Monte Bernardi, Chianti – 2014

  • Basic info:Monte Bernardi Retromarcia Chianti Classico (Sangiovese) – 2014
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $19 (Chamber Street Wines)
  • Look: Garnet, medium legs, slightly translucent
  • Smell: wine (seriously, I could not discern anything specific and neither could Bob)
  • Taste: Smooth, slightly thin, but well structured. Some hints of cherry initially with strawberry at the very back-end with a little bit of tartness.
  • Conclusions: I loved this wine! I like Chianti in general, but this was something pretty special. I was tempted to just keep drinking it, but I stopped at two glasses so I could savor it more the next day. This was such a good chianti that Bob liked it (Bob doesn’t like chianti and tends to cringe when I pick one up) and that is unusual.
  • Other notes: This is apparently an organic wine, which I don’t usually place a ton of emphasis on, but I really do wonder if the flavor of the grapes comes through more than it might in a traditionally farmed vineyard. I may have to find more of this one as it really hit all the right notes for me, and if Bob is willing to drink it (two days in a row as a matter of fact) than it might be worth a space or two in the wine fridge.
  • From the bottle: The bottle is in Italian, so I have to go with the notes Chamber Street sent with the wine. “A fantastic Sangiovese, aged for about two years in neutral barrels. Nice earth, subtle leathery tannin and a long mineral finish make this Chianti Classico a great paring with any fall or winter feast.” 13.5% alcohol by volume.

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Wine, but something a little different

I like to think that when I decide to learn about something, I go in all the way. Some may call this obsessive (ok, even people who love me call this obsessive) but it works for me. It is why I do well in school, and why I’m good at my job. But I knew wine had to be a little different. I’m not going for a sommelier certification and I need to be careful how much I drink so I could do a lot of research, be super organized, try a lot of different varieties, but the actual drinking had to stay to one or two glasses a day.

IMG_20170610_172749Thankfully I also have friends that like to drink wine and are game to try new things. The other night we had Kate and Leta over and we did a little exploring of French wines with the help of a site I found by a podcast I listen to (long story). Weekly Tasting (no, I’m not getting multiple bottles every week) offers different packs of wine each week. You get the wine (4 bottles), pairing suggestions (with recipes), wine notes and access to a tasting video. IMG_20170610_174653We thought it would be fun to see how our sense of taste and smell compared to what the professionals said, and we tried a few new wines along the way. We had a blast. The one white was a particular hit – a muscadet that was salty and had some great lemon-lime notes. We paired everything with cheese, cause, well, it was cheese box week, and we made it a little end of the school year celebration.

IMG_20170507_195955I’ve also gotten very organized in my wine storage. It takes a little upfront work whenever I get a new bottle, but it helps. Yes, it is a spreadsheet. A color coded spreadsheet so I know where I go the wine from, but there is no longer the mystery of what is in the wine fridge or where a particular bottle is. IMG_20170507_132540For the wine fridge in the kitchen, we went low tech but the miracle of the white board has made my wine life so much easier. It is kind of like my meal list – it takes the guess work out of what to have each night.

I’m still taking notes on each wine, and refining what I do and do not like in a glass of wine. I’ve found that I’m a little more adventurous with my wine than I was before, and that makes me happy. If I go to a restaurant and there is a wine varietal that I don’t know, I’m more likely to try it. I may ask a little bit about it – make sure it isn’t a super big earthy wine that I just won’t like at all – but I venture beyond pinot noir and zinfandel. I can add wine regions to my list of places I want to travel and go beyond cities with lots of deep history. (Not that I will ever stop traveling to old cities with deep history.) I am enjoying my little adventure and feel like I’m learning a little something along the way. Since that was the whole point of this experiment, I’m calling it a success. No need to order pizza. 🙂

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Garon, Syrah – 2015

  • Basic info: Garon VDP Syrah, Rhone Valley France, 2015
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $23 (Chamber St. Wines)
  • Look: Dark red in color almost a garnet color. Light legs. Medium alcohol.
  • Smell: Petrol and mineral. (Bob got the mineral, and he agreed with the petrol, but he wasn’t sure about the nose until I said it.)
  • Taste: Relatively smooth, semi-dry with a little mineral taste. Some berry on the finish. Bob got slate and fermented black raspberry.)
  • Conclusions: This was drinkable. For a Syrah it wasn’t bad, but I don’t think this will change my mind about Syrah the way the Chien Blanc changed my mind about white wines in general. It was ok to drink with food, but it really needed the food. The second day it was better. Still not great, but better.
  • Other notes: I wasn’t thrilled with this wine, but I didn’t dislike it either. It was fine and that is better than most Syrahs as far as I’m concerned.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from Chamber St. Wines, “This junior Cote-Rotie shows lovely aromas of ripe blackberry and cherry with roast meat and floral note, with cocoa and herbs. The palate has a nice earthy texture with ripe berry fruits, chocolate and mineral flavors.” 12.5% alcohol by volume.

