Wine Wednesday – Que Syrah Shiraz …

I love fall!  Love the coolness in the evening air, the moistness in the morning and the tolerable heat during the day.

September in Colorado

Better than the weather, my taste buds prefer heavier, full-bodied wine.  A white or rose wine doesn’t have the oomph I crave in my wine come fall.

While re-arranging my wine closet, I decided to taste Syrah.  I have lots of bottles of Syrah in my closet — do I even like them?  So the next few Wine Wednesdays will be tasting Syrah and Shiraz.  Petite Sirah, which I know I like alot, is different.

“Syrah or Shiraz is a dark-skinned grape grown throughout the world and used primarily to produce powerful red wines. Whether sold as Syrah or Shiraz, these wines enjoy great popularity.

DNA profiling in 1999 found Syrah to be the offspring of two obscure grapes from southeastern France, Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche.”

Taste and flavours

Wines made from Syrah are often powerfully flavoured and full-bodied. The variety produces wines with a wide range of flavor notes, depending on the climate and soils where it is grown, as well as other viticultural practices chosen. Aroma characters can range from violets to berries (usually dark as opposed to red), chocolate, espresso and black pepper. No one aroma can be called “typical” though blackberry and pepper are often noticed. With time in the bottle these “primary” notes are moderated and then supplemented with earthy or savory “tertiary” notes such as leather and truffle. “Secondary” flavor and aroma notes are those associated with several things, generally winemakers’ practices (such as oak barrel and yeast treatment).

[Source: wikipedia]

1st up: 2007 Chapin Syrah, Temecula Valley California

2007 Chapin Syrah

Chapin Family Vineyards

From their website:  Chapin famous State Syrah goes through full berry maceration during fermentation, delivering a full- bodied, dark, rich flavor wine, with a smooth, velvety finish.  Fruity aromas of vanilla, plum and, black currant, along with long lasting flavors of blueberry, cranberry and, oak spices are derived from Appalachian oak barrels.  This complex Syrah is elegant and can be enjoyed alone or with your favorite barbecued steak.  Enjoy! ($46)

My tasting:  Once opened, the heady aroma of chocolate, blackberries rushes from the bottle and glass.  On my  tongue, there was a lot of fruit and oak, followed by a slight taste of tannin.   Initially it wasn’t a favorite.   To my surprise, it went very well with my bowl of baby lima beans and biscuits and was tasty for another glass.

2007 Chapin Syrah, Temecula Valley California

Wine Wednesday – French

Oh la la!

Just when I think my palate has gone off wine (how the hell is that possible?), I go rogue.  Opening 4 bottles in a night –

1 Chilean Cabernet, 1 California Cabernet, 2 French left bank Bordeaux

I’ve long suspected I’m a Francophile — after all I’ve gone to Paris for new year’s for almost 20 years! — and my wine tasting proves it!

** 2006 Domus Aurea Maipo Valley Cabernet Sauvignon — As much as I love Chile, I didn’t love this wine.  But it was first in my tasting and my taste buds may not have been ‘on alert.’

2006 Domus Aurea Maipo Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

** 2006 Wattle Creek Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon — liked this.  Things were starting to look up!  Finally, an inexpensive wine I liked.

2006 Wattle Creek Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

It was the 3rd bottle that grabbed me for a big sloppy kiss! A French Bordeaux, bien sur!

Chateau Beaumont Haut – Medoc Bordeaux

Now that I know my palate is being a picky “biatch,” I’ll continue to drink on!

NOTE: No bottles of wine were poured down the drain in the writing of this blog.  Discarded bottles are given to a co-worker, Jacob. He drinks most anything happily.  Team Jacob!


Wine Wednesday – California Old Vine Zinfandel

Two Zinfandels for Wine Wednesday.


Hmmm, not sure I’m a fan of Zinfandel.  However, I’m intrigued about the grape and wanted to see what I think about Zin.

We tried 2 Zinfandels, both old vine.

