Airfield Estates “Runway” Syrah (2011)

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Airfield SyrahAirfield Estates “Runway” Syrah

Syrah

YEAR: 2011

REGION: US: Washington state: Yakima Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $16 

What they say about it:

“This dark, concentrated Syrah possesses flavors of dark berry, clove, and white pepper. With silky smooth tannins and a plush round mouthfeel, this well-balanced wine pairs great with lamb, beef, and aged gouda.”

What I say about it:

Tonight we enter the dark side, the dark side of wine. Airfield Estates’s Runway Syrah is a deep dark wine with lots of spice, berries and flavor. I am a novice when it comes to Syrah. Not a fan for the most part, as I tend to like slightly spicier heavier wines like Zinfandel and find Syrah a red headed stepchild of Zins. This said, based on the abuse I receive from friends when I say “I am not into Syrah”, I’ve forced myself to taste them from time to time. I recently tried a Syrah from Jones of Washington that I really enjoyed (but only had a half bottle from the night before in the fridge which was not suitable for a review) so on my stop to my market for the wine fridge, I picked up a bottle the 2011 Airfield Estates’s “Runway” Syrah to sample. 

Out of the bottle and into the glass….the color of this Syrah is striking, very deep purple, true to the rim of the glass. Dark, boding and clear. The nose is full of spice, most notably pepper and clove with a touch of woodsiness and smoke, and a touch musk. I also detected hints of crushed dark fruits, mostly cherries, as well as a slight crushed violet and geranium notes. 

Syrah is most often associated with pepper and blackberries and the Airfield Estates “Runway” Syrah delivers. Berries and pepper were definitely my first impression upon tasting. Subtler tasting notes included a touch of coffee, licorice, cassis and dark fruits, particularly plums.

The body is medium plus with a nice finish; long soft tannins, with a smooth velvety mouth feel. Really enjoyable and highly drinkable.

For pairing the Airfield Estates “Runway” Syrah would match well with grilled meats, full mature cheese like aged gouda or a smoked mozzarella, cured meats as well as similar fruits the wine resembles, dried cherries, apricots and figs for example.

Overall a nice Syrah that is very drinkable, fresh yet complex enough to enjoy on its own. 

Would Bukowski drink it? DId you mean Dark Side of the Moon? What the hell Dave, its wine, just drink it. 

Overall Rating: 3 BUKS

3-BUKS

BUKOWSKI QUOTES ON DRINKING: ENTRY #6

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mwbw-bukowski“I think a man can keep on drinking for centuries, he’ll never die; especially wine or beer…I like drunkards, man, because drunkards, they come out of it, and they’re sick and they spring back, they spring back and forth…If I hadn’t been a drunkard, I probably would have committed suicide long ago.”

– Charles Bukowski, The Charles Bukowski Tapes 

Chateau de Lancyre “Pic Saint Loup” Rosé (2012)

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Chateau De Lancyre Rose Chateau de Lancyre “Pic saint Loup” Rosé

Rosé (Blend: Cinsaut – Grenache – Syrah) 

YEAR: 2012

REGION: FRANCE:  Languedoc-Roussillon: Languedoc: Coteaux du Languedoc: Pic Saint-Loup

AVERAGE RETAIL: $16-18

What they say about it:

“A big rosé! Raspberry and pear aromas on the nose, with distinctive spicy, minty garrigue notes. Big, bold and firm on the palate, ending with a long, clean finish.

What I say about it:

Last night’s dinner was Indian, which for me requires a nice Rosé. The Chateau de Lancyre “Pic Saint Loup” Rosé was a new addition at my local market with some good blurbs so a taste seemed in order. Out of the bottle and into the glass….

The color was a clear blush rose with slightly peachy orange tones bright and to the rim. Very clean.

The nose of the wine was a burst of fruit, floral and citrus with strawberry, orange, grapefruit and a touch of clove and spice.

