The Tastings...


20080503: Mixed cheap reds – Maiden Voyage – Dress Rehearsal
20080517: Rhone Rangers mk i – Syrahs Hurrahs – TRTB’s Second Voyage
20080607: Suave Summer Sauv’s, mk i – TRTB’s side venture
20080704: Suave Summer Sauv’s, mk ii – TRTB’s final (?) 2008 SB tasting
20080725: Suave Summer Sauv’s, mk iii – Partial TRTB’s final final (???) 2008 SB tasting
20081010: Zinfandel, Tier II
20081024: Zinfandel, Tier I
20081119: Petite Sirah, Tier I
20081218: Merlot, Tier I
20090124: Bordeaux, affordable
20090206: Cali (mostly) Cab, affordable
20090220: New World vs. Old World Cabernet Sauvignon blends, affordable
20090306: Massive Merlot, Tier I, affordable
20090313: Zinfandel, Tier I, mk i, affordable
20090320: Zinfandel, Tier I, mk ii, affordable
20090403: Pinot Noir, Tier II, affordable
20090420: Pinot Noir, Tier I, mk i, affordable
20090424: Pinot Noir, Tier I, mk ii, affordable
20090501: Zinfandel, Tier I, mk iii, affordable
20090613: Zinfandel, Tier I, mk iv, affordable
20090623: Suave Summer Sauv’s, mk iv
20090731: Vouvray, mk i
20090815: Chardonnay, mk i
2009????: (COMING SOON)

These are almost all assaggio majorali (plural for assaggio majoralus), except where noted, when not all the Royals were able to be in attendance in court that day.

Tasting Date: 05/03/2008
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, Full Throttle, Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Mixed cheap reds – Maiden Voyage – Dress Rehearsal

The Contenders:
Dom Matinho 2005 Vineho Regional Alentejano, Portugal
Palazzo Della Torre 2004 Veronese Allegrini, Italy
Veramonte 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua Valley, Chile
Monsanto 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva, Italy
Los Vascos 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua Valley, Chile
Rosenblum Alameda XXX Cuvee Zinfandel

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-6, 1 best) 78.3  1 82.7  2 71.7  6

Dom Matinho Palazzo Della Torre Veramonte Chianti Los Vascos Rosenblum
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose slightly vegetal, oak, dark fruit vegetal, green pepper, floral, reaks of a field of lavender (Bad Man), earthy, grassy, cabbage, gardenias, flowery tobacco, heat, pepper, funky, spicy, woody, strawberries, smokey cassis, vanilla, musk, purple Kool-aid, lilac, dark raspberry, burnt, musky slight herbaceous, green pepper, vegetal, canned green beans sulfur, rose, chemical, wet grass, spice
Flavor.Body.Finish Kool-aid, very slight tannins, balanced, puckery tart, dry, fruity, watery, thin, no lingering aftertaste Kool-aid, thin body, pinot-ish, jammy, pretty tannic hollow mid-palate, tight, thick, lasting finish, turning clipped on the finish thin, no prominence virtually no finish after a few minutes, crunchy body
Overall.Notes.Final BM: Nice, fruity, balanced, no perceptable flaws, but slightly abrasive.  FT: Gets better with age. BM: Okay, nice, no flaws, refined finish.  FT: Almost maple syrupy.  Better with oxygen. BM: Okay for smokiness, clipped finish.  FT: Fairly bad, very drying. BM: Rich fruit, turns out to be the best Chianti I've ever had (though not a fan).  FT: Pretty good, better with oxygen. BM: Terrible nose.  FT: Very vegetative, gets better with air and oxygen. BM: Terrible.
TRTB Scores BM: 76  2
FT: 79  3
TH: 80  3
BM: 81  1
FT: 74  4
TH: 73  6
BM: 78  4
FT: 87  2
TH: 83  1
BM: 82  3
FT: 82  1
TH: 75  5
BM: 70  6
FT: 71  5
TH: 82  2
BM: 68  5
FT: 70  6
TH: 77  4
TRTB Final Averages: 78.3  1 76.0  4 82.7  2 79.7  3 74.3  5 71.7  6

Outcome: No one really liked anything - specifically Tally-Ho and Full-Throttle weren't sure this venture with Bad Man was such a grand idea, an uncertainty borne out many times since.

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Tasting Date: 05/17/2008
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, Full Throttle, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Rhone Rangers mk i – Syrahs Hurrahs – TRTB’s Second Voyage

The Contenders:
Rosemont Estate 2006 Shiraz, South Eastern Australia $6
Barrel 27 2005 Central Coast Syrah, Santa Maria, California $14
Porcupine Ridge 2006 Syrah, Boekenhoutskloof Franschhoek, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa $10
Thorn Clarke 2003 Shotfire Ridge Shiraz, Barossa, Australia $20

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-4, 1 best) 81.8  1 78.7  2 78.3  4

Rosemont   Barrel 27   Porcupine   Shotfire  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose dark berry fruit, sweet spicy chocolate, floral, jammy, blackberries, some vegetal, wood, orange rind, plum, peppermint, complex cherry, smokey, tobacco, carbonesque, cedar, bubblegum spice, vegetal smoke, fig, almost bread-like smell, yeasty, molasses, vanilla, barnyardy - Bad MaN loves this nose! mashed fig, cardamom, banana, slight floral scent, like almost a very light gardenia, dried fruit, rose, paint, woody, raison
Flavor.Body.Finish sweet fruit, fig, strawberry, firm acidity, a bit lingering in the mouth nutmeg, sweet fruit, thin body, little tannins, dark, almost bitter, sweet long lingering aftertaste, spicy finish, balanced slight tannins, rich sweet fruit, biggest body of the bunch, medium to full-bodied, balanced, rich fruit prune/fig, not too big, medium bodied, not too dry, off balance, thick/chewy, complex, slightly sweet, but not hugely prominent, almost a mapley aftertaste
Overall.Notes.Final BM: A bit disjoint, slightly cumbersome but overall good, albeit overripe.  FT: Okay, not my favorite, a bit small tasting but the flavors are not so bad.  TH: Nice cherry fruit with chocolate. BM: Really nice, a good effort, sweet fruit, big mouthfeel, medium body.  FT: Pretty complex with lots of different flavors. BM: Slightly bitter, full throttle, the BEST wine here!  FT: Okay, fairly low-key.  Sweet with a sour aftertaste. BM: Higher alcohol and more austere than number 3 (Porcupine), has some funky nuances - powerful nose was quite closed at first, really opened up.  Very complex, Bordeaux-esque, but at the end of the night showing some really strong paint/funk/off fumes, which hurt my overall final impression.  FT: Enjoy the taste and the nose but not the after taste.
TRTB Scores BM: 77  3
FT: 76  4
TH: 82  1
BM: 80  2
FT: 80  2
TH: 76  3
BM: 86  1
FT: 81  3
TH: 84  4
BM: 77  4
FT: 81.5  1
TH: 87  2
TRTB Final Averages: 78.3  4 78.7  2 83.7  3 81.8  1

Outcome: Tally-Ho & Full-Throttle picked Shotfire Ridge, Badman picked Porcupine Ridge.  As can be seen, although the two girls agreed in general more with each other than with me (which, as you would imagine, is fairly typical in our conversations as well as in evaluating wine), we were all pretty much all over the board on this one.

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Tasting Date: 06/07/2008
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Suave Summer Sauv’s, mk i – TRTB’s side venture

The Contenders:
Matanzas Creek 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County $19
Château Ducasse 2007, Bordeaux, France $14
Groth 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley $14
Nobilo 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand $13
Veramonte 2007 Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, Chile $10

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-5, 1 best) 91.0  1 85.5  2 81.0  5

Matanzas   Château Ducasse   Groth   Nobilo   Veramonte  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose lemon, soapy, tequila, pineapple, melon pear, fig, mineral, pineapple pink grapefruit, mineral, lime, flinty, toasty, BM: ++ (high marks) citrus, melon, veggie, pear, fresh cut grass, lime, floral, eucalyptus, vegetal some mineral, grapefruit, fig, peach, hay, grass, herbaceous, too pungent but it blew off quickly
Flavor.Body.Finish pineapple, grapefruit, crisp, nice fruit and sweetness, full round sharp acid, very puckery, simple tropical fruit, fairly short finish; nothing special but not bad dry, green apple, crisp, full mouthfeel, long finish dry, tart, green apple, citrus finish dry, tart, puckery, slightly off balance, a little cloying, yet clipped in the finish
Overall.Notes.Final BM: Nice, pleasant, no flaws, grassy, crisp, tart. BM: Very tart, least floral. BM: The best. BM: Funky, grassy, pink grapefruit, interesting complex, lasting finish. BM: Too much structure for the fruit, but still nice and clean, but my least favorite.
TRTB Scores BM: 79  3
TH: 88  4
BM: 74  4
TH: 88  5
BM: 86  1
TH: 96  1
BM: 79  2
TH: 92  2
BM: 73  5
TH: 90  3
TRTB Final Averages: 83.5  3 81.0  5 91.0  1 85.5  2 81.5  4

Outcome: Tally-Ho and Bad Man both liked the Groth and Nobilo best.  Although both ranked the Nobilo second, on subsequent tastings it would show its true colours, which turn out not consistent with this opening appearance.

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Tasting Date: 07/04/2008
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, Full Throttle, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Suave Summer Sauv’s, mk ii – TRTB’s final (?) 2008 SB tasting

The Contenders:
Nobilo 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand $13
Porcupine Ridge 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Boekenhoutskloof, South Africa $10
Domaine Henri Bourgeois Haute-Victoire 2006 Quincy, Loire Valley, France $18
Domaine Henri Bourgeois 2006 'Le M D' Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc $27
Groth 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley $14
Kim Crawford 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand $14

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-6, 1 best) 86.0  1 80.0  2 76.5  6

Nobilo   Porcupine   Victoire   'Le M.D.'   Groth   Crawford  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose grapefruit, mineral, fig, herbal, fruity, floral, perfumey musty, mineral, nose fairly closed down, musk skunky, lavender, floral, mineral butterscotch, fruity grassy, very slight nose, slight musk, very slightly musty off, vegetal, green pepper, asparagus, awful (BM), FT: floral/fruity but with an off-like sea-salt-esque smell to it
Flavor.Body.Finish slight citrus, tropical fruit, peachy, some body pears, citrus, grassy, bubbly, green apple tart with a hint of sweetness, tropical fruits and melon rich flavors very pear, overly tart, pineapple, crisp a bit bubbly, puckery, nice mouthfeel, thick, but not too viscous citrus, tart, big mouthfeel, clipped finish
Overall.Notes.Final BM: Too flabby.  FT: Not my favorite, still drinkable, a bit herby at the end. BM: Crisp, green, but not terrible.  FT: Tart aftertaste. BM: Balanced, rich, a little tight, but great potential ++ (high marks).  FT: Best flavors, good balance of tart vs. sweet - easily the best. BM: Tart and crisp and clean.  FT: Difficult to pinpoint a nose or the actual flavor other than pear, not distinctive. BM: Really good, a little funky, ++ (high marks).  FT: A bit dry, and can't distinguish the flavor profile. BM: Good, but smells terrible.  FT: Smell is awful, but the taste is flavorable.
TRTB Scores BM: 74  6
FT: 79  4
BM: 73  5
FT: 81  3
BM: 87  1
FT: 85  1
BM: 83  4
FT: 77  5
BM: 84  2
FT: 75  6
BM: 78  3
FT: 82  2
TRTB Final Averages: 76.5  6 77.0  4 86.0  1 80.0  5 79.5  3 80.0  2

Outcome: Tally-Ho was sort of MIA on this event, at least in terms of the historical documentation that I can muster up, although I know she wasn't AWOL, Full-Throttle enjoyed the Haute-Victoire the most, and Bad Man liked Groth and Haute-Victoire best.  I'd (Bad Man) really like to know why Full-Throttle liked the Groth least...?!?

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Tasting Date: 07/25/2008
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Suave Summer Sauv’s, mk iii – Partial TRTB’s final final (???) 2008 SB tasting

The Contenders:
Groth 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley $14
Domaine du Tremblay 2006 Jean Tatin Quincy
(pronounced CAN-see), Loire Valley, France $18 (castle label)
Domaine Henri Bourgeois Haute-Victoire 2006 Quincy, Loire Valley, France $18
Nobilo 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand $13

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-4, 1 best) 86.5  1 85.0  2 74.5  4

Groth   Tremblay   Victoire   Nobilo  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose grapefruit, grass, floral, slight lime, grapefruit, mineral, citrus lavender, floral, slightly skunky, grass, not much fruit intensely funky, gnarly, vegetal, grapefruit, mineral
Flavor.Body.Finish low acid, round, soft, balanced, crisp, lasting finish with floral notes creamy, acidic, mineral finish, a little cloying most acidic, but balanced by creaminess and rich juicy fruit, big bold body a little harsh, too austere, puckery around the palate, lean finish
Overall.Notes.Final Grows on you as the night progressed despite the low acid, medium bodied, clean, dry California style turning slightly bitter on the finish.  Overall this is a solid effort, tasted consistently multiple times, and is a reasonable, not great, value.  Although it's a little too Cali for me to fully embrace, that should prove good over time as the U.C. Davis methods will keep the style the same, vintage over vintage.  I'd (Bad Man) stick with the French Victoire, but this Groth is so easy to find as it's literally everywhere, making it the ultimate white go-to wine for every occasion. Soft, nice, light to medium weight, not fancy, good fruit.  A nice effort; the French region Quincy is a newly found star appellation to the Royals. Speaking of stars, this is a stellar wine, perhaps a little too rich in Bad Man's (that's me) opinion, bringing to light the question of whether or not this is the way a Sauvignon Blanc is supposed to be. Nose is super intense, but not in a good way.  At the end of the evening it turned decidedly apple-y in flavor, but, as is the case with most New Zealand and South African wine the fruit varietal characteristics are turned up way past 11, throwing off the balance and often provided some nasty overly acidic overly aroma infused concoctions.
TRTB Scores BM: 82  2
TH: 91  1
BM: 81  3
TH: 89  2
BM: 86  1
TH: 84  3
BM: 78  4
TH: 71  4
TRTB Final Averages: 86.5  1 85.0  3 85.0  2 74.5  4

Outcome: Tally-Ho liked the Groth and Haute-Victoire, and Bad Man liked Groth and Haute-Victoire best - for the second time consistently in two blind tastings - yippee!
This concludes The Royal Tannin Bombs 2008 Sauvignon Blanc quest for knowledge from the Tree of the Fruit of the Knowledge of Good Wine, and the resoundingly consistent results ring true with the sound of success.
Buy Groth, but seek out the superiority from the Loire's (where the world's greatest Chenin Blanc comes from, of which only I (Bad Man) am concerned) Domaine Henri Bourgeois Haute-Victoire 2006 Quincy for a grand experience.

