Wine Tasting
Trader Joe’s Coastal Fume’ Blanc

Winery: Trader Joe’s
Brand/Type: Coastal Fume’ Blanc
Vintage: 2006
Country: USA
Region: Central coast, California
Alcohol content: 13.5%
Closure: Natural Cork

Vinted and bottled by Castoro Cellars for Trader Joe’s.
A nice refreshing crisp white. Lightly fruitful and of decent structure. Excellent value and very affordable.

Cycles Gladiator Dry Rose’

Winery: Cycles Gladiator
Brand/Type: Dry Rose’
Country: USA
Region: California
Alcohol content: 13.5%
Closure: Synthetic
Appearance: Pale cherry
Aroma/Bouquet: Cherry, cranberry, pomegranate

Cycles Gladiator adorns their label with some very pretty art by French painter G. Massias.

Bait and switch warning!
The label (with pretty art) claims this wine to be dry. The truth is that it is sweet. Not Boones Farm or Arbor Mist sweet, but in no way, shape, or form, can this be considered dry. It is certainly not off-dry either.

This is a fruity sweet wine. It does have a reasonable aroma that is reminiscent of cherries, cranberry, and pomegranate. It tastes strongly of cranberry and strawberries and has a poor and slightly bitter finish

This is a fairly inexpensive wine and performs as such. Did we mention that they have pretty art on their labels?

Wine Tasting
1999 Chateau Potelle Sauvignon Blanc

Winery: Chateau Potelle
Brand/Type: Sauvignon Blanc
Vintage: 1999
Country: USA
Region: Napa Valley
Alcohol content: 13.8%
Closure: Synthetic
Appearance: Light green/gold
Aroma/Bouquet: Bourbon

Wine & Spirits magazine named this one of 1999s best wines in a Sauvignon Blanc. We dont know what sample they received but we found this to be a horrible wine! At nearly 14% alcohol its damn hard to avoid an obvious alcohol scent and flavor. If it wasnt for the ridiculous amount of oak you would taste only the alcohol. This smells like Bourbon and unfortunately it tastes like watered down Bourbon. There is no fruit present at all. Just alcohol, oak, lots of oak, and Bourbon. This wine was so bad that the bottle was not finished.

Wine Tasting
2004 Clay Station Viognier

Winery: Clay Station
Brand/Type: Viognier
Vintage: 2004
Country: USA
Region: Lodi, California
Alcohol content: 13.5%
Closure: Synthetic
Appearance: Pale honey
Aroma/Bouquet: Rotting fruit, amonia

This is a heavy, syrupy attempt at a Viognier. It initially tastes of ripe melon and honeysuckle, and then is overwhelmed by a harsh acidity and sweet finish.

Clay Station, a subsidiary of Delicato, claims to make wines that are more difficult to master than others are. Word of advice to Clay Station; keep trying, you have yet to succeed with this wine.

Viogniers are a very nice wine. Don’t let this one be your first impression otherwise you’ll miss many fine wines. Avoid this one and you won’t be sorry.

Wine Tasting:
2005 Ironstone Riesling

Winery: Ironstone Vineyards
Brand/Type: Riesling
Vintage: 2005
Country: Germany/California
Region: Pfalz
Alcohol content: 11%
Closure: Screw cap
Appearance: Pale straw
Aroma/Bouquet: Rubbing alcohol and Pine-sol

Tastes very tart at first then leaves a bitter lemony aftertaste. No real flavors other than lemon. Nothing that to remind you of a Riesling what so ever. This tastes more like solvent than wine.

The Ironstone Vineyards website doesn’t list this wine at all. I have to assume it is because they are ashamed to have ever put their label on such crap, their site doesn’t list any Rieslings what so ever. So what gives? Was this some cheap excuse to import some rotgut and throw your label on it, make a quick buck, and charge a far more that reasonable amount for something that should have been turned into compost?

