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

2006 Rosenblum Rust Ridge Napa Valley Chardonnay

Price: $20.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “This beautiful vineyard sits at 1,000 feet in elevation on a ridge above eastern Napa Valley. Planted in the 1970’s it is a part of a small sub-appellation of Napa known as Lower Chiles Valley. This wine shows fresh green apple and key-lime pie with elements of flint and spice. It pairs well with pan-seared trout, fettuccine alfredo, or roasted fowl. Drink now or cellar 1–3 years”

What I Think:

We opened this one up to pair with the cheese plate before dinner on New Year’s Eve. For those that don’t frequent this site a few quick disclaimers. 1) Whites aren’t my favorite so I have a bias to ranking them towards mediocrity. 2) Chardonnay is at the bottom of the list for whites. Now back to this bottle. It was one of the two Rosenblum wines we opened to welcome in 2008. Overall I would describe it as light, not robust in the fruit department and lacking the typical heavy butter notes that I associate with California Chardonnay. That said, at $20 you wouldn’t find me buying this again, this Martin was far better and adds a fiver to your wallet. I likely wouldn’t buy this for $10 either, even at a lower price I may just try my luck searching for gem at TJ’s.

Rating: Not for Me

2004 Rosenblum “Heritage Clone” San Francisco Bay Petite Sirah

Price: $14.99 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines 92 points Robert Parker: “There are nearly 10,000 cases of the stunning 2004 Petite Sirah Heritage Clone. A dense ruby/purple hue is accompanied by glorious aromas of creme de cassis, vanilla, incense, crushed rocks, blackberries, and smoke. It is a full-bodied, tannic, chewy, rich, pedal-to-the-metal effort with low acidity as well as ripe tannin. The latter two components will make it difficult to resist, but it should age well for 15-20 years.” (08/06)

What I Think:

First off, I apologize for the time between posts. The good news is that I haven’t stopped drinking so there is a backlog that I will try to empty as quickly as possible. Given that, my notes on some may be briefer than normal so bear with me. Now to the wine…

My brother-in-law from Germany came over a few weeks ago for desert. He enjoys wine and even owns a portion of a vineyard in his home country. As I mentioned when tasting the 2005 version of this wine I have almost 3 cases of it in the cellar. Given that I was so impressed I figured it would have half a shot of doing the same with him.

This wine is big, full and even looking at it you can tell by the dark color heavy in alcohol (15%+). On the nose you get just about anything under the sun mild earthy notes to plum through darker fruits before finishing with some chocolate aromas. On the tongue it is silky smooth and very bold, it has rich velvety fruit with smoky overtones. It feels like you can almost chew on this wine. The fruit last through the mid-palate and into the finish before giving way to tannins which are held in balance by what you have just experienced.

Given my interest in aging this wine, as I drank this I tried to imagine how it will continued to develop in the bottle. Parker says it should last for 15-20 years. I am guessing that it will begin to mellow, the fruit, the tannins, the heavy alcohol. I wonder if I will like that better than it is now. Likely I have enough to try it both ways…

Rating: Cellar It

2005 Rosenblum “Heritage Clone” San Francisco Bay Petite Sirah

Price: $14.40 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “The vineyards are located at the foot of Mt. Diablo at the edge of San Francisco Bay. This wine exhibits a great jet black color with aromatics and flavors of ripe blackberries, plums, chocolate, black pepper, violets and spice. This is the perfect wine to pair with hearty fare such as barbecue smoked prime rib, leg of lamb with thyme or grilled sausages. Drink now or cellar for 3-10 years.”

What I Think:

Before we get too far on this one, especially considering my recent comments in regards to Rosenblum, I want to quickly disclose that I have nearly three cases of the 2004 of this wine in my cellar, which accounts for roughly a third of the total quantity. By the way, I recently pulled a few out so maybe you will be seeing that write up soon. I’ll save my big spiel on what attracted me to this wine initially for then.

Now that I have highlighted my bias, let’s get on to this wine. As my wife was making me a nice steak dinner for Father’s Day this seemed like a good bottle to grab.  After popping the cork and pouring it in the glass the first thing you immediately notice is the color, actually I’m not sure that is it. I actually think that you notice the density, or perhaps viscosity. I am not even sure what it means as I say it but this wine seems thick. On the nose you get loads of blackberries with darker things that I have difficulty, with cheating from above maybe it was the chocolate, identifying lingering in the background. On the tongue you are immediately hit with a burst of dark fruit that slightly sours to plums before again rounding out in the mid-palate and giving way to a combination of smoke, spice and vanilla. This trio, along with a bit of tannins, makes for a long, smooth (and again) dark (or thick) finish. At this price point not sure you can hope for much more

My initial reaction was that I should have grabbed a case at the tasting when they were offering 25% off. The winery listed this at $18.00, even with 25% off, I would have saved $4.50 a bottle, the price would have been $13.50. Given that K&L has it for $13.95 I am not as disappointed as I thought I may have been.

