Friday, October 31, 2014

Review: $ Monarch Glen Merlot, California, 2007 (***+ = BEST VALUE), 2013 (**+)

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By way of background:  This is Monarch Glen Merlot, California, 2007 and 2013, both finished at a very modest 12.5% alcohol.   The "California" designation on the label tells us nothing about where the grapes originate from in this very large state!


2013 Vintage, first sampling at one year since vintage date, October, 2014:

In the glass: Monarch Glen Merlot is light ruby red, hints of magenta.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows soft red cherry notes.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact bringing a fruity mid-palate fresh merlot grape note with subtle notes of bright red cherries and young blackberries.  Not a lot of stuffing, but the finish is clean and friendly.

In summary: Overall, two plus stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.

Following long decant, notes to come....

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2007 Vintage, first sampling at four years since vintage date, April, 2011:

In the glass: Monarch Glen Merlot is medium red, with some darker elements appearing in the center of the glass. 

On the nose: Poured cool with a brief decant and swirled vigorously, shows shy, sweet cherry and mashed strawberry elements.  From the aroma, seems like this will be simple, fruity but likely clean in its red cherry and plum flavors.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact a somewhat deeper, more insistent mid-palate delivery of simple, but bold fruit.  Less plums and more rich blackberry.  Tannins and acids play back-up roles to the fruit, but still a nice balance overall in this mid-weight, ready-to-sip merlot.  The finish is short, straightforward, but does not cloy and is pleasingly clean and refreshing.

In summary: Overall, just touches three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, making this a best value at its entry-level price.

Following long decant, six hours in wide-bottomed  decanter: The nose has gone shy, almost dissipated entirely. The palate remains rich and poignant, perfume wrapping around deep fruit.  Manages a plus on top of its three stars for this complex, pleasant balance. And even longer decant, two days kept cool in partially filled bottle:Tangy red ink on the nose.  That tangy ink becomes an element on the palate too, bringing a perfumed red berry along.  Nice.
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Updated review, over a year later,  June, 2012:  Still medium burgundy in the glass.  On the nose, deep strawberry shows some oxidization.  The palate remains rich and round.  It is at its peak, just leaning over into middle-age.   Still solid and tasty, however.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: $$ Burke Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, California, 2009 (****) and 2013 (***) = BEST VALUE for 2009

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By way of background: California is one of the world's favorite sources for cabernet sauvignon, a well recognized red grape with tough skins and the ability to create serious, ageworthy wines.  This cabernet sauvignon hails from a winery in the Central Coast region, Saddlehorn Cellars of San Martin, CA, but its "California" designation grapes do not carry a more definitive region.  California is a big state, after all.

Review of newer vintage, 2013 : This is Burke Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, California, 2013, finished at 13.5% alcohol and sampled one year from vintage date, in October, 2014.

In the glass: Ruby red, once again light for a cabernet sauvignon.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows shy fruit, with an odd, bright, almost swimming pool element - but swimming pool in the nicest sense.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are showing light, bright blackberry fruit with a quick, clean finish.

In summary: As in the past, this rates two plus stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale without a decant.  I'll need to give it a decant again and see how lose it gets to its surprising four star end point in the earlier vintage.

Following 2.5 hour decant:  Still a shy nose.  Soft and furry palate, rich and pleasing.  This, once again, has really opened up with a decant.  Moves to an easy three stars.

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Initial review, 2009 vintage : This is Burke Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, California, 2009, finished at 13.5% alcohol.

In the glass: Medium red, somewhat pale in contrast to much California cabernet sauvignon.

On the nose: Poured cool with a brief decant and swirled vigorously, shows simple, shy plums.  From the aroma, seems like this will be modest and simple on the palate, though perhaps round and friendly.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact more aromatic, perfumed and tangy than I expected.  There is bright blackberry here, with bright hints of red berries.  Nice fruit in the middle is met with light tannins but a pretty big sweet acid hit at the end of the sip.  It would like some gravy to cut the brightness.

In summary: Overall, two stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with a big plus for its solid fruit in the middle of the sip.

Following long decant, three hours in decanter at room temperature:  The plums on the nose have a touch of sweetness and depth now. Excellent fruit in the mid-palate, ripe blackberries and soft red currants.  Excellent balance, sweet fruit and gentle, enveloping acids.  Jumps up to three stars, with a plus for its balanced, friendly tone.  This one definitely wanted the decanting at two years from vintage date, and may settle in equally well with three or four years in bottle.  Becomes a good value with the extra decanting time.
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Updated review, over a year later,  July, 2012:  Color is still medium red and the aroma is still simple, of shy plums.  On the palate, this is now consistent with the long-decanted version of the earlier-opened bottle.  Nice sweetness, depth, aromatic layers.  Just touches fourth star, and becomes a best value now three years from vintage date. 

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Review: ***+ $$ Sanderson Ranch Merlot, California, 2013 = GOOD VALUE

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Original tasting and review : This is Sanderson Ranch Merlot, California, 2013, finished at 13% alcohol and first sampled one year from vintage date, in October, 2014.

