2006 Lance & Windmill Petite Syrah

Price: $14.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2006 Lance & Windmill Petite SyrahRumor has it this one is a $60 bottling from Quixote Winery. Some research over at the TTB quickly confirms this and it further backed by the 2005 being offered at $60 on the winery website. As I understand the ’05 garnered 93pts from the Wine Spectator I’m a bit surprised to find this one on the shelves at Trader Joe’s but intrigued to try it as well…

What I Think:

(14.4%) This one starts with bursting blueberry flavors and tons of dark lush fruit. Juicy, rich and velvety but with nice mouth coating tannins with a touch of leather to keep it “restrained”. As it dries out some spice (along with a touch of heat) emerges on a finish that while short lingers on. Despite the big fruit there are enough other components here to keep it interesting (and intact). It’s been a while since I recall enjoying a Petite Sirah as much as I did this one. Pair this one with a steak or a cigar…

Rating: Buy It (a bit spendy but if you are a fan of Petite Sirah well worth trying)

Interested in reading more about the Lance & Windmill Petite Syrah?

  • My friends over at Beards & Bellies describe this as “stain your tongue deliciousness” and rate it 4.5 out of 5 Bellies
  • My friend Matt over at Trader Joe’s Wine Notes summarizes his thoughts on this one by saying “Simply awesome”

2006 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs

2006 Schramsberg Blanc de Noir Sparkling WinePrice: $29.99 @ Friend/Gift

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines: 90 points and 1 Puff from the Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine: “90% Pinot Noir; 10% Chardonnay. A full dose of creamy yeast backed up by light, directly cherryish notes and by hints of burnt paper and baked brioche brands this wine as the real thing. It is explosively bubbled and is bristling with acidity and becomes a trifle hard and austere, yet it counters that minor bother with a minerally streak and a long finish.” (Volume 34 Issue 1: November 2009) And, according to Wine Spectator: “Enticing aromas of lemon tart and raspberry lead to creamy, decadent baked pear, toasty spice and crème brulee flavors. Drink now through 2013.”

What I Think:

(13.8%) 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay – A long time favorite this one did not disappoint. Yeasty nose with crisp peach notes. A nice, creamy mousse greets you on a dry palate with green apple and lime flavors. Hints of white raspberry add a tad of sweetness to the acidity on a crisp, toasty, bubbly finish that lasts nicely. Load up on this one if you can!

Rating: Wow!

2006 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Volant

Price: $35.00 @ Bonny Doon Vineyard

What They Said:

2006 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare VolantPer Bonny Doon Vineyard (pdf) “This cuvée, the 22nd edition of Le Cigare Volant a blend of syrah, grenache, cinsault with just a soupçon of mourvèdre and carignane, make for a bright and wonderfully gamey wine. Very youthful with toasty notes of cherry, birch, sassafras and pomegranate. Pair this racey red with a bloomsdale spinach salad with sherry vinaigrette garnished with carpaccio of tuna or beef. Speaking of beef, a rare steak in any number of variations (tri-tip, hanger, New York, filet) would be quite delish. But more exotic fare such as chicken tikka masala or Tandoori lamb chops will also work wonderfully well. While the zesty ’06 is excellent right now, decanting or aging it for 2-3 more years would be all to the good.”

What I Think:

(13.3%) 43.6% Syrah, 43.5% Grenache, 11.7% Cinsault, 1.1% Mourvedre and 0.1% Carignane – The blend percentage as only Randall and crew would tell it this is my first go round with the Le Cigare Volant. Dark red in color with earthy red fruits, spice and almost a hint sweet on a savory nose. Starts rich and lively on a meaty, chewy palate that shows brambly berry fruit. From there it turns tart, earthy and mineral driven before drying out on a peppery finish where the fruit reemerges before giving way to lingering, lip smacking tannins. Nice tannins and structure this is a wine drinks well now but definitely has a brighter future ahead of it. Thankfully I already have one more on hand… (3,300 cases made)

Rating: Wow!

2006 Chapillon Priorat Reves

Price: $8.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

2006 Chapillon Priorat RevesPer Trader Joe’s (pdf) “Tenacity and grace—that’s Priorat. This small region, southeast of Barcelona, is known for its steep hillsides, hot days and unforgiving, slate-based soils (known locally as licorella). Cultivated since the Carthusian monks in the Middle Ages, this formidable terroir, now a Spanish Denominació d’Origen Qualificada (DOQ1), gives rise to grapes that are equal parts perseverance and elegance. Their juice is surreal: intense and stunningly structured with soft tannins. Experience it in Rêves.”

What I Think:

(14%) 40% Carignan, 35% Garnacha, 25% Syrah – Dense and dark in the glass. Aromatically interesting with dark fruit, sweet cigarbox, spice and graphite notes. Supple and dense (again) on entry with tart blackberry flavors this one shows slight creaminess and vanilla on the mid-palate before leading to a short, dry leathery finish with mild tannins. On open it seemed overly oaked but this blew off with time. This wine showed nice structure and balanced throughout. Certainly an interesting find for $9.

