Crushworthy Wines

Wine reviews, photos and philosophical-type thoughts. Nothing too deep. crushworthywines at gmail dot com
I’m back from an extended holiday hiatus to review two of the newest releases from Rodney Strong (they were kind enough to send along some samples). Rodney Strong is one of my favorite American value producers; their Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc is one of my go-to white wines with a great quality-to-price ratio. The 2011 Sonoma County Chardonnay follows in that vein, retailing at $15. The nose shows lots of oak and citrus with notes of pear (my mother is very proud that she picked that one out without reading the label!), vanilla and pineapple. Spices and acidity dominate the palate, which is unusual in a Chardonnay, and I found a lingering mineral finish. I wasn’t a big fan of the nose but liked the taste; my mom was the reverse. I would buy this wine, and I’m not a big Chardonnay fan. Not too much oak; nicely balanced. The 2010 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon retails at $18. It spent 18 months in small French and American oak barrels. On the nose I get a predominance of earth and tobacco with a backdrop of blackberries. Lots of oak and cedar on the palate with dark berries and a hint of cocoa. A little young and rough around the edges; this is one I’d like to revisit in a few years after it’s had time to smooth out and mellow. Thanks to Rodney Strong for the samples! 

I’m back from an extended holiday hiatus to review two of the newest releases from Rodney Strong (they were kind enough to send along some samples). Rodney Strong is one of my favorite American value producers; their Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc is one of my go-to white wines with a great quality-to-price ratio. 


The 2011 Sonoma County Chardonnay follows in that vein, retailing at $15. The nose shows lots of oak and citrus with notes of pear (my mother is very proud that she picked that one out without reading the label!), vanilla and pineapple. Spices and acidity dominate the palate, which is unusual in a Chardonnay, and I found a lingering mineral finish. I wasn’t a big fan of the nose but liked the taste; my mom was the reverse. I would buy this wine, and I’m not a big Chardonnay fan. Not too much oak; nicely balanced. 

The 2010 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon retails at $18. It spent 18 months in small French and American oak barrels. On the nose I get a predominance of earth and tobacco with a backdrop of blackberries. Lots of oak and cedar on the palate with dark berries and a hint of cocoa. A little young and rough around the edges; this is one I’d like to revisit in a few years after it’s had time to smooth out and mellow. 

Thanks to Rodney Strong for the samples! 

Wine Bloggers Conference tips

Maybe it’s your first time. Maybe you’ve done this before. Maybe you’re watching the tweets from home and planning to come next year. Wherever you are, here are some tips for attending the Wine Bloggers Conference.

  • Ditch the scents. Don’t even bother to pack perfume. Bring unscented lotion, shampoo, conditioner, antiperspirant, etc. The idea is to avoid getting in the way of the wine’s aromas. Perfume is a major wine-tasting faux pas, but we don’t always think about lotion.
  • Never go anywhere without a water bottle. Trust me, you’re going to need it. Hydration is key to survival (especially this year, when the weather is supposed to be killer).
  • Spit, spit, spit. You’re still going to get drunk (unless your tolerance is REALLY high — mine is not) because some of that wine is going to be absorbed anyway, but you don’t want to hasten it. You want to be conscious for as much of the good stuff as possible.
  • If you have special dietary needs (I’m gluten-free), bring backup food: crackers, cheese, Luna bars, whatever. Don’t count on being able to find something you can eat. Keeping your stomach full is a good way to stave off intoxication, and if you can’t eat what they’re serving and don’t have backup, you’re screwed.
  • Talk to people you don’t know. It’s great to see old friends and people you regularly tweet with, but this is also a terrific opportunity to make new friends!
  • Know your limits. There’s a big difference between getting tipsy and falling off the balcony (seriously, whose idea was it to have this thing at a hotel with balconies?). Nobody wants to clean up your puke. See above re: food and spitting. Have fun — just not too much.

See you in Portland!

2010 Deusa Nai Albariño: Fresh citrus aromas with melon and vanilla. Dry and spicy on the palate. Intense flavors of lemon, grapefruit and key lime with a backdrop of baking spices. Happy National Albariño Day!