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Tasting Date: 10/10/2008
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, Full-Throttle, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Zinfandel, Tier II, 2008 - assaggio majoralus

The Contenders:
Ridge Lytton Springs California 2005 14.4% abv $32
St. Francis Pagani Vineyard Reserve Sonoma Valley Zinfandel 2004 15.3% abv $35
Rosenblum Annette’s Reserve Redwood Valley Zinfandel 2005 14.7% abv $32
Ridge Pagani Ranch California Zinfandel 2006 14.8% abv $48
A. Rafanelli Dry Creek Valley Sonoma County Zinfandel unfiltered 2006 14.8% abv $38

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-5, 1 best) 90.3  1 88.7  2 76.5  5

Note: The best pix of bottles/labels I could find are here - some variance to the actual vintage is expected; apology extended
Lytton Springs   St. Francis Pagani   Rosenblum Annette   Ridge Pagani   A. Rafanelli  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose Wood, tar, wet dog, mulchy, purple and white flower, earthy, green pepper, herbaceous Strawberry, floral, candy, wet wool, gardenias, dark fruit, maple Super intense nose, starting with mid-eastern spices, musty decomposing leaves, maple syrup, mold, vanilla, brown sugar (Bad Man ADORES this nose, giving it his ++ (high marks)) Brambly dark fruit, buttery, jammy, cardamom, almost sweet spice, black cherry, prune, lead pencil, most zin-like Demure, toffee, caramel, cedar, woody, some sugar, over time Bad Man started to freak - the bouquet on this bad boy was precisely reminiscent of a pet store - bird feed, kitty litter, something bizarre going on here, and its minuses outweigh its pluses (but only apparently in Bad Man's estimation)
Flavor.Body.Finish None to slight tannins, no mid-palate, no prominent fruit, non-existent finish, no distinguishing taste, no sweetness, no mouthfeel, thin-bodied Balanced tannins, medium-bodied, lingering finish more on the back of the tongue than the throat Medium tannins, but not big, TH and BM both wrote that the finish was good, and FT wrote very tannic with a pretty good finish with a nice linger that isn't too overpowering. Flabby, too thin, no tannins, bitter, flaccid, erectile dysfunction, taste is AWFUL Rich, roaring fruit over the palate, iron fist in a velvet glove, lush full fruit, very smooth, softer than the Rosenblum
Overall.Notes.Final TH: austere, not jammy zin-like
FT: not great, too thin
BM: not enough fruit, not interesting, something missing, austere
TH: sharp tight fruit yet not fully developed.  Some sugar and spice but not there yet
FT: not a strong wine
BM: slightly below average for this caliber of Zin tasting
TH: sugar cane alley
FT: nice finish
BM: needs time - far and away the best wine considering cellar time - balanced, complex nose - best wine for the long haul (note: as is Rosenblum's Maggie's!  These are the two Zins to lay down for next year
TH: something is wrong here
FT: smells most like a zin, but taste is AWFUL and awful mouthfeel
BM: flabby and gross - I can't say how shitty this bottle is, and NO it is not corked.  The only thing good (reasonably speaking) was the nose
TH: not full-throttle monster zin but a very nice showing
FT: very nice, easy to drink but good complexity, awful nose, most likely I would buy to drink
BM: bright acid, crisp, balanced, supreme effort - but alas the nose!  All I have to say is this has a killer bod with waaay too funky of a smell protruding from it.  And the smoothness reminds me of the Limerick Lane Collin's Vineyard - if anything THAT should be tasted up against this A. Raf before progressing to the final Tier I tasting
TRTB Scores BM: 77  4
FT: 82  4
TH: 79  4
BM: 80  3
FT: 85  3
TH: 80  3
BM: 91  1
FT: 87  2
TH: 88  2
BM: 74  5
FT: 80  5
TH: 74  5
BM: 90  2
FT: 90  1
TH: 91  1
TRTB Final Averages: 79.3  4 81.7  3 88.7  2 76.0  5 90.3  1

Outcome: Tally-Ho and Full-Throttle liked the A. Rafanelli best, with the Rosenblum Annette's Reserve coming in a close second.  Bad Man had that reversed: I felt the supreme nose on the Rosenblum Annette's Reserve's pronounced it the final winner, in contrast to the terribly off-putting (or is it putting-off?) nose on the A. Raf., which really hurt it, possibly even ousting it from taking top honours.  I do readily admit the fruit and body of the A Raf. was the best in the show.
With this, the Zinfandel Tier II final assaggioa majoralus tasting out of the way, we now have the final choices for the legendary Zinfandel, Tier I, 2008 tasting.
They will be posted on the web site in a new blog, which you can see here

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Tasting Date: 10/24/2008
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, Full-Throttle, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Zinfandel, Tier I, 2008 - assaggio majoralus

The Contenders:
Turley Cellars Hayne Vineyard Napa Valley 2005 16.1% abv $100
Lamborn Family Napa Valley Howell Mountain Proprietor Grown Zinfandel “Vintage” 2005 15.9% abv $43
Turley Cellars Hayne Vineyard Napa Valley 1996 17% abv $135
Ridge Lytton Springs California Dry Creek Valley 2002 14.4% abv $37
Martinelli Jackass Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley 2002 17.5% abv $200
Martinelli Jackass Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley 1996 18% abv $220
Rosenblum Annette’s Reserve Redwood Valley Zinfandel 2005 14.7% abv $30

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-7, 1 best) 91.0  1 90.5  2 76.3  7

Note: The best pix of bottles/labels I could find are here - some variance to the actual vintage is expected; apology extended
Turley Hayne 2005   Lamborn Family Howell Mountain 2005   Turley Hayne 1996   Lytton Springs 2002   Martinelli Jackass Hill 2002   Martinelli Jackass Hill 1996   Rosenblum Annette 2005  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose Light ruby, the lightest of all the wines, bright cherry, some sort of vegetalness, cotton candy, caramel, grassy, oak, simple Skunk/musk (Bad Man gives his ++ (high marks)), vanilla, briary, warm syrup, brown sugar, dark berry, pepper, burnt sugar Plum, cocoa, tar, leather, floral, smoke, maple, bacon, chocolate (Bad Man gives his ++ (high marks)) Most closed nose of the group, very subtle nose with hints of vanilla, a light floral note, cardamom, and dark berries Plum, prune, raison, a touch of smoke, Asian fish market (in a good way), orange rind, out-house, cedar, slight meat, mature, complex, excellent Bad Man's first note is that there is something here that is unidentifiable but is great, super complex (Bad Man gives his ++ (high marks)), cedar, musky, smoke, spice, pepper, smoked meat, dark fruit Black strawberry, fig, molasses, vanilla, chocolate, leather, super complex, dried fruit, late harvest, maple syrup, spice
Flavor.Body.Finish Nice and smooth, bright fruit, integrated tannins, balanced but thin-bodied, NO finish (all agreed - "Aye!") Loads of dark creamy fruit (Bad Man quipped, "This is my fruit profile!"), full mouthfeel but not aggressive, medium finish Tasty bacon, rich body, structured, a little rough and sharp in the mouth, flavors of smoked bacon and prune, but not full bodied or assertive enough for Full-Throttle Rich and jammy, with big front tannins, and a fine lasting finish, possessing a sandpaper/scrappy mouthfeel, a big monster, the most tannic of the lot All heat and acid, not tannic, not a great finish, doesn't linger (better the 2nd day; see note below) Rustic, chewy, nice fruit, spice flavors, round, pleasant, no perceptible tannins, Full-Throttle: "nice" Loaded with huge scrappy tannins, raisiny flavors, full-bodied, lush, structured, lasting finish, Full-Throttle: "nice"
Overall.Notes.Final TH: Green, bright, but likable & sprightly - "I'd not refuse it"
FT: Very bright, easily drinkable wine, not a great finish and thin but not offensive
BM: I remarked before the unveiling that this is the only non-world class wine of the bunch - flabby, simple, uninteresting - BORING.
TH: Dark fruit, spicy, balanced, with some good Zin rusticness
FT: Pretty good mouthfeel, it's not spectacular
BM: Love the dark fruit flavours, and this is a good solid wine, but the nose puts it over the top into greatness.  Well done Heidi Barrett; I apologize for doubting you, although that was after tasting this same bottle before, so I'm not sure why the 84 before except that the finish was perhaps too bitter and clipped that night?  You can read that tasting here.
TH: Was hot but jammy spectacular, lingering caress, monster
FT: Not an assertive wine, pretty mouthfeel but I found it forgettable
BM: Great structure great nose - this wine improved as the night wore on, probably due to the tannins in her neighbor, Mr. Lytton.  I for one want to say thank you, Helen.
TH: Big Zin, tannins soften on breathing but nose is still too tight
FT: Very good wine, pretty rich in the mouth but the nose is so closed
BM: A little overripe, this is the most tannic and the fruit can't keep up
TH: Complex, full, pruney
FT: Tannic, astringent
BM: Nothing left - hasn't turned to vinegar, but maybe it would be okay with some strong cheese to provide resistance for the high acids to cut through
TH: A hot chewy peppered bacon fiesta!
FT: Good taste, good linger, very pleasant taste and full, would easily drink this without any food
BM: Very interesting - complex, port-like resonance, overripe fruit, killer nose, excellent length
TH: Big dark fruit, good body and finish, yum
FT: Very rich, lasting and full.  Despite sweet smell, overall taste is bitter and counter balances it
BM: Very yummy, fucking intense, huge mouthfeel.  Post-unveiling - for $30, especially as I've had this 3 times now recently and it always takes top honours, snap as many bottles of the stunning Rosenblum Annette's Reserve as you can afford.  Heck, who needs electricity - buy a bunch even if you can't afford it!
TRTB Scores BM: 78  7
FT: 79  6
TH: 72  7
BM: 90  2
FT: 84  4
TH: 85  5
BM: 89  4
FT: 79  7
TH: 95  1
BM: 85  5
FT: 85  3
TH: 86  4
BM: 83  6
FT: 81  5
TH: 84  6
BM: 89  3
FT: 91.5  1
TH: 91  2
BM: 93  1
FT: 91  2
TH: 89  3
TRTB Final Averages: 76.3  7 86.3  3 87.7  4 85.3  5 82.7  6 90.5  2 91.0  1

Outcome: The most surprising disparity was the Turley 1996.  Full-Throttle put it dead last, Tally-Ho gave it her numero uno accolade, and Bad Man put it just south of center at #4.  So I don't know what to tell you about that, but the rest of the wines were grouped nicely together.
The decisive winners, as can be seen above, are the Martinelli '96 and Rosenblum Annette's '05, with the Lamborn Family 2005 coming in third by average of our ranks - not ratings; ranks (1-7) are the only fair assessment.  It is reassuring that the Martinelli '96 and Rosenblum Annette's '05 both placed in each of our top 3!
We all agree that Turley is the most disappointing now with the absence of winemaker Helen Turley; although surprisingly Full-Throttle didn't care for the '96 either.

Bad Man wants to point out that although blind, he rated the Martinelli Jackass Hill 1996 and Turley Cellars Hayne Vineyard 1996 both 89 points, but with a noticeable nod to the Martinelli for being the superior oenophilical creation.

On night two, Bad Man took home the Martinelli 2002, the Ridge Lytton Springs 2002, and the Lamborn Family Howell Mountain 2005.  After being open and decanted for 8 hours before being returned to their bottles and re-stoppered, the next day the Lamborn Family Heidi Barrett showed dusty sage and dill on the nose, and was completely devoid of fruit in the mouth with a clipped finish.  The second day found the Lytton Springs 2002 had turned up the volume on the burnt overripe fruit, still super high in acid, with noticeable tannins and lots of sediment in the bottle.  Still, I have to say it was fairly smooth.  The Martinelli 2002 on day 2 was all sweet chocolate and velvety richness, with a subdued nose. On night two, Tally-Ho had the opportunity to re-sample the Turleys.  The Turley Hayne 1996 was like velvet, full and lush in the mouth, while the Turley Hayne 2005 was like silk, less bright than the night before and more balanced.