In the glass: Light ruby red.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows soft, violet fruit, creamy in style.  From the aroma, seems like this will be easy going and flavorful in its fruit.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact rich and furry fruit that fills your mouth - not sweet, but creamy and purple.  Think grape creamsicle.  Finish shows light acids, some friendly, lingering fruit and little in the way of tannins.  This one wants to be enjoyed young.

In summary: Overall, rates and easy three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale and just manages to garner a plus.  Good value.

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Sanderson Ranch Merlot.

(c) Copyright 2014 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review: *** $ Matthew Iaconis Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, Margaret River, Australia, 2013 = BEST VALUE

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Original tasting and review : This is Matthew Iaconis Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, Margaret River, Australia, 2013, finished at 12.5% alcohol and first sampled one year from vintage date, in October, 2014.

In the glass: Clear, light golden and vanilla highlights.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows grasses and soft fruit.  From the aroma, seems like this will be light, sleek and fruity.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact as expected, with a sweet, fresh light grass element blending with a sleeker mid-palate fruit.  You can pick up both varietals of the blend easily.

In summary: Overall, rates three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, making this a best value.

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for bargain sauvignon blanc and semillon.

(c) Copyright 2014 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: *** $$ Fair Oaks Ranch Zinfandel Reserve, California, 2005 and 2012

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By way of background: This is Fair Oaks Ranch Zinfandel Reserve, California, 2005, finished at 12.5% alcohol.

Original review of 2012 vintage, October, 2014:  Medium deep ruby.  Nose is shy, with some sweet fruit, hiding in the background.  Soft, light red sip, with clean cinnabon elements.  Light red berries start to peak, but give way quickly to a softer, spiced ripe blackberry.  Clean moderate finish, with soft tannins and very light acids.  Nice experience in a gentle and genteel red.

Initial review, December, 2010, of 2005 vintage:  
In the glass: Fair Oaks Ranch Zinfandel shows as medium burgundy in the glass, moving to just a hint of brick at the edge.  With five years of age, the light coloring change at the perimeter is to be expected.

On the nose: Poured cool with a brief decant and swirled vigorously, this Lodi zin is quite shy on the nose, reflective of its genteel alcohol level.  Primary notes are light red currants with strawberry wisps. 

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are a very subtle, sweet mineral impact on the mid-palate - almost more of a whisper than a taste.  That said, the minerality balances nicely with the subtle berries, though the impact is more of a gentle pinot noir than a roaring California zin.  Lightly sweet finish ends up clean and crisp.

In summary: Overall, pleasant enough experience in the category of light red wines, though atypical of the varietal. Rates two stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with a plus for its easy-going nature.  I would suggest drinking up bottles soon, and not counting on benefit with additional years in the bottle.

Following long decant, stored cool in partially-filled bottle under vacuum for three days: Nose now adds a tiny bit of primary plum.  On the palate, a touch of tobacco comes in with a few wisps of tannins too, creating a bit of surround sound on the still-definitely-light style.   I'm going to leave it for even a bit more air, though, as I believe this is moving in a healthy direction, possibly towards three stars.

With an extremely long decant, one more day kept cool in partially-filled bottle without vacuum: The nose has pretty much disappeared, and the palate has pretty much fallen apart.  Too much air time for this gentle lady.
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Updated review, almost a year later, October, 2011:  Consistent color and aroma.  The minerality is solid and distinctive in this light-bodied zinfandel.  Just touches three stars now.  Following long decant, three days kept cool in partially filled bottle: Nose and palate held up well to the air.  Lost a bit of its pleasant minerality.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review: *** $ Geja's (Gejas) Private Reserve Big Bold Red, California, 2007, 2012 (BEST VALUE)

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By way of background: This is a fairly generic sounding red wine with no descriptions about types of grapes or locations of the vineyards, other than the broad expanse of "California".  Following a sampling of the 2007 vintage in 2011, I sampled the 2012 vintage in 2014.

Initial review of 2012 vintage, October, 2014:  Deep red brick in the glass.  At room temperature, shows a deep and husky plum.  Round, rich and plumy on the palate too, with blue fruit aromatics that bring me back to the review of the 2007 version.  Consistent three star rating.

Initial review, April, 2011: This is Geja's (Gejas) Private Reserve Big Bold Red, California, 2007, finished at 13.5% alcohol.  Don't let the fancy name fool you.  "Private" and "reserve" have no specific meaning in California, and this wine contains no information about its genesis or heritage.  It is made by Baya Cellars in Morgan Hill, California.

In the glass: Medium deep red with hints of brick at the edges. 

On the nose: Poured cool with a brief decant and swirled vigorously, shows shy light purple aromas with a touch of funk.   From the aroma, seems like this will be somewhat dry, perhaps thin.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact much sweeter and rounder than I anticipated.  Brings tangy blueberries forward to the middle of your mouth.  These are surrounded by some vanilla oak.  Simple flavors, but pleasant.  The finish is fast, but clean.

In summary: Overall, rates three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, making it a best value at its bargain price.

Following long decant:  Full day kept cool in partially-filled bottle... Funk is gone from the nose now, which remains shy but is clean and fresh.  Still simple, light blueberry on the palate.  Held together well.

(c) Copyright 2011, 2014 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  (If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine or Yahoo! Associated Content, chances are it is a copyright violation.)  

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