08 Feb 2010
Many people associate Australian wine with a little yellow kangaroo. While this little yellow kangaroo has done wonders for wine promulgation, it has also caused some negative backlash into the wine world. Australian wine has garnered a reputation for being big, fruity, and cheap, affordable, inexpensive. The price point has been fantastic for introducing people to the world of wine but it has also set the expectation that wine pricing should be under $10 and red wine = massive fruit bomb! The low price point (and the current economic time) has shook the California wine business like a 7.2 earthquake. Wine is way more than the little yellow kangaroo. Australia produces quality wine in many price points.
Today’s review is from Australia’s #1 export…no not Paul Hogan…a bolder, more alcoholic import…no, not Mel Gibson either! Today we review Australia’s #1 wine export, Jacob’s Creek. If you’re familiar with wine, no doubt you’ve seen and tried Jacob’s Creek. With a history dating to the 1850’s Jacob’s Creek produces over 1.1 million cases of wine per year. The vineyards in Southern Australia are some of the oldest and highest quality on the continent.
Jacob’s Creek offers four labels in a variety of price points and focus:
- Jacob’s Creek (main label): A variety of two grape blends and single varietal offerings ranging from $5-$10
- Jacob’s Creek Reserve: A mid price label with a range of white (Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose) and red (Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir) $10-$15
- Jacob’s Creek Heritage: Moderate price label with a range including Shiraz, Shiraz-Cab, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, and Chardonnay $20-$30
- Jacob’s Creek Three Vines: Contemporary label exploring non-traditional blends $8-$15
Reviewed in the video: 2007 Chardonnay, 2006 Shiraz, 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Reserve label
2007 Reserve Chardonnay
- The Stuff: 100% reserve block Chardonnay; 60% barrel fermentation; partial malolactic fermentation; 13.5% ABV
- The Swirl: Yellow gold tone with hints of green apple. Beer-like color.
- The Sniff: Bright acidity and lemon qualities with moderate hints of green grape and oak
- The Sip: Two dimensional wine with mellow front end consisting of meaty vanilla and pear and a bright acidic lemon peel back end. The flavor drops off quickly and leaves a moderate bitterness in the mouth.
- The Score: At $12ish I score this wine a 2+ (out of 5), for my tastes there are more complex and robust Chardonnays available for the money
2006 Reserve Shiraz
- The Stuff: 100% reserve block Shiraz; 18 months in oak; 14.3% ABV
- The Swirl: Dark plum inkiness with mild jewel tones toward the edges
- The Sniff: Underwhelming nose with hints of blackberry and/or plum, moderate sprigs of clove and spice
- The Sip: Grape candy licorice on the front end with green twig component on the back end. The wine still feels young and could/should be cellared for a few more years.
- The Score: At $12 this is a pleasant Shiraz offering that scores a low 3.
Other researched scores: Cellar Tracker (2 scores avg 86.5); Cork’d (2 scores avg 87)
2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff: 100% reserve block Cab; 18 months in new and old French oak; 14.2% ABV
- The Swirl: Dark plum with hints of aged rusty brown toward the edges
- The Sniff: Mellow aromas of sweet blackberry and a whiff of vanilla and cocoa
- The Sip: Mild front end with a wash of chocolate and berry; back end of bitter cassis and pepper spice. Slightly off balanced in flavor
- The Score: At $12ish can score this a solid 3 and makes the re-buy list. Paired well with our hearty beef stew.
Other researched scores: Cellar Tracker (1 score at 78); Cork’d (2 scores avg 85)
Have you had Jacob’s Creek? What is your experience with some of their other labels?
In the video I mentioned the Washington Redskins and my annual disappointment. What team do you cheer for? How do you cope with the let down?
*This wine was provided as an industry sample with the intent to review
01 Feb 2010
Today’s video review is unlike anything you’ve ever seen in the wine blogging world. Never before has such a unique collaboration occurred. Two reviewers spanning over 3000 miles simultaneously taste the same wines from Kiona Winery (@kionawine on Twitter). You’ll be seduced by the music. You’ll be aroused by the Florida beaches. You’ll be amazed at the wine. The review is wrapped up with a virtual jam session with me on guitar and Randy from @thewinewhore on drums.
I love the line on Kiona’s web site, “You know you’ve got to start a winery when you make more wine than you can drink.”