Some pix from the event:Bag da' biotch!
 Bad Man's throne
 Full-Throttle's pedestal
 Tally-Ho's perch
 After the unveiling
 The aftermath - almost bath time
 The tannic monster
 Heidi Barrett finally scores
 The blurry (sorry) winner
 The world's best zin
 Turley '96, with ugly step-sister '05 lurking nearby

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Tasting Date: 11/19/2008
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, Full-Throttle, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Petite Sirah, Tier I, 2008 - assaggio majoralus

The Contenders:
Ridge 2002 California Lytton Estate Petite Sirah Dry Creek Valley 14.7% abv, 84% Petite Sirah, 16% Zinfandel, $35
Christopher Creek 2006 Estate Bottled Reserve Petite Sirah Russian River Valley 14.9% abv, $35
Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards 2005 Black Label Green Valley Petite Sirah 15.5% abv, $125
Turley 2004 Napa Valley Hayne Vineyard Petite Sirah 15% abv, $95
Rosenblum Cellars 2005 Redwood Valley Rhodes Vineyard Petite Sirah 13.8% abv, $26
M.D. Phillips Earthquake 2004 Lodi Petite Sirah 15.5% abv, $32

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-6, 1 best) 89.7  1 89.2  2 79.0  6

Ridge Lytton Estate 2002   Christopher Creek Reserve 2006   Anderson's CVV Black Label 2005   Turley Hayne 2004   Rosenblum Rhodes 2005   Earthquake Lodi 2004  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose Dark purple/brown in colour, vegetal sweet spice on the rather closed nose. Dark magenta/inky black, immediately staining the glass wall upon swirling.  On the bouquet was dark currant, tar, meat, blackberries, cream, smoke, cinnamon and clove. Less purple more red in colour, with a nose of rotten wood, violets, vanilla, some vegetal, wet wood, stinky, mint, and eucalyptus, all which later developed into a heady fragrance of yep, you guessed it, BANANAS! Inky dark purple, coating the glass wall with an intense and immediate staining residue, similar to #2.  On the nose we picked up dark fruit, vanilla, maple, with green pepper (Bad Man no like) at first, but opening after a few hours to display heady perfume over dry oak. More of a reddish purple, lighter than most of the others, possessing a bouquet of dried fig, nutmeg, sweet spice, floral, vanilla, green bean, cinnamon, serious smoke after second hour, warm and complex. Another rim-stainer.  Prune, spinach, chemical and vegetal notes over a port-like raisony sweetness turning toward maple syrup, cloying but still likable.
Flavor.Body.Finish Slight tannins, not a fruit bomb by any means, bitter taste, not a lasting finish.  No noticeable fruit, brambly astringent and scrappy in the mouth with no fruit to forgive the trespass. Great balance between tannins and acid, having noticeable amounts of both but laced together harmoniously, nice round textured mouthfeel, dark fruit and spice flavours abound, framed by a long, warm finish. Pretty tannic, reasonable amount of fruit but it tastes like BANANAS!  No finish of which to speak. Integrated with strong tannins, rich bite of fruit, full and lush, balanced, great mouthfeel, chewy chocolate flavours. Strong tannins without being over the top, chocolate and dark fruit flavors mixed with overripe prune, not a strong finish but somehow lingering. Very distinctive overripe prune flavours, a little flabby bordering on rotting fruit.  For all that still not as terrible as it sounds; average for the bunch.
Overall.Notes.Final TH: Okay, but I hope this isn't expensive.
FT: Nose is slightly vegetal, taste is bitter and finish doesn't last.
BM: Needs more time, tannins overbear the fruit.  Bitterness is annoying.
TH: Really nice wine - a monster fruit bomb.
FT: Ok nose, tannic but mouth is not aggressive; drinkable with a good steak, good finish.
BM: Built to last - super yummy.  More than enough structure to go a long distance; not as much fruit as #4 (which turned out to be the Turley).
TH: Bright fruit - but bananas - really?
FT: Smells funny, a cross between a florist and a wood-chipper.  Tastes like bananas; not good.  Finish is very fleeting.  Yuck.
BM: Smells like a winery (but in a bad way) - wasn't fined enough.  Bananas.
TH: I'd be happy to drink this again.
FT: Smells vegetal but upon drinking it a pleasant surprise of dark fruit.  Pretty good.  Rich.
BM: Perfectly balanced; huge mouthfeel.
TH: A very nice Petite Sirah
FT: Floral and sweet spices in the nose with slight dried fig in the mouth, cloying aftertaste, not assertive.
BM: Crisp finish a little hollow between the structure and the fruit.  Structure is better than #6 (which turned out to be the Earthquake) but not so rich - some kind of dark funk.
TH: Thick, dessert-like.
FT: Sweet, raisony smell, dark fruit taste, ok finish.
BM: Not so bad, bright and balanced but a little brambly, richer than #5 (which turned out to be the Rosenblum Rhodes)
TRTB Scores BM: 79  5
FT: 80  5
TH: 82  5
BM: 86  2
FT: 88  1
TH: 95  1
BM: 80  6
FT: 78  6
TH: 79  6
BM: 88  1
FT: 85.5  2
TH: 94  2
BM: 84  4
FT: 81  4
TH: 90  3
BM: 82  3
FT: 84  3
TH: 85  4
TRTB Final Averages: 80.3  5 89.7  1 79.0  6 89.2  2 85.0  4 83.7  3

Outcome: We were very much in consistence that the Christopher Creek 2006 and the Turley Hayne 2004 were the best, if not quite spectacular.  Full-Throttle and Tally-Ho chose the CC, while Bad Man opted for the searing fruit of the Turley.  Well, Turley may not be able to make an adequate Zinfandel anymore, but this Petite Sirah (from the same vineyard, Hayne) nearly redeems them.
Note that the Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyard Petite Sirah was from their extremely limited and exclusive Black Label series, available only at the winery, from which their Cabernet Sauvignon offerings are set between $1K and $5K per bottle.  These are incredible hand-made creations, made in tiny amounts - only one barrel of this Petite Sirah was crafted.  Thank god, as it sucked raw donkey testes.  It just goes to show the pretentiousness of setting a product on the market at a ridiculous price point - and having people who know no better buy them up like Ferraris.  Hopefully we save a few of you from the massive disappointment that invariably follows such a purchase from Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards.   Or, if you're into burning money, go ahead and buy one just to see how badly wine can actually be made.

On night two, Tally-Ho reported that the leftovers were behaving quite yummily - at this writing I can't recall which she tasted - in other words, I doubt there was any Turley sitting around for next day consumption.

Some pix from the event:Bag dos skank's!
 The soon to be death dais
 Another view of impending doom
 Typically lacklustre Ridge
 Christopher Creek
 Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyard
 (another) Turley Hayne
 Rosenblum Rhodes
 Seismic activity

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Tasting Date: 12/18/2008
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, Full-Throttle, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Merlot, Tier I, 2008 - assaggio majoralus

The Contenders:
2004 Duckhorn Vineyards Napa Valley Estate Grown Merlot, 14.5% abv, $85
2004 Luna Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot, 15.3% abv, $30
2006 Leonetti Cellars Columbia Valley Merlot, 14.3% abv, $80
2006 Shafer Napa Valley Merlot, 14.9%, $43
2002 Newton Napa Valley Unfiltered Merlot, 14.3% abv, $46
2004 Podalirio Toscana Merlot, 13.5%, $41

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-6, 1 best) 89.7  1 90.3  2 82.3  6

Duckhorn Estate 2004   Luna 2004   Leonetti Columbia Valley 2006   Shafer Napa Valley 2006   Newton Unfiltered 2002   Podalirio Toscana 2004  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose Musty, overripe, floral-ly, oak, spice, prune, burnt smoke, poo, mold, mildew Sugar, vanilla, maple, cherry, mint, spice, anise, dark berry, smoked meat Sweet butterscotch, tar, leather, floral, blueberry, oak Warm spices, dark berry, vanilla, slight chemical that blew off after 4 hours, soap Soy sauce, herbs, citrus peel, orange rind, cedar, bark Grassy, woody, toasted nuts, clove, sugar cookie, molasses, coffee, pine tree, warm perfume
Flavor.Body.Finish Rich and creamy, big-bodied, ripe and round, tannic Dark chocolate, brooding dark fruit, nice warm lasting finish, light-medium bodied with high alcohol, slightly overripe Integrated tannins, medium-bodied, rich complex layering of texture ++ (Bad Man's highest rating), balanced, bright fruit, smooth and silky Buttery with a dark cloying finish, all edges at first but resolves into a buttery popcorn bucket Super tannic, no finish, not enough fruit, some dark fruit after several hours Tannic, firm acidity, dry, low fruit but what's there is good
Overall.Notes.Final TH: No notes.
FT: Okay, smells too ripe, pretty good mouthfeel.
BM: Great in the mouthfeel, but the awful nose ruins the wine - smells like grandma's under garments!
TH: Rustic, just rough enough.
FT: Okay, long finish with tastes of dark chocolate.
BM: Slightly overripe.
TH: Nice structure, good tannins, soft, thinner in the mouth.
FT: Good mouth and finish, warm in the throat and very smooth.
BM: Great expressive fruit and texture, accessible, beautifully balanced.  Perfect wine for the moment but not ageworthy.
TH: Odd buttery quality, not much fruit but decent.
FT: Tastes like butter.
BM: A little awkward and cloying, herbaceous.
TH: After 3 hours breathing it softens into a very drinkable wine.
FT: Very tannic, harsh in the mouth, smells like soap.
BM: Super tannic, not enough fruit, nose is pretty unmemorable.  It's like chewing on a block of wood, and then a cloying finish.  Yikes!
TH: Lots of tannins but saved by fruit.  Cellar this - too young for now.
FT: Tannic, low fruit, dry.
BM: Good nose, a tannic monster with great fruit, one to lay down for the long haul.  All brawn, no finesse.
TRTB Scores BM: 80  6
FT: 85  4
TH: 82  5
BM: 88  2
FT: 90  2
TH: 93  1
BM: 89  1
FT: 91  1
TH: 89  2
BM: 83  4
FT: 83  5
TH: 85  4
BM: 85  5
FT: 82  6
TH: 84  3
BM: 87  3
FT: 89  3
TH: 80  6
TRTB Final Averages: 82.3  6 90.3  2 89.7  1 83.7  4 83.7  5 85.3  3

Outcome: Rejoice - Bad Man's tried and true Leonetti Cellars thankfully isn't the slouch Lytton Springs turned into in the Zin tastings.  The Leonetti Merlot is absolutely brilliant.  Full-Throttle also ranked it best, while Tally-Ho felt it came in second to the wonderful, and wonderfully priced, Luna.
Frankly those were both great Merlots - the rest were not world class.  The Italian Podalirio is certainly worth a nod in the structure department, but surprisngly it failed to impress Tally-Ho.  The rest of the wines are overrated shite, really - especially the poor Duckhorn, perhaps a victim of having produced great wine decades ago, it now resides in the where-are-they-now category.

Some pix from the event:This is it - the conclusive Royal Tannin Bomb Showdown!
 A marriage of magnificent Merlots
 The unusual suspects

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Tasting Date: 01/24/2009
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Bordeaux, affordable - assaggio majoralus

The Contenders:
Château d'Aiguilhe 2004 Comtes de Neipperg Côtes-de-Castillon, 13.5% abv, $25.97
La Fleur de Laussac 2005 Côtes de Castillon, 14% abv, $19.97
Château de Fonbel 2005 Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, 13.5% abv, $19.99
Château Cap de Faugeres 2000 Côtes-de-Castillon, 13% abv, $19.97
Château Jean de Gué 2005 Lalande-de-Pomerol, 13% abv, $24

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-5, 1 best) 93.0  1 89.0  2 84.5  5

Jean de Gué 2005   La Fleur de Laussac 2005   d'Aiguilhe 2004   Cap de Faugeres 2000   de Fonbel 2005  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose Cedar, crème, molasses, cassis, popcorn Leather, dark chocolate, cherry Barnyard, musty, cedar, decay, herbaceous, moldy, interesting and complex ++ (Bad Man's highest rating) Red currant, clove, vanilla, oregano, sulfur, swimming pool changing room - wet cement and moldy towels, green pepper, dark fruit Leather and chocolate, spice mix, cherry, smoke, crème, cassis, vanilla
Flavor.Body.Finish Harmonious nice red fruit, flavours of pomegranate and cranberry, decent mouthfeel, round and slightly full, soft and slightly chewy, reasonable finish Tannic and out of balance but showing great future promise - BIG, chunky-style port-like woody monster, with nice warm fruit on the finish.  Fruit seems to float above the tannic structure, out of balance and not integrated. Structured with modest chewy fruit, persistent warm finish.  Big body, rich mouthfeel, gobs of bracing tannins, austere yet with a promising fruit profile Rich fruit, medium to full-bodied, great dark fruit profile, tightly structured Good fruit presence - not thin but not round, red fruit flavors, lingering finish but a little flabby, heavy tannins on the back palate - super mouth-drying
Overall.Notes.Final TH: Slight and soft but not flabby.  A decent offering.
BM: Beautiful Cookies & Crème nose, nice lighter style fruity wine.
TH: Give this time in Tally's cellar, and then watch out!
BM: Needs more time, shows promise, more austere, huge tannic monster.
TH: Classic style.
BM: Classic Bordeaux nose, really open and complex, richness of fruit and flavors I like.  Complex.
TH: Where is Ludivine Sagnier?  Are we going to Funky Farm?
BM: Awkward - needs more time, but still a solid effort with the fruit I love.
TH: Accessible, like Luna?
BM: Very accessible - New World style.
TRTB Scores BM: 84  4
TH: 89  4
BM: 86  2
TH: 92  2
BM: 92  1
TH: 94  1
BM: 85  3
TH: 84  5
BM: 81  5
TH: 91  3
TRTB Final Averages: 86.5  3 89.0  2 93.0  1 84.5  5 86.0  4

Outcome: Not a bad bunch of Bordeaux - all were enjoyable and none were disappointing.  Bad Man loves that the group is in agreement with the wonderfully classic Bordeaux the Château d'Aiguilhe as that is one of his continual go-to favs.  But his rankings of the bottom 3 wines were quite skewed, due to a disparity in scoring, when compared to the final group averages.  It's a math thing - Tally-Ho's rankings happen to parallel the averages to a much better degree.  But still, the top two wines were consistent, so that's a good solid outcome.  The La Fleur de Laussac is a 2005, so it is understandably tight as a tick.  And it is unfortunate that there was only one Saint-Emilion, Bad Man's favourite Bordeaux appellation, but that was probably due to cost and availability.  It appears for Bad Man at least that the Côtes de Castillon district is his favourite at this "affordable" price point, as in his ranking the top 3 were all from that region.  Because Cheval Blanc is from Saint-Emilion it's certainly not a dark horse - the best values for consistent quality in Bordeaux are from neighboring Côtes-de-Castillon - bordering on the East and about the same size as Saint-Emilion.

