Pinot Noir is one of those grapes…one of those wines…that fills my head, and nose, and palate with certain stereotypes of what it should be. I admit it – I’m guilty of judging a wine by what it “should” be. I’m sure you know what I mean. Anyone who’s ever seen a dog show knows – you judge it against the breed standard, not whether you happen to like it. But this week I learned that…well…tasting wine isn’t a dog show.
This wine has been eating at my brain for several days now. Would I consider it your quintessential Pinot Noir? No. Did I like it? It was good…not great…but good. I was a little surprised by just how jammy this wine was on the nose. I mean…jammy. Intensely, over-the-top, give-me-a-piece-of-toast, jammy. Deep garnet in color, but not all that leggy. The first taste covered my tastebuds with dark fruits that mingled with an interesting leatheriness. There was a hint of coffee in there too. Very full body. The finish was particularly long, with only the slightest bit of heat. It did pair well with chicken cacciatore and rustic bread. I look forward to trying this wine again in a year or two.
I love finding a bottle in my collection that I forgot I had. I love it even better when I open it up and find out that it’s pretty good after all these years. When I found this one I rolled the bottle around, up to the light, to see if I could see any of that nasty sediment that happens in wines long forgotten. I didn’t see anything, so that was a good omen. The cork was in good shape, too – another good sign. I pulled out that little cork and immediately poured a small tasting’s worth. The color was a deep, velvety red. Not particularly leggy, but that’s ok. I let it sit for just a few minutes, and when I came back to it I gave it a swirl and a sniff to see what I might find. Cherry. Tons of deep, dark, fruity cherry. The flavors were totally in sync with the cherry aroma – lots of rich fruit, with lots of leather, and definite spice and eucalyptus on the tip of my tongue – maybe even a hint of espresso that lingered into the finish. The tannins were firm, and allowed just a bit of acid through. The finish was nice – moderately long, and the flavors remained. This wine paired wonderfully with a hearty Italian dinner of homemade stuffed shells in a chunky tomato sauce, and rustic Italian bread with spicy olive oil, of course.
There are some great wines that mature gracefully with age. Some do not. I popped this bottle with hopes that time would have been kind to this syrah – after all, syrah frequently has the raw materials for great aging. I immediately noticed that the color wasn’t quite what I was expecting – what it probably once was. I did capture the aromas of a deep cherry, melded to oak. It wasn’t bad. I tasted and found very deep, jammy flavors of black fruit, and just a little bit of spice, but sadly, past its prime. This bottle contained a lesson far more important than the wine. Not every wine, or moment, should be saved for later. Some wines should be drunk in the moment.
This tasting got off to a rocky start when the cork broke when I was opening the bottle. I had half a notion to move on to another wine (as I’ll admit to not having an ah-so handy), but I decided that I really did want to give this a try. I committed the sin of pushing the cork into the bottle, whipping out a fine tea strainer, and pouring away, figuring I’d catch any stray cork bits. The rocky start turned into a wonderful wine experience. The color was deeply rich, with long legs. The aromas were amazing – full and lush, with deep, dark cherries and plums with a touch of currant, and lovely, mellow tobacco and leathery notes. I couldn’t wait for that first sip, which was just amazing. This 12 year old beauty was round and very well balanced. The dark fruits were true to their aromas, and there was a hint of herb and licorice. The tannins were perfectly melded in this amazing wine. I am so glad that I didn’t give up on this one. We enjoyed it with a rich and spicy Italian meal, and this cab sauv was the star of the show.
I had mixed expectations with this old vine zinfandel. A low price and high score from Robert Parker pulled me in to giving this red a try. I opened the bottle to aromas of pepper, plum, dark berries and a little dark cherry. My nose did get the slightest bite from the alcohol, which is a little on the high side at 15%. The alcohol was noticeable at first sip, but resolved quickly. The mouth feel was generally soft, full-bodied, but the fruits were evident. I will admit that I think my palate is a little sensitive to sugars, but the taste was sweet to me, which perplexed me, particularly in light of the higher alcohol. For what it’s worth, my husband loved the wine. We had it with a seared petit filet, and it held up very nicely.
I am very torn about how to describe this wine. It isn’t bad at all, but in the same breath I’ll tell you that it lends to being unremarkable. The aromas are light with notes of cherry and currant. I found it to be of particularly light body – more so than most pinot noirs. The color – a jewel ruby. The finish is modest. I think that this would be a nice transitional wine for the person who is just starting to venture into red territory. It’s light, and doesn’t have a notable sharpness, either from acids or tannins. It could easily go with salmon or other similar seafood. It would tend to get lost if paired with a steak.