January 4, 2009

November 2008 Wines of the Month

November Wines of the Month
It's November....so we are focused on American winemakers......in fact....we are focused on only 2 of them.....

One from Washington and one from California. The Washington winemaker, the infamous bad boy of Washington (and maybe American) winemaking....the one and only Charles Smith, many of you know from his well-regarded K Vintners. You've seen some of these wines before, but not these vintages. Also, 2 of these are from his new label, Charles Smith Wines (ignore the "under construction" note - the links on the site work).

The reds....all from Tobin James from Paso Robles in California. For years, Tobin James has been a "cult" wine from Paso Robles....hard-to-find outside of California. Well.....now they are here!

Tobin James started....well....when Tobin James (yes, he's a real person), was a low-level worker in a winery (that would be an "assistant" winemaker - those guys move hoses, barrels, rinse out tanks, etc.). The winery couldn't accept 6 tons of grapes that were arriving....and the owner rejected them....Toby James asked if he could have them......the answer was, "Yes." The result....18 months later....gold medals and accolades for Toby's first Zinfandel, the 1985 "Blue Moon" Zin.

Praise has been coming in ever since!

Tier One

K Vintners Holy Cow Chardonnay 2006 (Washington) $12.99
- Excellent Chardonnay that bridges Old World and New! Aromas and flavors of Granny Smith apples, limes, quinine, No oak and no residual sugar – clean, crisp, fresh and medium-bodied. Vibrant, balanced acidity. More like a Burgundy than a “fat” Californian. When to drink – now. Not a candidate for long-term cellaring, but the modern screw-cap will help keep this bright and fresh for a year or 2! Food pairing – Fish such as mahi mahi, tuna, spicy Asian dishes with soy sauce, sesame, peanuts, black and red peppers, poultry, etc.

Tobin James Paso Robles Chateau Le Cacheflo Syrah-Sangiovese-Barbera 2006 (California) $11.99 - Yes....the name of the wine is "Le Cacheflo" - spelling by phonics....that is "Le Cash Flow." Goofy name.....really good wine at $12!

Medium-dry red that is medium-bodied. Easy drinking! Aromas of red fruit, a little dusty earth and peppery spice. The tannins are medium and help balance the ripe fruit flavors. Along with the ripe red fruit, this has some subtle baking spices and chocolate. Blend of Syrah, Barbera and Sangiovese – so this definitely has a Mediterranean flair to it. Call it a California “Rhone-clone” Italian-style! Food pairing – awesome wine for cookouts, pizza, spaghetti, etc!

Tier Two

K Vintners Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2007 (Washington) $13.99 - Excellent!!! We tasted this at a recent tasting – great! Beautiful aromas of minerals, pears, citrus. Crisp, bright & fresh drinking. Dry, but not tannic (that feeling of your mouth being coated). Huge, long finish of pears, apples & minerals. Charles Smith, winemaker, calls this “Kung Fu Girl” Riesling, because he says, “both girls & Riesling kick ***!” Food pairing - This will be awesome with shellfish, salmon – grilled, smoked or baked, Thai food, ham and more! Drinks great on its own!

Tobin James Paso Robles Ballistic Zinfandel 2006 (California) $17.99 - A wonderful wine and a great value in a Zinfandel from a “cult” winery! Gobs of dark peppery fruit in the aromas and flavors. Hints of Provencal herbs, black cherries & black pepper. Great acidity. Soft tannins. Full-bodied. 100% Zinfandel from 27 different Paso Robles old-vine vineyards (60-75 years), including the famed Dusi Vineyard. This will drink well for the next 3-4 years. Food pairing – ribs, beef, steak, lamb, lasagna, pizza….

Tier Three

K Vintners Viognier 2007 (Washington) $22.99 - This is a big, bold and beautiful wine! The only thing bigger than this winemaker’s ego are the flavors and aromas in his wines! Beautiful aromas of minerals, peaches, pears, flowers and apples. Rich and velvety in the mouth. Excellent acidity and minerality in the flavors. Huge, long finish of pears and minerals. Food pairing - This will absolutely be smokin’ with roasted chicken or pork tenderloin with root vegetables. Great with salmon. Awesome shellfish wine! Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 91 points

Tobin James Paso Robles James Gang Reserve Zinfandel 2006 (California) $29.99 - The big blockbuster from the James Gang! Big, rich and bold! Long, long finish. Aromas and flavors of blackberries, blueberries, black cherries, dark chocolate, pepper, subtle hints of oak and vanilla. While the alcohol is high, you don’t notice it. This wine is “jammy” rich! Nicely balanced tannins and acidity. The cream of the crop from the barrels at the James Gang. This will drink well for the next 3-4 years. Food pairing – great with grilled foods.

The Other

Tobin James "Dreamweaver" "California Champagne" (California) $11.99 - (1) this is sparkling wine; (2) it is NOT champagne; (3) I think Tobin James is poking fun at the "name czars" in the wine world; (4) I'm certain Toby James knows it is wrong to call this "Champage;" (5) this is really good, light and fun to drink!

Blend of Chardonnay, Muscat and Chenin Blanc. This is light, bubbly, fruity, easy-to-drink and tasty!