A pic from the event:Five alive

"Bordeaux is meant to be a struggle." Bad Man

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Tasting Date: 02/06/2009
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Cali (mostly) Cab, Tier II, affordable - assaggio majoralus

The Contenders:
2006 Louis Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.9% abv, $12.98
2007 Viña Ventisquero Root:1 [The Original Ungrafted] Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% abv, $9.99
2005 Villa Mt Eden Grand Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.2% abv, $13.99
2001 Raimat Costers del Segre D.O. Spanish 85% Cabernet Sauvignon 15% Merlot, 13.5% abv, $7.99
2005 Paoletti Vineyards Piccolo Cru Napa Valley Meritage, 14.1% abv, $16.99
2006 Avalon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.8% abv, $11.99
2006 Nine North Wine Company Twenty Bench Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.1% abv, $17.99

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-7, 1 best) 89.0  1 87.0  2 74.5  7

Louis Martini Sonoma 2006   Viña Ventisquero Root:1 2007   Villa Mt Eden Grand Reserve Napa 2005   Raimat Costers del Segre 2001   Paoletti Vineyards Piccolo Cru Napa 2005   Avalon Napa 2006   Nine North Wine Company Twenty Bench Napa 2006  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose Dark herbs, tar, perfume, green pepper, cold, vanilla Vegetal right off, green pepper, grassy, BBQ meat, smoke, herbaceous Cassis, heady aroma of Cookies & Crème, ++ (Bad Man's highest rating), slight floral, smoked meat and maple Normally I don't separate us out by taster in this section, but since we came up with quite different evaluations I've done so this time: Tally-Ho: Musty earth, toasty oak, tobacco, dark fruit. Bad Man: Toilet.  Awful!  Must be the 8 year old Spanish swill! Toasted oak, leather, some dark fruit, herbs, musty, earth "Wall'o maple sugar", observed Tally-Ho, but Bad Man could only pick up on the perfume, prune, fishy green pepper aromas Vanilla, dark berries, tobacco, yeasty, stinky, but blew off after an hour.  Slightly herbaceous.
Flavor.Body.Finish Normally I don't separate us out by taster in this section, but since we came up with quite different evaluations I've done so this time: Tally-Ho: Scrappy tannins that softened over time, slight to medium finish, sharp and slightly awkward at first - improves but not full or lush.  Bad Man: Tight tannins, dark fruit, nice layers but not great, expansive finish.  Low structure, adequate nose, perfect fruit. Slight fruit, soda-pop fizz, cocoa rich dark fruit, balanced and full, reasonable finish, firm acid with light tannins - tastes like green pepper! Chalky tannins, medium-bodied, rich dark fruit and chocolate, good balance, nice finish Normally I don't separate us out by taster in this section, but since we came up with quite different evaluations I've done so this time: Tally-Ho: Effervescent on the tip of the tongue, fruit in the middle but not in balance, warm finish.  Bad Man: Thin effervescent soda-pop zing, bad flavour, but the finish is okay due to the high acid.  Zero structure, no tannins left. Bright acidity, big integrated tannins, rich textured fruit with dusty cocoa followed by a slightly dry to medium finish Chalky tannins, nice soft fruit, rich and full in the mouth.  Bad Man noted something slimy in the mouth - a little sugary Normally I don't separate us out by taster in this section, but since we came up with quite different evaluations I've done so this time: Tally-Ho: Structured fruit but in check, rich full body, lingering finish.  Bad Man: Medium-bodied, integrated tannins, high firm acid, not a rich texture but has a nice flavour profile, good lasting finish.
Overall.Notes.Final TH: A mediocre showing without great body or nose; somewhat thin and unremarkable.  A surprise since the rich fruit was what got this wine invited to the party in the first place.  Tainted bottle?
BM: Low structure, adequate nose, perfect fruit.  I love the fruit profile so much I can overlook the lack of structure.  Still, other wines here have both, so it will not come in at the top that's for sure.  Still, beautiful fruit.
TH: The biting green pepper nose is really off-putting but the mouth feel is full and delivers rich dark fruit if you can make it past the vegetal scent.
BM: Terrible nose, nice simple wine mouthfeel, but nose is too vegetal.  Like the body, hate the nose.
TH: It was pretty much neck and neck between this wine and the Piccolo but in the end this won out for me with the superior nose, balance, rich mouth feel and chocolate covered fruit flavors.  This is a great Cab for the price so I'll for sure buy more.
BM: A fantastic complex wine with all the right pieces in all the right places.  A more austere effort, but well balanced with sweet fruit.
TH: A barnyard pigpen fiasco of a nose but the bright acidity, tannins and mouthfeel made this drinkable.  The missing fruit was the dead give away to this Spanish oldster ('01) in the group.
BM: One-dimensional and way past its prime, no tannins, zingy bubbly and a HIDEOUS STENCH wafting out of the glass.  This is a wine to be poured now - down the friggin' drain!
TH: Terrific nose, bright acidity and rich cocoa dusted fruit made this a one point loser to the Villa Mt. Eden on my tasting sheet.  Given that this is a Meritage and the VME is a true cab; if we're splitting hairs this would not be in the line-up but will show well against many traditional CA Cabs.  Definitely a buy again wine.
BM: Most Bordeaux-like nose, great solid structure.
TH: Huge maple sugar nose with moderate tannins and acidity, I ranked this #3 of 7 and only points away from the top 2.  Were the nose a little less Maine in winter, it might have been the winner.  The price on this wine demands you buy some for everyday consumption.
BM: Nice soft fruit over chalky tannins, not the best flavours but reasonably balanced - a little sugary.
TH: A really nice effort with a nice nose, good structure, full body and decent fruit, acidity and tannins coupled with a lingering finish.  Only two points away from the front runner but given the price, I'd probably chose the lower priced options before purchasing this again.
BM: Lighter fruit profile, a fun simple wine, but good, possessing a nice little bit of an edge on the palate.
TRTB Scores BM: 88  3
TH: 83  5
BM: 76  6
TH: 77  7
BM: 90  1
TH: 88  1
BM: 67  7
TH: 82  6
BM: 86  2
TH: 88  2
BM: 85  4
TH: 86  3
BM: 83  5
TH: 86  4
TRTB Final Averages: 84.5  3 76.5  6 89.0  1 74.5  7 87.0  2 85.5  4 84.5  5

Outcome: Wow, Cabernet Sauvignon and the other 4 (I still don't believe in Carménère) Bordeaux varietals are WHERE-IT'S-AT when it comes to wine.  Thus spake da Bad ManTally-Ho and I were in sync on our first two picks, and I'll be having more of that Villa Mt. Eden Grand Reserve Napa 2005 very soon.

I (Bad Man) guessed three correctly just based on their noses - the Martini, the Root:1, and the Raimat, but that's fairly easy as those latter two had very distinctive bouquets (read: disgusting).  Then after tasting and making further predictions, upon the unveiling I had actually guessed 4 right - the previous three plus the Piccolo.  That one, and the Martini, I had before, so those are the only two I deserve actual tasting experience credit on.  The other two were from reading the notes from other people's tastings, which we do in preparation for our tastings.

For some reason, unlike last time, the smaller number of scores to average worked in my (Bad Man's) favour - first, our two sets of scores (surprisingly though, because our descriptions above were much more unique than on previous tastings) were fairly tight, much more so than last time, and just by chance the averages aligned with my rankings.  This is of course no reflection on anything; it's just nice to have the end table easier to follow for quick analysis for future purchases (and remembering those dismal wines to avoid).  Even if the Royal Tannin Bomb ratings hadn't paralleled my ranks, I still feel very proud of these numbers - they are precisely what you would want and expect from a solid Cab tasting - nothing hardly breaking into the 90s, and the real shit stuff down in the 70s.  Well done, fellow Royals, well done!

Some (blurry) pix from the event:A blurry grouping
 Closeup, missed some - bummer.  Random, but I got the 2 winners and 2 losers!

"Okay quickly now - three five one six seven!  And that's the order I want them in." followed by the matter-of-fact: "And that's the order." -- Bad Man, applying a numerical variation on a quote from Christopher Guest's 2000 film, Best in Show.

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Tasting Date: 02/20/2009
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: New World vs. Old World Cabernet Sauvignon blends, affordable - assaggio majoralus

The Contenders:
2006 Snowden Cabernet Sauvignon The Ranch Napa Valley, 15.4% abv, $37.99
82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot
2005 Villa Mt Eden Grand Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.2% abv, $13.99
87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, 2% Merlot
2004 Château d’Aiguilhe Comtes de Neipperg Côtes-de-Castillon, 13.5% abv, $25.97
70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
2004 Havens ‘Bourriquot’ Napa Valley, 14.5% abv $24.99
70% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot
2005 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Bottled Santa Cruz Mountains, 13.9% abv, $49.99
75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc
2005 Château Duhart-Milon-Rothschild Pauillac, 13% abv, $45 (reg. $75)
71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot
2005 La Bienfaisance Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Bordeaux, 14% abv, $28.99
80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-7, 1 best) 91.5  1 89.0  2 81.0  7

Snowden The Ranch Napa 2006   Villa Mt Eden Grand Reserve Napa 2005   Château d’Aiguilhe Côtes-de-Castillon 2004   Havens ‘Bourriquot’ Napa 2004   Mount Eden Vineyards Estate 2005   Château Duhart-Milon Pauillac 2005   La Bienfaisance Saint-Emilion 2005  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose Egg, dough, yeast, mineral, dark fruit, slight tobacco, oak, maple on 2nd pass Very tight, with slight herbs and camphor, cola, grass, and straw Fragrantly perfumey, white floral, spice, cedar Warm and spicy, slight mineral, herbs, heat, high-alcohol, molasses, perfume Burnt oak, dark barnyard, intense must, paint, briary, anchovy, opulent ++ (Bad Man's highest marks), menthol, dark fruit Tobacco, floral, oak, chocolate, cedar, maple, vanilla, anis, lead-pencil, coffee, barnyard (Bad Man guessed correctly that this was the Duhart-Milon right from the nose) Warm spice, dark berry, toast, vanilla
Flavor.Body.Finish Chewy mouthfeel, tannic, lasting finish, spice and dark fruit, dusty, rich texture, balanced Bright cherry, very light body, dusty, warm sweet fruit, too much simple fruit, slight to non-existent finish Some slight side tannins, balanced with dark fruit and spice on the palate with pomegranate, red currant and green olive.  Bitter disjointed finish Slight to moderate modest fruit, very silky body, rich and full (according to Tally-Ho), with a warm spice chocolate finish.  Bad Man found it light-bodied, thin, that zingy-cola-soda-pop texture, a bitter finish and very disappointing Juicy dark fruit and warm spice over velvety tannins, soft and rich - a French kiss of a wine according to Tally-Ho Slightly unyielding and shy with hints of complex fruit - full-bodied and muscular yet velvety after a few hours.  Decent finish with chocolate and dark lovely fruit. Nice cherry fruit-forward style, with full-throttle tannins, great fruit on entry, and spice notes on the palate
Overall.Notes.Final TH: Somewhat jangly, but big and very drinkable.
BM: Huge tannic monster, needs more time, but overall I feel it is the most interesting and rewarding wine of the night.  At under $40 this is one to snatch up for the long haul.
TH: Too much red fruit with light body and no real complexity.
BM: Slightly disjoint - layers of fruit suspended over slight tannins.  Needs time to integrate and too much of that simple red fruit - ugh!
TH: Nothing great or memorable.
BM: Nice, but bitter fruit character, reasonable structure, but hollow.
TH: Rich mouth, nice smoky nose, distinctive finish.
BM: Too thin, light California style, bitter fruit, VA component.
TH: Warm, fruity and rich, balanced lush and very drinkable and lovely!!!
BM: Definitely Bordeaux... Oops!  Velvety tannins, needs time, slightly hollow body, but SPECTACULAR nose!
TH: A beautiful wine with chocolate covered fruit, full and rich in the mouth.
BM: Massive and muscular; needs time to settle out, definitely Bordeaux.
TH: Big tannins but good fruit presence.
BM: Reasonable balance between tannins and fruit, just not a fan of the cherry fruit profile, and no complexity.
TRTB Scores BM: 89  2
TH: 87  5
BM: 84  4
TH: 78  7
BM: 79  6
TH: 83  6
BM: 74  7
TH: 92  2
BM: 90+  1
TH: 93  1
BM: 89  3
TH: 89  3
BM: 80  5
TH: 88  4
TRTB Final Averages: 88.0  3 81.0  6 81.0  7 83.0  5 91.5  1 89.0  2 84.0  4

Outcome: Very odd tasting, but then again it came out exactly as I expected - Bordeaux doesn't show well next to California wine, and given that the Cali wines were twice the price of the Bordeaux it stands to reason.  The Château d’Aiguilhe Comtes de Neipperg Côtes-de-Castillon 2004, which came in first in a recent Bordeaux tasting, came in 6th out of 7 for both of us, and I (Bad Man) scored it so lowly that you would think I hated it, which I guess I did.  I also hated the Havens, yet Tally-Ho found it worthy of a 92 score (which is high for her) and a rank of 2!  So I'm not sure what was going on here.  Interestingly we both felt the most expensive was the best, the $50 California Cab blend from Santa Cruz Mountains of all places, the Mount Eden Vineyards Estate 2005.  Speaking of Bordeaux, although we had what should be a spot-on bottle, the 2005 Château Duhart-Milon Pauillac, even considering its youth I think we rated and rated it perfectly - we both gave it 89 - it came in 3rd for both of us - and I don't think it's nearly as grandiose as what you read in the press.  It faded fast, and was gone on the second day when I went back for a re-taste.  Lastly I found the Snowden to be the overall structure/fruit/balance/ageworthy winner of the night, although lacking the pungently Bordeaux-esquely beautiful nose of the Mount Eden Santa Cruz, but Tally-Ho was not impressed and ranked it 5th.  Though our points awarded it were only 2 apart; 89 (BM) and 87 (TH).

