Sunday, April 30, 2017

Issue LII: Alexander Valley Sin Zin Edition

Alexander Valley Sin Zin [Zinfandel]

Zinfandel, as a grape, is a big, bad bruiser and this was very evident in the first mouthful when I tried this one. It was so bracing that I was ready to write it off as another one not quite up to HSC level, but the second was much better and by the end of the bottle, I had found a very well-rounded, nicely balanced, somewhat smooth, but charged with some acidity libation. 

As I’ve directly stated repeatedly, I will buy a wine based on the label and this one, with its old-timey black and white drawing of a scantily clad women drinking from a wine skin, was an immediate and instant hit with me there, reminiscent of many old graphic novels, which stylistically were reminiscent. This technique has also been used repeatedly to draw symbols and demons, sometimes in centuries past and I’ve always had an innate fondness for it. The drawing also fit the name of the wine somewhat in a more than passing sense, but it’s mostly in cheeky playfulness hinting at naughtiness rather than getting all the way into outright bawdiness, though I’d have no objections either way, truth be known. It would not, after all, be the first winery to tie sex in with wine… However, the main spirit here is that it’s all in good fun and the winery seems to not only recognize that but also relish in it.  

Heady stuff…but I digress. Zin, like some of the other heavies out there, is one I typically do not gravitate to but it’s one rather that’s nice to take out for a spin ever now and then and like an exotic sports car, it’s better to feel it a trusted friend than potential adversary. This one is a very good representative of what a Zinfandel can be at the higher levels, though truth be told, like the other heavies, a wine this potent will need significant air time, figure more like 45 minutes or so…
I don’t know if this goes on SPA or not as I rarely shop that section, but I can’t think of any Zinfandels that would be a Standard for me, this included. Thus, it comes in as a Mixed.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Issue LI: Toasted Head Untamed Red Edition

Toasted Head Untamed Red [Blend]

For quite a while, in the beginning stages, this was my running all-around favorite wine and nearly every shopping trip would involve 1 or more bottles of it…then, by a mannerism best described as capricious, typical to the DABC, which is the alcohol controlling arm of the state of Utah, it vanished entirely and has not been seen again. This may have been due to a winery change, which I had understood them undergoing and indeed, the blend has changed somewhat. In the past, it was Syrah, Zinfandel, Petit Syrah, Tempranillo and Carignan. The newest blend is Petit Verdot, Zinfandel, Syrah, Petit Syrah, which I managed to find easily and enjoy out of state, so perhaps a return is imminent. They add and delete wines somewhat regularly, cycling through with sometimes annoying frequency.

The previous version, as expected, was a lot richer. The new one is considerably lighter, but the excellent taste and balance between a hefty wine and a nice lighter one with just the right touch of astringency is still there. This is one that is flexible enough to either go with food or drink alone. This is also somewhat of a fruity wine, but not enough so that one doesn’t forget that it’s a more sophisticated wine rather than some frivolous oversweetened mess.

I wouldn’t call it particularly complex, but there are various subtleties in there that show up here and there. Probably it’s not something to sit around and mull over in the mouth, finding a variety of touch tastes to identify, as its lightness and accessibility kind of precludes that. One can experience most of what this wine has to offer without any of that, which is a very drinkable aspect with somewhat low air time. Very few of the wines on the list are ones I would spend any time seeking out; it’s just the intent or that kind of list and this one follows that trend as well. If it’s at hand, well worthwhile to pick up a bottle.

Formerly this was a Standard, but with this list as deep as it is, there are simply a lot more wines I’ve discovered that are better than this for the same price. For nostalgia, I’d definitely pick up a bottle here and there if I ran across it and I’ve not seen it on SPA, let alone at all, for quite some time, but it’s not quite up to the level of Standard, so thus a Mixed.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Cumulative List Of Wines Posted (Circa 2016)

This is an update and continuation of the run-down I did for the wines I posted last year, which went to #37. The 13 I posted this year follow from there. Links are available for all of these in the Table Of Contents page, which can be accessed from any page on the HSC blog.

Rather than doing a year-end blog post, as I do on my hot sauce blog and as others in the so-called blogosphere do, this cumulative yearly post will instead serve as a sort of running list of names of the wines I keep on the official HSC wine list (see first couple of posts for criteria).

Please note this list is not weighted, so the numbers are just the order of chronological posting only.

