Monday, June 22, 2015

*** 2003 Chez Ray Pinot Noir / Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003, Columbia WA, Lodi, CA

Original review, five years from vintage date, sampled October, 2008: This is a strange combo: pinot noir plus cabernet sauvignon. Somehow, at the time, it seemed like a good mix. The aromatics from the Columbia, WA, pinot noir added bounce to the deeper Lodi, CA, cabernet sauvignon. Let's see what some bottle time has done...

In the glass, it is deep red, definite bricking around the edges. Aroma is earth and deep fruit, just a touch funky. Might need some air time. The palate has a first, sweet flush, then resolves into an odd bright fruit plus some lightly sweet acids. Ok, definitely odd, two stars out of five on the Spirit of Wine scale, because it was an interesting - not horrible - experience.
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Updated review, almost seven years later, now 12 years from vintage date, June, 2015:  Still deep red brick, almost dark orange at the very edge.  Soft, settled fruit on the nose.  The former oddness now resolves into a pleasant distinctiveness, bringing sweet, soft red and black berries that are definitely not showing their 12 years of age.  An absence of obvious tannins or cheek-clenching acids belies how well this strange blend has aged.  There is something else here that is helping the Chez Ray Pinot/Cab combo stand the test of time.  Very quaffable and now touches three stars.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

***+ Chez Ray CRR7 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Russian River Valley, Sonoma


CRR7 (2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Russian River Valley, Sonoma):

Tasting notes from blending party, May, 2011:

Ray: color medium brick; aroma deep fruit and alcohol; flavor clean bright but light, 2+ for bright fruitiness.  Karin: delicate flavor, sweet finish, 3.  Jim, good fruit.  Eric, L aroma not much smell; flavor, very nice tannins, strong finish, rich flavor but not too remarkable (though very enjoyable!), 3+.  Rob: color, deep red; aroma, tarry; flavor, alcoholic, 2.

Updated review, over six months later, December, 2011:  Deep ruby red in the glass.  This bottle was corked!  Cracked open a second bottle....  Same color.  Shy red fruit on the nose, some hint of plum.  Soft and rich palate, though, excellent mouthfeel, gentle red and black berry flavors.  Three stars with a plus for its outstanding mouthfeel. 
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Updated review, another two years later, December, 2013:  Full, rich blackberry on the nose.  Gentle, fresh, blackberry fruit, with solid tannins and light acids still holding up the freshness.  Still aging nicely after six years from vintage date!
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Yet another updated review, another year and a half later, now eight years from vintage date, May, 2015:  Deep brick in the glass.  Aroma bold red, but partially corked (wow, two corked bottles in same batch!)   Ignoring corked elements, still shows nice rich, fresh red fruit.  Opened another bottle.  Same color.  Aroma is clean, with just the tiniest hint of tiredness.  Rich and yet bright on the palate. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tasting notes: Lanza Merlot 2009

This is Lanza Merlot from Suisun Valley, California.  The grape arrival was described here.

Two years after harvest, November, 2011, this shows as deep purple magenta, opaque from about a half inch from the edge of the glass.

On the nose, it shows bright purple ink with lifted alcohol.

Still quite primary and fruity on the palate, with rich deep fruits, but an overtone of acetic acid (ie, vinegar).  Finish is lively and clean.  Three stars on a five star scale, with a plus for deep potency.
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Updated review, two and a half years later, now five years from vintage date, May, 2014:  Still deep magenta.  Aromatically, less purple but still somewhat inky.  Fresh, bright on the palate, showing crisp, acid-toned redish blackberry fruit.  Holding well.  Wants food to cut the brightness.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Review: MS8, 2008 Merlot, Suscol Ranch, Napa, California

Review: MS8, 2008 Merlot, Suscol Ranch, Napa:  Deep brick and magenta, almost opaque in the center.  Brilliant, red and purple ink on the nose.  Piquant, aromatic purple floral highlights on the palate, sleek and bright center of red fruit.  Clean finish that holds up nicely to the six years of age since vintage date.  Four stars.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Updated Review: **** Chez Ray Sangiacomo Vineyards Merlot, 2006, Carneros, Sonoma, CA

Original Review, December, 2008: The Chez Ray Sangiacomo Vineyards Merlot of 2006 is from Brehm Vineyards frozen grapes from Carneros, Sonoma, CA. The vintage was fermented cool, with Assmanshausen yeast.

In the glass, this merlot is light/medium ruby red - looking more like a pinot noir than a merlot.

Aromas are fresh, clean and airy, like laundry flapping in the sunny breezes. Touch of ink - or is it Play Doh? Very pleasant.

