The nose is full, dark and red fruit with sweet vanilla and toasted wood. On the palate, loads of chocolate-covered cherries dominate, followed by root beer, then raspberry black tea as it approaches the finish. Tannins are very sweet, just barely dusty, a bit stronger than acids. This would be good with a rib-eye steak, but it would be even better with a good hot dog. Recommended.
The kind of wine you either love or hate – I loved it, and the person with whom I was drinking it disliked it. This is a big, muscular Napa Cabernet on steroids (14.8% alc.) that needs at least a couple of hours of breathing before it is safe to approach without your palate getting beat up. Intense nose of blackcurrant, menthol and dark chocolate. Seems overripe and jammy at first taste, but repeated tastings soften that view. Rich blackberry fruit that takes a bit of time to find past the tannins. Lengthy finish. Could benefit from aging. Definitely needs food, like a chargrilled ribeye. Both the wine and the steak have a crusty exterior masking rare flavors within. Highly recommended.
A slightly dusty-looking brickish red. Aroma is of brick dust and freshly tilled earth, dried cherries, and cocoa powder. Rough tannins hover across the early- and mid-palate and linger on the (moderately long) finish. Beneath the tannins, dried cherry and clove notes add to a profile that is surprisingly light and freshened by plenty of acidity. Overall impression is raspy and astringent, but flavorful and reasonably well-rounded. This would be splendid with smoked trout or a substantial grilled fish like mahi or swordfish, or with a vegetarian entree laden with lots of garlic and a bit of cream.
There’s a fair bit of oak in this premium bottling from this producer in Oliver, British Columbia, but it integrates rather nicely in a supple and ripe cabernet with fine tannins and just the tiniest herbal touch to give it an edge, along with some blackcurrant and spicy notes. Clocking in at 14.5% alcohol, it does have a tiny bit of heat on the finish, but with a lasagna at the dinner table, it drank easily and with no heaviness. My only problems with the wine are (a) the mention on the back label of “ stewed “ flavors—no need to be so hard on yourself here; maybe a bit of dried fruit, perhaps, but not stewed and, (b) that it’s defined as having “old vines” character from vines that are (at least in part) 15 years old. Let it get out of adolescence and give another 10 years before saying “old,” I say. Recommended.
The 2007 Cougar Aglainico is a 100% varietal wine from fruit grown at the Cougar property in the Temecula Valley. The grapes were fermented in open bin ferments using two different yeasts, spent 18 months in new and neutral American oak and bottled unfiltered. Aromas dill and smoky, jammy briary were accompanied by sweeter oak notes. In the mouth, this medium-bodied wine was savory and briny, with faint briary fruit in background and some oak notes again. Fine grained tannins were a bit drying but the acids were proportionate. The medium-length finish was slightly astringent, with chewy tannins in forefront followed by bright briary fruit. On the second day, this wine delivered lots of rich, jammy fruit (more of a mélange of blackberry and blueberry), light oak notes and faint raisin aromas. Light brininess and oak notes dominated the palate. The texture had become sleeker overnight. The initially drying finish soon evolved blackberry-like, plumy juiciness. The brisket brought the brininess into line, while the BBQ Ribs made for an interesting complexity and synergy. (13.7% ABV, 1 bottle tasted, 248 cases made)
Grown in Carneros and blended with about 10% Sangiovese, started with aromas of pepper, a mélange of oak and dill with briary, jammy fruit. Lighter in the mouth, the flavors were dominated by oak. The wine finished with light red fruit and some heat. On the second day, the wine fleshed out and displayed spicy, licorice notes above all. In the mouth, black cherry flavors were most distinct. Medium bodied the wine had good acids and supple, fine, slightly drying tannins. It was an unobtrusive food companion and did not compete with the mushroom pizza or the blackened salmon. (13.7% ABV, 2 bottles tasted, production volume unavailable)
This Central Valley Montepulciano with a small amount of Petite Sirah or Merlot—depending on the year—is whole cluster fermented in open top fermenters with frequent punchdowns and extended maceration. It offers aromas of macerated ripe strawberry with piney, dill notes and maple leaf hints. In the mouth, it is lighter bodied, sleek, with slight tannins, a silky texture and jolly rancher-like strawberry candy flavors. The finish is creamy, but a bit hollow. Overnight, it takes on dried rose petal and vague cherry aromas and floral hints in the mouth. This forward, mature-styled wine is an unobtrusive food companion with good acids and does not compete with food flavors. (14% ABV, 1 bottle tasted, 256 cases made)
The 2007 Witch Creek Montepulciano offered ripe, fleshy strawberry aromas, a piney note, and a hint of dill. In the mouth, it was savory, gamey and briny with strawberry flavors playing a well-placed second fiddle. It was lush, rich and full bodied with supple tannins. The finish was drying and meaty with strawberry and some heat (14.3 % ABV). Overnight its aromas exhibited light cured game, fleshy strawberry and a hint of wild herbs (dill?). In the mouth, slight game was accompanied by fleshy strawberry, an unmistakable but proportionate and tamer brininess. The texture was softer, velvet like. Medium-boded, with good balance, it had some heat. It almost overpowered the mushroom pizza (because of the briny character), and needed unembellished red meat protein. It was also a bit awkward with the blackened salmon. (1 bottle tasted)