2016 Mad Duck Zinfandel Lodi

2009 Balgownie Estate Shiraz

2012 Steven Kent Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

2013 Carlisle Gruner Veltliner Steiner Vineyard

2013 JC Cellars The Impostor

2006 Ridge Syrah Lytton Estate

 

 

 

2016 Mad Duck Zinfandel Lodi – $11.04

Mad Duck is a label owned by Truett-Hurst.  There isn’t much information on the wine on the internet, at least not that I could find.

 

The wine is a ruby red color, looking more like a Pinot Noir than a Zinfandel.  The exotic nose has brambly berries, cherries, baking spices, dry loamy soil, cranberries, white pepper and violets.  This has medium body with soft tannins and very good acidity.  On the palate cherries, brambly berries and spice come through on the front end with loam and white pepper coming in later.  The finish has decent length with cranberries and a floral note entering the picture.  This is a leaner style of Zinfandel, especially for one from Lodi.  This could actually use a bit more body and some complexity.  Perhaps some time in the cellar will allow the wine to put on some weight and flesh out a bit.  As is, this is a balanced Zinfandel with nice tart fruit that will work with a lot of meals.  This has 14.8% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with an agglomerated cork.  (87 pts)

2016 Mad Duck Zinfandel Lodi

2016 Mad Duck Zinfandel Lodi

 

 

 

2009 Balgownie Estate Shiraz – $25

Don’t you hate it when you go to a winery’s website and there is almost nothing about wine.  In this case, the Estate appears to be a “destination”.  There is loads of info on the resort, restaurant, conference room and gift center.  If I checked out the site before buying the wine, I probably would have passed, but that would have been a mistake.

 

The wine is a deep ruby color.  The open and giving nose has blackberries, roasted leafy herbs, dark bittersweet chocolate, dead wood embers, cherries, licorice, iron shavings, wildflowers and warm baking spices.  This has medium body with moderate tannins and very good acidity.  On the palate berries, roasted herbs and iron shavings quickly grab your attention with charred wood and baking spices coming in later.  The finish has good length with dark chocolate and a nice floral note providing depth.  This still tastes very young and primary.  I’d sit on this one for a couple more years.  This has 14.5% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with a twist off closure.  (92 pts)

2009 Balgownie Estate Shiraz

2009 Balgownie Estate Shiraz

 

 

 

2012 Steven Kent Winery Cabernet Sauvignon – $48

This Cabernet Sauvignon from California’s Livermore Valley also includes a few percent each of Syrah, Merlot and Petit Verdot.  The grapes come from Ghielmetti Estate, Home Ranch and Smith Ranch vineyards.  After a 5 to 7 day cold soak the wine was fermented in individual fermenters with an extended 14 day maceration.  The wine was then aged for 22 months in French oak barrels with 60% being new.  There were 1047 cases produced.

 

The wine is a medium ruby red color.  The alluring wine has cassis, licorice, roasted herbs, warm baking spices, black cherries, tobacco, dusty minerals and violets.  This has medium body with moderate to solid tannins and very nice acidity.  On the palate cassis, minerals, baking spices and tobacco come through on the front end with black cherries and roasted herbs coming in later.  The finish has very good length with a nice floral note providing depth.  This is on the young side, some additional cellar time will be rewarded.  This just seemed to get better throughout the evening.  A solid California Cabernet that is very easy to like.  This has 13.6% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.  (93 pts)

2012 Steven Kent Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 Steven Kent Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

 

 

 

2013 Carlisle Gruner Veltliner Steiner Vineyard – $28.50

There are only one and a half acres of Grüner in Sonoma County, all of which is at Steiner Vineyard.  A very rare and special wine!  The production was ramped up this vintage from 92 cases in 2012 to 212 cases.  The production increased since a second block in the vineyard started producing.

 

The wine is a bright golden yellow color.  The exotic nose has pineapple, lemon zest, green pea pods, crushed stone minerals, lime zest, orange blossoms, white peach and vanilla bean.  This has medium body with crisp acidity and just a hint of sweetness.  On the palate tart apples, under ripe pineapple, minerals and lime zest quickly grab your attention with green pea pods and orange blossoms coming in later.  The finish has nice length with lemon zest and vanilla bean providing depth.  This has very nice balance and the touch of residual sweetness buffers the tart acidity.  This won’t get mistaken for an Austrian Gruner, but who cares, it’s delicious.  This has 14.1% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.  (91 pts)

2013 Carlisle Gruner Veltliner Steiner Vineyard

2013 Carlisle Gruner Veltliner Steiner Vineyard

 

 

 

2013 JC Cellars The Impostor – $19

This bottle was purchased from Last Bottle wines, my favorite “flash” wine site.  If you use the provided link and sign up, you get an immediate credit and I get a credit if/when you make a purchase.  Check them out, they have awesome deals and their Marathons are always something special.

