Four Vines “Truant” Old Vine Zinfandel (2010)

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20141106_212043[1]Four Vines “Truant” Old Vine

Zinfandel Blend (Truant is 77% Zinfandel, 13% Syrah, 5% Petite Sirah, 3% Barbera and 2% Sangiovese*)

YEAR: 2010

REGION: US: California

AVERAGE RETAIL: $15 

What they say about it:

Escape the everyday and take a little Truant vacay. This is our go-to pour when we feel too well to go to work. If these lush flavors can’t convince you to power down the gadgets and turn up the volume on a life well lived, then what will?

Blended from an array of fine appellations throughout California, Truant is 77% Zinfandel, 13% Syrah, 5% Petite Sirah, 3% Barbera and 2% Sangiovese. On the nose you’ll find dark berry notes and enticing spicy notes from oak aging. The wine bursts with juicy blackberry, ripe plums with a surprising touch of blueberry. Generous in fruit flavors, Truant has plenty of structure and a velvety finish.”

What I say about it:

I don’t recall where I picked up this Zinfandel blend recently, but I discovered it in my wine fridge and decided to give it a try last night while snacking on some cheese and fruit. I was not disappointed.

So out of the bottle and into the glass….

The color of the wine is a deep ruby red to purple. Rich and luscious much like the flavor, but I am getting ahead of myself. The Truant has long legs in the glass, mainly due to it’s high alcohol content (14.4%). The nose of the wine is complex with berries and big fresh fruit in the front with cocoa, cherries, slight smoke, spice, clove cardamom, and a touch of cinnamon and wet earth. The taste of the wine is full of rich plums, blackberries, with light oak, smoke, spice, a rich earthiness and a jammy quality. The finish is long and lingers with velvet soft tannins and a very pronounced chocolate flavor. Very well balanced. Great mouth feel. A really nice find and quite enjoyable.

As I mentioned I was eating some cheese and fruit while sampling the Truant. Like most Zinfandel wines this Zin blend will go great with sharp and robust cheeses like Blues, Gorgonzola, aged goat cheeses and Cheddar. It matched well with olives and balsamic cipollini onions as well as the salami and Spanish Chorizo I was also having.

* The blend for Truant is actually not listed on the bottle and by calling the wine Old Vine, a term often associated with Zinfandel, it is a tad misleading even though it also does not say Zinfandel anywhere on the bottle. Damn marketing people.

Would Bukowski drink it?  Truant. More like just true. Gimme a glass. 

Overall Rating: 4 BUKS

4-BUKS

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Four Vines “Skeptic” Petite Syrah (2012)

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20141020_213642Four Vines “Skeptic” Petite Syrah

Syrah (Petite)

YEAR: 2012

REGION: US: California: San Luis Obispo County: Paso Robles

AVERAGE RETAIL: $20

What they say about it:

“The ’12 Four Vines Skeptic Petie Sirah is smooth, showing an inherent fruitiness, with fresh crushed raspberry, cherry and plum flavors, and just a touch of spice and vanilla.”

What I say about it:

I have been forcing myself to try more and more Syrah and Petite Syrah wine lately. Tried this at a tasting at a national chain wine and spirits retailer that will remain nameless (since they don’t need any additional advertising) and picked up a few bottles. Revisited it for another taste.

So out of the bottle and into the glass….

The color of the wine is very deep purple with medium legs in the glass. Very clean to rim and bright. The nose of the wine is full of red fruit: cherries and berries, with a burnt sugar note, cocoa, a slight smoke but no oak. The taste of the wine is full of the same lush red fruit, cherries, raspberries and jammy, but not overly sweet. I picked up a little bit of a minerally finish and also touches of licorice and tobacco. Medium dry finish with soft well developed tannins and well balanced acidity.

Overall a nice drinkable red with a touch of spice but still fruity. I didn’t try this one this occasion with food, but would recommend pairing it with red meats, spicier, zesty fair, even a good burger. For cheese pairings sharp cheddar or gouda, anything robust.

Would Bukowski drink it? 

Overall Rating: 3 BUKS

3-BUKS

Dunham Cellars “Trutina” (2005)

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20141017_193531

Dunham Cellars “Trutina”

Red Blend:  41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot, 13% Syrah, 5% Cab Franc

YEAR: 2005

REGION: US: Washington State: Columbia Valley: Walla Walla

AVERAGE RETAIL: $35

What they say about it:

“Rich, ripe pomegranate and lavender notes with hints of black cherry round off in the mouth with lush blackberry and floral notes. As in the meaning of the Latin word “Trutina,” we have found a wonderful “balance” in these four blended varieties.”

What I say about it:

Having recently tasted the Trutina from Dunham Cellars at the Full Pull Wines 5 Year Pull Event, I was lucky that my friend Matt had bought a couple of bottles and shared one this past Friday. We won’t hold it against them that they suggested it was too expensive to purchase, but I’ll address that one of these days in a post about wine snobbery.

So out of the bottle and into the glass….

