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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tasting Notes: Wopner Edition

In the interest of having new content more regularly on this blog, I've decided to post--if not always, then often--my notes from Stimmel's (local deli/grocery/beer/wine store) Thursday night tastings here as well as at Stimmel's blog, Grape and Grain. They usually pour seven wines--one or two whites, the rest reds, with the occasional sparkler, rosé, or dessert wine thrown in--chosen according to varietal or region ("Syrah around the world" or "Rhone wines," for example). But sometimes they offer a theme-based selection. Last Thursday's theme was "Stimmel's Court," and, res ipsa loquitur, the wines speak for themselves:

1. "The Consultant" Chardonnay 2005 (California; <$20, I think)

Perhaps enrolled in the vitis protection program, this medium-bodied Chardonnay does not show up on the tasting sheet and seems intentionally secretive of its origins. (Even a Google search only turns up the name of the Chardonnay and an "importer"--of this California wine--called Billington Wines.) What I do know is that it has aromas and flavors of apples, butter, smoke, and minerals, with a streak of bitter anise running through the finish. Not bad at all.

2. Shinas Estate "The Innocent" Viognier 2007 (Australia; $24.99/bottle)
If you're not used to drinking Viognier, you might call this wine "stinky." I prefer to call it aromatic, with notes of cantaloupe, peaches, and musk on the nose. Medium-full-bodied, this oh-so-lightly sweet white shines with flavors of sweet peach and pear and a white pepper-laced finish. Lively acidity keeps the wine seeming fresh despite its viscosity. Really nice.

3. Shinas Estate "The Guilty" Shiraz 2005 (Australia; $24.99/bottle)
Another nice wine from Shinas, this is pretty textbook Aussie Shiraz, with blueberry, pepper, spice, and tar aromas and flavors. The only departure is a hint of bramble as well, giving it a slightly wild, adventurous edge.

4. Shinas Estate "The Verdict" Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Australia; $24.99/bottle)
This full-bodied red has a lovely nose of black currants, earth, violets, and just a tiny hint of barnyard. On the palate, sweetly ripe black currant starts the show, only to give way to a disappointing greenish/woody note. After a couple sips, however, this off green wood taste morphed into a more pleasant hoisin-like quality (for me, anyway; who knows what it may do for you). An interesting wine, though the other Shinas Estate offerings in this lineup outshine it by a considerable margin.

5. Orin Swift "The Prisoner" 2005 (California/Napa Valley; $36.99/bottle)
This Zinfandel-based blend is a perennial favorite at Stimmel's tastings, and with good reason. A tantalizing nose of blackberry, black plum, bramble, and pepper gives way to a gripping, full-bodied palate, offering flavors of sweet blackberry liquer, peppery spice, mocha, and red and black licorice. "The Prisoner" is big and rich but exquisitely balanced. I love this wine.

6. Ahnfeldt "Quid Pro Quo" Blend 2003 (California/Napa Valley; $69.99/bottle)
This full-bodied, Merlot-based, Bordeaux-style blend has a nice nose of plums, flowers, earth, and leathery spice. On the palate, it shows very nice flavors of black currant, spice, licorice, and a hint of mushroom-y earth. Gripping but fine tannins and good fruit mean this wine will age gracefully for at least another five years.

7. Chateau Les Justices Sauternes 2003 (France; $52.99/bottle)
This may not be the steel trap of a Sauternes that the 2001 Chateau D'Yquem is, but it has its charms nonetheless. Aromas and flavors of pineapple, lemon curd, and smoky jasmine vibrate on a taught string of acidity, with an intriguing menthol note emerging on the long finish.



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