Monthly Archives: March 2014

Robert Hall Syrah

A big bottle from Trader Joe’s – you don’t see a lot of domestic wines there that run more than $15. I’m drinking this with salad and smoked trout.

Robert Hall Syrah (2008) Paso Robles, California – $17

20140331_200539Color: Purple in the center, fading to purplish-red on the rim, and no visible sediment.

Aroma: big black fruit aromas, with some molasses and nutmeg underneath.

Taste: a little more toward the dried and stewed fruit end of the spectrum, with more of that nutmeg and a good dollop of tannin and oak towards the finish. Good acidity, not over-extracted, and 14.5% alcohol, so this is very versatile.

I like this a lot.  It’s varietally correct and balanced, and has a lot of depth. If you’re tired of Australian Shiraz that taste baked and burned, give this a shot. Recommended.



Lion’s Lair Rose

Stopped in at Terry B’s for a quick glass. I saw a South African rosé, and Chad was obliging enough to pour me a glass.  Even though there’s still snow on the ground here, we’re past the Spring Equinox, so I’m declaring rosé season open!

This is made from Rhone grapes (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault), and the climate in Swartland is Rhone-like as well: dry, with lots of stress on the vines. This produces grapes that are thick-skinned and concentrated in flavor. This bottling is from Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyards.

Lion’s Lair Rosé (2013) Swartland, South Africa

Color: bright pink with some copper.

Aroma: rose petals and cranberry. After this warms up, a distinct note of candied apple (what the English called ‘boiled sweet’)

Taste: round and fruity; this is clean and not too acidic. Quite pleasant, and it gets even better as it warms up. This is juicy and has enough body to stand up to a salmon steak or cold pork. $10 a glass, or $36/bottle at restaurant pricing, so I’m guessing about $15-$18 retail – a good price for a top-notch rosé. Recommended.

Comique Revolution White

There are only some cryptic hints on the label as to the grapes – I’m guessing a Rhone blend, possibly with some Chardonnay.

Comique Revolution White (2010) Central Coast, California – $6

20140326_201843Color: brassy yellow, perhaps a tinge of green.

Aroma: I get some floral notes and white peaches, which leads me to believe my White Rhone guess was correct.

Taste: heady and perfumed up front, then a blast of acidity and stone-fruit in the mid-palate and some lingering oak and toast notes on the finish. It’s hard to be sure, but I’m going to say there’s around 25% Chardonnay based on the finish, with the rest Marsanne, Roussane, Grenache Blanc, and maybe some Muscat to produce the initial impression.

It’s interesting, but I don’t think it’s well balanced – the different taste impressions are disjointed. And it doesn’t have enough body for a food wine – oaky Chard lovers might enjoy this as a cocktail hour drink, but I’m going to pass.  Not recommended.


Alvarez de Toledo Godello

I’ve started going to Terry B’s in Dexter, Michigan (just a few miles west of Ann Arbor) 20140318_181813-1because they do house-cured charcuterie and have an excellent wine list.  This is a white from Spain that went well with the sausages and pork terrine that Megan recommended. Godello is one of the white grapes found in Galicia in northwestern Spain – it’s not as famous as Albariño, one of my personal favorites.

Alvarez de Toledo Godello (2012) Bierzo, Spain

20140318_181800Color: rosy-gold

Aroma: crisp with mineral notes

Taste: good fresh fruit, including melon, and lots of minerality. Heavier and less acidic than an Albariño, and more suited to the saltiness of the cured meats. Quite nice.

A good glass – $9 restaurant price, or $36 for the bottle. I was quite pleased with it.

The Ruins Syrah

Another bottle of South African wine I picked up in the last few weeks. This is from Eilandia vineyard in Robertson region, which is limestone basin northeast of Capetown that has similar geology to the Bluegrass country of Kentucky and Tennessee. I’m drinking this with a spicy chicken masala from the slow-cooker.

The Ruins (2010) Robertson, South Africa – $12

Photo0377Color: a dark cherry-red.

Aroma: this has that characteristic South African stinky nose – what some call barnyard, or brettanomyces, or sulfurous. Underneath there are nice notes of sweet plum and cherry.

Taste: more acidity than I was expecting, with berry fruit in the midpalate, and significant minerality on the finish. This definitely needs food.

Unfortunately, this fades out quickly, and even with the food is thin and tart. Not recommended.

Le Versant Viognier

Catching up on some tasting notes from the last week or two – between a bad internet connection at home and some extra hours on the job, I haven’t had enough time to blog!

Viognier is one of my favorite white grapes; it makes a full-bodied wine with loads of aroma and a lively palate, without the heavy oak that goes with Chardonnay. I’m enjoying this with a simple mushroom risotto.

Le Versant Viognier (2012) Pays d’Oc, France – $12

Photo0376Color: medium-gold, with good viscosity.

Aroma: a nice mix of floral perfume and white peaches.

Taste: more on the crisp side than is usual for a varietal Viognier, then a fuller mouthfeel towards the back of the mouth. Flavor notes include peach, apricot, Golden Delicious apple, and apple blossoms.

Decent enough for dinner, but not show-stoppingly good.




Les Morinieres Chinon

Chinon is one of the few places in the Loire Valley that makes red wines – 100% Cabernet Franc, and usually lighter and more fragrant than the Cab Francs grown in Bordeaux. I’m cracking this bottle open before dinner – and hopefully it will carry over to pair up with my pizza. This bottling is produced by Joseph Mellot.

Les Morinieres (2011) Chinon, France – $15

Photo0374Color: brilliant purple-red with a dark center.

Aroma: black pepper, tar, and some dark berry fruit. Not much cedar.

Taste: good pepper on top of the fruit – fuller bodied than most Chinons, with nice length on the finish.  Shows some nice finesse in the midpalate. With has food, this opens up a little more – quite nice.

Recommended – this is a nice example of Chinon, and worthy of having a few bottles in the cellar. One more reason my license plate is CAB FRNC.