2004 Bulichella Rubino Blend

Price: $12.00 @ Friend/Gift

What They Said:

Per the winery Found this write up in regards to their 2003. “Fermented in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature of 28°C. Maceration with the skins is for 12 days, with frequent and delicate pumping over. The malolactic fermentation takes place immediately after racking. About half of the product is aged for six months in 2nd and 3rd cycle oak barriques, the other half ages in stainless steel vats.This wine can be appreciated when young, but can also be left to mature in bottles for a few years. The Rubino goes well with entrées, boiled and white meat courses.

Composition : : 50% Sangiovese, 25% Merlot, 25% Cabernet
Colour : Fairly intensive ruby red with violet nuances.
Bouquet : Intense and ample, prevalently of red berries, flowery.
Flavour : Light tannic structure, smooth, with a lasting back taste.”

What I Think:

I consider finding any information about this wine on the internet one of my greatest research tasks to date. A co-worker brought this back from Italy for me a few years ago so I had little info as to what it was to work with and the bottle didn’t provide much more. For a year I thought the winery was Rubino and the winery name only appeared in small print on the foil around the cork. I could make quite a detective if I wasn’t spending all my time on this blog…

Onto the wine, on opening this you were immediately greeted with multiple levels of fruit, both red and of the darker variety, along with a very strong sense of a dry, flowery backbone. Once in the mouth the fruit comes forward but quickly fades to peppers and continues to become dryer working its way towards a flowery, violet finish. As an aside I try not to check the notes on what my research found until after I have tasted the first glass of a wine and recorded my impression. And drum roll…this was the first time I have ever been able to identify violets! My wife thinks I just got lucky. I had this wine open over a five day period and what was amazing is that with each day the different stages of this wine became more prevalent with the peppers on the mid-palate quickly disappearing and the fruit leading straight to the flowers. By the last day the fruit was around for what seemed like a split second before the tongue smacking dryness took over. Surprisingly, I think I liked it. Given that this is $12 and therefore should be rated on the more expensive scale I will call it Pricey. That being said, given that I am usually quite disappointed with Italian wine this one was an uplifting experience and if I see a wine like this in the future at a reasonable price point I am likely to give it a go

Rating: Pricey

2004 Chateau de la Galiniere Cotes de Provence Rouge

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

Per the bottle “The Chateau and its vineyards are situated at the foothills of the majestic Cengle de la Sainte Victoire range of hills in the village of Chateauneuf-le-Rouge. From hand-picked grapes, this elegant wine reveals a complex bouquet of plums, aniseed and violets and rick, silky flavours.”

What I Think:

Can this really be hand picked at this price point? If so it must be the seconds or thirds of something much better. Before I get too much further I should explain that I have somewhat of an infatuation with wines from the Provencal region so keep that in mind as you read on..

On pulling the cork the first thing you get is something barnyard-ish on the nose. Not in a bad way, or a great one either. It was kind of dry and dusty with hints of flower and spice. On the palate you get some light fruit, perhaps plums, which quickly fade leading to a slightly tart, tongue smacking dry finish. On the second day it started to open up a bit more and there was more dark fruit noticeable. Given my relationship with this region I will be giving it another try, whether you do or not is your call.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2004 Sausal Old Vine Family Zinfandel

Price: $18.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “The youngest of our Old Vine Zins from vines 50 to 60 years old, this wine distinguishes itself with aromas of blackberry, cherry and nutmeg. With fruit forward flavors that pair nicely with creamy cheese pastas.”

What I Think:

Talk about starting behind the 8 ball. We opened this one the same night we opened the Ridge. In hindsight it would have been more intelligent to base line that wine (and later this one too) against a more moderately priced Zinfandel, say the old faithful Cline from TJ’s. That being said this was a very good wine, it certainly came into its own towards the end of the bottle. It was very full bodied with deep, dark fruit and well integrated tannins. The structure was round and polished in the mouth. Had I been more intelligent I would have saved myself a glass or more to taste sans the Ridge. Don’t have many specifics for you but this was a very good, not spectacular or remarkable in comparison. In the interest of full disclosure I am a member of the Wine Club at Sausal . They are known for their old vine Zinfandels and find me as a fan due to their reasonable pricing. This is the second to last tier on their later. The make a low cost, Cellar Cats ($12), followed by this one before the Family Reserve ($24) and the Ancient Vines ($30). I have enjoyed all of this and it is a great place to taste if you find yourself in Sonoma. On an interesting side note, I wasn’t aware that this wine was available retail until I randomly saw it on the shelf at the Bell Market near my house on the 24th Street. I would prefer not to rate this based on the lack of attention I paid to it, forced to I say, Wow! Why did I open it again! Disappointed in myself there.

Rating: Wow!

2004 Yalumba “Y” Series Shiraz Viognier

Price: $13.99 @ BevMo imported by Negociants Napa

What They Said:

Per the winery “Good Spring rains were followed by the usual dry Summer, but an unexpectedly cool January was perfect for the vines to ripen and maintain healthy canopies. This cool period led to the grapes in most regions maintaining excellent natural acid levels and very deep rich colours. A long, cool Autumn also meant that each parcel of fruit would be harvested at its optimum flavour development. February and March were quite dry and balmy with cool nights and warm days, ideal conditions for the development of both Shiraz and Viognier flavours.

