Monday, June 9, 2008

2004 Kent Rasmussen Souzão Esoterica

I like Kent, I've loved his Petite Sirahs, and I think it's great that he forges his own path working with unusual single-varietal wines like this Souzão. For that reason, I'd urge you check out other reviews in CellarTracker because I acknowledge that this review isn't representative of the status quo.

Leading off with the business end of the review...

5/5: Color was still very saturated and garnet at the edges.
8/15: Nose was almost completely absent at all phases of tasting from a variety of Mondavi & Riedel stemware over two nights of tasting.
6/10: Entry is almost creamy, which is quickly rocked back to reality when the tannins catch up with baker's chocolate, cranberry, and minerality.
7/10: The finish grows like an angry, rioting mob of tannin, chocolate, cassis, and oak and really dominates the tasting experience.
2/5: Based on the absence of fruit, I can't see the aging potential based on this bottle.
2/5: Overall, this wine came off like the last shot out of a Roman candle. With a large-boweled glass, the wine drank alright despite the thick, tannic assault. It wasn't bad, but other than being bold, it wasn't particularly noteworthy either and lacked dimension.

...which resulted in a paltry 80/100 points, which may be generous. This tastes like a well made wine that's simply just gone as dumb as Jessica Simpson. Like the the exclamation following Frank Costanza's poignant dinner table question, "Who's having sex with the hen?!?" something's missing! At this point, I'm not sure if it's better to drink the other bottle soon or sit on it for a year and hope for something magical to happen.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

2002 Madonlina Toccata

COLOR: 5/5 - Solid maroon color, having the appearance of a lighter bodied wine.
NOSE: 11/15 - Nose had some good punch right out of the bottle, but this blew off within an hour. What was initially pruney & cola-ish has turned around and taken on more watermelon and apple aromas with blackberry and vanilla.
FLAVOR: 8/10 - Good expansion across the palate, but there are some issues with balance. Flavors of blackberry, cocoa, and vanilla aren't supported by the thin mouthfeel.
FINISH: 6/10 - Finish starts sharply, sourly, and twists around some berry fruits, melon, and, occasionally, butter.
POTENTIAL: 3/5 - Has the feel of a wine that will be better in 6 months and drink for a few years. A little taming of the tannins will go a long way toward bringing balance to this wine.
OVERALL: 3/5 - A decent, moderately interesting wine. Really changed a lot in a few hours of being open, paired well with the veggie lasagna it accompanied at dinner and drinks adequately alone as well. 86 Points.

I liked this wine and expected this to come out more like an 88 point wine, but the schizophrenic nose and weak finish hurt the scoring. Not at all disappointed to have 5 more bottles in the cellar. Great wine for tomato-based foods.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

N.V. Pinot Evil (or "How to make 10,000 cases of wine from 5,000 cases of juice)

COLOR: 5/5 - Translucent strawberry color.
NOSE: 6/15 - Initially there was virtually nothing except for a whiff of alcohol. After being open for a few hours there's still very little on the nose. What nose there is is yeasty and tinny.
FLAVOR: 4/10 - Thin, thin, thin. Very little flavor, astringent, with underlying strawberry and fig. Makes you want to chug the glass with the hope of passing enough wine over your palate to taste SOMETHING.
FINISH: 5/10 - Short, unimpressive finish of watered down strawberry and raspberry. POTENTIAL: 1/5 - No fruit, weak structure. Not past it's prime in terms of aging, I just don't think there *is* a prime for this wine.
OVERALL: 1/5 - Worst Pinot Noir I can recall. Other than the color, there was nothing remotely Pinot Noirish about this. It drinks like watered down unsweetened strawberry kool-aid with a healthy dose of Absolut Kurant.

This is wasted money AT ANY PRICE. This bottle was a gift and I still feel like I overpayed. It really reminds me of Jello shots from my college days were a 'clever' roommate used Absolut Kurant vodka with watermelon Jello. It was terrible (but got you a buzz).

As a FYI, I make every effort to write my reviews & score a wine without looking at other reviews. Rating a good wine is much easier than rating a bad wine. Trying to objectively score a weak offering like this definitely makes you look in parts of the rating spectrum you don't normally venture into, so it becomes an exercise in trying to re-set the mental expectation for what a zero would be and determine where the current sample rates.

After all of that, my 72 point rating for this wine came out dead-on the CellarTracker average (range of scores was 52 to 85 points). It was a wine that didn't have a whole lot actively bad about it, but had little (if anything) good going for it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

2006 Standing Stone Vidal Ice

Wow. Where did 2007 go? First blog of 2008, hopefully I'll be a little bit better about posting new info & get some different types of posts up (not JUST reviews). But for now, just reviews. :)

Drinking on the second night, from the fridge, using a Fume Blanc glass.
COLOR: 5/5 - Thick, glossy, amber. Little doubt what's in the glass.
NOSE: 12/15 - Candy apple, apricot, pineapple, and honeydew melon come through on a heavy nose.
FLAVOR: 8/10 - Mouthfeel is ridiculous; luxurious, decadent nectar of pineapple, green apple, and peach with nice acidity. Residual sugar may have been left a bit too high. For the intial taste, the sweet was a bit overpowering.
FINISH: 8/10 - Remarkably, no cloying qualities. Acidity is almost excessive without actually getting there, keeping this ice-style wine balanced. Flavors of peach, apricot, and pineapple linger very gingerly on the palate for a long finish.
POTENTIAL: 3/5 - Always tough to say with a relative unknown (and a 'dessert' wine at that), but judging from how this improved over night, I'd wager this will actually get better in the coming years.
OVERALL: 4/5 - This picked up quite a few 'gut rating' points over night. Initially there were some sour notes that really didn't jibe well with the other elements, but much of the unpleasantness (acidic, metallic) qualities have disappeared overnight. 90+ points (this is growing on me...)

