Shannon Ridge Petite Sirah 2013

As you may have noted, I continue to dig into my archive of tasting notes.  This Petite Sirah was drunk several months ago.  I can only hope the new vintage is as enjoyable, because I think another Shannon Ridge PS might be part of my holiday shopping list this year.

Oenophilogical_ShannonRidgePetiteSirah2013Winemaker: Shannon Ridge
Varietal: Petite Sirah
Vintage: 2013
Appellation: Lake County, California

Notes: Part of the Shannon Ridge “High Elevation Collection,” this wine was a very deep purple in the glass.  It had a full bouquet of jammy blackberry, pine resin and dusty soil.  Acidity was good and tannins were medium in this medium-bodied Petite Sirah.  Alcohol was 13.9%.  Flavors I found were berries atop darker fruit and woody tannins that lingered.  In addition, it had a plush mouth feel.  That’s the best word I can find to describe the sensation.  I liked it pretty darned well.  I had this as an accompaniment to a rib roast and it was quite a pleasant pairing.

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Top Hat Pinot Grigio 2012

So … here’s the question.  Do you think California Pinot Grigio’s are generally as good as their Italian counterparts?

I took the time to look back and review my tasting notes of PGs to see if they might give me a clue as to my own thinking.  Remembering that I focus on inexpensive wines on this blog, it seems my experience suggests that the Californians still have some catching up to do.  That isn’t to say California wineries don’t make good Pinot Grigios.  In the value priced selections, however, I have evidently preferred the Italians.

Of course, that’s just one man’s limited experience.  If you have some suggestions for me as to Pinot Grigios I should sample, I’d be more than happy to hear about them.

Oenophilogical_TopHatPinotGrigio2012Winemaker: Top Hat
Varietal: Pinot Grigio
Vintage: 2012
Appellation: California
Price: $11.99

Notes: The wine was an extremely pale straw color with good acidity and 13.9% alcohol.  On the nose I encountered scents of citrus with warm spice notes.  It was very light-bodied, almost thin.  On the palate I tasted citrus, grass and touches of warm spice.  It was an okay PG, but I think there are less expensive options that are equal to this Top Hat and much more interesting selections in the same price range.

Dark Horse Merlot 2014

According to Merriam Webster, a dark horse is a “little known competitor that makes an unexpectedly good showing.”  Interesting how the idea of a dark horse has been inspiration for artists (and politicians) for … well, a long time.

Winemaker: Dark Horse
Varietal: Merlot
Vintage: 2014
Appellation: California
Price: $8.99

Notes: In the bouquet this Dark Horse presented jammy dark fruit, cedar, and damp loam.  At 13.5% alcohol, it was medium-bodied with moderate tannins.  Acidity was good as well.  On the palate I found dark berries and plum with touches of cinnamon and molasses.  Of course it wasn’t as sweet as molasses.  I thought this Merlot might be good served with game fowl, but it was fine to sip alone.

It’s A Headsnapper Chardonnay Sonoma 2014

Where does the term headsnapper come from?  What does it mean?  Does anybody know?

I’ve come upon three possible meanings thus far.  1. something so shocking, unexpected or interesting that it makes you whip your head around to look at it; 2. something that is too expensive or a bad deal (perhaps surprisingly so); 3. fish bait (red snapper heads are evidently often used as bait).

If the label art is any clue as to what the folks at It’s A Headsnapper mean when they use the term, it is likely to be something akin to the first definition.  Then again, there is a fourth possibility that occurs to me.  The woman on the label looks as though she might be dancing while squeezing the juice from grapes into a glass.  So maybe she’s a dancer who likes to whip her head about.

Oenophilogical_HeadsnapperChardonnaySonoma2014Winemaker: It’s A Headsnapper
Varietal: Chardonnay
Vintage: 2014
Appellation: Sonoma County, California
Price: $10.99

Notes: This Sonoma Chardonnay brought citrus, grass and turpentine to the nose.  With bright acidity, it’s heft on the palate was on the light side of medium.  Alcohol at 13.9%, the flavor profile I found included citrus (lemon turning to grapefruit), grass, and chalk with some turpentine and woody notes.  Speaking of the label once again, my tasting notes bear almost no resemblance to the description of this wine on the back of the bottle.  All I can do is share what I tasted!

