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 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!

2000 Jade Mountain Mourvedre

2000 Jade Mountain MourvedrePrice: $16.99 @ BevMo

What They Said:

Per the winery (pdf) “The old vines, combined with low yields of two tons per acre, transform this normally rustic red grape into a fine complex red wine that is both hearty and satisfying. Mourvèdre is broadly planted in the famed Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation in the southern Rhône valley, but it is seldom bottled as a single variety. Its characteristic aromas of pepper, spice and sweet tobacco are mixed with raspberry and blackberry fruit that linger on the palate. The wine’s dense flavor and silky tannin make it versatile for food pairing. The 2000 vintage shows great concentration and is meant for the richest foods of Southern France and the Mediterranean. Mourvèdre is a perfect partner for leg of lamb, Mediterranean beef stew, pasta primavera, and grilled fish, such as sea bass. In warm weather, chill this wine to 50 degrees and serve it with summer barbecue to enjoy its complex, delicious fruit flavors. Optimum time for consumption 2002—2012″

What I Think:

I’ve had this one since almost the beginning of time, my wine drinking time that is. One of my early splurges which I have looked at year after year. For those that may not be familiar with Mourvedre it most commonly appears in Rhone blends along with Grenache and Syrah. Until I took a look at the pdf I tracked down I had forgotten that Jade Mountain was part of the much larger Chalone Wine Group.

Not sure why it lasted so long nor why I decided to open it this given night but I am very thankful I did. The nose was subdued seeming a bit smoky and warm. It hits heavy at the front of the palate, seems almost inky and shadows the presence of dark purple fruit. The flavors turn to dark berries (blackberry and boysenberry) and towards the end of palate the wine turns slightly chewy leading to a great tangy, nice tannic finish. This was much richer and deeper that I would have initially thought. A very complex powering that doesn’t over power, certainly leaning towards the old world in style. I’m a fan. I’m also looking to try a few more of Jade’s offerings, I asked for tips on twitter and @JugShop recommended the La Provencale. Anyone here have tips for me? As for this one is an early wine of the year favorite and could start a Mourvedre buying and drinking run… Anyone want to come along for the ride?

Rating: Wow!

2006 Pascual Toso Maipu Valley Malbec

Price: $8.99 @ K&L Wines imported by TGIC Importers

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines ”91 points and the #1 wine on the “Top 100 Best Buys of 2007″ from Wine Enthusiast: “A year or two ago when Paul Hobbs began consulting for Toso things changed for the better. This is the rare Best Buy that can swim with the big fish and give them a run for the money. Pop the cork and enjoy lusty dark aromas of Turkish tobacco and berry compote. In the mouth, there’s a riot of fruit flavors to ponder followed by a smooth, lusty finish.” (12/1/2007) 90 points and a “Best Buy” in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. (no tasting note given, Dec. 2007) That’s right we can actually offer you a #1 wine from someone’s list. Those end of the year best lists are so frustrating for us. We usually have our stock answer, “Sorry, it sold out months ago.” But not this time, this time we can say, “How much would you like?” And I couldn’t think of a better wine to give to any customer looking for sheer value. This Malbec is attached to Paul Hobbs and it shows. His trademark velvety texture and boisterous fruit flavors are all on display here. The solid tannins keep everything held together while the sappy boysenberry fruit, clove spice and vanilla laced finish are sure to please. (Bryan Brick, K&L)”

What I Think:

I had been meaning to grab this one for a while. Ever since K&L sent out an email proclaiming this the “Best Red Available under $10” it has been hard to come by. Couple that with being ranked the “#1 wine on the “Top 100 Best Buys of 2007″ from Wine Enthusiast and you can imagine it is getting difficult. The third feather in the cap was Paul Hobbs involvement who made this “Cocodrilo” that I just had to grab a case of. And I still haven’t mentioned a price tag of single digits ($9). And uh, oh yah, it is a single vineyard offering. It’s been a struggle but recently a friend of mine scored me a bottle and it was worth the wait!

