2005 Rocking Horse Napa Valley Zinfandel

Price: $7.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Lots of trials and tribulations here. First I tried the winery’s site. Nothing. Next I put them through the ringer as discussed in my post on wine search engines and I was 0-3 with Google, Able Grape, and Scrugy. Next up I expanded the test to include Corkd, Snooth and WineMad. No dice. 0-7. At least I should be assured a good SEO ranking here.

If you don’t want to count solely on me check quaffability’s write up on the 2002 and the 2004.

What I Think:

Thinking about this one brought up loads of cross links in my head before I even pulled the cork out of the bottle. I had the 2002 offering of this one last year and was impressed but it was quickly overshadowed by the Beringer Clear Lake Zinfandel which was ranked #1 in my TJ’s top 10 for 2007. Couple that with my recent experiences with the Sausal which I enjoyed but seemed pricey and Cline which was slightly disappointing I was keen to see where this one slotted in.

In a nutshell if you call the Cline too fruity and the Sausal to mellow this found a happy middle between them with the price on the lower end of that scale. It was a bit tannin filled up front but this tightness gave way to some lush fruits that lingered on through the finish with a spiciness throughout. I’ll definitely be grabbing another bottle of this one but just like last year if the Beringer reappears I’ll drop it like a bad habit.

Rating: Buy It

2005 Bibi Graetz Casamatta Bianco

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

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “With a super fragrant nose exploding with fresh nectarine, grassy notes, sage, rosemary and lime, this 100% Vermentino aged in stainless steel is crisp and refreshing, loaded with citrus and hints of peach. This is an outstanding effort at an incredibly affordable price.”

What I Think:

A white from Tuscany the Vermentino grape is suppose to be a late ripening grape which would lead you to believe it may be a sweeter bottling. Not the case, it was much more towards the lighter, crisper side. The nose was fragrant with melons and lemon showing predominately. On the palate cantaloupe came to the fore. Though worth the try if you have the inclination if you’re going to grab an unheard of white I would strongly recommend you grab this Mesache Blanco instead.

Rating: Skip It

2005 JW Morris Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $2.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

As typical with these Bronco wines there is not a word to be found on the web. This one has yet to even make it into the blog sphere.

What I Think:

After numerous pleasant experiences with their Gewurztraminer I thought I would branch out and try a few other offerings. I started here. In a word, discouraging. This tasted manufactured, and very poorly so. This wine was very high in acid and showed little to no fruit. Stay away from this one. My branching out experience is likely over.

Rating: Avoid It

2005 Bodega Pirineos Mesache Blanco

Price: $8.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Winebow Brands International

What They Said:

Per Wine Advocate “The 2005 Mesache Blanco is an intriguing blend of 35% late-harvested Macabeo, 35% Gewurztraminer, and 30% Chardonnay fermented and aged in stainless steel. Light gold in color, the bouquet of this crisp, refreshing effort is given a lift by the Gewurztraminer component. In addition to the lychees, there is a hint a banana and other tropical fruits. On the palate, this dry, medium-bodied wine is surprisingly ripe, rich, and long. Drink it over the next two years. 2/28/2007″

What I Think:

Wow! Nice stuff! I was shocked here…A very unique mixture that attracted me as something new. This was a winner, a lovely combination. Chard usually leads to my dismay but provided great balance here vs. the sweet, crispness of the gewurzt which introduced the hints of citrus fruits. Amazingly full bodied with a long finish. Like nothing you have ever had before, get some now.

Rating: Bulk Buy

2005 Belle Vallee Cellars Red Wine

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the winery “Rich and Velvety with incredibly deep cherry and blackberry fruit. Substantial concentration long and turning spicy on the finish. Not to heavy; smooth and appealing now. But will only get better with age.”

What I Think:

This one appealed to me as it was from an unheard of, at least for me, region of Oregon and I am always anxious to try something new. After the first sip I find it a study in contrast; both fruity and dry at the same time. The wine has some staying power and lingers on nicely. Still can’t put my finger on this one after two bottles. Perhaps I’ll try a third. If you’re up for something new give it a go. Otherwise stick to TJ’s Top 10 Wines of January 2008 which this did not make.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2005 Chalk Creek Mendocino County Petite Sirah

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Not a word to be found…guess I will have to make my opinion authoratative…

What I Think:

To be authoritative I should have taken more robust notes which I did not. In a nutshell I found this one rich & robust with some hints of varietal character when looking through my optimistic glasses. Switching over to the side of pessimism I find this slightly medicinal, definitely a doctored taste as this from a fruit perspective is too far over the top. That leaves me straddling the fence. One I am likely to pick up again but I will leave it to you to decide for yourself.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2005 Red Horse Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per webwine.com “Made for casual enjoyment, Red Horse Ranch wines offer bold, rich flavors in a fruit-forward style that is immediately appealing. Sourced entirely from the finest Central Coast grapes available, these wines truly express the character of the land in which they are grown.”

