is known for its red fruit flavors. Old-style Rioja is noted for flavors of tar, leather and stinky socks. Newer-style Rioja tends to be softer, smoother and sometimes the oak is more prominent. The top ranked wines from this month’s tasting received similar scores across the board; however, the panel was pretty strongly divided on a couple of wines, as noted by their comments/scores (see Lealtanza 2005 Crianza (87 points) $23 & Dominio de Heredia 2006 Rioja (86 points) $15). It looks like the stinkier the socks got, the more some tasters liked it, while others were turned off. And for $15, try and bottle and see how you feel about stinky socks!

EXCELLENT (90-94 points)
Campillo 2001 Reserva Selecta
(92 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $41
Notes: Cigar box and menthol on the nose. Nice notes of cinnamon, blackberries, blueberries – a great balance of fruit, oak and acidity. Nice long finish. (Theresa, 92 pts)
Notes: Nose: boysenberry, incense, cocoa, cedar plank. Palate: plush – nice cigar box, spice, anise, strawberry jam. (Ken, 95 pts)

Izadi 2002 Reserva (92 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $35
Notes: Blueberry nose, love the garrique flavor, fresh plums, spiced & dusty texture, one of my favorites. (Catherine, 93 pts)
Notes: Dark ruby color. Strong bouquet of tobacco, cigar and old, sweaty saddle leather. Medium- to full-bodied. Tannic frame around dark fruit, blackberries and boysenberries. Strong acidity overpowering the fruit. Long tannic finish. Will get better with age. (Jens, 90 pts)

Beronia 2006 Rioja (91 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $17
Notes: Red ruby color. Classic aromas of tobacco, saddle leather, well-balanced, smooth and medium-bodied. Just beautiful. Great texture and acidity. Excellent layers of dark fruit mixed with herbal notes. (Jens, 93 pts)
Notes: Good rich red. Beautiful nuances of fresh red plums and ripe cherries. Great mouthfeel with a very pleasant, long finish. Good wine. (Giuseppe, 91 pts)

VERY GOOD (85-89 points)
Hacienda Don Ramon 2006 Rioja
(89 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $16.50
Notes: Good fruit, tobacco and leather, hints of dill, solid tannin and well integrated, young and ready to age. Modern and balanced. Long finish. (Jerred, 93 pts)

Allende 2004 Rioja
(88 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $27
Notes: Nose: Wet dog, wet hair, hair salon (in a Northern Rhône, good way) cranberries. Palate: tight, focused and tannic, searing focused pomegranate, concentrated, sour red plums, bright with a dark side. (Ken, 91 pts)

Sierra Cantabria 2006 Rioja (88 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $15
Notes: Broad, voluptuous wine with firm tannins, promises rewards for the patient collector. Hints of cherries & cinnamon. (Chris, 88 pts)

Lealtanza 2005 Crianza (87 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $23
Notes: Red, intense smell of potato skin, freshly cut on the palate, very tight notes of red cherries and sweet wild berries. Good flavors. Big wine. This is a conversation wine. Molie Bene! (Giuseppe, 95 pts)
Notes: Ouch! Urine. Cannot get past the horrid smell. Palate is thin. Reststop. (Jerred, 67 pts)

Dominio de Heredia 2006 Rioja (86 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $15
Notes: Nose: cherry stinker, dung, cola espresso grounds, strawberries (fresh). Palate: sweet jammy fruit, baked strawberries, twigs and mint. (Ken, 92 pts)
Notes: Do not smell this. Again reminiscent of an Alpine urinal! Good fruit on palate. Very short finish. (Jerred, 65 pts)

Ermita d San Felices 2006 Rioja (85 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $14
Notes: Much more transparent, a nice summer Rioja! Light & plummy, balsam, might even be good with a chill, tickling of spices, liked this for a quaffer. (Catherine, 85 pts)
Notes: Bright black cherry with back notes of balsamic, satin-like texture, very pretty and feminine. Would never have guessed Rioja … though really like the wine. (Theresa, 90 pts)

Exopto 2006 Big Bang Rioja (85 points)
Region: Rioja, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $21
Notes: Purple, ripe black cherry, a little thin on the palate, a touch of white pepper, slight acids, clipped on the finish. (Chris, 84 pts)

September Tasting Panel: Jens Strecker, Theresa Shlechta, Ken O’Hara, Catherine Reynolds, Giuseppe Caraturo, Chris Nishiwaki, Jerred Wolff.

We are pleased to welcome Catherine back for a guest appearance (to taste Tempranillo, of course!) as she has been out on a medical leave of absence since last spring.

The following wines are in-stock or can be ordered at the following local wine shops:
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
phone: 206-783-2007

September 22, 2009 at 8:06 pm Leave a comment

August 2009: German & Austrian Riesling

TC_Aug 09_German Riesling_50%
I don’t know why this comes as a surprise, but what is clear from this tasting is that the professional tasters represent a similar spectrum of responses to this very special grape as does the American wine drinking public … and that is:  you love it or you don’t care for it at all. Most of the wines ended up in the 89/90 points range, but that doesn’t represent how the tasters felt about them.

