Gabe's View

Wine: Reviews, Thoughts & Culture

Archive for January, 2009

Del Carlo Winery – 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon

Posted by Gabe on January 27, 2009

Having tasted and enjoyed the Del Carlo Zinfandel a few months ago I was dclooking forward to seeing how their Cabernet Sauvignon was. After Zinfandel, Cabernet is the varietal from Dry Creek Valley that first comes to mind. The better Cabernets from this region have unique characteristics which display a real sense of place.

The 2005 Del Carlo Winery Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% varietal. This offering was aged in new French oak for 18 months. Just 240 cases of this wine were made and it sells for $45. This wine was just released last month.

Plum, cedar and vanilla notes dominate a fragrant nose. From the very first sip, red fruit, particularly cherry notes lead the palate. These are followed by tobacco, leather and dark, dusty baker’s chocolate characteristics. Excellent mineral notes lead the finish which also has classic Dry Creek dust, bramble, earth and copious spice elements. This wine has good acidity and solid but approachable tannins. An hour in the decanter is recommended for this wine to drink to its potential right now. A marbled steak is also recommended as a classic match.

What stood out to me most about this wine is the solid core of berry fruit that shines throughout the palate. Once the wine opens up the fruit is rich and bright but never over the top and bombastic. This Cabernet Sauvignon is both another solid effort from Del Carlo Winery as well as a fine example of Dry Creek. I for one plan to keep my eye on their future releases and I recommend that you do too.

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Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Lang Wines – 2006 Amador County Barbera

Posted by Gabe on January 25, 2009

barbdetailI’ve previously looked at Zinfandel and Syrah from Amador County’s Lang Wines. Both of those proved to be excellent examples of the varietal and good values to boot. Today I’ll look at their Barbera. This varietal is of course a native of Italy. More recently it’s been showing up in California with mixed results.

The 2006 Lang Wines Barbera was sourced from Amador County. The wine was aged in Hungarian Oak. The production of this wine was limited and it sells through their website for $216 per case which works out to $18 per bottle.

I found this wine to be a bit closed up at first and I would definitely recommend decanting this selection for 1-2 hours if you’re drinking it in the short term. Once it had opened up both the nose and the palate are loaded with a ton of dark fruit, particularly black cherry, which is prominent throughout. Those characteristics are joined by a fair amount of pepper, nutmeg and other more subtle spice notes such as vanilla. All of these come into play in the finish along with light mineral notes and a hint of black tea. Firm tannins and good acidity provide the framework for this wine.

What I like best about this wine is that it’s undeniably built to pair up with food. Aged cheeses would work perfectly. For $18 a bottle this is a fine example of what can be achieved with Barbera in California.

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Posted in Barbera, Wine | 1 Comment »

Don Valentin Bianchi Lacrado 2005

Posted by Gabe on January 21, 2009

Over the last year I’ve revisited the wines of Valentin Bianchi on several dvoccasions. There are a couple of reasons for that. For one, Argentine wines are of particular interest to me.  Additionally I have found the Valentin Bianchi wines to be well made and good values across different tiers and price levels. Today I’ll look at one of their blends.

The 2005 Don Valentin Bianchi Lacrado is a composed of Cabernet Sauvignon (34%), Malbec (33%), and Merlot (33%). This offering sees no wood and is aged completely in stainless steel, then filtered and bottled. The suggested retail price for this wine is $11.99.

I found the nose of this wine to be exceedingly fragrant. Plum, anise and subtle lavender notes amomgst the most prominent characteristics. While this wine is slightly tight out of the bottle, it opens up quickly. 30 minutes in the decanter really does the trick.  The palate of this blend mixes in an impressive smoothness for it’s price range with some rustic charm that brings to mind old world field blends. Berry characteristics abound along with some light coffee notes on the finish as well as  earth and pepper spice. It’s a rich, mouth-filling wine, offering plenty of drinking pleasure. This will match nicely with grilled meats. Chorizo comes to mind as a perfect accompaniment. Aged, better, Parmesan cheese would work nicely as well.

