Monday, November 19, 2007

Anything Wine Has Moved

My Anything Wine blog has moved to a Wordpress account.

The new address is

Thank you for continuing to check out my blog, I really do appreciate it.

John Witherspoon

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wine Tasting - 2005 Seghesio Old Vine Zinfandel, Sonoma County

We received this bottle in one of our wine club shipments from Seghesio. Seghesio has a great tasting room in the heart of the Sonoma Valley just outside of Healdsburg. We made a stop by there tasting room the last time we were in Sonoma, and decided to sign up for the wine club. Click here for my review of that visit!

A bit of background on the wine –

As the name would imply, the wine is made from old head pruned vines from vineyards in both the Alexander and Dry Creek Valleys. The 2005 growing season was relatively cool and provided a long period of time for grapes to develop slowly and maturely. The grapes were harvested from the end of September to the 1st week of October at a nice high Brix (sugar content) of 26.4. The 2005 Old Vine Zin saw 12 months of barrel aging in a mix of 75% French and 25% American oak, after 10 days of maceration with a final alcohol level of 15.3%.

My Tasting Notes –

Nose – Fig, raisin, sun-dried tomato

Taste – Boysenberry jam, fresh baby spinach

Mouthfeel – Full body, nice balance, good acid and no real “heat” with the high alcohol

Finish – Long and peppery

Stay tuned in the future for more wine reviews from Seghesio. We feel bad when we drink the ones that they only distribute from the tasting room or to the wine club, so we hold to them as long as we can.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wine Tasting - 2004 Pascual Toso Reserve Single Estate Malbec

I received this wine for my birthday back in May from my buddy Mike and his fiancée Bobbi. Mike and Bobbi are huge Malbec fans, so I knew this had to be a winner.

A bit of background on the wine –

2004 was a good year for Malbec in Argentina, and rated up there with 2002 and 2003 that were considered excellent vintages for the region. 2004 saw fantastic weather for the majority of the season, although there was some late season rain, the crop was harvested under favorable conditions.

This wine was made from 100% Malbec grapes that are harvested by hand from vineyards in Las Barrancas, Maipu, Mendoza. After fermentation the 100% of this Reserve Malbec is aged in French Oak barrels for 12 months compared to only 30% of the non-reserve which is aged only 10 months. After barrel maturation, it is allowed to age in the bottle for an additional 6 months prior to release.

My Tasting Notes –

Nose – Blackberry, Swisher Sweet cigar, roasting coffee and candle wax

Taste – Blackberry jam, tobacco, black cherry towards the finish

Mouthfeel – Medium to Full body, very smooth

Finish – Nice and long with a lot of cherry flavors, good grip and slightly spicy

This is an excellent wine and a great value, especially if you get it for free, or if you pay for it. I think it retails for around $13.00. This Malbec had a nice complex nose, with jammy dark fruit flavors and a long gripping finish.

Give it a try, I think it is pretty well distributed – about 4000 cases are made of the Reserve.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Two Wine Tastings at The Wine Cellar This Week

Jeff and his Wine Cellar crew are treating us to two tastings again this week.

Thursday – Beaujolais Nouveau Tasting

Jeff will pit the Nouveau against 3 Cru Beaujolais from 2005 for an unofficial taste off. The Beaujolais tasting will only be from 5:30 – 7:30.

Friday – Thanksgiving Dinner Wines


The Friday tasting is the normal time of 5:00 – 8:00 and both tastings are FREE as usual.

Hope to see you all there.
A quick reminder – after this week Anything Wine will be switching to a wordpress address. The new site will be I am posting to both currently, but after this week I will stop on the blogspot site. So please change you feeds and bookmarks to the new address. Thanks so much for continuing to read Anything Wine!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Education Series - What are tannins?

A while ago I said I was going to start a wine education series. As you may have noticed, I didn’t get very far with that idea-- I think I did only one entry on malolactic fermentation. So I am recommitting myself to this effort through Education Tuesdays. Every Tuesday I will post on a topic, term, or subject that I think needs to be more talked about or better explained.

To start off the series, today’s bit is on tannins. The term tannin is used a lot when describing a wine, whether it is to talk about the mouthfeel (soft, harsh, firm, gripping, etc.) or to determine it’s aging ability. So what is a tannin?

The technical definition for a tannin is a plant-based polyphenol that binds and precipitates proteins, and is found in grapes skins, seeds and stems as well teas, and other fruits and plants. The name “tannin” is actually derived from the tanning process of animal hides. The non-technical answer is that tannins are the substance in wine that makes your mouth feel dry and if too pronounced, can provide a bitter taste. If tannins are excessive as they might be in a young wine, it feels like someone sucked all the moisture out of your mouth. If the wine has been aged, or did not have prolonged contact with the skins, the tannins will be much softer and give you what is described sometimes as a velvety feel in the mouth.

