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WBW #48: Back to Our Roots

Aug 13, 2008 |  WineBratSF (7) |  Wine Tasting |  3 comments

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 4 years since Lenn Thompson of LennDevours conceived of Wine Blogging Wednesday with some of his cohorts in wine.

For this, the 48th Wine Blogging Wednesday, Lenn asked us to get back to our roots. Our wine roots that is. Since I didn’t want to encourage the consumption of any more Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers or Sutter Home White Zinfandel than necessary, I encouraged my wine blogging posse to think about which wine inspired them to get into wine. What do you drink that strikes a chord? Which wine do you go back to time and time again?

While we all chose different wines to offer as our inspiration, one thing is clear: we know what we love, and we love what we know. Most of the wines tasted were from California, and were full bodied and fruity. The notable exception was brought by our Canadian friends, and was a delicious example of a Chianti Classico.

Still being a student of Old World wines myself, my question is this: are we a product of our environment, or is the environment a product of us? Specifically, do we shape the wines that are offered to our palates, or are our palates shaped to the wine we are offered? This is the question that has been asked throughout the ages: is it nature or nurture? Are we prone to liking something because it's fresh & accessible (nature), or have we been conditioned into liking a style because it's being produced (nurture)? Has the "Sideways effect" colored our palates? You decide!

The top 4 wines that we tasted were:

2005 Felsina Chianti Classico Castelnuova Berardenga

Avg Rating 90
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A nice medium bodied Chianti, with good spicy, followed by notes of smoke & leather. Great for everyday drinking.

2005 David Bruce Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

Avg Rating 90
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This beautiful example of a California Pinot Noir was full bodies & fruity. Clear notes of cherry were followed by lots of spice. This was a crowd pleaser and quickly disappeared off the table!

2005 Martin Family Old Vine Zinfandel, Rattler Rock Russian River Valley

Avg Rating 89
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A wine-school classic example of Dry Creek Valley. This wine was jammy and full of blackberries, but not sweet. A ton of spice shone through the massive fruit, with lots of cinnamon and black fruit.

2003 Amista Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Avg Rating 87
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The Amista Dry Creek Cabernet did not start of tasting like a Cab. The dense & meaty wine shows like a syrah, but finishes with the spice & cocoa of a cab.
Wine Tasting 3 comments

WBW #47: The Letter S

Jul 08, 2008 |  WineBratSF (7) |  Wine Tasting |  0 comments

S is for ... well, it could be for a lot of things, but in this case, S is for the Silly theme for this month’s WBW. Grape Juice, our illustrious hosts for this month, asked us to abandon our serious sides, if we had one, and go back to our childhood where we could color outside the lines and be creative without consequences. This vague theme caused us to have some challenges, but it was an interesting push to get us to try something new. Below you will find a variety of "S" wines, from the region to the vineyard to the varietal, to all three and beyond. Prepare to be Stupefied by the Silly Sheer number of S’s accomplished!

S is for Syrah so brooding and smoky
S is for Steven Kent over bearing and Oaky
S is for Sonoma so diverse and vast
S is for Semillon who kicks chardonnay's ass.

Sobon Estate Amador County SyrahThe most prolific S produced was Syrah, with a total of 3 to start with. Our favorite was a double S, taking home an average 90 points. The 2004 Sobon Estate Amador Syrah (Reviews, Buy) showed a bit hot at first, but after some air time, it really improved. We found raisins, rose petals and spice with dark berries followed by smoke and rich earth. This was a rich syrah that really needs to be decanted to bring out it’s best notes.

The next two are actually triple S’s, with the varital being syrah and the appellation being an S in some form. The 2005 Sierra Vista Sierra Foothills Syrah (Reviews, Buy) was a bit soft, with not a huge amount of depth but some light fruit flavors, and nice earthy characteristics in a lighter bodied syrah. We gave it an average of 87 points. Also given 87 points, we enjoyed the 2005 Santa Barbara Winery Santa Ynez Valley Syrah for its strong berry flavors with a lot of pepper. It finished a bit tart, but was concentrated and classic in a Santa Barbara kind of way.
St. Hallett Barossa Semillon Sauvignon BlancNot to be forgotten, we also had some white S’s hanging out in the woodwork to be judged. Semillon? Sauvignon Blanc? Santa Cruz? Yes! We say yes!