Kiona more than started a winery, they were part of propelling Washington wine into the mainstream of becoming the second largest producer of wine in the country (second to California). When only a handful of wineries called Washington home, Kiona planted its first grapes in 1975 and produced its first wine in 1980. At that time there were less than 15 wineries in the state (now there are over 650).
Kiona Winery calls the small Red Mountain AVA home. Kiona is home to 1/3 of the planted acres of grapes in the AVA. The 300 acres of Kiona fruit serve as the magic for the 20 wines they produce and grapes for several other Washington wineries. Today’s cross country review is of their Late Harvest Riesling, Dry Riesling and the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon.
2008 Late Harvest Riesling
- The Stuff: 100% Riesling; 10% residual sugar 10% alcohol
- The Swirl: A beautiful peach juice and honey color. Even on the swirl, I get the impression this is going to be like a nice light syrup
- The Sniff: Intoxicating aroma of honey, tropical fruit, and a field of wild flowers
- The Sip: Obviously as a dessert wine this is sweet. It is not overly done and has a nice balance on the back end. Could pair nicely with spicey food. I personally could only experience it in small 2-3 oz pours.
- The Score: I’m a fan, but not a huge fan of this wine (only because I’m not a fan of sweet wines.) If you like dessert wines, you’ll love it. At $10 per 1/2 bottle, I score this a high 3+ (out of 5)
2008 Dry Riesling
- The Stuff: 100% Estate grown 30 year old vines 13% alcohol 100% Stainless Steel
- The Swirl: This dry Riesling has a nice yellow straw and honey color.
- The Sniff: Apples, Pineapples and rose pedals oh my. Very aromatic wine. The sniff gives a hint of carbonation too.
- The Sip: Very nice, slightly sweet but not over the top. Good sipping summer wine or pairing with Asian food, Sushi, or Thai food. The peaches and apples come off the palate. Moderate acidity to make your mouth water. A little aluminum on the back end throws off the balance.
- The Score: At $12-$15 this is a very good Riesling, I score it a 4 (out of 5).
2003 Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff: 85% Cabernet 9% Merlot 6% Cab Franc.
- The Swirl: A dark purple brown color. Good aged looking wine.
- The Sniff: Leather, earth, smoke, and then finally the sour cherry fruit. Nice smelling wine.
- The Sip: This is a good complex wine that offers enough fruit (cherry and plum) with the smokey tobacco flavor. There is some minerality that keeps me from scoring this higher. This is a nicely aged wine that drank very well for 2 days. I found it interresting and offered a variety of flavors. Not huge on tannin but enough acid to eat with smoked beef, and even some hickory smoked salmon with a dark reduction of some sort.
- The Score: At $20 retail, this wine easily gets a 4 from me. If you find it for under $15, buy more than one bottle.
Kiona is a Washington pioneer and a consistent maker of great wine. This is a label that can ALWAYS be trusted in the store and in the restaurant. Visit their tasting room in Benton City, WA just West of Richland, WA.
31 Jan 2010
Baseball season is quickly approaching. The beginning of another year of great expectations only to be frustrated by June, slightly excited in August and utterly depressed in September. I am a Mariner fan. We are the only team who can win 116 games in a season and not make it past the first round in the playoffs. We are the only team who trades away all star after all star. Ahhh…I digress.
While the Mariners consistently field a team of high priced underachievers, I’m a fan of Billy Beane ball. Billy is great at fielding a team of underpaid over achievers. My goal, in the wine world, is to field a quality under $10 team. In today’s economic conditions $10 is the new $20, but with all the inventory and variety on the shelves, not all labels can be trusted. You don’t want to spend your money for a Richie Sexson only to devote four seasons of wasted expectations…again I digress.
In previous episodes I’ve found a starting Sauvignon Blanc from Arbor Crest and am thinking of a bringing the Dancing Bull Zinfandel up from Triple A.
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pinot Noir
- Syrah / Shiraz
- Bordeaux Blend
- Sauvignon Blanc / Pinot Gris
- In the bullpen a nice alternate red and white (Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Mourvedre, Chenin Blanc, Gewürztraminer, etc).
Below is this trip to the minors to scout new members for the team. What suggestions do you have? Share below some of your wines who are performing well and deserve a chance to be called up to the “Field of Dreams.”
