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.
Winemaker: Shannon Ridge
Varietal: Petite Sirah
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.
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.
Winemaker: Top Hat
Varietal: Pinot Grigio
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.
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
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.
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.
Winemaker: It’s A Headsnapper
Appellation: Sonoma County, California
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!
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.
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.
My family has an interesting story about butter. My grandfather grew up on a farm, and they did, indeed, churn their own butter. One day when he was a young fellow, my grandfather and his siblings decided it would be fun to see who could eat the most butter in one sitting. Can you believe it? What seems to a level-headed adult a questionable pursuit at best was to my future grandfather a grand dare. Until, of course, he had ingested as much of the butter as he could handle. Unfortunately, all that buttery goodness at one time was truly too much of a good thing. It left a lasting impression because, after that day, my grandfather never ate another pad of butter. But my mother and her siblings came up with their own butter dare. Just to tease my grandfather, they would sneakily pass the butter around the table during dinner until they managed to have it sitting right in front of him. Once he noticed, of course, he would insist on it’s immediate removal from his close proximity. Ah, kids!
Winemaker: Big Churn
Price: $6.99 at Trader Joe’s
Notes: This inexpensive California white was light yellow with scents of lemon verbena and butterscotch on the nose. Dry at 14.5% alcohol, the Big Churn was medium-bodied with what I would describe as perky acidity. Flavors I tasted were lemon pudding, oak, hints of butterscotch and lingering grass. With a name like Big Churn – not to mention the label art – you would expect a big buttery Chardonnay. I don’t think it quite lived up to it’s moniker, but I thought it was still a respectable glass of white wine for the price.
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.
Winemaker: Old Moon
Wine: Old Vine Zinfandel
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.