2008 Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap Red

2008 Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap RedPrice: $8.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Vineyard Brands

What They Said:

Per Wine Enthusiast (via K&L) 89 points and a Best Buy: “A nose of red fruit, spice and violet is followed by fresh but lush aromas of cherries, blackberries and a touch of smoke and dark chocolate. Smooth and integrated, with a pretty, aromatic character.” (11/09)

What I Think:

And my South African wine adventure continues. I had a chance to taste the ’09 version of this one, a blend of 68% Syrah, 30% Mourvèdre, 2% Viognier, at the tasting event I recently attended and had this to say; “Nice bright red fruits and spices. It struck me as a perfect grilling wine.” How did the ’08 pan out?

Smoky and spicy upfront on the nose this one is lively on the palate showing sour cherry and red berry flavors with a tannic acidity taking over before an earthy, black pepper finish leaves your mouth lingering with dry, herbal, chocolate notes. The above makes it sound as if I liked the wine more than I did. I actually found it slightly disjointed which runs counter to the Wine Enthusiast review which called this one “well integrated”. Looks like many of the folks over at CellarTracker agree with me as it has a community rating of 85.4 (vs. WE 89). For me, I didn’t do it side by side but, I remember liking the ’09 more. That said I prefer this to the Porcupine Ridge Syrah but neither compare to the Kanonkop Kadette which is easily still my favorite new discovery.

That’s it for the reds I grabbed the first time around. Perhaps I’ll pickup some more soon. If you have any recommendations let me know. Anyone had the Goats du Roam lately? Remember that one being nice vintages ago…

Rating: Pricey

2008 Porcupine Ridge Syrah

Price: $9.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Vineyard Brands

What They Said:

2008 Porcupine Ridge SyrahPer K&L Wines: 89 points Wine Enthusiast: “This Syrah has a rustic but elegant nature: aromas of raspberry, black pepper, smoked sausage and cloves prevail, while full-bodied but integrated flavors of anise, pepper and berry follow. The wine is robust but has a velvety character and a spicy finish.” (11/09) And, according to Wine Spectator: “Fresh, with an iron note running through the black tea, braised fig and dark cherry fruit notes. There’s a nice plush edge to the open-knit finish. Drink now.” (12/09)

What I Think:

Fresh off the heels of my South African tasting adventures I headed over to K&L Wines to pick up some Wolftrap & Man Vinters Chenin Blanc. Alas they were out of both. Fortunately they had this one which was recommended courtesy of @winewithjameson (who shared some excellent pictures from the winery to boot!). So what did we have here…

A bit green with hot stewed plums on the nose. The oak is apparent on the palate with unripe brambly, berry fruits up front that fall apart as the acidity becomes a bit overbearing on the mid palate. This wine is juicy and spicy throughout with a sharp finish showing black pepper while oscillating between hot and dry. The bottle already showed a healthy bit of sediment on the finish leading me to believe this one was unfiltered. A quality offering, with characteristics you can’t find in something like the 12 Apostles, but still not quite worthy of a repeat for me. That said my thirst for tasting more of the wines from South Africa remains. Stay tuned for more as the World Cup is less than three weeks away!

Rating: Pricey

1999 Luna Beberide Tinto

Price: $19.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Grapes of Spain

What They Said:

1999 Luna Beberide Tinto VdT Castilla y LeonPer K&L Wines “This is an incredibly rare, fully mature, Spanish gem. Produced from the steep, slate, terraced vineyards of Bierzo by Spain’s legendary Mariano Garcia (while he was still making wine at Vega Sicilia!), here is a beautiful example of a perfectly aged Spanish wine that has developed quite beautifully in bottle. Produced from 40% Cabernet, 30% Merlot and 30% Mencia, think of it as a supple, balanced, old school styled Bordeaux blend with a Castillian twist. Savory cherry, hints of sage leaf, green and black peppercorn and an unmistakable character of mature Cabernet family aromas (many people liken Mencia to Cabernet Franc, which completes this Graves style blend) make for one gorgeous bottle of wine. And Mariano Garcia made it at the same time he was busy working on Vega Sicilia “Unico,” which is a good few hundred dollars more. For fans of good, honest affordable bordeaux and old school California Cabs, this K&L exclusive could be right up your alley.”