I (Bad Man) guessed them almost perfectly before the tasting began in terms of the final order.  I posted it on the "prep" blog.  My guesses vs. the results are presented in the following table.

Bad Man's guessActual
Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Santa Cruz Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Santa Cruz
Snowden Cabernet Sauvignon The Ranch Napa   Snowden Cabernet Sauvignon The Ranch Napa
Villa Mt Eden Grand Reserve Napa Château Duhart-Milon Pauillac
Château d’Aiguilhe Côtes-de-Castillon Villa Mt Eden Grand Reserve Napa
Château Duhart-Milon Pauillac Château La Bienfaisance Saint-Émilion
Château La Bienfaisance Saint-Émilion Château d’Aiguilhe Côtes-de-Castillon
Havens ‘Bourriquot’ Napa Havens ‘Bourriquot’ Napa

So I was intellectually inline nearly perfectly with the wines, even though I'd only tasted 2 of them previously, but when it came to the experience I let my feelings dictate the order based on my personal bias and wants.  So that's an important lesson learned.

Now during the tasting my guesses were nearly completely inaccurate, with only the Duhart-Milon and Havens being correct, and I'm okay with that.  I'm a little disappointed I can't seem to tell the Mount Eden from a Bordeaux, and I'm really impressed with the build on the Snowden, so those are my final impressions.

A pic from the event:The auspicious group


Comment on this tasting

Tasting Date: 03/06/2009
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Massive Merlot, Tier I, affordable - assaggio majoralus

The Contenders:
2005 Gargiulo Vineyards Money Road Ranch Oakville, Napa Valley Merlot, 14.8% abv, $39.99
2004 Swanson Vineyards Oakville Napa Valley Merlot, 14.8% abv, $35.98 (2 half bottles)
2004 Querceto di Castellina Podalirio Indicazione Geografica Tipica Toscana Merlot, 13.5% abv, $41.99
2005 Sullivan Vineyards Estate Bottled Rutherford Napa Valley Merlot, 14.7% abv, $50.00

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-4, 1 best) 87.0  1 87.0  2 86.5  4

Gargiulo Vineyards Money Road Ranch Oakville 2005   Swanson Vineyards Oakville 2004   Podalirio Toscana 2004   Sullivan Vineyards Estate Rutherford 2005  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose Violets, mineral, tar, rose petals, lanoline, dark fruit, chocolate, and oak Smoke, syrup, maple, perfume, cedar, crème, spice, and chocolate Gobs of sweet vanilla oak, just gi-normous, huge intensity, searing into your nostrils!  Sharp, very slight blackberry and blueberry fruit Red currant, vanilla, oak, leather smoke, green bean shows up late but uninvited
Flavor.Body.Finish Bright acid, integrated tannins, dusty mouthfeel, chocolate covered berries in the glass, warm spice on a long finish.  Light-bodied, soft texture with bright crisp acidity, cherry and red fruit flavours Satiny tannins, especially in the front palate, creamy and supple, chocolate dipped fruit, full and round, medium-bodied nice rich mouthfeel, ending with a warm and seductive finish of dark burnt fruit Dusty chocolate, blackberry, warm spice, round mouthfeel, somewhat hollow or disjoint, with simple Concord-grape jelly mixed with BBQ meat flavours over a medium body.  The tannins built as the night wore on Crazy gnarly tannins, brambly fruit, warm spice, slightly unbalanced, with layered fruit and a lasting finish
Overall.Notes.Final TH: Perhaps more rustic than some would like, but the combo plate of fruit, chocolate, oaky vanilla, and slight but restrained floral is very rewarding and likable.  I really liked how this wine develops.  Starts out all youthful aggression but settles into a complex, very drinkable wine.
BM: Low tannins but present, nice fruit.  Too much of the red fruit profile.  Light in body, overripe fruit.
TH: Nuanced and complex, rich and sexy.  Slight tremors - "Earthquake"-like nose borders on a sugar-rush.  A highly drinkable silky wine with fruit and structure.
BM: A little sparkly from the Syrah - cheating!  I want something true to the varietal, not a cross-pollinated modern blend.  Having said that, I did like the crème-iness and dark fruit profile.
TH: Great nose after 3 hours, really opens up but the fruit and tannins are slightly ajar.  Still slightly jagged, but not a bad wine all elements considered.  The 2nd best wine of the tasting.
BM: Tannins lurked in the background for the first hour, then announced themselves and took over the glass in a major coup d’état.  Very austere style, seems backward, needs time.  Purple simple Concord grape jelly flavours, too fruit-punch in style, but with a disjoint structure that creeps up on you.  Will improve in 5 years; check back then.
TH: Cultish and youthfully brash - not a lot of finesse - maybe after a few years will show better but highly promising.  Love the caveman aspect - pull my ponytail.  Rough and ready (not so ready).  Buy this and cellar it or drink when you're ready for rustic boldness.
BM: Oddly pinkish in colour - there's your proof right there that no Cabernet Franc was blended here to please Robert Parker!  Gripping tannins - shows great promise.  Excellent layered fruit over a massive Merlot framework - this is what structured Merlot is all about!
TRTB Scores BM: 80  4
TH: 93  1
BM: 86  2
TH: 87  3
BM: 84  3
TH: 90  2
BM: 88  1
TH: 86  4
TRTB Final Averages: 86.5  3 86.5  4 87.0  2 87.0  1

Outcome: nose Nose NOSE!!!  The bouquets on all these showed spectacularly right from the get-go.  We waited a little longer than usual, around 2.5 hours in the decanters, before we started the tasting so maybe that helped.  I (Bad Man) was hoping (and frankly expecting) to be blown away by what these big muscular structured Merlots could deliver, as I have to admit having previously been a huge Cabernet Sauvignon fan and before that a jammy Zinfandel fan that Merlot is probably the wine grape varietal with the greatest potential, as evidenced by Pomerol and Saint-Émilion, from which the planet's most fantastic wines have come for the last 400 years, but alas, none of these four really swept me off my feet.  I apparently most enjoyed the Sullivan but at $50 I won't buy more than a bottle a year when I visit there, and after that I liked the Swanson which frankly cheated as they have Syrah in the mix.  But I don't want to take anything away from the tasting - all but the Gargiulo are what I would consider world-class Merlots, and Tally-Ho liked the GV best, so I think we had a pretty good line up.  There was certainly a demarcation between the untannic Gargiulo and Swanson up against the truly structured beasts that are Podalirio and Sullivan, so if you're looking for muscular Merlots be sure to take those latter two on a test drive.

Having said all that, WTF was up with our scores?!?  As happened a few tastings back, because there are only two of us if we don't come to a consensus, which is certainly a good outcome as everyone won't like the same wine all the time, the final averaged ratings and rankings are somewhat meaningless.  As can be seen, we ranked them exactly opposite - what Tally-Ho gave 1, 2, 3, and 4 I gave 4, 3, 2, and 1.  So I found it quite interesting to see such disparate results, and again it's all good because we each have our own taste.  Since Tally-Ho usually loves the more structured, edgy, and rustic offerings I am surprised she ranked the Sullivan last, but I believe she enjoyed all the wines, while I didn't really care for the Gargiulo.

I (Bad Man) am pretty pleased with my picking Sullivan first, as back in the day I visited them twice a year throughout the 90's I always enjoyed the Sullivan family, having been invited to a party in their beautiful home, and I always felt their wines were among the most ageworthy, massive, intense, and interesting in all of the Napa, not to mention the New World.  So it was fun to blind taste these Merlots and have my old friend's wine rank first for me.

A pic from the event:Group lineup

Quotables: Night of wild noses.

Comment on this tasting

Tasting Date: 03/13/2009
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Zinfandel, Tier I, mk i, affordable - assaggio majoralus

The Contenders:
2006 Rosenblum Cellars Rockpile Road Vineyard Rockpile Upper Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, 14.8% abv, $31.99 CORKED!!!   =..(
Mystery I: 2006 Bella Vetta Jack's Cabin Vineyard Rockpile Sonoma Zinfandel, 15.2% abv, $29.99 (reg. $39.99)
2005 Rosenblum Cellars Snows Lake Vineyard Lake County Zinfandel, 14.9% abv, $29.99
Mystery II: 2006 Rosenblum Cellars Harris Kratka Vineyard Alexander Valley Zinfandel, 14.7% abv, $33.99
2006 Summers Villa Andriana Vineyard Estate Bottled Napa Valley Zinfandel, 14.2% abv, $19.99
2006 Four Vines Winery “Maverick” Amador County Zinfandel, 14.9% abv, $24.99

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-5, 1 best) 87.0  1 85.5  2 85.5  5

Bella Vetta Jack's Cabin Rockpile 2006   Rosenblum Snows Lake Lake County 2005   Rosenblum Harris Kratka Alexander Valley 2006   Summers Villa Andriana Estate Bottled Napa 2006   Four Vines “Maverick” Amador County 2006  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose Maple, spice, band-aids, dark cherry and berries Blackberry jam, sugar cookie, spice, dark yummy fruit, that flower-dipping chemical, Smokey the Bear Oak, red fruit, slight spice, nutmeg, cool, urinal-but-in-a-good-way, overripe prune, acrid, skunky, complex Burnt caramel, violets, dark fruit, bar of soap, lavender, violet flower bed, a little pet-store sawdust going on, hollow, turpentine Spice, dark cherry and plum, Hoisin sauce, smoked pork, light cedar, charred toast, pencil eraser, vanilla, maple syrup, black cherry
Flavor.Body.Finish Well integrated tannins, lovely dark berry fruit, dark chocolate, lovely creamy mouthfeel, full lush supple and rewarding, long warm lingering finish Chewy jammy purple fruits, slightly simple but great mouthfeel, warm nice finish Tannic rich and lush, complex, rustic, good finish, rich textured mouthfeel Modest tannins, chewy fruit, warm spices, chocolate, nice finish, a little cloying Tannic, chewy dusty cocoa brambly fruit, lush good fruit presence with spice, claret-like with a somewhat funky finish
Overall.Notes.Final TH: Don't rush this wine. It takes hours to come into its own, but patience will be rewarded. This wine is remarkable.
BM: Hot, nothing special, but not bad. Elegant grace.
TH: Fruit forward rich and yielding - OMG! This is a terrific Zin!
BM: Overripe purple fruit flavours, the only bad wine of the bunch (that wasn't corked, of course). Concord grape jelly flavour profiles - I kept going back again and again to confirm. It was better after several hours, but very disappointing for Rosenblum at this price point. Not much else going on here - decent structure but nothing special.
TH: A spicy fruit example of Zin. Less "peignoir pretty" than some but admirable example. Slightly brash and youthful. Good Zin profile.
BM: Good stuff, biggest of the bunch, definitely oaked. My #1 pick!
TH: Fruit forward spicy Zin with tons of sugar but well structured and balanced. On the simple side but a very drinkable wine.
BM: Great flavours, HORRIBLE NOSE and the ACID IS WAY TOO LOW! Low acid kills a Zin.
TH: Good Zin, very lovely in the glass. A perfectly lively Zin!
BM: Very funky, interesting, lighter style, austere claret but bright acid, complex, with nice grainy tannins. My 2nd fav!
TRTB Scores BM: 80  3
TH: 91  2
BM: 80  5
TH: 93  1
BM: 86  1
TH: 86  5
BM: 81  4
TH: 90  4
BM: 86  2
TH: 88  3
TRTB Final Averages: 85.5  2 86.5  3 86.0  4 85.5  5 87.0  1

Outcome: Note how I (Bad Man) rated the Bella Vetta an 80 but ranked her third, while I rated the Summers an 81 but ranked her fourth.  I say that just to illustrate that rankings (1-5) are the driving force in the tasting, NOT ratings (50-100).  This is why the ratings (50-100) do NOT dictate the rankings (1-5).  We do both sets of numbers within the blind tasting.  We RANK the wines first and foremost - the RATING is just the sum of the subjective (and some objective) scoring categories, which as you would expect does NOT mean you like Wine A better than Wine B even though it may have a higher score.

And here again, we see a difficult set of numbers that, when averaged together, don't (and can't) represent the group consensus.  Compounded again as it was in the Merlot tasting above by the fact that the two of us picked the same two wines to be our first and last, but in different orders.  From Tally-Ho's description of my favorite, the Rosenblum Harris Kratka, I would think she would like it a bunch, but she ranked it 5th.  So because of this disparate collide the wonderful value-packed Four Vines Maverick comes in first overall!  Sort of a silly outcome, as that is a great value wine but neither of us would consider it the best of the evening, although I rated it the same score as my number 1 (the Rosenblum Harris Kratka and I ranked the Maverick 2nd, so I guess I did think rather highly of it!  And so the numbers game goes.  I would have thought we would be more in alignment here, as we have typically been in Zin tastings, but it adds a dynamic dimension when we do achieve such different results.  The only downside is that we were to take the winner from this mk i tasting to the next Zin Tier I (affordable) mk ii tasting, which is to occur this coming Friday, and therefore we have to promote two bottles rather than the preferred single winner.