On tasting, again, fruit was first and foremost (as it should be with a Rosé). Bursts of watermelon, strawberry and rhubarb with a little spice and herbs (most notably a little mint). The Chateau de Lancyre “Pic Saint Loup” Rosé is dry with a nice full finish. Slightly sour with a mouth-watering effect.

It’s great on its own but for pairings, I’d suggest this as perfect accompaniment to grilled meats, BBQ, shrimp, ethnic foods that tend to be sweet, spicy or savory, like Indian cuisine, as well as lighter yet hearty meals (Cobb Salad).

Overall a really really good Rosé. Highly recommended and easy to drink. I plan to add this to my short list of Rosé to enjoy now and definitely this summer.

Would Bukowski drink it? You had me at “easy”

Overall Rating: 4 BUKS

4-BUKS

Domaine du Petit Bondieu Bourgueil (2010)

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BourgueilDomaine du Petit Bondieu Bourgueil

Cabernet Franc

YEAR: 2010

REGION: FRANCE: Rhone-Alpes

AVERAGE RETAIL: $12

What they say about it:

“Deeply-coloured. Distinctive nose with floral and fruity aromatics. On the palate, tightly-wound, refined stuffing framed by fat yielding a pleasant, supple attack. More structured mid-palate brimming with freshness. A Bourgueil showing wonderful expression that will keep.”

What I say about it:

I try as often as I can to pick up a bottle that is outside of my comfort zone. I am rarely more uncomfortable than with French wine. My two years of French in high school are long-lost (apologies to Mrs. Constanza and Ms. Hennesey). So I decided to not only go French but to go with a French varietal I have never had. The Bourgueil is basically Cab Franc. When I learned this I was much less intimidated. Thank you Google. Now on with the wine. Out of the bottle and into the glass….

Color was bright, scarlet garnet red clear to the rim.

The nose of the wine, aka how it smells, was full of berries, slight floral notes, violets with a little pepper, slight smoke and woody notes.

The taste was slightly bitter at first, but sweet with a pucker. Plums, tart pie cherries, with slight tobacco and oak. Finish was shorter than I would have liked with soft tannins, medium bodied.

Having few points of reference for Cab Franc and none for this French varietal, I liked this but wasn’t blown away. I’d try it again. I had this with and while I was preparing a meal. In this case it was a grilled beef tenderloin and grilled vegetables. It held up well but wasn’t the best match for me.

Would Bukowski drink it?  Hey fancy pants, just drink the shit will you

Overall Rating: 3 BUKS

3-BUKS

Some additional notes on the wine:

Bourgueil is the appellation for red wines from Bourgueil (and six surrounding communes) in the central Loire Valley wine region of France. Although technically a part of the Touraine district (which is defined by the political boundaries of the city of Tours), Bourgueil is markedly different from its neighbors and is often grouped together as a separate unit with Chinon, just the other side of the Loire river.

Cabernet Franc is a black-skinned French grape variety grown in most wine producing nations. The variety is most famously known as the third grape of Bordeaux and can be found in many of the world’s top Bordeaux blend wines. Cabernet Franc most commonly appears in blended red wines, where it adds herbaceous accents of tobacco and dark spice.

As a varietal wine, Cabernet Franc is light to medium-bodied and often shows vegetal characteristics, in particular green bell peppers. This has led many wine drinkers to incorrectly identify Cabernet Franc as unripe Cabernet Sauvignon, or even Carmenere. This has been highlighted in Friuli, Italy, where plantings that were thought to be Cabernet Franc were later classified as Carmenere.

Bogle Vineyards Red Blend “Phantom” (2010)

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Bogle PhantomBogle Vineyards Red Blend “Phantom”

Red Blend: Zinfandel 51% – Petite Sirah 47% – Mourvèdre 2%

YEAR: 2010

REGION: US: California

AVERAGE RETAIL: $18

What they say about it:

“This ruby red spectre entices with rich blackberry and briary boysenberry. Provocative dark fruits envelop the nose and palate, leaving the essence of flavors brought forth by the grapes during winemaking. Black cherry and anise abound, leading to a sturdy finish of black pepper, pipe tobacco and spicy oak. Aged for over two years in 1 and 2 year old American oak focus and intensify the Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Mourvèdre, creating yet another passionate and commanding red wine, impossible to ignore. Welcome the winery ghost into your home again with this latest vintage, and enjoy with full-flavored and hearty meals…before it vanishes again.”

