2012 Baron Cooper Old Vine Zinfandel

If you having been reading Notes this summer, you may recall that a percentage of sales from this Baron Cooper Old Vine Zin, produced by the folks at Tamura Vineyard in Lodi, go to Best Friends Animal Society. Two of my favorite things in this life are good wines and dogs. When you can help change the lives of dogs while drinking, you’re doing just fine.

2012 Old Vine Zinfandel, Tamara Vineyards' Baron Cooper Wines, Lodi, California, USA.

2012 Old Vine Zinfandel, Tamura Vineyards’ Baron Cooper Wines, Lodi, California, USA.

The 2012 comes from winemaker Greg Burns, and its cooperage is American Oak. That’s me doing some research for you, readers; I actually can’t taste the oak here myself. Instead, I have all kinds of smooth, juicy berry flavors on my palate. There is strawberry and blackberry to be sure, and just a little bit of spice that is textbook Zinfandel. Some pepper, too. It’s a medium red in your glass and very even in its taste.

Tonight the Baron accompanies steaks (grilled in the cover of rain and darkness) and yellow beans, and the wine holds its own. It’s just a bit lighter than a Cab but makes up for that in cheery and cherry goodness and that spice kick in your mouth.

I do not know Catherine Fallis by name or reputation, but as Master Sommelier for Planet Grape, you should know that she gave 97 points to this 2012 Baron Cooper Zinfandel. I’m just going to tell you that it’s a great drink, and you’d do well–and help better the lives of dogs–if you picked up a bottle or two of this affordable wine. You’ll thank me.

2013 Noble Vines 446 Chardonnay

This is the second Noble Vines wine we’ve had in recent weeks, this one a white–not a frequent Saturday night beverage in our house but one to which we both surrendered this evening.  In the interest of time I’ll explain that the 446 originates from the San Bernabe AVA, one termed the “cool climate Monterey” by the winemaker.

Your label on the 446 gives simple instructions – “Enjoy with grilled fish, chicken or pasta with creamy sauces.” And we did. Tuna steaks, so fresh and tender, we had alongside orzo pasta, peas, and asparagus. The pasta and vegetables were a contrast in styles and tastes, intertwining hot and cool elements into a great accent for the fish.

2013 Nobel Vines 446 Chardonney, Monterey, California, USA.

2013 Nobel Vines 446 Chardonney, Monterey, California, USA.

Fresh citrus is the best way, in my limited vocabulary and experience with whites, that I can describe the 2013 vintage of the 446. It doesn’t have a “buttery” taste to it, and in that way is similar to the Simi that we had not too long ago.  In Notes for both I find myself struggling for specifics, for nuances that help differentiate among California Chardonnays and am determined to improve on my palate so as to offer more useful advice on whites in the future.

This is not that occasion, though, so let me close simply by saying it brought a smile to my face to know we both were giving a go to the 446 on this sultry Summer evening. Hoping you and yours had a good Saturday too!

2012 Baron Cooper Old Vine Zinfandel

The Cooper Zinfandel caught my eye, not because it’s named for the winemaker’s support of rescue animals (which I wholeheartedly applaud), but because its original description in my email inbox sounded perfectly attuned to my tastes in wine. That being said, Baron Cooper is a Manchester Terrier that the Habashi Family adopted from their local Humane Society, and a percentage of its sales go to Best Friends Animal Society. Good idea and a good wine.

2012 Baron Cooper Wines Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, California, USA.

2012 Baron Cooper Wines Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, California, USA.

Our rescue is a hound retriever mix, and he’s eying me right now as I think about this 2012 Zinfandel from the Tamura Vineyard. I have several of these delicious bottles ready to go, and the first I enjoyed with pork chops and a mixed green salad. Apples, blue cheese, and candied walnuts helped bring the salad round, and citrus pepper seasoning did much the same for the chops. We’re on a good grilling streak right now, having cooked up pork chops, salmon, and steaks all with just the right temperature and timing.

I’ll leave some of the wine tasting notes for the next entry on the 2012 Baron Cooper Zinfandel. For now, let me just share with you that it’s rich, it’s got some pepper notes, and it’s got some great flavor that starts slowly. Its dark berries sit for a moment but ultimately come shining through as you sip it contentedly. Stay tuned for further updates and thanks as always for your readership of Notes.

2011 Petite Petit, Michael David Winery

As part of a (long overdue!) Lake Gaston weekend with lifelong friends, I planned to swing out and pick up several wines that had earned recent accolades in our home. One of them was the 2011 Petite Petit from Michael David Winery, a veritable juice bomb hidden in these cheery elephant-decorated bottles. Thankfully I pulled this last bottle–and several other fun options–from the shelves at Winestore and couldn’t wait to share.