What I Think:

Given I have a case of the ’05 in the cellar I had to take the opportunity to see how this one might age. This bottling, an interesting blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 30% Mencia, is the Spanish version of Bordeaux and seems it may be worthy of a name of its own (e.g Super Tuscan). Perhaps we should let the wine decide…

On the nose it shows gorgeous dark fruit and herbs. The palate shows dry cherries and black olives (with a hint of rhubarb) that frame themselves with a dry, cedar backbone. The finish shows this wines age with perfectly integrated tannins and spices that last and last. For those sensitive this wine may be overly dry but I still find it to be smooth, silky, and elegant. If you missed the chance to try the ’99 K&L Wines just sent me an email to let me know the 2000 (which they described as “more muscular, ageworthy, and a bit more impressive” is now in stock. I already added a bottle to my cart, hope it can deliver on their promise!

Thanks to Viva La Wino for tipping me off to this one! You can find his thoughts here.

Rating: Wow!

2007 Tablas Creek Côtes de Tablas

Price: $21.99 @ K&L Wines

What They Said:

2007 Tablas Creek Côtes de TablasPer K&L Wines “93 points Robert Parker: “The 2007 Côtes de Tablas is a sensational wine as well as a great bargain. The fact that it is finished with a screw cap may give some consumers the wrong impression, but this is a serious, mouthfilling red. A blend of 50% Grenache and the balance equal parts Syrah and Counoise, it exhibits sweet, gamy notes along with plenty of pepper, licorice, roasted herb, blackberry, and cassis characteristics, a velvety, lush texture, a full-bodied richness, beautifully integrated acidity, abundant Provencal typicity, and good minerality for a wine of such remarkable flavor depth. Enjoy it over the next 5-6 years.” (08/09)

Tablas Creek, a partnership between Robert Haas and the Perrin family of France’s famed Château de Beaucastel, has been at the forefront of growing and producing top-notch Rhône varietals for more than 20 years. Their “Côtes de Tablas” blend of Grenache, Syrah and Counoise is an homage to the wines of the Southern Rhône kissed by the California sun. The 2007 vintage is fantastic and alluring from the moment you pop the cork. Lead by bright red cherry aromas underscored by hints of iron, game and fresh cracked black pepper, the bouquet translates seamlessly to the palate, which is fresh and spicy with a vein of anise that weaves itself through to the finish. Like other Perrin wines, this medium-bodied beauty is built for the table. Try it with braised short ribs, grilled hanger steak with shallots or bucatini all’Amatriciana.”

What I Think:

Tablas Creek is a wine I have been meaning to try for years. With that it silently became the movie that everyone raved about. Expectations growing each day as you await the experience. A bit ago they had a tasting at K&L Wines but I managed to catch a cold around that time. From my sick bed I added a couple bottles to my virtual cart which I picked up a few months later. Then the wine sat in the rack begging for me to drink it. Last Friday I took it up on the offer but could it meet the lofty expectations?

This effort was 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 25% Counoise. Anyone ever had a varietal bottling of Counoise? I haven’t but would love to give it a try. No better way to learn about a grape. Speaking of learning something crossed my mind when drinking this bottle; currants. This is a smell/taste that crosses my mind often. I need to get more familiar with it. I decided that part of my New Year’s Blogging Resolution (#nybr) will be to explore a different flavor component each month. The goal being to familiarize myself with each and expand my wine tasting vocabulary. Anise may be my early choice for February. Who else has wine related resolutions to share? Ok, ok let’s get to the wine…

The Côtes de Tablas greeted me with an expressive nose showing spicebox, herb, black cherry and dark brambly fruits notes. It was medium to dark garnet in color. The entry to the palate showed a glimpse of fruit that is quickly enveloped into a tight, but balanced, acidic wrapper from which emerges a dry, finish laced with red licorice flavors. My initial impression was that this wine was clearly well made, a bit tight and enjoyable without being memorable. Those that know me are aware I am looking for more than that in a $20 bottle. After four nights I learned that this one just needed more time in the bottle. Though enjoyable initially a few days of air made a world of difference. With time the front of the palate softened and the wine now greeted you with nice, warm fruit on entry while still holding its balance with a nice acidity emerging towards the middle that leads to a long, dry, chalky finish. In hindsight, I would have liked to let this one lie for at least another year (or decanted for a few hours). Had I checked earlier perhaps the Tablas Creek vintage chart (pdf) could have saved the day. It currently lists the ‘07 Côtes de Tablas as “early maturity”. The ’06 is drinking at “peak maturity”. I wonder if I can find a bottle for comparisons sake. In the mean time what to do about that bottle of ’07 Esprit de Beaucastel

