Gabe's View

Wine: Reviews, Thoughts & Culture

Archive for January, 2012

Fisheye Winery – 2011 Pinot Grigio / 2011 Shiraz

Posted by Gabe on January 25, 2012

I’m regularly on the hunt for everyday wines. Certainly tasting and writing about wines in other categories is of interest as well. But when I taste something that’s bargain priced, which I can recommend, it hits a particular sweet spot for me. For a long time now our shelves have been loaded with low priced wines from Australia; some of them hit the spot, but a large number of them are indistinguishable from one another. Today I’ll look at two well priced Australian offerings that set themselves apart in a positive way.

First up is the Fisheye Winery 2011 Pinot Grigio. The fruit for this offering was sourced in South Eastern Australia. 360,000 cases of this wine were produced. It’s available in 750 ml and 1.5 L bottles as well as 3 liter boxed wine Casks. They’re priced respectively at $7, $12 and $18. Ginger and peach aromas jump from the glass with conviction. Lychee fruit, apricots and continued peach characteristics are prominent throughout the palate. Lemon zest, white pepper and coriander emerge on the finish which has fair length. This Pinot Grigio is fresh, vibrant and loaded with flavorful bright fruits. This is a great choice as a party wine. It pairs well with light appetizers and also works nicely as a welcome wine or aperitif. The 3 Liter Box works out to about $4 a bottle. If for some reason your party guests don’t finish it these modern versions of boxed wine will drink well for 30 days after opening.

The Fisheye Winery 2011 Shiraz was also produced from fruit sourced in South Eastern Australia. 115,000 cases of this Shiraz were produced and it’s available nationally. It’s also available in 750ml ($7), 1.5L ($12) bottles and 3L ($18) bag in a box style casks. Black raspberry and blueberry aromas are joined by vanilla bean on the nose of this Shiraz. Black cherry, blackberry, clove and cinnamon flavors are all present throughout the palate. Copious amounts of juicy black and red plum appear on the finish which has a hint of Kirsch liqueur. This is a straight forward, fruity Shiraz that’s also proportionate and very food friendly. As with the Pinot Grigio I believe the 3L Box is a particularly good value for a party, or everyday drinking that won’t bust your budget.

When I taste wines made in large quantities, that are widely available and well priced I’m looking for particular attributes. First and foremost of course they should be enjoyable wines to quaff. They should also have a taste profile that promises wide appeal. These selections from Fisheye hit the mark in those areas. If you haven’t tried any of the newer versions of quality and eco-friendly boxed wines that have become readily available the last few years, the Fisheye wines are a fine place to start.

Posted in Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Syrah/Shiraz | Leave a Comment »

Michael David Winery – 2010 Icognito White / 2009 Earthquake Cabernet Sauvignon

Posted by Gabe on January 17, 2012

Michael David Winery makes a wide array of offerings from fruit sourced in their native region of Lodi California. Their focus is the production of engaging, fruit forward wines loaded with flavor and curb appeal. The offerings the make are widely available across the country at a cross section of budget friendly prices. Today I’ll look at two of their current release offerings.

The Michael David Winery 2010 Incognito White was produced using fruit sourced in the Lodi California Appellation. This wine is a blend of Viognier (63%), Chardonnay (21%),Muscat (7%), Sauvignon Blanc (5%) and Roussanne (4%). Incognito White was fermented and aged in stainless steel; this offering had no oak contact. The suggested retail price for this widely available wine is $18.

This white blend is intensely aromatic with Lychee fruit, apricot and white peach aromas all bursting from the glass in a delightful mélange. The palate is studded with honeydew melon, stone fruits and ripe Bartlett as well as Anjou pear flavors. White pepper and zesty lemon cream flavors emerge on the finish which has nice length. This wine has terrific acidity and nice balance. It works equally well as a stand alone beverage or paired with appetizers and cheeses. This wine is loaded with compelling and engaging upfront fruit flavors as well as fine layers of complexity. Incognito White which is my favorite amongst the Michael David Winery whites is a standout value.

The Michael David Winery 2009 Earthquake Cabernet Sauvignon was produced utilizing Lodi fruit. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon this wine has some Petite Sirah blended in. After fermentation this wine was aged over 19 months in French oak. Earthquake Cabernet Sauvignon is sold nationally and has a suggested retail price of $26.