Rating: Buy It – This wine might not be for all but if you like a dry, rich, dense wine or are comfortable trying something new at this price point it is worth giving this one a shot.

For those willing to spend just a bit more Joe over at Good Cheap Vino recommends the 2003 Les Mines Priorat which you can pick up as part of the 5 cent sale at BevMo for $12.52 a bottle. Joe has this to say; “This bottle is severely under-priced and could easily take on bottles that are $40-$50.” and compared it to the Reves as so “for $4 more, the Les Mines Priorat 2003 is 20 times better”. I know I am going to try and track a bottle down and you may want to do the same…

2006 Oreana ? Red Table Wine

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2006 Oreana ? Red Table WinePer Oreana Winery “A soft, satiny, sexy wine, with voluptuous black cherry and blackberry fruit, plus layers of chocolate and spices suggestive of cinnamon, mint and more. Powerful and complex, yet open and accessible.”

What I Think:

This one is an offering from the folks at Oreana Winery who you may be familiar with as they are the same folks behind the Project Happiness label and Mission Point Pinot Noir that have long graced the Trader Joe’s shelves. Now I’ve heard from many over the years that were fans of this wine but had yet to try it and figured it was due time to rectify that so on a recent visit in the cart it went. The bottle says “Mistake of fate?” and tell the story of an accidental blending of two lots. Funny, guessing the NV bottling also said the same. The story just doesn’t hold water anymore (just like the Trentatre but we will save that for another day). Good thing this winemaker doesn’t work for me or he’d be fired! Or would he? Let’s see what the bottle has to say?

(14.5%) Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon – Dark, almost opaque in the glass. Once you get near this one it is cloying from the get go. Big, flabby and sweet on the palate if you view the glass half empty. For the half full crew this comes across as a big, relatively smooth fruit bomb with puckering black cherry flavors that shows dry pepper notes on the back end. Either way there is lingering heat on the finish. How do you view the glass? I’m half empty on this one as it seems like a headache waiting to happen. That said feel free to give it a shot if it sounds like it may be up your alley…

Rating: 12th Bottle

Stay tuned for more reviews soon! Unfortunately most of mine as of last have been of the self and peer type as we go through performance reviews at the day job… Hope you are all drinking well!

2006 Zaca Mesa Syrah

2006 Zaca Mesa SyrahPrice: $16.99 @ K&L Wines

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “93 points and a “Smart Buy” designation from Wine Spectator: “Offering wonderful floral, grapey plum and wild berry aromas, this is rich, smooth and supple on the palate, with tiers of dark berry, mocha, mineral and spice flavors that glide along. Drink now through 2015.” (02/10) Zaca Mesa has been on a serious roll over the last few vintages with their Santa Ynez Valley Syrah bottling. The 2005 was wonderful with its mix of ripe fruit and intense spice, the 2006 is more of the same except that it is even bigger and has a little more of everything packed into the same $16.99 package. The nose is perfect varietal Syrah, full of roast fennel, hot tar, muffuletta, and sweet black berry jam. Back that with deep, perfectly ripe flavors of white pepper, cassis, fried sage and violet and this is one intense, full throttle Syrah. For well under $20 this is one of the biggest steals we currently have in the Domestic section. (Bryan Brick, K&L)”

What I Think:

After reading an intriguing tasting note from Steve Heimoff I set out to find the Zaca Mesa Grenache. That didn’t work out but I did find this Syrah and boy am I glad I did. Wow! It starts with a great nose. Deep fruit with brambly spice on a jammy nose. The palate is powerful with a surprisingly nice acidity that keeps it perfectly balanced. Nice layered flavors showing violets, blackberries, bacon, dusted chocolate and a nice mineral component to boot. The finish is loaded with herbs and spices and lingers on ever so nicely. This one makes me want to drink a whole lot more Syrah. Wine Spectator gave this one 93 points and I see why! This is the most enjoyable bottle of wine I have had in quite a while. I just bought a few more bottles and after taking a quick look as the other Zaca Mesa offerings this is a winery I need to explore further. Now if I can somehow just get my hands on that Grenache…

Rating: Wow! <- And I'm not the only one who thinks so. Interested in reading more about the Zaca Mesa Syrah?

2006 Campo Viejo Tempranillo Crianza

2006 Campo Viejo Tempranillo CrianzaPrice: $9.99 imported by Pernod Richard

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “This blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Mazuelo is an intense ruby red wine with aromas of black fruit and vanilla. Velvety and elegant, it’s an old world wine with a new world attitude, and it is downright addictive with roasts and firm cheeses.”

What I Think:

Given I’ve been having a rough patch with Tempranillo of late when I was offered the opportunity to sample this Campo Viejo which is the gold standard for a value offering in this category I didn’t hesitate to accept. Random aside, do you know what Crianza indicates? I didn’t but Wikipedia did. Spanish wines are often labeled based on their ageing. The three most common designations are Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. Crianza is aged two year with a minimum of six months in oak, Reserva three years with a full year in oak and Gran Reserva five years with eighteen months in oak. That requirement for two years of ageing makes this 2006 the current release from Campo Viejo. There some wine trivia for you. Now let’s get back to the wine.