Cline Zinfandel 2014

I was first introduced to the Cline family of wines by a friend.  He had grown up not too far from the winery and was a true hometown fan.  If I remember correctly, he insisted on sharing the Cline Conundrum white blend with me.  I wasn’t recording tasting notes back then – just experiencing everything I could.  Even so, it was evidently a good experience, because I continue to purchase and enjoy Cline wines.

Oenophilogical_ClineZinfandelLodi2014Winemaker: Cline
Varietal: Zinfandel
Vintage: 2014
Appellation: Lodi, California
Price: $8.50 at Trader Joe’s

Notes: In the bouquet I found boisterous berry, violets, cedar, and hints of spice.  It was a dark, murky red with good acidity.  Medium-bodied with medium tannins, this Cline Zin was at 14% alcohol.  For me the flavors were dark cherry, piquant pepper, rubber, dried green herbs, and woody tannins.  I enjoyed the flavor of this wine, but the bouquet was just as rewarding as the taste.

Old Moon Old Vine Zinfandel 2014

Here is another set of tasting notes from my archive which has heretofore not been posted on oenophilogical.com.  I haven’t checked the Trader Joe’s shelves to see what vintage my local store is carrying right now.  Even if it’s another year, this might give folks a sense of what has gone before.

Oenophilogical_OldMoon_OldVineZinfandel2014Winemaker: Old Moon
Wine: Old Vine Zinfandel
Varietal: Zinfandel
Vintage: 2014
Appellation: California
Price: $5.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes: In the bouquet I caught whiffs of cherry, spice, moss and pine tar.  At 13.5% alcohol, this California Zin was a lovely ruby color in the glass.  I found it to be medium-bodied with high acidity and medium tannins that were quick on the attack.  The flavor profile I tasted included cherry, green herbs, a soupçon of pine tar, along with earth and leather notes.  The finish brought toasty oak and leather.  It wasn’t a particularly well integrated wine, but I felt it sufficient in structure and flavor to make it a bargain (not just cheap) at the price.

A Peek Into the Past

I’ve recently been spending some time going through old pictures my parents had collected over their 52 years of marriage.  Seems my parents didn’t throw anything away … I mean ANYTHING.

The photos are of family events mostly but also some from trips here and there.  In among the boxes of photos were other mementos of trips my parents had taken over the years.  For instance, there were many road maps because my father was a road warrior on vacation.  Quite a few of the maps were from Esso gas stations which gives you a sense of when the trips occurred.  In addition to the maps, there were a number of random post  cards.  One set of six post cards were from a winery I don’t remember visiting called Italian Swiss Colony.  My parents did manage to do some things without us kids once in awhile, so ….  Anyway, what’s fascinating is that the Italian Swiss Colony is definitely a part of the California wine industry’s history.

Oenophilogical_ItalianSwissColony1

According to Wikipedia, the business was founded in 1881 by Andrea Sbarboro as an agricultural colony at Asti, California to help provide work for the many Italians who had migrated to the San Francisco area.  Asti is in the Alexander Valley of Sonoma County.  Initially, the members of the colony were from Ticino (a largely Italian ethnic region in Switzerland), thus giving the colony it’s moniker.

Soon after it’s founding (1887), a dip in grape prices led the colony to establish it’s own winery and begin selling it’s product first in the U.S. and then Europe, South America and Asia.  Over the years the winery has changed hands – National Distillers, Petri Wine, United Vintners, Heublein, Allied Growers, Erly Industries, etc.  In 2015 the winery (or it’s descendant), known at the time as Asti Winery and selling under the Souverain brand, was purchased by E&J Gallo from it’s then owner Treasury Wine Estates.  Today it’s known as Chateau Souverain.  Interestingly enough, the Souverain or Chateau Souverain brand dates back to the 1940’s, but the winery itself goes back to 1881 and the Italian Swiss Colony.

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Oenophilogical_ItalianSwissColony2