February 14, 2011
$11-$20 Price Point, 2007, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, Spotted Owl Vineyards
The Wine: One of the most intimidating aspects of getting into wine is the introduction of many new words, many of which are of a foreign origin – namely French. The term Cuvée translates into ‘vat’ or ‘tank’, meaning the wine at some point of its life spent time in one of these cylindrical devices. Simple enough, but typically Cuvée also means the wine is a blend of several different vats/tanks, and could possibly imply the wine is of a higher quality, but this is yet another one of those unregulated terms which wine makers can use at their own discretion. This wine is a 52% Cabernet Sauvignon and 48% Syrah blend from the Mount Veeder AVA in Napa Valley. I read somewhere that the winery is actually a bonded garage in Napa, I think that’s really cool. So what about this wine, is it Cuvée of a higher order?
Color: An amazingly deep plum violet, similar to a prune. You can tell this wine is unfiltered by the fogginess in its hazy clarity. I prefer unfiltered or fined wines.
Nose: Barreling (oak, vanilla), toasty, gravel, earthy – not much in the way of a fruit driven nose.
Palate: The first note I make is about the barreling qualities of oak and herbaciousness, most certainly from the Syrah. The next notes make notes refer to stoney, gravely, earthy qualities. The body of this wine is medium-high, there is certainly tannin and some acid to this wine.
Bottom Line: Give-A-Try
Here’s a wine which has a bright future, it’s just not there yet. When you cut the foil, you will notice it’s thick; the quality of cork also let’s you know this wine was meant to lay down for awhile. Right now, the wine is still trying to come together to form something a bit more balanced, but has a ways to go. Even after plenty of time in a decanter and re-visiting several days later, it’s still a young and classically powerful Napa wine. It stems from the Mount Veeder AVA which has lots of great volcanic properties to its soil which is definitely leaves its mark on this wine. If you were going to open this wine anytime soon, make sure it’s with a piece of red meat and potatoes. It’s not really a wine for sipping or for subtle dishes. This wine is a hustle-buy and Trader Joes’ warehouse (in Northern California) doesn’t have anymore, buy this wine and have it with your Memorial Day 2014 BBQ.
- Price: $19
- Appellation: Mount Veeder AVA, Napa Valley
- Grape Varietals: 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 48% Syrah
- Alcohol: 14.8%
- Barrel Aging: 18 months French oak – 50% new (Seguin Moreau, Marques; med toast)
- Cases Produced: 500
January 7, 2011
$5-$9 Price Point, 2007, Chardonnay, Next-Wine-Please!, Picket Fence, Russian River Valley
Picket Fence is a winery now on the radar of many Trader Joe’s wine drinkers because of the Pinot Noir they produce. The Pinot received the #1 pick over at Jason’s Wine Blog followed by a lengthy discussion in the comments section. Jeff over at Viva La Wino also enjoyed this wine and gave it an A. I thought this was a nice wine and recommend it often. Personally, this is not my first choice of Pinot found at TJ’s, I found this wine too high in alcohol and oak; but this wine would pair excellent with a meat or red pasta sauce dinner. So I wondered, how’s their Chardonnay?
The Wine: And at $9 per cork, that’s a fair price, as opposed to the $20 price tag listed on Picket Fence‘s website. *Picket Fence has since closed it’s e-commerce store from when I first checked several months ago.* I’ve noticed this wine isn’t exactly clearing the shelf at TJ’s; maaaybe a case per week? A Russian River Chardonnay with a rather attractive label is one that could potentially be flying off the shelf. Picket Fence’s website says :”Bright Meyer lemon notes and crisp apple with hints of succulent stone fruit mingle with the toasted oak components of caramelized brown spices, resulting in a rich, sensuous wine that coats the mouth with a long, silky finish”. So what’s going on inside the bottle?
The Experience: You’re going to find a straw golden yellow color with a lot of oak and alcohol welcoming you on the nose. Before even tasting I had a feeling this was going to be an overly oak barrel driven chardonnay and indeed it was. The flavor profiles which showed themselves were first heat/spice from alcohol, oak then some apple and pineapple components. The alcohol is not very refreshing in the mouth and leaves the finish disjointed; 50% of the barrels were new French Oak with a medium toast, which really puts into context why there is too much oak and vanilla in this wine.
The Bottom Line: Next-Wine-Please
If I paid the original listed price of $20, I would be struggling to justify why that purchase was worth it. Even at $9 per cork, I’m left feeling I’m not getting great value out of this wine. I’m pretty sure I didn’t finish that bottle.
Question: What flavor component(s) do you like best in Chardonnay?
Wine Dork Info:
- Appellation: Russian River Valley
- Wine Maker: Don Van Staaveren
- Released: October 2009
- Alcohol: 14.5%
- pH: 3.42
- TA: 0.43 g/L