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Rocca Felice – Nebbiolo D’Alba, 2014

  • Basic info: Rocca Felice, Nebbiolo D’Alba, Italy, 2014
  • Type: red
  • Price estimate: $17 (at Total Wine)
  • Look: Ruby in color. Transluscent – not a lot of depth to the color. Some legs, probably light to medium alcohol.
  • Smell: Wine. Some spice, but not discernible which to my nose. Bob called a mineral smell.
  • Taste: Mineral. Thin mouth feel but not unpleasant. Dry with some tannin structure. Best guess of taste would be almost ripe plum.
  • Conclusions: I liked this one better the second day. It was fine on the first day, but just ok. I was surprised at how thin the wine was, but it had a lot of character the next day. Definitely benefitted from opening a little. Second day, decided dark cherry hints in the taste and a more defined mineral smell.
  • Other notes: This bottle was a Bob pick. It is not often that he picks wine out, but every now and then he does. One of the other Italian bottles we had recently he also picked, and this one was definitely better. If getting again, decant on the first day and let it come up to room temperature.
  • From the bottle: “Wine made from Nebbiolo grapes. Ruby red color. The bouquet recalls violets and the taste is dry.” 13.5% alcohol by volume.

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Robert Hall, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014

  • Basic info: Robert Hall, Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, California, 2014.
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $22 (at local wine store)
  • Look: Deep garnet color with a lot of legs. Probably higher alcohol content. (Bob called it purple)
  • Smell: Earth, mineral with a tiny bit of jam if you really search for it. Bob said mineral and spice.
  • Taste: Bob’s taste description: medium tannin structure. Dry. Bold taste with some definite mineral notes. I had a harder time describing this one – I got rocky and mineral. No fruit until it warmed up and opened up, then there was some definite cherry notes in the wine.
  • Conclusions: This would be great with food, either a lasagna or steak if you want to eat meat. I would call this exactly what I would expect from a Cabernet Sauvignon and probably a very classic example of a California Cabernet.
  • Other notes: I’m still not sure how I feel about this one. It got better as it opened up, but I really could not do more than one glass of it. The overt mineral taste is hard for me to really enjoy, but it is a wine I think I appreciate.
  • From the bottle: “A full bodied wine with a core of black currant and hints of cedar and spice.” 14.5% alcohol by volume.

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Protocolo Zero Tinto Wine – 2014

  • Basic info: Rumor Viticultores, Castilla y Leon Protocolo Zero Tinto Wine, 2014. Spanish Table wine
  • Type: red
  • Price estimate: $19 (Chamber Street Wines)
  • Look: Dark red to purple. Good legs and a lot of them.
  • Smell: Wood, sawdust, sour cherry.
  • Taste: Petrol, mineral. Aftertaste of dark fruit. High alcohol – slight burn in back of the throat/ Some cherry and a high tannin. Hot.
  • Conclusions: Very complex wine, very old world smell. Extremely strong wine.
  • Other notes: On the first day, I could not drink this wine. I generally like big wines likes zinfandels, but this was something else. The overwhelming taste of alcohol and mineral just didn’t taste good. The second day, it was smoother and the alcohol taste had dissipated somewhat. It also had some notes of chocolate and coffee in it, but it still isn’t a wine I would drink without a meal.
  • From the bottle: No notes on the bottle, but from the wine store, “exotic and aromatic, with heady scent of rose, raspberry and stewed strawberry fruit share the stage with honeyed flowers, deep mineral earth and fine tannins. This wine continues to open for days, taking on rich chocolate-raspberry, blackberry liqueur, tobacco and earth with tart skins of black cherry and cranberry and crunchy berry seeds.” 15% alcohol by volume.

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Wellington – Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

  • Basic info: Wellington Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, CA, 2008.
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: No clue. We had this one for a few years and just got around to opening it.
  • Look: Very dark red with tinges of brown at the edges. Opaque. Legs were bubbly, but very present.
  • Smell: Blackberry and blueberry with mineral.
  • Taste: Mineral taste up front. I said very little tannin, Bob called medium to high tannin. Dark fruit with a coffee aftertaste.
  • Conclusions: Ok at best. We drank a glass each, but neither of us had a desire to go back for a second glass or even pour a glass the next day. I think the wine had oxidized a little and while it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t good either.
  • Other notes: We ended up getting this bottle a few years ago either from Woot or an online wine club that we tried (and didn’t keep). We had a few bottles of it and I really didn’t like it the first time I tried it, which is why this bottle sat in the house for so long. We decided to try it again, and while it was better than I remember, I still don’t care for it.
  • From the bottle: No tasting notes on the bottle and the winery doesn’t have notes for this year anymore. 13.7% alcohol by volume.

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