We had some pretty amazing Riesling in this blind line-up, and the tasters who dig Riesling dug it … ranking them 96, 97 even 98 points. The flip side, though, is that these same wines had knowledgeable, experienced tasters who thought they were cloying, sweet, lacking acidity, one noting “Is this a morning drink?” To some degree, the bar for professional tasters is to evaluate any given wine based on its merits as a varietal, region, style etc. Clearly, though, human nature and personal preference come into play (and shouldn’t it??) and if you don’t personally find the wine pleasant, interesting and recommendable, then you aren’t going to give it 97 points. It’s also worth noting that half of the tasters had strong reactions within the lineup, giving scores ranging from 75 to 97 & another from 71 to 95. Again, reflecting that Riesling walks a fine line between being delicious and undesirable.

That said, we are going to try to give our readers some idea of the tasters’ various reactions to these wines. When you see notes close to the average, it means there wasn’t great variation on that particular wine. Enjoy the read, as this month it’s pretty entertaining:

EXCELLENT (90-94 points)
Leth 2006 Riesling Felser Weinberge (90 points)
Region: Wagram, Austria; Varietals: Riesling; Retail: $23
Notes: Nose: caramelized apricot nose, slight botrytis, apple pie, limestone minerality, toast. Palate: roasted chestnut, peach pie (Ken, 95 points)
Notes: Color: straw. Aroma with notes of diesel fuel and some other untoward quality not readily drinkable. Acid low, alcohol high, generic in flavor (Matt, 80 points)

S.A. Prüm 2007 Essence (90 points)
Region: Mosel, Germany; Varietals: Riesling; Retail: $14
Notes: Ahh …! Great balance, classic reflection of Old World charm, elegant and playful nose. Hints of tropical fruit, green apple and petrol, slight sparkle, long finish (Jerred, 98 points)
Notes: Very pale straw but brilliant color. Completely clean aroma of fresh melons and slight hints of brown spice, perhaps nutmeg. Tangy and balanced. Elegant (Matt, 97 points)
Notes: A reserved nose with a shy mouthfeel … this wine needs to grow something. (How do you say balls in German??) (Arnaud, 83 points)

VERY GOOD (85-89 points)
Carl Graff 2008 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese
(89 points)
Region: Mosel-Saar-Ruver, Germany; Varietals: Riesling; Retail: $18.50
Notes: A little shy in the nose, but what an explosion in the mouth. A bit like a mini fireworks. Great flavors, plenty of acid. Note – a heavy hitter, but very pleasant (Arnaud, 91 points)
Notes: Pale yellow color. Subdued aromas of ripe apricots and peaches. Flavors are more dominant. Citrus fruit with peaches and apricots. Pretty sweet on the mid palate. Still good acidity on the finish. (Jens, 87 points)

Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler 2007 Bernkasteler Alte Badstube Riesling Kabinett (89 points)
Region: Mosel, Germany; Varietals: Riesling; Retail: $31
Notes: Pale yellow color. Aromas of wet stone mixed with peaches and apricot. Very good complexity and concentration. Beautiful acidity integrated in the fruit. Main flavors are peach pie, apricots, pink grapefruit with some honey notes. Excellent, long finish. (Jens, 93 points)
Notes: Petroleum nose, another easy drinker. Plenty of fruits with good acid. Good aftertaste with apricot in the background. (Arnaud, 91 points)
Notes: Pale yellow, very intense petroleum and wild flowers. Rich and intense on the palate. Good finish though very sweet. (Giuseppe, 80 points)

Louis Guntrum 2006 Niersteiner Bergkirche Riesling Kabinett (89 points)
Region: Rheinhessen, Germany; Varietals: Riesling; Retail: $25
Notes: Great balance between petrol and fruit. Guessing this producer is putting a foot in new world. Warm vintage as the honey is showing with dried apricot. Soft mineral notes. Lingering finish. (Jerred, 95 points)
Notes: A nice combination of petrol, caramel honey and grapefruit – the palate is lushly textured with the citrus fruit coming in on the finish with great acidity. (Theresa, 88 points)
Notes: Color: straw. Aroma: Diesel again! But also fruity hints. Acid low, finish bitter. (Matt, 80 points)

Schloss Reinhartshausen 2005 Erbach Schlossberg Riesling (89 points)
Region: Rheingau, Germany; Varietals: Riesling; Retail: $45
Notes: Pale yellow color. Intense yet pleasant aromas of quince, pears and flint. Wonderful mouthfeel. Delicious and elegant. Superb acidity and fruit. Subdued citrus and lime flavors upfront followed by ripe peaches, apricots and pink grapefruit. Beautiful, long finish. (Jens, 94 points)
Notes: Notes of flowers, honey, ever so slight petrol. From the nose you would expect a rich and dense mouthfeel … just the opposite, quite lean with citrus, lime zest & zingy acidity. (Theresa, 86 points)

