Spencer Roloson Palaterra Napa Valley California 2005

Spencer Roloson Palaterra Napa Valley California 2005
$12.99

Spencer Roloson Palaterra

Source: SpencerRoloson.com

Recently I have really come to love the Spencer Roloson Palaterra 2005. According to the winemaker’s website, the Palaterra is a blend of of 59% Syrah, 24% Valdigue, 12% Petite Sirah, 4% Carignane modeled on wines from the Southern Rhone, Provence and the Languedoc.  The 115 year old Carignane vines and the 50 year old Valdigue vines give the wine gnarly old vine character, while the Syrah gives it plenty of fruit, texture and weight. A very original and enjoyable wine.

Kaiken Ultra Malbec 2006

Kaiken Ultra Malbec Mendoza Argentina 2006
$12.99 — 91 WA | 90 WS

Kaiken Ultra Malbec

Source: KaikenWines.com

This is my third post about the Kaiken Ultra Malbec 2003.  My other posts are here and here.

For better or for worse, we drank the last bottle from our case many weeks ago.  However, over the holiday one of my relatives — and blog readers 🙂 — had several bottles on hand and was happy to share the wealth.  I can now say with great confidence, this may be the finest bottle of wine produced in the 21st century for under $13.  Truly a wonderful wine for the money.

3 Wines Under $10

Over the holiday I took three wines, each of which cost $10 or less, to one of the family gatherings.  The wines included:

Arthur Hills Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles California 2006 — $9.99

Nine x Nine Zinfandel Lodi California 2006 — $9.99

Bodega Norton Malbec Barrel Select Mendoza Argentina 2006 — $8.99

I had high hopes for all three, especially the Arthur Hills, as finding a decent California Cab for $10 has become almost impossible. Unfortunately, my search continues. The Arthur Hills was by far the worst of the three wines. It had a bizarre nose — think some combination of rotting organic matter and petrol. On the palate it was watery thin with flavors of strawberries — but of a decidedly artifical nature. At any rate, not what you want from a Cab. In short, this is one of the worst wines I can recall drinking in a long while. After a few sips, it went down the drain. It looks like the Gun Bun Cab gets to retain its title as the best California Cab under $15.

Next up was the Nine x Nine Zin. I was hoping for perhaps an alternative to Renwood or Dancing Bull. Certainly for $10 I had no expectations of Ridge… Alas, for me, this wine was also a disappointment. Mind you, it was not so visibly flawed as the Arthur Hills, but it was still just a bit beyond the borderline of acceptable. Of course, in wine as so many other things opinions vary; one of the other wine enthusiasts at the party thought it wasn’t so bad.

The third of the three turned out to be the best. The Norton Malbec was fragrant on the nose and full and lush in the mouth. It would benefit from a bit more grip on the palate and a little less ripenness, but overall, this was a drinkable wine. I have also recommended this wine to some friends who reported back that they enjoyed it very much. Although the Norton will never be mistaken for Kaiken, it is perfectly adequate for social gatherings and everyday drinking.

d’Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz 2005

d’Arenberg The Footbolt Shiraz McLaren Vale Australia 2005
$14.99 — 89 WA | 89 ST 

d'Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz 2005
d’Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz

According to the Pennsylvania Wine and Spirits website, the Atherton Street location is a Premium Collection Store with more than 2,000 selections. Far from premium, this week the store looked like a cross between a warehouse and a warzone, with literally dozens of specials occupying every bit of free space. In some places they had aisles blocked in order to accommodate everything. 

And yet, despite the abundance of choices, finding any wines worth buying proved to be a real challenge.   Most of what they were peddling was either worthless swill or just simply too expensive for everyday enjoyment. Having 2,000 selections is of no benefit if the wines are not not worth drinking in the first place. 

After what felt like an hour in the store, I finally found one worth bringing home in quantity: d’Arenberg The Footbolt Shiraz McLaren Vale Australia 2005. The Footbolt is a consistently good offering (so too are many of the other bottlings from d’Arenberg). The 2005 vintage is no exception. And at $14.99, the Pennsylvania Wines and Spirits price is actually very, very competitve, on par with the best I can find on the internet. I picked up a case and a half, nearly cleaning them out. 

The Footbolt scores 89 points from both Robert Parker / Wine Advocate, and from Stephen Tanzer / International Wine Cellar.  After drinking the first bottle I can see why.  This wine has a beautiful nose, a lot on the palate and a decently long finish.  The Footbolt is clearly ready to drink now, but I suspect that it will taste like a $30 bottle of Shiraz if you give it about 12 to 18 months of cellaring. 

As for me, one case went onto the “everyday” shelf of our Eurocave, and the other half a case went onto one of the “save for later” shelves.  If the latter 6 bottles manage to last 12 or 18 months, I’ll let you know how it is holding up.  Also, if I get a chance, I plan to stop back and clean out any remaining bottles.

BTW — The producer is spelled d’Arenberg with an E, not d’Arenburg with an U.

Kaiken Ultra Reprised

Kaiken Ultra Malbec Mendoza Argentina 2006
$12.99 — 91 WA | 90 WS

Kaiken Ultra Malbec

Source: KaikenWines.com

Just a quick update on my earlier post. Over the last month I have served the Kaiken Ultra Malbec Mendoza Argentina 2006 to a wide variety of guests, and it never fails to elicit unsolicited raves. Several guests have even gone in search of it by the case.  This is a big wine with a lot on the nose and a long long finish.  Enjoy.

Two To Try

In addition to the Gun Bun Cab, we had two other noteworthy wines this past weekend.

Kaiken Ultra Malbec Mendoza Argentina 2006
$12.99 — 91 WA | 90 WS

Kaiken Ultra Malbec

Source: KaikenWines.com

First, the Kaiken Ultra Malbec Mendoza Argentina 2006 ($12.99).  A-ma-zing.  Robert Parker rated this wine 91 points.  Loads of fruit and a long long finish.  At $13 this wine is a screaming value.

“The 2006 Ultra Malbec was aged for 12 months in French oak. The oak influence is apparent in the attractive perfume which also has notes of violets, black cherry and a hint of chocolate. This is followed by a structured wine that will benefit from 2-3 years of additional bottle age. The fruit is mouth-filling and has good depth and the firm finish lasts for more than 45 seconds.”  Source: KaikenWines.com

In addition to the 91 points from Robert Parker, the Kaiken Ultra Malbec also scored 90 points from Wine Spectator.  Visit the Kaiken Wines website for more reviews.

Second, our neighbors Wes and Michelle brought over the Frei Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Alexander Valley 2005.  This was another outstanding wine.  Everything you expect from a California Cabernet.

Gun Bun Cab 2005

Gundlach Bundschu Cabernet Sauvignon Block 13 Sonoma County California 2005
$12.99

Gun Bun Cabernet Sauvignon Block 13

Gun Bun Cabernet Sauvignon Block 13

We had the Gun Bun Cabernet Sauvignon Block 13 over the weekend.  Wow!  This is the best California Cabernet for under $15 I can recall having in a long while.

BTW, next time you are touring Napa or Sonoma, I highly recommend that you include Gundlach Bundschu on your wine tasting itinerary.  The setting is idyllic and the people are decidedly inviting.  When we lived in Cali in the late 1990s they hosted a summer Shakespeare festival on an open air stage.  People would bring blankets and picnic lunches and drink lots of Gun Bun wine.