From the winery:

2007 Zinfandel Carreras Old Vine Dry Creek Valley
The 2007 Carreras Ranch Old Vine  Zinfandel is produced from the heart of the  Carreras vineyard. The grapes are tended to  by Rick Schluter, husband to Marci Carreras  Schluter. Rick is the consummate grape  grower, a haggler, a prophet and yes a poet.
This wine exhibits  Cabernet like structure,  big stature, deep color, and deep  concentrated fruit. Elegant iron fist in a  smooth velvet glove. Enjoy this  Classic  Jammy Dry Creek Zinfandel on its own or  pair with beef, lamb or pork.
Manzanita Creek Zinfandels are among the  finest wines produced.  We age our  Zinfandels in carefully chosen oak barrels for  18 to 32 months. Our attention to detail is  matchless.  (ABV 16.9%)

From the winery:

2006 Zinfandel, Martinelli Road Vineyard Old Vine, Russian River

History in a bottle. The venerable one, 124 years old this vintage. Not for everyone, but a classic Barolo like Zin that rivals any century vine Zins produced in California, period. Dark ruby in color. A nose of roses and violets framed by dark berries, plums, cedar and blackberry briar as only RRV can give. The palate screams blackberry, Bing cherry, dark chocolate and mocha notes. Unmistakable terroir. This is a special place for these vines. Not for the faint of heart. Expressive mid-palate and long, long finish. Moderate tannins. It will of course benefit from cellaring, but it’s delicious now.

Opinion: My jury’s still out on Zinfandel.  I enjoyed the Woodenhead Zin more than the Manzanita Creek — both of them were old vine and unfiltered.  Not knowing this, we didn’t have a decanting filter.  Sediment is not attractive.

The Manzanita Creek Zinfandel was an alcohol bomb at 17%!  It was well-liked by one of my co-workers.

I think the price of both wines was too high for my level of enjoyment.  Also think I have a few more bottles of each in my cellar ….. another tasting in my future?  Let’s see if time changes my opinion.

Any Zinfandel suggestions?

Wine Wednesday – Amani Kenie Myers

Tonight’s wine is a step out of my comfort zone — a South African red.   I had to try the wine once I read that the winemaker is one of South Africa’s first black female winemakers.

If I’m honest, I’m also a sucker for Cabernet Franc.  It is my favorite grape and I’m usually up for trying one.

I knew I would love this wine as soon as I uncorked it — the aroma coming from the bottle was amazing — blackberries, blueberries and alcohol.  The alcohol content is high, 14.5%, which makes food essential with this.  I felt a buzz after the 1st glass. (could be dangerous?)

It didn’t disappoint.  Ripe fruit, cinnamon, hint of tannin.  Very smooth.   Can’t wait to have the 2nd bottle!

2009 Amani Coastal Region Cabernet Franc-Merlot

Tasting Note This wine has pitch-perfect vibrancy for those who enjoy the yin-and-yang qualities of punchy acidity in rich red wines. The nose on the 2009 Amani Cabernet Franc-Merlot bursts with lusciously ripe berry fruit that smells like a freshly baked blackberry pie. Secondary aromas of cracked black pepper, cinnamon and cocoa emerge underneath the crust and filling. The palate is equally dense with fresh berry flavors up front that lead to sweet baking-spice flavors, the results of the wine’s time in new French oak. The supple tannins follow through on the silky finish. This is an impressively polished wine that is ready to be enjoyed now or in the next 10 years.

Wine: 2010 Blue Quail Mendocino Chardonnay

It’s been a few weeks since last Wine Wednesday.  Which is not to say I haven’t been drinking (trust me, I have!) but rather I’ve 1) been lazy to photograph and document the wine or 2) not been crazy about the wine of choice.

Up until recently, I was a diehard “I hate dislike Chardonnay” wine drinker.  I don’t like oak or butter in my wine and all the Chardonnays I’ve tried seemed to have both in abundance.

Thanks to a knowledgeable co-worker, I learned 2 facts about Chardonnay: the oak in the wine comes from the barrels and length of time in the barrel, and the butter comes from Malolactic fermentationHe suggested I look for wines aged in stainless steel and without 2nd fermentation.

Off I went.  Success! 2010 Blue Quail Mendocino Chardonnay (13.7% ABV)

This is a wine I will happily drink all summer long.

It’s refreshing, crisp and, at $14/btl, inexpensive.  This could be my go to wine when people pop by.

Its color is pale gold with tint of green.  It doesn’t “look” oaky or buttery and it’s taste didn’t disappoint. Even me, a wine newbie, immediately tasted green apple and ripe pear on the first inhale and sip. It left a slight flowery taste in my mouth (hibiscus?).

It went well with my spinach, strawberry and goat cheese salad.  Into the wine fridge it goes.

From the winery:

A Chardonnay I can fall in love with!


“Our Blue Quail Chardonnay is stainless steel fermented and held with zero malolactic fermentation. Fruit forward, beautiful bouquet of apple, pear and peach blossom lead seamlessly into delicious apple, white peach and pear flavors, balanced by nice crisp acidity.  It is a terrific food wine, pairing well with seafood, shellfish, poultry and cheeses.”

Maybe I should reconsider my feelings about Chardonnay ….