Christopher Michael “Pinot Noir” (2012)

Standard

20131211_233245Christopher Michael “Pinot Noir”

Pinot Noir

YEAR: 2012

REGION: US: Oregon: Willamette Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $8-10

What they say about it:

“Blackberries and cherries burst onto the scene and gently taper off into rich chocolate and toasty flavors with subtle hints of black licorice. The wine has lively tannins and a rich and balanced finish. It is open and ready to drink.”

What I say about it:

Spotted another new under $10 Pinot Noir from Oregon and had to give it a try. Not at all familiar with the maker but producers from the Willamette Valley in Oregon produce some of the best wine in the Pacific Northwest, if not the country, especially Pinot Noir. 

Out of the bottle and into the glass, the Christoper Michael Pinot Noir was subtle yet nice plum color with initial notes of cherries, berries, currants and plums. Initial tasting notes was also berries, with a quick tartness (pucker) with some licorice and slight sour cherry. Soft tannins with a slightly chalky, mineral feel. Finish was balanced but a little short.

At best this was an average, drinkable Pinot Noir. I wasn’t impressed but I didn’t empty it into the sink. For an under $10 Pinot Noir from Willamette, I think it’s fine but it’s not “fine wine”. Yes if spoken aloud I would have used air quotes.

Like most Pinot Noir wines this will pair well with red meats or poultry, particularly Turkey. For cheese pairings I would suggest medium to sharp Cheddar, goat cheese / Chevre and softer cheeses.

Would Bukowski drink it?  What the hell are air quotes? Haven’t we learned I’ll drink anything. 

Overall Rating: 2 BUKS

2-BUKS

Charles & Charles “Chardonnay” (2012)

Standard

20131212_195534Charles & Charles “Chardonnay”

Chardonnay

YEAR: 2012

REGION: US: Washington: Columbia Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $10

What they say about it:

The aromas start with notes of apple blossoms, lemon peel and subtle mango, and continue into mineral and wet slate notes with background of sweet pear, toasted spices and vanilla. On the palate you’re first hit with crisp apple and orange rind with tremendous focus, and length. The wine walks a beautiful line between rich full flavors and finesse. There’s luscious fruit and a touch of new oak without ever getting heavy or clumsy.

What I say about it:

I spotted this at my corner market for $10 and had to give it a try. Charles Smith Wines have a fantastic reputation and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve tried from them so far. The Charles & Charles refers to Charles Bieler & Charles Smith, two well known makers. If you are looking for a fantastic white or an excellent Chardonnay for $10 – look no further. The Charles & Charles 2012 would easily stand up and beat Chards in the $15-$25 range as well. 

Out of bottle into the glass the wine has a very floral and citrus aroma with a deep straw color. Lemon, apple, a touch of grass and vanilla. Tasting notes included the same with the addition of pineapple and oak, well balanced. Leaned more toward crisp than buttery, but with a nice mouth feel and long finish. Its an elegant wine without the fuss.

The Charles & Charles Chardonnay would go well with fish, poultry and lighter fair. I think it would also accompany Asian dishes nicely as well. I tend to like the crispness of good whites with the sweet and sour of certain Chinese and Thai dishes. For cheese pairing, I think sharp Cheddar, Emmentaler, Brie and Gruyère would all match well. With a great wine this inexpensive, you can splurge on the accompaniments.

Some additional information on the wine: The Charles & Charles project is a collaboration between Charles Smith and Charles Bieler of Three Thieves, Bieler Père et Fils, and Sombra Mezcal. The Charles & Charles portfolio includes a red blend and rosé from Columbia Valley vineyards (also available in kegs). With an abstract play on the American Flag (designed by the historic Nashville poster shop, Hatch Show Print), the labels showcase the intent to provoke thought of the future while honoring the past.

Would Bukowski drink it?  A wine this good for the price of three bottles of Thurnderbird? OK. I’m in. 

Overall Rating: 5 BUKS

5-BUKS

Alexander Valley Vineyards “Redemption Zinfandel” (2010)

Standard

20131210_023105Alexander Valley Vineyards “Redemption Zinfandel”

Zinfandel

YEAR: 2010

REGION: US: California: Sonoma County: Dry Creek Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $18 

What they say about it:

“In the glass there are aromas of blackberry, dark cherry, plum, chocolate, spice, black pepper and vanilla. There is mouth filling texture with spicy flavors of blueberry, black pepper and dark fruits. Kevin Hall says: “this is a big wine with a long finish.”

What I say about it:

Is the bottle half empty? Is the bottle half full? I am referring to the picture of Alexander Valley Vineyards “Redemption Zinfandel” above. In this case, it’s half full. This is my second tasting of the Redemption and I really enjoy this wine. I love Zins and this one is a new favorite.

Out of the bottle and into the glass, the wine is striking. Deep ruby red, long legs, with a lot of spice and berries that are easily recognized while just pouring. Sweet and spicy with just a touch of vanilla. Tasting notes are again full of berries and spice. Particularly blueberry, figs and plums, full and round flavors with touches of pepper, cocoa, smoke and a hint of clover. The Redemption has a very long mellow finish that lingers. 