At this point in time, any wine like this gets held up to the standard of a 2001 Vin de Constance (South African Muscat dessert wine) that is truly a wine to experience. It's everything the Vidal Ice is, but more better smoother. The Vidal Ice is simple and straightforward by comparison.

I likely would have dropped 86 points on this last night based on overall lack of balance and muted flavors. It really pulled a 180 in the fridge overnight.

Friday, November 23, 2007

2003 Hogue Cellars Merlot Columbia Valley

COLOR: 5/5 - More purple than red; very saturated.
NOSE: 11/15 - Initially there was lot of bacony goodness on the nose. That blew off pretty quickly and was left with muted cherry and leather. After 3 hours, vitually no nose. Points given for initial impression.
FLAVOR: 7/10 - Very straight-forward blackberry, black pepper, and leather.
FINISH: 6/10 - Not much going on with the very short finish. Echos of the flavors just slide away leaving nothing behind.
POTENTIAL: 2/5 - Not a lot here that indicates any advantages to holding on to this any longer.
OVERALL: 2/5 - Maybe past its prime, this wine just couldn't get out of its own way. Overpowered by a very simple red sauce with pasta and completely collapsed within a few hours of being open. This bottle definitely needed to be decanted; there was a considerable build-up of sediment in the bottle. Not a bad wine, very light-fare friendly.
** SCORE: 83/100 **

I'm really surprised where this wine came out. My first 'great' (don't laugh) experience with wine came probably 10 years ago in my early 20's at a friend's wedding where I had a Hogue Riesling. I knew nothing about wine and they had the Hogue on the all the tables. I grooved to the slender bottle and marveled at the synthetic 'cork.'

Fast forward to when I picked up a mixed half-case of Hogue wines around a year ago (in-store sale + Mail-In Rebate = cheeeeeep wine!) CellarTracker told me to drink this wine before it's time had passed, so it came outta the cellar tonight... and just didn't do it for me. The nose right out of the bottle saved this from being an 82 point (or lower) wine.

As I continue to finish the glass/bottle (1+ glasses went into the pasta sauce tonight) and ramble on, I came up with an imperfect metaphor for the wine as it's drinking now -- purple dry-erase marker. Imperfect because it's not all vapory like a marker, but it's got this fake essence about it and, well, something that evidently reminds me of being in a white-boarding session at work.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

2004 Generations of Sonoma Winery Highway 12 Serres Ranch

COLOR: 5/5 - Dark ruby red colored right to the edges.
NOSE: 12/15 - All elements of this wine are apparent on the nose -- berry jam Cab Sauvignon and vegetal Cab Franc are present, but an earthy Merlot nose dominates.
FLAVOR: 8/10 - Strong, bold flavors. Still somewhat tannic, but reasonably in balance with the fruit and other flavors in the wine.
FINISH: 7/10 - Finishes as sour cherry, dark chocolate, and still a bit tannin-dry.
POTENTIAL: 3/5 - Good structure, strong tannin, and strong fruit should result in a wine with some moderate cellarability.
OVERALL: 3/5 - Probably still needs a bit more time for the tannins to tame and mellow on the finish, but there's a nice blend of earthy and jammy flavors in this that make it a food-friendly wine as well as a good drink-alone (or with friends) wine.

Score: 88/100

I really got down with the blending here. I thought that the equal parts of CS, CF, and Merlot were deftly pulled together and created a wonderful drinking wine that showed each grape well.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

2004 Parker Station Pinot Noir

Parker Station Pinot Noir came up from the cellar tonight. Should've brought it up a week ago for Halloween 'cause MAN is this a scary wine!

COLOR: 4/5 - Translucent, light cranberry red, dingy around the edges.
NOSE: 10/15 - Tight nose at first that begins to open after a few hours. It's somewhat rubbery, the alcohol is noticeable, and both overwhelm the raspberry and strawberry that are there.
FLAVOR: 5/10 - At first shot, there's something there, but it disappears rapidly. Bitter rhubarb is the dominant fruit flavor, but the wine tastes alcoholic and watered down and falls apart like a house of cards in about 3 seconds.
FINISH: 6/10 - Best part of the finish is that it's very short. The thin, bitter flavor carries into the finish and then just disappears.
POTENTIAL: 2/5 - Doesn't seem to have enough fruit character to survive more time it the cellar.
OVERALL: 1/5 - Not even an average Pinot Noir. Nose is by far the best aspect of this wine at 'average' and the balance, mouthfeel, flavor, and finish border on unpleasant. A poor example of the varietal, even at this low price point.