St. Hallett Barossa Semillon Sauvignon Blanc Poachers Blend (Reviews, Buy) was really interesting because with only a smattering of Sauv Blanc, you would expect the Semillon to power through. The opposite was true. We found green grass, lime, tart flavors and a lot of spice coming from the Sauv Blanc with a tinge of that Semillon funkiness. We gave it a collective 86 points.

Not to be outdone, a pure Sauv Blanc got a score of 84 points. The 2005 Silver Birch World Wines Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough (Reviews, Buy) comes in an unusual bottle, that reminds one of a Vox Vodka and other alcoholic beverages. Surprisingly, for a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, there was not a lot of finish. It was pretty much middle of the road, and tasted mixed up, with the requisite mineral and citrus flavors.

Since we had a Semillon mixed in with the Sauvignon Blanc, we added a 2007 Elena Russian River Valley Semillon for comparison. It was not a good idea. RUN! Run very far away! I suspect that it was off, unless you think dirty feet, mildew and wet dog are appropriate flavor profiles in wine. I think our friend Brett is at work here.

Since we were so wrong with the Semillon, it was nice to have an unoaked fruity chardonnay enter the ring, in the form of Tower Brook Santa Barbara Chardonnay (Reviews, Buy). This basic non oaked Chardonnay was well liked at 87 points, but not very exciting. There was a lot of spice, with tropical fruit flavors.

Vin Gris de Cigare Santa Cruz Mountain RoseJust to spice things up, a rose somehow ended up on the table. The Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare Santa Cruz Mountain Rose (Reviews, Buy) was tart with strawberries & citrus bright flavors. We rated it 86 points.

Finally, we had a dark and brooding Zinfandel from Sherrer. The 2005 Sherrer Alexander Valley Sherrer Vineyard Shale Terrace Zinfandel was a nice change from some overblown zins from another valley, showing light fruit like pomegranate, hibiscus and pepper. We gave it 87 points.

This was definitely a challenging taste-off. With our wines and our palates all over the place, can we really evaluate them fairly? You be the judge. What do you think?
Happy drinking!
Wine Tasting 0 comments

WBW #46: Rhone Whites

Jun 10, 2008 |  WineBratSF (7) |  Wine Tasting |  1 comment

Wine Blogging WednesdayWe had a bit of a taste-a-thon this month, thanks to Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20 for inspiring us to be creative with Wine Blogging Wednesday.

We were really all over the map for this one, and had several misses but a few gems with great value.

Our Favorite

McManis Viognier

2006 McManis Vineyards Viognier

Avg rating 90
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This wine comes from the River Junction appellation, which is just south of Lodi, California. With an average rating of 90 points, this bottle was purchased at BevMo for $11.99 and tasted like a jar of spices fell in a bottle of nectarines that were soaking in a mellow white wine. This was quite a luscious white. With 13.5% alcohol, it was the last wine we tasted before getting a little crazy and we all enjoyed it.

3-way Tie For 2nd

2006 La Vieille Ferme Cotes du Luberon

Avg rating 87
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The 2006 La Vieille Ferme Cotes du Luberon was also purchased from BevMo, for $7.99. This dry white blend is made from several Rhone varietals: Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Roussanne and Ugni Blanc. We found lots of spice and green herbaciousness, with a lot of citrus and lime on the palate. With a mild 12.5% alcohol, it wasn’t terribly exciting and only scored one rating of 87 points.

2006 Gregory Graham Lake County Viognier

Avg rating 87
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The La Vielle tied with the 2006 Gregory Graham Lake County Viognier, produced by a small shop in Lake County, north of Napa. This was the first wine we tasted, and I think the sweetness we perceived made it difficult to evaluate fairly. When the group re-tasted it at the end, we enjoyed it more and gave it an average rating of 87. This bottle was purchased at Mill Valley Market for $20, and we found sweet tropical fruit, nectarines and a floral nose.

2007 Chateau L'ermitage

Avg rating 87
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Finally, the 2007 Chateau L'ermitage also received an average score of 87. This easy drinking French white was also purchased at Mill Valley Market, for $12, but can also be found at The Wine Mine (Oakland) for $9.99. We all really enjoyed this traditionally Rhone white, and its crispness reminded us of a California Sauvignon Blanc, even though it is made from Rousanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc. We found crisp citrus and grapefruit, with a dry mineral finish.