I had the Redemption solo but previously sampled it with a meal. It went excellent with a grilled ribeye and would be an ideal wine to have with any grilled meats as well as similar full flavored foods. For cheese I would pair with any good blue, Gorgonzola, Gouda, even some drier harder cheeses like Pecorino and Manchego.

Would Bukowski drink it?  Redemption. How Poetic. Pour me a glass or four. 

Overall Rating: 4 BUKS

4-BUKS

Bukowski Quotes on Drinking: Entry #5

Standard

buk5“in the cupboard sits my bottle
like a dwarf waiting to scratch out my prayers.
I drink and cough like some idiot at a symphony,
sunlight and maddened birds are everywhere,
the phone rings gamboling its sound
against the odds of the crooked sea;
I drink deeply and evenly now,
I drink to paradise
and death
and the lie of love.”

—Charles Bukowski, “Soirée”

Mark Ryan “The Vincent” (2011)

Standard

Mark Ryan The VincentMark Ryan “The Vincent”

Red Blend: 

60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Syrah

YEAR: 2011

REGION: US: Washington: Columbia Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $20 

What they say about it:

“The 2011 Vincent Red offers clean, pure aromas of black cherry, black raspberry, cedar-lined spice and vanilla. The palate is bold, with mouth-filling blueberry and blackberry with more warm spice and subtle licorice flavor. The finish is remarkably balanced, focusing firm but round tannins and refined acidity.”

What I say about it:

One of the things that I really love about wine is finding a new winery and tasting their wines. Friends have mentioned Mark Ryan before and I’ve read about the wine maker and his wines from time to time. I finally picked up a few of his 2011 wines and The Vincent was the first I cracked open. I was not disappointed in the least and wish I hadn’t waited this long.

The Nose of “The Vincent” is big and fruity with some herbaceous tones. Black berries, spice, subtle leather notes, clover and a hint of coffee. I did not let the wine breath that long and it was pleasant from bottle to glass. The Vincent has a full long finish with long legs. Full bodied with lush mellow tannins. A deep purple color mixed with complex fruits; plums, prunes, cherry, currants, with background flavors of licorice and orange rind and a slight earthiness.

I enjoyed The Vincent on its own but could easily imagine it paired with blue cheese, olives, fig spread, onion jam, rustic breads, on the lighter side, and it would compliment grilled meats, particularly a nice Rib Eye, BBQ’d, perfectly. I highly recommend this wine and at $20 its a value. Expect more from Mark Ryan in my future reviews.

A little bit more on Mark Ryan: 

Mark Ryan McNeilly founded Mark Ryan Winery in 1999 with the goal of making the best wines in Washington State. Largely self-taught, Mark honed the craft of winemaking through rigorous study and the welcomed advice of some of the area’s most experienced producers.

In the early years the winery was transient. The first vintages of Long Haul and Dead Horse were produced crushed and pressed in garages of friends and family, barrels aged in warehouses in the Seattle Area, and finally settling in Woodinville, WA  in 2003.

Over a decade later, Mark Ryan Winery has grown in size, earned acclaim from wine-lovers and critics alike, and garnered respect from the state’s elite producers. The goal, however, remains the same. Make delicious wines that represent the vineyard from which they come, making every vintage better than the last…

More info: http://www.markryanwinery.com/

Would Bukowski drink it?  

Overall Rating: 5 BUKS

5-BUKS

Joseph Drouhin “Beaujolais Nouveau” (2013)

Standard

joseph drouhin 2013 beaujolais nouveauJoseph Drouhin “Beaujolais Nouveau”

Gamay

YEAR: 2013

REGION: France:Burgundy

AVERAGE RETAIL: $8-14 

What they say about it:

“Notes on the 2013 Harvest: The region has benefited from summery conditions during the month of July and the first two weeks of August. Hot, sunny and luminous conditions have enabled the vines to develop normally yet without catching up with the delay in growth of the beginning of the year. There were some rain storms, but which did not affect the vines. The grape count indicates a very good harvest in areas where the grapes ripen fast, and a moderate harvest in more slow ripening areas. We estimate the harvest to start around September 23rd to 25th.”- Frédéric J. Drouhin”

What I say about it:

OK well that doesn’t tell me anything about the wine actually…. This was the 2nd 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau I had picked up recently and my first from Joseph Droughin. This like most Beaujolais Nouveau wines was light, fruity, easy to drink and quite enjoyable. The nose had elements of violets, cherries, lavender, berries, and slight touch of vanilla. The texture was smooth, lush with very subtle tannins and a slight tartness with low acidity. Tasting notes included cherries, of the tarter pie cherry variety, berries, strawberry and raspberry, cassis and currants with a slightly earthy undertone. The wine has a striking light garnet color. 

The Joseph Drouhin “Beaujolais Nouveau” 2013 will go nicely with light savory meats and poultry as well as fish, particularly grilled salmon. It will also go nicely with appetizers, fruits and cheeses. Excellent slightly chilled (54-57° F).

Overall this was a great find and a winery I need to investigate further.

Would Bukowski drink it? Louis-Ferdinand Céline, now he was French. 

Overall Rating: 4 BUKS

4-BUKS