Tag Archives: Syrah

2007 Treana Red Paso Robles

2007 Treana Red Paso Robles

2007 Treana Red Paso Robles

Some of you may remember the dinner I had with my fellow blogger and wine friend John, The Wine Raconteur, earlier this year. John, being the wonderfully generous man that he is brought us a bottle of wine as a gift, which caught us off guard because we clearly did not anticipate this, and had nothing to reciprocate. Well, we promised to make up for it and we will. The wine John gave us was the 2007 Treana Red, a wine from Paso Robles on California’s central coast.

I am not very familiar with California wines: I find most to be overpriced and the chief reliance on Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape variety I am not overly fond of, doesn’t help. I explained earlier that a good friend of ours has made me drink more California reds and I have found ways and makers that I enjoy, but I am still a complete ignoramus when it comes to these wines. I might have heard Paso Robles before, but I would not be able to locate it on a map at all. So, I am afraid a drew a blank when John gave me the wine and looked at me expectantly…I still feel guilty for that.

In an order to redeem myself, I did some research: Treana is part of the family owned Hope Family Wines company which maintains five different brands, of which Treana is one. The family arrived in the late 1970s and planted apple trees and vines. They planted the classic varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache. In 1996, they produced their first Treana white and red. The current owner and winemaker, Austin Hope, is the son of the founders who was eight when the family moved to Paso Robles.

Treana Red is what the winery deems its flagship wine (I was SHOCKED to see the retail price! John, thank you so much!!). The wine is made with 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Syrah. It is sourced from their up to eight different best vineyards in Paso Robles. It is fermented with cultivated yeasts and matures for ten to 14 months in French oak (50% new oak). The grapes ripen separately, and in the summer the best barrels are combined in barrels. Before filling, the wine is moved to a tank. The winery describes it as somewhere between a Napa and a Bordeaux wine (now if I only knew what that could possibly mean). According to the label, the 2007 had 15.5% ABV.

The wine poured in an inviting ruby red. The nose was full of cassis, as in full of it. Gorgeous. Add in some perfumy and herbal notes (branches). It was deep and inviting. On the palate, the medium-bodied Treana initially hit us with a quite strong acidity that made it feel unbalanced. There were peppery notes, the perfume continued. But we couldn’t get over how acidic it was. The texture however was great, a really nice silky mouth feel. The finish was of medium length with some bitterness.

We waited a bit, and lo and behold, some beautiful crushed coffee bean aromas started showing up in the finish. I loved that. After an hour, the wine was more herbal and felt much more concentrated than we initially thought, but the acidity persisted. Only after two hours was the acidity finally balanced and gave the wine a good structure.

Nina really liked the wine, and I thought it was pretty good, too. We have different tastes in red wine, and she likes the bigger reds more than me, so that makes sense. Thank you, John and your lovely bride, for providing a great evening for us!


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2010 Babble Mendocino County Red

2010 Babble Mendocino County Red Blend

2010 Babble Mendocino County Red Blend

Let me say this right away after those frustrating last couple wine reviews: I was quite happy with this one, so my bad luck streak is broken!

A while back, my fellow blogger Talk-A-Vino posted a short review about this wine I had seen a couple of times at Trader Joe’s but never bought it. I guess the label was a bit wacky for me…thanks to Talk-A-Vino, I decided to give it a try. Here is what he had to say about the wine’s 2008 bottle:

2008 Babble Mendocino County Red Wine (13.7% ABV, $6.99) – blend of 36% Petite Syrah, 26% Syrah, 17% Merlot, 10% Carignane, 10% Grenache and 1% Malbec. Deep purple color, hint of blackberries on the nose, touch of oak, some cherries and a bit of spice box on the palate, very gentle tannins, good acidity. Paired very well with TJ’s Pulled Beef Brisket in smoky BBQ sauce. The text on the label is priceless and somewhat nicely mocking all the “over-sophisticated” wine reviews. Drinkability: 7+.