Honorable Mention

2006 Cline Marsanne Rousanne Carneros

Avg rating 86
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I have to give an honorable mention to the 2006 Cline Marsanne Rousanne Carneros blend, since it’s affordable, and easy to find. This bottle was found at BevMo for $11.99. Cline has been making consistent efforts in the Rhone varietal market for a long time. The Marsanne for this blend are estate grown, in the Carneros Region of southern Sonoma, while the Roussane is grown in a Sonoma Coast vineyards. Our average rating was 86 points and we found it to be floral and slightly sweet, with lemon & grapefruit notes followed by a nice crisp finish.

2005 Sainte Croix Viognier

Avg rating 80
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Finally, I would have to say avoid the budget minded 2005 Sainte Croix Viognier, purchased at Trader Joe’s for a whopping $3.99, since it had some strange flavors going on. The average rating was 79.5 points, and we found yeasty butterscotch, cheese, and a lot of acetone like citrus.

Happy drinking!
Wine Tasting 1 comment

RetailerSelect & Local Searching

May 04, 2008 |  Vinquire (14) |  News & Updates |  3 comments

Vinquire has added a new feature and we wanted you to be the first to know. Our new RetailerSelect option allows you to perform a "local search" of the wine retailers in your neighborhood only, to help you find that great bottle much closer to home.

RetailerSelect Screen Shot

It's simple to use: enter the name of the wine into the search field (as you've always done), but now, by selecting "Local Retailers", you can enter your zip code and a maximum distance to limit the results to wines near your home. Additionally, Vinquire displays the results on Google MapsTM, so you can easily see where they are located and how to get there.

Here's an example search for "Beringer Private Reserve" in San Francisco, CA.

RetailerSelect Google Maps(TM) Screen Shot

Why We Love "Local" Searching

How many times have you found a great deal searching a wine, only to discover that the retailer is nowhere near you? Now our new "local search" feature can help you avoid the hassles of long distance ordering:
  • Exorbitant shipping prices (especially for small purchases)
  • Retailers that won't ship long distance
  • Waiting a week (or longer) for UPS to deliver that bottle that you needed NOW
  • Warm weather risks. Depending on the time of year, it may not be the best climate for shipping high-end bottles around the country.

Finding Local Retailers

We've also added a "Find Retailers" section to the website to help you locate retailers in your area. Once you've selected a retailer, you can click to search only their inventory to see what the store has available before you visit.

Happy Hunting

Call it what you will...we've got buzz words like "geographical awareness," "vicinity based," and "proximity search enabled" — but at the end of the day, we think it's just plain cool. We hope you enjoy the new features!
News & Updates 3 comments

WBW #45: Old World Riesling

May 04, 2008 |  WineBratSF (7) |  Wine Tasting |  0 comments

I will admit, we have been remiss in not doing more WBW episodes, but we came back with a bang for WBW 45’s Old World Riesling.

It was an interesting evening, which brings to mind the question that I first started to ponder after reading an article on regional / ethnic preferences in wine. The overall consensus of this Bay Area based crew was that these wines were not to our style, but could be enjoyable in specific situations. Is it because we were raised primarily on the New World varieties like the classic California Chardonnays of yesteryear and their heavy, oakey body or the crisp Sauv Blancs from New Zealand that have flooded the market? Or is it simply because we have limited access to some of these Old World varieties, and we haven't’ had the drinking history with them? Nature or nurture, what develops your palate more? There is some evidence to suggest that certain ethnic groups have a natural disposition to certain types of wine, but how much of it is what is readily available? Is living in the capital of the New World wine country skewing our tastes toward those types of wines? I wonder, and will continue to explore the Old World trying to find something that suits my taste as much as a New World red would.

The Top 2

Out of the five wines tried, our favorites were:

2006 Ulrich Langguth Riesling

Hessische Bergstrasse


Avg rating 89
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Tropical fruit, citrus, lightly sweet with good body, but lacking finish. Effervescent.

2004 Trimbach Alsace Riesling


Avg rating 88.7
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We also really enjoyed this crisp Alsatian sample, that we could swear was a Sauvignon Blanc given it’s acidity. Pale, Crisp, light. Grapefruit, apples & lemon show big acid. Scents of hay and green grasses on the nose.