2011 Petite Petit Michael David Winery Lodi California USA.

2011 Petite Petit, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA.

The weather was not cooperative by the dinner hour (as shown in this photo) but the 2011 Petite Petit was a burst of sun and flavor against the thundering skies and rain-spattered windows of our weekend rental. We poured a first glass, passed tastings around, and saw lots of nodding heads as each taster caught a whiff then a taste of all dark fruits of this Syrah/Verdot blend. Multiple glasses followed in swift succession. I’m not sure if everyone could taste the hint of charcoal that I described, but I’d enjoyed a bottle previously and sort of knew what to expect from this deep, rich red. I also knew we’d kill the bottle quickly, and indeed we did, our tanned faces smiling in enjoyment.

The Petite Petit was essentially gone before the dinner hour–grilled fare and delicious cold salads of pasta and potato–but it did give us ample opportunity to delve into other new favorites. Lots of new fans of the 2011 vintage after this evening!

2011 Petite Petit, Michael David Winery

The 2011 Petite Petit from Michael Davis Winery is bursting at the seams with fruit flavor. It packs a wallop of dark fruits and has a subtle underpinning of charcoal that leads to a rich, enjoyable finish. We opened this red late on a Saturday evening, with the sun’s light fading in the distance and smell of  T-bone steaks wafting in the still air.

2011 Petite Petit, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA.

2011 Petite Petit, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA.

So much fruit here! It pours purple so deep and dark that it looks almost like chocolate tumbling into your glass, and its earthiness is fragrant, big, and lush. According to the team at Michael Davis Winery, this is a blend of 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot and offers a “joyous explosion of color and fun!” I’m here to confirm they are not exaggerating with such claims.  The Petite Petit is full-bodied and almost like jam on the finish.

We had the 2011 Petite Petit with those grilled steaks, baby fingerling potatoes, and blue cheese salads on the side. You almost want to bite, to chew this wine just like the delicious foodstuffs gracing our plates. Here’s what Robert Parker offered about this vino: “This soft, opaque purple-colored wine exhibits impressive density as well as lots of blueberry fruit intermixed with graphite, licorice, and a hint of tar.

I’m not a fraction of the experienced taster that Parker is, but the flavors here stand up to be counted and I was able–even with my humble palate–to identify several of the most developed layers. Hadn’t had a glass of wine in more than a week and this one is a great means of breaking that unwelcome streak. Be sure to try the 2011 Petite Petit for yourself.

2011 337 Cabernet Sauvignon, Noble Vines

With fall temperatures shifting, it’s the full-bodied reds that seem to make their way to our evenings and dinner tables with greater frequency.  Tonight it was the 337 Cabernet Sauvignon from Nobel Vines, the Menteca, California winemaker.  My wife picked this one and sipped from a stemmed glass; I from a Riedel Bordeaux stemless glass.  No real intention there as much as what was handy as we uncorked the bottle.

2011 337 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lodi, California, USA.

2011 337 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lodi, California, USA.

We picked the 337 primarily because our meal consisted of wax beans, peas, garlic mashed potatoes, and killer steaks.  The latter, selected fresh from the deli, held in a ton of flavor and juice.  Great seasoning too, much like our Cabernet selection.  The 2011 vintage contains a slew of red fruit scents; some spice as well, and those combinations always seem to work well for me.  I can see this complementing pasta just as effectively as it did our steaks.

The winemaker claims, “Noble Vines 337 is the most coveted Cabernet Sauvignon vine stock in Bordeaux, France.  These rare vines are prized for their concentrated flavor and thrive in the red soils and cobblestones of our Lodi vineyard.”  Okay, some self-aggrandizing in that label, but the results do stand up favorably to the Bordeauxs and Cabs we have sampled as of late.

2003 Jewel Merlot

Okay, this is an interesting experiment – I just unearthed some VERY old tasting notes that mark this oenophile’s first real foray into the world of wine. The comments are unrefined, the palate even more so…but there are some good wines from this period and it’ll be a pleasure to share those remarks with you here. I’ve dated as originally chronicled in my wine journal and have kept all the original remarks even if adding a few recent additions to help inform anyone reading here. Just bear in mind this is probably 300 bottles ago!

The 2003 Jewel Merlot hails from the Lodi AVA in the Central Valley region of California. Purchased from Wine & Spirit World for $12, I thought the wine was a rich red, with a “deep & earthy” bouquet. Since my thoughts on its taste (“nice aftertaste; smooth”) don’t really share any meaningful information with you, I’m making a quick detour to the professionals from wine.com and their tasting notes: “This distinct Merlot has a rich garnet color that is filled with aromas of toasted oak and cherry complimented by flavors of black cherry and plum. Soft vanilla oak and delicate tannins add richness to the finish.

Yes, always been a fan of cherry and plum if not the vanilla noted in that summary. At the time, I commented “Nicer than recent California and Australian Merlots we’ve had recently” and rated the 2003 Jewel as a 7 of possible 10. Becca and I split this bottle over dinner as iTunes played in the background of our Midland Park kitchen. “I would buy again – nice result.”