Schlosskellerei-Gobelsburg 2008 Riesling (89 points)
Region: Kamptal, Germany; Varietals: Riesling; Retail: $18.50
Notes: Pale straw color. Aromas: mineral, floral, vegetal & fruity. Complex & enjoyable. Tangy & tart but balanced. (Matt, points 92)
Notes: Fresh & Clean – bright lemon oil, freshly picked oranges. Racy acidity makes all the citrus pop on the palate, especially the flavor of orange peel. (Theresa, 90 points)
Notes: Pale yellow color. Aromas of tart lime and citrus. Flavors of green apple, grapefruit with hints of bitter almonds. Good acidity, but fruit can’t keep up. (Jens, 86 points)

Weingut P.J.-Valckenberg 2006 Riesling Kabinett (89 points)
Region: Rheinhessen, Germany; Varietals: Riesling; Retail: $23
Notes: What a pretty color, and yes, it tastes as good as it looks (beautiful yellow hue). Things are getting sweeter. Million of peaches, Peaches for me. [Surrounded by musical notes] Nice long finish. (Arnaud, 95 points)
Notes: Lush nose of honeysuckle, orange blossom. Beautiful texture, slight oiliness that holds together flavors of tangerine, honeycomb and an ever so slight bit of butterscotch. Would like a bit more acid. (Theresa, 91 points)
Notes: Bright gold yellow color. Sugar coated stewed fruit. Scent of pineapple juice. Very rich. Sweet, very sweet!!! Not necessarily a bad thing. Might be great paired with fruits and nuts. (Giuseppe, 79 points)

Bart 2006 Charter Riesling (87 points)
Region: Rheingau, Germany; Varietals: Riesling; Retail: $28
Notes: Petrol & acidity, clean fruit and balance, very very young. Teeth gripping acidity, wow! The only hold back is the hing of SO2. Lingering long finish. The SO2 will age out. (Jerred, 97 points)
Notes: Straw color. Diesel aroma, mixed with fruits. Bitter grapefruit flavors. Is this blended with Sauvignon Blanc? (Matt, 73 points)

S.A. Prüm 2003 Bernkasteler Lay Riesling (86 points)
Region: Mosel-Saar-Ruver, Germany; Varietals: Riesling; Retail: $48
Notes: Petrol and a bit of heat, vintage related, hot vintage. Fruit comes through on the palate but this wine should age another 7-8 years. Low tannin on the finish and back is a bit edgy. Could fatten up with age. This wine is harmed a bit by vintage. Tastes like Bernkasteler. (Jerred, 94 points)
Notes: Pale yellow to yellow color. Intense aromas of petrol, green apples and wet stone. Medium-bodied, complex and elegant. Beautiful acidity integrated in the fruits. Flavors of baked apples, wet stone, schist with a touch of sweetness. Racy and refreshing finish. Smoked trout comes to my mind. (Jens, 93 points)
Notes: Nose: aged, skunky, oily, tar, smells like apples cooking on an old Fiat engine. Palate: flat, flabby, aged too long, some old fruit trying to shine through – a pig with no bones in a glass – (Ken, 76 points)

Weingut Blees Ferber 2007 Riesling Spätlese (86 points) R
egion: Mosel, Germany; Varietals: Riesling; Retail: $14
Notes: Delicious as soon as it hits the tongue … again more peaches and nectarines (a bit mangoish!!!) … sweet and easy like a Fraulein … (Arnaud, 93 points)
Notes: Nose: Smells like it’s snowing. Palate: clean, pear sorbet, lingering sweetness, green olives, orange zest, fennel. (Ken, 93 points) Notes: Pale yellow with some funky aromas of hay mixed in with the apples. Flavors are much more pleasant. Peach and apricot pie with some citrus notes. Pleasant finish. (Jens, 86 points)
Notes: A bit of composted trash, ouch. Lacking acidity to carry the residual sugar. Tumbling finish. (Jerred, 75 points)

GOOD (80-84 points)
Weinmann & Würtz 2007 Riesling
(83 points)
Region: Rheinhessen, Germany; Varietals: Riesling; Retail: $18.50
Notes: Wake up, wake up … Did someone say tart? Dry and dry … (Arnaud, 86 points)
Notes: Nose: wet river stones, pine needles, cantaloupe, orange zest, body odor. Palate: tart, piercing acidity, razor sharp, young stone fruit flavors, celery/sour (Ken, 71 points)

August 2009 – Tasting Panel Members Jens Strecker, Theresa Shlechta, Ken O’Hara, Matt Gubitosa, Giuseppe Caraturro, Arnaud Guerin, Jerred Wolff

The following wines are in-stock or can be ordered at the following local wine shops:
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
phone: 206-783-2007

August 20, 2009 at 11:05 pm Leave a comment

June 2009: Rosé

TC_Jun 09_Rose_45%

Rosé is doesn’t take itself too seriously and that’s part of the fun.  It’s pink in every hue.  It’s seasonal and shows up just when you need something refreshing to drink.  It’s cool, it’s fruity, and it’s affordable.  In the last decade, dry rosé has taken off in the US.  What’s fun for those of us who enjoy drinking it is it can be simple-dimple enjoyment on a hot summer day, or there can be some subtle, slightly more serious wine drinking going on.  Check out the tasting notes:

By the way, France – home of rosé – stole the show, but then again they have a lot of practice.  As regions around the world start to dabble in rosé they’ll become competitive too.