This is a wine made to drink in it’s youth. It’s priced to be affordable everyday. Another solid value from Valentin Bianchi.

Imported by Quintessential Wines

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Posted in Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Wine | 2 Comments »

Ravenswood – 3 Sonoma County Wines

Posted by Gabe on January 20, 2009

county_pic1Intent is something that I always consider when tasting wine. What was the producer looking to do when they created the offerings in question? All wines are certainly not created equally and they should be looked at through the lens of their purpose. With that said today I’m looking at three releases from Ravensood in Sonoma. They’re best known for Zinfandel of course. The bevy of selections they offer in that category ranges from single vineyard offerings to selections made from fruit sourced state wide. The selections I’m covering today are part of their County series.

First up is the 2006 Sonoma County Chardonnay. This wine is 97% Chardonnay and 3% Muscat. It was aged for 12 months in French oak, 40% of it was new. 25,000 cases of this wine were produced and the suggested retail price is $15.

The nose of this Chardonnay is quite expressive, showing pineapple, vanilla, hazelnut and hints of spice.The palate is loaded with apple and pear notes along with an underlying touch of citrus peel. The finish features apple pie crust notes, lots of nutmeg, clove, allspice and a touch of creamy butter and toast. This is a clean, crisp wine with good acidity and nice balance. It shows fine varietal character and is well proportioned.

The 2006 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon is 95% varietal, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Merlot. This offering spent 22 months in French oak, 30% of it new. 14,000 cases of this Cabernet were produced and the suggested retail price is $15.

A touch of eucalyptus and cassis underscore a nose filled with rich berry fruit aromas. The palate is filled with a solid core of many of those same berry fruit elements. Black and red cherry notes dominate and are accompanied by vanilla spice notes. Copious black tea, earth, bramble, allspice, and star anise emerge and star in the finish which is more than lengthy enough for the price range of this wine. This wine has firm but approachable tannins and good acidity.

The last wine today is the 2005 Sonoma County Syrah. This wine is 87% Syrah, 5% Grenache, 5% Carignane, and 3% Viognier. The wine spent between 20 and 24 months in French oak, 30% of it new. 11,000 cases of this wine were produced and the suggested retail price is $15.

Plum and boysenberry notes dominate the nose of this Syrah along with lighter but present cedar and vanilla notes. Berry fruit is accompanied by black tea, white pepper  and dusty baker’s chocolate throughout the palate. Bramble, continued berry fruit along with earth and spice notes make up a lingering finish. This wine has more in common style-wise with the of world Syrah than most new world Syrah.

What I like about these three wines from Ravenswood is that they each provide good varietal character as well as balance and proportion. They’re well made wines that sell for a reasonable price. While the suggested retail price for each of these is $15, they are often available for closer to $11. For that price these are fine for everyday drinking. The Cabernet Sauvignon seems to have the legs for some aging. It should improve in the short term and drink well for at least 5 or 6 years after that. A pretty good achievement for an everyday, widely available wine.

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Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Syrah/Shiraz, Wine | 1 Comment » !!!

Posted by Gabe on January 19, 2009

In addition to the wine reviews I write here at Gabe’s View, I am now the contributing Wine Reviewer on a go forward basis for The first couple of reviews are already posted as I type this. It’s my sincere hope that all the readers of this blog will take a look at what I write for Bullz-Eye as well as the all the vast cornucopia of other content they offer.

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Dry Creek Vineyard – 2007 Sonoma County Fumé Blanc

Posted by Gabe on January 16, 2009

2007_fume_blanc_lbl_xlgToday I’ll look at the third Sauvignon Blanc from Dry Creek Vineyard. This is perhaps the varietal they are best known for. While the previous selections I looked at where single vineyard offerings, this is their county appellation, widely available, take on Sauvignon Blanc.

