Thorn Clarke – 2010 Shotfire Barossa Valley Quartage

NV_ThornClarke_Shotfire_Quartage3Some of you may already be acquainted with my love of rich, red wines.  You know the kind.  The kind that warm you up and wrap you in their deep aromas and flavors.  Perfect when the seasons start to change, and you’ve said your good-bye’s to summer’s Sauv Blancs, at least for now.  That’s the kind of wine that this evening begged for, even though the leaves haven’t changed yet.

I perused my wine rack to see what might hit the spot, and lo’ and behold, I came across this Australian lovely.  I already had a pot of thick bolognese on the stove, so (even though it’s not Italian) this would be perfect.  Perfect, but not without some effort.

Ok, a lot of effort.

After the foil wouldn’t let go for love or money, and the cork broke, and the ah-so failed to do its job, I did what any wannabe wine pro would do.  I grabbed an iced tea spoon and shoved the cork into the bottle.

So now that I’ve washed the kitchen down, and since my shirt has stopped dripping wine, I wanted to share with you a few thoughts on the wine.

In the glass this deep, opaque, leggy red was begging me to drink it.  As I turned the glass toward my nose, the rich aromas of cassis and dark currant rushed out of the glass.  I pulled my nose into the rim to discover violet and leather, with just a tiny bit of graphite swirling below.  A little cedar and eucalyptus were there, just around the edges.  The first sip was just wonderful.  Smooth and full, with black fruit and spice.  The acidity was perfect and lingering.  Just lovely.

This wine is a Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Merlot.  It has an alcohol of 14.5, but no real heat, which was a  pleasant surprise.

In retrospect, the effort was worth it.  Well worth it.

Wine Wonderings – A Perfect Blend

Earlier this spring a friend invited me to go with her to Doukenie Winery, in Purcellville, Virginia, to attend a fun afternoon of personal wine blending.  We arrived a little early, but had no trouble filling the extra time with wine tasting and fabulous conversation with other “blenders”.   When the time for blending arrived, we were escorted downstairs by Doukenie winemaker, Sebastien Marquet.

Sebastien, who grew up in France, knew very early in his life that we wanted to be a winemaker.  He learned winemaking in the Burgundy region of France, and brought his talent and love of wine to the Caribbean, of all places, and then the US.  How fortunate Doukenie is to have Sebastien as their winemaker!

The room was filled with the chatter of excited winemakers-for-a-day.  Bottles filled with unknown wines sat before us in the center of each table, alongside beakers and mixing rods.  Each of us had a collection of glasses in front of us, begging to be filled with new blends of wine.

We started with a tasting – it was Doukenie’s 2010 Vintner’s Reserve.  Ah, and just like I like ’em – deep, red and rich…so perfect for that chilly spring day.  This was a moderately leggy wine, with an almost velvety look to it.  Dark red and black fruits were strong, with dried currant and raisin.  There was a modest oakiness, with an almost cedar characteristic.  Acids were still lively, and the tannins were very strong.  The finish was long as well.  This is a wine that will likely be very nice after resting in the cellar for a while longer.

So our task?  Make the newest Vintner’s reserve!

My very newest friends and I popped open the bottles on the table, sampling each one, and taking notes on the flavors and aromas we were experiencing.  And then the blending began!  At first we carefully mixed and measured….and of course, sampled.  After we lost track of which glasses contained which blends, we decided that perhaps the best blend on the table was the blend of new friends, laughter, and the experience of loving wine, talking about wine, sampling wine and living life with the joy of wine.

When the blending was proclaimed to be over, we made our way back up to the tasting room, where the conversation and fun continued.

What a wonderful day… yes, a perfectly blended day!

Domaine Joseph Drouhin – 2010 Laforêt Bourgogne Chardonnay

Spring is the perfect time to begin enjoying dry, crisp, fruity white wines, and this one certainly fits the bill.  Clear, clean and light lemon yellow, the color alone is inviting.  The aromas are very nice, with lemon dancing in the air with stone fruit, and just a hint of flowers.  The flavors held true to citrus and stone fruit, softened with the tiniest bit of oak, The acidity was well balanced, and the finish was modest and clean.  This wine is such a great value, and makes a great accompaniment to light fare.

Hauser Estate Winery – 2010 Reserve Meritage

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened this wine.  We all have our biases, whether about regions, or varietals, or styles, or whatever, when it comes to trying new wines.  With a purposefully open mind I uncorked the bottle, and poured a tasting.  I found the aromas to be quite nice – the air filled with  dark, dried cherry notes, and lots of red and black fruits.  Herby spices were also there, wafting out of the glass.  My first taste confirmed that the flavors matched the aromas quite nicely.  The mouth feel was substantial, and the finish fairly long, with a nice acidity.  There was a bit of a lingering sweetness, for me, in this dry wine, and I would have probably enjoyed it more without that.  But all in all, I think this is a noteworthy Pennsylvania wine.

Graham Beck – 2010 Pinno Pinotage

If you’re searching for an easy drinking, easy on the wallet, sociable red, this might be what you’re looking for.  We were invited to a last minute gathering of friends and grabbed this from the cellar to take over with us, and it was a hit with everyone (well, except the one guy who only drinks beer, but that’s another story).  Not knowing the menu ahead of time, this turned out to be a perfect choice to pair with grilled pork tenderloin, roasted new potatoes and stuffed mushrooms.  The aromas were pleasantly fruity, with plum, berry and just a hint of spice.  The alcohol was modest and in no way overwhelming.  The mouth feel was pleasant and soft, with a medium body.  Tannins were restrained and overall very well balanced.  The finish was pleasant and soft.  At the risk of sounding too industrial, this was a very nice all-purpose wine.

Domaine du Bois de Saint Jean – 2010 L’Intrepide Cotes du Rhone

This Rhone red is bold and strong, in every respect – a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre and Cinsault.  With a deep garnet hue, the intense aromas wafted up from the glass as I swirled, rich with smoke, leather, cassis, and a faint earthiness.  The taste matched its aromas, filling my mouth with black currant, spice and smoldering graphite.  There was a nice acidity to it that layered with the assertive tannins.  The finish was pleasantly long, with spice and mineral.  I thoroughly enjoyed this wine with a rich beef stew and peppered bread, in front of a crackling fire – it paired with the food and ambiance perfectly.