What I say about it:

I love big wines. The Phantom from Bogle is a big bold spicy red that I really enjoy. A complex red blend that is ideal for a dark cold winter night. So out of the bottle and into the glass….

Visually the Phantom is a stunner. Deep ruby red and garnet true to the rim. Rich, bright and clear. Long legs and jammy.

The nose is equally pleasing with a lot of big berry notes – Plums, ripe black berries, and cherries (dark fuits). Also notable spice; cardamom, clove and pepper. Also subtle notes of tar, leather, wood and linseed oil.

The taste is big and a very full finish. Lots of spice with a peppery, fruity, smokey blend. The berry notes I detected in the nose as well as prunes and cassis. Leather and tobacco, pipe tobacco, like Captain Black’s, sweeter and mellow. Oak but not too oaked. Full long but round tannins. Softer yet pronounced. This is a very full bodied dryer wine with 14.5% alchohol.

I really can’t say anything bad about this wine. It pairs excellent with grilled red meats and rich spicey foods as well as hangs out well all on it’s own. For fruits, think complimentary fruits such as red grapes, dried cherries, blueberries, figs and on the contrast side apricots and pears, particually Bosc (for the skin). For cheeese, I would go Spanish, Manchego, Queso de Mahón and to the Blues, even smoked gouda. Break out the salted cured meats too as this wine will marry well with Soppressata and Finocchiona salami.

Would Bukowski drink it?  Get a room Dave. What matters most is how well you walk through the fire. I’d walk a lot easier with a bottle of the Phantom in my back pocket. 

Overall Rating: 5 BUKS

5-BUKS

L’Ecole No 41Chenin Blanc “Columbia Valley” (2012)

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20140110_225045L’Ecole No 41Chenin Blanc “Columbia Valley”

Chenin Blanc

YEAR: 2012

REGION: US: Washington: Columbia Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $15

What they say about it:

“This fresh and vibrant Chenin Blanc shows abundant expressive aromatics of jasmine, orange blossom, and mango with flavors of star fruit, apple, and peach on a balanced, crisp mineral finish.”

What I say about it:

Amazingly, I think this may be my first taste from L’Ecole, one of the well known and earliest artisanal wine makers in Washington state. They produce in both the Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Valley. The later I hope to visit this summer. The 2012 Chenin Blanc from Columbia Valley was a nice introduction on a Friday night. I sampled it chilled to about 54° F which is where I like whites.

Out of the bottle and into the glass…. The color is yellow to yellow straw. Clean to the edge of the glass with a hint of peach and orange to the hue. More mellow than bright yet clear.

The nose had a lot of floral, grassy and ciitrus notes: orange blossom, marigold,with a touch of wet wool, chestnut, wet earth and mushrooms. 

The taste was equally citrus and balanced with a long slightly mineral finish. Green pineapple, fresh white peaches, green apples with a touch of slate. Medium dry alcohol with a nice acidity.

Overall a really nice wine. Reminded of Spring right after a slight shower, the rain on the slate sidewalk of my childhood house. I’d pair it with lighter delicate cheeses, like brie, Dubliner, Humboldt Fog, along with fruits, pear, apples, and figs, to bring out the fuitiness of the wine more. I can also see this going nice with smoked salmon, lox, as well as most poultry, fish, shellfish and pasta in white or cream sauces. Definitely a wine I plan to come back to for return revisists.

Would Bukowski drink it?  I don’t hate people…I just feel better when they’re not around. When they are around good wine like this helps make life bearable.Crack open another Dave!

Overall Rating: 4 BUKS

4-BUKS

Christopher Michael “Pinot Noir” (2012)

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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)

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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)

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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

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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”