This Cabernet has a big and heady nose loaded with blackberry, plum and anise aromas. The plum theme continues through the palate where both black and red make their presence known along with blackberry and lots of cherry. Dark chocolate, roasted espresso and bits of earth emerge on the finish which has above average length for the category. The Petite Sirah blended in really provides some heft and structure to the bottom end. They didn’t name this tier of wines “Earthquake” without cause. By and large the offerings in this category are big and beefy. This Cabernet Sauvignon is no exception; it’s a bold and full flavored wine ready to be paired with a substantial meal.

The Michael David Wines do a terrific job of filling their niche. These are accessible wines both stylistically and by retail availability. They’re big and upfront wines studded with bold fruit flavors. However unlike some of their competitors the Michael David Wines continue to show good depth and complexity for the category. These are excellent party wines.

Posted in Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Viognier, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Matrix Winery – 2009 Bacigalupi Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir

Posted by Gabe on January 9, 2012

Matrix Winery located on Westside Road in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma makes wine from a number of different varietals. Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah are each part of their portfolio. First and foremost however they’re a Pinot Noir House. They make a host of small lot, single vineyard efforts and Cuvee’s from fruit sourced at local vineyards within their own appellation. Today I’ll look at one of their reserve tier wines from the famed Bacigalupi Vineyard.

The Matrix Winery 2009 Bacigalupi Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir is a single vineyard effort produced exclusively from fruit sourced at the namesake vineyard. Bacigalupi Vineyard was planted in 1995 and 2003 to the 667 and Wadensville Clones. After hand harvesting the grapes were fermented in small open top vessels utilizing native yeasts. This Pinot Noir spent 18 months aging in French oak. It was bottled unfined. A mere 124 cases of this offering were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $52.

Aromas of cherry and earth abound on the nose of this 2009 Pinot Noir. The palate is rich, deeply layered and loaded with complex flavors. Fresh cherry and raspberry pie characteristics dominate with hints of jammy fruit representing secondary flavors. Rhubarb, continued raspberry and spice in the form of black pepper, nutmeg and clove all emerge on the finish. This wine has excellent length, firm structure and racy acidity. While its tasty on it’s own I would recommend pairing this with roasted meats, mushroom based dishes or funky, full flavored cheeses. If you have the patience to cellar this Pinot it’ll age gracefully for the next 8 or so years. This is a wonderful example of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.

Posted in Pinot Noir, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Gnarly Head – 2010 Authentic Red

Posted by Gabe on January 3, 2012

Their Old Vine Zin remains the best known selection from Gnarly Head. But every now and again they expand their portfolio. The latest addition is Authentic Red and eventually it may well become the most popular of the Gnarly Head wines. Each of their selections is crafted with crowd appeal in mind. These are wines that are widely available throughout the country and well priced. Today I’ll see how Authentic Red stacks up.

The Gnarly Head 2010 Authentic Red was produced using fruit sourced in Lodi California. This offering is a blend of Zinfandel (50%), Merlot (20%), Cabernet Sauvignon (17%), Petite Sirah (10%) and Syrah (3%). The fruit was hand picked and de-stemmed prior to being pressed. Fermentation took place over a nine day period. 25,000 cases of this wine were produced in 2010 and it has a suggested retail price of $11.99.

This blend leads with a big jam-laden nose that’s studded with dark and brooding fruit aromas as well as bits of eucalyptus and vanilla. Cherry and blackberry flavors are prominent throughout the palate as well as plenty of baker’s spices and black pepper. Sour Cherry and wisps of dark chocolate emerge on the finish which has good length for its category. Fine acidity keeps things in check.

What I like most about this wine is its balance. While it features bold, upfront fruits it maintains it’s heartiness through the palate and a more than reasonable finish. This wine is fruity and fun and just dying to be paired with food. It’ll work best when matched with something substantial and bold. The deep, rich stews of winter and slow cooked BBQ dishes immediately come to mind. There are a lot of options in the category of Red California Blends around $10. Authentic Red is one of the better ones out there. Some of the others can be over the top and sickly sweet. While this is a bold wine, it’s never goes too far and it’s a selection you won’t have trouble finishing a bottle of. It continues the Gnarly Head tradition of fun wines that are solid values which are also easy to find. If you’re looking for an everyday or house red to purchase by the case, Authentic Red is a solid choice.

Posted in Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Syrah/Shiraz, Wine, Zinfandel | Leave a Comment »


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