2010 Deusa Nai Albariño: Fresh citrus aromas with melon and vanilla. Dry and spicy on the palate. Intense flavors of lemon, grapefruit and key lime with a backdrop of baking spices. Happy National Albariño Day!

Napa Cellars 2010 Napa Valley Pinot Noir: Aromas of cherries, rose petals and a hint of earth. Very tart on the palate at first, like Grandma’s cherry pie, then softens to a mélange of ripe dark fruits with nicely balanced acidity. Serve a little cooler than room temperature for optimal flavor balance. Yay!

Napa Cellars 2010 Napa Valley Pinot Noir: Aromas of cherries, rose petals and a hint of earth. Very tart on the palate at first, like Grandma’s cherry pie, then softens to a mélange of ripe dark fruits with nicely balanced acidity. Serve a little cooler than room temperature for optimal flavor balance. Yay!

Napa Cellars Napa Valley Merlot 2010: Leads off with a nose full of ripe red fruits, anise, vanilla and white pepper. Gives you a mouthful of juicy plums and black cherries, baking spices and a little bit of earth. Great with burgers or steaks. Aged for 8 months in French oak.

Napa Cellars Napa Valley Merlot 2010: Leads off with a nose full of ripe red fruits, anise, vanilla and white pepper. Gives you a mouthful of juicy plums and black cherries, baking spices and a little bit of earth. Great with burgers or steaks. Aged for 8 months in French oak.

2011 Jean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rosé: 67% Syrah, 33% Mourvèdre. The label calls it “Vin de Pays de Méditerranée.” Very dry, spicy nose with hints of pink peppercorns. Strawberries and baking spices on the palate. Refreshing and perfect for summer if you prefer a dry rosé (and who doesn’t?). $10.99 at my local wine store.

2011 Jean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rosé: 67% Syrah, 33% Mourvèdre. The label calls it “Vin de Pays de Méditerranée.” Very dry, spicy nose with hints of pink peppercorns. Strawberries and baking spices on the palate. Refreshing and perfect for summer if you prefer a dry rosé (and who doesn’t?). $10.99 at my local wine store.

Kunde Family Estate 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: Dark reddish brown color. Serious blackberry, cedar and earth aromas that fairly leap out of the glass and across the table. Dark fruits, black pepper, dark chocolate. Cries out for a steak. Yummmmm.

Kunde Family Estate 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: Dark reddish brown color. Serious blackberry, cedar and earth aromas that fairly leap out of the glass and across the table. Dark fruits, black pepper, dark chocolate. Cries out for a steak. Yummmmm.

Kunde Family Estate 2009 Red Dirt Red: Inky red in color (the name comes from the soil in which the grapes are grown). Rich red berry aromas with currant and plum and a dash of vanilla. Very intense, juicy and dry in the mouth. Ripe cherry, an array of spices (from the old-vine Zin?), complex fruit flavors, layers upon layers. This is a wine to savor. $30 retail (I received as a sample).

Kunde Family Estate 2009 Red Dirt Red: Inky red in color (the name comes from the soil in which the grapes are grown). Rich red berry aromas with currant and plum and a dash of vanilla. Very intense, juicy and dry in the mouth. Ripe cherry, an array of spices (from the old-vine Zin?), complex fruit flavors, layers upon layers. This is a wine to savor. $30 retail (I received as a sample).

Kunde Family Estate 2010 Magnolia Lane Sauvignon Blanc: Grassy, lemony nose with a little orange blossom. Very zesty flavors of grapefruit, key lime, orange rind, white pepper and lemongrass. Don’t serve too cold or you’ll kill the verve. Pretty good for $14.99.

Kunde Family Estate 2010 Magnolia Lane Sauvignon Blanc: Grassy, lemony nose with a little orange blossom. Very zesty flavors of grapefruit, key lime, orange rind, white pepper and lemongrass. Don’t serve too cold or you’ll kill the verve. Pretty good for $14.99.