Wednesday, December 30, 2009

From relative obscurity to total oblivion

Hello friends, followers, and random observers. As you may have guessed, the time has finally come to publicly announce the end of Smells Like Grape. It's been a long time coming, though it has been a kick to watch the blog statistics maintaining the same traffic trends we peaked at a year ago week after postless week. Fascinating as that has been, I think we've reached the limit of stat-watching's entertainment value.

My thanks go out to everyone we met along the way through this blog. It has been a lot of fun meeting you all and learning new things. I hope our paths will cross again many times--preferably with wine (no offense, you're great straight. We love you). Okay, without further hoopla, I prepare to click "Publish Post." Gotta do it quick before I change my mind (again).

So long and thanks for all the wine.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Cornerstone Napa Valley Cab 2006

I've been putting this post off for a few days because I wasn't sure what to say about this wine. I'm still not really sure. One word that comes to mind is 'ass-kicker' (is that a word?) I can also say this is a seriously age-worthy wine. I actually regret having opened it so soon. It was part of a sample I received some time ago already and it was tugging at my mind like little Tommy Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life ("s'cuse me! s'cuse me!"). There were actually two bottles of Cornerstone Cab in the sample. Thank God I only opened the one.

I was a little surprised to read on the Cornerstone Cellars website that this wine is "already approachable and will be drinking well very quickly." Okay, that makes me feel a little less like a baby murderer. I should add that Cornerstone also recommends aging their Napa Valley Cabs for three to five years, and failing that, decanting for two hours. All I did was pour it through a cheapo aerator. This feisty little bruiser certainly didn't take that lying down. It waged an all out assault on my tongue, and inspired me to sing a homophonous take on "O Tannenbaum."

Things in the bottle started to mellow out a bit after a day or two.
The nose is full of things like blackberry, black currant and licorice--anything black. Then, take a sip, and BAM! Juniper bush. Straight up. Oh, then there's some more licorice, and black stuff mid-palate that crescendos into a tart and herbal finish. Don't ask me what herb. It's probably a blend. Emeril's Essence or something. As the days wear on, some blueberry and violet start to emerge on the nose. And, that? Could it be? An actual hint of cherry on the finish? Anyway, definitely a contender for rochambeau champ at this stage.

On the whole, a bold, bad-ass wine. But, is it good? Well, the quality is certainly evident. It also needs a good deal more time in the bottle IMHO. I have no idea what another couple of years will do to the flavors in this wine. I could see it getting really meaty and irony like a bloody Chinon. I don't know what that juniper bush will do as it ages--this is where a vertical tasting would come in handy. Anyone done a vertical at the winery? Please share because I'm woefully lacking in comparisons for this bottle. As for the second bottle of Cornerstone Cab waiting in my mini-cellar, that's staying put for now.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

$10 Tuesday: Great little go-to white

Here's the current top-pick in our weekly what wine to pour with Sunday chicken quandary. Chicken should be easy to pair, right? Well, red wine lovers that we are, we tend to run lean on the white selection (we've had our fair share of chicken with Pinot Noir nights). Sometimes even red wine lovers want white wine with chicken!

This golden Saumur Chenin Blanc 2008 from Caves de Saumur fits the bill. It offers a nice full mouthfeel for the Chardonnay fans, while still delivering the food-friendly acidity so notably missing from typical Chardonnays. I believe this bottle retails in the $9 to $12 range.

In the glass, aromas of pear and citrus are laced with almond and hay. There's just a wisp of vanilla that quickly blows off. The zingy attack is citrusy: Lemon and grapefruit are followed by mouth-filling apple which then gives way to a slightly mineral finish. It's got a little something for everyone.

We've already enjoyed a few bottles but this is the first opportunity I've had to post about it because the bottle is usually drained before the tasting notes can be written!