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.

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.

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.

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.

Review: *** Chez Ray Merlot, Lodi, California, extended maceration, 2008 (code M8e)

Review: Chez Ray Merlot, Lodi, California, extended maceration, 2008 (code M8e):  First grape pressing described here, and now being reviewed at six years from vintage date, January, 2014.

In the glass, this is medium deep red with some brick.

The nose shows a deep muddled red fruit, with some oxidation and leather.

On the palate, a lot of creaky old leather and oak, buttressed with just enough solid fruit and acids to keep things lively.  Finish is quick, clean and robust.

Three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.

The version of this wine without extended maceration was reviewed here.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Updated Review and Rating: **** Chez Ray Sangiovese, 2004, Lodi, CA

Original Review, May, 2008: The Chez Ray Sangiovese, 2004 (G4), was made from Lodi grapes, fermented warm, with a combination of French and American oak. In the glass, it shows as a dark blood red in color.

The nose hits as a deep, funky vegetable-fruit combo.

The sip outshines the nose, however. There is a strong oaky start on the the palate, but this quickly resolves to a furry, intense cherry fruit. The "fur" is a tough tannic backbone still in place, signifying that this can sit for a few more years in bottle. Medium-length finish. Three stars out of five with a plus for intensity and promise for a longer-lived future.

Updated Review, about a year and a half later, January, 2009: Color and nose have lightened just a bit. The palate comes to the middle with a clean, round red cherry. I don't notice the tannic backbone any longer, suggesting the Sangiovese may be coming of age. Also the intensity has faded. Now, an even, bright, mid-weight red. In effect, a pinot-noir alternative. I'd drop it back a touch to three stars without the plus at this point.

Updated Review, about a year later, May, 2010:  Now a hint of brick showing at the rim.  Aroma and flavors consistent with earlier review.  A balanced, dry red of medium weight, with a touch of minerality and dust.  Still nice. Photo from this tasting.

Updated review, another year later, June, 2011:  Still a hint of brick at the rim of the glass.  The nose shows muddled red fruit with a light oxidized overtone.  The palate remains bright, red and clean, with hints of sand.  Solid, and probably at its peak now.

Another updated review, another two and a half years later, now a full decade from vintage year, January, 2014:  Same color.  Muddled middle red fruit.  Nice, aromatic red fruit on the palate, with drips of violet.  Yummy. Now four stars.  Remarkable ager.