On the palate, you first note a light, crystalline, high-pitched clean sweet berry. Just the faintest hint of tannins and acids follow. Finish is surprisingly long, given such a delicate start. Actually finishes with just a little touch of light milk chocolate. Three stars out of five on the Spirit of Wine scale.
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Updated review, over three years later, January, 2012:  Consistent light color.  Intriguing light, red, fresh berry aromas.  Now a balanced sweet delivery to the mid-palate of ripe, sparkly red fruit, bringing a wonderful sweetness, clingy-ness and still lightness.  Finish is both silty and silky.  Delicious in a medium body red.  Four stars now.
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Updated review, another two and a half years later, May, 2014: 


Consistent light color.  Fresh, taut red nose.  On the palate, shows full, fresh, deep, fruity, lusty and gritty fruit, acids that come in bright at fresh only at the finish and clear tannins supporting the entire sip.  Fruit drips down from your cheeks on the finish.  Easy four stars at eight years of age.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Tasting notes: **** Chey Ray Stage Gulch Syrah, Petaluma, Sonoma, CA, 2008 (SG8A)

By way of background:  This is Chey Ray Stage Gulch Syrah, Petaluma, Sonoma, CA, 2008 (SG8A, made from Brehm grapes 731-08SGS).  Grape arrival is referenced here.  The wine was fermented with Assmanshausen yeast, typically reserved for pinot noir and other aromatic varietals.

Tasting notes, now six years from vintage date, May, 2014:  Medium deep dusty red in the glass.  On the nose, shows a soft yet bright red cherry element with a deeper plum note. The palate shows a layered purple, dusty plum quality at first.  Bright red cherry rides up into your cheeks and holds the sip taut there for quite awhile.  The bright grip releases with adult cherry candy fruit slowly dripping from your cheeks.

Nice layers and serious fruit.  Four stars on the Spirit of Wine scale.  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ray Beer CA recipies

CA 1: Pale Ale with wet malt extract; flavoring grains; Safale dry ale yeast.  Fermentation less than a week. Priming sugar 5 oz.  (very inexpensive kit from Home Brew Express, designed for 5 gallons, made to 3.75 gallons, adjusting hops down 20%, except at end of boil; adjusting priming sugar down 20%)


Monday, February 10, 2014

Review: Chez Ray Cabernet Sauvignon (C8E), Lanza Vineyards, Lodi, California, 2008

Chez Ray Cabernet Sauvignon, Lanza Vineyards, Lodi, California, 2008, extended maceration (code C8E ):  Originally described here.  Medium red plus pink plus brick in the glass.  Aromas are bright and steely.  The palate brings an oaky, pinot noir-like lightness, with light red blackberry flavors.  Two stars with a plus on the Spirit of Wine scale.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Review: ***+ Chez Ray Zinfandel, Edon Knoll, Talmage CA, 2007 - Z7

By way of background:  This is Chez Ray Zinfandel, Edon Knoll, Talmage CA, 2007.  I know for sure that it is coded Z7, but honestly in my records from 2007 I only have an EZ7 recorded (but I can find no bottles of that).  So, by elimination, I am making this assertion.


If correct, the grapes and process for 2007 were described here.

Light red with pink and brick in the glass.

Bright, blousy, perfumed pink flowers in the glass.  Seems like it will be super high pitched and bright fruity.

On the palate, a red funk shows first, suggesting the wine needs some air time.  Past that, there is almost a liqueur-like red currant and strawberry flair, with a potent sweet alcohol note.

Seems like Mae West: feminine but surely potent.  Three stars with a plus on the Spirit of Wine scale.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Review: ***+ Chez Ray Zinfandel, Lodi, California, 2006 (destemmed)

Review: Chez Ray Zinfandel, Lodi, California, 2006 (destemmed).  The version fermented with stems is described here.  It is first being sampled eight years from vintage date, January, 2014.


In the glass: Medium red with pink highlights.

On the nose:  At room temperature, shows a shy, light clean purple nose.  Seems like it will be bright and fresh.

On the palate:  Shows a more profound, aromatic, deep violet element than anticipated.  Balanced notes of fruit, oak, tannins and acids, in an overall refined package.   As aromatic and flavorful as the palate is, the finish is clean and dry.

Overall, just touches an impressive four stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, consistent with the version fermented with stems.   Although I am not tasting the two versions side-by-side, from the descriptions I would say that the overall quality of the stemmed and de-stemmed varietals is consistent, but the stemmed version seems to carry a bit more minerality.