A pic from the event:Group lineup

Quotables: "If you're shooting for the target, you're missing the point." (spoken by Bad Man)
                "In my utopia I would be killed." (spoken by Bad Man)
                "I have two ties too, but no slacks." (spoken by Bad Man)
                "I hate wine." (spoken by Bad Man)

Comment on this tasting

Tasting Date: 03/20/2009
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Zinfandel, Tier I, mk ii, affordable - assaggio majoralus

The Contenders:
2005 Rosenblum Cellars Snows Lake Vineyard Lake County Zinfandel, 14.9% abv, $29.99
2006 Rosenblum Cellars Harris Kratka Vineyard Alexander Valley Zinfandel, 14.7% abv, $33.99
2006 Rosenblum Cellars Monte Rosso Vineyard Sonoma Valley Reserve Zinfandel, 14.8% abv, $39.99
2005 Rosenblum Cellars Annette’s Reserve Redwood Valley Zinfandel, 14.7% abv, $30
Mystery I: 2005 Rosenblum Cellars Aparicio Vineyard Amador County, 14.9% abv, $28
2006 Rosenblum Cellars Rockpile Road Vineyard Rockpile Upper Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, 14.8% abv, $31.99

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-6, 1 best) 89.0  1 90.0  2 79.5  6

Rosenblum Snows Lake 2005   Rosenblum Harris Kratka 2006   Rosenblum Monte Rosso 2006   Rosenblum Annette’s Reserve 2005   Rosenblum Aparicio 2005   Rosenblum Rockpile Road 2006  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose Burnt oak, searing, molasses, brown sugar, spice box, vanilla oak, brambly berries, smoke Herbal, mint, burnt sugar cookie, camphor, very slight fruit (Bad Man circled that this was the most disappointing nose, only picking up the herbs and mint) Sage, pepper, violet, vanilla, chewing gum, sweet vanilla (Bad Man penned super) Sweet maple, chocolate covered strawberries, leather, complex, pepper, light oak, sugar, dark berries Tar, anise, coffee, brown sugar, that flower dipping chemical stuff that was in last week's Snows Lake, vanilla, sugar, oak, plums and blackberries Herb, mint, oak, dark cherry, red currant, Bad Man: brambly, green pepper, sulfer, swimming pool, yeasty - bad, but not as bad as #2!
Flavor.Body.Finish Bright, balanced acid - not huge but not cloying, integrated fine tannins, warm chocolaty fruit with spice notes, supple and round in the mouth, yielding and lovely with a warm medium finish Bright acid, moderate tannins, dark fruit, pepper and warm spice on the flavor profile, modest finish, robust structure, rich full mouthfeel but not a great finish Light acid, slightly tannic, flavors of spice, rich blackberry, dark chewy fruit, rich.  Finishes warm on a chord, not a single note (Tally-Ho) Tight tannins, sugar, dark cherry and Mediterranean spice on the tongue, with a beautiful hot, spicy rolling finish.  Intense layers of my (Bad Man's) favourite fruit profile Solid tannins, dusty cocoa, plumy dark berries, slight pepper and spice in a rich textured mouthfeel, great finish of rich fruit and spice and chocolate all the way down Big tannins, green herbal flavours, that sour Zin element, and a clipped, bone-dry non-existent finish
Overall.Notes.Final TH: Such a nice Zin example - fruit, spice, chocolate/vanilla loveliness.  From the very first sniff and first sip a terrific Zin!  I love this ZIN! =)
BM: Maybe too bright and red fruited, but rich sweet fruit profile and lush mouthfeel.
TH: Jammy fruit spice bomb lovely and structured this wine rewards the patient.  Decant and be patient.  My notes changed dramatically over time on this wine but given some time - it will reward you for the effort.
BM: Most disappointing nose of the bunch, along with #6.  But soundly structured with reasonable flavours - nothing special.  Correctly guessed it to be the Harris Kratka which I liked best in last week's tasting but the flavours just weren't there.
TH: Nice mouthfeel with rich fruit and spice, a lovely, well-structured Zin.  Finesse but with some nice backbone and a little attitude.  A rewarding spicy Zin with great fruit and creamy texture.
BM: Awkward, needs time.  Chalky tannins, nice but nothing special.  Beautiful nose with burnt fruit and herbaceousness on the palate.  Definitely more bitter than a Zin should be, and yes I am aware Zins are, and should be, bitter.
TH: More spice than fruit but a decent effort.  Great spicy fruit - nice Zin lush and full in the mouth - yum!
BM: Beautiful dark fruit balance.  Layers of rich textured fruit define this wine.  I can't stress that enough - if you want to experience "layers" in a wine, this is the Zin with which to do it.  In fact, speaking in specific and general, this is THE Zin.
TH: From nose to gullet - a wonderfully conceived Zin.  Really lovely - everything you want in a Zin.
BM: Incredible nose, but acid isn't high enough.  Fruit profile not as good as #1 and #4.  Also has a brittle woody structure.
TH: The least remarkable wine on the table.  Not fabulous.
BM: Just way too tannic and dry.  Try in 2-3 years but good luck.  Also suffers from all the green fruit.
TRTB Scores BM: 86  2
TH: 92  1
BM: 79  5
TH: 85  5
BM: 82  4
TH: 86  4
BM: 88  1
TH: 92  3
BM: 88  3
TH: 92  2
BM: 76  6
TH: 83  6
TRTB Final Averages: 89.0  1 82.0  5 84.0  4 90.0  2 90.0  3 79.5  6

Outcome: We're back in synch it appears, which again isn't required but it is always nice to share the same general outcome.  I (Bad Man) preferred my usual favourite the wonderful Annette's Reserve 2005, which I've now picked several times in all The Royal Tannin Bomb Zinfandel tastings (what are the odds?!?  I'm quite impressed with myself - these are ALL BLIND tastings!  I guessed two of the three I've had before, and I did it based on profile, not how I liked them - or I would have gotten the Harris misplaced!).  So I am super excited about how consistent a performer is the Annette's Reserve 2005.  Although the Annette's Reserve 2005 tied for first place in score with the Aparicio, neither was ranked first (which is what really matters when averaging these numbers - the RANKING, not the score (RATING)) - rather it was the Snows Lake that takes top honours in this tasting - Tally-Ho's favourite Zin two tastings in a row now!  Tally-Ho and I were completely in synch with the bottom half of the draw, placing the Monte Rosso, Harris Kratka, and Rockpile 4th, 5th, and 6th, in that order.  To me (but not to other members here) the point of the tasting is to know which wine you like the best so you can buy a case and enjoy it knowing that you preferred it over the others.  I can't afford $30/bottle, so there will be no case of Annette in my future, but if I'm ever in a Zinfandel tasting you can be sure the Annette's Reserve 2005 will be my guiding light.  Will the 2006 be similar?  Better?  I'm guessing not, but we shall soon see.

Although not necessarily our intention, this tasting evolved into being a top tier Rosenblum Cellars tasting.  Which is always a good thing.  The other major Zin vintners that make many superb vineyard designate Zins are Four Vines, Ravenswood, Ridge, Turley and Renwood, but I would rate the Four Vines super high, especially considering value, the Renwoods being good value but inconsistent, Ravenswood as being vastly overrated and austere, perhaps the Bordeaux of Zinfandel (you heard it here first, people!), Ridge as being the most disappointing Zin producer of the last decade given that they have the Pagani Ranch and the Lytton Springs in their arsenal but they no longer produce even tolerable wines from either vineyard, and Turley as of course the most absurdly overpriced major Zin vineyard winery, because when Helen worked there they were able to put out some stellar Zin but alas, not in this century.  Rosenblum was never one of my favourite wineries back in my Zin hey-day (1985-1995), but they are firmly and clearly the best major Zin producer of the modern era, offering a swath of phenomenal vineyard designate Zins all at reasonable (read: non-Turley) prices.

A pic from the event:The lineup

Quotables: "Rosenblum.  The Bordeaux of Zinfandel." (spoken by Bad Man.  Now I think that should be applied to Ravenswood.  Note that I think Ravenswood is way overrated and used to love them yet never really was impressed.  And yes I've barrel tasted there.  And further, although I love Bordeaux I think there are a lot of problems with mediocrity in France that lead to austere wines that don't have to be sans fruit)
                "Ravenswood.  The Bordeaux of Zinfandel." (new Bad Man quirp - this is a double-edged sword, so handle it gently oh yee Ravenswood peoples!)
                "#1 has assicidity like a cancer."

Comment on this tasting

Tasting Date: 04/03/2009
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Pinot Noir, Tier II, affordable - assaggio majoralus

The Contenders:
2005 Hawley Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 13.9% abv, $29.99
2006 Cambria Julia's Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir, 13.9% abv, $15.99
2006 Chalone Estate Grown Chalone The Pinnacles Monterey County, Pinot Noir, No. 019676, 14.7% abv, $27.99
2006 Frédéric Magnien Morey-Saint-Denis Côte d'Or Bourgogne, 13% abv, $17.99

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-4, 1 best) 89.0  1 81.0  2 80.0  4

Hawley Russian River Valley 2005   Cambria Julia's Vineyard 2006   Chalone Estate Grown 2006   Frédéric Magnien Morey-Saint-Denis Côte d'Or 2006  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose Smoke, earth, violets Strawberry, violets, some oak and toast Candied dark sugar, dark blue/black fruit, loam Dark fruit, blueberry, earth, violets, oak
Flavor.Body.Finish Good balance, not overly bright, ripe rich fruit core, silky mouthfeel, decent finish.  Not intense, not cloying, nice structure but light bodied Integrated light tannins, balanced, some fleshiness, brighter red fruit profile, reasonably proportioned with a nice finish Soft unctuous body, great layers of dark fruit, killer lasting finish, firm acid, dusty moderate tannins, rich, structured and balanced, supple body, slight spice High acid, medium bodied, awkward and a bit clumsy in the mouth, good glazed pear on the lingering finish.  Nice tannins, acids caused jaggedness, strawberry presence melts into dark fruit
Overall.Notes.Final TH: A nice effort, really nice mouthfeel, nice fruit.
BM: Achieves what it sets out to do.  Impeccably balanced, with all the right things in all the right places, but overall this is a shy, unassertive wine.
TH: Full fleshy mouth, good fruit, balanced.
BM: Similar to #1 with more ripe fruit in the mid-palate but a little too much (for me) in the red-fruit style.
TH: This is the best of the table.  A really drinkable "not smoked salmon" Pinot.
BM: This is what Pinot Noir is all about - the best Pinot Noir I've ever had (which isn't saying much).
TH: The acids almost ruin this wine - too jangly.
BM: Gripping acid and tannins, nice disjoint nose, clumsy very oaky, bright acid.  Still, I'm not convinced it's flawed.
TRTB Scores BM: 79  3
TH: 83  2
BM: 79  4
TH: 81  3
BM: 89  1
TH: 89  1
BM: 81  2
TH: 80  4
TRTB Final Averages: 81.0  2 80.0  4 89.0  1 80.5  3

Outcome: So I (Bad Man) still don't care for the flavour profile of Pinot Noir, but I can fairly evaluate them and I think we picked 4 decent affordable representatives for this tasting.  I can't honestly say I'd ever buy a bottle of Pinot Noir to enjoy myself, but the Cholone reserve was pretty nice.

And I must say our scores were pretty darn tight!

Quotables: "Rococo is a distraction because it doesn't have the bones to be good enough." (spoken by Tally-Ho)
                "If someone poured me a glass of any of these, I wouldn't be looking for the nearest trash can." (spoken by Tally-Ho)
                "I'm a 16 year-old robot girl that can't deal with humans." (spoken by Bad Man)

Comment on this tasting

Tasting Date: 04/20/2009
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Pinot Noir, Tier I, mk i, affordable - assaggio majoralus

The Contenders:
2006 Castalia Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 14.1% abv, $49.99
2006 Laetitia Estate Arroyo Grande Valley Central Coast Pinot Noir, 14.1% abv, $24.99
2006 Laetitia Reserve Arroyo Grande Valley Central Coast Pinot Noir, 14.4% abv, $34.99
2006 Chalone Vineyard Estate Grown Chalone Appellation The Pinnacles Monterey County, Pinot Noir, No. 019120, 14.7% abv, $27.99

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-4, 1 best) 87.5  1 85.0  2 74.5  4

Castalia Rochioli Vineyard 2006   Laetitia Estate 2006   Laetitia Reserve 2006   Chalone Estate 2006  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose Smoky cherry, floral, dark chocolate, strawberry Heady aromas of oak and tar, laced with cocoa, dark fruit and mineral.  Quite complex.  Slightly funky, with earth and leather.  Bad Man really liked this nose Blueberry, oak, perfumy floral and baking spice, slight cola.  The most closed down nose of the group Show leather, mold, mint, menthol, camphor, warm spice, vanilla, and cinnamon
Flavor.Body.Finish Silky but light, thin-bodied, bright acid, red cherry cola, strawberry and spice, followed by a crisp zippy finish Fine grained tannins, balanced, solid fruit core - "that Pinot fruit profile".  Tightly structured, black cherry, layered and complex with a lingering warm tangy finish Tally Ho wrote: Bright but nice acidity balances the sweetness, dusty spice, black cherry, plush mouthfeel with a dark plumy finish.  Bad Man wrote: Sour grape green fruit; all pears and apples.  Gripping tannins over a complex palate, but turns soft and flabby, with a cloying finish Velvety and layered, black cherry and plum.  Some chocolate goodness in the mouth - a "complete" wine in balance.  Moderate structure, ending with a Warm spicy beautiful lasting finish
Overall.Notes.Final TH: Fanta red pop.  Very Beaujolais Villages in style.  Not a likable red.  I'd rather drink a dry Rosé and get better fruit and structure.
BM: A very Pinot Pinot - pretty much what I'm not looking for.  Defining trait is the crisp zippy finish.  A pretty head-turner, but nothing on the inside.  At $50 a TERRIBLE QPR.
TH: Classic Pinot, a very approachable, drinkable Pinot with some soda pop effervescence.
BM: Show promise.  A little (well, okay a LOT) on the bright side on the balance spectrum, but I don't mind it tat all.  A real show-girl head-turning wine but with a tight structure.
TH: Give this wine some time to fully actualize and the rich fruit and spices will reward.  Almost Zin-like spicy nose with lighter less purple fruit.
BM: Like eating a bowl full of green citrus fruit - cloying finish, not balanced.  Not a good representation of Pinot Noir.
TH: Ripe, warm, fruity - great mouthfeel and very nice finish.  The most likable wine on the table.
BM: A solid effort, beautifully balanced mouthfeel.
TRTB Scores BM: 74  3
TH: 75  4
BM: 85  2
TH: 85  3
BM: 73  4
TH: 87  2
BM: 84  1
TH: 91  1
TRTB Final Averages: 74.5  4 85.0  2 80.0  3 87.5  1

Outcome: We are lucky - we agreed!  Twice!  So I (Bad Man) must say I was surprised about the colour being lighter than I remembered but that Chalone is a damn fine Pinot.  It will advance to the mk ii Tier I tasting this Friday (04/24/2009).  I was surprised how light and soft the Castalia was, but it did have a slight hint of structure and showed decently after 5 hours or so.

