Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay '07

Country: USA
Region: California (55 percent Monterey County, 45 percent Santa Barbara County)
Thoughts: Let's hope my fantasy draft turned out better than this clunker. (In case you're wondering, I landed: Peyton [keeper], Boldin [keeper], Turner, Houshmandzadeh, McFadden, Roddy White, Vernon Davis, Ray Rice, Eli, Minnesota's defense, Crayton, Owen Daniels, Phil Dawson, Reggie Brown, Sidney Rice and a flyer on Leinart.) As I've said before, I tend to stay away from the megawineries; but I thought, well, it's a Grand Reserve; that's got to be better than the standard offering, right? If that's true, I'd be afraid to try to the standard offering. It's a shame, too, because this 'un started off with such promise. A light, airy and slightly dry nose, almost restrained; mellow on the tongue, too, fruitiness here and there but nothing overwhelming. And then it hit me; the butteriness of certain chards that I so despise beat me about the head on finish. It was a sad ending to an otherwise laudable drink, and it caught me so offguard that I have no choice but to sink it. We'll kill off the bottle, sure - it's not like some of the piss we've had before - but no longer will it tempt me from its crate at Costco. Only its unfulfilled potential kept this wine from joining the "D" class - otherwise known as the Dreck class.
Do-over? Nope
Final Grade: C


d'Arenberg Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne '07

Country: Australia
Thoughts: Naturally, one would have to be a little concerned about trying a wine named after a painfully shy crustacean. But it was offered to us as we went to visit our friends, Mac and Ronda (who, by the way, played a crucial role in our first-ever wine tasting; that experiment eventually became the project you see before you). We were checking in on the two of them and their one-month old son, Beau. All are well, we're happy to say. Back to the wine: What a curious blend this is. Despite limited experience with Viognier, we know enough that it's supposed to be sweet. After a quick run through the blends, we've never come across Marsanne, but ever-helpful Wikipedia comes through. The strange thing is that these two formed a wine that is about as close to sauvignon blanc as one would expect from a wine that's not sauvignon blanc. The earthiness is apparent in the nose and in taste; a little mineral and grassiness in the nose, a crispness in the taste. It did come across a bit sweeter than sauvignon - the Viognier coming through, no doubt - and the finish was a tad dryer. But really, it was a pleasant surprise that these two grapes came together in such a way; it would make for a nice twist in what would otherwise be a perfect setting for sauvignon blanc.
Ingredients: 52 percent Adelaide Viognier, 42 percent Marsanne
Do-over? I would certainly be willing to give it another go
Final Grade: B+


Ca Montini Pinot Grigio

Country: Italy
Thoughts: I've never seen this wine before; surely the riesling-type bottle would have jumped out to me, particularly if it were in the pinot grigio section (or, just as likely, my memory is going to hell). But it was offered to me at a Saturday afternoon baby shower, and who was I to decline? Our host even had a listing of internet comments, hinting at what was to come. The word that kept popping up in the comments was minerality, or some form thereof. And really, it was a spot on description; that flavor made it self known from the start, rather unusual from what one typically expects with a pinot. It played nicely into a nose that was fresh, not dissimilar from one would expect to smell on a spring morning (it sound stupid, but it's the best I can do with it). On the tongue, it seemed to be subtle, with only the minerality shining through; though I guessed - as it turned out, correctly - that a few glasses of King Estate had something to do with that (more on that in a sec). I rinsed out the glass and washed off my tongue; it was then that a more typical pinot profile. The mineral flavor remained, as did a surprising carmel finish. The nose may be reminiscent of spring, but it's a wine that would serve well all throughout the summer.
Do-over? Yes, I can see it in our future
Final Grade: B+

-- NOW, AS PROMISED: Another of the selections was the King Estate Pinot Gris from Oregon. I had originally given it a less-than-stellar review, but that was for the '06 vintage. On Saturday, I tried the '07, and the experience improved. The bouquet was virtually unnoticeable except for a few hints of vanilla. The taste was the biggest difference, coming through like your normal pinot gris/pinot grigio with dry underpinnings and a sparkly finish. Since the wine had already been reviewed, I felt it wise to only include the vintage update, not a completely new post. I'd be willing to give the newer vintage a boost, so give the '07 a straight B.