Other than the skin and seed contact that can give red wine its tannic structure, oak and other wood barrels that red wine is commonly aged in can provide some tannins as well.

I mentioned that tannins can be reduced over time with aging, and that pronounced tannins in a particular wine can relate to its ability to age well (in addition to fruit, acid and alcohol levels). So how does this work? What are the tannins doing in that bottle of wine over time?

First, the reason that the wine has better age ability with increased tannins is due to the chemical’s natural preservative effects. Second, the reason that wines taste less tannic and feel less harsh over time is that the tannins gradually polymerize (fancy word for join up) and when joined together in long chains give a much softer mouthfeel.

This was a bit of a technical description but was more in my terms, so I hope it made sense. If you have more questions about tannins or need some more clarification please shoot me an email.

A quick reminder – after next week Anything Wine will be switching to a wordpress address. The new site will be I am posting to both currently, but this week will stop on the blogspot site. So please change you feeds and bookmarks to the new address. Thanks so much for continuing to read Anything Wine!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Wine Tasting - 2004 Seventy Five, Amber Knolls Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon

I picked this up from the Wine Cellar about a month or two ago, just wanting to pick up a real good “everyday” Cab for the wine stock at home. I had heard great things about the wine, and these were confirmed by my favorite Wine Cellar employee Hunter who had just tasted the wine recently. I was a bit skeptical though because Mr. Wine Library himself, who I love, had knocked the wine down a few notches a couple of months prior on his video blog. He still thought it was a good Cab, just not worthy of the 90+ point ratings that it was carrying around. (click here for that episode) But as Gary will tell you, he is giving his opinion based on what he likes and dislikes, so take it with a grain of salt.

A bit of background on the wine:

From the 75wine website -
“This hand-selected, hand crafted vineyard designated Cabernet Sauvignon hails from the Amber Knolls Vineyard. The Beckstoffer family purchased this property in the late 1990's after determining that the soils and microclimate were perfect for growing ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes. The property is showcased by its deep, red hillside soils that are heavily laced in obsidian.”

The vineyard itself sits on an East facing slope with varying altitude from 1200 to 2000 feet. The average daytime summer temperature is 84 degrees with average nighttime temps of 51 degrees, allowing for the 2004 Vintage to be harvested at 23.8 Brix.

My Tasting Notes:

Nose – Ripe blueberry, tar, and bacon

Taste – Maraschino cherry, canned artichoke hearts, espresso

Mouthfeel – very smooth with velvety tannins and medium body

Finish – Nice with a decent length and blackberry flavors lingering

I liked this wine quite a bit. I thought it to be more towards the new world style of Cabernet Sauvignon with a lot of ripe fruit coming through on the nose, but had some nice meaty aromas to balance it out. Interesting vegetable flavor notes – I think the reason I wrote canned artichoke hearts is because the wine had a slight metallic taste to it, but not in a bad way. Not an inexpensive wine (at around $18.95), but a good middle of the week kick up a notch Cabernet.

If you have had this or have it in the future, let me know what you think.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Well this is an admission for those of you who don’t know me. For my friends out there already know that I was and always will be a Beverly Hills 90210 FANATIC. Go ahead, snicker and laugh - but one day there will be a game show devoted completely to 90210 trivia and I will win millions of dollars. :) Ha-Ha

So the only thing that could be better than 90210, is 90210 and wine. I knew that star Jason Priestly had his own wine show called Hollywood and Vines which does not air in Virginia sadly, but recently Jason bought a winery in British Columbia.

From Wine Spectator Unfiltered:

Beverly Hills 902-wine-0? Jason Priestley, best-known for his portrayal of Brandon Walsh on the 1990s television series Beverly Hills 90210, is the latest to join the ranks of winemaking celebrities. The native Canadian has invested in British Columbia’s Black Hills Estate Winery, whose top wine is a Cabernet blend called Nota Bene. Priestley is known to be an epicurean and wine lover—though, sadly, not as well known for the great film Love and Death on Long Island in which he mocks himself, playing a former teen B-movie actor—and is currently co-host of a wine-related travel show on Canadian television called Hollywood & Vines. Priestley joined the board of directors of Vinequest Wine Partners, an Alberta-based investment group created specifically to buy Black Hills. Black Hills cofounder Bob Tennant is happy that the star power of the transaction will help bring attention to the Okanagan wine community, but wondered how hands-on Priestley will be in the day-to-day operations. “My first comment when I heard [Jason Priestley] was involved was, ‘Gee, I hope he knows how to prune.”"

How cool would it be to saddle up to the tasting bar and have Jason doing the tasting?

Have a great weekend everyone - get out and drink some great wine.