Rating: Pricey

2007 Lang & Reed North Coast Cabernet Franc

Price: $19.99 @ K&L Wines

What They Said:

2007 Lang & Reed North Coast Cabernet FrancPer K&L Wines “Like a domestic Chinon, the Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc showcases the varietal at its best. Sourced from the High Chaparral, Cross Springs and La Sierra vineyards in Lake County, with small amounts of fruit from the Cafferata and Stanton vineyards in the Napa Valley. Violet-hued with a dark nose full of black cherry fruit underscored by lavender, sage and fennel aromas. In the mouth the cherry fruit envelops your senses with soft tannins and savory herbs. Easy to drink, especially with a slight chill on it, this wine is food-friendly, fun and ready to drink. One star from the Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine: “This lively, fruit-focused wine recalls the comparatively lighter Cabernet Francs of France’s Loire Valley, and, while very much showing a touch of the brushy, dried-leaf qualities often found from the grape, it holds tannin in check and smacks of cherry-like fruit from beginning to end. A few years of age should find it in top form, but it will make a pleasurable partner to steaks and chops even now.” (05/09)”

What I Think:

Wow, this is the most compelling wine I’ve had in some time. Not so sure about the “domestic Chinon” but this is a winner straight out of the gate. In the glass it shows a nice shiny purple color. The nose is inviting. Some red fruit notes and loads of flowers and herbs, violet and mint come to mind. Bold flavors greet you in the mouth. Loads of red cherries assert themselves through the middle of the palate delivering a great mouth feel throughout. The finish unexpectedly transforms to a light finish of dried cherries, herbs and floral notes accompanied by pleasant, soft, unending tannins which deliver just enough acidity to keep the balance perfectly in check. Remarkable! And it is even better with food. A very flavorful and fruit forward wine that at the same time manages to be elegant and restrained. Checking the vineyards on this one I see it is 90% Lake County (with the rest from Napa Valley), yet another reason to explore this region more. Thanks to Vinography for bringing this one to my attention. I’ll definitely be grabbing some more of this one. And for those of you that read here often, for a wine that checks in at $20, you know that is very high praise. I’m already looking forward to the next bottle…

Rating: Wow!

2008 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $8.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Pasternak Wine

What They Said:

2008 Dashwood Sauvignon BlancPer K&L Wines “90 points in the Wine Spectator: “Vivid, refreshing and brimming with lime-accented pear, star fruit and light vanilla flavors, lingering nicely on the expressive finish. Drink now. 2,000 cases imported” (April 2009) Meyer lemon, tangerine, lime zest, papaya and pineapple. A veritable cocktail of fruit flavors, but fortunately the Dashwood never tastes like fruit cocktail. Nor is it overwhelmed with the grassy, herbal flavors that sometimes plague the value wines of New Zealand. This wine has lovely delineation of flavors ranging from the citrus to the tropical, but it never becomes cloying or overbearing. The Kim Crawford SB may currently hold the crown as our best-selling Kiwi wine, but for less money (and, I feel, better quality) the Dashwood should easily knock it from its throne.. All this and a terrific review in the Wine Spectator and you have our best bargain in Sauvignon Blanc this year. (Keith Mabry, K&L Hollywood)”

What I Think:

I was tipped off to this one by Danny a while back and shortly thereafter picked up a bottle. The bottle made it to the fridge and eventually onto the table and into the glass. As I stuck my nose in for the @garyvee sniffy, sniff it was as if I was standing under a lime tree near a pile of freshly cut grass which was dumped over a bed of rocks lying next to a cool stream. Were you able to follow all that? Now that I’ve had my fun with words let’s try this a different way. You get fresh cut grass and mineral on the nose. Once in the mouth you’re greeted with limes galore on a nice acidic backbone. Meyer lemons and gooseberry greet you on the mid palate leading to a tart, crisp finish. This one is a winner. There is a lot of great value Sauvignon Blanc’s coming out of New Zealand. If you’re still looking for your go to bottle, of if me you like a little variety, definitely give this one a try. Thanks again to Danny for the tip!