The 2007 Fumé Blanc is made from Sonoma County fruit. This wine is 100% varietal. This offering was fermented in stainless steel. Just less than 30,000 cases of this wine were produced and the suggested retail price is $14.50

Citrus peel emerges on the nose along with stone fruit and light but noticeable grass notes. The palate of this Sauvignon Blanc is rich and mouth-filling with a host of citrus, gooseberry and kiwi throughout. The finish is generous in length and loaded with continued citrus as well as tropical fruit notes. Mineral and spice notes also emerge and linger to the very last. This wine has excellent acidity and good balance. It’ll work well as an aperitif or paired with a wide range of lighter cuisine.

The lasting impression from this particular wine is of a Sauvignon Blanc that far outshines its price tag. There are countless Sauvignon Blanc’s in this price range. Few of them offer the amount of rich fruit, complexity, quality and overall pleasurable drinking experience that this fine example from Dry Creek Vineyard does. What I often find lacking in other Sauvignon Blanc’s in this neighborhood is that they can be out of whack. Either too much acidity or leaning too far towards the citrus or the grassy side. Thankfully this one has none of those issues. With close to 30,000 cases produced this one is going to be easy to find and likely for closer to $12.

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Posted in Sauvignon Blanc, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Lionheart Wines – 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Posted by Gabe on January 14, 2009

lhpn1The third and final wine from Lionheart Wines I’m looking at right know is a Pinot Noir. I’ve mentioned many times on this blog that I’m pretty finicky about this varietal. The trouble is that there are a lot of over manipulated Pinot’s, especially in California. So, while it’s one of my favorite grapes, I approach examples I haven’t had with caution. Having had several impressive Lionheart offerings by the time I got to the Pinot I was quite hopeful.

The Lionheart Wines 2007 Pinot Noir was made from Sonoma Coast fruit. 4 separate Pinot Noir Clones were blended and co-fermented. 50 cases of this wine were produced and the suggested retail price is $40.

Loads of black cherry and a hint of licorice fill the nose of this Pinot Noir. Upon taking the first sip of this wine its apparent some time to breathe was needed. An hour in the decanter was very helpful and allowed this offering to blossom nicely. Once it opens up, cherry strawberry, tobacco and copious spice notes are omnipresent through the palate of this wine. The finish features some subtle but emerging earth notes, a bit of sour cherry and lingering black tea elements.

As with the other two Lionheart Wines selections I looked at this Pinot Noir has excellent acidity and balance. They have once again achieved their goal of food friendly wines with this Pinot Noir. While this wine is drinking well now, after some breathing time, my recommendation is to let it sit for another 6-12 months. That time should really help it evolve. I’d expect it to drink well for several years after that. Kudos to Lionheart Wines for making some lovely wines that are true to their respective varietals.

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Lionheart Wines – 2005 Mendocino Syrah

Posted by Gabe on January 10, 2009

The number of noteworthy wines emerging from or made from fruit sourced in Mendocino has been rising. The cooler climate there, relative to lion05syrahlarge portions of other parts of California really lends itself to certain varietals and styles. The second wine I’m looking at from Lionheart Wines is a Mendocino sourced Syrah.

The Lionheart Wines 2005 Syrah was sourced at the Eaglepoint Ranch in Mendocino. This offering is 95% Syrah and the balance Grenache. A tiny 25 cases of this wine were produced and it sells for $35.

Candied plum and leather notes fill the nose of this Syrah. The palate is loaded with rich, dark berry fruit flavors. Alongside those, black pepper, licorice, anise and a touch of bacon fat make their presence known as the layers of this wine emerge. Chocolate covered cherry characteristics come out towards the back of the wine and lead to finish that is filled with earth, blackberry, vanilla, white pepper, allspice and residual bacon fat notes.

What I like best about this wine is that it reminds me more of an old world Rhone style Syrah than it does the average California Syrah. A large part of the reason for that is the excellent acidity and great balance this wine has. As with the White Rhone style blend I looked at from Lionheaert, this Syrah wants to be paired with food. I had it with Pot Roast and found that to be an excellent match. Other red meats would also pair nicely as would stinky and/or well aged cheeses. Another teriffic effort from Lionheart Wines.