What I Think:

This one I grabbed from an end cap placement down in South San Francisco. Research found that it is the second label of Silver Stone winery which seems to produce high quality wines under their own label, does that mean I can hope for the same here…. Further research found this one selling on webwine for $13.30 a bottle versus the $5 at TJ’s. Oh the poor person who gets connived into buying there.

With the cork out the nose is on the earthy side. On the palate you get loads of chocolate and plums but overall this wine come off on the manufactured side. At the same price point I’ll stick to the Chalk Creek. That said if you are interested in trying something new feel free to give this one a go.

Rating: Skip It

2005 Pope Valley Winery Napa Valley Sangiovese

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the winery, well nothing on the ’05 which appears to be from Haus Creek but I did find an ’06 that is likely a different bottling here

What I Think:

A sangiovese in Napa Valley? If you are like me you’re thinking WTF? On opening the question is not answered. The wine is light and seems thin, almost pinot-ish. More fruit forward than its Italian brethren it started to show some cherries on day 2. Still so light that it is better without food which overpowered this diminutive wine. Perhaps this would be better chilled like a rose, which this winery does make from sangiovese.  I’ll let someone else find out. 

Rating: Skip It

2005 Epicuro Aglianico

2005 Epicuro AglianicoPrice: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by D’Aquino Italian Imports

What They Said:

Per the bottle “This red wine shows intense blackberry and cherry notes harmoniously exalted by a light spicy background. Smooth and velvety with a firm backbone. Perfect with red meat, ham and mature cheeses”

What I Think:

Ah my nemesis, Italian wine. I want to like them but am often confounded. The Aglianico grape I discovered at Delfina Pizzeria some time back. I have since purchased a few bottles but have paid north of $15 for each. To see this offering at TJ’s for $5 was so delightful that I bought two bottles before even tasting it. You’re probably saying “Wow, he sure did splurge!” mockingly but for me this is a rarity. These wines hail from southern Italy which is no shock to me as the other Italian varietals I enjoy (Nero d’ Avola from Sicily and Primitivo from Puglia) are found here as well. Back to my opening, perhaps it is the wines from the northern region that leave me confounded…

As soon as I got this home it ended up on the table with pizza and I quickly confirmed my intuition to buy multiple bottles was correct. On first taste, the wine struck me as light, fruity and slightly on the dry side reminding me of many Spanish efforts I enjoy. The nose showed mainly cherries with some barrel scents and spiciness lingering in the background. A great value at this price, almost a lock to make the Top 10 for January. In fact yesterday I went hunting for more but struck out as they did not have it in South San Francisco.  They did however have another offering from the same label I grabbed based on the quality found here. I’ll have to get back to Brannan Street quickly!

Rating: Bulk Buy

2005 Rosenblum Hillside Vineyards Syrah

Price: $25.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “This wine was aged in barrels specially designed for Syrah, this opaque-purple wine is incredibly complex and enticing with aromatics and flavors of smoky blackberry, white pepper and herbes de Provence, wrapped in a blanket of cassis with hints of anise.

Pair this sumptuous Syrah with marinated, grilled elk tenderloin, duck à l’orange ora hearty cassoulet.”

What I Think:

As dinner took a bit longer than expected this wine helped fill the gap between appetizers (2006 Rosenblum Rust Ridge Napa Valley Chardonnay) and the main course (2005 Ridge York Creek Zinfandel) on New Year’s Eve. As the second Rosenblum of the evening it had some ground to make up as its sibling disappointed. For a while I have been thinking of redeploying my wine club money elsewhere, perhaps Ridge or Martin Family Vineyards. Most likely know that Rosenblum is widely known for Zinfandel’s so I was curious to what this Syrah would deliver. With the pressure on this one answered the bell though in a very typical fashion. When I open their wines I know what I am going to get and that is what happened here. The wine was heavy in the mouth with lush dark fruits and some spice to finish it off. Again, a nice effort but at $25 there isn’t anything that stands up and makes you take notice here. At $15 it would have been acceptable but given how rarely I spend this kind of money Rosenblum is officially on probation.

Rating: Pricey