2009 Domaine de la Chanteleuserie Bourgueil Cuvee Alouettes Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc is often overlooked in a world of jammy, fruit bomb wines. It's definitely austere but once it opens up, the pure earthy spice and nuanced layers of fruit, minerals and herbal notes make it a wine to remember. This is another Kermit Lynch wine and I swear, I have yet to meet a Kermit wine I don't like. The Boucard family has been making wine in the Loire valley for seven generations and this wine reflects that life long connection to the vineyard. It has a strong vegetal nose and needs a little time to gather itself in the glass but once it does, it's spicy with good fruitiness and mild tannins. It's my Dorothy Parker wine— comes out swinging but eventually embraces it's complexity and really shines in the glass.
2010 Alchemist Pinot Noir
Where do I start with my love of Pinot Noir? I love the gamey, wet dog aromas, the rich, almost velvety, texture with gorgeous flavors of raspberries and spice. I went to visit my friend, Joanne, who owns Bayfield Wine and Spirits and there it was, a bottle of Alchemist just waiting to come home with me. The Alchemist is a full-bodied Pinot, loaded with red fruits, mocha, earthy spices and a touch of oak. It's a well structured wine with a lengthy finish and a silky texture— seriously good stuff. I went back for another bottle the next day.
2010 If You See Kay Cabernet Blend
Look at that label, it's like something out Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (remember Tina Turner's outfit and hair??). This is a bad ass wine with a sweet soul and I like it. It's primarily Cabernet with a little Petit Verdot and Primitivo thrown in for good measure from the Lazio region of Italy. I wouldn't have guessed there was a hint of Cabernet in the bottle when I had my first sip, it's definitely on the sweeter side and has very little acidity or tannins. It does have a big, jammy aroma, ripe berries and dried plums on the palate and a soft finish. It's not a complex wine with something to prove, it's an easy drinking wine good for an evening when you want to keep it simple but a little spicy.
2010 Caprazo Sangiovese Toscano
This is another wine from Bayfield Wine & Spirits and it's a good one. The Caparzo is a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Alicante with a solid texture, firm structure and bright acidity. There are a lot of juicy flavors on the palate: raspberries, ripe cherries, vanilla, fennel and roasted herbs. The acidity and firm texture balances the jammy, ripe fruit flavors exceptionally well; it would really shine when paired with roasted meats or salumi.
2011 Orin Swift The Prisoner Zinfandel Blend
I had my first bottle of The Prisoner in 2006 and I was blown away. Lucky for me, even though Dave Phinny sold the label to Huneeus Vintners in 2010, I have yet to open a bottle of Prisoner and not be happy. It's a sophisticated California field blend with an emphasis on Zinfandel— lots of big fruit. The 2011 vintage is a blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Charbono and Grenache and it's a powerhouse. It's a soft and round wine with a full body and enough acidity and structure to balance the plethora of fruit and savory flavors. Bayfield Wine and Spirits has a few bottles left and it's worth every penny, trust me.
2005 Michael David Winery Petite Petit
I buy some of my wine from Marketview Liquor and saw this wine on their website while I was looking for the If You See Kay wine. Unfortunately, it was too cold to ship the wine and I put it out of my mind, until I walked in Star Liquor and was wandering among the wine bottles (it's hard to miss a garishly colored label with two enormous elephants on it). I put two bottles in my basket, thanked Kevin for his wise wine procurement and headed back home to find my corkscrew. It's a blend of 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot from Lodi, California and since Petite Sirah is one of my favorite grapes, I was really excited to try it. This wine did not disappoint— it's beautifully balanced, relatively complex with lots of dark fruit, chocolate and smoky spice with a lush, round finish.
2009 Sotorrondero Bodegas Jimenz Landi Syrah Blend
This Spanish wine is a blend of 85% Syrah and 15% Granacha— two grapes that go together like peanut butter and jelly, hollandaise and crab cakes or lemon curd and shortbread cookies. It's another powerhouse of wine— full of ripe fruit, smoke and a hint of gamey meat. It's a nicely balanced, full-bodied and rich wine with a smooth texture and a long finish. Wine Advocate gave the 2009 Sotorrondero 92 points and I have to agree— if you like rich, assertive Syrah, I think you'll agree as well. It's available at Bayfield Wine and Spirits, can you tell Joanne and I have very similar wine palates??
2009 Bogle Vineyards Essential Red Blend
There's nothing too terribly special about this Bogle wine other than it's a decently complex wine that's easy to drink and a great value. I struggle with finding 'everyday' wines and this one was a pleasant surprise from Star Liquor. It's a blend of old vines Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Cabernet— it tastes kind of like the younger sibling of Bogle Phantom (a terribly special wine). The predominant flavors of ripe berries, molasses, vanilla, a little oak and spice are nicely complimented by a medium body and a rich fig and prune flavored finish. I was frankly surprised by the quality of this wine and I'm thrilled to have an 'everyday' wine that I truly will enjoy drinking.