EXCELLENT (90-94 points)
Chateau Val Joanis 2008 Rosé
(91 points)
Region: Luberon, France; Varietals: Syrah/Grenache; Retail:  $15
Notes:  Orange copper hue. Big aromas of nectarine & red apples. Creamy with luscious tropical fruits – pears, pineapple and subtle watermelon. Acids could be a little more present – but overall, lovely. (Gina)
Notes:  Nearly colorless. Subdued, white wine aromas (steely) but also hints of plums. Nice flavors, lychee and other tropical fruit. (Matt)

Domaine Saint Roch les Vignes 2008 Rosé (91 points)
Region: Provence, France; Varietals: Cinsault/Grenache; Retail:  $16
Notes: Copper color. Honeydew melon & a touch of strawberry on the nose. Melon echoes on the palate. Grapefruit on the back palate leads to a crispy and minerally finish that lingers. (Chris)
Notes:  Color: light pink, bunny nose pink. Nose: clean & minerally, pink quartz, hints of fresh fennel & orange zest. Palate: bright acidity, pink lemonade, fennel, tastes like summer picnics. (Ken)

Triennes 2008 Rosé (91 points)
Region: Provence, France; Varietals: Cinsault/Grenache; Retail:  $18
Notes:  The lightest pink color I’ve ever seen. Mint aromas incredible! Intense strawberries and raspberries on the palate. The finish is long and beautiful. (Fernando)
Notes:  Peach pink color. Beautiful aromas & flavors of sweet strawberries, honey dew melon. Beautiful, smooth, velvety texture with perfect acidity. Elegant and very focused. Great finish. Fantastic rosé. Provence again! (Jens)

VERY GOOD (85-89 points)
Alois Lageder 2008 Rosé
(89 points)
Region: Alto Adige, Italy; Varietals: Lagrein; Retail:  $20
Notes:  Pale orangey color. Muted fragrance of mixed spices. A pleasing tartness accompanied by full body and balanced alcohol make for an enjoyable wine. (Matt)
Notes:  Color: cherry soda. Nose: ripe raspberry and pomegranate. Slight rosemary herbal notes. Palate: ripe cranberry & raspberry fruit. Bold & fruity but balanced with a savory herbal & mineral side. (Ken)

Domaine Ott 2008 les Domanieres Rosé (88 points)
Region: Provence, France; Varietals: Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre; Retail:  $21
Notes:  Golden peach color. Just beautiful. Aromas of strawberries and melon. Smooth, velvety texture. Well-balanced and structured. Great integrated acidity. Strawberry and melon flavors continue through the refreshing finish. Hint of some herbs, maybe thyme. (Jens)
Provence, baby!
Notes:  Honeydew melons and watermelon on the nose. Clipped on the finish. (Chris)

Spindrift 2008 Spinmaker Rosé (86 points)
Region: Willamette Valley, OR; Varietals: Pinot Noir; Retail:  $13
Notes:  Hints of red berries and a dusting of cinnamon on the nose. Bright citrus on the palate, though quite lean in the fruit expression. Hints of cinnamon spice come through on the finish. Crafted for food more than the patio quaffer. (Theresa)
Notes:  Nose: orange zest, pennies (coppery note), the distant aromas of a strawberry field. Palate: tastes a little aged, a little oxidized, hibiscus tea, bitter orange, slightly unripe watermelon. (Ken)

Mulderbosch 2008 Rosé (85 points)
Region: Stellenbosch, South Africa; Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon; Retail:  $14
Note the strong responses to this wine which was across the board:
Cherry color. Intense aroma of strawberries. Clean A bit of jest on the nose. Flavor: summer berries, great medium body, delicate but yet intense finish. (I got the idea this is made out of Cabernet Sauvignon or something like that.)  (Fernando, 90 points)
Notes:  Smokey, flinty nose … sulfur – not what I like in a rosé. Ashy flavors are also on the palate … unfortunately not enjoyable or refreshing.  Lacks all fruit. (Theresa, 76 points)

Chateau Pesquie 2008 Terrasses Rosé (85 points)
Region: Southern Rhône, France; Varietals: Cinsault/ Grenache/Syrah; Retail:  $15
Notes: Pretty amber pink color. One of the more feminine noses yet. White flowers, fresh red fruits. Flavors are bold and finish on the spicy side. More acid than I like, but great juicy strawberries. (Gina)
Notes: Light peach color. Touch of honey mustard on the nose. Dryer compared with other ones. Great for ceviche, raw salmon dishes, a bit of bitterness at the end. Long finish. (Fernando)

GOOD (80-84 points)
Domaine de la Petite Cassagne 2008 Rosé
(84 points)
Region: Costieres de Nimes, France; Varietals: Cinsault/Grenache; Retail:  $14
Notes: Raspberry color. Nose: cherry and oddly enough … banana. Big fruit and alcohol. For a rosé, this has almost blackberry flavors, followed with citrus & spice. Definitely for the fruity crowd. (Gina)

