Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rombauer Zinfandel 2006 ($24-$29)

Napa, CA

This bottle was given to me as a gift from a friend and co-worker. I had no idea of what to expect yet I was blown away at how wonderful this wine is! If you’re looking for an easy drinking, full flavor, smooth…smooth red wine, this is the one.

On the nose it brought out black pepper and cedar. The tongue flavors were warm and full of ripe blackberries and cherry. A very mellow, well rounded wine with a slightly sweet/jammy flavor. Hints of chocolate and vanilla rounded out a velvety finish and the soft tannins really made this a fabulous drinking red.

I’ve seen that the 2007 is released now yet I have no information as of this posting. If you can find the 2006, I recommend picking some up. I would guess its good to hold on to for a few years yet it's definitely ready to drink now.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Valserrano, Crianza 2005 ($14)

Rioja, Spain

On a day I planned to do some wine buying of my favorites, I ran across a wine tasting in the store. Given my limited knowledge of wines from Spain I proceeded to taste a few the store was “pushing” that day. I’m a big fan of wine store tastings because how else would many of us ever get to try something new prior to a bottle purchase. I only make mention and share that the store in general is doing this not only bring you something new, they’re in it for the sale of more wine. Therefore, don’t feel guilty or obligated to buy a bottle if you don’t like what you taste. Buy it if you like it, which is what I did with this one.

I found this wine from Spain to be a well-balanced, full bodied red. On the nose (aromas), wood shavings, plums and ripe berries were present. With flavors of Blackberries and a hint of mocha, the toasted oak from barrel fermenting continued to enhance each sip. On the finish it was slightly dry with a bit of a tobacco taste. I let the bottle stay open for about 30 minutes (no decanting) and a whole new wine came out! A much smoother and delicate finish showing flavors of vanilla made me feel like I had purchased an even better bottle.

The wine is comprised of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Mazuelo along with being aged in 50% American and 50% French oak barrels. I often wondered the difference in American vs. French oak and a wine makers can give a better explanation than me. In general, my feeling is the French barrels provide a more subtle flavor however the age of the barrel and how many times it’s been used play a big factor. One thing for sure is that the French barrels are much more expensive.

I’ll leave you with one more interesting bit of knowledge I recently studied when buying wines from Spain. If the bottle has “Crianza” on the label it must spend at least 1 year in oak barrels and a 2nd year in the bottle prior to release. If the label has “Reserva”, its 1 year in oak and 2 years in the bottle. Finally and probably the most expensive of the 3 labels is “Gran Reserva” with 2 years in oak and 3 years in the bottle prior to release.

I’ll be on the hunt for more wines from Spain in the near future. Enjoy for now.

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