Bougrier Loire Valley Rose d'Anjou '07

Country: France
Thoughts: Look and sound familiar? It should. (If you're clicking the link, check the timestamp between this post and the linked one.) Same winemaker, same vintage, same appellation. In that last post, however, you'll recall I had a hell of a time trying to determine just what the AOC meant for an Anjou wine. Most of my Google results came up with references to Rose d'Anjou, though none really seemed to explain just which grapes make up this particular drink; Velvet Fog says one he tried was a blend of Grolleau and Gamay. So at least I may have figured that part out. Anyway, my version was pretty straightforward; strawberries stood out in an otherwise very light nose. They were in the taste too, but againin a light way. The finish was slightly louder - really, it seemed like a primal scream by comparison - and left a dry aftertaste. Kelly Magyarics, our Virginia neighbor, says that's what I should expect from such a wine. But it was too timid and one-dimensional for my liking. It was perfectly fine for someone used to abundant citrus in wine, but lacked greatly in the experience rating.
Do-over? Only if I can match it up with the extremely rare Cheverny Reddi-Wip '07
Final Grade: C+


Bougrier Loire Valley Anjou '07

Country: France
Thoughts: This time, the wine didn't fail. I did. Miserably so. First off, I had all my notes from the Sunday night tasting; yet here it is, Tuesday, and I'm only posting now. (In truth, it completely slipped my mind on Sunday; on Monday, I was barely awake enough to turn on the computer. But we all know what excuses are like...) On a second front, I failed to figure out just what the varietal is. The label lists the AOC as Anjou; but trying to pin down specifically what that means is more work than I'm in the mood for. Still, if we believe Terroir-France.com, it's either chenin blanc, sauvignon or chardonnay. It could be two of the three - I'm eliminating sauvignon because it didn't have any of the give-aways - but beyond that, I'm not sure. Anyway, the bouquet was crisp and sharp and attention-grabbing, aided by a fine fruitiness. On the tongue, it had some pinot-grigio-like citrus notes with a dry finish. It wasn't anything breathtaking, but a solid drink that definitely rates as a do-over.
Do-over? Only if I can figure out what the grape is
Final Grade: B


Greg Norman Chardonnay '05

Country: Australia
Thoughts: Welcome to our first Aussie chard. But really, it made sense; Greg Norman had an astounding second-place finish at the British Open and played quite well in a tournament after that, if I remember right. So it seemed the perfect time to give his wine a ride. The bouquet seemed to have a hint of mineral to it and some floweriness as well, all in a subtle but noticeable nose. When wine hit tongue, I discovered a slightly dry wine that was also plenty smooth. That one particular taste of chardonnay - the best I can do is liken it to what I imagine the color silver would taste like - only came through on the finish. It was a little surprising to find that telltale taste so late, but reassuring to find it was there. It remained quite dry throughout the taste, but that worked just fine for me. Very drinkable.
Do-over? If it's on sale, sure
Final Grade: B-

Chadds Ford Niagara '06

Country: USA
Region: Pennsylvania
Thoughts: I know it's never going to happen, but I keep trying to prove to my wife that east coast wines are at least serviceable. That's how I arrived at this Chadds Ford offering; it's a Pennsylvania wine - in an area just west of Philly, unlike my hometown, which is well north - and one that had been rated in Wine Spectator. I picked it up a liquor store (those damn stringent rules in Pa.) during a recent trip home. But the truth is, I actually tried this wine several days ago. "Sweet and grapey Concord type white," the brief description reads on the Chadds Ford Web site. I can confirm that it is sweet and that it is grapey; waaaayyyy too much for my liking. I mentioned to my wife that if Glade had a grape bathroom scent, it would smell something like the nose on this one. The grapiness was overpowering, made worse by an undercurrent of sourness, almost like part of it had skunked. On the tongue it was syrupy sweet; too much for me a few days ago, too much for me this evening - even after a bit of ice cream. The taste clearly wasn't for me; beyond that, there was really no experience with the wine - though perhaps that's a function of being a dessert wine, as this is. But since it fails in that regard, combined with the unbearable sweetness, gives this a low grade. I swear, sweetheart, I'll keep trying. href="http://wine-trial.blogspot.com/2008/06/stags-leap-karia-chardonnay-05.html">
Do-over? Not a chance
Final Grade: D+