Yalumba Y Series Shiraz Viognier 2004 showcases the distinct varietal characters of these two grape varieties, co-fermented to capture their synergy.

This wine is medium to deep crimson purple in colour with a very attractive nose showing warmer aromatics of heady ripe berry fruits. The Viognier lends fragrant notes of apricot blossom and musk. The palate is very approachable, with ripe raspberry and ju-jube-like flavours, quite plush and smooth finishing with a long velvety texture.”

What I Think:

We had this one in Australia and found it to be quite a good wine. I think this price seems a bit high as I remembered paying 10ASD or about $8 there. Just checked and the 2005 (the vintage we had down under) appears to be available pretty widely for $10. By the way, all the Australian wineries seem to have these cool tasting notes don’t they! For almost all the Aussie wines I get the have nice downloadable pdfs with the wine information.

We tried to pair this one with pasta and it just couldn’t handle the acidity. Perhaps this was common knowledge but I thought all big wines could stand up to just about anything. Now I know they need to be big on tannins, not big on fruit! So I gave it a pass for that error on my part. The next night we tried with chicken fajitas and again had the same result here. So what did we learn? The important lesson here is that Shiraz should not be on the table unless you see a cut of meat. Since that wasn’t to be on the menu this week I tried some on it’s own to much better results. This wine looks super dark in the glass and shows all dark fruit on the nose, much as I tried to find any hint of the Viognier it subtleness was too much for me to identify. In the mouth it has a rich, supple feel that led to some dark forward fruit. In the mid-palate I was surprised that I could actually sense the ju-jube flavors mentioned in the wineries notes. The finish is where I seemed to notice the blend the most as it was much smoother than I would have anticipated. All in all this turned out to be a moderate effort. It certainly didn’t match the nostalgia that I had hoped to reclaim and the 2004 won’t find its way to my house again. On the other hand I do anticipate with a bottle of the 2005 ($9.99 at BevMo) meeting a steak on my table sometime soon as we will once again try to relive the memories from our long lost vacation.

Rating: Pricey

2004 Owen Roe Abbot’s Table

Price: $25.00 @ Adventures In Wine

What They Said:

Per the winery “This is our most popular wine and for good reason. It is such a rich, yet easy drinking red wine that can be paired with the broadest range of foods. The Zinfandel component pairs beautifully with zesty Italian fare. The Bordeaux varieties scream for hearty beef dishes. While the Pinot Noir makes the Abbot’s Table perfect with lamb and game. Of course, the Syrah and Grenache work masterfully with spicy cuisine. Then again, the Abbot’s Table just tastes great by itself.

Abbot’s Table is inspired by what the English call Claret – a rich red blend from Bordeaux. The Anglo / Bordelais wine trade of Claret (Clairet or clear wine) dates back to medieval times when the wine was pale in color from a shorter time on the red skins (ours is definitely not light in color). More than half of the blend of Abbot’s Table is the Bordeaux varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc – it’s the non-traditional Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Grenache, and Syrah that make this wine so drinkable.

Drink now or hold up to five years in your cellar. 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.6% Syrah, 13% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 8% Zinfandel, 4.5% Grenache, 3.4% Malbec, 3% Pinot Noir, 1.5% Counoise”

What I Think:

Allow me to reuse this intro posted when I had the 2005 a few weeks back; “I still remember the first time I had this wine. Chez Papa in Potrero Hill. We had some friends in from out of town and were asking the waitress for recommendations and she pulled this one on me. At the time, and to some degree still, I was skeptical of blends, this one perhaps more so because of the sheer variety of grapes. As I didn’t want to have to deal with the fall out of ordering a crappy bottle after turning down the recommendation I ordered it. Boy was I surprised. Shortly after that I found their distributor here in the bay area and grabbed a case.”

My experience with the 2005 was slightly on the disappointing side so I was curious to see whether my perception of the 2004 would suffer from a halo effect. With my mom in town and meat loaf on the table it seemed like the right time to find out. All I can say is “Wow”! This wine once again knocked my socks off. I am not sure where to even begin around what it is about this wine, there it so many layers and flavors that build to a complexity that make it difficult to describe. Fruit flavors seem to run the berry gamut from red all the way to the darkest. In the mouth these blend with hints of spice and smoky undertones to form a nice, rounded flavor profile. With every sip the wine keeps changing, with different fruits and flavors showing their colors. Can’t wait for the next bottle, still 8 more to go!

On a random side note that I almost opted to omit, I found it a bit disappointing that the winery doesn’t update the wine description on their site from year to year, I could be wrong but it appears that they just update the blend percentages…

Rating: Cellar It

2004 Corbières Château La Boutignane “Grande Réserve”

Price: $9.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “This red offers a gorgeous nose of raspberry, cherry and blackberry. Full in the mouth with low acid and a long silky finish. Made with syrah and grenache, and by Burgundy phenom Vincent Sauvestre who, like the rest of us, just can’t seem to get enough of the South of France!”

