Monday, May 23, 2011

Stella Maris Red '06 ($16)

Columbia Valley, Washington

This wine was on a special at my local wine shop for a great deal compared to what I had seen it for online.  It probably wouldn’t be fair to say but it was $16 vs. normal retail of $26-$30.  I see it now for $19 and either way, a great find for $16 but maybe a bit pricey for $30.  Shop it around out there as it’s worth it with Robert Parker giving it a 92 and Wine Spectator a 91.

At first the aromas hit me with a spicy pepper bomb, which later I realized was the higher alcohol.  Being at 14.4%, I can see that yet ripe blackberries and plum with hints of cinnamon encouraged me to wait it out on this one.  Let it breath! 

With a balance of (35%) Cab Sav., (29%) Merlot, (28%) Syrah and (8%) Petite Verdot to finish it off, I thought the flavors were great from the first sip however after an hour of letting it sit/decant, the sweetness toned down along with the peppery/alcohol found in the beginning.

Lot’s of dark red berries, plum, chocolate and even some hints of vanilla all layer together very nicely.  I’d give this wine a full-bodied, “Big Red” label with flavors finishing off with cola and subtle oak.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

14 Hands, Hot To Trot 2009 ($9)

Washington State

Without knowing anything about this wine, I picked it up merely on my past experience with 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon.  Also, for the price of $8.78/bottle it wasn’t going to be something I’d expect much out of for the BBQ I was taking it to.  I was wrong…it was a great, easy drinking wine!  I wouldn’t label it as a “big red” but sometimes it’s nice to just have a “go to” red for everyday enjoyment.  This fit that very well.

The aromas brought on a strong peppery spice, yet as the wine opened up it had more of a dark stone fruit hint like plums with mocha.  On the taste it was more of the plum flavors, mocha and subtle vanilla. This may be due to the neutral barrels used in aging.  To help understand that, a neutral barrel is one that’s been used for apx. 5 vintages/years and therefore doesn’t exude as much of the oak flavors you would find in a new barrel.

Soft tannins and a smooth mouth feel make this a wonderful wine to go with just about any pasta dish or even grilled meats.  I’d probably have this for a starter red when entertaining.  It’s easy drinking and smooth enough for even white wine drinkers.  Moving on to a heavier red for your dinner would be my recommendation.

The blend is Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon,  Syrah and Petit Verdot.  I found it at Sam’s however you may find it elsewhere.

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