Dark fruit and spices on the nose with barrel notes omnipresent throughout. This wine is warm and comforting on the palate with soft cherry and floral notes. It almost reminds me of wrapping up in a familiar blanket on a cold winter (or San Francisco summer) night. The mid palate shows a firm acidity to keep this one nicely balanced before giving way to a creamy vanilla finish laden with barrel notes and sour cherries. A simple, enjoyable wine that it is widely available and better yet affordable. Given that you can always consider this a safe choice when you have paella (or a simple BBQ dish) on the menu. Also a great place to start if you’ve yet to try Tempranillo. How about you? Anyone out there have a favorite Tempranillo of their own to share? Let us know in the comments section below.

Rating: 12th Bottle

*as indicated above this wine was indeed received as a sample

2006 Chateau Chevalier Pinot Noir

Price: $9.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2006 Chateau Chevalier Pinot NoirBarely a whisper of this one on their site. Being a fan of their Cab offering and initially giving this bottle the once over I become suspect. But the facts check out. I had just never noticed that Chateau Chevalier is made by Spring Mountain Vineyard (perhaps a 2nd label? The ’06 Spring Mountain Pinot went for $55) and comes in a bottle unbefiiting of the projected quality. All indications are that the same team and same effort is involved here and, as mentioned, given I am a fan of the Cab that is a good thing. Despite that the only mention from the winery is a “coming soon” designation on their awards page.

What I Think:

So what’s in the bottle? In a word “disappointment”. The brownish, amber color on this one makes it look beyond its years. The nose starts super promising with dried cherry and black tea aromas. In the mouth this one starts flat with thin cherry flavors (and an accompanying acidity for balance) and sadly never changes before eventually drying out to a moderate tannic finish. It almost tasted as if its best days were behind it. Given the color I wonder if that wasn’t the case. Either way, quite a letdown!

Rating: Skip It

2006 VINTJS Malbec

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2006 VINTJS MalbecPer the bottle “hails from the prime growing regions of Alexander Valley in Sonoma County. Known for rich, fleshy wines, this Malbec delivers with dark berry, licorice and integrated tannins.”

What I Think:

The bottle tells you this one is made by Mosaic Winery. When visiting their site you are quickly redirected to deLorimier Winery, looks like it was a long term partnership that they folded into a single label at some point. I can’t find many references to Mosaic but what I do see is that deLorimier Winery released a 2006 Alexander Malbec of their own in September 2009. Looking at pricing on their previous vintages the typical offering would be in the $25 range. Given I can’t find a word about this one online my assumption is that this is the estate juice and that they sold the whole lot to TJ’s, lucky us!

Juicy up front, though this fades as the wine breathes, with an earthy backbone this one dries out towards the mid of the palate where dusted chocolate flavors emerge leading to smooth finish loaded with chewy tannins and barrel spices with just a bit of heat/toastiness. This one doesn’t say Malbec to me (Argentina is my ballast) but it does say nice, easy drinking wine. Per JB, each store only got six cases so make sure to get some while the getting is good. Guessing those outside of CA are out of luck on this one but let me know if you happen to see it!

Rating: Buy It

2006 Clos LaChance Merlot

2006 Clos LaChance MerlotPrice: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Clos LaChance “Aromas of red plums and cranberries. Vanilla and cinnamon with undertones of dried cherry and a slight herbal note. Soft, velvety entry with subtle cherry fruit and plumy flavors. If I could use one word to describe this wine, it would be “smooth.” The mid-palate is soft, yet has a presence. A touch of dusty vanilla and spice. The finish is supple, but has some length to it. Try with a grilled pork tenderloin or spaghetti marinara.”

What I Think:

A short time back I mentioned my angst around wineries who offer their product via Trader Joe’s but continue to sell them at greater prices on their own website. To me this is a poke in the eye to your most loyal customers. As I mentioned then, Rabbit Ridge sets the gold standard here for making their wine available to club members for $50 a case before shipping it off to Trader Joe’s. While Clos LaChance did offer this mea culpa of sorts guessing they never offered this to club members for $5 a bottle. Why? Because as you will see below this wine is way too good not to get bought up by those in the know. So onto the wine…

On the nose you get bold, dark fruits with olive and black pepper notes. Nice mouthfeel starts with rich red fruit that mellows with some acidity emerging mid palate to keep it balanced and finishes in a rush of chocolate dusted red (cherry?) fruit. This is a solid wine from start to finish. With little to no tannins throughout this one is soft and smooth which make it easy for a whole bottle to disappear before you even notice. At $5 I have to give this one a bulk buy as it is worth double the money. That said I fear I’m teasing you as I am it seems availability is almost zero so good luck hunting it down. Let me know if/where you find it!

Rating: Bulk Buy