Rating: Buy It

2007 Bodegas Luzon Jumilla

2007 Bodegas Luzon JumillaPrice: $6.99 @ K&L Wines imported by The Henry Wine Group

What They Said:

Via wine.com “The 2007 Luzon is 65% Monastrell and 35% Syrah. Purple-colored, it exhibits a bouquet of spice box, violets, and blueberry. On the palate this smooth-textured wine offers generous savory fruit, good balance, and a pure finish. Drink it over the next 2-3 years.” – Wine Advocate (08/08)

Enthusiast’s #1 top value wine of 2008 and 90 points! They write: “Truly captivating wine for under $10? Yes, Luzón’s Monastrell-Syrah blend is exactly that. It delivers huge plum and spice notes, with tobacco, herbs and smoked meat working their way into the game. Remains powerfully fruity and spicy in the mouth, with a long, minty, medicinal finish. Competes with thousands of wines priced higher. Overdelivers by a lot!” (12/15/2008)

From Wine Spectator: “Smoky and inky notes, along with licorice, frame flavors of cassis, mineral and game in this firm, juicy red, which is focused and expressive.” (02/09)

What I Think:

Couple the above praise with the price tag and I’m surprised it took as long as it did for this one to show up on my radar. On opening this wine you know it is no joke. A huge nose filled with black pepper and dark fruits. On the palate it virtually explodes with juicy plum and blackberry flavors that comingle nicely with spice and herb notes in the palate. Towards the end the fruit muscles these to the side and turns slightly tart which leads us into a dry, tannic finish that lingers. Nothing subtle about this one, it beats you over the head.

On a side note, it was interesting to be reading Alice Feiring book, How I Saved the World from Parkerization while drinking this bottle. Guessing this is exactly the type of bottle she had in her crosshairs as she was holding that pen in her hand. While I do fancy the pure, natural wines she advocates for, to me, there is a time and place for these fruit bombs. My only complaint is that there is no reason on earth this bottle should not have been under a screw top. So grab a bottle, make something very hearty (think hamburger or something rich with sauce), pull the cork and enjoy this juicy quaffer.

Rating: Buy It

2008 Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc

2008 Veramonte Sauvignon BlancPrice: $8.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Huneeus Vinters LLC

What They Said:

Per wine.com “Captures the pungent, alert character inherent to Sauvignon Blanc. This is a peppy wine with spiky tropical and green-fruit aromas and flavors. It’s a mash up of citrus and nettles, with a controlled, fairly long grapefruit-driven finish. Modest in price, but the real thing.” 89 Points, Best Buy, Wine Enthusiast, March 2009

From Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar: “Pale straw. Lively aromas of grapefruit, lime, white pepper and herbs. Fresh on the palate too, displaying vibrant citrus and orchard fruit qualities and good mineral snap. Finishes dry and delineated, with the lime element repeating.” (Mar/Apr ’09)

What I Think:

After sampling the Veramonte Primus as part of the Wines of Chile Online Tasting, and with higher temperatures on the horizon, I was reminded of my love for this one which I have often referred to as the most refreshing wine I have ever had. The color is of pale straw. On the nose you get citrus aromas on top of a mineral base and some floral notes. On the palate you are greeted with loads of fruit on a nice stony backbone that give way to a long, dry, crisp grapefruit and lime finish. This wine is fresh (but not in a mowed grass way like you get from New Zealand) and vibrant throughout. I already grabbed a case, my only warning is this may be too much tang for some so you might want to try a bottle first before you invest further. For those of you who can’t find it or prefer shopping via the internet this one is available via wine.com.