Tonight we are watching the work out and batting practice of a 2007 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 Bogle Petit Sirah, 2006 Renwood Zinfandel.
2007 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff: 95% Cabernet Sauvignon 5% Merlot, Cab Franc, Syrah; Barrel aged for 16 months (1/3 new oak)
- The Swirl: Deep plum with watery edges
- The Sniff: Aromatically challenged for fruit. Did display characteristics of vanilla, cocoa, and woodiness
- The Sip: Overall a very smooth with that is tight on flavor. The vanilla and cocoa presents itself with a moderate dose of blueberry fruit. Very little back end structure.
- The Score: Considering the $8.88 price I would score this wine a solid 3. There is nothing offensive about the wine and the smooth vanilla, cocoa combination could be a hit with a lot of people. Serious wine drinkers will be disappointed with the lack of character and structure.
This wine will be sent to AAA ball for potential call up if I’m unable to find a starting Cabernet Sauvignon.
2007 Bogle Petite Sirah
- The Stuff: 100% Petite Sirah
- The Swirl: Very very dark plum, completely opaque, nice legs indicating some stronger residual sugar
- The Sniff: Once again a restrained aroma profile. Some dark cherry, dark blackberry fruit and a hint of spice trying to come through
- The Sip: Wholly wow, this is a big wine. There is some decent fruit on the front end which is immediately attacked by the strong tannin on the back end. This wine needs food! I look forward to pairing it with some BBQ, spicy pork, or a steak.
- The Score: At only $10 this is a big wine with some big back end structure that deserves a 3+. I would definitely consider this for a future purchase to pair with food. NOT A SIPPING WINE.
This wine makes the team as a pinch hitter. Petite Sirah is not your mainstream varietal but this one showed some serious power to bring in during the late innings of a close game.
2006 Renwood Zinfandel
- The Stuff: 100% Zinfandel
- The Swirl: Very light in color moderate brownish plum color. Can see through glass very translucent
- The Sniff: Not much on the nose other than hints of cherry, vanilla and leather spice
- The Sip: Very watery and non-substantive in flavor. A hint of smoke and spice as it lingers in the mouth. In my opinion a very underwhelming wine.
- The Score: At $9 I would not buy this wine again and score it a 2 (out of 5).
The wine definitely is sent back to single A ball to work on its structure and character.
The $10 quest continues. So far, I think I’ve sound a staring Sauvingon Blanc, and two potentials who are in AAA (Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon and the Dancing Bull Zinfandel). Tonight’s Petite Sirah has made the team as a pinch hitter!
Please leave your comments and suggestions below!
28 Jan 2010
Climate. Soil. Fruit. Walla Walla is home to this trifecta of wine perfection. Trio Vintners is a trio of wine makers coming together with a common purpose of pursuing their passion, pursuing continued education(in Enology and Viticulture) and emphasizing the region of Wallula Gap. The result is wine with structure, character, and flavor (a trio of perfection).
I received a trio of wines from Trio Vintners, but I chose to save the third (a red blend) for another review with other quality Washington Rhone style blends. Wine makers Steve Michener, Denise Slattery, and Tim Boushey each has their hand in the process from sourcing to marketing. The trio works their magic with only 1200 cases per year of Riesling, Rhone Blend, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Carménère, Tempranillo, Mourvedre, and Syrah. The prices range from $16 – $30 respectively.
Before I get into the NectarView, I want to provide a little background on these two grapes for those who have yet to experience their joys.
History buffs vary on Carménère’s past but most point to the Bordeaux region of France as its main original stomping grounds. One of the original six Bordeaux blend grapes, Carménère is now rarely found in France. Benefiting from the long growing season for optimal ripening, Carménère’s prominence is in Chile. American Carménère is grown in Walla Walla and regions of California. Mostly used as a blending grape to soften a wine and add an earthy fruit. The pure varietal will showcase a nice smoky cherry that is crimson in color and very smooth in flavor.
Spain’s noble grape, Tempranillo is often bottled with Granache or Syrah. Tempranillo is very susceptible to weather changes and imparts qualities of the soil. Blending with Granache or Syrah tends to add balance and acidity. Tempranillo benefits from hot days and cool nights and tends to have plum, leather, vanilla and herb flavors.
