I didn’t want to leave you hanging all thirsty for some new bottles to try. As you can see from the site index, a fair amount of wine gets sampled around here. Not all of it makes it into the blog. Usually it’s for topical reasons – the wine just doesn’t fit what I’m writing about at the time, but it’s interesting enough for me to keep in reserve. I take my notes and stash them for a rainy day. Well, the clouds have come.
In no particular order, a few wines that were plenty good enough to make the Vine’s cutting, but just never wound up in a column:
Hogue 2005 Chenin Blanc -- Hogue is one of my favorite Vine-level producers. I've been extremely pleased with just about everything that I've tried from them. The Chenin Blanc certainly didn't disappoint. Within each of their varietals, I find the Hogue wines to be much richer than many of their counterparts. Not necessarily more complex, but more full-bodied and, for my money, more "elegant." The chenin has a nose of melon and green apples. I expected this to be a lighter-styled wine, but the body was rich without being cloying. A nice fruity, melony taste with a texture that reminded me a lot of a viognier. The finish is more lingering than crisp. I had this with cod loin with vegetables and herbs cooked in foil packets, and it was wonderful. $8-10.
96 Points 2005 Shiraz/Viognier -- One of the best marketing ideas I've seen – why worry about what Parker’s going to give your wine when you can slap a score right on the label? It's certainly an interesting wine. Australian shirazes are always fragrant, and the viognier in this blend amplifies that, giving this a very strong nose of strawberries, coffee, and mint. Lush on the tongue, and not as fruity as I would have expected. Finish starts out with a light tannin that strengthens for a long time into a lingering coffee flavor. Around $10.
Laurel Glen 2005 "Reds" -- Marketed as "a wine for the people" -- this red blend from Lodi, California is a blend of four grapes -- Zinfandel, Carignane, Petit Sirah, and Syrah. The result is a big ol' smooth red wine. The nose is cherries and blackberries. As you would expect with those particular grapes, this is a big-tasting wine, but the fruit-bomb tendency of the zinfandel is tempered by the syrah and petit sirah -- leaving a taste of smooth tart cherries. The finish slides easily into a slightly dry, slightly fruity end which is quite nice. This wine was born to go with grilled or roasted red meat. Rare roast beef and new potatoes would be scrumptious here. At $8-10, you can spend the extra money on meat from the butcher's case.
Woodsman's White 2005 Cserszegi Füszeres – I simply didn’t know where to put this wine when I first tried it. The grape is pronounced chair-seggy fooser-raish. A clone of a gewürztraminer grown in Hungary. reminiscent of Alsace gewürztraminer. It starts you out with a strong sweet apple nose. Body is initially very dry. After a couple of sips, a gentle fruit flavor comes out. Finish is somewhat crisp. Had this with a Thai eggplant, bean, and tomato salad and it went quite nicely. I first found this at Trader Joe’s for around $4, of all things – it’s definitely worth it!
Chateau de Pena "Ninet de Pena" 2006 Cuvee Rose – A good, basic table rose from the makers of my favorite red box wine. Expect nothing fancy here. The nose is straightforward -- a little bit honey and flowers. Full bodied full for a rose and more than a bit acidic. The finish is bone dry. If you’re just sipping at it on it's own, it's decent. But for something to throw back if you're eating some meat or other earthy stuff and for some reason you don't want a red, it's hard to beat this for $5-6.