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!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Press Release: Politics, Wine and Fair Trade Collide at Online Wine Auction

Online Fundraising Auction Supports Efforts
to Give Wine Merchants Right To Ship Wine,
Consumer right to buy the wines they want

(Sacramento, CALIF)—Beginning today and running through November 19th, Specialty Wine Retailers Association (SWRA) and are sponsoring the "Wine Without Borders" Online Fundraising Wine Auction. The online auction of wine will raise funds to support the effort to overturn state-sponsored discrimination against online commerce and give wine lovers real access to the wines they want, but can't find at their local wine outlets.

To view the various lots up for bid in the auction, wine lovers can go to: Wine lovers that support free trade in wine can quickly register, start bidding on wines and know they are helping the effort to bring down protectionist wine shipping laws.

"Between 2000 and 2008, more than $65 million was given to state political campaigns by special interests that oppose the idea of wine lovers buying wine online," said Tom Wark, Executive Director of the Specialty Wine Retailers Association. "We shouldn't be surprised then that today, in the 21st century, 36 states help these same well-healed special interests with protectionist laws that ban the shipment of wine into their states."

Among the wines on the block at the Wine Without Borders Online Fundraising Auction are: a 3 liter bottle of 2000 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, Martinelli Jackass Vineyard Zinfandel, Bordeaux futures including cases of 2007 Chateau Petrus and Chateau Mouton Rothschild, a collection of 2004 Syrahs from across California, 1996 Veuve Cliquot La Grande Dame Champagne, a 6 liter bottle of 2006 White Cottage Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and many more hard to find and rare wines. In all there are more than 90 lots up for bid.

Specialty Wine Retailers Association is the only national organization that is working to overturn protectionist anti-wine shipping laws, give wine merchants access to the national wine market and allowing consumers to finally gain access to the wines they want by working to change laws in various states.

The proceeds of the "Wine Without Borders" auction will go toward helping fund the SWRA efforts across the country, including lobbying and media relations efforts.

"The 'Wine Without Borders' Online Wine Auction also gives consumers the opportunity to get involved and help with this effort to open up online wine sales across the country," said Wark. "To some this cause seems trivial, but in addition to supporting corruption and blocking wine lovers from accessing the wines they want, states that ban retailer to consumer shipping are losing millions of dollars in tax revenue that could be earned by simply letting their citizens buy wines from out of state wine retailers when they can't find them at home."


Friday, October 16, 2009

Bring Back Summer

I heard there is already snow on the ground not thirty miles from here! *gag* I'm not ready for another long winter. With luck, I think we can still squeeze out a few days of New England autumny goodness before winter sets in.

Enter Truro Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay.

We probably wouldn't have been able to procure this bottle from the 2007 vintage if it hadn't been a sample since Truro has been sold out for some time. I do wish we could have gone in person last summer to sample the wines and I'm sure we will some day. I think wine always tastes better at the winery, and I don't mean that in the cynical way. You just can't help but really enjoy drinking a wine within a few hundred yards of where it was produced. We didn't make it to the Cape this summer, but I reckon the only thing better than summer on the Cape is fall on the Cape. ;-)

Anyway, I can't recall having many Chardonnays grown in this part of the world other than a few we tried in Long Island so I don't have much to compare it to. Many local wineries choose to buy grapes from California. This Estate Grown Chardonnay was quite lemony with a little oak in the background. Even with the oak, I think it was much more refreshing than your average overly-buttery flabby chard. There were also some hay notes to balance out the citrus, and a smooth glycerin mouthfeel. A great summer wine, but also good for this time of year--like a crisp cold apple. I can honestly say it's the best New England chard we'd tried, and would pair nicely with any of our local seafood.


Monday, October 5, 2009

A good Pinot under $10? Hellz ya.

That's right folks, this is the best Pinot Noir under $10 that I can remember having. Of course it's French (the best source for food-friendly Pinot IMHO), and also of course a Vin de Pays.

This is seriously good fall food wine: Dynamite with beef stew or butternut squash lasagna. Not sure if you can tell from the picture, but the bottle is empty...yeah so...don't really have much in the way of tasting notes for you other than that it tastes like Pinot: Nice bright fruit on the attack with lots of subtle beef-stew-complimenting cocoa and spice in a mellow yet undulating finish.

We never buy wine by the case but, we might just have to get at least a half a case of this stuff. I love love love butternut squash dishes in the fall and sure, any Pinot would be good with butternut squash but, *this* Pinot is GOOD and CHEAP. What's not to love?

Bouchard Aîné & Fils

Vintage: 2007
Grape: Pinot Noir
Appellation: Vin de Pays D'OC
Aromas: Cherry, garrigue, vanilla
Flavors: good, try it.


Monday, August 3, 2009

$10 Tuesday: Go-to Garnacha

Here is another damn fine under ten dollar wine from Bodegas Borsao (Campo de Borja D.O.). We paid $8 but, I've seen it for as low as six and change.

The 2007 vintage is all about the blackberry: A hint of tobacco and stewed cinnamon stick and blackberry, blackberry, blackberry. It's super fruity but still shows best when paired with bold spicy dishes with lots of garlic. Great pizza wine!

This is my new favorite go-to eight dollar red!