The Other 3

In our opinions, these last three were only mediocre, and not something we would rush right out and spend our economic stimulus checks on.

2004 Rheingau Riesling Qualitätswein


Avg rating 86.5
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Sweet pink grapefruit & jujubes. Apricots and honeysuckle, very fruity. Funky smell.
A little funk/cheese with some leather and something — maybe. Some white pepper, too.

2004 Grans-Fassian Piesporter Goldtröptchen Riesling-Spätlesse


Avg rating 85
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Sweet and almost tingling / sparkeling. Tastes a bit like cream soda or honey. Goes well with spicy foods.
Needs to be colder or to have more brawn due to sweetness. Not my style.

2006 Niersteiner Riesling Kabinett


Avg rating 82
Read Reviews, Buy
Very fruity, with mango and spice. Very acidic, lots of green apple.
Tastes like a sparkler or somebody dropped an alka seltzer in it.

Thea, for the Vinquire WBW Posse
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Find Good Wines in the Neighborhood

Apr 29, 2008 |  Vinquire (14) |  News & Updates, Press Releases |  0 comments

Press Release:

Find Good Wines in the Neighborhood

Vinquire's new search feature helps wine lovers find retailers in their area.

San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) April 29, 2008 — Visitors to can now search for wine at retailers and wineries as close as a mile from their living rooms. The new local search functionality enables users to enter their Zip Code, along with the wine they wish to locate, and find bottles in their immediate vicinity. The new search technology helps avoid expensive wine shipping costs.

Additionally, nearby wines are charted via Google Maps™ for easy navigation. By selecting a retailer in the list, visitors can find driving directions, contact information, or a link to the retailer's website. Now visitors not only have the ability to find the wine they want, but find the bottle with the shortest route from the store to the dinner table.

Additionally, the site features a "Find Retailers" tab which includes the option of searching for wines at a specific retailer only -- a helpful tool for those with a local store in mind. Users with a free Vinquire account can also create a list of their Favorite Retailers, and limit their searches to wines available at those locations exclusively. These powerful features enable users to find wines that are available for pickup immediately.

Unlike other wine search engines, Vinquire displays all wine search results available every time, regardless of site sponsors. In addition, the search engine is constantly updated with fresh wine inventory data via Vinquire's proprietary web crawling technology.

About is a free search engine for wine enthusiasts. Based in San Francisco, CA, Vinquire maintains a database of over 1,000,000 wines to help users find, review and buy wine. For more information, visit
News & Updates, Press Releases 0 comments

From Bordeaux to Meritage

Jan 15, 2008 |  WineBratSF (7) |  Events, Guest Bloggers, Wine Industry |  0 comments

Glass of meritageAs I eagerly anticipate Winter Wineland in northern Sonoma, I stumbled across an article about the history of meritage. Since I remember a quandary at a recent wine gathering, I thought I'd note that the Meritage Association is celebrates its 20th anniversary this week.

For those of you who might think that meritage is a fancy French term, like MareAhTage, think again. It's really a made up name for a down home blend, a combination of the works "merit" and "heritage". It was coined in 1985, when the feds only allowed the name table wine to be used on more low brow blends containing less than 75% of a single varietal; read: MUTT. That's right kids, Carlo Rossi could NOT be more than 75% concord grapes!

Since we are legally prevented from borrowing any existing wine terms (yeah well there is a reason we aren't real popular with the French you see) like Champagne or Bordeaux, the wine industry in the upstart New World - basically anywhere but Italy and France folks - decided we needed our own label for these new mixtures we like to plunk down on Thursdays with our pizza.

I'm going to be on the hunt this weekend, so check back soon for a report on the joys of Sonoma County meritage!
Events, Guest Bloggers, Wine Industry 0 comments

High-Tech Searching, Part 2

Dec 19, 2007 |  John (12) |  Founders, How-to |  0 comments

Last time we covered a few of Vinquire's powerful search operators. This time, we'll cover the options that pop out after you click the Search Options link next to the search box.

For starters, most of the options that pop out after clicking "Search Options" are straightforward. You can control maximum price, vintage, wine type, bottle size, and which retailers you are searching -- all in a simple fashion. However, the last option, "Search Style" can be potent yet confusing, and therefore deserves some explanation.