What I Think:

The first from the two cases I recently picked up at K&L. These wines are always afflicted with high expectations because for whatever reason I label everything I buy there in the splurging category. Keep that in mind as these begin to hit the list. As much I as I would like to say I am unbiased I can’t swear to it.

This wine showed light to dark fruit on the nose depending on how much I swirled. In the mouth cherries seemed the most prevalent of the light fruit before quickly souring and turning almost a bit medicinal. Darker fruit pokes its head through on occasion but seems inconsistent. Silky on the finish? I think not; very minty/peppery/tannin (working on distinguishing between these) bordering on unpleasant. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day…

Day 2, things did seem to round out. The light fruits seemed lighter, the darker fruits were a little more forward and the finish could no longer be described as unpleasant that being said there was still something to be desired as far as this wines length. Perhap price comes into play on this rating, at $7 I may have been willing to give it another go, below that a no brainer. But at this price I would certainly give something else a go.

Rating: Skip It

2004 Murphy Goode “Tin Roof” Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $5.99 @ K&L Wines

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “Tin Roof is produced and bottled in the Alexander Valley by Murphy-Goode Winery and introduces a style that is more similar to New Zealand or the Loire Valley S.B. than the whites normally made at Murphy-Goode. The focus here is on the aromatics and the fresh lively fruit that is typically Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is perfect with delicate dishes, highly flavored and spicy foods or is lovely when served as aperitif.”

What I Think:

This one is a winner! Real nice, zippy, minerally start in the mouth followed by lively lemon and grapefruit citrus flavors. A great value. This one may have been a bulk buy but since they have sold out I guess I won’t have a chance to decide with my wallet. If you see this one though make sure to grab two and if it is in the SF area tell me where!

Rating: Buy It

2004 Navarro Gewurztraminer Estate Bottled Dry

Price: $14.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Exceptional. Perfect floral, spice and rose petal/gardenia aroma. Drier than most prior vintages, a classic. Do not miss. Winery only. Gold Medal Winner. – Dan Berger’s Vintage Experiences, July 21, 2005.

Wine of the Week. An off dry, showy, spicy gewürztraminer. Has a good concentration of peach and citrus fruit. Aroma of rose petal. A lively, refreshing finish. Great pick for Thanksgiving dinner. – Santa Rosa Press Democrat, November 9, 2005.

What I Think:

This is a bottle that I always look forward to opening. Navarro makes their gewurzt in the Alsacian style so it is not of sweet variety that you typically find when grabbing a local bottling of this grape. It has a very nice boquet of flowers that I can’t distinguish but you can recognize the mineral undertones even in the nose. We typically pair this with a spicy dish, something Indian or Thai and it is wonderful, though given its dryness it has far more versatility than your typical Gewurzt. Keep your eye open for this bottle in the local San Francisco ethnic restaurants I have seen it quite a bit. If you find it order without hesitation and enjoy!

Rating: Wow!

2004 Evans & Tate Unwooded Chardonnay Underground Series

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Scott Street Portfolio

What They Said:

Per sfgate.com “Evans & Tate is based in the picturesque sub-appellation of Margaret River, which with its cool maritime-influenced climate is similar to Bordeaux. One of the region’s well-known producers, Evans & Tate recently launched the Underground Series line of wines. Grapes for the series come not only from Margaret River, but also the larger wine region of Western Australia.

A common sight in Australia, unwooded or unoaked Chardonnays are becoming popular here. Since no oak barrels were used, this zesty white is packed with melon and green apple fruitiness. As the Aussies would say, both are ideal “verandah wines” for sipping al fresco.

Try this lively, elegant, perfumed, light-to-medium-bodied Chardonnay offering fine tropical, lime, and pear fruit with an fine mineral component and a refreshing balance. Long and clean, it develops nicely in the glass.Fine. Bear’s Score: 88 points.”

What I Think:

While in Australia I we tried a few good unwooded chards that made me think that this might be my answer.  This one wasn’t quite what I was after.  The fruit up front wasn’t up to par and more importantly the mineral flavors on the backend quickly leaving you with a cold tongue.  I’ll thought about rating this 12th bottle just because TJ’s doesn’t have any other unwooded options but I don’t really want to see this in my house again.

Rating: Skip It

2004 Grant Burge Barossa Vines Shiraz

Price: $7.52 @ BevMo imported by Wilson Daniels (retails at $14.99 a bottle)

What They Said:

Per Wine Spectator “Ripe in flavor, but not too hearty, achieving a nice balance of focused plum and berry fruit against fine tannins and not too much alcohol. Drink now through 2009. 7,500 cases imported.” – Harvey Steiman, May 01, 2006 (87 point, $14)

What I Think:

Another from the 5c sale. After having a few of their wines recently while down under I was hoping for a bit more. Wine Spectator gave the 2002 vintage a 90-94 point score but I don’t see this as anywhere near that. I would certainly disagree with the assessment of explosive. This is a ho-hum effort. Drinkable but not memorable, thank goodness I didn’t pay full price. Will try it again with the 2nd bottle soon.

Rating: Skip It