Obviously, we did not have the same vintage to try, but I was quite satisfied with the 2010. The wine still costs $6.99 at Trader Joe’s. According to Trader Joe’s website it is a blend of “Petit Sirah, Syrah, Merlot, Carignane, and Grenache, with just a touch of Malbec” which confirms what Talk-A-Vino had assembled in information. According to TJ, it is aged for 24 months in French and American oak barrels.

The wine we poured was of medium dark ruby red color. In the nose I got red fruits, some marzipan (almond), and a slightly salty smell. It was light bodied and silky, with cherry and chocolate notes, low tannins and a nice pepper note paired with good acidity. I thought it was very drinkable and fun. The pizza I had with it brought out more pepper and vegetal notes in the wine.

As the price suggests, this is not a special occasion wine but I think it is a decent, uncomplicated everyday wine that also should go well with a host of different foods. And, as Talk-A-Vino says, the label is priceless.

Thanks for pointing this one out, Anatoli!

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2009 Kermit Lynch Côtes du Rhône

It was our anniversary this weekend, so we decided to try a restaurant in Ann Arbor that is focused on using local ingredients. It was our first time there, so we tried their five course tasting menu to see what the chef was capable of. The restaurant offered an accompanying wine pairing for half of what dinner cost. While I sometimes have had good experiences with these restaurant offered pairings, this is usually only the case if the restaurant has a sommelier and is as devoted to its wine menu as it is to its cuisine. Somehow, this place (and their wine menu) did not give off that impression, so I was reluctant to take it.

Given that the tasting menu was a surprise menu, it was not the easiest thing to decide what wine to go for then. Given that there was no riesling on the menu (shame on them), we decided to go with a lighter red wine that could complement most of what was possibly going to come, and sit out on the wine when it did not match at all. I find Côtes du Rhône wines to usually be a good companion when it comes to this. They are not as heavy bodied as other French reds, and at the same time offer an interesting mix of spices and earthiness. The only Côtes du Rhône the restaurant had was this one, so we decided to go for it.

Today I found out that Kermit Lynch is a major wine merchant in the tradition of French négociants from California. They offer a whole variety of wines from France and Italy with a gazillion of producers working for them. This particular Côtes du Rhône blend is vinified by Jean-François Pasturel from Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan grapes from 40 year old vines on 36 hectares around Avignon.

The wine had a medium ruby color. Its nose was nicely perfumy with wooden and earthy notes, Nina detected some blueberries that were definitely there. On the palate, the wine was on the lower end of medium bodied, and it showed a nice fruitiness of red berries and herbal, foresty aromas. The finish was of medium length, with a nice peppery note to it. It was pretty yummy to guzzle at dinner, and was just the right weight.

It also paired nicely with our – quite disappointing – dinner. The first course was a duck liver paté, to which the earthy notes paired well. The second course was a very nice salad with pan-seared (over-peppered) local trout, where it sort of worked. This was followed by uninspired “gnocchi” (which had nothing in common with gnocchi any Italian would serve) in a tomato sauce – the wine worked again. The next course was pork loin with potatoes (talk about uninspired again), where the wine complemented the roast aromas on the pork and went nicely with the onions. The dessert was an abomination of a panna cotta, made with buttermilk which destroyed its texture and taste (hardly any vanilla, and not even a reminder of the creaminess a panna cotta should have) and topped with a horrible concord grape syrup that tasted as bad as a Welch grape juice (which I completely detest)…luckily, I had the wine to clean my palate from the few spoons I ate before I abandoned the dish.

It was kind of a sad thing, this dinner. While I want to support locally sourced restaurants and like the idea, using these ingredients does not absolve you from making dishes that taste good. It is like organic wines. There is no inherent goodness in making wines in an organic fashion. They have to taste good first and foremost. If the two go together, the better. If not, I will relinquish ingredients over taste at any moment.

The wine was nice, so I recommend it.

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