Search Style: "AND - Price Sort"

Using this style of search (which is the default), Vinquire requires that every term you search for exists in the returned wines. This means users should not enter too many terms when searching. We touched on this in the first post, but it can't be emphasized enough: start searching with the least amount of terms that will still identify the wine—you can always add more terms to the search if you get too many erroneous results.

But what about the "AND - Price sort" part? Price sort simply means that we're going to sort the wine results on price: from low, to high. This is our default style of search, and we do this to help you find wine at the best price. The downside is that we require every search term to exist in the results, which can limit results. This is why we have a second option.

Search Style: "OR - Relevancy Sort"

This style search does not require every search term to exist when we display wines. Use this search style when you are getting limited search results using the "AND" search style.

For example, let's say you're a sucker for punishment and really want to get your hands on a bottle of Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast, Kanzler Vineyard. If you use the default "AND" search for that, you get limited results. However, if you change it to the "OR" search, good things happen and you might be able to land a bottle. This works because with the "OR" search, we don't require every single term you searched for to exist. We'll do our best effort to match as many terms as we can, but we won't guarantee that every term in your wine search will exist in every result.

So why not do all searches with "OR - Relevancy sort"? If you use this search style, some of the returned results may not be the wine you were searching for. Buyer beware—you will need to verify that the wine we returned really is the exact wine you are looking for. With the Kosta Brown search, we might leave off Kanzler. That word is important so you will have to be careful. Additionally, we no longer can sort these results by price. So you will manually have to go through the returned wines and find the best price yourself.

The upshot is that if you are trying to find a specific or rare wine, or in general are getting poor search results, you can use the "OR" search and get a broader view of what our database offers.

The Next Level:

So far, we're still not hitting the "high-tech" angle. Let's go back to our quest for the Kosta Browne. I mentioned above that the "OR" search doesn't require all search terms to exist in the wines, but let's say we want to guarantee that the word Kanzler is in every result. If you add a '+' before the word Kanzler, then the "OR" search will force the word Kanzler to exist in all search results.

Using the '+' operator can help you refine your results when using the "OR" search style.

Finally, all of the operators like '~' and '*' detailed in the last advanced search blog will work when using the "OR" style search as well. Happy hunting.
Founders, How-to 0 comments

Top Wines of 2007

Dec 19, 2007 |  John (12) |  Wine Industry |  0 comments

Whoa is the power of the Top 100 lists that sell wine and markup prices. In the lead is Wine Spectator with their "Top 100 Wines of 2007 (PDF)", which amid full pomp and circumstance revealed its list in November.

Spectator gets so much traction from their list that it was only a matter of time until other publications got in on the action. The San Francisco Chronicle has a Top 100 of 2007 (with no scores only tasting notes).'s Top 100 is based solely how many bottles were sold from their online store. Not to be outdone, Wine Enthusiast makes not only a Top 100, but a Top 100 best buys in a monster PDF that would be so much nicer as an normal web page.

Does Vinquire make a Top 100 list? Of Course! It's our Top Ranked page, which is constantly updated with your reviewed wines. But for this blog, we're ready to just summarize what the big wigs of the industry think. Reproduced here are some of these lists with direct links to find the best prices.

Happy Holidays!

Wine Spectator 2007 Top 100 (only first 20)

Rank Score Wine Price
1 98

Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2005

2 95

Ridge Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains Santa Cruz Mountain Estate, 2005

3 95

Le Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2005

4 95

Antinori Toscana Tignanello, 2004

5 95

Two Hands Shiraz Barossa Valley Bella's Garden, 2005

6 95

Château Léoville Las Cases St. Julien, 2004

7 97

Tenuta dell'Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia, 2004

8 95

Mollydooker Shiraz McLaren Vale Carnival of Love, 2006

9 95

Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve, 2004

10 99

Krug Brut Champagne, 1996

11 95

Bodegas Muga Rioja Torre Muga, 2004

12 96

Domaine du Pégaü Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réservée, 2004

13 100

Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino Madonna del Piano Riserva, 2001

14 97

Joh. Jos. Prüm Riesling Auslese Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Wehlener Sonnenuhr, 2005