I feel as if my wine budget is pretty close to tapped based on recent spending but I think I will dig a little deeper, initially for at least a few more bottles. I need to try this side by side with the ’04 to see if it is as good as the previous vintage. Ideally the results there would leave me wanting more and I could start a nice library of these bottles as they seem to age for some time. Try a bottle of the rich, layered, luscious wine if you have a chance. And if you do let me know your thoughts because I think this is something special. Especially at this price point!

Rating: Wow!

NV Rosenblum “Desiree”

Price: $18.00 @ Friend/Gift

What They Said:

Per the winery “To produce this wine, a selection of fortified wines from different regions and different vintages were evaluated. The blend that combined the most intense and most chocolate characteristics was chosen. We have special liquid chocolate syrup that is put together in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for us that will coalesce with the blended wine to enhance the flavors of chocolate, coconut and vanilla in the wine that is already geared for being a great chocolate experience.

The fortified wines that make up this blend are Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz, and Zinfandel. These are wines that are kissing cousins in terms of flavor and intensity. In addition they bring together both the new and the old world with varietals that are famous for dessert wines.”

What I Think:

Ah, another dessert wine and a chocolate one at that. When I started this endeavor I at least hoped to establish some expertise in the wine area, dessert wines weren’t even a consideration I didn’t even know that chocolate dessert wines existed. That is my main reason for posting this, so that you would realize that as well.

This wine seems to have the same general idea as a port. The wine portion is made of some of the Portuguese varietals along with Zinfandel. It isn’t clear whether brandy is included but as it is fortified it must be. Wonder what the mix is between wine, brandy and chocolate. This certainly is an interesting character, couldn’t be richer in the mouth. For me, not a huge chocolate fan, I had a hard time getting past these overpowering flavors to get to anything more nuanced. Perhaps I should have tried to chill this a bit, I do like chocolate milk. Given that my guests usually loved it, it was worth having around. If you know someone who loves eating chocolate while drinking wine it may be the perfect gift.

Rating: Not for Me

2005 Rosenblum Richard Sauret Vineyard Zinfandel

Price: $25.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “This is a rich and exotic fruit-packed Zinfandel. A bouquet of ripe black currant and blackberry with creamy ripe cherry essences is followed by flavors of currant and vanilla with hints of briary spice and cracked black pepper. We expect it to age gracefully for 5-7 years, but the opportunity to enjoy it in its youth shouldn’t be missed. Pair it with steak Diane in chive sauce, or a chicken liver pilaf with cherry tomatoes and mushrooms.”

What I Think:

The final blend includes 75 percent Zinfandel and 25 percent Petite Sirah. Not sure that is significant here but it does remind me of my love for field blends but we can cover that some other time. Received this one as part of my most recent wine club shipment. This starts with loads of dark fruit on the nose seemingly fading to blueberries, a real nice bouquet. Makes you look forward to your first sip. On the mouth it is full and rich and packed with fruit flavors that last before slowly fading and letting a brambly, spicy and peppering finish linger. This bottle was worthy of drinking now but it seems that with as much as it had in the bottle now it would be best served with some time to meld it all together. I would recommend laying this one down for at least 4 years to get to the wineries period of aging gracefully.

Rating: Wow!

2006 Rosenblum Kathy’s Cuvee Viognier

Price: $18.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “The Viognier grape produces a wine that is both exotic and seductive. The grape originates from the tiny and very steep hillside appellation of Condrieu in the Northern Rhône Valley of France.

This Viognier possesses beautiful aromas of apricots and peaches gently touched by vanilla and cinnamon. A palate loaded with honeyed apricots, rich vanillas, subtle hints of tropical fruit and just a touch of toasted oak complete this elegant wine.

This wine is perfect as an aperitif; or will accompany grilled swordfish or frogs legs in cream sauce.”

What I Think:

Got this as part of my last wine club shipment and was looking forward to opening it up. Being recently back from Australia I was certainly impressed by what a little bit of this added to Shiraz was able to produce and this sure didn’t disappoint. The texture was thick in the mouth and it gave you the idea that it wanted to be sweet but wasn’t. An excellent wine. Seems like it is difficult to find these in a reasonable price range which makes it harder to gauge on a value basis but I sure would love to have another bottle of this one.

Rating: Wow!