Airfield 2008 Foot Stamped Rosé (82 points)
Region: Yakima Valley, WA; Varietals: Syrah; Retail:  $16
Notes: Very dark. Lots of skin contact. Bubble-gum aromas upfront. Rich, deep and dark.  Seems a little bit hot to me.  The alcohol overshadows the fruit. (Jens)

Fuente del Conde 2008 Rosé (81 points)
Region: Cigales, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail:  $14
Notes:  Hints of flint, sulfur, slate on the nose … then smells like a gooey cherry dessert.  Cherries and tart grapefruit dominate the palate. (Theresa)

June 2009 Tasting Circle Panel:  Jens Strecker, Gina Gregory, Theresa Slechta, Ken O’Hara, Matt Gubitosa, Fernando Martinez, Chris Nishiwaki

The following wines are in-stock or can be ordered at the following local wine shops:
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
phone: 206-783-2007

June 17, 2009 at 6:59 pm 2 comments

May 2009: Argentine Malbec

TC_May 09_Argentine Malbec_bottlesArgentine Malbec is known for its rich, dark fruit flavors with hints of leather, cigar smoke, even tar and then a nice tannic finish. This tasting was requested by customer who is a big fan of Malbec and was interested in knowing what the panel thought about these wines.  This tasting was much more narrow in scope than previous tastings.  These wines are all the same grape, from the same region, and the retail prices range from $12 to $24 (except for the Catena Alta $60), so there wasn’t a vast difference in the market value of the wines.  The rankings reflect that to some degree.  The only concern that we had was the low ranking of the Catena, a jewel of a wine that consistently gets good rankings in national reviews.  During the tasting, there was some concern that the wine was slightly off.  Retasting it again at the end of the tasting, it was a different wine, having opened beautifully.  After some discussion, we left it in the lineup, but clearly, this particular bottle does not reflect its true drinking experience.  Jens Strecker, owner of Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar in Ballard, loves this wine and is going to pour it by the glass at the bar … so that you can decide for yourself.

EXCELLENT (90-94 points)

Andeluna 2006 Malbec Reserva (91 points)
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $28/Sale $23
Wonderful black currant aromas. Licorice and black cherry on the palate. Pleasant acidity and undertones of smoke with vanilla. (Gina) Rich red. Very intense nuances of blueberries and black currant. Very distinct powerful notes of stewed cherries and rhubarb. This wine reminds me of my first time with Bandol. (Giuseppe)

Catena 2005 Malbec Alta (90 points)  
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $60
Blackberry with spice of clove. Medium body. Light richness ot the palate. Tannins are bolder, making finish long-lasting. (Theresa) Is there a Bordeaux varietal(s) in this wine? Deep spicy chocolate truffle nose. Really clear and focused on the palate, great finish. (Joel)

Luigi Bosca 2006 Malbec Reserva (90 points)
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $23
Nice fruit tannin balance, tea leaf and a hint on espresso on the nose. Thick on the palate, tar, blackberries, prune/cassis. (Chris) Aromas of sweet berries and coconut. Well-balanced, elegant, round and complex. Beautiful fruit on the mid-palate. Lot of blueberries, sweet prunes with some coffee notes. Fine tannins on the finish. (Jens) [or maybe not …] Holy sulfur! Definitely can’t get past the sulfur on the nose. (Does JJ Prüm make Malbec?) Too lean on the palate, but nice mellow plum and bing cherry notes. (Joel) Cloudy red. Notes of sulfur on the nose with rosemary and mint on the end. Rich on the palate with good mouthfeel. (Giuseppe)

Xumek 2007 Malbec (90 points)  
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $18
Noticeable sulfur on the nose. Road tar and sweet blackberry cobbler on the palate. (Joel) Astringent greenness on the nose – edge of green pepper. Not green on the palate – much richer on the fruit. Velvety texture with good acidity. (Theresa)

VERY GOOD (86-89 points)
Mil Piedras 2007 Malbec (88 points)

Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $14
Nose very closed. I get a little perfumy flowers (violets). Very quaffable. Smooth, silky fruit (raspberries, tart cherry). A great BBQ/party wine. Nothing too offensive except it lacks complexity. (Gina) A touch of stinky cheese on the nose, thin, simple, stemmy, a touch of fruit (blueberries) on the back palate. (Chris)

Nieto 2007 Malbec Reserva (88 points)  
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $13
Wonderful aromas of sweet blueberries and plums. Very smooth, elegant. Complex & concentrated. Good acidity. Well-balanced. Excellent flavors of blueberries with notes of coffee and espresso. Nice long finish. (Jens) Meaty nose – cured meat, blackberry. Classic tar & leather on the palate. Rich, velvety black fruits. Could you be Terrazas? (Gina)