15 95

Sbragia Family Chardonnay Napa Valley Gamble Ranch Vineyard, 2004

16 93

Schild Shiraz Barossa, 2005

17 93

Orin Swift The Prisoner Napa Valley, 2005

18 96

Bodegas LAN Rioja Edición Limitada, 2004

19 97

Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Kanzler Vineyard 2005

20 94

Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau, 2004


Wine Spectator Top 100: Selections Under $20

Rank Score Wine Price
29 92

Mount Eden Chardonnay Edna Valley Wolff Vineyard, 2004

35 91

Chateau St. Jean Fumé Blanc Sonoma County, 2005

36 91

Drylands Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, 2006

37 92

Navarro Zinfandel Mendocino, 2004

38 92

Quinta do Infantado Douro Reserva, 2003

42 91

Freie Weingärtner Wachau Riesling Federspiel Trocken Wachau Terrassen Domäne Wachau, 2005

48 91

Heath Wines Riesling Clare Valley Southern Sisters Reserve, 2006

49 91

Viña Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley Medalla Real Special Reserve, 2004

54 91

Ataraxia Mountain Sauvignon Blanc Western Cape, 2006

55 91

Casa di Terra Bolgheri Moreccio, 2005

64 91

Quinta do Vale Meão Douro Meandro, 2005

71 90

Columbia Crest Merlot Columbia Valley Grand Estates, 2004

72 90

Yellow Tail Shiraz South Eastern Australia The Reserve, 2005

73 90

Babich Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, 2006

74 90

Fontanafredda Barbera Piemonte Briccotondo, 2006

75 90

La Marca Extra Dry Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, NV

84 90

d'Arenberg Viognier-Marsanne McLaren Vale The Hermit Crab, 2006

85 90

Domaines Schlumberger Riesling Alsace Les Princes Abbés, 2005

86 90

Emery Athiri Rhodes Rhodos, 2005

89 90

Jean-Louis Chave Sélection Côtes du Rhône Mon Coeur, 2005

90 90

Bodegas Borsao Garnacha Campo de Borja Tres Picos, 2005

92 90

Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch, 2006

93 90

Domaine Sigalas Asirtiko-Athiri Santorini, 2005

94 90

Bodegas Godeval Valdeorras Viña Godeval, 2006


Wine Enthusiast 2007 Top 100 (only first 20)

Rank Score Wine Price

Vinedos de Paganos El Puntido, 2004


Lancaster Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley, 2004


Chateau St. Jean Reserve Chardonnay Sonoma County, 2004


Glen Eldon Dry Bore Shiraz Barossa, 2004


Bertani Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, 1998


Domaine des Baumard Clos du Papillon (Savennicres), 2005


Hartford Court Land's Edge Vineyards Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast), 2005


Viu Manent Single Vineyard San Carlos Estate Malbec (Colchagua Valley), 2005


Mount Eden Estate Chardonnay (Santa Cruz Mountains), 2003


Dr. Loosen Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese, 2005


Fife L'Attitude 39 (Mendocino), 2004


Robert Mondavi 2005 To Kalon Vineyard Reserve Fumé Blanc (Oakville), 2005


Pirathon Shiraz (Barossa Valley), 2005


DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate Blanc (Columbia Valley), 2005


Ken Wright Abbott Claim Pinot Noir, 2005


Melville Clone 76 Inox Chardonnay, 2005


Descendientes de J. Palacios Villa de Corullon, 2004


Domaine Famille Ligncres Aric, 2003


Poet's Leap Riesling, 2005


Joseph Swan Vineyards Lone Redwood Ranch Zinfandel, 2003


Wine Enthusiast 2007 Top 100 Best Buys (only first 20)

Rank Score Wine Price

Pascual Toso Maipú Vineyards Malbec, 2006


Snoqualmie Winemaker's Select Riesling, 2006


Dao Sul Berço do Infante, 2005


Pepperwood Grove Chardonnay, 2005


TerraNoble Vineyard Selection Carmencre, 2005


Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Sauvignon Blanc, 2005


Vina Borgia Campo de Borja, 2005


Winery of Good Hope Chenin Blanc (Helderberg),2006


Conquista de Argentina Malbec, 2005


Pine & Post Chardonnay, 2005


Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon (Central Coast), 2005


Pedro Escudero Valdelainos Verdejo, 2006


Montes Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005


Barnard Griffin Fumé Blanc, 2005


Sebeka Cape Blend Shiraz-Pinotage, 2006


Covey Run Quail Series Chenin Blanc, 2005


Chakana Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendoza) Argentina, 2005


