2005 Henry’s Drive Pillar Box Red Padthaway (Cab/Shiraz/Merlot)

Price: $8.99 @ K&L Wines imported by The Grateful Palate

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “91 points Robert Parker: “There are 70,000 cases of the 2005 Red, a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot from young vines. However, this is no wimpy wine at 15% alcohol. An unbelievable value, it boasts a dense ruby/purple color as well as an uplifted, projected nose of sweet red and black fruits, earth, and spice box. Supple-textured with a voluptuous mouthfeel and unbelievable richness, this wine clearly over-delivers. Enjoy it over the next 2-3 years.” (10/06)

K&L’s notes – Another amazing Aussie red value for less than $10. As good as the 2004 is, I think the 2005 is even better! (Jim Chanteloup, K&L Aussie buyer)”

What I Think:

This one I had read about in a few different venues over the last few months. Given that I was actually surprised it was still available when I went to track it down. This wine is a blend, not unlike one I tried a while back from Penfold’s (the Koonunga Hill, it was a disaster), of 53% Shiraz, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon & 12% Merlot. Balancing my spotty history with blends versus the accolades I twisted the bottle open. Wow, very strong odors of plums and mint on the nose, real hot must be loaded with alcohol. It seemed dark and brooding. In the mouth, the texture could be characterized as supple and perhaps a bit inky. The intense lighter fruit flavors (plums, cherries) were so strong they make you think it is all dark fruit. At least, I always equated intense with dark so I found this a difficult hurdle to clear. This wine still has a “hotness” running through it in the mouth that seems like a combination of spices, wood and alcohol. This is certainly a lot of wine for the money. Each sip seems to be a slightly different representation of the contents. Can you appreciate a wine for its uniqueness? If so this is the bottle for you. Really everyone should try this wine. You may not like it but you can surely appreciate it and someone out there will certainly love it. Besides how often do you get a chance to try something Parker gives 91 points for $9?

Rating: Buy 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

2005 Groth Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $13.99 @ K&L Wines

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “All of the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon was whole cluster pressed. Whole cluster pressing gives us juice of incredibly high fruitiness and softness. 30% of the blend is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks; this aging process allows the juice to retain its fruitiness, flavors and aromas. The remaining 70% of the juice was moved to small oak barrels where it was put through a long, cool fermentation. Within two weeks, the wine completed fermentation and were allowed to age “sur lie” for a total of five months in the small oak barrels. This fermentation and aging program adds rich complexity to the aromas and flavors.”

What I Think:

We had some friends bring this over for dinner the other night so I wasn’t able to take as good of notes as I liked. This was the one of two bottles they brought over and it was the first to be opened. I had long wanted to try the Groth Sauvignon Blanc but had yet to have a bottle make it to the house so I was certainly happy to see it. This wine is very fresh and dry in the mouth, quite refreshing. The nose and palate are zesting with mainly lemon and perhaps a trace of apples coming to the front. I wasn’t even able to identify the semillon until after I checked my tasting notes. The winery said this vintage is a “keeper”. If you want to spend some money on a bottle of sauvignon blanc, especially from the US, I couldn’t think of another one to get!

Rating: Wow!

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!

2005 Oxford Landing GSM

Price: $7.99 @ BevMo imported by Negociants Napa

What They Said:

Per BevMo “The 2005 Oxford Landing GSM possesses herbal, peppery, red cherry, spice, and earthy notes, light tannin, and ripe, round fruit. Drink it over the next 12-18 months.”

What I Think:

This is a wine that we had while traveling through Australia a few months ago.  I enjoyed it there and have enjoyed it again here.  This wine made me keen to try more of the Aussie blends.  Generally blends outside of France were on my list of things to avoid.  As an aside this wine cost more in Australia than in the US.  In Australia they have a wet tax of 25% added to the cost of all alcohol.  This blend was 56% Grenache 33% Shiraz and 11% Mourvedre.  Put this one on the 5c sale and I’ll grab a case.

Rating: Buy It (this one borders on Bulk Buy for me)

2006 Zolo Torrontes

Price: $9.99 @ Friend/Gift imported by Vino del Sol

What They Said:

Per BevMo “Bright and fragrant, the finely crafted ’05 Zolo Torrontes serves up lots of ripe fruit along with an excellent texture on the palate; long and lacy; great with Tex-Mex dishes.”

What I Think:

Some good friends are looking for wedding wines and brought this one over for dinner. When our first saw the label I wasn’t all that interested as my experience with Torrontes in the past had left much to be desired. Boy was I surprised! This was a really nice wine. A bit sweet in the mouth but it paired very well with the Swiss cheese they brought along. This might be able to fill the role of a Riesling or sweeter Gewurtz as well. I’ll definitely grab a bottle or two of this if I see it.

Rating: Buy It