2009 Ghostwriter Chardonnay
This is not your usual California Chardonnay— it's deep golden-yellow color, perfume-y nose and slightly oxidized finish lets you know you're not in Kansas (or California) anymore. I bought it because I like the winemaker's (Kenny Likitprakong) style— all his wines are just a little different from what you'd expect from a Pinot Noir, Zinfandel or Chardonnay. This bottle is ready to drink now. It's on the cusp of beginning to show its age, but if you can find a bottle, give it a try. I guarantee it's not what you're expecting— almonds, orange and honey with just a touch of oak but I bet you won't forget it.
2010 Renwood Zinfandel 'Premier Old Vine'
California knows how to 'do' Zinfandel and this one is a perfect example— ripe and lush with a dusty finish. It is definitely on the sweeter side, lots of dried fruit at first, but then the wine moves into cherries, spice and black pepper on the finish. It's acidity balances all the fruit nicely and it has a pronounced vanilla, raspberry and blackberry nose. All in all, a great wine for $20.00 and one I'm going to keep around the house.
Orin Swift E-1 Locations Wine
To say I was excited to try this wine is an understatement. Dave Phinney (of the Prisoner and Saldo fame) is another of my favorite wine makers and I love Spanish wine— I knew this was going to be good. And it was, I mean how can you go wrong with a blend of Grenache from Priorat, Tempranillo from Rioja, and Carignan from Ribera del Duero? It starts with a ripe nose of ripe blackberry, a little sage and violets and deposits you in a zesty and bright land full of ripe fruit, jam and figs with a few smoky and meaty notes thrown in for good measure. It's a nicely balanced, medium bodied, easy drinking wine for 18.00. This one is definitely worth seeking out. I'm on the lookout for more, it's that good for the price.
2010 Maison Alain Paret Valvigneyre Cotes du Rhone Syrah
This wine is 100% Syrah, harvested from 30 year-old vines in the Northern Rhone Valley. It pours a dark purple-ish black in the glass and has a nose of tart cherries, raspberries and herbs. It is medium bodied with plum, cherries and blackberry jam flavors and finishes with a bit of anise, minerals and smoke. It's definitely on the austere side but is nicely defined, with good lingering acidity. If you are looking for a bottle of wine with a bit of nuance, fruit and lively acidity, this is the one. If you want a fruit bomb— might I suggest the Renwood Zinfandel?
2008 Portal del Montsant Santbru Montsant Carinyenes Velles
As my wine tastes evolve, I've decided I was a Spaniard in another life because I can't get enough Spanish wine. It's a proprietary blend of Syrah and Carinena from very old vines and reminds me a little of Black Slate Priorat. There are lots of candied cherry notes, crisp acidity, ripe tannins and a nice long finish. Wine Spectator had this to say about this beauty, 'Featuring aromas of kirsch and blackberry, this dense red shows firm tannins that give way to ripe fruit, mountain herb and licorice flavors. Not muscular, but racy and long. Drink now through 2016. 91 points'. Trust me, they know what they're talking about— I'm saving my other two bottles for a special occasion.
2007 Bodega del Abad Carracedo Bierzo Mencia
More Spanish wine but this time it's a Mencia from Bierzo. It's another Wine Spectator darling, 'Plush and expressive, this modern red shows a dense, velvety texture that carries kirsch, plum, cocoa, anise and herbal flavors, with well-integrated tannins and just enough acidity to keep it all lively. 93 points.'— they pretty much nailed it on the head. It's a complex wine that needs a two or three hour decant or a couple additional years in the bottle to really show showcase the power of the Mencia grape. I need to explore Mencia a little more, it tastes like Cabernet Franc's Spanish cousin. Wine exploration, now that's a concept I can really get behind!