Quotables: "Pinot Noir.  Just say no." (not spoken by anyone, but it should have been)

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Tasting Date: 04/24/2009
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Pinot Noir, Tier I, mk ii, affordable - assaggio majoralus

The Contenders:
2006 Shea Wine Cellars Shea Vineyard Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 14.25% abv, $42.99
2006 Chalone Vineyard Estate Grown Chalone Appellation The Pinnacles Monterey County, Pinot Noir, No. 19688, 14.7% abv, $27.99
2006 Rippon Vineyards Lake Wanaka Central Otago New Zealand Biodynamic-Organic Pinot Noir, 13.0% abv, $49.99
2006 Londer Vineyards Paraboll Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 14.9% abv, $59.99
2005 Domaine Harmand-Geoffroy Gevrey Chambertin "En Jouise", 13.0% abv, $63.99
2005 Domaine des Héritiers Louis Jadot Beaune Clos des Couchereaux Premier Cru, 13.5% abv, $39.99

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-6, 1 best) 88.0  1 83.0  2 77.0  6

Shea Estate 2006   Chalone Estate 2006   Rippon 2006   Londer Paraboll 2006 Harmand-Geoffroy Gevrey Chambertin "En Jouise" 2005   Jadot Beaune Clos des Couchereaux 2005  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose Toasted oaky, vanilla, some chocolate, smoke, slight vegetal, floral, red fruit turning to blackberry much later Intense forest floor, iced tea, sawdust, fungal craziness, strawberry, slightly sour overtime, kind of chemically Forest floor, dusty leaves, red fruit mélange, wood funk softens to spicy vanilla, red funk Intense forest floor, dark cherry, spice box, mocha, mushroom, earth, tobacco, vanilla, oak, sugary Pine needles, barnyard, earth, wood, chocolate, plumy fruit Slight spice, violets, raspberries, very slight oak, tea, chocolate, floral, sugar
Flavor.Body.Finish Slight to no tannins, sour, Morello cherries, layered and balanced, not rich and full but velvety and rewarding, pure and lasting finish Dusty strawberries layered and structured, mashed raspberries, earthy fungal element - sort and rich.  Slight spice on lingering finish with some off-putting sourness Searing bite of ascorbic acid fruit, like chewing on a lime.  Integrated tannins, not awkward per se but rough and tumble rustic - a big gob of fruit with no underpinnings.  Unremarkable slightly hot finish changed over time to spiced fruit mellow very pleasant finish Fine grained moderate tannins, complex and layered, spice, blackberry mouth filling and silky, followed by spicy fruit on a great finish. Bitter thin fruit with over-bright acid and chunky wood, very jangly and awkward, some spice and heat on the finish Soft and supple bright red fruit with under layer of spice, structured and layered, some chocolate flavours over a reasonable structure, a tad biting on the finish
Overall.Notes.Final TH: A refined, pure complete Pinot.  Smells like a Pinot, tastes like a Pinot.
BM: Elegantly balanced with a beautiful lush feel, a pleasing light attempt, no angles or awkwardness - ready to go.
TH: A complex wine with likeable funk but a weird chemical sourness after a few hours - chemical astringent mess.
BM: Layers of smoky fruit - doesn't taste like a Pinot, rich mouthfeel, incredibly intense nose!
TH: When all is said and done - a very drinkable wine over time.
BM: Tastes like a Pinot - least elegant of wines 1, 2 and 3 - the most rustic, but not awkward by any means.  The higher acid makes it more angular.  A hollow one-dimensional wine.  Somehow manages to be big but thin.
TH: A complete wine - fruit balanced with complex flavors.  Structured, well made, and rewarding.  Hardly a Pinot at all - a beautiful, full, complex wine.
BM: Another intense nose, this has more body than the rest.  Soft, sweet, ripe textured - super!  Really nicely proportioned, all about rich layered mouthfeel.
TH: A mixed-up dysfunctional mess.  Thin and hollow - who stole the fruit?
BM: Thin acidic fruit over a solid structure, but not rich mouthfeel.  All about muscle over mouthfeel, needs more time, perhaps the most ageworthy.  But again, too much acid in the mix.  And too barnyardy, which I love in my Bordeaux.
TH: Over bright and slightly sour, too bright and red, probably because it's a Pinot.
BM: A strange little wine, very simple and sedate, but also secretly seductively.  Acid turned up a tad too high.
TRTB Scores BM: 81  3
TH: 85  2
BM: 85  2
TH: 76  6
BM: 81  4
TH: 80  3
BM: 86  1
TH: 90  1
BM: 82  5
TH: 75  5
BM: 76  6
TH: 78  4
TRTB Final Averages: 83.0  2 80.5  4 80.5  3 88.0  1 78.5  5 77.0  6

Outcome: At the last moment we picked up the winner from last week's blind Pinot Noir tasting at a local wine merchant (the merchant hosted the blind tasting, but we couldn't attend) - it turned out to be our mutual favourite!  The Londer Paraboll 2006 Anderson Valley.  Of the other wines we liked in this tasting, the Shea Estate Shea Vineyard was nice (emphasis on "nice", which is a throwaway word devoid of any precise meaning), and the Chalone Estate had typical great mouthfeel but the nose was over the top.  Of the wines we didn't so much care for, Rob Parker gave this 2006 vintage of the Rippon a whopping 95 points!  This proves a few things, all of which we already knew:  (1) Parker's ratings are just as ridiculously inaccurate and suspect as everyone else's, and (2) please don't give a wine a 95 unless it's capable of walking on water and sending everyone to the moon.  Wine isn't as exclusionist as the elitists want you to believe - even though yes I (Bad Man) don't at all embrace the Pinot flavour profile, I can certainly tell when I'm drinking a world class wine.  And this is decidedly NOT it.  Read what we wrote above for the Rippon (wine #3), then read what Parker has to say: 95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Apr 2008): "The stunning 2006 Pinot Noir is a realization of everything I suspect Rolfe dreamt of when planting the first vines in the early 1980's.  Using 20% whole clusters and matured for 18 months in 30% new French oak, this wine is distinguished by its spine-tingling tension and tautness on the palate.  Its ethereal balance and intensity of fruit suggest this could easily age over 10+ years.  If ever there was a producer that gave a tantalizing glimpse of what New Zealand Pinot Noir can achieve with mature vines i.e. over 20-years in age, then it is Rippon Vineyard, whose first, pioneering block was planted on schist soils by Rolfe Mills back in 1981 in Wanaka, Central Otago.  The winemaking is now directed by Rolfe's ambitious son Nick Mills.  His tenures in Burgundy with the likes of Jean-Jacques Confuron and Domaine de la Romanee-Conti are evidenced in Nick's occasionally superlative wines.  Their 15-hectares of vineyard are now run under biodynamic principles although they are not as yet officially certified."

To summarize, Parker wrote this: "...spine-tingling tension and tautness on the palate ... ethereal balance and intensity of fruit...".  We wrote this: "higher acid angular hollow one-dimensional wine big but thin … rough and tumble rustic … gob of fruit with no underpinnings".  Our own Tally-Ho was a little more favourable than I on it, having the foresight to sum it up thusly: "When all is said and done - a very drinkable wine over time."  Is that how you want a wine to sound when a real person writes up their review for the same wine that the world's foremost professional wine rating "expert" awarded 95 points?  I doubt it.  She gave it an 80.  I give the nod to Tally-Ho over Parker - I gave it an 81.

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Tasting Date: 05/01/2009
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Zinfandel, Tier I, mk iii, affordable - assaggio majoralus

The Contenders:
2006 Four Vines Winery “Maverick” Amador County Zinfandel, 14.9% abv, $24.99
2006 Rosenblum Cellars Annette’s Reserve Redwood Valley Zinfandel, 14.9% abv, $35
2005 Rosenblum Cellars Annette’s Reserve Redwood Valley Zinfandel, 14.7% abv, $30

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-3, 1 best) 89.0  1 86.5  2 86.0  3

Four Vines “Maverick” 2006   Rosenblum Annette's Reserve 2006   Rosenblum Annette’s Reserve 2005  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose Dark cherry, blackberries, toasted vanilla, sweet baking spice, maple Must, brown sugar, toasted oak, cinnamon, slightly overripe, raisony, blackberry, raspberry Hint of burnt sugar, oak, spice box, tight nose with classic Zin sourness, blue/black fruit
Flavor.Body.Finish Textured mouthfeel, very balanced, great acidity, not angular, modest fine grained tannins.  Warm and spicy lasting finish - perfectly complete Slight acidity but well-suited to the fruit and medium integrated tannins with just the right amount of grip.  Spicy cocoa dusted dark fruit - how can that be bad?  Bright tannic middle with the perfect hair-pulling attention getter.  Fruit and spice all the way down to a satisfying finish. Excellent extraction and heat blended with fine round tannins under blue/black fruit with terrific middle Eastern spices, not a complex wine but a very drinkable effort.  Slightly hot finish but all in all a very nice example of my (Tally-Ho) kind of Zin.
Overall.Notes.Final TH: Soft plush layers of fruit supported by balanced acid and tannins.  Hello Annette - great to see you again my friend. :) 
BM: Some tannins along the sides of the palate, a certain softness, followed by length and breadth.
TH: Sharp grip with wonderful fruit.  Structured but without the complexity of wine #1.  If this is the Annette '06 we can be very excited about what is to come from this wine.
BM: A touch awkward, becoming more than a little raisony as the night progressed.  I fear for the ageworthiness of this; what started out so promising with searing acid and wonderful grip turned all pruney and raisony - blech!
TH: The only fault of this wine is possibly a lack of complexity compared to the other two which is not a bad thing considering the contenders.  Maybe this is too young to compete, so if it's the Annette '06 - makes perfect sense.  Anything else and this is a shame.
BM: A little disjoint and definitely needs more time.  Heat.  Having no NOSE threw me.
TRTB Scores BM: 87  1
TH: 91  1
BM: 86  3
TH: 87  2
BM: 87  2
TH: 85  3
TRTB Final Averages: 89.0  1 86.5  2 86.0  3

Outcome: This proves you can't have a small number of wines in a tasting, unless it is double blind.  None of these wines (obviously) were bad - the only looser here was me (Bad Man).  Will write more on the blog - click the link below to comment.

