Thursday, September 9, 2010

Labor Day Weekend Wines

Well, I'm finally getting around to putting some stuff up about the wines we enjoyed over Labor Day weekend with some good friends who came over for the night.

My wife and I opened a 2009 Cline Pinot Gris, Sonoma Coast while we were waiting for our friends to arrive. What a delicious wine this is. Love the old school color with the slightly brassy hue. Although this wine is done 100% in stainless steel, it has a certain leesy richness that plays well with the citrus fruit and acidity. Great bargain at $10 or so.

One of the whites our friends brought was the 2008 Jean Reverdy La Reinie Blanch, Sancerre. Not quite as intense as I thought it would be, but it still showed some nice wet stone/mineral flavors and a hint of bell pepper.

The next thing out of our friends' case was the NV Riondo Prosecco, Veneto. I really dig this stuff. Slightly effervescent with a hint of sweetness and some delicious apple and pear flavors. A great way to satisfy a craving for bubbles without dropping $50 on a bottle of Champagne.

The 2007 Voss Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley was everything I remembered '96-'97-'98 vintages of this bottle being when I drank a good bit of it a decade ago. This is Sauvignon Blanc the way I like it best - juicy with sweet grapefruit and peach fruit.

Dinner was a standing rib roast that I rotisseried over charcoal and hickory chunks. Simple and delicious, it was a nice piece of meat to accompany a number of red wines.

A wine with which I was not familiar (but will purchase in the future) was the 2005 Kuleto Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Tons of black olive and dark, rustic fruits in this bottle with modest tannins that suggest drinking over the next 10 years or so. Nice bottle for a very reasonable $35 or so.

The wine I was most looking forward to this evening was the 2007 Dominio de Pingus Psi, Ribera del Duero. Yes, I know it is only the third wine from this legendary producer, but I was still pretty excited about it. Unfortunately, it was a massive disappointment. I got nothing from this wine except for loads and loads of new American oak. The kind of cheap oak that makes your wine glass smell like a Bourbon on the rocks. The next morning, I noted that only about half of this wine had been consumed. Thinking it might have opened up with 12 hours of air, I tried it again and it was still just monolithic and unexciting. No fruit. No earth. No licorice. There's just no "there" there. A disappointing $35 expense.

Next we opened our friends' final bottle of 1996 Jones Family Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. This is a wine that we bought back in the '96 and '97 vintages. This was the first wine I remember being really hyped and driven by internet discussion and my friend and I both fell for the hype. And boy am I glad we did! This was showing really well right now. Really pretty 15-year old California Cabernet flavors of cherry and cigar box. The tannins were well-balanced and I think this is about as good as it will get. I think we paid about $60/bottle back in the day but dropped off the mailing list when the '98 was offered at $75 or so. Oh, well. I'm glad I tried the first two vintages of this wine and I'm glad I've still got a bottle or two in the cellar.

On Sunday, my wife and I enjoyed the 2009 Gascon Malbec, Mendoza with some grilled double lamb chops. This wine is like slipping on an old pair of jeans - comfortable and familiar. I've been enjoying this wine for it's dark fruit and spice for the past 3-4 vintages. Great value at $10-12.

Having drained the Gascon, we needed one more bottle to wash down our lamb chops. So I reached for something I hoped would pair well with the spice rub and char. That wine was the 2005 Eaglepoint Ranch Petit Sirah, Mendocino County. This wine a really tannic, rustic beast and the perfect wine for the meal. I've tried pairing this with smoked pork shoulder and a few other meats, but I think this was the most successful pairing to date.

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