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
Color: 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.
A new bottling I saw at Trader Joe’s last week. I’m drinking this with some pulled pork.
Caretaker Cabernet Sauvignon (2011) Paso Robles, California – $12
Color: garnet-ruby red.
Aroma: lots of red fruit – cranberry, cherry, red currant.
Taste: definitely on the red fruit side – loads and loads of cherry, with some kirsch (cherry brandy) notes as well. Not terribly tannic, but has a little black pepper towards the finish. This develops some more spice and earth notes, including anise and tea, as it opens up.
A good pairing choice, as it turns out. This is softer and more complicated than the usual California Cab fruit-bomb, and bears looking in to. I’ll buy a few more bottles to cellar for a 2-3 years.
I’ll be catching up on some tasting notes that I scribbled down in the midst of Christmas parties this week. First up, a limited-production Pinot Grigio from California’s Central Coast.
Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Pinot Grigio (2012) Paso Robles, California – $8
Color: relatively dark for a Pinot Grigio, with a straw-yellow complexion.
Aroma: apricot and honeysuckle; the cooler climate in Paso is more like the Alsace or Austria than it is sunny Italy, so the fruit notes exhibit less citrus and more stone fruit.
Taste: pleasant; this still has good acidity if you’re looking for a thirst-quencher, but it also has a smoky richness towards the back of the tongue.
This style won’t suit everyone; if you’re looking for lemony Pinot Grigio, then skip this. But I think this would make a nice foil for a rotisserie chicken or Pad Thai.