Benegas 2005 Malbec (87 points)
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $23
Color – dark purple, black center. Aromas: ripe blackberry. Cooked fruit. Chewy berry with smoky notes on the finish. Hints of cedar & chocolate on finish. (Gina) Blue & black fruit on the nose, though aromatics are rather muted. Bits of granite and slate in the background. Boysenberry fruit on the palate with stewed plum fruit on the finish. (Theresa) Alcoholic, eucalyptus and pine needles. Huge tannins. (Chris)
Finca Sophenia 2006 Altosur Malbec (87 points) 
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $12
Southern Italy on the nose (like Negroamaro or Primitivo). Black fruits, soft tannins and noticeable oak on the palate. Tart fruit on the finish. (Joel) Syrupy raspberry & blackberry fruit on the nose. The sweetness does not translate to the palate which is nice, well-balanced with bright acidity. A basketful of red & blue fruit. (Theresa)

Terrazas 2006 Malbec (87 points)
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $21
Pure fruit on the nose, brambleberry, raspberry, weightier on the palate than expected, violets, acids and minerality on the finish. (Chris) Nice aromas of dark fruit, followed by bright dark fruit, blackberries and boysenberries. Good acidity. A little bit tart. (Jens) 

GOOD (80-85 points)
Catena 2006 Malbec (84 points)
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $24
Deep dark ruby red. Flavors of black olives, mixed berries. A bit out of balance but interesting nuances. Layers and layers of berry pie. It could use some more time in the bottle. Would like to see it how it develops in the next 5 years. (Giuseppe) Smells slightly off tone. Light cork perhaps? (Gina)

The following wines are in-stock or can be ordered at the following local wine shops:

Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
phone: 206-783-2007

Tasting Panel:  Jens Strecker, Gina Gregory, Theresa Slechta, Giuseppe Carrauro, Chris Nishiwaki, Joel Nicholas (Guest Taster)

Joel Nicholas of K&L Wine Merchants in Los Angeles, with partner Annika Keller, at the Malbec tasting on May 12, 2009

Joel Nicholas of K&L Wine Merchants in Los Angeles, with partner Annika Keller, at the Malbec tasting on May 12, 2009

May 20, 2009 at 7:57 pm Leave a comment

April 2009: Pinot Noir from around the world


Matt, Fernando & Ken (back) tasting

This tasting was an interesting one …
because the Pinots in the lineup – representing France (Burgundy & Alsace), Italy, USA (Oregon), South Africa, New Zealand & Chile – had wildly varying receptions from the Tasting Panel.  Pretty much across the board, the tasters either thoroughly enjoyed the wine or didn’t care for it much at all.  [The one exception was the Domaine Rebourgeon-Mure (the top scorer), which was showered in compliments.] For example, check out what the two quoted tasters say about Hamilton Russell Vineyards from South Africa.  Both are picking up on minty flavors, but Fernando raves while Matt was offended.  Because of this, the final scores often don’t reflect the love/hate impact the wines had on the tasters and so on wines that elicited this varying response, we’ve included the taster’s score with his/her wine note so you can get a feel for how the wine impressed the quoted taster.

We also want to note that we missed having a Pinot from California.  Because we receive the wines bagged so that the tasters truly are blind, we didn’t realize that California was not represented.  Our oversight and our apologies.

EXCELLENT (90-94 points)
Domaine Rebourgeon-Mure 2005 Volnay 1er Cru Santenots (93 points)
Region: Burgundy, France; Retail $57
Beautiful depth & clarity of garnet color. Nose: fresh dirt, faint rose petal. Ahh – this has essence of Old World qualities.  Fresh picked raspberries (I can still taste the dew), earth and slight minerality finishes with a little smoky spice. Bravo. (Gina)  Wonderful aromas of dark cherries, herbs and flowers.  Stunning!  Very smooth, elegant and complex. Great acidity and concentration. Flavors of black cherries, raspberries and olives with herbal and floral components.  Long, fine finish.  Tastes like well done Burgundy. (Jens) 

Domaine Serene 2005 Jerusalem Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir (90 points)
Region: Willamette Valley, OR; Retail $83
Aromas of sweet cherries and strawberries.  Good mouthfeel. Elegant, smooth texture. Medium-bodied with good acidity. Flavors of ripe, dark cherries and olives.  Good finish with some earthy notes. (Jens) Cherry vanilla cola, cherry vanilla cola, cherry vanilla cola, cherry vanilla cola. Palate: nice cherry vanilla cola flavors, silky mouthfeel with bouquet garni. Nice and surprising elegant spicy finish. (Ken)

VERY GOOD (86-89 points)
Hamilton Russell Vineyards 2007 Estate Pinot Noir (89 points)
Region: South Africa ; Retail $45
My first aroma was the great land of South Africa! Muscular, game meat, red fruit and eucalyptus. Great amount of acidity. Long, long finish. I will have this wine with some grilled spring bock! Love it! (Fernando, 97 pts)  Strange menthol (Ben-Gay?) notes in aroma along with sulfur. Balanced acidity and tannins, but unusual vegetal wood flavors. (Matt, 80 pts)

Saint Clair 2006 Pinot Noir (89 points)
Region : Marlborough, New Zealand; Retail $23
Mud-brick red. Is it me, or does this one really smell like classic Pinot? Earth mixed with ripe dried cherries. Very earthy, with hints of herbs and nice round cherry flavors. (Gina)  Nose: woody aromas, cocoa dusted plum preserves flavors, smoky. Palate: slightly spritzy, chocolate covered cherries, grilled mushrooms, meaty, bacon. (Ken)