Ironstone owes everyone who ever was assaulted by this crap a refund and an apology.

Wine Tasting:
2004 Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Dry Riesling

Winery: Bonny Doon
Brand/Type: Riesling
Vintage: 2004
Country: USA
Region: California (not really – see text)
Alcohol content: 12%
Closure: Screwcap
Appearance: Extremely Pale Dishwater Blonde
Aroma/Bouquet: Melon and tangerine

First things first; Bonny Doon is a California winery. However this vintage is made from grapes (according to the bottle) harvested from eastern Washington and the Middle Mosel. So it’s a mix of American and German grapes. Hmm, as Colonel Klink would say, “Interesting, very interesting.” (If you don’t know who Colonel Klink is try Yahoo ok?)

So how does it taste? Like a Pinot Grigio. This is the driest Riesling I’ve ever tasted. The bouquet and aroma hint of a Riesling, but it is far too light and watery and has a noticeable, but not overbearing, oak finish. It doesn’t have the complexity of a Riesling either.

We’ve seen this wine hyped and so we were excited to try it. Unfortunately we’re not excited anymore. Like so many wines, especially California wines, the bottle had more character than the wine; fancy label, so-so wine. Bonny Doon also has a rather annoying website. It is entirely Flash based and spends more time distracting you than informing you about their wine. “Understated” is seemingly not a Bonny Doon trait.

Wine Tasting:
Blackstone 2001 California Merlot

Winery: Blackstone
Brand/Type: Merlot
Vintage: 2001
Country: USA
Region: California
Alcohol content: 13%
Closure: Synthetic cork
Appearance: Dark, inky, ruby red
Aroma/Bouquet: Pungent blackberries, noticable alcohol odor

Noticeable wood and spice flavors. Smooth, dry with a crisp spicy finish. Has a slight vinegar aftertaste.

Blackstone is a fairly popular/common brand name. Not sure why they feel it important to note that this is a “California” Merlot. According to the Blackstone website, this is actually a blend.

An average Merlot. As an alternative you could buy three bottles of Charles Shaw, have a better experience, have money left for gas, and do yourself no harm.

Wine Tasting:
2003 Bonny Doon Madiran Heart of Darkness

Winery: Bonny Doon
Brand/Type: Madiran
Vintage: 2003
Country: USA
Region: California
Alcohol content: 13.5
Closure: Synthethic Cork
Appearance: Dark Ruby/Garnet
Aroma/Bouquet: Blackberries, mmm, nice, rich, ripe blackberries!

Complex, heavy on the tongue, sharp finish.

Just in time for Halloween! Don’t let the Ralph Steadman label scare you! This is a robust and complex wine that begs to be savored slowly. If you let it out and allow the spirit to breathe, you’ll be rewarded by a soulful glass that won’t haunt you. Ok, Edgar Allen Poe we aren’t. Enough Halloween euphemisms already!

The longer I savored this, the more it reminded me of a Brunello. Not as dry, but that can be a positive with some Brunellos. Not as expensive either, so that would be a definite treat.

Bonny Doon isn’t afraid of pushing their limits or taking risks. This wine shouldn’t scare you either!

Wine Tasting:
2003 Fetzer Valley Oaks Merlot

Winery: Fetzer
Brand/Type: Valley Oaks Merlot
Vintage: 2003
Country: USA
Region: California
Alcohol content: 13.1%
Closure: Natural Cork
Appearance: Dark Ruby
Aroma/Bouquet: Deep, rich, blackberries and currants.

This is a very nice Merlot. Ample flavors, complex body, softly smooth and satisfying. Slight cherry and spice, a hint of oak. Not “too” dry.

Of special note; Fetzer grows all of their grapes organically.
Fetzer is one of the largest producers of organic wines in the world. Fetzer is also committed to other environmentally friendly practices. So in case you’re looking for a conscionable wine, Fetzer should be on your shopping list.