 

This is a blend of 45% Zinfandel, 26% Syrah, 9% Petite Sirah, 8% Grenache, 5% Carignane, 3% Mourvèdre, 2% Alicante Bouschet, 1% Black Muscat and 1% Viognier from vineyards in Sonoma, Napa, Paso Robles and Amador County.  The total production was 1,913 cases.

 

The wine is a dark, inky purple color.  The flamboyant nose is full of blackberries, blueberries, dark chocolate, black peppercorns, warm baking spices, scorched earth and dried wild flowers.  This has a full body with moderate ripe tannins and decent acidity.  On the palate waves of crushed berries, black pepper and scorched earth dominate the front end with baking spices and dark chocolate coming in later.  The finish is again loaded with fruit and spice with a dried flower note joining the picture.  This is a big, ripe and rich wine that would be a crowd pleaser.  This has 14.8% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.  (91 pts)

2013 JC Cellars The Impostor

2013 JC Cellars The Impostor

 

 

 

2006 Ridge Syrah Lytton Estate – Gift

This wine was a very special bottle.  It was a gift from a friend when he had dinner (and a lot of wine) at the house while he was on a business trip.  I was supposed to visit him in Nebraska one day so he could reciprocate, but he passed away before we could get together again.  This was the only time we ever met in person.  Cheers Fred!

 

There is 8% Viognier included with the Syrah.  This is from the Lytton West Vineyard.

 

The wine is a deep ruby color.  The sexy nose has blackberries, cherries, cedar, baking spices, crushed stone minerals, licorice, violets, white pepper, raspberries, dry underbrush, dark bittersweet chocolate and potpourri.  This has medium body with moderate tannins and very good acidity.  On the palate there is great balance between the fruit and savory elements with nothing being too prominent.  The finish has very nice length and again it has no rough edges.  This has aged very nicely and is in a superb drinking window.  Drink this one over the next few years.  This just seemed to get smoother and richer as the bottle was drained.  I wish I had a couple more bottles to open over the next few years.  This is a great, restrained Syrah.  This has 14.4% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.  (94 pts)

2006 Ridge Syrah Lytton Estate

2006 Ridge Syrah Lytton Estate

 

 

 

A few meals paired with a couple of the wines.

 

Other meals that were paired with all the wines for the week are usually posted on my Instagram account, Cliff’s Wine Picks Instagram.  If you want a specific recipe, send an e-mail to Cliff @ CliffsWinePicks . com.  Obviously, remove the spaces.

 

I paired the Mad Duck Zin with one of my favorite cooler weather dishes, a Stacked Enchilada Casserole with layers of spicy, meaty filling loaded with black beans and Monterrey Jack cheese and flour tortillas.  Think of it as a Mexican Lasagna.

 

 

Another cool weather favorite is Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya.  In this case I paired the dish with the Balgownie Shiraz.  Another perfect pairing, at least it was for me.

 

 

The cool spell lasted a few days, so we were able to pull out a true Southern meal, Fried Cubed Steak with rice and Cream Gravy with mixed peas from this Summer’s garden.  The Steven Kent Cabernet had the body, structure and flavor to pair nicely with this Southern cuisine.

 

 

 

 

 

I am a big fan of the “Flash Wine Sale” site Last Bottle.  You probably noticed some of the wines in this post were purchased from the site.  All of these wines were purchased at a big discount.  I highly recommend getting on their e-mail list.  Like most of the flash sale sites, they offer one wine per day until it sells out.  They also have a couple two-day marathons during the year.  Last Bottle is a great site to buy special wines at prices low enough to open any day of the week.

 

If you sign up using this link you will get a $10 credit that can be used on your first purchase.  I will also get a credit if you make a purchase.

 

Other than getting a credit as explained above, I have no financial interest in the site.  After you are on the list, you can also get the same credit by introducing friends to Last Bottle.

 

 

 

Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.

 

I post a lot more pictures and pairing suggestions on my Instagram account, consider joining me at https://www.instagram.com/cbbrown3/

 

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Cheers!

 

 

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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 always check out the sale and close out items when in a store.  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.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

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