Schoenheitz 2005 Vin d’Alsace “Herrenreben” (89 points)

Region: Alsace, France; Retail: $26
Nose: very gentle on the nose with light aromas of plum blossoms, rainier cherries, peach skin, chocolate & Eastern spices (cloves maybe). Palate: well-balanced, silky light mouthfeel with an array of flavors of rose petals, leather, dark chocolate & mushrooms that somehow all fits together nicely. Makes you want to sit down to a comfortable and long awaited elegant meal with your best friends! (Ken, 97 pts) Out of balance, acids. Needs time. (Chris, 86 pts)

Christom 2006 Marjorie Vineyard Pinot Noir (88 points)
Region: Willamette Valley, OR; Retail $52
Good ruby red. Aromas of strawberries with vermouth.  Good intense flavors with astringent sensation of roasted nuts.  It finishes well.  This would pair well with pork loin. (Giuseppe) Nose: Strange herbs, dusty – like an old witch’s cupboard, faint peanutty aromas, Indian spices, fenugreek seeds & pomegranate – delightfully intense nose. Palate: pomegranate/peanut flavors begin & then violet candies, charred spiced sausage lead into a vanilla chocolaty finish. (Ken)

Domaine d’Antugnac 2007 Côte Pierre Lys (Collovray et Terrier) (87 points)
Region : Burgundy, France ; Retail $16
Aromas of mint and anise. Plalate: raspberries, fennel. Great finish, lovely wine for food. (Fernando, 94 pts) Bright ruby red. Good aromas of strawberry and hazelnut. Very perfumed on the mouth, almost a scent of rose water. (Giuseppe, 81 pts)

Woollaston 2006 Pinot Noir (87 points)
Region: New Zealand; Retail $34
Red berries on the nose, green grass, cocoa on the palate, great touch of oak! Beautiful clean and long finish! (Fernando, 98 pts) Nice Pinot aromas – must be Oregon? Orangey tint of light color. Mushroom notes in aroma along with cherries & cola. Finish ruined by harsh smokey oak – acrid & bitter. (Matt, 77 pts)

GOOD (80-85 points)
Apaltagua 2008 Pinot Noir Reserva (85 points)
Region: Curico, Chile; Retail $14
Pretty magenta hues. Nose has a pungent spiciness to it. A few extra swirls bring out more floral notes. A very gripping Pinot that follows with silky ripe raspberry flavors. Just enough earth gives this an elegant finish. (Gina) Beautiful aromas of dark cherries and rose petals. Smooth. Good mouthfeel. Good acidity and concentration. Dominant black cherry flavors with floral and spicy notes. Long finish. (Jens)

Domaine du Prieure 2005 Savigny les Beaune (85 points)
Region: Burgundy, France; Retail $19
Nose: nice, high-toned cherry blossoms, tootsie roll, anise, fennel pollen. Palate: sweet cherry pie, tart (sweet tart candy), fresh strawberry too. (Ken, 91 pts) Varietally correct Pinot Noir aroma of cherries, cola, with hints of root beer. Bright red. A bit pale. Soft in the mouth. Lack of structure. Very few aromas. Very open on the palate with a hint of acidity. (Giuseppe, 77 pts)

Paggio 2005 Pinot Nero (84 points)
Region: Veneto, Italy; Retail $18
Very feminine floral nose. Almost smells like meringue. Has that really nice candy flavor of chocolate covered cherries. Very smooth. (Gina) Smells Italian. Tastes Italian. Slight “corky flavors” but maybe because it might be Italian. Stewed prunes, dried cranberries & mocha flavors. (Ken)

The following wines are in-stock or can be ordered at the following local wine shops:
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
phone: 206-783-2007

Tasting Panel:  Jens Strecker, Gina Gregory, Ken O’Hara, Giuseppe Carraturo, Matt Gubitosa, Fernando Martinez, Chris Nishiwaki 

April 23, 2009 at 5:13 am Leave a comment

March 2009: Cabernet Sauvignon – WA vs. CA


And the winner is …
A customer who came across the Tasting Circle blog requested this month’s head to head competition, asking if the panel would taste Washington vs. California Cabs and see if there was a clear winner.  Well, you could say this was a landslide, with California taking first, second and third place.  The only point worth mentioning is that there should have been a twelfth wine:  Reininger 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon from Walla Walla ($41).  Reininger produces delicious, award-winning Washington wines, but sadly this wine was corked and was disqualified from the tasting, putting the Washington lineup at a disadvantage.  Check out what the tasters had to say about the wines.  (I think they were surprised what they had to say as well!) …

EXCELLENT (90-94 points)
Beckmen 2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (93 points)
Region: Paso Robles, CA; Retail $27
Very pretty, good color. Good smells of dark cherries and black olives. Beautiful on the palate. A mouthful of great balance between herbs, terroir & fruits. (Giuseppe) Black, opaque color. Complex aromas of mixed fruit and old wood. Nice berry fruit palate. Tangy, balanced acidity and nice finish. (Matt)

