Columbia-Crest 1998 Merlot-Cabernet, Columbia Valley
Ruby red, small nose of ethanol and ester. A clean dark taste, of raisin, toast, tea with a hint of pine in the backdrop. A smooth swallow, with some finish. Balanced, not soft but not harsh.
Covey Run 1998 Cabernet-Merlot blend
NICE, DRINKABLE: Grapey, yeasty nose. A nice, round mouthfeel, quick trail-off. A bit of sweet spice on the tongue. Just a hint of wood. Not bad, nothing at all unpleasant or off-flavored. Very drinkable.
Sierra Vista 2000 "Lynelle" Table Wine
WELL DONE: A blend of various California red grapes. Looks a bit thin, transparent. Not a big nose, with vanilla and ester. Subtle on the lips. Complex enough, tannic is muted, nicely balanced raspberry and strawberry fruit, perched between dry and lush. A bit of raisin in the backdrop. A slight hint of anise on the swallow. Some presence thereafter, rather pleasant. Rather well done for a table wine.
Rosemont Estate 2002 Shiraz - Cabernet
A purple-red product of Australia. Has the big buttery nose of a cab, heavy feel on the lips and tongue, but with a spicy, licorice finish. Soft but noticably tannic. A bit of toast / caramel in the background lends body. A long but tannic swallow. Fruit is dark plum, blackberry. Interesting, probably too young, not the mellowest of wines.
Our Daily Red 2001 Nevada County Wine Guild
EASY, DRINKABLE: Presents a fragrant bouquet of leather, earth and currant fruit. This is indeed a red wine, with just a hint of purple. Comes to the tongue smooth and refined, then reaches the palate with bright raspberry and strawberry tones for just a moment, giving way to the usual currant and plum flavors. A thin but aromatic wine, almost camphor-like. It comes together on the swallow; not a long finish, but some complexity and overall finesse are recalled. An easy, drinkable wine as table wines should be, but with some of the polish and complexity that the more pedigreed reds would give.
Kendall-Jackson 2000 Zinfandel-Shiraz Collage
The hue is purple-magenta, slighly earthen. Presents a big nose that's sour but also has floral and spice undertones. To the lips, a smoothed-out zin with muted tannins. Not exactly lush but not dry, a bit earthy, a hint of autumn leaves. Offers very muted fruit tones of raisin and dates, with an apertif-like backdrop akin to brandy or B and B. A long graceful finish. Complex enough, worth the trip even if a bit melancholy.
Livingston Cellars None! Burgandy
No year, no cork -- keeps it simple, I guess. A lite red hue, nose is fragrant enough if a bit grassy. On the tongue, actually not all that bad. An easy feeling in the mouth, not much tannin or acid (but still enough to remind you it's wine, however unpedigreed). A bit of licorice, fruity cherry tones, the buttery after-taste of a cab, a respectful presence following the swallow. Not all that rich, but some balance and complexity nonetheless. I've definitely paid more for less.
Jacobs Creek 2001 Shiraz-Cabernet Blend
Has a demure nose with a hint of vanilla. A bit recessed on the tongue also, although there's still some body to it. The tannins give a peppery feel, a bit of wood, a bit of fruity sweetness (but not jammy), some plum and currant and blackberry. An easy swallow, a decent overall balance. Not terribly memorable, yet hardly regretable. Perhaps this Aussie is an honorary Californian!
Hahn Estates 2004 Meritage Table Wine
An opaque liquid with a demure, flowery nose. Starts with a nice cherry flavor, rich and sweet, but quickly fades into brandy, currant, prune, and tobacco. A puckery tannic buzz kicks in at the swallow and interferes with the finish. An interesting mix, but a bit desultory. Gets an "OK but not extraordinary" rating.
Matilda Plains 2003 Shiraz - Cab - Merlot
Opaque, even inky. But it has a demure nose, despite the bold come-on; mostly alcohol vapor. Then it comes on with a robust feel in the mouth; not soft, not overly dry. The tannins are nicely balanced. The only thing missing is the flavor. Despite some rumors of prune, brandy, cocoa and vanilla, this isn't a richly flavorful wine. What flavor there is finishes long and fades nicely. But ultimately, there's not all that much there.
Feltzer 2004 Zinfandel - Syrah
QUITE DECENT! An average look, but a nice nose with a bit of rose petal. Rolls easily over the lips, but then the tannins get a bit sassy. Presents you with cherry, plum, currant, and some bright brandy notes in the background. There's a smooth body despite the tannins, making for a good swallow. This is a decent wine; love the richness, with no off-tastes.
Cline 2003 Red Truck
GOOD VALUE: For a truck, the nose comes on small and delicate, despite the dense purple hue. But a nice mix of things unfolds in the mouth, leather, asphalt, charry fruit including black cherry and blueberry. Just a hint of vanilla brings up the rear. The tannins kick in toward the end, leaving a tea-like, flavorful finish. Takes a few moments for the dust to settle. Overall, a nice product, well worth it.
Rene Junot ???? French Red Table Wine
Well, turns out that the mongrel knows some of the pure bred's tricks. Despite the rock-bottom price, it looks more or less like wine. It's ruby red but with a very demure nose, a bit of perfume but also a bit of earth. In the mouth -- light, as expected, but dry; it ain't soda pop or grape drink after all. A bit of tannins show up. Presents a peppery then musty sense, not terribly different from any other French wine. It's generally drinkable, and just a little "buttery" like a cheaper cabernet. There's some complexity and balance to it. The light body allows you to guzzle, and the light price allows you not to worry about it. There's a place in the world for Rene Junot; after all is said and done, it IS still wine.
Gato Negro 2006 Cab - Shiraz
A cheap price, but has a cork nonetheless! This one is from Chile, with a grapey purple hue and a light, yeasty nose. The body is relatively light, with just enough caramel to hold it together. The flavor parade includes anise, a bit of wood and lacuqer, dark berries, dark plum, and currant. It's a bit charry with just a slight tannic buzz. The swallow is easy, but there is that hint of tea afterword. In all, a servicable wine, nothing too memorable. Balanced enough, no off-tastes, quite decent with food.