Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2011 Kirkland Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

I paid $12.99 for this bottle of Kirkland Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley, 2011 vintage. Here's my impressions:

Color-wise it was just a bit dark for the varietal.  Aroma-wise, it had a Pinot Noir character but it wasn't obvious.  That is, you wouldn't swirl and sniff and immediately know what grape was in the glass.

On the palate the wine was nicely fruity with smooth tannins and balanced acidity.  It also had a natural texture and taste to it - that is, it didn't have an overly fruity or bubble gum character that some Pinot Noirs seem to have that make them taste artificial.  The aftertaste was fairly short but pleasant.  It's an easy-drinking wine at a reasonable price.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

rieslings and grammar

I use Grammarly's plagiarism checker online because my memory is so bad I have to make sure I'm not repeating something I wrote in this blog even a few days ago!

Okay, so you are wondering what's up with that first sentence and what does it have to do with wine. I'll tell you, but first I'll just tell you about a recent experience drinking a couple of Rieslings.  First one was from Navarro Vineyards, a 2011 from California's Anderson Valley.  The other was a 2011 from Chateau Ste. Michelle winery, Columbia Valley (Washington).  Their prices were $16.63 and $5.99 from the winery direct and Costco, respectively.

What I noticed was that the Navarro had more of a full fruit character than the Chateau Ste. Michelle (CSM). The latter seemed more sugary, more like 7UP, and the Navarro more like fruit juice.  Both were dry and both had nice acidity to balance out the fruit. The characters of the two were quite different, though. 

Initially I preferred the Navarro and thought the CSM was less natural tasting but after drinking it over four nights it tasted better. I wonder if that is because it improved over those four nights or I just got used to it?  Whatever it is, I rate the Navarro the better wine but then the CSM was available for a bargain price, thanks to Riesling's undeservedly lower popularity among grape varietals. That said, both get a thumbs up from me. If you're looking for a nice thirst quencher that is on the simple side but very economical, the CSM is a good choice. The Navarro is more complex and has better fruit, but you pay more.

Going back to the first paragraph, I was informed about a web site that offers automated proofreading and grammar checking.  It's called Grammarly. It also compares text against over 8 billion web pages to check for plagiarism.  I think it's a useful tool and if you are tasked with writing anything that might be subject to critical evaluation, or if you just want to improve your grammatical skills, this is a site worth checking out.

I pasted the preceding paragraph into their checker and was informed that this brief collection of words contained five (5) "critical writing issues."  Two had to do with passive voice use and three had to do with writing style. My overall score was 50 out of 100, meaning what I wrote was "weak, needs revision." Oh, my.  But at least I can rest easy that I haven't previously written about those two Rieslings!

Would I use Grammarly for this blog?  Probably not, because I try and write these posts in a  more conversational way without being a stickler for grammar. I don't even bother to proofread what I write; I just type it and post it. Later on I may happen to read it at which time I'll wonder what the heck was I thinking, and then edit to correct my errors. If I were tasked with writing something more formal, however, then Grammarly would be of good use to me.

Maybe I'm learning as I go along because the above paragraph received a score of 75/100 with only two critical writing issues.  One was passive voice use and the other writing style so I'm still having problems in the same category but they are fewer.

Anyway, I thought I'd mix it up a bit and write about something more than just wine this time.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

2009 Villa Antinori Toscana

I'd see this wine in the bin at Costco every week and finally I decided to put one in my cart. It was $13.99.

The Toscana was a nice dark purple color.  Aromas were initially pretty muted, of earthy berries. I took a sip and the first impression was of a rather thin wine, more earth and minerals and stingy with the fruit, with a tannic bite. I thought maybe it needs some air.

It did need some air.  After sitting there in the glass for a while, the aromas opened up quite a bit and were a lot more fruity.  On the palate it rounded out as well, cherry fruit helping to fill out the initial thin character with still a good bit of earth and tannin.

As with pretty much all the wines I taste, I filled three 187.5 ml split-size bottles for subsequent nights.  Each night my impressions were pretty much the same.  The wine needed some time in the glass to round out and for the fruit to emerge.  That fruit was mainly cherry with a tart character to it.  To me it never really got past the earthy and tart character and along with the tannins left a bitter taste in my mouth.   Does it need more age? I'm not sure. It seems like there is still enough fruit underneath to age for a while, but me, I wouldn't buy it again.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

2011 Alexander Valley Vineyards Chardonnay, Sonoma County

Picked this one up at Costco not too long ago for $11.99.  They still have it in stock.

It's a nice clear light yellow gold color.  Not much in the way of aromas, mainly a nutty charcter with some fruit underneath.

In the mouth the first impression was of zingy acidity, the degree approaching that of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. That gave way to tastes of wood, lemon meringue, Squirt soda and more wood, with a narrow mouth feel.  This was definitely not what you'd call a buttery Chardonnay by any means! The aftertaste had a sourish and woody, green apple/grapefruit character with a somewhat watery feel to it with the wood component being the last thing to fade out.

This didn't taste like a Chardonnay.  If I didn't know what it was, I'd have guessed it was some sort of blend containing Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon based on tasting it, but with lots and lots of wood. There was just way too much wood for my liking and it ended up prevailing over any other flavor in this wine.

Does it need time?  In my opinion there's not enough of anything else to outlast the wood but like I said, that's just my opinion.

Monday, August 12, 2013

2012 Navarro Vineyards Rose - Mendocino

This coral-colored wine is 92% Grenache and 8% Carignan.  It retails for $16.50 and is available only via winery direct.  I received it as part of the pre-release program to which I subscribe.  Through the program I get two shipments of six bottles of assorted wines each June and November at a nice discount off the retail price. What I like about Navarro wines are their consistent quality and reasonable prices.  I've had subscriptions to other wineries and while the wines were good, either they got to be too expensive or there were too many shipments. For me, Navarro is just right.

I found the taste to be like the aromas: mixed berry fruits, melons and some peach, with a mineral element on the palate.  It's juicy, fruity but dry, and I thought it could use just a touch more acidity.  The fruit in the aftertaste trailed off pretty quickly but the stony/mineral element lingered for a while.

It's refreshing, but don't drink this one too cold or else you won't be able to taste the range of flavors that make it more than just a fruity sipper. It's a nicely complex rose that improved with air, and tastes great now.

Here is the link to Navarro's product page if you're interested: click here.