39° Sauvignon Blanc Lake County, 2006


Taurino Riserva (Salice Salentino), 2001


Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay, 2005

$9 Top 100 (only first 20)

Rank Wine

Hogue Genesis Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003


Sticks Chardonnay, 2004


Cristalino Brut Cava, NV


Big House Red, 2004


Veramonte Primus, 2004


Concannon Limited Release Petite Sirah, 2004


Root 1 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005


Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot, 2004


Hanna Sauvignon Blanc, 2006


Penley Estate Hyland Shiraz, 2004


Falesco Vitiano, 2004


Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, 2006


Silverado Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003


Smoking Loon Syrah, 2005


Terrazas Reserva Malbec, 2004


Falesco Sangiovese, 2005


Di Majo Norante Sangiovese, 2005


CARO Amancaya, 2005


Conundrum, 2005


Guigal Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 2003

Wine Industry 0 comments

Wine Blogging Wednesday: Petite Sirah

Dec 11, 2007 |  WineBlogWeds_Posse (1) |  Wine Tasting |  0 comments

For Vinquire's first foray into Wine Blogging Wednesday, we recruited nine friends to sample ten California Petite Sirahs. They ranged from very characteristic Petite Sirah styles, to tame, crowd-pleasing California reds, to what some of us found to be Italian-style reds.

Overall, some of us doubted that Petite Sirah could stand on its own. The core flavors were marzipan/licorice, some metallic iron, and a general wildness and disparity of elements—those who liked it call it "savage and brambly", those who didn’t simply called it uneven and inconsistent. Our general opinion by the end: while the varietal has some potential, it clearly doesn’t stand on its own as a classic.

Now the reviews!

Tier 1: Our two favorites were quite clear:

Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards Durif, McDowell Vineyards, 2004

Read Reviews, Buy
Avg points 87.4

We felt like this one was the truest expression of the varietal.
Nose: rust, iron, marzipan, soy sauce, smoke
Mouth: Tart, licorice, smoke, heavy bodied, salted plums
Finish: Evolves from licorice to tar

Storrs Petite Sirah, Santa Cruz Mountains, 2004

Read Reviews, Buy
Avg points 85

Nose: mineral and blood
Mouth: blackberry and brambly fruits, savage and wild with lots of spice
Finish: a bit hot and burning, with notes of unripened berries

Tier 2: The middle-of-the-road wines:

Huntington Petite Sirah, 2005

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Avg points 84

Note: for 2 of us, this was in the top two!

Concannon Petite Sirah, Central Coast, 2004

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Avg points 83.75

A nice California-style wine, that still had some of the marzipan and licorice that we decided was the Petite Sirah core. A decent everyday wine but with little character.

Bogle Petite Sirah, 2005

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Avg points: 83.75

An easy to drink, fruit forward, with a hint of peppercorn, and generally more consistent wine that most of us agreed stood out: it had a very different, smoother, character than the other wines we tasted.

Amphora Petite Sirah, Dry Creek Valley, Mounts Vineyard, 2004

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Avg points 83

We decanted this for a while, since it was so tight and tannic when we first tasted it. But after two hours, it hadn’t opened up much. It was a very meaty red, inky, blueberry jam and dried overripe blueberries, with a very tight, astringent finish.

Fearless Petite Sirah, Central Coast, 2005

Avg points 80.66

To some of us, this smelled like a Pinot: vanilla and strawberry, sour cherries, tobacco, leather with notes of herbs de provence.

Stonehedge Reserve Petite Syrah, 2005

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Avg points 79.5

Some of us (notably the person who bought this bottle) tried hard to like this wine—and even they failed! Avoid the 05, we have some positive feedback from the 03 though.

Oak Grove Reserve Petite Sirah, 2005


This turned out surprisingly Italian-style. Violet, camphor, salty caramel, with smooth mint and a tart finish. No average points … we were apparently getting tipsy!

Inheritance Petite Sirah, 2005


The dominant note was ether: sweet medicinal. The mouthfeel, though, was watery, and the finish short. What did I say about tipsy?
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