01) Martini & Rossi Asti
02) Navarro Correas Colección Privada [Malbec]
03) Concannon Crimson & Clover [Blend]
04) Fat Bastard Chardonnay
05) Penfold Koonunga Hill Shiraz-Cabernet
06) Bouchard Chardonnay
07) Colosi Sicilia Rosso [Nero d'Avola]
08) Terredora DiPaolo Aglianico
09) Marqués de Cáceres Crianza Rioja [Blend]
10) A By Acacia Pinot Noir
11) Dark Horse Big Red Blend
12) Columbia Crest Grand Estate Merlot
13) Apothic Red [Blend]
14) Penfold Koonunga Hill Shiraz
15) Sean Minor Pinot Noir Carneros
16) Castello Del Poggio Moscato
17) Atrea Old Soul Red [Blend]
18) Meiomi Pinot Noir
19) Montebuena Rioja [Tempranillo]
20) Sean Minor Cabernet Sauvignon
21) Peralillo Arenal Carmenere
22) Zantho St. Laurent
23) Clean Slate Riesling
24) Gloria Reynolds Tinto Real [Blend]
25) Prunotto Fiulot Barbera D’Asti
26) Menage A Trois [Blend]
27) Fantini Farnese Montepulciano D'Abruzzo
28) Rosenblum Vintner’s Cuvée XXXVI [Zinfandel]
29) Sean Minor Sauvignon Blanc
30) Michael David Sixth Sense Syrah
31) Borja Borsao Tinto Seleccion [Garnacha]
32) 19 Crimes [Blend]
33) Fat Bastard Cabernet Sauvignon
34) Tait Ball-Buster [Blend]
35) Bouchard Pinot Noir
36) Francis Ford Coppola Claret [Blend]
37) Chaucer's Mead
38) Bogle Essential Red [Blend]
39) Terra-Bossa Shiraz
40) Juan Gil 12 Meses [Monastrell]
41) Terra del Nero d'Avola
42) Waterbrook Melange Red  
43) E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rouge [Blend] 
44) Château Damase Bordeaux Supérieur [Merlot]
45) Château Tour d'Auron Bordeaux Supérieur [Blend]
46) Delas Côtes du Rhône Saint-Esprit [Blend]
47) Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon
48) Chateau Giscours Petite Sirene [Blend]
49) Château Recougne Bordeaux Supérieur [Blend]
50) Menage A Trois Midnight [Blend]

Issue L: Menage A Trois Midnight Edition

Menage A Trois Midnight [Blend]

Somewhat of a milestone in a couple respects here. This is the 50th entry on the HSC blog, itself now about 3 years strong and this is one of the few wines that I’ve found out of state and wasn’t available in Utah at the time I bought it (shhhh), though I expect by the time this is posted, it will be. In many ways, it is probably fitting that a variation of the wine I buy the most (Menaga A Trois, barely edging out Dark Horse), of a type I buy the most (blend), from the region I buy from the most (California), should be the 50th entry. Perhaps I make too much of this, but I find it to be a kind of cool touch.

Often a wine will introduce a darker version, which we anticipate to be a similar, but a lot more robust blend, but in actuality, will turn out to be nearly undrinkable (looking at you in particular, Apothic – as an aside, I guess another sort of milestone is me both referencing and calling out other wines in the context of an entry for a different wine – ok, I’ll stop now), but here, the blend is exactly right. This is a deeper, much richer, much more vivid and weighty version of the much beloved Menage A Trois. In many ways, this is the ultimate, as it is different, but equal in terms of quality.

The blend itself, Merlot, Cab, Petite Syrah and Petite Verdot (should be Menage a Quatre, technically and if this stops being a limited edition wine, perhaps they’ll switch the name to that, though the inverse of the regular label works very nicely with the “midnight” motif), works very well together. A ton of rich, heavy varietals in the Syrah and Cabs, as well as the usual concentrated punch from the Verdot, also contributes nicely to the darkness of the actual wine. Darker fruit is in heavy abundance here, so blackberries, dark plums and a touch of currant, yet the presence of Merlot keeps things from getting too clunky. Despite the largely astringent nature of the various grapes here, this mellows out quickly and becomes both smooth and flavorful, with a very nice mouth heft to it, another similarity it shares with the Original MAT blend.

A wine this good, like the Original, particularly at the very soft price point, can’t be anything but a Standard, so this one shares that same facet with the Original. Both of these are among the strongest offerings this list has to offer and it wouldn’t be the worst idea to get a bottle of each to compare…