The color of the wine is a nice ruby red with a slight touch of rustiness. Long legs in the glass (13.8% alcohol content). Nose of the wine is smokey with pronounced Oak, leather, pepper, spice, cocoa, red fruits: cherries and blackberries foremost. The taste was equally full of red fruits: cherries and blackberries with Oak, slight spice and a jammy quality. The Trutina has a long finish with soft tannins with well balanced acidity.

Matt gave it 4 BUKS, while my fiance Nicole gave it only 3 BUKS. Keri, Matt’s wife, was not a fan.

For pairings, this would match well with red meat and more full flavored dishes. For cheeses I would try Roquefort or cambozola. Stick to more bold flavored cheeses. I would also suggest dried cured meats with this wine as the saltiness will contrast the jammy, sweeter characteristics of the wine as well.

The Trutina is available only direct from the winery and several local WA sellers. At last the winery had a very limited quantity of this vintage left.

More info on Dunham Cellars

Would Bukowski Drink It? Find what you love and let it kill you. Pour me another glass, I am in love.

Overall Rating: 4 BUKS

4-BUKS

Sleight of Hand “The Conjurer” (2012)

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The ConjurerSleight of Hand “The Conjurer”

Red Blend:  42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Cabernet Franc and 24% Merlot

YEAR: 2012

REGION: US: Washington State: Columbia Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $25

What they say about it:

“This gorgeous blend is full-bodied and rich, with enough acidity to keep it bright and youthful, and make it a great “food wine”. The wine is brimming with fresh red fruits like cherries and pomegranate, and has a beautiful herbal note from the Cabernet Franc. The lush finish carries the fruit on forever with well-integrated, fine tannins. This wine is already ready to accompany a beautiful steak or roast, and should continue to delight over the next 7-10 years.”

What I say about it:

I am a big fan of Sleight of Hand Cellars and was surprised I hadn’t reviewed any of their wines so far. Having attended a tasting that included Sleight of Hand recently, I was thrilled when my buddy Jason offered a bottle to have after dinner at his and Stephanie’s house this past Friday.

So out of the bottle and into the glass….

The Conjurer is a big wine and it’s color is a deep rich purple with long legs in the glass. The nose is full of fresh fruit: cherries, berries, and plums with a pronounced but not over-the-top oakiness. I also caught leather, smoke, with some pepper, wet earth and a touch of lavender and herbs (tarragon; licorice). The taste was equally full of red fruits with cherries (dark and ripe as well as tart) with oak, tobacco, and nice even long finish with very soft well-developed tannins.

My only complaint was that we only had one bottle. It is very drinkable and easily recommended.

For pairings, this would match well with any grilled and savory red meats. For cheeses I would recommend nice sharp Cheddar, Blues, Gorgonzola, the saltier the better. Fresh pears or granny smith apples will also offer a nice contrast. Figs, dried cherries, and plums would compliment the flavors of the wine.

More info on Sleight of Hands Cellars

Oh and if you are wondering, the smiling lad in the background is my other buddy Matt whom I frequently drink (way too much) wine with on (way too many) occasions.

Would Bukowski Drink It? Is that Doogie Howser on that label? What the hell pour me a glass!

Overall Rating: 4 BUKS

4-BUKS

Corvidae “Rook” (2012)

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2012 RookCorvidae “Rook”

Red Blend:  52% Merlot / 43% Cabernet Sauvignon / 5% Syrah

YEAR: 2012

REGION: US: Washington State: Columbia Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $15

What they say about it:

“The Rook’ 2012 was made to showcase the world-class Merlot grown in the cooler, higher elevation sites located in the Columbia Valley and Yakima Valley. The wine was aged in mostly neutral French oak to enhance the rich flavors from an exceedingly stellar vintage.”

What I say about it:

Being October and the season of all things Halloween, I was drawn to the striking image of a crow by artist David Ladmore on the label of the 2012 Rook from Corvidae Winery. Ladmore’s artist statement states “My work is a response to the beauty and simplicity of the things I find around me. In figure and landscape, careful study reveals the undercurrents and rhythms of existence.”. This sounds like an appropriate outlook for wine-making and wine tasting as well.

So without further waxing poetic, out of the bottle and into the glass….

The color of the 2012 Rook is a bright plum purple. Clear to the edge and full of vibrant hues. Medium to long legs due to the 14.1% alcohol content. The nose of the wine is smoky with oak in the forefront with touches of tobacco, spice, cherries, wet earth and stone with cocoa on top. Very pleasant and warming. Perfect for this time of the year when the nights get a little crisper. The taste is peppery but again with the French oak and cherry in the forefront followed by other red fruits (raspberry) as well as leather, smoke, slight clove and currants. The finish is medium to long as well as slightly dry with lingering soft well developed tannins.

Being a devote Merlot hater (blame Sideways), I was surprised after tasting to discover the blend was 52% Merlot. I had guessed higher Syrah but lower Cab percentages. Perhaps the notes from the winery on the cooler, higher elevation create a more appealing Merlot to my palate, since I usually find them to be bland and too predictable. The Cab and Syrah that balance out the remaining blend also make the Rook a very drinkable and enjoyable red blend. Easily recommended and a good deal for under $20.

