As I, and no doubt you, have come to expect, we're drinking a wide array of beverages from a diverse group of locales. Some were better than others of course.
The folks from Shinn Estate Vineyards are good at proving me wrong. Okay, that's probably an overstatement, but they sure are good at keeping me honest about making generalizations. I shouldn't make them at all.
I thought that some wineries went overboard in 2005, trying to make wines that aren't true to the region and its signature style. Shinn's 2005 show restraint and elegance -- balancing ripeness and food-friendliness. I've said here on the site and in print that 2006 wasn't a great year for cabernet franc. But theirs is spicy and balanced and delicious.
And then there were some negative comments I made about barrel-fermented sauvignon blanc. At the time, co-owner David Page told me "Just wait to you taste our version, Haven." Every owner probably thinks that his or her version is better than others, of course, so I didn't think much of it.
Then I tasted it.
Named for the type of soil found in their vineyard, this wine's combination of barrel fermentation, a significant portion of Semillon and extended skin contact gives this unique wine a nutty, faintly sherry-like quality along with flavors of dried apricot, peach and melon -- all with citrusy acidity and a saline minerality.
It was particularly satisfying enjoyed during a lunch of cured meats and cheeses with great friends after a morning picking cabernet franc on Sunday.
Note to self: don't make generalizations.
From Tom Mansell: Spoetzl Brewery Shiner Bock and New Gralus Brewing Company Spotted Cow
This weekend I attended the wedding of two college friends (about my 12th wedding in the past couple years). One was from Wisconsin and one from Texas, so they both brought their respective hometown brews for the enjoyment of their guests.
Shiner Bock I've had before (a lot actually... you can find $1 drafts pretty much every night in Austin and I spent a beer-soaked week there in college). It's malty and clean drinking with fresh acidity. It reminds me of my own hometown brew, Yuengling Lager, but I'll admit it's much better than Yuengling from the bottle. Unfortunately, while it's available almost nationwide, it's practically impossible to obtain in New York (outside of Manhattan), but it's good enough to seek out if you're out of state.
Spotted Cow was much talked about and much hyped by some other Wisconsinites I know (Has everybody from WI had this beer?). In fact, it's only available in Wisconsin, so it was smuggled to the reception in the trunk of the limo. Obviously it was something special and I was eager to give it a shot.
fantastic. It's cloudy with a creamy mouthfeel (cask-conditioned with
yeast in the bottle) with vanilla and nice fruity esters. Finishes
smooth and clean. Very enjoyable, even as one of.. er... many drinks
enjoyed at a wedding.
I should first say that most of the West Coast riesling I've tasted in the past year has been fat. And that's an unfair generalization, because no doubt there is plenty of balance to find.
And here we are. This wine is perhaps the first or second West Coast riesling that brings a Finger Lakes-kind of nose, and there's certainly a racy edge that I like. But it finishes with a bizarre kind of metallic streak, like licking a crowbar. Until the finish, I was really enjoying this wine.
Not sure why the finish is that way (any help, Mr. Mansell?) but this wine is otherwise a nice, balanced effort that signals very good things for Washington riesling.
From Bryan Calandrelli: Luis Felipe Edwards 2007 Carmenere, Chile
Chilly autumn temperatures usually force me to step out of my cool-climate red wine zone. When this happens I usually avoid California stuff and go to the inexpensive South American reds from Argentina and Chile, and when I'm shopping for a red under $10, I have a soft spot for Carmenere.
This bottle of Luis Felipe Edwards Reserva Carmenere 2007 is the result of my little boy crying before his father could make it to the badass wine store he was aiming for. Looking to avoid a total meltdown, I stopped into to a place called Wine World, which likes to use only the largest distributors.
I found this wine to have a typical sweet and spicy nose on this one, with plum, blackcurrant and some annoying over ripe raisin and prune notes. Its soft and sweet tannins provided for a plush mouth-feel and friendly finish. This was in no way special or memorable unless you count my memory of being frustrated at the flavor of prune juice.
Ive had better Carmenere at a fraction of the $11 price tag this one cost including the Calina Reserva, Casillero del Diablo, Santa Rita 120 and a number of others.
Wines like this really make me want to figure out what makes a Reserva in South America anyway. They sure don't have standards like Chianti or Rioja from what I can tell.