Archive for the ‘ California ’ Category

Alright Mondavi, I See What Your Game Is

So, in spite of the so-so $17 bottle of wine-that-isn’t-impressing-anyone from last week, I’m after a merlot that soothes my deep-down need for a fruitbomb to go off in my mouth.

And folks, I think I’m as close as I’m going to get.

Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Merlot 2007

This wine is everything you’d expect at a gay rights parade. It’s young, it’s hot, it’s a little spicy and it’s EXTRA fruity.

The nose really gives off a lot of blueberry and alcohol, but the mouth actually helps to tone the latter down. It’s blueberry, it’s blackberry, it’s all the black fruit you can imagine, but with very little sweetness. The oak is not overdone like you might find in those less expensive Mondavi wines, and everything balances together rather nicely.

This is not a structured Napa cabernet with lots of wood and barnyard; this is a fruit explosion in which the oak is meant to help remind you that you’re not drinking Welch’s grape juice, and the tannins are there to cover your tongue for a while so you aren’t gulping it down in sinful bliss.

From my experience, Mondavi (like a lot of the other big names in Napa) have their various wines on a tiered system: the “private selection” being near the bottom, and this “Napa Valley” likely being the next step up. I’m not sure which other levels their are in the middle, but I know that the top has one of what I like to call my “bucket list” wines (Opus One), which means I’ll likely encounter them on the way.

Hopefully soon my California red obsession will fade away, and I can start turning toward some of the more obscure (read: affordable) wines from around the world which don’t seem to ever get enough review.

The fruit and the fun of this wine make me want to give it a 90, but the high alcohol makes me want to take a point away leaving it at a very healthy (and happy) 89.

-Ryan

Merlot: The Cabernet for the Impatient

It’s fall, it’s on the chilly side, and the leaves are starting to change color… It’s now that I turn my attention to the deeper and darker reds that are built for this kind of weather.

This week’s treat? The Markham Vineyards 2007 Napa Valley merlot.

A deal, but not necessarily a steal

The more I get into these Napa wines, the more I am reminded that Napa is not and Eden in which all the fruits plucked from the trees turn into beautiful wines. In fact, there are some that turn out to be good, but not great. And the more I lean toward merlot, and merlot blends, the more I realize that the characteristic jammy-ness and ripe fruit this grape is so known for are really what I’m looking for in a Napa cab. Sadly, I don’t have the $60 to $80 to spend on a single bottle of cabernet, so I am trying to cheat and get my smooth, oaky fruit bombs I would love to see from a cab through a merlot instead.
My first thoughts about this merlot is that it’s big. Like, greyhound bus big. And like it says on the label, it for sure has the “dark ruby hues”, but the wine feels like it’s holding something back. Instead of a deep velvety jammy merlot, I’ve got a big, neutral and oaky one. The tannins are prominent, but not overwhelming, and the nose has strong notes of dark fruit and much lighter ones of white pepper.

Overall, however, this wine is just ok. It is not that inky black/red that I’m looking for in a big bold Napa merlot, but it’s not a feeble extra green merlot like we make here in Traverse City..

All in all, I’d give this wine maybe 88 or 89 points. It’s been done right, but I presume most people would enjoy drinking it, but completely forget it by the next day.

Next week, (if I can maybe sell a kidney or start dealing drugs) I will try to get a bottle of Duckhorn merlot so I can show you all (and myself) just exactly what this grape is all about.

New Year–Toss out recap

So it’s been about a year since I’ve moved into my apartment, and my roommate and I were doing some spring cleaning last week. I have a penchant for saving my favorite bottles of wine, and I decided to clear them out for a new year.  These were my favorite selections from last year:

Some of these wines have been blogged about, but those that haven’t will get a bit of mention here.  First: the Groth 2007 was shit. And it won’t ever be anything but shit.  There’s no hint of complexity.  It’s easy to drink, and you can fool your unfamiliar friends with it, but you may as well add jello mix to some Mondavi and sell it as the same product.

Standouts: Whitehaven (any vintage, really… 2007, 2008, 2009 have all been fantastic), both of the Chateauneufs were fantastically complex and savory, the 2005 Grand Traverse was out of control and so expressive that there aren’t words to describe it.  The Sauternes was great, as far as young ones are concerned. The Cab Franc was titillating. Stags’ Leap was as expected: bold, full, and a complex enough to please a daily palette–the Stag’s Artemis, while on the subject, is also worth the dough.

Mediocre: The Muga and Jordan were not up to par. Perhaps more time was required. The Barbaresco was not worth the $35 that it was.  At best, $20. I think 85-87.

The surprise of the batch was the Davis Bynum.  For the price point, it’s 100% worth it. 90-91? I remember that being a standout.