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Lionheart Wines – 2007 The Angel’s Share

Posted by Gabe on January 8, 2009

07angelsshareLionheart Wines is another of the Winery’s that stood out to me this fall at the Wine Blogger’s Conference in Santa Rosa. So when the opportunity to taste through a few of their wines presented itself, I jumped at it. Leon C. Glover, the founder and winemaker, started the label to produce food friendly wines. Many winemakers strive for this goal. Since Leon is also a Chef it seems like an even more natural ambition. I’ll look at three of his wines. Up first is a white Rhone style blend.

The 2007 Angel’s Share is made from fruit sourced at Saralee’s Vineyard in Russian River Valley. The blend is 66% Marsanne, 33% Rousanne and 1% Viognier. This wine spent 8 months in close to neutral French oak. A mere 74 cases of this wine were produced and the suggested retail price is $33.

Honeysuckle, lemon, pear and a host of spice notes such as white pepper and nutmeg burst from this wines effusive nose. There is a persistent core of fruit throughout the palate which is lush, soft and mouth filling. Lemon and orchard fruit flavors are the most notable along with some pineapple and guava. The finish is ever so lightly creamy with some hints of nut and vanilla. The wines acidity is excellent and this will be a great compliment to spicy Thai cuisine, as one example. It drinks phenomenally on its own and I wouldn’t hesitate to let this wine stand by itself to impress your guests.

What I like best about this Rhone style blend is that it tastes a lot more complex than its $32 price tag. This boutique wine is a well made gem. While not made for long term aging this offering will improve for a couple of years and hold for a couple after that, certainly longer than the average California white. Well done by Lionheart Wines.

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Posted in Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, White Rhone Blend, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Renard – 2002 & 2003 Dry Creek Syrah

Posted by Gabe on January 7, 2009

While the first wine I looked at from Renard was Grenache, their calling card is Syrah. They make some other Rhone varietals as well. They source their Syrah from several sources. The two wines I’m going to look at today are consecutive vintages they source at Unti Vineyard. In addition to being a grower, Unti is also a producer of fine Dry Creek Valley wines.

The 2003 Renard, Unti Vineyard Syrah is their current release of this offering. 157 cases of this wine were produced in addition to 100 cases of renard1½ size bottles. The respective retail prices are $25 and $14.

I found that an hour in the decanter was the right amount of time for the 2003 Syrah to really open up and express itself. Once it was open aromas of blueberry, leather, tobacco and light anise filled the nose. A solid core of rich berry fruit is persistent throughout the palate along with nutmeg and white pepper spice notes. Sour black cherry, notes lead the finish followed by earth, bramble, black pepper and classic elements of Dry Creek dust.

The 2002 Renard Syrah I tasted was from half bottles. Just something to note as wine tends to age a bit differently depending on the bottle size. I found the 2002 was pretty much ready to go out of the bottle. It opened up a bit more over time but not as dramatically as the 2003. Candied plum, cedar, violets and anise were present in the nose. The palate was loaded with crushed cherry and to a lesser degree leather characteristics. The nose of the 2002 speaks a bit more of new world Syrah than the 2003, however the palate is definitely old world. Blueberries and licorice notes are present in the mid-palate leading to a finish of prominent earth, mineral and black pepper. The 2002 is perfectly ready to drink now.

What I like best about the Renard Syrahs is that they are both well balanced offering featuring fine acidity and a solid core of rich fruit. As with the Grenache they’re perfectly suited for a wide array of foods. While Renard is a smaller producer you won’t necessarily find on your local shelf, they are well worth seeking out if you like well crafted Rhone varietals. These 2 consecutive vintages are a good example of the consistency of their offerings.

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Posted in Syrah/Shiraz, Wine | 1 Comment »


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