Quotables: "OMG - how much more wrong can I be and still have a membership in TRTB?" (spoken by Tally-Ho)
                "With Zins, you can start sooner, but don't rush to completion because they evolve." (spoken by Tally-Ho)
                "Like a warm handshake." (spoken by Tally-Ho, referring to the Annette - welcome back to my home.
[ but I guess it turned out not to be the Annette - ed. ])

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Tasting Date: 06/13/2009
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Zinfandel, Tier I, mk iv, affordable - assaggio majoralus

The Contenders:
2006 Four Vines Winery “Maverick” Amador County Zinfandel, 14.9% abv, $24.99
2005 Rosenblum Cellars Snows Lake Vineyard Lake County Zinfandel, 14.9% abv, $29.99
2007 Robert Biale Black Chicken Napa Valley Zinfandel, 15.5% abv, $45
2006 Klinker Brick Old Ghost Old Vine Lodi Zinfandel, ??.?% abv, $35.99
2005 Rosenblum Cellars Annette’s Reserve Redwood Valley Zinfandel, 14.7% abv, $30
2006 A. Rafanelli Dry Creek Valley Sonoma County Zinfandel unfiltered, 14.8% abv $38

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-6, 1 best) 93.5  1 88.5  2 79.5  6

Four Vines “Maverick” 2006   Rosenblum Snows Lake 2005   Robert Biale Black Chicken 2007   Klinker Brick Old Ghost 2006   Rosenblum Annette’s Reserve 2005   A. Rafanelli 2006  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose Dark raspberry, red cherry, floral, spice box, sugar cookies, rental car air freshener Dark cherry, oak and earth, menthol/mint, maple extract, cedar, fresh lavender, whiff of chemical Toasted marshmallow, camphor, cloves, cardamom, mulch, creosote, cassis, sugared cherries, maple covered toast Black currant, dark fruit, oak, stuffy hot leather, pencil lead, bacon, floral, Tahitian vanilla Smoked meat, toasted bread, plastic, vanilla bean, Swiss dark chocolate, currants, blackberries, floral, sawdust, rose, chemical glue Violets, warm spice box, cassis, licorice, orange peel, black cherry, grandmother's perfume
Flavor.Body.Finish Soft ripe fruit, silky rich spicy fruit with a dusting of cocoa, not too lush, plum flavours, modest very fine supple tannins, warm lingering finish of cocoa and cinnamon with good acid follow-through Round & spicy, decent fruit, balanced and layered, lush and dusty, great extract, persistent finish of bright fruit and dark chocolate Tight bright acid, great integrated tannins, racy and bright fruit, classic Zin sourness, good fucking wine, grittiness, a finish of great mashed fruit with a nice line of spiciness Chewy and edgy, big and fruity, spice is in check - a supporting role as it should be, a sublime warm caress of fruit and spice on the finish.  Gargantuan - needs time Lush mouthfeel with a dark fruit profile, dusty fine tannins, dark brooding mélange of mixed berries supported by bright acid, followed by a terrific chocolate covered berry finish that goes and goes Gripping acid, dark rich voluptuous fruit, slight spiciness, vanilla, persistent finish of dark fruit
Overall.Notes.Final TH: Good structure and balance, layered fruit and warm spice presence.
BM: No perceptible flaws, a solid effort in a medium-bodied firm structure.  Bright red acid, sweet.  Not as much richness in the mouthfeel and not a spectacular finish but again no flaws.  My style of Zin for sure, well done!
TH: Acids, tannins, fruit and spice create a serendipity of voluptuous juice.
BM: Great extract, persistent finish.
TH: A seductive nose but the rest of the experience is not in synch - lighter than I prefer.
TH: Ball buster Zin.  An awkward adolescent that will evolve into a real full throttle Zin.  This wine simply announces itself!
BM: Bitter and messed up and all fucked up.  Too young - the best fucking Zin I've ever had!  Shows the most promise on the table.
TH: Structured and rich - the gothic novel of Zins insinuating and sinister, the Energizer (©) bunny of Zin finishes.
BM: Pretty unadmirable nose, hollow a little on the third quarter of the palate, bitter.
TH: Not a big chewy jammy Zin, but the fruit - though not yielding on the nose is rich and lively in the mouth, less impressive than the other contenders.
BM: Perhaps a little hollow in the mid-palate, light on the uptake, a disappointing offering - and an AWFUL nose.
TRTB Scores BM: 80  5
TH: 84  5
BM: 86  3
TH: 87  3
BM: 88  2
TH: 88  4
BM: 93  1
TH: 94  1
BM: 87  4
TH: 90  2
BM: 80  6
TH: 79  6
TRTB Final Averages: 82.0  5 86.5  4 88.0  3 93.5  1 88.5  2 79.5  6

Outcome: Bad Man (that's me) waffled on the Annette, so I picked it wrong - my over analytical brain getting in the way once again.  Still, aggregating our results the Annette came in second, of which I am delighted.  It's interesting that Tally-Ho prefers the Snows Lake in most blind tastings, and I the Annette, but here we both had our preferences switched.  The outcome here reminded me of infinitesimally splitting hairs, cuz all of these are world-class similar-style top-notch Zins - all EXCEPT the A. Rafanelli which is not quite of the same calibre as the others.  The noses on the Biale Black Chicken and the Klinker Brick Old Ghost put all other Zins (and I'm not fan of what our brethren over at Gang of Pour coin the Paul Draper nose, yet I'm a veteran of original Lytton Springs and early 90's Ridge Pagani Ranch) I've ever smelt to shame - worth the price of admission just to suck those two down your olfactory nerve center!

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Tasting Date: 06/23/2009
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Suave Summer Sauv’s, mk iv - assaggio majoralus

The Contenders:
Zuc di Volpe Sauvignon Blanc, Italy, $25
2008 Domaine Ricard Cuvee Les Trois Chenes, Touraine, France, $22
2006 Domaine Henri Bourgeois Haute-Victoire Quincy, Loire Valley, $16.99
2007 Groth Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, $14

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-4, 1 best) 88.0  1 87.5  2 78.5  4

Zuc di Volpe   Domaine Ricard Cuvee Les Trois Chenes 2008   Domaine Henri Bourgeois Haute-Victoire Quincy 2006   Groth 2007  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose Butterscotch, lemongrass, grapefruit, pineapple Mineral, swamp grass, perfume, cantaloupe, melon with a hint of grass Butter, mineral, lemon, citrus, white peach with a tinge of pineapple Lime, lavender, tight with slight hints of stone fruit
Flavor.Body.Finish BM: Crisp with a smooth lasting finish.  Spiky mid-palate, some ML, smoky nose, hollow. TH: Full and round in the mouth with rich citrus and tropical fruit notes.  Slightly sweet with decent balance and structure. BM: Butter smooth but not oily, then it cranks up the acid and develops quickly into a green wine. TH: Somewhat astringent with a thin mouthfeel.  Slight melon notes with the barest touch of sourness. BM: Off balance at first as she gathers her legs under her and jumps at the starting pistol.  Flinty butter but with bracing acidity, medium-bodied, balanced, chalky complexity. TH: Slight stone fruit presence in the mouth.  Crisp and well balanced with good structure. BM: Grabby acid that turns smooth and clean on the finish, a straight-shooter with little nuance but impeccable balance. TH: Lush bright pineapple and peach fruit in the mouth.  Crisp and well balanced with good structure.
Overall.Notes.Final BM: Very grassy and too crisp and hollow.
TH: I was impressed by this sultry Italian.  Loved the ripe nose and fruit fullness in the mouth even though it was slightly sweeter than I prefer.
BM: Yuck - apple-tart and thin.
TH: This was a disappointing mess.  Tight nose, thin mouthfeel, the barest hint of fruit and no real finish.  Save your ducats; wish we had.
BM: Complexity abounds - phenomenal effort.
TH: By far the best nose and finish of the group.  This little French Mlle. is always welcome at the Royal's table.
BM: Straight-forward, clean.
TH: Although it falls short on the nose, the tropical fruit in the mouth is crisp and satisfying.  If you must do your wine buying at the local neighborhood grocer's, this is probably your best bet, hands down (unless you live in a tony enough neighborhood to have a broader choice than most which this Cellar Mistress does not).
TRTB Scores BM: 80  3
TH: 88  2
BM: 75  4
TH: 82  4
BM: 89  1
TH: 86  3
BM: 87  2
TH: 89  1
TRTB Final Averages: 84.0  3 78.5  4 87.5  2 88.0  1

Outcome: My oh my.  That Qunicy is da-bomb for Sauvignon Blanc - my 3rd time ranking it #1 in a blind tasting!  And the Groth is always just on its heels; not nearly as enticing but just a perfectly balanced pleasing no-flaws rendition.

Quotables: "Groth is to Sauvignon Blanc what Chalone Estate is to Pinot Noir (which is not exactly earth shattering)." (spoken by Bad Man)

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Tasting Date: 07/31/2009
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Vouvray, mk i - assaggio majoralus

The Contenders:
2007 Francois Pinon Silex Noir Vouvray, 12.5% abv, $23
2006 Château de Montfort Vouvray, 12.0% abv, $15
2007 Vincent Raimbault "Les Terrages" Val de Loire Vouvray, 12.5% abv, $16
2006 Le Mont SEC Vouvray, 12.0% abv, $33
2006 Le Haut-Lieu SEC Vouvray, 12.0% abv, $27
2007 Domaine des Aubuisières Le Mariguy SEC Vouvray, 13.5% abv, $21

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-6, 1 best) 86.5  1 86.0  2 75.5  6

Pinon Silex Noir 2007   Montfort 2006   Raimbault "Les Terrages" 2007   Le Mont 2006   Le Haut-Lieu 2006 Aubuisières Le Mariguy 2007  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose Faint honey, lemon, apricot and peach, with some grass Must, minerals and citrus Tight nose, eventually developed Meyer lemon Lime, mandarin orange, granite and brown sugar Lemon Pledge (©) with honey, funky Granite, Mandarin orange, sweet honey and toasted flint
Flavor.Body.Finish Silky lemon curd-like mouthfeel and taste Lemon pound cake with hints of vanilla, tons of candied fruit, lingering finish Candied lemon peel, beautiful mouth coating full bright fruit, lovely finish Sour, watery, mineraly, austere, green Good structure and balance between minerality and acids and sweetness, flinty and lemony with a nice presence on the finish Thin, tart and simple, absence of fruit
Overall.Notes.Final TH: Balanced and rewarding.
BM: Sour, too tart and crisp without the structure; a tad off-balance.
TH: Sweet and sultry.
BM: What a Vouvray should be, but short on the nose.
TH: Very German style but oh so likable.
BM: Like a Gewurztraminer but with excellent balance - great body.
TH: Offputting - I don't like this wine.  Better over time so maybe that's the key.
BM: Like a Sauvignon Blanc only with no substance (i.e. balls).  Green-grassy.
TH: Bright citrusy fruit with great minerality.
BM: Hollow in the middle - the nose is definitely Vouvray but the body doesn't back it up.
TH: Stingy fruit - it all goes downhill after the nose.
BM: Too tart - sweet nose but no mouthfeel.  Perhaps the oak was too new and/or too toasted?  Super dry - not at all satisfying.
TRTB Scores BM: 80  3
TH: 92  1
BM: 90  1
TH: 83  3
BM: 82  2
TH: 83  2
BM: 79  6
TH: 72  6
BM: 80  4
TH: 80  4
BM: 76  5
TH: 80  5
TRTB Final Averages: 86.0  2 86.5  1 82.5  3 75.5  6 80.0  4 78.0  5

Outcome: Well, for me (the Bad Man) I came away liking the two least expensive best.  Tally-Ho and I agreed on the top 3 and bottom 3, ranking 4-5-6 identically but our preference for 1-2-3 was different, and the averages for the group differed from both our orders.  That Montfort is an easy to obtain wine from the local BevMo, so I'm happy about that, but I'm mystified that the more expensive bottles didn't show better.  Obviously as pretentiously as I want to present myself I really enjoy this most simply accessible of white wine grapes.

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Tasting Date: 08/15/2009
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: Chardonnay, mk i - assaggio majoralus

The Contenders:
2007 Sanford Santa Barbara County Chardonnay, 14.5% abv, $23.99
2007 MacRostie Carneros Chardonnay, 14.1% abv, $15.99
2005 Chalk Hill Estate Sonoma County Chardonnay, 14.4% abv, $29.99
2005 Chalone Estate Chardonnay, 14.2% abv, $27.99

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-4, 1 best) 89.0  1 82.0  2 74.0  4

Sanford Santa Barbara 2007   MacRostie Carneros 2007   Chalk Hill Estate 2005   Chalone Estate 2005  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose Melon and honey Slight vanilla, sour lime, citrus Pineapple, floral, honey, sweet apricot, toasty Woody oak, maple and honey, and then it turned very funky after being open 30 minutes.  It developed a sour dirt/peat very alcoholic chemical sulfur odor
Flavor.Body.Finish Lemon curd and cantaloupe, lush mouthfeel, silky bright fruit, some butter but mostly acid Lemon honey Ricola cough drop, some grass, crisp rubbiness on the palate, short finish Modest acid but very balanced, rich creamy malolactic fermentation, lasting vibrant honey finish Thin, flinty, and chemically - corked.   =(
Overall.Notes.Final TH: Probably really good with food due to acids and crisp fruit.
BM: Super tart and crisp - no oak, more refreshing, a good stainless steel no-frills Chard.
TH: Less rewarding than #1 and not creamy.
BM: A crisp non-ML Chard, more my style.
TH: Rewarding and lush.  Needs time, is better chilled.
BM: I'm not a big fan of the buttery ML style, but this is a good Chard - no doubt about it.
TH: Corked.
BM: Corked; not going to rate this.
TRTB Scores BM: 85  3
TH: 86  2
BM: 84  1
TH: 80  3
BM: 86  2
TH: 92  1
BM: XX  4
TH: 74  4
TRTB Final Averages: 85.5  3 82.0  2 89.0  1 74.0  4

Outcome: I (Bad Man) am not really a fan of Chardonnay (sorry to all you Chardy's out there), but I enjoyed these examples.  I agree that the Chalk Hill is the best Chardonnay of this batch, but I'd like a chance to retaste the Chalone because I think that will be good.  That's based on that I really like their Estate Pinot Noir, so maybe I'm being too generous, but I'll pick up another bottle to make sure.  The MacRostie is a very non-buttery style of Chard, for those (like myself) who prefer the fruity-er style.

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Tasting Date: 0?/??/2009
Tasting Geeks: Tally-Ho, The Bad Man
Tasting Theme: _ - assaggio majoralus

The Contenders:
_ _, ??.?% abv, $??.??
_ _, ??.?% abv, $??.??
_ _, ??.?% abv, $??.??

Colour Legend: First PlaceSecond PlaceLast Place
Rate (51-100, 100 best) and Rank (1-3, 1 best) ??.?  1 ??.?  2 ??.?  3

_ _   _ _   _ _  
Aroma.Bouquet.Nose _ _ _
Flavor.Body.Finish _ _ _
Overall.Notes.Final TH: _
BM: _
TH: _
BM: _
TH: _
BM: _
TRTB Scores BM: ??  2
TH: ??  3
BM: ??  3
TH: ??  2
BM: ??  1
TH: ??  1
TRTB Final Averages: ??.?  3 ??.?  2 ??.?  1

Outcome: _

Quotables: "      " (spoken by _______)

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