Rating: Bulk Buy

2006 Sobon Estate Rocky Top Zinfandel

Price: $12.99 @ K&L Wines

What They Said:

2006 Sobon Estate Rocky Top Zinfandel Per K&L Wines “Rocky Top Tennessee may be home sweet home to Lynn Anderson, but Rocky Top in Amador is home to some fine old Zinfandel vines, and that’s good news for all of us! A very shy producing vineyard with soils of volcanic ash and boulders, this site produces old vine Zinfandel of immense proportions. The very floral, vanilla and raspberry jam aromas are very forward and inviting. The flavors match the aromas, with a rich juicy component. The finish is long and velvety-rich.”

What I Think:

For those that say twitter doesn’t sell wine like Steve Heimoff, here is a firm example of where it does. After coming across @sobonwine hearing about their wines my curiosity was piqued. This led me to K&L Wines where I paid for this bottle of Rocky Top with money. Wow a real example of selling something on twitter… Oh, by the way Dell also made a little bit of money via twitter. But I digress, let’s get to the wine.

This wine is 92% Zinfandel, 4% Petite Syrah, 2% Carignane and 2% Barbera. K&L nicely describes the terroir of this wine above. On the nose you are greeted with rich aromas of dark berries and dusty mocha chocolate. On the palate you are greeted with more purple fruits; plums and blackberries, with a slightly tart cherry component that along with the tannins keeps this wine in perfect balance. The finish was long, velvety and delightful. This is the best Zinfandel I have been introduced to in a while and another reminder that I need to get out and visit Amador County (and Lodi too!) soon. There are a ton of interesting wines coming out of the area that are friendly on the pocketbook. This one is a great example of that and I highly recommend it for Zindependence Day. What are you drinking tomorrow?

Rating: Wow!

2008 d’Arenberg Hermit Crab

2008 d'Arenberg Hermit Crab Viognier-MarsannePrice: $11.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Old Bridge Cellars

What They Said:

Per wine.com “Expressive aromatics of lime and lemon with peaches, pears and apricot stone jumping out of the glass and spicy, floral notes in the background. Great balance on the palate, the luscious stone fruit and ginger spices harmonized by savory nuty characters from the Marsanne. Wonderful combination of freshness, complexity and balance between fruit flavour, acid and alcohol.”

What I Think:

I am a long time fan of d’Arnberg; in fact the Stump Jump Red was my first case purchase at Cost Plus World Market ages ago. Having long wanted to try this one a recent episode of wine library tv brought it top of mind and I grabbed a bottle on my recent visit to K&L Wines. Not familiar with Marsanne I learned that it hails from France and is widely planted in the Hermitage AOC. In fact, the Hermit Crab naming of this wine is an ode to these historical ties. Appellation America had a humorous write-up where I learned that Marsanne is most commonly blended and married with Roussanne. From that article this combination with Viognier is described as one of the “few incidents of infidelity forgiven.” One thing Marsanne does share with Viognier is that both are blended in small percentages into red wines. The Marsanne can serve as up to 15% of red blends of the Hermitage and the Viognier with Shiraz in Australia. Now let’s get to the wine…

d'Arenberg Hermit Crab Vintage Ratings

This one is a blend of 72% Viognier and 28% Marsanne and comes with a long record of accolades. As you can see from the graphic this one consistently rates in the 90′s which is remarkable given the price point. With a grilled shrimp salad on the table we poured the wine in the glass. The nose is a load of fruits and minerals with floral notes interweaved. On the palate it starts with citrus, lemon and lime, before turning to peach and fading to a stony finish. This wine is certainly well made and the acid is very well balanced but to me it seems that one component hasn’t integrated and is disrupting the “flow” of this wine towards the end of the mid-palate. You would think I could identify it but honestly I can’t. I’m thinking it is an oily/kerosene/petroleum like component. Other thoughts were the amount of oak used or a bitter, nut flavor. As I mentioned on twitter; I am surprisingly not a fan. Perhaps it’s Marsanne, I intend to seek out a varietal offering to get some more experience here and see if that might be the issue. The nutty qualities leave me wondering if this could have used some more time in the bottle, could this one improve over the years? Don’t let me opinion sway you here, if you intended to try this I urge you to do so. Then let me know what you think… If you have trouble tracking this one down it is available on wine.com.

Rating: Pricey