2007 Stefania Haut Tubee – $18.00

This has been a very nice wine over the past few vintages.  This is a bit of a strange wine in that it changes the blend every vintage, sometimes drastically.  The winery uses left over barrels from their main wines, small lots, or whatever is available to create a unique blend.  This vintage is, per the winery 50% Syrah with Cabernet, Merlot, Zinfandel, Grenache, and Mourvedre comprising the other 50%.   For comparison, the 2008 vintage is 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Syrah, 15% Merlot, 10% Zinfandel, 2% Grenache, and trace amounts of Mourvedre, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and PinotGris.

The wine is a dark ruby to maroon color.  There are blackberries, cherries, black pepper, baking spices, cedar, licorice, dried herbs, with hints of smoked meat, and earthy notes on the very inviting nose.  This is medium to full body with ripe, integrated tannins and very nice acidity.  The wine is very nice and refined on the palate, loads of fruit and spice with dried herbs and earthiness in the background.  Decent length on the finish which I wish was a touch fuller.  A very nice bottle of wine for under $20.  Probably needs to be consumed over the next year or two at most.  (90 pts)



2008 R Wines Pinot Noir Permutations – $12.74

This is a Pinot Noir from the Victoria region in Australia.  It’s been a while since I opened one of these, so today is as good a day as any to unscrew my last bottle.  Earlier bottles have shown some bottle variation.  Some have been VERY earthy, others had nice fruit and spice with just a vein of earthiness.

This wine is a shade or two lighter than ruby with considerable lightening at the edge.  There are cherries, raspberry, baking spices, earthy elements and some fresh flowers on the very light and alluring nose.  This is light to medium body with silky tannins and very nice acidity.  On the palate the wine has nice, juicy red fruits and spice with a streak of earthiness in the background.  The finish is a touch short, but all in all this is a nice, lighter bodied Pinot for south of $15.  (87 pts)



2008 Cosa Obra Proprietor’s Blend – $28.80

This is the initial release from this winery.  This wine is a blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Grenache and it is from SonomaCounty.  This was aged for 20 months in 50% new French oak.

I had a bottle about a year ago and it showed a lot of promise, but I felt it needed another year or two in the cellar to pull itself together and to open up.  I guess I’ll see today if my early guess held up.

The wine is a deep, dark, maroon color.  This smells like a fall day with blackberries, charcoal, smoked meat, hot asphalt, minerals, licorice, toasty oak, vanilla, white pepper, and a bit of cherry.  This is fairly full bodied with solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  Big, bold, and ripe on the palate but everything holds together in perfect balance.  Nice meaty, spicy, fruit kick in immediately on the palate with just a touch of earthiness in the background.  A fairly long finish completes the package showcasing the fruit and savory elements with a bit of oak peeking in.  No hurry on this one, and another year in the cellar will be rewarded.  (93 pts)



2009 Grandes Vinos y Viñedos Cariñena Beso de Vino Seleccion – $8.48

I grabbed a bottle of this to try a couple years ago, based purely on a 90 point score by Wine Advocate.  It turned out the 90 points was by Jay Miller and not Robert Parker, so my expectations were greatly reduced.  This was actually a very enjoyable wine, loaded with acidity, and not syrupy and over ripe.  I actually felt it needed some cellar time for the acidity to integrate.

This is a blend of 85% Syrah and 15% Garnacha, briefly aged for 3 months in French oak.

This is a medium to dark ruby color.  There are blackberries, black cherries, baking spices, white pepper, plums, smoke, and vanilla on the slightly reserved nose.  The wine is a medium body, at most, with soft, ripe tannins and tart acidity.  Very bright, tart red fruit on the palate with spices and a touch of oak in the background.  With a bit of air, more spices and pepper also make it to the party.  Decent length on the finish with the tart, spicy, fruit fading a bit too quickly.  Not your typical, slightly sweet, soft, easy drinker usually seen at this price point from this area.  No complexity, but fairly tasty.  (87 pts)



2006 Franciscan Oakville Estate Magnificat – $28.49

On a whim, I grabbed a bottle of this wine from the local store when they were blowing them out.  I’ve had Franciscan cabernets in the past and they were generally pretty decent, especially if you found them at less then suggested retail price.  This is their top tier cabernet based blend in their “Prestige Wines” line.  As with most of the “Meritage” wines, the varietal breakdown changes every vintage, in this year the makeup is 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 3% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot.

The wine is a deep ruby color.  There is cassis, crushed blackberries, dried herbs, cedar, smoke, baking spices, black cherry, and a slight herbal note on the soothing and comforting nose.  The nose is not an in your face style like a lot of the current release Bordeaux styled wines coming out of California.  I’m not saying that is a positive or a negative, just different, since I like both styles.  The wine is medium bodied with fairly solid tannins and very nice acidity.  The wine has a nice fruit and savory blend on the palate with a touch of spicy oak peeking through.  Decent length on the finish, I just wish it had a touch more length.  Once again, a touch of excess oak peeks out on the finish.  With some additional cellar time, the excess oak may integrate, but I don’t think there is enough fruit to help it hide out.  (90 pts)



Mailing Lists



Helioterra is a new discovery for me.  I met the owner/winemaker, Anne Hubatch, when she came back to visit her family in Wisconsin.  We tasted through her whole line up and I was very impressed.  I recommend getting in on the ground floor of this exciting Oregon winery.  Their next release is coming shortly, for more information, visit http://bit.ly/Q5TmSl



Remember to support your local wine store!


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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.


Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.


All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.