For pairings, the 2012 Rook would go nicely with slightly drier cheeses (Manchego, Grana Padana) as well as robut soft cheeses (Blue, Gorganzola, Cambozola) and of course any salted cured meats (salami, prosciutto, etc.); but what doesn’t?

Notes on the Winery:

Corvidae is Owen Roe’s value-driven second label. Much of the fruit for Corvidae is sourced from Owen Roe’s 280-acre Outlook Vineyard. David O’Reilly is meticulous in the winery and in the vineyard for both Owen Roe and Corvidae.

More info on Corvidae Winery.

Would Bukowski drink it?   I would certainly end up forever crying the blues into a coffee cup in a park for old men playing chess or silly games of some sort. So Rook to Knight blah-blah-blah – give me another glass. 

Overall Rating: 4 BUKS

4-BUKS

Smasne Cellars Farm Boy “Bunk House Red” (2011)

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20140307_223224Smasne Cellars Farm Boy “Bunk House Red”

Red Blend:  Tempranillo (36%), Mourvèdre (20%), Malbec (16%), Zinfandel (11%), Syrah (10%) and Grenache (7%)

YEAR: 2011

REGION: US: Washington State: Columbia Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $18

What they say about it:

This entry-level brand by Robert Smasne — Wine Press Northwest’s Washington Winery of Year in 2013 — continues to deliver bang for the buck. His wide-ranging blend of Tempranillo (36%), Mourvèdre (20%), Malbec (16%), Zinfandel (11%), Syrah (10%) and Grenache offers a nose of plum, Marionberry and blueberry with hints of cinnamon bark and dark cherry. There’s an amazing level of integration to the easy-drinking notes of black currant, red cherry and dark chocolate. An undertone of graphite leads into the rewarding acidity and tannin.”

What I say about it:

I recently attended a tasting at The Barrel Thief in Seattle WA for Smasne Cellars with some friends. I’d been introduced to the Farm Boy before and revisting it, I wasn’t disappointed. Smasne Cellars are really turning out some great examples of reds and red blends and are making their name as an exceptional WA State producer. Their wines are hard to find but worth searching out, special ordering or visiting their Woodenville WA tasting room. 

So out of the bottle and into the glass…. The color of the wine is Ruby red with purple and garnett tones. Clean and bright with very long legs. The nose is full of berries and cherries: strawberries, dark bing cherries with some floral and herbacious notes: lavender and marigold in paticular for me. There was also a slight muskiness with earthy notes and touch of oak. A nice amount of spice, most notably cinamon and cardamon.

The taste was likewise full of berries, tart pie cherries, starwberries with blackberry. The Farm Boy is very jammy with a very slight pickle juice note and minerals (wet stone, flint). The finish is long with a smooth medium body that slow and lingers. Great mouthfeel.

Overall easily recommended and exceptionally well balanced.  The Farm Boy “Bunk House Red” will easily compliment grilled meats, savory dishes, dry cured meats, cheeses like Asiago, Manchego, Blue and sharp aged Cheddar.

More info on Smasne Cellars.

Would Bukowski drink it?  I spent many a night (and day sleeping it off) in the Bunk House so sign me up. 

Overall Rating: 4 BUKS

4-BUKS

Airfield Estates “Bombshell Red” (2011)

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20140131_193528Airfield Estates “Bombshell Red”

Red Blend:  57% Syrah, 16% Malbec, 10% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Sangiovese, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc 

YEAR: 2011

REGION: US: Washington State

AVERAGE RETAIL: $16-$18

What they say about it:

“A beloved favorite of many, this approachable signature red blend has dark overlapping aromas of plum, blackberry, and a hint of cocoa, leaving lingering flavors of dark fruit and toasted oak on the palate. With firm tannins and a round, full-bodied mouthfeel, this blend pairs well with a wide range of foods.”

What I say about it:

Having enjoyed another wine from Airfield Estates, I ventured to try another, this time a red blend. Once again they didn’t disappoint and I am quickly becoming a fan of their wines. This blend was quite good. 

Out of the bottle and into the glass….The wine’s color is rich ruby-red with deep purple tones. It has very long legs in the glass.

The nose of the wine is big, bold and spicy. Notes of cassis, plums, cherries, smoke, oak, leather, cocoa, sassafras, pepper, cinnamon and clove. It’s a very big wine with a lot to take in.

Tasting notes include smoke and leather upfront followed by big fruit – plum, tart pie cherries, and berries. The body of the wine to me was more medium to full-bodied, with long soft tannins and a long lingering finish; a little chalky with a nicely balanced acidity.

Overall easily recommended and quite enjoyable. I had this wine on its own but it will easily compliment grilled meats, savory dishes, dry cured meats, cheeses like Asiago, Manchego, Blue and sharp aged Cheddar.

Would Bukowski drink it?  The babe on the bottle sold me. 

Overall Rating: 3 BUKS

3-BUKS