Loads of dark fruit and smoke on the nose, on the palate the fruit delivers with hints of vanilla and barrel spice making the finish as velvety as can be. The combination makes this a hands down winner. To be fair, value wines are plentiful coming out of Argentina. I’ve had offerings from Alamos and Terrazas de los Andes that blow the quality to price ratio straight out of the water. That said those two were enjoyable based on the forwardness of their fruit and didn’t display near the complexity of this one. Wonder if I can find anymore! I’ll sure be looking…

Rating: Bulk Buy

2006 Milton Park Thorn Clarke Shiraz

Price: $7.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Kysela Pere Et Fils

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines According to Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar: “Ruby-red. Jammy blackberry and mulberry on the nose; reminds me of a zinfandel. Fresh, juicy dark berry flavors display a nice combination of poise and sweetness, with mocha and candied licorice notes adding complexity. Soft, silky and sweet on the concentrated, persistent finish. There are no apparent tannins to get in the way of the vibrant fruit. This is one serious bargain.” (Jul/Aug 07) 89pts

The Wine Advocate Wine Advocate # 173 Oct 2007 Jay Miller 89 Drink – $8-$12 (12) “The 2006 Shiraz contains 6% Nebbiolo. Crimson-colored, it has an attractive nose of spice box, blueberry, and blackberry. Medium-bodied, it has more than ample ripe fruit, good depth, and solid length. It is a Best Buy in savory Shiraz. The Milton Park label is produced by Thorn-Clarke. The wines have been Best Buys year after year and the current releases continue the pattern.”

What I Think:

I’ve long heard good things about Thorne Clark’s offerings, at this price I was more than willing to give it a try…Good decision! Very fresh with bursts of light, ripe fruit on the palate over a nice mulled spice background. I liked this one enough to get a case for office Xmas gifts. Now I just have to get myself some more!

Rating: Buy 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

2006 Viña Cobos “Cocodrilo” Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $15.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Paul Hobbs Imports

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “The big pull for this wine has always been that it is made by the seemingly infallible Paul Hobbs, and that surely hasn’t changed. The other big pull is that it has always been the tastiest of Cabs from Mendoza. Full of the polish and sweet ripeness that Hobbs is know for this is packed with slick, creamy currant puree, unsweetened black chocolate, and loveable mouth-filling texture. Compare this to his cabs out of Napa for $60+ and you have yourself a bargain.” (Bryan Brick, K&L)

What I Think:

As easy sale for me, everything Hobbs touches goes for a mint. To get my hands on this one even at the upper end of my personal price range was a no brainer. The first bottle knocked my socks off. Robust and smooth at the same time if that even makes sense. Loads of dark fruit on a chocolate back bone that last forever. The finish could not be smoother or longer. I put another case in the cellar. This could compete with the Ridge for the best bottle I’ve had since starting this blog!

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!

2005 Senorio de Barahonda Carro Tinto

Price: $8.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Ole Imports

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “90 points from the Wine Advocate! They say, “The 2005 Carro is an unoaked blend of 50% Monastrell, 20% Tempranillo, 20% Syrah, and 10% Merlot. Medium ruby-colored, it has a lovely perfume of damp earth, pepper, cassis, and blackberry. This is followed by a sumptuous wine with layers of ripe, sweet fruit, excellent balance, and no hard edges which totally belie its ridiculously silly price point. The wine is an awesome value. I had thoughts of a higher score but readers might think I’d lost my mind. The Bellum project, in which Ole Imports is involved, started in 2002. It is dedicated to showing what can be achieved from 100% old-vine Monastrell in the up-and-coming D.O. of Yecla. It goes without saying that the price-to-quality relationship of these wines is extraordinary. 2/28/2007″

This winery owns what amounts to among the oldest Monastrell vineyards in Spain. This rich and mouth-filling red, made from a blend of 50% Monastrell, 20% Syrah, 20% Tempranillo and 10% Merlot, offers that value that is almost our of this world!”

What I Think:

Monastrell is known as Mourvedre over here in the states. 100% bottlings of Monastrell have made appearances at TJ’s before and they are usually enjoyable and on the cusp of being good which made this one quickly attractive to me. Coupled with my pleasurable disposition to all things Spanish, especially wine, and it was pretty easy to see this one finding its way to my house. Boy, am I glad it did. On pulling the cork I was immediately greeted with a blast of berries with peppery and wooden/vanilla barrelish aromas in the background. On the first sip it seems somewhat unremarkable, you don’t immediately recognize what a nice wine it is but it grows on you…In the mouth up get blueberries, or berries of some type that certainly aren’t brambly. The texture is nice and smooth, almost a bit chewy; it makes you want to smack your lips. The wine has great depth and balance, no tannins to be found. The long, lingering, smooth finish last and lasts, ending with almost a hint of sweetness.

This was the fifth bottle from the two cases I bought at K&L a few months back and four of them have been remarkable wines. Let’s hope the trend continues. I bought two bottles of this one from the get go so I already have another one to look forward to.

Rating: Buy It