O’Shaughnessy 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (93 points)
Region: Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, CA; Retail $85
Great bouquet of dark fruit & mocha. Full-bodied, great structure. Complex and elegant. Very good acidity. Wonderful fruit, mainly black currants, blackberries & cassis. Long finish with great tannins. (Jens) Color: dark garnet. Nose has more complexity and subtlety [than other wines in lineup]. Dry licorice finish, with mild sweetness on palate. (Ari)
Volker Eisele 2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (92 points)
Region: Napa Valley, CA; Retail $46
Dark ruby [color]. Flavors of dark chocolate. Smoky spice & lingering black fruits. Very lovely – rich & velvety. It’s a big boy – great leather notes. (Gina) Very intense flavors, balanced tannins, black cherries linger on the palate. (Russell)

Abeja 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (91 points)
Region: Columbia Valley, WA; Retail $50
Dark fruit with nuts and caramel – milky, creamy, caramel. Lush, lush fruit with a fabulous texture. Red fruit pops on the palate with nice acidity – darn tasty. (Theresa)  Wonderful aromas of dark fruit, raspberries and blackberries. Medium-bodied, very elegant and complex. Smooth and velvety with several layers of dark fruit with notes of milk chocolate. Great acidity. Long finish with fine-grained tannins. (Jens)

Kiona 2001 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (90 points)
Region: Red Mountain, WA; Retail $25 (no longer available)
Dark red. Tight. Nuances of dried apples, stewed fruit. This is the thinker wine. Contemplating, mature. Not too altered. A truly pleasant and elegant red. I would feel very happy if I bought this wine and drank it with friends. (Giuseppe) Nose: earth & tar mixed with raspberries & huckleberry. Medium-bodied with tart red fruit flavors. Smooth finish – light spice. Very balanced. (Gina)

VERY GOOD (85–89 points):
Amavi 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (89 points)

Region: Walla Walla, WA; Retail $32
Light cigar in the nose followed with black cherry. A blast of ripe cherries and raisins. Velvety fruit with smooth finish. (Gina) Aromas of sweet dark fruit, blueberries. Smooth, velvety, medium-bodied. Vanilla bean upfront, followed by blackberry, mocha, espresso flavors. Fruit builds up to the finish. Fine tannins. (Jens)

Caymus 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (89 points)
Region: Napa Valley, CA; Retail $76
Beautiful aromas of blackberries & dark fruit. Medium- to full-bodied, elegant and complex. Flavors of cassis and dark fruit with hints of mocha and dark chocolate. Fine tannins with notes of vanilla on the finish. (Jens) Dark, black cherry color. Slow, big legs. Black cherry follows through on the palate. High alcohol. Has a rich, tar-like finish that I‘m strangely liking. Young? Could use a bit more tannin. (Gina)

Rutherford 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (88 points)
Region: Napa Valley, CA; Retail $25/sale $19.50
Petrol wrapping blackberries & blueberries with pops of vanilla. Silky rich with all the blue & black fruit on the palate. Oak well integrated with a nice long finish. (Theresa) Dark red color. Aromas more mixed red berries than cherry, herbs, and hints of oak. More berry jam flavors on palate with long finish. A bit too sweet, probably from too much oak. (Matt)

Lowden Hills 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (86 points)
Region: Horse Heaven Hills, WA; Retail $25
Pretty ruby red. Smells like a good plate of infused Kalamata olives with a tickle of red berries. Taste is full & well-balanced. Clean, but persistent. I’m sure it would pair great with pork roast. (Giuseppe) Fine, nice aromas of forest floor and black currants. Well-balanced, good acidity. Flavors of ripe dark fruit mixed with some herbal notes. Strong finish with a good tannic frame. (Jens)

Milbrandt 2005 Legacy Cabernet Sauvignon (86 points)
Region: Columbia Valley, WA; Retail $34/sale $27.99
Dark, ripe, brambleberry fruit, clove spice, hints of tar & herbs.  Medium weight, tangy red & blue fruit. Acid makes for a zippy finish. (Theresa) Cedar nose, rich soft palate, hint of bacon on finish, soft tannins, balanced acidity. (Russell)

Leaping Lizard 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (85 points)
Region: Napa Valley, CA; Retail $15
Nose: oak & red fruit preserves. Elegant. Sweet finish. (Ari) Sweet jammy fruit, balanced tannins, slight vegetal character. (Russell)

The following wines are in-stock or can be ordered at the following local wine shops:
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
phone: 206-783-2007

Tasting Panel:  Giuseppe Carraturo, Gina Gregory, Matt Gubitosa, Ari Munzin, Theresa Slechta, Jens Strecker; Guest Taster: Russell Gladhart

We would like to dedicate this tasting to Catherine Reynolds & Ken O’Hara, original members of the Tasting Circle.  Catherine suffered a brain aneurysm last month and is still on intensive care recovering.  Our best wishes for a full recovery so that (among other things) you can join us again at the Tasting Circle with your enthusiasm and your wonderful, descriptive tasting notes – both of you!

March 19, 2009 at 6:29 pm Leave a comment



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