2007 Carménère Walla Walla Valley
- The Stuff: 95% Single vineyard Carménère; 5% Single vineyard Sangiovese, from Walla Walla and Yakima Valley respectively. Only 46 cases produced.
- The Swirl: Beautiful dark Garnet jewel tones
- The Sniff: Mild aromas of cherry, vanilla and my wife said, “Powell’s Book Store in Portland” – I think she was referring to a slight earthiness
- The Sip: Very nice pairing with our Spanish chili. The wine is mild on the front end, but opens up well to a nice fruit. The balance is rounded off with some mild acidity and a little tartness.
- The Score: At $28 retail, I score this wine a 3+. This is better than the majority of Carménère that I’ve had. The flavor was balanced but the fruit was mild and the finish was moderate. I really enjoyed the unique varietal. If you like medium bodied wines like Merlot, then you’ll enjoy this.
2007 Tempranillo Walla Walla Valley
- The Stuff: 82% Tempranillo, 9% Carménère, 8% Sangiovese from Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley. Only 75 cases produced.
- The Swirl: Slightly darker than the Tempranillo but still moderately translucent
- The Sniff: First aroma was bright bold red fruit (like a Mike and Ike). After sitting out for an hour or two, the fruit turned to a nice sour cherry, dark chocolate, and a spice I couldn’t quite identify (like an herbal garden or something)
- The Sip: A medium bodied wine that jumps out with a nice cherry and cocoa and vanilla. The sweet acidity and medium tannin make this a nice well rounded offering. The finish lingered for quite some time.
- The Score: At $28 retail, I can score this wine a solid 4. The combination of a beautiful bouquet, balanced fruit, spice, acid and alcohol, and a rounded finish make it a stellar purchase.
*Both wines were provided as industry samples with the intent to review.
22 Jan 2010
You’ve got to love a winery who unashamedly names their Cabernet Penetration, Missionary and Hucking Good! Browsing their selection is not for the faint of heart and their back label will either make you blush or stir you up like a pre-teen school boy in a brisk breeze.
While some stuffy wine folk may turn their nose up at the provocative label, it’s the quality in the bottle that should be judged.
Naked Winery, and their sassy sister Orgasmic Wine Company, are dually based in WA (Wishram) and OR (Hood River) and operate tasting rooms in Hood River and Yakima. Grapes are procured from vineyards in the Willamette, Illinois, Apple Gate, and Columbia Valley regions of Oregon and Washington. Their 21 offering range from $18 – $80 (Tease Riesling to Oh Nebbiolo).
If you are in the mood to “Sip Into Something Naked” stop by either of their tasting rooms for a naked tasting, visit their web site at www.nakedwinery.com and follow them on Twitter @nakedwinery. Naked Wine make great gifts but be careful who you give them to, Gay Rose to a co-worker may be cause for sexual harassment and Foreplay Chardonnay on a date may get you slapped.
2005 Naked Merlot – $20
- The Stuff: Columbia Valley 90% Merlot 10% Cab Franc; 12 months in American and French Oak; 1500 cases
- The Swirl: Nice aged brownish plum color. Beautiful streaky legs from the 14.8% alcohol, mostly opaque
- The Sniff: Very aromatic with scents of raspberry, mild leather, and pepper. The arousal of the nose had me anticipating the explosion in the mouth
- The Sip: Mild initial flavor that opens up into a balanced attack of fruit and spice. The back end is firm with a medium tannic structure – “firm back-end” as the label says.
- The Score: At $20 I can score this a 3+ and is a solid purchase that will not disappoint if given as a gift. This is not your typical novelty wine with a sassy name and no substance.
2007 Naked Pinot Gris – $18
- The Stuff: 100% Pinot Gris; aged 100% Stainless Steel for six months; cold fermentation
- The Swirl: Mild yellow gold straw color with a nice crispness and clarity
- The Sniff: Very erotic crispy pear / apple and a subtle butter toast, the bright citric alcohol rounded out the nose
- The Sip: This is a fruit salad in a glass. Beautifully fruit flavors but not overwhelming. The finish is incredibly long lasting as the buttery flavor and acidity wash across the back of the mouth.
- The Score: At $18, I score this wine a 4. This is one of the better Pinot Gris’ that I’ve enjoyed. Not one dimensional, not too acidic, not too steely. Too much of this and I could end up ‘naked.’
*Both wines were provided as industry samples with the intent to review.