Monthly Archives: December 2010

Martin Ray Pinot Noir

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2008
Santa Barbara County

Vanilla and spice and everything nice! This festive, garnet-hued beauty is loaded with warm vanilla, toasty oak, allspice and nutmeg. The smooth tannins have just enough leather and pepper to keep the wine from getting too jammy, and a hint of berry rounds things out nicely. A well-structured, easy-drinking, satiny pinot that’s perfect for the holidays!

Martin Ray 2008 Santa Barbara Pinot Noir – Red Wine

Cave Cellars Syrah

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Cave Cellars Syrah2009
Happy Canyon
Santa Barbara County

You’d know this was a Syrah at the first sip. Very classic: rich, full, smooth and meaty. And so pretty! Garnet-hued with a gemlike clarity and nice, strong legs. Heady scent of allspice and cherries. Faint raspberry and plum flavors give way to leather and a lingering cardamon finish.

Delicious from the get go, but really improved over time: a few hours of breathing (yes, somehow I managed to control myself…and kept Hubbs’s greedy palate at bay, too) mellowed out that spicy/peppery edge and transformed the brashness to a smooth elegance.

Poet’s Row Merlot

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Poet's Row Merlot2008
Sonoma County

I’m not in love with this wine, but it has some nice characteristics and Hubbs enjoyed it. Lovely blackberry bouquet, dry and lightly chewy tannins with a bit of cedar and a smoky finish. This is a pretty full-bodied wine. I drank it on its own, but I think my impressions would have been better if I’d had a meal with it; it’s got the muscle to stand up to a nice, meaty dish. Beef stew, lamb chops… OK, now I’m hungry.

[Edit: Poet’s Row 2008 Cab is $9 at Trader Joe’s.]

Three Wishes Cabernet Sauvignon

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Three Wishes CabernetCalifornia

I really wanted to like this wine. It’s dirt cheap, and came highly recommended from the guy at Whole Foods. But the truth is that I didn’t even finish my glass. Having said that, for $2.99, you could do worse.

It smells horrible: musty, old cherries and rotting cedar. Luckily, it tastes better. Strawberries at the start, cranberries at the end, and kind of sweet in the middle. Surprisingly light bodied for a Cab. My problems with it: just not a lot of “there” there (where did the tannins go?), and a nasty aftertaste.

At the risk of sounding like a snob, I suspect those who aren’t particularly discriminating will enjoy this wine. It’s got that fruity, slightly sweet, everyman’s quality that makes a wine “easy drinking.” It beats Two-Buck Chuck by several lengths, and the price is right. Good for a party of not-so-choosy drinkers, or better yet: turn it into sangria or hot spiced wine for seasonal celebrating on the cheap.