July 4th Poolside Cabernet Blends Mini-Tasting

70s-pool-partyWEBSummertime is party time in Southern California. Each holiday is like a stop on the social road map. The 4th marks the middle of the long hot tour. Anything goes when the sun roars above, the swimming pool beckons and the grill begs for more meat and veggies to roast. Keep the food simple and bring something interesting from your cellar. If you like that recipe then you will probably like the wine list below.

Retzlafff_07WEB2005 Retzlaff Livermore Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot $40: 70% Cabernet and 30% Merlot. Small production winery owned by the Taylor family in Livermore which is one of those underrated California regions with the pedigree of longevity and quality. Rustic, old school in the New world wine. Red brick color, unpretentious, straightforward flavors. The way they used to make California Cabernets before they became vanity trophies. Crowd pleaser, masculine even with the low alcohol. 13.5%

lemacchiole09WEB2009 Le Macchiole Garagiste Bolgheri Rosso $20: This came up third among the tasters at a mini-Cabernet taste-off. The popular winner is covered in this post. However, the cherries and dark chocolate flavors won tBoW’s palate. Light to middle weight, nicely balanced. Other thought it kind of bland and even acidic. This is the Old World – Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah – in the new era from the top Bordeaux blending region in Europe, including Bordeaux! Good value and good place to start if you want to taste what is happening in the land of Ornellaia and Sassicaia. 13.5%

marietta_syrah93WEB1993 Marietta Cellars California Geyserville Syrah $12 in 1996: Pick a bottle said the host suggesting either the 2006 Quintessa or 2005 Dominus would make a fine selection. But we liked this lone bottle that appeared outclassed; like Dame Judy Dench on the pole in Cheetahs. Turned out Dame Judy knows a few tricks. At 20 years the Santa Cruz Syrah held up pretty nicely. The cues were there: Geyserville designation, California red from an era when winemakers made authentic wines, not a Cab! This particular wine was written up as a dollar-for-dollar best value wine in 1996. The writer noted it included 20% Petite Sirah. This is an old vine winery specializing in what are now referred as heritage wines and vineyards that has been around many decades and has long been a favorite of Robert Parker. What was left of the fruit was enough to keep us intrigued for 20 minutes. As the dried roses faded away we were left with the core of ripe California fruit that seemed happy we had pulled its cork. A lesson in the ability of well made wine to hold interest and show some moves well into maturity. 13.5%

dacapo-ruch-di-castagnole-m2011 Azienda Vinicola Dacapo Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato Majoli $19: He said he had a red wine from Piemonte that was not a Barbera or Dolcetto and we would never guess Nebbiolo since that would be too obvious. The wine is Ruchè pronounced roo-kay as in Yasel Puig ees rookay of the jear. Rustic, fruity, reminds me of the natural wines we have had recently such as the R12. To steal from another taster “dusty, subtle, complex, intriguing.” No oak. Fewer than 100 acres planted altogether. Origin is unknown. Opinions that Ruchè is indigenous to Piemonte or that it came from Burgundy. Dotoré says Nero d’Avola reminds him or Burgundy wines!?! This should stir similar memories. Great value. This is what makes wine fun. U20 price. 14%

michel-gassier-nostre-pais22011 Michel Gassier “Nostre Pais Blanc” Costières de Nîmes Blanc $17: Purchased by Dotore at Wine House. The blend is 90% Grenache Blanc, 5% Rousanne, and 5% Viognier. Refreshing flavors with body. Dry, lively acid balanced with subtle fruit. Just what we like from a white Rhone. Superb summer wine that would work in any season.

hostess with the mostest

hostess with the mostest

Enough stuffing to handle duck and certainly other fowl. Probably not enough for Thanksgiving unless we have it early pre-meal. U20 deal. 13%

Civilized and gracious as Dame Judy may be… she got nuthin’ on our favorite hostess, Ms. Ling-a-ding-ding!

How about some breezy poolside sounz?

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